Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bipartisan? Not so much...

We're still on the mend here. Lee and I are functioning at about 80% today, which is a huge improvement. Landon is by far still the worst but hopefully in the next day or two he will turn a corner as well. In the meantime, well, I'm going to discuss politics again. I know, I know, I said I'd stop but there's really just so much going on these days, how can we ignore it?

Listen, I'm appalled, dismayed, outraged, you-name-it, about the "stimulus" bill that passed last night. Dana wrote a great article about it for BlogHer and since I can't say it any better than what she did, I'll let you read her words. In a nutshell, though, she makes the point that while this is being touted as a stimulus, what it is is another bailout - and it's a bad one.

What I would like to talk about, however, is the idea of bipartisanship that everyone seems to be going on and on about but no one is really making an effort to achieve. Look, I'll be honest with you here. I only received two C's in all of my college career. One was in Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters, which - well, okay that's embarrassing. The other was in Political Science. Incidentally, I also barely passed that class in high school as well. It just didn't make sense to me. Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch, blah, blah, blah...

I didn't vote in an election until 2000. I could have voted in the '96 election but I was barely 18 and truly could have cared less. I'm not even sure I knew what day the elections were held. So my first experience voting was the 2000 race between Gore and Bush. My husband stayed up late into the night watching the crazy results - I went to bed because blah, blah, blah.

So, there's a brief bit of history. I'm no political expert and I am not trying to be. But, I do care now about the political climate of this country more than ever before and now that I'm a mother, the decisions that these politicians make matter to me. As Dana has said before (yes, I quote her a lot, but I respect her very much and appreciate her amazing gift with words) motherhood is political.

So, here's my take on this situation. President Obama came into office proclaiming his desire to reach across party lines and work in a bipartisan matter. Well, he's one week into office and I'm already doubting the sincerity of those words. Did I really think he meant it? I don't know. I hoped. As I said here, I want his success.

What happened yesterday, however, was anything but bipartisan. Which brings me to the climax of this post. I do not feel like there should be the opportunity for one party to have such a broad majority in the House. If we're going to be a bipartisan nation, then we need a bipartisan government and when we have a party that is so dominant, bipartisanship goes down the drain. It's all about survival of the fittest. This bill did not have one single supporter from the GOP. Does that not say something? House Republicans were not trying to deny America the help that it needs. But they saw things in this stimulus, nay BAILOUT, bill that were flagrant and unnecessary and all they asked was for their voices to be heard.

But it's a popularity contest right now and the Democrats win. I'm not saying that the Republicans are perfect and their ideas were a save all, but come on - they deserve to have a say because they speak for a lot of people in this country. The last poll I heard, 40% of the American population disapproved of this package. Is that not significant?

To the Democratic party - look, you guys won elections fair and square (for the most part). You're in office because we the people put you there. But just because you have the majority doesn't mean you get to bully us. We want a voice and we deserve a say in the direction you take our country. Don't say you're going to work in a bipartisan way then walk away laughing. If you plan on running our government like this for the next four years, then please, have the dignity to tell it like it is. Don't lie to us because we're not buying it.

So that's my take. We now have an massive bill out there that's going to cost us and our children a lot of money. It was passed by a majority, but the entire majority was of the same party. This, in my opinion, is where we went wrong. There's another chance today as the bill goes to the Senate. Will Obama listen? Will he follow through on his word to work in a bipartisan manner? Well, I certainly hope so because I want to believe in my President. But, you know, don't listen to me. I'm just the girl who got a C in Poly Sci.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guess who has Influenza?


Us! All of us. Every. last. oneofus. Last night was quite possibly the worst night of my entire existence. I felt like a thousand tiny Oompa Loompa's were jack hammering around in my head and apparently the fire's of hell were lapping around in my throat. On top of that, Lee was also a snotty mess and both of us alternated between shivering uncontrollably to throwing the covers off in a flash of heat. Then Tia woke up a snotty, blubbery mess. Then Landon woke up with a fever. I'm not sure anyone really slept well.

This morning, as I was making breakfast, Sloan started projectile vomiting and sneezing blood at the same time. Too much information? Sorry. So off we went to the pediatrician who tested both Sloan and Landon for influenza and both were positive. And since we all have the same symptoms, we were all diagnosed at once. We are our pediatrician's first case of the flu all season, a distinction I could've done without, thankyouverymuch.

What's really infuriating is that when Lee had Sloan at the ER the other night they didn't actually test Sloan for influnenza. If they had, we could have gotten him on Tamaflu and nipped it in the bud pretty quickly. Now, it's too late for him. He's just got to ride it out. Tia and Landon are starting on Tamaflu and as I type Lee is at our primary care doctors begging him to write a script for us without having to actually see us. Good times in the Stuart household! We have to get everyone well so we can have Tia's birthday party on Saturday. Lysol is about to become my very best friend.

So, it will probably be touch and go around here for a few days. We're hanging in there but we're all weary. Hopefully the Tamaflu, which only has a 50% effectiveness against the influenza strain, will work for us. Here's to hoping!
*update: My husband just called me and told me that it is a fifty dollar copay for Tamaflu! That's 50 bucks/prescription! Sooooo...Lee and I will be toughing out the flu and we will only be getting the medication for Landon and Tia. Geesh.

Monday, January 26, 2009

10 Ways to ensure your child goes from sick to healthy to sick again

10. When you receive an email from your child's school informing you of a case of influenza in his class, blow it off and assume that due to your stellar parenting your child will not be affected.
9. When your child wakes up in the middle of the night and feels warm, assume that it is because he was wrapped up too tight in his fuzzy Lightening McQueen blanket.
8. When your child wakes up a second time in the middle of the night, this time blazing hot, give him Tylenol and let him sleep with you.
7. After a full 24 hours of running a high temp, your husband will want to take the child to the ER. Calmly talk him out of this as you know that it's not all that atypical for kids to run temps for this long.
6. An hour after talking your husband out of taking the child to the ER, check his temp and smile as he's finally fever free for the first time.  Feel smug.
5. When your second child spikes a temp, sigh and realize that you're in it for the long haul now. At least child number one is still fever free.
4. When child one spikes a temp again, chalk it up to too much activity and put him down for a long nap.
3. Attend a belated Christmas party and take child number one with you, who's been begging to go to the party for several days.  Leave a very sick child 2 home with daddy.  At the party, find out that the influenza case at school involved a high fever for several days and wheezing.  Notice that child one is now wheezing.
2. Take child one home and take his temp, which is now resting at around 103.  Finally give in and let your husband take him to the ER (wishing all the while that you would have decided to do this earlier so they could go to the Urgent Care center which is a much lower copay). This is, after all, the best way to ensure that he will get well as his fever will break almost as soon as he walks into the waiting room.  After a couple of good pats on the back, said child should give a good cough, which will stop the wheezing.   So now you are out $75.00 and your kid is fine. Works like a charm.
1. Wake up the next morning and realize that when you told your sick child you wished you could take the sickness from him, you didn't actually mean you wanted the sickness. Sigh, drag yourself out of bed and makes friends with NyQuil because you've got a long couple of days ahead of you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meeting tomorrow

Just an fyi for local bloggers. Tomorrow morning the St. Louis Blogger's Guild will hold our monthly meeting and if you're interested in coming to see what we do and meet some of the other members, we'd love to have you. Details are posted on the guild site. Have a great weekend everyone!

Is it bad? Part 2

A follow up on this post:
Is it bad that I just put my 1 year old down for a morning nap, even though I have been cutting out morning naps, just because I needed a few minutes of quiet?

Is it bad that Sloan is completing his second hour of cartoons this morning? In his (or my) defense, he is very sick and has a fever but I'm still feeling a little guilty for allowing that much television.

Is it bad that I have roughly 5 loads of laundry to do even though I haven't yet put all the laundry away from last week?

Is it bad that I wait until someone runs out of underwear before finally doing laundry?

Is it bad that I don't really care and would rather do 6 or 7 loads of laundry over the weekend then a few small loads every day?

Is it bad that I have kind of come to enjoy folding clothes because it means I can lock myself in the basement for an extended period of time and have a good excuse for it?

Is it bad that I continue to loathe the process of putting said clothes away?

Is it bad that I fell completely in love with a Young Adult series of books about vampires and werewolves? Hey - I'm an adult and I'm still young right? Right???*

Is it bad that I'm sad to have finished all four books because I'm going to miss these characters so much?

Is it bad that last night when I was up and down with sick kids I wished that I myself was a vampire so that I wouldn't need sleep so very desperately?

Is it bad that I attempted to start Landon off in a healthy way by giving him Soy milk, then found out that soy can mimic estrogen and it isn't recommended that you give it to growing boys so I attempted to buy organic milk for us all only to realize that we would have to take out a second mortgage on our home to continue so I gave up and we're all back to drinking the regular, hormone laden milk that's actually affordable?

Is it bad that I'm feeling a little sad about the fact that Tia is finally starting to talk more and more intelligably because I miss the adorableness of her jibber jabber?

Is it bad that I'm also relieved that I can finally understand her?

Is it bad that I am so tired today that I have yet to change out of my pajamas or even look in a mirror because I'm afriad of what I'll look like?

Are these things bad?

*If you have not yet read the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, I highly recommend it. I was skeptical at first because it just sounded dumb. A mortal falling in love with a vampire? Seriously? Um, yeah - seriously. It's a great series and a great love story. I read all four books in a period of a few weeks, which means I read around to 2,000 pages in a very short time span, which means I have not been all that productive these last few weeks. But it was worth getting lost in that story. While the books can't be compared in any way shape or form to my two top books of all time (Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre) Meyer's writing is compelling and the story endearing. So, if you're looking for a good read, I urge you to give this series a try. Just know that you will be tired for several weeks because the books are hard to put down!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Freedom of Choice Act

*update: It was asked of me in the comments whether or not there was something we could do to fight FOCA. I don't know and would love to hear myself if any of you have information. From what I understood, this was going to be signed as an executive order, which means there is nothing we can do about it. And it doesn't seem that there is much time to act, but I urge you all to not remain silent. If President Obama truly plans to "hear our voices" then let's let him hear us. Visit the Fight Foca website for more information.
Bear with me, readers. This blog is not intended to be a political platform. I will get back to the light-hearted and fun stories that generally comprise my blog soon. But today, I must continue my political discourse just a little longer.

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Today, thousands of Americans will peacably march through D.C. in the Walk for Life. How I wish I could be one of them. I am deeply pained this morning to realize that Obama's Freedom of Choice Act is upon us. It is only a matter of time before he officially signs it and thereby erases everything that Bush did to protect the unborn for the last eight years. This is a tragedy.

As I said a couple of days ago, I will respect President Obama as my leader. I cannot, however, sit idly by without voicing my concern over this policy because I believe with every fiber of my being that this is wrong. How many of us understand just what the Freedom of Choice Act means? I didn't until I sat down and did a little reading.

Here is Wikipedia's definition: "The Freedom of Choice Act (H.R. 1964/S. 1173) is a bill in the 110th United States Congress which "declares that it is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child; terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability; or terminate a pregnancy after viability when necessary to protect her life or her health.
Prohibits a federal, state, or local governmental entity from denying or interfering with a woman's right to exercise such choices; or discriminating against the exercise of those rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. Provides that such prohibition shall apply retroactively.
Authorizes an individual aggrieved by a violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief, including relief against a governmental entity, in a civil action."[1]"

Do we fully understand the ramifications of this bill? I'm not so naive to believe that a staggering number of abortions were performed year of year even without FOCA. But how many more will take place now? How many more innocent children have to die because we can't agree on "fetal viability?"

But it's not only the increase in abortions that has me concerned. It is the gross decrease in regulation. What happens now to the 14/15/16 year old who gets pregnant and decides to abort? She no longer has to have the consent of a parent. She can terminate the pregnancy without anyone ever knowing. There is no protection for her emotional health, and even for her physical health as the safety and qualifications of those who provide abortion services will no longer be under required regulation. So what is the cost to this young girl or to any woman for that matter, who makes an emotional decision of this magnitude? How many girls and women will have to deal with the intense and harsh emotional pain that follows them for the rest of their lives? What is FOCA going to do for them?

Americans United for Life (AUL) Vice President and legal director Denise Burke conclude's her analysis of FOCA like this: "Clearly FOCA will not make abortion safe or rare – on the contrary, it will actively promote abortion and do nothing to ensure its safety – so, abortion advocates’ unrelenting campaign to enact FOCA is a “wake-up call” to all Americans. If implemented, FOCA would invalidate common-sense, protective laws that the majority of Americans support. It will not protect or empower women. Instead, it would protect and promote the abortion industry, sacrifice women and their health to a radical political ideology, and silence the voices of everyday Americans who want to engage in a meaningful public discussion over the availability, safety, and even desirability of abortion."

You can read the entire analysis here.

Abortion is a hot button issue and I am knowingly putting myself out there in writing this, but my heart grieves today as I weigh this ramifications of FOCA. What about those of us who so desperately do not agree with this policy? What about our right to choose? It's been stripped from us because soon, our tax dollars will be spent on funding that which we morally oppose. And our hands are tied. But, we do not have to accept it silently. Please, think hard about FOCA and what this means for the whole of our society. Think deeply about what it means to have an administration that says they are not going to rule us then immediately takes the the power away from the people. And pray for the women who are going to be affected by this Act. Think of the hundreds of thousands of children that are going to be killed every year - some of them brutally and barbarically through partial birth abortions. Have we really come to this as a society? Is this evolving? I will say it again, folks, this is wrong.

Many of you reading this today will agree with me and I urge you not to take this silently. But more than that, pray. Pray for our nation. Pray for the women who have difficult decisions to make. Pray. Some of you who read this will disagree with me. I understand and respect your right to disagree and I welcome your comments, but ask that you do so respectfully. And I promise I will lighten the mood next post!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day: Thoughts from a Conservative

-update: The report on the 6:30 news was well done. My fifteen seconds of fame included me talking about Big Bird and Reagan in the same sentence. Go me! You can view it here.
This morning, I attended an inauguration gathering sponsored by Quaker Oatmeal specifically geared toward bloggers. Fifteen of these gatherings took place nationwide, but the St. Louis party, hosted by Dana, was the only one catering specifically to conservatives. I was, of course, honored to be invited and thrilled to take part in this historical moment with people who understand and feel the same as I do.

I will be honest here. I really liked George W. Bush. Did he do everything right? No. But please, tell me what president has. Did he make some mistakes? Yes. But please, tell me what president has not. George Bush dealt with some of the gravest hardships of any president in recent history. There are no playbooks for how to handle such events as 9/11, a crushing economy, deadly hurricanes and extremeist terrorism. Could he have handled some things better? Yes, I believe he could have. But, I also believe that he truly loves this country and the people in it and wanted nothing more than to serve us all well. And he did serve us well. Though few seem to want to admit it (and why, I don't fully understand), America is a safer place thanks to George Bush. Yes, we are in an economic crisis. And yes, I understand that that happened on his watch. But, I do not believe that he is solely to blame. I will not go further than that in this post, but I wanted to acknowledge the elephant.

I think what I love and respect most about George Bush is the fact that he is a man of deep conviction. There were times when I felt that he needed to be more open to the guidance and counsel of others. He came off as arrogant, which is part of his job. You have to be arrogant to be president - it's the nature of your post. I think the closest I have ever seen to a truly humble politician is John McCain, but again, that's not a tangent I want to explore right now. I think there were times when President Bush could have been more open-minded to outside counsel. Just because he possessed a grain of arrogance, however, did not make him a bad leader. He is sensitive and kind-hearted. How many countless stories are there of him reaching out to the American people who were grieving? How many letters did he personally write to the families of fallen soldiers? How many times did he sit with one of our wounded servicemen and cry? However you may feel about his policies, you cannot call him cold or heartless. He is a good man. And I am proud that he was our president.

Having said that, it is time to move forward. I did not vote for Barack Obama. I still do not agree with many of the ideals that he has placed before us as a nation. My number one reservation is his view on the right to life. I do not now, nor will I ever, agree with this policy and the implications that follow and I will not apologize for my feelings on this issue. And there are other policies that concern me, but outweighing all of those is the fact that Barack Obama is now my president and I will respect that, no matter what.

There is no denying the appeal of Barack Obama. He is young, he is a great orator, he is magnetic and filled with promise. His speech today was everything that I expected it to be. It was what I would have expected had McCain been voted to office, though delivered with greater aplomb, no doubt. It was lofty and ideal, in many ways unrealistic but motivating nonetheless. I want Barack Obama to succeed as president and I will be praying that he does. But I don't want it for him, I want it for America. I want him to succeed because I want my children to grow up in a country that is great, a country where people take care of one another. A country that looks outside our own borders and seeks to protect and nuture others. I want Barack Obama to succeed because if he does not, then what does that mean for us?

I am proud of us as a country for coming so far. I am proud that we have elected a black man to be president of our country. I am proud that we can stand together and, despite our feelings about the policies behind the man, know that this moment, this day is historical. I love this country.

Today is a good day. My God is in control, of that I am sure and I do not waver in that conviction. And now President Obama has a full plate. I pray with every fiber of my being that he move forward in wisdom and that the values that make our country so great stay firmly affixed. Though the phrase has become somewhat cliche over the years, I say it now with the utmost reverence. May God truly bless America.

--Just fyi - Channel 5 (KSDK) was there today filming the get together and interviewed several of us at the end. We should be on either the 5:00 or the 6:00 news tonight so those of you who are local, tune in! I felt a little bit like Will Ferrel as Ricky Bobby in the movie Talladega Nights when they interviewed me. "I don't really know what to do with my hands." I told the reporter that if I looked or sounded at all like an idiot that they were to cut me immediately so we'll see what happens!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A groovy weekend of firsts

My kids are sitting on the couch right now watching Little House on the Prairie. And my heart is melting at the thought. That show brings back such a feeling of nostalgia. I get teary at nearly every episode - I'm such a girl. I wasn't sure they would like it because it's a little slow, but, much to Lee's chagrin, Sloan loves it! Tia's a little young, but she'll get it someday. How can you not love that show when Pa says things to Ma like, "Why do you think God made you so pretty if He didn't want you to have a new dress?" *sigh* My heart gets all fluttery.

Saturday was the big day of Landon's first haircut. After people repeatedly called him a "she" I decided it was time to take the plunge. It's much shorter than I like and we'll grow it out again, but hopefully it will have a btter shape. He also got his first sucker while getting his haircut. He was diggin' that!The poor boy has a funny shaped little head. The haircut really emphasizes it. We've taken to calling him Stewie because we think he looks a little like this guy:Fuji Notebook Computers
MySpace Backgrounds at MySpace ToolBox


Anyhoo, moving on... Saturday night Lee and I went to a belated Christmas party at his co-worker's house. It was a sixties theme and since we're always up for dressing up, we went like this:

I got to wear false eyelashes which were fuuuun!It was a white elephant gift exchange and we brought our favorite white elephant gift - a live lobster. It's not an original idea but we've done it a couple of times and it always goes over well. Here are Lee and one of the guys at the party singing to the lobster before they boiled and ate him.


That's all for today. I have a really interesting opportunity tomorrow that I'm excited to tell you all about so stay tuned and have a great Monday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun with Poladroids

I found this new application thanks to Dana and Gregg. You just drag and drop your photos into the little polaroid camera icon and it develops them right in front of you like a good ole' Polaroid. It's very fun - like I need anything else to be addicted to. Anyway, if you want to try it out, go to www.poladroid.net. I downloaded GIMP to write on the bottom. I don't really know how to use it very well yet, but you get the idea. Have fun and have a blessed weekend!





Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things that made me laugh

They say that every time you laugh you burn, like, 100 calories or something like that. They also say that laughter produces endorphins, which, well I'm not exactly sure what those do, but it's some pretty good stuff. So, today I pass on a little calorie burning, endorphin boosting good cheer to you all. Which, let's face it, we could all use as we sit here and slowly freeze to death. But, despite the arctic temperatures, tomorrow is Friday and that's something that makes me very happy.

- I was at the gym Monday morning, dragging myself through a half-arsed workout. While sitting on one of the cushy mats doing my abs, a middle aged man came strolling into the hallway and stopped just a few feet in front of me. He was putting on such a show of stretching and lunging that I couldn't help but stare at him. He quickly stuffed his shirt into his pants and stood facing the wall, shaking his arms and rolling his head around like an Olympic sprinter getting ready to take his mark. Only this guy was not exactly built like an Olympian if you get my drift. The next thing I know, he throws his arms up and swings them forward and flips himself up into a handstand. Just as his feet hit the wall, his arms crumble beneath him and he lands on his head then slumps into a heap on the floor. For a split second, I was afraid he was hurt, but he quickly hopped back up and resumed his position of shaking and rolling and gave it another go, this time successfully making it into a handstand. The problem was that his hands were so far away from the wall that he was painfully arched backward trying to keep his balance. He grunted and groaned while I bit my lip very hard trying not to laugh out loud. Finally, he managed to get down without hurting himself and made a very hasty retreat. It was a very good time - for me, anyway.

- Sloan told me the other day that he can't wait to grow up and be a daddy so that he can spank his sister. We had to have a little talk about that one.

- This morning, I took Tia and Landon to Shop 'N Save while Sloan was at school. We weren't just out of food - there were moths flitting out of my cabinets. It was bad. Which means I was in the store for a looong time. I didn't make a list ahead of time, which was stupid, but it is what it is. So I had to keep shuffling through my coupons to see what I needed to get. It took so long that by the time I got to the check out, Landon was done and was letting me know by screaming his head off. I'm at Shop 'N' Save, remember? Which means I had to bag my own groceries. Oh, and did I mention it was only 3 degrees outside? So, Landon's screaming and I'm throwing stuff in bags at warp speed when all of the sudden this little indian man who had been in line behind me walks up and starts dancing and singing. Landon stops and stares and I do too for a brief moment because when I say little, I mean little. He may have been a foot taller than Sloan and he was jirating and singing, trying to keep Landon calm. Once I was finished, he picked Landon up and handed him to me, then pushed my cart out and loaded my groceries into my car. So, I not only had a good chuckle, but also a warm fuzzy at his sincere kindness and generosity. Plus I saved thirty bucks with coupons.

The endorphins are flying, baby!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Boredom leads to strange things

Sloan and I were bored this afternoon and the Star Wars figures were sitting in the doll house. We had a good old time making up a very bizarre story. Like I said, we were bored...
The Epic Battle Gone Terribly Awry
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, there was a young Jedi knight, Master Ben Kenobi. Trained in the order of the Jedi, Master Kenobi was a special soul with much to offer to the galaxy. As a young man, Master Kenobi came across a boy who showed great potential for good use as a Jedi and so Master Kenobi took this boy, nourished him and trained him and the boy did indeed grow into a bold and fearless Jedi.
But the boy, Anakin, was brash and impulsive. Those qualities were a great hindrance to his quest in the Jedi order. There was a darkness in him that Master Kenobi desperately tried to tame, but it was no use. Anakin Skywalker gave himself over to the dark side losing nearly all of his human form. More robot than man, he took on the name Darth Vader and became a fierce and powerful enemy.
Master Kenobi was, understandably, disappointed and pained that his star pupil became the very epitome of evil and he took it upon himself to search down his wayward student and destroy him once and for all. Thus began an epic battle.
But Master Kenobi underestimated Vader's strength and power and he was quickly defeated.Stealing Kenobi's light saber, Darth Vader swiftly cut off his former master's arm. In a most uncharacteristic moment of sympathy, Darth Vader left Kenobi to die alone rather than finishing him off. Summoning his last ounce of strength, Master Kenobi used the force to pull himself up off the ground and, cradling his limp stub of an arm in his good hand, he fled the galaxy and sped to a foreign and new place where he intended to leave his failures and shame behind him.
For many dark days, Master Kenobi wandered through the rugged, thick terrain, wasting from lack of food and losing his will to survive. But, though he no longer had the mystical power of the force to back him up, he did have physical strength that allowed him to push forward despite extreme weakness.Then he came upon a most strange and beautiful sight. A large palace unlike any he had ever seen. Pulling his weak frame up, Master Kenobi stumbled to the bizarre structure.Raising his hand, Master Kenobi rapped three times on the solid door. When it opened, he found himself staring into the bewildered eyes of a beautiful woman holding two screaming babies in her arms. Explaining his situation and his need for shelter and work, the woman nodded her head and told him she had just the job for him.
Master Kenobi, however, was not prepared for the task that was quickly thrust upon him.Due to this family's extreme lifestyle, it appeared that the parents were in desperate need of someone to watch their children while they both worked. Thus, Master Kenobi became Ben-Ben the manny. He discovered quickly that he was not well suited for this job. Within the first day, he lost one of the children, a small boy who was quick and sneaky. The girl was a little more manageable, but a handful nonetheless. Ben-Ben sang to her each night, a soft melody that, try as he might, he could not bring himself to stop humming. It was the same melody he had sung to his protege so many years earlier.
One of the more difficult details of his job required changing the constantly full diapers of his young charge. This was all the more difficult due to Ben-Ben's abnormally small size in comparison to the child. Ben-Ben grew so tired of this cumbersome task that he decided to teach the child the art of using an adult facility.

Unfortunately, this did not go well and Ben-Ben found he had greater messes to clean up. He quickly put the child back in diapers and sent her on her way.

Ben-Ben sighed as he cleaned the bathroom, wondering how his life had taken such a drastic turn.

Looking intently in the mirror, Ben-Ben tried to conjure up the image of his former self. A man full of confidence and self-assurance. A man who was a truely gifted Jedi Master. But, try as he may, Ben-Ben could not summon the force. It's power took no effect in these strange circumstances.Every evening, as Ben-Ben slaved over dinner and baked endlessly, he tried to remember the skill that had once been so natural to him.
He sighed dramatically as he set the meals in front of his employers, both of whom took to ignoring him when he lost their son. They now only stared at him with half-smiles frozen on their plastic-like faces. It was unnerving...
The only solice Ben-Ben found were his daily moments of peace in the garden that he had cultivated. It gave him a sense of purpose and skill closely akin to the Jedi powers he had once taken such pride in. In those quiet moments, Ben-Ben felt like Master Kenobi once more.
At night, when the baby was asleep and the house was clean, Ben-Ben lounged on the couch, letting the sweet sounds of Johnny Coltrane and B.B. King wash through his soul. He wondered if perhaps these men were master's of the force, their music so moved his aching soul.
And of course, every night before bed, Ben-Ben stood at his balcony and looked out at the glimmering, flickering stars that dotted the black sky. He thought of his galaxy, so very far away, and wished that he, once again, could be a great and mighty Jedi Knight.

So, my friends, will Ben Kenobi ever gain back his use of the force and return to his proper position as a leader of the Jedi Order? Only time will tell...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lee the Barbarian

So far, we've caught two mice on the glue boards that are sitting out by the dog food. The first one was still alive and shimmied himself underneath the car. For a brief moment I was afraid we had teenage mutant ninja mice who had outsmarted us and stolen a glueboard. Had that been the case, we would have moved. No doubt - I would relinqiush my house without question.

I told you all before, I'm not a mouse kinda gal. I don't like them, especially when they've been sneaking around my hosue in the dark. But I have to admit, the sight of this little guy spazzing pitifully on the glueboard made me feel a little sad. My sadness quickly turned to horror, however, when Lee pulled out a hammer and told me to go back inside. I turned into the girly girl and begged him not to bludgeon the poor creature. At this point, though, Sloan and Tia were coming outside so I had to quickly retreat. My last vision was of the door slowly closing as Lee leaned over the twitching mouse. It was like a bad movie. A few minutes later, Lee walked in all smug assuring me that he only tapped it hard enough to put it out of misery.

My husband scares me sometimes. Remember this story? Well, it turns out I had the details wrong. He actually killed that animal with a crowbar, not a shovel, which is even more horrifying. Thank God the second mouse we caught was already dead. I was relieved but I think Lee was a little disappointed.

And now I'm off to begin a wildly busy day. I have more to do than there are hours of the day so we'll see what happens. Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Basement Dwellers

We are not alone in this house...bam, bam, baaaammmm
Yes, it appears that some furry little friends have decided to make their winter home in my basement. This is not cool with me. I don't do small things that scurry about well. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably know that already. I've already chronicled my obvious bravado here. To be honest, I'm slightly less freaked out by mice than by those freakish cave crickets, but let's be realistic here: if one of those critters comes scurrying out at me there is every possibility I will break a bone trying to get away. Let's make this clear - I don't do mice, I don't do crickets, I don't do spiders if they are larger than my pinky fingernail. There, all settled.

Poor Tia - we've been blaming the handfuls of dog food we found scattered in various places in the basement on her. I mean, it's not that far fetched that she would bring handfuls of dog food downstairs, but I was starting to have my suspisions when I found it hiding in Lee's golf bag and in the clean laundry piled up on a table. As I was cleaning up the playroom I found the tell tale evidence on the kid's car table. And it appears that there may be more than one. Perfect, just what I need, a mouse family. Why does this stuff always happen when daddy's out of town? Now, I have to muster up the courage to go downstairs and get my laundry and pray to God Almighty that a dying mouse doesn't squeak at me from the six glue traps I scattered about. Deep breath...

The humble abode where our furry friends seem to have made their home. I mean, it is a fun place to be, but this arrangment is just not going to work.




The dog food is kept upstairs and out that door which leads to the garage. How are the sneaky little buggers getting it into the basement?


This fell out of my clean laundry. I'm not a cussing kinda girl, but there's a good chance a couple of choice words slipped out when I realized what was going on.
A fair amount of dog food was found in the front pocket of Lee's golf bag. Poor Tia took the blame for that one.

There is dog food rattling around inside this car, which has a tiny hole on the bottom where they are sneaking it in.

There is also a good deal of dog food rattling around inside this little chair.The evidence that finally tipped me off. Lots of scattered little pieces of trash, insulation, dog food and some droppings. The least they could do is clean up after themselves...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Lapse in Judgment

When daddy is out of town, I try to do things that are a little different - partly to take the kids' minds off the fact that he is gone and mostly to keep myself from going completely wacky. Tonight, since it is the only real down night that we have, I decided to do something to get us out of the house.

First was a semi-needed trip to Target. Really, I just needed a little "fix." I needed the glare of the bright lights off the pristene white tiles and the smell of good deals mingled with awesomeness to surround me. It didn't take long. I was flying high almost as soon as I walked into the door. The fact that Tia had to go to the bathroom before we even made it past the threshhold didn't even damper my spirits (usually she waits until we're all the way in the back of the store with a cart full of goodies before declaring that she has to go potty).

I was feeling so elated by the time we left, with two new pairs of shoes for Landon and a folder for Tia, that I told the kids we would be going out to dinner. Because I am trying to be more health conscious, I opted out of the ease that is McDonald's and decided, instead, to head to Bread Co.

Yes. My Target high led me to completely overestimate my mommy superpowers.

Luck was on my side in the fact that Bread Co. was relatively uninhabited. I bribed the kids with the promise of a muffie if they obeyed and did not completely humiliate me, then ordered our food and settled us down at a table as far away from the other patrons as possible. This is where things got a little hairy. It wasn't totally the kids. They actually did quite well, all things considered, but, well there are three of them and only one of me. That's just not fair...

When they called my name, I raced to the counter as fast as I could to pick up our food before Sloan and Tia got got their own high off of a lack of supervision. When I returned, both of them had their shoes off and Sloan was trying to remove his shirt. I wasn't gone that long.

Then there was the issue of getting everyone situated with his and her specific meal. Landon was approaching meltdown from extreme hunger so he needed immediate attention. I needed water because I unwisely ordered a soup that has a bit of a kick to it. The water was on the other side of the restaurant. I took a deep breath, reminded them of the muffie that awaited them later and scurried over to get water. As I'm over there, I hear a wail emanating from my very own 5-year-old's mouth. Apparently Landon snatched the bread off his sandwich when he wasn't looking. This was a tragedy.

When we were half-way through dinner, I broke open the last packet of yogurt I had and began squeezing it into Landon's mouth. It was at precisely this moment that Tia declared she had to go poo-poo. The child has amazing timing. Landon began crying and reaching for the yogurt, which he was enjoying imensely and I had a moment of panic. What the heck do I do now? I made a split second decision, which I almost immediately regretted. I agreed to let Sloan take her to the bathroom...which was also across the restaurant. I issued a threat on their lives if I heard any screaming or playing around and told them that they absolutely better be back quickly if they wanted their muffie. I watched them walk all the way to the bathroom door, then sat down and wondered what on earth possessed me to think this was a good solution. What if someone called Child Protective Services on me for neglect or just plaing dopiness? It was also at that moment that I remembered that neither one of them were wearing shoes. Yes, I became that mom and I think that I have hereby lost all my mommy superpowers for the time being.

They did very well, though, and were back within minutes, assuring me that they did not crawl on the floors or lick any toilets or anything like that. Finally we were able to wrap up dinner and I got in line to buy the much deserved muffie. As we were waiting, a policeman walked in. Sloan walked up to him and introduced himself and shook the man's hand then proceeded to pepper him with 20 questions about what it's like to be a policeman, even asking the poor guy if he could hold his gun! The officer did take out his handcuffs and let the kids touch them before I quickly ushered them back to the table and begged them to eat as quickly as possible. We left shortly after, at the same time the officer left. As he got into his car, Sloan called after him - "Hey, go chase the bad guys and put them in jail so they don't kill us."

My face generated enough heat in that moment to melt the remaining ice on the sidewalk and off we slinked to our car. T-Minus 3 days till daddy returns.

New Year, New Goals

Okay, it's time to set some goals for the coming year. I fell into a nasty trap the last half of 2008 where I was lazy and completely unproductive. It's amazing how the start of a new year can give you so much energy and adrenaline. So what exactly are my new year's resolutions? I've been thinking about this the last couple of days. I want to be careful to set realistic goals so that I don't totally set myself up for failure - something I've been known to do. I think I've set the bar at just the right height so I'm challenged but not buggerd. So here they are, my 2009 goals:

- Try to remember birthdays and at least give a phone call. I give myself bonus points if I get a card in the mail.
- Work harder on my russian.
- Finish my novel. This book is the thorn in my flesh because I'm so intimidated by the subject I've chosen to write about, yet I feel compelled to tell the story.
- Save money at the grocery store. I've tried to get in the habit of clipping coupons and taking them with me, but I still don't give it the effort I should because it intimidates me.
- Get in shape. I've lost all my baby weight, but I'm rather soft and that annoys me.
- Read more, but do so reasonably. I'm reading the Twilight series (more on that soon) and I'm almost finished with book 2. My problem with reading, however, is that I have no reasonable sense of time when I do so. Therefore, if you see me, you'll understand why I have circles under my eyes.
- Watch less TV. I have fallen into the habit of immediately turning the tube on in the evenings and if I broke this, I would have more time for my reading and still, hopefully be able to get to bed at a reasonable hour (riiiiight...).
- Get a few paid writing gigs. I took a hiatus when Landon was born, but it's time to work again.
- Learn to take better photos.
- Spend as much time in Florida as I possibly can - I need to talk through this one with Lee.
- Eat as many scones as possible without gaining a single pound.

There are a few more goals that I'd like to accomplish, personal goals that I don't want to share here. We'll see how it goes. That last one may be kind of rough, but I'm always up for a challenge. Most of these things I've already started working on anyway but it's nice to lay them out. Happy resolving to you all!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snippets - With Multimedia

We've had such a wonderful two weeks. I am a little sad that it's all over now and life must go on as usual. Lee leaves tomorrow morning for Phoenix for the week and the kids and I are back in the daily grind. This weekend was our last Harrah and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Here are a few snippets from the weekend...

One of our favorite gifts from Lee's parents was the fire pit that we enjoyed a lot the last few days due to the unseasonably warm temperatures. Lee has channeled his inner pyromaniac and has burned everything from tiny sticks hanging out in the yard to the remains of our Christmas tree. And you should all know that a half-dead pine tree smells like a corpse when burned. I bet the neighbors loved us. We've enjoyed S'Mores (not over the pine tree fire, thank goodness) and a good deal of family time huddled close to the warm flames. Saturday was wet and drizzly, but warm, and I'm pretty sure Sloan and Tia were outside for 4-5 hours. They had a ball playing and I was not about to stop them from soaking in as much fresh air as possible. At one point I heard them yelling for us to come outside, so I ran out and this is what I found. Using my go-go gadget arm, I whipped out a camera and snapped a photo. While bathing Landon last night, I decided that it's probably about time to cut his hair. Why is it always so hard to cut little boy's hair for the first time? It's just such a sad thing. But, seriously, the poor boy is starting to sport a pretty pronounced mullet, and when it dries it looks like a reddish blonde football helmet.
For Christmas, Tia's gift to Sloan was a new driver and an iron. And since Christmas day he's been begging Lee to take him to the driving range to try them out. Here is a short video of our little Tigerinthemaking. He was having a hard time because these clubs were significantly longer than his old clubs, but he still managed to smack the ball 50-75 yards pretty consistently. I'm not so secretly scheming on how this could be his college ticket.

video

Lee got new clothes for Christmas - a much needed boost to his wardrobe. Yesterday, while going through his closet, packing for his trip, Lee exclaimed excitedly, "Man, my clothes are cool now! I'm gonna look awesome." For those of you who know us well, you understand why I am so proud of him right now.
Tonight, the kids and I were in the car and Selah's song, Be Thou My Vision, came on. When Nicol started singing, Sloan asked if that was me on the radio. I grinned, very flattered of course and said no, did it sound like me?
"Yeah," Sloan piped. "Sometimes you sing in a frog voice just like this girl."
I think he meant that it sounded like she had a frog in her throat, because she does have a husky voice. Or, he could just think we sing like frogs. Kids - you gotta love 'em right?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Lee and I rang in the New Year in style last night. Every year, we have the same group of friends over to our house and enjoy some good fellowship and food. This year, however, for some reason it just fell through. People got sick, they couldn't find sitters, etc... So Lee and I found ourselves with a babysitter and nothing to do. I posted our dilemma on twitter, an online social media tool that I am falling in love with, and within a few minutes I had a couple of suggestions and invites to different happenings around town. Lee and I decided to go to Cicero's in The Loop to hear Fundamental Elements play. This is something very different for us as we are generally a couple of old fogies who don't partake of the hip St. Louis scene.

It was really fun! We got dressed up and we didn't leave the house until almost 8:00. There were three different bands playing, but we really only wanted to see FE because we go to church with Joe and Kelli. They were awesome! If you ever get a chance to go see one of their shows, do it. Every one of those guys is wildly talented, but I was especially impressed with the bass player who's fingers were moving so fast that I'm pretty sure I saw smoke.

Right after midnight, the DJ put on the song, "Livin' on a Prayer." The girl standing next to Lee, who we learned earlier was only 27, didn't. know. the. song. Lee came home feeling very old. Once she heard the chorus she did realize that she'd heard it before, but that didn't comfort him much. It was hilarious to watch the entire bar singing Bon Jovi at the top of their lungs. What a way to start 2009.

2008 was a blessed year for us and I have no regrets as I close it out. It was a trying year with the transition to three kids, but we have so many things to be thankful for. It is a year for me to build an alter of remembrance for so I can look back and remember how God walked us through the challenges and reigned blessings down upon us. I look forward to 2009 and what it may bring. Hope you all had a wonderful New Year.

As we got ready to leave the house, I wanted a picture so Sloan took one of Lee and I, then he wanted a picture with me because he said I looked beautiful. Sweet, sweet boy.