Friday, January 30, 2009

Waygu Steaks for Everyone!...Except you...

To celebrate the biggest pork barrel bill ever crafted in the history of spending, even taking into account adjustments due to inflation, of course our new President would want to show that he and his family and party understand that we all have to make sacrifices. We all have to have skin in the game.

"Thus the First family feasted on Wagyu beef."

For those unfamiliar with this beefy delicacy, Wagyu beef is a Japanese creation wherein cows are fed bottled beer and massaged daily to ensure when they're slaughtered, the meat is marbled, tender and worth 100$ or more per pound.

It just seems a bit...argula type excessive. But, maybe I'm wrong, maybe he ordered the ground chuck Wagyu or the round roast cut.

Settling into his new home in DC, Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat in the White House. "He's from Hawaii, OK?" said his senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. "He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there."

And when there's work to be done outside of their address on Pennsylvania Avenue, he hops into his friendly...nope, try"Beast" of a Cadillac that consumes more petrol than a small bus. It's all legitimate. It's for the protection of the President and that's appropriate.

After all, in these days, "We can't drive our SUV's and eat as much as we want and heat our homes to 72 degrees."

Oh...he meant WE can't.

Not Quite the Lesson Mother Teresa Intended I'm Sure.

So today, I’ve got a toddler crying because she doesn’t want to go to the potty even though she’s practically twisted her legs into a pretzel. Carrying a screaming three year old to the bathroom that is all the time kicking isn’t a joyful mother moment. At the same time, I hear the tell tale crash of a breakfast plate by a fellow toddler followed by the on the spot news reporter play by play by the very earnest but not necessarily helpful four year old. The baby has also chosen to voice his irritation at all the racket.

Sitting her on the potty, the phone rings. I’m ignoring it as I’m in no mood to talk to anyone, nor do I want some telemarketer to hear a symphony of caterwauling children as I decide whether or not time is running out on a once in a life time offer to buy tracts of undeveloped land in North Carolina. My newscaster son nevertheless brings me the phone. “There’s a spill of orange juice in the kitchen.” He tells me solemnly, “And it’s Dad.” The cell phone has begun ringing as well.

Currently, I’m reading Mother Teresa’s “Come Be My Light.” It details her intense suffering of spiritual darkness as she persevered in helping the poorest of India for decades. Over time, she learned to embrace this gift of the silent God as His answer to her prayer to be the one to “carry Jesus into the darkest holes of India.” To truly be able to do this, she had to know the darkest holes herself. That the darkest holes of poverty were not found in the slums of India or anywhere else, but within the terrified soul that either does not know or fears there is no God.

It was a sign of her perfected faith that she underwent this great purification while on Earth. Most people did not know of her deep pain, her daily struggle with her faith, as she took it as God’s command that people should Not know. She wore her smile as a cloak to hide her suffering. It was her gift back to God, in return for His. She understood that acting in complete Faith required nothing less than absolute surrender and she gave it. She covered that suffering with a sense of humor and a generous smile. It was a shield and an invisibility cloak that rendered her transparent, so that only God shone through.

“Hello?” I cradle the phone with my neck as I’m now cleaning up from the successful pottying, handing out a few m&m’s and mentally preparing to get out the mop, fix my son’s medicine and a bottle and maybe get myself a diet coke.
“Hi Sher. The school called, we’ve got a sick kiddo. ”

Mentally trying to pull together how I’m going to shod and dress for the weather the four and under set in less than thirty minutes, navigate the icy drive way and get our daughter, drive back home, drop her off, run the toddler back in for another forced potty march and then shuttle back to the school for 2:45 dismissal, it overwhelms. I start to rant. “I want an invisibility cloak, a ring, something to mask all of this craziness.”

“The Cloak. Mother Teresa’s cloak. I’m smiling.”

“You need to work on it.”
“I know.”

“You can’t be gritting your teeth.”
“How would you know? I’m on the phone.”
“I know.”

So I began the trek. Loading the four children, something prodded me to go back in and make a bottle and a complete diaper bag. I even got an extra outfit in case we didn’t make it back home in time for a potty break and snacks. I never pack snacks. I’m trying to put on the joyful smile even when one of my daughters starts to flop and refuse to get in the car. She wants to throw shovels of ice instead. I’ve brought a new music CD for them to listen to, though I’d rather hear the news. Faking a sing songy voice of enthusiasm, amazingly, they all get in the car and we’re off. I can hear Mother Teresa telling me, "Honey, you're still gritting your teeth."

Spiritually, I have learned that whenever one seeks to deepen one’s faith life in practice, the level of challenge responds. Having fastened a joyful smile to my face to stare down the struggles thus far, the front tire promptly blows out equidistant from virtually anywhere that might have been remotely useful. I am on a freeway ramp. I cannot leave, I cannot get out and I cannot drive.

Calling my husband, no answer. Calling Tripple A, I get disconnected. Calling the school to explain the situation, I hang up in mid call as a policeman is knocking on my window. He has called a tow truck and summoned a second car so as to transport all four of my kids and me to a gas station. “It’s a good thing I hadn’t picked up my whole family or you’ld need a paddy wagon." We spend the two hours at the dealership and a woman who is sitting there waiting for her car, can't believe I'm smiling.

"I've engaged the cloaking device." I think as I shrugged, "It's not so bad."
When my husband arrives to pick up the kids, I mentally send Mother Teresa a message. "Hey, I didn't grit my teeth this time."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's a snow day so I don't have the quiet to think, that's why lists are a good cheat. Enjoy.

10) Why does my six year old still think the top of the stairs is a good place to practice an arabesque?

9) How come my three year old raids the food pantry for poppy seed rolls and stores them under her bed? I mean, if it had been cookies I would have understood. She's done ice cream and apple juice before. I've taken to checking underneath her bed for grocery monsters.

8) Why can my adolescent daughter be the high scorer on both her basketball teams and not put clothing in the laundry basket?

7) What made my four oldest think stacking soup bowls face up in the dishwashing machine was a good idea?

6) Why is it that the child who has the most shoes, can’t find any two that match when I’m in a hurry?

5) How do all my kids know how much they are owed in allowance when some of them don’t know which day it is?

4) Exactly how messy does a room have to become before a child will recognize that such a state of being is unhealthy?

3) Why is it all the times she loved baked potatoes are negated by the one time she threw up?

2) Why can a boy wear the same shirt for three days and fuss if he finds a speck on a bowl at breakfast?

1) Why do multiple children act shocked when they've been pegging their brother with snow repeatedly, that he retaliates?

and the final question, When is Spring Break?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Purple Prose Pens in Short Supply!

With the Obama administration having taken the reins of power and freed the land from the oppressive darkness of the evil Bush-Cheney years that shall henceforth be called "the-years-that-could-not-be-named, but-caused-all-that-is-wrong-in-the-world," writers from every corner of the globe are dusting off their thesauruses to rediscover positive adjectives.

Eight years of excoriating vitriol and "I triple dog dare you to Hate Bush more," one upsmanship in the journalistic world has left the media struggling to remember how to give an genuine compliment.

When Bill Clinton was elected president in 92, Newsweek ran a cover with him as Saint George with the pensive and supposedly "hypothetical" question, "Can He Save Washington?" with the Dragon being the obvious bureaucratic monstrosity that everyone denounces except when it's giving your state, special interest, bank, business, or "very special friends," a sizable kickback.

When "W" became president, there were equally silly articles talking about how "the grownups" had arrived. Every election, the news industry gets collective amnesia and works itself into a frenzy that typically would result in the issuing of a restraining order if exhibited by normal human beings.

In articles this week alone, President Obama has compared to Joshua in the Old Testament and John the Baptist and Saint Paul. One person said, hearing him speak was like hearing God. A professor of political theory likened the new president to being both Superman and Clark Kent. Memo to the good doctor, Superman IS Clark Kent! Not to mention the friendly neighborhood Spiderman giving his own web slinging thumbs up to the 44th person to hold the office via a commemorative comic.

There were articles about how the seagulls were in awe of the crowds as they soared overhead. 1000 stars seemed to gleam back at the President as he took the oath and the throngs took their pictures. The poetry flowed from every pen, except the poet's. The combined reverence of Couric, Oberman, Matthews and others rivaled love notes written by 14 year old nerds to the head cheerleader in ABC afterschool specials.

But we have been told, drool over the man's physique, fawn at his every utterance and please don't disturb the historic nature of the moment or the good vibrations half the nation is feeling in it's Pepsi One euphoria by asking any questions. We have to get with the program!

But how to compete when so much praise has already been given? Alas, I'm not sure there are superlatives left in the English language that haven't already been ascribed.

Here is my fledgling attempt to outdo the media in their dog like devotion. Comparing Obama to figures from the bible seems so "Right wing." We are an enlightened people. We eshew such pedestrian references as childish things. To venerate the President and properly acknowledge his place in history, we must go further back to summon icons worthy of such an individual.

First the academics should substitute Barrack's name anywhere in the Illiad or other Greek Myths, they find the name Zeus. The same should be done in Nordic, Odin shall now be Obama as well. There shall be a Buddah Obama, the Dahli Obama, and so forth.

The scientific community should then create a constellation using the National Star Registry and call it Obama. It will use every star visible to the Earth. Any stars having prior names shall shed them in light of the need to honor this historic leader.

Next, Congress must accelerate the Mint's production of quarters so that the only ones in circulation are Obamas. In Barrack we trust, all others pay Obamas. In fact, in light of the current fiscal situation, all other currency shall be seized to help pay for the bail out. It would have happened anyway, this just speeds up the process.

Then we can render unto Obama, what is Obama's. And all will be well. There will be Peace.

Ahhhhhhh, I feel it. The oneness.
All Hail Caesar!

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'll Have a Banana Split

In this down economy, we no longer employ my favorite survival crutch, a maid service with the wonderful name, “Crisis Cleaners.” So now, I must cajole, bribe, entice and warn with a scary low calm voice, my children into keeping their rooms neat and the public areas of the house reasonably free of debris.

The following are provided as a public service to parents everywhere, methods of getting the under 18 crowd to clean up their acts, however temporary.

One Room at a Time Tornado: If I send each child to clean, they will scatter to the four corners of the house, knowing that as I work, I will only rarely come into contact with all of them, thus allowing whoever does not get caught in my peripheral vision to remain in relative obscurity and leisure. By corralling all the critters in a single room and declaring, “We’re not leaving this room until it is perfect.” and blocking the door, the room will sparkle. Some children may get roughed up by others in the process. That’s okay as long as they don’t make a mess of the carpet.

The down side: When they grow up, they will write about you.

One Task at a Time: This approach seems promising, with a Socialist, Each Task according to His/her Skill, appointment of duties. Gamers however soon discern that incompetency equals easier work. So despite the fact that my sons can enter cheat codes and create power points, text message without looking and create 1000 part Lego masterpieces, the operation of a dish washer, washing machine and the mop remain mysteries. For a time, we were at an impasse. However, as I now have the passwords to all the computers in our home, I now can conveniently “forget” how to log onto the machines until they remember how to operate a vacuum.

The One Task at a Time method works as long as tasks can be clearly delineated, but sometimes, the house needs an overhaul in cleanliness, which leads us to the next method of extracting a clean home, straight bribery.

We paid a professional to get the home clean on occasion. Now, we shall pay the amateur. Putting post-its on the rooms with the designated required tasks and the going rate does lead to competitive cleaning. As long as the dollars are cold hard cash and not checks, you can get a room that looks like it was cleaned by a kid for pennies on the dollar. The trouble is, they expect prompt payment and usually, the rooms require a professional (Mom), to go through and redo. The money pays for the illusory feeling of children obeying commands.

Beat the Clock: This works when they are three and you have a fist full of Hershey bar mini’s for the kids who help clean up in the next two minutes. I could tell you that I don’t use it because I worry about cavities or obesity or that my kids have gotten wise to this approach but the fact is, Hershey bars don’t last long in our house, and it’s not because of the children.

The one guaranteed method of getting the home House beautiful is to enlist the aid of my beloved spouse. If Dad is cleaning, then no child has a prayer of exonerating themselves or escaping the chore taskmaster me. We set the timer for one hour and everyone cleans. There are Windex bottles spraying windows, toilets being scrubbed, floors mopped and a vacuum humming everywhere. There are flourishes like children who put fresh flowers on the table or the enterprising nine year old who straightens the pantry and by the end of the sixty minutes, the house looks like civilized people might live here.

After an hour, everyone is exhausted and the idea of dirtying the sparkling kitchen with pots and pans seems a poor tribute to the children’s actual work. So we’ve added a bonus to Sunday One Hour Clean up rule. Dinner on Sunday is Sundaes, and we go out to get them. Now, I just have to figure out how I can manage my diet if we keep the house clean.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Time Out for Time Management

*Sorry I missed posting yesterday* Here's Your Chocolate Fix!*
Families with more than two children know the transition from man to man to zone defense in parenting takes many forms.

Some of the changes are in perception. For example, mini-vans and SUV’s seem oddly small and hand me downs no longer seem shabby.

Others are in policy; the five second rule gets extended to about a minute. Bathing is an every other day affair with the option to push to a third. Bedtime is strictly enforced, whereas television viewing options and time limits are often relaxed.

With three or more children, parenting becomes much more pragmatic and purely functional. There is none of that “hush that blanketed the house during nap time.” Having a child chug the dregs of your left over diet coke is no longer cause for alarm. The purity of the first baby’s diet, which never saw French fries until after the age of two, has given way to frustration, as the youngest just “won’t eat her Chicken McNuggets.”

But the greatest change in family policy and procedure is in the arena of transportation. Once one is past three kids, getting from point A to point B requires a pre-factored half an hour devoted to purely loading and unloading. Subsequent children necessitate factoring in ten additional minutes per minor to account for lost shoes, trips to the bathroom, negotiating car seats and memory recall about where one was actually going. With nine, I’ve had to accept that I will make it within 45 minutes of being fashionably late.

Now, I really hate being late. So I keep tweaking the system. To date, I’ve tried pre-packing a diaper bag and laying out the clothes the night beforehand. I’ve tried keeping their shoes in the car and spare socks in the back pocket of the driver seat. I’ve considered dressing them and myself before going to bed. We’ve even set our clocks to be ten minutes fast to help trick everyone into leaving earlier. That works until I start calculating the fake ten minutes into my schedule, or someone helpfully resets the clock to the actual time.
Enter reality.

I had made an appointment for our youngest. “I want you to bring in the baby for a weight check up on Friday at 8:30 before any sick kids come into the office,” The receptionist said.

The nurse was helping me out, letting me in before office hours. I agreed despite every mom cell in my body screaming “ARE YOU INSANE?!” But I told myself, I can do this. I just needed to plan out my attack.

The next morning started badly. I woke up at six thirty instead of six. Getting them dressed, fed, cleaned up from being fed, loaded in the car plus the diaper bag, the double stroller, purse, cell phone, keys, appointment book, coats, socks and a change of clothing for the child that was wearing pants with matching holes in both knees, we were on the road by 8:50.

When I made it to the parking lot, it was 9:20. It took every ounce of moral courage to not fake the sign in time on the sign in sheet. (9:37).

“Mrs. A!” the receptionist beamed. “You’re early.”

“What? My appointment was at 8:30.”

“It’s tomorrow. Today’s Thursday.”

“Right. Thursday.”

I looked at my four under the age of five children, all dressed, all fed, all ready to go somewhere. We were ahead of schedule.
“Can we wait?”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dotted Quarter Notes

Anyone who has made it through a few years of music, has discovered the challenge of dotted quarter notes. For me, they were a stopping point. I could play the piece by ear, but not from reading. The pause needed in the music was something I never quite could master baring already knowing the tune. The problem with that technique is that everyone hearing the music also knows how it is supposed to sound, and sits waiting for the next notes which may or may not come, depending upon how refined my reading skills are that day. I don't play enough to get requests, but I would like to be able to perform without the 2 minute commercial brakes in between sections I know and don't know.

"Clare de Lune" is a prime example. Salt and peppered with dotted quarter notes in addition to being loaded with sharps, flats and notes that were sharp but are then neutral or made flat, and vice versa; it remains something I have yet to master.

Last week, there was an all school mass with first graders doing all the readings. Listening to first graders navigate the Old and New Testament and the Psalms, there were a lot of pregnant pauses where the laity was anticipating the next word with the same sort of anxiety I feel as my fingers search for the right white or black keys to strike.

Watching as people strained to understand the magnified voices of six year olds over the mike and silently willed the children to successfully get through their petitions or pieces, I had to think, first graders should always be given the readings. Never have I seen adults at such rapt attention. Nothing like a jolt of fear to make sure everyone is alert.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Marching to Her Own Got the Beat

The person who coined the phrase, "Taking candy from a baby," never tried it, or at least, never tried it with mine.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to have more fun. So today, I channeled my inner Ringo and took over my daughter's traditional spot on Rock Band. While I won't be going on tour any time soon, I managed to get through two surprise pieces that were to say the very least, challenging.

The kids seemed rather shocked to see their mom engaging in "non practicle work." Some were willing to give tips. Others were offering to take my place but my character would still get the points. I said, "Yeah, that sounds like lots of fun, let's me watch you play my game." They were truely stunned I didn't want to give up my place. "Aren't you supposed to be selfless and all that?"

"Not today. Today is Friday. Friday is fun day."

The Wii had a gig for us and they wanted a tough drum solo. "Please let me take over for you?" I was even offered a clean room. I pointed out I could command that without surrendering the drum sticks. "Nothing doing."

It was tough. I broke into a sweat. I lost my place twice but I got through it.

It's an important thing for parents to occasionally be shown up by their kids and made to understand how children must sometimes feel when attempting to do something which the adults in their desire to get a move on, take over. I know it will help me the next time I want to assist with tying shoes. I was having a blast despite getting only ratings in the 45 to 67 percentile until my youngest daughter decided those drum sticks were for her.

Now the little Sphinx as we have come to know and love her, never talks unless necessary. I've even had her tested to verify she hears everything. So when the little girl speaks, people listen. Having taken Mom's drum sticks, others hoped to swoope in and assume command of the drums. All they had to do, was pry those two wooden sticks from a 20 month old's grubby fists.

Hah! Lots of luck. When her best friend/sister reached for the sticks, she said in perfect clarity, "These are mine. No!" She spent the next four songs in "No Fail" mode, only speaking when people tried to reclaim the drum sticks, banging to the beat of her own tune in perfect bliss. But for all that time, she jabbered and smiled and banged and loved every minute of her stint as a junior Go-Go whose got the beat.

When we finished playing Wii, it was time for dinner. I thought maybe, after playing with us, the little silent Gal might be inclined to talk. "Do you want milk or juice?" She pointed her desire. "Do you want pasta with meatballs?" She nodded. "Do you want sauce?" She held out her plate.

Now she used words just fine down in the basement to indicate choices, to defend her territory, and to participate. But at the dinner table, we got nothing. Given that she likes tapping those drum sticks, maybe I should have served chicken. That, or she's speaking in Morse Code.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Satire Can't Beat Real News

This is real...

"A statue of the crucifixion has been taken down from its perch on a church in Sussex because it was scaring local children and deterring worshippers, a vicar admitted today.

The Rev Ewen Souter, the vicar at St John's Church in Horsham, West Sussex, ordered the removal of the 10-foot sculpture of Jesus on the cross just before Christmas, branding it "unsuitable" and "a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering".

The 10ft resin sculpture, by Edward Bainbridge Copnall, a former president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, will be replaced by a more "uplifting" stainless steel cross – to the dismay of more traditional parishioners.

Souter, formerly a cell biologist, said: "The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children. Parents didn't want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying.

"It wasn't a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.

"We're all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross."

The Vicar declined to answer whether or not the rumors were true that he had also substituted Coca-cola for the wine and Chips Ahoy! for the bread. "If we do make any changes, you can be sure they'll be heart healthy and take into consideration the need to fight obesity and diabetes." He did let slip that there were some concerns about promoting alcoholism with the use of wine, and that a search was underway for substitute words in the concecration part of the service, as body and blood were deemed too graphic for the general public.

"We've put in a new rock fountain that is so much more soothing than our old basin baptismal font. We're really trying to modernize. We've got to make the church accessible to more people and you don't do that by pointing out such downers as sin."

When it was pointed out that many parishoners object to the change, the Vicar gave a pained and patient look. "It's for the children."

I for one, am filled with hope.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Forgive me. I admit, my economics background is grounded in pure experience. Budgets require that you not spend more than you earn. Borrowing from the future is a bad idea. Having more money allocated to fixed expenses does not promote spending, it promotes cutting back. These are things I have learned via the school of hard knocks, the occasional over expenditure that resulted in a raidings of the savings account, and the brief experiement with a home equity loan.

We spend much easier than we save.

I remember wondering how the dot coms made money. It turns out, they didn't. I remember wondering how people could afford these McMansion houses starting in the low 900's. It turns out they couldn't.

So I'm wondering how taxing to create a 1 Trillion dollar bail out plan will actually result in more money being available. Flooding the markets with money to loan won't be something that people can afford. If we're paying more in taxes, we're not going to want to take on more debt.

The number could be a gazillion or five hundred google and it wouldn't matter. The money has to come from somewhere. If we print too much, the money we have will be worth less. It's been tried before.

Yet, we're going to press on with this plan because that's what the Country needs and people who write for the New York Times even fret that it's not enough. Those who complain are slammed as hypocrites because they spent foolishly when they were in power. So if I understand this correctly, the Democrats are entitled to spend foolishly because the Republicans did.

But the economy shall rise like a Phoenix because we spend this money quickly. I really hope it does, but my own ordinary understanding of economics says this won't work. We can't make the economy sing by taxing ourselves into oblivion.

So you heard it here first. I have coined the phrase, "Obamanomics." You tax to prosperity and when that doesn't work, you tax more.

I'd laugh but this isn't funny.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gotta Dance

Today was my daughter’s first ballet lesson. She’s been aching to dance since I took her to see the Nutcracker and told her I’d signed her up. Every morning, she would ask, “Is today my dance lesson?” and we’d check the calendar. This morning, she got up, got dressed and fixed herself breakfast to be sure she wouldn’t be late. She asked me all the way there if we were late and even after we had arrived and were waiting for her class to start, she worried we’d missed it.

Stepping into the room walled with mirrors and meeting two Ms. Sarahs, she nearly swooned. Putting on her tap shoes –it is a ballet/tap class intro course, she almost exploded with joy when the teacher announced there would be a recital with costumes at the end of the semester. I took her younger sister and baby brother back to the waiting room after watching a few shuffle steps.

On the first floor of the dance studio, a “First Steps” class was beginning.

Parents were coming in with two, three and four year olds and in some cases, practically crowbaring the children off their legs. One daughter pouted at her father and refused to go into the room. It was probably a bad call on the instructor’s part to have them dancing to “Maybe” from Annie.

My daughter however, was enchanted. The director told her she could watch. After five minutes, my three year old, who isn’t really the “watching” type, immersed herself in the class. The instructor didn’t mind but I saw an opportunity. “This is a one time deal.” I explained. “Why?” she asked.

“Because ballerinas don’t wear diapers.” This may seem cruel but all’s fair in love and potty wars. My daughter nodded her head and returned to the class. There, she danced and flipped and followed directions. She outshone all the other students with her sheer joy and willingness to do whatever the instructor said.

The director saw an opportunity too. When the class was over, she handed my daughter a white leotard in a plastic bag. “You can have this. Wear it when you’re potty trained." Her teacher smiled and said "We’ll see you in class.”

The director and instructor had just earned my undying love and loyalty with their backing me up.

My daughter reverently took the bag and held it tight to her heart. She explained to me that she was going to be in this class this coming Saturday because she would be a big girl and wear underwear.

She went home and that’s just what she did.

I don’t know about my three year old but personally, I “GOTTA DANCE.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

If This Keeps Up, I'm Handing Out Tooth Brushes, Apples and Popcorn balls

Someone check the calendar. I think it’s Halloween. All these companies keep knocking on the government door and asking for goodies. And they’re scaring me.

First there was AIG and Citibank. 350 billion gone without oversight…but, but….Congress is not giving out that other 375 billion without a few more conditions. You can’t T.P. the mall if you want the rest of the dough.

Then, there were the big three. They were scolded and sent home because they hadn’t bothered to dress up. We don’t give out paydays or 100,000 Grand bars to trick o’treaters who aren’t in costume.

As the hours drift by, the bigger kids came out to beg. Newspapers and Porn industries are currently seeking bail out funds from Congress. Right now, all we have left are sweet tarts and skittles. However, an emergency run has been made to the local Walmart to grab a few bags of the good stuff.

For a measily 1.25 Trillion or more, we’re not sure exactly, the Economy might be saved. We’ll extend October 31st indefinitely, until everyone that wants some candy, gets some. We’ll even raid our own kid’s candy stash to make sure those who knock on the door, get something good.

Just someone show up and surprise me by being the designated driver for all these drunken sailors. (I know, I'm mixing metaphores and it's an insult to drunken navy servicemen and women everywhere).

Trick or Treat.

What do I do NOW?

For those unversed in "Chaos theory," there is the notion that every action affects the world in ways far beyond those that can be predicted. The mere flap of a butterfly's wing in China could prevent or increase the intensity of a tornado in the United States. Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" illustrated how the death of a prehistoric moth could destroy what would otherwise have been a perfect world. (Lincoln would not be assasinated in that other timeline).

Yesterday, on the radio, an announcer talked of how the flap of a butterfly's wing in South America could affect the weather in Texas. Hearing this, I deliberately sought out a few mosquitoes and squashed them.

I have washed dishes, sneezed and folded socks. I expect weather in the midwest to be mild and snowy. If it's not, I just want you to know, I've done all I can.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Uncharted Waters of Adulthood

My poor kids.

When I was growing up,the worst that could happen was my cousins who lived with us, coming by the front french glass doors of our house as I was ending a date.

"They're kissing They're kissing They're kissing They're kissing!" was the cry that echoed through the house. We weren't but as a teenager, one dies a 1000 times of humiliation. I was certain my Mom had put her up to it, but this has been denied consistently.

Now as the parent, it's my turn. I get to be the gatekeeper. This is uncharted territory. For years, I've supervised playdates, taken the time to know teachers and coaches and parents that surround my children's friends. Now, with a son in high school, I'd be hardpressed to pick his friends out of a line up, given the fact that the instutition at which he spends 8+ hours a day five days a week is more than an hour commute away.

We encouraged him to join a play, a club, anything to make friends more accessible. He did. Now, we must pay the price for our good counsel.

By being in a play, he had met and asked a girl on a date.

We tried to be nonchallant and vigilant at the same time. It meant we wafted between demanding that we be the drivers to pick the girl up and not insisting on getting her home address so we could google her family.

The date was on for this past Sunday. Because we were still unsure how this would work, I volunteered to take four children to see a seperate movie so we'd be oncall and available if anything disasterous happened. (Other than having your mother and two brothers and two sisters crash your first date)!

Our movie ended first. The other show had another hour to go, so I took my party home and returned to stake out the theatre. When my son came up with his date, her mother was talking with them. She had come along too. She had also taken the opportunity to catch a film she wouldn't otherwise get to see. We started up a conversation and hit it off.

I don't know how the date was for my son or for her,but as far as the moms were concerned, it was a fun evening. They gave each other a chaste hug and both parents went home sighing in vague contentment at having managed to cobble through the first hurdle of the next stage of parenting.

I'm thinking of putting in French glass doors and staking out his sisters for future date nights.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why Resolutions Don't Work in 2009

It's 2009. I didn't make a resolution. But then I haven't bought a converter box yet either. Maybe it's the times. Maybe it's emotional and intellectual and physical sloth but resolutions these days seem very fossil fuel. Much of what we seek to change or improve has been either rendered unnecessary or made mandatory, such that it isn't so much a resolution involing personsal responsibility as an obligation we didn't know we signed on to before getting the New Year's To-do list.

10) Resolving to be fiscally responsible. In this day and age, with Congress doling out the dough to every institution that knocks on the door, it would be the height of folly to practice frugality in light of the free largesss the government wishes to pass out to the needy massive corporations. Saving money in 2009 is the equivalent of passing up 20 Trillion sitting on the street waiting to be picked up. You could do it but in heaven's name why?

9)Losing weight. Southbeach, Adkins, Tae Bo, Lippo, Gastro, Phen phen, Jenny Craig, Weight watchers, even Oprah couldn't manage it and she's got personal chefs cooking for her. If millionare president pickers can't beat the bulge, what chance do the rest of us have against Krispy Kremes, french fries and all things chocolate. Let's just call Congress, ask them to rewrite the Body Mass Indexes/average weights to incorporate our greater girth and change the standard deviation such that 75% is within the 3/4th range.

8) Becoming better educated. Between Google and Wikipedia, there is so much information and misinformation, everyone can become an instant expert or idiot on virtually anything, just ask Caroline Kennedy, Al Franklen, Blago, Burris, the list goes on. Today, all you need is a staff and and a blackberry and you need never crack a textbook again. So kids, cram for the tests and forget all the rest.

7) Being Counter-cultural. What would this mean? What would it look like? Reading a newspaper? Using incandescent bulbs? The Amish?

6) Volunteering. With the economy going down the drain, this formerly noble impulse to serve without pay is rapidly become the norm of the actual capitalistic business model. We Americans need to work more and get paid less. It's more "patriotic." Break out the fireworks and the cheap hotdogs and pay your taxes. Whee.

5) Green living. Perusing all the "simple everyday tips" for being more Earth friendly offered in this week's paper alone, I should give up all paper products, coffee, heat, electricity, fruits not in season, one's car, use of planes, computers, printers, baths, tin foil, milk, beef, fish, chicken, processed sugar, leather products, bottled water, appliances and beauty products. I've seen this some place before...oh yeah, Europe.

4) Correcting/improving spelling, writing and grammar. These days, who would notice?

3) Becoming famous. With Youtube, Facebook, blogging, call-ins to every television show and reality television shows popping up faster than kudzu alongside the highways, this isn't so much a goal of any year, as it is something one must actively seek to avoid.

2) Learning all the things that are on the 2009/2008 In/Out list. It's simple. If you knew what they were, and what they are, you're in. If you didn't, you're out. If you have to ask...(Note, saw the list, was able to identify 6 of the in, 10 of the out, of 100).

1) Having more actual fun. I'm not sure this is still allowed by federal law.

On a personal note: Planning to lose weight, save money and stay organized while learning to play the drums on the Wii, master french, finish my book, keep my house neat, get published 52 times and learn three pieces on the piano, read 12 actual books and have more fun daily, pray the rosary and maintain my Saint Bridgette's discipline. There, I made resolutions. Now That's Counter-cultural.

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Be it Never So Humble, This is Our Home

In the cosmic struggle between order and chaos that takes place on a daily basis on the great battlefield known as my home, the one sure loser is the house.

When we moved into our latest residence, I kept waiting for the Posh police to come by and forcibly evict us. "I'm sorry, you folks exceed the toddler tolerance policy as prescribed by fancy homes everwhere. You will have to leave."

Slowly, the house had to acclimate to the plethora of grubby fingers that left marks on walls and door knobs. The ceiling had to come to terms with th occasional super ball that would bounce against it and the airplanes that sometimes glided from the second floor onto the crown molding. Wooden floors found themselves tasked with children engaged in sock skating and carpets have found themselves, the home of more than 1000 legos. The gourmet kitchen served toasted waffles and peanut butter and jelly on an almost daily basis, and the showers had little mermaid, army men, tub tints and bath crayons, bubble bath and monkey shower curtains.

We tried fancier bedding, furniture and lighting, but twelve bulging laundry baskets frequently injured any ambiance the large master bedroom. The plastic portable infant tub, port-a-potty and toddler bath chair in the master bath also hampered any air of sophistication that our home might otherwise have.

Late at night, I swore I could hear the joists and the beams of the house creaking and moaning, "Where are the Eglands?" "When are you coming back?"

Two years into home ownership, I bought a shoe organizer and a closet now looks like it might possibly not be taxed beyond physical capacity as a result. One room down, fifteen to go. At this rate, the house will be in perfect order in thirty years, by which time, I hope the house is wondering, "Where did everybody go?"

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!