Monday, August 17, 2009

A Full Plate

When I hear the same phrase from multiple people, I pay attention, or at least try. The words, "She has a full plate." have been dropped recently and that got me to thinking about the fullness. Nine children and a house and writing and all the relationships I should strengthen, nurture and establish did feel overwhelming. Virtually everything I look at could use more presence than I sometimes can give. The fullness of life and of what life demands or should have, saturated my brain and the whole thing felt like too much.

The whirlpool of tasks needed to organize my home would trump reading, would trump playing, would trump writing, would trump physical and psychological and emotional and spiritual maintenance of everyone. The whole of the world with all of its unloving demands, the tyranny of time and tasks, threatened to suck all the joy out of living and leave me paralyzed where nothing gets done and no one gets nourished.

Now I confess I want to write. I want sometimes to write so much it aches. There are countless rabbit holes this Alice wants to fall down and explore on a daily basis. They all begin with following the white rabbit that is real. They end with me typing on a computer, creating just a bunch of cards that get lost in the breeze and have an odd uncirculated permanence. They will live forever, but be read and remembered by only a few.

But the lives that are here, deserve more than my down time from writing, and more than when I feel inspired by motherhood or the spirit to give my all to them. They need me to put on the joyful mask and parent whether I like it or not, whether I wish at the moment or not. They need me to love mothering so much it aches when I'm not. I have served two masters, and that is never good.

So effective immediately, and with some sadness but a full heart and plate besides, I'm suspending my blog. Sherry is this necessary? Trust me, it is. I check regularly to see if someone has posted. I check regularly to see how many visits have come. I post more often to try and get traction. I know this is not what I'm supposed to do with my time, only what I want.

What I want is almost always not what is good for me or anyone else. What God wants matters. What God wants is for me to accept that this gift of words should not be used as a shield or escape from parenting or living or anything else, and that I need to model for my children the moderation in habits that are everyday, that I want them to embrace themselves. It's a kick to write and to be read. It's even addicting. So I have to make this promise to myself. I also promise not to let that gift fester, but gestate and develop and be used in other forms and formats, just not ones that consume all my mind, energies and time.

I'd let you know how I'm doing with it but that would be cheating. I'll keep a journal by my bed so the writing I do is on my time only.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for following.

You've been great.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Speechless Speculation

Followers of this blog know I have one daughter who opts not to speak. We’ve been attempting to encourage her to find her voice with puppets and silly songs and other interactive exercises. This morning, my mother awoke to the dulcet tones of the two sisters sitting in their room playing with a musical toy.

The older sister would push a button on the play house to make it play music. My ordinarily silent daughter would say, “Shut up!” and both would collapse into giggles.

Their conversation left all sentient adults and siblings with multiple moral quandaries: 1) Who taught her this? 2) Why of all words she could use, is she using this? 3) Should we discourage her from saying this when we are so desirous of hearing her speak period? 4) Why must everything be overly complicated?

Fortunately, the situation resolved itself as my older toddler spotted her grandmother and immediately after the younger sister said, “Shut up!” and started to giggle, stated very primly, “That’s rude.” Followed by a blatantly false statement, “She did it, it’s her fault.” all of which brought the game to a prompt end.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lock Out

I didn’t intend to cause a screen free experience. I’d just meant to limit children’s exposure to television by locking every channel. I couldn't compete with the 27 channels we got using an antenea, so I knew cable and its 275 flavors of crude would be too much. "If you want to watch something, just ask." I explained.
"But you might say no." they wailed.

“But Mommmmm….what are we going to do?” Pointing to the bin of unread library books brought howls of derision. “But that’s boring…..” they echoed like a Greek Chorus.

Now I have a stock pile of standard responses to that charge, usually involving the allocation of a dreaded chore. “There are socks to be folded, dishes to wash, floors to mop and carpets to vacuum.” I say to such words. Oddly enough, no one ever takes me up on my offer to fill their free time with valuable domestic duties.

So it came to pass that both remotes to the television got lost somewhere in the home. One child when so far as to remove all books from the floor in an attempt to locate the magic controllers that govern the two TV’s.

I’d also had my daughter create a password I didn’t know to my own computer so I wouldn’t spend too much time surfing the net or blogging, when I should be exercising, getting kids to do their summer projects, preparing meals and enjoying books during the unscheduled hours that define in my opinion, the best part of summer. I’d locked the kiddos out of the net free machine as well when a fight broke out over who could play Miss Spider or I Spy between the five, seven and three year old.

After an hour of unsolicited cleaning, the kids despaired of finding the controllers and resorted to old fashioned entertainment. THEY WENT OUTSIDE. Six children, ages 11-2 were playing zoo, coming in only to grab a cup of water. From 4-6, it was blissful. I cooked pancakes and bacon without worrying about people underfoot or resolving a single fight. The oldest two grabbed their respective assigned books and MP-3 players, plugged in and tuned out. By the end of the evening, two had practiced their musical instruments. Two others had done their math work books. Five had read to themselves and four had helped with sorting socks.

In the spirit of solidarity, I turned on the classical station and stayed off the computer even though my daughter logged me on that evening. Over dishes, the children were talking about what they would do tomorrow using legos and about playing capture the flag and maybe making a cake.

Don’t tell them but, I found the remotes. I’m keeping them an undisclosed location in my room until further notice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is That?

This film was sent by a friend of my brother's who teaches theology at a high school in Houston. I found it very moving. I hope you will enjoy it too.

My Letter Back to the White House

From: "David Axelrod, The White House"
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 12:38:19 PM
Subject: It's time for a reality check

Dear Friend,

Anyone that's watched the news in the past few days knows that health insurance reform is a hot topic — and that rumors and scare tactics have only increased as more people engage with the issue. Given a lot of the outrageous claims floating around, it’s time to make sure everyone knows the facts about the security and stability you get with health insurance reform.

That’s why we’ve launched a new online resource — — to help you separate fact from fiction and share the truth about health insurance reform. Here's a few of the reality check videos you can find on the site:

CEA Chair Christina Romer details how health insurance reform will impact small businesses.
Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes tackles a nasty rumor about euthanasia and clearly describes how reform helps families.
Matt Flavin, the White House's Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy, clears the air about Veteran's benefits.
Kavita Patel, M.D., a doctor serving in the White House's Office of Public Engagement, explains that health care rationing is happening right now and how reform gives control back to patients and doctors.
Bob Kocher, M.D., a doctor serving on the National Economic Council, debunks the myth that health insurance reform will be financed by cutting Medicare benefits.
There's more information and a number of online tools you can use to spread the truth among your family, friends and other social networks. Take a look:

We knew going into this effort that accomplishing comprehensive health insurance reform wasn't going to be easy. Achieving real change never is. The entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo always use their influence in Washington to try and keep things just as they are.

But don't be misled. We know the status quo is unsustainable. If we do nothing, millions more Americans will be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or see their coverage suddenly dropped if they become seriously ill. Out-of-pocket expenses will continue to soar, and more and more families and businesses will be forced to deal with health insurance costs they can’t afford.

That's the reality.

Americans deserve better. You deserve a health care system that works as well for you as it does for the status quo; one you can depend on — that won't deny you coverage when you need it most or charge you crippling out-of-pocket co-pays. Health insurance reform means guaranteeing the health care security and stability you deserve.

President Barack Obama promised he'd bring change to Washington and fix our broken, unsustainable health insurance system. You can help deliver that change. Visit, get the facts and spread the truth. The stakes are just too high to do nothing.

Thank you,

David Axelrod
Senior Advisor to the President

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Dear Mr. Axelrod,

I read with interest, your many articles and videos to address the unfounded concerns about pending health care legislation, but it did not address the founded concerns about the pending health care bill.

Here are the following things I find have not been adequately addressed by any of the speeches or statements offered by the President, the White House or the legislators in their town hall meetings, press releases and op-ed pieces:

1) the claim that all costs will be budget neutral over the next ten years. Only in government does this sort of financial wizardry actually make sense or seem possible. The cost of health care for the private sector keeps going up because of spiraling demand for health services. As the surplus of baby boomers tap into Medicare, Medicaid, social security and this new government largess, a much bigger strain on the system will take place than currently projected.

If we can't afford to fund Medicaid and Medicare and SCHIP fully, then why do we think we can afford to take on 14, 43 or 50 million uninsured?

2) Hypocrisy: If it was bad for Bush to increase the deficit, and bad for Reagan, and bad for the Republicans under Clinton, then it is bad now. The R or the D makes no difference. We can't demand more from the government on a monumental scale and not expect a corresponding increase in spending, deficit or otherwise. Even the Congressional Budget Office says your numbers don't add up.

2) The funding of possibly assisted suicide. Now I heard the lady talk about how the end of life counseling is only about living wills and end of life care and that doctors will be reimbursed by the government for having these helpful talks.

But the content of those talks is of significance, and it matters that our government will pay doctors to talk about living wills and end of life care because it is the government subsidizing end of life planning through a third party.

It makes people nervous, not because they fear change --a broad based and frankly unworthy charge, but because the content of those discussions which we as tax payers will be financing is not discussed or expressly spelled out.

I understand that this is not mandatory and that you worry the Republicans are demonizing one aspect of health care to doom all of it. But you should understand that those of us who have taken the time to read at least some of the bill and who try to stay informed understand that if you reimburse someone for recommending something, they do it more often.

The drug companies do this with doctors, and thus we have a nation that takes antacids, Viagra, and pills for every ailment from restless leg syndrome to insomnia and all the sufferings in between. If the government pays for the talks, the talks will happen. It stands to reason, and thus people are concerned where these talks will lead eventually.

Talking about how to manage one's affairs at the end of life is a matter that is personal and usually involves family and lawyers, rather than the government and doctors. So having a third party, Uncle Sam, in on the conversation makes us wary.

Where are the checks and balances to ensure that one's personal convictions and not the doctor's or the government in power which will change from time to time, remain superior? We need a written guarantee that "communitarianism" medical care as advocated by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the President's top health advisors, will not be eventually deny care of a pre-existing condition, chronic condition or advanced age to mitigate expenses. There have been plenty of written pieces by key advisors that indicate when someone has a serious permanent pervasive or debilitating condition, the Doctors that currently enjoy key positions of power and influence with the President, counsel against additional medical care as a rule.

The premise that health care reform at present will not include the government making those decisions apriori for patients does not preclude the government from eventually opting to adopt a cost effective measure of doling out medical treatment. There needs to be an explicit guarantee within the confines of the legislation that all end of life care shall be determined by the parties in question and not by the government or proxy by the government refusing to pay. (Especially, when some of the people advising on this health care bill have written as friends of the court in cases involving assisted suicide, and have connections to the formerly called Hemlock society). (See Jill Stanek's website for details if you wish).

3) Moral issues like abortion.

For some people, this moral issue is the crux of their problems with the universal health care. These are people who care about the poor, who donate to charity, who pray and make meals for families in need, but who also hold themselves to a standard they believe is from God. To require people to violate their religious beliefs to satisfy a health care program that wishes to offer all things to all people is to (as a government), demand that people deny their beliefs in order to comply with the will of the state. This is a troubling precedent as I'm sure you can understand.

People do not like being told they must fund something they find morally wrong. People do not like feeling like they have no choice. Cut out the stuff that is not medically necessary --like abortion. Make sure these issues which are not medically required for continued existence, are expressly NOT funded to eliminate debate on the issue. There will then be more public support.

The idea was to provide medical care for people in need, to ensure everyone had access to critical medical care and systemic medical treatment for health issues. If you would insist abortion is only a choice, then it is optional and as such it is not a medical necessity but a preference. We do not need to pay for someone's preference, especially when some of us consider the choice itself an evil act.

3) Private vs. Public care. Overwriting and underwriting are the two great sins that the government excels in committing. If there is an increase in cost for providing private care as versus public, most businesses won't offer private except to lure high power people into their business. If there is not a guarantee that the government plan shall not undercut the private by such an extent as to penalize businesses that offer private, (as is currently in the bill, with 8% increase penalty tax that businesses must pay if they do not offer public options), private insurance shall only be the privilege of the very rich or the members of Congress.

Underwriting: Currently, the underfunded insurance assistance programs offered by the government --the aforementioned Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP and also COBRA, fail in their stated objectives for lack of funding. Doctors won't take Medicare and Medicaid because it traditionally underpays by as much as 70% in some cases. If public becomes the only option and underpays what doctors need to meet the bottom line of having an office and a staff and the materials to treat patients, they will leave the profession, leaving a glut of patients in a lurch and in need. The lines for available doctors will get longer, and the care of less quality owing to a lack of capacity to address the sheer volume of demand.

Put in an agreement that public will not undercut the private offerings thus making private a thing only for the rich, or consequently rendering private insurance, a thing of the past.

4) Security: You've said we can keep the health care we have if we like it, but there is no guarantee that with the presence of a public option, the cost of the private care won't skyrocket. If it does, all who can't afford private, must accept the public and that will mean 1) losing one's coverage, 2) losing one's doctor 3) a change in care. Government guarantees are not exactly gold standard in this day and age. So it comes down to trust, which must be earned by careful stewardship and thoughtful responses and crafted legislation.

5) Conviction: It's hard to believe you care this much about health care when you did not help draft the bill, have not offered your own version, and don't seem worried that this might break what is not broken in the system and not fix what you declare must be resolved. Simply put, we do not trust your guidance when you've exercised so little of it in the creation of this bill, and seem only willing to exert your influence to bully the American people into accepting whatever Congress deems to send you. Again, trust is the vital component that is missing. For those that believe in you, they see no wrong. For those that did not, your administration has done little to alleviate their concerns or gain their confidence.

6) Redress of problems. If care is not rationed but not unlimited, there must be a point when the government, like the insurance company, says "No." Rationing as you have argued already occurs in private care when people are denied coverage, dropped from coverage or refused payments for doctor services rendered.

There are checks and balances in the private sector for when the answer is "no." One can sue; one can complain to the government about the tactics of a specific company, one can go to the press and to charities to get additional information, aid and possibly a solution.

Redress of when someone is told "No" by the government needs to be carefully explained to the public or they will fear an Orwellian type system unsympathetic to the plight of the helpless, commercially unviable and elderly. The health bill already states that we cannot sue.

With all due respect to the President, as hard as it is to fight insurance companies, it's harder to fight city hall.

7) Prior experience, prior writings, prior words: The types of literature put out by many of your key officials that are providing counsel and advice do not help alleviate fears about a government program that will eventually become Logan's Run, Soylent Green, or some type of Houyhnhnms society.

When Peter Singer in the New York Times talks of how a teenager has more added value and thus is worth more to the state than the elderly, I find such thinking morally and ethically disturbing, as well as implicitly scary. Dr. David Blumenthal, another advisor recommends "slowing medical innovation to control health spending." Blumentahl thought it was debatable whether timely care that Americans get is worth the cost.

Delays in treatment that clog up the ER are part of what prompted this health care crisis in the first place, when people must wait hours for basic care at a place designated for emergencies.

I do not feel comforted by the counsel of the President's top health advisors. These are not the scare tactics of the right or the Republicans, these are the words of your own advisors, who presumably believe what they say and intend to enact policy that reflects those beliefs.

And then there are the President's past words, when he offered a morphine drip instead of a pacemaker for a vibrant elderly grandmother as a cost cutting alternative. These past words have memory in the public sector and as such are not going to be ignored just because they contradict the image you wish to present now.

7) Finally, people resent being demonized for having dared to discuss their concerns in town halls and with legislators. Granted not all of the discourse has been cordial, but frankly, those in power have seemed woefully indifferent to the concerns of those who did not vote for them.

In a representative government which I submit, this still is, these voices still matter as much as the Democrats did when they did not hold the House, Senate or White House. They should not be trivialized as stupid, vulgar or uninformed. They should not be considered traitorous for sending out emails or discussing articles and talk shows. To brand people as such because they disagree is to stoke the fire and make people much more distrustful of anything that is subsequently said.

I hope you can address some of these issues instead of answering only straw man arguments that further indicate an unwillingness to bend even the slightest to the public concerns that hold merit. I do agree, the stakes are too high to sit and do nothing. I look forward to your response.

Sherry Antonetti

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reality Television

Now that Jon and Kate plus 8 have seperate lives, there is a void in the reality television world that exploits large and unusual families for other people's voyeuristic viewing pleasure. It has been mentioned in passing on more than one occasion that yours truely and her nine should throw their hats into the ring.

As my son said, "I could live with thousands of people thinking less of me for millions of dollars." We had a good laugh but the cost of living so large is expensive in my opinion.

With writing, I get to control the extent to which I reveal. I can embellish, shade and make up as the story goes. I do all the writing I do to make points, to reveal truth through myth. Most of the time, inspiration comes from diving into the imagination from the board of reality where these stories always start.

I mean, I could write stuff like today I ate a fiber one bar for breakfast and proceeded to lose it when I found the upstairs sinks had been finger painted with tooth paste. Then we set the old grill on fire because it was infested with hornets. After two hours of flames, the darn things came back and started rebuilding. It would be entertaining but I'm not going to tell you how much of that actually happened. I'll just let the image of a flaming black oil drum grill with me posed with the hose ready to fire on the fire sit.

But with film, there'd be no hiding the fact that I spent much of the morning armed with my shop vac, cleaning the outside deck of cobwebs and spidery cocoons, or later that I fought valiantly against an invasion of fruit flies. We do not like to look at ourselves in the mirror too long, or at least, I don't. And as such, I don't know that I could bear looking too deeply at the craziness that my life can sometimes translate into when viewed from a distance. Who wants to watch a person fold six loads of laundry and then be brought to her knees by the discovery of six additional loads that have been hidden behind various children's doors, under their beds, or in the guest closet? If it's me, then I vote "Not me."

So no son, we will labor in our undiscovered glory and relish the high price we're willing to pay for having to make friends and become known through our words and deeds both done and not done, said and not said, but not on tv. It won't make millions, but it won't be forever on reruns either. Unless I write about it and post it on the internet.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Shopping Spree

I don't like shopping. The only actual purchasing I enjoy honestly, involves either books or food. I could spend every last penny on either. I love browsing the gourmet grocery store and the book store with equal lavish abandon.

Because my kids have music lessons in the evening, my husband is home with the littles. I can gallantly volunteer to bring the olders to the music store and spirit myself into another world for the thirty minutes. Sometimes I go to the upscale grocery and stare at the beautiful foods my kids won't eat. Other times I go to the Borders and pour over the new books and imagine my name there.

Then there is the ritual. At the grocery store, I examine the vegetables I've never cooked, chocolates I've yet to taste and fantasize about making a French Onion soup that taste just right or Stromboli on some Friday night just for fun, or artichokes with melted butter that I don't wind up just eating by myself for four days. It's fun to dream.

If I'm at the bookstore, a similar ritual plays out. I pick up at least three political books to read the back cover, a history or two in a fit of dutifulness, and then head to the area I really love.

It happened over time, my love of food and my love of books merged. I noticed it with the book Like Water for Chocolate, and again as I found the cook books I liked best, had stories sprinkled in them like extra ingredients. "The Frugal Gourmet," "The Texas Cookbook" and Don DeLouise's "Eat This, You'll Feel Better" all shared a common thread of tasty mental tidbits in addition to awesome chicken and pasta, deadly delicious smoked burgers and a sponge cake that my kids still ask for whenever I offer them the option.

So now I go to the cook book section and drool.

Over the years, I have amassed a collection of cookbooks that is roughly 50 strong, ten of which are so used that they either have lost a back or pages, or have been repurchased used, as they are out of print. As such, I tell myself, I don't need another cookbook.

For a while, I'd managed to justify getting new cookbooks by restricting my purchases to when we were out of town. If say, we were at a civil war battle field touring and the gift shop touted "Cookbook of the Civil War, Union and Confederate dishes," I'd buy it and say, "We can learn a lot from this about the lives and history of our country." But most of these type of cookbooks, if accurate, are largely filled with recipes more inedible than hard tack. Conversely, if they contained "Cajun Spiced Sushi" or other inventive meal offerings that wouldn't have been found within 100 years or 1000 miles of the historic site offering the book, I can't be bothered. As such, I had abandoned this excuse to buy new cooking tomes and allowed my collection to top out at 51 as of last year.

So when I ducked into the book store and was hit with the sales pitch for Julia Child's Joy of French Cooking as I'd picked up the book "Julie and Julia," it took all my mental will not to plink down the extra forty bucks and get the matched set. But the addictive/suggestive part of my mind had been triggered.

By the time the kids got back in the car, my brain was already firing on the gourmet experience I'd spring on my husband. There were mushrooms and potatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes and chives. The neurons were so busy making connections and plotting the whole meal they didn't register that the cell phone rang so my daughter picked it up.

Their father had treated the kids to some fast food and had some waiting for us at home.

"That's great." I murmured. The kids cheered in the car. My pseudo foodie rush crashed hard.

But I vowed silently, next week I'd be serving artichokes and everyone would be eating them. That, or I'm going back to get those two bonus Julia Child cookbooks.

Fishy Thoughts on My Soap Box

There are many ways to express one's opinion: yelling at a congressman, writing an op-ed, throwing shoes at a President, patronizing movies that satirize the opposition. What all of these things do, is not address issues, but release pent up emotion about a state of things in general.

As cathartic as it might be to some to yell or to take pleasure in watching legislators squirm, (and I conceed, I've done my fair share of snarking because it is catharitc and fun to feel terribly clever for a moment) it does not address the actual issues that should be carefully considered and actually discussed. Part of the fault lies in the way Congress goes about its business and has as of late with a breath taking speed. When you race through bill after bill spending money hand over fist without stopping even to read what you are voting on, people who voted you into office start to feel that even if they offered reasoned discourse, it wouldn't matter. The rubber stamp from the party in charge would be all that determined if a bill became law.

Also, some people who (yes, their side lost), have no voice in any part of the legislative process feel powerless and thus angry that they are being force fed tax after tax, bill after bill, and while some good may come of the laws, much mischief is also afoot.

No one can say honestly that 1.7 trillion without reflection is without tremendous waste. But no one believes that this Congress, having had a taste of Wagyu beef type spending on a daily basis, won't find throwing trillions around much less scary from now on. Everyone talks of how we need to control spending; no one cuts one damn thing. No one wants their sacred cows turned into hamburger, only someone else's.

Here are my questions for our leaders from my blog. Please understand I know the facts about health care are not set, as the bill has not been passed, and that the numbers also jump from one day to another. I will try to use only the numbers and statements issued by official sources.

The White House said we won't lose our doctors or our coverage. I believe they believe that to be true. I also follow the logic of economics. Public schools versus Private schools seems like a good comparative.

There are public schools. There are private schools. There are some families that sacrifice to send their kids to private schools, but those who can't afford it, must contend with public schools. Within those public schools, the kids don't get a choice as to which one they attend. Some of the schools are admittedly, not very good, but there aren't many options or alternatives. Homeschooling has cropped up as a counter to the public vs. private dilemma. But this too has an operating cost of time and expertise, no everyone can manage it, and places like California are trying to limit one's ability to take it on, even if the results are stellar.

So I follow the pattern. There will be public care and there will still be private care which some sacrifice to hold onto, but some of the public care will be less stellar. I'd rather fight insurance companies than the federal government to get a "yes" when the bureaucrats say "no." So I worry about the lack of options. Also, home doctoring doesn’t seem like it would enjoy much success.

Here is my second problem. We currently have Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP. None of these are fully funded, and that causes some seniors that currently rely on the government programs, to not get the care they need. Doctors will refuse to take Medicare/Medicaid because it pays so poorly. Medicare and Medicaid are not fully funded because it would be too expensive.

So...I want to understand how it would be less expensive to pay for 50 million or 43 million or 15 million or whatever the number is that actually would be supported under this omnibus health care bill, than to fully fund Medicare and Medicaid and SCHIP? Or is that next? Why aren’t we doing this first? It would be less contentious.

Then there is the issue of waiting periods. Britain, France and Canada all have Universal Health Care. The lines are long for basic services. The waits are long. Many of them come here if they need something more immediate and can afford it. When I was at Children's for my son, people flew from the United Arab Emirates to have their kids treated here. Here is honestly, the very very best for medicine in part because it is so very very swift. How can we guarantee this swiftness won't be lost, when we don't know how this will work?

"Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good." the President has said. It's a good line; a pithy way to dismantle legitimate objections about the inability to anticipate or control costs or ensure quality.

Now I want the mother who opted to keep her Down’s Syndrome baby despite pressure to abort to be able to get the life saving heart surgery at Children's from the doctor who does this routinely even if she doesn't have my health care plan. I get it. I'd pay for that because it is the right thing to do, to care for the sick. (So shouldn't you be in favor of this health care plan?).

No. I'd rather the government go and purchase those health care plans from the private insurers with my tax dollars. Then, tax the profit from those plans at a higher rate to recap some of the tax money. (I'm a pragmatic Republican).

Why? Because I distrust giving government ownership over our health care program, and I haven't seen this Congress or this administration (or any for that matter) show prudence or restraint or wisdom in its stewardship of all our interests or income.

Don't make the good of this country, the enemies because we have legitimate concerns about a policy or patterns of policies. Don't demand silence just because some people shouted. Don't let the legitimate good of caring for the sick result in allowed evil. There are concerns about funding abortion. There are concerns about rationed care and the possible push of assisted suicide as a form of medical treatment. These ethical and moral issues need to be addressed and expressly denied in the legislation itself to ensure such fears are unfounded. The people who shout are some of the people who will be paying the taxes to fund this program should it pass, and they ought to be granted more deference than to be simply branded Republican shills and lobbying hacks.

Last question to answer for those who are thinking....Sherry...this is a humor blog...why are you being so darn political? Well, this blog is many things, an outlet for humor and for thought, and since I can't make it to a town hall, here is also my personal soap box.

Also, this week, my kids have all been good, so there's been no story for a few days. So maybe they're getting sick...or I'm in really big trouble because they're colluding on something big.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My PR problem

I found this piece as I was looking through my records. It was a draft that never saw daylight. Since I've been a bit heavy lately, I thought some lightness might be in order. It is supposed to be a humor blog after all.

Back when my oldest was a mere four years old, we were visiting my husband's parents over Christmas vacation. While enjoying dinner, my son turned to me and asked out of the blue, "Do you remember that time when I got hit by a car at McDonald's?"

The clinking of silverware and audible gasps were everywhere, including from me. "What?" I stammered, "That NEVER happened." I explained firmly.

All eyes were on me as he insisted. "Yes it did. I remember." Thank goodness my husband stepped in to quash the false rumor before it hit the internet.

A few years later, family was coming into town and I had spent the week cleaning. My children, having long ago grown weary of trying to help their mother get the home "Relative clean" as versus everyday tolerable, watched with bored expressions. I did not consider their observations of my work to be a potential hazard to my reputation or at least the reputation I was attempting to cultivate as I wiped down the refrigerator and washed out the drawers.

Then, my family arrived. My daughter brought my family to the kitchen and proudly opened the ice box. "See...that tray there had green and black stuff in it but Mommy cleaned it out because you were coming."

"Ahhhhhhhhh. Why don't you come into the living room and I'll bring out some pastries and coffee?" I scrambled but the damage had been done.

A decade later, while the older children have mastered the social rules of not DELIBERATELY putting forth a poor showing when company arrives, they lack nuance.

This morning, my oldest daughter was put out because her father was doing a double run to shuttle children to school, first the oldest to the Metro by 7 a.m., then doubling back to pick up all those in tow for school. "I want to go with Dad." she humphed.

"Why?" her grandmother asked.

"Because when Mom and Dad do a double run, they always wind up talking and if they talk then we're late!" She folded her arms. "I hate being late." she added for emphasis.

"Excuse me sweetie." I felt a mild torque of annoyance at her announcement. "How many times have you been late this year?"

"Twice." She said with a smugness born of pure adolescence.

I considered the two incidents. Once was because the fish pond had nearly drained and if their father and I hadn't worked together, the fish would have died. And the other time was because she could not find her shoes. Pointing these facts out privately, she unfolded her arms but still looked annoyed at being left behind.

" won't be late today." I answered.

Sure enough, her father pulled in a few moments later and I made a point of saying, "Can't talk, you don't want the kids to be late." He nodded.

Then I went inside to wipe down the refrigerator drawers, just in case they got in an accident at McDonalds on the way to school that day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Health Dare Reform

First Joe Biden says it is patriotic to pay taxes. Now, apparently, it is patriotic to die early, or at least before one encumbers the general public by needing medical care beyond a red or blue pill.

The piece if you don't care to sully your computer with reading Salon, discusses how as Americans, we don't accept death, we fight it. Gosh, I never knew this was strictly a U.S.A. type sentiment, but let's just let that slide.

Anne Moore's piece explains that we could as a country, save millions if we would just allow death to occur like we did in the good old days. She fondly remembers all the fun wakes she attended and how healthy they were. In the good old days, those who loved the person or felt obligated, gathered to toast the person's life and reflect on his or her meaning in their lives. This still happens regardless of whether one used tubes and an ICU prior to passing or not, but it happened after death.

Now, we should gather, throw a huge blow out and kiss the relatives at the door of the hospital good bye forever. It sounds so soothing, so reasonable, to go into a cocoon room where everyone could hang out and take pictures and then die.
It would be selfless to die and more sensible, no pain, no mess, just hold a big party to kiss your loved ones good-bye and then off to that good night. The problem is, that's not what happened in her romantic childhood, nor is that what she's advocating here. She romantically attaches what people did after those they loved died, to what people should now do in the present pre-mortum.

I bet the government could encourage such behavior by waving the death taxes that normally come on one's estate upon demise when such heroic selfless action is done with full proper documentation and witnesses.

This is the same psuedo compassion that encourages abortion to be considered merely an unpleasant episode, rather than a grave evil act.

People don't know even when they receive a bad diagnosis about their health when they will die, and as such, all that they do up until that moment, amounts to part of who they are. Their sufferings and difficulties also reveal how well we love as a society.

We have the freedom to face death or not at this moment in our country as we will, with the tenacity and courage to hold on or with the equal quiet grace of endurance unto death. What we should not be in the business of doing as a nation or individuals, is asking people to "hurry it up" out of fear of suffering, nor should we be in the business of telling people who wish to go on, that such actions would be selfish because of cost.

If I were a boomer staring down the beginnings of old age, I'd feel very queasy about this mind set becoming the expected norm. Because I love people who have come before me, I find this way of thinking disturbing. There have been countless nations before this one that used the need to decrease the surplus population as an excuse to kill millions. The problems of a society of how to deal with elderly, the young, the handicapped and the poor have all been "solved" by death in the past. This is just the latest modern version of justification for killing.

So to those who offer this snake oil in the name of all that is good for the country, offering the simplicity of a red or blue pill rather than extended medical care, here are the red and blue pills. If you think it is so good for the country to die before medical care is needed, you go first.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Mana

I do not know how many people fall asleep in their lives, but I do know that there are moments in my own history where I suddenly felt slapped awake by reality, and I wondered how it was that I did not appreciate before what I now could not appreciate except in memory. Whether it was a friend who moved or a toothless grin, a beach house or a favorite bakery in New York, I always labored under the foolish self deceiving perception that these good good things, these would last, these would stay, and even decades would not alter the landscape.

Nothing in reality reinforces this dillusion, yet it persists just the same. Children grow. Friends move. The seasons even though they come again each year, do not echo their prior manifestations, and the beach is never the same two days in a row. Music played live never repeats itself even if it is the same song. Berries picked from the same plant are not uniform in taste, color or size. Every instant of our lives is a moment of variety, at odds with all that came before and will be. Life is change, and not all of it expected, pleasant or easy.

It is only our morals and our relationships that we can fix, by how we choose to act. I can always wear red, but even the same red will fade with the washes, and the color will seem brighter or duller based on current fashions. But one can always choose to hold a truth to be true, regardless of fashion. One can hold that charity towards all will ultimately make a difference in how we experience the whole world. One can choose to love, and allow that choice to dominate all actions that flow, regardless of the other's response. In fact, the way in which we can be like God is to choose to be constant in truth, in charity and in love.

We can also hold that even with all this chaos that defines our breathing in and breathing out, God loves us in all our disorderly messiness, in all our sins and flaws and faults. Knowing that in all the universe, there is this one constant, makes all the discord of everything else, bearable.

Uncle Dan is in Town

My brother is in town so he introduced my kids to this video. It's fun. Enjoy.
First this:

Then this:

If nothing else, it has inspired me to load up the car, go to the mall, and maybe be less afraid of taking all 9 out into the world. If it works, it will be a good memory. If it is a disaster, tomorrow, you'll have a good read.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Withering Heights in the Windy City

I now know why God gave me these nine children.

It was to preserve my life.

This past weekend, my husband surprised me with a trip to Chicago for our 19 year anniversary. My parents agreed to watch the horde. Left to my own devices and without the benefit of a to-do list, I quickly reverted to pre-child form, engaging in such selfish activities as sleep, eating food without sharing and mentally preparing to do any manner of self indulgent recreational activities like museums, shopping and haircuts.

Then the dutiful part of me whispered, “You should do something that is unique to this town. You can shop or eat or get a haircut anywhere.” To which, the veteran mom answered, “Oh yeah? Then why is my hair in a permanent ponytail and my wardrobe consist of tee-shirts my son has outgrown and shoes my daughter no longer fits?”

“You’re overweight.” The nag voice hissed, “So you obviously find time to Eat.” “No, I just don’t find time to exercise.” I smart mouthed back, but the idea of doing something I could do nowhere else lingered.

The Cubs weren’t in town, and I don’t like the White Sox. I didn’t want to go to the pier and be reminded of all the children I have by other people’s kids. So I had to pick something touristy. There was the Sears Tower, the tallest building around that had just opened a Lucite deck where you could walk outside the building and look down. Perfect!

Clearly, outside the protective influence of my children, I harbor destructive impulses. The seven block walk towards the tower, allowed for me to either build up the nerve or have an attack of common sense.

I considered the reality of the Lucite bridge 1,400 feet up above ground with the unforgiving gravity in between. The debate was back on, was it brave to go on the bridge? I mean, it was obviously safe or no one would be allowed on it, but since it was obviously safe, how was it brave to step out on it?

Then I considered the reality, that it would feel brave because my eyes would see the drop, and I would feel afraid. How long did one have to be on the bridge to show bravery? I mean, if you went on the bridge but shut your eyes so as to not be afraid, wouldn’t that defeat the point? Wouldn’t also putting a toe on the bridge for 2 seconds also defeat the point? What in fact was the point?

How would standing there and yelling “Hah!” At Newton’s law of gravity when in fact I was supported by a Lucite deck certified to be safe and having housed countless others, indicate courage when I was in fact doing nothing but standing on a floor outside? I decided all would be made clear by actually doing the act.

I bought the ticket. I took the elevator. We took the tour. The Lucite deck I’d decided to conquer was in the Sears Tower. I had gone to the John Hancock. There was a screened in deck where one could look out and feel the rush of the sky. It was beautiful but absolutely non threatening. What did all of this prove?

God looks after me in my absent minded impulsiveness.

Now I’m going home where it’s much safer.

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