Thursday, September 25, 2008

First dates are always awkward

Today, I took Sebastian to his first play date. I went through his entire wardrobe to make sure he was wearing the cutest outfit he owned to enhance his boyish charms and overall handsomeness. Since the playgroup was being held just around the corner we decided to walk. Sebastian decided that he would take a little cat nap on the way so he would be refreshed when we arrived. Over the next two hours we met several moms and children from around Anderson. There were three babies there that were Sebastians age, in addition to the older children, that are his new friends. Reagan, Beverly Madeline and Sebastian had a great time sitting on the table, comparing and sharing toys, and trying to chew through water bottles. It was nice to be able to sit and talk to other moms while the kids played. After two hours Sebastian was starting to get tired and was ready for a meal and a nap so I packed him in the stroller and we headed for home. The entire way home he babbled and talked apparently trying to let me know how much fun he had. When we arrived home he ate lunch and took a much needed nap. I can't believe how fast he is growing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lost in the millions

Brian and I take an obscene number of pictures of our son in hopes of getting a few really good pictures. The obsession results in large folders on our computers taking up gigs worth of memory. I have mine divided by weeks and each folder contains at least a couple hundred photos, many of which are out of focus, have too much or too little flash or has one of the subjects looking stoned. Every week we are able to salvage 10-20 really good photos to put up on his website so far away family and friend can keep up with his progress.

So, today in an effort to reclaim some hard drive space I started going through the picture folders and deleting the worst offenders. While performing my task, I came across this gem of a photo that we had some how missed before.

This was taken about 3 months ago when Sebastian was 18 weeks old. It is but of preview of how his personality would develop.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Lipstick on a Wing Nut"

We subscribe to The Nation and in the issue from September 29, 2008 there is an excellent article about John McCain's pick for VP by Katha Pollitt.

John McCain chose the supremely under-qualified Sarah Palin as his running mate partly because she is a woman. If you have a problem with that, you're a sexist. She talks incessantly about being a mother of five and uses her newborn, Trig, who has Down syndrome, as a campaign prop. If you wonder how she'll handle all those kids and the Veep job too, you're a super-sexist. "When do they ever ask a man that question?" charges that fiery feminist Rudy Giuliani. Indeed, Palin, who went back to work when Trig was three days old, gets nothing but praise from Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson and the folks at National Review, who usually blame all the ills of modern America on those neurotic, harried, selfish, frustrated, child-neglecting, husband-castrating working mothers. Even stranger, her five-months-pregnant 17-year-old, Bristol, gets nothing but compassion and respect from Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and others who have spent their careers slut-shaming teens for having sex--and blaming their parents for letting it happen.

If there were an Olympics for hypocrisy, the Republican Party would have more gold medals than Michael Phelps. And Palin would be wearing quite a few of them. It takes chutzpah for a mother to thrust her pregnant teen into the world's harshest spotlight and then demand the world respect the girl's privacy. But then it takes chutzpah to support criminalizing abortion and then praise Bristol's "decision" to have the baby. The right to decide, and privacy, after all, are two of the things Palin wants to deny every other woman, and every other family, in America. Palin's even said she would "choose life" if her daughter was pregnant from rape. Can't you just hear Bristol groaning, "Mo-om...!"

The Republicans bashed Barack Obama as a "celebrity," but now they've got a star of their own, so naturally the rules have changed. Nothing would suit them better than for the media to spend the next two months spellbound by the wacky carnival on ice that is the Palin family: Todd, aka the First Dude, the kids, Levi the hunky bad-boy dad-to-be--well, maybe not him so much after his expletive-adorned MySpace page briefly came to light ("I'm a fuckin' redneck"; "I don't want kids"--whoops). The snowmobiles, the moose burgers, the guns, the hair, the glasses that are flying off America's shelves (starting at $375 a pair, and she has seven). Fretting over the work/family issue alone should take up enough column inches to employ all the female journalists in America from now to next Mother's Day. And don't forget that op-ed staple, What Does This Mean for Feminism?

Well, I'm not playing. I don't care about Sarah Palin's family. I don't care if she's a good mother. I don't care if she's happily married, or who shops and who vacuums, or who takes care of the kids while both parents are at work. I don't want her recipe for caribou hot dogs, either. Life chez Sarah and Todd might make an adorable sitcom (Leave It to Jesus?) or a scathing tell-all a decade or so down the road (Governor Dearest?). Either way, so what? This is an election, not The View. As for feminism's meaning, what can you say after you've said that her career shows that even right-wing fundamentalist women have taken in feminism's message of empowerment and that's good, but that Palin's example suggests women can do it all without support from society and that's bad?

Count me as a feminist who never believed that being PTA president meant you could be, well, President. The more time we spend on dippy ruminations--how does she do it? Queen Bee on steroids or the hockey mom next door? how hot is Todd, anyway?--the less focus there will be on the kind of queries that should come first with any vice presidential candidate, and certainly would if Palin were a man. Questions like:

§ Suppose your 14-year-old daughter Willow is brutally raped in her bedroom by an intruder. She becomes pregnant and wants an abortion. Could you tell the parents of America why you think your child and their children should be forced by law to have their rapists' babies?

§ You say you don't believe global warming is man-made. Could you tell us what scientists you've spoken with or read who have led you to that conclusion? What do you think the 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are getting wrong?

§ If you didn't try to fire Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Baker over her refusal to consider censoring books, why did you try to fire her?

§ What is the European Union, and how does it function?

§ Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance. John Goodman, who has advised McCain on healthcare, has proposed redefining them as covered because, he says, anyone can get care at an ER. Do you agree with him?

§ What is the function of the Federal Reserve?

§ Cindy and John McCain say you have experience in foreign affairs because Alaska is next to Russia. When did you last speak with Prime Minister Putin, and what did you talk about?

§ Approximately how old is the earth? Five thousand years? 10,000? 5 billion?

§ You are a big fan of President Bush, so why didn't you mention him even once in your convention speech?

§ McCain says cutting earmarks and waste will make up for revenues lost by making the tax cuts permanent. Experts say that won't wash. Balancing the Bush tax cuts plus new ones proposed by McCain would most likely mean cutting Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Which would you cut?

§ You're suing the federal government to have polar bears removed from the endangered species list, even as Alaska's northern coastal ice is melting and falling into the sea. Can you explain the science behind your decision?

§ You've suggested that God approves of the Iraq War and the Alaska pipeline. How do you know?

I think it is despicable that Palin is not being put under scrutiny for the right reasons.

I don't care that Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant. But it does need to be the catalyst for the discussion about teen pregnancy and how abstinence only sex education only succeeds in producing teens who are clueless about their bodies, not any less likely to have sex but less likely to use any form of birth control when they do.

I don't care that Palin has five kids and a career. But it should be a reason to discuss the deplorable lack of support there is for families in the country. Lack of affordable childcare, lack support for new mothers and job security so mothers can take time off to care for their children.

I don't care that she believes, due to her religion, that the world is 6000 years old and that God created the world in 7 days but I have a problem with the blatant attempts to censor books, attempts to teach religion in science classrooms and the propagation of ignorance that her religion potentially brings to the government. There needs to be more discussion about the separation of Church and State and how it allow both to exist. I can imagine what the government would look like if it was run by religion but I wonder if they ever stop to think how their religion would be altered when it was taken over by the State.

Palin needs to stop all the whining about sexism and start answering questions. Bloggers, Op-ed writters, reporters, journalist and pundits need to stop focusing on stuff that doesn't matter (like tanning beds, how she will balance family and career, and the "first dude", and start trying to get some real answers out of her. Asking those questions that Pollitt posed would be a great starting point.

(You can read the entire article here)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

25 days to protect women’s health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed regulations that could seriously undermine access to basic reproductive health services -- including birth control and abortion.

Instead of striking a careful balance between individual religious liberty and patients’ access to reproductive health care, the Bush administration has taken patients’ rights and their health care needs out of the equation. The new regulation will allow individual health care providers and organizations to, not only, refuse to offer reproductive services like birth control and abortion but give them the right to withhold information from patients and refuse to refer them to a facility that will provide the desired service.

Unfortunately this proposal does not need congressional approval but there is a period for public comment before it can go forward. The deadline for public comments is September 20 and intense opposition to these dangerous regulations are needed to protect the reproductive rights of women.

I just sent HHS my comment urging them to stop efforts to block women's access to basic reproductive health services. You can do the same here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain picked the wrong Palin

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Am I Living in a Box

I have not blogged about my son since posting about my pregnancy and birth so I thought I would give a little up date.

He will be 7 month old in 12 days and is growing so fast I can hardly believe it. He is sitting up, pulling to standing every chance he gets, loves for us to read books to him (and to look at them himself), has been getting up on his hands and knees and rocking and I am sure he will be crawling in no time. I think he is absolutely adorable and his smile can make me do just about anything.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Waiting to be let in on the secret.

As a child and pre-teen I attended the church that my grandparents went to. My parents were not very religious and did not attend church regularly, but my grandparents thought it was important. As a kid I enjoyed Sunday school because there were sweet treats for breakfast, we got to color and someone would read us a story. I knew all the songs (This Little Light of Mine, Rise and Shine, Jesus Loves Me, etc). At this point I knew the answers people wanted to hear when I was asked about god and the bible. As I got older the decision of whether to attend was left up to me. I continued so that I could socialize with friends and participate in the activities that the church provided: like singing in the choir, watching the kids in the nursery during services, lock-ins/outs and sleep away camp. And you can‘t forget the free lunches out that my grandfather would provide every Sunday if I went.

Sometime around the age of 8 or 9 it was finally revealed that there was no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. I had been given strict instructions not to ruin the fun for my younger brother and cousins. Being a good little girl, I kept this secret to myself and played along with the charade. At this same time, I was becoming more aware of the meaning behind the stories that were being told to us at church. You know, the ones about the all knowing god who sees everything you do, the punishment or reward that comes because of specific behavior, someone coming back from the dead, 2 of every animal in the world fitting onto a boat, someone living in the stomach of a whale, pray and Momma Gran will get better, it thunders because god is angry, you will see your friend in heaven when you die...

It wasn't until I was 11 or 12 that I began to wonder "When is someone going to let me in on this secret?" I had done such a great job of keeping the others; Why were people still insisting that God was real? Surely soon someone would sit me down and explain how the stories about God are something that we tell kids are real before they can understand how things really work. That sometimes people just get sick, that when someone dies they are gone forever, that punishments and rewards come as natural consequences of actions and from other people, and that sometimes you really are alone.

I waited for a couple of years for someone say those things, but it never happened. I would sometimes ask probing questions to see if I could get someone to slip. A couple of times I asked straight out "Is God Real?" and received answers like "of course honey.” I often wondered if they said that because they thought it was what I wanted to hear or if they thought the question was so silly that it didn't deserve an actual answer.

Eventually, I stopped going to church because it wasn't fun anymore. I found other ways to spend time with friend and do things I enjoyed by joining chorus at school, babysitting and volunteering at the rec center summer camp. My family occasionally inquired about going to church and I usually just dodged the question. At this point, I don’t think there ever really was a god, but I never really thought about it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vice in Go-Go Boots?

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote this hysterical piece on the republican VP nominee

The guilty pleasure I miss most when I’m out slogging on the campaign trail is the chance to sprawl on the chaise and watch a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick.

So imagine my delight, my absolute astonishment, when the hokey chick flick came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime. Instead of going home and watching “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bullock, I get to stay here and watch “Miss Congeniality” with Sarah Palin.

Sheer heaven.

It’s easy to see where this movie is going. It begins, of course, with a cute, cool unknown from Alaska who has never even been on “Meet the Press” triumphing over a cute, cool unknowable from Hawaii who has been on “Meet the Press” a lot.

Americans, suspicious that the Obamas have benefited from affirmative action without being properly grateful, and skeptical that Michelle really likes “The Brady Bunch” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” reject the 47-year-old black contender as too uppity and untested.

Instead, they embrace 72-year-old John McCain and 44-year-old Sarah Palin, whose average age is 58, a mere two years older than the average age of the Obama-Biden ticket. Enthusiastic Republicans don’t see the choice of Palin as affirmative action, despite her thin résumé and gaping absence of foreign policy knowledge, because they expect Republicans to put an underqualified “babe,” as Rush Limbaugh calls her, on the ticket. They have a tradition of nominating fun, bantamweight cheerleaders from the West, like the previous Miss Congeniality types Dan Quayle and W., and then letting them learn on the job. So they crash into the globe a few times while they’re learning to drive, what’s the big deal?

Obama may have been president of The Harvard Law Review, but Palin graduated from the University of Idaho with a minor in poli-sci and worked briefly as a TV sports reporter. And she was tougher on the basketball court than the ethereal Obama, earning the nickname “Sarah Barracuda.”

The legacy of Geraldine Ferraro was supposed to be that no one would ever go on a blind date with history again. But that crazy maverick and gambler McCain does it, and conservatives and evangelicals rally around him in admiration of his refreshingly cynical choice of Sarah, an evangelical Protestant and anti-abortion crusader who became a hero when she decided to have her baby, who has Down syndrome, and when she urged schools to debate creationism as well as that stuffy old evolution thing.

Palinistas, as they are called, love Sarah’s spunky, relentlessly quirky “Northern Exposure” story from being a Miss Alaska runner-up, and winning Miss Congeniality, to being mayor and hockey mom in Wasilla, a rural Alaskan town of 6,715, to being governor for two years to being the first woman ever to run on a national Republican ticket. (Why do men only pick women as running mates when they need a Hail Mary pass? It’s a little insulting.)

Sarah is a zealot, but she’s a fun zealot. She has a beehive and sexy shoes, and the day she’s named she goes shopping with McCain in Ohio for a cheerleader outfit for her daughter.

As she once told Vogue, she’s learned the hard way to deal with press comments about her looks. “I wish they’d stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots,” she said. “A reporter once asked me about it during the campaign, and I assured him I was trying to be as frumpy as I could by wearing my hair on top of my head and these schoolmarm glasses.”

This chick flick, naturally, features a wild stroke of fate, when the two-year governor of an oversized igloo becomes commander in chief after the president-elect chokes on a pretzel on day one.

The movie ends with the former beauty queen shaking out her pinned-up hair, taking off her glasses, slipping on ruby red peep-toe platform heels that reveal a pink French-style pedicure, and facing down Vladimir Putin in an island in the Bering Strait. Putting away her breast pump, she points her rifle and informs him frostily that she has some expertise in Russia because it’s close to Alaska. “Back off, Commie dude,” she says. “I’m a much better shot than Cheney.”

Then she takes off in her seaplane and lands on the White House lawn, near the new ice fishing hole and hockey rink. The “First Dude,” as she calls the hunky Eskimo in the East Wing, waits on his snowmobile with the kids — Track (named after high school track meets), Bristol (after Bristol Bay where they did commercial fishing), Willow (after a community in Alaska), Piper (just a cool name) and Trig (Norse for “strength.”)

“The P.T.A. is great preparation for dealing with the K.G.B.,” President Palin murmurs to Todd, as they kiss in the final scene while she changes Trig’s diaper. “Now that Georgia’s safe, how ’bout I cook you up some caribou hot dogs and moose stew for dinner, babe?”