Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaBloPoMo 30 of 30

30 of 30, People.

This month went by FAST.

The boys have been saying that the year is going by too fast for them. They just hit the first trimester ending point before Thanksgiving, and are amazed that the year is one-third over. They are not happy about it - they feel like they have lost all those days and can never get them back and where is the time going anyway? I told them they aren't allowed to think that way until they are adults.

Lately time has been a bit fuzzy for me. I seriously have to stop and analyze my life in detail to remember how long we have lived in this townhouse, how long we have had Choco, how long I have been doing freelance work. One might think that all these changes would be permanently affixed in my brain (a 'before - after' kind of thing) but one would be surprised by the inability of my brain to keep it all straight.
Now I am in a bit of a pre-post-holiday slump. Yesterday driving home the boys & I talked about putting up our tree today. And you may remember I said I was in the holiday mood after seeing A Christmas Carol. But today, energy and good cheer seem to have left me. And I even came home to a clean house! Which normally should keep me quite happy. I think it's partly that up at my folks' I didn't have to do anything; was truly away from real life, and now I'm back and I have a list of things To. Do. Like coming home from a long vacation. At least I did laundry up there before we left.
And I successfully completed NaBloPoMo. In fact, I am such an over-achiever (at times) that this is actually my 47th post in November. I don't know if I should say that with pride or embarrassment.
Ah, it is what it is.
Tomorrow - December!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NaBloPoMo 29 of 30

Thanksgiving Day

The morning was beautiful. It had snowed during the night, so everything was white and clean and still.

My nephew took my camera to document the day. Ahh, a family holiday. Opportunity to spend quality time together, catching up on life's happenings, learning what is going on in each of our worlds, laughing together, playing games, sharing secrets and rejoicing in time together.

And then there is our family.
Ty played DS. A lot.

Grandma read. With a dog for coziness.

Ben played DS. A lot.

Uncle Mike read the news.

Aunt Mary read the newspaper.
Choco guarded the DS games when he wasn't being anybody's cuddle-buddy.

Grandpa and Kelsie catnapped.

Katie ignored homework in favor of magazines.

And yes, SOMEBODY had to cook. Colby helped me.
So that we could all come together to enjoy
The Thanksgiving Feast.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.- Thomas Jefferson
Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.- Gail Lumet Buckley
You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.- Desmond Tutu

Friday, November 28, 2008

NaBloPoMo 28 of 30 Part Deux

The real reason we ventured out in the dark.

This is after 2 hours of work. He's more than half-way done.

More pictures to follow.

NaBloPoMo 28 of 30

Black Friday. That great American tradition. I wasn't going to participate this year, but the ads were suitably enticing ... so at 5:30 this morning, Grandma, Ben & I headed out (the stars were magnificent up here, away from the light pollution of the city) and went to Target, where we joined all of Duluth and a few hundred Wisconsinites and an Ontarian or two in a shopping spree.

Actually it was really fun. Everyone was cheery and smiling and we got all the bargains we went for. We picked up a few extra things for Toys for Tots, and then headed back home - we got to see the sunrise on the drive back, and were home again before all the rest of the family was even out of bed.

Now I'm tired!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NaBloPoMo 27 of 30

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

We are with my parents, my brother and his family, all up north for the long weekend - it will be full of laughter, love, good food, and great camaraderie. We are blessed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NaBloPoMo 26 of 30

She did it again.

Lately the goings-on over on Carla's blog have been quite lively regarding Ayn Rand and Objectivism. I made a couple of comments in the mix, but didn't really feel like I expressed myself as clearly as I would have liked to, so thought I would write a little more here about some of the points.

Then I got up this morning and read Carla's new post, and thought to myself, well, there's no way I can express myself as well as she does.

But there are two points she didn't bring up that I might have, so I'll settle for just talking about those.

In the Objectivist's definition of the "bountiful harvest" we offer thanks for this week, it is said that today's harvest is 'affluence...success. Cars, houses, vacations, medicine, etc ...' and it is easy to say that those are not the things which matter - that it simply sounds like a materialistic inventory.

But what if you look at it differently, pulling yourself away from materialism. There is not a number range defining "affluence." I defy any of us who have regular access to the internet to say we are not affluent. My definition of affluence differs from Donald Trump's, but I am content with my definition - and I have achieved it, I do not need to worry about putting food on the table (except when I forget to buy milk) or have to choose between gas and a new coat for my growing child. So I am grateful for my affluence.

Same for success. I feel incredibly successful, though I do not have a 6-digit-salary, a large car or a mansion (Mc- or other.) And there is nothing in Objectivism to say that I can't use my own definition of success. And I am thankful for that. Carla mentioned the people who amass material goods but are not happy - I would simply argue they are not successful.
And of course I am thankful that my affluence and success allow me to have a car, go on vacation, have access to medicine and healthcare, and all the rest. I think that Objectivism is merely pointing out that it *is* ok to look at what you have achieved in life, and be grateful for those things, without being arrogant or boastful, but rather using your personal definitions and measurements.

Now, this is not to say I agree with all of the tenets of Objectivism, but I didn't read it as critically, if that is the best word, as some.

The other point I wanted to bring up relates to a comment made in reply to a comment I made about having my children participate in charitable giving. The issue of child abuse was raised - forcing children to do something they don't want to. And the comment didn't raise my hackles, I understand what the commenter was saying. But later, I was thinking that if you take that line of reasoning, couldn't you also say that denying your child something that they might want to do is equally potentially abusive? So much of what we bring to our children experientially is new to them, so you are likely to introduce them to things that they would not have chosen. But what about all those things that you never introduce them to? I am "forcing" my children to not learn Swedish by not providing for it to happen. I am "forcing" them not to be unicyclists, rugby players, harpists, or gardeners. Now go read Carla's section about the role of parents in guiding their children, as she said, very eloquently, so much of what I want to say.

It has been really fun having these new points of view brought into our little section of the blogosphere. I hope Carla finds something else to write about that keeps things lively!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaBloPoMo 25 of 30

On Sunday I was lucky enough to be the guest of a friend to A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie. I last saw this play when I was in high school ... no need to do the math, suffice to say it was a while ago! We were in the very front row, in the very center. Amazing seats.

I was surprised how much I loved this show! I have not been tempted to see it, although the Guthrie does it every year, though I am not sure why. I really don't remember seeing it before, just that I did - and I suspect that my lack of desire to see it again must stem from something I didn't enjoy that time. But being offered the free ticket was something I could not turn down, and I am so glad I went. Being so close was also something which was surprisingly pleasing. I always thought the very front row was too close. But it added something to the performance, being able to actually make eye contact with some of the actors - the friend I was with is the friend who was in the last show at the Guthrie, so she knew many of the actors, and they actually acknowledged her - one even by name! - during the play. It was way cool. It really felt like I was on stage with them - only a few inches prevented me from being so - which gave a depth to the play that I don't think is possible from farther away. Of course, it was harder to get an overview, and once or twice a character was standing directly in front of us so we had semi-blocked views of the stage, but all in all it was a magical performance heightened by the position of our seats.

Now I am totally getting into the holiday spirit, eager to work on cards and cookies and decorating!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NaBloPoMo 23 of 30

Tomorrow is Ben's birthday .... still have no idea what to give him ... Help?

Friday Shawn & I went to see Twilight, and though the make-up artists' skills were questionable, I did enjoy it. Seriously, these people .. well vampires ... are supposed to be pale, but they (on occasion, as the makeup was not consistent throughout every scene) looked more like they were going for a Geisha Girl effect, but failing miserably, and then thinking, well, perhaps a little MORE white will help the situation. But, like I said, not in every scene. Sometimes they looked just fine.
But - once you could get past that, the movie itself was OK. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to watch it without already knowing the story, so I can't judge whether or not the scenes flowed smoothly and logically. Maybe if I see it a second time like Shawn did. I liked Alice a lot, of the vampire family, she was best-cast, I think. Rosalie was supposed to be the move breathtakingly beautiful woman ever alive, and while she was pretty, she wasn't anything like the ethereal being I expected.

And Edward. First a wizard, now a vampire. What a fun career Robert Pattison is having! I know Shawn had difficulty with him being cast as Edward, but I was OK with it (except the scenes with too much white face.) I thought he played anguished and tormented very well!

I think it will please the fans, and, really, isn't that why they did it?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NaBloPoMo 22 of 30

I'm tired and busy and worried I will forget to post later and thereby forfeit my place in the running for prizes ... so you get this:I was 10, my brother 13, I am holding family pet Pepper (mini schnauzer) and we are standing with my mom at our house in Charlotte, NC, where we lived for only about 5 months. (having moved from Greensboro and then to Bloomington. Busy year.) (And I am currently 15 years older than my mom was in this photo. Yikes.) (And I remember that dress SO well. I loved-loved-loved it. It made me feel so pretty!) (I keep remembering things as I post this and then coming back an adding them. Each parenthetical addition represents me coming back to edit the post with just one more thought. In case you were wondering.) (That house in Charlotte had bright aqua formica countertops in the kitchen. Truly the most beautiful kitchen in. the. world. to my 10-year old eyes.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo 21 of 30

Today and tomorrow I am helping some friends move, and it has put the desire for a house into my heart.

The boys and I are all wishing for a little more privacy from neighbors, we really want a fenced-in yard for the dogs, and it would be nice to be in an area with other kids.

Our townhouse is great, convenient, and has been a really good place for us this past year and a half ... but maybe in the spring ...

We'll see ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NaBloPoMo 20 of 30

What would we do without the internet? We wouldn't know this:

This shows a comparison of cotton production in 1860 (the black dots) and Obama voters in 2008 (the blue sections.) (You can click on the map to go to the site with all the details.)

Now, the first thing that came to my mind (after wow- that's WEIRD) is WHO DID THIS?

Who was sitting around at home in the days after the election and said "hmmm ... why, that voter distribution map reminds me of something .... I know, it was cotton production in 1875. No, wait, 1850. No, I've got it!!! It's 1860! YES!"

OK, as I wrote that scenario I realized it's most likely a graduate student researching the effects of the cotton industry on south-eastern states. Not so weird after all.

But still. Without the internet, YOU AND I would not be able to share in this amazing bit of trivia.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NaBloPoMo 19 of 30

Do you know, really know, how milk is homogenized?

I do.

How about when and why Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) were created?

Or how to set up a valid, double-blind taste test which guards for bias?

Now you know how I have been spending my time lately. I’ve been working on a project – a pretty good-sized project – for a client which creates middle school curricula. I’ve been compiling, researching, and developing curriculum materials on Food Science Technology. I’ve learned more than I ever expected to about this area of study, and while it’s been (mostly) interesting, I admit to being happy that I am just about done with the project.

It’s the biggest freelance project I’ve tackled to date, and I have discovered that my attention span lends itself better to shorter projects. But I am glad I did it, now I have a better idea of what is really involved in writing a book (this project ran about 25,000 words, as compared to 80,000 – 120,000 which is normally considered the average for a novel.) And that knowledge – which surprised me, in a good way, when I figured it out – may be what I needed to actually start writing. Because, as my 11 year old said to me this summer, “You know, Mom, if you are going to write a book, you actually have to write.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank you to the Human Angels in My Life

Beings of Light
Human Angels

During each of our journeys, there are those inevitable moments when someone comes into our life at precisely the right time and says or does precisely the right thing. Their words or actions may help us perceive ourselves more clearly, remind us that everything will turn out for the best, help us cope, or see us through difficult situations. These people are human angels – individuals designated by the universe to be of service to those in need at specific points in time. Some human angels make a commitment before their births to make a positive contribution to the world at a particular moment. Others were chosen by the universe. All human angels, however, come into our lives when we least expect them and when we can most benefit from their presence.

A few of the human angels we may encounter are in professions where helping others is an everyday occurrence. But most of them are regular people, going about their daily lives until called upon to be in the right place at the right time to bring peace, joy, help, or heal someone when they most need it. You may have met a human angel in the form of a teacher who gave you a piece of advice that touched your soul and influenced your path. The person that momentarily stopped you to say hello on the street, delaying you long enough to avoid an oncoming car or a collision, is also a human angel. They may offer nothing more than a kind word or a smile, but they will offer it when you can draw the most strength and support from their simple action.

You may be a human angel yet not know it. Your fate or intuition may guide you toward other people’s challenging or distressing situations, leading you to infer that you simply have bad luck. But recognizing yourself as a human angel can help you deal with the pain you see and understand that you are there to help and comfort others during their times of need. Human angels give of their inner light to all who need it, coming into our lives and often changing us forever. Their task has its challenges, but it is they that have the power to teach, bring us joy, and comfort us in times of despair.

From Daily Om ... (my emphasis added)

NaBloPoMo 18 of 30

Yesterday on the way to pick up the boys (and shortly after writing about my inability to resist between-meal snacks) I was listening, as usual, to the radio. They were interviewing a social scientist at some university somewhere in the world, and he was describing his research. He gathered many people, and told them that to participate in the experiment they would be given a number on a slip of paper which they were to memorize. Each person got a unique number, which they kept to themselves. Half of the people were given a 3-digit number, and the other half were given a 7-digit number. Once they had it committed to memory, they had to walk down the hall to another room and recite their number.

On the way to the second room, a woman stopped them in the hall and explained that as a ‘thank you’ for helping with the research, they were invited to pause and have a snack before going on to the second room. They were offered either a piece of rich chocolate cake, or a bowl of fresh fruit.

Now you are probably thinking that the food chosen would influence their ability to remember the number after they were done eating. That the 3-digit people would still remember, but the 7-digit people might not. That’s where I thought they were going with this. Turns out that is not.

The actual research was on which snack the participants selected. And the findings were so striking that there is basically no refuting them.

Pretty much everyone with a 3-digit number took the fruit, and pretty much everyone with a 7-digit number took the cake.

The analysis?

Your brain has two parts – the rational and the emotional. The emotional part of your brain is rooting for chocolate, the rational part of your brain reminds you that fruit is healthier.

But. Distract rational-brain with a 7-digit number, and emotional-brain wins!

So CLEARLY my life is such that I am always thinking so hard that poor rational-brain has no chance. Emotional-brain is firmly in control.

It’s not my fault.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaBloPoMo 17 of 30 I'm a Special K

Somehow I think I am missing out on one important concept when it comes to weightloss. I occasionally find myself watching "The Biggest Loser" on Tuesday evenings when the boys are with their dad. I actually, in the spirit of honesty, occasionally find myself eating dinner in front of the TV on Tuesdays when The Biggest Loser comes on. I sit and watch these people work themselves until they (sometimes literally) drop, and I carefully use my spoon to catch up every last drop of chocolate syrup in my ice cream bowl.

Just now, I was reheating some leftover soup for my lunch, and the box of cereal I had a bowl from for breakfast was still sitting out on the counter. It's Special K (vanilla almond flavor - very nummy) and on the back of the box they talk about the Special K challenge, where they say you can lose a jean size in two weeks. Hmm, I thought as I munched on the brownie which was also leftover from last night, hmm, I would LIKE to lose a jean size. Yes, I would. As I took another brownie (they are cut really small) I thought, I could do this - eat Special K for breakfast and lunch, and a regular dinner, with Special K bars for snacks.

See, I rarely have a problem with my meals. I eat healthy portion-sizes, I eat lo- or non-fat items, I buy organic and I get my beef from a local farmer.

It's all that OTHER stuff I eat that is the problem. Yeah, I can eat the Special K meals. And I can eat the Special K bars as my approved snack. But who is going to wrestle the brownies out of my hands between meals, or the chips and salsa at bedtime, or the Halloween candy the kids don't like?
I grapple with my identity ... am I Special K or am I the Biggest Loser?!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NaBloPoMo 16 of 30

Many moons ago, I worked at The Nature Conservancy here in the Twin Cities, and I remember it fondly. I realized very soon after starting to work there that while I believe that the environment is an important thing and Mother Earth should be honored and taken care of, I was really not the person to do it right there, hands-on, down'n'dirty as part of TNC. (Never mind that I was the office manager, so the majority of my time was spent unjamming printers and making sure thank you letters were written.) But as I got to know the people whose dream job a career at TNC was, I was profoundly grateful for people who do devote their intellects, their skills, their calloused hands, and their prairie-burn-singed eyebrows to protecting earth's great places.

One of those remarkable people was Carol Dorff. I haven't seen her since leaving that job 20 years ago, but I think of her every time I make wild rice soup, because it's her recipe that I follow. I have a worn-looking photocopy of her hand-written recipe, and it's entitled "Good Wild Rice Soup." When she shared the recipe with us at the office, we thanked her for not giving us the "Bad Wild Rice Soup" recipe.

So now I am sharing Carol's recipe with you because I am making it today for the big family birthday dinner which will commence here in about 3 hours. It's wonderful with a selection of crusty breads and a glass of white wine. Enjoy!

Carol's Good Wild Rice Soup

3 cups cooked wild rice
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 cup ham or chicken, finely diced
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup half & half

Prepare rice as directed.
In soup kettle, saute carrot, celery, ham/chicken, onion in butter ~ 3 minutes (soft veg.)
Sift flour a little at a time, don't brown it, stirring as you add.

Slowly add broth.
Stir until blended well, then add rice.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Heat thoroughly. (May be done to this point well in advance and refrigerated.)

Add half & half and reheat gently (don't boil) before serving.

NaBloPoMo 16 of 30

I have to say it even though I have said I didn't want to think about it anymore.

Just because I don't want to think about it doesn't mean I am not thinking about it. Today on the way to the Guthrie, I drove past the Minneapolis City Hall and saw hundreds of people gathered there demonstrating their support for gay rights. All across the country at the exact same time, people were doing the same in their own cities. I got misty-eyed when I saw it.

I support gay marriage.

Absolutely, unequivocally, totally and completely.

I have read pretty much everything there is out there since the passing of Prop 8 in California nearly 2 weeks ago. I understand both sides of the argument quite well. And armed with that understanding, my educated and informed opinion is that gay marriage should be legal and recognized in all 50 states.

I do not think that churches will be forced to marry gays if it is against their beliefs. Catholics are not forced to marry divorced people. Mormons are not forced to allow non-Mormons into their temples. As for the legal examples being held up as evidence gays might create problems for churches? Well, the law suits that are currently pending, or recently settled, are all about providing commercial services to individuals - not churches refusing to perform wedding ceremonies. The law suits that are current or recent are often focused on anti-discrimination laws which exist regardless of the legality of marriage. Many thousands of gay couples have gotten married in California this year during the months it was legal, and not one church was sued for refusing to perform a ceremony. Performing a wedding ceremony is not the same thing as legally recognizing a marriage.

But even if churches were to get sued, I am still supportive of gay marriage. I have thought long and hard about that. There was a time when some churches refused to marry interracial couples. There was a time when some churches refused to marry blacks, even to each other. As we learned those discriminatory acts were wrong, things changed. I believe this to be a similar situation. And while I hope it would not come to that, and truly believe it will not, if it did, I believe the rights of individuals to not be discriminated against should be the utmost deciding factor.

I am choosing not to comment on the argument that schools will have to teach about gay marriage in elementary grades because first off, the people who make the decisions about what to teach are already making those decisions. And secondly, parents in most states have the right to question the curriculum whenever it is objectionable to them - this right should be in place everywhere, I think, and it should be remembered that there are many things (like 8th grade reading lists) which parents can object to. And finally, because I have taught my children from a young age that there are many kinds of families - that what is important is that family members love one another. And I don't think it would be a bad thing to hear that message at school, too. So I guess I did comment on the education argument, after all.

I can't promise I won't bring this up again. It's something I feel very strongly about. I believe the California Supreme Court will declare Prop 8 unconstitutional. And when it does, I will be writing a celebratory post here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaBloPoMo 15 of 30 -- HALFWAY!

Occasionally when I am in the car on Saturdays I catch a radio program called the Shop Girls. It's two hours devoted to shopping.

Now, I am not a shopper. Never have been. I like buying gifts for other people but hate buying things - especially clothes - for myself. (You might recall my earlier post about the state of my wardrobe.) And I know there are a lot of people who love shopping and who also always look really, really nice.

But seriously, the money spent? Without batting an eyelash? Today the Shop Girls were raving about a store in Wayzata that has "really great, colorful bags" starting at only $200. When someone asked "how can stores charge $200 for a bag?" the answer was "because they can." Translation: because a LOT of people happily pay that amount.

I think I once spent $70 on a purse and felt guilty about it all season, and I still have that purse many years later. I don't actually use it but I feel like I should keep it anyway.

I find really cute "bags" (apparently I am out of date, still referring to them as purses) at Target, Sears, Marshall's .... I get a lot of compliments on them and I balk at paying more than $25. Really, it has to be really something special to make me pay more than $14.99.

I just can't imagine feeling fine about spending $200+ on a bag. Yet many people do. Will wonders never cease?

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaBloPoMo 14 of 30

I have had a hard time finding my muse today. Some days I could post 4 times. Today, I admit it -- I am really only here because I want to keep my blog in the running for a prize.

So I started a blog about an issue which is pretty controversial these days ... I started writing it in a Word document so I could edit it easily and work on it until it expressed my point of view in the best way I could manage.

I reached 5000 characters and I wasn't done, and I realized no one would ever read it. Or comment on it. And frankly, most of you know what I think anyway.

So instead I am copping out.

In about an hour I should hear if Ty has Whooping Cough. An amusing (well, in a sick way, amusing) (ha ha, in a "sick" way, get it? Seriously, no pun intended there) aside - if you, perchance, are wondering what the Whooping Cough sounds like, you can go here and listen. Just click on the links on the right-hand side of the page. Ty sounds like the non-whooping whooping cough kid.

And now, just for fun, because I am fun like that, I'm throwing in a picture by one of my favorite artists, John James Audubon, of a Whooping Crane.
PS: Tomorrow I get to go to the Guthrie to see Shadowlands. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaBloPoMo 13 of 30

Finally, proof that it's beyond my control!!

Are Liberals Messier Than Conservatives?

Researchers insist they can tell someone's political affiliation by looking at the condition of their offices and bedrooms. Messy? You're a lefty. A neatnik? Welcome to the Right.

They also showed that conservatives blink more when startled, leading to the conclusion that they scare easier. And they say liberals have fewer irons and sewing supplies.

Okey-dokey. It's a fun, if inconclusive read. See the full article about this new study here.

Thanks, Jenny, for the link!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaBloPoMo 12 of 30 - 8th Grade Reading List

My son is in 8th grade, in a gifted & talented program, and in his Language Arts class they have been assigned to read 8 books over the course of the year -- 4 of their choice (absolutely no restrictions) and 4 from a list provided by the teacher, entitled "100 New Classics." Hmm, thought I, sounds good - new classics, great literature which my son will perhaps enjoy but surely benefit from reading.

Well, the maker of the list is Entertainment Weekly. I guess I missed the part where they became recognized as literary authorities.

Here's the link to the list. When I read it over, my eyebrows went up more than once as I saw titles of books I had read and would not consider allowing a 14-year old to read, and they rose even higher as I saw books that I had not read - deliberately, because I didn't think they were appropriate for me, much less for a middle-school student. Nonetheless, I was able to give my son a list of about 7 (out of 100!!) he could safely choose from, and he is reading 4 I am OK with. But I thought a lot about the kids whose parents did not screen the list, or perhaps are not as voracious a reader as I am so did not recognize many of the books, and therefore couldn't restrict their child from reading something really inappropriate.


Then I happened to mention it in passing to Carla, who is a middle school teacher and whose degree is in English, and who reads more than I do, and who has a son the same age as mine.

I think I heard her scream all the way from China. She was outraged that this list was being used, first of all as a literary resource, but second of all that it was being used in middle school. She has promised to blog extensively about it, and I am looking forward to her viewpoint.

In the meantime, I am trying to decide if I should say anything to the teacher, and if so, what. I am satisfied my kid is reading books that are OK, and they are all books I have read so we can discuss them as he goes along. I talked to the mom of one of his classmates, and she didn't even know there was a list. I suspect that she is closer to the norm than I am, of the level of parental knowledge/involvement. I suspect that the vast majority of parents trust that the teacher would not assign anything inappropriate.

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaBloPoMo 11 of 30

I am so not feeling inspired today. In fact, all I am feeling is tired. I just took a catnap right here sitting at my computer. Never done that before. (Seriously - I have rested, alright, but actually slept? Sitting up in front of the computer?)

I drove the boys to school this morning and then stopped to get gas as later I am meeting Calandria for lunch.

I filled the car for $21.

I was in shock - happy shock - but shock. When did gas get so cheap again?

Gotta go get ready for lunch :-) Now that I am all rested and all. But I got my blogging done for the day. Phew.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaBloPoMo 10 of 30

Woo-Hoo! One-third done with the month!

This is SO me:
(if you can't read it clearly, click on it - if it's not still November 10, you will have to go to the comic strip for the 10th.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NaBloPoMo 9 of 30

This afternoon I watched Once, a movie that's maybe a year or two old - about two aspiring musicians who find each other in the streets of Dublin and develop a musical - and personal relationship. I remember when my mom saw it when it was in the theater she told me about it the next day and her biggest comment was that you never learn the two main characters' names. She couldn't get past that! So of course that was uppermost in my mind today when I started to DVD. It's a delightful movie (names or no names) and I am considering ordering the soundtrack - which is something I never do.

It was fun to watch a movie that I picked out just for me, as lately the only movies I have seen are with the boys on Friday nights - movie night at our house - and while I have enjoyed seeing the first two movies in the Star Wars series, and Hoodwinked, and Wallace and Gromit ... it was nice to see a grown-up movie!

I also knit while I was watching the movie (which explains why I had to rip out 10 rows due to miscounting) but I can't show you pictures of my project because it is a present, and the recipient occasionally reads this blog. Trust me when I say it's turning out beautifully, and I will take pictures to post after it's been given away. :-)

Bonus Feature

Just found this on Sue's blog ... it's quite fun!
(especially if you like Star Wars & John Williams)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NaBloPoMo 8 of 30

It’s that time of year again, when Target puts out its Christmas decorations and people start complaining that it's all much too early. For me, though, the holiday season is welcome. It’s at this time of year that I get my lists in order. That I help my boys with their fundraising wreath and greenery sales. And that I sign up to sponsor some people who need a little help making the holidays merry and bright. It's the liberal in me, I guess, sharing the wealth and all.

This is something I have deliberately worked on as my boys have grown up. I want to instill in them that we need to keep in mind that not everyone is as lucky as we are to have so much. How does that saying go? To whom much is given, much is expected. No, that's not quite right. It's missing a word somewhere. You know what I mean. I'll google it to figure it out (or one of you will tell me.) With great gifts comes great responsibility? No, that's not it either, but I am getting closer.

Anyway. Every year we buy presents for aunts, uncles and cousins – and for “our family.” Every year, "our family" is different, and the boys always participate in the discussions of what would be good to get, and they help with the actual shopping as well. When we have to buy for a 10 year old boy it's easy for them, but I like it when they have to stretch their imaginations - like they do this year, to buy for a 4-month old girl.

This year we are signed up with the joint efforts of Lutheran Social Service and Catholic Charities in their Sponsor A Family program, and with the Aliveness Project Holiday Basket program. We did both of these last year, too. The Sponsor a Family is just that - you give gifts and groceries and gas cards to a family. The Aliveness Project assists people living with AIDS, with gift baskets, stockings, and meals.

I’m including the links to these programs (click on the logos) in case you are motivated to join the holiday spirit of giving – but there are hundreds of opportunities all across the nation – just take a couple of minutes to search on your area.

I think this anonymous giving is one of my most favorite part of the holidays.

Friday, November 07, 2008

NaBloPoMo 7 of 30

So I just signed up for Facebook. (Carla told me I should.)
I am so not understanding the appeal yet, but maybe it will come to me since millions of people can't be wrong, right?
You can find me there as MNKaren (at least that's what I think you can find me as? The email I used is - created just for Facebook so I can see if anything weird happens in my inbox. (Paranoid? Maybe just a bit.) And I used this photo of myself, from back when I was actually doing Tae Kwon Do. (just so you'll recognize me over there.) (and because my neck looks skinny.)
I feel so middle-school-pathetically alone every time I see "Karen has no friends" so please 'friend me' (is that the way you say it? Aack, a whole new jargon I have to learn. I feel old.)

NaBloPoMo 7 of 30

Free Commemorative Sticker

You can order a free sticker (or more for a small fee) to remember this election ... Just click on the picture and it will take you to the page with all the info!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaBloPoMo 6 of 30 SURVEY SAYS!!

A few days ago I got a survey from a friend (someone I haven’t seen in over 15 years!) which was one of those “getting to know you” surveys, but this one had a twist – the recipient was supposed to answer the questions about the sender, not about him/her self.

So I filled it out about my friend Dave and sent it back to him, and then sent the blank questions to several of my friends. Watching the returns come back in has been fun.

What do you know about me? Well, apparently no one knows my middle name, but for some reason more than one of you thinks Louise would be a good one for me. You all know I am a Norwegian-speaking, right-handed mother of two, a liberal, and that I have a brother. You are split over whether I am a rebel or a rule-follower; every shade possible has been suggested for my eye color, and evidently no one has any idea what type of music I like to listen to.

I have gotten good laughs from your responses to what I love to do, and what I would bring if stranded on a desert island. Knitting, reading, blogging, and walking the dogs all appear frequently, but my favorite response to what I love to do was “make the world a better place.” Aww, shucks. And my favorite response to what I would bring to the island? A hotdish! Ya, shure, you betcha.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaBloPoMo 5 of 30

Did anyone know this?

Friends of my friend are living in Australia for a couple of years ... this was on their blog today:

Voting is compulsory in Australia. Every Australian citizen (18 years or older) is legally compelled to vote. If you do not vote and do not have a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote, a penalty is imposed. I suspect there’s a lot of money and time saved due to no “get out” or “rock the” vote campaigns.

Huh! I didn't know that, and I think I like it!

NaBloPoMo 5 of 30

What's the opposite of Warm Fuzzy?

Because that's what I am feeling about California's Prop 8 today. Two other states also passed bans on gay marriage, but of the three, California differs in that its Supreme Court had previously determined that marriage is legal and a constitutional right for all adults, regardless of sexual orientation. Over 5000 gay couples have been married in recent months and all of them are sitting at home tonight, wondering if their marriages have been dissolved, and what, if anything, they can do about it.

I can understand people not approving of homosexuality. I can understand churches choosing to not acknowledge, allow, or condone gay marriage. What I cannot understand is the logic behind statements that gay marriage harms or destroys heterosexual marriage. What I cannot understand is the refusal to adopt a "live and let live" credo. What I cannot understand is the attempt to use the constitution to discriminate, instead of to protect from discrimination.

I believe this proposition will be challenged, will be brought back to the Supreme Court, and will be removed from the California constitution. But it's disappointing to me that it is happening at all.

NaBloPoMo 5 of 30

Warm-Fuzzy Election Day Story

I was talking to my mom a little while ago, hearing about their election night experience, and she shared with me that my dad was a little bit of an election day hero yesterday. My folks live in a small town in the northern part of the state. This year my dad decided he needed to be more politically active, so he volunteered to do some door-knocking in the days leading up to the 4th. Then, his "boss" asked if he would also go around ON election day, reminding people to vote. (Seems odd to me, but I guess there might be someone who woke up and thought it was still Monday or something. I mean, it's not as if I always know what day it is at any given moment.)

Anyway, he knocked on the door at one house, and it was opened by an elderly woman who responded sadly when he asked if she had voted yet. She said her daughter was supposed to drive up and take her to the polling place, but the daughter was ill and couldn't make it.

So my dad said he would take her. He said the look on her face was incredible - she was amazed that he was willing to take the time to do that for her! So off they went. Turns out her eyes aren't what they used to be, so he had to confer with the election judges to figure out how to best help her with the ballot (they agreed that he could read it to her) and then they discovered she wasn't registered for some reason, so he assisted her with that, as well (thank goodness our state allows same-day registration!)

When she was all done, my dad drove her home, and shortly thereafter he returned home, as well, feeling good that he was able to assist someone on this important occasion.

And today, I am feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, proud of my dad!

NaBloPoMo 5 of 40 12:53 AM

History is made.

History is made.

Yes, We Can. Yes, WE DID.

I just can't even say anything else tonight.

Tonight, history is made.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaBloPoMo 4 of 30 3:22 PM

I am already thinking beyond this evening. I am thinking of you, dear readers. I am thinking "what am I going to write about every day when the election is over???"

So I invite you to suggest topics to me for my consideration. Ask me questions, invite me to write on any topic, challenge me to meet a goal. You want a description of my favorite city in the world? A memoir of growing up in so many different houses I never knew people cleaned closets? A fail-safe Christmas dinner menu? A well-reasoned comparison of different cell phone providers? The theory of relativity explained in layman's terms? (Ok, I can't work miracles.) C'mon, I dare ya.

And maybe I'll just do it :-)

NaBloPoMo 4 of 30 11:51 AM

I knew if I kept looking I would find SOMETHING interesting. Yes, I am aware that everything says "0%" at this time of day. But it moves and I can click on things and eventually those percentages will start changing.

NaBloPoMo 4 of 30 10:35 AM

OK, I voted.

Now, I wait.

And wait.

I keep checking my email, my blog, CNN, online news sites.

Like I think something will suddenly appear which will have any meaning at all. Like I think if I stare long enough it will be tomorrow and the waiting will be over. Like I think that at a minimum, I will see a secret little message, just for me, saying "don't worry!"




To Distract.


NaBloPoMo 4 of 30

NaBloPoMo 4 of 30

What She Said.

Why bother, when Carla says it so much better than I ever could?


Monday, November 03, 2008

NaBloPoMo 3 of 30 9:33 PM

Well, I am about to head to bed. I made it through the day only spending about 4 hours online reading any/everything election-related ... no, probably not really 4 hours. I am not permanently affixed into my chair, nor is there a permanent indentation in the chair cushion in the exact shape of my "lean, muscular and feminine" behind (I am liking this Supergirl thing. A girl can dream. And compared to, say, Barney the Dinosaur, it's true.)

I answered two GOTV calls this evening, and chatted with some door knockers who were reminding me to vote - everyone was very cheerful and upbeat on all counts (both major parties were represented throughout the evening!)

I am very curious what the lines will be like tomorrow. I have been thinking about what time is the best time to go to minimize my wait. I am going to try 10:45, hoping the "before work" crowd will be through and the "vote on the lunch hour" crowd won't have arrived yet. Four years ago I voted absentee - I don't remember why, but I was not available on election day. Eight years ago I did wait in line - I remember, but only for about an hour. That was when Ty was only 3 and he kept saying "vote for Dad for president!" He was with me and he charmed those in line around us.

My biggest hope for tomorrow (and really, it is my biggest hope - well, maybe TIED for biggest hope - because if it doesn't happen, my other biggest hope may not happen either) is that there are no reports of irregularity with any voting anywhere in the country. Hopefully all the glitches will be worked out and problems will be solved and people will be extra-special-careful, and all will go smoothly.

Twenty-four hours from right now I will be sitting here, channel surfing, refreshing my internet screen, and waiting .... waiting ..... waiting ..... waiting .....

On that cheery note I am going to bed. See you all in the morning.

And PS: do I get extra prize points in NaBloPoMo for already writing 8 posts and it's only November 3rd?

NaBloPoMo 3 of 30 3:33 PM

Huh! The day is FLYING by. I ran some errands, did some work, picked up the boys, took a civic literacy test from Calandria's blog, found out I rank somewhere between a Harvard freshman and a Harvard Senior (not too shabby) and now have a big heavy black curly dog sleeping on my toes.

And then I found another test to take. Harvard-Schmarvard. I took it and found ....

My results:

I am Supergirl

Lean, muscular and feminine. Honest and a defender of the innocent.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

(I really don't know where they got the 'lean and muscular' part, but oh well.) Yay me!

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