Monday, December 31, 2007

Sing for the New Year

"You can help break the silence.
Talk about HIV and AIDS.
Let us use the universal language of music
to sing out our message around the world."

Nelson Mandela
former President of South Africa
former Political prisoner # 46664

Happy New Year. And please sing just like Annie Lennox does for those who cannot.

None of us are healthy if our neighbors are sick. None of us are strong if some are weak. We are not smart if some are denied an education. And none of us are wealthy if there is poverty.

Sing loud. Sing proud. Sing for all of us.

Who else is singing on this last day of the year?

Wholly Burble


Flower Child

Jenn in Holland

Jen in Michigan

I'll be out-of-town for a couple's get-away for the next few days. Amazing Guy's mom has flown up to stay with the kids. Carry on without me. I'll be back.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Funny feeling

Not in a "ha-ha" way. In a my-gut-feels-wrong way.

In early September, 2001, the radio reported that Ahmad Shah Massoud had been assassinated by two men posing as reporters. While I wasn't exactly current on Afghan's government ministers - I was the mother of one-year-old twins at the time - the way the news report talked about him made it seem like this wasn't just a "routine" murder.

He was killed on September 9, 2001. We all know what happened two days later.

According to Wikipedia:

"In April 2001, Nicole Fontaine invited Massoud to address the European Parliament. In his speech, he warned that the Taliban had connections with Al-Qaeda, and that an important terrorist attack was imminent. The US and European governments paid no attention to these warnings."
When I heard the conflicting news reports on the radio this morning about the attack on Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto I also said out loud "oh no" which lead to a flurry of questions from my now 7-year-old sons who I thought were listening to their new iPods.

I tried to explain that this woman played an important role in her country. That she was the first woman leader in a Muslim country and that she had only recently returned from exile to be part of politics again.

Benazir Bhutto, 54, did die on Thursday, December 27th from an attack at a rally. She sustained injuries from gun shots and a suicide bomb. She was a complicated and at times controversial leader and both times left the presidency under suspicion of corruption.

In spite of that I am incredibly sad the world lost a leader, and that Pakistan lost someone who was challenging the military regime. I also have a funny feeling that something is brewing.

I hope my gut is wrong.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Choices, choices

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

What will you be reading on
January 10, 2008?

I'm still slogging through The Devil in the White City. I am almost half-way through the 388 pages. The actual construction in Chicago of the first World's Fair in the United States is fascinating. They were desperately trying to "out-Eiffel the Eiffel Tower" and create a Fair that would top the previous one in Paris, which the famous Tower was built for. However, the concurrent story of the murders perpetuated by a man who may have been one of the first serial killers in the United States in the down the street from this World's Fair is giving me ulcers.

But I have before me the traditional stack of Christmas books that I received as presents. Every year we exchange books, especially among the adults. And it is taking all the will-power I possess to not tear into my pile.

One book I'm looking forward to reading is City in Amber by Jay Atkinson. He is a professor of writing at a local public college. The story is set in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a depressed former mill town that came into national prominence during the 1990's when a set of fires turned into an arson wave. Lawrence was once a shining example of a 19th century industrial city. The novel moves from 1848 to the 1990's.

A brief description of The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta struck me. It described how a high school health education teacher who believes in comprehensive sexual education is confronted and shamed by the local church which believes high school students should only learn about abstinence. It seems like a wonderful piece of fiction reflecting today's politics and inability to listen to each other, especially when faith is involved.

So, my hope is to be done with The Devil in the White City before Day to Read on January 10th. I think one of these books will be what I'm reading.

What books have you recently acquired? What is sitting in your to-be-read pile?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa in a Cadillac

My little brother took this picture of the most amazing baby ever. I'm signing off for a few days. Merry, merry everyone.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Well it's Christmastime pretty baby
The snow is fallin' on the ground
Yeah, it's Christmastime pretty baby
The snow is fallin' on the ground

[Blogger's note: he isn't flipping kidding on that point]

Well you be a real good little baby
Santa Claus is back in town

Got no sleigh with reindeer
No sack on my back
You gonna see me comin'
In a big black Cadillac

Santa Claus is Back in Town from Elvis' Christmas Album (released 50 years ago this year).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What everyone (including me) feels for Christmas...


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Paper Bag Princess

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

What will you be reading on
January 10, 2008?

Elizabeth was a beautiful princess.

She lived in a castle and had expensive princess clothes.

She was going to marry a prince named Ronald.

Unfortunately, a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald.

Elizabeth decided to chase the dragon and get Ronald back.

She looked everywhere for something to wear but the only thing she could find that was not burnt was a paper bag.

And so begins The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch.

This is one of my favorite books to read to my kids. I discovered it when I was a schoolteacher in the early 1990's and think it would've been one of my favorites as a child if it had been published in the 1970's. While it has a princess, a prince and a mean dragon, the roles are switched and it is Princess Elizabeth who uses her smarts to outwit the dragon. Prince Ronald's response to it all is disappointing which leads to an ending that would make any feminist (or, if that word scares you, any person who cares that girls be strong and smart) proud.

My books as a young girl were by Richard Scary, P.D. Eastman, Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss. I loved Free to Be You and Me. Today I think I'm as excited as my kids to read Goodnight Gorilla, The Dot and any Olivia or Toot and Puddle book.

What books did you love to read as a young kid (before you were 7 years old)? Any chance you'll be reading it to someone on Day to Read on January 10, 2008?

I just love that people are repeatedly promoting Day to Read (that would be Jen, Jenn and Flower Child) and others are just talking about it without telling me. Both are o.k. I never meant for this to be a day to be about promoting SMID. It is about promoting reading.

Korie wrote a wonderful description of what it is like to have a book - a book you have fallen into - come to the last page. The Golden Compass was just such a book.

Now if you have been promoting Day to Read and you think I know and I haven't written about you, assume you need to tell me again. My brain is a sieve, we've got holiday happiness here in the house and I spent one night writing season's greetings to 200 state legislators instead of blogging. That seems to have set me back a month.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Am I the only one who expects kids to behave?

While my boys' birthday party was months ago, something still to this day really bothers me about the party. It was the behavior of one guest, a six year old boy. It still galls me.

Each boy got to bring two friends as his guest to the ballgame. Yes, it was going to be a blast to bring six first-graders to a minor league baseball game. Little lady has her own special guest. Grandpa.

So I was sitting next to one guy, we'll refer to him as P, for the entire first inning. The clouds opened up on us and rained out the game - prematurely ending the boys' birthday party and causing them not to have the entire ballpark sing "Happy Birthday" while they stood atop the dugout - but that is beside the point. I sat next to this kid I didn't know for over 30 minutes.

Now I know for a fact that if my kids are with an adult they don't know very well - pretty much anyone other than me or a close family member - they behave. They more than behave, they are angelic. I expected these friends of my sons, kids for the most part I didn't know, to be the same way.

Good goodness was I wrong.

"I want something to drink." Was the first thing P uttered within 3 minutes of sitting down.

"I'm hungry" 1 minute later.

"I'm thirsty" he said again about a minute later. I know. I looked at my watch.

Now I know this kid didn't have any health issues. I had asked his parents.

"I'm bored" a minute later. "I'm bored" a minute later.

P sat next to me and complained the entire time. The. Entire. Time.

After 1/2 an hour I turned to him and asked in a firm, low voice, bordering on a growl,

"Do you always complain?"

He looked a little frightened.

"Because you know what? Adults would be a lot nicer to you, and kids would probably play with you more, if you didn't complain



He looked like I had strangled a kitten in front of his very eyes.

He shut up.

Funny thing, the boys are now in a different school and the boys have not once mentioned this kid.

Nor have we been called by him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Couldn't agree more

For more Rob Rogers cartoons, visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Basketball has returned

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

On Saturday I coached the 3rd basketball game of the season. Me and ten first and second grade boys. For the first time I have an assistant coach who is wonderfully patient and fun. I gave a synopsis of nearly every game during last year's season. This is clearly the year where it "clicks" for the kids who have played a year or two. And for their coach as well.

I have thoroughly lucked out with my team and fellow coach. Sure I have some towering 2nd graders who can just pluck rebounds with little effort. I have kids who are so eager to hustle and shoot they fall over themselves, and a third of the opposing team, only to have the ball roll away.

But I have a boy on the team who is notorious in our town. A tiny guy who is a live wire. Other parents moan about how he won't listen and is easily distracted.

He shares a first and middle name with a folk hero. My sons' know the Johnny Cash song sung at Folsom Prison.

But I love this kid. My 3 1/2 year old daughter is almost as tall as him (more a statement of her height than his) so what he lacks in stature as a 2nd grader, he makes up in speed and sheer, brute strength.

We have to play games on only half of a court (don't ask me why several huge school gymnasiums are closed on weekends and we have to play in an elementary school that is over 100 years old). But this doesn't take away that little guy retrieves a rebound, starts dribbling down the court then at mid-court will toss the basketball with one arm toward the net. And a few times has gotten it in. The dads lined up against the wall just shake their heads in amazement.

So this past Saturday I made a point to tell our team powerhouse to actually pass the ball and to shoot closer to the basket. His dad overheard me and reiterated what I said (Thank you!).

And little man brilliantly passed the ball often during the game. So much so that the other players made baskets. He ended up with three assists by the end of the 30 minute game. His dad congratulated him profusely for being such a "team player" (again Thank you!).

I'm excited to have him on our team. He's a coach's dream.

At least this one's.

Well John Henry hammered in the mountain.
He'd give a grunt and he'd give a groan with every swing.
The women folks for miles around heard him and come down,
To watch him make the cold steel ring.
Lord what a swinger!
Just listen to that cold steel ring!

It's Monday so SMID must be writing about music (like how I got basketball back to a song?). Are you singing a song today? Flower Child is recalling favorite records and even shared some JD with us. Who? Go over to her site and find out.

And Jen in Michigan is bemoaning the quality of Hanukkah music (and she is in a position to moan about it). Wholly Burble is writing about a favorite Christmas song while Jenn in Holland is sharing an evening of gift and song with photographs!

Let me know if you are singing a song today as well and I'll link back to you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How I feel after shoveling lots of snow with more to come this weekend....


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"she needs to get some Beastie tunes"

The following came from the December 3rd post at Mic to Mic, a site devoted to all things Beastie Boys. Seems my post about the Boys was discovered.

"Um, I'm sorry, what is your name?"

He gives me this big grin, as if saying that no one has said that to him in a long time.

"Adam Horovitz. I'm in the band."

Read A Soccer Mom in Denial's story of meeting the Beastie Boys in the early 90s. The story illustrates how special they are.

Posted by Hot Sauce.

Hot Sauce - thanks for finding me. And here are the six comments that this post generated (my replies are in italics).


Danielle said...
I have new respect for the band. I was unaware they donated to help the blockades and make the clinics safe. Operation Rescue was a terrorist group that murdered women and doctors. I will never forget their reign of terror. Bless the Beastie Boys!

And you too, Danielle, for understanding the reign of terror inflicted by those, ahem, "pro-life" activists.

Saber said...
she remembers eating pasta & soda but can't remember the conversation she had with the boys???

Sorry to disappoint Saber.

Hot Sauce said...
You don't forget good pasta.

That is right!

Brody said...
Awwww, I like confirmations they're nice guys!! :)

Awwww I'm glad to give you confirmation Brody.

Kevin said...
Nice story but she needs to get some Beastie tunes.

Alright Kevin, what are your top five Beastie tunes? Just five.

Todd said...
Nice story but kind of a bummer that she wasn't a huge fan. I still spaz out whenever I tell somebody about the time I shared a newspaper with Mike D. at the car wash.

Todd, I couldn't agree more that the experience I describe was a wasted opportunity on someone like me. Good thing you didn't notice in my article the signed concert wall sign I can't seem to find.

Sigh. Music fans. Aren't they adorable? I mean, who would be so rabid about a music band to write about them constantly?

I mean who would?

[Note to self - see if erasurefanatic is available somewhere for a blog name. It's not like I have another blog.]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When do you give up on a book?

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

January 10th, 2008

Really. I want to know.

I've heard the "give it 50 pages" rule. And for Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, I'm already on page 66 but I haven't fallen into the book. And I want to. It is about late 19th century Chicago and the first World's Fair hosted in the United States. At the same time, the nation's first serial killer was trolling for victims in Chicago.

Juicy history which I usually love. I enjoy reading about significant events that have been forgotten but for some reason I can't get into this book.

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Should I keep at it?

Folks are still coming to Day to Read.

Katluvr is signed on and thinking of reading The Princess Bride. Why? I don't know.

Amy of the Sleepy Reader is signed on and bringing her three kids with her.

Wendy, a self-described "ravenous reader" (are there any others?) has a blog devoted to reading challenges.

Bonnie is also out there promoting Day to Read.

ZAM noted Day to Read to show that reading is one of her favorite things to do!

Melanie wrote about how she may start twitching if she doesn't blog a little on January 10th. Please read blogs! We don't want any withdrawls.

And the beloved (and very huggable) Ambassador in New Orleans reemerged from his blogging hiatus to speak eloquently about The Golden Compass controversy. He wonders if millions of little boys became entitled sexist pigs after reading about a young boy continually taking from a (female) tree in Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. And he's pretty sure he wouldn't skip church after watching The Golden Compass the movie.

If I didn't mention you and you said you were "in", it is probably because I couldn't (quickly) find either what you wrote about reading or the button on your sidebar, or I completely spaced out and you need to remind me again. I will however list you if you don't have a blog but graciously leave your name.

Oh, and should I keep reading Larson's book? It did take me 150 pages to get into The Poisonwood Bible, which I loved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meet the newest member of our family

Sometimes my kids surprise and unnerve me, at the same time.

Part of my job is to go around the state to visit non-profit organizations that are committed to racial and economic justice. Last week I was in the Chinatown neighborhood of our capital city. I spent an hour with a community activist hearing about affordable housing, economic development and neighborhood history. It was an awesome tour. It would have been a bit more enjoyable if it wasn't a windy 20 degrees but the weather wasn't his fault.

My current shoulder bag/purse is made of, yes, red Chinese silk with gold dragons and flowers. My host nearly fell over when he first saw it. He explained the symbolism of the color red, dragons, roses and other images in Chinese culture.

At around the same time last week I was freezing walking around Chinatown, one of my sons went with his class to the school "holiday shop". A PTO fundraiser, nothing is terribly expensive and it sounds like the "high end" section was all priced at a dollar a piece with most items costing a quarter or fifty cents. The kids are encouraged to bring a couple of dollars from home to buy holiday presents for family members.

As I was picking the boys up from after-school care I was informed by the guy who did his shopping today that he had something for me for my birthday (which turned out to be huge cubic ziconias earrings - so cute!) and a present for his little sister. What should he pull out of his white plastic bag but a toy panda dressed in a red silk top.

I'm trying to get the kids to call her xióng māo which is panda in Chinese (it literally means "large bear cat"). It is pronounced "shee-ong mow" and a big thanks to Jenn formerly of China for patiently explaining, via email, how to pronounce panda.

And I'm still floored. Did he sense I was walking in Chinatown?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Which is sadder?

The following are actual email exchanges with my sons' first grade teachers

----- Original Message -----
From: Soccer Mom In Denial
To: Mrs. G, Ms. S
Date: Friday, November 30 2007 01:30 PM
Subject: could W and F's parents have conference on 12/14 in am?

Hi Mrs. G and Ms. S,

I'm writing for a favor. I was contacted by [room mother] to set up the parent teacher conference on 12/12 for F. She told me all the conferences were on the same day and that I may want to wait to see what times were available for W's so I could just be at school once and not multiple times.

I never heard from the other room parent and now can't be at the school during the remaining times.

I was wondering (hoping?) that [Amazing Guy] and I could come to the school on Friday 12/14 before the bell to meet with each of you - say 8:00-8:15 and 8:15-8:30. If that doesn't work, I understand.

And, again, I am mortified their homework was covered in peanut butter this week. Please accept my apologies and it won't happen again.

----- Original Message -----
From: Ms. S
To: Soccer Mom in Denial
Cc: Mrs. G
Date: Friday, November 30 2007 02:21 PM
Subject: Re: could W and F's parents have conference on 12/14 in am?

[Room parent] should have or should be contacting you soon, but the 14th works for me. I'll take the 8:00-8:15 if that's ok with Mrs. G??? No worries about the peanut butter it happens all the time! See you soon and have a great weekend!
Ms. S

----- Original Message -----
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 14:39:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Mrs. G
To: Ms. S
CC: Soccer Mom in Denial
Subject: Re: could W and F's parents have conference on 12/14 in am?

Hi SMID and Ms. S,
That works for me, too. Look forward to seeing you and your husband on the 14th at 8:15. I think it is great that you had F write an apology. That is a first for food on the homework! You are a good Mom!
Have a great weekend.
Mrs. G


Now which is sadder, that these first grade teachers often have homework turned in with food on it or there has never been an apology for food on the homework?

Either one is nasty.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mamma Mia

Long before the musical, the Erasure covers or the vile of turd from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, ABBA was a singing group that played on the car radio. Specifically the large station wagon my parents bought six weeks before the oil embargo of 1973.

I remember sitting in the back seat, my younger brother always on the left side directly behind my mother and I on the right, wearing lap belts that have the same buckles airplanes still have today. In the mid-1970's ABBA's Dancing Queen would come on the radio and my mom would start clapping and singing, bopping her perfectly coiffed head of hair to the music.

So while many folks associate ABBA with 1970's themed dance parties or the musical, whenever I hear them, I think of my mom driving a huge car, dancing to the music.

Happy Birthday to my mom. The original Mamma Mia!

And my mom shared a birthday with a dearly departed dog. Go read about her at Flower Child's windowbox. Then there is a fun movie soundtrack recalled by Wholly Burble (and a big welcome to her since this is her first Music Monday!). And Jenn in Michigan adds another terrific tale of tunes from her childhood.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The favorite thing about turning 39 years old TODAY is...


Singular Saturday

The idea of Singular Saturday was created by Jenn in Holland.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sometimes you need to say it out loud

It has taken me a while to figure out that people can't read my mind. This has been a frustrating realization. Like when I turned 30 years old and expected my colleagues at work to acknowledge my birthday. I mean, they had my birthday on various forms so surely they should have known. I had been working there for over 4 years and thought they would do something for me. I was always the one orchestrating everyone else's birthday, wedding, new baby celebration so I thought they would remember my 30th birthday.

I was wrong. And bitter. I alternatively moped and fumed around the office for days until someone figured out my 30th birthday had come and gone and they quickly pulled together a cake and card. Too little too late but I eventually got over it. I worked there another 4 years.

But telepathy is a dying art so I will make this easy for everyone.

My 39th Birthday is this Saturday, December 8th.

Oh dear? What to get me? Well just leave me a comment about your favorite birthday moment - as a kid or adult. And if you've been lurking what better present to give me then coming out of the shadows and saying "Hello"!

And for those of you who have had the benefit of an e-card from me, I've never, ever gotten a Hoops and Yo-yo e-card from anyone. Wouldn't you like to be the first?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Water for Elephants

As I have been blabbering about for a while, I've been reading Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. It is a fictional account of a "train circus" during the depression of the 1930's. Her characters come to life immediately and there was no need to wade through until you got into the story (which happened to me with Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver).

The novel starts with the animals breaking out from their cages and someone being murdered during the mayhem. Then it weaves back and forth between the narrator sitting in a nursing home as a 93-year-old-man and him recalling his days in the circus.

But it was the last 100 pages that just threw me. I'm one of those people who can figure out where a plot is going (very few movies throw me for a plot loop - although I will admit that both The Crying Game and Sixth Sense did). This novel actually had two plot twists that I didn't expect. I stayed up way past my bedtime, huddled under the covers as these characters' lives unfolded. Even the mayhem/murder scene which opens the book is still a thrilling read when the story eventually gets to it. I think that is pretty amazing since you know what is coming.

And the last plot twist left me in tears. I haven't had a book reduce me to tears in years, years. If you are looking for a book to read now or on January 10, 2008, I highly recommend Water for Elephants.

And more people are joining Day to Read on January 10, 2008 - a day to put down our keyboards and pick up a book (or magazine or the newspaper) -

Goofball noted my special powers because apparently on the same day I unveiled Day to Read, she writes, "all Flemish media bring the news that we don't teach our children a reading culture anymore."

Jan just jumped right in talking about how she loves to read. Her list is exhausting but clearly she is a woman who does love to read.

New friend Wholly Burble tells of how she and her mother would read books together during lunch before her mother left to work the evening shift as a nurse at the local hospital.

Mariposa Speaks found out about Day to Read from Wholly Burble and has taken January 10, 2008 to the Philippines. She lists her favorite books and ends with "Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. So, read with me and the rest of the world and together, let us get there!"

Dear buddy Alex Elliot has committed to spending part of the day reading. She gets a pass since unbeknowst to me I picked her birthday (so now everyone remember to wish her a Happy Birthday

DAY TO READ - January 10, 2008

And then there is the awesome Suzanne at Suzanne Says. She created the stunning alternative button that uses a calendar to remind everyone what January 10, 2008 is. When she showed it to me I was humbled and awed by her creativity. She also gives a terrific list of short reads so you can read an entire book in one sitting. Now isn't she doubly thoughtful?

So, are you joining the party on January 10, 2008? Some of you have been asking for the button code (thank you). Just let me know when you write about Day to Read so I can sing your praises.

But also, what books do you love to talk about? What book(s) have you been meaning to read?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

100 photos

Looking Into Photo Blog

On Sunday I was loading several images onto Looking Into, the joint photoblog Jenn in Holland and I started back in August. As I was going back and forth between formatting each individual image and the list of posts I saw that Jenn was on the site as well, uploading her photos for the same week.

That is pretty much how we work. We usually don't "talk" about the photos we plan to upload onto the site. Last week was our first attempt at a theme (what? you missed Animal Week? you missed my beloved wild horse running off the sand dune?) We critique or give feedback when asked (or not) but generally we let each other use as we each chose to. In case you haven't noticed, I always have odd days and she has even.

As I was uploading this weekend I thought how lucky I was to have such an excellent partner in this "other" project of mine - a venue to show photographs. How lucky we both were to have such talented and generous guests share their artwork with us. If you haven't shared a photo with us but would like to, please send it to us at looking DOT into AT yahoo DOT com.

Be sure to look at our celebratory page up today. We chose a photo, independent of each other, to celebrate 100 photos on Looking Into.

And those are only the first 100. We've got a few more to show you.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why can't we?

The boys came with me to pick up their sister at her preschool. As we were leaving we passed another family. The middle son in that family was a pre-K classmate of my boys and now attends first grade at a different elementary school in town.

The mom asked if she could tell me a story. Her kids ran into the school while mine ran into the newly fallen snow.

"The other day," the mom starts, "S (her son) and D (her daughter) were fighting - like siblings always do" as she rolls her eyes. "Then S stopped and said,

'Hey D - remember those twins? W and F? They always get along and they're brothers. We're brother and sister. Why can't we get along like them?'"

Then suddenly I had a 7 year old slam into me as he wrapped his arms around my waist.

"MOM! He threw a snowball onto MY NECK!!"

Monday, December 03, 2007

The night I had dinner with the Beastie Boys

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

I was living in Louisiana in the early 1990's. It was during the height of "Operation Rescue" (snort) going into communities to shut down women's clinics with the intention of limiting women's access to needed health care services.

If, for any reason, you don't agree with that last statement, please leave this blog. I am pro-choice and will not change. Any arguing will be deleted and promptly ignored.

On to our regularly scheduled post.

For their 1992 tour, The Beastie Boys offered to have all the proceeds from their New Orleans concert go towards defending women's health clinics for the upcoming summer blockades. Several groups were offered the chance to staff information tables in the lobby so we could promote women's reproductive rights.

While setting up the tables we could hear the band rehearse. I didn't think much of it. I wasn't a big fan of theirs. I only knew You Have To Fight for Your Right to Party which was a pretty irritating song in my book.

Then, two of the guys from the band showed up in the lobby. They went to each table (there were only a few) and chatted with each of us. Then we were invited to have dinner with them backstage.

I go to the back of this little theater and find myself in a small room with a catered dinner. This guy appears behind me and says "Hi Allison. I met you in the lobby."

To which I reply, "Um, I'm sorry, what is your name?"

He gives me this big grin, as if saying that no one has said that to him in a long time "Adam Horovitz. I'm in the band."

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

We then get pasta and soda drinks. I don't remember much of what was said but recall they were all very kind, thoughtful people.

I returned to the theater lobby to staff the information table. Once the lobby cleared out we were alone at our tables. A roadie came out and invited me to stand backstage and watch the show.

There I was, standing backstage, watching the three guys in the band quietly meditate. Then, as if someone turned a key, they literally sprung onto the stage. I had never seen people jump so high as they did. They went from complete stillness to nothing but balls of energy in seconds.

Then I was offered a pass to the front of the stage. And I danced up a storm.

To this day I still don't own any Beastie Boys. Not even on the iPod.

I do have their signatures on a wall sign. Not sure where it is though...

Got your own melodious tale to share for Monday? Let me know and I'll link to you. Be sure to read Flower Child's tale of tunes, Fourier Analyst's translations of songs to welcome SinterKlaas (who? get over there and find out!!) and Jenn in Holland's masterful combining of gospel music with bath bubbles.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Silver or Gold?

These two colors/finishes are associated with all sorts of things—medals, holidays, anniversaries, jewelry. Gold is usually valued more than silver. It's more expensive, it's higher ranking, it means more years and it's more traditional.

For some reason I always feel like it says something about someone if they prefer the color silver over gold. I'm not sure why but I just feel like I'm going to get along better with the person who prefers silver. Don't get me wrong I know and like plenty of people that like gold. Gold just seems more traditional to me.

I don't think I even own a piece of yellow gold jewelry anymore. Thank goodness white gold is in fashion now or my wedding rings would have likely been silver since we couldn't afford platinum. These rings are the only jewelry I wear on a daily basis. They are both beyond simple and I love them, they're perfect. 14k white gold with a single 1/2 carat round diamond, bezel set. The wedding band has a notch cut out so it can sit flush with the engagement ring. (Click here to see a picture.) My husband picked it out without my input at all and it amazes me just how right he got it.

My preference for silver over gold goes beyond just jewelry. My Mom always likes to decorate their Christmas tree with red bows and red and gold balls. I remember one year I convinced her to try something a little different. She let me do a blue and silver theme. Silver and blue balls with blue bows. I thought it was so pretty. It didn't last though, she prefers the red and gold.

Do I prefer silver because of my penchant to root for the underdog? To buck tradition? Does this preference really say something about who I am? What do you prefer and do you think it says something about you?

Allison is kind enough to host my post here today as a part of the December Blog Exchange. Our topic this month is Silver and Gold. I'm Niki and I write ImpostorMom. I am a 29 year old new mother, wife and professional. I write about new motherhood and life in general. Go check out ImpostorMom to see Allison's post today.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Came to the Party

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

Do you ever worry that you will plan a party and no one will show up?

How could I ever doubt you?

Yesterday I threw out the idea of Day to Read. A day for people to either cut back or completely step away from blogging to read. A book. A magazine. The newspaper.

And you all came. With tales of reading to share.

Jodi wrote about how reading blogs had indeed taken over reading books and committed to reading a book on January 10th. Then she asked for suggestions.

Flower Child recalled how her parents wouldn't always buy her or her siblings toys but books were "always free".

CableGirl notes that she has observed as an adjunct professor the quality of college students' writing "is downright disturbing". She then goes on to list her TBR books (To Be Read). Impressive and humbling. I am so not smart next to her.

Jami described how her father defended her in the library when the librarian wouldn't let her take out all the books she wanted to check out. There is also some Communist ramblings but you have to go read the post yourself.

Gunfighter outright orders us to read. An armed book-lover? Now y'all better find a good book for January 10th and obey his orders. Yes sir!

Luisa made a simple statement that she was in on the day.

Then my co-conspirators:

Jenn in Holland - she wrote about hiding fiction books behind the books she was supposed to be reading at school. Such a rebel. And she made the button (she always makes the buttons! And for that I love her) and sang the praises of the idea. She talked it up and made me feel like this was a great idea. Isn't that what a good friend is for?

Jen in Michigan - she went on the promotion circuit. She even tried to get on the NPR show Talk of the Nation yesterday while they interviewed the chair of the National Endowment of the Arts about the reading report. And she got Day to Read mentioned in the NPR News Blog (which mysteriously disappeared when I went back to link to it). She has been a true champion. And in her piece introducing the day spoke of how A Wrinkle in Time played a special role for her as a child.

I'm off to read Water For Elephants by Sarah Greun. It is one of those ignore-your-kids-while-they-destroy-the-house kind of book. It is delicious reading.

So what is your reading story?

Psst - if you don't tell me you are promoting Day to Read, I can't sing your praises.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day to Read

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

January 10, 2008

Please mark your calendar.

Because, well, I'm asking you a favor.

But first a story. About a story. Or really a book.

Do you remember reading late at night, in your childhood bed, way past your bedtime a book you just couldn't put down?

One of those books for me was The Princess Bride. Yes, young readers, it was a book before a movie and a brilliant book at that. The premise was that the father didn't want to read the book to his son so when his kid wasn't interested in reading this book he came to find out that his own father had skipped the so-called "boring" parts about such things as horse trading, geo-politics, and naming trends in a far away land.

What we then get is the "good parts" version of The Princess Bride. He alludes to the boring sections but it only enhances the over all storytelling and obviously those never made it into the movie (doesn't that make you wish you read the book?).

So, deep under the covers, way past my bedtime, Buttercup is being pulled by the Dread Pirate Roberts along a steep ravine near the Fire Swamp. She eventually pushes him into the deep valley to avenge the death of her love and as he tumbles down he yells "As you wish....."

And I nearly screamed from under the covers. I remember distinctly my childhood bedroom, the sheets and the complete shock when I realized, along with Buttercup, it was him. Him!

Imagine not having that experience? Of not having a book take you completely out of who you are? Where you live? Of seeing the characters only in your head.

And, according to research, did you know that reading books is linked to civic engagement?

I recently read about a National Endowment for the Arts report that young folks aren't reading like they used to. Get this:
  • only 30% of 13-year-olds read almost every day

  • the number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004 - that is 1 in 5 kids don't read for fun

  • Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure

  • The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading
According to Diane Gioia, the Chair of the NEA,

"The poorest Americans who read did twice as much volunteering and charity work as the richest who did not read. The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people's lives are real."

Does that quote give you chills? It does me. So that's why I'm asking folks, myself included, to take time one day in January to stop blogging - for the entire day or part of the day - and use the blogging time to read. A book. A magazine. A newspaper.

Take the button (email me at amitchells AT yahoo DOT com for the code) and please paste it in a post as well as your sidebar.

Write about this. About what books, magazines, newspapers mean to you. Write a couple of posts about writings that have taken you to another place. And mark Thursday, January 10, 2008 as Day to Read. Then on Friday, January 11th, write a bit about what you read.

And thank you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meme in place of a hug

This is for Fourier Analyst AND The Real Life Drama Queen. If anyone deserves me to break (again) my no meme stance, it is them. They have both shared more heartbreak this fall than any mother should bear.

But what was really sweet? They both named me so that I would have something to write about during NaBlolalalala. Ladies, I literally write two posts per day and only put one up on my blog. I've got a backlog of writing. But thank you for thinking of me.

So this meme is in the place of flying to give them both hugs in person.

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning. Done.

B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits/secrets about themselves. Yup.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Nope. Not doing that part.

So I am ornery like that. I'll give you the information, but not pass along the task.

1. Fact - Like Fourier Analyst I cannot remember phone numbers or codes on keypads but can remember the pattern on the pads. I will literally have to draw a key pad to "map out" the numbers.

2. (Former) Habit - I bit my nails until 3rd grade when my mom made a $10 bet with me that I couldn't bite my nails for 3 months. I haven't bitten my nails since.

3. Habit - I pick at my cuticles.

4. Fact (or Habit?) - Like The Queen, I enjoy speed. As in driving fast in the car. Or mini-van in my case.

5. Fact - I was the voice of a character in a film strip (remember those?). I remember being in the studio with two other kids and wearing the big headsets. For the life of me I cannot remember what the film was about.

6. Secret - I really, really enjoyed writing that piece of fiction hosted by Jenn in Michigan earlier in the month. I only wish I could do more writing like that. She's decided to do it again so you should join in. It was a lot of fun.

Want to share with the rest of us? Consider yourself tagged, write up your six - posting those rules at the beginning - let me know and I'll promote you.


Remember over at Looking Into we having Animal Week all this week. Today we welcome a new guest photographer. Go check out his photo!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Be an Ally and a Friend

On November 28, 1998, Rita Hester was murdered not far from where Amazing Guy and I were living at the time. One evening she met a man (at a bar if I recall correctly) and brought him home. Upon realizing she was transgendered, he killed her. The local paper was taken to task for blaming her for being murdered, as if somehow she had "tricked" him and his reaction was "justified".

Earlier that year we went on a long weekend get-away with relatively new friends. They were a wonderful couple - incredibly smart, real foodies and very worldly. We loved spending time with them and envisioned a long friendship.

Sometime that summer he called us and asked to talk to Amazing Guy first. I knew it was quite a conversation because I had never heard AG sound like he did on the phone. Eventually he handed the phone to me.

Our friend started with "I have something I want to share with you."

To which I happily yelled "you're expecting!!"

He then went on to apologize for not telling us in person. I then started hearing about how he had been born in the wrong body and he had sex realignment surgery several years earlier. He mentioned medical terminology. He used the letters "F to M".

Sitting on our sofa in our apartment, holding the phone, I heard him ask me if I had any questions.

"So, you were born a girl but now you are a man?" I asked.


"Oh, well you were a guy when I met you so you are still a guy to me."

Both in memory of Ms. Hester, and in honor of our friend, please watch this short PSA from GLAAD. November 28th is Transgendered Day of Remembrance. [And a big thanks to Jami - a new friend who I feel like I've known for a long time - for posting about this]

And don't get all judgemental. You know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. And Jack from Will and Grace doesn't count. You owe it to yourself, your community and most importantly the children in your life (the ones you birthed and/or just know) to be a friend and ally.

Being alone is really hard. Knowing someone is out there who won't judge you can be a lifesaver.

So be a friend and an ally. Regardless of your faith or beliefs. Because your higher power, regardless of what you call that power, values all life - and the well-being of all those lives.

I am honored to be a friend - and an ally.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Introduced my boys to a classic

Music Monday

"So guys, this is a classic movie scene. Can you imagine singing outside daddy's office window on a float in a parade?"

"NO!" declares one guy.


"Yeah...." says another guy slyly. "I would do it."

And I would be there cheering.

Got a musical tale to share this Monday? Let me know and I will link back to you. And check out both Jessica and Jenn's story.


Go visit Looking Into this week. We have an animal thing going with new and old guests....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SOS - Fly me to the moon

It's that time of the week again, Soap Opera Sunday started by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's. Go to their sites today to read their and others' sudsy tales.

Amazing guy is quite the singer. I'm not just saying that. When I walk into a bar with him for karaoke night, the guy running the mike yells out his name and let's him jump the queue whenever he asks for a song.

He does an incredible Michael McDonald in "What a Fool Believes". You should hear his version "I'm Easy" by Lionel Ritchie.

One story I've heard is that he lost a bet while in Montreal and had to go out to get breakfast for his travel mates the next morning. As he was walking down the street he was stopped by a group of older tourists.

"You're the guy from the bar!" they exclaimed. "The one who sounds like Frank Sinatra!!"

Which is exactly who he sounded like when he sang at our wedding.

Amazing Guy copied a song several times on a cassette tape to play continuously in the Jeep's tape deck during his hour long drive to work running a housing program for persons with AIDS. He practiced it in the shower. He made sure the band we selected to play at the reception not only knew the song but also would hand him the microphone.

That night he was called up and I tried to hide along the back wall. Eventually I was found and pushed to the dance floor as he sang

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on
Jupiter and Mars

In other words hold my hand
In other words, Baby, kiss me


Fly Me to the Moon has ended up on several birthday CDs for the kids. They all know this is the song daddy sang to mommy at their wedding.

"I'm not getting married" declared one little man over the summer while Fly me to the Moon was playing in the van.

"Really?" I asked.


"Any reason?"

"Do you have to sing at your wedding?"

I assured him that was not expected as part of the groom's duties. Just his daddy's.


The story the kids haven't heard is what he sang to me later in the evening, after his parents had left the reception but while my parents were still there.

She gets too hungry, for dinner at eight
She loves the theater, but doesn't come late
She'd never bother, with people she'd hate
That's why the lady is a tramp

Doesn't like crap games, with barons and earls
Won't go to Harlem, in ermine and pearls
Won't dish the dirt, with the rest of those girls
That's why the lady is a tramp

Like my music stories? Inspired to write some of your own? Join in on Music Monday!

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Life feels....

Singular Saturday


For more Singular Saturdays, go check out Jenn in Holland. She started it all.

Friday, November 23, 2007

New kajamas

My daughter is an interesting girl. She is so girly in how she carries herself, talks to people and in the things she loves. Hand her a pink teapot to play kitchen or a microphone for her to perform with and she is happy as a clam.

But she hates new clothes. Hates to have to switch away from her summer clothes to her winter ones. She's got the nasty cough to prove she is not dressing warmly for the 40 degree days.

So on Saturday evening, while the big and little boys were off at a professional fight hockey game, I broke down and did something I never thought I would do.

I talked up shopping with my 3 1/2 year old daughter.

"We're going shopping for new clothes!" I said excitedly while keeping the rising vomit in my throat. I really hate to go shopping.

"We're going to get you new pajamas so you won't be cold at night."

"But I don't want new 'kajamas'!" she protested.

We had a lovely dinner, got ready for shopping, and charged into the store. She became all excited about a pair of pajamas pants with dogs all over them.

We brought them home, washed them and she put them on.

In the morning she asked to wear them to church. I told her she could put them on in the evening for bed time.

During an early afternoon hike after church she asked if she would be taking a nap when we got home. "I'm so tired" she yawned with much arm-stretching and dramatic eye rubbing. When we got home she went straight to her room, changed into her new pajamas and took a great nap.

For thanksgiving dinner she conveniently changed out of her clothes to show the "kajamas" to her grandparents. When she declared that she would be wearing them for the meal itself we all gave in. So here we were, in our slightly dressy clothes and she was wearing her pink thermal pajamas.

I think she likes these new "kajamas". Think I'll have as much luck with the new turtlenecks?

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Before a meal (even breakfast) our daughter usually insists that we grab hands around the table and say in unison,

We love our family. Amen

We started it when getting everyone to go around and say they love each member of the family got too painful (e.g. one boy would intentionally skip his brother causing the other to kvetch for the rest of the meal).

After we say our short grace we lift our glasses and loudly say,


I hope you are surrounded by love and cheers today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Did your history go from Thanksgiving straight to the Revolution?

Mine did. Although we spent a little time talking about the Salem witch trials. But only because we lived down the highway from Salem.

So that was how early American history was taught in my neck of the woods - Pilgrims landed in 1624, ate a big meal, later that century some folks were hung or crushed under rocks over lack of food (so goes one theory) and then - boom - the shot heard 'round the world in 1776.

I finished - inadvertantly before Thanksgiving I will admit - Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. I was motivated in part to see what happened in southeastern New England through the 1660's but also to read about my ancester, William Brewster. Neither he nor his family factor too much past the first few years of Plimouth. Small comfort considering what was done to native Americans by the children and grandchildren of the Pilgrims.

It felt like a painful replay of other parts of our history. Native Americans rounded up and sent to live on barren islands with few natural resources. Torture and trumped up charges leading to executions. Killing women and children.

I'm not proud of our country right now. We are both behaving horribly with the rest of the world and treating each other terribly right here at home. It seems, though, that we are simply repeating the sins of our forefathers and mothers.

Perhaps, as we gather together for this American holiday - Thanksgiving - hopefully surrounded by love and good food, we can all work to get our country back on track. A country where we welcome newcomers, trust one another and behave with dignity on the world stage.

Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You're a (sneer) girl

"You're a (insert sneer) girl!"

I cannot convey the nastiness that comes out of his mouth when he says that.

Let me clarify.

The nastiness that comes out of my son, who I gave birth to, when he says it to his twin brother.

One night I lost it.

It had been brewing for a week. He would insert it and I would try to get him to stop. Then, he finally said it one more time over dinner to his brother.

"So it there something wrong with me, your mother who just cooked this dinner, cleaned your clothes, picked you up from school and tucks you into bed at night, because I'm a girl?"

"No" he says looking down.

"Is there something wrong with your teacher because she is a girl?"

"No" in a smaller voice.

"Is there something wrong with your soccer coach because she is a girl?"

"No" as he shrinks into the kitchen floor.

"Is there something wrong with your sister because she is a girl?"

"No" as he starts to go off his chair as I rise off of mine.

"Is there something wrong with your grandmothers, your aunts, your principal, your minister and every other woman you interact with because they are girls?"

"No" as he starts to back into a corner.

"Good, so that means you won't mind writing 10 times on a piece of paper 'Girls are o.k.' and if you say it again you will write it 20 times and lose television for the evening."

What I didn't tell him is if he said it a third time he would be writing a two page essay on Susan B. Anthony.

Where the hell do boys learn that being a girl is bad, inferior, an insult?

I work very, very hard to stay calm when they say stupid things. But after a 7 month pregnancy with two of them inside of me (don't get me started on the virtual party going on inside my uterus, particularly at night), 8 weeks in the NICU, 16 months of nursing twins (I should get a medal for that one), all the various health issues, this list is starting to get too long but you get my drift....

After all I've done for my sons to have one of them equate being a girl as inferior? Oh sweet baby boy. You better fix your ways now.

And the next day? He didn't say it and he was very, very affectionate to me.

As he should be. As. He. Should. Be.

Monday, November 19, 2007

You are awesome

Music Monday

Actually, wicked awesome.

Remember that little request I made about a month ago? I'll refresh your memories...

Believe it or not, while doing all my other projects I need to compile a list of songs from the last 25 years.

Done laughing yet?

It is the 25th anniversary of the organization I work for and we have two events coming up that in part celebrate this milestone.

So who gave me some awesome suggestions?

Jenn in Holland
Painted Maypole
Flower Child
Jen in Michigan

And Aimee, oh the Mistress of Greeblemonkey! She made 4-6 alternative suggestions for EACH YEAR!! Do the math - that is at least 100 songs she wrote out in the comments. Go check it out.

And now for the songs that played at last month's annual meeting and our big fundraiser this past Friday.

1999 ~ Prince
She Works Hard for the Money ~ Donna Summer
People Are People ~ Depeche Mode
Thriller ~ Michael Jackson
Born In the U.S.A. ~ Bruce Springsteen
Hot Summer Nights ~ Miami Sound Machine
Everybody Wants to Rule the World ~ Tears for Fears
Walk Like an Egyptian ~ The Bangles
In Your Eyes ~ Peter Gabriel
Livin' on a Prayer ~ Bon Jovi Slippery
A Groovy Kind of Love ~ Phil Collins
Fast Car ~ Tracy Chapman
Going Back to Cali ~ LL Cool J
Love Shack ~ The B-52's
Love will never do ~ Janet Jackson
Something to Talk About ~ Bonnie Raitt
Smells Like Teen Spirit ~ Nirvana
Jazz (We've Got) ~ A Tribe Called Quest
Walking On Broken Glass ~ Annie Lennex
Real Love ~ Mary J. Blige
End of the Road ~ Boyz II Men
Can You Feel the Love Tonight? ~ Elton John
Fantasy ~ Mariah Carey
Waterfalls ~ TLC
Because You Loved Me ~ Céline Dion
I Believe I Can Fly ~ R. Kelly
Hard Knock Life ~ Jay-Z
If You Had My Love ~ Jennifer Lopez
Livin' la Vida Loca (Spanish Version) ~ Ricky Martin
Beautiful Day ~ U2
Music ~ Madonna
Fallin' ~ Alicia Keys
Turn Your Lights Down Low ~ Bob Marley & Lauryn Hill
Whenever, Wherever ~ Shakira
Where Is the Love? ~ Black Eyed Peas
Crazy In Love ~ Beyoncé
Hey Ya! ~ OutKast
The Long Way Around ~ Dixie Chicks
Heaven ~ Los Lonely Boys
Feel Good Inc ~ Gorillaz
Crazy ~ Gnarls Barkley
Waiting On the World to Change ~ John Mayer
The Way I Are ~ Timbaland

There were compliments and grooving galore at both events. But the one I want to share with you was early Friday morning. We were setting up for bankers, developers and others with deep pockets to show up for our big breakfast fundraiser at a super fancy museum (a bank paid for the space). This place was so fancy it could take my iPod and play the music both in the lobby and a different floor where the food was being set up.

At one point two museum staff members - a security guard and an event person - were standing by the front door. The white woman turned to me and said, hesitantly, "is this your music?"

I enthusiastically confirmed it was.

The young African-American man in a security uniform smiled shyly.

"Did I hear Going Back to Cali?"

"Yup, you did."

"Never heard that here at 8 in the morning" he said as his grin got bigger.

So thank you, friends, for giving people some pretty big grins.

Be sure to check out Music Monday over at Flower Child and Jenn in Holland. Are you playing some tunes as well? Let me know and I will list you too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

SOS - finding out there was a litter in there

It's that time of the week again, Soap Opera Sunday started by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's. This time it is being hosted over at Anonymous Soapiness. The subtitle says is all:

The place where you can post a Soap Opera Sunday and your mom won't read it!

We were trying to get pregnant. Amazing Guy and I had been married a little over four years and were in our early 30's. We knew it was time to start our family.

We planned a trip to London and Bath so I brought along one of those pee-on-a-sticks to figure out if I was pregnant. I planned to not drink alcohol during the pregnancy. At the beginning of the trip, I peed and got one blue line. That meant a week of gin and tonics! I wasn't too disappointed since it was on a few months into our family-making efforts.

But then nothing came which was expected during this trip. When we got back to the states I promptly peed on the second stick that was in the package and that one showed two lines. A trip to the doctor the next morning confirmed I pregnant.

We only told my parents I was pregnant. I figured if something went wrong I didn't want to have to explain it over and over again. We planned to start telling people (e.g. other family, friends, my job) after week twelve.

But I started showing week 8. I didn't think anything of it but that coupled with the nausea throughout the day made the pregnancy hard to hide.

Finally, a woman I worked with, who I considered a mentor, said to me "So, what's the other job you are taking?" When I declared loudly that I wasn't taking another job she said "Oh don't give me that! You are distracted, leaving meetings - you are leaving us!"

It was week 10 so we called Amazing Guy's parents and started telling other family. The next day I announced my pregnancy at work.

Three weeks later we were in New Orleans for a wedding. We saw all of Amazing Guy's family and nearly everyone declared how large I was. "You carrying more than one, darrl-ing!" was said multiple times.

I was a bit defensive. So when I plopped on the table with our mid-wife at week 14 I moaned about everyone's comments.

She put the doppler on my right side and we heard a distinctive heart beat. She went over to the left side.

We heard a totally different heart beat.

"Maybe he* raced across your belly and is really excited" (*generic "he" - we did not know the gender).

So she walked to a phone and called an ultrasound technician. She asked him to stay after 5 on a Friday afternoon to "rule out twins".

Amazing guy and I walked into the waiting area for the diagnostic department. We were the only ones waiting. In a corner was the mounted television tuned to a local news broadcast. One of the anchors said in that urgent news anchor voice,

"And next at 5:30! The REAL COST for raising a kid here. AND IT DOESN'T INCLUDE COLLEGE!!"

Amazing Guy started to softly bang the back of his head against the wall.

We were led to a room. This was my first ever ultrasound so I didn't know what to expect. I jumped on the table, hiked up my shirt and the technician covered my belly in cold gel. He put the wand on my right side.

Immediately Amazing Guy softly said "wow."

Then the tech moved the wand to my left side.

A quiet "ugh" was Amazing Guy's response.

"WHAT DO YOU SEE?!?!?!" I yelled. The screen was facing the men.

"Oops, sorry for not showing you as well" the tech said as he turned the screen for me to see. "You've got two in there."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not quite setting up the slide projector...

But close. I loved our trip to Seattle. I love my new nephew and am very proud of my younger brother and his wife. I just can't stop talking about this trip (in case you couldn't tell) so here are some more photos, in no particular order.

One of my boys' teachers made him a journal for his trip. She also made one for his brother even though he is in another class.

We rode a ferry to Bainbridge Island.

A quote on the wall of the bakery where we had lunch on the island.

Underneath the park with the terrific view was an equally terrific playground.

Wicked cool Uncle (aka my younger brother) brought the boys and me to the University of Washington campus to show us where he teaches and studies. He is working on his PhD. That makes him not only wicked cool but also wicked smart (or "wicked smaht" as we say here).

Thanks for indulging me. To show my gratitude the above is a rare photo of me. Not sure how long I'll keep it up but now you know how I look. But more importantly, isn't that nephew cute? Definitely cuter than a hippo.

Of course, there were be weeks worth of photos at the photoblog site I share with Jenn in Holland, Looking Into. You may have missed a few already. Go see.

Friday, November 16, 2007

There once was an old troll who swallowed a car

Every evening both of my sons bring home a large ziplock bag with a single book from their classrooms. We all signed forms that we would take care of the books and read them every night. For our trip, each teacher let the boys bring several books.

One boy brought Three Billy Goats Gruff in his plastic bag. After the wicked cool Uncle and Aunt took them to the corner of N 36th and Troll Ave, he is convinced that the Fremont Troll is the inspiration for the book.

When actually the troll is based on the story. Although the Volkswagen under his left hand, which may have been lunch, isn't part of the book my son had.

And since I can't let go of this trip, I'll post mainly photos tomorrow to wrap up it all up.

PS - Thanks for the title suggestions. Sadly for me, I didn't know most of your recommendations. Clearly my loss and I will get on listening to them!! But did you like my play on There Was an Old Woman?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Red red wine

For a vote of 7-2 I bring you, the bar story.

This bar story involves a fine bottle of red wine and no photos (sorry Jami) because there were no cameras (that we know of). And really nothing that outrageous. More annoying.

Mimi is one of those friends every person should have. We met 20 years ago this fall as freshman in college. We grew up within 7 miles of each other. She was my coxswain when I rowed in the Head of the Charles and single-handily saved Paris when I was having one of the worst travel experiences in history (What? You don't know about the train ride into Paris? Or the guy j*rking off?).

She lived in NYC while I live in New Orleans. She moved to Seattle in the early 1990's to work for a small computer company whose name starts with M and was founded by a guy named Bill. She came back here to be in my wedding. She came and stayed with us for a long weekend to help take care of the babies so Amazing Guy could studied for law school exams. I remember her standing in the hallway of our little apartment, jiggling a baby on her shoulder at 4:30 in the morning, pleading "Could your mother come over this afternoon so we can have a nap?"

Amazing Guy, the boys and I flew to Italy for Mimi's wedding. The boys were the ringbearers and I read a poem. When our daughter was born, we asked Mimi to be her godmother.

She's also one of those friends who doesn't hold a grudge or get pissy if you don't talk for, oh, months at a time.

So when Amazing Guy and Mimi's husband told us to go out for a girls' night, who were we to say no? She picked me up, drove me to one of her favorite restaurants and we cozied on up to the bar. She asked the sommelier for a wine recommendation and we were drinking a delicious red wine that cost more than I'm willing to spend on shoes, never mind wine.

We decided to eat our dinner at the bar as well and were working our way through the bottle. We still had about 1/3 of the bottle left and had only just finished our entrees. We hadn't really decided on coffee and dessert when a member of the waitstaff, who had never interacted with us, came up and asked,

"Would you mind moving from the bar? You've been here a while and there are people waiting."

I, not wanting to cause a scene, said "of course" and we were moved to a sofa area to finish our wine. We picked up our conversation and seemed no worse for the wear.

However, Mimi did complain to the matron d', who seemed genuinely horrified that we had been asked to move before we had finished our wine or even been asked if we wanted coffee.

I do feel that once you've got a spot in a restaurant, it is yours, especially once you start paying for a bottle of wine that costs as much as what some people earn in one day (like, oh, the people who washed the dished I ate off of that night). But I didn't want the night marred. Now both Mimi and I have a good question for all the cocktail parties we are not going to.

Was it wrong for the waitstaff to ask us to move from the bar?

Last story tomorrow is about finding a troll under the bridge, about to eat a car. I need help for the title since I have found a song for the other Seattle posts. Didn't you notice?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

River Deep, Mountain High

There is always some place in a city that gives the best view of the skyline. Sometimes it is in an exclusive area that us average folks can not access. Fortunately Seattle is not one of those places.

While driving to Kerry Park on a cloudy Sunday, Amazing Guy let out a huge "Woah!" and pointed to the left. Mt. Rainer was literally glowing under the clouds.

He and I are both from parts of the USA where land does not go that high. In his part of the country a park actually added a grass-covered dirt pile so kids could experience what it is like to run up and down a "hill". In my part, the mountain people brag about climbing is not even half the hight of Rainier.

And while it was still cloudy on the day we visited the park with a view, it was no less spectacular to admire the vista.

A bonus was the sculpture "Changing Form" by Doris Chase in the middle of the lookout. The kids had a field day climbing all over it.

Yesterday the hippopotami, today the mountain. Which of the last two stories will be next? Being asked to leave a bar or finding the inspiration for Billy Goats Gruff? You decide, but only if you leave me a message. Like I have said before, my telepathy is not what it used to be.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zoo, zoo, zoo - how about you?

Now that I travel with kids, it seems that every trip to a large city involves a visit to the zoo. They really are perfect - large spaces to run around, different animals (occasionally roaring for dramatic effect) within yards of each other and usually other kids who are behaving atrociously just to remind me of how lucky I am.

The zoo in Seattle was truly wonderful. As usual for most zoos and aquariums the animals were grouped by global region (e.g. Asia, Africa) but they included a typical village/living arrangement for a specific area in that region. It gave the kids a context for how some people live throughout the world.

Pretending to grind in the African Savannah village.

Having been to South Africa in 1999, I am partial to all things African. According to the placards the village was typical for a Kenyan bush and had a teacher's hut, a one-room family home and a school house. The kids loved running through the desks, sitting at the head of the class, and talking about what was missing (e.g. no computers or art projects, few posters on the walls). It made their church project to raise funds for school library books in Alice, South Africa a bit more real.

But by far the highlight was the hippopotami. Three lovely ladies hanging out in the water. I wasn't even going to bother to take photos of them since it was a grey day, the water looked grey, and - funny how camouflage works - hippos look like logs when they are floating in the water.

Suddenly they started moving fast (by hippo standards) to a side fencing as my sister-in-law was trying to engage the kids about some random fact written on a placard.

We weren't really listening and finally told her to turn around. A zoo keeper was throwing whole red apples into their mouths.

And yes, I have over 20 shots of her lovely mouth. I even have close ups of that large tooth on the bottom. It had a piece of grass stuck in it. Clearly she needs to start flossing more regularly.

I never thought I would write this but the hippos were just so cute.