Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A slapped faced

Twelve days ago I got a call from little lady's preschool. Calls from school or aftercare are never good things. Never "your child just recited the opening lines from Hamlet with brilliant phrasing". It is always, always "your child is sick, come get him/her."

So I was greatly relieved when little lady's teacher immediately started the phone call with "She's fine. Just fine!" and even regaled me with several tales from the day. Then she broke the news.

Little lady had a rash. All over her body. The teacher thought it was hives. Which didn't make sense. She does seem to have a pretty significant allergy to cats (like her dad, Amazing Guy) but otherwise nothing in her life would give her a reaction. The teacher just wanted me to be aware of her rash.

When I picked her up at the end of the school day it was amazing how red her cheeks were. As if someone had hit her. But otherwise she was happy, hungry and her usual self. A bit itchy elsewhere on her body but she slept well, had no fever.

She awoke the next morning with red cheeks. I took her to the doctor and she immediately suggested Fifth's Disease - as in the Fifth Childhood Disease.

Do you know them all?

Measles, rubella, scarlet fever and Dukes' disease (yeah, I never heard of it either) and the very originally named Fifth's Disease.

While normally I don't look to have blood drawn from my kids, apparently Fifth's Disease can be dangerous for pregnant women in their first trimester. I thought it was important to let other folks know if Little Lady was sporting such rosy red checks thanks to the parvovirus.

And today I got that second call on the cell phone. From the pediatrician. Now they never call just to check in. Or to say that results from blood tests are negative.

No, doctors only pick up the phone to call if the results are positive.

So little lady had Fifth Disease about two weeks ago. The Fifth Childhood Disease.

Who knew that existed?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not a Funeral Dirge and a Free Song

When we were leaving a restaurant the evening of the Inauguration, a young African-American man saw my "Mr. President" button with Obama's portrait. He looked me in the eye and let out a rousing "Yes we can!"

To which I replied "Yes we DID!" He laughed, clapped several times and gave me a big thumbs up.


That is just one of the many times we celebrated with strangers - black and white, young and old, locals and visitors - during the Inauguration. A woman from Florida gave my kids a lecture on how to ride the subway, then admitted she had never ridden on one before. An older couple leading an even older gentleman followed my kids as they led all of us to where we can get on the bridge.

The video below captures the incredibly feeling of one - we were all one. One nation, one people. It is a group of folks with snare drums, trumpets and their voices performing the most rousing rendition of We Shall Overcome. One friend, after seeing the video, commented that this is how it should be sung. As an uplifting song, not "a funeral dirge".


Now for the FREE SONG!!

Go to Michael Franti & Spearhead to get this song. My kids and I can't stop singing it.

A celebration and a freebie! What more could you ask for on a Monday?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any music inspired you lately? Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, write a post about music and link back to me.

But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link as well as your comment. Just don't bother.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stories from history

Soon after the election I got in touch with a friend (Frank's widow) and asked if the boys and I could stay on her living room floor. She told me she would be out of the country during the Inauguration, so she would be sending me the keys to her apartment. We stayed in a penthouse facing the Potomac River with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Little lady and my dad were part of the journey.

I still can't get over the mood of everyone we met. It was as if we were in a small town and we all knew each other, even if we were meeting for the first time. Both times crossing the Roosevelt Bridge (for the concert and the Inauguration) my kids started talking to random strangers and they in turn talked freely with my kids. People looked out for us on the subway, graciously helped us with directions and smiled freely.

On Monday, when it became incredibly clear that there was no way we would get within a mile of the Capitol building on Inauguration Day, my dad and I took the kids to the site of the swearing in ceremony. While walking from the Metro station a woman sitting in a parked car rolled down her window and yelled with a huge sound of relief "It is his last full day in office!"

Little lady tried very hard to be a trooper but there were times that a four-year-old body just couldn't walk any more. The Wonderful Grandfather was often her personal chariot.

There is some debate about whether I've been to the Lincoln Memorial before (I have no memory of it). We all went there the morning of the Inauguration. The boys asked what was written to the left of Lincoln's statue. As my dad read the end of the Gettysburg address, we were both crying.

It was by far the largest crowds I have ever been in. It was also the longest I asked my kids to be out in cold weather. Once again, little lady couldn't do it. And once again, Wonderful Grandfather whisked her away to the apartment. He even flagged down a bicycle rick-shaw for the princess to return to her borrowed palace in style.

Once President Obama was sworn in, people started leaving. I knew I had to go with the flow and miss the rest of the ceremony. The tide of people was too great to stay to listen to the poetry or remaining words. But never did I feel unsafe or worried that the crowds would get rowdy.

As we were walking back towards the Lincoln Memorial I could hear the most spirited version of We Shall Overcome. It was like a second line. Drums, horns and happy singing. The boys and I walked over to see this spontaneous celebration of song and dance.

After the singing, the 2 mile walk back in the cold seemed to fly by. Even the boys kept saying they had seen history.

And it was an honor to be there.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Witnessing history

Monday, January 19, 2009

Did you notice the choir?

We're in Washington DC. "We" meaning me, all three kids and my dad. Amazing Guy wanted nothing to do with the crowds, cold and chance of mayhem. My dad and I can think of nothing more fun than to deal with all three for the chance to be a part of history. And we'll drag 3 little kids around with us to do just that.

We couldn't get into the Sunday concert on the Mall. After standing in line for an hour the "gate" we were entering suddenly shut down. We gave up and headed back to the apartment we are staying in.

We did watch the rebroadcast in the evening. Both my dad and I nearly fell out of our seats when "My Country 'Tis of Thee" got into full swing. It followed the recounting of American-born opera singer Marian Anderson being invited in 1939 to sing at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from a concert because she was black.

The music started with Josh Grobin (what? they followed the story of a black woman singing on the steps with a white dude? huh?) then Heather Headley came out. The backdrop opened to reveal rows and rows of smartly dressed men all wearing the same red ribbon on their lapels. I looked at my dad, he looked at me and gave me a thumbs up over the kids' heads.

[Sorry for the lousy video. The best I could do.]

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any music inspired you lately? Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

Just no advertisements. I will delete them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taking the kids to see history


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm a fool

Change of weather is the discourse of fools.
- Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, British Clergyman, Author

It is too cold here (as I write this it is 13F/-11C while during the night it will get down to 0F/-18C) to write, talk or generally function. And in a 139 year old farm house it is sheer misery.

So call me a fool. A very cold fool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thinking ahead

"Mom. When I'm in 6th grade I'll have a cell phone" said one of my 8-year-old sons.

"O.k." was my non-committal reply.

"Just one that makes phone calls" he assured me. "Not one with tons of games and stuff."

The other 8-year-old chimes in "we won't get one of those until we're in college."


Monday, January 12, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Saturday evening I saw one of those movies that will stay with me for a very, very long time. Slumdog Millionaire deserves all the accolades and buzz it has generated (including Flower Child's Music Monday last week). What I wasn't prepared for was the violence, particularly at children. I barely slept that night thinking about how human beings could so horribly treat each other. I've also struggled with how to talk about the movie with my kids since they have asked me about it.

What I was also not prepared for was a completely "straight" movie, not a typical Bollywood production with random big singing and dancing numbers interspersed throughout the story. Last year I watched one film about a haunted castle and while the big dance number during a wedding made some sense, the buddies singing and dancing their way through a travel scene made no sense what so-ever.

But the closing credits for Slumdog Millionaire had this sweetly awkward dance number on a train station that has several pivotal scenes. If you've seen a true Bollywood music scene these dancer-actors rival any move Beyonce has. Just watch the lead actors. They barely know what they are doing. That makes it all the more enjoyable.

The soundtrack is just terrific. If you have any interest in Indian pop music fused with other styles, this is for you. Sunday I managed to run a full 5K while listening to the soundtrack. It is that fun.

A fun soundtrack for a movie about, in part, the brutal treatment of poor children. But in the end it is a movie about living with hope. The hope of love and a better life.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Any music inspired you lately? Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky below, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link as well as your comment. Just don't bother.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What did you read?

Today, the day after Day to Read 2009, is the day we all recount what we read yesterday instead of blogs. Did you dive into a good book? A stack of magazines? The newspaper?

I have to admit that my reading time was not as much as I hoped for. I had a meeting at church last night so didn't get home until 9pm. Got the kids into their beds then settled on the couch with a glass of wine and Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm about the 1900 hurricane that decimated Galveston, Texas.

I'm just past page 100 and Larson, who also wrote Devil in the White City which I loved, is going back and forth between the storm forming over Africa, the Atlantic and now the Caribbean to the history of weather reporting and the life of Issac Cline. At one point he wrote that a catastrophic hurricane would never hit Galveston. We know he is wrong, twice now.

It was good to sit in a quiet house with a good book and lose myself. Just what I needed.

Did you get what you needed yesterday?

THANK YOU to everyone who promoted Day to Read 2009. You all made it much more fun.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The proliferation of video games, internet sites and of course television have all been blamed for the downfall of reading. I would like to think that I have this ideal house in which only reading is done. No stupid electronic crap enters my or my kids' heads.

So it is with great embarrassment that I admit that one son plays his DS until he falls asleep. Another son listens to Elvis on his iPod. At least my 4 year old daughter pretends to play school and "reads" books to her imaginary class.

Another reason why I won't be on-line tomorrow is to remind myself that I too need to read. To show my kids how it is done.

SMID's Day to Read 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What do you plan on reading Thursday?

Thursday is the Second Annual Day to Read in which I will keep away from all those social things I do on the computer and read a book.

Or maybe a magazine. Or several magazines.

On Friday last week we received a postcard with a gorgeous image of zebras. On the other side was a note from National Geographic saying we had a year's subscription courtesy of Amazing Guy's parents.

I was thrilled.

On Saturday we got three issues of National Geographic - October, December and January (not sure what happened to November). I was immediately taken back to being a kid and holding the perfectly sized magazine - bigger than a book but smaller than a regular magazine - and admiring the photography. Looking back on that I realize I was much more interested in the images than the words.

My boys grabbed these new issues and started showing me images and asking what was going on. One guy now just blurts out "who-what-where-when-why-how?" and if I miss one of those distinctive questions I will always get a follow-up "but I asked where!" (or when or why....)

So I'm looking forward to diving in and finding out the who-what-where-when-why-how. Not sure if I will know the answers but I will have some beautiful images to help me along the reading journey.

SMID's Day to Read 2009

What are you reading on Thursday?

Monday, January 05, 2009

It is coming true

Friday night I went with several (straight) moms to the local movie theatre (really, that is how it is spelled "-tre") to see Milk. It starts with these haunting images - black and white films of police raids in which men are rounded up and placed in the back of vans. The first time you see Harvey Milk, brilliantly played by Sean Penn, he is speaking into a tape recorder. He clearly states as the tape begins recording it is only to be played upon his death.

Before the movie had started I warned one of the women that I was a cryer at movies and I expected to ball profusely. I had kleenex at the ready and was prepared for a good, hard cry. Crying about the hatred that fueled Milk and Mayor George Mascone's assassin, crying about the hope and optimism Milk had until the end, crying that he was so desperately needed since the California Prop. 6 fight of the 1970's (in which anyone gay or sympathized with gays couldn't teach in public schools) morphed into the Prop. 8 fight of today.

But I didn't cry. I didn't cry as the film graphically depicted the shooting at close range, at all of Milk's staff, friends and supporters - 30,000 of them - held candles the night of his shooting. I didn't cry as the postscript flashed on the screen and the bogus "Twinkie Defense" appeared under the murder's name and face.

I shook. I shook uncontrollably. I felt cold. I felt unbearably cold.

The following night was Saturday and I rushed over to the local community house to spend a few minutes at a friend's husband's surprise birthday party. I had helped my friend line up the space, even using my membership to the community house to get the reduced rental rate, and felt I should make an appearance even though Amazing Guy couldn't come (we didn't have a babysitter) and I would literally only know two people there.

So I charged into the house, smiled at the men hanging out along the grand staircase, walked through the room with the food and nodded at the men eating hoers d'ourves - saw a woman in the mix - and walked onto a huge wrap-around porch where my friend was moving some trash bags. I gave him a hug. He told me to find his husband.

I found the birthday boy, gave him a hug and was going to leave. My friend caught me at the door and introduced me to one of the lone straight women but she was heading out the door because she had left her kids alone without a sitter for the first time. Then my friend introduced me to a fellow who does similar work as me. We talked about foreclosures and housing policy (really) and then saw some guys dancing in another room to Madonna's Vogue. I kept looking into the room and then Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) came on and he said "Oh this is a fun one to dance to - come on!"

Suddenly I was dancing in a grand old house with a room full of gay men - some married (because that is legal in my state and has been for years), some not, some old, some young. And as I asked the DJ to play the following song I realized Harvey Milk's words from the the 1978 Hope speech recreated in the movie was true all around me:

"We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets ... We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions."

And while this song was playing, as with Laura Branigan's Gloria, Prince's Little Red Corvette and Madonna's Like a Prayer, I was sweating. Sweating and dancing.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Please join in Music Monday. Just remember if you plan to use little Mr. Linky above then write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.

But if you plan on posting an advertisement, I will delete your link as well as your comment. Just don't bother.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Go See

Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
~Mark Twain