Monthly Archives: October 2008

Happy Birthday, Halloween Baby!

Today, Landon turns four-years-old.  I’m sitting here at 4:30am, looking at a pile of presents awaiting his wakening…wooden construction trucks and a crane set…a little train from his baby brother, and a Ken doll from his big sister.  (I’ll have to explain that one in another post.)

Half of the wrapped presents…he’s already seen.  He stole away into the house yesterday while I was outside cleaning the car.  When I called and called his name and couldn’t find him, I figured he was up to some secretive no-good which is pretty much the only time he refuses to answer when someone is calling his name.

I found Landon behind his closed bedroom door, frantically cramming the Plan City construction trucks…removed from the cardboard shipping box where they sat on the kitchen counter, tempting  him for the past two days…into his bean bag cover.  The speed of his work and determined look in his eye told me two things:  he was hording birthday gifts, and he was determined to go un-caught.

But he was caught.  And damn, if it isn’t difficult to decide what to do in a situation like that.

Landon, Mr. Silly, Funny, Mischievous, Loving, Curious, Adrenaline Junkie Hull is…all those things and more.  And he’s sincere.  And, despite all the characteristics listed above, he’s really quite sensitive when it comes to getting in trouble.  And I didn’t really want to bust him for secretly opening a present early.

And: WHO CAN BLAME A FOUR-YEAR-OLD BOY FOR GIVING INTO THE TEMPTATION OF OPENING A BECKONING BIRTHDAY GIFT TWELVE HOURS BEFORE THE BIG DAY?!?

So, I took the toys from him, made him sit on the front porch while I finished the car…and laughed secretly to myself over the ingenuity I caught him employing as he frantically tried to squirrel away his booty.  And then Andrew and I re-wrapped the gifts and set them with all the others.

Landon, famous for introducing the word “focustrate” to us all the other day; who in all sincerity while driving to preschool yesterday attempted to explain to me how traffic cones at a road construction site re-route traffic:  “Mom, those cones over there are for separizing the instruction roads.”  Landon, who is the epitome of energy, laughter, silliness and joy, who told his grandparents the other day, “you know, I love Curious George, because he’s curious…and so am I!”  Landon, who was once caught piercing a paring knife through the Pack N Play where his infant brother was lying just because it seemed like an interesting thing to do…Landon, who loves to go to Home Depot and “ride tractors” (a.k.a sit on riding lawn mowers) as well as visit his godparents and drive a REAL tractor, ride Wrangler the horse, play with the dogs and belt out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” into his godfather’s guitar studio microphone…is turning FOUR today.

Happy Birthday, Ro-Ro.  We love you.

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When the Kid Wants to Dress Himself…

What do you do when your kid wants to wear jeans that sag well below his butt, t-shirts with vulgar words and head wear that smacks of gang paraphernalia?

No idea.  Don’t ask me.  My kids are still into Spiderman, Princesses and Elmo.

Our almost four-year-old (he turns four on Halloween…yeah!!!) has gotten quite good at dressing himself these days.  Well, sort of.

See, ever since he had the capability to put his own shoes on, he’s quite nearly insisted they be placed on the wrong feet.  Once he reached an age of relative reasoning (I know…I know…he’s only almost four…that’s why I said ‘relative’)  I started asking him questions like:  “Don’t your feet feel uncomfortable with your shoes on that way?”  He’d always shake his head ‘no’ and run off to play.  And I’d let him keep his shoes on however he damn-well pleased, because I didn’t want to mess with the burgeoning independence thing.

But it’s not just his shoes.  When he dresses himself, which is most days now, he puts everything on backwards:  his t-shirt logos (construction trucks, robots and the like…no slang or gang lingo, thank you very much) face the back, his pants pockets are inaccessibly facing the wrong way…even his underwear (when he remembers to put it on) faces backwards.  But he’s proud as pudding when he comes out of his room in the morning–school outfit in place–and I just don’t have the heart to change it.  So off to preschool he goes, looking like a little white version of Kriss Kross.

Yesterday morning while rushing the kids through another rmorning routine before leaving for school drop-offs, I summoned him to join the rest of us in the bathroom for teeth brushing time.  Unable to decipher between the words “conncentrate” and “focus,” he called back from the opposite end of the house,

Mom! I’m trying to focustrate on putting on my shoes!

And you know what?  That time he got them on the right feet.

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Celebrating and Spending for Halloween

Check out Andrew’s post on our family’s visit to the local pumpkin patch last weekend (awesome pics included!)

BTW:  Do you know that Halloween is the #2 revenue-driver for the retail industry, second only to the Christmas season?  You gotta love this country’s commercialisation of everything!  Collectively, our country will spend an estimated 5.77 BILLION dollars on Halloween costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards this year!

What are you and your family doing to get ready for Halloween?

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There’s a Special Place in Hell for Women Who Don’t Help Each Other

I caught the tail end of an interview with Madeleine Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelova) on NPR last night.

Wow, is she a fascinating woman.  Born in Czechoslovakia, and the granddaughter of three men and women who were killed in the Holocaust, she ultimated immigrated to the United States with her parents at age eleven, in 1948.  If you’re looking for a little inspiration based on the true life tales of a woman and mother who worked, clawed and climbed her way to the proverbial top, read the Wikipedia bio of Albright. Better yet, read her memoir, Madame Secretary:  A Memoir. (One example would be that, after her twin daughters were born six weeks prematurely, she took a course in the Russian language to distract herself and was fluent by the time they left the hospital.  Not to mention her fluency in English, Czech and French, plus reading/speaking abilities in Polish and Serbo-Croatian.)
Near the end of the interview, as she was describing the difficulties she experienced over the years on her way toward eventually becoming the first female Secretary of State, she said,

“I believe there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”  This, of course, drew a huge bout of laughter from the live audience in front of which she was being interviewed.  She also went on to claim, “I think every woman’s middle name is ‘guilt’.”  She expounded on this by describing career women who feel guilty that they aren’t home with their children more often, and stay-at-home mothers who feel they ought to be doing more with their minds and talents than ‘just caring for the children.’I really respect Albright’s ability to make these two statements.  Surely, she would not have ascended to her present position as a notable professor at Georgetown University, a former Secretary of State (do you know, Condoleeza Rice was one of Albright’s former students?) and the country’s chief diplomat, without the tutelage, examples and perhaps even help of other significant women in her life.  And Albright, herself, sets the example for generations of women and mothers, both present and yet to come, that we can ‘do more,’ we can do extraordinary things while also being mothers, we can break boundaries and scale new heights, and we must remember to help each other do these things along the way.

 

 

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Spanking, as a Form of Discipline?

I had responded to a Beyond PR query this week in which two families were being sought out to participate in a 20th Century Fox / Fox News segment on spanking: one family was to be in favor of spanking and the other against.  I had hoped to represent the side of “no spanking.”  I didn’t hear back, however, regarding the segment.

Nonetheless, I was intrigued to discover current sources of information regarding using spanking as a form of discipline.  I found this February ’08 article on foxnews.com:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-02-27-spanking_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

I have to say, I’m not exactly surprised about the conclusion cited in this article, that children who are spanked have a greater likelihood of developing risky sexual behaviors and other dysfunctional attitudes toward intimacy.  One quote in the article I found particularly interesting is as follows:

“…[children who have been spanked…] may internalize that to mean that in loving relationships sometimes there’s pain or physical aggression,” she says. Another possible lesson is that “whoever is stronger and has more power can overpower the other person and use physical aggression to control the other person’s behavior.”

To read more about how children who have experienced corporal punishment have an increased probability of coercing sex, risky sex or masochistic sex behaviors…read the whole article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-02-27-spanking_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

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Depression During Pregnancy

Check out the article link below regarding recent research on prenatal depression, and its affects on prematurity.  Recall that this issue is of utmost importance to me…as it is to many of you who responded to this post.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7683757.stm

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Sarah Palin, according to Eve Ensler

The following essay was forwarded to me from a friend. It is written by Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for “The Vagina Monologues”, about Sarah Palin. I have spent plenty of (too much…perhaps) time applying my own political thoughts to this blog in recent weeks and, quite frankly, I’m a little worn out from it. But what I like about this essay is that, you could remove “Sarah Palin” from most lines in this essay and insert “present-day, American culture” and walk away with the same message. I think the essay ought to provoke much-needed consideration about how we, as a culture, treat our planet, our country, animals, literature, other people…and perhaps even encourage us (or, Sarah Palin, as per Ensler) to act differently in light of the kind of footprint past and present generations have left on the abundant resources around us.

Drill, Drill, Drill

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it’s their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don’t like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story — connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, “It was a task from God.”

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist’s baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God’s name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, “Drill Drill Drill.” I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Eve Ensler
September 5, 2008

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