Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lookie What God Gave Me!

It's been a fairly stressful couple of weeks, and I was beginning to feel the strain on my mental health. God ever so kindly arranged for Spring to spring yet again. I love Him!

A few pretties from my yard:

A Teeny Tiny Poll

By Common Consent has a post up which has made me wonder...

What is the name of your blogging world?

1. The Bloggosphere.
2. The Bloggernacle.
3. Neither
4. Both

The real poll is on the sidebar. Leave a comment if your blog world has a different name than either of the two in the poll. Or just chat at length about anything you feel like. But go vote on the poll, because I feel sad when only my kids and I vote.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just a few tidbits today.

As always, my miscellany contains some of the most insightful and fascinating tidbits to be found on the web. 

1. I took the "Which Hogwarts' House Do You Belong To?" quiz on facebook, and I'm a Hufflepuff. What?!? I'm brave. I'm smart. Hufflepuff? What a disappointment. Yeah, yeah, I make a great friend. Whatever.

2. Last weekend, I had an adventure. I went somewhere. Friday night and ALL day Saturday. Woo-hoo! The Yvil Sister and I went to Heidi Ashworth's book signing down in the East Bay. As expected, Heidi was a delight, her family and friends too. I had a fantastic time, and Yvil, the blog-hater, was a good sport.

Here's the one and only picture my sister took of the two of us. Yes, we are arm wrestling.  At Applebee's. I won. Easily. Only to be expected given my weight advantage.

3. Having closely examined the above picture, I have made a surprising discovery. I need to lose some weight. 140 is a nice even number. Roughly half of me. And yet...

My car is currently stuffed with them, all waiting to be delivered to our cookie-loving neighbors, tempting me. (Oh, how they tempt me!) I am not good with temptation. (She types, munching a Samoa/Carmel Delight.) It may be time to attempt a second fake gastric bypass.

4. Do not buy the Daisy Go Round Girl Scout cookies. You have been warned.

5. I am getting an unholy amount of money from my tax return. Hate to give TMI, but for those of you who question the socialist nature of our government, ponder this:

My husband made roughly $24,000 last year.  They took out $2,700 in federal income tax, a purposeful over-withholding. Our income tax return should be $2,700, what we paid. But no. The Earned Income Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit are both "refundable." In other words, if the tax credits are more than the taxes owed by a family, the family receives the difference added as a freebie to their tax return. To the tune of $6,000 additional dollars in the case of our family. That's $8,700 all together.

Wow, you say? Wow, indeed. Don't get me wrong; I'll spend it. It just doesn't seem especially fair to have you all support my family in this way. Yeah, I know you like me (I am a Hufflepuff, after all), but would you hand me the money out of your family's funds? Especially if I didn't even ask. Or say thank you. Anyhow...thank you. Sorry I didn't ask. I'll try to use better manners next year.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quick Update

I met with the Principal today. What a painful experience that was! The bottom line is that the school staff will now be checking the bathrooms during lunch. The principal was much less laissez-faire than his secretary. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Less Angry Today

Just a quick note to say that removing V from the dangerous situation known as the elementary school has really comforted her. The sobbing and constant whining is gone; my sweet little humming girl has returned. She and L still wrangle, but that's normal. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am so mad I could scream and scream and scream!

As I was withdrawing V from school today, I spoke to the "lady in the office." I thought I'd give the school a little tip. Their bathrooms need to be at least lightly supervised. Allowing "at-risk" children a private place for up to a half an hour with other "at-risk" children seems like a bad idea.

Her response? "That was only two kindergarten girls, Mrs. La. And we are dealing with that."

[WHAT?!?! That was not the incident to which I was referring. So LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT: You, the school personnel, know that crap is happening to kids in the bathrooms. And you are doing NOTHING to prevent it happening to other children.]

"How about if you put cameras in the non-potty portion of the room, so that..."

"Oh no! We couldn't do that! Privacy. Mrs. La, we don't even have cameras to prevent break-ins."

"Perhaps...the yard duties could swing through the bathrooms every now and then. Or there could be some kind of system to keep track of how long children have been in the bathroom or..."

"Mrs. La, where would we get the funding for any of those things? Besides we haven't had any parents complain"

[Where are you going to get the funding for the million dollar lawsuit that someone is going to file against the school district, because YOU FLIPPIN' KNOW that crap is happening in the bathrooms?]

"Well, my V was harmed in there. I can't let her be here if no one can protect her. Obviously, it's happening more than you realize."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, Mrs. La."

HOW ELSE WOULD I FEEL? Merciful heavens, what in the world is wrong with you people? No, seriously. Have you lost your minds?

The mystery of V's non-stop crying at home has been solved. Sobbing and whining and whimpering, she was driving us all crazy. And the poor kid was trying to work out some way to say, "help me," without getting in trouble or getting her "friends" in trouble. Poor baby.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th, Mr. Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln:

A great man.
An ugly man.
Gifted speaker.
Unelectable today.
A loving father.
Difficult marriage.
Recovering racist.
Savior of the United States.

God alone understands
the complexity of his mind, the difficulty of his task,
and the enormity of his accomplishments.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.
And thank you.

Above: a young Abraham Lincoln, tussled as usual.

Mary Todd Lincoln

Above: a young Mary Todd Lincoln

Above: Robert Lincoln, the Lincolns' firstborn, was 22 years old
at the time of his father's assassination.

Above: Eddy Lincoln, their second son, died at age 4 of tuberculosis.

Above: Willie Lincoln, third born, died shortly after his 11th birthday.

Above: Tad Lincoln, fourth son, aged 12 at the time of his father's death, died at aged 18.

Above: President Lincoln and his son Tad

Above: Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at Antietam.

Above: The Ford Theater

Left: Abraham Lincoln in his stovepipe hat.
Right: Mary Todd Lincoln

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Baby is Learning English

Her pronunciation leaves a bit to be desired, but Baby C's English is coming along fine. Today as she was laying down for a nap, she quizzed me about her next meal.

"Pizza in the oven? Right now!"

"Sorry, sweetheart."


"Maybe later."

"Kitten nuggets? Peeeease."

"Chicken nuggets?"

Big smile. "KITTEN NUGGETS!"

"Chicken. Say, 'chicken.'"

"Kit-ten," she said slowly, so I wouldn't get confused.

"Um...maybe I'll get some at the store. Chicken nuggets."

"Kitten nuggets!"

"OK, fine. Kitten. I'll see what I can do."

I really hope that things don't turn out looking like this:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Perfect Parenting Revisited

One of my favs from way back when nobody but people I nagged read my blog. Originally posted June 10, 2008

Good Children from Perfect Parenting

I freely admit I was a know-it-all, one of those women-girls you kind of just want to swat. I knew that when a child was old enough to discuss their diaper, it was time to potty-train; when a child could undo their mother's buttons, it was time to wean. "No" was a word that should be used rarely to maintain its power for important stuff, like not drinking poison. When a child spoke to you, you should stop what you were doing and look her in the eyes, focusing on her words and body language.

Not only did I know it all, I was happy to share it, with my friends, with my babysitting clients, with my dates, with my mom, with anyone who stood still long enough to let me spew my wisdom on them. To all of you who knew what the battle was like on the ground, forgive me please. If you will forgive, I promise not to swat any of the young mothers, newly-married wives, or brainy teens who tell me all about perfect parenting.

My parenting world is filled with questions. Where I once knew exactly what the appropriate parenting choice was for any given situation, now I am unsure about so many things. One of the most basic of all parenting issues--helping your child be good--fills me with consternation.

What is a "good" child? At this point in the game, I really define good as peaceful and quiet, but I'll share this quote from Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting that has set me to thinking:

Good is an adjective often laden with moral significance. It can be a synonym for ethical or honorable or compassionate. However where children are concerned the word is just as likely to mean nothing more than quiet--or, perhaps, not a pain in the butt to me...this is what many people in our society seem to want most from children: not that they are caring or creative or curious, but simply that they are well behaved. A "good" child--from infancy to adolescence--is one who isn't too much trouble to grown-ups. (page 2)

Mr. Kohn (I always want to call him Alfie--such a great name) goes on for the two hundred some-odd pages discussing parenting, loving without controlling and a bevy of other thoughtful, logical ideas. I read and think "Yep, mm-hm, you go Alfie!"

Then home life as it really exists comes flaring into my mind and I have very little idea of how to stop the fratricide without defying all the principles of excellent parenting. How can we make it to the ethical, honorable, compassionate kind of good if we don't start out by mastering the not hellions at home or in public kind of good? Still working on that one. Oh, how I wish I still knew it all!

I Know They Say

I know that they say that before we were born we were given full disclosure regarding the trials of this life, but it's a teeny bit like getting a toddler to commit to a college. We had no idea. From the first breath we drew (Waah! That hurts!) to our first heartbreak (Oh ow!) to our last breath (One can only assume that will smart as well.) we are confronted with physical and spiritual difficulties that we could not have comprehended in that glorious God-lit council in heaven. So here we all are in the midst of trials that the eye can't see and I find no comfort at all in cheesy sayings. I don't know how God holds it together knowing it all. I just don't.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Peace and Wisdom in 313 Words


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

(Max Ehrmann c.1920)