Between internet issues, bad XML, and operator errors, I just spent many more hours than I’d care to admit trying to get this blog updated and live. It might be kind of embarrassing to have done all that for nothing….
‘Cause reading Associated Press articles lately, I could swear it sounds like the past thirty years never happened.
Headlined “Poll: Pocketbook Issues Push Past Iraq,” an article quotes Linda Zimmerman, “a 50-year-old sheep farmer from Thurmont, Md.” (Which makes me wonder again: Where do they find these people?)
From the article:
Her daughter and son-in-law are having trouble keeping up with two mortgages on a town house, she said. One street in her neighborhood has five homes for sale, and one has been on the market for two years.
Registered as a Republican, she’s ready to reconsider.
“We’re Republicans and I’m very unhappy with them, and I’ve been watching the Democrats,” she said. “We did better when (Bill) Clinton was in than we did with Bush. It’s just terrible.”
But wait, there’s more:
Bill Hine, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran from Warrenton, Va., considers himself a “soft Republican” who is partial to John McCain. But the nation’s health system needs fixing, he said, and he’s not happy with what he’s hearing.
“A lot of Republicans are just anti-anything, anti-changing anything, and that’s one of the things I’ll be looking at,” he said.
“Anti-changing anything.” You’d think many if not most Republicans are conservatives or something. This is yet another example of what passes for political thought these days. Republicans are in fact rather united (though not nearly so much as they used to be, and should) in their opposition to solving problems through government, particularly at the federal level, and for good reason. Government’s track record should be all the explanation necessary to persuade someone that entrusting our health to government bureaucracy ranks with Superman IV as a really bad idea. So yes, Republicans will and should be “anti-changing anything” if it involves using the government. Offer up governmental solutions for problems more effectively and fairly solved through the marketplace and I would hope and expect Republicans to challenge them every time.
Then there’s the idea that Clinton was better than Bush. By what measure, exactly? Better economy? Clinton inherited an economy that was coming out of a recession, and Bush inherited an economy that was heading into one. Both then helped oversee several-years-long growth periods—the defining difference, of course, being that Bush actually helped create one by his own actions (the 2003 tax cuts for which he pushed), while Clinton simply got out of the way of the growth that had started (particularly with the Internet sector) and agreed to Republican budget policies. On the foreign policy front, Clinton did little to contain (and lots to encourage) the growth of the radical Islamic threat, while Bush has waged an imperfect though effective war against it. (Yes, effective, certainly in the sense that we haven’t been attacked again, while other countries have.) I’m not a great fan of what Bush has done in the past five years, but his accomplishments at least match those of Clinton’s, and arguably have accrued more to our favor.
But expecting anyone in the major media to recognize that is apparently as Quixotic as ever.
The bad news: we were up all night with a coughing, feverish baby.
Dave didn’t bring the kids over until almost 7 o’clock on Christmas Eve, and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so it ended up being a much later night for them than intended, but it went well anyway. They left cookies and milk for Santa and a bucket of water for the reindeer, along with a note to let Santa know about the aforementioned. Alexander poured the milk while Angelina wrote the note; she decided to take this opportunity to ask Santa a couple of burning questions: How does Rudolph’s nose light up, and How do you fit down the chimney? I think she would have written more, but Clint told her that was probably enough questions for one year. . . . After checking Norad’s Santa Tracker one last time — he was in Bolivia — it was off to bed.
I finished wrapping the stocking stuffers and stuffed the stockings, and we tucked ourselves in fairly early; it’s a good thing we did, because Christina woke us shortly after and kept us up for about two hours with a high fever (hovering around 103!) and a cough. We eventually dosed her with some Ibuprofen to help her feel better enough to fall asleep, which she finally did around 2:30.
Considering how late we were up, I felt surprisingly rested when I heard Alexander coughing at 6:30 am. I got up and got him some cough medicine and figured that we may as well start opening presents, since most of us were awake anyway.
We really wanted to have Christina with us, but I didn’t want to make the kids wait until she woke up. . . . It worked out great, though: the kids got to open their gifts and be excited about all that, and then they watched Christina open hers after she got up. I think she would have enjoyed it much more if she’d been feeling better, but she seemed to have quite a bit of fun anyway. . . .
I have to say I’m very pleased with the kids’ behavior this year: they were very excited and said thank you several times, and they took the time to stop and play with almost every gift before tearing into the next package.
The kids got pretty much everything they asked for and then some; I got a much-needed cookie sheet and — drumroll, please — the ENTIRE collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer dvds! (I already had Season One, but I have no problem selling that to make room for this!!)
Clint made out like a bandit, but it was only fair because I actually managed to miss getting gifts for him on at least two holidays last year. (I did better at getting gifts for him BEFORE we got together!) Anyway, this year I got him: two (much-needed!) pairs of jeans, two robes (one light, one heavy), a pair of moccasin slippers (and if you EVER need to by shoes online, I HIGHLY recommend Zappos.com — free overnight shipping, and if you have a problem, THEY pay the return shipping!) to replace his hole-y twelve-year old ones, and a graphics tablet that I hope he’ll use as much as I think he will (as opposed to how little he’s afraid he will. . . .) I also bought movies for the kids to give him: Singin’ in the Rain (2-disc special edition) from Angelina and Alexander, and Mary Poppins (40th Anniversary edition) from Christina. (Because the song he sings/hums for her, to put her to sleep, is from Mary Poppins.)
My favorite moments:
1) While waiting for Clint to get dressed and come out, Angelina read to Alexander Santa’s response to her note. “See, Alexander. . . ?!”
2) When they were trying to figure out which of them should open the first present, one of them said “Kippy! We have a special present for you!” “Mommy, did you get it??” and they both went over to try to dig it out from the pile. I directed them to the right package, and they both stood and watched him open his present and gave him a big hug before they opened any of their own gifts!!!
3) About halfway through opening presents the kids said they wanted to take a break so they could use their new ice cream makers, so, we did — we stopped for almost 45 minutes before going back to opening! (Have you ever heard of such a thing? I don’t think it’s ever happened before in the history of our family. . . . )
Around 11:30 we headed out to Del and Colleen’s to do our Christmas with them. The kids each took a couple of presents along to show them, and they played and snacked for awhile before opening their packages. (Colleen got them a subscription to Your Big Backyard magazine, and got each of them a cooking set — Alexander’s was for pizza, Angelina’s was for baking cookies — and a bag full of small, fun goodies to play with.
We had told Dave to expect to pick them up around 1 or 2, so we called him about 1:15 to say that the kids were ready whenever he wanted to come get them; he had JUST gotten in the shower, so his mom said he’d be over sometime after 2. He finally showed up around 3:45, without so much as calling to say he was running a bit late. I felt bad for the kids because they were waiting and waiting, and I know they had to be starving by the time he finally got there! (Yes, Colleen had some food there, but the kids are such picky eaters — there wasn’t all that much that they liked, and if I’d just KNOWN how late he’d be, I would have packed a lunch bag for each of them!) The kids were already tired by the time he got there, but they got excited about opening more presents, so I’m sure they managed to find a bit more energy…. ; )
After the kids left, we finally ate some lunch of our own and the grown-ups opened our gifts to each other. Colleen got us some new everyday dishes — red and white, of course — a picture frame with a recent photo of them, and a barbecue apron for Clint. We got them a couple of movies (The Music Man and The Big Country), some Book Darts for Del, and a really cool Oven Mitt Apron for Colleen. (It really is cool — I want one!) It was funny that we each wrapped and unwrapped a big black apron; before Colleen unwrapped hers, she said “I think I’m getting an apron…!” (She said since she’d just wrapped one, she had no trouble recognizing the feel of it, all wrapped up. lol) I also got everybody a set of Tire Minders, just because I wanted us all to have them…. : )
Christina fell asleep at some point, enough so that I was able to lay her on the couch without waking her, which is practically unheard of unless we’re at home. We decided that sleeping was a good idea, so we took a nice long nap on the other couch. I woke up at some point to see Del picking up Christina and taking her into the other room; she seemed fine with this, so I went right back to sleep. I don’t remember how late we stayed, and I don’t remember what happened after we got home, but I sure do remember how nice it was to lie there in front of the fire like that.
Our next house just HAS to have a fireplace….
Christina’s been very much a mommy’s girl for several weeks. She’d give me a cute smile when she saw me in the morning, or after a work, but there wouldn’t be a twisting around to find me, or crying if she couldn’t get to me. Perfectly understandable, since she doesn’t spend nearly the same amount of time with me, and I don’t feed her from my body. It’d be silly and irrational to be envious of it. But I can say for sure now that it’s a nice thing to experience, as a switch seems to have been thrown in the last thirty-six hours or so that’s made me decidedly more cool to her. She reaches for me, twists toward me if she can, gives me a big scrunchy-face smile, even hugs when I bend down to pick her up. She’ll reach her little arms past my neck and press them together to try to help. It’s a heart-melter. She still wants Mommy more, and as she should. Mommy’s the milk and cookies. (Half literally.) She’s got the pillows to lie on. But it’s definitely nice registering the big spikes on my baby’s happy Richter scale.
Man I love that little girl.
Two words I never thought I’d see regarding a trash can: “User’s Manual.”
We bought a stainless-steel, thirteen-gallon trash can at CostCo for $39 this morning. Screamin’ deal, considering its equivalent at Bed Bath & Beyond costs over $100. But the value didn’t stop there: This’n's e-lec-tronic. It has buttons to open and close it. Not only that—it has a motion sensor. That’s right. Like a baby bird, once I step in front of it, or dangle a piece of trash over it, it will open up, waiting for a piece of trash. It’s impatient, though. If I don’t deposit it within a couple of seconds, well screw me; it’ll wait for the next one. I wondered to Carole whether when it inevitably breaks, if I try to fix it, will it project a little holographic Princess Leia asking for help? And of course now half the time we walk from the kitchen into the dining area, zzzhhhht. Up goes the lid. Who needs a dog when you have a trash can that begs? Quite possibly the most head-shakin’-est product I’ve ever bought.
We watched Amazing Grace last night, a film from this past spring on William Wilberforce. I was familiar with his name, knew he was a force for good in the eighteenth century, but couldn’t remember how. Being reminded of it, and the comment by the director (Michael Apted of the fascinating Up series of documentaries) that he wanted to do a film that showed that politics could be noble, has me wondering—and frustrated—again with those who declare that politics is meaningless, or worse, that it has nothing to do with them. I find myself trying to imagine some other human activity that touches their lives more than politics.
What does politics have to do with them? What does it not have to do with them? Into what corner of life does a law not intrude? What you say, what you create, what you eat, what you drink, what you breathe, what you drive, how you drive, where you can drive, what you do for a living, how much you can make, where and how you get medical attention, what you can watch or listen to, how you can watch or listen to it, what you can learn in school, where you or your kids go to school, what toys your kids can play with, the safety of your house, what kind of house you can have, what you do in your free time, what you do in the privacy of your own home, whether you can marry, whether you can have kids, your decision to have kids…. Politics touches literally every part of our lives—even our sleep, as Dad pointed out, considering the regulations you find on your mattress. So to ignore it is to ignore the quality of your own life as well as your family’s, your friends, and your neighbors.
Has the quality of our leadership degraded the debate in recent years? I think without a doubt. Sure, people have had a low opinion of politicians as long as there have been politicians, but in the past there was at least still a camaraderie and dialogue between even political opponents that I think is now largely gone. The rhetoric of the past fifteen years has crowded it out.
It’s hard not to get cynical about that, but it’s still a choice. And that’s where the key difference lies. Those who believe they can’t do anything about the state of the country are fulfilling their own prophecy. Of course they can’t if they won’t. It’s called voting. In 230 years, not one politician that I know of, on a state or federal level, has refused to step down after losing an election. That process works. So voting does make a difference, and does matter. If that’s not painfully clear from the 2000 and 2004 elections, I’m at a loss to explain such a belief. And when enough people cast votes, something either happens or it doesn’t. Either way, our lives are affected, perhaps only in a small way, or perhaps in major fashion, though we may not even know it for years to come. (See social security.)
Politics is the process of determining how we all should live, and how the generations after us should live. In many ways, there is no greater calling. It’s a pity that so few of us hear it, much less answer it. More people don’t, I presume, because of how it often is answered. Hollywood knows the lesson well; politics too often is a great script badly produced. Like religion and technology, it’s inherently neutral; whether it’s an aid or a weapon depends on who’s using it. Leaving politics in the hands of the pessimists, the power-hungry, we shouldn’t be surprised at the kind of politics we get.
So once again, the shape of the world finds itself determined by the mold of the mind. We have the world we expect. It’s even more of a pity that so few people recognize that.
This is easy. Just click on the “Thank the troops” icon in the right column.
we’re getting things done. Today we kept working on organizing papers and such, and I continued setting up my new laptop. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be using a Mac again? :D
Clint’s new monitor came this morning, but he was busy trying to finish up the sorting, so he was going to wait until tomorrow to set everything up; I couldn’t stand it, so I set it up for him while he was at work. : )
Cassidy came home with us again today. The kids wanted to rake the leaves into a pile for jumping, and how do you say “no” to something like that? The didn’t come in until just a few minutes before Cassidy’s mom came to get her.
Alexander wanted so badly to surprise Clint about his computer being ready for him. He ran out to meet him at the car, took him by the hand, and said “close your eyes!” “follow me!” “I bet you think your computer will never be ready for you to use it!” and led him in to the desk. ”Don’t look, Kippy!!” “Okay… NOW look!” Clint seemed very surprised…. ; )
We managed to move some things around to make room for my laptop on the table and for my chair behind the table. It’s like my own little desk! Now, it’s almost 2am and we really ought to be getting to bed — so I think I’ll go do that now….
1. Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
2. Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3. Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
4. Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
5. If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.
6. Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
7. We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
8. Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
9. Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
10. We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
11. Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.
12. If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
13. Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.
14. Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
15. Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
16. Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
17. Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.
18. If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
19. Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
20. Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
21. Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.
22. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
23. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
24. Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
25. Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!