Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Date Night with the McBrides, with Special Guest Broccoli Obamally

That's what Mary Liz is calling Barack Obama. She can pronounce it properly, but thinks that her way is more fun. She's right. Today while we were having a snack, she very seriously asked me, "Why do you want Broccoli Obamally to be our next president?" She listened intently while I tried to explain to her how I think that our government isn't doing its job right, because they do things because people pay them money instead of doing what regular citizens want, and Broccoli wants to change all that. I was about to launch into a kid-friendly explanation of his views on education when I realized that she wouldn't get it no matter how much I simplified each single concept, so I finally said, "You know what? All that is kind of confusing for kids. My real answer is that I want him to be our next president because I think he is honest and has good ideas. And I want a president who tells the truth and uses good ideas." She nodded, satisfied. And continued to mention him the rest of the afternoon just so she could say Broccoli Obamally.

Jarod and I tried our best to get into Municipal Auditorium to see Broccoli tonight, but we arrived a lot later than many folks, and so we didn't stand a chance of getting in. Instead, we accepted the invitation to wait outdoors at Barney Allis Plaza, where we were promised Senator Obamally would show up so he could speak to everyone that showed up, not just those that got a spot indoors. Initially he was to come outside first, but because he was running behind, they shuttled him indoors, so those of us freezing outdoors had to wait. And freeze some more. Honestly, I couldn't feel my feet before they told us that it would be at least another forty-five minutes. But we wanted to see him, so Jarod held our place while I grabbed hot drinks at Starbucks and waited in the warmth until I could begin to feel something vaguely related to sensation in my feet. Jarod then took a turn in the Holiday Inn lobby warming up but got back in time to join me in the front row and shake Broccoli's hand. It was pretty much fantastic. AND! We have video! Please try to ignore what an enormous dork I'm being there at the end. I couldn't help myself; my brain had frozen.

Friday, January 25, 2008

This Morning She Accidentally Dipped Her Tail in My Fresh Cup of Coffee, and I Still Drank It

Sometimes my beliefs clearly don't line up, as I'm an avid handwasher (and a proponent of other people being avid handwashers) (I mean, come on, is it so hard to use soap?) (you just used a toilet, for crying out loud) (I clearly need to get over the parentheses), yet Lucy Snowe dips her tail in my coffee and I refuse to give up drinking it. In my defense, Lucy is a very clean cat, plus, good coffee is expensive. And this is good coffee.

It occurred to me this morning that, even though someone had asked in the comments, I never did tell you the story of how I came to adopt Lucy Snowe. It's pretty simple, really.

1. I can't be trusted in an animal shelter for more than ten minutes.
2. I was there for two hours helping Rachel pick out a cat.

It only stands to reason that I'd come home with one.

Last summer Jarod and I endured a particularly miserable day in New York City, and in an effort to make me feel better, he told me that I could have another cat. I'm sure that by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, he figured I'd forgotten, but no! I have the memory of an elephant, at least when it comes to promises of pets. (What am I, seven?) So when I saw Lucy at Wayside Waifs and failed to convince Rachel to adopt her, I...well...she was special, and...I couldn't leave without her. I had a lot of moments of adopter's remorse as the time drug on while they were processing our paperwork and getting the cats checked out. But Rachel, who was adopting Lucy Snowe's sister, was getting a little panicky about all the responsibility involved in adopting a pet of her own, so I focused on getting her to breathe without the aid of a paper bag and put my own anxieties on the back burner.

I'm so very glad I did.

Lucy has turned out to be a fantastic addition to our household. She is clutzy and curious and sweet and snuggly. She lets us pick her up and hold her like a baby. She turns on her back so I can rub her soft belly. So far, she has only broken one coffee mug. I knew when I saw her that she was a keeper, but this is even better than I expected.

If you would like a pet, I highly recommend adoption. There are a ton of pets in need, and as a bonus, you get to interact with them and get to know their personalities before you choose. One thing that really sealed the deal for me (and for Rachel as well) was getting to talk to our kittens' foster mom. She gave us a lot of info about both cats, and we were also both thrilled to know that they'd been well-cared for in a home. Because we chose to adopt, our cats only spent one short day at the actual shelter. And that makes me feel good.

do not disturb

I like to think it makes Lucy Snowe feel good, too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

40 Knocks

That's what it said at the top of my first page of addresses. It seemed pretty simple. There was a rough script and additional instructions on how to mark names according to which candidate they favored. There was a tally sheet. There was a free doughnut, the frosting of which I got on the first instruction page because the Obama people don't mess around with their doughnuts, and no napkin is big enough to fully contain a LaMar's bar.

And then there was the map. A quick gander and I knew: I was headed to the 'hood.

Truth be told, I'm not much of a people person. I like individuals, and I do pretty well chit-chatting with people I see around, but when it comes to approaching a stranger, or, worse yet, a stranger's front door, I'm pretty much a chicken. Nothing makes me want to go fetal on my bourgeois sofa more than the thought of having to open my mouth and form words to speak to someone that may or may not want me there and may or may not have a large dog of the rottweiler or pit bull persuasion in the back. In fact, heading up to any door, even in my own comfortably middle class neighborhood, sort of makes me want to high-tail it right back to the car and breathe into a paper bag. And here I was assigned to canvass in a part of town that I knew nothing about, where I'd been advised that walking alone was probably not a good idea.

But I was determined to go. I said yes on the phone when they asked me if I would do this, and because part of the reason that I am so passionate about this candidate is that he wants all of us involved in changing our nation, I felt that it was especially important that I do my part to try to get him elected.

So I did it. And I'm a little bit proud of myself. I'd be lying by omission if I ended here and let you believe I went out and conquered on my own. The first third of the knocks I did by myself, it's true, but for the last two-thirds I took my husband along and fed him half the names of the people whose houses we visited so he could say the first words. He wrote about our experience here.

All in all, it went well. While there were some people who did not appreciate our arrival on their doorsteps, most people were at the very least cordial, if not warm. We met some really neat people, most of them elderly, and the only dog I came into actual contact with was a tiny bit of fluff named Sydney who belonged to a lady who looked us in the eyes, pointed, and said, "I'm with you. I think it's time for a change." There were a number of people who wished us well and told us to be careful, not to stay out too late. I am grateful to them for their kindness, and I truly hope I find myself in their company, if not in their neighborhood, sometime soon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Endurance

Or "How I Got Suckered Into Watching Alvin and the Chipmunks"

Yesterday before I left the house at 6:20am, I checked the kids' school's website to see if they had a snow day. There was no mention of it, and it's generally right there at the top, so I scraped the ice chunklets off my windshield, hopped in the car, and blithely drove over, thinking it would be the usual morning routine of discouraging Jack from playing with the noisy toys before 7am and reminding Mary Liz that gremlins on the floor will not eat up all the crumbs she's dropping. I'd get them to school at 7:45 or so, cruise back south to my house, and take a nap.

Heh.

The snow day call came at 6:22, too late for their mom to call me and tell me to stay home a bit longer, too early for...well, simply too early. DRAT!

Thus began the longest day of my entire life, unless you count that time I was stuck on a boat to Sardinia.

(Don't ask.)

I determined that we should spend a good portion of the day at my place partly because there were things here that I needed desperately to get done (and I was on the clock until 9pm at least, not exactly an option to put it off until evening) and partly because our backyard has a small hill which is ideal for kids being able to sled in the frigid air while adults remain indoors and drink lots of coffee. (They kept asking me why I didn't want to go sledding with them, and I told them that I'm a big wimp. End of story.) The only snag is that the kids, having more toys than the Olsen twins at age seven, now find my trunk full of toys to be paltry and uninspiring, so much so that when they were here last time and I encouraged Mary Liz to use her imagination since I don't have any Littlest Pet Shop toys, she started weeping. Which, honestly, was actually kind of funny, except, you know, not to her. She was clearly being TORTURED! How could I expect her to live without an acceptable range of branded toys within her reach at all times? What was this IMAGINATION of which I was speaking? MAKE IT STOP!!!

So I let the kids each bring one backpack full of their own toys, promised them we'd go to the movies in the afternoon, and everyone was happy.

Except.

Except that earlier their mom had told them that she simply couldn't manage sitting through an entire feature length film full of talking chipmunks, and when she suggested that perhaps I would be willing to do that, they took that as Mary Definitely Will Take Us! and haven't given up the idea since then. That was pre-Christmas. I decided to be a giver this one time and promised them that if they were good, we'd see it. If they were only okay, we'd see something else. If they were terrible, they could just sit on the couch with nothing to do while I had wild dance parties by myself in the Forbidden Bedroom. (The Forbidden Bedroom is actually just my bedroom, which I reserve the right to have all to myself and also as a sanctuary for cats who are tired of the kid-fueled nonsense and want a cozy place to rest undisturbed. Jack and Mary Liz have a very hard time with this, but I stand firm.) Though I was half-hoping they'd be naughty enough to choose another film (though not naughty enough to not go at all), they were good-ish, so we went.

And it. Was. VERY PAINFUL. Both kids loved it, of course, so part of the pain was having to listen to various renditions of all the songs in the car for the rest of the day. When it was all over, they went on and on and on about how fabulous and wonderful and funny and downright awesome it was, and wasn't this the best movie ever? Wasn't it, Mary?? They were baffled by my response of, "Well, I'm really glad you both loved it, but it's just not my cup of tea. Which is fine, because not everybody likes the same things, and besides, I am a boring grown-up." Jack was still trying to wrap his head around it this morning, still shaking his head and muttering, "I just don't get how you can not like a movie like that."

I'm hoping he'll be over it by Monday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucy Snowe Isn't Sure What to Think of Snow Days

she'd rather chew on them than wear them

But she does know that she wants to chew up all those tiny plastic animals.

We're going nuts here, so we're leaving the house.

To see Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know, because it's so relaxing.

I know two little people who will be enraptured by the melodious strains of Alvin and the gang performing what are currently hits with the lower elementary crowd, whereas I'm hoping to doze through it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Can You Feel Their Pain?

Because I'm having a little trouble with it. My empathy level must be hitting rock bottom or something. I just can't seem to muster up even one tiny tear for professional sports figures.

Defending Tony Romo's little vacay with Jessica Simpson, Tom Brady said, "Everybody has lives. We work seven months, eight months, out of the year. You still have a life to live."

Really? Seven or eight WHOLE MONTHS out of the YEAR, Tom? Oh, that's just wretched. How ever do you manage? Those of us who work all twelve months of the year feel just awful for you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Word. To Yer Mom.

My brother sent this to me and it's pretty much The Jamz.

word.

I've been listening to a lot of NPR lately, and this race is turning out to be interesting. Let's just hope it ends up being interesting in all the right ways.

Go Obama!

(I have more to say, which is not at all related to my chosen political candidate, by the way, but first I must do very important things like cut up lettuce and fold laundry. It's a thrill a minute around here.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Date Night with the McBrides

date night with the mcbrides

I have no idea what I was doing with my mouth there. This photo was an accident.

An AWESOME accident.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It's a Bad Sign...

...when a Democrat candidate so thoroughly reminds me of one of my least favorite Evangelical Republicans. I'm talking about Hillary Clinton starting to resemble James Dobson. Seriously. Her, "I said (fill in the blank), and I did (fill in the blank), but HE did (fill in the blank) even though he SAID (fill in the blank one more time)" smacks of James Dobson defending something he said to some random person who was arguing with him about gay marriage. When you're on the defense, and you respond with criticism of others and inflation of your own ideas, you lose credibility.

Which is not to say that I ever thought Hillary was credible, except when it comes to good taste in doughnuts. (Her people get her doughnuts from my favorite doughnut place--I'll allow that we agree on doughnut selection.)

Round here we're Obama people. I like him. I LOVE that he hasn't been in politics all his life. I agree with him on most issues. I think the one thing that I do not agree with him about is his stance on abortion, but let's check and see if any Republican president has ever made any positive strides towards resolving that, or if politics has ever been a good vehicle for affecting people's decisions about morality...um, no.

Which leads me to another point, which is that I think that it makes little sense to vote for someone based on one or two issues when the rest of their platform is crap. I'm talking specifically about abortion and gay marriage, which are issues that a lot of Christians have singled out over time as the important issues, to the detriment of all else. It's silly. To try to save the lives of one small group of people while ignoring the death and destruction meted out elsewhere doesn't make any sense to me. To try to legislate morality by banning gay marriage while other moral issues lay untouched is asinine. Regardless of what we do or do not believe, we all have to see the big picture and make our votes count in the biggest way possible.

If Hillary ends up being the Dem candidate, I'm not sure what I'll do. I'll certainly not be voting for Mike Huckabee (or any of the other Republican candidates, for that matter) (oh, wait, except maybe I would rather have Ron Paul around than Hillary), even though I do admire the strides he's made from a couch potato to a runner (pun not intended, but certainly handy). I've moved beyond the days of thinking that because someone believes in Jesus that he will behave as Jesus would prefer him to.

At this time, one of my big problems with Hillary, besides the fact that I think she still comes off as unapproachable and self-righteous, is her stance on health care. (This applies to Edwards as well.) To penalize people for not obtaining health insurance is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in regards to that matter. Most people I know who do not have health insurance or who have gone through a period of not having health insurance in the past (*ahem*ME*ahem*) didn't opt out because they just didn't feel like having it, but because they couldn't afford it. There are a lot of people who fall into the middle ground of being ineligible for government assistance but also being unable to afford it for themselves. Health insurance costs are astronomical for those who must obtain their coverage on an individual basis. At one point in my life, I chose to opt out of medical insurance because the plan I could afford had an incredibly high deductible but an incredibly low amount of benefit. I still had to pay out of pocket to see a physician for common illnesses. My deductible was high enough ($5000) that the insurance company would never touch a lot of basic medical procedures I might need. It really only would have done something for me had I come down with a very serious illness or been injured in a freak accident. It seemed to me that I was throwing away $80 a month. So I chose to take my chances. To have the government require me to throw away $80 a month angers me almost as much as knowing that the current administration has given tax cuts to people who don't need or deserve them while denying expanded health care coverage to children. Ugh.

So...right. Circling back to Obama. To sum up, we like him, and we think you should like him, too. We particularly think that if you are in New Hampshire and you don't currently like him lots more than you like Hillary or John Edwards, you should look deep into your hearts and realize that the thing that's welling up in there is pure love for Obama. Put on your I HEART BARACK shirt underneath your sweater on Tuesday and help him win the primary.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Please Someone Buy Me the DVDs

So I can never leave my house.


"I'm not supposed to. I'm in a band."

My favorite clip is actually the flipping the bird clip, but I decided I'd post a more safe for work/family friendly clip in case some of you didn't get the message of my last post and aren't protecting your kids from the internet. Or in case you're surfing the internet at work instead of, you know, working.

Oh, and here's a song! Double your pleasure, double your fun!



You're welcome.

PS--I think Shiz posted the best song by posting Business Time, but I won't steal it from her.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I've Waited a Long Time to Talk About This

But I didn't want to wait too long and forget, and while I don't have my thoughts completely together on the matter, in chatting with my friend Holly today, I realized that it doesn't really matter if I say this perfectly. It matters that I take the time to say it at all.

I'll begin with something I alluded to months ago. I want to be particularly sensitive about this as it is impossible to know who might read this or when, and I don't want to make a specific criticism as much as give you a warning.

Put plainly, I found porn on the laptop of the eleven-year-old girl I nannied. There were photos and video footage. It was explicit. I pulled her dad aside when she was not there and let him know what I found. He did his own investigation and found it on her desktop computer as well. He confronted her about it, she admitted to it and apologized, and parental controls were put on her computer. As far as I know, that's all that was done. But I'm not sure if it was enough. And I don't think she should have apologized because I don't think she did anything wrong. She was curious, but she felt uncomfortable asking anyone the questions she had, so she used Google to find answers. I think all of us who cared for her, both her parents and me, made some dangerous assumptions. They assumed she was too young to think to look for that sort of thing on the internet, and I assumed that because they were so careful to shield their children in other respects that parental controls were already in use. Because of the combination of those assumptions, an eleven-year-old saw graphic photos and video of all manner of sexual activity, the majority of which was inappropriate for her to view. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it is tantamount to abuse. I want to be clear here that I am not accusing anyone who cares for her of abuse, but I am saying that we allowed her to be alone in the room with sexual deviants and possible pedophiles. And while they did not have access to her physically, they did have access to her mind and her emotions. What she saw, she was not equipped to see. She simply wasn't ready. Honestly? I wasn't ready to see some of those images, and I'm an adult. I worry about how this early exposure to graphic photos and videos will affect her own understanding of what sex is and her emotional development as it relates to sexual issues. If she has questions about what she has seen, now that she's been reprimanded, will she shy away even more from asking someone she can trust? What, and who, will now shape her sexual identity? The internet has opened a thousand new doors of opportunity for people who are not looking out for her best interest to tell her what she wants to know. They've already told her some things, and judging by her downloads, she was listening attentively. And she's not alone.

How many kids do you know who are allowed fairly unlimited access to the internet? I know plenty. How many of them are required to have an adult in the room when they use the internet? I know very few. And it's a shame. It's a shame because it is so simple to shield our children from what they are not ready to see, so easy to put measures in place to ensure that instead of doing damage control once your child has been exposed to all the internet has to offer, you'll only have to be the annoying parent or caregiver that insists on seeing every single website that your child visits.

Yes, I just said every website. Take a deep breath and deal with the level of involvement I'm expecting of you.

Ideally, it is best for you to be in the room when your child is on the internet. That means every time they're a the computer, you're a glance away. I also highly recommend the sort of parental control that only allows your child to visit websites you have approved. This means that every time junior or little miss wants to navigate to a page you've never set eyes on, they have to ask you. Annoying? Yes. Effective? Also yes. Do it from the time they first lay eyes on the internet and they'll not know how ridiculously annoying you are until little Timmy down the street tells your little darling that his mom lets him visit whatever websites he wants without ever asking. (In this case, it also might be handy to teach your kids that little Timmy's mom obviously doesn't love him very much and that he is to be pitied.) (I kid.) (Kind of. Because it's always a good idea to let your kids know how much you love them, and that part of loving them is protecting them.) Make sure that your kids know that you put the controls on not because you don't trust them, but because you don't trust the world full of weirdos that has access to the internet.

The thing I recommend above all is a good, loving connection and good communication with your children. If they feel comfortable coming to you for answers, they'll be much less likely to run to Google, and if they do, they will probably also be more likely to tell you about the negative or confusing things they've found. Take the time, put in the effort, cultivate the relationship, and you will reap what you sow. I cannot emphasize this enough. They are the most precious thing that you have been entrusted with. Treat them as such. Protect your kids. I really can't say that enough.

No, really, I can't. PROTECT YOUR KIDS.