Thursday, October 30, 2008

Better than I'd hoped.

Remember when I told you that my brother-in-law had gotten me tickets for Billy Bragg? You don't, that's OK. It was last night, in Charlottesville. When we were trying to get pregnant I spent a lot of time in Charlottesville and I almost went to school there so I know the area a little bit but it was late and dark and I haven't been there in over a year so we had a little trouble finding where we needed to be. We left here around 5 and made the hour and a half long trip in our car, the little Kia Rio, that always seems like Guaranteed Death to me. When I drive it, I feel like I am on the ground. It took me most of the drive just to get used to it. But the gas was cheaper and it hardly smelled at all.

The show was on the Downtown Mall which isn't far from the medical arm of the University so there were a lot of students wandering about. We didn't have much time between arriving and the show beginning so we grabbed a quick slice of pizza at Christine's, which has to be the cheapest meal I have had in a long time. Slice of pizza and 21 oz. fountain soda for $3.50, if the food hadn't been overcooked I may have had another slice.

After dinner we walked down to the Paramount Theatre. The Paramount Theatre is old, built in 1931. It is grand and beautiful with an immense stage at the center. The theatre shut down in 1974 and just stayed empty on the Downtown Mall for decades. In 2002 however, it was bought and renovated and reopened in late 2004 as a place for community acts and entertainers to perform. Occasionally, someone outside of Charlottesville, like Billy Bragg or Amos Lee, perform at the Paramount.

We had assigned seats. In my younger days and louder rock shows, I would have disliked this, I would have wanted to fight through the crowd and get as close to the performer as I could, but now an assigned seat seems like so much less work, I welcomed it. We were given pamphlets and waited for the opening act, The Watson Twins to begin. Someone was singing "Get Behind the Mule" on the P.A., I didn't recognize the artist but I knew it wasn't Tom Waits, I realized I actually like his version better.

At a little before 8, the lights dimmed and every one shuffled in their seats, aware of what was about to start. The Watson Twins, the opening act, were twin sisters with one acoustic guitar, and a keyboardist. The Watson's were beautiful, with beautiful voices, but they were odd and slightly boring in a Norah Jones sort of way. They shared that one guitar. The first sister would play two songs, singing most of the lyrics with just the other sister singing back-up vocals. Then she would hand the guitar over for the other sister to do the same, and the first sister would pick up a shaker or hormonica or tamborine and they went back and forth like this for the entire show. Though the singing was beautiful and the lyrics OK, some of it was odd, like one song that paired an organ with a harmonica in a disharmonious way. Above all else, the act was too perfect, too boring. It made me fidgety, and bored. One sister announced they were going to do a cover, one of the top 100 songs of all time according to the radio, they said. They had decided to cover it for their album, which immediately made me think of the cost of royalties before the song began. The song turned out to be one of my top 10, "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. Maybe it's because I love this song and know it intimately, maybe it's because I was already restless and bored, wishing I had a pen on me to write down blog ideas, but this was the worst version of this song I have ever heard. It was upsetting to know that this may be some people in the crowd's first experience with this song, and these two girls were doing it no favors.

I hate to be overly critical of artists. Once upon a time we were local artists, we never played such a grandious place as The Paramount Theatre, but I know that it is hard to put yourself out there like that. The fact is, I just didn't care for The Watson Twins, I'm sure other people liked them alot. But the music was nothing new or interesting and their jokes made them look awkward, especially as they stumbled to finish lines for the other one. I wondered about Bailey and Cooper and hoped they would have their own identities, that they wouldn't follow each other around the states to pass one another a guitar just to be together.

After the Watson Twins my sister and I talked about Obama and public service announcements and that we were missing Obama's at 8p.m. for this show. Usually, I would have exited and searched for a restroom but since having children my once miniscule bladder has grown, and what a shame, this place may have had a cleaner restroom than a fancy restaurant.

After a short time, (there wasn't much equipment to change out) the lights dimmed again. This time there was cheering, and Billy Bragg walked out on stage and the crowd yelled before he hit a note. I always love the feeling in a crowd like this, I love the unity of the yelling, that we are all there because we feel the same.

He began strumming his guitar and I could hear the music from "Help Save The Youth of America" forming, I was thrilled, this was one of the songs I really wanted him to play. I was singing along like a fool and tapping my feet. The way I would look with the lights on, a thought I'm glad I don't have to process. He had changed the words to the two decade all song, just barely though, to make it even more relevent for our time. He then went into "Farm Boy" and one of my second favorites, "Shirley". Afterwards he does what I remember most fondly from the first show I saw him at a few years ago, he stated talking politics and the revolution that we need. He joked about Sarah Palin ruining Cracker Barrel for him, that there was just a little too much 'you betcha' in there for himnow. He is English, he drinks tea, Throat Coat, through his shows, and he joked about this. But he got serious, and told the crowd that he may say things that would be offensive to some, 'but don't leave' he told us, 'that will just make for a long string of e-mails between you and I later, which can get quite odd, so stay and talk to me about it after the show'.

He then went on the talk of Nora Guthrie and the lyrics of Woody Guthrie that he and Wilco wrote and recorded new music for the Mermaid Ave. albums (1&2). He told us all about 'Ingrid Bergman' and what that song 'really' meant before he played it. The whole crowd was laughing and I thought it was like seeing three shows for the price of one, musician, activist, comedian. He then played 'Way Over Yonder in the Minor key' followed by a song that Woody Guthrie had written.

He then went back to talking about politics. He talked about how Americans have to vote, that the entire world is paying attention to this election, that they wish that they could vote as well as us, and yet some here on this very soil, will not take the time to vote, to do that one small thing for ourselves and our counrty. He was so moving about the election and the changes that could transpire. He told us that we would have to be strong, he told stories about Tony Blair and how we are bound to be disappointed with either of our candidates because of all they promise, they won't be able to come through and in no way immediately, he told us we would need to support our new president even more so after the election than now. That after Nov. 4th our work would just be starting. He then said 'this next song was written by Laura Nyro in 1968, it's called, well it's what you all have to do next week, it's called 'Save the country" and he started the song and the emotion and the idea were so strong and I could feel the music through the floorboard and I thought about our country and how I should have done more these past few months, that I should have spoken up and out more than I have. I was disappointed in myself, but more hopeful than ever in change. And I liked Billy Bragg more than ever.

It was at this point that people from the audience, some of them anyways, were getting huffy, putting on their coats and leaving. This struck me as funny. These people must not be in hard times (if they can shell out $35 for an artist they don't know very well) and regular listeners of NPR, who were no doubt spreading the word of the show and playing "I Have Faith" or "Mister Love and Justice" on the radio, that isn't as political and obvious as some of his other music.

He sang 'Sexuality' and the lyrics "And just because you're gay I won't turn you away, If you stick around I'm sure that we can find some common ground" meant more to me than usual, I was pumped and hopeful even if I knew that when I left the theatre this wouldn't change anything. He talked more about politics, the VP choice, the public service announcement that he had watched in his hotel ("That would never happen where I'm from, weird."), Guantanamo Bay ("It would be a real message to the rest of the world that you are ready for change if in the first 100 days of office your next president releases those people"), and much more. He talked to a young guy in the front row about the clothes he was wearing and the Clash, he told a story about seeing The Clash and thinking that there were other people like him, against bigotry, how that changed him when he was 19 and that everything that he has done since has been the outcome of that change. He performed a song called "Old Clash Fan Fight Song" and the crowd went wild when he sang "George W. Bush will soon be gone".

He performed more favorites of mine, "There is Power in a Union" and "The Milkman of Human Kindness" but he didn't get around to "Lovers Town Revisited" and I fought the urge to call it out. He left the stage at the 'end' of his show but came back immediately for an encore in which he talked about Levi Stubbs and sang "Levi Stubbs Tears" and then he brought the Watson Twins back out for background vocals on a Motownesque song and I couldn't help but think that they were much better that way. He then said it was time for a sing along and I knew what was coming, perhaps before most. He strummed his twangy guitar and "New England" started. The crowd cheered and sang along, this being his biggest hit aside from the Mermaid Ave. projects and he closed with it the last time I saw him (actually he closed with his entire first Ep that time, which included "Lovers Town Revisited"). He doesn't sing the chorus but the crowd does instead, it creates such a charged feeling. The song ended too soon, his earlier songs were so much shorter, and the lights came on. People gathered their belongings and poured out. I wasn't surprised to see so many older people among the crowd, Billy Bragg has been performing and recording since the late 1970's. My Dad played them for us.

It was a wonderful evening. We didn't get home until 12:45 and that was mostly due to the large numbers of deer by the side of the highway and our slower going speed, but the conversation was nice. We talked about the ignorance of some of the people we love, and how we feel one way, instinctively, to do what we feel is right. We wondered if it was the way we were raised (then why all the bigotry recently from our Dad, that we don't remember growing up) or something stronger pulling us in our beliefs. We talked of next week and how my sister had been complacent about voting but after that show she is going to make the effort (YOU) to get out (BETTER) and vot next week (VOTE) because she felt that Billy Bragg (ERIN) was talking to her and I thought that where as music can't change people, maybe at the very least it can push people who need to be pushed. As I had hoped that show was perfect to attend less than a week before Nov. 4th.

And because I need to, for a cleansing, play this.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting to know you even better.

I called my grandmother this morning. We used to be really, really close. I would go and see her two or three times a week when we lived in the city and then at least once after we moved to the country and started the farm. OK, we don't have a farm but those of you city folk may think of countries that way. Then I got pregnant and I saw her less and less the bigger and bigger I got. Since the twins were born I may have seen her a dozen times. This makes me very sad.

So I called her this morning to see if she would like to come over tomorrow, I think that would be easier than the alternatives. She was delighted and in a talkative mood. Somehow or another we got on the topic of Campaign T-shirts. See here in Virginia you are not allowed to wear campaign t-shirts to the polls and will be sent away if you do. She said she couldn't wait until the election was over, I told her I concur. I would have left it at that but she went on to say that she is tired of all the negative comments and ads, especially those by "John". She said it like a grandmother, like she knew him personally and was disappointed in him. She told me that she thinks its sad that the campaigns use faults and harsh comments to sway the vote, that instead of focusing on thier own strengths they attack the shortcomings of their opponent.

I asked her is she was going to vote, she said probably not. I asked if she was registered, that I would take her to the polls if she needed me to. She told me that she wasn't registered to vote. That she has never registered, never voted. That made me sad on multiple fronts but one of those was that I should have asked prior to the 6th. It's too late now. She told me that she really disliked Palin, and didn't understand why she was choosen and then she apologized and said "I'm sorry, you're probably voting for McCain." This struck me as funny, that not only does my grandmother have no idea who I am voting for (or I her, I would have always pictured her as a McCain supporter, but I don't know why) but she apologized that she may have offended me. Where are these courtesies in the general election? Nonexistent? She went on to say, "I was always told not to talk politics and religion. No one wants to have conversations about that." This is why she may have thought I was voting for John, I'm not sure. But it's true we have never talked politics or religion, even though we are very close.

She said "May the best man win, who ever that may be" and we moved on to other topics like the state of the economy.

I wish that more conversation involving politics and religion could go that smoothly, that people didn't intrepret my beliefs and opinions to be a challenge to thier own. I wish that people were really as open minded as they claimed. I wish that people really wanted to come together and work on issues as a joint effort. I wish that I could go on and on about the election on my own blog without the fear of hurting someones feelings or turning them off. I wish it was the 7th of November already.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Party Recap

So this weekend we had our first Halloween party since...well, I can't remember so maybe, ever? Ward and I spent most of Friday afternoon and night baking, cutting, shredding, ricing, etc., etc. I baked a Pumpkin Cake and he willingly iced it.

Saturday morning during nap I ran out and got a few last minute things but then I came home, put on my torn fishnets and got a move on all the last minute touches, which it turned out was quite a bit, despite our hours of work Friday. Throwing a party is a lot of work, and for me, a lot of fun.

I made Brain Cookies. They're Emeril's recipe and always a pretty big hit. I enjoy their taste but I also enjoy using the Potato Ricer to make them, ah fun.

We also made Kitty Litter Cake. Um, it looked gross but it also kind of tasted gross. Few adults of children would eat it but I did frighten/entertain/shock one small boy when his Mom was telling him it was Kitty Litter and I ate some 'poop' (Tootsie Rolls).

We also dipped EVERYTHING WE COULD FIND in chocolate; Apples, Strawberries, Marchmarllows, Pretzels, Nilla Wafers, Pinto Beans.
Just kidding about the beans.
The Pretzels and Apples were the biggest hit.
Shortly before everyone got here we decided that we had too much food for the pennisula where we usually put everuthing and we had to put the overflow on the kitchen table. Then we got into our Halloween Costumes. Ward and I were Vampires. There are no pictures of us together.

In that Skull Cookie Jar, Brain Dip, our own special recipe. On the platter to the left...

A Cheese Body!!! Hahahahahah....I know we're terribly goofie not spooky. We put a spreader in his chest.

Finally, guests started arriving. This is Count Ward and Dying Blackbeard.
The earlier part of the evening was mainly focused on our friends with families and their kids. It went better than playgroup does and the kids ranged from 6 months to 10 years. For more photos of this portion of the party you can go here.

But then Freaks started showing up, like this one, and most of the parents left with their children. Thanks Gerald.

But the pirate remained.
And so did Amy Winehouse and her agent.
And these people. Who were?

(OK, James on the left there was Lestat I think)

But Ricky was like Blade meets Angel or Wesley (Angel, reference) or something.Ricky and Lucy were my favorite, by far.

All in all (that's my favorite summary starter/closer), it was a pretty fun evening.

Everybody had a pretty good time, except for maybe Mr. Cheese Body, who was completely gone by the end of the evening. They went for his limbs first.

Even though it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Can Tell, You're Going to Win Some HR Rewards

A little over two weeks ago we transferred a C.D. from one bank to Wachovia. I know they are struggling but they're FDIC insured and had better rates than their competitors. I didn't have an account of any kind there but in a very short time span a very kind young man (yes, younger than me even) opened the C.D., a checking account (free) and a savings account (5% interest). I was very pleased with the encounter. The man who opened the account also gave me information to set up online banking. The next day I tried to set up the account only to get an error message. I meant to call, but I am pretty busy and I don't plan on using that account for very much and I don't really care if I ever set up the online banking to be perfectly honest with you.

This morning I was on the phone with a girlfriend of mine when my cell rang. I was on the home phone and it wasn't a number I recognized so I let the voicemail take care of it, after I got off the phone with my friend I saw I had a message, it was from the nice man at Wachovia. I called back even though it was approaching nap time here in our home but I thought he may want to know why I hadn't activated my check card (I don't get out a lot, there is no money in that account, I was prepared for the why's). But he was calling because he saw that I hadn't set up my online account and he wanted to know if I needed help. He asked if I could get online and he would walk me through the process. He did, except I got the same error message. He told me he would call the helpline and get back with me.

When the phone rang again it was even closer to nap time. Instead of the nice gentleman from Wachovia it was an online account assitance lady. After she verified who I was she brought the nice man from Wachovia back on the line. She then proceeded to tell him that when new account members set up their online accounts they will always get that error message in a very patronizing way. I felt bad for him because she was very nasty about it and it seemed unneccessary to tell him that with me on the line, it seems that she could have told them that before our three-way conversation began. It also seems silly that new account members would always get an error message. Maybe I am lazy but so are they, maybe they should invest some time into a registration process free of instant error messages.

She begins to walk me through the registration for what seems like the umpteenth time. By this point my children are at my feet crying and pulling up and falling and crying some more. I get to the point where I have successfully (or so I assumed) entered in all of the new passwords and codes when I get yet another error message. She tells me that I have done something wrong and I need to start over. I tell her that we will need to do this later, I have to go take care of my kids when she tells me that "no, it is fine they deal with this sort of thing (you mean crying?) all the time, if it is bothering me I should deal with it". I wish I could record my phone calls for training purposes sometimes, her rudeness had me so shocked and taken aback that I didn't know what to do at first. I then told her "no, it's my children's nap time, I am getting off of the phone". She then proceeded to tell me what I needed to do next, I replied, cutting her off, "Thank you" and hung up.

I am still flabbergasted. I wasn't getting off the phone for her benefit or mine, I was getting off the phone for Bailey and Cooper's benefit. Because it was nap time and we try to adhere to a schedule around here. The children are now napping (they fell asleep very quickly I might add) and I think I will call the nicest employee at Wachovia back and apologize for her rudeness and my subsequent rudeness because I did appreciate his call and his attempt to help me set up my online account. Companies, especially those struggling, should take a look inwards perhaps. I know Wachovia isn't struggling bacause of their impolite employees but it can't be helping them.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Have You Been In Target Lately?

For years my mother-in-law, my grandmother and my sister (and my friend Charlene occasionally) have been going to Potomac Mills in December to go Christmas Shopping. On our secong Wedding Anniversary Ward and I went to DC with another couple, Dying Cloud and his wife Charlene. On the trip home Charlene asked if we could stop in to Potomac Mills, a huge outlet center in Woodbridge, VA. We didn't stay long but I wanted to go back and thus our Christmas Shopping trip was born. Some years we go for one night, others a long weekend. Once we made the long drive over to Leesburg just to realize that was not worth it. Several times we got lost before I finally found a simpler route the last time (and have since forgot?). Every year we ate at Red Robin and twice we visited Babies R Us even though no one in our group had babies.

This trip is more than just shopping, it is sort of a growing tradition. I didn't want to not go this year but I didn't want to leave the twins home while I left for the weekend so Ward graciously agreed to come along this year. I am very excited! I always worry about spending too much money or should I or should I not when I come across gifts, so this year he can help me make the choices then and there on the spot (even though I always enjoyed showing him everything when I got home, it was like show and tell).

So this year in addition to Ward, Cooper and Bailey my brother-in-law and nephew will be coming. We have decided to go earlier, mid-November, since it is usually crowded when we go the first week in December. This afternoon my Grandmother called. "Hello, stranger" she said and immediately I felt terrible, I really should call her more oftern, we use to see each other at least once a week but since I got pregnant it's more like once a month. We chatted for a few minutes when I finally got around to asking her if she was on board this holiday for our Potomac Mills trip. I just figured she would say yes but she told me instead that she doesn't want to "Mess up our plans" or "butt in and tag along". I was kind of sad that she doesn't want to go, I told her that it isn't butting in if someone asks her and she is part of the plan. She finally accepted that we wanted her there and said she would go and seemed excited about it, even more so when I told her that I was still inviting my mother-in-law.

This year's group will be larger, and smaller (height wise) and probably stressful and hectic, but I am looking forward to it more than any other previous year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let's Make A Few Things Clearer, Shall We?

I realize that there may be some confusion about some of my recent blogs so I thought I would clear a few things up:

  • Ricky and Lucy, are not MY Ricky and Lucy but the REAL Ricky and Lucy. I even thought about giving that blog another name but I didn't. I have learned my lesson.
  • I didn't mean Belated Happy Birthday to Brandon, I meant Happy Birthday to Brandon on the 17th, but I don't think he reads my blog so I'm OK there.
  • If we can call William Ayers a terrorist, I think I should be allowed to call the media terrorists, I'm just saying.

OK, so I think that's all for now.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

You call that a party?

As Ward has recently made very clear, parenting is hard. You have a lot of decisions to make and fears to worry over. One of these is immunizations, to have them or not to have them, to have them all at once or split over several shots, to wait until their two or have them done on the doctor’s prearranged schedule.

The fear that immunizations cause Autism is not a new worry, it’s just one that has received even more publicity in the last couple of years thanks to Vh1 and Jenny McCarthy. I worry about Autism, not a lot, but I think about the possibility of one of our children having one of the Autism spectrum disorders and what that would mean for our children. But I don’t lose sleep over that worry and our children attend every well baby visit scheduled and have had all their shots on time.

I am aware that some people are fervently against having their children immunized. I think that is a bad call, the fact that we don’t have to worry on a daily basis about polio, measles, mumps, pertussis, etc is because of these wonderful advances in the medical field. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that seeing our children get those shots and feel on the verge of illness for several days following is heartbreaking but I know that it is in their best interest. It is for their health. I think the chance (which I believe to be rather small, if existent at all) that our children may contact Autism from their vaccinations is worth their being fully immunized.

I know this is a debatable issue, with lots of different arguments that could be gone back and forth with for days. So I keep my pointed feelings to myself and attend all of our Well Baby visits and leave it at that.

But today I had the opportunity (first time all year) to actually sit down with a cup of coffee, a slice of Pumpkin Cake and the newest Parenting magazine and read a few articles. The one about vaccines struck me as interesting but even more so when I came across the heading, “The Worry: It’s healthier to contract some diseases naturally.” This section of the article described a family that decided not to have their 2-year-old child immunized against Chicken Pox, but rather “seized the opportunity” for the child to get it from dad when he came down with shingles. Not only did they encourage hugs and cup sharing (which did indeed result in their child contracting the illness, but a “very mild” case of it) they posted a notice on a local listserve for other interested families to come over and have an infectious play date with their sick family (oh, the double entendre there), “knowing” other parents may want their own children exposed, and guess what? Two families jumped at the opportunity, unfortunately neither of the play mates got sick, but they did come bearing presents.

I am not making this up. This couple and other parents like them, really worry me. We all have to do what we think is in our family/children’s best interest, which I think is the regimented vaccines, but I can’t imagine thinking this play date idea is in your child’s best interest. These people fear that their children will get sick with Autism but would like them instead to intentionally get sick with chicken pox or shingles? It may be rare, but children can and do DIE from chicken pox, has any child ever died from autism?

I am floored that these chicken pox and measles “parties” even exist, and that any parent in the 21st century would think they are a solid choice for their child.

I believe that Autism should be researched, funding should be provided for preventive testing and treatment, and awareness generated over the growing condition but to resist and in some cases even refuse immunizing your child against harmful, potentionally deadly illnesses with vaccines which have never been proven to cause autism, well that just seems a tad negligent to me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

George Lucas Is Trying To Destroy Everything Pure From My Childhood

Alright, let me get straight to the point, George Lucas has become a menace to society and he must be stopped at all costs!

We just watched Indiana Jones and the Mystery of Why This Movie was even Made, and I must say that I am beyond disappointment. You can read our review of this piece of crap here. But what I want to talk about here is integrity, and why there is none left in Hollywood.

When I was a lad my favorite movies were the Star Wars films and the Indiana Jones films. I mean I wanted to be Indiana Jones until I was almost 25 years old. But now all of that is tainted for me. Between Jar Jar Binks and that ridiculous Refrigerator scene I have a hard time connecting with those pure memories from my childhood when I would pretend to be Luke Skywalker, or BobaFett, or Indiana Jones. Now all I have is my memories of bee-stings, bike crashes, and being locked in a closet for days at a time.

I wonder what my kids are going to have as favorite movie heroes. The disturbingly dark Dark Knight? Iron Man? Perhaps Harry Potter, or the increasingly annoying Spiderman? What will they have?

Or what won't they have, that I did? I enjoyed those movies and anticipated them as they came out. I cherished them and relived them over and over again. And looking back on them they are still good movies. But I don't know what's happened in the movie business. Perhaps I was raised with too much TV and too many movies, and now it all just seems like regurgitated second-hand ideas packaged in a new shinier-than-ever wrappers. Perhaps those of us who have been paying attention have seen too much, and they have nothing new to offer us. Maybe my kids will enjoy The Adventures of Indiana Jones' Illegitimate Son, or STAR WARS Episode 2.75 -Obi Wan VS Jabba's Nephew, or whatever crap they decide to dole out to us hapless entertainment junkies.

I wonder what happened to the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg who created those gems of such nostalgic power? Perhaps they've been abducted by aliens with elongated skulls made of shiny-blue-psychic-power-enhancing crystal. Maybe they've been replaced with robots who look and sound and smell like them, but lack the heart and soul to create anything meaningful. Maybe these robots really liked Happy Days and thought that Jumping the Shark was a good thing.

I mean you can't really be so hard on them if they're just dumb soulless robots can you?

But what do I tell my children when they ask about my favorite movies from when I was a kid? Will I be embarrassed to say Star Wars and Indiana Jones, all they're going to know is Clone Wars and that guy from the Transformers movie with the funny hair and the leather jacket. They're going to think that Raiders is stupid and cheesy.

Parenting is hard.


Now I Can Make My Decision

I have now seen 67,932 McCain/Palin roadside signs and only 13,376 Obama/Biden signs, so it is now perfectly clear to me that the McCain/Palin ticket deserves my vote. I mean whoever's supporters are willing to deforest the largest area are clearly the most qualified for the job.

Perhaps I'm missing the point (which is not entirely unheard of for me), but I don't understand the need for so many political signs in people's yards. Is it to simply show their support for their candidate? Is it to try to convince me and other people driving by that I should vote for their candidate? I need help with this.

IF I support a candidate should I put up a sign? IF I'm passionate should I put up thirty signs? IF my neighbor puts up the opponent's sign do I have to top him? WHERE do I get my Undecided 2008 sign, or my Fed Up With This Crap sign?

Does anyone really decide who they're going to vote for because of these signs? And if so should that person really be allowed to vote? I mean if it's going to be decided like that lets just flip a coin and get this over with now.

At least these silly automated phone calls by the Republicans say something ( you know the ones: "Obama is a terrorist and he and his left-wing cohorts will eat your children if you don't vote for McCain.") . These signs just have a name or two on them. That's it. That's all you need to know. If you can't decide which is the right team to lead this country by reading their names over and over and over and over and over and over again on your way to work and home again then there isn't much hope for you.

I guess it's just that I'm disappointed in the American people. We have the chance, I mean the right, I mean the privilege to govern ourselves, and most of us don't bother to learn enough about the issues to make an educated decision.

One thing that is encouraging this year is the number of registered voters. Virginia, according to a recent poll, has just over 5 million registered voters (the highest number ever). According to census information (which only offers estimates since the last census was a few years ago) there are only 6.2 million people of voting age in this state. Lets see how many of us actually vote though and who we vote for.

I read somewhere that in the last election roughly 50% of Americans over 18 actually voted, but that almost 85% of registered voters actually voted. I'm not sure about those numbers, but why wouldn't 100% of registered voters vote? Why aren't more Americans registered to vote? Even if these numbers are off (which I don't doubt that they are) why do so many of us not even vote? Is it because some people, like me, feel that neither major party has anything new or good to offer this country? Is it because people are fed up with the negative campaign politics? When was the last time a candidate bothered to say anything good about him/herself? I guess if you don't have a good point to make about yourself you should take a shot at vilifying the other guy.

Sometimes I feel like I can't see the point of all of this anymore.

Sometimes I feel like it doesn't even matter.

Maybe we should just toss a coin.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Chris

and Happy Belated birthday Ricky and Brandon!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm Impressed: Reina Del Cid

In our day I am so excited that musicians have the internet and tools such as You Tube. Today while looking up a trailer for a movie I saw advertised on IMdb I came across this video. The artist is Reina Del Cid, she is just a girl writing music on her blue guitar and I liked it. She is unsigned and I think she is better than a lot of other female musicians out there today (I like the lyrics, so listen well) so I am doing the most I can to get her signed, posting her video on my blog that's read by several people every day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's that song?

I need your help fellow bloggers and readers. Two things.

First. What is that song that goes something like "I always feel like somebody's watching me..."? I have totally drawn a blank.

Second. I am putting together a Halloween Playlist via Rhapsody for tomorrow's Bunko and I need suggestions so please, give me some. One, five, 50 anything will help.

Thanks for you help.

UPDATE: You weren't fast enough it was Rockwell with Jackson as a backing vocal where as I thought it was a Jackson song. It has been added to the playlist. But I still want your suggestions!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rambles of June

Why is it that children won't eat what you feed them, such as Cheerios, when you feed it to them but afterwards when they are crawling around and you are trying franticly to clean up they will find every Cheerio they have dropped on the floor and eat them?

Whatever the reason may be the vacuum has found a new permanent space, the eat-in kitchen.

We just got back from Target. That's right I took the kids on a real shopping trip to Target. We used one of those huge carts with the upright seats. It went really well. Surprisingly well. We may attempt it again, someday.

Fall is my favorite time of year. Why? Because of Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte (OK, not really but I do love those things). Last year I couldn't have them because I was pregnant and this year, well with the state of the economy it seems a little foolish to spend $8 on a beverage (OK, it always seems a little foolish to spend $8 on a beverage) I may not be having a latte this fall either. But today at Target I found Pumpkin Spice flavored Coffee creamer and bought it. I'll let you know how it is. I hope it will at least be reminiscent of the real thing.

When we got home today our Halloween costumes were here. That's right, we ordered them on line. We don't have a lot of time to be creative this year so we just bought them on-line. We are going to be vampires (I told you we don't have a lot of time to be creative). We were going to be Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Hatchett but that seemed a little too trendy for our blood (Ward wouldn't wear the wig).

I have been cleaning for the past two days on and off whenever I can get a chance as I have Bunko here on Thursday evening. Nearly 30% of our house is now clean, I'm hoping for 45% by Thursday night. Ward said that we should have Bunko here every other month.

Does anyone have a good pumpkin cake recipe? Because I am not busy enough I think I would like to make a pumpkin cake for Bunko.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day?

I figure what better way to salute the man who accidentily stumbled across this great land of ours than to give you a few exerpts from his journals and letters back to Europe.

Of his first encounter with "Indians":

"They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things,
which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded
everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome
features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a
sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignoragnce. They have
no iron. Their spears are made of cane. They would make fine servants. With fifty
men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
"As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some
of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information
of whatever there is in these parts."
Consider these facts, reported by Spanish missionaries of the time.
In two years, through Murder, Mutilation, or Suicide half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.
In the first twelve years of Spanish Colonization the population of the island of Hispaniola was reduced by almost Three Million, due to "war, slavery, and the mines."
"While I was in Cuba, 7,000 children died in three months" from starvation. - Las Casas
Just a little History to think about on this Columbus Day. Have a nice day.

Because I Feel The Same About The Talking Heads

Especially this song:

Naive Melody

Because I Love Bob Dylan More Today Than Yesterday And Even More Tomorrow

Maybe it's because the Times They Are A Changin or maybe it's the insomnia but I am happy in the company of these tunes.

If you still buy physical compact discs I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Gore's Invention

I am going to attempt to write this blog in code. Partly because I am a big scaredy-cat and partly because I don't want to hurt any one's feelings should they ever read my blog, but then who am I kidding I don't think of others or their feelings on my blog and no one from high school reads my blog (except you, Falcon_81, and that's only occasionally).

So shall I begin? A person from my past however long and distant it may be has contacted me. Just in a hey how are you sort of way but I am not thrilled about it. I don't dislike this person per se but I also have less and less fond feelings for this person if you catch my drift. I am not going to be mean to the person but I am also in no mood to play catch up to someone I never really knew (though pretended to my face otherwise).

Lately I have been trying to do some soul searching on my own behalf. A self guided experiment in self discovery if you will. And as I mentioned earlier in the week, I don't have room for everything.

That sounds mean. So let me tell you this person was never incredibly nice to me and we were never that close. I don't even know how or why they contacted me to be honest. I was a little surprised and confused at the interaction. I can be and will be cordial, always, in person that is. But my life is busy and I fall behind on everything and I don't have time to spend* on inconsequential things.

That doesn't just sound mean, it is mean. I don't wish this person any ill will or anything at all like that I just don't know why she (or is it he?) is contacting me.

My sister recently told me that with Facebook and Myspace she doesn't see the point in High School Reunions. I understand (I think) exactly where she is coming from but I always thought that I would attend my high school reunion. And then someone from my past contacts me and I think, maybe I will just stay home that weekend. Don't get me wrong I like Facebook, just this week I was able to 'talk' with some old friends, some of whom from high school. But sometimes it is easier from home to reconnect. If it gets uncomfortable or goes somewhere you don't want it to you can always just log off.

Needless to say I invited the person to Book Group.

Just kidding.



Book Club

So a few weeks ago I sent out an email after talking to a few people who were interested in the idea of a reading group/book club and I got tremendous feedback, I think we are up to possibly 13 or 14 people, I am so excited.

I chose The Time Travelers Wife as our first read. I read it two years ago while I was in bed for our second round of IVF. I remember really enjoying it and I wished other people were reading it so I could talk about it with them. So I start this book group and I have Ward read the book and I got his feedback. And now, well now I am not so sure that I have suggested the right book to start our little group off on, but it is a little too late now I guess to worry with it. I am reading the book again and I still really like it, it fits me, it has things I can relate to, but the theme and language may be a little testy for a new book group.

Oh well, should make for an interesting discussion I suppose and that is I guess all I really wanted in the first place so I guess I should feel satisfied.

I mean I could have suggested Breaking Dawn!


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Last night I was up pondering the dynamics of a normal mother/daughter-in-law situation until well after 1 a.m. I went to bed only to toss and turn and finally, I think around 2 a.m. I managed a little ZZZs. Unfortunately, at 4:45 I woke up and couldn't get back to bed, at 5 I made an immediate date with a novel and took a long soak in the tub. I wasn't able to go back to bed until after six and was up less than two hours later for good with the kids.

When I was pregnant I couldn't sleep. There were a few days when I didn't sleep at all, I would pace the house and watch hours of 80s videos on Vh1 Classics or soak my self to raisin skin in the tub, ah those were the days. I also had carpel tunnel syndrome, water retention, heartburn, indigestion, hiccups, gas, stretch marks, back ache, headaches, and bleeding gums, but all of those ailments are gone now (OK, with the exception of those stretch marks that I know will never go away despite what my friend Amy tells me) so why does the insomnia persist?

Maybe this is a new breed of insomnia. Maybe I am worrying too much about the things I cannot change. Maybe I need to recite that Serenity Prayer a few times and take a few Tylenol PM's.

Oh, and ban CNN in my house until AIG stops asking the Feds for money.



Why do artists release songs that aren't on any of their albums?

Especially when it is perhaps the prettiest song said artist has ever written?

"I wouldn’t want you to want
To be wanted by me
I wouldn’t want you to worry
That You'd be drowned within my sea
I only wanted to be wonderful
And wonderful is true
In truth I only really wanted
To be wanted by you"

Friday, October 10, 2008

It Sucks (and I mean really sucks) to be Sick.

I have been sick four times since I graduated high school. Once in September 2000, again in December 2000 (when we were visiting family in Arizona), December 2005 (again visiting family in Arizona) and then in May 2006 (thanks to consuming unneeded antiobiotics on an empty stomach pre-IVF #1).

Why do I remember the dates so well? Because I am the worst sick person you could ever hope not to meet. When I mean sick, I don't mean headache, cough or cold sick, I mean hugging-the toilet-dry-heaving-by-noon because I refuse to eat sick.

Yesterday morning I woke up around 4 a.m. nauseous. I tried to shrug it off and go back to sleep with no luck. I even called my husband mid-morning to come home and take care of the kids. He then arranged for his mother to come and help me, despite the fact that I was really angry about that at first, it ended up being just what I needed.

I hate being sick, the lack of control, the dirty feeling, the icky feeling, the nose burning, throt burning feeling. When I got sick pre-IVF #1 I thought I would just give up on trying to have a baby if I was going to be that sick for months on end during pregnancy.

When I got pregnant with the twins I expected to get sick but it never really happened (with two exceptions that I could live with). My doctor was surprised that I wasn't getting sick but I think I now know the answer.

The universe and whoever is in charge of it, they really don't give you what you cannot handle and I really cannot handle being sick. It was more than a blessing when I woke up feeling much better this morning.

Bailey is a little under the weather today which is probably the result of two top teeth coming in, diarrhea and the resulting diaper rash, and I couldn't feel worse for the little girl because I know how awful it is when you are sick.

She's asked that I hold her all day, I am doing my best with her request.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thanks, Chris

Last week my brother-in-law called and asked if I would be able and willing to take my sister to see one of our favorite artists in Charlottesville if he bought us tickets.

The artist, Billy Bragg.

The answer, yes.

The date, Wednesday, October 29th, 8 p.m.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to seeing Mr. Bragg again, especially less than a week before election day.

"Help Save The Youth of America"

"The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie"

"Bush War Blues"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Good and The Not So Good

My finger continues to bleed with every new bandage application and hurts...not so good.

The weekend is over, meaning no help with babies tomorrow, see above...not so good.

Yesterday I went shopping at the Gap and got $207 worth of clothes for $42 for the kids...pretty good.

It's hard to type with a big bandage...not so good.

I got $50 back in Amazon gift cards for using my amazon card, that's several new books...I'd say that's good.

Cooper is standing, without support...GREAT!!!

More banks expected to fail this year...not so good.

Tina Fey...hilarious.

Bailey and Cooper are 9 months old today...good and not so good.

Sorghum Festival...good.

$5 parking...not so good.


Monday mornings...not so good.

WARNING!!!! Pieces of Finger Missing

This evening we had plans for friends to come over and play games and enjoy appetizers and desserts. At 5 p.m. I was working on Apple Dumplings from the Pioneer Women's blog. I was in the middle of peeling the Granny Smith Apples when my friend Amy texted me that they were on their way, feeling hurried perhaps I sped up. Then this happened:

I peeled the tip of my finger right off the middle finger of my left hand. OUCH! My friends came over and enjoyed the Apple Dumplings (thank you Ward and Lucy for taking over). But everyone thought it was pretty funny that I peeled my skin instead of the Granny Smith Apples as was illustrated quite literally during a game of LikeWise.

Lucy's illustration.

My disturbed friends wanted to see what my finger looked like hours after the incident (about three). Bellow is what happens when you pull a bandage off a not healed wound.

WARNING, It's quite disgusting.

I warned you.

Ward says this is a lesson in nail biting. If I had nails, he said, I may still have my skin.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I know we're Lancers, but we're just not THAT close.

I love my neighbors, not all of them necessarily but I really like the people who live closest to us. They donated their dilapidated playhouse to us, they fix Ward's guitars for free, they let us come in their house when they're gone and borrow eggs and we always have dependable house/dog sitters when we go out of town FOR FREE (they have a dog with whom we do the same). They come to our house for holidays and parties, we buy from their children's fund raisers and they, being the horticulturist type, trim our shrubs and flowers when we are 8 months pregnant. We all went to the same high school even though we attended ten and twenty years apart from one another (with the exception of Ward, who was a Colonel). We are pretty close, as far as neighbors go.

Or so I thought.

Recently, like yesterday, a friend of mine told me that her neighbor went into labor. She hadn't seen or spoken to the new parents but she had spoken with another neighbor who had told her all the details. How did she know all the details, why she was in the room, how else (OK, I understand someone could have told her but I am looking for dramatic effect here people). But she wasn't the only neighbor who attended the birth, two others did as well.

As stated before, I really like my neighbor's, but I also like privacy. When I gave birth it was a family only ordeal and when I mean family it was Ward and I. I would have perhaps had more people in the room (my sister) but I just felt too uncomfortable about how the situation could end up (like it did, emergency c-section at 5 a.m.). But my neighbors, they were never on the attendance list. I did see my neighbor when I was in labor, but only to my surprise on the hospitals Epidural video. I like privacy, I don't tell many people about the origins of my children's existence, I didn't tell people I was pregnant until my second trimester or that I was pregnant with twins until I had passed the twenty week miscarriage date and I certainly don't invite them to my deliveries. I know, I am the one with issues.

I know a lot of people though, who embrace a lot of people attending the miraculous event that is childbirth but now that I have both attended one and been responsible for one I feel even more the need for privacy in the delivery room. I don't mean that parents, siblings, or other close people should be kept from the delivery, I just think that it is not a place for friends and acquaintances. Things can happen without any warning and I just have to wonder is it really a good idea to have so many people in attendance? My doctor would only allow Ward and one other person in the room, I am sure that was mainly for her liability purposes but I don't think it is such a bad policy.

I think that mainly for me it is that I am a controlling person. I like to be in control and giving birth is one time when I felt that I was only in partial control of the situation (until the c-section when I felt I lost all control of the situation). But what do you think, am I just being weird? I have watched those birthing stories on TLC, I would just never want to be on their show.


I was given full permission to tell this story, no names or other information have been disclosed, mainly because I didn't get any other information, it seemed too private.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sometimes Forwards Are Funny

Too much beer pong perhaps?

It's True. I don't get out alot.

Yesterday, I ran out after Ward got home from work to go to the bank. I was running close on time but I had to stop at the gas station or I wouldn't be making it to the bank anyways. So I stopped by the Sheetz near our home and pumped more than $72 in my non-energy friendly vehicle. While I was waiting for my gas guzzler to be refueled I decided I would like a drink. I never get to go into gas stations, it is just too much to take the twins in for a 20oz. But I didn't have any money other than my check card and I am always embarrassed to use my check card for $1.37 (though I did use it Monday at the Post Office for one stamp just because they really annoy(ed) me, but that's another story). After scrounging around in my car I was able to come up with $1.50 so I went in to get a drink. I was surprised at all the changes to Sheetz since the last time I went in one.

First, they no longer sell 20oz drinks, just 16oz, but for the same price as before. I just love inflation. So I head over to the new and quite fancy fountain machines where you can get vanilla, cherry or lemon mixed in whatever soda you choose, and I don't mean one of those manual pumps, I mean it mixes in with your soda so you will have the perfect soda to additional flavoring to satisfy your taste buds. Since they don't have Cherry Coke on fountain, it will have to do. They also have gourmet coffee, like Starbucks, only different. And make you own milkshake machines. OK, so I knew about the milkshake machines, I just wanted to share that with you.

But what really caught my eye was this:

You may not be able to tell what this is so I will enlighten you. It is a set of 40-16oz plastic cups, 4 ping pong balls and 4 'wash' cups, all you and your drunken friends need to play beer pong.

You don't know about Beer Pong? Well, let me further enlighten you.

"Beer Pong is a drinking game which is especially popular among college students, but can be enjoyed by any group looking for anything from a good buzz to a drunken stupor. It is generally played in pairs of two, with the teams standing at opposing ends of a flat, rectangular surface (preferably a ping pong table, but anything accepted by both teams can be used). Six or ten cups are formed in a pyramid at either end of the table, with the base of the pyramid centered at the edge of the table. The players attempt to toss or bounce ping pong balls into the cups, each of which is filled with 1/3 of a beer (or other intoxicating spirit). When a player makes a shot into a cup of the opposing team, a player from the opposing team drinks the contents of the cup and removes it from the table. The game continues in this way, with both players from one team taking a shot, followed by both players from the other team. The team that is able to clear all of the opposing team’s cups first is the winner, with the losing team splitting the contents of the winning team’s remaining cups. To begin, a player from each team takes a shot simultaneously without looking at the cups. This is repeated until one team makes, and one team misses. This decides who gets the first possession. After the first game, the winning team gets the first shot. The elbow rule is also applied for EVERY shot. A players elbow may not cross the plane of the playing table or it does not count."

I went to college, two of them, almost three. I spent five and a half wonderful years there. I never played beer pong. I used to drink, not to heavily but not so lightly either, I never played beer pong. I have four cousins. They all went to college. They have played QUITE A BIT of beer pong. When my youngest cousin turned 19 I went to his birthday party which was thrown at his mother's house. In her garage were two sawhorses with a piece of wood roughly 30 inches wide and 9 feet long. Not as wide as a normal ping pong table, but would suffice for their needs for the evening. Another one of my cousins, Sean, who is my age and who I haven't been close to in years (and might have gotten worse when we both were trying to get into UVA, fortunately we both got in and neither of us went for more than a year) asked me if I wanted to play. I didn't know what it was, so I said yes.

Folks, this is one of, if not the, grossest games I have ever played. You are throwing a ball that several people are touching into cups that you will than have to drink. If the person you are playing is better than you (and they were) you will be forced to drink quite a bit. And I was. This past May we attended that same cousin's graduation (the youngest cousin, Ian). Before the commencement ceremony at Tech for History Majors we met at his house to eat on the back deck. My aunts prepared a fine meal on what else, a very, very fancy homemade beer pong table. My cousin had a good four years?

Anyways, for only $4.99 you too can have a simple Beer Pong set up in you own house (minus the beer and table obviously). Something to think about perhaps as you all plan your Holiday gatherings?

I couldn't buy a kit, all I had was enough money to buy a fountain soda, but I got a kick out of my convenient store experience, that's for sure.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Wish I'd Had These When My Kids Were Growing Up

Or How I am The Worst Mother Ever, pt 2.

Remember all the complaining I did about unsolicited advice from other mothers? I really meant it, back then, now I am wishing I had more mothers offering up tricks of the trade nine or ten months ago.

I am obsessive. I get into something and I read and read all about it. Infertility, 53 books, pregnancy 32 books, twins and multiples,12 books, how to kick your cherry coke habit, etc., etc. But when it came to baby books, I only got around to reading a few chapters of 2 of them. No one bought me What to Expect the First Year or The Happiest Baby on the Block, thus I didn't know what to expect and there was some unhappiness. I did however get and read for several weeks Dr. Sears' Baby Book which left me feeling horrid about not wanting my newborn twins to sleep in my pillow top mattressed bed for fear of SIDs, and boy did I have a fear of SIDs let me tell you.

So I didn't read as much about parenting because many of the books gave advice based on a single baby and to be honest, I just didn't have the time those first few weeks to look up every concern I had, I just pushed through doing what I thought was best. I thought that would suffice. Occasionally at first I called the nurses line at the pediatricians office but they would always hush my concerns or give me advice I was unwilling to follow (corn syrup in formula).

When I got advice from other people it usually came from older women who hadn't had an infant in their home in decades warning me to change from breast milk to soy formula, because that worked for her daughter-in-law. At some point I turned off listening to the unsolicited advice and just smiled as I told myself, what do these people know about my family or the way we live.

But then, I met some other mothers at Romp 'N Roll, playgroup and even Bunco who weren't so much offering advice as saying "Here's what we do and it seems to work". And all I can think is, where was all this information months ago. This is the advice I have been seeking. Advice in the form of true experience. People just discussing their day to day lives and me stumbling across tidbits to use in our home to make life easier.

Monday at Romp 'N Roll we were discussing the Nurses line at the pediatrician's office, apparently lots of mothers call semi-daily. I stopped asking the nurses months ago. But these mothers made me feel like I really should call when I have questions or concerns and don't stop if I get an answer I don't like. I know this sounds like such an easy answer but I had all but given up on my children's doctor's office being much help other than weighing and measuring our children.

And then later in the same conversation, the same group of five mothers were talking about sterilizing baby items. I am not a fan of dish washing bottles, nipples, etc., etc. I prefer to let them soak in really hot water in the sink or do the old boiling method. But another mom just mentioned nonchalantly that she just uses the Medela Steam Bags and has been since she came home from the hospital. She is a first time mom and I wonder how did she know about these little gems? Are they mentioned in my dusty baby books sitting on the bookshelf?

So I go to Target and there they are sitting on the rack, probably been there since before my kids were even born and I never thought to look for them.

So I buy 'em of course and bring 'em home and fill 'em up with 2 oz. water and some nipples that had been clean and viola, a minute and a half later I have sterilized bottle nipples.

(not my microwave or very pale hand)

I am excited folks, this will save a lot of time and things will probably get sterilized more often because I have a secret to admit, I am not a sterilization fanatic and only do the boiling method on occassion (go ahead and sigh for my poor children who have never been sick [knock on wood] but who will probably get sick now that I am going to be sterilizing everything they touch). If I had been using these since the twins were born I could have been a much better mother because I could have probably read two extra baby books by now with all the time I am going to save.

But I probably wouldn't have.