04 November 2008

Two State Solution

Okay, my fun prediction for the election. PA and VA are the states to watch, as they go, so goes the nation.

If PA goes Obama, and VA goes McCain, it will be a very long night.

If both go Obama, he will win decisively, though there will be some heartburn, probably a loss in FL or OH.

If both go McCain, he will win in a squeaker, following the electoral map laid out by Bush.

If they flip, and PA goes McCain and VA goes Obama, get ready for a very, very crazy week. The election won't be called until tomorrow at the earliest, and may go several days and several rounds in several courts.

Okay folks, so what are your predictions??

Get Thee To Thy Polling Place

If you have yet to vote, why are you reading my lame little blog??!! Come on, if I could drag my sorry behind out of bed at 0515 this morning and drive to the polls BEFORE finishing my first cup of coffee, you can go and vote.

And the stats: About an hour wait, I got there at 0540, polls opened at 0600, I was done and back in my truck by 0640. Line was long but moving fast, we had 3 candidates and no questions for voting.

Oh, and if you think of it, thank each and every poll worker you have the opportunity to thank. They are a key link in all of this, and got to the polls crazy o-dark-early, so that all of us can exercise our Constitutional right. It is going to be a very long day for these people, and a smile and word of thanks will surely be appreciated.

30 October 2008

Bootstrap Hypocrites

You know, I have heard it my whole life.

(he's just not like us)

Now, my family is not so long removed from falling off the turnip truck. The area I grew up in is full of second and third generation Americans. These folks worked hard for everything they have, and many, especially those from Eastern Europe, faced rampant discrimination when they landed here. Plus, being farmers and coal miners, we were in a small minority. Very few folks understood the realities of our lives.

(we just can't trust him)

Hard work is part of the family narrative for my generation. There was nothing that could stand in our way, we just had to work hard, keep at it, nose to the grindstone, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Anything is possible. Ignore the folks that think you are stupid because you are rural, and have a funny last name, and grew up on a farm.

(he will take care of his own kind)

For some of us, that is part of the appeal of Barack Obama. Here is a guy that did not have a bunch of advantages. Not so far from falling off the turnip truck. The way he was raised was different than most folks. He has a funny last name. And talent plus determination plus hard work got him into Columbia, and Harvard, and the Senate. Now, maybe even to the Presidency!

(all his appointments will be for THEM)

It's not just that of course. Lots of us have families, and work hard at careers, and are paying off student loans, and juggling what to do with our careers. We see ourselves in the the Obama family, someone who will understand us, work for us, realize that what happens in DC has consequences for us all.

(someone that looks like that is not going to keep his promises)

For most of us, the plans for health care and tax cuts will help too. For the RARE one of us lucky enough to be pulling in a quarter million a year, slightly higher taxes are a small price to pay to get all kids insured, get the country back on track, once again become the envy of the world. Our folks back home do even better under the Obama plan, with lower taxes and the possibility, FINALLY, of decent and affordable healthcare before reaching Medicare age.

(he is just SCARY, and our nation will go to hell with someone like that in the White House)

So the folks back home must be supporting Obama too, right? Right?

06 August 2008

Holey (insert explitive here)

Before we purchased it, our house was built/modified/maintained by crazy rabid squirrels smoking crack. Butt ugly wall paper, over other butt ugly wall paper. Paint colors in the same room that should not exist together in the same zip code. Walls where the framing was WAY more than half a bubble off plumb, as were the framers apparently. Mistakes made and hastily covered up. You get the idea.

We have redone most of the house, and just got finished with a total redo of the bathroom. Now, the contractors were great people, but we don't have the money OR the constitution to have folks in our house to do everything. So we are updating the kitchen ourselves.

Okay, so we stripped the butt ugly wall paper, took down the 6 cabinets that never should have been put up, and we are working on the patching and priming. And we were having a disagreement. See, the CRSSC had put a blank wall plate on the wall behind the stove. We figured it was because the outlet was partially blocked and therefore not usable. So we took it off to get at the wallpaper and found


Yup, no wire or anything. Just an empty electrical box. The nearest thing we can figure is that they needed the wire for the above the stove microwave. I wanted to remove it, and patch the hole. The husband said no, it will be hard to get out and it will make a big hole in the wall.

Remember those contractors? Well, they needed to get an electrical box out and patch a hole. So they showed me how. Simple really. You pry the box away from the stud a little bit, then cut the nails. Then you do a bit of fancy cut work with a piece of drywall and voila no more hole in the wall. Easy Peasy.

You do see where this is heading don't you?

Since the hubby is out of town, I figured I would use the time my kids were happily reading books this afternoon to get the box out. Now, the prying part was accomplished by the 6'4" contractor dude with a largish screwdriver. While not wee or wimpy, I was in a tight spot and could not get the leverage so instead, I used a small pry bar. And I did not have the nifty little zip tool to cut the nail, so I used a small hack saw.

It was all going swimmingly. Nails exposed, saw working fine. Got the nail to let go.

Remember that pry bar? Well, thing is, even the small ones are heavy. And it is easy to put a bit too much pressure on the wrong spot. Which, in this case, was the side of the electrical box. Which suddenly found itself not attached to the wall on the bottom. And then found itself outside the wall, unfortunately via a path that took it through a large portion of the previously solid drywall next to the box.

I will let you know if the patching goes any better than the prying...

27 July 2008

Ode to Iteration

I have been thinking a great deal lately about perfect. I hang out online in lots of Mommy dominant groups. I see such a focus on getting everything perfect. It is an obsession, every facet of parenting must be executed with unerring precision, each child must have exactly the right behavior/diet/stuff/activities or the whole thing was a failure.

Take my kids and my food sensitivities. I figured all of the sensitivities out using trial and error. Even if I had much faith left in allopathic medicine, we don't have the classic IgE allergies. Those are the kind you can go get skin pricked for and, barring the all too common false negatives, you get an answer. So I eliminate suspects, then when the reactions go away we trial one thing at a time to see what is causing the problem. Sure, it takes a while. Sure, you do need to be careful if the reaction is a serious one, and take the necessary precautions. But even allergists, good ones anyway, will tell you elimination and trial is the only way to really know the answer.

Maybe it is because I am a scientist, but it amazes me that most people can't do this. I have lost count of the discussion board threads where a parent goes from doctor to doctor with their sick child. Test after test, appointment after appointment. Weeks and months go by. There is great consternation and frustration, and the child is not getting better. All that trouble for nothing, yet when you suggest keeping a food diary, eliminating a few common food allergens, and maybe switching out a few of the chemical cleaners for more natural items, you might as well be a purple Martian. Folks act like you are absolutely out of your mind, because it is way too hard and besides, you can't possibly take away such and such wonderful healthy food without PROOF that it is causing harm! And how can you kill all those horrible germs without the heavy duty toxic cleaning products!

Even in the wonderful food group I am in you see this. Folks obsess over eliminating just the right things. Spend more time planning the elimination diet than the time it takes on the diet to improve things. Or when things improve, even dramatically, they can't see the forest for the trees. Instead of rejoicing that the eliminations fixed the stomach problems and the eczema and the crazy behavior, they constantly tweak and switch things up and go crazy figuring out if they are getting enough of this or that vitamin. Not only do they rob themselves of the enjoyment of all the improvements, they never get the job done because they can't stop tweaking long enough to actually figure out what is going on. They focus so much on the "mistakes" they made in the diet that they lose focus on the goal, a healthy child.

Every aspect of parenting today is like this. Teach kids readin, ritin, and rithmetic. Forget the joy of a good book, the love of penning a kind letter to a friend, the absolutely nifty a-HA! moment of figuring out that four full 1/4 measure cups fill the 1 measure cup exactly to the top. Make the kids behave, instantaneous obedience and aquiesence to the adult. Forget communicating with the child, helping the child make good decisions, and setting the example. Build the resume to get into the right college (or high school, or PREschool!!). Forget following interests, building on strengths, or heck just letting them be kids and build a fort in the back yard.

I don't know all the answers, our family is far from (that word again) perfect. I yell at my kids sometimes. They misbehave. I forget that a certain food is not safe. They don't always pick up their toys. Horror of horrors, we all watch television. We also play, make messes in the kitchen in pursuit of the yummy cookie, take afternoons to hang out by the pool, sit together reading books, and take long walks after dinner in the evening. We let ourselves have fun and enjoy, even when we have not been perfect.

Yup, I admit, I don't know if I am doing this right. But I DO know, with iron clad, 100% certainty what perfect is.

Perfect is the enemy of all that is good.

26 June 2008

Babywearing Bonanza!

While I don't do traditional advertising on this blog, this contest was too good not to pass along. Win FIVE baby carriers! How cool is that? The link will be in my sidebar until the contest winner is announced. There is no purchase necessary. You get one entry for answering a babywearing question, however you want. You can get a second entry by posting a link. That's it!

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the Babywearing Conference this week in beautiful Chicago! Wish I could be there.

Good luck everyone.

16 June 2008

Pop Quiz

Okay boys and girls, it's time for a little science quiz from everyone's favorite rock and dirt specialist. Put on your thinking cap and sharpen you pencils.

1. Old Faithful is a:
a. Geyser
b. Volcano
c. Strong Cocktail
d. B Movie

2. When Old Faithful erupts, you may get:
a. Blown to bits, along with the rest of Seattle
b. Wet
c. Pregnant
d. Fired

3. A rainbow results from:
a. Precipitation washing dust from the air
b. Lightning electrifying particles in the atmosphere
c. Sunlight passing through water droplets in the atmosphere
d. Leprechauns planting pots of gold

4. Roy G. Biv is
a. A Fun Guy
b. Your ex-Boyfriend
c. A Mnemonic Device
d. A Pneumonic Device

5. A Vulcanologist Studies
a. Tires
b. Trekkies
c. Volcanoes
d. Pretty Co-eds

Extra Credit: Pronounce the word Butte correctly.

Okay, so how did you do? And why do I ask? You KNOW there is a back story to this one.

Well, when we went out to dinner the other night, a family was sitting next to us. A college senior had his parents and a young lady friend giggling in horror at his classmates. Apparently, he needed a communications class to graduate, and the only one available was on communicating science to non-scientists. Much of the class had difficulty with the concepts they were trying to communicate, and two women were truly clueless. They spent a good portion of one class arguing with the instructor about Old Faithful. Both swore repeatedly that 'If it erupts again, it is going to take half of Seattle with it!!'

Oh, and the class this young man took to fill out his requirements was offered by his University's College of Education. His classmates were education majors, studying to be middle school science teachers.

Homeschool. I am going to Homeschool...

18 May 2008


There I was, zipping on down the parkway, headed for a night out with the gal pals. Leather seat perfectly adjusted, leather wrapped wheel in my hands. The sun roof was open, the sky was blue, and Mr. J. Geils and his band were pontificating about love (it STINKS) on the XM radio. This, my friends, was a MOMENT, in the nicest car I have ever owned.

Never mind that everyone was staring at that crazy lady singing to herself in the minivan...

27 April 2008

What Price Asparagus?

The farmer's market opened the first weekend in April. The pickings were slim the first few weeks, mostly baked goods (verboten in our gluten free house), the popcorn people (kettle corn, YUCK), the crazy religious freak sorbet guy (don't ask), and a bunch of plants ($3.50 for a basil plant, yeah, uh, NOT).

Today, however, there was FOOD. Glorious food. The strawberries had just started to come in, and my favorite farmer had them. Bringing home strawberries in our house is a sure way to have our kids attached to the table for most of the day. H-4 can eat a quart in a sitting, E-1 nibbles steadily away as well. In fact, making it to the table is often the first challenge. They stand to either side of me at the sink, heads upturned and mouths agape, while I pop the first dozen or so I wash and hull directly into their mouths like a mama bird with her nestlings. H-4 bounced around the kitchen for 5 minutes yelling YIPPEE!! when she discovered those two quart baskets in my bag.

Not so thrilling for them was my prize, 2 bunches of asparagus. Stalks begging to be rinsed, snapped, and slid into a wok with some good olive oil and a handful of chopped shallots. The ones I did not devour raw, that is. Oh, wonderful asparagus.

Now, I don't know how much you know about growing asparagus. It takes years to establish a bed. The first year you need to let the thing grow wild in a protected place. After that, you move it to where you want it, and let it establish itself for a couple more years, with maybe a stolen stalk or two. It is only in the fourth season that you can really start to harvest. HMMMMM, military husband. Guess how many times in my adult life I have lived somewhere long enough to have an asparagus bed. Exactly.

This, then, is not only one of my favorite vegetables. It is everything, however wonderful the Nomadic military family existence is, that I simply cannot have in my life. Heavy furniture, constant neighbors, a house that is decorated and enjoyed for a few years, a high school reunion invite sent to the same address twice in a row. Someday, with an asparagus bed to call my own.

When was the last time 4 dollars bought all that?

26 March 2008

Mouths of Babes: 2008.03.21

"Grandma, Grandpa was being irrelevant while you were at work!"

Stated by H-4 to Grandma when she got home from teaching. Grandpa was actually being irreverent. Seems to run in the family.

12 March 2008

Nifty NOVA Car Buying Tips

AKA how to buy a car without paying too much or losing your soul.

1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT. I don't know you, don't ask ME what you want! But you should ask your friends, family, those folks in the parking lot.

2. DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE. Test drive anything you are considering. Take some time. Test drive again. If you can POSSIBLY afford it, rent one for a weekend. (At least one rental car company probably has what you want, and you will likely get your request if you rent on a non-holiday weekend.) When you pick a brand, figure out what features are important to you. Some brands have loads of options, others you pick a trim level and that's that. You need to know this for...

3. USE THE INTERNET, PART ONE. Educate the heck out of yourself. Dealer holdbacks, manufacturer's incentives, special programs. There are all sorts of tricks to make that 'dealer invoice' number THOUSANDS more than what the dealer actually paid. You will never actually find that, even Consumer Reports and Edmonds.com way overestimate how much you should pay for the car. But you can get an idea. You also need to know exactly what the manufacturer offers, and what the dealer is putting together on their own to jack the price up.

4. SET THE TONE. This is a HIGHLY competitive market. And dealers are hurting. No one is buying right now, so you are figuratively and literally in the driver's seat. I am not talking about being cutthroat. They deserve to make a living just like anyone else. But YOU deserve a fair price on a car, and any dealership that will play games, add mandatory 'appearance package' items to all its cars, or refuses to give you a straight number is not someone you need to waste your time with.

5. USE THE INTERNET, PART TWO. When you know what you want, exactly, start emailing dealerships. Ask for a quote. You want a DETAILED quote, including all taxes, fees, the base price, delivery charge, and what the 'out the door' price will be. Lots of places will give you a 'base price' that is crazy low. But then they add a jacked up appearance package, several other services and fees, and other things to drive your bottom line price up. Keep track of all the prices, I used a spreadsheet but a notebook or anything you can keep everyone straight in is fine. When you get a good price, send out a message of 'hey, I got this, can you beat that?' Be polite, respectful, and businesslike at all times. Even when you are dealing with total jokers, and trust me you will be at some of these places. Keep going back and forth until you get a good price from several dealerships that you would actually be willing to walk into.

6a. CLOSE THE DEAL, BUT ... Go to your number one choice, with an appointment with a real live person who knows exactly what you want and exactly what you have agreed to pay for it. If you need financing, you should be pre-approved with your own financial institution. Credit unions are great. The dealership will likely have a better interest rate, but if you have the money already available it forces them to 'do better' if they want your business. And you are not stuck just accepting whatever interest rate they feel like offering you. They WILL charge you whatever they think they can get away with. Do a test drive of the actual car, and then sit down with all the paperwork and make sure everything is to your liking, which leads to...

6b. BE PREPARED TO WALK. If they add extras, bait and switch, put fishy stuff in the fine print, you get up, shake their hands, thank them for their time, and walk away. PSYCH yourself up for this possibility. You buy a car once every few years, they sell them day in and day out. They are pros, and if you get a slimey one you may feel trapped into buying something. You can always walk away. And you should if they do not treat you with respect. That is what makes the internet so wonderful. If you DO walk away, you have two or three other places in your back pocket to go to. All you have lost is a couple hours of your time.

7. TALK TRADE IN. Now??!! Yes, now. This assumes you are getting rid of a car. You don't want to talk trade until the very end, otherwise it will be rolled into everything and you will never really know what you paid for the new one and what you got for the old one. Also, always remember that you are going to get more if you sell it yourself most of the time. There are good reasons not to bother, but you need to figure out what is most important in your situation and go from there.

Happy Shopping!

08 February 2008

Discovery of the Day

The heating element in an electric stove, switching on at PRECISELY the correct time, is hot enough to ignite the alcohol vapor in the oven that evaporated from the baked salmon in dry sherry dish you were making.

Maybe I should have covered it with foil...

01 February 2008

The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes

You know how it is. Whatever you do for a living, you are so sick of it when you get home you don't want to be bothered.

Everyone in the family had high speed internet before us. Now part of that was because we lived on a military base that did not offer it, but it was mostly because we did not care to use the computer at home much, after using it all day at work. We finally got it after H was born. Entertainment of any kind close to home had a higher value when we had a little one.

We do all our banking online, and most of our shopping. But we put off getting that second computer, a laptop, for ages and ages. We got it for our Christmas present in 2005. Okay, that was what it was designated as. We actually GOT the thing in the fall of 2007. It is quite modern, a step up from our desktop, which is from 2003 and a bit dated. It also crashed, hard, which finally convinced the reluctant party that really, we need a back up.

I think, finally though, we have been officially dragged kicking and screaming into the modern computing era. We said goodbye to our Sony Trinitron CRT Monitor. It was hard. That monitor has been with us through 3 computers, 4 states, and 5 moves. But really, it was time to upgrade to a flat panel.

Of course, let's be honest here. The biggest reason we upgraded was because the picture was going. Anything on a dark background, like say, oh, my blog, would shake uncontrollably. Even THAT would not have convinced my husband, except for the fact that the same thing happened to the ESPN website.

29 January 2008


I have been an independent since before it was cool. I am a PA Republican at heart (the Tom Ridge sort, not that weirdo Rick Santorum). But there is no place in either party for me at the national level, and since we move so much I just don't bother with the vast wasteland that party politics has become. Most of the time none of the candidates is worth anything anyway, so I don't miss much by not voting in the primaries.

This past weekend, DH asked a rhetorical question: So, if you could vote for any one candidate regardless of party, who would it be? I had to think long and hard. See, I like two of them. One I feel would be better for moving us forward into the brave new world. The other I think would be better for keeping us safe, actually KEEPING us safe and not making a bunch of sound and fury and at the end of the day the only folks better off are the multinational corporations in the military industrial complex. We talked a great deal about it. Debating the merits of this or that one. Talking about how ads and emails are full of half truths and bad analogies. I finally picked one, but again it was all rhetorical. I joked I might have a hard time come November if these two somehow made it to the top of the heap for their respective parties.

Turns out, I won't have to wait until November.

See, Virginia has what is known as an "open" primary. You don't register your party, you just go in and ask for the specific ballot you want. Wow. Just Wow. So what am I supposed to do?

There is something different about this election. Do you feel it? It is like it really really MATTERS this time. Like we have a great choice to make here, how are we going to go forward as a country, as a people, as citizens in the greater world. And for once, just once in my memory, we actually have a chance for a real choice. We have the chance to put a decent, hardworking, WORTHY candidate atop the ballot in BOTH parties.

So in two weeks, I will vote for the one that needs my vote more here in VA.

Still don't know what I will do in November...........

03 January 2008

Theocracy of Hate

One of my favorite bloggers is Rebecca of Random Musings. While our worldviews, religious convictions, and families look a great deal different, I find much there I agree with (like, you know, coffee) and everything is worth reading.

The last week or so is no exception. Rebecca has posted a thought provoking and thoroughly disturbing series on kinism. If you are not familiar with this incredibly dark and ugly sect within the evangelical community, I urge you to head on over and take a look.

Much of what is wrong with the world today is not how different we are. It is how, because of our differences, we have forgotten that the 'other' is a PERSON, fully and wholly a human being. How else can we explain the blatant disregard for life, for liberty, heck, just for basic COURTESY when dealing with one another.

Why have we forgotten: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE...