Friday, February 29, 2008

The Next Albert Einstein

You may re-call that I talked with "Mabel" last week and remembered I wanted to steal her bookshelf growing up. Well, in the course of that same conversation, Mabel, who does not have children of her own**, asked me why so many parents thought their small children were so damn smart. Of course, she said this after I identified Asa as having average intelligience. So I have some theories, some I mentioned then, and some I have been thinking about for a week.

Theory 1
Anybody who has spent a length of time with any kids (and I mean years) should be amazed at Human Developement. I have led a yearly Girl Scout trip for 12 years now-some of the girls going this year I met as gawky 12 year olds, and they are getting ready to graduate high school as poised, young women. The transformation is incredible. Now imagine a baby that starts with only the ability to cry, and soon is taking on skills way more difficult. I think it just skewers parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins, etc. thinking a little bit and they just need to put it in perspective.

Theory 2
The learning curve when you are 2 is soooo much easier than 35. To be a genius, Asa need have a bowel movement every so often and NOT pick his nose in public. Hooray-my kid listened! At 35 I need to do a few more things to get people on my side. Again, it is that perspective thing.

Theory 3
Do you really want to hang around the parent that says "yeah, my kid is as dumb as a box of rocks-we are just hoping they are good looking so they can be a model." Wow-dream big. Sure it can be frustrating to be around a parent who over-emphasizes every little achievement, but it is even more heart breaking to be around the parent who has no hopes, aspirations, or dreams for their child.

Theory 4
A friend mine related this story about herself to me and I love it because it is so kid like:
"Gertie" was about 2, and her dad noticed that she was taking the fuzz off her blanket and rolling it into little balls. This is amazing for a 2 year old-finger dexterity isn't always that precise. However, when her dad looked back, he noticed her making the fuzz balls, but there were no fuzz balls around her. Where were they going? Gertie was shoving them up her nose. We call these actions "Baby Genius". Kids will do the most amazing things that astound you, and then turn around and just be a kid. Asa sings with me, which I am sure other 2 year olds have done, but I have never heard them. SO I find Asa's singing simply on the level of genius, and then he will turn around and walk into the wall. Don't worry-he get's it from me. It comes from not paying attention to where you re going, but it strips Asa of his membership to the young Albert Einstein Club.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The End of Black History Month

Last Friday, with Asa at Grandma and Grandpa's, I went to the book store. Hot time in the city. Border's in Gresham isn't the most multi-cultural location I can think of, but they do their best and as I perused the African-American Studies section, I was reminded of something I read on the internet. I have no way to prove this, but an article on Morgan Freeman stated that he hated Black History Month, claiming it was racist to single people out for their race, regardless of the reason. Hmmm-thought provoking.
I was reminded of this, and my distaste for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as I went through that section at Border's. There were numerous books on race relations, and the perceived status of African Americans today. There were even a few books by W.E.B DuBois, Booker T. Washington, James McBride, and the Delaney Sisters. And of course numerous books by the Reverend King. But let me list who was missing:
*nothing on George Washington Carver-he was former slave turned educator/inventor who held dozens of patents and gave us peanut butter...
*nothing on Medgar Evers-a NAACP leader, he was African-American and shot to death on his front door step, leaving behind a family...
*nothing on Sojourner Truth-a literate, former slave who was a published author at the turn of the 18th Century...
*nothing on Rosa Parks...
*or her friend Johnnie Carr-another woman who helped touch off the Civil Rights Movement...
*nothing on Jackie Robinson...
*nothing on Thoroughgood Marshall-the first African-American Supreme Court Justice...
*nothing on hundreds of other people who deserve to be named.
I dislike MLK Day because of what it did to all the other people who fought for Civil Rights-it has made them nothing but a footnote in history. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. may have done a lot of good things, but he sure didn't do them alone.
If I ruled the world, the day in January would be changed to National Civil Rights Day. This way we could include EVERYBODY who has fought for Equality and Justice for all. In addition to the people I listed above, we could then include:
*Eleanor Roosevelt-her support of Marian Anderson was a huge stepping stone for African-Americans...
*Frank Sintra-his support of Sammy Davis Jr. helped break down racial segregation of hotels...
*Cesaer Chavez-for his role in brining the rights of migrant workers to the limelight...
*Jane Adams-she donated her family fortune to help the under-served...
*Margaret Sanger-she believed the poor should have the same options as the rich in regards to reproductive services...
*the unknown people like my grandmother who, upon finding out my mother's "colored" friends weren't allowed in the swimming pool of their apartment, moved her family somewhere else. A single mom on a limited income couldn't have had many options, but she was still willing to stand by her convictions that strongly.
As we wrap up another Black History Month, I ask people to think about that-the Civil Rights Movement. It is not over, but it has come along way, and it took the voice and strong will of hundreds upon thousands of people-not one man with a dream, but a lot of people with the same dream.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Covet Thy Neighbors Posession

I have a deep, dark secret to share that I haven't ever told anyone that I can remember. And I was reminded of this secret when I talked with a friend recently. I have known this preson for almost thirty years, so when I say she is an old friend, I don't mean age. I can't even believe I am old enough to have a friend that long (or nice enough), but I can't escape the math-my old nemesis.
Anyway, when we were growing up, "Mabel" (I don't have her permission to use her name) had a bookshelf. Not some plywood with stone bricks, or some shelving in the closet for toys (that was me). No, Mabel had an honest to goodness bookself. I was envious. I knew the difference between right and wrong, but if I could have, I would have stuck that bookshelf in my back pocket and walked out the front door, no guilt. I wanted it that bad. And I am pretty confident Mabel never knew. And the pathetic part is that I grew up at her house-I saw that bookshelf a lot through the years and everytime, I dreamed of one of my own. Hmmm-apparently nerd-doom starts early.
I finally got my own bookshelf, in college. I gave up the plywood and bricks and found one on sale that I have to this day. I still affectionately call it "my first bookshelf". Ingenius name, I think. And like all parents, I give my kids what I never got-and in this case it is bookshelves. Both of my kids have a three-shelved, black bookshelf that is double the space that Mabels' had. They may be hand-me downs, but they are huge! And I get a cruel chuckle thinking of how cool it is that my kids already have bookshelf, even at their tender age.
So if you are a friend, and I come over to your house, lock up your little bookshelves because if they fit in my pocket, I might be tempted to take them. And I think my sister will be giving her kids ice skating lessons since that is what she never got, but wanted, growing up.
Just something you never knew about me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wading Into The Gene Pool

Well, some of you who read this will not be surprised by what I have to say next, and to those of you who are surprised, I apologize for no personal e-mail. However, our new reality is that I feel like I have had the flu since Christmas and I completely blame my second pregnancy. Yes, Nick and I took the plunge and are doing the reproductive thing again. Note-I said MY pregnancy. I know I didn't do it alone, but I also know who does the bulk of the work right now so I take more credit.
Second time around has been different and to the women who have 17 kids, all I can think is that you must not get sick!!! I won't go into details, as this is a family blog, but not only is dairy out (again)but all acidic and spicy things, so wave bye-bye to onions, garlic, the pop known as Sprite, and orange juice. At 3 1/2 months I have lost 5 pounds and have yet to gain, although that should change soon. Baby is due Aug. 18, so we know statistically it won't come then! 6 more months to go.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day

A couple people asked me what Nick and I were doing for Valentines Day. I swear my answer was as follows-"Well, after work, instead of heading to the bar, I am going home." It helps that all the romance in my body is located in my pinky toe, but my reality is, I just don't care. It isn't that I don't love Nick. Nobody else makes me so mad, and it is my strongest desire to turn Nick into a lizard so I can rip his ass off and he would grow another one, no worse for the wear. But nobody makes me laugh harder or longer either. I still remember sitting in a Wendy's burger place laughing so hard tears were running down my cheeks and I couldn't speak. I think the table next to us thought Nick was being mean because they threw him some dirty, dirty looks but I couldn't talk to tell them otherwise. I just find Nick that hilarious.
I guess the reality is, I am high maintenance. I am not into the one day hoopla's where you get chocolates and flowers on Valentine's Day and your anniversary. To me, a relationship is a partnership and it is everyday-every single, freakin' day. Because, really, if you give me flowers last Thursday, than you think you don't have to do anything for me on Friday and I hate that attitude. What if I am sick on Friday-were all your goodwill points used up with the flowers I might have gotten on Thursday. What about next week if I get a headache? Can my partner than say-no, no I got you flowers last week so I don't have to do anything this week. I want Nick, and myself, to always remember that relationships don't start and end with the holidays created by card stores.
Besides, it is the little things that make a relationship. All the times I pick Nick up from work so he doesn't have to take the bus after working 12 hours shows I care. He also has a thing about a dirty kitchen so I work hard to keep it picked up (although warning to guests-don't eat off the floor!) On the flip side, when Nick was out with his cousin one day, he saw a book I wanted on sale. Not only did he remember the title, but he brought it home just because he knew I wanted it-just because. He also did the dishes a couple of weeks ago becasue I looked really tired and he often carries my laundry basket downstairs because he knows it bothers my neck to carry heavy things. I would hate for him to do that only once a year.
Anybody in a long term relationship can tell you that a lot of times, it is the little things that makes us smile or drive us nuts. I hear of few people who broke up over drug use and it's morality-it was the affect of the drug use like the inability to hold on to money or the inability to follow a schedule is what seems to get to people, when I read about it in the advice columns. And it is the little things we have to deal with day in and day out. So what did we do Valentine's Day? The same thing we do every day-spend just a little bit of time working on our relationship.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14

Happy February 14th everyone. 149 years ago TODAY, a group of white men got together and formed the area we now know as Oregon! That's right-today is the birthday of this state, and other state's who's names I do not know!! So happy Birthday Oregon!!!! You have come along way baby!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Genius Fake Economist

I am a genius, in my humble opinion.
I am not an Economist, nor do I play one on TV. But let me share with you some conversations I had with people willing to feign interest about 6 months ago. I sum up in the interest of space.
My rant:
In 2007 utility bills rose double digits, public transportation ticket/pass costs rose three times, the cost of health care rose double digits, food prices increased, and of course the gas pump jumped around like a little kid who has to go to the bathroom-but it was never cheap, even if the price "lowered". A "cost of living" raise is typcially 2-6%, depending on the generiosity of your company (sometimes it is 0% in a tougher economy). I am not a math wizard but how the hell is 2-6% suppose to cover all those increases!!!! I honestly don't know the official definition of recession/depression. I avoided those classes like the plague. But what I can say is that we are being squeezed and it isn't by the luxury items. I may be a snob, but I want to eat at home and I want to heat my house somehow and I want to drink water from the tap.
End rant.
6 months ago, "experts" denied a recession was on the way. Now, they are hemming and hawing that we MIGHT be headed for one. Who are these dummies?!??! Now the governmentwants to give us money to solve the problem. Right-when Nick and I are short on money at the end of the month, we go out and lavishly splurge to solve our money woes. Spending money, when there is no money, seems like a stupid way to solve the "maybe recession". But here is why I will take that money and I won't feel guilty-
1. I have no pride. If someone offers me money, are they stupid for offering or me for saying no?
2. It goes to me or Iraq-a country that isn't sure it even wants us there and I sure feel I am way more important than a country we aren't really helping much.
3. This will be added to our cost of living raise and maybe we will be able to live with the market raises that are going to come this year. I work part-time; every bit helps.

This was someone esle's opinion regarding the kickback but I thought it worthy to pass on. If you really want to help kick start the ecomony, don't buy the luxury items, get services. If you get your windows cleaned, or your tree's trimmed, your money is going directly to another person who's business is probably tight in an economic downturn. That didn't sound any worse than giving money to a clothing company sending jobs overseas.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Disarray, disarray, disarray

I had all kinds of thoughts today on what I wanted to write, and then Mitt Romney went and dropped out of the Presidential race. Oooo-just-too-many-thoughts-to-ignore.
I didn't have high hopes for Romney. One step above Rudy, Romney's bright spots were the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and governor a few years. But he seemed to strike a chord with conservatives and looked like he had a good shot. Of course now he is down in flames, along with a lot of other candidates.
For good or bad, I think this just proves how fractured the Republican Party truly is. True conservatives have lost a lot of party power-hence the candidates who claim "conservative power" inability to get enough voters to support them (Huckabee among them). Main stream Republicans now want nothing to do with them. But I have heard them grumble about McCain-they seemed to have wanted Guiliani. It was like they felt he could retrace FDR's steps-another politician who started in New York politics before hitting the big time. Now that McCain seems to be the front runner, no one seems to be happy. And honest to god, how that guy has taken the lead is beyond me. As I have said before-everytime he farts, he changes his mind. Initially I agreed with some of his ideas, then I didn't, then I did, then I didn't...I think you get the idea. Not the quality I want in a decisive world leader. With the "war" proving increasingly unpopular, and McCain publicly stating he is willing to carry on the "programs" started by Bush, it ought to get interesting.
Actually, my biggest beef with American Politics is less with candidates and more with the system. My minor in college was Political Science, and I still do not understand why we vote the way we do. Does it not sound simpler to have one day in say May or June, where all state's do their primaries? Then in Novemeber we vote for the candidates that survive the primary? Honestly, a lot of people in Oregon are grumbling, and I feel rightly so, wondering just how much our vote counts the first time around. Sure, in a neck and neck race like Obama and Clinton, it will matter. But Republican voters are getting screwed right and left. By the time May rolls around, the Oregon Primary, who will they have left to vote for? Not to mention the amount of money and press time spent on covering elections that seem to last 2 years or more. I honestly did not care last summer who was running and who wasn't. I hve other beef's, but space is limited and no one likes to read a whiner, although in this case I would say I am bitching. It is enough to know that the Presidential Race of 2008 has been very interesting.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cooking Made Easy

So as I go along on my little healthy eating, high horse, I know what everyone is thinking-must be nice when you have the time and money to be holier than thou. But the reality is, I have neither time nor money-they simply are not allocated to something I still don't like very much. So here are my shortcuts to health-IER (not healthy eating since I still have those chocolate bars)!
1. Get the right cooking materials. My pots and pans had been with me so long, I had no idea where I got them. So I bit the bullet and invested in a huge pan with lid, and 2 really good pots. Guess who can boil water now in under a half an hour?!?! The new cookware has made a huge difference in what I am willing to cook.
2. Be realistic about your skills/goals. I hate to cook-have I mentioned that? If a recipe has to many ingredients, or to many exotic ingredients, I will never try it. One or two, weird things, yes. Experimentation can be fun. But using gas for an hour's car ride, because that is where the speciality store is, just takes away from the experience (and adds to the cost.)
3. I read something recently that summed up the whole organic experience for me-if you can't afford to go total organic (or find everything organic in your area), pick the things that matter most to you. Because washing of pesticides is easier than extracting hormones from my meat, I am way more pickier about the beef, chicken, pork I buy than where my carrot came from. It was aslo easy to get organic eggs. Also, thinking of animals being mistreated makes me feel worse than thinking my lettuce was mistreated. But that's me. if you don't eat beef in the first place, what's the point of worrying where it came from? Eating healthier isn't about dieting-it is about how we live and therefore should be done in a manner that we can maintain.
So, here are some super quick recipes I have learned over the years. I don't know the calorie content, sugar content, or what vitamins are there. These are just things that are helathier than Burger King, cheaper than a sit-down eatery, and easy to cook.

A. In a non-stick cooking pan, through in equal parts water and salsa. Toss in chicken thighs. Bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cook till thighs are done (about 25 minutes thawed, 35 minutes if frozen).
Obviously there is a lot of variation. More thighs, more salsa/water. The chicken doesn't pick up the spicy-ness of the salsa to much, but different kinds of salsa will change the flavor.
B. Tacos. I thought this one was so easy, everyone must do it. But in fact, few people do. Cook your meat, heat your beans, add vegies of choice, heat the shells. I am the slowest cooker I know, and even I can have dinner ready in half an hour (less if I forget the onions.) Added bonus: no grease dripping down my arm like you find at some taco places.
C. Vegetarian Bean Soup. Okay, I add hamburger so this is no longer vegie-only in my house. But pick your 4-5 favorite beans, rinse. Throw in a pot with 1 cup salsa, 1 can chicken broth, some cumin and corriander to taste, cooked meat of choice, and heat. In this recipe, the hot-ness of the salsa matters!! I also had someone tell me to try it with ham instead of hamburger. Other variations: sausage, no onions, top with sour cream. (I have over-cooked before and jsut added more chicken broth.)
D.Top Ramen. A lot fo people I know gave this up after college. And the nutrtion content of the noodles can't be all that high. But this is another no brainer I thought everyone did and a lot of people I talk to don't. Make your ramen and add stuff-vegie's of choice, meat of choice, extra spices, eggs, etc. I have added shrimp (which wasn't so hot) to chicken(which was awesome). On a cold night, when I am dog tired, this is perfect.
E. Peas in Shell tossed in honey. I don't remember the exact amounts in this but if I remember right, all I did was cook my peas in a little butter (or butter subsitute), and stir in just enough honey to coat them. It was yummy.