Friday, May 30, 2008

That Time of Year

In, Oregon, we voted in the primaries in late May. Memorial Day was about a week later, and Flag Day is coming up June 14. This is a very patriotic time of year, when people wave the flags, speak of loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice, and politicians stump a little about this great land. None of this, especially memorial services, is bad. But in the quest for Democracy, one little bit is almost always over-looked: Democracry starts with a single vote.
We think of our government as the natural evolution of a hard fought war. But forming a system of self-rule was almost harder than the fighting itself. The best example of Democracy available was the defunct Roman Empire. Sure they had voting, but not for everyone and unfortunately, we continued the practice of slavery. Some of our most esteemed leaders of the time period felt that only those with land/estates should be allowed to vote. There was much arguing on how many people each state should get to represent them in the yet-to-be-named Congress. Populous states felt 2 people was to skimpy to represent every issue they had and less populous states were afraid their voices would be ignored (hence to branches of government to satisfy both arguments-the Senate and the House.) Obviously in the end, a solution was found, and although our government is not a direct clone of it's early days, we have a system that has endured for over 200 years.
It did come at the cost of one of the greatest friendships of all time-John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams was for limited voting, and served one term for running afoul with people he was serving by gagging the press (so much fro freedom of the news papers). Jefferson insisted on voting for all, AND he threw in public education-a novel idea for it's day. His thought was that to vote, you needed to be educated. Can we share that with some political leaders today? Anyway, they patched it up in their old age, but these best friends, and vital members of the Cause, never again reached the intimacy they had shared during the war years.
The government of the newly formed US was so new and novel, it inspired other nations, hence "the shot heard round the world" (the first bullet fired for the Revolutionary War). Remember, government for the people, run by the people had NEVER been done before in this form. France soon followed, although not as peacefully, and most monarchies in Europe faded within 100 years or so, leaving their kings and queens beheaded or used mainly as a figure head.
Today, our system of government is not perfect. After 200 years or so, you think we would be able to get out some fo the kinks! But regardless of it's flaws, "the shot heard around the world" continues to inspire political activists, ethnic groups, and sometimes entire nations to become for the people, by the people. Every day, someone dies fighting for Democracy-sometimes a citizen of the US, and sometimes a citizen of another nation trying to make things better for the future-for themeselves and their children.
So why do I write all this? In the Oregon Primary in late May, less than 60%, but more than 50%, of the people of this state voted-not only a record high for us, but a high compared to some other states as well. Can I say pathetic? After all the work and struggle over the centuries by fellow Americans, and after all the work and struggle from people across the globe, and I hear people tell me they had to work and were to busy. It angers me, it makes me rage against the machine, and it makes me want to spit. Especially here in Oregon, with Vote By Mail, you can start voting days ahead of time.
Believe me, there are places to live that are much less labor intensive that don't require all this work to live in freedom. Mynamar (spelling?) is ruled by a miliatry junta that denied their own people aid to keep out foreigners. Cuba has been ruled by the same guy since the 1950's, and only recently has he let his brother take over. Hmmm-nepotism you think?The examples are numerous-and not a single one of these countries will require active participation on your part.
In November, we are voting on the person who will not only lead us as individuals, but our representative on the International Stage. And someone won't vote, either because they are working late, or because they think their vote doesn't matter. If your vote doesn't matter, why are people risking their lives to get the opportunity to do it?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones

Okay, I did the total geek and went and saw the latest Indiana Jones movie last night. I made my old mother catch the 10:30p showing, which made me feel like a total rebel since it was a "school night". Ahh, how things change. Only about 40 people there!!!! I thought the Nerd Patrol would take the day off and go to a late night showing, but no matter-more room for us.
I promise not to ruin anything, but I will mention stuff I have read in other articles so if you want to be completely in the dark, read no further.
I liked the movie, disliked the plot.
Come on-this is Indiana Jones regardless of how long it has been. I hope my husband looks that good when he is 60 plus. Smart as can be, geeky beyond all get out, and that hat...if you like Indiana Jones go. Besides, it is still better than "Temple of Doom", even with some faults.
But this is not Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nothing can bring back that era, that newness of "wow, it is a guy running from a giant rock with spiders down his back". And I am not 10 anymmore, when I barely knew what the plot was but watching the bad guys melt was pretty neat.
I was disappointed about their loosey-goosey use of facts, and the basis of their plot. I was hugely disappointed that there was no mention of Sala-John Rhys-Davies. I heard he had a falling out with someone-Lucas, Spielberg-I don't know who. But after being a major character in the two best Indiana movies, he should have been at least mentioned, because as a fan, it wasn't the same without him.
Nice tributes though to both Denholm Elliot (Marcus Brody), and Sean Connery. And some great script that had me and mom laughing out loud. And "Indiana's" acknowledgement of his age adds a lot of credence to the movie because if they hadn't done that, he would have looked pathetic trying to be something he isn't. Instead, you are left feeling like yes, this man is his age, and still good. Cate Blanchett is FABULOUS in her role. This is why she is an Academy Award winner-I would never have known it was her if not for the credits. Shia Lebouf also does a good job. And while they were loose with facts in this movie, some of their other usage of historical facts was cool.
Is this the Indiana Jones of yester yore-no way. Is this movie worth seeing-you betcha!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Greatest Thoughts To Sound Intellectual

I have recently read some blogs that have left me with some very thought-provoking...thoughts. I have pondered, been proud of the people I know, and felt a little smarter for reading what others have to say about the world.
So of course I feel pressure to write something equally enlightening. Something that would make everyone reading this go "wow, Dena is...words cannot describe!" Well, maybe they say that about me already but this time I am thinking they should say it in a positive manner.
So why is it, as I sit here, all I can come up with is "green means go dumba**!"
I don't drive well with others. I don't honk my horn, cut people off, or drive really slow to annoy. But I do fear for my son's language developement as mommy turns into a potty mouth as she gets behind the wheel.
Roads in this nation are a common element, meaning we all pay taxes on them so we all have a right to use them. I understand this and bite my tongue at the stereo thumpers, gas guzzlers, and creepy bumper sticker people drive right by my side.
However, if you don't know where you are going, you do not have the right to slow down to 20mph in a 45 mph, to read ever street sign you pass, hence endangering me and my passengers to the people driving the speed limit. Pull over.
If you are nervous about going a particular speed limit, again, you do not have the right to endanger me to the lawfully faster cars. Don't use that road.
Slowing down for the green, and speeding up as soon as it turns yellow, will also get you a name calling. Granted the windows will be up and it will look like I am singing, but still, the negative forces are headed your way.
Running a clearly red light because you are too lazy to wait until it is your turn again-name calling. Yes, sometimes people have an emergency but I cannot believe that many people, at one time, have that big of an emergency.
Get off the cell phone if you cannot pay attention to the road. You are driving a dangerous vehicle, not a marshmellow on wheels. Regardless of who's at fault, you will feel bad for not noticing what could have been avoided.
Do you see everyone else pulling over for the emergency vehicle, with it's lights falshing and sirens wailing? It is not a signal that the roads are being cleared especially for you. That is someone's cherished relative trying to get help before it is too late. Pull over, and be respectful after it passes as everyone else resumes their travel.
Today's messages were brought to you because I actually had someone come to a complete stop at a green light, as the other cars sped by, and then of course it turned yellow so they gunned it to run a red light. Why? Why? WHY!!!!!!!???!!?! Asa is now ready to be a sailor. Driving is fun, I love it. But I understand that I share the road-it isn't mine, YET. Be forewarned that if and when I get to rule the world, I already have a list of new laws of the roads, and many people will be disappointed to find themselves on the bus.
Okay, not so intellectually stimulating but I feel better!

An Advertisement

Okay, I have bitched about Science so much that I owe them a nice blog for once. Science has done something's right, and one of them was proving the Ancient Egyptians weren't crazy.
A pregnant woman generally pick's up every piece of germ coming down the pipeline. Granted, I know a few who didn't, but the immune system tends to be supressed so it doesn't reject the fetus as a giant, super germ. So after picking up most of the crap that comes your way, you then find out that your choices for medicine are limited, with decongestant's and other cold remedies being huge no-no's. Another way of natural birth control? I have my suspicions.
But pregnant or not, I use the same thing I always use and that is good, old, truly ancient HONEY. That is my plug today-Honey.
Children with a cough, given a tsp. of honey before bedtime, slept better and got better faster than children given a cold medicine or a placebo.
Cuts that were treated with honey healed faster and with less infection.
Okay, I am not putting honey on my skin. Sticky, sticky, yuck. But 80% of my colds start of with a sore throat, and if I drink tea with honey (1/8-1/4 cup per mug), once in the morning and once at night for a few days, I don't get the cold. Since January, three major colds have made the rounds of husband, kid, and all 4 grandparents and I haven't gotten one yet. I now give Asa honey even though he gets sticky-no matter how much I watch him. How do kids do that?!?!? But anyway, my point is that as the pregnant one I should be the sickiest and I haven't been.
I may not be a doctor in real life but I play one on tv... no seriously, I love this stuff as a cold rememdy. And any honey works. As a honey snob, I tend to go organic, with different flavors but in a pinch I used Wal-Mart honey and got the same results, so there you go.
SECOND DISCLAIMER: HONEY DOES NOT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER. Those sore throats do not get relief from honey. It's just that in a few days, instead of getting a runny nose and itchy eyes, I just have nothing. The few times I wasn't able to get honey before the cold set in, I spent three days feeling miserable-instead of a week that a cold usually takes to go through our system. Honey helps heal but it does not relieve my aches and pains.
The great thing too about honey is that it is cheaper than cold medicine, more natural, works better, and is easy to find. Of course, the collapse of the bee colonies has me nervous for more reasons than one, but for now, honey is still my first choice.
Science can probably tell you what exactly it is that honey does, but honestly, I don't care. I just know it works, and Sience hsa been able to prove it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Title Is Irrelevant

I hope, hope, hope, that Erin doesn't mind that I am not only mentioing her by name, but I am going to write a blog inspired by her-all without her permission. Who says Girl Scouts can't be rebels? My apologies if you find this offensive Erin.
Erin writes a blog about a lot of things, but one frequent topic is step-parenting. Okay, obvisouly, I can't comment on being a step-parent. Never been one, so it is kind of like Tom Cruise offering advice on Post-Partum. And we all know what I think of that. But reading her blog has taught me much about not only Erin herself, but the position she is in.
Having been an educator, counselor, teacher, teacher's aide, and a couple other titles, I know about being around other people's kids. I have done overnights, held my tongue on views I disagree with, and even got to hold out my hand as one girl cracked a tooth and spit the pieces out for me. I truly have a felt like a by-stander in other people's lives, and yet there I was: responsible for the health and welfare of their little darling.
But this is what Erin has taught me-we all play a role in a child's life. We all are important. It is fun to say that the parents yield the most influence-and unfortnately it is the truth. Example-A friend who is a former meth-addict took up the drug to have something in common with her dad. Ouch. But all adults in our lives, blood or otherwise, impact us.

*The aunt who taught me about travel and fun, while working hard.
*The scout leader who taught me about different lifestyles without being preachy.
*The mom who was a widow and still raising a daughter showed me perserverance.
*The great-aunt who was actually nice-I thought all old women were crotchity and mean until I met her.
*The mom who played video games-I realized that age is just a number. We don't "clock out" and give up the things we love because of birth dates.
*The mom who had her daughter at 18-I wasn't going down that road.
*The mom who kept her house spotless-I wasn't going down that road either!

There are a hundred little moments from my childhood were I looked at an adult and thought "wow" Maybe I thought they were stupid, maybe I liked their spirit, but either way, they left an impression on me. And I know from friends that my mom left an impression on them. So it makes me wonder who is watching me? Because that is how kids are-they are the ultimate spy-master, catching us when we mess up, say a cuss word, or accidentally spit. Their timing is impeccable.
What this means is that if you are an aunt, step-parent, scout leader, church leader, friend of a person with kids, teacher, human being, etc., you are being watched and making an impact. Kids are listening to your views, watching you eat, and forming opinions on your attitude. Reminds me of cockroaches, but the reality is, kids are always there and always present, somewhere. You are not unimportant in the life of a child and while parents may get the credit, a lot of times the glory goes to those who earned it. Ask my mom-four people have told me she is there role model for being a grown up and none of them related by blood. Role models matter, wherever we find them. And thanks for reminding me of that Erin.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hyper-Active Parenting

Well, as promised, I am writing about one of the books I finished. The exact title escapes me, but the author is Carl Honore and the main title is "Under Pressure".
Like most books of this type, he beats a dead horse. At page 2, his theories were great. By page 100 I got the point. By page 200, I still got the point. Not much variety there. But he brought up some things I wasn't expecting and that was good. I was prepared to read about to many toys, pressure for perfect kids, and sports fanatics dressed as parents at a Little League game. But never in my wildest dreams did I think about after-school tutoring, day care extremes, and college pressure. The one story that has stuck with me two weeks after finishing the book was the mom at a sports game for her school aged son (9/10 years old-ish). The mom beat up on the referee after a call against her son-and the referee was visibly pregnant.
I want to ask-is this what the world has come too? Bubble wrap our kids so that their existence resembles Pollyanna before she fell out of the tree? That the world always looks like Disneyland in the morning? That we as parents, step-parents, eductors, and the adult population in general have taken on the role as "Guardian's of the GoodTime For Those Under Aged"? That every kid needs to win the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, or Academy Award to feel validated? That if our kid deosn't get into Harvard they may as well give up on life-at 18?
I had to take a a breath and remember that obviously the author needs examples to support his point so the most extreme stories will get used in his book. Not everyone parent's like their kids walk on water. All of my friends love their children but few think they are raising the next Messiah.
And one thing I think the author missed is my old nemesis-Science. We all know the pressure of raising kids. Some of us have looked at the pressure and opted out by not reproducing, and some of us are active with kids we aren't related to by blood. But you would have to be a complete moron not to realize that kids cause stress. And to compound that, Science has informed us that we are not competent on our own. Any bookstore has a section on child-rearing: how to potty train, break the sippy cup hold, walk early, talk clearly, raising the happy child, the guides to good toys, how to provide the best nutrition, get the best grades-and just a ton of other titles. It makes you feel like a day at the playground with a sandwhich and a jug o' water are no longer good enough since the bread might not be whole wheat, the water might come from the tap, and the playground could have killer germs, bully kids, or just be boring. If your four-year old isn't potty trained they may hate their mother, or have deep psychological issues with the toilet. We no longer assume kids are stubborn, actually like diapers, or scared to move to a "big kid" lifestyle. It has to be something deeper than that.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. Not only did it give me good tips on how to avoid becoming the hyper-active parent, but it did raise issues that I need to be aware of, like the people who get their two-year old into a tutoring program (tutoring is a world-wide business-I did not know that). It also made me feel good to know that I am on the right track for the type of parent I WANT TO BE. Every parent does it different-that is okay. And to some, this book may not fit into what they envision. But for me, it did and so I enjoyed reading the ways to stay on track.
I am always reminded that Thomas Edison was sent home in the second grade and told never to return-his teacher told his parents he was an idiot who would accomplish nothing. And Einstein ddin't talk till he was over 4. If they could change the world without the benefit of all the advantages kids have today, then maybe my son has a chance if I just give him a stick, a rock, and keep his finger out of his eye.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grizzly Adams and Friends

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I went camping with Asa and my parents this weekend. Granted we stayed in a cabin so that when it rained Saturday night we weren't totally miserable. However, like I told my neighbor-we had a campfire and we stink. It was enough for me! Besides, seeing Asa out in the forest makes it worth it. Granted at this age, camping is work. By the time I keep him out of the creek, out of the campfire, and not throwing rocks at the other little boy with us, I am pooped. But I know he is learning a lot by playing in the dirt, hearing the frogs, and watching the water flow under the bridge. Plus, by the time he is old enough to help out and not run in front of the camper/trailer combos pulling in, camping will be old hat and we can do the fun stuff like long hikes and exotic meals cooked over a campfire. It just takes time.
So despite the rain, and some minor injuries with sticks, everyone came home with their eyeballs intact, no deep gashes, full tummies from good food, and smiles all around. Can't wait till we go again in June!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How To Be 2

I love my son. I love my son very much. I love my son like he is a part of me, because he is. I hate kids, and I am starting to despise 2 year olds in general.
This week, Asa has been VERY good at being 2. And the good news is, my child is completely normal. But I am convinced that this is God's natural way of birth control. Who wants 10 of these suckers running around driving you insane? I'll tell you, I have new respect for Nick's grandmother, who had 11 kids. The woman was a warrior.
Tuesday we start with a haircut. We had a haircut before and it went fairly well. This time around you would have thought we had released the Hounds of Hell on Asa. He wiggled, he cried, he whined, he swatted the hand with the scissors. We got most of his hair done, but it is not quite as short as I wanted because he came close to losing an ear. But it will give him something to tell his therapist one day-you have to get your money's worth after all. Next up was lunch and that went as well. After getting in trouble for running around, Asa spilled his drink , dumped some of his food on the floor, and stuck his hand in the salsa. Well, I don't want to eat that NOW!
I woke up Wednesday with renewed spirit. After all, Scarlett said tommorrow was another day and here we were in Tommorrow. Asa was an ANGEL all morning. I patted myself on the back at what superior parenting skills I had. All the baby books were right-stay consistent and you will be rewarded with a well-behaved child. The restuaraunt I wanted to try supposedly had a children's play area. Okay, not really, but we were already there and I was hungry. All the people in Business Suits got nervous-it was that kind of eating establishment. But again, like a dream-Asa did everything I asked. I have learned-there is no excellent parenting, there are only kids getting ready to sucker punch you. After eating, we headed to a real play area at the mall, and all was good till we left and Mr. Angel turned into Chucky's cousin. He cried, screamed, touched every dirty thing he could find as we were leaving, and all through the mall. After picking up Daddy from work (to which we were late), we hit the grocery store. We can strap him in the cart but one hour later, Daddy says to me "I can't take anymore of this kid-let's go home". Granted, I was at my wits end too, but one hour?!?! I had the kid ALL DAY. These dark circles under my eyes aren't a bad make-up job.
Thursday, again, I am optimistic. Again, Scarlett goes through my head and it isn't raining. We take a shower, dry off, I go for my clothes, I leave Asa unattended for 2 minutes. 2 minutes. He hit the spare room, and shut the door. I am praying that he didn't pee on the floor, but when I open the door I am face to face with a turd, and a kid with poop all over his legs running down my hall. When he got to my room, I screamed his name, he jumped, and the remaining glob fell off there. One crying kid into the bath (I didn't hurt him but I also didn't play a game of chase), two globs of poop into the toilet (and some windex to get out remanents), and one upstairs that smells like a sewer-all as I stand there in my underwear. Who says multi-tasking is a dying art. And no guilt that Asa had a stone cold bath since we had just gotten out of the shower and I had asked him 3 times if he needed to go potty before I turned him loose. It's true-a mom's voice is like background noise you just don't notice.
Three days of this and I am off to work yesterday with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I work part-time for a reason and this week was the reason. As I head home last night though, I am dreading what might be meeting me. So I walk in the door, see my son, his little face lights up and he runs to me, hugging my legs and saying "hi mommy". Okay, you little turd, I think I'll keep you after all.