Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, too.

I've decided to "live-blog" Halloween, in homage to or just plain copying Ann Althouse.

6:30:  The house is quiet...the kids and the neighbors have all left, under the watchful eye of two dads and a bottle of merlot.  I've finished up another Monteagle bag, and will probably start working on a paper due on Monday. (after I get this post going)

6:42:  A bunch of very familiar-looking spooks, angels, fairies and Supergirl just became my first trick-or-treaters.  So far I've had two Milky Ways and three Pixie sticks.  Just writing that sounds gross!

6:53:  I added the picture up there.  This Mac still isn't intuitive, at least for me. 

6:58:  Four Fourth-grade witches.  And I figured out how to one-click this editing.

7:17:  "Halftime!" called by Supergirl (aka DD5).  Only one other little cheerleader at my door.  The paper is progressing.

7:35:  Halftime consisted of water, a candy break, and blankets for the golf cart--I mean, for the cold kids on the golf cart.  DD7 (the sick one) is hanging in there but may quit in a little while. A witch, a pirate and a ghoul have come to the door. 

7:52:  Finally! A traffic jam of golf carts and about ten kids, all boys, all ghouls and soldiers.   Ghouls seem to be really big this year.

8:03:  Good grief...I've sent two emails in the last hour or so and BOTH of them got answered.  I don't know ANYONE who has a life on a Friday...I must really be old.

8:23:  Two belly dancers, with bare bellies.  They looked really cold. (It feels like it's around 55 outside.) And just now a couple of hippies and another pirate.  No real theme is emerging in the costumes.

9:24:  We had a run of kids around 9 p.m.  Mine are still out, but trick-or-treating at the grandparents', so I've decided to turn out the lights at 9:30.  I'm ready for dinner.  I didn't have any more candy after that first post!

9:34:  Everyone's home, lights are out on the porch.  Now it's time for sorting and trading, the REAL point of Halloween.  Good night!

Happy Reformation Day!

Check out this RAP (I know, a rap of Luther?) of Luther's 95 Theses:

I love being Lutheran.

If you're Lutheran, too, or just know one, check out this link, too.

Happy Reformation Day!  Thanks be to God!

This poor lady

Okay, she says, "I won't have to work to pay my mortgage, I won't have to work to put gas in my car."  Does she really, REALLY believe that?  

Really? Wow.

A couple of videos

Just because I have the platform, here are a couple of items:

Fashionably late doesn't apply in the Senate.

And then there's this:

I like that Manolo party idea.  Happy Friday!

And they have a problem with Palin?

The more I see him, the more I wonder about Biden.  There's just something evasive and creepy about him...these pictures tell a little of the tale.  Look how very alone he is in that airplane picture.  And the Botox-ification gives him a bizarre eyebrow thing.  It seems shallow to look at the pictures, but don't they make you wonder?  Why is Sarah Palin attacked so viciously while Biden gets a total pass?  Is it because he's so familiar, that to take a hard look at him now would just point out how the press has given him a pass in the past? 

Just wondering.


DD5 was playing Barbies with her six-year-old cousin:

"I'm Sarah Palin's daughter."

"'re JUNIOR Sarah Palin.  I'm Sarah Palin.  Come on, let's go pound those bad guys."

I love my kids.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Join the team!

Team Sarah

I joined Team Sarah yesterday, a group that supports my (current) favorite in politics, Sarah Palin.  There is a lot going on over there, especially if you're in a battleground state.  My state isn't, in theory, although the polls indicate that we are right on the edge.

Get your Flu Shot!

Not to be a nag, but the season has begun.  My two-year-old nephew has the flu (confirmed and everything), even though we can't figure out where in the world he caught it.  We are going this afternoon.  The flu isn't something to mess around a minimum it's four days of miserable.  We all had it five years ago, when the youngest was a newborn.  TEN DAYS at the beginning of December with three sick children (ages five, four and two), two sick parents and a newborn. Don't go there.

Just get the shot.

UPDATE:  I have one sick in bed, and it's the day before the second most important day of the year (ask any kid).  AND I have to attend class today because we have an in-class video today. Pray for us!

UPDATE 2:  No flu, no strep. She just has a virus!  So it's rest and cartoons and lots of liquids so she'll recover in time for the "funnest night of the year!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am NOT making light of this, but...

This undated photo obtained from a MySpace webpage shows Daniel ...

Chick or dude?  Yeesh.

Read this

Important reading...I'm actually a day late on this article by the esteemed Arthur Laffer.  (Ever heard of the Laffer curve?  THAT Laffer.) So many quotable lines in there about the economy, and it gives a great historical perspective. In my opinion McCain's tax plans aren't great, but Obama's are terrible. Laffer does an effective job of explaining how neither plan is looked on favorably by the markets, and why that is.

Sorry to be depressing...hopefully I'll come across another entertaining video to share.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lighten Up!

Just because...

UPDATE:  I fixed the link so the video is working again.

African Feminism

It's good to realize there's more going on in the world than this presidential election and the economic tumult.  Here is an interesting article about what's going on in the African country of Rwanda--remember them?  It seemed like, for many years, we would hear reports of atrocities (that somehow never rose to a level important enough for us to really notice) with these groups of Hutus and Tutsis.  Even the tribal names seemed to minimize the violence to my American ears.  More than 800,000 people (mostly Tutsis) were systematically eliminated, mostly men.  The women, they were raped.  (The great but harrowing Hotel Rwanda depicts this terrible time.)

That was back in 1994.  Today, Rwanda finds itself with more women than men in the adult population, and the women are stepping up to lead.  The male president, Paul Kagame, has made that an important part of his government is changing the way this very paternalistic, even misogynistic, and very tribal society includes women.  

I'm of two minds about this.  One of my favorite things about Sarah Palin is that she's a mother of five.  In my experience, mothers don't have time to be idealogues.  Pragmatism is the name of the game, even though Palin clearly has some ideas that she measures her decisions against.  I believe that these Rwandan women love their children as much as I do, and they want a good future for their children (boys and girls) just like I do.

On the other hand, marginalizing the men, especially the young men and teenage boys, is tempting.  Societies in which the young men see little to no path, to a family or a future, have traditionally become bellicose.  I pray that President Tagame and the leadership there are inclusive, keeping opportunity wide open for anyone willing to work.  It would be so easy to let that pendulum swing from the highly male-dominated (and female-oppressive) culture they are surrounded by (see what's happening in neighboring Congo) to a female-dominated (and male-oppressive) one.  Wisdom and discretion will be necessary on all sides within this tiny country.  I hope they have it.
Frankly, I'm more surprised to see they believe in God. (via Drudge)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lovely for Friday

Random thoughts for Friday

A rainy Friday, again.  But we need the rain so much, and it makes it kind of cozy in my kitchen with a second cup of coffee and DD5 (birthday last week) playing with her Barbies over there on the floor.  An ideal time to tie up some loose ends...

When the financial crisis started in earnest, back in September, I wrote a post about McCain suspending his campaign and heading back to Washington.  I was glad he did it, but have been pretty quiet since then.  Truth is, I'm disappointed.  He went back and didn't really DO anything.  It was ineffectual.  I will continue to say that any solution that includes the guilty parties (Dodd, Franks, and let's extend that to Pelosi, Waters and Reid) is no solution to me. And the bailouts seem to continue.  Disturbing.

Closer to home, we can problem-solve in my skills class! Me--the advice-giver--I'm having a hard time with this.  For the last two months we could only reflect and ask open-ended questions.  The shift to problem-solving (admittedly, not the same as advice-giving) is tough.  I find myself tongue-tied part of the time in my interviews.  Practice again this weekend, with another twenty-minute tape.

And finally, the redecorating (here) which started so long ago is coming to an end.  The drapes are being delivered and installed today.  I mentioned that I like to sew, but NOT for my house! So those are arriving and things will be complete. Sort of.  I could use a couple of new lamps, something for the never ends, does it?

We are headed to the lake for a beautiful fall weekend.  The rain should be over by this evening and then we'll sit outside and grill some steaks. And then back home on Sunday for all of our obligations. What a blessing to have a haven to escape to once in a while. Best wishes for your October weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Format Change!

I got tired of the pink.  What do you think?  Too  masculine?  Comments always welcome.

Field Trip

As part of my ethics class we went to visit a practitioner in our area of choice. For me, that meant joining a bunch of classmates to visit a marriage and family therapist.  She was so generous with her time and absolutely gracious in sharing as much information as she could with us.  Students can ask some pretty nosy questions, but she was open with her answers of how she came to be a counselor and her educational path.

The most important thing I heard her say was regarding play therapy.  She hadn't been too excited to work with kids--she was more interested in working with the family unit and the parents.  And then she started playing with her first pint-sized client.  "What an honor, an absolute privilege, to be invited into her world." 

I sat there and thought of my little guys at home. I'm not the best about getting down on the floor and playing Barbies and I am terrible at Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii.  But she was right--it IS an honor to be invited into their world. I've resolved to accept their invitations a little more often and to prize the time we spend together on their level.  Another change, another something to be aware of...

Are you Joe the Plumber?

I am.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Gotta love all of these...I think my faves are the alligator pumps she wore with the black suit at the debate.

(via the Corner)

As the Corner points out, it is SO MUCH harder being on the Palin-pump beat than, oh, the ACORN connections or the umpteenth bailout.  Those reporters really sacrifice for us.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I wonder what this means:
"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking," Biden said.

"Remember I said it standing here. if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he's gonna have to make some really tough -- I don't know what the decision's gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's gonna happen," Biden continued.
He "guarantee"s it.  What have Obama and Biden been doing lately? 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

They'll take my gun...

DH and I like to shoot sporting clays. It's great fun, much more satisfying than hitting a little white ball around a course. I found out this week that our 12-guage would have been classified as an assault weapon according to Obama.  This is totally ridiculous.

I believe the Second Amendment guarantees our right to own this firearm. And I believe the First Amendment gives me the right to tell you about this. Please check this out--it's one thing to disagree with me on the gun thing, but crushing dissent about it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Therapy and the Economy

Hmmm. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this article on their front page today, about how many people are seeking therapy in light of all economic turmoil these days.  I had wondered if this might happen, even in an anecdotal fashion. 

I know things had gotten too high, but I really worry about people like my parents and my in-laws, both of whom are retired and counting on stocks and pensions to pay out.  They did everything "right," working hard and saving their money, planning for the future.  Responsible people, the kind of people who form the backbone of the economy. And now their money, or a lot of it, has evaporated, simply disappeared with absolutely no trace. They're left wondering what else will happen, how things will ever improve.  I wonder the same thing.

I think, for my part, these hard economic times would be easier to take if it seemed like the parties who created this mess were going to be held responsible in any way. As it is, the heads of Fannie and Freddie, Lehman and Bear Stearns, Wachovia, WaMu, and AIG, their compatriots in Congress and the SEC, none of them will lose anything.  And that is not right. I get that life isn't fair, but this is also not just, and seems to go against the very Rule of Law that was always held so sacred when I took American History.  

Freakonomics wrote about this a few days ago, and there is a lot to their idea:  People are willing to lose a little themselves if they know that those who caused so many problems will be punished.  They aren't willing to accept minimal losses if it means the perpetrators get off scot-free. If McCain would just take a look at this, to get a handle on the anger that is out here in elector-land, and come up with a plan that concentrates on making the perps pay (even with their time in jail), I know it would help him.

And then we can all line up for anger-management therapy.  But AFTER the bad guys pay.

Midterm Fatigue

School was wearing me out.  It's not the constant reading or the papers...truly, the workload has not been terribly heavy.  But I have been thinking about things, and even my thought processes are different.  My earlier post about Madama Butterfly is a great example of how my social/cultural class has affected my thinking.  Two days after the opera DH and I went to a Falcons game--it was the one where the guy kicked a field goal with one second left and made it!! Very exciting.  But I spent half my time kind of looking around at the crowd and thinking about how different this group was than the opera group, and why, and did it matter, and what did I think about that. To top it off, there was a Hindu festival going on in Centennial Olympic Park before the game.  If we hadn't been at the game with (Chinese) friends who have ABSOLUTELY no interest and think I've lost my mind, DH and I would have stopped and checked that out, too. (DH is a super-good sport about his crazy wife!)

Even when I'm just talking to someone, there's this constant little voice:  "Ooh! Closed question! Focus on the positive! Empathy! I need Empathy! How's that body language? Are you mirroring? Don't forget to reflect--but go for the feelings! Get off the content! Move to feelings, or even values! Where is the  meaning? WHERE IS THE MEANING?" Good Lord, it's like I have my own personal film director constantly after me to make a freaking blockbuster.  It ain't happening. Or, not quickly enough to make this nag go away.

One of the problems with all of this is that I feel really anxious a lot of the time...I feel like I'm always getting caught doing something wrong (that stupid director again).  In some ways this has been like opening a Pandora's box of ideas in my own head, and now I'll never be able to silence it.

I know (somewhere) that this is really temporary--at least I hope so.  Until then, I've got to figure out a way to accept this, take it maybe as encouragement and not nagging. In the long run it will produce some changes that will make me a better counselor and maybe even a better wife and parent. It's just that parts of this road are bumpier than I'd anticipated, and so early in the journey!

Now these, on the other hand...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I love high heels as much as the next girl, but really.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heidi's Challenge

I was just checking in at my dear friend Heidi's Team-In-Training site.  Sad news...the boy in whose honor she is running her marathon passed away late last month.  He had been in remission for several years, but when the cancer came back, it returned with an evil vengeance.  

Please consider contributing to her marathon here, or just to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in general.  Heidi's a pediatric oncologist and so she is on the front lines of generating the good that comes from this money.

"I ran and ran..."

Read this. (via the Corner)  Awesome.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Madama Butterfly and Multiculturalism

We went to see Puccini's Madama Butterfly last night.  DH and I both like opera and we've talked a couple of dear friends into season tickets with us.  Last night was our first night of the season. This darn social/cultural differences class that I'm taking got me thinking about this opera in a way I would have never thought before...

First, wow, Americans sure don't come off very well. Or, one American, Lt. Pinkerton, the man who "marries" Cio-Cio San (with the option to renew every month). Pinkerton is shallow, swaggering, eager only for adventure and conquest of any sort. Turns out that Puccini wrote this during the Spanish-American war.  I thought the European snobbery regarding us Americans was a much younger phenomenon than that. Sharpless, on the other hand, is a good American and could have been written to be the real hero in the show.  That he wasn't just reinforces Puccini's apparent disdain for Yankees.

Then, Japanese culture doesn't come off very well, either.  Apparently some critics think that it is patently racist to even stage a traditional show of MB. The culture does come off as weak and feminized, even in the men's roles.  Problem is, maybe that's how I've always thought of Japanese culture.  Except for the samurai stuff.  Anyway, the other part of this is how Cio-Cio San commits suicide at the end of the story.  She does this to preserve her honor, and uses the same knife her own father had used on himself years before, to avoid dishonoring his family.  I don't know what to make of a culture that sees the honorable thing as the quick exit, rather than hanging in there and doing all of the hard stuff. That seems so utterly foreign to my way of thinking that I can hardly wrap my head around it.

So, neither the Americans nor the Japanese really come off very well. What in the world did Italians make of this when it debuted (other than it tanked the first time it was staged)? What did this tell us about how we all related a hundred years ago, and what about now?  The most bizarre part of this is really that I would probably not have considered these questions before my class. My world is getting bigger in spite of myself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Research they could have saved their money on

Via the WSJ today, housewives DO wield power in their homes. The great feminist argument that it's necessary to earn money in order to achieve power parity in your home is not really true for most couples.

You know, really, I could have told them that.  A good marriage relies on shared values, beliefs, and decision-making. (See Ephesians Chapter 5 if you want more details.) DH has his areas he is better at, and I have mine.  And we respect those differences.  Does it take trust and effort?  Sure, but that's life.

Honestly, some of the people who generate this blather about the damaging effects of women making their own choices to stay at home (and not work) need to get out and actually talk to those pathetic women they revile. We have brains, we're not stupid, and we're quite aware of the effects we are having on society--great effects, being home to take care of the kids and the house, volunteer, and create the network of community in our neighborhoods, schools and churches that helps tie us together.  

Wow, that sounded defensive! I suppose it's kind of a relief to find what I know in my heart to be supported by research.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"An Excellent Use of Silence"

Ha!  That's what my instructor said about my last videotape...I was really quiet, only talked a little and gave my "client"/classmate lots of room to think.  How rewarding!

Learning to let someone sit and think is tough, especially since I always want to jump in and give advice. It's paying off, though.  I think my "client" had time and space to really consider the problem she shared with me and the conflicts that were inherent in it.

The other part that is hard is to try to go to feelings and values.  It's a lot more fun, and much easier, to focus just on "what'd you do next?" questions.  But then, that isn't what is going to help people learn to solve their own problems, the heart of what this profession is about. 

Weddings and Kids

My cousin got married last weekend in Beech Mountain, N.C.  Congratulations, Kellie and Jared! Her husband is a wonderful man and has a really delightful family.  We had a great time getting to know each other over the short two days we had together.

My cousin was gracious enough to include all the kids (my four, my sister's three) as guests at the wedding.  They had so much fun! They loved seeing the beautiful bride and bridesmaids, the cake, and the band.  And what a fun way to introduce them to the corny tradition of tapping the glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss.  I thought Kellie and Jared were going to need some chapstick by the end of the evening! I know the kids' ideas of romance and love and princesses (for the girls) have been permanently affected.  My DS (10) was even invited to dance by one of the bridesmaids--huge props to her, since he was absolutely glowing for the rest of the evening!

I also loved that it was important to Kellie to include all of the family at this event, a milestone that we ALL got to share with her.  Somehow including (well-behaved) kids in a fancy event like this livens things up--the event in no way revolved around them, but it was fun to get to see the wedding through their eyes.  My favorite moment was when Kellie and Jared first turned to face each other, on the deck of the country club, overlooking a patchwork quilt of autumn color and surrounded by friends, family, and clergy.  DD4 looked at me, squinched up her nose, and stage-whispered, "This is so romantic!"

Yes, baby, it sure is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

School Notes

A quick my first social/cultural paper is due.  The topic is a cultural immersion experience.  I fell into mine by taking a great tour while we were in Caneel Bay.  It was great to hear about island life and history by someone who had experienced it first-hand.  Thanks, Chris!

I also have to be both client and counselor (not at the same time!) today for videotapes in our skills class.  My problem has been more in being the client!  I talk a lot and tend to inundate my poor classmates with a sea of words.  I guess it is one way to get used to different clients, but I hate feeling like I'm just "too much."  Every time I think I have some little problem but then the more I talk it just grows.  Today I'll concentrate on using very short sentences.  (Like that one.)

Being the counselor is actually easier in many ways, and one of my natural skills is empathic listening.  Of course, I have to peel all the other natural "skills" I have, like interrupting and advice-giving, but I just spend a good deal of time biting my tongue and nodding.  It works, and not interrupting is gradually getting easier. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

First, the Politics

Okay, so it's been a few days.  I want to catch up but I'll do it in a few short posts.  I'll talk about politics first, even though that's not really the point of my blog here, because that's the last thing I talked about.

The bailout, or rescue, or whatever you want to call it--how about graft on top of more graft?  I wanted McCain to start calling people out, talk about why this happened and who took the money.  Most importantly, I believe that any solution that includes Frank, Dodd, Cox, or any of the current Banking and Financial Services committee members is NO SOLUTION AT ALL. Frankly, Frank and Dodd should be doing the perp walk right now, along with the CEOs of Fannie, Freddie, WaMu, and Wachovia.  I'm sick of all of them.  And then, this so-called "urgent" bill wasn't so urgent that it couldn't include, for example, $192 million for our friends the rum manufacturers in the American Caribbean, or several million more for the manufacturers of wooden arrows.  If it was so very urgent, leave out the other stuff.  We aren't stupid, and now we are PAYING ATTENTION. Maybe this is what it took to wake us up.

Second, Palin rocked.  Totally.  I wanted to be convinced that I understood why McCain chose her.  I'm convinced now--I see her strength and her humor and how very down-to-earth she is. Her outsider status is a total asset.  And she held her own against a 30-year Senator for a 90-minute debate.  Did she technically win?  I have no idea. It doesn't matter.  I would trust her to lead the country through a crisis.  

Oh, here are a couple of adds or funny things, all political:

Enjoy!  More to come...