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August 2005
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October 2005

I'm disgusted.

Really and truly.

Background: I rarely get the chance to watch tv, so I end up with tons of tivo'd stuff. Right now Henry's at school and Harper's napping, so I decided to watch some backlogged Oprahs while folding laundry.

The episode I'm watching is about money mismanagement. There is a family with two kids - 18 year old daughter and 16 year old son - and the mom wrote in worried that she and her husband aren't teaching their kids money management. The kids have their own credit cards that the PARENTS pay ... the kids have no idea what the limit on these cards is, and the daughter admittedly spends about $600 a month on just clothes and shoes. This child has two Louis Vuitton bags, her mom's Cartier watch, a brand new Beetle convertible ... The parents don't want the kids to work because they say the kids' job is "school." The mom justifies it by saying, "They aren't brats. They're GOOD kids." But yet during the interview the kids were totally unbothered by dropping money at every whim, by the fact that they're handed everything. When asked if they would work, both laughed and said no. When asked why they both need new cars, the mom said it was a factor of "safety."

I was feeling physically ill watching this family. The mom was doing nothing but defend her kids, her decisions, and enabling their actions and attitude. The kids were giggling and tossing their hair, being cute. The dad was sitting there like a pansy-ass, totally unable to reign in any of them.

I'm sorry, but I managed to work 10-20 hours a week during the school year, during swim season that took no less than 15 hours a week from my schedule, and yet still got good grades (well, not as good as my mom would have liked but geez! I didn't have a whole lot of time!). I drove a car nearly as old as I was and had to learn to unflood my carburator because the car routinely died wherever I had to slow down to an idle ... stop light, intersection, yields ... but my parents' reasoning for such a car was that it was "safe" (lots of good ol' American steel surrounded me ... '76 Impalas aren't exactly "compact cars."). I was a "good kid" and yet somehow managed to do it while wearing clothes from the cheap store because I had to buy my own. Guess jeans? Gap-anything? Name-brands of any sort? Fuhgeddaboutit.

And you know, as much as I thought my life sucked when I was 16, 17, 18, I am so much the better for it now. How many 31-year-olds live in a $300,000 house and the only debt on the books is the mortgage and hubby's car, which cost less than $25K? Yeah, we've screwed things up over the years, but hopefully we've learned and the future will be mistake-less.

Marc and I were both raised without a lot. We were both raised with a work ethic. We were both raised to value education, not "stuff." And we will do the same with Henry and Harper.

I truly hope, before it's too late, that these parents realize that spoiling their children and giving them no boundaries or sense of appreciation for things is its own sort of child abuse. I can't imagine what type of people these children will grow into, or what part they will play in society. It frightens me though.


10% down, 90% to go ...

I'm on a mission to lose weight. At least 50 pounds. By my sister's wedding exactly one year from today.

Won't be the fat matron of honor. Refuse.

So a week ago yesterday I joined eDiets, three days ago I started it in earnest, and today I find that I weigh four pounds less. And that was during a mid-afternoon weigh-in.

!!!!

I've hated diets for the past five years because I never saw the needle move. Today it moved, and I'm psyched.

I had planned to order a bridesmaid dress in a size 14 (I'm a 16), hoping to have to alter it to a 12. Now I feel positive, like I could perhaps just order a 12. I know, I know ... a bit premature; my loss this week was primarily just water weight. And Becca hasn't even found a dress for us yet so I have all sorts of time. But if I can lose another six pounds in the next two weeks, I'll be feeling so darn optimistic. And I'm never optimistic.

Must go set my meal plan for the coming week and make my grocery list. Much easier to follow diet if one has the food one needs on-hand.


Art Journal week 2

yeah, I'm several months behind. The class is over and I managed to get one, count 'em, ONE page done. Pathetic. But throughout the process I did the journaling part. I'm gonna start posting my entries, and maybe it'll remind me to create the art.

Week 2: Risk

By nature, I’m not a risk-taker. I’m a Capricorn, for Pete’s sake … if we were meant to take risks, our symbol would be something more exciting than a sure-footed mountain goat!! I’ve always avoided things that cause me the least bit of apprehension. Anything that MIGHT turn out badly in the long run gets some serious consideration first. I don’t do things that could cause bodily harm. I don’t do things that will permanently alter my body. I don’t do anything that gambles with my or my family’s future. I like security. I like stability. I like the known. Gambling is not for me. Neither is sky diving.

Then again, when I really think about it, some of the best things in my life started out as risks, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

* Marrying Marc was a risk – we are so polar opposite and have many, many “discussions” in the name of wanting to be right. (Turns out two firstborns marrying each other isn’t a great idea.)
*Having our kids was a risk – Henry was tricky because he was the first and we had no idea what we were doing, plus we gave up my salary indefinitely. Having Harper was a greater risk because Henry was reaching an independent age and we finally had more freedom, our finances were finally on an upswing after five years of back-and-forth struggle and yet suddenly we’re back buying diapers and formula weekly, there was a chance of my post-partum depression returning, etc.
*Moving to Minneapolis was a risk. Regardless of how much we wanted to get out of Indiana, moving 600 miles from all our family and friends only three months after getting married was a huge risk. Not to mention moving from an area of really low cost of living to one of the highest in the nation … that made me squirm a little, but the lure of a larger city – and one so amazing and wonderful – outweighed my fears. In fact, I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Marc came home with the offer.
*Buying our first house was a risk because we had no idea how to be in charge of a house - and an old one with "issues" at that! Buying our second house was a risk because of how much more it cost ... and that it was in the suburbs. (Could my psyche handle moving to the 'burbs?!)

Life-changing, life-altering decisions, all containing massive amounts of risk. And you know what? Each and every single one of those things has turned out better than I could imagine. Marc is my best friend and soulmate, regardless of how nuts we make each other. Henry and Harper are amazing and motherhood is the greatest thing I've ever been blessed to experience. Minneapolis rocks. Our homes have taught us so much about so many things, and our first house paid off handsomely (umm, $140K profit after seven years? Not too shabby!) and our new house is in such a peaceful, family-friendly neighborhood. It's all been good.

So maybe I need to embrace the risk. Maybe I should actually venture outside my comfort zone and dangle my feet in the stream of uncertainty. Maybe I should actually finish writing one of my books and attempt to get it published. Maybe I should add colors other than earth tones to my wardrobe. Maybe I should get that tattoo. Yeah, Marc would love that one.

Nothing can be gained without a little risk. Yeah, diet and exercise suck, but not as much as it sucks to be the ugly one in the family. I need to risk the hard work and get with the program. Yeah, I'd love to have my scrap work published more often, but that requires me to actually submit more often. I need to risk rejection and put myself out there. Yeah, I'd love to travel and see the world, but that requires me to get on an airplane. I need to get a prescription for valium in order to face that one.

What am I afraid to risk? Is giving in to the risk worth never reaching my goal or attaining my dreams? Or is a little fear or pain or hard work worth the result if I end up making my dream come true?


A little levity ...

Hurricane Katrina. September 11th anniversary. Osama bin Laden still on the loose. Bush still in the White House and in control of two seats on the Supreme Court. Insane schedule with the kiddos. Thunderstorms and gloomy weather. Harper is teething. Still haven't lost 50 pounds.

Need a smile today. Thought I'd share my smile with you.

Resizefunnyface

What is this face? Why is she making it? She looks totally weird, but it cracks me up!! All that teething has forced her to find things to do with her mouth that feel good on her gums ... guess this was something experimental. So glad I caught it on film. Well, on digital, but you get my point.


9.11 part 2

The second letter I wrote to Henry that week, this one was more of a run-down of our experience on that horrible day:

"You will never remember this most extraordinary day. There is one photograph of your life from that terrible moment, but you need a story to go with it.

Our cable had gone out on Sunday so you and I spent our mornings playing instead of watching Sesame Street, as was our routine. Tuesday morning your dad called me around 9 a.m. to tell me that a plane had hit the WTC. Thinking, like everyone in the country, that it was an unfortunate but random accident, probably involving some small Piper or Cessna, I shrugged it off. He called less than 10 minutes later to say that another plane had hit and it was a terrorist action. I couldn't believe what he said and got so frustrated that I couldn't watch the news. As a former journalist, I was extremely agitated that the biggest news story of my lifetime was occurring at that moment and I couldn’t even see images.

I called Heather (Brandt) and asked if I could bring you over to her house and watch her television. She didn't know what was going on either, but she said sure. She and Nicholas (your best friend) were leaving for an hour or so, but she said she'd leave her TV on CNN and the back door unlocked. On my drive to her house in Edina - which usually takes less than 10 minutes but took more than 20 because of traffic (everyone was going home) - I listened to the radio and heard the dead silence from the deejays as they witnessed the first tower fall. I couldn't believe it when they finally managed to say that the building had disappeared. I started crying and got off the highway to take neighborhood streets to Heather's, trying to get there faster. When I got to her house we met in the middle of her front walk, crying and hugging each other, unable to believe what was happening. She ended up staying home, unable to leave history in progress.

I called your Dad to tell him I was at her house and told him I wanted him to come. I didn't want him downtown in a large building. He said everyone was being told to go home anyway and through the evacuation route into the stairwells, since he worked for a large financial institution. He said he would get a cab and be with us as soon as possible. 20 minutes later he walked in, and we all sat in stunned silence and watched the second tower fall. Heather and I sobbed and held onto each other, not able to watch thousands of lives snuffed out before our very eyes. She worked in banking before Nicholas was born and knew of many people working in finance in the towers. Marc said that there was an Am Ex building in the financial plaza, another building next door with one floor belonging to TBS (his division), and a small Am Ex travel office within the World Trade Center. He kept shaking his head because he was just in New York City ten days ago. He didn't have to go down to the WTC, but he worked side by side with three men contractors whose office was in one of the towers. He couldn't believe that those men were now possibly gone. (He found out on Wednesday that his friend and former boss, Dave, was attending a conference in NYC and was staying at the Marriott Hotel, located between the towers. After the second plane hit, the hotel was evacuated. He ran out into the streets without his wallet, money, ID ... he was okay, but he had to find someone to put him up for the next few days, and couldn't get word to his wife in Phoenix that he was alive until late Tuesday night. That one really hit close to home.)

All afternoon we watched the devastation. Finally around 4 p.m. Heather and I were completely emotionally drained and could no longer watch the repeated footage of the planes arching across the blue sky, aiming for the Towers, ready to shatter the innocence of America in the next second. We walked you boys to a park and couldn't get over how beautiful and typical the day was; the sky was clear blue – almost blindingly so, the air was dry and warm, the day perfect except that there was this titanic tragedy going on in our land. At the park, all the parents were huddled together, quietly talking of the attacks, while the kids played with childhood abandon. There were as many dads as moms, when on a normal day it would be only mommies and babies. Everyone was home.

You, your dad, and I stayed with Heather and her family for dinner, gave you boys a bath (the site of your September 11th photograph), watched President Bush's address to the nation, then left for home. That night in bed, we couldn’t sleep because of the airplanes flying overhead. Usually their noise isn’t a strange thing; we live along the airport flight path. But Tuesday night all flights were grounded … there shouldn’t have been any air traffic. The planes above us were military jets on patrol. It was the longest night – ending the longest day – of my life."


9.11

September 11. That date will always be breathtaking ... for all the wrong reasons. Today, thankfully, was so unlike that date four years ago - today was hot, muggy, hazy, oppressive. I hate it when September 11th falls on another clear blue lovely day.

Henry was in a parade for tae kwon do today, so I didn't even realize what the date was until I got home. And then all those four-year-old memories came flooding back. I went to my computer and dug into my archives, looking for the letter I wrote to Henry, then a sweet little 18-month-old, the day after the attacks ...

"I can't quite grasp what just happened to this country. My mind can’t process the attacks; it can process war, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the pictures of the towers of the World Trade Center getting hit and falling into a cloud of disintegrated concrete and twisted steel and murdered innocents; the thought that those giant buildings and everything within them are no longer in existence. No matter how many times I see the footage I'll never be able to understand that it was real and that it happened. It just seems too unreal and Hollywood Disaster Movie. There is a scene in the movie Independence Day in which an alien ship destroys the Empire State Building while stunned New Yorkers stop in their tracks and watch in astounded silence, before turning and running away in fear. Images from yesterday replayed that scene with eerie similarity.

I can't quite get my mind to realize that in those ruined towers are thousands of people - dead, cremated, torn apart ... possibly some still alive but dying quickly. I don't see how anyone could have made it out of the collapse and subsequent – and still active – burn. My heart just aches for those people and I feel so helpless and useless sitting here 1200 miles away. I wish I could don gloves and start digging. I wish I could give to each grieving person some token of their loved one to hold onto or bury. I wish I could give every sad face on CNN, holding up a missing poster, their loved one back. But for those in the floors that burned and the floors above that were trapped, there will be nothing left. The people have been reduced to ash - they are in the buckets of dust that the rescue workers put on a ferry to Staten Island. And they might have been the lucky ones. Some victims were so desperate to flee the carnage and horror that they chose to jump out of the building and plummet 30, 50, 100 stories to their deaths. It's grotesque and utterly, utterly sad. I have yet to feel this tragedy with enough clarity to cry and mourn. Now and then I stop what I’m doing and realize there are tears streaming down my cheeks, but as of yet there is no wail of grief and sadness and anger.

The sights and sounds and emotions of yesterday are almost too much to bear. The magnitude of destruction and loss of life and intellectual collateral is something I never even imagined seeing in my lifetime. On my trips to New York I was blasé about the World Trade Center towers … how in the world could I have known they wouldn’t be permanent? And now, as I sit here grieving for the enormous loss of life and naivety and normalcy, I also grieve that the world into which you awoke yesterday morning won’t ever again be the same world. Throughout your days on this earth you will hear stories of the terrorist attacks on America and see images of some phantom buildings burning and falling. You will never feel the connection to the tragedy that the generation before you will, but you will always have the shattered innocence of America on your shoulders. And for that I am deeply, deeply sorry."


It's here! It's finally here!!

Kindergarten, that is.

Thumbsup_3Backpack_3Walking_2

I've been waiting for this period in Henry's life for, oh, two years now. Except I thought I'd have a lot more time on my hands to get stuff done. Instead, I walk him to school at 11:50, get home by 12:30, feed Harper, play with her a little, maybe get her down for a little one-hour nap, maybe get some laundry done, then BOOM! Time to lace up the sneakers and head out to pick him up when the bell rings at 2:55.

What was I thinking, signing him up for half-day kindergarten?

Oh yeah, I remember: they tried to charge me $260/month so he could add four hours to his day at school. I am categorically against paying for PUBLIC education. It's set up so that if you work full-time, the kids can attend full-day for a much smaller fee than daycare. However, for those parents who stay home, this either gyps them out of $3100 a year or gyps their kid out of extra education and socialization. Either way, not a fair scenario. Isn't the definition of "public" education an equal opportunity for ALL CHILDREN to go to school? Henry is ready for all-day. He is ready to be learning and doing. But no. He gets to stay in glorified preschool for another year.

Grrr ...

Anyway, back to my kid. He was SO ready to go! We actually jogged two of the six blocks to school because he couldn't get there fast enough! Every photo I tried to take, he had some cheesy grin on his face or was giving me a thumbs up. What a nut.

After school I asked how it went and got a big run-down about "morning meeting," "afternoon announcements," and "cluster of grapes" (teacher's term for sitting as a group on the floor mat), and was told that school was "double double good."

Just realized, also, that neighborhood kindy kids CAN take a bus to school, so I think we may give that a shot today. Harper's napping, and the thought of waking her to walk Henry to school doesn't exactly fill me with delight. She's been up since 6:40 and just fell asleep 10 minutes ago (at 10:30).

At least the bus is just kindergarten kids ... as ready as I was for him to be in school, I am SO not ready for him to ride a bus!!