Rss Feed
  1. I don't post about politics. I have my views and other people have theirs. To be honest, I don't even really talk about politics. Have you ever had a political discussion with somebody you disagreed with and felt better afterwards? After such a discussion, has anyone ever said to you, or you to them, "You know, you're right. I've changed my mind?" Me either. That's not to say that I don't enjoy hearing other people's differing points of view. There's just something about politics, though, that makes people a little crazy. I can hardly even tolerate political conversations with my mother, and I agree with everything she is saying.

    I think a lot of what I loathe about politics is the whole us vs. them mentality. There's this group and that group. Everything this group does is right, and nothing that group has ever done has been good or decent. There is no gray. I think the media makes these divisions even more pronounced. The whole red states vs. blue states thing bothers me. Because nobody lives in a red state or a blue state. We all live in purple states. Different shades of purple, to be sure - some are bordering on indigo and others on magenta, but we're all still purple. I find a comfort in that.

    And then my state went and voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. And I'm disgusted. And I'm saddened. And I'm so relieved that I live in a blue county. I don't talk about politics, but this is not a political issue. It's a human rights issue, and I wouldn't feel right if I let this moment pass without saying something. The arguments I have heard in favor of this ban are blatant bigotry, veiled bigotry, or fly in the face of the very foundation of what our county is supposed to stand for (oh, and they are bigoted, too). Let's first get the definition of bigotry out of the way. I don't use the term lightly, but it's warranted here. "Bigotry - Stubborn and compete intolerance of any creed, belief or opinion that differs from ones own." And can we all agree that bigotry is a bad thing?

    So, the blatant bigotry. There are those that just think homosexuality is wrong. Fine. Be a bigot. And just as I should not be able to pass a law forbidding you to live your bigoted lifestyle and raise children in your narrow belief system, you cannot pass laws preventing someone else from living their lifestyle and pursuing their happiness. Oh, yeah, and their choices DO NOT AFFECT YOU IN ANY WAY!

     Now for the veiled bigotry. The "I have nothing against homosexuality but feel that the sanctity of marriage should be protected" folks. Really? REALLY?!?! Half of all marriages end in divorce. Half of them. If we're truly concerned about the sanctity of marriage, I'm pretty sure that heterosexuals have had their turn and failed pretty miserably. I think, you know, for the sanctity of marriage and all, that we should hand this thing over to another group and see if they can do a better job. A group who hasn't tarnished it already. I don't know, gay people, maybe?

    And then there's the religious reasons. The bible says homosexuality is wrong. This is my favorite argument, really, because it's the easiest to poke a hole in. There's this little thing called the separation of church and state. So, if your reasoning here is religious, that whole mixing religion and government has already been decided.

    And can we stop with the whole, "I voted for the ban, but that doesn't mean I don't love and respect my gay friends and family?" That's like when someone says, "I'm not a racist. Some of my best friends are black." I didn't understand why that comment was racist until someone I knew in college said it to me, and it suddenly became very clear. Yes, you may have friends or family who are gay, black, fill in the blank, but when you meet a new person, you don't see the white person or the straight person the same way you see the black person or the gay person. And that is the definition of bigotry, racism and intolerance. You don't truly love and respect someone if you don't think they should be afforded the same rights and chances at happiness as you have. It's as simple as that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to paint a blue square around my house.

  2. Oh, February, How I Loathe Thee

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    You didn't think I would forget, did you? Yes, it's that time of year...February. That sneaky month that only looks short on the calendar, but in actuality lasts forever. "Maybe this year will be different," I thought. I even let myself get excited for Valentines Day. And then I had to greet Valentines Day upon its midnight entrance with a puking toddler. Happy frickin' Valentines Day. I hate you, February.

    "They say that February is the shortest month, but you know they could be wrong.

    Compared, calendar page against calendar page, it looks to be the shortest, all right. Spread between January and March like lard on bread, it fails to reach the crust on either slice. In its galoshes - and you'll never catch February in stocking feet - it's a full head shorter than December, although in leap years, when it has growth spurts, it comes up to April's nose.

    However more abbreviated than its cousins it may look, February feels longer than any of them. It is the meanest moon of winter, all the more cruel because it will masquerade as spring, occasionally for hours at a time, only to rip off its mask with a sadistic laugh and spit icicles into every gullible face, behavior that grows quickly old.

    February is pitiless, and it is boring. That parade of red numerals on its page adds up to zero: birthdays of politicians, a holiday reserved for rodents, what kind of celebrations are those? The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine's Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine's Day on February's shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.

    Except to the extent that it 'tints the buds and swells the leaves within,' February is as useless as the extra r in its name. It behaves like an obstacle, a wedge of slush and mud and ennui, holding both progress and contentment at bay.

    James Joyce was born in February, as was Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo, which goes to show that writers are poor at beginnings, although worse at knowing when to stop.

    If February is the color of lard on rye, its aroma is that of wet wool trousers. As for sound, it is an abstract melody played on a squeaky violin, the petty whine of a shrew with cabin fever. O February, you may be little but you're small! Were you twice your tiresome length, few of us would survive to greet the merry month of May."

    Tom Robbins - "Jitterbug Perfume"

    P.S. It's a leap year. An extra day or slush and mud and ennui for all!

  3. I Am Toad

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Sophie has way too many books. Don't tell my husband that I have admitted this. There is something about children's books that I cannot resist. I get pangs of guilt when I think about buying myself new clothes or things for the house, but books for Sophie is a rare guilt-free zone for me. (A) They are for her. (B) They promote literacy and learning when we read them together. Yes, I should go to the library more, but...wait a, this is my one guilt-free zone and I'm ruining it. Bottom line - Sophie has a lot of books.

    Some of these are recent publications. We have fallen in love with Karma Wilson's and Jane Chapman's Bear Snores On series. We also love Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry. Other of our favorites are oldies but goodies. It's so much fun to read books to Sophie that that I loved as a child. One such favorite is the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. When reading "The List" from Frog and Toad Together, however, I came to a startling realization.

    "The List" is about Toad making a list of the things he needs to get done (a very smart idea) and checking them off as he completes each task (again, such a wise toad). He even writes down "Wake Up," which he has obviously already done, and immediately crosses it off of his list (OK, so toad may be a little OCD). Toad eats his breakfast (gets to cross that off of the list), walks to Frog's house (another activity checked off), and then takes a long walk with Frog. Toad has just crossed "Take walk with Frog" off of his list (I'm kind of jealous at this point, to be honest) when this happens...

    Just then there was a strong gust of wind. It blew the list out of Toad's hand. The list blew high up into the air.

    "Help!" cried Toad. "My list is blowing away. What will I do without my list?"

    "Hurry!" said Frog. "We will run and catch it."

    "No!" shouted Toad. "I cannot do that."

    "Why not?" asked Frog.

    "Because." wailed Toad, "Running after my list is not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!"

    Yep, right there. That's when it hit me. I am Toad. Sigh.

    The blessing and curse that is my list (OK, who am I kidding, lists) will surely be material for a later post. Right now, I'm going to go check "blogging" off of my to-do list.

  4. I Am Not Cool

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    I know she is not yet even two, but from the very beginning Sophie has been what I can only call athletic. She turned over early, walked early, and moved on to running without looking back. She's known in our group as "the runner." I know that I'm not exactly an unbiased source, but she's really strong.

    She recently had to spend a few days in the hospital. Everything is fine - I didn't share that fact to worry anybody, but rather to relate this. We spent every moment she was in the hospital right by her side, except for the spinal tap. The doctor told us that, as a mother herself, she recommends that parents not be present for the procedure. We waited anxiously in the next room, and when it was done were told that it took three full-grown men to hold her still for the procedure (and they were all singing the ABC's because we had told them that this would help calm her). My point? The girl is athletic...and this baffles Jonathan and me.

    I'm not going to speak for Jonathan, but I am not an athlete. I was recently told by a mom that I met that she assumed I ran because I just seemed athletic. I'm outdoorsy. I played sports in high school. I have a scar on my knee from a college lacrosse injury. I've even biked a century, but don't let any of that fool you. I am not athletic. I'm about to reveal more than I should about just how uncool I really am.

    I did play sports in high school - field hockey and lacrosse. Why field hockey and lacrosse? Because those are the sports you can start in high school having never played before and actually have a fighting chance. I was not good. I worked really hard, and that got me by...barely. In fact, I can remember my dad telling me he was proud of me because I had absolutely no genetic help on my side. Plus there was the fact that I couldn't see. I didn't have contacts yet, and I wouldn't wear glasses because they would fog up, so basically I was running around with a stick and a ball and I couldn't see. Picture that for a moment.

    I did tear my ACL playing lacrosse in college. Duke had just started their women's team...I was not on it. I played club lacrosse...for about 40 minutes. I managed to injure myself the first game of the spring season. Now, to give myself a little bit of credit, there had been a fall season, and I did play then as well. There usually weren't enough players to field all of the positions, and I remember the goalie often being drunk. I'm not sure of the details because, as I think you're catching on to, I was not one of the cool kids.

    I'll admit it - when that mom said that I just seemed athletic, I wanted to hug her. But no matter how much I run or bike or hike, the natural, graceful athleticism that you see in some people is just not in me. You know who I mean. They are the people that you see running in your neighborhood that just seem to glide, as though they are exerting no effort as their long muscles flex beneath their lycra. As opposed to the people like me, who you see running in your neighborhood and you just want to jump out of your car and cheer them on, because you can see how hard they are trying, and you know genetics are not on their side.

    Again, I know Sophie is not even two yet. And please don't get the idea that I'm going to push her to do sports and be one of those moms. It's just amazing to see this little person mastering control of her body. While it does make some playdates difficult, I love that she is "the runner." I'm baffled by how someone who just learned to walk can have such good balance, how someone so small can be so strong, and how this little athletic dynamo came out of me.

    Top photo by Karen Suttles.

  5. All or Nothing: My Quest for Volume Control

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    My sister is a cookie splitter. For me, it's a whole cookie or nothing. Let me explain...

    My mom is known for making an assortment of delicious dessert bars over Thanksgiving. Every year she swaps a few of her standards for new recipes, and every year we say that we miss whatever bar was replaced. Pumpkin cheesecake bars, mixed nut bars, pecan pie bars and lemon bars. We love them, and could all eat ridiculously large numbers of them at all hours of the day. But we try and control ourselves.

    My sister will cut a bar in half. That way she can have one bar total, but enjoy two different kinds. My thought process is completely different. I either want a full bar or no bar at all. There is no middle ground for me. I am all or nothing, and not just where cookies are concerned. I have heard people say that this can be a good trait. If I do something, I go all out. I am thorough and dedicated in my tasks. I've been thinking about this trait a lot lately, though, and overall, it's not so good.

    If I have something wrong with me, my initial reaction is that I don't have time to deal with it. It will go away on it's own. Surely it's nothing. This is my mode of thinking, until suddenly it isn't. That pain in my side is no longer nothing, but a cancerous tumor that is about to take over my body. In a split second after weeks of the same problem it inexplicably goes from one to the other. All or nothing.

    When I exercise, I have to do it every day, because once I skip a day, well then I may as well just sit on the couch and eat bonbons all day. It's like I have an on/off switch but no volume control. There is no glass half empty or half full. There is no half anything.

    I think this has become more of a problem since I became a mother. All mothers are busy and slightly distracted. A wonderful little person is getting most of your attention, so other things cannot get as much focus as they used to. I used to wait to call friends back until I had a dedicated chunk of time when I could focus on talking to them. I would wait to clean out the pantry until I had the time and space to take every single thing out and scrub, toss, repackage, and arrange in order of fiber content. But now my all or nothing mentality combined with motherhood has made it so that the calls to friends and pantry organization doesn't happen at all.

    So, with the new year, I am striving for balance. And a balanced kind of balance. See, I have even jumped into balance with a ridiculous fervor in the past. And militantly balanced just doesn't work. In fact, it kind of defeats the whole purpose. I am searching for some space between the "on" and the "off."

    Photos courtesy of flickr. Top photo: walter.keller. Bottom photo:bibliogrrl.

  6. Yay, PRESENTS!!!!...Ahem, I Mean, Presents

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    This is the time of year when another one of my anomolous tendencies reveals itself. Let me explain. I love the idea of simplicity parenting. All of us, myself included, have too much stuff. Jonathan and I joked before we even had kids when we saw how many toys some of our friend's kids had that we were going to send ours outside with a stick to play all day. Less stuff around promotes kids using their imagination. This is how I truly feel. AND I LOVE PRESENTS!!!! OK, there, I've said it.

    Seriously, I love presents, specifically the opening of presents. This year, when Jonathan and I were deciding on our budget for Sophie's Chanukah and Christmas gifts, it sounded less like a conversation and more like two people negotiating a deal. I was the one trying to drive the price up, if you haven't already guessed.

    My family has the rather unusual custom of celebrating Chanukah while we're all together for Thanksgiving. Every year we have to figure out, based on everyone's schedules, what night we open the gifts. If it's going to be later in the visit they always say, "Rachel? Is that alright with you? Can you wait that long?"

    Let me point out here that I have nieces, 5-years-old and 10-years-old, who aren't as excited as I am. Let me also point out that recently the adults have all decided that we are only getting gifts for the kids. This in no way diminishes my enthusiasm. I love giving gifts. I love watching other people open gifts.

    Right now Sophie is still too young to be able to anticipate and be excited about holidays and presents, but I know next year that will no longer be the case. I want to instill in her a thankfulness for family and the non-material things in life. I also want her to be empathetic towards others who are not as fortunate. But she's a sharp cookie, and I don't hide my feelings well...she's going to know how excited I am when we all open presents.

  7. Crazy In the Rain

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    We had been prepping Sophie for Halloween for about a month. She knew that she was going to be a bee, and that bees say "buzz," and she tried her best at saying "trick-or-treat," which came out more like "teet teet." It got to the point once we reached late October that I could ask just about anything and her first answer would be, "A bee!" So, our plan was to go trick-or-treating at a few houses in the neighborhood and have her answer the door with us when trick-or-treaters came to our house. We also had a Halloween playdate planned in the afternoon. There was one thing we had not planned on...rain. This wasn't just a light drizzle, either. Halloween afternoon arrived along with a downpour.

    If Sophie were older, she likely would have been upset that bad weather was threatening her Halloween experience. Sophie, however, did not mind the rain. In fact, the rain was by far Sophie's favorite part of Halloween (tasting chocolate for the first time later in the evening was a close second). A friend of mine had planned the afternoon playdate at the park, luckily one with a large shelter. There were activity stations, yummy Halloween goodies, and lots of other kids. Sophie was not interested in any of that. She wanted to play in the rain. For the first half of the get-together, we were the only ones not under the shelter. By the end of the afternoon, Sophie had found two fellow nature-lovers with brave mothers.

    Recently I was writing in Sophie's journal and trying to describe how much she likes to explore and spend time outdoors. I didn't feel like my words were quite expressing the wonderful energy that is Sophie. I think these photos from our second Halloween illustrate it much better. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween and that if you didn't have good weather, you at least enjoyed the bad weather like we did!