Movies, debates, cousins and clips

Many things going on here in the Bubble 'Burbs, and yet What to write about? This weekend we welcomed Auntie A and the M cousins, Little M and Big M, which has accounted for mucho grande good times. Big E realized her recent dream of being allowed to babysit for her little cousins. Bubble Boy laid low in the background while Big E took charge of the little girls and her brother while Auntie A and I were gallavanting around Austin. Upon our return everyone was in tact, fed and relatively clean so she earned herself a cool $10. Not bad for a first gig.

I think this is where she kept them while we were gone.

Part of that Sister Time was spent watching Burn After Reading. Great performances by all the big players, George Clooney who plays a paranoid sexaholic, Brad Pitt as the dim-witted personal trainer, Frances McDormand as the depressed, desperate middle-aged woman feeling the weight of years of loneliness and the prospect of being unloved forever. And John Malkovich. Lordy, that man. I can't even imagine him as being anything in life other than an actor. Right? Can you see John Malkovich selling cars? Or being a dentist? No. He's an Actor. So, the acting and writing were fabulous. I'm still deciding on the story. The Coen brothers often leave me wondering What's the Point? and I'm thinking that IS the point. This is life. Random things happen. Innocent actions can set into motion an entire range of events that can affect an infinite number of people in an infinite number of ways and why? Bad things happen to good people and vice versa. So there is no "point". Just a "Look. See what happened when this person did that?"

Auntie A and I have also spent many hours catching up on the political and financial upheaval of the past week by watching clip after clip via various internet news organizations, including The Onion, where one can always count on up-to-the-minute, unbiased coverage that will bring a smile during even the most dire of circumstances. Thank goodness because couldn't we all use one? I also enjoyed this account of Sarah Palin's CBS interview. Katie Couric's interview equivalent of a colonoscopy.

Big E asked to stay up and watch the debate Friday night (our old TV has rabbit ears that will pull in a static-y signal from PBS, so we spent much of the debate explaining the difference between Wall Street and Main Street and just who were Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and why did their parents give them such silly names? It was painful to watch without the DVR function for which I had developed such a deep and abiding addiction. No pausing for witty commentaries of contempt or rewinding to hear the brilliant or the ridiculous one more time. How did we manage to hear things the first time for so many years? Somehow we coped and were able to muddle through.

Now the house is quiet, the cousins back on the road heading home. The next few hours free to relax, recharge and get ready for the week ahead. In these parts if you don't hit the ground running on Monday morning you don't stand a chance of keeping your head above water.


Assorted sundry

Where are the days going? Even when beginning my days at 5 am and going strong 'til 11 pm I still don't feel I can get it all in. How do people do it? I look around and the appearance is that those around me have it all together, at least mostly. I wonder if I put out that aura. The aura I imagine I am projecting is one of frenzied, frantic borderline crazy woman. Or maybe not even 'borderline' so much as 'definitely'.


Big E exclaimed this morning, "Did you know Richard Nixon was actually ALIVE during Super Bowl SIX!!!!"

"REEEEAlLLY????" I said. "How ancient. So was your dad!!"

"No way!!" she gasped.

"Oh, yes way! Ummm, wait a second - maybe it's not so ancient - I think I was alive during Super Bowl VI too."

"Wow, I thought the Super bowl started like 496 years ago!" she said.

"Uhhh....yeah. Might as well have," I say.


***We pause now for a momentary rant***

I'm appalled that John McCain is contemplating putting his campaign on hold and suggesting canceling Friday's debate in the wake of the financial crisis. If ever there was a chance to look Presidential then here it is. But I guess if it's too easy to be linked to the deregulation and credit frenzy that's been the hallmark for the past 5 years, then I guess hiding out isn't such a bad plan. The media is orgasmic in their coverage of the ordeal, as usual. The whole thing makes me really pissy (can you believe this language!!?). And for the people who got us into this mess to even have the gall! the shamelessness! the nerve! to suggest that a blank check be handed over is beyond outrageous.

****Rant over - Thank you for your patience***


On a happier note Little A got to play soccer this weekend.

He had a great time.

Big E? Not so much.

On an even happier note, I received two funny emails today. Unfortunately for you one is not appropriate for this blog....I do strive to maintain a certain level of G-ratedness here, despite some of the gutter language that oozes through occasionally.

Lucky for you the other was quite acceptable to all audiences. You can thank me later. I think you'll want to.

Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain


It's up! It's down! It's mostly down.

I haven't looked at the news all day. I accidentally heard a snippet on the radio yesterday about the stock market situation. Supposedly safe listening to POTUS '08 on XM, which in theory is 100% election coverage 24/7 (truly as scintillating as it sounds! I'm such a wild girl), and they sneaked in an economist to talk about how we're slipping into another Great Depression. And how this AIG bailout is like nothing we've EVER seen before! Ever! The government is taking over businesses! Beware! If your business is failing the government might just swoop in and steal it out from under you. I guess she was advocating letting the $1 Trillion worth of policies at AIG just sink and fail. That probably wouldn't be any worse. The whole thing was making my Lady Brain hurt, so I just retreated back into my bubble where I continued contemplating just how much iron per cookie I'd have if I added 2 Tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to the dough. Again, scintillating, no?

Bubble boy has long stopped discussing our financial plans with me. As I've grown older and more cautious (dare I say more Mom-ish?....there are little people depending on me to feed them!) there has been a certain shift in my financial planning priorities. I used to be all "Go for the Aggressive fund! What?! is THAT as aggressive as you can get it?? Come on! Show me risk and I'll eat it for lunch!". Now it's more like instead of socking money away in mutual funds maybe we should sock money away in our sock drawer...in the form of gold coins in case we somehow end up in a barter economy again.

Between Ike, the stock market, the fiasco of the election (don't EVEN get me started on THAT!) it was seriously bringing me down. Which made the bike ride in the cool morning air with a group of friends and my lovely spouse that much nicer. And what made it EVEN nicer was lunch at WeFuse downtown afterward. You should totally go there.

So that picked me up a little bit. Due to an accidental encounter with a headline I learned that Wall Street still has a little fight left in it. And although you've probably seen this, you should see it again. Or maybe you've been intending to google it all week and just keep forgetting. Not to worry. I've got your back.



Lucky for us this weekend's soccer game and the Girl Scout training I had registered for over a month ago were cancelled this weekend so we Austinites could brace ourselves for the brunt of the hurricane. Gas stations were running out of gas, grocery stores were running out of water on Thursday. Costco has their portable generators displayed prominently at the entrance and as we sat and enjoyed our pizza this afternoon I watched as four of the $700 behemoths began the journey to their new homes.

So, maybe you'd expect it to look like this today.

Really, it looks more like this.

Wait a minute. I'm having déjà vu! This is very reminiscent of Hurricane Rita three years ago, right after Katrina had devastated New Orleans and the Lousiana / Mississippi coast. The country was still reeling from the massive failures to secure the safety of hundreds of thousands of people. Then along comes Rita. No slacker was she! She packed a big wollop and Austin braced for the fury. Flashlights, batteries, water, gas, bread were all snatched off store shelves. Preparations were made for storm of cataclysmic proportions. Events were cancelled.

And while Port Arthur, Texas was being hammered by Rita's ravaging winds and rain, Austin was 100 degrees under a cloudless sky.

My point is this. It does not diminish the severity of the storm to acknowledge that it possibly may not be calamitous HERE. We should do everything we can to shelter evacuees and provide assistance in getting people to safety. But Austin's demise is not going to happen in the eye of a hurricane and here's why. We are above sea level. We don't have sub-par levees or sea walls protecting us from the storm surge - because there is no storm surge - because we are 200 miles from the closest coast. Yes, we might get buckets of rain and yes, we might have strong winds. Tornadoes even. But must we act as if the apocalypse is coming?

In fact, our self-centered focus on ourselves at a time when our neighbors and loved ones at the coast are facing REAL peril is, is, is....well, it's self-centered.

Not that I wouldn't have liked to see some rain come our way. Just a little.


The Candy Man

+ a bag full of Jelly Bellies

= A face sweet enough to eat


In full swing

One of my favorite nights of the school year is the night when Mommies and Daddies converge upon the school to gather in their child's classroom, cramming themselves into a little bitty desk or around a shiny bright new alphabet rug, to listen to the wisdom of The Teacher as they share all the wonders that await their young little learner. We get to hear all about reward systems involving "Taking a Break" because it sounds so much sweeter than "Time Out", exciting field trips and the importance of getting to school on time, but how that isn't going to be a problem in THIS class, but PLEASE get your kids to school on time.

Or if the kids are a bit older you hear about how they brainstormed and came up with their own class constitution using a fourth grade version of parliamentary procedure, their reward systems, and the new math curriculum. Oh, and about the importance of getting to school on time, but how that isn't going to be a problem in THIS class, but PLEASE get your kids to school on time.

I am just so darned happy with the kids' teachers this year it makes me giddy. I'm sure some of that giddiness is from legendary lack of sleep, but mostly it's from the awesome teachers. Big E's teacher began teaching the year I was born. And although it would be easy for her to slide into the dull rut of Burn Out, she is as enthusiastic and motivated and open to new ideas as any young whipper-snapper teacher.

Like Little A's teacher, who came along in this world when Big E's teacher already had 6 years of hard time under her belt. She is sweet and innovative and energetic and BORN to be a kindergarten teacher. I don't think this is something you can learn. I am the progeny of a long-time 1st grade teacher who possessed all the little clever, craftsy knacks for doing all the things 1st grade teachers do. Like using Contact paper to pretty up anything and everything, creating all those precious bulletin board themes to highlight the kids' work and making word walls, etc...

Not to mention the ability to connect with little kids. My mom has never met a wee one she couldn't sit down and chat with for hours. Kids are great, I really do like them, but they still make me nervous. I feel like they're looking at me, judging me and wondering how I got to be so ridiculous. I usually just end up shoving cookies or popsicles at them because I so desperately want them to like me. I've come to believe that these abilities are genetic and I got skipped.

But that's okay because we've got The Teachers and they didn't get skipped. Now here we go.


I feel it coming

Everywhere I look, everywhere I turn somebody's talking about the election. Maybe it's because we just came off of two weeks of conventions but I can't sit down at the computer or turn on the radio or have an innocent glass of wine with friends without hearing a whole lot of something about somebody associated with the election.

Now don't get me wrong. I love it. Eat it up, as a matter of fact. Not only does the election topic haunt me through the media but it's going on in my own head as I fold laundry, cook dinner, lay in bed at 5 am wishing I could squeeze in one more hour of sleep before I have to start the day.

One of the problems is I want to keep my friends. And while I'm perfectly happy to have friends who have differing political views than my own, I'm not sure that THEY want to have friends who not only have different points of view but actually talk about them AND share the occasional disgust I feel with some of the more underhanded and diabolical activities I perceive.

The other problem is that the election process (for me) is much like Love. You open yourself up and let your candidate in. You learn all the backstory, much like you would learn about a new boy/girlfriend's scars. "Where is THIS scar from?" translates to "What will you do for healthcare?". "How many girl/boyfriends have you had?" equals "How many special interest groups or lobbyists to you cater to?". You dare to dream of the future and there's your candidate, doing good things.

So, come November, IF things don't go the way I want them to go, there is great potential for heartache. Do I want to set myself up for possible disappointment or is it better to just be cold and standoff-ish?

I will try to keep it to a minimum. I really will. But I can tell as we get closer and closer to November I'm going to have a harder time keeping my opinions to myself. I can feel it bubbling up in my throat just waiting to be spewed out.


More Just Doing Nothing

The decision to be a "stay at home" mom was one that initially just happened to me rather than one that was contemplated, pros and cons considered, discussions had, plans made. It didn't come from a deep previously-held belief that I absolutely had to stay home. I had fully intended to return to my job at that six week mark (a mere 42 days!) and can look back at the assurances I gave to my skeptical looking employer that I would indeed be back and know that I thought I was telling the truth. Even when, at four weeks, I was able to determine that there was no way I could go off and leave my teeny wisp of an infant in just a matter of days so I could sell more software, I still thought another couple of months would make all the difference.

Looking back at how naive I was to my own feelings is like reviewing those first attempts at driving a car. I thought I looked fairly competent and even felt confident in my abilities. But in reality, it's a miracle I made it through those first couple of years. I was fooling myself better than I was fooling everyone else. My boss knew I was done. He humored me, allowed me to maintain the act, but he knew that I wouldn't be hocking any more mortgage reports for him. Ever.

Twice in the last week, two separate people have told me they work because they always knew that they "couldn't just do Nothing". Those exact words - both of them - independent of each other. It may be foolishly optimistic of me, but I don't believe they meant that statement to be highly offensive to the likes of me, one of those "do Nothing"-ers. Or did they realize it? Maybe they caught themselves after it had already slipped out, but it was too late. Or maybe they didn't care.

I've never taken part in the Mommy-wars. "To each his own" has truly been my mantra when it came to work vs. stay home. Moms work for a whole variety of reasons and who am I to judge them? There was a time when it was required that I go back to work for a period of 8 months and the whole time I spent feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed and cranky as hell. Knowing my limitations, I got out of there as soon as the getting was good and before I completely lost my will to live. That's me. It doesn't have to be you and that's cool with me.

Very soon after leaving that job I was expecting Little A and I started to feel deeply that I was meant to be a stay at home mom. My "calling" - at least for the next 18 years or so. Not because I was better at it than the next person or because I thought it would be so much easier, but just because it felt right to me.

You will not get any complaints out of me for my current situation. Except maybe the typical ones about the kids driving me crazy or how I just can't seem to get a handle on dinner, laundry, lessons, school, etc...

Funny how a few thoughtless words can be so thought-provoking. I know I've got it great. The freedom and flexibility to choose whether to work or not. That may change six months from now, so I appreciate it while I've got it. The time to do things for myself and still make sure my family is getting what they need. Time to participate in meaningful ways in the community, volunteering in various capacities. Maintaining my sanity.

These are privileges that I will never take for granted while I'm hanging out here Doing Nothing.