Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not the First One to Try It

Is this article about my husband?

"MySpace gives pastor ‘prophetic’ edge"
Pastor Alton, who cultivates a reputation as a computer illiterate techno-phobe, is actually an avid reader of MySpace pages, blogs and personal websites of the people in his congregation.
"I appear, shall we say, un-hip," he says. "Therein lies my advantage."
Though he publicly refers to the Worldwide Web as the "Worldwide Waste" and e-mail as "sin-mail," in his home office is a bank of computer screens with more than 170 bookmarked sites — personal web pages, blogs, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Flickr and more. Each week Alton surfs the sites for hours to find evidence of questionable behavior by people in his church. He jots offenses down and incorporates them into his Sunday sermons.

Wait, no. My husband doesn't try to hide his geekery!

Source: Lark News. Always amusing. Always timely.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meet Our New Babysitter

Yeah, I know. I can almost see her getting dumber. Or at least losing the ability to speak in first person. Elmo make baby talk annooooooooying!

But she just might be spending some time with this monster (heh) this week because I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO READ A CALENDAR. I thought I was going to be really busy with work and things this week. Then today I realized that I miscalculated a deadline and October starts this week and I'm INSANELY SWAMPED. I have a ton of work to do and Aaron and I both have youth and church meetings and events scattered all over the place. D'oh!

And yes, I know I said back in the happy easy theoretical pre-toddler theoretical parenting days that I wanted to keep her off TV until she turned two (as recommended). We made it to about 16 months, okay? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Besides, as a bonus, I'm picking up a few Spanish words. It's like going back to escuela.

But do they have a course in calendar reading comprehension?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Save the Economy, Save the World?

"It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger."

Another strange and scary week in the world. It's hard not to be at least a little nervous about our nation's finances and the value of our investments and homes. It's hard not to think that $700 billion is an INSANE amount of money.

But you know what? When something is important to you, you can always find the money.

It's interesting to observe what we choose to use our money (or our credit/debt, actually) for, especially when compared to what people think we are or say they would like us to use it for. If you ask Americans how much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid and development, most people think it is one of the largest spending areas. In reality, although the U.S. pledged in 1992 to give .7 percent of gross national income to development, in 2005 the actual amount was .16 percent. Those decimals are correct—less than one percent.

In 2000 the UN set out the Millennium Development Goals for reducing global extreme poverty by making achievable gains in education, clean water, child mortality, fighting disease, and health care for women and children in particular. The goals are specific, and more importantly, they are achievable. If the world's rich nations raised their development funding by just 1 percent, we could cut extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015.

We haven't done it.

I went to a Bread for the World workshop on this about seven years ago, when 2015 seemed long off. Now we are halfway there and many of the gains that have been made are being erased by the global food crisis (sudden unavailability of and exponential rises in prices of staple foods) and other factors. Now with our economy requiring a massive infusion of (imaginary?) cash, what will happen to the will to invest beyond our borders?

I know the world is complicated. I know changing spending habits is hard (just ask my own checkbook). I know priorities can sound good in the abstract but get trampled by the tyranny of the urgent.

But I also know that millions of people are suffering, thousands are dying every single day, and we can do something about it—if we want to. Because when something is important to you, you can always find the money.

So in the midst of all the economic nervousness and financial pinching and political drama and excessive pondering thereof of which I am as guilty as anyone, I am trying to keep perspective. I am trying to remember that I am blessed to be able to send a small-to-me, huge-to-her birthday gift to a girl in Ethiopia, even if I feel like I should cling to every ten dollars I can. I am trying to remember that a few dollars more for junk foods I don't really need is nothing comparing to a doubling or tripling in price of the already meager staple foods some live on. Yes, it could still get really bad here. But we still have it really, really good.

And as America turns to the standard bearers of our major political parties for some confidence, some direction, some vision for the future of our country, I will be listening to what they say about our world and hoping for Just ONE Question on global poverty in our increasingly interconnected world. I hope they both say yes, we'll find the money, because that's important to us.

Although it's easy to forget, that's important to me.

Save the economy? Yes. Then, please, let's do what we can to save the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Detroit Rejoice!

This morning I got an email from my husband regarding a hot rumor. The subject line:
:-D :-D :-D I hope this is true!!!!
What could reduce my plentifully manly husband to the emoticonography of a 14-year-old girl?

The rumor, soon proved true, that in a glimmer of hope that in response to the cries and prayers and public displays of agony of many, Detroit Lions General (mis)Manager Matt "31-84" Millen has at long last been fired.

Hope is restored that the Curse of Bobby Layne may finally be coming to an end.

The season, however, probably remains lost. (See, I am finally learning to lower my expectations.) But we still feel a lot better!

Ahh, memories . . .

How'd all that work out?

Oh yeah. Joey got fired (again) today too. Mmm, irony.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the Fifth Day There Was Silence

We girls had a good weekend without Aaron home; it went fast. I took Anna to the high school football game Friday night. We left in the third quarter when we were losing 40-0. Sadly, this was not the worst football we saw this weekend. Why do we torture ourselves with the Lions again? FIRE MILLEN. Twice on Sundays.

The biggest parenting development around here is that we seem to have found a nap time routine that is annoying but works. Eventually. And that's good enough for me.

Anna has always needed to be held to fall asleep for naps, although for quite some time she has put herself to sleep at night just fine. When she went down to one nap in the afternoon, usually by the time she got her milk snack, she'd fall asleep drinking it. But when she didn't, she'd need to be held/rocked until really asleep or she'd make sure she stayed awake all afternoon by standing up in her crib screaming.

Needless to say, this sound was not conducive to reading for comprehension. So because my work time is precious, I would always make sure she was asleep before putting her down. Sometimes Aaron wouldn't, and she'd scream bloody murder, and I'd want to drive my red pencil into my eardrums.

Lately she has not been falling asleep as easily, and I need her to learn to sleep on her own in the daytime too. She is just way too big and heavy for the holding and bouncing her while I'm standing up thing, plus we should get her off bottles of milk (she will tolerate a Nuby cup instead of bottle, but prefers this babyish routine with the bottle, and that's supposed to be gone by age 2). So I was looking for a time when I could afford to be thoroughly annoyed by prolonged crying sounds rather than needing every minute possible to work.

Thankfully, my husband is more stubborn than me—he let her cry a few times and it has started working. Sure, it takes 45 minutes to an hour of alternating between babbling and screeching . . . but eventually she falls asleep! In fact, here's a little live-blogging of today's nap timeline:

2:05 Left her in her room, sleepy. No noise on my way out.
2:11 Sounds of clunking against crib. "Mama!"
2:14 "Maaaaaamaaaaaa! Waaaaaaaa! Maaaamaaaaaa. Aaaaaaaaaaagh!"
2:23 Silence. Victory in record time?
2:24 Nope. "Waaaaaaaaaaa!" She realized she was almost asleep, God forbid.
2:32 Silence again. And this time it holds!

Thirty minutes is definitely a new record, so I hope it means that after five straight days she's getting the idea that it's not necessary or effective to holler for an hour a day.

Is it wrong that I feel no sympathy for this crying, just mild amusement? Hey, I respond with plenty of heart when it's real crying—this is really just manipulative noise. In fact she even started the manipulation in July, at my parents' house, when she realized that telling us when she had a wet diaper might get her out of her crib to be changed. But then right after Aaron changed her she pointed down there and said, "Stinky! Stinky!" again. Liar, liar, stinkypants on fire!

We're onto you, Stinkypants. And we're willing to trade an hour of annoying noise for two hours of nap. We're the parents. We will win. Our motto: Always Be Victorious!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We Just Arrrrrrrrre!

Why be everyone talkin' crazy this day?

Talk Like a Pirate Day it be!

Okay . . . but . . . why are all these pirates so grumpy?


That is my favorite joke ever (because I'm a huge dork). However, my favorite presentation of a pirate joke ever was when my friend and I were riding in a full Sears Tower elevator and some guy shouted out, "How much did it cost the pirate to get his ears pierced? Buck-an-ear!" (Why are these pirates so random?)

As for this holiday, I appreciate it, but remember not to get carried away. In related news, I would like to take this opportunity to say in defense of the state of Oregon that this pirate family you saw on Wife Swap—blimey! We think they're nutters too.

Aye aye!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting Sit(ter)uated

Where have I been all my life? Oh yes, I have been chained to my computer again, until today, when I escaped to forage for groceries and things to wear with my new red corduroy jacket (which I adore despite my lack of a fashion clue what to do with it). Unfortunately during my many work hours I was easily distracted by shiny things like news! information! interviews! disasters! sudden plummet in office temperature! Sesame Street spoofing Monty Python! Lions fans wailing and cursing their quarterback and coach (why didn't we see that coming?)! Since my work was paid for the project, not the hours, well, I think I made minimum wage this week. Sheesh! (Going back to hourly this week—so I will actually stay focused. I'm distractable but I'm an honest biller!)

I'm kicking off this next round with three days of solo parenting, since Aaron is going to Young Life leadership camp with the other leaders and some kids. Boo hoo, I'd like to go, but Anna wouldn't be so easy to sneak in this year (as she was last year), and anyway, I need to be at a church workshop for our pastoral search committee. Yes, you can say it: SUCKER. But they needed as many people as possible and I like to think I can be kind of useful in the writing of reports (although last time there was a church self-analysis, ahem, didn't work out so well. We do not speak of it.).

All these things gearing up as we get into fall suddenly has my calendar full and my brain spinning with wondering how am I going to do it all? and who's going to watch the kid while I do? All the youth work obviously involves Aaron and me at the same time. Last year I took Anna along to Frontline, which worked semi-okay but won't work any more and limited my usefulness. I didn't do anything with Young Life except help with planning, but I want to try to get back into it.

That means activities that require me to get a babysitter Sunday nights, Monday nights, Wednesday nights if we start our small group study back up, and possibly whenever we decide to have our church meetings, if it's not a time when Aaron can be home. Not such a problem except that during those times all of the young people will be where we are, so I have to find, you know, real grownups.

And all that work I've been doing in the evenings? Most of it's going to have to get done during the day somehow, because if I'm not off somewhere, probably Aaron has a meeting or there's a school sports event that he/we should attend to connect with kids. But life's getting too freaking expensive, so I should really be upping my hours, not cutting them back.

I think I can hear what all of you who are smarter than me are saying: And just how do you think you're going to do all that?

I have no earthly idea.

Excuse me while I go burn my day planner in effigy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday: This Far

This far will you come but no more.
This far will you come but no more.
Who holds back the raging sea?
Who keeps trouble far from me?
This far will you come but no more.

"Should you not fear me?" declares the LORD.
"Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday Night Lights

We didn't stay through the whole game so I can't report the final score, but I can tell you that we were leading in turnovers turned over.

And that the senior class is raffling off two cords of wood.

And that I had a somewhat hard time not giggling at the patriotic leprechaun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Best Time for Summer Is Fall

I think this is my favorite time of year: end of summer, beginning of fall. The days are still warm but the evenings and mornings are beginning to bring the crisp smell of autumn. The morning sun is relaxing but the bustle of school days and fall sports is invigorating.

We have had warm, sunny weather over the last week, and since it's after Labor Day, we locals are reclaiming our beaches. Around here we consider the beach crowded if we see more than two people within a half mile of us when we go. I've taken Anna a few times a let her cover herself head to toe in sand, which she loves. She also loves wading into the water, even though it's 55 degrees. Why are children impervious to cold when near water? And what's so tasty about sand?

This morning I worked at a nice new coffeeshop/cafe down by the docks. Lots of people were crabbing off the docks and heading out fishing. That's fall. That's SmallPort. I love it all. (Except the guy who brought in fish smell with him. You, sir, are on notice.)

Tonight is the first home high school football game, one of our favorite things about small town life. The weather's great, we should see a lot of people we haven't seen much in a while, and hopefully Anna will have a great time. We just hope the Fightin' Irish do not require a name change to the Frightened Irish or perhaps Blighted Irish. They were a bit, uh, blocking avoidant and scoring challenged last year.

More shots from our beachside photo shoot!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Zen and the Art of Looking Things Up in the Chicago Manual of Style

I've been spending a lot of quality time with good ol' CMS 15 this week, feeling the zen of its glowing orange cover and rebuilding my love-hate relationship with section 7.90, Hyphenation Guide for Compounds, Combining Forms, and Prefixes for Those Who Care about Such Things.

I'll tell you a secret about being an editor: It's not about knowing how to spell and punctuate everything. It's about knowing when to look it up.

I didn't memorize the dictionary; I have multiple dictionaries on hand. That's because (1) I'm an editor, not a spelling bee champ, and (2) just when you think you know what one says, a publisher asks you to use a different one, and lo and behold, further confirmation that English is a ridiculously nonstandardized language. That's why editing will always be as much art as science and how a surprisingly right-brained and not-detail-obsessed person like me can (I like to think) still be pretty good at it.

Every time I work for a different publisher, I have to retrain my brain a little bit. Each has its own style guide, ideas about whether the dictionary or CMS should take precedence, and house-specific exceptions to CMS, not to mention that each project can have its own exceptions even to the house rules. The last week's rush project had me looking things up on all fronts—probably more than really necessary, but I get a little paranoid when working for someone I haven't worked with much; call it that old freelance insecurity again. But occasionally verifying what I think is right is good for me.

What I really need to work on is starting out strong with my projects. I apparently work better under pressure, but I'd be so much more productive if I could knock off the procrastination so I'm not under the gun by the time I get into The Zone—the kind of focus where I lose track of time as the pages fly by.

Unfortunately, access to The Zone is somewhat inhibited by the presence of The Child.

Another semi-rush project up next. Bring me The Zone and the zen!

How about you? Are you a procrastinator—recovering or proud? What helps you get in your Zone?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Quick Post While I Continue to Avoid Other Things

My current state in bullet form:
  • I am getting quite behind on my rush project.
  • I should not be blogging.
  • I should not be reading any part of the Internet.
  • I should not be paying any attention to the 379 things in my Google Reader (probably including your blog posts I haven't commented on—sorry).
  • I should not be going shopping with girlfriends tomorrow even though baby girl really needs pajamas her feet are not busting out of and I really need the sanity only girlfriend time can bring.
I am doing all these things.

I am sooooo mavericky like that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We don’t need a mommy war. We’ve got real battles to fight.

I’ve stopped my involuntary crying, but now I have a new problem.

I can’t stop thinking about Sarah Palin.

I think that as a VP candidate, she’s a train wreck for oh so many reasons.

As a mother? I think she seems to love her family, I assume she has plenty of competency and resources to care for them, and beyond that, it’s none of my goshdarn business. But the blogosphere is filling up with questions and opinions about her family situation, her work/family balance, whether or not it’s sexist to question her work/family balance, and so on. Do you see where this is headed?

Yep. Too late. I saw those dreaded, inflammatory, useless words in a headline today: “Mommy War.”


Come on now. We all make compromises in life—to make ends meet, to advance our careers, to follow our passions, to live where we want to live, to deal with how one family member’s actions affect the others, to decide how to focus our time and energy. We have some nonnegotiables, and the rest is constant readjustment, looking for the balance.

In that, Sarah Palin is no different than Michelle Obama, or Joe Biden, or me. Or a million other women and men who are trying to walk the minefield without starting a “war.”

If you want to talk family and politics, let’s talk about all the women and men who whose work/family choices aren’t really choices.

Let’s talk about the parents who don’t have a spouse who can help support the family and how an American can work full time and still earn less than the federal poverty level.

Let’s talk about the women who go back to work right after they give birth not because they are ready but because they can’t afford not to or are afraid they’ll lose their position.

Let’s talk about the families with a child or adult who has a disability, chronic condition, or other preexisting condition that requires care denied by insurance—or who can’t even get insurance because no one will sell it to them due to their condition.

You want to talk about teen pregnancy? Instead of putting a microscope on one family, let’s talk about how even in the best-intentioned and most-attentive family, kids are being crushed by pressures and insecurities most adults have no idea about; let’s talk about how adolescents today are being systemically abandoned by a society that is so narcissistic and adult-centric that it leaves kids on their own to figure out how to become adults—then wonders why they try to grow up too soon yet get stuck in adolescence longer and longer before they really do. (For research and explanation read Hurt by Chap Clark.)

There are plenty of issues having to do with families and children and work and policies that we can and should talk about. These aren’t mommy wars; they’re issues for our whole society—because no one’s family lives in a vacuum. It’s not just how we each build our families; it’s how we want to shape our world.

If we spend all our scrutinizing each other’s choices, we won’t have enough energy left to work for the people who don’t have any choices. We’ll never get anything done except arguing.

I personally don’t think Sarah Palin is the right person to be nominated to be second in line for the one who sets the course for our country. But I don’t think arguing about how the course she is taking may affect her family is helpful for women or for the decisions our country has to make about policies and direction. A “mommy war” over Sarah Palin won’t end oil dependence, stop genocide, or educate kids for the global economy. If we let this time become a battle between women, we’ll never win the fight for our children’s futures.

We don’t need a mommy war. We’ve got real battles to fight.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

Sometimes following the news is just too much. Or just too bizarre. What's happened over the last five days?

Nominations and speeches and rallies capturing us and surprising us and being scaled back.

Hurricanes and levees and the traditional reckless endangerment of weathermen.

All manner of revelations leaking out of Alaska.

All hell breaking loose in the Atlantic.

That's a lot for a holiday weekend.

But since like many a freelancer I am actually laboring today, for now my time crunch will spare you a blogging dump of my spinning mind. It's enough to say: Happy Labor Day, everyone. Stay safe, Gulf and Atlantic shore residents.