Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Early and Often

I turned my ballot in today. Signed, sealed, delivered (after a slight delay...)!

I would have done it Friday but I messed up the envelopes. There is a security envelope and an outer envelope you sign; I put my ballot in the outer envelope thinking that one went in the security envelope, then realized that's all wrong and it's smaller. Yes, I'm a person who goes out and reminds other people to vote and can even tell them where to check on why they didn't get a ballot, but I'm too incompetent to fill out my own!

Fortunately it was no problem, thanks to our early/mail-in system. I just went in to city hall to see what I should do (answer: reseal outer envelope and sign to indicate I'm the one who taped it up), and because I turned in my ballot there instead of the drive-though drop box, I was able to obtain the coveted I Voted sticker! I am so easily bribed. Like a patriotic four-year-old.

This is why I am glad to see so many states allowing early voting this year. Already people are waiting three, six, eight, almost twelve hours to vote. And there have been some problems with machines and ballots. Can you imagine the chaos and lines in some of these places on November 4 if there had been no early voting? I am sure we'll see problems in some places, especially with the expected heavy turnout, but at least a lot of places have been able to work out the kinks before then without anyone losing their opportunity to vote.

So I heartily encourage you to take advantage of early voting or turn in your mail-in ballot early if you can. As my dad likes to say . . . vote early, vote often!*

P.S.: I celebrated with an elitist fair trade organic latte from my small-town mom-and-pop real American coffeeshop (I'm so confused). Oh yes I did.

* Technically my dad is a politician, since he holds elective office. But rest assured he is hardly the Mayor Daley of Allhomers Township!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Overheard in Youth Work

Smart aleck announcer 1: The quarterback takes a knee! And . . . she hands it off? Umm, I know it’s Powder Puff but I’m pretty sure that ends the play.

Smart aleck announcer 2: Actually, rule 34a of Powder Puff states that when the quarterback takes a knee, it’s an automatic turnover.

The girls dominated tonight. Seems like they always do.

This Week in Here

I'm feeling much better, thanks y'all. (Can I say y'all? I should move somewhere that will make me qualified to do so, because I'd like to.) I even made it out canvassing for several hours Saturday--another gorgeous day!--and ended up no worse for wear. Sunday Aaron preached a doozy of a sermon, if I do say so on his behalf, and we had Frontline with, again, at least 30 kids.

We had an announcement at church reminding everyone that they can bring food for the local food bank anytime, not just communion Sundays when we usually encourage it. Aaron also mentioned in his sermon, when talking giving each person dignity, about how we have kids who not only load up on snacks but also quietly ask leaders if they can take food home because they don't have food there. I don't mean they don't have Oreos--I mean they don't have peanut butter. Tuna. Canned beans. Anything to stave off the embarrassing indignity of your stomach growling for all to hear.

Sure enough, after Frontline one of the girls was weak and dizzy and actually fell down. She hadn't eaten. We made her have a couple crackers and juice and bagged up some canned food. Sigh.

(Of course she was flirting with a boy on the way out and swung the bag at him, I think, and it broke wide open--talk about indignity! Don't you miss being fifteen?)

Another busy week here. It's homecoming week, which is all kinds of crazy around here. Tonight is the girls' Powder Puff football game and our now annual Young Life tailgate party/crowd riling event. Aaron and Waltino will be doing their famed (and/or dreaded) John Madden impersonations from the booth, because after all, "Powder Puff is one of those 'once-in-a-lifetime' things that happens every year." Tomorrow is something involving boys called Meatball Volleyball; I'm not sure exactly how "saucy" they'll be but I already feel a little bit icky. But we'll go laugh at them too. Support your local fake sports!

Also, SmallPort residents, be sure to write in Waltino for mayor. Our goal is to get him enough votes that his name gets in the paper. Because what's more awesome than a guy that's not really running getting like 5 percent of the vote? And that really wouldn't take too many . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Welcome to Camp Wannahockaloogie

I have the sickies today. Started with a funny tickle in the throat--allergy/sinus drainage thing. By last night I was feeling hot and cold and blah, didn't sleep well, had a couple nasty coughs this morning.

I am actually feeling a bit better now, although I haven't achieved any real productivity yet. Maybe I will be able to keep my voice--sometimes I start to lose it with this kind of thing, and I need it for the busy days ahead, including canvassing, Frontline, and homecoming week festivities such as Powder Puff.

Time for some soup and then I really do need to get a lot of work done today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Surviving Weekends; Alienating Babysitters?

That was a really long short full weekend. (Kind of like this post. Sorry. Everybody needs an editor and I'm too tired to be mine.)

Friday is normally Aaron's day off; he had to go in to work, and I went to church for a while to get some things ready for our big congregational workshop Saturday. (Then we had a really nice evening with friends, but that is beside the point because I'm trying to garner sympathy here, okay?)

Saturday I went to church at 8:00 a.m. (I know!) for our 9:00-2:00 meeting. I had to give the first part of the presentation, trying to act all smartypants with my PowerPoint and my statistics and my worksheets and my making the people hold up their fingers so they would remember what number group they're in (a very sophisticated business technique). We had a great turnout and everyone seemed pleased with the discussions, so I guess all went well--but that's just draining when you're largely responsible for making sure it does.

Rescued the babysitter, put Anna down for her nap, entered catatonic why-aren't-I-napping-too? state. Got Anna up and bundled us up for the youth group bonfire on the beach. We had about 25 people enjoying hot dogs, s'mores, football, and (in Anna's case) getting sand all over themselves. It was chilly at first but the wind actually died down and it was really nice to be out there. (Photos to come.)

I brought Anna home for a bath, and by the time Aaron got home she was running around like a crazy, diaper-clad Tazmanian devil: spinning, dancing, falling down, crawling back and forth under the dog, and doing her favorite cheerleading moves (the Irish Rumble). She was so hilarious! We just sat around laughing at her and shaking our heads at her insane antics.

Sunday we had church (again! in the morning, again!), then watched football, if that's still what you call it. Anna was a wicked combination of overtired and stubborn and didn't fall asleep until 4:00. I don't know what was up but after about an hour she woke up screaming . . . and pretty much didn't stop for an hour.

Aaron had to leave just after she got up and she FREAKED. OUT. and wouldn't settle down. She was in almost constant meltdown, falling apart at any little thing or no apparent thing. She didn't want to eat, wouldn't really let me eat, had no patience and a hundred demands. I had worried that the weekend would be too busy for her (babysitters and going places and teenagers--all beloved but exhausting) but wouldn't you know it? I couldn't skip Frontline because we would be splitting up the guys and girls and I had to be on the "panel" for the guys' discussion.

Somebodyerother's Law: The only time your child will need you to stay home will be the one time you cannot skip out on being somewhere else. Or to put it another way, if there is a function you must attend, your child will choose one hour before that function to FREAK OUT.

Now mind you I'm not mad at Anna for this. She clearly was overtired and needed some quiet time at home. I'm not sure if/how attachment factors into the clingyness and anxiety that seems to show up at such times but if us going off and doing things makes her feel insecure/needy, well, that's not her fault either.

So at 5:30 I called the lady from church who was going to watch Anna during Frontline and said I didn't know exactly what I was doing but didn't think I should take Anna to her house (where she's never been before). I thought maybe I'd go late and leave early and have somebody amuse Anna at church for as little time as possibly necessary. Now mind you we'd already had a little confusion and changing of plans that morning as to the evening's arrangements. So I felt like a real schmoe telling this lady who obviously now was all ready and excited to have Anna over that I wasn't going to bring her. But I really felt like if I took her to this new place and then left, there would be total meltdown that I would be paying for much longer than the hour and a half.

Anna did settle down by about 6:00 and I called back and said if you could come to church and watch her during the discussion part, that'd be great, and if not because you've written me off as a weirdo indecisive paranoid advantage-taking freak who can't understand the concept that you wanted to be at your house because it's not easy for you to get out and about, that's okay, I'll ask someone else who is there or whatever since this is really all my fault and problem anyway.

Okay, I didn't exactly get all that out. I don't know what I said but I hope it sounded somewhat humble and intelligible, and mostly I hope that she doesn't think it was about her or her house at all and will be willing to try again another night. It really wasn't--truly Anna was not in a good state and I didn't want her to think I was punishing her for it. But how do I explain the attachment issue connection when I'm not even sure if there is one? Objectively I think she was just tired but in my gut I think if I'd pushed it there maybe could have been some attachment implications. Or whatever you call her velcroed to my leg crying for three days. I don't know, maybe not, but I didn't want to put her (or me) through it.

People with attachment/adoption experience, what do you think? Am I fully or only partially nutters? I need some parental affirmation here!

Of course Anna was a bouncy little angel the whole time in the nursery, thus ensuring it seemed like she would have been fine anytime anywhere. Oh well.

The good news is that even though we had to be gone again Monday night, she had a grand time with the friend who came over and was good today despite being up late again.

The further exhausting and scary yet exciting news is that we had at least FIFTY-THREE high schoolers at our first Young Life Club on Monday, practically busting out the walls of the little clubhouse. May I remind you that this was the first club and there are only 225 kids in our high school--a fifth were there. And I'm pretty sure it was the rowdy fifth! Oh, lordy . . . what the heck are we going to do with them all?!

Whew. For some reason I'm tired. Thus I'm publishing this in its ridiculously long and wordy state. If you made it this far, you are now probably as tired as I am!

Donation Total!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my Blog Action Day donation challenge post! Many of you had great ideas for little things to do to help those struggling to provide enough food for their families and to support organizations around the world. I encourage you to check out the comments.

And the grand total? Your comments here and at the EOR blog (thanks for the cross-post!) "earned" a $30 donation from me split between Ethiopian Orphan Relief and our local voucher program. And even better, my mom and my friend Jem have each pledged to match my gift, so this simple, small exercise is making three times the difference! Not bad for something I threw out there on a whim. Way to pay it forward, friends!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Follow-up: World Food Day and "Please" Campaign

To follow up on yesterday's post: today is World Food Day as recognized by UNICEF. You can find information about the day and current food security challenges on their website.

I would also like to highlight efforts by Compassion International to addresses the strain the global food crisis is putting on families and communities where they work around the world. Having had the opportunity to visit the child we sponsor in Ethiopia, I can assure you that their work impacts not only the sponsored child but their family and community as well and that every penny you give is accounted for and used as directed. So if child sponsorship is not for you, Compassion is still an organization you can trust if you want to make a donation to their Global Food Crisis Fund. You can learn more at the website for their new initiative called Please.

Just another idea for you. Meanwhile, leave your comment on my last post to increase my poverty-fighting donation by tomorrow night!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: My Poverty Action Donation Challenge

Today is Blog Action Day, and the 2008 theme is poverty. You can read some of the thousands of participating posts on the Blog Action Day website.

As you've probably been noticing recently, global poverty is one of the issues that tugs at my heart, and I try to be an advocate for fighting poverty through the work of charities, through actions in my community, through organizations working around the world, through pushing our leaders to make and keep promises on these issues, and by blabbing to you all on a regular basis about how the dots connect in my life and our common life in this common world.

Why my harping? Because 26,000+ children die from poverty-related causes every single day, and many people don't give a shit. What's worse, to paraphrase the venerable Tony Campolo, some of you care more about the fact that I just said shit than about those 26,000 children.

I truly believe that looking out for those with less is the right thing for us all to do (see: Golden Rule, interconnected global economies and environment, etc.) and, more specifically for those of us who call ourselves Christians, caring for the poor is the best way we can reflect what Jesus was about, do what he told us to do, and really understand the heart of God. Why else those 2,000 verses about the poor, more than any other subject?

I don't believe there's any one right way to fight poverty, though. You may feel a desire to help in a different way than I do, and that's a good thing, because different actions help in different ways. Child sponsorship can't get a government to forgive another government's crushing debts, but political advocacy can't let a little girl know she matters enough that someone remembers her birthday. Some people and groups take care of wounds that are gushing right now, while others try to find the source and stop it. We need it all.

What can you give?
Even just a bit of empathy.

Here's what I will give back today:

For every comment on this post, I will donate $1 to Ethiopian Orphan Relief or our local SLR voucher program (donations split 50/50 -- and I suppose I must set some limit!). For every comment sharing what you are doing or will do to fight poverty, I will donate $2.

Will you write a letter to your sponsored child? Email your state representative? Take some extra food to the food bank? Repeat this same challenge on your own blog? Get involved in something, let me know, and watch my gift grow! Game ends Friday at midnight PST. The real challenge never ends.

Come back soon to read the story of my Ethiopian schoolgirl friend. She says so much more than I ever could.

Links for further inspiration:

"Being Poor" by John Scalzi
"Working Poor Problem Getting Worse" (MSNBC)
The Girl Effect (start with this sweet video)
"I Repent" (Holy Experience blog)
Blog Action Day 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Multitasking

Monday, October 13, 2008

So This Is What the Weeks Look Like Now?


We are moving full tilt into insanity season around here. At least one of us has had something going on every night for ten days straight, and it's the same through next week with the exception of Friday. Young Life is starting up, Frontline is going strong, there's all kinds of school events, and these days we both have church meetings too. (Added bonus: Aaron's back is killing him.) I am trying to be organized by planning meals ahead so it can be something easy on busy nights, so I don't have to cut into my work time to get dinner ready, but I think we'd better get used to the kitchen looking like this:

Okay, clearly we're already used to this. But I do try to draw the line at cultivating mysterious fungi.

Anna was clingy and whiny and grumpy as all get-out today and I hope it's not because she's been with so many different sitters lately. I think she was tired and is getting another tooth. But Mamaaaaaa she says. Maaahahahahaaahmaaaa, noooooo, don't go to the bathroom without me, I'll diiiiiiiieeeeeeee.

It's really not her most charming mood.

Of course we took her with us for a YL meeting and she could not have been happier to run around and dance and play with everyone. You'd never know she'd been grumpy, unless you'd been in the van ten minutes earlier when she thought we weren't going to be joined in five seconds by Daaahaahaahdaaaaa.

What is this? Some sort of anxiety or missing us, or just a moody toddler?

I hope that if she's better rested tomorrow and I give her some extra attention if she needs it she'll be more mellow. Even extroverts need some quiet time. Or their mothers do, anyway!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing Tomorrow

We get a rinky-dink free mini-newspaper every week. These items made up the front page this week:
  • Housing Crisis Pains Hippieville
  • Dental Van to Offer Free Clinic
  • Number of Homeless Youth Grows [on pace to be double last year's number]
And this sign has been on our church door for a couple weeks:

These vouchers, which several local churches give out, are for emergency help with gas, utilities, food, medical expenses. It has never been able to help everyone. Now there's nothing left to help anyone, until the next month. Too many people needing help. Too many problems.

This is a tough place to live in a lot of ways, for a lot of people. Fishing and logging are no longer major industries; the work that's left is very seasonal and service-oriented, which means it goes away in winter and when the economy suffers. My wise friend who knows the community and the medical/insurance world well observed, "This is the worst I've ever seen it," in terms of families struggling to find work, get insurance or medical care, to just make ends meet. And that was a couple months ago. All signs point to things getting worse before they get better.

Meanwhile I watch the news and read the blogs and follow the campaigns. I fret about our budget and the church's budget and whether this investment we made in our home still holds any equity and how we'll ever obtain health care if our situation changes and the kids taking home food the church has collected after youth group because their cupboards are bare. I feel alternately disgusted and inspired and alarmed by the things I hear and see and read. I'm sad, I'm upset, I'm hopeful, I'm determined.

And I'm not going to let that be the end of it.

I am going to do something.

Tomorrow I am going canvassing to register voters and talk to people about Barack Obama and other candidates. I've never done anything like this before. Never been involved in politics at any level beyond voting and a couple of local school or community issues meetings. But like I told the guy when I stopped by the Democratic office today, if I say this is so important, I have to do something. I need to harness and channel my angst and my obsession and my desperate hope into something productive. I need to know that if I'm disappointed, it's not because I didn't do anything. If my kids ask me someday what happened in 2008, I want to say: I did my part for what I thought was best.

I can't explain in this one blog post why this election feels so important to me--other than to point you back to the problems above and your own nightly news--or why I've chosen the candidates I have. And I'm not going to try, because right now I'm not asking you to think like me. I'm asking you to act on what you think.

I honestly want everyone I know to vote, no matter how they'll vote.
Most people have an opinion on how things should be, but far too many Americans don't follow through on this fundamental way of expressing our views.

So let me practice my spiel on you:
That's really all there is to it, this voting thing. But this democracy thing? That requires a bit more of us to work at its best. I'm looking forward to seeing it from another angle--to see what we'll observe in neighborhoods, what stories people may tell, what people are concerned about, who I'll get to know. I'm sure it'll be interesting, if nothing else.

Report to follow, film at 11.

Disclaimer: These thoughts are the sole property of the person who just happens to be the sole owner of this blog. They are not intended to be partisan (see section 6b, "vote for whoever you want") but if you feel they distract you from your sole goal of seeing how cute my baby is, feel free to pretend this post never happened. Those of you who would like to discuss this topic or others, feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Anna is 21 now. Months, that is, though it seems it will be years before we know it. One day a week or so ago we couldn't stop staring at her--has she grown inches and months in one day? Maybe it was what she was wearing or her hair ("six-five, with the afro six-nine..."), but she seemed oh so grown up all of a sudden.

Favorites at 21 months:
  • Words: water (pronounced "dowww"), hi, hot, football
  • Food: cheese, fruit, pizza
  • Clothes: shoes, because they mean going somewhere; half-removed pajamas
  • Activities: running, dancing/spinning, sitting on dog, looking at pictures of herself
  • Sport: "Foobaaaaaall!" (raises arms in touchdown signal)
  • Places: Beach, playground, Aaron's office or nursery at church
  • Toys: balls, books, Magnadoodle, baby doll, coasters, slammable drawer, food
  • People: Dadadadadada! (as he's called when he comes home), MAMA! (as I'm summoned downstairs to say goodnight), cheerleaders, teenagers, church ladies, and our friend the big rough redneck Dreamy Lumberjack (go figure)
  • Mode of protest: Full body sprawl

She is working on words but seems to be more into motions/actions. For example, she'll strum on her stomach like playing the guitar when she sees one or a picture of one (or a violin) or to indicate where one is, like the front of church where Aaron plays. She can point to lots of body parts but not say them. She does a lot of very insistent pointing and patting and dragging you by the finger to indicate what she wants or where she wants you. I don't know if this means anything about her speech or learning style or not--is she a physical learner, perhaps? But she is slowly increasing her vocabulary too and certainly chatters frequently and sometimes incredibly loudly.

If she's upset she will do the toddler full body sprawl, spinning around if she's holding your hand and throwing herself onto the ground. This was charming when she tried it in the post office, but unfortunately for her didn't embarrass me.

Generally she's very good in public though. She will test us at home and if necessary gets a time-out in a chair in the corner. Recently she got about five in a row because when Aaron told her to put her books on the bookshelf (yes, she knows how) or she'd get another time out, she kept choosing the chair. Literally. She went back to it. Of course when he put her in it she realized that she wouldn't rather be there. She still tried ignoring him, though, so he kept at it. Quite an entertaining show they put on for me, really. SuperNanny would be proud of my man!

She is really into Winnie the Pooh and football. If she sees anything football related--game or commercial on TV, picture of football or helmet, football players on the back of the box of crackers--she says "Foobbaaaaaallll!" and raises her hands like the touchdown signal. She also knows how to push a small football behind her through her legs when I say "hut hut!" (I am training her for the oft-overlooked position of long snapper, since it is an important specialization with relatively low risk of injury, less glory but still plenty of cash to take care of her momma in her old age.)

She loves to go to the school playground and go on the slides, go for walks out behind our house, and help me pick eat the blackberries around our house.

Best of all, she loves hugs, cuddles, tickles, and us.

Is that a teenager scarfing down all our pizza?

Must be. She has the pouty face down.

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Sad-Day

Knock knock!

Who's there?


Owen who?

Owen sixteen! (0-16) The Lions stink!

Unfortunately, they also no longer know who to fire. Hmm.

UPDATE: Through the wonder of Google's 10th anniversary time machine, you can search the oldest websites Google has stored and find the Lions' website from 2001, when they celebrated not being the NFL's first-ever 0-16 team, having won their first game of the season in . . . December. Oh dear lord.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall at Least Get Your Question On Record

I was almost proud of our Congress over the last week. They were told they had an emergency and given a crappy bill, and for once they did their job, going to work turning it into a better bill as fast as possible. They worked together like serious grownupswell, then they didn't, but I think that was just a lame cover-up. (Hey, I did say almost proud.)

The more important lesson is that making our wishes known makes a difference. Citizens went ballistic over the original bailout bill, thinking it was rewarding the crooks, and the House killed it. Citizens went nuts again this week after the market tanked, saying they need to do something, and they are getting it done.

Shaping our democracy is about so much more than November of every four years. Call your representatives, write letters, tell them why something is important to you, and they are likely to listen, especially if enough people do it. Whether it's because you convince them on the merits or they just want to do what their constituents want almost doesn't matter. Just make them get it done. Give them the political will by proving that it's our will.

This is what the ONE Campaign is all about. This is what Bread for the World is all about. This is what groups from Save Darfur to the one saving your local school help us do.

We didn't get a question about global poverty, hunger, genocide in Darfur, human rights and/or religious persecution, or the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the first debate. I understand that because the format did not allow for many questions (only 8) and some of them were diverted to the economy. But the next debate is a town hall format with questions from the audience and submitted over the Internet. If enough people demand that these questions are asked, they will be. Later we must demand that the answers are followed through on.

What would you ask if you had just one question?

Wordless Wednesday