Saturday, September 13, 2008

Register. Vote. Honor the Women Who Kicked Ass for Us.

Because I am away on a girls' weekend at the beach, I'm posting a very important message from Moms Rising. Pass. It. On.

The voter registration deadline in the state of North Carolina is October 10th. If you want your voice to be heard, if you want to cast a vote in the 2008 Presidential election, you must register. This is less than a month from now.

Please check on the registration deadline for your state. It is imperative. Lives truly depend on this election.

Please make sure that you, your friends, and your family get a chance to vote this November 2008. Your votes are important. We have a neck-in-neck Presidential race. And many local races are decided by fewer than 200 votes. That's you, your friends, and your friends' friends.

If you aren't registered to vote, or you're just not sure, register today:


Are you sure you're registered to vote? There are many reasons you might not be registered--like having moved or changed your address at all since registering--even if you're still in the same city or zip code. In some states, if you change your political party of choice you may need to re-register. You can also register to vote in the Presidential election (sure to be a close one) even if you didn't register to vote in your state's primary.

Registering is super easy. It only takes 5 minutes to fill out your form - and another 3 to print it, sign it, put a stamp on it and stick it in your mailbox. 8 minutes plus a stamp. Heck, if you're a fast typist (and licker and sticker), it's even less time. Isn't 8 minutes worth it to have a voice in the November 2008 elections!?

Forward this note to your friends and family so they can be sure they're registered to vote, too. Think your friends are already registered? Think again. In the last Presidential election, 36 million female potential voters (many of whom are moms) were not registered at all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's 1 in 12 women!

And, if you're thinking that you might not vote this year, remember, every vote counts, really!

Here are some amazing examples of how a single vote (yes, just one vote!) has made a huge difference: John F. Kennedy won the Presidency in 1960 by getting one more vote per precinct in Illinois; Texas won statehood in 1845 by just one vote; and women won the right to vote in 1920 by a single vote.

Making sure that you, and your friends, are registered to vote in time for the 2008 elections can have a huge impact.

MomPower is sweeping across the nation, and we're changing more than diapers. By making sure you're registered to vote, you're joining up with others to make your voices heard for change. In fact, mobilizing moms to vote in the 2008 election is one of the most crucial things we can do to make sure our country is moving in a family-friendly direction on paid maternity and paternity leave and paid sick days, health insurance for all children, quality, affordable and accessible preschool and after-school programs, flexible workplaces, fair wages and ending salary and hiring discrimination based on parental status and family responsibilities.

*Register to vote now at: http://www.momsrising.org/registertovote

Thanks for doing your part and being a voice for moms and kids everywhere.

P.S. Eighty-eight years ago, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the final state to ratify the women's right to vote. All of those moms who came before us, moms who asked for the right to have their voices heard in our political process, will thank you if you register and vote. We do!

Register. Vote. Honor the Women Who Kicked Ass for Us.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 12, 2008

5:00 Fridays

One of the hardest adjustments about kindergarten for me and Deal is the fact that Bird is missing from the table at lunch everyday. I suppose Deal misses the G-rated Beavis and Butthead schtick they have going on. I just miss seeing my little boy's dimpled cheeks and silly grin while hearing about the goings on of his day.

Now Bird takes his healthy lunch of various sandwiches, apple slices, Cheez Its, and snap peas with ranch dip in his Batman lunchbox to school everyday. One day a week he grabs a sectioned tray and fills it with standard elementary school fare: nuggets, french fries, pizza, canned green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn dogs, sliced carrots, pudding, Jell-O, and oh, his favorite, strawberry milk. I recall an alarming amount of technicolor Jell-O sqaures jiggling in the aluminum tray at the Hollymeade Elementary School cafeteria from back in the day.

What marks a back-to-school drink better than the staple of school cafeterias everywhere?

Jell-O Shots!

Bocce Ball Jello Shots
1 large box of orange Jell-O
8 ounces boiling H2O
4 ounces cold H2O
4 ounces Amaretto

Mix the Jell-O mix with the boiling water and stir until the powder is fully dissolved. Add the cold water and the Amaretto. Pour the mixture into either shot glasses or those little plastic ramekins. And yes, even the humble Jell-O shot warrants garnish; add a couple slices of canned mandarin oranges (soaked in natural juices, not heavy syrup). Chill until the concoction is solid.

Finally, jiggling that's more appealing and less appalling that the other jigglers in my life. Hum the Jell-O jingle and enjoy!
5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: It's a Date

I still cringe a bit inside when I see the time read 9:11 on the digital clock atop my nightstand. Those two simple numbers said together carry a heavy weight.

Will September 11 ever just be a date again?

We lived in Chicago on that fateful date seven years ago. Mac Daddy had just left for work while I was leisurely waking up to the radio left on in our bathroom. I was relishing my loafing time between a graduate school residency and the upcoming last semester of school. I had planned on spending the day strolling along Lake Michigan with a mug of coffee and the Poisonwood Bible tucked in my tote bag.

Then the frantic voices of newscasters interrupted Katrina and the Waves.

World Trade Center. Towers. Plane. Crash. Terrorists. Pentagon. Crash. Pennsylvania. Collapse. The words hammered through the airwaves like cymbals thrashing right in my ear. My brain was incapable of stringing it all together to make any sense.

I bolted out of bed and flipped on the TV. I feverishly tried to reach Mac Daddy. He had taken the subway to work. On Michigan Avenue. In the Wrigley Building. A Chicago landmark. All cell service was dead.

It would be over four hours before I heard his calming voice telling me he was coming home. By cab.

Nine hours later, I was still planted upright with stoic posture in front of the TV. Trying to reach our New York friends was futile. We worried most for our old friend Tony who worked in the American Express building on the World Trade Center campus. Tony's penchant for the last minute might have saved him that day. Turns out he was home downloading music for his stint in cubicle city so he hightailed it to work in a cab instead of taking his usual subway route. The route that dropped him him off at the World Trade Center stop.

I believed in god the moment we heard from a very shaken Tony. And then I prayed. To whom, I do not know. But I felt lost, shaken, frightened, and keenly aware of a new world order. It was then that Mac Daddy and I decided to move somewhere inconsequential. Not out of fear or paranoia; we simply wanted a hassle-free, idyllic life.

Another friend lost colleagues and friends in the Pentagon that day. He was spared, a life saved to live up to his future promise.

We had an impromptu candlelight vigil on our street that night. Children, students, black, white, young, old, liberals, conservatives, Catholics, Unitarians, trash collectors, bankers, urban natives, farmland transplants. We lined the street in silence. Simply being together with the hopeful faces of children was comfort among us. The silence deafening. Children started a chorus of America the Beautiful. All the grade school patriotic standbys followed. Firefighters and EMTs drove by, sirens silenced, flags raised, hats off. We cheered for the brethren of rescuers that night. Turns out super heroes don't wear tights.

I remember landing in New York a couple years later. The emptiness left by the Twin Towers was surreal. It seemed like a limb had been amputated from an otherwise pulsing city. Those towers grace the pages of many family photo albums. Those towers take center stage in many books and puzzles lining our shelves. It's almost a trick to the eye to gaze at the skyline now.

And so today, we've been listening to Woody Guthrie singing This Land is Your Land. Deal doesn't understand its significance, but I do.
9/11: It's a DateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Heart Matt Damon Even More Now

One more reason to love Matt Damon. Sigh.

Can't you totally hear the passion in his voice? It's as close to Matt + Passion that I'm ever gonna get. Hubba. Hubba.
I Heart Matt Damon Even More NowSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't Trust the Internet 101

It's a good thing I'm not a reporter or I would have been fired for my gaffe. Snopes reports that the Sarah Palin book list is crap. Based on everything I've read, it was not so hard to buy right into it. Hook. Line. Sinker. Anyway, I was wrong. You can quote me on that. Wrong. I'm like the Fonz and don't readily admit that.

My source, admittedly not a bona fide one anyway, was wrong. However, Palin did inquire about banning books, which in principle, is horrid enough for me. Sure, the specifics are unknown, but the point is, she flirted with censorship. She went so far as to hike up her skirt, suck in her gut, and apply red lipstick to see how far she could get. The book list is apparently from a long, well known (well, not known to this writer) list of popular books to ban. The whole concept baffles me, saddens me, confuses me, angers me. I suppose Are You There God It's Me Margaret? is presumably safe since the big guy's name is in the title.

Things like this are why it's a good thing I simply opine instead of report.
Don't Trust the Internet 101SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm Booked.

Over Labor Day weekend Mac Daddy and I heard a thumpity-thump-bump-CRASH one night while we were busy vegging on the couch with a bottle of pinot grigio (a farewell to the lazy days of summer wine, none of that white stuff in the fall and winter months will do). We shrugged it off as a book falling off of Deal's bed, a common occurence considering he goes to bed with a veritable library cache of reading material. It was the CRASH that stirred us from our pre-kid-like vegging euphoria. We rushed upstairs to discover two snuggly sleeping boys. One freaked out 16-year old cat whose hair would have been standing up had we not gotten her shaved recently, and a bookshelf toppled in my office, books littering the floor.

Sigh. Labor Day was indeed a day of labor.

I just reorganized all the book shelves in my office. I purged (not in the Sarah Palin sense) and boxed up some goodies to share with my book club and put some in the Goodwill pile. It took me longer than the average bear to reorganize because I found myself flipping through the dogeared, marked up pages, checking out my changing handwriting (I always write my name inside the cover of my books.), admired the unbroken spine (One of the byproducts of my self-diagnosed OCD is that I cannot stand for a book spine to be creased or bent, requiring me to read very gingerly. This is why my friends just buy me a new copy of a book instead of returning the trashed spine book they borrowed from me.), and even burying my nose into a few, the smell taking me back to Ms. Smith's English class or Mr. Harrison's British poetry class.

I was the kid who eshewed Cliffs Notes, even for Jane Austen, whom I loathe. I was the kid who laughed at kids who couldn't get through the summer reading list. I was the kid who was repeatedly told not to bring books to the dinner table. I was the kid who crept under the covers with a flashlight and got lost in Ramona's adventures until the wee hours. I was the kid who oohed and aahed over gifted books at my birthday party. I am still that kid.

I love words. I am in awe of people who can put words together to spin an enthralling tale, paint a vivid picture, mend a troubled psyche, or create a character so real you feel you should add him to your Christmas card list. Words inspire me. Excite me. Tempt me. Poor use of words infuriate me. Words are powerful little buggers, whether spoken or written. They invoke emotion in ways moving pictures cannot because they leave us to our own devices. Words take us on a journey, challenging us to create the pictures and images and people that accompany them. Words are instruments that few people can master.

Books are my escape. Cheaper than a plane ticket, more engrossing than television, often more effective than therapy, and they don't talk back.

The one gift I hope to impart to Bird and Deal is a love of books. So far so good. One of my proudest moments was when Bird was about 3 or so. I offered him the choice of going to the library or the park, and he enthusiastically chose the library. That's my boy, I thought to myself, smiling. Both Bird and Deal devour books of all kinds. Bird's driving force behind his kindergarten excitement is that he will learn how to read. Right now he's memorized a million books so he often sits with Deal and "reads" The Lorax and other such jewels. The bounty we bring home from the library would leave me $64 dollars poorer if I were checking those books on a US Air flight.

My friend Norman gave us one of the best baby gifts ever. Not the standard Goodnight Moon, Mother Goose, or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He gave us Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The book is a clever, delightfully written guide to help choose age appropriate books for your kids. Hunt also writes candidly about topics such as censorhip and what makes a good versus bad book. Honey for a Child's Heart is peppered with the old standbys that I love to read to my boys. The House at Pooh Corner. Where the Wild Things Are. Richard Scarry. Shel Silverstein. Mercer Mayer. Even if you are a voracious reader like I am, this book will serve as a handy guide should you ever need a kick in the pants to actually go to the library with a list.

Oh, in case you are wondering what books Sarah Palin supposedly wanted to ban (rather "purge" since that sounds less like censorship) from her library, wait no more. Check 'em out. Thanks my old buddy Mike for passing this along.

Sarah Palin's Book Club - Asterisks* are by the ones I've read. You'll see that I am clearly a heathen who has no business being a card carrying library book checker outer.

*A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
*A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
*As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
*Blubber by Judy Blume
*Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
*Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
*Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
*Carrie by Stephen King
*Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
*Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
*Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
*Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
*Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
*East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
*Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
*Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
*Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
*Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
*How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
*Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
* I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
* In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
* It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
*James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
* Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
*Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
*Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
*Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
*My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
*Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
*One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
*One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
*Ordinary People by Judith Guest
*Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
*Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
*A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
*Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
*The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
*The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
*The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
*The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
*The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
*The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
*The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
*The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
*The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
* Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
*To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
*Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween
Symbols by Edna Bart

And now, I am peeling my fingers away from the keyboard to open up my latest crack. Plan B by Anne Lamott. Must see TV? Nah. Not for me tonight.
I'm Booked.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Bringing the Swagger Back One Hot Man at a Time

Dude, I love this commercial. I've watched it over and over again and crack up every time. Granted, I have a pretty lame sense of humor but I laugh with/at Mommy Pie with the rest of 'em.

Here's what I love about this ad:

1) The product name Swagger is pure genius. Swagger is a word we don't inject into our vernacular nearly enough. I suppose it's because few men really swagger anymore. Really, can you name one man who swaggers and gets away with it? Mac Daddy is a Leo so he should swagger, but he's the most un-Leo of any Leo I know. If Mac Daddy swaggered he'd just look like he had been riding a mechanical bull in an out-of-the-way airport bar on the outskirts of Pittsburgh for way too long. Or he'd look like someone stuck a gnawed corncob up his butt.

2) The tagline is perfect. "The scent that makes a difference." It totally goes with the commercial, the brand personality, and all the psychological consumer marketing mumbo jumbo stuff that account planners work very hard to figure out and copywriters and art directors work very hard to make come to life. I rank it second to the best tagline ever.

3) The squeal. More perfect than Erkel. I cringe when I hear it. Perhaps because I can relate. Since I'm on the cusp of 40, and my extraordinarily geeky middle school days are about 17,029 exits behind the road I travel on now, I can admit this publicly; I was the girl version of the squealer back in the day.

And the final reason I love this ad:
LL Cool J. Really, need I say more? I might go into heat if I do.
Bringing the Swagger Back One Hot Man at a TimeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend