Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Search for the Elusive Peacoat

Today we decided to buy peacoats. Girl-sized peacoats, that is. No big deal, right?

We went to the mall first. Sears, Penney's, and Dillards to be exact, with a quick stop off at Bath and Body Works to spend a gift card that needed to be used before December 24th.

We found black, girl-sized peacoats at Dillards. Exactly what we were looking for. Except that they were $80 each, meaning I'd have to spend $160 to buy them for my girls. Instead, at Dillards, we bought black hats, gloves, and scarves to match the coats we were determined to find.

Then we stopped at Target. They had adorable pink tweed coats and red coats, and on clearance for $24.98 each. But the girls wanted black. So we headed to Kohl's. On the way there, O reminded me how desperately she needed a hair extension so that she can more appropriately dress the part of Leia, Princess Leia, that is. So we took a quick spin past Beauty Express which was closed, and then we went to Kohl's.

No peacoats. Not a one.

Then on to Sally Beauty Supply (closed) and to Walgreens (where we successfully bought the hair extension, with O's own money of course), then off to Ross where there was also no peacoats.


Finally, back to Target where we all convinced ourselves that pink tweed and red peacoats were perfect and exactly what we were looking for.....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Smelly Kid

Yesterday I'm watching a lovely dance recital performed by children at my daughters' school. O, my 2nd grader, sits on my lap and a friend of hers, another 2nd grader, sits in the seat next to me.

I comment that one of the children on the stage looks just like a child in their class. A boy in their class named C.

Friend: Ew. I hate C.

O: Me too.

Me: Why? (I'm thinking they are going to say that he threatens to kiss them behind the jungle gym at school or something.)

Friend: Because he smells.

O: His teeth are rotten.

Friend: He never brushes his teeth and his breath smells.

O: Yeah, his teeth are all yellow. You can tell he never brushes his teeth.

Me: (in perfect textbook fashion) That's not nice. Be nice. And be quiet. We're supposed to be watching.

Oh my stars! What to do with this information? I would be mortified beyond belief if my child were being called The Smelly Kid. Not that she ever would be, of course, because she's always perfectly well-groomed for school. Perfectly. Ahem.

Do you remember The Smelly Kid at school? Do you remember how the kids would all call him Pig Pen? Do you remember thinking, "Why doesn't his mother bathe him?"

Oh, this poor child. Oh, his poor mother. The poor, smelly, kid.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Let me just ask a question.

Say you've been invited to a friend's for dinner. A nice dinner. Let's say even something like Thanksgiving dinner. You offer to bring something. The hostess declines. So you put your thinking cap on and suggest you bring a centerpiece for the table. The hostess gladly accepts.

You show up with a basket cornucopia stuffed beautifully with flowers. The hostess loves it and tells you it is a beautiful addition to her table. She thanks you and you beam.

Later, you decide you want the cornucopia back so that you may use it to put together another floral arrangement for another dinner party you are attending. You call the hostess and ask for it back. She stammers politely. She's already packed it into a Rubbermaid tote in the garage with her other harvest decorations. But even though she has 850 things to do this week before Christmas and before leaving to go out of town for Christmas, she promises to scrounge through the garage to find it and will even deliver it to your home.

You accept.

Is this okay?

By the way, I'm the hostess.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Santa Lucia Day

My children are learning about St. Lucia in school this season.

Santa Lucia was a young, Italian girl who believed strongly in the Christian faith. At the time, Christianity was banned in her country. When her mother became ill, Lucia persuaded her to make a journey to a Christian holy place. Lucia's mother was miraculously cured, and in gratitude, Lucia decided to give away her wealth. Later, Lucia was put to death by her government when they realized she was a Christian. Centuries later, Lucia was declared a saint by the church. The name Lucia means "light" so she became the saint of vision and light.

The Saint of Vision and Light. I like that.

In Sweden, it is the tradition that on St. Lucia Day, the eldest daughter in the family wakes before everyone else and, wearing a white gown and wreath of lighted candles on her head, prepares and serves sweet cakes and coffee to each member of her family. It is said that she brings "good will and light to the long winter's night."

My eldest daughter O, of her own volition, decided to "practice" being St. Lucia. Each and every morning this week, she woke before the rest of us, while it was still dark, and poured the coffee and presented us with treats. After a couple of days of this, J joined her as her "maid."

So sweet.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday

After writing the post Give One Get One, I started thinking about the things that make a smart philanthropy project.

I did a little research and believe that Heifer International has got it right. If we want to make a dent in the poverty or educational discrepancies in our global community, donating to this worthy organization seems like an excellent way to do it.

Go on over and give a little.

'Tis the season.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


We saw the movie Evan Almighty last night, and call me a sap, but I loved it. It has a wonderful message and some terrific dialogue.

Take this for example---

God: If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does he give them opportunities to be patient? If someone prays for courage, do you think God gives them courage or opportunities to be courageous? If you pray for your family to become closer, do you think God zaps you with warm fuzzies or does he give you opportunities to show your love for one another?

Heh? Good questions, yes?

If you haven't seen the movie, I don't want to spoil it for you. But let's just say that a Congressman wants to change the world. His campaign slogan is "Let's Change the World." God appears to him and asks him to build an ark.


Yes, says God. How do you change the world? One act of random kindness at a time.

One single Act of Random Kindness at a time. It's a good motto to live by. And it was a sweet movie.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Perinatal Delirium

My husband has a very interesting job. I love to hear the stories of the patients that he encounters. Some stories are sad. Some happy. Some are funny. Some are interesting or intriguing.

And some just really piss me off.

Like today. He's telling me this sad story about a woman who's baby has anencephaly. This baby will die when born. Or he or she will die shortly afterwards. It's a sad story. Definitely one of the sad stories.

But then he tells me that the mother is pregnant with baby number 9. NINE. Babies 1-8 are not with this mother but rather in various stages of CPS involvement. Some are in foster care. Some are with relatives. None of them are with the mother. Then he tells me that this mother just got out of prison and immediately got pregnant. Oh, the plot thickens.

Okay, this pisses me off. What is this woman doing having baby #9? Yes, this pisses me off. But just a little bit.

What really pisses me off is this---

I ask him something like this. "This might sound strange or whatever, but can you, as her doctor, recommend or at least ask if she's interested in sterilization? If she'd be interested in having a tubal while she's there delivering?"

DH: "Oh yeah we can. We do it all the time. We ask. We suggest. But she has to sign the consent within 30 days."

Me: What do you mean by 30 days?

DH: Well, she has to sign the consent for the tubal ligation within 30 days of her expected date of delivery. If she's closer to delivery than that, then apparently, she's not mentally stable or whatever, enough to sign the papers."

Me: WHAT????

DH: It's a federal law. She has to sign the consent papers within 30 days of expected delivery and within no more than 180 days. If she's closer than that, she cannot give consent for the procedure.


DH: No. Of course not. Apparently, there's a lot of litigation surrounding cases where a woman who's "too close" to delivery decides that she wants a tubal and then regrets it afterwards.

Me: Okay, I can understand regretting it afterwards, but why the 30 days?

DH: Because, I guess, your hormones are too out of whack or something and you're not considered mentally competent to make that decision.

Me: WHAT? You're not considered mentally competent to sign a legal medical document when you're perinatal?

DH: Don't yell at me. I didn't make the law. I'm just telling you what the law says and what standard medical practice is. You can't give a tubal if the patient asks for it within 30 days of the expected date of delivery.

Me: You've got to be friggin' kidding me! Could I legally sign for a mortgage at 36 weeks pregnant? Yes! Could I sign for a new credit card? Yes! Could I decide to divorce you? Yes! But I can't sign a medical consent form for a tubal ligation?

DH: No.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Do you see why I'm so pissed off? Oh my stars, this has soooooo many levels.

Don't even get me started.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Give One. Get One.

This is an interesting idea that just came my way. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I wanted to share the information.

It's a philanthropy project titled "Give One. Get One." You buy a $399 laptop computer, and they donate one to a child in a 3rd world country. Actually, you donate a laptop to a child in a 3rd world country, and they'll give you another one for yourself for free. The deadline for purchase/donation is December 31st.

It's an interesting idea. Here's the link.

I am definitely intrigued by the concept. On the outset, it seems like a wonderful philanthropy project. The mission is an important one---"to empower the children of developing countries to learn"---but the method---"by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child" may or may not be flawed. I'm certainly not poo-pooing the idea, I just have some questions and I'm not yet finding the answers.

My most important concern is whether or not the method will actually achieve the goal. Will these laptops empower school-age children around the world? particularly children in impoverished countries where there's not even running water let alone electricity and batteries to operate laptops? Or are there better, more cost-efficient, more intelligent, and culturally-appropriate ways to achieve the same goal? And how does this method translate across the globe? Clearly a laptop donation will be viewed differently depending on where you live. Not all cultural groups are going to view the device, the technology, the gift, in the same way.

You might guess, and hope, that the wonderful people who put this project together have already thought about my question. It is a seriously impressive team of researchers, techies, academicians, and such, from respected institutions like MIT and Harvard. However, well-intentioned, intelligent, thoughtful people have made such mistakes before.

I remember a story told to me when I was a graduate student in anthropology. My advisor, let's call her LA, had done her PhD field research in anthropology in Zambia. In the small farming community where she did her research, an international development aid agency had decided to help local farmers increase their crop production. This aid agency was filled with intelligent, thoughtful, well-educated, do-gooders. They weren't stupid, and they had the alphabet soup after their names to prove it. And importantly, they were well-intentioned. They believed that if they helped this community improve their crop yield that less people would starve. Greater crop production equals more food and more money.

It was a good goal. But their method? Well, their method was a bit flawed.

What did they do?

They donated tractors. Large pieces of machinery designed to help farmers tend their fields.

What LA observed over the two years she lived there, was that these tractors were virtually never used in the fields. Instead, they were being used as taxicabs. Yep, big old, gas-guzzling, expensive tractors were being used to transport people from point A to point B. And the farmers/taxi drivers who were driving the tractors were charging their passengers a fare to do it. Apparently, the local people thought this was better use of the equipment than using the tractors in their fields. And I'm sure they believed this was a better income-generator, or at least knew that it was a more immediate income generator than waiting until harvest for some extra crops and cash.

My point is that we may be intelligent. We may be educated. We may believe we are doing a good thing. But sometimes our Western ideas do not translate well in other places.

This may be the case with the laptops. But it may not be. I'm hoping it's not.

In any case, these are some interesting laptops. Check them out here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Nutcracker

We survived Nutcracker week!

And that's saying something. Every night last week, school nights for my young girls, we had evening rehearsals for the Nutcracker ballet performance. This is the Nutcracker performance in our small town. The dancers pair with the local symphony orchestra and perform the Nutcracker ballet. It's a remarkably professional production with terrific dancers, direction, choreography, and music. It's really incredible.

But the rehearsals were late. Very late. They were from 7:00 to 9:30 each and every night last week. Normally, O and J are in bed by 8:00 at the latest. By Friday, performance night, they were both about to collapse. But instead, they were terrific! Absolutely beautiful in the performance, both remembering their parts completely, and smiling through the whole thing.

We weren't allowed to take pictures during the performance, but here's some before and after pics. Before costumes....

As a Marzipan Sheep and a Chinese Dancer.....

And afterwards with flowers and gifts from Mom and Dad....

It was wonderful!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Made A Little Girl Cry

Yesterday, as I drove my girls to school, it was very foggy out. Rare for around here. As a rounded a curve in the road I saw three little kids playing on the parkway. That's the landscaped piece of land between the two sides of the road. These three children were wearing backpacks and were clearly supposed to be walking to school. As I approached, the two older boys ran across the other side of the road to the sidewalk. The younger girl remained on the parkway.

Being the stern mother that I am, and wielding my motherly power, I slowed, rolled down my window, and firmly said to the little girl, "You should get on the sidewalk. It's really foggy today and people will have difficulty seeing you." She stared at me like a deer in headlights for about 2 seconds and then ran across the other side of the street to the sidewalk.

As I drove off, I looked in the mirror and saw the poor little thing crying. Her sweet little freckled face was wet with tears.

Poor little thing. Mean, monster mommy.