Monday, October 27, 2008

Working Mom: Volume 2, Issue 1: Office Pot-Lucks

It's nearing 11 pm, and I've been up since before dawn. It's been a long, albeit productive, day and I'm ready for it to end. Too bad that won't happen until tomorrow.

A couple of weeks back, the office secretary went around asking everyone *what* they were bringing to the chili cookoff planned for tomorrow. I usually bow out of such things. I have enough on my plate in my cube and at home to bother piling on beans to it all. But, we have a new big boss man, and it was his idea, and the secretary was rather insistent (although I can understand her frustration with a two-week old empty sign-up sheet hanging on the breakroom refrigerator), so I really didn't see much of a way out without finding myself in the middle of office politics, which I so studiously avoid at nearly all costs, except, apparantly, for late nights at the stove.

I could have just brought store-bought cole slaw. But, like a fool, a non-conformist ochlocrastic (thanks, Pops!) fool, I had to buck the system of all those Texans and North Dakotans who think they know chili (Green chili. What the hey? Who ever heard of green chili?) and said I'd bring Cincinnati chili. My dad introduced me to the concoction when we'd head down to watch the Big Red Machine play. It's glorious stuff.
You know, REAL chili. Or, rather, as I found out while trying to find a recipe, real Greek-immigrant stew. But it's called chili, damnit, and Cincinnati chugs out more quarts of chili than any other town in the world, so I'm justified. So Google tells me.

Thus, after a full day of work figuring out the minutia that makes dynamic text in Production Line Tool Set work, coming home and grabbing all three girls to head out for five hours of errands involving Halloween candy, costume paraphenalia and two-month-late birthday party planning, then dropping off birthday party invitations to a house I haven't visited in a year and another house I've never visited and lost the address to, an hour of wind-down and bedtime ritual stuff, I now am faced with making about two quarts of chili I've never made before.

We have our own family recipe we call Dam Chili (due to the proximity of a dam nearby). It's like Cincinnati chili, except we don't stew it for hours. Rather, we just spice up some browned ground beef and kidney beans and throw it all on some spaghetti with a pile of cheese and call it good. But, the real deal seemed more, I don't know, professional. Like a chili cookoff at lunchtime can really be called professional. Obviously, I'm a little confused on what "professional" means. I think I should just own up to it and admit it simply seemed more interesting and flamboyant and therefore worth doing, as well as better meets some definition of "chili".

Anyways, this whole exercise is yet another example of Working Mom vs. World. How many of us working moms avoid office pot-luck parties because we don't want to put in the work to theoretically make something folks will rave about, and/or don't want to admit to ourselves or others for having brought the Doritos. What? I'm the only one? I'm caught between unrealistic dreams of Martha Stewart grandeur and just wanting a few hours of sleep.

Is there a happy medium somewhere? This elusive "work-life balance" so oft mentioned? Where work is energizing as well as financially rewarding enough to enjoy the time with your family instead of trying to make ends and chores meet? Maybe, just maybe, there really IS no such thing as work-life balance. No Ying of employment to Yang of enjoyment. Maybe it's just some utopian ideal we're all taught to buy into, like model-perfect bodies and quinoa. Both are supposed to be good for us, but end up being impossible to acheive and just leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. Perhaps we, ok, maybe it's just I, should just let go of the guilt of not being perfect and just bring the bag of chips.

People like chips.

I don't, though.

At least, not without salsa. Which would lead me to making my own salsa (jarred stuff: ICK!), and I couldn't just pair my fabulous tomato-celantro concoction with any old chips, I'd probably have to make my own tortillas and fry 'em up so they'll still be warm.

And thus the cycle begins again.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Call me Dr. Worm

Ok, taken out of context, this looks pretty bad:


Then, taken more out of context, but with supporting skirt-chasing documentation you may wonder just *how* opposed to "alternative lifestyles" McCain is.

The photo is by Jim Bourg of Reuters, of McCain reacting going the wrong direction off the stage at the last debate.

Gosh, I love the internet.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Health is overrated

McCain just said this.... I'm in shock he actually admits it.

"....Just again, the example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He's health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything.

That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, "health."

Yes. That's right. Considering the health of a woman is extreme, even for "pro-abortion" folks.

Of course, I don't think there are very many pro-abortion folks out there. Pro-choice, yes, pro-abortion, no.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yes, yes, practice trumpet everyday

Well, after announcing we were going to homeschool, I haven't said much about it, have I? Probably because we've been so darned busy. We are homeschooling, but plans have changed a bit. The day we had planned to drop all our stuff in the mail to make us all legal homeschoolers, we learned the virtual public school we were interested in for future years had been approved to enroll students in the younger grades.

Honestly, the decision to homeschool was both invigorating and terrifying at the same time. I was so excited and had so many ideas on how to do things, but frankly, I'm great at ideas but suck at follow-through. If I can't do it perfectly, I tend to get so intimidated I just give up. Knowing this about me, I worried I'd do the same with my kids' education. So, this opportunity arose, and after not much thought, really (although we had talked about the program, which we had investigated months before and were impressed with), we decided to use the public "school in a box" program.

Ok, homeschoolers, I know a public school program, with all its public school requirements and inflexibility, isn't the "true, puritan" homeschool experience even if it is taught outside of the typical brick-and-mortar school. But it does give us much of what we wanted in the homeschool experience. We're very much more involved in their lives. I LOVE seeing how they learn. I have learned so much about my kids, what interestes them, what frustrates them; I get to see their excitement at learning something new, and decipher what stymies them. I'm learning more about not only their own limits, but my own. I know more about what makes them who they are, and that is priceless.

Oh, I've had some very bad mommy moments, and some very very bad teacher moments. I get frustrated particularly with Big Toe, 8 years old, when she doesn't grasp a concept as easily as *I* think she should. That is a problem with the public school schedule - we have to follow a set curricula, and finish it within the week or so, instead of let it go for a bit. Still, I've learned when we hit a stumble (it's usually is during a math lesson), it's time to stop and come back the next day. It's not always easy to do that, as neither she nor I like to give up without it being perfect (remember, perfectionists here)... or start again after giving up, but we're learning from experience it's best to do that.

It was tough at first. We were a few weeks behind by the time we were all enrolled and the curricula came in, and the high-speed internet (Hello, You Tube and Pandora!) was set up. Then there was training Pinkie Toe (three) to let her sisters be while they were working, and let Daddy work with them without a constant need for attention... and training Daddy on how to show her attention while teaching at the same time. We were spending ten, twelve hour days trying to get through the lessons. We were ready to quit, and just go alone. But, we did catch up, we learned what part of the lessons we really needed to do, and what we could let go as just "busy work" (really, Middle Toe, six, knows her colors, shapes, patterns, and simple arithmetic, so does she *really* have to color the highest kite blue four times? Our call - NO!). We've blocked the lessons so all of math is on Monday, Language Arts on Tuesday, Science on Wednesday, etc. For now, the lessons are easy enough to where we don't have to worry about oversatursation or needing to sleep on a concept to understand it better. Later we may need to adjust, but we have enough lee time on Thursday and Friday to spread out if need be.

Big Toe is involved at the local school in GATE classes, so she still has regular contact with many of her friends from last year, as well as semi-frequent playdates, too. We have lots of "socializing" opportunities through our usual activities, and some additional we are making time for.

The main thing is that we DO enjoy this. I love it. The kids love it. Daddy loves it. We can go to a bat talk at night and not worry about getting home early to get enough sleep for an early school day the next day. Big Foot and the girls went to the localish apple orchard to pick a mess of apples for pies, during the school week. I've had lunch with the family a few times.



Good thing for us.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Triangle (wo)Man

Here it is, October again. As the 6yo said, "I have my shoes. I have my costume. All I need now is Halloween!"

Aside from October being the month of Samhain and all the festivities and remembrances that involves, it's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I see this dedication as a way for those affected to remember those little lives and futures lost, and also to raise the awareness of the blessedly ignorant (BI) on how to react to such tragedies.

It has been my experience, both as one of the BI, and then as one of the grieving, that the BI say things to make themselves feel better, not to make the grieving feel better. Like, "Oh, you're still young, you can have more." Yah, right, well, can I have THIS one instead? Or, "It was God's will." Yah, maybe YOUR God, the sick, twisted diety he may be whom I'm having one HELL of a time believing has any good intentions if you insist it's His will. How about, "It was for the best." For whose best? Yours? Sure, maybe the genetics were bad, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. I've known too many friends who have had to make extremely difficult decisions about what to do after a test shows severe genetic and phenotypic abnormalities, who have made the decision to terminate *because* they love their child so much, to ever pretend that difficult genetics makes the loss any less difficult itself.

Then there's perhaps the worst offense at all. Ignoring the loss. Even worse, ignoring the loss and pain on national television in a debate when your opponent chokes up in front of millions of voters.

Oh, there are many reasons to despise Palin. Endorsing witch hunting. Forcing her daughter into an insane marriage. Making rape victims pay for their own rape kits. Trying to ban books. Using political power for coersion. Using lies to make points. Making women look inept and unable to hold political office. But this, folks, her complete and total lack of empathy after an emotional, human moment as a father struggles (and succeeds) to continue after sharing such a desperate moment in his life, this makes her a bitch.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What's that blue thing doing here?

Some of you may have heard there's a slight problem with our economy. Don't panic, John McCain has insisted that the fundamentals of our economy are sound and strong . Don't let his little pirouette about postponing a debate because of the economy deter you from your confidence.

Thank-you, Margaret Bourke-White, for capturing this idealism best in a photo seventy years ago that still speaks truth today.


Scan courtesy of Masters of Photography.

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