22 April 2008

Literacy Night & the Great Thinkers Convention

Our elementary school held an ice cream social in combination with our 2nd annual Literacy Night. Last year I begged off and talked their Dad into taking them. It was going to be a bunch of presentations from the principal, and a few educational games. I hold nothing against educational games, mind you, but in that setting - no thanks! This year, however, the school decided our kids would share their literary masterpieces with us, and I walked away quite impressed. My lovely second grader read one of her (or was it her teacher's) favorite poems. I absolutely adored this and all of her poetry!

I know she was phenomenally embarrassed to read in front of all the parents, so I understand the hidden face and give great kudos for reading it so well. Of course we wanted to clap, but we'd promised to hold the applause until each group finished. That's really a torturous thing to do to parents, lol.

Following the K-2nd portion of the evening, 3rd - 5th grades help their presentations. Let me just say here that my proverbial hat's off to those parents that have more than one child in any grade grouping. This is the first, and unfortunately only, time we've had the pleasure of watching the full presentation of each child at seperate times. This is a good thing, as I've not yet perfected the art of being in two places at once, or time travel. 4th grade used Literacy Night as the culmination of their giant research projects.

By this point they'd researched a Great Thinker, written notecards and a nice long research paper (please let it be long, well organized, and detailed enough!) Tonight they dress up as their great thinker, and when the button on their desk is pushed, they become that Great Thinker telling us everything we've ever wanted to know about their lives. Mind you, this is for a grade, and it's taking place after a large amount of ice cream at 7 o'clock at night. Ouch all the way around!! The costumes look amazing and relatively accurate, and the presentation came off rather well for a couple of 10 year old boys! You'll see ours on the right, and probably notice he's not got far to surpass me in height!!

In my Completely unbiased opinion, those boys look so handsome - don't ya think?

21 April 2008

MoveOn.Org Obama in 30 seconds

I wanted to participate in our own local effort to create an Obama in 30 seconds ad; unfortunately, my work schedule and the kids' school schedule didn't allow for it. My son and I spent the last hour and a half watching and voting on ads. The following are our favorite ads so far. Please take the time to go to MoveOn and vote!

Cleaning Up




Enjoy, and please remember to share if you enjoy these! The five most watched videos win!!

20 April 2008

Spontaneous Combustion looks like a good option right about now

Sunday. Cleaning day. Complete a few, simple chores and catch up on daily chores nobody touched during the week. I streamlined the chore list, just a couple everyday - well, for the kids that is. Moms, you know, have never ending chore lists - ergo my philosophy that 25% completion rate of one's task list equates success. As soon as I complete one onerous task, five more clamor to take its place.

Back to the kids. Two chores a day. No big friggin deal, just two simple chores - one of which is clean up bedroom and is meant to include books, toys and clothes. If you put the laundry away each day, it can't morph into a scary laundry monster that may well consume you leg and a few fingers. But no, that would be far to easy and take all the joy out of the now traditional Sunday family arguments.

Like I said, spontaneous combustion looks good right about now. I managed to get the house clean with the exception of one laundry load and one room - mine of course, only two weeks ago. Came in for a close second last weekend, but the bathrooms sat untouched. So, This weekend I started the announcements on Friday, no games, outings, playdates or Wii until your chores are complete. Do you think they heard the message, or that there's been any follow through? Why of course not - the games have been played, the Wii's logged at least a couple hours, the rooms are still dirty and now I'm shouted out. I can't do this anymore, and I'm relatively certain my neighbors consider a weekly call to child safety. Not that they'd understand, their children are grown and moved on, their memories altered slightly to allow annoying little quips about how their children never talked back and always did there chores when asked.

Not here, not today, not my kids. There's a song running through my head surrounding all this. I feel like a failure as a mother, I don't know how to get it all done, and yet I need to get it all done, I wonder if a spouse would make a difference, or just complicate things. Probably the latter. I have one of those milestone birthdays coming up, and realize it's not the age that bothers me at all, it's where I am in my life.

I'll let you know if I finish the song, because of course that's far more important than actually finishing any chores. Just ask the kids, I'm sure they'd reassure you that my priorities fit. I mean seriously, why do we need a clean house, clothes for the week, or food in the fridge? Let me retract that, sarcasm really doesn't suit me well, I know this. I love my children deeply, eternally, so much that my insides ache. This weekly struggle may be one for power and control over their environment to them, but to me its a matter of sanity and ensuring they leave our little nest as well-mannered, polite little neat freaks. Days pass by and I fear the task impossible, and then think of my oldest who, now that she's moved into her own place, could certainly challenge Mary Poppins for cleanest and best run house. Now how in the heck did that happen?!?

If spontaneous combustion isn't an option, I may well go bald well before I turn gray. This is hair pulling, mind warping stuff! Who'd have thunk it - I just want a clean house that doesn't embarrass the moment the doorbell rings. Oh, and a peaceful Sunday afternoon playing with kids who enjoy my presence...

sigh... back to my checklist and the next skirmish. Wish us well, we all need it!

16 April 2008

Sam Stein The Huffington Post Hillary Clinton On Southern Working Class Whites In 1995: "Screw 'Em"

April 16, 2008 02:21 PM


During the past week, Sen. Hillary Clinton has presented herself as a working class populist, the politician in touch with small town sentiments, compared to the elitism of her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.

But a telling anecdote from her husband's administration shows Hillary Clinton's attitudes about the "lunch-bucket Democrats" are not exactly pristine.

In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.

"Screw 'em," she told her husband. "You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them."

The statement -- which author Benjamin Barber witnessed and wrote about in his book, "The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House" -- was prompted by another speaker raising the difficulties of reaching "Reagan Democrats." It stands in stark contrast to the attitude the New York Democrat has recently taken on the campaign trail, in which she has presented herself as the one candidate who understands the working-class needs.

"I don't think [Obama] really gets it that people are looking for a president who stands up for you and not looks down on you," she said this week.

But those who were at the event say the 1995 episode fits into her larger viewpoint. As Harry Boyte, the director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Democracy and Citizenship who was at the retreat, told The Huffington Post: "[Hillary Clinton] sees herself as the champion of the oppressed, but there is always a kind of good guy versus bad guy mentality. The comment before that was that 'the Reagan Democrats are our enemies and they weren't on our side,' and she was agreeing with that comment. She said we should write them off: screw them."

A spokesperson for Clinton said the quote was taken out of context and did not reflect her true political philosophy. "This quote differs from the recollection of others who were in the room at the time this comment was allegedly made," said Jay Carson. "To be clear, that's not how she felt then and it's not how she feels now, and the proof is in how she has lived her life, the work she has done and the policies she has pushed and pursued over the last 35 years."

Asked to produce a witness who would say that Clinton had been misquoted, Carson wrote: "So, you've got two guys we've barely heard of remembering a verbatim quote from 13 years ago?... Sounds totally and completely reliable."

Barber's book was published in 2001.

Perhaps even more telling than Hillary Clinton's proclamation, however, were the words from her husband that followed. As reported by Barber, Clinton "stepped in, calm and judicious, not irritated, as if rehearsing an old but honorable debate he had been having with his wife for decades."

I know how you feel. I understand Hillary's sense of outrage. It makes me mad too. Sure, we lost our base in the South; our boys voted for Gingrich. But let me tell you something. I know these boys. I grew up with them. Hardworking, poor, white boys, who feel left out, feel that our reforms always come at their expense. Think about it, every progressive advance our country has made since the Civil War has been on their backs. They're the ones asked to pay the price of progress. Now, we are the party of progress, but let me tell you, until we find a way to include these boys in our programs, until we stop making them pay the whole price of liberty for others, we are never going to unite our party, never really going to have change that sticks.
If the tone and tenor of the above sounds familiar, it's because the message, Boyte says, is remarkably similar to what Obama was trying to convey in his now controversial remarks about small town America.

"Well, yeah, absolutely," said Boyte, when asked if Obama and Bill Clinton were expressing the same political viewpoint (Boyte said he and his organization are neutral in the presidential race). "I think Obama's better-or-worse versions of this have always been that people are complicated. It comes from an organizing perspective. You don't write off people, everyone is complicated. It just depends on the issue. And that's what Bill Clinton was saying. He was a sentimental populist."

Not to be lost in all this, as Boyte notes, is that Hillary Clinton has consistently been a "champion for the people who were helpless and powerless." But there is a political component to the mindset.

"Hillary Clinton has a very strong customer view: the citizen is the customer and the government the vendor," said Boyte. "You can see it in Mark Penn's frame. In fact, last Christmas she had an ad of herself writing checks to different groups."

Update: Jake Tapper, over at ABC, had highlighted the "screw em" quote back in October. His article was in reference to comments Sen. Clinton had made about Mississippi. Considering events this past week, the issue has taken on increased relevance.

09 April 2008

Where there's a Will there's a Way

That's what the director of the teaching program I applied for said to me just moments ago. The irony lies in the fact that this seemingly simple statement underscores my entire adolescent and adult life. I simply decided I wanted to join swim team, not realizing the keen importance of truly knowing how to swim, and competitively at that. Suffice it to say I learned, rather quickly. That same year I set my sites on touring West Virginia and D.C. with my highschool orchestra. Where the notion came from remains a mystery, but I determined to fundraise better than ever seen before. Once again, my plan lacked any appreciation of the true results, which I'm sure my parents lamented more than a few times. I sold pizzas by calling everyone listed in the greater Milwaukee area's white pages, A to L. 224 pizzas later, I learned a little bit about considering the repercussions of one's actions, but only just a little bit.

My sister claims to stand in awe of my ability to manifest the things I want or feel I need in life. I question the awe, for as I see it, I share a love- hate relationship with the whole notion. One minute I forget the abiltiy exists for us all, the next I embrace it, simultaneously failing to remember that manifestation does not equate always good and positive. I became disillusioned and unahppy in the field of nursing, oft lamenting problems I perceived, and both the physical and mental toll of a career I sought to love. I complained myself right into an injury that precludes further nursing. No one seeks out life altering injuries or problems, but surely we create space and the potential for them through our thoughts and the desires we project to the universe. It's painfully (pun intended) obvious to me now that I unleashed a massive desire to leave the world of nursing, and as always, the universe is honorable. I accept that I proffered the invitation, and next time I intend to proceed more aware of the intentions I put out there.

Which carries us full circle to my earlier phone conversation. I GOT the INTERNSHIP!! Yes, I really am excited. And, yes, there remains much to arrange and secure to make this new adventure and career path fully possible. I find, however, a strong desire to proceed rather carefully, with my eyes and mind wide open to all the possibilities and potential outcomes. I believe that teaching fulfills my calling, but only a part; and for once I choose to be true to all facets of that calling. I refuse to regret the time I spent in nursing school, or working in the hospitals and hosptice. I feel blessed by a myriad number of events that nursing allowed me to participate in from disaster relief to sharing the end of one's life. That said, I recognize the sacrifices made by my family, particularly my children, and even their dad. The pendulum swung from family always first to business first no matter the consequence. The quest for balance continues in earnest, for children grow far too quickly and rarely wait for us to find it. I never want them to question my willingness to place them first, but I also desperately want them to recognize that honoring our committments to work and school constitutes and integral place in placing my family first.

What an amazing realization. On that note, I'll sign off for the night. I still have an essay to compose, lol!

03 April 2008

Can one claim Writer's Block but still Blog?

My Master's application sits on the desk incomplete. The essay looms monstrously on the periphery, incessantly nagging and laughing at my inability to express myself on paper. How's that you say? What do you call what you're doing right this very minute. But this is so different. This is free streaming to a non-existant (or nearly so) audience. Moreover, however few people actually give a rat's pattoutti about the mixed musings shared via this blog, they do not hold sway over the direction of my future. The admissions committee, however, holds a uniquely different position. Prove that I write well, care deeply about education, and can manage a rigorous course of study and I'm in. I don't question the validity of those points; the questions remains on how best to creatively express all that in a manner that stands out as memorable and unique. Of course, this case of writer's block may well rest comfortably in the fact that I am deathly afraid of being judged. I'll close by inviting the Muse of Inspiration to visit, and soon.

02 April 2008

Life's been crazy - as usual

Not posting for long stretches of time seems to go hand in hand with, well - chaos. Whether it's the chaos of single motherhood, multitasking on far too many tasks, or sheer disorganization I'm not sure. In truth, all of the above combined with a good dose of laziness - or is that fear, share the spotlight and culpability. My brain holds far too many thoughts and topics for such a tiny space, and my trip to the torture chamber, I mean dentist, this morning didn't help in the least!

On children: Ugh, I need to devise a crafty plan to motivate my 10 and 8 year old to help out around the house more. Again, I need to look to myself for the origin of the problems. It's simply much easier to do it myself than it is to listen to the assorted whines, groans, and complaints. That does nothing for the kids in the long run, and certainly nothing for my ailing back or sanity. Consistency, yes it's a virtue - just not one I posses or practice often.

On politics: I spent so much time making phone calls, working on databases, and everything I could to get out the caucus on Feb. 5th that I fizzled. Stepping back, I realize just how much time my children missed while I immersed myself into getting votes for Obama to attend our precinct caucus. Now, much as I'd love to continue phone banking, volunteering time, etc., there are far too many things that left unattended could wreak havoc on our lives. I showed up as a delegate for the county convention, and somehow my name appeared on the just released lists as a delegate to the state and an alternate to the Congressional district conventions. Yikes. Showing up to those go into the Must Do column, but yikes.

On the home front: To move or not to move. If we move I'm out a net $1400 and don't know how to make it up. If we stay I cover bills through end of August, but my bills increase drastically each month. Over a year the two options are a wash, but the difference between being out a lump sum NOW and a smaller amount spread out. Me thinks we stay, and pray.

School and work: The back injury still bites. I hired the attorney a year ago, and my standing seems to have shifted only microscopically toward getting some help, medical attention, and assistance for job training. In the meantime, I've applied for and earned acceptance to a highly competitive one year teaching internship. Now for my Master's application. Given acceptance for that I'll have a masters and my teaching license a year from now. In the world of economically struggling, totally not making it, and can't work as a nurse anymore - major achievements all around. Not to mention work that paves a path to self sufficiency and the day when fixing my children's teeth doesn't invite nightmares to my pillow. But how to get through that year without a flippin income!?!?! Yep, you heard me - No Income, it's a full time, unpaid, student teaching plus classes. Oy vey! That said, opportunities like this don't come around often, and applicants faced incredible competition getting in. Again, I say go for it, and PRAY.

My things to do list continues to grow exponentially. I tend to think that a 25% completion rate represents success in our house. Time for a time management course, right? Please, forget the fact that my father, business consultant extraordinaire, taught time management and assisted rather larger corporations like IBM and Lockhead Martin figure out that dilemma with hundreds of thousands of employees. My blood runs rich with information on how to do all this, it's the application of the knowledge that I continuously stumble over. Perhaps that explains my infrequent blogging.

Time to attack today's to do list. I already managed the 25% mark, so I wonder - does that make the rest a bonus? (Joking, totally joking!)