Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Imagining the biggest mess possible...

Kind of a big day in the Presidential race today...primaries in Michigan and Arizona and a seemingly razor-thin margin between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in both. And this serves as a prelude to next Tuesday, when something like 10 states (including Massachusetts) vote all at once.

I am not sure there has ever really been a race like this one (and not just because they seem to be catering to a segment of people who are morally opposed to condoms...seriously?!?). There have been races that have gone really deep into the primary calendar, and the Democrats went until almost June in 2008...but to have four candidates still at least moderately viable? That seems unprecedented to me. And it doesn't look likely to be solved in the next week...

Romney is still the favorite, although that status is tenuous, and losing Michigan would be really hard for him to overcome. But assuming he wins both today, albeit close, he stands to win another couple of states next week and probably will remain as the leader.

Santorum seems to have the momentum, despite what appears to be his new goal to "Say one thing every day that is dumber than the dumbest thing I said yesterday!" If he wins Michigan, he becomes the absolute clear cut favorite, and if he wins Arizona, too, then it will be hard to see anyone else winning. And he will probably win a couple of states next week, too.

New Gingrich appears to have run his course, but he also doesn't look to drop out any time soon. He will certainly win Georgia next week (which will have offer the most delegates of any state that has voted so far) and will likely win Tennessee as well. It is hard to see how he ends up as the nominee, but it is easy to see him sticking around for another month or so.

Which brings us to Ron Paul (and then to the big payoff of this blog...I promise:-)). He hasn't won any states yet, but by some counts, he is in second place. Why "some counts" you ask? Because, due to the absurdities of caucuses, no one really knows what the score is right now. Sure, people have voted and the votes have been counted, but the actual delegate count is very much up in the air. Once this makes sense to me, I will explain it to you...

Paul may or may not win any states this week or next, but if he can last long enough, he will very likely win the biggest prize in the GOP primary mid-season: Texas. And he could do very well in California, too. Is it possible to win the nomination without winning more than two or three states? I dunno...seems weird.

Which gets us to the final note here...Texas. The second biggest state in the country, and the second biggest delegate count, it will be the biggest primary before June (CA is on June 5) by a really wide margin. That is, of course, if they actually have it.

You see, there is a problem in Texas: the congressional re-redistricting plan has been challenged in court, and the primary can not take place before that is resolved. Originally scheduled for April 3rd, it will almost certainly be pushed back to May 29th, and should the lawsuit drag even further, it may have to be pushed back even further.

So, while there has been some talk about a "brokered convention" (which can't really happen in today's environment, but we could very well have an unclear nominee when the convention starts) because no one gets to the number of delegates needed...my question is: "What happens if it is not totally clear how many delegates are needed?" What if, say, Romney has 1,100 delegates but Texas hasn't voted yet. Does he win because he has more than half of the delegates assigned, or does he still need 1,144? Does Texas actually lose its delegates, or does the state party get the right to assign them as they see fit? What if they decide to give all 155 of them to Texan Ron Paul, and that is enough to either push him over the top, or at least to pull him into a virtual tie with between one and three others?

Or even better, what if there is no nominee, and the courts have pushed back the Texas primary until AFTER the convention? Can that even happen? Probably not...I am just dreaming up drama right now...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Moving, maybe?

First of all, many, many congratulations to one of my oldest blog-friends, Ally, on the birth of her little baby boy (and by "oldest" I mean "longest time", not like, actually the oldest...I am not real sure who my oldest reader is, unless Jenn's Grandpa Otto reads...speaking of which, he is adorable:-))

Moving on...sorry if you tried to read sometime yesterday and found the site locked...I am not real sure what happened, but my privacy settings got flipped. Also, I seem to have gotten like five different invitations to join new blogs that clearly were not intended for me. Google, what the hell is going on?!?!?

Not a whole lot more to report...we had chicken fingers last night for the first time in a while. You are probably assuming that I have less time for that, but you would be wrong...more often than not, it is Munchkin who has other commitments and can't make it. Busy girl! But she had no basketball games, theater practices, group projects or other things to do last night, so we went out right after the girls went to bed around 8:15 or so. I will admit that it is nice to have an older kid who don't have to be in bed before me and can stay out a little later:-)

Speaking of teenage daughters, Modern Family was killing me again this week...that may be my new favorite show.

We have sort of started house hunting again, which is actually sort of frustrating. While I seem to have heard a lot about a housing recession, and falling home prices...that appears to be something of an urban legend, at least as judged by things for sale in the places that I want to live. Really, I am hoping to have this discussion with someone from Manhattan, or maybe London, just so that I can feel like things are reasonably priced...

Case in point... here we have a lovely three bedroom condo (which could be four) that seems right up our alley. Well finished, great location, good size, parking, etc.

The one problem, of course, is that is is listed for $3 million. That's right THREE. MILLION. DOLLARS. Dollars aren't worth what they used to be, but that is still 2.3 million Euros and 1.9 million pounds. Or, in the universal currency...a shitload of money. In the even more universal currency, that is "more than I have".

So, long story short, I am not sure how much luck we will have in moving. I would love to expand a bit, and a fourth bedroom would be really nice (we have 1,600 and something square feet, plus a deck and some storage space, and three bedrooms now) but it is just gonna cost us a fortune to make any kind of a substantial upgrade. But we will keep looking...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I have learned a lot about parenting from my life with Munchkin...most of it trial and error, and most of it greatly facilitated by having The Best Kid Ever (which is actually official...just try and dispute it, I dare you.) More than anything, it has taught me the value of traditions in a way that I would never have otherwise really appreciated. Whether it is chicken fingers on Thursday, soccer games on Fall Saturdays, rides to the beach on Summer Fridays or walking to school every morning, I think of her largely through the things that we regularly do.

One of the nice parts about traditions is the ability to chart her growth through memories of repetitive traditions. The first time we went skiing with her friend's family was 2007, and with the exception of 2010 (I was on bed rest, she had a broken foot) we have gone every year...including one year that me and SHR took the girls and left the parents home.

When I think back, though, they were really little girls the first time we went up there...all awkward and braces and gangly and newly boy-crazy. And now they are unquestionably young women (although still boy crazy:-)). I will admit that Munchkin is a lot "older" than the rest of them, but they are all basically little adults. That, of course, doesn't stop them from discussing, at length, their deep and irrevocable feelings for Boy A on the car ride on Friday night, only to meet Boy B while skiing on Saturday and make plans to hang out with him and his friends that night, and to leave on Monday excited that he is coming to a school dance with you in two weeks...but still:-)

I didn't ski or snowboard, although I thought about it! I cooked and relaxed and did a little work and went shopping on Sunday with Munchkin's friend's Mom, who I absolutely adore. We had a good conversation about their sick friend, and she admitted to having some of the same quasi-irrational thoughts that I did...which was helpful:-). She also admitted to having a completely ridiculous desire to have another baby, which I think I helped talk her out of - I doubt she was serious, but she is 51 and her four kids are between 15 and 22 and I think she was just missing the days of really little kids. I can think of almost nothing that sounds like LESS of a good idea:-)

And that was about it! Munchkin drove all the way up there and all the way back and I never had to use my imaginary brake even once:-) I did, however, decide that it is time to get a new car...maybe this spring.

Also...have we talked about me turning 30 this year? Oy...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A little wanderer

More on the ski trip later, but for now I thought you might appreciate this...

The Boy swapped out the girls cribs yesterday into big-girl beds (you can remove one side of the crib and put in a railing). They loved them, and love that they can get in and out of them. The great fear, obviously, is that they can now come and get you in the middle of the night.

They were great last night, though...not a peep all night. At least not a peep that we heard...

At 6:45 this morning, I found LK asleep on rug in the living room, along with her pillow, 9 stuffed animals, a blanket and a pillow pet...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ski Bunnies

Happy Friday everyone:-) And Happy long weekend to anyone who has Monday off...which I do...

As usual, I am going skiing in Vermont with Munchkin and her friends. This is the...um...fifth (?) time we have done this, and I remain firmly committed to not skiing! I am driving up with the girls (the real change being that I am actually riding up with the girls this year and Munchkin is driving) during which time I have been told there are many boy issues to be worked out. As it turns out, I am the ultimate arbiter of all boy-related issues for Munchkin's friends...so I have that going for me:-) Last year there were a couple of boys with us, this year there are not...and it may be related...

I will also have some company from her friend, who is coming with us but can't ski at all. She is doing pretty well, and has yet to get really, really sick, but she gets tired really easily and is, I guess, fragile. So she will help me bake and bum around, and I will do my best to not regularly burst into uncontrollable tears...

But mostly, I am going to relax, cook, soak in the hot tub, read and basically enjoy a couple of days of nothing! The Boy gets solo Daddy duty (don't feel bad for him...he is headed to a bachelor party in New Orleans for FIVE DAYS in May), although his Mom will almost certainly be around for some part of that. He may just take them up to their house for a night or two.

In honor of Presidents Day, maybe I will give you a gigantic outpouring of thoughts on the Presidential election, which I have been sort of silent on. If I look back, I wrote a TON about that in 2008, and haven't been inspired to write nearly as much this time around. At this point, I am both uninspired by the available options, and unconvinced that this will be much of a November race at all...I doubt that any of these Republicans will even do as well as McCain did in 2008 (which, you may notice, was not very good).

We have a Senate race here in Massachusetts that may well turn out to be a whole lot more interesting than the Presidential race, featuring Scott Brown against Elizabeth Warren (who dreamed up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but didn't get to run it like she wanted to). He is the short-term incumbent, has tons of money already raised and remains pretty popular, but she is also pretty well-liked (so far) and will have a much bigger institutional support. She will also have tons of money. She remains kind of an unknown, and has never run for anything, but it will still be a really close race unless she turns out to be a complete clown.

Anyway, that can all wait for next week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Modern Family

First off, it still seems like it is not Chicken Pox. The rash seems to have stopped spreading, and is maybe healing a little bit. Her sister has a couple of tiny bumps (also on her left arm) but that seems to be the extent of it.

I assume that a bunch of you watch Modern Family...? I wouldn't call myself a devoted fan, but I do watch it whenever I happen to turn on the TV and its on (also...have we yet discussed my status as the last non-DVR user in America? Maybe tomorrow.) And it is always pretty funny.

So, last night there was an episode that was hilariously close-to-home, and also completely well timed. The brother and sister (who may be twins...?) were at dinner with her husband and his partner (or husband, I don't know what state this is:-)). They ended up getting hammered and deciding that it would be a really good idea for the sister to donate an egg, and for the brother's partner to donate his sperm to make a baby that a surrogate would carry. Then, the next morning they all woke up with horrible hangovers and realized what a completely horrific idea this was...and hilarity ensued...

Anyway...the thing is...THIS HAPPENED!!!  Well, not exactly, but maybe five years ago when Twin Sister and her Wife were first starting the fertility process, they had a doctor tell them that she was aware of at least one other set of twins who chose to have the other twin be the donor...the theory being that it would then be a child that was, genetically, a pretty good combination of its two parents.

Wait...that seemed confusing...what the doctor was asking was whether or not they wanted The Boy to donate his sperm and Twin Sister's wife to donate an egg...and since The Boy and Twin Sister share almost identical genetic material, the baby would be as close as a genetic descendant of Twin Sister and her Wife as possible. (I am actually pretty sure that I have told this story via gChat with some people before...Ally, does this ring a bell?)

If that strikes you as a little bit creepy...you are not the only one! It's uber-weird.

That does, however, bring me to the announcement that I promised last week...Twin Sister and her Wife are having another baby:-). This time her Wife is going to carry...which I guess is an advantage of being married to another woman - you only have to go through half of the pregnancies. She is due in August, about two weeks after Big Sis, and so far everyone if doing great. They are also going to wait to find out the baby's sex, so I will get two big surprises in August that I am very much looking forward to:-)

Send everyone good wishes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Pox on All Your Houses! (Well, mine at least:-))

So...LK may have chicken pox, which I believe should entitle me to a refund on the vaccine, no?

I say "may" because she probably doesn't. As mentioned, she has been vaccinated, which doesn't totally rule out getting them, but it makes it pretty unlikely. Also, the rash (which showed up on Sunday and looks a lot like chicken pox) in only on her chest, upper back and left arm, whereas chicken pox are a whole-body experience. The best news is that it doesn't itch or bother her at all, and she has no fever, both of which would come with the chicken pox and which I am really thankful that she doesn't have...it is hard to explain to a two year old that you can't bring 11 stuffed animals into your high chair for dinner, so keeping her from itching herself seems like a losing battle.

So, the doctor's verdict is that it is probably some kind of virus that is manifesting itself in a skin rash...and that her sister probably has it, too, but that it may manifest in her as a runny nose (it is winter, their noses are ALWAYS running) or a stomach ache or some other minor symptom. But, she did encourage us to keep her out of day care for a couple of days, which is a huge pain...especially since The Boy is totally swamped this week and can't really take a day off, and his mother is busy as well.

I stayed home with her yesterday, and Munchkin is playing hooky from school to stay home with her today...which I find so adorable that I want to kiss a bunch of puppies. I was planning on staying home again today and maybe having a babysitter come over in the afternoon so I could get some work done, but Munchkin volunteered:-)

Truth be told, she has been running herself a little ragged lately with what seems to be 641 activities, and I think she kinda liked the idea of a mental health day, and I am not at all opposed to that. Honestly, at this point, she could wake up and just tell me she didn't feel like going to school and I would let her stay home...(also, she has a lot of chocolate to eat, thanks to Frenchie:-)). So, they are kicking it at home today...or, probably somewhere else by now.

Beyond that, not a whole lot going on. I would write about the President's budget proposal and the Republican's response, but I am tired and I feel like it is the same stupid shit they have been talking about forever. He wants to raise taxes and won't talk about entitlements. They want to cut spending and won't talk about taxes. And there is apparently no middle ground...and really, very, very few of them will discuss this honestly with anyone.

Cest le vie...it's our own fault for electing them.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Random music thoughts

Selena Gomez? I love YOU like a love song, and that tune has been on repeat-peat-peat-peat in my head for nearly a week now.

Lady Gaga...please correct your grammar errors. There is something about you and me. I am aware that the rhyming may be more difficult, but I have no doubt that you are up for it, and the declining grammar skills of American children would benefit from your proper usage. Many thanks.

Kelly Clarkson...you are still, and will always be, my American Idol. The others are all pretenders! And you totally killed the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Well done.

Adele. I heart you. Heart, heart, heart. Very much.

Florence, I love you and I love your machine.

Adam Levine. You are incredibly pretty. But really, I can't say that you have ever been involved in a song that I like. And you seem to be a very popular guy...you are like this year's Akon.

Bruno Mars. You know what? I don't hate you...

Rihanna. Big fan of "We found love", even if the video looks an awful lot like a Victoria's Secret ad.

LMFAO. Just go away.

I'm sure I have more, but that is what I am feeling this morning:-)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pregnant again!

In an effort to not bring you all down any further, I have much better news today than I did yesterday...guess who's pregnant again?

Whoa, whoa, whoa...settle down, folks, it's not me;-)

My very dear, and most favorite fake older sister, Big Sis, is due in August with her second little nugget!!! Super, mega congratulations to her and The Brain Surgeon, who are great parents to little EH, and will be great parents to baby-unknown as well...and don't let her complaining fool you, Big Sis is over-the-moon excited about this:-)

(And not to spoil the surprise, but I just may have some more, similar news about someone else in the next week or so;-))

Monday, February 06, 2012

In really fun news...

I kind of hinted last week that I had another issue to talk about, and I just needed a few days to deal with it before I wrote about it. And I am not entirely sure that I will get through this post without having to leave my desk to go walk around for a while...fortunately I am not wearing eye makeup today.

Munchkin's best friend has leukemia. She found out Thursday, and told Munchkin right away. As you would expect, Munchkin went over to see her immediately, doing her best not to get too upset or emotional...and then left to come home and immediately became a complete blubbering mess. Which paled in comparison to the blubbering mess of her older sister...

And really, I shouldn't be as affected as I am. Cancer sucks. And I know way too many people who have been impacted on way too many levels. I have met a whole bunch of girls that are the same age as Munchkin's friend, and have shared in at least some of the heartbreak that every one of their families feels. In this case, the girl is strong and otherwise healthy and has been diagnosed at a time and with a disease that gives her a very high chance of a complete recovery.

She has two great parents, two wonderful siblings and at least one remarkable best friend, and she will be treated at one of the world's very best hospitals without ever having to leave home. In the universe of people with cancer, she is unquestionably one of the lucky ones. She is also a wonderfully sweet, adorably upbeat girl, and she has taken the news without a drop of anger or fear...she knows she is going to get better, and she is ready for the battle.

I know all of that. I know she is going to be fine. I know that she is going to be sick for a while, but that she will look radiant and stunning when I send her and Munchkin to their senior prom. And she will have a full head of long hair when she and Munchkin hug each other and promise to call every day when they leave for college. This has a happy ending.

So why am I so completely devastated by this? For four days now, I find myself periodically bursting into tears...and have sobbed uncontrollably at least twice. Obviously, it hit Munchkin pretty hard, but she did all of her crying in one day, and now is just concerned with figuring out when and how she will be able to visit, and what the treatment schedule looks like. She has begun helping her friend pick out wigs.

Really, I should be helping her deal with her own emotions while she helps her friend. I should be helping her to not panic, to understand the reality and to be prepared to offer emotional support. I should be encouraging her and her friends to help her friend's sister (two years younger, and therefore friendly with all of them) deal with her own issues. I certainly shouldn't be trying to avoid the subject for fear of bursting into tears on a moment's notice (which I may have done on Friday).

I have to get over myself...I am not sick, nor is Munchkin. I just have to keep reminding myself of that one key point: this has a happy ending.

Friday, February 03, 2012

This is gonna be long, sorry

I actually have a couple of things to write about...one of which I can't even bring myself to because I am at work and don't want to be a blubbering idiot, but I will try and get out early next week. I always feel better after I write things down, but this is a big one and I don't really know how to deal with it just yet.

So, first, another kinda serious subject that has lit the Internet on fire this week: Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood. If you have been living under a rock, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation has, for maybe seven years, participated in a partnership with Planned Parenthood whereby they give some money (around $500,000 annually) specifically to support a program that gives mammograms and other early-screening breast cancer services to mostly low-income women.

Someone earlier this year (I think, I am not sure) a Congressman from Florida launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood, ostensibly investigating claims that PP is using Federal Money to provide abortions, which would be a violation of Federal Law (I will reserve comment on the reasonableness of that law), and of the terms of whatever grants that PP gets from the Federal Government.

Also this year, the Komen Foundation initiated a policy dealing with charitable organizations that they support - specifically, that they will suspend aid to any organization that is under local, State or Federal investigation. As a result of this, they pulled their funding of PP because of this investigation.

So first, the "I don't knows". I don't know whether or not there were any other organizations that also lost funding from SGK as a result of this policy. I don't know whether this policy was the result of a normal risk assessment, or whether it was a specific act intended for only this one program. There seems to be an assumption that Komen did this to send a specific message to PP, but I don't know that to be true...it is possible that the news story broke because PP took it as an affront to their pro-Choice charter. I also don't know (although I suspect that it may be) whether or not the Congressional investigation is a legitimate exercise, or a witch hunt. Much of the outrage has been built under the assumption that it is, but I don't actually know that to be true.

Some additional background. I have been to Planned Parenthood as a client, and I know/knew a number of girls for whom the PP clinic was a key health care provider. Even as a teenager, it was pretty obvious that they have an agenda, and that the organization is dominated by their status as the most visible pro-Choice health care provider...but it is grossly misleading and unfair to call it an "abortion business" as I have seen a number of "news" outlets do in recent days. And it is impossible to deny their role as a health care provider, especially to women with few (or no) other options.

And I have always (basically) been pro-Choice. I believe in parental notification. I believe that the decision point should be pretty early in a pregnancy. I believe in a number of things that might be considered restrictions on abortion...but fundamentally I believe that it is a medical procedure that should be safe and should be available.

So, with all of that said...I just can't seem to get myself all worked up about the Komen foundation's decision. First of all, the policy is totally reasonable...if they have to ask people to give them money, which they do, then they simply can't take the risk of giving it to a charity for some period of time after they hear that the charity is under investigation. We are innocent until proven guilty in court...but not in the court of potential donor's minds. Just hypothetically, imagine that this investigation turns out to be real, and in 9 months, Planned Parenthood is exposed to have done all kinds of bad stuff, and the CEO gets sent to jail (no, I don't expect that to happen...but just go with it.) How does the SGK foundation then respond to a potential donor who asks "Why did you sent them $500k after you knew that they were accused of wrongdoing?"

Or, change the facts entirely...imagine the CEO of Charity Y has been arrested for beating his wife, but remains in his job while the case goes to trial. Could the SGK foundation justify continuing to send that charity money before a verdict was reached? Legally, sure...and maybe even ethically. But eventually, they answer to donors, who don't care about the legalities, they care about the emotional reasons that they give. If the Foundation feels like the best way to fulfill its mission is to cut this funding, then so be it...that is ultimately their responsibility.

To that end, I was sort of surprised to see that they even gave PP money in the first place. Understanding that the specific program is firmly within the goals of the SGK, there is no denying that PP is a controversial organization...partly because of what they do, and partly because an additional part of their goals is to be a very vocal, very visible proponent of pro-Choice causes and legislation. It would undeniably turn off a certain segment of potential donors.

Could I get worked up about a sham Congressional investigation? Sure...and this wouldn't be the only one...Congress does that sort of shit regularly. But most of the anger I have seen has been directed at SGK, including lots of threats to withold donations (which strikes me as cutting off funding from women's health care, which is what we are angry at them for in the first place.) I just can't really blame them, though. I understand why a massive charity would choose to not opine on the validity of an investigation and just take them all as "serious".

And finally, I feel like the rhetoric around the impact of all of this has been a little blown out of proportion. I have read in a couple of places about how this is impacting "millions of women's lives". Really? It is $500,000...not to say that is insignificant, but it is not going to impact "millions" of people. Additionally, the money will then eventually be re-allocated somewhere else within the Komen foundation to another of its assumedly noble causes...possibly something very similar. And further, out of Planned Parenthood's total budget of just about $1 billion, this represents one half of one tenth of one percent. In other words, a rounding error. Planned Parenthood ran a surplus in its most recent year of something like $60 million...meaning that they could provide the same program, with the result being that their annual surplus falls to $59.5 million...not exactly a crippling loss.

So, in the end, as much as it smells funny to have what appears to be a Congressman in Florida cutting funding for breast cancer prevention, it is hard to see where this will actually have a material impact on anyone. And if you really do think that the SGK does good work in achieving its primary goals (good enough that it caused you to donate), then I can't really believe that this, on its own, changes that. 

Alright, this is already way too long, and I KNOW that many of you disagree with me, so have at it.