Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A little late...

It wasn't love at first sight. Definitely like at first sight. It was a good first date. Good enough to warrant a second, and a third. He was smart and funny and cute and easy to talk to. He came with the recommendation of someone I trust implicitly. He was grounded, knew exactly who he was and what he wanted. For a girl that was in the midst of the mother of all mid-life upheavals, that seemed a little foreign and kind of hard to relate to.

Thankfully, he was also persistent. Never pushy, never overbearing or clingy. But always there, never sending conflicting messages about his intentions. Always a gentleman, always an incredibly easy person to date. An easy person to date, attached to an incredibly difficult one.

And so like became more than like, and eventually love. I remember getting a text from him one day and noting the smile it brought. The tingle of excitement to see his name. There was nothing special about the message, only the boy who sent it. That, more than any other moment, is when I knew. When I was absolutely certain that this one had reached me in a way that no others had.

There were some bumps, although surprisingly few. Sometimes he had to remind me that even he has a limit to his patience:-). And there were always extenuating circumstances, always a higher priority. But eventually that all just didn't seem to matter. Eventually, this girl who alternates between being supremely self-sufficient and finding remarkable reservoirs of assistance found the boy who matched that perfectly. The boy who didn't need what she didn't have to give, and had in abundance the things she needed most.

I'm a better person because of him. I'm better because he makes me better. He makes me want to be as good as him. As kind, as smart, as selfless, as driven. He makes me want to deserve the immense amount of love that he has to give. He makes me feel loved and valued and respected and desirable. He makes me feel like I'm the prettiest girl at the party, every day.

Three years ago, I stood across from him and told everyone that matters to me that I wanted to marry him. I told everyone that matters to him that I would spend my entire life doing everything I can to justify the love that he gives me. Rolling around in my belly that day were two tiny little girls who will someday learn exactly how fortunate they are to have their Daddy. Thinking of them on that day, and thinking of him, I was more certain than I have ever been that I was the luckiest girl in the world.

And I was right. Happy Anniversary, buddy. You make all of this awfully easy.

{Yea, I am a couple of days late with this...it took me a while to finish!}

Thursday, September 20, 2012

If you look closely, I really tried to not rant and rave here

Seems that I have done some political ranting lately, but nothing else...so I probably owe you some updates. That said, I don't really feel like I have that much to update you about:-) I feel like I have been busy with a lot of random stuff lately, but nothing of note. This weekend, for example, we have a two year old's birthday party to go to - there will be a bouncie house - and another party after that, and then some random errands that need to get done on Sunday. Throw in a soccer game for Munchkin on Friday that I want to get to, and the whole weekend is pretty full.

The girls have decided that they have no interest in sleeping in their beds all night. LK usually gets up at sometime around 3:30 and comes into our room, demanding that Daddy sleep in the living room with her. She falls right back to sleep, she just wants to sleep on the couch with Daddy:-) I probably find that cuter than he does!

In more humorous news...he started P90X this week, which has led to four days of grunting, moaning and overall achy-ness that is, honestly, kind of amusing. On Wednesday, he stood at the sink trying to shave, only he couldn't reach his hands all the way up to his face without help. Watching him try to sit up in bed is also hilarious...it turns into a kind or groaning, half-roll lurch. It's sexy.

Thankfully, he is lucky to have a willing (and slightly mischievous) masseuse as a wife.

I never wrote about it last week (partially because I have been involved in something at work that is dynamically not all that different), but the teacher's strike in Chicago was a pretty big deal. Big because it involved a lot of teachers and a lot of students, because it involved a Mayor who should be a friend of labor (former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel), and because it covered the key issues facing most school systems.

Of course, I have opinions:-) - teachers shouldn't expect bigger raises than taxpayers are getting; asking people to work more and not expecting them to want to get paid more is kind of silly; teachers should be held more accountable than they generally are, but standardized test scores are not a good way to do it; ...and plenty of others.

But that isn't really my big question. My big question is: why are there public sector unions? I understand all of the economic arguments against labor unions, and some of them are valid, but by and large, I don't see industrial labor unions as inherently evil or anti-competitive. But unions of civil workers...? Whole other story.

Unions, as always, exist to represent workers in the ongoing battle between labor and capital. Capital tends to be concentrated in a few hands, so unions provide a means of concentrating the other great economic input and level the negotiating field.

So where, exactly, do police and fire and teacher's unions fit into this? Specifically, in the ongoing battle of labor and capital, who in this equation is "capital"? If no one profits from the operation of the school, and no one owns the school systems as a commercial enterprise, how can anyone be representing the capital half of that dynamic? And the only thing approximating management are elected officials...officials that the labor interests have the right to hire and fire (just like every other voter.)

Well look there...I am already back to ranting about politics...that was fast...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Continued nonsense

Mitt Romney has gone and put his foot in his mouth, saying at a fundraiser that non-income tax-paying Americans see themselves as "victims".  In response, it seems that every Democrat in the country has contacted their closest Republican friend, and the two have agreed to swap their talking points from the time four years ago that Barack Obama said that people in the midwest "cling bitterly to their guns and religion".

This is not unlike the ongoing "debate" over Mitt Romney's tax returns, in which the two sides have very conveniently switched to using the exact same arguments that their opponents were using when discussing Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Meanwhile, they have spent another $1.5 trillion this year that we don't have and are gearing up for a complete fabricated "crisis" over the debt ceiling.

Now Romney will try to softly back peddle, and the Democrats will try to skewer him for this. Honestly, I would rather he just move ahead and say "You know, it's a fundamentally unsound form of financing the government that half of people don't work, and half of the people who do work pay no income taxes. Everyone should have a stake in our policies."

Then, in fantasy land, it would be wonderful if Obama responded with "That is an incomplete picture of the Federal tax burden, because every worker pays Social Security and Medicare taxes, both of which are actually quite regressive."

Of course, that is much to close to an actual substantive debate, which we could never have...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I sort of teased the other day that I would write a "Your kids aren't that smart" post...and rather than be known as a tease, I figured I should write it. I can't be known as a tease:-)

There is an unadvertised benefit of having twins...it helps to keep you from obsessing over development. From the time a woman gets pregnant, there is a mountain of literature (most of it not worth reading) that tells you exactly how you should be growing and feeling and then how the kid should be growing and developing.

The problem being, of course, that children don't develop according to a set schedule. And more importantly...kids who do one thing or another behind schedule are not doing so because their parents have failed. The corollary to that, of course, is that you are not a morally superior parent because your baby can hold his head up a week before the books say he should be able to.

Honestly, it would be very hard for me to make an assessment of which of the girls is developing faster. LK walked first, got teeth first, slept through the night first, used the potty first and is generally better at it. MA ate solids first, grew faster, stood up first, sleeps better and communicates better.

Just to site two examples...MA learned to talk a year ago and hasn't stopped since. She yabbers all day long, makes whole sentences, asks questions and verbalizes her feelings really clearly. Verbally, she is far ahead of what would be considered normal development. But she still gets frustrated and occasionally hits or bites.

LK, on the other hand, doesn't talk nearly as much. She can, and her vocabulary is close to her sisters, but she doesn't enunciate nearly as well, and doesn't form the same kinds of multi-phrase thoughts that MA does. But, put a puzzle in front of her, and suddenly she becomes a genius. She has a couple of 20-24 piece wooden puzzles that she can take apart and put together without any help. Her sister? She talks a good game..."Momma, this one goes here?"...but basically she just shoves any two random pieces together without paying much attention to the picture.

So who is smarter? Beats me...it is pretty clear that their brains work in very different ways...but they are both working. And, to take this a step further...MA is not a better speaker and LK a better puzzle maker because of the superior parenting she has received;-)

Parents love to take credit for their kids; development, and they really love to overstate their kids' development;-) Because there are million ways to measure development, and just about every kid will be ahead of the curve on some and behind the curve on others. It is much to easy to note the one thing he or she does really well, and then use that as a justification of your parenting skills.

And really, I get it...bragging about our kids is fun. I am not at all above it. Seeing them develop is an affirmation that we haven't broken them. Christ, at least 40% of this blog is unabashed bragging of a kid who isn't really even my kid!!!

But it still drives me a little crazy (and frankly, I kind of live in a place where the parenting competition is heavier than most). If I were more passive aggressive, I may well have said some things over the past two years like "Wow, I think I read where knowing colors by 12 months has a really high correlation to your likelihood of being on the Supreme Court"...

A guy that I work with showed me a hilarious Facebook post earlier this week because he knows I appreciate these things. A girl he had gone to High School with, in a blatant attempt to fish for compliments, had posted "Wow, is it normal for a 17 month old to know the alphabet and count to 12?" What she was really saying was "Please, everyone tell me that my kid is special, and that we are doing a great job raising him!"

Instead, the comments were largely stuff like "Yea, that is about right," and "That seems pretty normal...I think my kids were about that age." {Never mind that 17 months is probably a little early to be doing that stuff;-)}

Also, he showed me no fewer than six people in his circle of friends who had entered their kid in the Gerber Cutest Baby contest...because, you know, every one of their kids is absolutely adorable.

OK...so I have no idea what my point is. Certainly, I have no interest in people loving their kids less or thinking them less special. And by all means, you are welcome to find your own kids to be the cutest ones in the class...I know I do:-).

But maybe it doesn't hurt to remember that, when judged by others, exactly one half of kids are dumber than average, and one half are uglier.

And now, I am going to hell:-)

{Update: Big Sis read this right after I posted it, and her response is "That is so true, which is why I find it so amazing that all of our kids are so incredibly smart and cute!"}

Monday, September 10, 2012

Catching up

So, I really intended to blog several times since I last wrote, but then I got sidetracked with awesome weather and random fun stuff and never got around to it...

As such, I never recapped the President's speech, which I thought was kind of mediocre. I just feel like we have heard all of that before...I was hoping that he would be less hopey-changey and more executive. He started out great, with a sobering call for "shared sacrifice", but as far as I can tell, the only sacrifice he is really calling for is a 3% increase in the tax rate on something like 100,000 people... Everyone else gets everything they want and gives up nothing!!! Yay!!!

Then he devolved into exactly what the GOP did the week before...a tirade of half-truths about how evil the other guys are. I certainly understand that this is how the game is played...and he should have little trouble winning re-election without any major new policy announcements, but it was still disappointing.

And honest to God, if he keeps up with this "We saved the auto industry!" shit, I may reconsider my (already tepid) commitment to voting for him in November. Sorry, buddy, but you didn't save the "American auto industry" and it is hard to argue that you saved a single net job. Also, Romney is right about the folly of Treasury continuing to hold shares of GM. Waiting for the stock to rebound is terrible policy - the government should not be in the business of speculating on common stocks.

That, however, all seems like old news. We have already had four days worth of terrible economic news and more partisan campaign bickering. I kind of feel bad for the people in Ohio, Florida and the other swing states...all of whom will shortly be absolutely barraged with the most ridiculous advertising you can imagine. By mid-October, Obama will be socialist Iran-sympathizer who personally laid off something like 4 million workers, and Romney will be a top-hatted robber baron whose entire fortune was built by stealing arthritis medication money from old ladies.

In other news...Munchkin has settled into her senior year of high school. Allow me to say that again...her SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL!!! She is applying for early admission into That School That We All Know She Is Going To, so she has sort of begun that process. The deadline is November 1, but she is incapable of not having the whole thing done well before then. I think she is going to go ahead and prepare applications to three other places in case she doesn't get in, but should hopefully get an answer before she has to submit them.

The girls are becoming potty training experts! LK managed to stay dry all day on Friday, and most of the weekend as well. MA is catching on, too...although they both need a little bit of work in giving me a little bit more warning on their bathroom activities before I put them into underwear... Getting close, though:-)

MA has entered a "why?" phase, where she asks questions about everything..."Momma, why you doing that?" "Daddy, why you go running? You get sweaty? You take a shower?" I should write more about the differences in their personalities...which are really substantial...and maybe I will this week. I may also write about "parental measurement", but I may also keep that one to myself;-) Short version...every parent I know is convinced that their kid is incredibly smart. Also, they think it reflects on their basic greatness as a parent.  Mathematically speaking, I can assure you that half of them are dumber than average...

Anyway, this is enough scatter-shot for one day...I gotta get some work done!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Much better!

My thrilling convention coverage continues...

Can someone explain to me why Sandra Fluke gets a spot in prime time? As far as I can tell, her major contribution to society so far has been being degraded by Rush Limbaugh...and if that is the standard, then this convention is going to need a much longer schedule.  They can't find time for the Vice President, or for any members of the Presidents cabinet...but they can carve out 15 incredibly valuable minutes for a random graduate student? OK...

Elizabeth Warren was...well, Elizabeth Warren. Full of lovely phrases about equality and fair play and wonderful chastising of the privileged, but not the least bit likeable and not a single concrete idea. I fear that she is headed for a pretty embarrassing defeat come November (well, I don't really "fear" it, because we won't really miss her). She is in a State where she takes a 3-1 registered voter advantage into the election, and where the President from her party, with whom she is closely associated, will likely win by a larger percentage than in any other state in the country save his own. She was saved the trouble of running a primary and will have tons and tons of money...and she is probably gonna lose by 8 points anyway...

The main event, however, was obviously Bill Clinton, and we once again got a glimpse of his brilliance in this forum. If you go into the way, way back machine, I thought his 2008 speech was overrated (but I thought Hillary's was underrated), but he was very much back to his old self last night. Frankly, the speech was too long, his command of the facts was questionable, and his history just a tad revisionist...but his persona is just mesmerizing. He may as well have been working a room with 10 people.

I found the tone to be really interesting. This was not a grand, visionary World Leader speech. Save for some passages about bi-partisanship and cooperation (which, by the way, I hope that the President was listening to, since he is just about the worst offender of this) the text was absent big ideas and really heavy on details. He spent a lot of time talking about why we should still like Obama, what he has done to make him proud and why he feels great about him being President for another four years. It is bothersome that so few other Democrats can make that same argument.

And taking the time to explain specifics about Medicare policies? I love it...and I can't imagine anyone else who would attempt to do that to an audience of 10 million or so. Sure, his facts are dubious (the argument relies on the assumption that you can just decide not to pay $700 billion and expect that not a single provider is going to cut back on a meaningful service) but his ability to explain that in 30 seconds is phenomenal. And for the nitwits on TV...that is a policy. "Restore the middle class" is not a policy. "Close the medicare drug donut hole" is a policy. {Frankly, it is a terribly policy, but that isn't the point...the point is that it is an actual action, not a vague idea that means different things to different people.}

Just one last note about Clinton's power to command a room. In 2012, in a Democratic National Convention hall, he managed to get a serious and heartfelt ovation for George W. Bush. Now THAT is an accomplishment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Wondering exactly what they are watching?

More than being dissapointed in the conventions, I have become really angry at the analysis of them by the major media outlets. They are suddenly incapable of saying a bad thing about anyone, and have dutifully opined that every speech for two weeks now has been phenomenal.

Well, sorry guys, you are all wrong. The have been consistently vapid and amateur, but concluding with some phrases delivered with great energy to rile up a crowd that is there specifically to get riled up, and would be excited by the details of a Chinese food menu.

To hear the analysts tell it, Ann Romney was likeable and approachable and sympathetic and helped everyone know Mitt just a little bit better. That is complete BS...she was terrible, her speech was terrible and it was time that the party completely wasted that they could have devoted to someone who could delivered an actual message. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan were bright and energetic and substantive, and Romney hit it out of the park.

Well, I wrote last week that they were all wrong...and the complete non-effect of the convention on the polls says that I am right and they aren't. The beauty of this being my forum is that no one can disagree with me!!! Ha ha!!!

So, last night was more of the same. Julian Castro was actually OK, and at least spent a couple of minutes on a coherent defense of Obama. But frankly, a huge portion of that speech were complete throwaway phrases that appeared in a similar form in Marco Rubio's similarly overrated speech last week. He had one great moment on healthcare when he hit the "actually, he was for it..." line. That was a winner.
Michelle Obama was better than Ann Romney, but frankly it was still terrible. She stumbled over her words ("and, and, and..."), used too many throw away phrases ("at the end of the day?" c'mon...this a freaking national convention!) and delivered the whole thing on the verge of a half-cry that isn't convincing anyone who wasn't already 100% committed to Obama. The text lacked focus and message, rambled all over the place, and included almost no defense of her husband's Presidency other than "he loves me and our kids!" 

Tonight we get our very own Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who will likely be shrill and condescending and make no new friends outside of the specific segment of the party that loves her. Once again, the panels will talk about her clear vision and strong message...and the blue collar Democrats in Massachusetts that she will need to rely on to win will largely yawn and make no re-assessment of their opinion of her. 
My gut feeling is that this is a mistake, and largely driven by a feeling that they "owe" her because the didn't give her the Consumer Finance job she wanted. Obama is going to win this election based on likability, and she is not going to help him on that one bit. But what do I know...no one pays me to recite party talking points on the air...