Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union

LBJ ~ His first State of the Union

I am finishing a biography of Andrew Jackson.

Hate the partisan bickering of today? Blame Jackson and the political climate around him. "A willingness to wage constant partisan combat, no matter what the issue, was an emerging requirement in the politics coming into being in the 1830s" is what Jon Meacham says about the time.

It sounds so familiar, doesn't it?

Jackson had a newspaper started that would publish articles entirely in support of his policies. It was called the Globe. Heh. Think about that happening today.

Of course, then there was John C. Calhoun, the vice president who broke a tie vote in the Senate by voting against one of the President's nominees. Imagine. That went down well. Of course, Calhoun wanted to be president himself. There were other problems with him. {No, I am not a Calhoun fan.}

Not that Jackson was a saint by any means. I will say this for him: He believed in public service above all else (which conveniently came with a lot of power) and he would do anything to preserve The Union. Because at this point the seeds for the Civil War were sown (hey, thanks Calhoun!) and Jackson was doing his darndest to weed them out. (Yes. Darndest.)

It just goes to show that politics has never really been clean and polite in this country. There have always been men with good intentions (and some with simply intentions) and large egos and divergent interests and values.

We think things are crazy now. And they are. But if we knew our history, really knew it, we might realize the miracle of anything ever getting done and that we're still here, despite ourselves.

Tonight is Barack Obama's first State of the Union address. He's had a tough year. He's made some good calls and some bad ones. The NY Times reports that he will tell us so.

You should tune in. A good way to learn about history is to start with the present.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hope Springs

The weather page is saying that my town is in for some precipitation this week. So far it's come mostly in the form of rain. Sweet rain.

Monday morning I woke up and went outside and although it was cold (it's still January after all) there was that slight hint of Spring lurking around the corner. A faint something in the air - I think it must be the smell of hope.

January and February can be rough months: it's cold and dreary and nary a Christmas light in sight, which is good thing really, because the Christmas lights still on in February are simply annoying. I am ready for warmer weather once we get into the year by a few weeks, and that rarely happens around here. I have been known to metaphorically trudge through the end of Winter by staying inside and re-reading a lot of favorite books or spending too much time on my computer.

So even though today the weather can't quite make up it's mind (rain? snow? rain? snow?) For whatever reason, I am excited for Spring. And it doesn't feel that far away.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Two of my favorite people were born on this day.

My sister Lorien and my brother Christian. They are both wonderful, amazing, and lovely and I love them so much. They are not twins, just born on the same day several years apart.

You can check out Lorien here on her wonderful blog. Christian blogs too, but his is anonymous. He writes some fabulous things, though.

Happy Birthday, Lorien.

Happy Birthday, Christian.

For now, For love, Forever Amen.*

Though I am light on the resolutions this year, I have resolved to get to bed earlier and exercise more. Getting to bed earlier can be tricky. And as far as the exercise goes? Enter the mini trampoline.

We got a jogging trampoline for Christmas. My kids love it. And I myself am rather fond of it.
I've never really been into the DVD way of exercise, but it is way too cold to go out walking these days. Not that I have been out walking when it was warmer either... So last week I mini-jogged, jumped and rocked my way through Marc Cohn and Belinda Carlisle singing some happy tunes. I like exercise on my own terms. Hopefully it pays off.

{* from We Want The Same Thing by Belinda Carlisle. Yeah. It's about as rocked out as I get.}

Friday, January 8, 2010

And Now, I Must Brush My Teeth

One thing about having small children is that you must brush their teeth for them. Simply leaving it up to them is not an option if you want them to have clean teeth, and for you to have a clean bathroom.

Small children are generally incapable of getting their teeth brushed alone without a lot of water and toothpaste spread about the vicinity. Also, their technique is not yet refined enough to achieve the desired results.

My youngest two are generally cooperative about this endeavor, though they might protest at first. Last night my son, 3 1/2 years, came upstairs after being put to bed, a nightly ritual. His teeth had not been brushed.

"Oliver," I said, "We need to brush your teeth."

"No. I don't want to brush my teeth today," was his certain reply.

At which point I said something like this: "Oliver, do you know what cavities are? (He shook his head.) They are little germs that get on your teeth and if you don't brush your teeth the cavities can eat your teeth all gone."

He pondered this for a moment. Seriously, watching a three year-old ponder something is the best. I could see him thinking through the consequences. This is the boy who doesn't like having his hair cut, because his fear is that it will be all gone when I am done. I could see him playing out similar consequences in his head regarding his teeth. Hmmm. No more teeth?

"Mom," he said, "Let's go brush my teeth."

And so we did.

Now, if only potty training would be as easy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Reminder

Wednesdays can be my nemesis.

Not only is it garbage day, but it is the day my kids get out of school early. A very inconvenient day for early out. Mostly because my brain has a hard time remembering that it's a) Wednesday and b) early out. I have forgotten to pick up each of my children, who get out at different times, once.

So I am writing this morning to remind myself that it's Wednesday and early out.

Now I am going to eat tortilla chips. And maybe do the dishes.

I am also reminding you to do whatever it is you needed to do today.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


True to the form of my New Year's Resolution to take things easy as they come (if it can be called a resolution) our Christmas tree sits in the front room, ornament-less, tinsel-less, light-less. It still looks lovely, if a little bare and dry. It is waiting for someone or two to have the time to haul it outside. In the meantime my children will continue to be thrilled to have a tree in the house, decked out or not.

The Christmas decorations have been taken down and put into newly bought storage containers. I purchased an ornament box that I am in love with. Perhaps in part because of the color, the perfect shade of red. They sit in my front room next to the tree waiting to be put away. Things are coming down in the same way they were put up; slowly, somewhat haphazardly, as we go along.

Last night I practiced relaxing. That sounds a little silly, but my back and shoulder muscles have been so tight and sore, and I have been prone to some piercing headaches that have made doing a number of things a little unpleasant. Ben sent me to my room with a Coke for my headache and a bed for my back. It helped.

It's cold outside. Normal for January. I am always anxious for warmer weather once the new year has shown up. I know, I live next to the mountains and not the beach. So I won't hold my breath. Instead I'll keep breathing and take the Christmas boxes out to the garage when I get to it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cheerful & Realistic

My husband, Ben, thinks my last post was depressing and full of foreboding for the coming year. I entirely disagree.

I think what my last post said was "I was tired. I was unorganized. And the last month of the year was hectic. But there were some nice moments and we're moving forward. Without any unrealistic expectations."

I would, for the record, like to state that the phrase "unrealistic expectations" in no way indicates a depressed mood or loss of hope or anything like that. It's just that for this coming year I am aware of my boundaries, aware of what I can probably get done, and therefore aware of what I can't or won't get done. {Also, with four kids, I find that expectations can get unrealistic in a hurry and that it usually doesn't do anyone any good.}

All in all, I expect that 2010 will be a very nice year. But that is in part because it will be a minimalist year. I refuse to go overboard when I can putter around on the deck taking care of a few important things and letting other things float off into the sunset, or wherever it is they go to.

The filter through which I view life is not rose colored, but it is a pleasant shade of something and I am generally optimistic and cheerful, if in a subdued way. But I believe that things work out, that hard times have purpose, and that God is There. Yes, capital T. So I try not to worry about things too much.

In any case, today is the first Monday of a new year and I am off to shuttle my children to school. The sun has just peaked over the mountain and my youngest is complaining that she is confined to her crib.

And so it's off to the races!

Happy New Year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Postcards from the Edge, the End, and the Beginning. Etc.

Dear 2009,

It was okay while it lasted, and I can't say I'm sad to see you go. Still, there were some good times.

Forever goodbye,



Dear Christmas 2009,

You were pretty good. And exhausting. Here's to being more prepared next time around.




Dear New Year's Eve,

You are generally overrated.




Dear 2010,

I have lots of things I'd like to do but really low expectations. I hope that means we'll get along famously.

All the Best,


P.S. Don't screw this up.


Dear Readers,

Posting in the near future may be erratic and sporadic, but know I love you dearly.