Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Melted crayons and vivid leaves

Sounds colorful doesn’t it? My kids and I spent the better part of an afternoon crafting, making messes, dripping wax all over the kitchen table and abandoning any chance of getting the next math lesson done. It was worth it.

This is a conventional autumn craft with a waxy twist! As with most autumn crafts, you need leaves. It’s peak fall this week so we were able to find the freshest, brightest leaves today. Mmmm….fresh, bright and crunchy.

Along with Mother Nature’s beautiful contribution, you need:

Crayon shavings (or glitter if you’re not up for spoiling crayons)

Wax paper

An iron – and a large sheet of paper and a paper towel to keep the iron from directly touching the craft

Scraps and glue for framing

(Adorable children not necessary but recommended)

The first step is shaving your crayons, which is totally rad if you’re a kid because don’t you normally get into trouble for breaking crayons? I always did. My own kids looked at me skeptically when I gave them the green light to “sharpen” their crayons and save the shavings in a bowl. Their trepidation lasted all of three seconds before they got down to business. Even purples and blues added amazing color to our project so mix up your color choices!

Once you’re happy with your rainbow of shavings, put them all together and crunch up the bigger pieces with your fingers. Super tactile Montessori fun! Even I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the bowl.

Now it’s time to get creative, channel your inner Warhol and get funky baby. Place one sheet of wax paper atop a large sheet of paper and become one with the leaves. Feel the leaves, let the leaves tell you where they want to be.

After you’ve achieved happy leaf placement, sprinkle your inspiration with shavings. Don’t be shy now! When I say sprinkle, I really mean heap those yummy-looking shavings all over the wax paper and leaves. And yes, they really are yummy-looking. However my three-year-old will tell you they don’t taste very yummy and unfortunately, he discovered that from first-hand experience. I’m sure he’ll have a rainbow poop for me tomorrow.

And we're sprinkling darling. Sprinkle like you mean it.

Now you step in and get the melting done. Set your iron on medium and apply pressure slowly and evenly. Don’t forget to put a paper towel between the iron and the wax paper! Because that would be bad. I’m not telling you this from experience. No I’m not. Okay, maybe I am.

I spent about five minutes on each craft.

And we have a melty masterpiece! Stars in my eyes they're cute kids.

As for framing them, we cropped the crafts evenly across the top, bottom and sides and used all kinds of scraps to glue along the edges. My son color-coordinated a green border with red corners. I was impressed. And a little jealous that his looked nicer than mine.

Or, if you’re my daughter, you decide to cut out 293 tiny triangles for a most charming mosaic frame. Straight lines or funky shapes - whatever works, right?

Hang them where they’ll get plenty of sunshine and ooh's & ahhh's.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Concerning baby killers

(of which I personally have no first-hand knowledge) and concerning people who choose to take a pro-choice stance.

I received an electronic communication today calling me a baby killer.

Apparently I need to clarify any mixed messages Fundamental Fred may have about the differences between pro-choice and pro-abortion.

We, and I’m fairly confident when I speak for the collective pro-choice “we”, don’t like the idea of dead babies. I mean honestly, who does? Who actually wakes up each morning thinking “Sweet, somebody’s getting an abortion today.”? I don’t know people like that. I’m not saying there aren’t freaks out there, because there are. But generally speaking, abortions aren’t something pro-choice people wish for. The abortion itself is a small dab of black in a larger, uglier painting that most people are unwilling to see. It’s the reasons behind an abortion that are exactly the things most forward-thinking, pro-choice, liberal people are invested in putting a stop to. Things like rape, incest, or the pathetic lack of sex education to middle-school aged kids. I’m not saying rape and incest don’t happen worldwide, but it’s no wonder Europe looks at us like we’re complete assholes with our Puritanical approach to sexually educating our kids. We don’t want our pre-teenage daughters knowing the fundamentals of reproduction and self-empowerment of their own bodies and we let our seven year old daughters wear shirts adorned with Bratz dolls, who by the way look like they’re just about to climax, to school. Hello? Mixed message? Very confused and vulnerable daughter speaking.


Give me a moment.

Blood pressure’s getting a smidge high.

………..and we’re good.

A pro-choice opinion shouldn’t automatically suggest that I like the idea of abortion. It should suggest that I don’t approve of the government having ultimate control over my body. Does it imply that I would get an abortion? It shouldn’t. Because I wouldn’t. Does it imply that I’m undisturbed that abortions happen every day in my country? It shouldn’t. Because I’m not. I’m actually very disturbed.

I don’t like abortions.

I don’t want for abortions.

But in the words of Bill Clinton, “abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare.” Rare. Operative word. The entire principles of abortion should be influenced by that word. In the United States of America safe and legal should be assumed, but rare? That’s not something medical advances and a rational justice system can manage. That’s our cue as parents, teachers and keepers of all children to enter stage right and give the star performance of our careers. We teach rare. We demonstrate rare. We support and give alternatives so that rare becomes normal.

My stomach’s in knots trying to defend myself to somebody who knows nothing of my love for humans and our ability to make babies.

I don’t believe in killing babies. I believe in rare.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Twice over

It seems that John McCain hasn’t panicked about public debates just once. No, my friends, his toes also got cold back in 2000 when scheduled to debate Texas governor George W. Bush. Yeah, that Bush. The Bush whose IQ most likely rivals that of the giant crap my husband just took. Honestly, who can blame the guy for having trepidations and anxieties about facing Barack Obama? I wouldn’t want to be debating against one of the most eloquent, intelligent politicians of my lifetime in a live, televised event either.

But you chose this John McCain. You chose Sarah Palin. And you continue to choose tired, worn-out “maverick-isms."

Short-hand your Straight Talk Express on to 5x7's and haul it to the podium my friend.

Get your fat Jewish asses on a plane.

Otherwise Sarah will call you a douche-nozzle.

I'm totally dragging my fat French ass up north to convince my Catholic grandparents that Jesus won't abandon them in purgatory if they vote for a pro-choice Democrat.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for 'The Vagina Monologues', wrote the following about Sarah Palin:

Drill, Drill, Drill

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists. But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

****I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, 'It was a task from God.'

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth. Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, 'Drill Drill Drill.'

I think of teeth when I think of drills.
I think of rape.
I think of destruction.
I think of domination.
I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent.
I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

-Eve Ensler September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Concerning mountain biking

Specifically, why do I do it? Why do I cram my butt into padded, not-at-all attractive, spandex shorts? Why do I continue to stuff my cumbersome chest into a too-small sports bra and suffer the effects of armpit-boob? Why do I choose this particular extreme sport over another, like say, street luging or base jumping? Wait - that actually sounds fun and probably involves cooler clothing – I’ll give it earnest consideration and mention it to the kids.

What attracted me to riding my bicycle over tree roots and down jagged, rocky slopes wasn’t the risk of catapulting head-first over my handle bars and eating a pine tree. No, that wasn’t it. I wasn’t interested in mountain biking because it looked easy or leisurely, or that it wouldn’t make me sweaty or make my clothes smell bad. That was NOT it. The only reason I’m up on the mountain is because my kids are up there, pretty much kicking ass. So because they decided to buy mountain bikes and get all tricksy and bold, I’m up there making a mess of a perfectly good manicure so that I don’t lose sight of them as they morph into angsty, distant pre-teens who like to do really cool stuff without their parents around. Of course had they chosen bull riding as their “thing” I’d probably be complaining about how rodeo clowns freak me out and wondering if chaps make my butt look big. Or I’d be dead, either way.

Point being, I wouldn’t have chosen this sport without my kids’ influence. Sometimes the irony of the situation cracks me up considering I’m their teacher. I’m learning that it doesn’t always work that way.

I’m also learning that I make the most idiotic facial expression when I’m concentrating really hard on not falling off my bike and dying. I can only compare my facial expressions to the one people usually make the instant they realize a spider just landed on their arm. Or the moment they open their property tax bill.

When I’m on my mountain bike, I look like I’m perpetually freaking out. Or constipated.

Or sometimes I'm just closing my eyes and wishing the big scary mountain away in a puff of pretty purple smoke.

Or there are those times when I'm leaning off the side of my bike and watching the giant tree come at my head in slow motion, wondering if I kissed my children goodbye and if I had done all the things in life I had hoped to.

And sometimes, when I finally make it (in one un-mutilated piece) to the bottom of the mountain, I feel tough and assured – as though I’ve accomplished something I didn’t set out to accomplish but did anyway. As though a goal was set for me and without even knowing I’d be capable of doing it, I did it.
I know I look foolish and I also know there's a pretty good chance I’m going to really hurt myself one of these days, but apparently I’m okay with that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


little fingers and ten little toes stuffed and swaddled in pink. Ten times ten I counted the soft, baby-blonde hairs on your perfectly round head. Within ten seconds of your bloody, hurried arrival I had fallen painfully, irreversibly in love with you and the first ten minutes of your heart-shaped mouth urgently suckling at my breast was strangely familiar, as if cradling you there was exactly what I’d been waiting for. I never dreamed I would look back on you ten years from that moment and wonder why it felt like only minutes had passed.

my baby daughter
you led me from selfishness
on gossamer wings

You mended my broken heart with tranquility and soft baby noises, as we lay together in my old bedroom, your face softly against mine. Even though I spent many nights crying and holding your small, warm body as you slept, you were completely unaware of any turmoil that existed in the adult world around you. You helped me accept the abruptness of motherhood with toothless smiles that cast warm light on my beautifully different body.

You not only endured but thrived despite my ineptness, inexperience and inabilities and you brought my father and me together again, in an entirely different kind of relationship. You taught me how to be needed and your grandfather how to be needed again. You filled my childhood home once again with smelly blankies, baskets of dirty baby clothes and all the crumbly, chewed-upon reminders that often follow behind children.

You reunited me, my father, sister and brother with love ten-fold.

And it was you who shot cupid’s arrow into your step-dad’s back. He saw the impish way you led me around on a string of affection and desperately wanted it tied around his finger too. Your wide-eyed helplessness caused his chest to expand protectively and his head tilted with curiosity and fondness at your dirty blonde curls and throaty laugh. You filled him with a desire to be somebody important to you and without ever saying so, you told him and his son that we desperately needed them.

You’ve given me ten years of experience in motherhood, and even now I often wonder how you’ve survived so brilliantly despite all my blunders and self-doubt. You were destined to be my first, my trial run, rallying around my knees and tugging on my sleeve as my parenting prototype took shape.

I’m so thankful you came to me then, wrinkly, warm and crying for milk. I’m so thankful to have you next to me now, long and muscular, growing and questioning this life and your purpose.

I love you Hannah. I love you more on this day than I ever dreamed I could love another.

note - For those of you who know us, you know her birthday was a week ago, but as luck would have had it, my computer got very sick and died. It was a sad, sad day. I cried, my husband cried. Then we got over it and I made him build me a new one.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Spin Zone

Even when presented with their own pandering double-standards, the bobble-headed pundits and puppeteers can only roll their eyes and whistle Dixie while polishing their flag shaped lapel pins. What? I said what? Look! A terrorist!

The next two months should provide for some fancy GOP tap-dancing.