October 31, 2008

Onstage and Backstage

Earlier this fall, the after-school program at D's school held a wee talent show. Since Mr. D had practiced The Star Spangled Banner for his Christmas Carol audition earlier this fall, he was ready to go. They started the show with his solo. I arrived at the school two minutes after he finished (they started early because of impending rain), and was temporarily devastated. But then I asked him if he minded, and he said, "No, it's okay Mommy, you've heard me sing that song lots of times." Gotta love that perspective. And a big "THANK YOU" to M for taking this picture and sending it along.

Now we're onto the next show. Tonight is Hallowe'en and we are ALL ABOUT IT.

Last year, as you may remember, D was a bloody accident victim for Hallowe'en. This year, he's upping the ante and aiming for headless accident victim. So first, we needed him to do his very best "dead face," which we then took a picture of.

Here's the head in progress...

and the pumpkin in progress.
(Thanks, Miss A, for all your help!)

Were people scared?
Tune in late tonight or tomorrow for a full report!

(Weather here is supposed to be
relatively temperate tonight;
we're hoping for a big ol' turnout.)

October 25, 2008

Getting Stuff Done

Today was a good day.

We figured out how to use Scratch. (Hat tip, Professor Kim!) (And yes, that's some homegrown gorilla sound effect action.)

We got a car inspected (free, no line, totally friendly folks, so great).

We completed and mailed off D's passport application (Belgium in 2010, you heard it here first).

We quoted Danny Kaye ("Get it? Got it. Good."), and a three hour play date ended with no tears having been shed.

We played Clue. (Young Master D won. Fair and square. We were all pleased.)

We made a dent in the gigantic 1,500 piece puzzle from hell. (Guess who's the puzzle grump of the family?)

We adjusted the the bicycle seat of a certain 4'1" someone. Upwards.

And now, this. You will love it, trust me. Go on. Get over there and click around. Totally intuitive and gorgeous.

(More good stuff tomorrow, including
First Day School mid-day potluck
at the Meetinghouse.)

October 23, 2008

Thinking About Change

I found this thought-provoking (and it's just four minutes):

(In other news, this just in:
surfing the internet
makes you smarter
I loves me some self-serving research!)

October 20, 2008


Last weekend's trip home to my parents' home was full of time for reflection and gratitude. A good opportunity to think about priorities.

"For where your treasure is...

... there your heart will be also.

The lamp of the body is the eye."

(excerpt: Matthew 6:19-24)

Tonight, I went to try to hear Cornell West speak about the upcoming election at Paul Robeson's father's church on Witherspoon Street. I arrived at the appointed hour, and the church was full to overflowing. More than 100 people had already been turned away. Walking back to where I'd parked, I met a friend who had also been turned away, and we traded hopes and fears. So I got to read bedtime stories after all.

October 16, 2008

Ideas of His Own

His hair is his business.
Our D-man described this haircut
to his special Miss M,
who has been cutting his hair forever.
And she made it happen.

He anticipated that he might get teased about it,
but was resolute.

Knowing about
the Founding Fathers' hairstyles?


(Tune in tomorrow for some
garden pictures,
Grandpa and Nana!)

October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

Image by Pierangelo Rosati via Flickr

I have some poor friends.

And I was going to try to hand over the reins of this post to someone who is in a much better position to talk about poverty than I am. But she's kind of busy.

This friend of mine, who has endured serious health issues for much of the time that I've known her, is the adoptive mother of children who might have perished without her care. Tiny little people who were born addicted to drugs, and who now have miraculously made it all the way to their teenage years. And who are keeping her running.

Poverty is a constant presence in the family's life.

Even from where I stand, on the outside looking in, you can feel the strain.

It's not just about skipped meals, or clothes that don't fit, or dwindling furniture because when it breaks there's no money to replace it. It's also about the way poverty colors their interactions with their friends and others.

When help isn't forthcoming – when the only specialist who will accept Medicare is on vacation – it's trying to decide if it's worth the potential cost of time, money and dignity to try to get someone else to help.

When help is available – when the foodbank drops off a box of what they think are staples
it's struggling with the conflicting feelings of gratitude and frustration, since half of what's in the box is stuff your kids won't touch. If you're well off, and your kid is a picky eater, it's something you deal with. If you're poor, it's maybe one more thing you feel people looking down on you about. Who are you to be picky?

Before Henry Cisneros' fall from political grace, he said something that has stuck with me ever since. Part of the privilege of being well off in America, he said (and I'm paraphrasing, this was a while back), is the privilege of being protected from the knowledge of the rest of America's struggles.

It could be that these tumultuous economic times are going to put a dent in that particular privilege. As my partner said the other night, "That knock at the door? That's the wolf."

My plan? Lots of centered listening. I'm clicking on that Blog Action Day button below to hear what other folks have to say. And I'd be interested in your comments, too. As always.

October 13, 2008

Creating a National Dashboard

(Image: Flavio Ferrari via Flickr)

Every car has a dashboard.

The dashboard displays information considered to be critical to the task at hand. Speed, available fuel, engine temperature. Increasingly, dashboards are even providing drivers with real-time information about their location and where they're headed.

I want a national dashboard. And a conversation about what we would put on it.

In my recent visit home, my father shared with me some really interesting charts that provided snapshot glimpses of key pieces of economic data. Market volatility. Housing starts.

Which of those pieces of information would make it onto a national dashboard? And what else should be there?

I'd add the number of US citizens without healthcare coverage. Should we add the number of homeless people? How does the CDC measure our national health? Who tracks food insecurity.

I'd want to keep an eye on the income gap. (As of 2005, the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.)

How might we measure our progress in the fight against racism? Educational attainment of children of color? How would we measure our support of families, as a nation? Childcare, Head Start?

Should we be watching consumer confidence, and how our students are faring vis a vis their global competition?

I'd definitely want to know how much progress we've made towards energy independence. And what steps we're taking with regards to global warming.

We're not an geographically isolated monarchy; we probably won't be adopting a Gross National Happiness index (like Bhutan's) anytime soon. But it's interesting to think about.

They say that what gets measured, gets addressed. What am I missing? What would you want on our national dashboard?

(In other news, a Princeton professor
won the Nobel prize today
. Again.
And last week, the national debt clock in NYC
ran out of digits, causing me to think
about a national dashboard.)

October 10, 2008

Blue Day 2008

Image by Daily Invention, via Flickr

Depression is its own world.

If you've been there, and come back, you are so grateful to have returned. And deeply afraid of going back. You may think you know how you got there. You may feel like you'll never know.

The sorrow or loneliness or anxiety of clinical depression can be so bad that it causes physical pain.

If you stay depressed for long enough, it can lead to permanent changes in brain function.

The worst thing you can do, when confronted with a friend or loved one's serious depression, is to try to cheer them up.


The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Left untreated, depression can kill. But it is often treatable. Hope may not be an option for a seriously depressed person. You might have to supply yours until theirs returns.

Please join me in learning more about mental health today. It's Blue Day 2008.

(It was a beautiful drive
up to Elmira, NY this afternoon.
I'm sending this out – with hope – to the folks
for whom the sunshine
would not have made a difference.)

October 06, 2008

Doing Our Part

Yesterday morning, I scooped D up and headed over to Pennsylvania to go camping with a bunch of (mostly) total strangers. The trip was organized by the good folks at Philadelphia Family Pride, and had been on our calendar for months.

And even though SuperT ended up having to work, and my going would mean missing out on the celebration of the opening of Princeton Friends School's new building, and the forecast included some rain, I got out the tent.

I'm trying to inoculate us.

When my partner and I were expecting, the high school students I would sometimes speak to as part of their school's Gay Awareness Day were concerned about D's as-yet-only-imagined life. "Aren't you worried about bringing a kid into a hard situation?" And I said several things, including that I was counting on them to make this less of an issue by the time our kid got to their school. And that I was pretty confident I could help prepare a kid to deal with anti-gay rhetoric and actions, having been on the receiving end of both.

So this weekend we hung out with twelve or so other families who are led by gay men or lesbians. The kids ranged from toddlers up to early teens. I don't know what kind of prep work other parents did with their kids in advance of the weekend; I didn't say much of anything to D. What was important for him was that he got to sleep in his tent, poke at a fire, explore the woods, and sing songs at the evening campfire. At one point he ran over to me to ask, "Can I give my friend a piece of our banana bread?" "Sure, sweetie," I said. "What's your friend's name?" "I don't know," he called back over his shoulder as he dashed off, beloved banana bread in hand, "but he's really nice, and he's the one I'm playing with!" He's keyed into what matters.

Another young friend, a member of the one family we DID know before this weekend, looked at me quizzically as our time together drew to a close and asked, "Is D a cousin of mine?" I thought for a moment, and said, "Well, not exactly. But I can see how it might feel that way."

Children whose families might not fit with some of their classmates' ideas of what a family
should look like are potentially vulnerable to teasing and harassment. Kids are tough on all sorts of differences. But in giving our son another opportunity to see for himself that families really DO come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes, I am hoping that he'll be somewhat inoculated against this particular line of attack.

I'll let you know how it works out.

October 02, 2008

Non-Drinking Games

Looking for ways to amuse yourself and/or keep yourself awake during the debate's commercial breaks this evening?

How about these diversions?
Got any more game suggestions? Add 'em in the comments.

October 01, 2008