Friday, August 24, 2007

Sometimes it's cool to be the mom...

I never cease to be amazed by my children. All of them! See, I'm not such a great mom. I'd never ever make it as a "Mommy Blogger" because I am pretty sure that I don't have all the answers and I'm too lazy to look for them. I parent with a few principles in mind and so far it seems to be working.

This week has been a pretty cool week to be the mom. I love watching the interaction between the "older set" and the "boys". There's so much love there. In some families, I suppose there would have been step-sibling issues amongst the older four (and maybe we had them, they were just never that serious so we confused them with typical bickering! Oh! There was a lot of bickering back in the day. Now it's more of a banter and it's fun to watch.) But when the boys came, there was nothing but "Yay! We have little brothers!" And, of course, the bickering. But we all know that "I hate you!" really means "I love you but you're making me mad right now just because you can!"

But sometimes cool stuff happens too! For example, Wednesday of this week, Shrek sends me a message that he's bored and he wants to know what his sister - yes, that's right! His baby sister - is doing. She happens to be off that day and the next so he drives over to take her back to his house to hang out and play video games with him and his roommates. I think that is so cool. I can tell you there's no way in hell MY brothers would have ever done that. In fact, I think my older brothers only remember they have a sister named me at Christmas when I walk into their mother's house with my husband and children. They recognize Shrek and the Queen as their nephew and niece and since I am apparently their mother... they do the math. Whoa... I have a third sister? Neat. But I digress...

The other part of Wednesday's cool was telling the guys that Shrek was coming. They get so excited about seeing their older siblings that its fun to watch. Whether it is La Reina, Squidward or Shrek, every time they get to spend time with one of the "flown the coop" kids, it makes their day. It seems like therapy for the big kids too. Makes me feel old and nostalgic to say, but I love it when everyone can be home. I settle for most of them as often as I can get it.

Other examples of cool closeness? Guitar Hero II. The Queen bought it yesterday (after playing it at Shrek's) and The Senator's been playing it at daycare. She brought it home, set it up and they played TOGETHER! FOR HOURS! It was neat. No fighting. They were even nice enough to illustrate to the Khan that he couldn't play because his hands are just too small. Some families bond over the dinner table. My family bonds over the PS2.

Last, La Reina stopped by to deliver some treasures she'd found for her dad. The boys were so geeked up. She's the queen of cookies for them at Wal-mart 'cause they get one from her whenever she's working and we're there. She puts frosting and sprinkles on the cookies especially for the boys. They love it and so does she. So she plays with the boys a bit, but the neat part was when she wanted to surf the web. The Queen and the Senator were playing GHII in the same room as the computer and The Queen was sitting in the chair at the desk the computer is on. The Queen moves so her older sister can sit at the computer. Sensible, right? La Reina's response was "You didn't have to give up the whole chair!" So they shared. After all these years, they still share - a lot. Different enough always that clothes sharing never happened but they took to sharing a room and a library and a set of parents with incredible ease. They still have so much fun together. I love it.

I love it. I really do. Even Shrek and Squidward seem to get along now. I must have done something right, right? I wish I knew what it was. I could blog about it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Phenomenal. Make today a great day!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Maybe it's me..

I just finished Wicked. Wow! It was such a long, painful go for such a short book. It took me most of the summer because I just couldn't bring myself to give up on it entirely. I hear that the musical is divine and I expected more from the book.

The length of the book was about 450 pages but this book certainly seemed much longer. It was somewhat interesting to get a backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West and I really empathized with her as the protagonist but the story never quite managed to grab me. I found myself turning the pages waiting to see how it somehow all came together at the end. Rather than create a tie-in to Oz (or maybe he did and I don't know because I never read the Wizard of Oz), the world Maguire created never really helped me imagine what it was like. Do you suppose the movie's to blame? Would have been easier if I hadn't had the picture of the movie witches in my mind?

I don't know. I don't really know how many stars I'd attach either. I guess I'd go about three out of five. It was okay - not fantastic. It's a book I don't expect to read again. The burning question is what do I do with Son of a Witch? Is it okay to give a way a book you've never read because you didn't like the prequel?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stop the War

Today on the corner of Main Street and Losey Boulevard in La Crosse, Wisconsin; I saw a man standing alone and carrying neon orange sign that read "Stop the War". My first thought was "Fuck you! You know nothing about war or the people who fight in them". I drove on - less than a block - and had another thought. "What would make that man think that standing on a corner in La Crosse, Wisconsin on a Thursday morning by himself think that the very fact of him standing there would do anything at all to "Stop the War"? Obviously, it struck me as a blog topic.

It's a few hours later and I'm still wondering. I wonder why he would presume that one person alone on a corner with a sign could stop a war. I wonder whether anyone ever joined him on that corner. And last, I wonder which war? We're fighting so many. The War in Iraq, The Global War on Terrorism, The War on Poverty, the list goes on (how many can YOU name?). Which "the War" was his sign about?

Between then and now, I got to thinking about what it truly will take to stop whatever war he was referring to. It will take a miracle. For us to stop fighting with other people, we must first stop fighting amongst ourselves, right? And to do that requires compromise and a shift of thinking from the "I'm right. You're wrong", different is bad mentality that is everywhere. It is wrapped up in education, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation... you name it. Divisiveness is everywhere and stopping any kind of war will require a massive "Global War on Narrow-mindedness" to overcome. But if we could win this war on divisiveness, we could win them all.

The divisiveness wrapped in religion is particularly disturbing. The God I know loves everyone. I mean everyone. I don't think he cares much whether you think Jesus is his son or his prophet. I think he loves you just as much if you follow Buddha, Vishnu, the Prophet Muhammed, or whichever path suits you. God even loves you if the church where you worship him on Sunday is Lambeau Field. The God I know doesn't hate Jews, homosexuals or anyone else for that matter and neither should you. If you believe in creationism, and I guess I'm on the fence, then you know he made us all. I believe he made us all different for a purpose. That purpose is wanting us to master the fine art of compromise. You and I are different. Fine. I don't hate you for it and you should not hate me. We need to agree where we can and let our points of disagreement become points of discussion to increase understanding. That - not giving up fish on friday or lecturing about whether Johnny can marry his boyfriend - is what being a God-Loving individual is all about. It is not about sitting proudly at the service of your choice on the appointed sabbath day. Hearing the word of your God and living the word of your God are two profoundly different things.

We are all created different. Yes, your mother never lied. You are unique and special - just like everyone else. Celebrate those differences!

The secret to ending wars is cultivating the ability to appreciate diversity not persecute it and sustain divisiveness. Understanding cultural diversity and creating conversations from the grassroots level to the highest levels of leadership - particularly religious, educational and political leaders to agree on what is important and overcome centuries of sectarian conflict. It is as age-old as Cain and Abel. Do you think that it is possible to resolve those differences?

What if we start small? Do you know your neighbor? Do you like them? Why? Why not? Is that really a valid reason? If you don't know your neighbor - get to know them. I am challenging myself with that for the next six months. Will you?

I'm also going to rediscover my faith. For many, many years I did not attend any type of church service. Did I turn my back on God? No. Not at all. For me it was more of a turning away from hypocrisy. Do not, my friend, sit in church next to your wife on Sunday morning nodding sagely to a sermon about the Ten Commandments when you were out with your girlfriend the night before. You, sir, are not Christian. Rediscovering my faith does not mean going back to church necessarily. I still think "Why cut down a tree to build a church when you can worship at the tree?" for the most part, but if there is a place where I can convene with like-minded folks, why not do it?

"Love one another as I have loved you" (forgive me but I cannot cite the specific verse) is my favorite passage from the bible. It's a key concept in conflict resolution. God loves everyone without exception. We should do the same. That love, genuinely felt and expressed, when it becomes a key piece of our everyday life, will go a long way toward stopping many of our current wars. What do you think? I think I will even be nice to Cowboys, Yankees and Nascar fans. It's baby steps that matter, right?

Friday, August 3, 2007

My 18 year old self, eh?

The talented and lovely Natalia wants to know what I would say to my 18 year old self. She thinks that The Queen is anything like me at 18 and that couldn't be further from the truth (at least I think so). She's got so much more going on than I did and her head is right on straight. Does she have issues? Sure. I'm her mother. I know I cause issues. And let's not forget PDB who didn't even call her on her birthday (again). You remember how I hate him, right? She deserves so much better. Trust me when I say my daughter is so amazing. You've no idea.

However, if I could talk to my 18 year old self and knock some sense into me, this is what I would say:

1. Stay in school. It's worth it.
2. No, you don't love him and he doesn't love you. It takes a lot more maturity than you currently possess to know what love is.
3. When you're truly, madly, deeply in love - you'll know.
4. Dedicate your energies right now to learning and living.
5. Never turn down a chance to travel.
6. Never turn away from opportunities without fully considering them.
7. Find a mentor. Maintain that relationship for as long as you can.
8. Become a mentor. You do have skills that are valuable and someone will thank you for it.
9. Live with passion
10. Follow your dream.
11. Your inner voice is always worth listening to. Especially when it says RUN!