Thursday, May 21, 2009

Presidents, Actors and Super Duper Poopers

All this talk of Chia Pets has really got me thinking.  Actually, it was the Chia Pet Website that really got me thinking.  When you go to the website, there is a man, presumably the president of the Chia Corporation, and he is standing at a podium talking up the grand benefits of the Chia Obama.  Of course I could be wrong, the man could just be an actor.   But, if he's not and he's the president of Chia Land it gave me cause for deep thought.

First of all, did he grow up wanting to be a Chia President?  When he was really young, did he have an innate interest in small herb gardens, animals and historical figures?  More importantly, did his mom dream of him growing up to one day be the president of a great corporation?  Did she say things to him like, "Sonny, I just know that God has big plans for your life.... he'll use you for great things... perhaps even to bring small, green fuzzy animals and presidents' heads into people's homes!".  

Did she see his greatness and try to harness it by making sure he had every advantage?  Did she, like I do for my kids,  fortify his cream of wheat with dry non-fat milk to make sure he got enough calcium and protein in his diet?  Did she insist on a daily multivitamin?  Demand that he memorize all his math facts equally well?  Teach him that television rots your brain? Insist he be active in the arts?  Did she read him stories of the lives of people who changed the world, somehow knowing that greatness could take the form of mass marketing chia pets to the world?

But then I wonder.... was that the Chia President or just another actor?  

If it was just an actor, then there are an entirely different set of questions and thoughts raised in my mind.  First of all, of course, would be :  Just how desperate for work was this guy that he was willing to do an Internet Chia commercial for the Chia Obama?  

This is not the first time I've wondered this about actors.  There are certainly different ways that actors can sink to the bottom of the  pool without being smutty.  I realized this when my oldest, Lawyer/Social Advocate Boy was about 3 years old and we were trying to convince him that it was much better to put his pee and poop in the toilet than it was to continue putting it in his pants.  We weren't having much success, so that's when Rob brought home the "Potty Video".

Before you laugh, though, I'd like to point out that THIS potty video was produced by the Early Childhood Department of Duke University, so it's a potty video for smart people.  It included songs such as, "I use my potty when I have to pee!" and "This is the way we wash our hands!".  It also included one of my personal favorites,  "On top of the Potty"  (sung to On Top of Old Smokey):

On top of the potty 
You're sitting to poop
Oh life is much better
When your diapers don't droop

Such simple wisdom, yet it took so long for Lawyer/Social Advocate Boy to catch on! I would watch the video with him and realize that they had paid actors and actresses playing the roles of the Moms and Dads.  

How would that work?  I realize that it's difficult to get a job as an actor, so anything, whether it's being the Chia President or "Carley's Dad" on the potty video, is an accomplishment.  However, how would you list that on your resume?  

1992                      Duke University   "The Potty Video"    
dialogue and participation in the song "She is a Super Duper Pooper"

Even though it's legitimate work, would you really want to fess up to the fact that you sang a song that was called "Super Duper Pooper"?

So, while most people would find Chia websites boring, I obviously see them as founts of tantalizing, thought-provoking intellectual stimulation. In addition to that, I realize that Swim Girl might be a future Chia president, because she has a great interest in herb gardens, politics, history and animals.  I better keep fortifying her Cream of Wheat!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hail to the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chief

In a world filled with suffering, economic turmoil, environmental crisis and traumas as great as the switchover to digital signals on television, one would think there could be no sign of hope.  However, one would be incredibly incorrect to think that.  All throughout America, there are people rising to the call of leadership.  

 Take, for instance, Andrew Miszak Jr, of Bedford, Ohio.  His political career would have been  in ruins, if not for his father,  Andrew Sr, and his quick thinking.  Andrew Jr, a 28-year-old school board member and political consultant, lives with his father.  When Andrew Sr became so enraged with his son over his messy room, he confronted him about it, presumably at dinner.  Andrew Jr., overcome with anger about  being told to make his bed,actually threw his plate at his Dad. Andrew Sr did call 911, but refused to press charges because he didn't want to hurt his beloved son's political career.  I'm left wondering if the spaghettios (isn't that the favorite meal for dads to prepare for their kids?) were flying all over all the room or if they stuck to the plate.  I'm also wondering who would hire a 28-year-old that still lives with Dad as a consultant for their political race, let alone elect them to a school board.   

Then I remembered the mayor of Cincinnati. Allegedly he lived with his parents before becoming mayor, so maybe Mr. Miszak Jr. isn't off to such a bad start.  I wonder if he knows how to throw a baseball at a large target.

Of course, there is also Miss California, who apparently finds gay marriage morally reprehensible but sees no problem with posing topless for photographs.  What astounds me the most about this public (waayyy to public in my opinion!) figure, is that she either 1) didn't think there was anything wrong with posing without a shirt  2) was too stupid to realize that she wasn't wearing a shirt or 3) was too stupid to realize that the photographer would of course release the photos of her after all her publicity.    Either way, she's certainly  dense enough to run for at least a state level public office!  

It's people like these that allow someone like Barack Obama to rise above the din.  We might as well face the fact that he doesn't really have any competition right now, and that's part of the reason he's being so idolized.  Idolized?  Yes, idolized.  I might even say immortalized.  Thanks to my good friend, Ellen, I learned that Obama has been made into a Chia Man...uh...Chia President?   

The great thing with this is that there are actually two versions you can purchase.  There is "Happy Obama" and "Determined Obama".  The website  says that you can even purchase BOTH!  

Act now, because I'm certain that owning a Chia Obama is the only way to see Obama with an Afro at this stage in fashion history.  And, if horticulture is not your thing, it doesn't really matter because Chia Obama is easy to grow -- an encouraging.  Can we grow this?  YES WE CAN!  It even says so on the side!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Ballerina Princess is Seven Years Old!

At lunch today we were re-living the early days of my little Ballerina Princess.  

First there was the time that she bit Lawyer/Social advocate Boy.  It was the day after she came home from Kazakhstan and she found a small toy that was truly something she shouldn't play with.  He saw her holding it, took it from her hand and as he was replacing it with a more age appropriate toy, she leaned over and took a nice big chomp out of his thigh.

"She bites!" He screamed in terror.  Poor boy.  It was his second biting sister.  

Ballerina Princess, of course, was only defending what she thought was rightfully hers.  After spending 4 long weeks visiting her at her orphanage, I knew that she was very used to bigger children simply snatching food and toys away from her.  The reaction was not unfounded, but still had to be corrected.  Correcting someone with such puffy cheeks and tender spirit is not a very nice job!  Plus, she cries so easily! 

Not long after that, was her land mark visit to the zoo.  We were all looking at the Rhinos, who had nicely decided to pose for the crowd as close as they could to the viewing area.  People were "oooing" and "ahhing" and taking pictures.  My Ballerina just raised  her pinkie (a function of club hand -- she points with her pinky!) and said,  "THAT RHINO!  HE AIN"T GOT NO BELLY BUTTON!".  That's when I realized that she is turly cuteness incarnate.  

Then there were the Cinderella years.  Starting at about 2 1/2 she fell in love with the Disney version of Cinderella.  When she had her second hand surgery at Shriner's, the nurse came in and asked her what her favorite movie was.  

"Tinderewlla" she replied without hesitation.  

I was shocked because she had only seen the movie one other time, and that was 3 months earlier during her first stay at Shriner's.  We ended up watching the movie over 20 times during the next 5 hand surgeries.  Each and every time she laughed at Gus the mouse when he accidentally shouted "Happy Birthday" to Cinderella upon giving her their homemade ball gown.

"Hahaha! He still thinks it's her birthday!" she said at least 20 times.  

It wasn't funny after the third viewing.  It became like a training session of self discipline for me.  How many times could I watch the same movie with the same kid having the same reaction and not rip open the DVD player and smash the disc?  

At least 20.  

When she was barely three she was picking out fashion accessories that went with her clothes.  Shoe shopping with her was an absolute hoot. The flashier the shoe the better (was that early Russian influence in her life?)  She would pick her dresses according to her play -- what matched what.  Flip flops were love at first sight.  In fact, there is still a sparkly pink one stuck in mud somewhere in the woods behind our house!

She quickly showed us that she is elegant and graceful.  Rob has even noted that she pukes gracefully.  One night at dinner we tried to convince her that she really does like lima beans.  After putting a few in her mouth, she turned toward Rob, gracefully moved her arm to second position, tilted her head and the puke merely rolled forward out of her mouth like ribbons flying in the wind around a maypole.

Okay, maybe the other kids wouldn't describe it that way, but it sure did look like that to me.  And, that was her miss. Usually she's on top of the action when it comes to puking.  This kid has actually started to puke and HELD IT IN HER MOUTH while she ran to the toilet!  A virtually mess free puker, every mother's dream. 

Now that she's seven, though, things have changed.  For instance, she no longer likes dresses because they are too hard to play in, according to her.  Although give her a couple bottles of nail polish and some good light and she and Nappy are occupied for hours.

She still loves to dance and performed in her second ballet recital this past spring.  However, she's also joined swim team and confessed to me that she might like swimming even more than ballet!  

And, her favorite movie is now "Shark Boy and Lava Girl" rather than Cinderella.  

I expected her to change.  She was a sullen, sad child when we first me her.  For over two weeks of visits to the orphanage, she wouldn't even make eye contact with us.  She would stand with her hands in fists, scowling at the floor.  If we held her it was like holding a plank of wood as she would hold her self so tensely.  Both Rob and I thought that we had months, even possibly years, of attachment therapy ahead of her.  However, I'll never forget the day I took her out of the orphanage.  I swear I could see the shackles fall off her and she began to heal on that very day. 

Now, she's a kid who spends her days adding sweetness to everything, but is also not afraid to tell an older sibling "You wanna knuckle sandwich?" when she's mad at them.  She loves to draw pictures of herself, mommy and daddy, all holding hands and standing, of course, under a rainbow.  The sun is shining in her pictures, in fact it often even has a smiley face.  

So, to my button-pushing, plumbing-loving, gadget-playing, engineering-slanted, math loving, swimming, dancing, beautiful girl, "Happy Birthday!  I thank God everyday for the day your were born!".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As If To Prove My Point

Wow.  As if he lives to prove my point of  irrelevancy, Dick Cheney once again opened his mouth.  From the man who brought us justified torture, pushed for unsubstantiated claims of weapons of mass destruction in order to justify a war that lined his pockets, and also happens to be a buddy nobody would want to hunt with came another really stupid idea.

He would actually rather follow RUSH LIMBAUGH than Colin Powell in the battle to make the Republican Party once again relevant.  

And Rush Limbaugh has contributed what to our nation?  To anybody?  Can't Cheney just ride off into the sunset like Bush did?  I think this all might be about him trying to prove himself relevant. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Irrelevance of the Republican Party

I was once again at the Y the other day, exercising while the Awesome Trio (Green Bottle Boy, Swimmer Girl and Ballerina Princess) was at swim practice , and came across a most interesting editorial piece on the relevancy of the Republican Party. I found it interesting because I used to be a Republican. I can no longer call myself that because I decided to start my own party. For now I'm calling it the "Disgruntled Republicans". Once organized, though, I think it will be much larger than the current Republican Party. That's not saying much, though, because the current Republican Party is shrinking at a rate faster than the dead zone is growing at the mouth of the Mississippi River. And, they're shrinking because they have made the party irrelevant, with a lot of help from the likes of Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney and Joe the Plumber, to name just a few.

However, just before watching that nice little vignette on the Republican party, I saw an interview with a Republican Senator discussing the torture techniques used by the US government in both Guantanamo and AbuGhraib. I can't remember which senator it was now, and I have to start to wonder if it's not because they're all starting to look and sound the same to me. I watched as he proceeded to explain how what happened at Guantanamo was not torture and was done to enact protection for the US. The moral implications of that ideology are astounding as he quite clearly was stating that the ends justify the means!

He continued to defend his position, despite other experts on the show explaining how waterboarding and the other torture techniques used don't even persuade the victim to relinquish the truth but to say what they think the torturer wants to hear!

What jumped out clearly to me with this interview, though, was not that the apparent immorality of torture was not utterly offending this Senator, but that this was exactly what was making the Republican Party irrelevant. It was striking me as irrelevant even before I saw the op-ed on CNN. This man was so caught up in defending one of the actions of the Bush administration that he was not willing to see the moral implications of what he was saying, or the practical implications (ie misinformation that comes through torture) of what he was defending. That is irrelevancy.

Even as I write this, Time Magazine arrived at my door. The cover story? A large elephant picture with the title "Endangered Species". Now, if Time says it, it must be true.

I sure hope people pick up on my sarcasm here.

So, before we've even finished the wake for the Republican Party as we know it, here is the plan for new political party. My "Disgruntled Republican Party" would be a party that believes:

1) Less federal government is better. The federal government should only be involved in things such as national infrastructure, national security, national resource management, possibly health care if it proves that a better structure than the misshapen mess the state-based medicaid provides can be created, and as a backup to the times when state governments are not able handle their jobs. As Republicans whine about national health care, Disgruntled Republicans realize that our current health care system locks people into jobs because they are dependent upon maintaining their current health insurance. That does not stimulate the economy, nor does it enhance people's quality of life or really provide the opportunity for people to "rise up" out of poverty.

2) State and local governments would maintain their communities through their own taxes and programs. States which are too poor to do so (based upon the incomes earned) would be eligible for help from the federal government because my party would recognize that there are states and communities in this country which do not have the resources to provide for their citizens what they need. It is essential to the health and well being of the entire nation that all Americans have the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable way.
As you go further down the line, the government would get bigger -- so county and local governments would have the most involvement in people's lives. They would be handling social programs, providing accountability to people needing the social programs, over seeing the schools, creating solutions to health care coverage, making decisions about roads and local infrastructure, etc. The people of the communities could then oversee those governments which would truly represent them (as it would be made up of them!) and have a vested interest in their tax dollars being spent wisely.

3) That it is not the role of government to legislate morality, but to maintain order. Therefore, beyond crimes that harm another person or person's property or opportunity, the government shouldn't be involved. The government, therefore, would not dictate that every school have to teach creationism or not be allowed to teach creationism nor would the government be involved in defining the sacred relationship of marriage (something the church never should have allowed the government to do in the first place). The government's job should be to establish order and stability, so that people can live their lives without other people telling them how to do it. Local governments could issue Civil Unions that would create structure and stability to base families on and various churches could continue to administer the sacred rite of marriage as their faiths and scriptural understandings dictate. Disgruntled Republicans are not afraid of that concept because we understand that America's families are already a moral mess and that the political definition of family is already far from the scriptural one.

4) There would be a clear separation of church and state (gasp! Yes, I believe that our Constitution calls for that, and I believe that if God is big enough to give us a choice we should be gracious enough not whap people on the head with theocratic ideas), but it wouldn't really matter because the government wouldn't be sticking their noses into our business anyway. Those of us in the party who are followers of Christ realize that Christians are much more effective as salt and light than as powerful political icons that dictate the constraints of religious freedom.

5) In part with creating order and stability the Disgruntled Republicans would advocate for a wholly pro-life stance. That means rather than just lobbying for laws to limit abortion (as laws will never stop abortion -- a fact proven by the number of illegal abortions that continue to happen around the world), Disgruntled Republicans seek to address the issues that bring about abortions. Of course, this would mean doing so at a local level, and not through programs but through families opening their homes to unwed mothers, providing solid sex education, slowing down enough to actually spend time with children and teens so that they aren't alone and in the position to make an error in judgment to start. In addition to that, Disgruntled Republicans also believe that all torture is wrong, capital punishment is wrong and that war should be avoided unless absolutely necessary (like they are attacking us!).

6) The Disgruntled Republicans are in full agreement that our society must protect and support our most vulnerable -- not only unborn babies, but children, the elderly, the severely disabled and the mentally ill. We do not advocate stupid solutions to problems such as homelessness like taxing the homeless with squatters tax, nor do we advocate ignoring those problems. We recognize that those problems will be most likely to be solved on a local level. Unlike today's Republicans, we recognize that this will mean there is a need to tax more on the state and local level, but that's okay because those local governments would, indeed, be US and less federal government would mean we should need to pay less federal tax, This also leads us to believe that fair and just incarceration laws are necessary, and that capital punishment makes us as evil as those who kill. We also believe that sustainable living is part of being wholly pro-life.

7) Disgruntled Republicans realize that our economy is in the state that it currently is because of the greed that underlies all human nature. Therefore, we recognize that some stimulus is going to be necessary to stop the economy of our nation from collapsing and causing the economies of other nations to topple as well. We also realize that because of the greed of our banks, our government is going to have to establish a stake in them or else we will see our entire economy crumble. However, because we are balanced we realize that people need to learn from their mistakes. Therefore, our stimulus would be tied to work (rather than tax cuts which is ridiculous because big businesses are taking tax cuts anyway -- everyone knows they don't pay their fair share of taxes!), as would things like student loans.

8) There are some people that would be banned from joining the Disgruntled Republicans. Because we see the inherent value of every human life, after some heavy penance they might be allowed to join. That list would include, but not be limited to: Sylvester Stallone, Dick Cheney, Glen Beck, Michael Savage, Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Caroline Kennedy (because I don't think you can trust someone who doesn't vote consistently yet thinks she's qualified for office), Arianna Huffington, and any of the Power Rangers.

Also, anyone naive enough to think that I'm really trying to start a new political party is also banned from joining.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Look at Me!

I closed the van door and herded my children towards the entrance of the Y. It was like any other day, especially because the day consisted of going to the Y, and going to the Y seems to be do something I do at least once, if not twice a day. I did not expect anything unusual.

That's when she opened her mouth.

"I just love *$%&*! She's so beautiful! Especially when she's NAKED!"

Now, I immediately knew what my little Nappy meant. She meant that her oldest sister, Swimmer Girl, was beautiful because of who she is not what she is wearing. This came about because whenever Nappy puts on a fluffy outrageous pink dress, she asks me if she looks beautiful. I always answer the same.

"Yes, you look beautiful, but it's because you are beautiful. Without you the dress isn't beautiful."

However, to all the innocent bystanders, this was nothing but just another seriously dysfunctional family heading out to the Y. And, of course, since nothing with Nappy is quiet, all the bystanders heard this.

Part of what I think is really funny about her is that people feel akward about the wheelchair. We've run into this with Swimmer Girl in because of the missing arm and the prosthetic leg. My favorite was a little boy, preschooled age and just as loud as Nappy. We ran into him at the grocery store. The first time he saw Swimmer Girl, he did a double take and then his mouth opened.

"That girl -- she don't got one of her...."

"Shush... don't mention it." His mother quickly hushed him. I could tell this was far from over, though because this was a kid that had to say what he was thinking. So, each time we'd pass him and his mother, he'd start to talk and she'd shush him loudly (far more loudly than if she'd just let it go and just simply address questions). Finally, they passed us and he clearly said,

"I know. I know better. I'm not gonna say even one thing 'bout how that little girl ain't got no arm! I'm not gonna ask where it is or if it's in her shirt. Not one thing. "

I thought his mom was going to die. Swimmer Girl, of course, could've care less because she wasn't paying attention to him. But this highlights what is usually the problem with small children encountering my girls. I don't in any way advocate a parent encouraging a child to ask a person about their disability, because I strongly believe that the questions they ask are personal. However, if a child does point or ask a question, then the best thing is for the parent to simply acknowledge the child's interest and give a simple explaination.

"Yes, she has one arm. Sometimes people are born with one arm."

"Yes, she uses a wheelchair. Sometimes people aren't able to walk or walk well, so they use a wheelchair to get places."

Instead, though, so many parents create a larger scene by trying to "hush up" a child that they think is going to say something embarassing, which, of course, they will, because that's what children do. They say embarassing things like, "My sister looks especially beautiful when she's naked." That, in turn, leads their sister to beg her mother to buy a house where she can have her own bedroom.

What's really funny with Nappy though, is that she is someone that just screams, "Look at me!"

Several weeks ago, we were at the Y (of course). Nappy was wearing a fluffy, light pink princess dress, a pink easter hat, sun glasses and sparkly purple shoes. She is using a purple wheelchair with LIGHT UP wheels and a very pink Strawberry Shortcake backpack attached to the back. She has a bigger mouth than anyone else in the lobby.

So, of course, a little boy pointed at her and his mother started shushing him.

Oh my! Who in the world wouldn't stare at that?

Note: Photography by Ben

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Modern Day Mathew 6:5-8?

5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Commercialized Prayer. Wow. It's Really Come to This!

Wow.  I hope that Shirely Dobson never has the opportunity to comment on my prayer life!  I have a feeling she would have a lot to judge, especially as I would much prefer to pray in private.  Before anyone has a chance to tell me I'm evil for having the audacity to call myself an Evangelical and yet question a Dobson, let me fully explain.

First of all, the National Day of Prayer as celebrated by the Bush family...  What was that really?   He invited both Christian and Jewish leaders to his office, gave a short speech about prayer and then invited them to pray.  Now, if he's going to invite Christian and Jewish leaders, then why not Muslim?  Why not Hindu?  What's the real purpose of this?  And, why, simply because Obama chooses to pray in private, rather than make a political spectacle of it, is he criticized? 

Delving in deeper... what is the history behind the National Day of Prayer?   The National Day of Prayer was established as a fixed holiday in 1952, although since the founding of our country various leaders have co-ordinated efforts for a National Day of Prayer . Ronald Reagan made sure that the date of the National Day of Prayer was the first Thursday in May.  Some credit Billy Graham as the one who instigated the more modern version of the idea, although it strikes me that his idea might not be the same one as Shirley Dobson and the National Day of Prayer Task Force.  His idea leaned more towards a day , "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation  in churches, as groups and as individuals."  

If that's the purpose, then I don't see where a meeting at the White House fits in, and it also appears that Obama did participate in the National Day of Prayer. 

Another confusing thing about this day is the "National Day of Prayer Task Force".  This task force is in no way an official task force in any body's mind, except maybe their own.  However, if you go to their website, their logo makes it look official:  "National Day of Pray official site"  with an itty bitty nearly hidden task force under the banner.  It confused me as I first began to research this, and I'm certain that many people are under the false impression that this task force is actually the body that organizes the National Day of Prayer or actually has some kind of official status. 

What adds to this even more, is that the woman criticizing Obama is the woman who runs the task force that has actually commercialized the National Day of Prayer!  Yes, of course, the National Day of Prayer Task Force has a store!  On it you can purchase things entitled "Event Essentials" -- things you simply can't pray without:  balloons, balloon launch kit (I guess so you can launch balloons that will eventually be litter around the country, although they are supposedly biodegradable), special envelopes, letterhead, fliers, flag pens, and of course, the essential "waving flag pens".  After you've collected your essentials for hosting a National Day of Prayer Event, then you can also purchase apparel, "theme products" and of course, visit their bookstore.   

Have we hit a new low?  We've actually commercialized prayer!  There are self-proclaimed leaders among us that don't believe a church or small portion of the body of Christ can pray for our nation on our own.  We need to be told how to pray, and we can't do it without balloons, flag pins and special letterheads.

Wow.  I don't think that Shirely Dobson really understands what needs criticized here! 

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Great Story by Green Bottle Boy

One day, there lived a boy named Jack.  He lived in a

 poor village.  There was a factory that his dad worked at.  His

 dads name was Zeek.  His mom worked at home, cooking,

 cleaning, and walking around the city. 

 One day his dad got  sick from working at the factory.  He

 had a hard time breathing and he had cramps all over.  They

 called a doctor who told them he could not go back to the

 factory until it had been six days since he got better.  One day

 passed and he got worse.  Two days passed and he got worse. 

 Three days passed and he got worse. 

 The next day, some builders got to work.  They were

 knocking down the factory to build a new house.  Jacks dad

 was still sick.   Jack was worried.  So was his mother.  The next

 day, the factory was knocked down.  Zeek didn’t know what he

 was going to do.  He was sick, the factory was knocked down. 


To him, this was an unhappy ending.

Then, he thought of something!  He could be a butler!  He

was triumphant!  Six days later, he got better.  But he still had

 to wait six days before getting another job.  Four days later, he

 said he was going to find a job.  The next day, he came back.

 He had become a butler!