Monday, September 21, 2009


Last night I went with my friend Peggy to the DMB concert in Camden. It was my second Dave concert, and her 83rd. Last year, the show was okay, but it was clear that the band wasn't "feeling it". This year was the total opposite. You could tell that they were enjoying themselves, and they really put on an amazing show.

Monday, August 24, 2009

WHAT size???

Calling a woman PLUS SIZE when she looks like this--
is insane.

This picture is in September's issue of Glamour. I am so happy to see a REAL woman pictured, with a REAL body! This makes me feel SOOOOO good about my body! She is beautiful! I love the real stomach, stretch marks and pooch and all!!

Friday, August 14, 2009


I had a fantastic dinner last night at Bravo with my dearest friend in the world. It was fabulous!
Mike gets here this afternoon; not sure what we have on tap for today--probably just avoiding the heat as much as possible! Boy, it's hot here! We have gotten spoiled in NJ!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bueller... Bueller?

John Hughes died this morning, of an apparent heart attack. He definitely shaped the 80s with his films, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, among them. So the next time you have a little extra time, whether it's due to Saturday detention (TBC), your family leave you at home over Christmas when they go to Paris (Home Alone), or you stay home from school with a fake illness (FBDO), watch a John Hughes movie to pass the time.

What he's up to these days...

So W is busy. Very busy. Being three is a LOT of work, from what I can see. Our biggest hurdle these days is going to bed. It's gotten bad recently because we took away his pacifier (which he only had at bedtime and nap, I might add) when he turned 3. He only asked for it for the first 2 or 3 days, but his going-to-sleep ability has decreased precipitously. Seriously, it has been taking me up to an hour to get him down at night, which is horrible, especially since 5 out of 7 nights, I am here alone. Well, Monday night was the last straw. When Mike came home, he saw my distress, and made a suggestion. He recalled that, a few months ago, when we were going through a rough patch with the sleeping, my mentor at work, Rita, suggested that we reverse the doorknob for his room so that we could lock it from the outside to prevent him from running out after lights out (aka, playing games). We unlock it, of course, once he's asleep so he can get out if needs to in the night but it keeps him from being able to run out of his room every five minutes just after he's put down, as he had been doing. So it's working so far. In fact, the last night he didn't even get up after I put him down! Success, for now.
The toileting is great. He has been in underpants for nearly 2 weeks (he wears a diaper for nap and bed) and has only had a few pee accidents (his last one was last Saturday). No poop accidents, unless you count today, which I don't... Here's what happened. He hadn't pooped since Monday, and he was complaining of a tummy-ache (I bet!). He had tried several times yesterday to poop, and I was getting worried. Well, when I went into the room between our classrooms today, right before we were going to leave, there he was, pulling up his pants, saying, "My poop in potty. Big mess." Sure enough, he had pooped in the potty... and clogged the toilet! Bless his heart. He had also gotten poop all over his bottom and legs while trying to wipe himself. I got him all cleaned up before we left, and gave him a bath when we got home. He was so sweet about the whole thing. When we called Mike to tell him about it, he said, "Daddy, my poop in potty. Break toilet." So funny.
Also falling into the "funny category" is this, which Mike witnessed the other night. Here's Mike's account, as copied/pasted from an email... "he's was brushing his teeth the other night to get ready for bed while standing on his little potty singing -- on one foot. i told him he needed to just brush his teeth and quit the other. and he looked at me with the most sincere eyes and said 'Stand on one foot, sing songs!' maybe you had to be there but i can't help but laugh every time i think about it." All I witnessed was the audio portion of that incident, so I heard the singing, as well as Mike's chuckling. It was quite dear.
W had a very acute observation the other night. While lying on his pallet (he's refusing to sleep on his bed right now--he insists on sleeping on a pallet on the floor in his room), he started fingering his nipples (yes, that's right. He has also been going through a phase of not wanting to wear a shirt to bed). He looked up at me, and with the most serious look on his face, said, "Mommy, why my have nipples?" Good question, son. Good question.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

They always say...

...truth is stranger than fiction. Seriously, this really does have the makings of a mystery/spy/thriller novel. I mean, to anyone who's paid any attention to the news over the past few years, Blackwater is, to say the least, a bit on the shady side. So to read this about the owner of the company, while shocking just due to the nature of the allegations, is not terribly surprising. Read on.

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

By Jeremy Scahill

August 4, 2009

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2," is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears "violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

"Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds," states Doe #2. "On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed."

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

"It's a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters," John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney's office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. "It would be a crime if we did that." Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: "We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual."

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, "Unfortunately no one can help you in that area." The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation's request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement "in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice." Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe":

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Doe #2 states: "Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution." Blackwater "was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department," according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News's Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a "federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food." Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

Doe #2 also says Prince "repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men." He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson "hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field," saying they "knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money."

Doe #1 states that "Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians." He concludes, "Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct." Doe #1 states that he "personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force." He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or "seriously" wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that "all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded," but that "Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a 'hot wash.' Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred." Blackwater, he says, "did not provide the video to the State Department."

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince "made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis." Specifically, he alleges that Prince "obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince's employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis."

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, "Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes."

"For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes." He added: "Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will."

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, "If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians." Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

"Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn't exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated," Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pots and pans

When Mom and I were in DC back in June, we saw the Smithsonian's exhibit of Julia Child's kitchen. Here's a piece from NPR about her pots and pans, which have recently been added to the rest of the kitchen.


Mike and I like cherries a lot. I mean, a lot A LOT. Even when Wegman's started having them at 3.99 per pound, back in May, we indulged. So now that they are 99 cents per pound, we are literally making ourselves ill on cherries. There are worse things to make yourself ill on, right?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday pics, etc, as promised

You asked for it... Well, maybe you didn't, but here you go anyway.
While my parents were here, Mike and I had an overnight get-away in NYC. I went in on the train on Friday afternoon, did around by myself for a while, and met up with him after he got done at work.
I snapped the picture below when I was meandering through Union Square. There were these three girls walking to a restaurant (I later saw them across the street from where Mike and I were eating) and they had on practically identical outfits. They were such a bad cliche, I couldn't resist...
After eating and walking around a bit, we headed to BowlMor, a bowling alley in the Union Square/Greenwich Village area.

I didn't do so well. Yes, I got a few strikes, but that was a total fluke.Of COURSE I had to take a picture of Lance Bass's signed pin at BowlMor!This was, perhaps my favorite thing that I saw in NYC... On a front door in Greenwich Village, the person had posted a plaque that read "No Menus" in both English AND Chinese! Hilarious. I totally need one of those. We get bombarded with menus for Chinese places....

While Mike and I were still in NYC the following a.m., my brave parents took W to the Staten Island Children's Museum. W loved it-- they had a REAL FIRE ENGINE that he got to play in!

After visiting the museum, the three of them took the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan, where they met us. We took the ferry back to SI, where my parents had parked their car, and drove back home. W really liked the ferry. He thought the Statue of Liberty was neat; he has a book about NYC and when he sees the drawing of the statue in the book, he gets all excited.

So my parents are the King and Queen of Projects. While they were here, they did several things around here that have needed doing...
Dad, using the 100 lb roller on the new kitchen floor...
Giving horsey rides...
Dad also organized Mike's tools in the basement. Mom organized the other crap down there... We actually have a lot of space, now that stuff is neatly stacked!
We went to our favorite farm while they were here... The farm provides a free apple for each child who visits. W loves choosing one for his very own!
According to my mother, I loved to wear bowls on my head when I was a little girl. So of course Mom couldn't resist snapping this picture of W...
Ah, the birthday! My mom got me a cupcake tower for Mother's Day... It was the perfect thing for the party!

He loved having everyone sing to him!He got great stuff for his birthday...
A new bike helmet (with Lightening McQueen on it, of course), to go with.....
...his new bike! That's right, it's a two-wheeler with no pedals. It's a balance bike. A child who uses one learns to ride a bike without training wheels. A friend of ours had one for her son, and he now rides a two-wheeler perfectly, and won't be four until November!
Of course, we had an unwelcome guest...
I found this caterpillar munching on one of my tomato plants! He was actually quite beautiful. He had a gorgeous green body, with blue and white stripes along it. He will be a pretty butterfly (if he makes it!). I transplanted him to the neighbor's front bushes (hey, no one lives there!).
My tomato plants are incredible. They are taller than my fence.
It's a jungle out there!
Kicking back after the party...
Yes, it was a big weekend.

Fake bake, etc.

I admit it. I used to be a fake-baker. I haven't been in 5 years, and I try to be careful about the sun--wear a hat, sunscreen, etc. Seeing this article today scared me and made me glad that I have resisted the urge to have a tan as of late, and made me wish I had resisted long ago...
And can someone please tell Barry that his job is to run the country--not to smooth over ruffled feathers over a beer in the Rose Garden??

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


W turned 3 on Sunday! He had a great party. My parents were able to be here to celebrate, which was wonderful.
I'll post pics soon. Thanks to everyone who helped make his birthday so special!!

Former dorm-mate in the slammer!

A girl with whom I lived in Scales House at Smith was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing $110k from a client of Chase, where she (I guess not any more) works. She was a first-year when I was a senior, so I didn't know her well, but I do recall that she was pretty wild.
Who knows what was going through her head.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Changing the dynamic

Are you a parent? Are you thinking of becoming a parent? Well, I have the book for you.

This book comes highly recommended from my co-worker, the Toddler Whisperer. The author, Beth Grosshans, is a frequent speaker/collaborator with our school. Her discipline techniques are no-nonsense and practical-- they work! I got the book on Tuesday and have been starting to implement the Ladder, and let me tell you, IT WORKS. W is NOT the one "in charge" at our house, but I can see him beginning to slip into that pattern, as Mike and I are both "pleasers," according to the book.
So I have tried the technique advocated by the book, and while it is a challenge at first, it really keeps my blood-pressure down, and works to calm the raging sea (aka, raging toddler). We don't spank, so this approach is perfect for our family. Basically, this book stresses the importance of correcting the situation at once, in order to avoid more serious problems down the road. Click here for a brief interview with the author.
The book covers problems from eating, sleeping, toileting, etc. This is definitely a book worth looking at if you have ANY questions about how to raise/discipline your child/ren.
I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The countdown is on!

A week from today, my parents will be here! They had planned to come up back in June, but were unable to because Dad had to stick around and wait on the state legislature to play its games. So they are going to start a drive up to Jersey next Friday and arrive on Sunday. They are bringing, among other things, a painting that my BFF did for me back in December, as well as a rug for my living room that Mom swears I'll "love". So they'll be here for a little over a week, and it looks like Mike and I might just get an overnight getaway out of the deal! I think we'll wind up staying in NYC for a night, and hopefully go to a show (if we can get tickets to a good one).
They'll also be in town for W's THIRD birthday! I cannot believe he is turning 3 this month. It's incredible. We're doing a Cars-themed birthday party, since he adores the movie and anything having to do with it. He's super-excited about his (as he calls it) "McQueen party" and says that, when he turns 3, he will wear Big-Boy Underpants and get rid of his "woo woo" (his pacifier, which he has in bed at night). We'll see about that...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

300th post

What better way to celebrate my 300th post as Little Miss Sew and Sow than to share a fabulous op-ed piece from the NYT?? This piece about Sarah Palin is brilliant-- especially the part about interrupting the networks' coverage of Michael Jackson's death... Thanks, Gail Collins, for putting my thought on paper! I've included my own comments in purple. Enjoy.

Sarah’s Straight Talk

Published: July 3, 2009

Truly, Sarah Palin has come a long way. When she ran for vice president, she frequently became disjointed and garbled when she departed from her prepared remarks. Didn't anyone learn anything from Mark Sanford's piteously unprepared "remarks" about Miss Argentina?? Now the prepared remarks are incoherent, too.

“And a problem in our country today is apathy,” she said on Friday as she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska at the end of the month. “It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.’ Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’ No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time ... to BUILD UP.” Huh?

Basically, the point was that Palin is quitting as governor because she’s not a quitter. Or a deceased salmon. Oh, thanks for clearing that up.

Sarah Barracuda made her big announcement Friday afternoon on the lawn of her home to an audience that appeared to include only Todd, the kids and the next-door neighbors. Smiling manically, she looked like a parody of the woman who knocked the Republicans dead at their convention. She babbled about her parents’ refrigerator magnet, which apparently had a lot of wise advice. And she recalled her visit with the troops in Kosovo, whose dedication and determination inspired her to ... resign.

“Life is about choices!” declared the nation’s most anti-choice politician.

People, what is going on with governors in this country? Are we doomed to see them go bonkers one by one, state by state? Oh, yes, please! Let's see, who's already managed to show his/her "crazy side"?

  • Eliot Spitzer (awhile back, but still counts b/c of shock value)
  • Rick Perry (come on, seceeding from the Union? Come up with a new idea! That's been done!)
  • Rod Blagojevich (duh)
  • Mark Sanford (do I even need to explain this one?)
  • Bobby Jindal (his response to the "State of the Union" address was pretty wacky--especially the "set" for it)

The timing of Palin’s announcement was extremely peculiar. Not only did she interrupt the plans of TV newscasters to spend the entire weekend pointing out that Michael Jackson is still dead, she delivered her big news just as the nation was settling into Fourth of July celebrations. You’d have thought she didn’t want us to notice. That IS really strange that she did it at such a time... Seriously.

“I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity,” she said in a fairly typical moment. “I choose not to tear down and waste precious time, but to build up this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic free people!” How, pray tell? Specifics, please.

Palin has a year and a half left to go in her term of office. The political world had been wondering whether she’d run for re-election. The answer is no. And furthermore, it turns out that Palin believes that the only way her administration can “continue without interruption” is for her to end it.

Anyhow, no point in wasting precious time. 2012 approaches... So do mid-term elections. Might she be planning a bid for a national office? Something to think about!

One underlying theme in Palin’s remarks was that many ethics complaints have been filed against her on issues ranging from her alleged attempts to get her former brother-in-law fired from the state troopers to charging Alaska for her children’s travel expenses.

According to the about-to-be-ex governor, fighting all this negativity has cost the state “thousands of hours of your time” and $2 million “to respond to ‘opposition research.’ ” But now this is all water under the bridge. Every single unfair charge has been dismissed. (“We’ve won!”) And now that the battle is over and the time/money has been wasted, Palin is going to leave her job in the name of “efficiencies and effectiveness.” So, basically, she's saying the state of Alaska will be better off without her in charge. How does that translate into America being better off with her in charge??

“I cannot stand here as your governor and allow millions upon millions of our dollars go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor,” she said. But you did.

Perhaps there is some new and interesting scandal that Palin has yet to let us in on. (If so, I hope it involves a soul mate.) Otherwise, it would appear that this is all about her desire to start raising money and setting up operations for a presidential run in 2012. Her fans immediately interpreted the resignation as a canny move to get her back down to the lower 48, with as much time on her hands as Mitt Romney. (Mary Matalin called it “brilliant.”)

Palin was the subject of a devastating article in this month’s Vanity Fair by Todd Purdum, who wrote that McCain campaign aides found it almost impossible to get Palin to prepare for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric. And there is no sign, Purdum reported, that Palin has made any attempt to bone up on the issues so that next time around, she could run as a candidate who actually had some grasp of the intricacies of foreign and domestic policy. She's a female version of Bush 43. Her schtick is that she doesn't know anything about anything. Unfortunately, that's a turn-on for a lot of voters. Me? I'd like my president to be a little smarter than I am... I'm just sayin'....

So if she’s starting to run, it will be as the same reporter-avoiding, generalization-spouting underachiever that she was last time around. But with better clothes.

Now we know she not only doesn’t have the concentration to read a policy paper, she can’t focus long enough to finish the job she was hired to do.

On Friday, Palin said that finishing out her term would be just too easy. “Many just accept that lame-duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck and ‘milk it.’ I’m not putting Alaska through that,” she said.

Apparently, she’s going to put the rest of us through it instead. Beautiful finish.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A painful admission

The Supreme Court handed down a huge ruling today in the New Haven Firefighters case. I heard about this case a few months ago on NPR and it really riled me up. Apparently, the city of New Haven, CT, administered an exam to its corps of firemen for the purpose of determining promotions. The test was not a new thing; moreover, the people who were going to take the exam had received a syllabus and study information to help them prepare for it. It's not that there were no blacks that passed--38% of them did--it's that none of those passing scores were high enough to fill the certain number of promotion positions. So the city threw out the test results for everyone in order to avoid a potential lawsuit from minorities. What did they get in return? A lawsuit from the white firefighters (and 1 Hispanic) who should have, according to the test results, gotten a promotion. Wanting to avoid a lawsuit is no reason to ignore the law, SCOTUS said. So the Court, in its opinion today, was essentially saying that the results could not be ignored--not that the test was necessarily good or bad.
So yes, I agree with Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy. As much as it pains me to say that for the first four in that group, I think the decision (authored by swing-vote Kennedy) was a good and fair one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Skatin' off into the sunset...

So Michael Jackson died today. I am feeling a rush of emotions right now. I have an overwhelming urge to say some totally inappropriate things, such as, "There won't be much for the embalmer to do..."
But I won't. Instead I'll just say that it's sad for his three young kids to grow up without a father. I'll also say that his talent was extraordinary and the music world is definitely better thanks to his amazing skills as a musician, singer and dancer.
One parting moment of inappropriateness-- as overheard by someone (who shall remain nameless) at his place of work (again, remaining nameless)...
"Wow, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett in the same day... That's like when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day..."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just beachy

We did something totally out-of-the-ordinary for our family a few days ago--we went on a mini-spur-of-the-moment Vacation! On Sunday, after church, Mike asked me what I thought about going to the beach, as we all had a few days off from work/school. Hmm... So we went home, did a little research on the Shore, and created a little getaway! We stayed a little mom-and-pop motel in Point Pleasant, about an hour from our house. The room was actually two bedrooms, which was perfect with W, as he was able to go to sleep at his normal time and Mike and I were able to stay up later (as in, until 10). We were such "old folks," playing Yahtzee and watching The American Experience on PBS. It was so relaxing and enjoyable.
The boardwalk was a typical boardwalk, with the silly rip-off games and greasy, too-expensive food. However, there was a decent, albeit small, aquarium that we enjoyed. We got there just in time to see them feed the seals (they also brushed the seals' teeth!).
We ate lunch at a little diner that was surprisingly quite delicious. Mike was craving a cheeseburger, I had a chicken panini, and W had (no big shock) chicken tenders. With full tummies, we went to our hotel, where we had arranged early check-in so that W could get his nap. He was excited about the BIG bed (we barricaded him in with pillows), and went to sleep without a fuss. After naps, we headed to the beach. You have to pay a nominal fee for most beaches in Jersey, so we got our beach passes at the hotel and trooped down to the shore. The water was waaaay too cold (we didn't even get near it, though there were lots of dummies out frolicking in the waves). We instead sat in the sand and showed W how fun it was to dig in the sand.
He was skeptical at first. In fact, he hated it at first. But he quickly warmed up to the idea of it and soon had a great time.

Here he is with his daddy, filling his dump truck with sand and shells.

He got really into running up and down the beach. We were flying his Elmo kite, which he thought was pretty neat.

On Tuesday, we found a practically deserted public beach further south in Bay Head. It was great. The tide had recently receeded, and we were able to collect some really neat shells.

It was pretty nippy and windy.

You can see how windy it was from the flags.

We got home by naptime on Tuesday. W was asking about the "'tel" and the "beech", which leads me to believe that he really enjoyed his trip and would be game for a repeat at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


We had the End-of-Year picnic at school yesterday evening. There were lots of fun activities for the kids--sand art, spin-painting and face painting. W was leery of the face painting at first, so he decided to get his arm done. After standing in line for a while and seeing other kids getting their faces done, he decided to go for it. He wanted something "pink" so we went with a pig face.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's June!

June just crept up on me! Memorial Day has come and gone, school's out... Sort of. Good news--I found out that I will be working at W's school this summer! After months of waiting, a slot came open, and they asked me to work. So that will make it MUCH easier to keep sending W to school through the summer. Routine and consistency is so important to him, so this is a fantastic opportunity for both of us to continue our daily grind.
My mom flew up on Wednesday for a last-minute-planned trip... As in, got her ticket on Tuesday. See, she and Dad were supposed to drive up to see us, but Dad had to stay in MS (ridiculous MS legislature), so it looked like a visit was off... Until Mom found a ticket that she could get with Frequent Flier miles! So she's here. She and I drove down to DC on Saturday morning to go to some museums--specifically the Smithsonian's Natural History museum. They have an exhibit going on right now that explores early North American European settlements from a forensic perspective. One of our distant-distant relatives was dug up and studied as part of the research. While we didn't see him on our visit (he's since been re-interred), there was a little blurb about how he had likely died of lead poisoning. Turns out, wealthier people generally died of such ailments, as most of their utensils and dinnerware was made of or coated with lead-- po' folks had wooden stuff. Very interesting.
Anyway, we did that, then went over to the American History museum. The last time I was in DC, it was closed for renovation. Well, it's open now. It's very... sterile. I enjoyed seeing Julia Child's kitchen, which is on permanent display there. Seeing the Star Spangled Banner was really cool, too. As for the new decor, however, I'm less than impressed.
After that, we backtracked and visited the National Gallery of Art. I love that place. It is so beautiful. We were in search of one of my favorite paintings, Renoir's Girl With a Watering Can. My mom has pictures of me standing beside it at ages 10 and 20. We were hoping to get a shot of me standing next to it in my 30th year. No such luck. I looked at their website and it seems that she is no longer "on display". Very interesting...
So then we went back to our hotel... The Ritz! My dad surprised us with reservations at the Ritz-Carlton because he was so bummed that he couldn't be up here with us. We relaxed a little bit, then set out for Georgetown, to one of my old haunts, Clyde's. Clyde's has great food and a relaxed atmosphere. I had a burger (I was craving it!) and Mom had crabcakes. Everything was delish. We strolled around a little bit, ducking into little shops here and there, but were so tired that we didn't last long. We hailed a cab back to the hotel and kicked back. I took a luxurious bubble bath in the gigantic tub and snuggled into the comfy featherbed. I slept like a rock.
Breakfast was huge, and delicious. I was only able to put away a fraction of what was on my plate, but enjoyed it immensely. We checked out soonafter, got our car, and made our way out of DC via some very interesting neighborhoods. We made it home in about 3 hours, thanks to my E-Z-Pass tag. It sure does save time when you don't have to stop to pay tolls with cash. With E-Z-Pass you just slow down a little bit and sail on through. Nice.
So we're home now. Mike and W survived our absence. The only time W really missed me was at bedtime last night. He wanted to sing "Baby Beluga" and Mike doesn't know the words/tune. But W's Smart Papa had a solution--call Mama! So there I was, standing in Barnes and Noble, singing "Baby Beluga" to my son over the telephone. The things we do for our children.

Amen, Uncle Jesse.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not a huge shock, but...

... disappointing nonetheless.  It seems that AT&T might have "unfairly swayed" the outcome of this season's American Idol.  I didn't care one way or the other which of the two guys won (believe it or not, I liked them both), and have never voted for anyone on the show.  In fact, this was the first season that I had ever watched Idol.  
If this allegation is true, however, it would cast a little dark cloud over the outcome, I think.  Again, not a huge shock, and not something that's going to keep me up nights, but I figured I'd share.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hard to believe?

It's so strange that there are still segregated proms. This NYT Magazine article is really interesting. Perhaps the author could have gone a little more in-depth, but for such a sensitive subject dealing with teenagers, she did a decent job. The audio slide show is really the most touching part of the piece, as you hear the actual voices of the kids involved in the situation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In and out

Mike installed my new ceiling fan (Mother's Day present) in the kitchen yesterday--it's fantastic (get it?!).

Here's Mike washing dishes (I love my husband so much!). You can see my new sink, new counter tops, new shade, and new light over the sink. Hooray!

My darling husband also finished staining and varnishing W's W-sized eating set to match our dining table. It looks great, and W is super-proud of it.

Here are my veggies in the backyard. I have several tomato plants, bell pepper, eggplant and squash. I sowed some carrot, radish, watermelon, and pumpkin seeds this past weekend as well.

Here's the first squash bloom of the season!

Here are my delish herbs. I have (clockwise from lower left) basil, parsley, mint, cilantro and rosemary.

Remember the stuff I started from seeds back in March? Some of it didn't work, but the stuff that did work is pretty impressive. Here are some tomato and bell pepper plants.

Memorial Day

We went to the Rutgers Gardens this morning. We didn't get to see much of it, as W was a little on the fussy side. We will definitely go back; the grounds are beautiful, and best of all, it's free!

Giant chair, or tiny W? You decide.

There is a nice nature walk on the premises. W was not up for walking it, so he rode on Mike's shoulders. There was a little creek running through that we all enjoyed looking at and listening to.

I took this picture of us, accidentally cutting out the best part of the subject-matter. Oops.

Mike took this one; he managed to get all three of us in the frame.
On our way home, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. After eating, W played in the PlayPlace. Mike helped him figure out how to climb on parts of it. He loved it. We did big time hand sanitizer when he got out, of course.

Peeking out from the play structure...

It's back to work/school tomorrow; we had a wonderful holiday today, though.