Friday, September 30, 2005

Learning to Walk

K. is eagerly practicing her newfound walking skills. She is very wobbly still, and hasn't gone more than about six feet, but she is so pleased with herself. Whenever J. and I tell her to walk to us, she happily tries if we're not too far away. S. has been observing all of this attention, of course. She doesn't seem jealous, and even claps and cheers for K. each time she walks a little. So this afternoon we're all in the kitchen, and K. is walking back and forth between the two of us. S. then announces she's going to walk too. Then, instead of walking normally, she does an imitation of K.'s wobbly, legs-far-apart walk! J. and I had a good laugh over that one.

Chill in the Air

There is finally a chill in the air.  Normally, I dread the advent of cool weather, but for some inexplicable reason I have found myself anxiously anticipating the arrival of fall this year.  This summer was not particularly hot, but I’m just ready for it to be over.  But I do detest being cold, so I’m sure that two months from I’ll be moaning about how I wish it were summer.  How fickle are my weather preferences!  

Here’s something I’ve been pondering lately.  On this earth there is tremendous variation in temperature, from over 100 degrees to well below 0 degrees.  Yet most of us humans are only truly comfortable in a very narrow range of that span.  For me, that’s from about 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Other people who haven’t been spoiled as I have by central air-conditioning and cheap heating probably are more tolerant of temperature variations.  But still, that means that most of us are either too hot or too cold most of the time.  Kind of sad to think about it.  Or perhaps I need to think less about my own slight physical discomforts.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Toddler Questions

I realize that small children are famous for asking questions, but I did not think it would be this bad. While watching the Jungle Book, S. asked at least ten times, “He’s looking for Mowgli.” Wait a minute! That’s not a question, you say. Oh, but it is at this age. She demanded some sort of response or acknowledgement from me each time. Apparently, all of my remarks were inadequate, since she kept it up for so long. Later in the movie, “Where’s the snake?” repeated four times. At the time, Kaa the snake was very visible on the screen, and she knew it. I wonder what goes through their little minds. Perhaps she just wants to make sure that I am paying attention also. Or maybe she’s looking for confirmation that it really is a snake. I don’t know, though. She is very good at recognizing snakes, and has been for a long time. She does that with other things too. It’s probably all just to drive me crazy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Washing Hands

S. has reached a new milestone – I no longer have to hold her up to the sink to wash her hands.  She is finally tall enough to stand on a little stepstool and just barely get her hands under the water.  I still have to turn the water on and help her with the soap, but that’s no big deal.  I am just so pleased not to have to hold her up anymore.  Of course, it will be another two years until K. is tall enough to reach, but for now I can enjoy the fact that she is still relatively light to lift up.  Ah, the things that make my life exciting.

K. is starting to walk now (11 ½ months), which is quite exciting.  It took S. until she was 14 months, perhaps because she didn’t have an older sibling role model.  K. wants to do everything that S. does.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ben Affleck for Senator?

It drives me crazy when celebrities get shortcuts to things everything else has to work hard for, like publishing books or getting elected to public office. But if this little tidbit on Ben Affleck is true, it really would be just too much fun to watch it unfold. Shame on the Virginia Democrats for even thinking of resorting to such tactics! Aren't there any other qualified potential candidates out there?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Health Insurance Rant

It's time for my rant on the evils of the insurance industry. Does everyone really know how much it costs, and how many people get the shaft? The rich can afford it, no matter how unreasonable. The poor get free service in the ER, courtesy of the rest of us. But the middle class . . . . Our health insurance premiums are going up to about $600 a month. That does not include dental. We're young, healthy, nonsmokers, etc. My husband's work pays for his share, so if they didn't do that it would be over $800. The plan we are in does not exactly cover everything, either. We still have a deductible, copays, and 20% coinsurance. Last year we paid about $2000 out of pocket for K.'s birth. So why are the premiums so stinking high? He works for a small business, and Anthem gives better rates to larger companies! I can hardly believe that such a thing is legal! What if Anthem wanted to give better rates to white people? That would never be allowed, of course. Seems like almost the same thing to me. We're paying more just because he doesn't work for a big corporation.

I ask J. what other people at his office think about this. Most don't care too much, because all of their spouses have their own jobs with their own insurance paid by their employers.

Anyway, several months ago, knowing that open enrollment was coming (another peeve of mine), I researched my other options. I thought J. could keep his insurance since the office pays for it, but the girls and I could get our own plan, maybe even an HSA. So I go to the Anthem website. It looks all nice and welcoming. I get some quotes that are hundreds of dollars lower than our current Anthem plan. I was so excited! But I had a nagging feeling that it was too good to be true. I call them, and sure enough, they will not enroll me, because I can get it through my husband's work! Aarrgghhh. The lady on the phone got defensive on the phone when I asked her why not. "We do not allow competition between our group and individual plans" was all she would say. Of course they don't!! They wouldn't make as much money!!

So why stick with Anthem? Well, they are the biggest in VA, and most all doctors are participating. But when this much money is involved, it is not the time to be thinking of convenience. So I go to Golden Rule's website. Nice, cheaper, friendly lady on the phone, but they do not offer maternity coverage in VA. Not that I am about to get pregnant, but you never know. In the end, we decided to stay with Anthem. I couldn't find any other insurers in VA who offer individual or family plans. If you know of any, let me know.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Our yard sale went well, I suppose. I don't really have much to compare it with. My in-laws said that many more people came than they would have had at their house. I made $50-$60, which is fine with me. I didn't have that many items to put in, so I can't complain. My in-laws made a couple of hundred each. It was kind of exciting to sell things. I think I will have to open a retail shop someday (along with all of the other careers I would like to try).

What amazes me is the stuff that people will buy! Most of what I put in was fairly decent still; clothes that I'm just plain tired of, working computer monitor, George Forman grill, etc. Some of the things my in-laws put in were just not worth anything, but yet people bought anyway! H. and I were making fun of my mother-in-law, M. for trying to sell a shower curtain for $3. It was a giant photo of a mountain scene, complete with a field of tulips. The colors were very bright, to say the least. We kept telling her to mark it down, but she wouldn't. And then, a couple bought it! M. was so pleased with herself, because she had originally paid $2 for it at a yardsale!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Baby Shower

I went to a shower tonight for a lady having her fourth child. Her oldest is not quite five yet. It makes me very tired to think how tired she must be. I've observed her with her children in church, and I wonder how she can do it, especially with them so close together. Amazingly, she said tonight that she wants to have lots more children! I'm impressed that anyone could feel that way when they are enormously pregnant.

The shower was typical. We only played one game, thank goodness. Refreshments, and then the presentfest. I was the only person that gave her books (board books for babies and toddlers). Unfortunately, I started to develop a splitting headache, so I did not enjoy socializing that much. A few people brought their kids, which I find a little sad. I'm so glad I have a husband so I can leave mine at home. Some of my friends have to drag their kids wherever they go because their husbands either work weird hours, or won't be left alone with them. The latter fills me with disgust! How can you have children and not be willing to care for them? Also, ever notice how some people, including mothers, use the word "babysitting" to refer to fathers watching their children? As in, Joe is babysitting the kids tonight. That drives me crazy.

Hurricane Rita

It's interesting to see how reactions to the impending storm are different since Katrina hit. The media is having its usual frenzy, of course, but local leaders seem eager to show that they have learned from "the lessons of Katrina." I did notice that one city (was it Galveston or Houston?) is not going to have a shelter of last resort, à la SuperDome. Hmmm. I wonder why! So far, the urgency is greater, and more people are evacuating this time. However, the hundred mile long traffic jams don't bode well. I would really hate to be sitting in an interstate parking lot for hours on end in the heat.

This may not seem very nice to say, but I hope Rita goes for New Orleans. It has to go somewhere, and N. O. is already flood damaged, half-ruined, and evacuated. It would save a lot of tax payer dollars if N. O. got the brunt of it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yard Sale

I am so excited - I am having my very first yard sale on Saturday! I've always thought it would be fun to have one, but I have never had much of anything to sell, since I am the opposite of a pack rat. What would that be? I shall have to coin a new idiom. Hmmm. Are there any creatures that throw things away? Anyway, that's my speciality. When in doubt, throw it out. I can't stand clutter, so I make frequent trips to Goodwill.

But now I have my chance. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were planning on having a joint sale, and I offered my yard as the perfect high visibility location. Really, it will mostly be their sale, as I don't have too much too contribute, but that's alright. As I mentally go through my closets, I realize there are things that I could easily part with (old clothes, weird wedding gifts, books I don't want to reread). I even bought little stickers at Wal-Mart today. Oddly enough, I rarely go to yard sales. To me it's a waste of a Saturday morning to sort through others' junk. But the opportunity to pass off my junk . . . I think I have a large dose of the entrepreneurial (sp?) spirit. It would be an interesting challenge to own my business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


We just got back from Massanutten Resort (in the Shenandoah Mountains). A friend from church hooked us up with a stay in a two bedroom condo for free. With our current budget, that's the best kind of vacation we can take. Seriously, the only extra money we spent was gas to get there. We brought food from home and cooked ourselves. The resort is mainly for skiing, which we obviously didn't do, but they have many other summer activities. There were some nice pools, which the we all quite enjoyed, especially S. and K. S. also liked the fancy playground, mini-golf, and the cable TV (No, we do not have cable at home). If you think you notice a theme here, you are correct. Leisure activities at this point in our lives revolve around trying to keep the little ones happy. There were a lot of other activities there we would have liked to have done, such as canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, raquetball, and hiking, but they just don't work with kids. Someday, however, J and I are going to Europe and leaving the kids behind! That's my idea of a vacation.

Now everyone is cranky and overtired, and I have a lot of unpacking and cleaning to do. Still, it was worth it just to get out the house for a while.

Rethinking Flood Insurance

This Washington Post editorial makes some good points. I have no problem with people choosing to build in flood-prone areas, as long as I don't have to help pay for it!

Sunday, September 18, 2005


If I had to pick my most dreaded aspect of motherhood, it would be potty-training. I have feared it for years. It probably stems back to my childhood, when it seems as though there was always someone in my house being trained (I'm the oldest of 10). It was practically a phobia.

In early August, I decide to try seriously with S., age 2 and 9 months. I had made a few feeble attempts before, but had no success whatsoever. By the way, don't waste your money on those potty chairs that play music when the kid performs. It only takes a 2 year old about 10 seconds to discover that there are other much easier ways to hear the song. It didn't take me long to remove the batteries, and tell S. that it didn't work anymore. Also, those disposables with the wetness liner didn't work for her either. She was willing to put up with it. You gotta get the real underpants.

So, having discussed this with my daughter in the previous days, I was as ready as I could be for what I knew would be a challenge. I made a large, decorated potty chart. I had stickers and lemonade. I had mini candy bars. I had a doll that pees. I had a video with songs such as, "She's a Super-Duper Pooper." Basically I just took away the diapers away, and stayed home all week. We watched movies together and read books. That first week was so awful for me, mostly emotionally. I can't stand being cooped up in the house all the time, but I didn't want to confuse her by putting Pull-ups on her to go out. I hated trying to keep her on the potty. She could hold it almost all day long, but I didn't figure that out for a few days, so I was constantly paranoid that she was going to go on my furniture or rugs. Basically, I was a nervous wreck. After one week, there were only two stickers on the chart. The sink was constantly full of wet training pants.

Finally, I relaxed a bit. S. learned that she had to sit on a towel if she wanted to sit on the sofa! By the second week she had a few more successes, but not more than one a day, because she would hold it in until the afternoon. I never could get her to drink very much. By the third week, it clicked. She is now quite well-trained in the peepee department. She will even come in from playing outside to go, and is so proud of herself. She has stopped holding it. Half the time she forgets to ask for her treat, which in any case we are weaning her off of. We downgraded her from the candy bars to chocolate kisses to gummy bears.

Beware if you have a younger child. Three times S. has done her business, and not told me (isn't that great she's so independent?). Well, K. crawled over and was playing in the pee before I realized what was going on! Horrors! Now S. knows that she has to tell me!

Anyway, I am so happy at the progress she has made. (Number 2 is another story. Currently she waits til she has her bedtime diaper on to poop.) I know that many experts say not to push a kid; let them do it when they are ready. But I was tired of paying for all those diapers, and knowing her personality, she may have held out until the age of four. So I don't regret it, although that first week was brutal.

How many outfits a day?

S. is now fully into that phase of being extremely interested in clothing. She can get herself dressed and undressed for the most part, and is enjoying using that new power multiple times a day. It is driving me crazy! All day long she puts on new outfits and discards old ones. There are clothes strewn all over the house. Rarely is anything matching or weather-appropriate, so if we go anywhere I still have to change her. I got her a used chest of drawers recently (yard-sale of a friend) with most of the handles missing. I hoped that that would hinder her, but she is still able to get the drawers open. I'm hoping that she will outgrow this phase soon. If not, I will have to be more creative. When my sister-in-law had the same problem with her daughter, she took her whole bureau and moved it to her bedroom, and kept the door locked. However, our room is so small, that wouldn't work for me. Plus the door doesn't lock.
This morning in church we had our second rehearsal for next week's Primary Program (annual children's presentation in sacrament meeting). The kids were a lot more restless this week than last; frankly, they're just bored with singing those songs so many times. It was like a revolving door to the bathroom. I'm sure half of them didn't really need to go, but who cares? I would have done the same in their shoes. I think it will be fine next week, though. They always behave better when there is an audience staring back at them! I'm just so glad I'm in the presidency, and thus can walk around a bit. The poor class teachers are stuck sitting there during the whole rehearsal - it's murder. I know, because I was a teacher last year. I feel a little guilty for having it easier, but hey, that's the way it is. There are plenty of other things I should feel guilty about instead (like being too grouchy to my husband).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Early to Rise

Why is that children get up earlier on Saturday than any other day of the week? My two little munchkins had been sleeping decently late all week (around 7 AM), but this morning K. starts fussing at 6:11 AM. It was still dark out, so there's no excuse for it! J. got her up and brought her in to our bed, but that was the end of sleep. I've been told that other people's children will snuggle or doze with them in those early morning hours. Never happened here; not with S. or K. Oh well, it helped me get a real jump on the day. I made omelettes and was ready to run errands before some of the stores were even open. Makes me feel very industrious. I catch myself thinking, "Why aren't these businesses open before 9 or even 10 AM? Don't they know it's Saturday morning?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Making Applesauce

This afternoon we all went over to my husband's parents house (in their absence) to get some apples from their trees. They have three large apples trees in their side yard, each one loaded to the breaking point, with the ground underneath carpeted with fallen apples. We didn't think ahead enough to bring any buckets, but found two cardboard boxes on the porch, which worked well. S. had a good time helping us fill them. K. became very upset when I sat her on the grass (too prickly), so I moved her over to the driveway, where she was a bit happier. Feeling ambitious, I sent J. to the car to look for some bags. He found a large purple plastic beach bucket. S. thought that was great, and took charge of it. Basically, I want to take care of as many apples as possible so my mother-in-law won't work herself to exhaustion. But we hardly made a dent with what we took.

At home, I eagerly started making applesauce, which turned out to be a mistake. Really, it's very easy to make, and not too time-consuming if you have a grinder/strainer thingee, but it's not really the project to start right before supper with two fussy kids. So I only got some made, and frazzled my nerves in the process. K. was hanging on my legs half the time. The other half the time S. was making her cry. Then after supper I had to wash all the paraphanelia, knowing that I will just get it dirty again tomorrow when I finish the job. I had foolishly used two large pots at the same time, so I had to wash them both by hand as they were too big to fit in the dishwasher. At least the girls both liked eating it for supper.

Mercury Emissions

I bet we'll hear about this in three years (presidential elections).
Every once in a while my two daughters actually play together happily for a few minutes. I expect that this will become more common as they get older, but for now it remains an occasional gem. Last night, S. (age 2.9) was wearing the Mrs. Potato Head lips in her own mouth and K. (age 0.9) came up to her grabbing at them. S. actually let her take them, (without shrieking in rage), and then grabbed them back and replaced them in her mouth. They repeated this little game about ten times, laughing hysterically. It was so nice to see them enjoying each other. It kind of reminded why I had wanted S. to have a sibling in the first place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Boats Rose in New Orleans, but Not for the Poor

From the Washington Post, by Steven Pearlstein:
Boats Rose in New Orleans, But not for the Poor: "It is unclear whether we as a society find that morally unacceptable. If we do, we will have to accept slower economic growth and more aggressive redistribution of income through government tax and benefit and regulatory systems."

More aggressive redistribution of income? Sounds like pretty extreme socialism to me. Don't count on it happening in this capitalistic nation. People that want to live under that kind of an economic model should probably seek out another place to live.

Recent Read

Warning: this is not a serious review.
I just finished The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith. It was a pretty decent book, enjoyable to read, and somewhat inventive in plot and structure. I found some of the characters a little hard to swallow, though, even for 1960's England. What 19 year old guy would really become a paid companion to an elderly woman, just to make a little money and get material for a novel? I was aggravated that the main narrator, an intelligent capable woman in her late 30's, decides to cherish an unrequited devotion to a man much her senior, whom she had never spent more than 2 hours time with. Please. Maybe she would keep the pleasant memory of a little crush, but I doubt she would really promise to be waiting at the prison gates for him, knowing that he would likely never return her affection.

Smith is also the author of I Capture the Castle, a thoroughly charming coming of age story, that I highly recommend. I have already enjoyed it several times, and will again, I'm sure. By contrast, The New Moon with the Old is a one-timer. It was fun to read something else by the author of a book I loved, but it's not worthy of a reread.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

John Roberts mentioned on NBC

Last night on the evening news, NBC let out a zinger that really irked me. I don't have the actual transcipt, so I must paraphrase. Basically, they mentioned the confirmation hearings of John Roberts, and how many were interested in his record on civil rights, since the hurricane (switch to footage of desperate minority New Orleanians) has shown us again the economic disparity that exists in this country. Yep, that was all one sentence. John Roberts, civil rights and economic disparity in N.O. linked together. Just another example of media bias, as well as poor journalism. I'm just a tad conservative, if you can't figure that out.

Honestly! I refuse to believe that it was racism that caused that mess down there. Poverty, I can go for ( in part), but no politician or FEMA employee is stupid enough in 2005 to do or not do anything along the lines of "ah, just a bunch of blacks - let'em drown." I just don't believe it. Government beaurocracy is to blame for the slow response. Let's be honest - we've all experienced the inefficiency of government, no matter what our race (been to the DMV lately?). But don't mistake me - I do not blame the government for the entire scope of the suffering. The hurricane is to blame. The suffering was increased by the poverty of those in its path. Maybe sometime I'll elaborate on what I think contributes to poverty.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Both of my daughters are actually sleeping at the same time! This is a big deal, since the oldest, S., doesn't take many naps anymore. She'll want to stay up way to late tonight as a result, but I'm enjoying a little peace and quiet now. Today is just another ordinary Monday - a day that I should dedicate to recovering the house from the mess created over the weekend, but instead becomes a day where I tell myself I can catch up on laundry tomorrow. Although I did do a little ironing a while ago. It's hard to do that when K. is awake, as she is at that age of pulling up and grabbing.
This morning I pushed the girls in the stroller down to Rite Aid to check out the bargains. They run a good rebate program, and I often get free or very cheap items. My finds today were Zantac for free and Electrasol for 99 cents. It's kind of embarrassing to be such a bargain hunter. I know the clerks recognize me now as the woman who comes in on Mondays to get the good stuff before it's gone. But sometimes ya gotta swallow your pride when the budget is tight. I tell myself it's a small sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom.


I recently found an opinion piece, which I quite agree with. This is not meant to be an endorsement of everything Bill O'Reilly says (since I don't know much about him), but I did think that this told the hard truth rather well. I had been beginning to think that I was the only person out there who believed in personal responsibility and self-reliance. I particularly liked his references to education as means of escaping poverty.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Why, or rather why not?

When I first heard of blogging, I thought it was rather a silly thing to do. Why would someone want to put their personal business on the Internet? But lately, as I have looked into it, and even read a book on it, the blogging bug has bit me. At any rate, I think I will give it a try. For several years now I have had the itch to write and publish - children's books, preteen lit, novels, the like. However, I have done absolutely zilch, as I have a hard time coming up with any ideas. My husband says it is because I read too much. Who knows? But as my college years get ever farther away, I fear that my intellect is starting to dim. I have this uncontrollable urge to do something, anything. I do keep a personal journal sporadically, but never seem to get beyond that. So I will try blogging, perhaps merely as a springboard, or perhaps as an end unto itself. Maybe it is a little pathetic, but the idea of having an audience is a little gratifying, and I hope will encourage me to continue. Pathetic or not, I do seem to have plenty of company out here in the blogosphere.

I plan to write some of my daily experiences, particularly as they relate to raising my two young children. There are many books and articles devoted to surviving the first year of motherhood, but less on what to do after that. However, as my URL suggests, even though I am caught up in potty-training and the like, I still think about other things, such as politics, education, economics, etc. So this will be a bit of pot-luck.