Well, we’re back.

We had a reasonably good time, and while there was a fair amount of family drama swirling around (my SIL and my mom are in a cold spell in their relationship), it didn’t destroy our vacation.

The kids got to go to Disney World for the first time, and landisdad managed to avoid joining us (since he wasn’t yet there). We ended up only seeing my stepfather on Thanksgiving Day, for which I gave many thanks. We did have a minor amount of political kvetching, when my mom’s friend gave thanks for “our new president, who we’ll have to learn to love like we take our coffee” (a joke she repeated at least 3 times. Does that even make sense?).

And now we’re back, and the Christmas season is rushing up to us. I can’t really seem to get into the spirit. I know I wrote a grumpy post about Christmas last year, but this year’s grumpiness feels different to me.

Part of it is the fact that, while I thought my life will slow down in the post-election moment, it really hasn’t, and I’m going to spend 8 days away from home between now and Christmas on work-related jaunts. Another part is that, while our financial situation has improved slightly since we cut off the cable in August (and btw, thanks, Cami, for turning me on to the genius that is Hulu.com!), I don’t much feel like running up a bunch more credit card debt that doesn’t get paid off until mid-2009.

I went on etsy.com tonight to start looking for gifts for the kids, and I’m just feeling meh about everything. I got the Bee some earrings, but I’m not feeling like spending a lot of time shopping, even online. I haven’t ordered holiday cards yet, and I know I’m going to be sending them out on New Year’s Day again this year.

The good news is that we will be having Christmas at home for the first time in what feels like forever. The rotational nature of landisdad’s brother’s holiday cycle has landed him with their mom for the first time since their grandmother died, and there is no longer room at the inn for all of us to stay there. So they’ll come down to visit us after Christmas, but for once, we won’t be packing up all the newly-unwrapped toys to bring them to my MIL’s.

The thing I’m most looking forward to is the 1.5 days that I’ll be off when everyone else has to go to school or work. If only I could guarantee that I won’t have to spend it cleaning or shopping!


November 30, 2008. family life. 7 comments.


We’re off to visit my mom tomorrow–I’m flying with the kids on Saturday–landisdad is joining us on Tuesday. I haven’t seen my mom in over a year, and I know that the kids are excited to see their grandmother, as well as their local cousins. I’m happy that they’ll get to spend time together, though I’m not looking forward to it personally.

I was at a benefit tonight talking to some people, and I made the obligatory grandmother joke–that it is just my job to deliver the kids to my mom, and let the spoiling begin. The truth of the matter is somewhat different. I wish it was more like that traditional grandmother relationship, but the reality is that my mom is not the kind of grandmother that approves of everything her grandchildren do. And while I know she misses them, and wants to spend time with them, I also know that she will have a certain standard of behavior that she is going to expect. And it’s a standard that isn’t going to deal very well with the Bee’s anger management issues, or with the fact that the kids are fighting way more than they are playing happily together, lately.

I was g-chatting with a blog-friend the other night, and we were talking about the fact that other people like our kids–that they behave well at school and (generally) in public–but at home the fighting is going to drive us mad. I’d like to think that my kids could be on good behavior for a week, but I really doubt that is possible.

Add to that the fact that we are going to be staying in a place with no TV and internet for a week, and I’ll consider myself lucky if we all come back alive!

November 22, 2008. family life. 6 comments.

girls will be boys

This year, the Bee’s class has a real gender imbalance. There are 14 boys and only 4 girls in her fourth grade class. She’s been coming home and complaining about the fact that ‘the boys’ are constantly getting the class in trouble–and knowing the energy of the 10-year-old boy, I don’t find it that hard to believe. For the most part, I think it’s been good for the Bee to be in this kind of environment, although there are some difficulties about it, from her perspective.

She’s gotten a lot jock-ier this year. She played soccer all fall, and she’s quite a good defensive player, very aggressive in her attempts to take the ball away from the other girls. She’s also gotten involved in a bunch of extra-curricular activities, including writing for the elementary school newspaper, and playing the drums in the band. I think it has definitely helped her to have the ‘norm’ in her class be the boy norm, not the girl norm. At least two of the other girls in her class are athletes as well–the Peony plays three sports a year, and the other girl is the daughter of the guy who coached softball last spring.

We’ve also not had a recurrence of the your-socks-don’t-match-your-outfit moment from last year. I’m happy to report that that girl moved away over the summer. The Bee has been wearing sweatpants and t-shirts every day, with the same pair of sneakers, and yes, the same stained sweater, every.single.day. She’s also refused to get a haircut for weeks, and just tonight I had to practically hold her down to cut her bangs, because I couldn’t stand to look at them for another minute.

I know that it’s just a matter of time before she gets all pre-pubescent, and starts preening herself for a half-hour every morning before school. I know that she and the other girls in her class will start to worry more about getting sweaty, than about how far they can kick the ball in the endless game of kickball that her class plays every single day at recess.

I’m pretty comfortable hanging on to my grubby, stained, awesome daughter for right now, though. If it takes a world of boys to keep her from acting like a girl, that’s okay with me.

November 16, 2008. growing up. 8 comments.

what the hell is Growl?

and why is Firefox so concerned that I update it?

November 14, 2008. random other things. Leave a comment.

the price

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Now that the election is over, I’m calculating the cost, cleaning up the debris, and trying to get back to my regular life. Here’s a snapshot of the price of the election, from my family’s perspective:

*missed soccer games–8

*missed trash nights–1 (the night before the election, when I was–of course–working, and landisdad was worn out from weeks of single parenting)

*additional grey hairs, seemingly grown overnight by me–1,001

*temper tantrums, thrown by my kids–eleventy billion

*temper tantrums, thrown by me–2

*temper tantrums, thrown by landisdad–miraculously, none

*number of times the Potato has called me, “Dad, I mean Mommy”–5, regrettably, this seems to be continuing in the post-election moment, it’s now up to 7

*layers of crud, covering every surface in our house–16

*fender benders, engaged in by a too-tired-to-be-driving landismom–1

*loads of laundry that never got folded, but just went straight from the hamper to the body, then back to the hamper–32

*missed bedtimes, including stories & kisses–43

*number of dirty dishes that are stacked in the sink even now–27

*number of consecutive days the Potato went without a bath in the month of October–6

*missed elementary school Awards Assemblies–1

*Watching your victory speech–priceless

I know that you have to govern the whole country, and not just the people who voted for/worked for you. Still, there are a couple of things that I expect to get in exchange for my family’s sacrifices. In no particular order, they include real health care reform that guarantees health care coverage for every man, woman and child in this country (I know that you can take the heat on the cries of ‘socialist’ that will be coming your way); an end to the war in Iraq; a restored confidence in our country from allies abroad; and a revived economy. Not expecting it all in the first 100 days, but seeing some real progress by then would be nice.

Congratulations on your victory–now get to work!

Your friend,


November 7, 2008. '08 election, thoughtful parenting. 3 comments.

election vignettes

Here’s a couple of things I’ve been thinking about lately. Soon, the election-related posting will stop. I promise.

1. Last summer when the Bee and I were driving home from camp through the streets of Big City in a Swing State, she noticed a homeless woman’s camp on the side of the road. The woman had a neatly stacked pile of belongings, and had her laundry hung up on a line to dry. The Bee brightly said something along the lines of, “well, that woman seems to have made herself a nice situation, even though she’s homeless.” It was just one of the many times in the past year that something that one of my kids did or said strengthened my resolve to work as hard as possible on this year’s presidential election.

2. On Sunday, I took the Bee to work with me. In my car (which is suffering from a very bad case of campaign car* right now) was a t-shirt from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, that I had gotten at an event the prior day. We got into a long conversation about birth control, and why a group that cares about women’s reproductive health also feels the need to be politically active. I was actually excited to have that conversation, because I’ve been wondering how to start talking to the Bee about birth control, and puberty and all that stuff. When we got to the office, some of the other women who work on the campaign were talking to her, and one of my coworkers asked her if she likes any boys. The Bee indignantly reported that boys are gross. So I guess we won’t be visiting Planned Parenthood any time soon :).

3. On Monday, I canvassed a guy who told me that he had gone to see MLK speak in 1965, and how when he was growing up in Raleigh, his parents weren’t able to vote. He said, “Martin didn’t live to see this day. But I did. You don’t have to worry about my daughter going to vote tomorrow. Everyone in my house is voting!” I haven’t cried at a stranger’s door too many times in my life, but that was one.

4. For some reason, I ate less pizza and more Chinese food on this campaign than any campaign I’d previously worked on. On Saturday night, one of my coworkers decided that instead of ending every fortune cookie fortune with the phrase, “in bed,” we should all end them with “when Barack Obama is president.” My last fortune? “To be mature is to accept imperfections…when Barack Obama is president.” So true.

5. On Tuesday night, I was at a party in a hotel suite with a bunch of my team and some other co-workers, watching TV. When MSNBC called the election for Obama, we all jumped around, screaming and hugging. All of us–black, white, Latino, gay, straight, men and women–had tears of joy running down our faces. When Obama finally spoke, I had tears streaming down my face and a woman that I’ve only known for about six days came over to give me a hug. It was the election of Hope vs. Fear, and for the first time in a long time, Hope won.

*Full of boxes, dry cleaning, old turf maps, empty coffee cups, random other garbage, random raingear, campaign lit, etc.

November 6, 2008. '08 election. 4 comments.


Four years ago, during the last most-important-election-of-our-lifetime, I went to a training by Wellstone Action, and got this great t-shirt. Now, the Potato sleeps in it. It strikes me as the perfect shirt for today, and the perfect kid political t-shirt. I’ve done all of these things in the last 24 hours*, and you should too. After all, we don’t want to have to make another one of these.

If you can’t read it, it says:









*(Well, except for the voting, which I did 2 weeks ago.)

November 3, 2008. politically motivated. 5 comments.