Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There's a hero inside all of us

I've never made is a secret that I think my kid is pretty damn awesome and yeah, I totally cop to a bias here, but she continues to amaze me every. single. day. From her generosity with her friends to her reading to her little brother; from loving to make up stories about the Princess Rescue Squad to racing around the house playing Star Wars, she is full of life and joy. Exactly as a 7 year old should be. But she is also wise beyond her years and stronger than most adults can ever hope to be.

She has been having a wonderful summer so far; her confidence is through the roof, not only with swimming but also in being around other kids. Her naturally reserved nature was overcome by the unifying force of Monster High dolls that she brings every day to share with the girls when they are tired of swimming. (Again with the generosity theme.) She'll play and share with everyone and counts among her friends a rising 6th grader and a rising 4th grader, all from school. They were in the same before/after care program and just naturally took care of her all year. Yesterday, she returned the favor.

While playing with the rising 6th grader, P,  a new addition to the camp decided to crown herself as 'Queen Bee' and told the girls that she was 'awesome'. Okay, fine, whatever but the girl didn't stop there. According to Noelle, she then started to make fun of P, calling her names and gradually, the other girls joined in the mocking before flocking around their new mistress and leaving. P was in tears but Noelle, she stayed. She stayed with P the rest of the day, playing with her and just being there, being her friend. And Dylan told me at the end of the day when he picked her up from the camp bus stop, P stopped Noelle and gave her a huge hug. The simple act of being a friend made things better for another little girl and maybe, hopefully, helped her reclaim her confidence.

Noelle may not fully understand why Dylan and I are so proud of her but I'm much less worried about her now. She'll have challenges as all kids do but her moral compass? That bad boy points straight north and I pity the fool who messes with her. By her actions, she showed P that the other girls were wrong, that P is great just as she is and maybe, just maybe, taught those girls a lesson about doing what's right versus what's easy. It's hard to be on the receiving end of such actions but just one person staying with you makes all the difference in the world. And when push comes to shove, it doesn't matter who you have sticking up for you, all that matters is that someone is, for as Galadriel told Frodo, even the smallest person can change the course of history.

You keep on rocking with your bad self baby girl; you got this. Bullies of the world, you're on notice: Noelle Lange is in the house and your time has just run out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I've got two working days left before vacation so my drive to get anything done besides vacation prep is slowly fading away. Not that I'll get away from work totally; I still have reports to run and apocalypses (apocalypsi?) to avert. But I won't be HERE while doing it. At any rate, VACATION! WHEE! But before we can get there, we gotta make it through this week. And it was touch and go whether we would or not.

Saturday night my computer mysteriously decided to eat my profile name so I couldn't log on. Usually not a big deal but I prefer to snark terrible SyFy movies from my trusty laptop and thus was relegated to using my phone. I know. Woe. It was still acting up on Sunday morning meaning that Dyl couldn't do his video show. Like a good wife, I said, 'Take it to the Best Buy service department. I'm taking the kids to my mom's to make cookies. Later!' Turns out that before they'd even look at it he had to buy a $200 technical services warranty contract thingy. Um, no. Not gonna happen. So he contacted a friend who was able to help restore stuff and now I own Tony beer and cookies. (Thanks again Tony! A new computer was not in the budget at this time.) He missed his show but at least I had it back to do my 'The Strain' recap. Priorities, yo.

Huh, everyone in Office Row disappeared. I hope there wasn't a meeting or something I was supposed to be at....

After getting pissy with Noelle's summer camp, I finally (FINALLY!) got her swimming reports for the past 5 weeks. They were on scraps of notebook paper. I think some of my end-of-camp suggestions will be to have a standardized form for the swim instructors to fill out for the kids taking lessons. It's not rocket science until it is.

Speaking of camp, she loves it there and has made lots of friends. Yay! But! She's also generous to a fault and has each week run out of snack money by Thursday buying snacks for her friends. Maybe 7 is too young but we give her money at the beginning of the week so she can get an afternoon snack and once it's gone, it's gone. She gets no more until the next week. I don't want to curb her generous impulses but we are starting to worry that she's being taken advantage of by these kids. She doesn't think so; she likes to share which: awesome but I'm really not in the business of providing snack money to other people's children. Today I instituted a new rule: you can buy treats for your friends one day a week; you choose the day but after that, the money is for you as I can't afford to keep replenishing it when you spend it quickly. It's a balancing act - giving her a safe way to practice budgeting her money versus BUY YOUR OWN DAMN SNACKS YOU GREEDY MOOCHERS!

Related, I really need a vacation.

We're proud of her generosity and her caring; this is a control issue for me that I have to work out. In the meantime, enjoy the closest approximation to the epically glorious behead she sported last week (combine the two and it's spot-on):

Did I mention needing a vacation?

Now, I need to just breathe and let it go.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Brain Dump

Coming back from a long holiday weekend always tends to scramble my brain a bit. I was just lucky that that remembered to set the alarm for this morning. Or maybe cursed.... Either way, we're now on the backside of summer (if you listen to the marketers) but it's soul-meltingly hot today so in lieu of actual coherent content, I'm pleased to present a random list of things that have crossed my mind today. You're welcome.

1.  I have five different 'Words With Friends' games going on right now and I swear that at this point they're just making shit up.

2.  Speaking of summer being 'over', I should probably get the kids' school supplies now, you know, before Wal Mart sells out of everything by next week.

3.  Did I mention that it's only the beginning of July?

4.  How is it that my neighbors who drive a small car are completely unable to park inside the lines? I mean, I know they're from Russia but there are cars there too. It's not that hard people.

5.  There is a house for sale two doors down from us and we're trying to convince my mother-in-law to buy it. Seriously, this is the best idea ever!

6.  I have avocado slices on my sandwich today so I win.

7.  Three more weeks until vacation/family reunion time! I should probably start trying to find 'The Ba-boomp-ba-boomp song' (otherwise known as 'The Thing') for Rob. If he doesn't appreciate it, I know his kids will.

8. We'll probably need to rent a trailer for the beer.

9.  Noelle actually tried some new foods! Chicken legs are a go but red/green bell peppers are on the fence. With any luck, she'll eat more than 10 things by the time she graduates high school.

10. It wasn't a complete win as she's still terrified of any dog that weighs less than 90 pounds.

11. She and Noah are stupidly tall as she is a full head taller than her second cousin Raine who is the same age as her and Noah is the same size as Raine at three years younger.

12. Really, we're already doing back-to-school? What's next, Christmas in August? Oh wait....

13. I was very glad to send them both off to camp this morning as I couldn't take another day of playing Evil Decepticon Brains And Their Assorted Super Pets in the Star Cup Mario Kart Race.

14. If loving sangria is wrong, I don't want to be right.

15. Up yours marketers; you can take summer from me when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

16. There is only one episode left of We're Alive - A Story of Survival and if you've never listened to this radio drama podcast, you should. It's amazing. It has zombies. Go listen. Now.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

A sweet reminder that there is some good in this world after all

Given the shenanigans of the Supreme Court earlier this week, my faith in humanity had dipped pretty low. I was grumpy and pissy; everything annoyed me - people not being able to park small cars in normal spaces, clearly communicate, well, anything, mechanics being unable to fix a burned-out taillight...that sort of thing. So when Dylan opened the front door yesterday morning and exclaimed 'What the heck is this?!', my heart sunk even lower. Was it another nastygram from the HOA? Were our cars egged? Was it a bag of flaming dog poop? No. It

Completely bemused, we looked at the bags then up and down the street. No, our front steps were the only ones thus adorned. My first thought was that it was a neighborhood game; you leave stuff anonymously and request the recipient 'pay it forward' in a similar way which sounded like a really fun thing to do. Then we noticed that each bag had a note on it 'boy' and 'girl' so it probably wasn't a neighborhood thing...but it was a neighbor and I thought I knew who.

I was right.

We all have that one neighbor who seems a bit odd; a busybody, someone who you suspect might not be all there, the lonely lady who 'adopts' the neighborhood children, the one who goes all-out at holiday decorating. You exchange pleasantries with them but keep a bit of distance since their eyes are unblinking and slightly crazed-looking. But it doesn't matter because those are the neighbors who will be first in line to help. And our angel's name is Jan. She loves the kids, always has time to talk to them, ask them about their days, make them feel important. When the axle of the van broke last October, she ran right over in her dressing gown at 7:30 in the morning along with her husband to help me push the van back into our parking spot so we weren't blocking the rest of the street from being able to get out of the neighborhood. When it was clear I wasn't going anywhere that day, she brought over some small toys and treats for the kids. But this time, this time she outdid herself and for no other reason than to give them a 'End of School Year/Happy Summer' bag of fun.

 Noah loved his stickers so much, he immediately began decorating EVERYTHING.

The adults weren't left out either.

So thank you Jan. It was such a small thing to you, but to me, it helped me to remember that, well, Samwise Gamgee said it best:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

There may have been a worse time to be an American woman but it's hard to see how

By now, practically the entire world has heard the decision of the Supreme Court on the case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties vs. Burwell on whether requiring 'closely held' for-profit companies to provide certain types of contraceptive coverage in their health plans violates their sincerely held religious beliefs in violation of their First Amendment rights. That this extremely conservative court ruled in Hobby Lobby's favor is not exactly surprising but it is disappointing, especially as the primary reason against it stemmed from a willful ignorance in understanding how the contraception in question (certain types of oral contraceptives and IUDs) works on both the part of the justices and the companies.

Time for a quick biology lesson: IUDs (intrauterine devices) primarily work as both ovicides and spermicides though there are some who believe that there *may* be some secondary effect on already implanted embryos and this is where the objection lies. Similar with the combined oral contraceptive pill, the primary function is the prevention of ovulation though it *could* have an effect on implanted embryos. Hobby Lobby regards these types of contraceptives to be abortifacients and therefore contrary to their 'sincerely-held religious beliefs'.

Where their argument falls apart is here: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  in 1972 adopted the definition of conception as: 'Conception is the implantation of the blastocyst'. Or put in layman's terms: pregnancy doesn't begin until implantation occurs. This was backed up in 2004 by the American Medical Association that hormonal contraception can "affect implantation but not terminate an established pregnancy". So the main ways that contraceptives work (preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization, and preventing implantation) are all prior to the start of a pregnancy and therefore, non-abortifacient.

But there are lots of contraceptives that their health plan does include, why can't those women just pick one of those other types? Because not all contraceptives work for all women and contraceptives are used for reasons other than pregnancy prevention: treatment of severe menstrual cramps, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis, just to name a few. Most importantly, those are decisions to be made by a woman and her doctor as to what is the best health care for her. No one else should be involved in that conversation. No one. Ever. It's telling that the very folks who want government in as little as possible are first in line to want to peer into the bedrooms and uteri of Americans. Corporations and government have no business being part of that conversation; particularly corporations that purchase products from China (Hobby Lobby) where abortion is not only legal, but also enforced and that invest in companies as part of their 401 (k) offerings that manufacture the very products they refuse to cover for their employees (again Hobby Lobby).

Beyond that, this decision opens a huge can of worms: if 'closely held' corporations whose owners have sincere religious beliefs, even though the majority opinion didn't exempt companies from having to offer vaccines (Mennonites), blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses) and certain products derived from pigs (Muslims), who's to say that those challenges couldn't be mounted in the future? The precedent is now there and could be applied to virtually anything. And as it has been estimated that between 52 and 90% of companies in the US are 'closely held'; that's a huge number of people who could be affected by the religious beliefs of a few.

Now THAT is a true violation of the First Amendment.