Last Wednesday I was talking to my sister Jennifer on the phone when I heard the door bell ring. It was about 12:45 and I assumed it was the traveling dry cleaning guy, Bob. We didn’t have any shirts to send with him so I ignored the bell and kept talking. Then it rang again. Odd, I thought. Bob usually doesn’t ring more than once. I felt a little uneasy. In the past few weeks about 20 homes have been burglarized by a man who rings the door bell to see if anyone is home and when no one answers he then heads to the back door to break in. I immediately went to see if the back door was locked.

Imagine my surprise when what to my wondering eyes did appear but my 5-year-old, standing at the back door, crying. And then to his right was a man I have never met claiming he was a “concerned neighbor” who saw my son running away from the school ground, crying, with a recess monitor a block behind him blowing her whistle calling for him to come back. “I just trailed your son to make sure he was safe. My wife works at the school. Um, the recess monitor is in your front yard calling the school right now.”

It took me a minute to gather up my thoughts, thank the man, ask my son why he decided to run home (we live about four blocks away) and then go check on the school monitor in the front yard. We decided to give Ms. A.J., a teacher and unlucky recess monitor, a ride back to school. Once there we met with the principal and my son’s teacher.

Why did he come home? Well, he said, he needed a tissue to blow his nose and he fell on the soccer field and then someone fell on his head and it hurt so he decided to come home. We have covered all the bases as to why that is a bad choice. It has been quite a week.

Here is the apology letter he had to write to the principal:
kalin apology letter

Today I spent most of the morning in bed due to a low grade fever that I assume is Strep Throat (my husband was diagnosed on Saturday). I slept lightly because Alban was playing in my bedroom and he was asking me lots of questions and telling me to look at what he was doing. Being the fantastic mother that I am I mostly ignored him, moving in and out of sleep. Actually I would try to answer him, but it felt as though there was some sort of force field blocking my ability to do so, so on I slept.

He would intermittently jump up on the bed, kiss my cheek and push his very cold little feet between my legs and put his very cold little hands on my neck. He would tell me how warm I was and giggle. I remember telling him that he would be much happier in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. He replied, “Mama. This is the happiest I get.” I realized that was true for me, too (minus the illness).

So on he played, asking me questions and telling me to look at all the guys who decided to live. I would wonder what the heck he was talking about but took solace in that he was happy and I needed rest so I didn’t pay much attention. Until I woke up. War rages on in our bedroom. There are at least 3 platoons getting ready to do their thing and one very active battle ship. Daddy will be so proud.

I would like to point out that I am in no way promoting the use of army guys or violence, in the bedroom or otherwise. The figurines were not my idea, in fact I really dislike them (unless they allow me to get some sleep). Their only redeeming quality is that they are historically accurate, and so he boys are learning bits and pieces of WWII history along the way. Since my father was quite the badass in WWII, I can’t be totally against them. And the army guys do not technically belong to the boys. As the boys say, their father is half boy and half dad, the WWII Army Guys belong to him.

Alban's WarBedroom WarBattle ShipBedroom War Rages On

Memory is like this: you take it out, fiddle around with it a little, and put it back. Each time you take it out you alter it enough so that in the end your memories are still true to you but they are not accurate. My husband has memories of canoeing in Carbondale that have been fiddled with in a sincerely utopist manner and then put back to be pulled out on occasions such as our maiden voyage in our canoe, which was not at all perfect. Not. At. All. For proof let me offer Exhibit A: The Pitz Family’s Story of Their First Outing In the “New” Canoe.

First, it needs to be known that we purchased our canoe for Ian approximately a year ago for his 41st birthday. We were all excited. We brought it home and made plans to take it out for a family spin. Everywhere we went if a body of water was spotted be it a lake or a retention pond in the grassy area of an off ramp on I-494 Alban would declare, “WE COULD CANOE THERE!!” Which was met with differing levels of enthusiasm given the body of water. Sadly, shortly after we purchased our canoe and before we had a chance to take it out for a swim, Ian participated in the annual Parkcrest Basketball Tournament and promptly broke his arm. He fractured his left arm at his radius thus receiving a weight lifting restriction of ten pounds for the rest of the summer. Our beautiful canoe sat patiently and waited for its family to come and take it somewhere more exciting than the side of the house. Even a retention pond off of the interstate was sounding good.

But the side of our home was where the canoe sat until today. Today we put the green canoe on top of our green mini-van and set off to have an epic adventure. The boys and I planned an adventure for Ian because tomorrow is his birthday. We initially planned on going for a hike out at Devils Lake and then taking Ian to get paddles and off we would all go for a quick cruise of Lake Wingra. Simple. Fun. Active. All good. Due to our inability to rise the birthday boy before a reasonable hour, we combined our canoe ride and our hike into one trip. We were headed for Devils Lake where we would portage and canoe. We had a few things standing in our way first, like a lack of life vests for the adults and paddles, but we handled those drawbacks with skill and a credit card. We were all packed up and ready to go!

Before we made it out of the neighborhood the canoe decided maybe it didn’t want to go in the cold water of early May and it appeared to try to make a break for it. Luckily it only managed to shift approximately 8 inches to the right but it did succeed in scaring the crap out of the novices in the min-van. I decided we needed to enlist the help of a man we both admire for his can-do attitude and ability to maneuver his way through any home improvement project with skill and ease. Jamie is a combination of Norm Abram and Kevin O’Connor. He knows his stuff, he looks good, and he explains everything to you with enthusiasm. We stopped by his home and he patiently checked out our precariously perched canoe, gave us a few pointers, asked if we had sunscreen with us, and sent us on our way.

We arrived at the sporting goods store pleased that the canoe seemed resigned to its fate. We chose some paddles, warded off any and all requests for toys, fishing poles and whatever else the kids thought they could get out of us, purchased some sunscreen and headed back to the van. The canoe was still majestically tethered to our vehicle and we hopped in and drove off.

We made it to the highway without much trouble. Once on the divided highway we were nervous about increasing our speed. Ian decided that 50 mph was enough for him. I made an off-hand comment that we should just get behind the large tractor with the plow attachment plodding along at 20 mph and hope that it was going to Baraboo. Ian must have assumed I was joking because he cursed and struggled his way around the tractor and headed back toward a cruising speed of 50. I started to bunch up in a fetal position telling myself that my anxiety was unreasonable, that I needed to channel my inner carefree and reckless 20-year-old self, and that soon my anxiety would send Ian’s anxiety and foul mood soaring if I didn’t get my shit together. I snuck a peek at Ian and it looked as though the deer had taken over the driving and my husband was off somewhere in the headlights. Here we were, two people with anxiety issues driving a mini-van down a divided highway with a canoe we have never used haphazardly tethered to our luggage rack on a windy day with whining, demanding children in the back. It could only get worse.

About 3 miles later the canoe tried to escape again. I thought I was going to vomit. Ian pulled over and we checked out the straps. The buckles seemed to work. We appeared to have buckled them tightly and correctly. When stopped the canoe was on the van nice and tight. What was its problem? Couldn’t we manage this one family outing without a blanket of dread and impending doom? This was to be the start of a great birthday weekend. Back in the van we went nervously determined to reach our destination. Determined until the canoe once again made its move. I badgered Ian into turning around. I decided we needed to go to the small pub at the side of the road. There we would get something to eat for our very hungry fellow travelers, reassess our goals, and move forward.

Ian acquiesced. I looked into going to a closer, more reasonably located lake, ate a burger, watched some of the Derby coverage with the boys, and managed to clam my frazzled nerves enough to try again. Once on Highway 12 the canoe reared its ugly head and I pulled the plug on staying on any divided anything. We needed city streets, 30 mph, and easy access to alcoholic beverages. We must turn around and go to Lake Wingra. It would be fun. It was small. It was accessible. It was in the city. It was near a bar. I needed to have all of my security blankets close at hand.

The birthday boy was not happy. He agreed that highway was causing us much pain and suffering. But he didn’t know why we would want to go to some crappy lake in the middle of the city. What was the point of having a canoe if we could not go out of the city and into the rough beauty of Devils Lake? I offered that maybe we had over-reached for our first trip out with the canoe. Maybe we fancied ourselves able naturalists but in fact we were city people who could afford REI gear and there it ended. Let’s just go to Wingra and give it a try. Once again the harried and beaten down husband agreed.

We arrived at the small lake in the heart of the city with eager boys and broken hearts. We untied the canoe and managed to get it off the van and onto the ground without injuring ourselves or others. One small victory. Ian parked the van and I rallied the troops. Foot race? Run. Life vests? On. Paddles? In the canoe. We scrambled in the green boat and pushed off. So far so good. The boys were experimenting with buoyancy, canoe stability and water trajectory. Oscar came close to experiencing a variation on Newton’s Third Law by almost smacking me in the back of the head several times with his paddle. We zigged, we zagged, we nagged, we complained. “Why can’t I steer this boat?” “Why can’t I have my paddle?” “Choose a side!!” “Don’t lean over the side of the boat!” “Put those paddles down!” “Oscar is getting me all wet.” “Why did you buy us paddles if you won’t let us use them?” “When can we go home?” “This is boring.”

And then in the midst of our family togetherness we spotted a Sandhill Crane perched on its nest. In that moment it seemed worth it. Our boat grew quiet. I took out the camera. We talked about the bird and how beautiful it was. It looked back at us. I looked into its eyes and it seemed to ask me for parenting advice, it had that nervous “first time parent” look in its eyes. I thought about our trip to the sporting goods store when Alban quietly took my hand to go down on the escalator. It surprised me and I looked at my little boy, so small, so wonderful, perfectly mine. I had squeezed his hand and he smiled up at me and I felt as if my heart would explode. It will all be worth it, I whispered to the Crane.

Sitting in the canoe I looked around and saw the beauty of our small city lake. I looked at my boys and wondered what they would remember of this day. I thought about how soon we would not fit in our green canoe, our boys would be too big, their egos and legs would not stand for a ride with us. All of a sudden we all seemed so small, even our worries and complaints seemed to disappear.

And then the nagging and the complaining and the fighting took over again. We zigged and zagged back to shore. We struggled to get the canoe back on the van. We were smacked down by a master boater about when and where we were to put our canoe on our van. On the way home I asked Alban for his opinion on the boat trip. He responded in the most dejected monotone voice I have ever heard, “Yeah. I liked it.”

I ushered the family into the house and then I went to REI and purchased a Yakima rack for our van. We will take some paddling lessons as a couple, we will have the proper means to transport our canoe without fear or aggression, and we will try again. That’s the great thing about my family, we always try again.

And who knows how we will remember this day? We will each have our own story, a memory that we will take out and mess around with and put back. Much like out canoe.The Sandhill CraneThe Full Canoe ExperienceA Boy and His Paddle

For the record, Oscar has one of the world’s most amazing first grade teachers. So amazing, in fact, that I should be writing a blog post about her thanking her for our son’s first grade experience that would be difficult to match and impossible to improve upon.

That said, the typical homework assignments apparently have taken their toll on our boy. Oscar is never one to complain much about homework. Today, however, was the exception. Every week he has “Word Wall Words” to learn from a spelling, definition and writing stand-point. The writing homework has two parts, writing twice and defining for us each word and writing 5 Excellent Sentences. Oscar usually likes the writing piece the most for obvious reasons.

It should be noted that when Oscar is the most upset he hides under his bed cursing the person or the situation that has caused him so much pain. It seems to work for him. Oh. No snow, but he did have a playdate with Max.

Here is what our frustrated boy wrote today:

A: Mom, what do you think I will be when I grow up because I don’t really know.

M: Well, what do you like to do?

A: Eat snacks.

M: Maybe you will become a Chef.

A: What is that?

M: Someone who is a really, really good cook and works in restaurants …

A: No. I wouldn’t want that because then I wouldn’t get anything to eat.

M: What do you mean?

A: Well they have to give the people all the food and then they don’t get any for them.

M: What are other things you like to do?

A: I think I would like to go up into space.

M: Maybe you could become a Mechanical Engineer and go up in the space shuttle and be responsible for the ship and keeping it running right.

A: Yeah. Well we are in space right now.

M: True. So do you want to go into outer space or stay here on earth?

A: I want to go far up into space. I could be an astronaut. I think I would like to float around. We don’t do that here on Earth.

M: No we don’t. Do you remember why we don’t float around on Earth?

A: Gravity. That is why we don’t float around and there is no gravity in space, well space that is not Earth. We need gravity to breathe.

M: Well … not really, but that is an interesting thought.

A: Hey look! (holding up Matzo) This looks like a war ship with holes in it! It would sink if it was a war ship and it had that many holes in it.

M: Yes it does look like a war ship. Good eating.

A: It sure is a nice day outside today. There is a jet plane! Look! I wish I could go on a jet plane.

M: You have been on a jet plane before. Many times.

A: Not one like that.

M: Yes, I bet you have. You were on one for trips to Maui and Seattle and North Carolina …

A: Well not one that small.

M: Yes. I bet that we were a smaller jet for a short trip to Detroit or a layover in Minneapolis.

A: Not one that small. Look at it!

M: Ohhhh …. well I think it looks that small because it is so high in the sky and it looks small to us but it is really quite big.

A: How many bugs to you think there are on Earth?

I remember vividly as a child waking up on Saturday mornings, fixing myself a bowl of Cheerios, and running to the T.V. to watch early morning cartoons.  Sometimes my mother and father would be awake, clutching a cup of coffee reading the paper, sometimes not.  What was most important was that my pubescent brothers and sister were ALWAYS still asleep.  It was my time as an elementary-school-aged child to relish in my ability to wake up before noon.  I had the entire house to myself and most importantly the T.V. was all mine.  All.  Mine.  My cartoons of choice?  Tom and Jerry, Foghorn Leghorn, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Jetsons, Road Runner, Yosemite Sam, Yogi Bear, etc.  It was inane, funny and a slice of heaven.
As I write this with a glass of wine at the ready and dinner in the oven, I can hear my two boys reveling in what has now become a Friday late-afternoon ritual: Tom and Jerry.  They are silent as the cheesy music plays and the zinger sound effects go off and then I hear giggles and comments like, “That has GOT to HURT!!”, “Whoa baby!!”, “Not good thinking, Jerry!”  and then more laughter. Or they just bust out with the universally understood, “AHHHHGH!!!”  It’s timeless.  It’s Tom and Jerry.  And it will be points they will score on trivia games for the rest of their life.  Cultural enlightenment?  Check.

We have gone through a period with our kids where each day they have some pithy comment worth repeating.  At least to one another.  Alban’s now famous quote, “I love you too much I don’t know what to do about it.” has inspired hundreds of folks on facebook.  Listening to our children I have often wondered if W. ever asked Bab’s early in the morning, “What do you call it when flowers get water?  Capillary Action!”  And I smile and think, “certainly not,” but I know another young mother who may have heard such words out of the mouth of her precocious child.

Today as I read the news it hit home once again.  It makes me smile to know that for at least the next four years I get to hear things like this from my President,  “We must build this recovery on a foundation that lasts — on a 21st century infrastructure and a green economy with lower health-care costs that creates millions of new jobs and new industries; on schools that prepare our children to compete and thrive; on businesses that are free to invest in the next big idea or breakthrough discovery.”   Instead of things like this, “I’m hopeful. I know there is a lot of ambition in Washington, obviously. But I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure,” or perhaps even this, “It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas. ”   And I am ever more thankful that at this time our President was never heard saying this, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.  I’ve got Greenspan’s book.”  Thank god that man is back to his seat in the Senate.

And so with quotes swirling around in my head sometimes late at night I wonder what quotes will my children leave behind?  Will Alban, who when asked “Do you think we can come up with a way for you to have fun in school without ending up in the principal’s office?” answers, “No.  That’s their problem.” leave behind quotes like this, “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”  Or if he will leave behind quotes like this, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change we seek.”

Since Alban’s new life plan is to become a scientist who makes great discoveries in space thus prompting the Queen or King of England to Knight him Sir Alban Edward Wellstone Pitz, Knight of the World, I am certain his quotes will be worth reading.  And for that I have promised him a real sword and chain mail.  When he becomes a Knight, of course.

Wednesday night I was laying in bed with Alban and had the following conversation:

M:  You need to try to close your eyes and fall asleep.

A:  Mama, my brain tells me that I should not go to sleep.  It is too boring.

M:  Well, I hate to disagree with your brain but you need to go to sleep even if it is boring.

A:  Mama, my brain tells me lots of things.

M:  Yes?  Like what?

A:  Well, like it tells me not to go to sleep.  It tells me to do things like take a plane away from Oscar even if Oscar doesn’t want me to take the plane away from him.

M:  Do you take the plane away from Oscar even though you know you shouldn’t?

A:  Yes!  I do because my brain tells me to do it.

M:  Yes, well, maybe you should tell you brain to be quiet.

A:  I DO!!  But my brain does not listen to me!

Dualism would have us believe that our existence is proven by our ability to think.  Mindfulness Meditation teaches that we are not what we think.  Parenting once again takes me from the abstract to the concrete to the abstract:  clearly it is no longer Descartes versus Thich Nhat Hahn but the voices inside my child’s head telling him to do naughty things that require action and mindful attention. 

Maybe I can tell it to be quiet.  If that works it would be the first time it listened to me.

This morning, in order to avoid the screaming and crying surrounding teeth brushing , I said to Alban “I am going to set the timer and if you can brush your teeth and come down before the timer goes off, then I will give you a trinket.”  Trinkets are usually things that my husband finds in his junk drawer and lets the kids choose from.  For some reason this is a big deal and trinkets have become quite the hot commodity at our house.

This is what I got in response from Alban (imagine in a 4-year-old voice which involves dropping r’s):

“You don’t have any trinkets.  You are not a trinket person, so why would you say that you would give me a trinket.  You are not a trinket person.  But if you think you have a trinket then you can give me a trinket.  But I don’t want you to set the timer for one minute.  I need more time.  I want it to be ten.  Ten minutes.  And you can’t set the timer until I get to the bathroom and I call down and tell you that I have started to brush my teeth.  Do you have my trinket now?  Can I see it?  I don’t want to brush my teeth before I see it.  I need to know.  Because you are not a trinket person.  Do I have to put my toothbrush away?  How long do I get for that?  I want ten on the the timer.  Not one or two or three, but I need ten.  Don’t start my time until I get up there to brush my teeth.  I will tell you when I am ready for you to start the timer.  If you don’t have my trinket you need to look for one now.  I want to choose.  I need more than one to choose from, mom.  So don’t start the timer on ten until I get up to the bathroom and start brushing my teeth.  I will tell you when I am ready.  O.k.  I am going up the steps now but don’t start the timer.  I am not in the bathroom yet.  I don’t want you to put it on ten until I tell you that you can start the timer.  OK!!   YOU CAN PUT IT ON TEN  …. ”

I won’t go into what he had to say about the two trinkets from which I let him choose.  He ended up with both.

Here is a link to some photos from our most awesome trip to a water park in Milwaukee (a Christmas gift from Grandma JoAnn and Daddad).
Please let me know if you prefer the photos in the Smile Box format or SmugMug.

Look!  You can vote here: 

I generally view my kids as idiots. Not that I don’t feel that one day they may grow up and be very happy, successful and possibly quite intelligent members of society, but right now they are kids and I have the upper hand on them smarts-wise, so I think of them as idiots. Maybe this is more a comment on my selfesteem than their intelligence, but that is for the couch not the blog.

However, every once in a while they surprise me with a burst of intelligence: they might listen and actually do what I asked of them the first time around; or they may regurgitate a piece of fairly complex information with skill and ease; or they may ask a question of great value and actually show they listened to the answer by replying with a great thought or question. But generally they are running around the house singing, “I like to move it move it!” or saying things to one another such as, “What if you had to go see a doctor about your butt-hole??” or making up the most nerve grating sound effects for anything and everything which includes misplacing sound effects meant for the bathroom and applying them in the kitchen. Or they are just in general being annoying.

Last night while on the couch with Alban watching WALL-E (fantastic movie, by the way), he had one of the above mentioned moments where I get a glimpse into their intellectual future.  During the scene in which there was a moment of life altering realization for the ship’s captain when he proclaimed “I want to LIVE not SURVIVE!”  Alban asked, “What does survive mean?”  I was really into this movie so I absentmindedly replied, “It means to live.”  Alban thought for a moment and replied, “NO IT DOESN’T!!  IT MEANS THE OPPOSITE!!  IT MEANS TO DIE!!”  I just stared at him in disbelief.  What had I done to deserve this outburst?  He gathered himself together, and said, “Mom, the captain just said ‘I would rather live than survive’ so it has to be the opposite.” 

Soon, very soon, they will pass me by and leave me in the intellectual dust.  I guess I should start treating them better while they are the idiots so I have a fighting chance.


This post is for my friend, Brian, who says this woman reminds him of me … in a good way.

Not much to say other than, take a look at these guys!  Two hours outside in the cold.  Hearty midwesterners we are raisin’ here, I tell ya!


Another snow day in less than two weeks!  This is some sort of record for a northern city that went 5 years without calling a snow day.  New superintendent?  Maybe.  Weather changes?  Possibly.  Absolutely magical?  YES! 

For the one person who reads my blog, I promise to get some pics of the boys up today playing in the snow.  One of them is still sleeping as I post this.  However, check out my big, big boy playing in the snow.

A Man and His Machine.

A Man and His Machine.

Dueling Snowblowers.  Ian SO kicked this guy's butt.  Of course, his competition is, like, 80.  But still ...

Dueling Snowblowers. Ian SO kicked this guy's butt. Of course, his competition is, like, 80. But still ...

Check out our snow!

Check out our snow!

Here is the first of many, I am sure, pictures of Oscar in the snow.  He is only 6, but it is up to his knees!!

Up to my knees in snow!

Up to my knees in snow!

Every year my husband Ian and I have a brief battle with Christmas and what it means for our family.  We are not Christian, we don’t belong to any type of church or religious organization, and we are too old to truly believe in Santa.  To complicate the matter further we have a menorah and several dreidels in our home even though we are not Jewish because our children have gone and go to an amazing Jewish preschool.  I was raised Catholic and Santa came to my home every Christmas Eve after midnight mass.  My husband’s family led a similar religion-less life much like our own now.  They spent time with family and friends on Christmas Eve which became a tradition that would go on today if they had not left Carbondale. But for us, for this family we still are trying to figure out what Christmas means?

We started to try to define it as Family Time by attempting to tone down our family’s conspicuous consumption on December 25th. To do that we decided to adopt our friends’ gift giving plan for Christmas.  It works great for them as they are Catholic and do not have any of the above mentioned Holiday Angst.  Their plan is simple:  three presents for each child.  If three presents were good enough for Jesus then three presents are just fine for their children.  Of course they have not mentioned the value of the gifts given the Christ Child, but their kids are smart and they will figure it out in time.  So two years ago we sat Oscar down to explain the above mentioned plan.  He sat.  He thought.  Then he looked right at me and said, “Who the hell is Jesus?” 

Right. And that begs the question, So what the hell is Christmas?  I guess for us for now it is all about magic.  Santa is magic, you know.  How else would he get all those presents to all those kids?  And even magic has its answers, right?  Copperfield, Penn & Teller, David Blaine all have their secrets and they all have answers to the age old question, “How did you do that?” they just choose not to answer.  However, this brings about yet another one of the worries that Ian and I have: once the Santa Magic has been uncovered will we get the question of, “Why did you do that?”  “Well … on nights you didn’t want to go to bed for a brief moment in time we had the upper hand?”  or “In desperate times you use desperate measures?” or how about this “Magic doesn’t happen all on its own, it always has a helping hand.” 

So maybe that is what our Christmas is about, at least for now:  Magic.  The belief in something unbelievable.  The joy of being with family.  The wonder of knowing that every year someone will bring you a treasure no matter what.  The delight in knowing that for a flicker in time my children believe in something much, much larger than life.

Santa and the boysLook at the camera, Santa!

I vividly remember Snow Days as a child.  They were days filled with magic.  And it didn’t matter if I could go outside and sled, or if my mom spent the day amusing me, or if I spent it snuggled up with a book or if I got extra T.V. time;  it all was under the glow of the power of a Snow Day and so it was GREAT!  Today I have the opportunity to share that magic with my two boys.

During the long winters in the upper Midwest it is sometimes difficult to see the magic and beauty of cold mostly dark winter days.  Especially since our winter lasts longer than most.  But on days like today with over 3 inches of fresh new snow and it is still falling, you have to smile.  This is the magic, the joy and wonder of winter.  Everything is quiet.  We are insulated under a new blanket of snow making everything look new and exciting.

Although we will need to stay in for a while this morning (the wind chill is at 12 degrees and that does not make for a Fun Mommy outside) we will be out and about once the sun comes up and tries to slightly warm our newly blanketed plain.  For now, I will enjoy the quiet and my cup of tea and start planning crafts and other activities.  Today I am staying home with my boys.

Oscar saved and saved his allowance and went out and bought himself (with dad’s help) an ipod Shuffle.  He is obsessed.  As Ian observed this morning, we have never seen him this taken with an object before.  It literally is the first thing he wants in the morning and the last thing he will be doing at night.

The fact that this object brings him a wide variety of music makes his parents very happy.  We monitor the volume at which he listens to his tunes and we watch him, with an approving smile on our faces, dance around and groove to the music.  He also sings.  In a high pitched voice.  All the time. 

Actually, when the music transitions into a guitar solo or if he is listening to the classical music he has on his shuffle, he stops singing to say, “This is the guitar part now.”  or ” I am listening to my piano music so I am just going to hum …”  Thanks for letting us know ALL the intimate details.

But as a parent I have to admit that having my six-year-old walk around the house singing in a high-pitched “You can’t always get what you want …. you can’t always get what you want … ” and then informing me that it is the “guitar part” well, that just makes me smile.


I took the boys to get their haircuts because it was well beyond the point in which one was needed.  Oscar wants a Mohawk so very bad.  There is a large part of me that thinks, “Well.  If you can’t have a Mohawk at 6, then when can you have one?”  But then I think about what one looks like and I just can’t do that to his hair.  So today I think that we came up with a good compromise.


It is supposed to be a little messier on top and not so hawkish.  I have decided to leave all of that to my nephew Jason.  Not only will he know how to acheive that 20-something look, but Oscar will actually listen to what he has to say about it and follow his instructions.  Jason tends to be Oscar’s entire world when they are together.  Check him out:


Wouldn’t you feel the same way if you had him to look up to at six?  Anyway, they boys finally got haircut and all is well with the world. 

Now I can add “Put product into your hair” on Oscar’s morning checklist.  What a life.


This morning Oscar and Alban were having a heated discussion about god.

O:  He is mostly made up, like make believe

A:  Right because he is not an angel.  But he made the earth.

O:  Yes.  He made the earth, but he didn’t make people.  People came from the earth in revolution.

A:  People are not god!!  He made the earth!!  But he is not an angel.

O:  Right.  So he just sits up there in heaven and watches all of us.

A:  There is no heaven.  He just knows everything.

O:  Well, if you are Jewish you can say there is no heaven.  But you have to go to temple if you are Jewish and you are not Jewish.

A:  I go to [a Jewish] school!!!  So I KNOW THAT GOD IS NOT AN ANGEL!!!  I don’t want to go to temple.

And on and on it went just like this.  Evolution, angels, the existence or not of heaven, temple versus church … it all was covered this morning while mom clutched her cup of coffee and stared at her children in amazement. 

I think it might be time to get them some kind of formal religious education from the Unitarians.

The past few days have been incredible not only for this country, but for the world.  And I am not alone in writing down the obvious.  Everywhere people are pinning their hopes and dreams on this amazing man.  My children are no exception.

When taking dinner to the lead WI Obama Office on Tuesday my four-year-old asked me why “John McCain wants the war?”  We talked about having differing opinions and how that can be good.  We briefly discussed how wars are difficult to understand but how they ultimately kill people and that is just wrong.  He wondered if Obama was going to be like The Avatar and just “Taked the bad guy’s power away and not killed him?”  I just sat and thought about the final Avatar episode he was referring to and I imagined Obama walking up to Karl Rove, Bin Laden, W., and all the others I consider “The Bad Guys” and “taking their power away.”  “He already has done that to some,” I said.  “We can always hope he gets to do that to the rest.”

I hope to be able to post a picture of a group of neighborhood kids and moms who went out on Tuesday and stood at a very busy intersection and did visibility for Obama.  My six-year-old ran up and down the sidewalk screaming “OBAMA!!  WHOOOOOO!!!”  People honked horns and cheered us on.  Teenagers walking home from the high school cheered us on and thanked us for standing out there. 

Oscar’s first political memory will be of the first black man elected President of the United States.  More importantly his first memory will be of a man elected President who is honorable, smart, steady, and honest.  He will live through 8 years of peace, prosperity and hope.  He will come of age during a time when the social fabric of our nation gets stitched back together in a more representative fashion.  He will mature knowing that sacrifice and working hard for others is something that makes a country great, fills you with pride, and bonds you to your fellow citizens.

He came home from school on Wednesday all worked up about talking about the election in school.  His school is amazingly diverse, even though we live in Madison, WI.  He told me about how his principal announced that Barack Obama would be our next President during her morning announcements and that the entire school cheered. He said she chose a group of kids to help her make the announcement from her office.  “Mom!  They cheered into the microphone and we all got so excited!  Mrs. Perry had tears in her eyes, JUST LIKE YOU!” 

Yet my hope is tempered with the knowledge of all that we have yet to face.  But for now I will try to stay in the moment and enjoy my children’s excitement.  I will continue to help Oscar with the card he is making for President Obama to congratulate him and thank him for being his President.  He wants to tell President Obama that he knows he will do his best.

Amazing times we live in.  Amazing times.