Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween!

Finally the day has come to dress up my little goblins and take them out to beg for goodies from complete strangers then bring them home to stuff themselves silly with candy until they finally fall over into sugar comas and wake up puking from all the sweets in the middle of the night! OK, just kidding about the puking thing, I don't let them stuff themselves that bad. We will be heading down to the Hyde Park neighborhood with some friends. It is a wonderful old neighborhood with big, spooky houses and they decorate for Halloween like other neighborhoods decorate for XMAS! It's rad! It is supposed to be a beautiful night and I can't wait to see all the little ghouls and goblins dressed up!

I finally finished up everything for my little beasties. This morning I spent 2 hours spotting spats, adding more flowers to a tutu and onesie, decorating a woodland fairy's treat basket and putting the finishing touches on her shoes. I will dress them up early so I can take some pics before we actually head out to trick-or-treat, hopefully I'll get some good ones!

For the rest of you, have a fun and SPOOKY night and don't get all bloated on Snickers and candy corn! And just as a note, if you are the person handing out candy... NOBODY wants those damn mints you get with your meals at Sonic, you cheap bastard! If that's all you have to offer, just do us all a favor and keep your porch light off and don't answer the door!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Democracy, Politics, and my 6 year-old...

With the impending Presidential election, now seems to be a prime time to delve into the realm of democracy and political philosophy with my son. With all of the ads, the news headlines, the constant chatter of the adults in his life, it is becoming quite apparent to him that this is something important and possibly exciting. I have spent the last few weeks looking at the climate of politics in this country and racking my brain to figure out how to approach these concepts with him, mostly when my idea of democracy seems to be quite a bit different than what I’m seeing. So, I’ve decided to start with the basics. What exactly is democracy?

Democracy, from what I can see, means different things to different people but the New Oxford American Dictionary definition is as follows:

Democracy: (n.)

Middle French democratie, from Late Latin democratia, from Greek demokratia (demos-the people, kratia-power, rule, strength)

- a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
- a state governed in such a way
- control of an organization or group by the majority of its members
- the practice or principles of social equality

I’m sure we can all agree that these concepts may be a little beyond the comprehension of a 6 year-old. I mean he understands that the United States has a President and a Vice-President and that we have a government that is made up of elected officials. He is beginning to understand that those of us 18 and over have the right to vote for those officials (after all, he’s been to the voting center twice this year). And although I think it’s imperative that he understands the basic concepts of voting and governmental structure, there is so much more to it than that!

Obviously a citizen should utilize their right to vote, however, each person should take the time to actually do some research before casting that vote. Voting is a HUGE responsibility! And this is where I begin to see problems. In this country it has become so easy to just become affiliated with one party or another and vote along those lines no matter what, check that “straight ticket” box and be done, a one-size fits all plan. I firmly believe this is not how a true democracy is intended to work. A true democracy requires that each individual actually take responsibility to become educated on the issues and use one’s mind and voice and take appropriate actions. We have all but lost the ability to think for ourselves as we’re being spoon-fed our ideals by two distinct platforms. Whatever happened to voting for issues and policies? Do we not owe it to ourselves to be educated on a candidate’s policies? And I’m not talking about “educating” yourself on Fox News or MSNBC.

So what is it that I would want my 6 year-old to take from this? First and foremost, when the time comes for him to vote, I would want him to use his greatest gift… his mind. I would want him to go into each election with no pre-determined notions about either candidate. I would want him to actually LISTEN and pay attention to debates. I would want him to do independent research that wasn’t handed to him via the television or radio by sharp-tongued reporters and correspondents. I would want him to look at all sides of the issues objectively then use those wonderful skills that we have all been blessed with, critical reasoning and divergent thinking. Hopefully by looking at issues from every angle he would be able to make an informed and educated decision. And once he follows through and makes an informed, educated choice then he has something called integrity and no matter whether someone agrees or disagrees with his choice, he will be confident that he made the best decision he could based on all the information available.

Now would I want him to think that his decision is the only viable decision, or the “right” decision for everyone? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. We live in a country of over 300 million people, there is no possible way for one ideology to work for everyone and this is where things get messy! Democracy is not a “my way or the highway” kind of philosophy. If I could impart any wisdom about democracy and politics to my son it would be this… Practice tolerance and respect for others. As Americans we may not all agree how our country should be run, but that doesn’t mean anyone of us is less of an American than anyone else. If I walked out my door right now, I guarantee every person I met would say they wanted the best for our country, but I also guarantee that they would all have different ideas of how to accomplish things. We all have different lives, different ideals, and different backgrounds that affect how we see the issues and how we vote. I would hope that our democratic community is diverse enough and strong enough to accept these differences and embrace them. It’s what makes our country so amazing! It is also our responsibility to work together through our differences to find common ground without the use of intimidation and disrespect. We can all agree to disagree, but work hard TOGETHER to find common ground for the common good, something that I think we have lost sight of.

I also want my son to know that our government is supposed to work just as hard for me, a housewife who makes no money, as they would a CEO who makes $1,000,000 a year. According to the definition, democracy is practicing social equality. Therefore my vote is equal to Bill Gates’ vote, which is equal to my dentist’s vote and we each have the right to exercise that vote, pretty cool, right? My son’s vote WILL matter and he WILL have the power to make a difference! I never want him to underestimate himself. He has the power to make a difference in his own life, in his family, in his community, in his state, in his nation and in the world!

The last bit of wisdom I would like to pass on to my son is the ability to look to the future and hope for better. I would never ever tell him that he is naïve to dream and to hope! I have told him since the day he was born that the sky is the limit and anything is possible! And just as that holds true for every individual, it also holds true for our nation! The United States of America is not perfect and we should never be so conceited as to think so. It is a wonderful country, full of opportunity, but just like each individual, the nation could and should strive to be better! Our government and our nation are evolving, just like everything else on the planet. Change is inevitable. Change is wonderful! And this is where democracy shines! Each eligible citizen has the ability to make a difference and affect change. There is something incredibly empowering about that!

In 6 days our country will elect its next President. People will cast their votes, the votes will be counted, the electors will cast their votes representing their state and the course of history will forever be changed with either administration. Now whether the candidate of my choice wins or not, I will be comforted in the fact that I did my research, I listened to all the debates, I used my mind, I cast my ballot and I respected the rights of everyone else who did the same thing. And that is what I want my 6 year-old to learn from this election! We all have a vote, we all have a voice and we have no grounds to complain if we don’t actively participate in the democratic process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

In line with our yearly tradition, we spent Saturday evening carving our jack-o-lanterns! Carving pumpkins, like trimming the Christmas tree, is one of my FAVORITE holiday activities. I always enjoy taking a plain 'ol pumpkin and making something great with it! And the kids LOVE it! Of course each family member gets a pumpkin and this year, I painted 3 little pumpkins white and then carved them, little ghostie pumpkins if you will! Too cute! I also attempted to roast pumpkin seeds this year, I mean jeesh, we only hollowed out 7 pumpkins, I felt guilty throwing it all away. Unfortunately they didn't turn out that great. Next year I'll go strictly with salted and not attempt spicy, unless I can figure out something better to spice them with! Anyway, here are our pumpkins!

Little ghostie pumpkins


I was sent the information months ago, I have been waiting patiently and it has finally arrived! Yes, I'm talking about my big,new and blue recycling cart! The city of Austin now offers curbside recycling for everyone. We no longer have to deal with sorting and upkeep of little blue bins, we can now just dump all of our recyclables into one cart and be done with it. They have expanded the items that they take, which now includes, 1-7 plastics, glass, tin, aluminum, steel, corrugated cardboard, newspaper, board boxes (such as cereal boxes and such) magazines and scrap paper! Hooray! And to top it off, they are only picking up every other week to conserve on gasoline! I am seriously loving this, just a new and better way for me to reduce, re-use and recycle!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's a bitch getting older!

Recently I noticed an area on my face, up on my left cheek, that's red, kind of bumpy and has some discoloration around it. I didn't think anything of it at first really, but it's been around for about a month now. A friend of mine said her brother is a dermatologist and she suggested I make every effort to get it looked at soon. So I went in today to see my dermatologist. He said it could be one of two things. I could be dealing with an area of yeast, which is fairly common and curable with a creme or it was a spot of pre-cancer. He says since I came in early on that there is absolutely NO evidence of cancer, but possibly some abnormal cells. We are going to take the next month to treat it as if it's yeast and see how it goes, but if it is not resolved he will want to biopsy it to make certain. It's always a scary thing to even discuss cancer in any way, but I have high hopes that it is just the yeast and will be all cleared up in a month. And although the discoloration is definitely sun damage, it is more of an "age spot" and nothing to be too worried about. I guess we'll see where we're at in a month. I'm glad I went in, even if it is more serious, we'll be catching it very early on and that's always the best scenario. I told him I was surprised as for the last 10 years I have been good about sunscreen and such, but he just laughed and said it wasn't anything I've done in the last 10 years, it was the days on the beach when I was 18 that are catching up! Ain't that a bitch?!?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The making of a cheetah and a woodland fairy!

I have been working diligently for almost a month straight on the kids' costumes. It has been alot of work, but I think it has paid off, they are really turning out cute! Today is the big test, Halloween Party with our homeschool group. We get a chance to show them off and see where I need to do some work before the BIG night. Monkey Man's costume was pretty straight-forward, I used a pattern this year and it definitely has a more "finished" look to it. It was the damn spots that killed me. They don't make cheetah fabric, they make leopard and zebra and tiger and giraffe, but NOT cheetah. So I bought yellow polar fleece and ended up hand-painting probably 1000 spots on the damn thing! UGH! So worth it though, it's cute! The Piggle's woodland fairy costume has been a little more intense, dying onesies, sewing flowers on the onesie, finding wings and spray painting them (they were lime green to begin with), making and attaching flowers and ribbons to a tutu, decorating the wings with glitter and jewels then doing the back piece for the wings. I ended up having to re-do the harness system for the wings as well since she was a bit small for them. All in all, I think they will be stunning come Halloween night! So much work, but so worth it! Here are some pics!

Mama workin' hard!

Halfway done with spots!

Finished cheetah, yea!
Thanks to my mom-in-law, we had a great start to a flower fairy tutu for the Piggle!

Wings... Take One

I may add a few more flowers before Halloween but you get the idea.

Finished wings! And yes, you may stand in stunned silence of my SERIOUSLY mad skills! I so ROCK sometimes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Voted!

Early voting started on Monday, so I packed up the kids yesterday, headed to my local Asian supermarket and waited for my turn to cast my ballot. I was really surprised at the number of people that were there! It was so cool standing in line with such a diverse subset of the population, no arguing, no disrespect, just a bunch of people exercising their right to vote! So, whether you vote early or wait until November 4th, just get out there and do it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Balloons, balloons, balloons!

The kids and I took our first trip in two years to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We had a GREAT time! Sadly, we were only able to see one mass ascension. We went down to the launch field on Thursday morning to watch the special shapes. It was an absolutely perfect morning, traffic wasn't too bad, the temperature was comfortable and the skies were blue, not to mention the breakfast burritos were YUMMY and the cocoa was hot! There were a bunch of new special shapes this year which is always fun to see, but they aired up and flew off SOOO fast! I was left really wanting more and feeling a bit disappointed. Just as we were getting ready to pack up, we ran into friends and started chatting and next thing we knew, they were airing up the traditional balloons for a contest. They put a several sets of car keys atop tall poles and the balloonists tried to fly in and snatch the keys. Whoever grabbed a key won the car it started! So we got an extra 2 hours to watch these beautiful balloons come in close then float away and come back in again (they call it boxing). It was an amazing sight and the kids were intrigued! We ended up taking the Friday morning to go to the zoo instead and that ended up being the last day they flew as bad weather came in over the weekend and prevented them from flying. As you can see from the photos, it was an amazing event, and we're looking forward to next year!

Good vs. Evil

Me and the kiddos on the field

When pigs fly!

Brazilian bees and friends

Two of my faves... Gargoyle and Panda
Now as much as I enjoy the special shapes, there is nothing more beautiful than a sky full of these gorgeous, multi-colored orbs! I LOVE the traditional balloons!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Haiku of the day

Boo-hoo, woe is me
Nasty throat and loads of snot
Colds really suck ass!