29 September 2008

Kid-Logic: Boys will be

Reason number 1,475 that Son #2 is different than Son #1:

The four-year-old doesn't like wearing sandals in dirt or sand (or wet grass) because he doesn't like it when his feet get dirty.

The one-year-old doesn't like wearing sandals because they make it harder to eat the dirt from between his toes.

28 September 2008

I Read Banned Books

You should, too.

Because every year there are hundreds of "challenges" in communities all over the country to classic and emergent literature.

Sept. 27 through Oct. 4 is the American Library Association's Banned Book Week. As a life-long bibliophile and a big fan of my basic civil rights, this is a topic I care quite a bit about.

You might not be surprised to know that the books most often "challenged" are children books. That makes sense if your point of view is that you are "protecting" young minds.

But the problem is that the people who make these challenges are not just making the decision to keep their OWN children from reading these books - they are taking that decision away from YOU and ME.

This kind of censorship - no matter how well intentioned - is a violation of intellectual freedom. It denies our right as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. And it cannot be tolerated.

In the words of the late Robert Heinlein, an author whose own books have been on the ALA's "challenged" list:

"When any government, or church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives."

If you value intellectual freedom, I encourage you to attend a BBW event or read (or re-read) a Banned Book or just take a moment to look through the ALA's lists of Frequent Challenges. You might be surprised by what you find there.

But, most importantly, I encourage you to PAY ATTENTION to what is going on in YOUR community. Do you know what books have been challenged in your schools or libraries?

Because here is the scary part: Research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported.

Here are a few of MY favorite Challenged or Banned Books:

  • Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
  • Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  • The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  • Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
  • The Color Purple - Alice Walker
  • Killing Mr. Griffin - Lois Duncan
  • To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee`
  • Beloved - Toni Morrison
  • Summer of My German Soldier - Bette Green
  • A Time To Kill - John Grisham
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die - Robert Newton Peck
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won’t - Judy Blume
  • Earth’s Children Series - Jean M. Auel
  • A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
  • The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
  • The Pigman - Paul Zindel
  • Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
  • Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  • Native Son - Richard Wright
  • That Was Then, This is Now - S.E. Hinton
  • How to Eat Fried Worms - Thomas Rockwell
  • James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
  • A Light in the Attic - Shel Silverstein
So, what Banned or Challenged Books do YOU love?

27 September 2008

Step up!

Yes! THIS is what I've been SAYING!

How can the McCain camp possibly expect the American people to accept Sarah Palin as a serious candidate for the second-highest office of this country when THEY don't even treat her like the real deal?!?

I think the American people expect and deserve a candidate who can put on her big girl panties and face up to the Fourth Estate. We deserve to KNOW who she is, what she has done, what she believes in - and we deserve to hear it from HER.

The longer the McCain campaign "shields" her, the more obvious it becomes that their choice of a VP candidate is nothing but manipulative smoke and mirrors and spin.

How insulting to set the standard that the media - and the American people - should somehow expect less from her than from any MALE candidate.

Either she's ready for the job or she's not. It's time for Palin to put up or shut up.

Day of Play

How cool is this?

Nickelodeon is "going dark" for three hours today to encourage kids and families to go out and play.

I just think that's pretty neat.

So, here are our "go out and play" plans for today:

Right now, I'm getting the boys ready to go to our local Chili-Cook-Off (an annual fundraiser for our local Special Olympics) and then we will walk over to the library to check out some new books for the week.

Normally, we might consider a side trip to the playground or the duck pond, too. But it's been unseasonably hot this week and the air quality has not been so great, so we might just play a little ball in the front yard before it gets too hot and then come inside to battle pirates or race cars or build a fort or something.

So, what you YOU doing today?

22 September 2008

Quote Junkie: Grok it?

From the desk of Zen The Quote Junkie ... a few of my favorites from Robert Heinlein:

"Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other sins are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful - just stupid.)"

"There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?"

"If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion."

"Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman’s breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy."

"If you don’t like yourself, you can’t like other people."

"Of all the strange “crimes that human beings have legislated out of nothing, 'blasphemy' is the most amazing--with 'obscenity' and 'indecent exposure' fighting it out for second and third place."

"Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a God superior to themselves. Most Gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child."

"A zygote is a gamete’s way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe."

"Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How’s that again? I missed something."

"Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let’s play that over again, too. Who decides?"

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects!"

"The most preposterous notion that H. Sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all of history.

The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful."

"A competent and self confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity."

"One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word."

"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity!"

"The more you love, the more you can love--and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had Time Enough, he could Love all of the majority who are decent and just."

19 September 2008

Arrr, Matey

Didja know?

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The Husband has been practicing all week ... shiver me this and heave-ho that and lots of threats of keel-haulin' and demands for booty and grog. (Okay, that last part is not so unusual.)

Son#1 has been getting into the spirit of the holiday by watching the Backyardigans' Pirate episodes and practicing his "Aaaaarrrrrs" while wielding his sword with "pirattitude" and pretending to be Jack Sparrow. (Yes, I let my four-year-old watch Pirates of the Carribean - get over it.)

Son #2 likes a little swordplay as much as the next 15-month old, but his personal preference is sailing his pirate ship around room.

Me? I'm doing my part to promote this under-rated holiday through my tiny little corner of the blogosphere.

So ... heave-to ya land-lubbing scallywags! Gather up yer spyglass and cutlass, brush up on yer pirate palaver and have some fun. :)

And now, for your sing-along pleasure:

Lyrics by Xavier Atencio and music by George Bruns

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

We're rascals, scoundrels, villans, and knaves,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We're beggars and blighters, ne'er-do-well cads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

11 September 2008





I have been completely dumbfounded by the idea that the Republicans are now selling themselves as "change". It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that so many people are eating it up.

It's nice to see that I'm not the only one who finds this idea just a little bit ludicrous ...

Jamie Lee Curtis - yes, that Jamie Lee Curtis - wrote this about it:

Do They Think I'm Stupid?

Mr. Obama said it.... "They must think you are stupid." Stupid to believe that McCain/Palin are "change agents." Change is becoming this campaigns' ping pong ball and we are missing the point.

Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Be it. Don't talk about it, don't pontificate about it. Be It. Action word. Demonstrative. Maybe Nike just drafted off that great statesman and made us all "Just do it."

Whatever, the call to action is now. Be it.

Jung said "Only that which changes, remains true." Truth -- unvarnished, well-vetted and precise.

My favorite quote is from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. In it, a street savvy young man hardened by the realities of the world, tells the princess... "Life is pain and anyone who tells you different is selling something."

Life is pain, hard, unfair and yet also achingly beautiful and transformative when we are walking toward truth.

When the Republicans had their convention and there were signs held high with the monikers...."G.I. John and Superwoman" I knew we were in trouble. They were selling a fantasy!
See, we are not stupid, we are humans, we can think and listen and learn. But if what we are taught is corrupt lies and if we are fed the "family truth" then we are not stupid, we are brainwashed. G.I. John and Superwoman take them away from being mortal humans and put them in to the comic book hero status, Teflon coated, impenetrable and as we are seeing today, in the case of Mrs. Palin, not even held accountable in an interview.

We are not stupid, but we are gullible, to fear, lies, misinformation and calculated deceit and that is what we are now up against and where we need to demonstrate the real change.


10 September 2008

Science rocks - er, raps

The Large Hadron Collider goes online today.

As a card-carrying science groupie, I am, of course, geeking out about this. :D

To celebrate, let's all enjoy the best science rap ever, by Alpinekat.

I can't really wrap my brain around all of the scientific theories and objectives involved with this project. But, thanks to The Hubby's predilection for the Science and Discovery channels, I know enough to be pretty excited about the possibilities of this research.

If you are so inclined, you can visit the CERN site - or even check out their live webcast - to learn more about the LHC.

Fascinating stuff.

09 September 2008

I'm this many

Big Brother is 4 this week.

We'll have a more fun than meets the eye at his "Transformers" party (because he has inherited his parents' SFF-geek genes) this weekend.

When I woke him on his birthday with a cheerful "Mornin', Birthday Boy", he stared at me with bleary eyes for a minute (because he's also inherited his mommy's NOT-a-morning-person gene) and then his face lit up with a smile like the sun.

"It's my birthday?!"


"I'm this many today?" Holding up the requisite fingers.

"Yes, you are."

"Oh, boy! Let's go tell Daddy!"

So we did. And then he spent the rest of the morning holding up four fingers on each hand and reminding Daddy and Mommy and Little Brother and his preschool teacher and anybody else who would listen that he is "this many" today and that he is a "big boy" and "getting bigger all the time".

I suppose this is where I should wax nostalgic about how fast my little baby has grown up ... and how I wonder where the time has gone ... and how precious and fleeting every single minute has been.

But I'm not going to do that.


Not even a little bit.

Because when this now-4-year-old was born, I made a decision to forever banish "I can't wait" from my vocabulary.

As in: "I can't wait for his first smile" or "I can't wait for his first word" or "I can't wait for him to sit up ... to walk ... or talk ... to read ... or any of the other "firsts" that moms are always so eager for.

Because I recognized "I can't wait" as the thief that it is. I knew those "I can't waits" would all-too-soon turn into "I remember whens".

So, instead of setting myself up with expectations for what each year (or month, or week, or day) is "supposed" to be, I try to just appreciate and enjoy each "first" and each phase and each day and each moment just for what they are.

And guess what? All those things you just "can't wait" for? It turns out they come anyway - right on time - even when you've decided not to stand around waiting for them.

And so, today, "I'm 4 years old" is here.

And I've decided that "I can't wait" must now be joined by "I miss" in my mental hoose-gow.

Because it, too, is a thief. If you let it, "I miss" will steal away your enjoyment of the moment, too. This moment. Right now. The only one you really have.

And, right this moment, my son is very excited about being "this many" ... and so is his mom.

I hope that it will be a year filled with unexpected happy moments for all of us.

'Scuse me, I'm gonna go make Optimus Prime goodie bags now.

03 September 2008

One Thing At A Time

The relative relaxation of summer is gone and I am again up to my eyeballs in publication deadlines, information requests, press releases, web updates, event planning, writing, copy editing, staff training, and the million others things that ebb and flow across my desk every day.

Some days it feels like it's all I can do to just keep my head above the waves. It's easy to start to feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do right now.

That's when I know I need to stop. Take a breath. Focus. And do


I was reading/watching the other day some really interesting research about the myth of multi-tasking. Turns out, Human brains don't multi-task. They just mono-task back and forth very quickly, which is actually less efficient and more stressful then just doing ...


It is quite fitting that I found the link to this very interesting information about multi-tasking and the human brain on the Momma Zen blog by author Karen Maezen Miller.

Because a Buddhist priest really is the first person who would tell you that One. Thing. At. A. Time. is the only way to do anything.

I wish I had time to write more about all of this, but I have to go back to work and do about 17 things - One At A Time - before the end of the day. So, you will have to read/watch it and other fascinating facts about the human brain for yourself at Brain Rules.