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Through the Leap Years
Today is Leap Day. I don't know why I'm so excited about February 29th. Something about the idea that this day only happens once every 4 years makes it special, different somehow. I feel like I should be out making something happen instead of sitting here in front of my computer. But since I am compelled to blog, I thought I'd remember life through the Leap Years.

February 29, 2004:

The 76th Academy Awards were on this day with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King winning a record eleventy gazillion awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. There was that whole occupation of Iraq thing going on too. Sigh. And Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned as president of Haiti.

I was living and working just outside of D.C. in 2004. Working my butt off in fact. I was about 6 weeks pregnant with Hollis after the Side Trip to Iceland and puking my guts out on a regular basis. I even fell asleep in a puddle of drool on my desk. Between the exhaustion, nausea, and absent mindedness it's a wonder I even showed up at the office. Ah, good times. If I could find my calendar, I could tell you exactly what I was doing on this day. But I can't remember where it is....

February 29, 2000:

According to Wikipedia, not much happened on this day. I like to think of it as the last year or so of our American innocence. These were the days before 9/11, when I was still idealistic and hopeful about changing the world as an international human rights lawyer. I was in my second year of law school at George Washington in D.C. About 3 months after this I realized that $100,000 in student loans pretty much dictated working for a law firm for the foreseeable future.

(Whoa! Did that sound cynical, or what?)

February 29, 1996:

On this day, a Peruvian 737 crashed into the Andes, killing 123 people. The siege in Sarajevo was lifted. Also, Joan Collins won $1.3 million in a breach of contract suit against Random House for a manuscript she wrote. She obviously had a good agent as the contract required them to pay her even if the book was never published. And it wasn't. Interesting. I wish I could see a copy of the contract.... (Sorry, I am a contract litigation geek. I got a little sidetracked there.)

Let's see, in 1996 I was still working as a claims analyst in the hellish world of individual health insurance claims for an insurance company often associated with a certain famous wildlife show. I loved that show as a kid, although I always wondered why Jim had to do all of the hard work.
Marlin Perkins: I'll stand here and watch, while Jim wrestles that alligator for us.
Jim: Damn you to hell, Marlin.
February 29, 1992:

The college years. It's all pretty much a blur.

February 29, 1988:

The apartheid years. On this day, South African archbishop Desmond Tutu was arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town.

I, on the other hand, was involved in far more important things. Like figuring out the social hierarchy of my new high school. We had just moved from Germany to Bellevue, Nebraska. It was certainly a cultural shock because I listened to way cooler music and had way cooler clothes. I didn't understand why no one appreciated my red Coke bottle cap suspenders and blue Gatsby hat. I spent a lot of time watching MTV, having been deprived of it for 2 years during my prime music obsession years.

February 29, 1984:

Here's one for my friends North of the border. On this day, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced he would retire as soon as the Liberals could elect another leader.

This was only tangentially relevant to me as I was living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, just a few hours South of Canada. I was 11 and spent most of my free time at swim practice. And ogling Jerry Hoffarth, a fellow swimmer and 13 year old boy who only knew I existed because of my kick ass breast stroke and my relentless stalking of him. Of course, every time he tried to talk to me, I started giggling and ran away. Boy, was I young.

Incidentally, I ran into Jerry at a wedding in Grand Forks when I was 21. Amazingly I was able to have a normal conversation with him and we spent most of the night reminiscing, dancing and chatting. For some reason he didn't actually remember me as all giggly and young but he was very aware of my crush on him. So much for my 11 year old subtlety.

February 29, 1980:

On this day, apparently somebody in the NHL made his 800th goal. But since I don't care about hockey, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I, on the other hand, was 7 years old and living in Louisiana. I had a nice tan year round and a cute little Southern accent. Which was soon to be relentlessly beaten out of me by the constant teasing from the kids in North Dakota. Yes, I come from a white trash, redneck family. But no one likes to be reminded of that when they're 9.

February 29, 1976:

Apparently nothing happened in 1976. Just that whole bicentennial thing. Oh, and I was about to get a baby brother in 5 days. The days of the solo Stephanie show were about to end. I also think this is about the time I landed on our coffee table chin first and had to get stitches. (I only remember because my mom still tells stories of having our neighbor take us to the emergency room and the doctors inquiring whether we were there for her - hugely pregnant - or me - bleeding everywhere.)

How did I mysteriously land on the coffee table? The next door neighbor and I were playing Superman and jumping off of the couch in an attempt to fly. It was his idea. I swear. Of course, I'm the one who still has the scar on my chin.

February 29, 1972:

I was a 5 week-ish old fetus. My parents have never made a secret of the fact that I was an accident, so I like to imagine that they were just figuring out I was on the way. I wonder if the words, "Oh, shit" were uttered!

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Just Call Me Stephanie "the Stripper" Hussein
***Update*** Go check out all the links of the people playing "Just Call Me Hussein, The Meme." There are two cool buttons to choose from as well. You know you want one!

Have y'all heard about the latest Republican smear / xenophobic/ racist tactic?

Pundits such as Bill Cunningham and Ann Coulter have begun referring to Barack Obama as B. Hussein Obama or Barack Hussein Obama. Their purpose? To play on xenophobic fears about Muslims and terrorism. Personally, I think Obama should be proud of his name and his cultural background. So, the MOMocrats have decided to embrace this wholeheartedly and we'd like you to join us!

"Just Call Me Hussein Day was started by MOMocrats in response to fools like Bill Cunningham who is obviously still seven years old..."

My name seems pretty innocuous, right? I can't say that anyone really made fun of my name when I was growing up. The worst fear I had was that someone would realize Fanny was a nickname for Stephanie and start calling me that. My dad and my grandmother occasionally call me Stephie, but only they can get away with that. I'll rip the head off of anyone else who tries it. Just call me Steph, please.

The problem is, it's sort of hard to take anyone named Stephanie seriously in a professional context. I have this theory that if you'd like your daughter to grow up to be a Dallas Cowboy's cheerleader or a stripper, give her a name that ends in Y, IE, or the Eeee sound. Try it out: Stephanie, Tiffany, Bambi, Debbie, Candie, Cindy, Mimi, etc.... They all work nicely, don't they?

So I can sympathize with the latest attempts to smear Barack Obama by making fun of his middle name, Hussein. But folks, this one is going to back fire. If Obama is anything like most Americans, he's damn proud of his name and his cultural heritage, no matter how much others may poke fun at him for it.

I may not have chosen Stephanie as my name, but it wasn't mine to choose. It was my parents. They choose it out of love and wonder at the new little girl they'd brought into the world. So, stripper name and all, Steph is who I am and who I'll always be.

In solidarity with Barack Obama, just call me Stephanie Hussein for today.

Ann Coulter can kiss my ass.

Want to join the fun? Here's what you do:

Everyone should title their post with their name (or blog name) and Hussein. Then share a childhood story about your name...I'm sure most of us have one. Or, if you don't, be creative. Make fun of your name.

So for example:
Title: Just Call Me Stephanie Hussein (Your Last Name) or Lawyer Hussein Mama

Include the following text at the top of your post:
"Just Call Me Hussein Day was started by the MOMocrats in response to fools like Bill Cunningham who is obviously still seven years old..."

Please link to MOMocrats at http://MOMocrats.typepad.com.

Include instructions for Just Call Me Hussein Day at the bottom of your post if you'd like to pass it on. Share the love!

Please join the
MOMocrats in blogging "Just Call Me Hussein" Day by sharing your story.

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Whirlwind California Trip
We're back. I'm sure it will be a few days before I get back into the swing of things. We got in at 2am last night and I just got my bags a few hours ago. (I'll save that for a post after my blood pressure returns to normal.)

The trip to visit Defiant Muse and her Monkey was incredibly fun, exhausting, and amazing. Northern California feels like a good novel does to me. There's an eye catching cover, lots of drama and beautiful imagery, characters you love, and a story you never want to end. I could spend hours on the coast line just day dreaming or writing.

Yes, DM and I did do some rabble rousing. You can read about that over on DM's site because, frankly, I don't remember much. I have some faded impressions of dancing, lights, asking lots of inappropriate questions, and posing on a mattress. Oy. Let's just say it's a damn good thing the tattoo parlors in DM's town are closed at 1am. Otherwise, I'd have the cliche of all tattooed cliches on my ass.

But the best part of the trip was having a chance to connect with my cousin. DM and I haven't spent much time together as adults without a crowd of a thousand around. Our family is loud, obnoxious, drunk, and overwhelming. It's hard to have a serious conversation about anything around them.

On the surface, DM and I have always been very different. I followed the good girl path to adulthood. She followed the road less traveled and found herself through a more literal journey. Underneath, however, I think we've both known how similar we are. It's not just genetics that binds us, but politics, personality, a quest for beauty and truth, and a desperate need to make a difference in the world.

The eight years between us no longer mean much. Particularly since we've both come to realize that all people are more similar than different. In becoming a mother, and in sharing that experience, it becomes obvious. The human experience repeats itself over and over, generation after generation, passing down to us the best and worst of human nature. It makes it difficult to understand how human beings can treat each other so badly. (Now I'd better get myself back on track before I start ranting about war, murder, and all the other atrocities of the world.)

This was also the first chance I've had to meet Monkey. She's a gorgeous, obsidian eyed beauty, with a romantically flowing name, her father's hair, her mother's mouth, and her grandfather's ears. She made me work for her smiles, like any serious girl should, but those upturned lips, tiny dimple, and sparkling eyes were certainly worth the effort. Monkey is a perfect combination of darkness and light. Watching her over the last week, as her eyes followed my every move and she wobbled cautiously across the room, I saw my cousin as a baby once more.

DM and her Monkey will be coming to visit us this Summer and we can't wait. We can't offer a dramatic coastline, just a boring old flat beach, but we do have some kick ass crabs and there's always beer in the fridge. After looking at all the photos, Big H is incredibly excited to meet his new cousin and Little H keeps asking me where Monkey is.

It won't be long boys.

DM also has some pictures up on her site. I took waaaay too many pictures and DM took some with my camera too, so who in the heck knows when I'll even look at all of mine. I'm sure I'll be annoying you with California pictures for weeks. Be prepared.

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I Can't Make This Stuff Up
Seen in Metairie, Louisiana on my trip to Mardi Gras earlier this month. I took the photo through my rental car window at a stop light.

Wagner's Meat
"You Can't Beat Wagner's Meat"

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Do Pictures Make the Heart Grow Fonder?
While I'm gone, here are a few shots of Hollis meeting the geese at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Luckily they didn't attack and scar him for life. Geese are mean....

Hollis with Geese 4

Hollis with Geese

Hollis with Geese

Hollis with Geese

Miss Me?
I'm off to Cali with Little H.

Miss me?

I'll miss you all.

Yeah, like that.

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Oh friends of the internet, I'll be leaving you for 5 days again soon. I'm taking Holden to visit my cousins, Defiant Muse and her daughter Monkey, in Eureka, California from Thursday to Tuesday.

I've never flown more than half way across the country with Little H before and that didn't go so well. I'm bringing the trusty Benadryl, the portable DVD player, puzzles, two small aquadoodles, and a boat load of books that are two damn heavy for me to be carting through an airport. Hopefully we will survive without too many meltdowns.

Pray for me.

(You know I'm joking, right?)

While I procrastinate working on Julie's Hump Day Hmmm for the week and a post I should be writing for MOMocrats about health care, I thought I'd share some photos I just took.

Yesterday, I took Hollis to a park on the water near us in late afternoon, just before sunset. The lighting was perfect. The kid? Not so much. I only got a few photos of his face out of him by letting him cart my tripod around and take about 50 fuzzy shots of me all by himself. Using the tripod, of course.

We were out there for about 2 hours and I probably took 250 shots. In 75% of those, Hollis is intentionally running away, facing away, trying to "shoot" me with my tripod, or just fuzzy. (Operator error. I was shooting in manual with no autofocus. No auto anything, actually.) But I still have more to show you after this. Perhaps when I get back from California and have some more editing time....

Hollis Gazes
Gazing into the distance.

He looks so serene, but he's actually just finished screaming pouting because I wouldn't let him climb on the rocks of death by the water.

Fear the Tripod
Love the face here.

Yes, it's a big fish.

I took this one as an assignment for my photography class. We were supposed to take photos of a statue and make them "interesting." Trust me to mock the exercise. Hey, at least I didn't bring a fishing rod for Hollis. I thought about it.

Photo by Hollis.

Please excuse the hair. It was windy. Oh and I was feeling a bit off focus. (I crack myself up.)

Another photo by Hollis.

He also got a lovely shot of my hand on my butt while I was trying to get up and rescue my camera. I think it was actually in focus too. I deleted it. Can't have anyone running across that!

I took the camera away, but he kept pretending.

Future Photographer? Or future stunt man?p

Future photographer? Or future Hollywood stunt man?

Hollis may have been uncooperative, but I got this when we were leaving....

Moon Silhouette

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The Electric Kool-Aid Effexor Trip
I've made no secret of the fact that I'm on anti-depressants. In fact, I probably tell too many people. Is it awkward when you meet someone at a cocktail party and you say, "Hi, I'm Stephanie. I'm on short term disability for depression and I'm taking Effexor. So nice to meet you. Oh, I think the bathroom is over there...."?

Oops. My bad.

So far the Effexor is working nicely. It's been gradual. It's not like I woke up overnight and started praying at the altar of the optimists and cheerful people, but I'm getting there. And the Effexor has been great. I've heard nightmares about side effects, so I was a bit worried going in. Especially since Lexapro, which is supposedly loved because almost no one experiences any side effects while taking it, did a number on me.

For the 5 or 6 months I was on Lexapro, I walked around like a zombie during the day. I felt drugged. Then I started having hair problems. My hair, oh people of the internets, is one of my best features. It's nice and wavy and a lovely dark blond color with honey highlights. Oh and it's really thick, but not coarse at all. My hair rocks.

When it started falling out I started freaking the F out. It may seem vain but there was no way in H E double hockey sticks that I was going to end up depressed and bald.

Not to mention, the Lexapro wasn't doing a whole lot for me anymore.

In came the Effexor.

Effexor is one of those anti-depressants that you can't just stop taking. You have to gradually build up to your therapeutic dose and then when you stop taking it, you have to step down gradually as well. A good friend of mine who recently weaned off of Effexor had to start and stop about 6 times. Her doctor finally had her doing something really complicated like cutting open the smallest pill dosage they make, mixing the powder in apple juice and drinking 3/4 of it, 1/2 of it, 1/4 of it, etc.... That finally worked. She tried to describe what it was like when she tried to stop taking it, but I, who had just fallen in love with Effexor, wasn't really listening.

Um, Tiff, what was it you were trying to tell me again?

Yesterday was a busy day. We got up, had breakfast, corralled two small people into clothing and jackets, loaded up the car and headed to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to meet my friend Lauren and her son. The kids played for hours, and wore themselves out nicely. We headed home, did the lunch/nap thing and I blogged and edited photos. Somewhere in there I remembered to take my antibiotic and Flonase for the plague that I've had for a month now, otherwise known as the ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis trifecta.

Last night I could not sleep at all. Finally at 1:30 am, T came downstairs, shut my laptop and asked me to come to bed. I flipped out on him. I had a little tantrum where I ranted about how he wasn't the boss of me and I just wasn't tired and I wasn't going to just sit in bed and stare at the ceiling. I threw myself down on the couch and pouted like a teenager for about 10 minutes. Then, when enough time had passed that I could pretend going to bed was my idea, I went upstairs.

That should have been my first clue.

Once in bed, I couldn't sleep for more than 30-40 minutes at a time and I had the most bizarre dreams ever. At about 4:30 in the morning, I realized that whenever I closed my eyes, I was seeing brightly colored lights. Not my dark eyelids, but a pattern of colored dots that swirled and turned into candy and spiders and giant polka dots and brightly colored lights and then multiplied on top of each other in undulating waves and then transformed again. Then it started happening while my eyes were open.

It was like watching a Fruitopia commercial on an endless loop in a 360 degree theater with my eyes propped open with toothpicks.*

Just when I was about to wake T and have him taking me to the emergency room for my psychiatric committal, or call the police to see who spiked my Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, I remembered that I forgot to take my drugs.


I woke T up, took my pill, and then tried to explain what was happening to T. He talked me down from my little trip and I was finally able to get a few hours of sleep. When I woke this morning it was better, but when things moved they had little motion trails behind them, like those pictures of you see of subway trains with trails of light behind them. (Don't worry, I didn't drive.) My synapses finally started firing normally at about 12 today.

That was quite a trip and you can be sure that I will not be forgetting my pills again.

I already have a pill box, and T mercilessly makes funny of me for it. But my mommy brain can no longer remember if I've taken my Metformin and my vitamins. Well, the box doesn't work if I never even get it out of the cabinet. In my ditzy defense, this is the first time I've ever completely forgotten my medications. In any event, I've come up with a new system that should be foolproof as long as I go to the bathroom every morning. I don't foresee this being a problem, since I have the world's smallest bladder.

Nonetheless, I think I'll be traveling with an extra bottle of Effexor in my purse from now on. I mean you never know when you're going to be caught in a massive snow storm while you're driving a half mile to the 7-11. I don't want to have to figure out if those mounds of brightly colored candy are real, or just plastic orbs from Holden's ball pit.

* Am I the only one whose cat was transfixed by those commercials?

I have pictures up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles if you'd like to see something that isn't reminiscent of an acid trip.

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One of us is in trouble. The blogger behind Just Making It Up is a mother of two, Asher and Maya, and she's in the ICU in a medically induced coma. Apparently she has a perforated bowel, although I don't know any more details, and has a just better than 50/50 chance of surviving. I hope that's changed by now.

Mary from Them's My Sentiments cued me in on her blog and asked that we stop by Just Making It Up and leave supportive comments.

I know I don't even need to ask....

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Barney Is The Devil
I hate Barney.

All that "I love you. You love me. We're a happy family..." crap makes me want to hurl something at the TV. I know kids love him but I was determined that we would not be Barney lovers in this house.

You'll be happy to know that if you prime and brainwash educate your children from birth, providing intellectually challenging activities and carefully selecting developmental programs, you can mold your children in any way you like.

For instance, if you tell your children from birth that "Barney is the devil," immediately change the channel if anything Barney or Barney-related comes on TV, and steadfastly forbid your children to wear the color purple, this will be the result:

"I heart Barney, Mommy."

Frack. Back to the drawing board.

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Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?
Hollisinhospital_2The health care system in our country is broken. I don't think anyone can dispute that. If you don't think there's a problem, just go read Kyla's eloquent post about her family's struggle to keep health insurance. I dare you.

There are 46 million uninsured people in the United States, the richest country on earth, including almost 9 million children. Often, those who are uninsured must choose between financial ruin or getting the health care they and their children need. That's unconscionable. How do we fix it?

I don't pretend to be an expert here. There are arguments for and against everything and studies supporting and opposing everything. I'm trying to look at the health care issue with common sense. The obvious answer to me, and many Democrats, is universal health care. We need some system, or combination of systems that will permit those who are uninsured to get the coverage they need.

There are plenty of nay sayers and we'll be hearing from lots of them during the upcoming election. There are those who insist they will never vote for a President who advocates universal health coverage. Let's look at their basic arguments:

If you want to read the rest of my rant, you're going to have to head over to MOMocrats!

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Valentine's Snow Day
When is a snow day not a good thing?

When it's your 3 year old's first Valentine's Day party, he spent hours the night before carefully decorating every card and meticulously (or not) cutting out hearts for his teacher's home made card.

Hollis cried when he heard there would be no school today.

I'm not sure that this even actually qualifies as "snow." (Suck it up! I'm talking to you, Chesapeake!) It was really more like frozen rain that looked white until it melted about 20 minutes ago. While the kids thought the idea of snow was great in theory, Hollis touched it with his bare hand and was done.

Holden lasted a bit longer. It took 5 minutes for him to declare, "Mommmmmmy! Hands too cold! Help me!"

My wussy little Southern boys!

Red Mocha Hat

Can you believe he kept that adorable hat on? I can't.
He wouldn't wear the mittens though.

Snowy Foot

What is this white stuff and why is it on my foot?
He made me clean off his feet. Seriously.

Sun on Fence

The sun came out.

Snow Gaze

You still can't make me look at the camera, Mommy.
No matter how much you want a cute Valentine's Day photo.

Valentine's Card

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The Emperor's New Clothes
My blog is my little narcissistic home away from home. In my corporeal life, my friends and family tend to get annoyed if I spend too much time naval gazing, talking about myself, or whining about my real (or imagined) problems. In the blog world, people seem to enjoy reading about my foibles and frequently come back for more.

Of course, part of that return readership is no doubt related to the dialogue and rapport we establish on our blogs. But let's face it, part of the appeal of blog reading is the glimpse we get into someone else's life. That life may be one you envy, one you relate to, or one that makes you feel superior and relieved to be you. Sometimes it's all of those. Frequently it's all of those.

I know that I personally enjoy reading about politics, social issues, and things we can do to make a difference. But the blogs posts that haunt me are personal. They incorporate real experiences, real relationships, and real problems into hauntingly beautiful writing. It's like a never ending novel with my favorite characters. But I get to keep reading about Lizzie and Mr. Darcy's life after their marriage. I read about their restrained arguments, fertility problems, and intolerable in-laws.

Sometimes, I get to meet my favorite characters in person.

When I think about the things I leave off of my blog and cloak in "privacy," I frequently try to compare it to writing a novel. I ask myself "if I put this fight with my husband in a book with different names, would he be angry?" The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. But a blog is different. There is no line stating "any resemblance to real people is entirely coincidental" to hide behind. We aren't characters in a novel. This is my life out there for all the world to Google, read, and judge.

So how do I maintain that thin, but important, veil of privacy around those I love?

I do have certain rules. I don't blog about my sex life or my personal relationship with my husband. This has left some readers with the impression that T is annoyingly perfect. Trust me when I say he is anything but perfect. He's a hell of a lot closer to it than I am, but no one is perfect. But our marriage and the trust we have to share our innermost feelings is far more important than a blog post. T's issues are not mine to share. They belong to him. My issues with T are not mine to share. They belong to us.

I also refrain from blogging about family problems. As with my relationship with my husband, trust is more important than airing my parents' dirty laundry. That's why I have a therapist!

I don't blog about work. I have no desire to be Dooced, destroy my relationships with opposing counsel and co-workers, or be disbarred.

Those are the easy rules.

The hardest rules are those with my children. That's a post for another day because I don't have 5 hours to share my thoughts (and guilt) about their privacy.

What about other people I interact with or people from my past? They fall into a gray area. I can't avoid blogging about any of my personal relationships or this would be a pretty boring blog. But I do have to think about how I would feel if that person found my blog. Or how I would feel if anyone from my past found my blog.

I've written about a painful relationship and break up I had in my early twenties and my still, somewhat, unresolved feelings about the whole matter. How would I feel if my ex-boyfriend read my post about him? How would he feel? I don't think I would be upset. In fact, I know I wouldn't. I would never post something about someone I know that I wouldn't tell them in person if they asked.

But the ex? I have a feeling he might be a bit upset about my revelations about his more recent past. I would apologize for hurting him, but I don't think I would remove the post. If he had confidentially shared the information about his past, I would never have written the post in the first place. But he didn't and ultimately the post is more about me than anyone else.

I was forced to think about my invisible cloak of privacy because two people I knew in high school are now occasionally reading my blog (Hi, K! Hi, B!) one of whom I suspect had a crush on me once upon a time.... (Or maybe I'm projecting.) Somehow it's easier to think of strangers reading my intimate thoughts about a deeply personal topic than it is to think of friends who knew me and my ex-boyfriend, who knew the people we were then.

Happily Ever After was one of the most personal posts I've ever written. It says a lot about me and who I am now. And so, ultimately, I guess I'm happy to have anyone who knew me then, know me now.

When you're looking at me on display in all my naked glory? Just try to ignore the stretch marks.

This post is for Julie's weekly Hump Day Hmmm.

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Who Knew Bob The Builder Could Be So Fascinating?
My three year old is obsessed with construction and all things construction related. Every morning we drive by a construction site near our house and Hollis comments on the progress. Heaven help them if the workers aren't there (even on a Sunday). Hell hath no fury like a three year old who can't get his crane fix.

"Where are the guys, Mommy? WHERE ARE THE GUYS!?"

I can't even tell you the raptures Hollis went into when T rented a backhoe for a weekend to work on a drainage issue in our yard more than a year ago. To this day he still tells us that we need to go to the tractor store and get him another tractor.

If you'd like to continue reading about the coolest Bob the Builder video evah, click on over to Lawyer Mama Review.

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House Sitting for Pundit Mom
I'm over house sitting at Pundit Mom's place today and talking about what a cheap date I am for Virginia's presidential primary. Here's a sneak peek:

In Virginia and Maryland, today is election day. We head off to the polls to vote in the presidential primary and obediently paste on our little "I Voted" stickers. But man, it feels like I've been on some wort of whirlwind romance.

Up until last Wednesday, the day after Super Tuesday, our little section of the Mid-Atlantic was pretty much ignored. I'm used to being ignored during Presidential elections. During my voting years, I've lived in Nebraska and Virginia. Nebraska isn't exactly high on the electoral vote count and its citizens usually vote for Republican presidents. (One of the many reasons why I no longer live there.)

Read More....

I have a request for all of you readers who also pop over to MOMocrats from time to time. How about a little button linky love in your sidebar?

MOMocrats was originally founded with the goal of helping a Democrat take the White House. Yes, John Edwards was our candidate of choice, but we were prepared for the possibility that he might not be the Democratic nominee. The MOMocrats still alive and kicking and talking about the Democratic primary and the presidential election. We want the politicians to earn our votes and we hope we'll help keep everyone honest!

The code to post the button is:

{a href="http://momocrats.typepad.com"}{img src="http://momocrats.typepad.com/momocrats-square-button.gif" /}{/a}

Only replace all the { and } with <>. If you can't figure it out, email me and I'll send you the code. (My email is in my profile.)


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Early Childhood Education From A Military Perspective
A lovely piece ran in our local Virginian Pilot today about early childhood education. It was written by a retired Vice Admiral and applied his own brand of "military logic" to the arguments against state funding of early childhood education. It was so refreshing, I had to share it:

A Military Perspective On Preschool

As a retired military officer, I am concerned with the debate about whether to fund the proposed expansion of the Virginia Preschool Initiative. I am concerned because opponents are often vigorous, employing one of two tactics, neither of which seems defensible.

One of these tactics is political - the attempt to stir partisan opposition to the proposal solely because it is championed by a governor from the opposing party. This tactic, of course, is contrary to a military way of doing business, where decisions are based on reason and empirical evidence rather than political motives.

The second tactic is the "yes, but" approach, as in "we think expansion of preschool is a good idea, but it's too costly," or "but there are too many practical barriers to overcome," or similar yes-but evasions.

To a former officer, "yes, but" has the ring of excuse-making or lack of commitment to the objective, both of which must be overcome to stay on course.

So why should you care what a retired sailor like me thinks about preschool?

You should care, because the military cares, and deeply, about this topic. So deeply, in fact, that starting nearly two decades ago, the Department of Defense launched a services-wide initiative to increase the availability of high-quality early education programs for its youngest dependents.

The military took up this mission to ensure that children of military parents would start kindergarten ready to succeed. Military leaders championed the cause, funds were allocated, programs were made available so all parents could afford high-quality programs.

The effort proved so successful that government and private-sector policy experts began lauding the military's initiative as a model that should be emulated in the civilian sector.

Why such a strong commitment by the military to quality early education and school readiness? Quite simply, the decision was prompted by the following circumstances:
* A large number of military spouses working outside the home
* Half of today's service members have one or more children under age 5; this amounts to nearly 500,000 across all the branches

But there was another commitment, a common-sense one: to do the right thing for children and their parents in uniform.

So, from the perspective of an observer who has seen how this can succeed, I must now ask why some Virginia decision makers seem so reluctant to follow the lead of their military counterparts.

To borrow a naval phrase, we need all hands on deck. Vote to use the lessons learned in the military as a shining example. Access to high-quality, affordable child care for all should be expanded in our state so that all our children have a fighting chance to succeed.

Jim Metzger
Vice Admiral, USN (ret.)

There was a political rally for Obama in Virginia Beach here this evening. Unfortunately, what with the kiddos and all, I didn't think it was a good idea to attend. (It's T's Navy Reserve weekend, so I'm on my own with the kiddos.) I hear it was a good time with lots of noise and lots of people. I have to admit it's kind of nice to hear Virginia's primary described as "pivotal" even if it is the local paper doing it. I'll just try to forget that we were all but ignored before the Wednesday after Super Tuesday and enjoy it while it lasts. I know all the politicians will evaporate from the Commonwealth after Tuesday's election.

Speaking of politics, the D.C. Metro Moms (and all of their sister sites) are writing about politics and voting today. Head on over and check it out. I'm sure there will be some entertaining and controversial pieces going up throughout the day.

I have some pictures from the zoo up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles. You can see what a hellion my Holden is when allowed to roam free from the confines of his stroller....

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Why I'm Not Voting for Hillary
So I suppose I should just suck it up and tell y'all who I'm voting for on Tuesday. Now that Edwards is out of the race, Barack Obama has my vote.

I wish I could say that it was a clear choice between Obama and HRC, but it wasn't. Honestly, the only viable progressive candidate in the race was Edwards. HRC, however, is one of the most polarizing figures of our time. As much as I would love to vote for a woman and have a woman as our Commander in Chief, I don't think it will happen with Senator Clinton. In fact, there's nothing that will motivate the Religious Right more on election day than the chance to vote against HRC.

McCain is clearly going to be the Republican nominee. While he's playing to his base right now, he's not nearly conservative enough for many Republicans. I'm not talking about the majority of Republicans here, but Republicans who make the most noise and preach from the pulpit. Some of those Republicans may very well stay home on election day. Unless HRC is the Democratic candidate.

Don't get me wrong, I like and respect Senator Clinton. I will forgive her a host of political missteps simply because I think she gets a raw deal from the mainstream media and mainstream America. Why? Because she's a tough, smart, involved, and politically aware woman. When HRC got involved in the universal health care debacle at the beginning of her husband's first term, people weren't enraged because of her policies. They were enraged because a wife was stepping into traditional male territory.

I, and many of the people I know well, tend to forget that while much of the country has taken giant leaps with respect to women, there are many out there stuck in 1958. I tend to forget because I don't often hear those antiquated voices. I'm a woman, yes, but I'm also a lawyer surrounded by progressive men and very well educated women. But every now and then I hear a whisper of times gone by and it stops me short.

Many might call me a sell out. Many would say I should support HRC for all the reasons I just stated. After all, things will never change if we don't actively work to change them. But what I'm trying to say with this post is that, while I think we're ready for the next step, a woman in charge, I don't think that HRC is the woman who can make that happen.

I'm afraid that if Clinton's candidacy fails, we'll be stuck with another 8 years of Republicans running roughshod over our civil rights. And based on statements McCain made today in Norfolk, Virginia, I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up with a nice war in Iran to go with our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That can't happen.

I've just said an awful lot about why I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton, but not a whole lot about why I'm voting for Barack Obama. I promise, that's next....

This post was originally written for a "Why Not Billary" post day on MOMocrats. Then Edwards dropped out and I had to rethink some things.

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Spanish Town
I have about 5000 pictures from Mardi Gras parades. And, of course, I want to share all of them! I'll try to restrain myself, but you'll just have to bear with me for the next few days, um, or weeks.

I'll put some up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles every day too.

These are from the Spanish Town parade in Baton Rouge that The Queen was in. She's a member of the Krewe of Pink Ladies. How cool is that? They have jackets and everything. Spanish Town is one looooong parade. It was great and much more family friendly than the parades in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Ladies 3
Float with the capitol building in the background. The Spanish Town "mascot" is the flamingo. There was a lot of pink.

Pink Lady
The Queen on her float. See what I mean about the jackets?

Boy with Flamingo
Hollis in front of the Pink Ladies float. The theme was "Purple is the new Pink" in honor of LSU's national championship. Geaux Tigers! (Please forgive me, Sebastian. It's just a fling.)
Notice that Hollis is all decked out with beads and a flamingo lollipop? This was looooong before the parade started. I just took him up and down the road to look at all the floats getting ready and the boy cleaned up!

Mardi Gras Self Portrait
My self portrait before the parade. I wore my pink boa just for the occasion. The Queen supplied the beads.

Mardi Gras Girl
The Queen's gorgeous daughter and honorary Pink Lady. I tried to bring her home with me. Seriously. LOVED her.

Waiting for the Parade
Waiting for the parade.

Waiting for the Parade
More waiting. See? She's gorgeous. And she and Hollis got along swimmingly.

Face Off
Face off 2
Everyone who's seen these photos swears these two must be siblings. Nope. There was no fighting at all, just playing. The Princess just entertained Hollis for two hours. Seriously. I'm going to go back and steal her.

I have to say that attending a Mardi Gras parade with two cute kids is far different from attending one as a hot, childless woman. (I'm just assuming the hot part. I never said I wasn't egotistical.) I didn't even have one request to ... um ... lift my shirt and I have never seen so many stuffed animals rain down around me.

I will have more photos up soon....

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The Daiquiri Bar
Before we get to the gossip, I have a new review up on Lawyer Mama Review. I adore Pingu, possibly even more than my kids do, so go read about the new Pingu video.

I know y'all want more dirt on my weekend with The Queen and her Mayhem. I put up a few photos from the daiquiri bar we "stopped by" on the way home from "running errands" but here are a few more.

First we made a few friends and played some Quarters:


The Queen and I suck at this game, by the way. Although we did make a few shots:

The Queen

Then we started making random guys take pictures with us. The Queen has done this before....

Window guy
The guy washing the windows of the bar. He was 21. I asked.

We picked up a few more friends:

Queen and Random Bar Guy
Here's one of our new friends. I can't remember if this is Chuck, or the other one.

And they bought us shots of tequila. Really, really good tequila. It seemed like a fabulous idea at the time....


Then there were more random guys friends:

Another Random Guy
In the Queen's defense, she had picked up these ladies on a previous visit to the bar. So she already knew them. Oh, and she might not have had anything to do with picking up this random guy. That might have been me....

Then we headed back to the house. Luckily, the kids were still alive and ready to boogie.

Then we were cooked. We're old ladies, you know!


Steph & Heather

Don't you wish you were us?

The rest of the weekend was a blast and it will take me days just to edit all the photos. I'll post more as I go so stay tuned....

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