Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Case for Socialized Everything

As you may know, I moved recently. My colleague moved recently. Jodi is moving. Based on our three experiences, let me say this: Government-regulated monopolies = good. Marketplace = Fuck. You.

Now, normally I'm a free-market, capitalism-is-good kind of girl. Even though I nearly flunked freshman economics (it was micro! I'm more of a macro-thinker) I believe letting the marketplace work itself out is usually a good thing.

But I've moved twice in the past year, and Verizon can suck a sweaty goat ball. Comcast and Cox can blow me.

However I kind of love Dominion Power, Washington Gas, and Fairfax County Water.

My electricity works. So does my stove and hot water heater. I have clean water that is safe for my children to drink and bathe in - and all I have to do to get it is turn on the faucet. These utilities are and have been extremely reliable, and shutting them off and turning them on was really easy.

More importantly, these companies delivered the service changes they promised when I made the initial call. One call. Request made, service changed. Done.

Verizon? Not so much. Comcast was an ass-pimple about the remaining months on our MLB package. Cox lost our install order for the rental house and so thoroughly screwed up the install on this place they ought to be paying us a monthly fee.

My colleague's experience with DirecTV confirms they're not any better about installation and customer service. And don't get Work Sarah started on her Verizon experience. Really. Do. Not. (I'm serious. Don't.)

So my conclusion is this: yes, we have several choices for phone/cable/internet (and hell, I'll throw in cellphone service too), but what difference does it make when they ALL suck?

You only notice utilities when you move, or they don't work. Kind of like health care, which only matters when you need it.

Will having a government option mean health care will work like my utilities? Will a government health care plan be efficient and helpful and reliable? Or will it mean all insurance plans will become phone/cable/internet providers, delivering spotty service with a customer helpline mantra of "just get this asshole off the phone, and make her call back later when she'll be someone else's problem"?

I imagine your answer depends a lot on your political views, and on whether or not you currently have insurance you're pretty happy with (and I'm guessing you do). While health care and utilities are not completely comparable for a lot of reasons, I use this example - which I admit is counter intuitive - to suggest that government-related things are not always bad. They sometimes even compare favorably to the non-government options.

And for those of us with insurance, yes, we have a lot to lose. We don't want our health care to become phone/cable/internet-ified. But we also know it doesn't take much to join the ranks of the millions of uninsured. And in the end, this health care proposal isn't aimed at us. It's aimed at those uninsured we don't wish to become. Those who lack basic care; who bring their children to the ER for pinkeye, because there's no where else to go and the baby looks so sick.

We need health care reform because we can control those costs - that baby in the ER can cost a lot less somewhere else - and we need to capture those savings. The health insurance industry exists because it is profitable, and maybe those profits represent money that could be better spent on other things.

This health care proposal really isn't for us, the happily-insured; but we sure can stand in its way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If Pink Velour and Cow Print with Black Fringe Isn't Your Taste

Perhaps you might prefer a plain yellow ring.
It's a perfect neutral for the days when you want your outfit to make the statement (a statement like "my mom seems to have lost my real clothes in the move, so I'm wearing Christmas pajamas my big brother outgrew three years ago").

Monday, July 27, 2009

Another PSA from Lumpyhead's Mom

If, upon your arrival at work, you notice a huge brown stain on your shirt, do not use the pink dish soap beside the office sink to remove it. Unless, of course, you are prepared to walk around all day with an even bigger pink stain on your shirt.

You're welcome.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Right. Next You're Going to Tell Me That Wonkette Lives Around the Corner and Dooce Lives Three Doors Down

I've spent the last two Friday nights on my front porch, drinking with the neighbors. My new neighbors rock.

Our across-the-street neighbors have a son named Corey. When Corey was little, his favorite colors were pink and brown. Except he would never say "brown" in his normal tone, he would growl it in a low voice. "Pink and browwwn."

Corey's dad told me this, which you might think is a strange thing to learn about your neighbors' child - except that it's not. Because immediately after finding out our neighbor's name was Steve, Lumpyhead felt it was important to learn Steve's favorite color. Lumpyhead announced that his favorite colors were purple and pink.

Steve said his son liked pink, too.

And the story about growling "brown" just flowed naturally from there.


After much cajoling, I joined Facebook last Thursday. I've spent the last week re-connecting with old friends.

Billy lives in Roanoke and teaches 8th grade Civics. He was impressed that I still remembered verse two of Beef Beer Shit Log, the song he sang with his punk band. Alisa is teaching too, she's a professor of Spanish at a college in the Midwest. Jen is still in DC; so is Francine. It seems Jen is a Yankees fan now - erm, bummer - and Francine's son Corey is very cute. They apparently like Star Wars. And look, photos from Corey's sixth birthday party and -- OH MY GOD THERE ARE MY NEIGHBORS.

Corey. He who likes pink and browwwwn. My friend Francine is his mom.


And if that weren't enough to completely sizzle your brain, my neighbor Steve? Corey's dad? Knows Goon Squad Sarah.

Because Steve, it turns out, is Steve from Hygiene Chronicles. I've read him on Blogfathers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Today's Overshare

How many times a day do you pee?

If all goes to plan, I pumped this morning for the last time. Ever.

I have been pregnant or nursing since September 2004. (Except for those two weeks between weaning Lumpyhead and getting pregnant with Lula.)

One expects to pee constantly whilst pregnant. But I didn't realize how rarely I needed to use the bathroom when lactating.

The drop-off in milk production + the re-introduction of caffeine (which: WHOOOOO!) = PEEING ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Seriously. How do you people (you non-lactating, caffeine consuming regular people) get anything done?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Wednesday, So It Must Be Time to Put Something on the Baby's Head

It's a ring! A soft ring. Cow print on one side, pink velour on the other. With fringe. It is awesome.
It also moos. I know. Sweet.

(Nathan Jr reminds you that you are not allowed to mock his headgear, and extends that admonition to his jammies. His Christmas jammies. In July.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Evolution of the First Birthday Party Invitation

For Lumpyhead's first birthday party, I made invitations by hand. I used a cardstock base and cut out tiny photos and embellished the big blue number one with a silver paint pen. The text made a lame joke about "Juan" and "one."

For Lula's first birthday party, I kind of forgot about the invitations until the last minute. I designed something quickly using a clipart photo of a cupcake, slapped the party details beside it, and printed it as a 4x6 photo from Target. Before I brought the envelopes to the post office, I emailed the invitees and told them about the party, giving them five days instead of two to plan to come.

Nathan Jr's birthday is in less than two weeks. I'm thinking Evite.

Friday, July 17, 2009

In Defense of Jon and Kate. Sort of.

I have been watching Jon and Kate Gosselin since their first special. Their sextuplets are a year older than Lumpyhead, and each one of those children reminded me of some characteristic of my baby. I am often completely overwhelmed by parenting, and every episode made me think "Well, hell, if they can get through the day, so can I."

I gathered some tips from their outings – eat breakfast in the car, keep a potty in the van, dress your children in bright colors so they're easier to spot – that I use today. I found solace in their candor and practicality.

And the aspect that makes reality TV great: when things went wrong for them, I felt superior and smug. Yes, my child is wearing laundry right now instead of clothing, but at least my husband and I communicate well and treat each other with respect. Yes, I feed my children non-organic, hastily-slapped-together meals and fast food; but I have genuine, long-standing friends and a close-knit extended family.

Then I started to become annoyed. The traditional gender roles Jon and Kate assigned to their children troubled me. The blatant product placement bugged me. The out-and-out begging for free stuff disgusted me. I began to dislike them.

Then came the out-of-control popularity. Internet sites attacking parenting techniques, communication styles, hairdos and clothing choices. Credible reports of seriously flawed character and horrible behavior. I stopped watching.

A book. Television appearances. Fabulous trips. Another book. I stopped caring.

Then the marital troubles popped up in the tabloids, and I suddenly cared again. I was one of the zillions of viewers who tuned in for the season premier. I clapped my hands with glee and horror and sneered and muttered at the TV and felt dirty afterward.

I came to this conclusion: If they knew from the beginning their marriage would be a casualty, I think they would still do the show.

Would you?

Fortune. Fame beyond your wildest dreams. Your children will be set for life. All you have to give up is the love of your spouse.

Think about it differently. What if you were a deeply materialistic person who was struggling to make ends meet? Would you agree to the complete loss of privacy and to the constant scrutiny and criticism?

I'm sure the Gosselins have dealt with criticism and scrutiny since the sextuplets were born. They relied on help from church and community members – as one must – from the start. Haven't we all witnessed the well-meaning lady who comes over to "help," but instead holds the sleeping baby and coos "as long as you're up, dear, can you get me a cup of coffee?" That kind of help wears out its welcome fast, and when you suggest to that helper she is not needed the next time, feelings are hurt and you're called an ungrateful bitch and eventually you just have to shrug your shoulders and do what's best for your family, no matter what that old bag from church calls you. I bet that happens a lot when you have six babies.

So let's assume the Gosselins had little privacy and were subject to constant criticism before the TV show.

How much money would it take to make you give up your spouse?

What if you had the sneaking suspicion that your spouse was an incompetent dolt anyway? Sure, you've got a soft spot for him because you've been through a lot together, but if you could land enough cash to hire a nanny, chauffeur, porter, and a security guard (ahem) to handle his duties; plus a maid and a chef and more nannies – would you make the trade?

What if you had a sneaking suspicion that your spouse was a physically abusive nag who ordered you around and killed all your fun? Now how much?

And if you think money is what makes the world go 'round, what gives you value and what your children need more than anything; then ruining your marriage is probably not a very big deal.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lula is a Terrible Parrot

On Tuesday night, I tried to teach Lula "Who's got two thumbs and wants a brownie? THIS guy."

It didn't work; she didn't get it. (She didn't understand, I mean. She got her brownie.) She never positioned her hands correctly and barely mastered a weak thumbs-up. I gave up after a couple of attempts.

Last night at dessert time, Lumpyhead decided he wanted a brownie. Lula was still eating her dinner, but piped up. "I want a brownie too!"

Then she added, "I have two thumbs."

Close, Lula Dear. Close.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For the Record

Nathan Jr is aware that some of you have requested more photos of him wearing hats and other headgear, and he wants you to know that he thinks that's really immature.
Also pictured: My mother, who thinks putting stuff on the baby's head is mean. But funny.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Bump was trying to get Lumpyhead to repeat his statement that "whimpering drives you crazy."

Bump: What does whimpering do?
Lumpyhead: I don't know.
Bump: Do you remember what whimpering and whining does?
Lumpyhead: It drives you crazy.
Lumpyhead: But it's so much fun for us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

He's Paying Attention

Bump: [examining a red spot on Lumpyhead's hand] What is this? Does it hurt?
Lumpyhead: No. If it did, I would cry. Like this. [whimpers]
Bump: Actually, that's not crying. That's whimpering.
Lumpyhead: And whimpering drives you crazy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Hey, you wanna hear my baseless, goofball theory about Michael Jackson?

I think his family wanted so desperately to preserve that amazing adolescent voice of his that they had him, um, fixed.

Chemically, or maybe even surgically, they attempted to prevent puberty.

The result was a musical genius who was tortured by hormonal imbalance and his inability to procreate.

You know, or not.

Feel free to add your own goofball theories in the comments. Or tell me why I'm right. Or wrong. (But like any good whack-job, I'll delete your comments telling me that I'm wrong, and then hunt you down and pester you for a good portion of the next three months or so.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'll Bet She Remembers Next Time

Aunt Bob invited us to her pool, but forgot to mention the "No Splashing Aunt Bob" Rule.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Three Very Important Questions. Well, Maybe More Than Three.

1. Which side of the bed do you sleep on?

If you have a partner, did you arrange this beforehand, or did it just kind of happen? Does it remain constant when you're traveling?

Do you need to be on the door side of the bed? The bathroom side? Closest to the kids? Do you get actual bed space or are you constantly hanging off the side because your kid/spouse/prostitute is taking up the middle (with your dogs on your feet and your cats on your head)?

2. Which side of the garage do I want?
The door into the house from the garage is exactly in the middle, so one side isn't closer to the door than the other.

(Also, we have realized that this garage is kind of small. I've already warned Bump that the number of times we will replace a sideview mirror on my car as a direct result of this garage is greater than zero. It might not be greater than one, but it is definitely greater than zero.)

3. Which side of the garage is the left side? Is it the left side as you're looking at it from the outside - as pictured in the photo - or the left side as you're looking at the doors from the inside? Similarly, which side of the bed is the left side? The left as you're standing at the foot of the bed, looking towards the headboard, or the left when you're lying on your back in the bed?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

How to Freak Me Right the Fuck Out

Bump took Lumpyhead and Lula out to a playdate, and I put Nathan Jr down for a nap. I called my mom. While we were chatting, Nathan Jr's monitor lit up.

Two voices - one male, one female - were talking to the baby. "Nate, Nate, Nate" they cooed at him. The baby giggled back.

I froze.

"I'll call you back," I snapped at my mother before hanging up on her.

"Natey, Nate, Nate." [happy gurgle]

I crept up the stairs and opened the baby's door slowly.

He was sound asleep. And alone.

This brand new house is haunted.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Verizon FAIL

When we moved last time, our phone service didn't move with us. We were told it would, but it didn't.

So we were pleasantly surprised when our phone service moved with us, as we requested, this time.

Of course, our internet connection didn't make it.

I'm annoyed - even more so because Verizon is going to take TEN DAYS to restore the service - but hey, you know what? Verizon is giving me dial-up service in the meantime.

Dial. Up.

So, in the time it will take to connect to the internet and send Aunt Bob an email, I could walk to her house, write her a letter, fashion a lovely envelope from hand-made paper, tap one of Aunt Bob's trees for some sap to use to stick the note to the door, then walk back home.

Except I don't even remember how to use dial-up. Don't I need an access number or something? When I asked the helpful Verizon agent about it, she told me "We sent you an email with instructions."

HAH. Ha ha ha ha hah.

Really. You have to laugh about that. Or you can write a pissy post about it using your blackberry.