Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alison's Political Affiliation

Alison has been following the presidential election fairly closely. She went with me to my brief morning of volunteer work at the Hillary campaign here in Indiana, and she went with Jeff and me to the polls on Primary Election Day. She's totally with Hillary. She put the sticker she was given back on our volunteer day on her bedroom door and she asks fairly regularly how the campaign is going.

So on the way to school the other day, she spied an Obama yard sign and we got to talking about the campaign again, whether Hillary would win the nomination, and how even though we supported Hillary, it didn't mean that Mr. Obama is a bad person. I was explaining about the Primary Election and the Fall Election and how the Democrats were still trying to choose who would represent them in the fall.

"We like Hillary and we're Democrats, right?" she asked, reminding me of a similar conversation I'd had with my Dad about 100 years ago after we'd converted our living room into a polling place and we were watching the returns in our dining room where all the furniture was still crowded in. (Back in the old days, out in the country, polling places popped up wherever they could get space. That night was the year Jimmy Carter won the election but I remember Indiana being the first state called, and it had gone Republican, of course. "But Dad! I thought we were all Democrats!" I said, totally confused. I think I was 10.)

So when Ali asked if we were Democrats, I started to tell her that she gets to make that decision, and she should choose what party she likes based on what she believes in. But I decided that at 7, that she could be part of the pack.

"Right. We're Democrats," I said.

"And Republicans are the people who just care about making money, and they aren't very nice, right?" she said.

I almost wrecked the car. "Well, no, that's not quite right. Republicans and Democrats have different ideas, but it's not that they're not nice people. Some Republicans are really nice people," I said.

With school right around the corner, I was sinking fast, trying to be fair but still represent, you know?

"Democrats and Republicans both like having enough money, honey. It's just that Democrats are a little more quick to be generous when it comes to helping other people," I said as she was opening the door.

My definition troubled me all day, and I even complained to the head cheese at Angie's List that morning. He's upsetting my stereotype because he's a huge Republican, yet we do a lot for the neighborhood, the environment, a local day shelter and particularly a school that has disproportionate number of lower income and homeless families. We're also a very diverse company that cares a lot about human rights, and we run a program that helps connect people in need with others who can help them.

Last Christmas we had a food drive to help the kids at the school get through the long winter break without going hungry -- a lot of the families rely on the school for that. Alison and I had a long talk about the project back during the holiday.

So I was feeling guilty about having painted the GOP with such broad strokes. We talked a little bit more that night home from school about Ds and Rs. I reminded her that Grandpa and Auntie Jen are Republicans and that my friend, Bill, at work is a Republican. Bill has offered to explain his position himself, but I'm not sure she's (or I'm) ready for that.

"Who's Bill?"

"He runs the place, honey. He's the boss."

"I thought Angie was the boss."

"Well, they're kind of the boss together."

"Oh. Well, we're still Democrats, right?"

"What do you think?"

"Well, Dad is definitely a Democrat. He's a lawyer, and he helps people solve problems," she said, deciding that I was a Democrat, too, because I work at Angie's List.

And then she had an epiphany. "Angie should run for president!"

"Why should Angie run for president?" I asked.

"Because then the kids who have no food would get a whole pile of food!" she said.

I'm not sure she gets the political thing. Heck. I'm not sure I do anymore. But she's got her priorities straight, and that's what matters most to me...

Note to my Democrat friends who may be alarmed that I'm saying nice things about a person who helped get the opposition in: I'm still staunchly in the camp of FOB and JEK. That won't ever change. I am, however, embracing something I learned from both of them: no one has a corner on good ideas and we should celebrate whoever helps lift up those in need. I'm not changing parties, but I am considering the need to make room in my personal political tent...

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

I'm posting early this weekend because it's going to be a whirlwind of activity.

JoAnna Elaine Strahla graduates from Shakamak High School today. She's the class president and salutatorian, star athlete and student and bound for Butler University, which is within biking distance of my house. We're all really proud of her. I'm counting on seeing her a lot more starting in the fall, and if it's only for laundry day and her own, private shower facility, I'm OK with that.

My favorite picture of Annie is when she was about three-years-old. It was Halloween and she had her dinosaur costume on. She had been sent to the corner for misbehavior. I can't remember what she did, but it's a great photo. I'll have to find it somewhere. She's all grown up now. (heavy sigh.) And I guess she's still kind of fun...

Tomorrow there's a little race going on here in Indianapolis and Angie's List is going to have a presence. Cheer for Oriol Servia and his # 5 car, the Angie's List Special. I met him Thursday out at the track, along with his team co-owner, Jimmy Vasser. Way cool.

It's hard to be distracted from the subject of racing when you're at the Speedway. But I managed it. While I was working on getting the car introduced to the world, I was in the midst of work involved with Angie's appearance -- tomorrow -- on The Today Show Weekend edition. My gal pal Jackie Meyers Thompson has been wooing the show for us, and we're stoked about it.

Today, I'm hoping to re-introduce myself to my immediate family. I've not been home much this week, and when I've been here, I've been working. I'm lucky they're still speaking to me.

We're hoping to get away for some fun at a new getaway Sunday afternoon -- our friend Lisa's mother's new lake house near Columbus. Lynn' (Lisa's cool mom) is our friend, too -- and our Kahn's Fine wine connection.

Hope you're bound for fun this weekend, too!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Who'd have thought?!

I've spent more than a few school nights trying to scrub away various stains that have found themselves to part of my daughter. Motivated by what the teacher will think of my parenting skills, I've been more diligent with my scrubbing than Alison has liked.

I believe these moments in the tub are responsible for her latest discovery.

"Hey Mom! Guess what?!" I heard this afternoon after she'd spent some time with a fat, black Sharpie marker.


"I discovered a way to get Sharpie off my arm," she said. "I just put some water in my mouth and then I spit it out on my arm. Who'd have thought a little saliva would take care of it?!"

So there you have it. Kelly Ripa may have her Tide pen, but Ali has spit. I wonder if I put it in a fun little squeeze bottle......

In other news, Jeff and I learned a new dice game this weekend, courtesy of our friends, Denise, Scott and Jeff. It's called "mahka" or "macca." We don't know how to spell it but they brought it back from a week in Nicaragua and it puts Bunco to shame. You roll five dice and have to get 600 points in a roll to get on the board. If you roll a "mahka" you lose all your points and have to start over. If you can get over 5,000 points, but roll a "mahka," you go back to 5,000 rather than zero. You win at 10,000 points.

There was much liquor involved and I don't think I could have kept accurate score even if I'd been sober. Luckily, Denise took care of all of that and I ended up winning.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

So I finally read my Book Club Book (two days after my Book Club met to dissect it) and I’m feeling a little discombobulated.

The book was “How to Be Lost,” and it’s about the current lives of three sisters and their mother about 16 years after the youngest of the sisters went missing. Everyone’s wacked out, of course, each in a different way. The mother, who never got over a great many things in her life, including the loss of her daughter, dies about three-quarters in. The book is very much about motherhood; no one seems very good at it and you wonder if anyone ever gets it right. A little morose for a gray and rainy, cold-ass Mother’s Day, which is what I get for not reading it on time.

I read the book sitting on the floor by couch while Alison slept on the couch. The pollen count has done a number on her and she didn’t sleep very well last night. Every once in a while, she’d open up her little eyes, cough and hack like an old man, see me and settle back into sleep. While my old bones sometimes groaned, in a strange way, it was a good way for me to spend this Mother’s Day.

Much as I wish she’d been a different kind of mother, I miss my mom. I miss my mother-in-law, who was much more like the mother I always wanted. While you’d think I’d be used to it by now, it’s still weird not to have to find just the right Mother’s Day card or not to have Alison work on some art to celebrate the day. I know I'm not the only one to have lost this yearly chore, but the fact that I'm not alone in it doesn't really make me feel any better.

I was, of course, showered with gifts, flowers, hugs, kisses and a new work from my favorite artist and her father this morning. I even got cards from my sister- and father-in-law – so I’ve got nothing to complain about and a lot for which to be grateful.

I'm choosing at this minute to ignore the rain an d concentrate on the grateful part. So -- if you can -- go be nice to your mom today. If you can't do that anymore, send up a signal. She might still be able to get it.

And if your mom isn't (or wasn't) quite the kind of mom you always wanted, I’ve got a book you can read…’ll like your own just fine in no time.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Alison hangs at ChuckECheese and other fun stuff

Alison turns 7 tomorrow (yeah, I can't believe it either) so we celebrated today with the biggest Mouse in town -- Mr. Cheese, that is. Chuck E.

It was actually a lot of fun. The kids were great, the pizza was, well, the kids were great and had a ton of fun. Mr. Reed is the perfect parent for this place. He doled out tokens, helped organize tickets and even gave game advice... when he wasn't playing himself.

Karin, Ali, Alex and Hannah made the birthday cupcakes, which were on fabulous display. I pretty much shopped, wrapped and cleaned up. Not such bad duty, really.

I said something to Ali this morning about how I can't believe she's 7 and could she please just stay little. She said, "Mo-om. I can't stop time, you know..."

I was a little bummed about this until one of the moms told me that she'd been awakened at 2 o'clock this morning by her 3-year-old who'd fallen out of bed and was crying so hard she puked all over her mom. Seven's not that bad, really.

In other news:

Jeff and Alison were taking a walk and somehow the subject of Caleb (her boyfriend) came up. Ali told her dad that every day at school, Caleb wants to hug. To get said hug, he says, "Huggy? Huggy?" (Blech. I hope her standards get a little higher as time goes by.)

Now, Alison may have agreed to be Caleb's girlfriend, but she's not ready to announce it to the world. So when he says, "Huggy? Huggy?" she makes him slip off somewhere. "You know, the dumpsters or behind the slide where people can't see," she explained.

Alarmed a bit by this, Jeff asked whether Caleb ever asked, "Kissy? Kissy?"

According to Alison, he hasn't but the secret hugging kind of got me worried and I later told Alison that if she didn't want to hug Caleb all she had to do was say so. First grade seems a little early to go down the path of respect your body, it's your personal space, etc... but hey, I'm guessing that little Spears girl could have done with a little extra education along this vein.

Alison? She not interested at all. Besides, "Christ the King has a no-kissing policy, Mom," she said.

Suddenly I'm not so concerned about that tuition increase... :)


Last weekend, Karin was taking her kids home and was backing out of the driveway when she heard Alex gasp and then exclaim, "Weird!"

"What's weird?" she asked.

"Mr. Reed just leaned over and grabbed Mrs. Reed and kissed her!" he said.

"That's not weird, Alex. It's OK. Sometimes Dad kisses me," Karin said.

Another gasp: "Oh my gosh, he's doing it AGAIN!!!!"

Karin just stepped on the gas.