Obama Remix

As usual, I feel compelled to offer my responses to the ideas put forth by our not-so-fearless Commander-in-Chief. In fact, I'm even resurrecting myself from 2+ weeks of battling pneumonia to do this. But it's just*that*important.

Here we go...

Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our armed services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan - the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my Administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It is an honor for me to do so here - at West Point - where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.
Actually, it's more of a publicity stunt, which the contempt on the faces of various cadets illustrates fairly well.
To address these issues, it is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of the passengers on board one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.
Mmm. Thanks for the history lesson. I'm just freaking glad you weren't president then. Without a decisive and strong leader like President Bush, our country would be a hell of a lot worse off today.
As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda - a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda's base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban - a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.
Seriously. We actually have to have a history lesson here?
Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them - an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to 0. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 - the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda's terrorist network, and to protect our common security.
Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy - and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden - we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the UN, a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.
I'm a student of history. And at this point in the speech, I'm bored out of my mind. Say something of substance, dude. I dare you.
Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention - and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.
Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of our men and women in uniform. Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance , we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.
Yes, thanks to the courage of military members for whom you've shown zero support and instead only offered arbitrary deadlines and hindsight judgments.
But while we have achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda's leadership established a safe-haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it has been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient Security Forces. Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to take control over swaths of Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating acts of terrorism against the Pakistani people.
And if anyone should be familiar enough to speak of (ACORN) corruption...
Throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. That's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a long-standing request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan, and the extremist safe-havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian effort.
And yet...you put off meeting with Gen. McChrystal for...how long? And actually took longer to approve these 30k more troops than it took to kick the Taliban out of Kabul in the first plan? Gee, what a strong leader you are. So thoughtful. So...useless.
Since then, we have made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we have stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda world-wide. In Pakistan, that nation's Army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and - although it was marred by fraud - that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and Constitution.
So here's my issue with this thought. We can't kill everyone who doesn't agree with us. And for every al Qaeda or Taliban "leader" we kill, there's another waiting to take their place. War is aggressive, yes, but it's also important to get on the same page and win hearts and minds instead of just battles.
Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe-havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan Security Forces and better secure the population. Our new Commander in Afghanistan - General McChrystal - has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: the status quo is not sustainable.
Just couldn't resist the Bush dig, could you?
As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you have fought in Afghanistan. Many will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. That is why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Let me be clear: there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war. Instead, the review has allowed me ask the hard questions, and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and with our key partners. Given the stakes involved, I owed the American people - and our troops - no less.
Wow. And again, this man just has no concept of either the military or of being a leader.
This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.
So...it's kinda like a field trip. A field trip to Afghanistan. We'll just go sightseeing, stay a few months, look around, and head out. GREAT idea.
I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.
Yeah....first issue. Obama has no idea of long-term consequences. Let's face it. He's never stayed in a job long enough to see anything through. And the good Lord willing, the voters will ensure that in 2012, that trend continues. Second issue. Yes, many in the US are opposed to the military action in Iraq. But many, many, many also support it. But Obama only cares about what HE cares about. Third issue...putting people to work at home. Which is why, historically, so many people join the MILITARY in order to have a steady and meaningful career.
Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you - a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I have visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I have travelled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.
Do you want a cookie? And WHAT?! So, Obama, you're confirming your stance as an isolationist, are you?
So no - I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.
Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda's safe-havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.
These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
Oh, you mean those allies you trotted around the world apologizing to for what a bad citizen the US is within the world? Would those be the allies that you are far more concerned with impressing than working with? Or are those the allies that denied you the Olympics but yet ensured that a person who has ZERO professional achievements outside of popularity contests won a Nobel prize?
To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's Security Forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.
Is he working from Cliff notes here?
We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.
I've already expressed my thoughts on arbitrary timelines, yes?
The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 - the fastest pace possible - so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.
I thought we were trying to find an equitable way to bring an end to hostility, not train proxies to stand in our stead.
Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility - what's at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.
Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government - and, more importantly, to the Afghan people - that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.
Responsibly? Like saying you're closing Gitmo without any sort of feasible plan in place? Transition? Like tucking tail and running? Conditions on the ground? Until July 2011, and then who cares? Dude.
Second, we will work with our partners, the UN, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.
This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We will support Afghan Ministries, Governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas - such as agriculture - that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.
The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They have been confronted with occupation - by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand - America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect - to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.
You're dreaming.
Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.
We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.
In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who have argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani Army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.
In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.
I'm sure the Pakistani people are touched. Screw the Iranians affected by the Iraq war. Let's head elsewhere.
These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.
Maybe he's taken Toastmasters pointers in summation. Or maybe his teleprompter is just getting smarter, cause The Man sure isn't.
I recognize that there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the prominent arguments that I have heard, and which I take very seriously.
Which is why you were smirking as you delivered this line?
First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now - and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance - would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.
I refuse to understand the constant need to trash the military actions in Vietnam. I think that more people, including our clueless president, need to spend a bit more time studying military history instead of regurgitating wrong-headed pundits.
Second, there are those who acknowledge that we cannot leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan Security Forces and give them the space to take over.
Well, with all due respect, this is what YOU basically wanted and backed for most of 2009. Somebody apparently smacked you upside the head...too bad they didn't do it hard enough to make you lose your arbitrary dates as well.
Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a timeframe for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort - one that would commit us to a nation building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a timeframe for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.
As a PMP, here's my take on timelines. It's GREAT to have a proposed deadline. It's IMPERATIVE to have milestones in place to ensure that you're accomplishing your goals. It's IRRESPONSIBLE, FOOLHARDY, and CONCEITED to ignore the human elements of WAR in
As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, our or interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I do not have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I am mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who - in discussing our national security - said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."
Unless they have to do with unnecessary healthcare reform or cap and trade, that is.
Over the past several years, we have lost that balance, and failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our friends and neighbors are out of work and struggle to pay the bills, and too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we simply cannot afford to ignore the price of these wars.
Yep. A war should only ever be fought based on how much it costs. Great idea. Wonderful. Wow
All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly 30 billion dollars for the military this year, and I will work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.
But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended - because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.
*Double snort.* Out of curiosity, Mr. President, have you considered the impact on unemployment and the economy when you bring all of our troops home, decommission them, and there are no jobs they can go into?
Let me be clear: none of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.
So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict. We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold - whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere - they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
And we cannot count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.
I suggest you take ginkgo biloba. Might help your chances of saving yourself from being remembered as the President with the weakest foreign policy ever.
We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. That is why I have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to pursue the goal of a world without them. Because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever-more destructive weapons - true security will come for those who reject them.
Yep. Let's take away all of the nukes. Then get rid of our own. Then act totally shocked when it turns out that, wow, a bunch of really bad people still have them. I know this goes against the fiber of your being, Obama, but Mutually Assured Destruction worked. Ask Chamberlain what being an optimistic appeaser does.
We will have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I have spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim World - one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.
Finally, we must draw on the strength of our values - for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That is why we must promote our values by living them at home - which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the moral source of America's authority.
Yep. Just like we've helped the Iranians after their farce of an election.
Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions - from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank - that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.
And in one fell swoop, you're going to undo that. Yay for you.
We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades - a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.
One does not join the military in order to receive gratitude. That's the difference between the honorable men and women in our military and YOU, Obama - they understand service to others; you understand only service to self.
For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for - and what we continue to fight for - is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.
Yeah, I'm just not seeing that rosy future you are. In fact, I'm seeing you ruin that rosy future.
As a country, we are not as young - and perhaps not as innocent - as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. Now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.
Challenge number 1: ensuring you aren't re-elected.
In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people - from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth.
Personally, if I were a cadet, I'd take offense at Obama mouthing off about businesses rebuilding an economy that SOLDIERS GIVE THEIR LIVES TO ENSURE THE EXISTENCE OF.
This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue - nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.
It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united - bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we - as Americans - can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment - they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, one people.
One people...who are not really united behind you. Even the Obamanistas are really not fawning over you much any more. And thank God for that!
America - we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. Thank you, God Bless you, God Bless our troops, and may God Bless the United States of America.
See, I've heard nothing from you that sounds unwavering. I've heard regurgitated crap, pandering nonsense, and overall nothing, nothing, nothing of substance. But, alas, I am not surprised.

What about you, readers?

Mommy Moments # 1

I'm participating in a new MeMe this week - it's called Mommy Moments, and so really, I think it's a perfect fit with this blog! Why don't you play along?

mommy moments

Our theme this week is Yummy! You can post about your kids and their favorite food or your experience with them if they are picky eaters.

It's been such an adventure to watch Spoiled Baby really come into her own in terms of eating. Catherine started off as a breastfed baby, but she also adapted to the bottle early on, with expressed milk, because I knew that I'd be returning to work when she was about 3.5 months old. She adapted fairly easily - the child just liked to eat!

When it was time to start solid foods, she adjusted like a champ. True, sometimes we had to shove food in her mouth mid-cry if she decided she want Mama instead of rice, but overall, she did fabulously.

Crunchies came next...and she still has an obsession with them. She especially loves cheese flavored crunchies...although I've gone back to buying only Gerber brand, because although the adult crunchies have the same nutritional value, I got tired of scrubbing ORANGE out of everything!

Little Miss Thing still only has 1 tooth (with 1 more starting to emerge) at 13 months old, but that hasn't stopped her a bit from transitioning to table foods. In fact, she first started eating primarily the same thing her dad and I eat for meals around 10 months old. Since her dad and I like to eat out a few times a month, having her eat table food has made that a much easier prospect than trotting around an extra bag just for her food.

And, naturally, she can do it herself! Unless she doesn't want to! For the most part, she wants her own bowl/dish and her own fork/spoon, and she gets through most of her food quite handily. Sometimes, however...it's messy city, and her mama really wants to help! Others, she decides she wants to be a baby, and so she'll beg food from my plate...even though it's the same as what's on her own!

All in all, it's been a joy to watch Catherine develop as an eater!!

How about your kiddo?

Friday Fill-In # 7

My goodness...it's been over a year since I've participated in Friday Fill-Ins....and probably nearly a year since I've participated in any meme at all! But here goes...

And...here we go!


1. We need a little Christmas...but not until after Thanksgiving!
2. I just heard my baby coo and it made me smile.
3. If you want something, the only way to get it is through hard work.
4. I am only awake right now because perversely, I'm sick and can't sleep.
5. Massachusetts has a proposed 5% sales tax on elective cosmetic surgery; I think that the government often seems more willing to find more opportunities to tax, instead of more opportunities to save money.
6. A well-planned schedule makes for a happy holiday.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to resting, tomorrow my plans include finishing work on our dining room remodel and Sunday, I want to clean house before our Thanksgiving guests arrive from out of town!

Being a Mom isn't an Excuse

It's been awhile since I've done an edition of "Tiffany Takes On..." and I'll bet this one garners me some hate mail, but so be it!

Yahoo News posted a story yesterday about a woman who didn't show up for her deployment flight to Afghanistan because she had no one to care for her 10-month-old son while she was gone.

Cue the violins.

"Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment orders because the only family she had to care for her 10-month-old son — her mother — was overwhelmed by the task, already caring for three other relatives with health problems."

My goodness!

The story goes on to say...

"The Army requires all single-parent soldiers to submit a care plan for dependent children before they can deploy to a combat zone.

Hutchinson had such a plan — her mother, Angelique Hughes, had agreed to care for the boy. Hughes said Monday she kept the boy for about two weeks in October before deciding she couldn't keep him for a full year.

Hughes said she's already having to care for her ailing mother and sister, as well as a daughter with special needs. She also runs a daycare center at her home, keeping about 14 children during the day.

"This is an infant, and they require 24-hour care," Hughes said. "It was very, very stressful, just too much for me to deal with."

Hughes said she returned Kamani to his mother in Georgia a few days before her scheduled deployment Nov. 5.

She said they told her daughter's commanders they needed more time to find another family member or close friend to help Hughes care for the boy, but Hutchinson was ordered to deploy on schedule."

Here's my hope: I want the Army to prosecute Specialist Hutchinson to the absolute fullest extent possible for going AWOL from her flight and refusing her deployment.

There are THOUSANDS of single parents in the military. They get deployed each and every day. I am horrified at the example it will send if the Army does NOT punish this woman severely for thinking that her situation was unique or special or gave her rights that are afforded to no one else.

Know what? The military routinely grants compassionate assignments. They also routinely work with families to find successful alternatives to tough situations. I've seem 'em do it. But that can't be done until people work through the appropriate channels.

Specialist Hutchinson most definitely did not.

It is not the Army's problem that she's a single parent. It is not the Army's fault that her plans for her mother to care for her child fell through. (And it's not the Army's fault that Specialist Hutchinson's mother runs an illegal daycare center, because 1 adult versus 14 kids is most definitely not within legal realms.)

And let's be real here, folks. I have a kid that's only a couple months older than this twit's. A 10-month-old is not an infant who requires 24-hour care, until it's a special needs baby, and I'm sure that would have been noted if that were the case. If grandma really wanted to add this child on top of her other duties, it's doable.

I smell a scam. So here's my bet. I bet this woman joined the Army not out of any concept of service to her nation, but because she had nothing else to do with her life. And I bet that she thought that using the baby as an excuse would get her out of her deployment. And I bet that she now thinks that her story will drum up public compassion and that will result in a "get out of jail free" card.

I hope the Army proves her wrong.

Read more here.

Give Ya a Buck!

Kidlet and I went garage saling today...it's amazing how much you can get for how little - and even more amazing how much of what I bought today was brand new - still had tags on!

We were out for 7 hours, visited 16 garage sales, drove 95 miles round trip, and spent $35.25. Here's what we got for that:
  • Potty - $3 (from a grandma's house...looks like it was never used!)
  • 6 books - $1.50 total
  • 2 tops - $1.50
  • 7 pair pants - $4.75
  • 2 dresses - $1.50
  • 1 sweater - $.50
  • 1 Christmas outfit - $3
  • 7 matched outfits - $4.50
  • 1 Paddington Bear ornament - $.50
  • 1 Disney Princesses "purse" - $.50
  • 1 stuffed dog = $1 (Spoiled Baby hadn't put it down since she found it...)
  • 1 "musical instrument" puzzle - $2 (the pieces have magnets and a sound plays when they are fitted into the right slot - WAY fun!)
  • 1 Cookie Monster "happy birthday" tin - $1 (guess what her party theme will be next year?)
  • 3-piece suit + blouse for her mama - $10
Not bad, eh?

Veteran's Day

To all who serve...

Thank you.

Speaking Up

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to speak up.

Putting up information on the internet, sending emails, commenting on articles...all of those mediums can get information out, but don't rise nearly to the level of making a public statement in front of the very body you are seeking to influence.

Many of you have watched in horror over the past few months as hysterical activists have taken over the city of Fort Worth and actively set out to hijack an otherwise ordinary occurrence to use as a political agenda. Along the way, ruining a few lives or reputations wasn't even an afterthought for these individuals.

We've been so lucky to have such a supportive family and circle of friends during this time. I've heard from you with phone calls, emails, Facebook notes and more about how ridiculous this entire situation is.

But I still needed to publicly speak up.

With Kristen in tow, I visited the Fort Worth City Council meeting last night and finally got my say. It wasn't when I wanted to - I got slotted in to speak during the response time for a resolution, instead of during the citizen presentation time - and I had less time than I wanted - I used precious seconds to explain that I wasn't speaking either for or against the resolution - but I got out my thoughts.

The Council all maintained eye contact with me, my own Councilman nodded along, and Kristen wasn't the only one clapping after the bell ring to signify the end of my time. I even received kind words afterwards from several folks, including one area journalist.

All in all, I felt exhilarated to have spoken up. It might not change a damn thing...but at least I said my piece.

And yes...I'll be posting a link to the prepared speech soon...check back!

We have a new project...

Chris and I have been hemming and hawing over when to re-do the dining room.

Not that big a project, really.

Just stripping the wallpaper, repairing the walls, painting, crown moulding, chair rails, and baseboards.


So...I meandered into the dining room this morning, experimentally pulled back a piece of wallpaper, and, well, 8 hours later, the walls were bare.

Guess that means we're redoing the dining room!

Bouncing Baby!

Spoiled Baby got to experience BOUNCING for the first time yesterday, and boy was that fun! We went to my Goddaughter's 6th birthday party, which was at a neat little place called BounceU.

At first, Spoiled Baby wasn't too sure about this whole bouncing thing...and she DEFINITELY didn't want to bounce unless Mama or Daddy was holding her.

But then she started to have fun. And so did we! About an hour of bouncing was just the trick to get smiles on her face.

After that, we moved onto the mini basketball hoop - great fun with Daddy!

And then...she found the MINI SLIDE! A little baby slide that she could go down that wasn't so big as to frighten her, like most other slides. And so we went again, and again, and again. FUN!

All in all, a fun time.

How was your weekend?

A Good Check Up

I was diagnosed with Grave's Disease in 2001. It was a diagnosis a long-time in the making, as I'd suffered the various symptoms of the thyroid ailment for years prior.

Grave's Disease (and a note here to say that it's actually "Graves Disease" or "Graves' Disease" but somehow, I can't stop myself from typing it the other way) is a disease of relapse and remission. You can have it flair up and be treated for months or years, only to have it remain manageable without medication for months or years. There is a "permanent" solution for the illness as well, but it's not a good fix for me.

In any case, I've had iffy bloodwork, even on medication, for the past two years. A lot of that is related to being pregnant and then breastfeeding - my med levels had to be juggled a bit so as not to affect the baby. But the bloodwork that just came back today looks GREAT, I've gained 5 pounds, and my doctor is really pleased.


Darn Phillies...

Congratulations to the Yankees.

And so, the Phillies break my heart again.


Mama, Dada

Spoiled Baby is doing great with picking up new syllables and is even doing well at associating those sounds with people and objects.

Dada is uttered a lot...baby girl just loves her daddy to pieces.

And the good news is that she's now saying "mama" a lot, as well. The bad news end of that? She says "dada" when she's happy, "mama" when she's whiny.

How the heck did that association happen?

Happy Halloween

"Minnie" had a blast trick-or-treating at my office yesterday and was just the belle of the ball! Hope you have a great Halloween with your little ones!

Chucky Cheese is COOL

Ok, so Spoiled Baby loves her some Chucky Cheese! We had a bunch of coins left after going there with her cousin Z back in September, so we ventured out to face the craziness again today. LOVE IT!

Minor Celebrity

I think what's bugged me the most about these past few months and dealing with the backlash of the Rainbow Lounge is that my husband has become a minor celebrity. But not a much-loved celebrity. Instead, well, yeah. Lots of morons spewing lots of idiotic invectives.

Chris tried to break out of this and granted an interview to the local NBC station today...hopefully it'll be well-received. But, honestly, I don't care. I could give a damn what those activists think of my husband, me, and my family. We've consistently taken the high ground, and facts and the truth are on our side. They can go spin themselves into a tizzy until kingdom come, but, and this is so fortunate, the local citizenry, including members of their own community, have grown sick of their antics and wish they would go away almost as fervently as I've wished for the same since early July.

In any case...go check it out on NBCDFW.

Random Crying

Do any of you have kiddos that just randomly cry when you leave the room? For about the past month or so, Spoiled Baby, even if she's happy as a clam when we're in the room with her, turns into a whiny, spoiled baby whenever we walk out the door. It used to be great to plop her in her room to play with her toys so we could get stuff done around the house. Now, her crying provides the soundtrack to our chores.

What the heck!?!?

First Birthday PARTY!

We had a fun-filled first birthday party for Catherine and were thrilled to get to spend it with family and friends. Our niece, Julia, even flew down from Canada to share in the big weekend, as well as to see her dad (Spoiled Baby's Uncle) for his birthday.

Not to be greedy, but the best part of the party was the presents. Not necessarily because of what the presents even were, necessarily. But because we did presents by committee. All of Cate's little friends and cousins wanted to help...and so instead of one child opening multiple presents, we had a half dozen children (all under the age of 3) turn our living room into a ticker tape parade. GREAT fun!!

After that, it was time for cake! We're in "saving money" mode, so I baked cupcakes for party guests, and then made a custom cake for Spoiled Baby. What do you think? For my first real attempt at artistry, I think it came out ok!

Catherine was too cute. We stripped her naked, because, well, every other child on the planet ends up covered in icing while digging into their first birthday cakes.

Not MY child! She leaned forward daintily, and nibbled a piece off the edge. When we tried to put her hand in/on the cake, it went right back to her mouth to get licked off.

I guess I'm raising a neat freak - but she sure is darn cute!

On Your First Birthday

Dear Catherine,

I remember the first time we knew when you were on the way. I remember the first time we saw you on a sonogram, and then later on when a later sonogram revealed your cute face. I remember the first time you kicked me - and then never stopped. And I remember the first time I got to hold you in my arms.

After that, the cuddles, smiles, and every single newly-learned trick have made me happier and happier.

It's been a wonderful year as your mommy, Catherine. Thank you for being the smartest, cutest, funniest, and just absolute best baby in the world.

I love you.


10 Year Reunion

I can't believe that 10 years have passed since I escaped graduated from High School!

Had a FABULOUS reunion with some of my good friends from high school - don't we all look great?

And, no surprise, Mom has decided not to come back to Texas with us as she'd planned.

Oh, well. Back to the real world now!

Garage Sales and Baseball

Baby had two firsts today!

Early this morning, she and I arrived at her Aunt P's house to set up for a garage sale. Great fun, good money made, and lots of junk gone.

Then...we headed to the Ranger's Ballpark for Spoiled Baby's first ever baseball game. Now...you know I wish her first game could have been with the Phillies. But this was still a fantasically fun time!!! Baby could actually have cared less that we were at a game, but she was in people watching HEAVEN!

How are you doing this weekend?

Back from Hiatus

Hi, folks!

Well, things are still crazy. But...I guess they always will be. So rather than wallowing in that, time to refocus on the good parts of life! I will probably not be posting a ton over the next couple months, but the goal is to get ramped back up to more regular posting by the holidays.

Thanks for your patience and for continuing to visit me here at Breakfast at Tiffany's!

Back from Hiatus

Hi, folks!

Well, things are still crazy. But...I guess they always will be. So rather than wallowing in that, time to refocus on the good parts of life! I will probably not be posting a ton over the next couple months, but the goal is to get ramped back up to more regular posting by the holidays.

Thanks for your patience and for continuing to visit me here at 0 to Mom!

Obama and Healthcare = Nausea

So there's this funny thing about Obama. He actually causes me to NEED healthcare...because whenever I hear him speak about it, I become nauseous. A recap of my tweets during his speech tonight:

  • Because wiggling my nose didn't have the intended effect of getting the Spender in Chief off my TV, I'm going tweet about his "ideas."
  • If the country for which I was the chief elected official was in as bad a shape as ours, I wouldn't have a big grin on my face like HE does.
  • OBAMA has pulled the economy back from the brink? He actually got that out with a straight face? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  • I hope that Obama WILL be the last president to address this issue. Let's tell him firmly NOW that he needs to go away and end it.
  • Obama is trying to put insurance companies out of business. If he headed a company trying to limit another, it'd be an antitrust issue.
  • Hey Obama, if our healthcare system is so bad, why do people come here from all over the world, seeking treatments unavailable elsewhere???
  • Presidents should be required to run a company before running the country. CLEARLY, this man has ZERO business sense. OBAMA=FAIL.
  • Let me be very clear on something here: I would be just as opposed to these "healthcare reform measures" if it was McCain advocating them.
  • THAT'S THE PROBLEM - everybody's "part" should be taking care of themselves...not making insurance coverage mandatory.
  • The government deciding if a business can afford insurance for it's employees is Big Brother at it's scariest.
  • His guiding principle is choice? Don't make me laugh. If he was about choice, he wouldn't be ramming this proposal down our throats.
  • Not having pre-existing condition exclusions will put insurance companies out of business. "Giving" to those who can't afford will as well.
  • How can this joker say in one breath that he isn't trying to put ins. companies out of business while arguing so stridently against them?
  • What the heck poll is Obama looking at? The polls I've seen say that tax-paying Americans do NOT favor a public option.
  • I'm sorry; the government regulating costs is completely at odds with the most fundamental ideals of capitalism.
  • The key to healthcare reform isn't single payer or forced competition or mandated covered. It's tort reform. Stop frivolous lawsuits, done.
  • Oh, good. Obama will protect Medicare. Which is going broke anyways. Yay.
  • It's NOT better politics to kill the plan than to improve it. It's better SENSE. Take out politics.
  • Oh good. Teddy could imagine what it would be like to not have insurance. Too bad he didn't imagine getting Mary Jo out of his sinking car.
  • Ha! Medicare as a good example of government healthcare? Then why does my mom need a $400/mo supplemental plan to cover just basics?

Yeah...if this goes through, we're screwed.

Carousel of Absurdity

Pardon the following flight into melodrama. Four years ago today, my husband and I got engaged. A year ago today, my dad passed away. Today, I got an even better look at the hypocrisy and ineptitude present in the leadership of my husband's employer than even the past month has provided. I'm a little overwhelmed right now.

I sometimes think my life is a never-ending carousel of absurdity. The baby, having just gotten over a major sickness, just slipped while trying to pull herself up against the coffee table. She lacerated her tongue fairly deeply and a half hour later, is still spitting out a fair amount of blood.

I'm debating whether to take her to the doctor or simply allege police brutality, since the media and activists have labored so intensely to teach us over the past month that a person could never, ever injure herself by falling on her own face.

Earlier today, when I called to discuss the weight the baby lost while sick, the nurse advised me to feed the heck out of her for the next few weeks so she can gain back the weight she lost while dealing with her nasty intestinal virus. I'm sure that'll be *real* easy with a split tongue. *headdesk* Oh, wait. That could cause a head injury. Have I come full circle yet?

Anyone know how to book a plane ticket to the Bermuda Triangle?

**And yes, there are still posts in queue that I have to get up from my cell phone posting debacle. Coming soon. Promise. Someday. In the future. While I'm sipping mai tais in the aforementioned desirable vacation destination.**

Blog Hiatus

Hi, folks!

Life is a bit crazy right now. I know, I know, that's always been my complaint. But right now, it's just...well...in overdrive. If you live in the DFW area, you've probably already heard some of the hoopla around the Rainbow Lounge. Well, that nonsense has overtaken my life. To read a GREAT account that fires back at the hysteria, check out Restoring Reason.

I'm going to take a bit of a break from blogging for the next month or two, until life in general calms down. I may put up a post here or there, but otherwise, see you back here at 0 to Mom early this fall!



On Hiatus

Hi, folks!

Life is a bit crazy right now. I know, I know, that's always been my complaint. But right now, it's just...well...in overdrive. If you live in the DFW area, you've probably already heard some of the hoopla around the Rainbow Lounge. Well, that nonsense has overtaken my life. To read a GREAT account that fires back at the hysteria, check out Restoring Reason.

I'm going to take a bit of a break from blogging for the next month or two, until life in general calms down. I may put up a post here or there, but otherwise, see you back here at Breakfast at Tiffany's early this fall!



On Respect

I've been thinking a lot about the issue of respect, lately, and here are some thoughts that I want to share.

  • In order to gain respect, you need to give respect. If you treat people like crap, they will respond in kind.
  • In order to be viewed with respect, you need to look respectful. Going to a community event dressed in sloppy clothes and expecting to be treated seriously among the folks who gave some thought to their appearance is hilarious. You don't have to spend money to take care of your appearance; simple grooming and foregoing your comic book character shirt is sufficient.
  • In order to be heard with respect, you need to speak with respect. When you ask a question and do not allow the other party to respond, you ought not be surprised when you are chastised or not taken seriously. Calling names and childish language will not enable your message to carry weight.
  • In order for your rights to be respected, you need to respect the rights of others. Covering yourself with the blanket of equality doesn't exempt you from the need to show respect for those who disagree with your thoughts, ideas or stance. Jumping on dissenting opinions will strip away that blanket and instead cloak you with the deserved aura of intolerance.
Readers, what do you think? Comment away - respectfully, of course!

(And by the way, I have like two dozen posts written from the last two months for my various blogs...I thought they'd posted, as I did them from my handy-dandy new cell phone, but apparently not...so off to investigate what the heck!)


We have our nephew visiting from out of town, and tomorrow is my dad's birthday - the first one since he passed away last year. So I'm sitting here tonight doing a bunch of thinking about family. I grew up in a tiny family - just me and my parents - that is part of a huge family - dad was one of 10, mom one of 4, and I have approximately enough cousins to fill a football team roster. So I always had this odd perspective...I spent a whole lot of time alone, but then every so often, was totally overrun by family.

Living so far away from most of my family has changed my perspective yet again. Now, we're near some of Chris' family - totally coincidentally, since he's not from around here - and we've come to rely on them quite a bit. His Aunt, for instance, is a huge help in watching Catherine when our schedules conflict. And, in another coincidence, his brother ended up stationed only a couple hours away as well.

Hence, the visiting nephew. He's upstairs reading himself to sleep, Catherine has nodded off, and I'm sitting here thinking about family.

We've come full circle now, eh?

Funny Things Kids Do

Spoiled Baby's cousin is here, visiting for a few days.

I'm down with a huge migraine, so the hubby asked the nephew to cook me dinner: hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Nephew just wandered in with a puzzled expression and asked me where we keep the hot dogs.

Cute. Totally cute. And he was totally earnest. Poor kid!

Too Long for a Nap?

So I came home from work last night and was so exhausted that I crawled into bed to cuddle with Spoiled Baby ... and woke up 15 hours later.

So, uh, is that too long to call it a nap?

Mom's House, Part Two

Oy. That about covers it. Here's a recap of my PA Tweets:Mom's house, day 1 AM: 20 brown bags of recyclable paper filled so far.
  • Mom's house, day 1 PM: basement family room 90% completed - good. Garbage and recyclable paper drenched during downpour - bad.
  • Mom's house, day 2: Morning was fairly productive. Then mom decided to stop playing along. Yay. Progress = FAIL.
  • Mom's house, day 3: today's agenda will be similar to Sherman's march to the sea: slash and burn!
  • Mom's house, day 4: my mother informed my husband on what a terrible person I am and advised him to kick my butt. This is officially my worst PA trip ever.
  • Mom's house, day 4: productivity = zero; psychotic outbursts = increasing. She's just advised my husband to paddle me. Countdown to my escape to Texas.
  • I'm watching Chris and a Lowe's employee tie sheetrock and plywood to the roof of our rented Honda Accord...shoulda got the "kill this car" insurance.
  • Going to buy a lottery ticket. Because after today, my luck is bound to get better!
  • Twitter on my cell phone used to cut me off at 140 but no longer does, so I'm suffering from technology truncation! Argh!
  • Mom's house, day 5: ceiling to fix, painting to do, and still 2 major areas of the house to square away.
  • Mom's house, day 6: last day. Painting in AM, quick visit with cousins around lunch, then finishing touches. Leaving for PHL at 2AM.
  • Shady Pines, Ma. Shady Pines.
  • Blowing the popsicle stand known as Scranton and heading HOME to Texas...on the highway heading to PHL!
  • I am so grateful to be back in Texas that I could almost get down and kiss the ground!

The Funny Thing About Toys

My child, fondly known as Spoiled Baby, has more toys than any other child on the planet. I'm serious. We've bought her a ton, she's been given a ton, she has most of mine from childhood, plus she's got hand-me-downs from other relatives and friends.

And yet...

And yet...

She prefers to play with my cell phone and shoes.


Three Years Ago Today...

...I was wishing that the day would just GET OVER so we could start our honeymoon at South Padre Island. (Have you read my wedding travails?)

Tonight, I celebrate 3 years of marriage with Christopher...and it's been a terrific three years. Between buying our house, having our baby, and weathering lots of interesting times together, I'm constantly reminded that I absolutely married the best man in the world.

Love you, baby!

Travels with Baby

You might remember my post from late March when I lamented knowing what to pack for our first trip with baby.

Well...we basically ended up taking everything but the kitchen sink. My poor husband...I was in charge of baby, baby carriage/car seat, baby bag, purse, and 1 other bag. He schlepped the rest.

Today, as I'm traveling for work all by my itty bitty self, I'm left thinking about how we will do things differently in our next trip, which will be later this month or early June. Here is some of what I learned:

  • I don't need 2 outfits for every day of the trip. There are washing machines even in Pennsylvania.
  • I don't need to take enough food/juice for the entire trip. I need enough to travel with, and the rest can be bought/made there. That alone ought to save LOTS of room.
  • I don't need enough bottles and spoons and bowls for a week. Texas isn't the only state with running water.
  • I don't need 20 different baby toys. Baby doesn't notice if she has to play with the same, say, 4-5 toys over and over again.
I'm hoping to eliminate at least one carry-on and one checked bag for our next trip...and then when we go camping in Idaho in July, I hope to make do with just 2 checked bags and 2 carry-ons.

What travel-with-baby tips have you learned along the way that you'd like to share?

And the Winner Is...

Any Toastmasters out there?

Just over a year ago, I joined the Toastmasters club that meets at my office. For me, it was a great opportunity. I've been a speaker all my life...between just flat out chattering, to more defined opportunities in speech and debate, drama, etc. So this was a way for me to re-engage in speaking. I love it!

This spring, I qualified to compete in the District level competitions for both Table Topics and the International Speech Contest. The competition was this weekend.

Table Topics is a competition where you are given a question and have to answer it immediately within a 1-2 minute timeframe. I was extremely tickled to win 2nd place in the District competition this weekend. Yahoo!

The international speech competition is often used for inspirational type speeches. I gave a speech related to sharing memories - how you are remembered by what you share with others. I love my speech, and I love it all the more because my dad inspired it.

Unfortunately, I didn't win, or even place in the top three at districts, but I was able to reach many people in the audience, who shared memories with me after the competition. What a neat opportunity! I didn't realize that may be an outcome...but it was so neat to experience.

Any other Toastmasters out there?

Shout Out to Lansinoh

As a nursing mom who works full time, an absolute essential in my life is my breastpump. Without it, I'd swell up like a balloon and baby wouldn't get fed.

Over at "How to Have a Baby," I've written of some of my initial struggles to get a breastpump that really worked for me. My Lansinoh double electric was my third option. (The expensive Medela pump I had at first was a total failure for me. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.)

So when my pump crapped out earlier this week, I panicked. My budget doesn't include buying a new one. But I need one. And then I remembered...the warranty.

I got on the phone to Lansinoh, and the line was ANSWERED by a REAL PERSON on the second ring. I was almost too shocked to respond to her cheery hello.

After a painless 5-minute phone call, I had a return number, and was promised that if I overnighted the broken unit to them, they'd overnight a new unit to me in return and I'd be back in business. Off to Fed Ex I went (thank GOD for my work discount) and off the broken pump went.

Yesterday afternoon, my new pump arrived. Not only is it a new pump, it's their new design. (My old one was purchased a month before their new design went out.) And it works like a charm.

Many, many, many props to Lansinoh for their awesome customer service. I only had to "make do" with my old pump for 2 days before moving back to a much preferred format.

I cannot say enough good things about this company.

YAY for Lansinoh!

Political FRAUD

I'm from Pennsylvania. Almost seven years ago, I moved to Texas.

Back in PA, there is some political FRAUD taking place right now. Long-time Republican Senator Arlen Specter has decided to flip to the dark side and become a Democrat.

Fraud. FRAUD.

The people who elected you, Mr. Specter, are your Republican constituents. As a former member of that class, I'll tell you that we always knew you were a pretty left-leaning Republican, but you were a Republican nonetheless. You were elected time and time again INSTEAD of a Democrat.

My dad, who you knew for decades, liked a lot of your politics. I'm glad he didn't have to witness this debacle, however. I imagine he's just flipped over in his grave.

So thank you, Mr. Specter, for abandoning your electorate in an attention-getting move that shows your willingness to pander to our new administration.

And may you be soundly defeated in your next re-election attempt.

I'm ticked!

Moving, Moving, Moving

Relax, we're not actually moving.

We're just moving furniture.


It's like we get bored every few months, and just have to change things up.

So here I sit in bed, contemplating my aching back, because I leveraged a desk from an upstairs bedroom to our bedroom downstairs last night by myself.

I know, yell away.

But dang it, I'm independent. I shouldn't need my husband to do things for me!

In any case, I often wonder what it is about me that prompts these kind of moves. It's like I have a gypsy instinct...I have to have constant change. In fact, I get itchy if I don't get out of Texas every so often.

I wonder what it will take in life to make me feel truly settled. Don't get me wrong...I love my life. But I just always feel a little bit antsy to change things up.

Which is also pretty bizarre...because I have an obsession with schedules and status quo.

But not when it comes to my surroundings, apparently.


On Not Writing

I love writing. It makes up a goodish portion of my total income, after my full time job. And I love writing fiction, as well. But I have this issue.

I can't write.

Ok, that's not true. It's just that with fiction, I can't type new portions of my writing. I have to write longhand, or it doesn't get out. Why?! I don't know. It's been going on for a year now, though.

When I try to write new fiction by typing, I just sit and stare at the screen. Eventually, I give up.

Longhand? I can't keep the pen moving fast enough. In fact, I can't write as fast as I think, so I end up losing thoughts. So then I use my phone to record some notes while I continue to write.

So it's GREAT that I can at least write longhand. But it SUCKS to have to transcribe. The last time I did major transcribing, I had an ENTIRE single subject notebook to type in. This time, it's about half that. Takes a LONG time.

Anyone else ever have this kind of block? If so, how did you get over it?

On Sleep and Exhaustion

I'm pretty sure that every friend that I have who has children has managed to find a way to tell me over the last few months that their child/children slept through the night by the time they were 3/4/5/6 months old.

So here I am, with a six month old. Almost 7 months old, really. Not sleeping through the night. Still up 1/2/3 times. Completely inconsistent bed times. Completely inconsistent nap times. Completely inconsistent get up times. We've tried to do the same things at the same times every day...and we've been consistent in trying.

Side note...if you know me, you know how type A I am. Trust me when I say that we've tried and tried and tried and tried.

In any case, if she's not ready to get up or go down, she completely resists. Like we're talking flat out fits. Screaming, shaking.

So she ends up going to sleep at night, napping, and getting up in the morning when she wants, resisting all scheduling attempts.

And naps for *maybe* 45 minutes at a time. Sometimes stays down for up to 4 hours at a stretch at night...but sometimes half that or less.

I'm feeling a little frustrated. Anyone have any advice to offer?

Mystery Mouseketool

Anyone watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with their kiddos? I had a post up on my Twitter earlier today musing that, just once, I wish that the mystery mouseketool was a taser.

Anyone ever have that wish?

How about an electrified collar? Maybe an EASY button, since Mickey et al would be totally screwed without the Handy Helpers.

I wonder about the lessons this show teaches, quite honestly. I took along some DVDs of Mickey episodes when we went to my mom's house earlier this month, and she remarked that they don't seem as, ah, challenging as the Mickey of 20 years ago.

It just seems that some curious episodes are aired. Like the one with Donald and the Beanstalk. He gave away his chicken. Then stole it back. Um, are we really teaching our kiddos to steal?

Ok, so I'm being a little tongue in cheek here, but really, to get back to my main point, it's time to taser Mickey! (And time for our household to find new kids shows to watch!)

What's your favorite show to watch with your kiddos?


I'm just marveling about how nice it was not to scramble to get my taxes done this year. I got them all done back in February, instead of waiting until the last minute like the last three or four years, and that's just a HUGE BONUS. Especially coming home from mom's house and not having to do that. YAY for me!

Mom's House

Chris, Catherine and I just spent 10 days in PA trying to whip my mom's house into shape. We were *moderately* successful but will need to go back again to finish sometime in May or June. Until then, here's a recap of our time there, a la my Twitter updates...

  1. Happier than I can say to be ack in DFW, but wishing baby girl and I weren't sick as dogs. Doc for both of us tomorrow.
  2. Hubby didn't appreciate me singing the Rocky theme when a wrong turn brought us in view of the Philly skyline instead of the rental cars.
  3. 20 miles left to PHL...then only a couple hours to DFW. Home by nightfall and thank GOD for that!
  4. My fun day: just got burned by battery acid when one of the batteries in my pump exploded while in use. Are you KIDDING me? Ow.
  5. Baby and I are both extremely sick...but at least we're headed back to Texas this afternoon.
  6. My sanity is waning...and now all 3 of us have the flu. Time to get back to Texas! Yard sale then a chaotic Easter then we get to go home.
  7. Mom: "You can take anything you want...it'll all be yours someday, anyways." Me: "Ok. Can I have that?" Mom: "No, that's mine." OY!
  8. Getting ready for mom's yard sale tomorrow...come buy LOTS!
  9. Pa trip, day 8. Time for a "come to Jesus" mtg with mom: no one needs 6 sets of pots and pans, 3 blenders or 36 boxes of 1980s magazines.
  10. Another day drawing to a close...another couple rooms done. Countdown to Texas: 4 days.
  11. My time limit with mom is 5 days. Today is day 7. My patience has run out, and is down the street, around the corner and mooning traffic.
  12. Just put together *another* bookcase. I'm getting to be a pro!
  13. It's official...I'm sick. Argh.
  14. Mom disappeared into the kitchen 2 hours ago, muttering about cooking dinner. Two plates of leftovers just hit the table. WTH?!?!
  15. In Scranton on a Wednesday for the 1st time in 5 years and am foregoing Wing Night to continue cleaning out mom's house. Oh, the humanity!
  16. I think my mother has more kitchen crap than most restaurants. Hope we can sell a lot of it.
  17. Dude. Mom's neighbor just volunteered to buy her house, if she wants to sell. Now to make sure she doesn't screw this up!
  18. Victory! Mom agreed to let us have a yard sale for her on Saturday so I placed an ad in the paper before she could change her mind.
  19. Cleaning out mother's house is a mix of the Twilight Zone and This Is Your Life.
  20. On my laptop for the first time since Thursday night...internet MUCH faster than on the phone, but not many wifi spots around here!
  21. And so day 1 in PA comes to an end. Sanity still intact but in tons of pain after cleaning out mom's garage in COLD weather.
  22. A great big thank you to the agents and TSA folks who were super helpful at DFW. Waiting out ATC to PHL.
  23. Anyone else clean compulsively before going on a trip? My thought is "if the plane goes down, don't want anyone going in my dirty house!"