Saturday, March 31, 2012


Next week my kids have spring break, so tomorrow I'm driving them and me to Kentucky to visit my parents for several days. The kids have been hounding me all. day. long. about packing because they are so excited about this trip they can barely stand it. You know what happens when a 6yo and 4yo pack their own suitcase, don't you? One empties his entire sock drawer and 6 shirts into the suitcase and declares himself packed, while the other insists that knee-high wool socks are Absolutely Essential for a Kentucky April after the mildest weather anyone's seen in this country in years. Meanwhile, every five minutes they are asking me why we can't leave TODAY AND DON'T FORGET OPA'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT IT'S RIGHT HERE IT'S RIGHT HERE I NEED TO PUT IT IN MY SUITCASE RIGHT NOWWWW!

Sigh. At least I have a DVD player and plenty of videos for the car ride.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

garden helper, pile o' stink

Despite the onslaught of early spring weather, I haven't been inspired to do much garden work lately. Maybe this is because it's still the month of March, and while the weather is warm and mild now, there could always be a surprise frost or two in the coming weeks, so best not to get too ahead of ourselves.

Today, though, I finally took a bit of initiative in the front yard, where I have started a couple of small vegetable beds. (Yeah, I know it's unconventional to grow veggies in the front yard, but that's where we have some sunshine, so I really don't care if anyone else thinks it's weird or ugly. Thank gods we live in the sort of neighborhood where nobody else really cares, either.) This afternoon, Anya and I went outside so I could clear out one of the beds, add some compost and plant spinach and carrots.

I was wearing a bandana and gardening gloves, so of course Anya needed them, too:

Like I said, I don't care what anyone thinks about growing tomatoes and salad in the front yard, but the stinky compost is another matter. We have an open pile now, so the smell isn't quite as piercing and pungent as it was a year ago, but it still ain't great. I spent some time stirring the compost and digging down to try and find something usable to add to the vegetable bed, and it was quite the noxious experience. Basically, the problem is, still, that the compost is too wet. We have so many kitchen scraps and not enough dry stuff like grass clippings and leaves mixed in. Our plan at this point is to start a second compost pile, try to keep it better balanced with dry stuff, and let the first pile break down on its own so we can actually use it. I'll let you know how it goes (because I know how riveted you are by the tales of my rotting onion skins and apple peels.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

good, bad

Good: Getting tubes in his ears means Daniel is less likely to get ear infections.

Bad: Having tubes in your ears does not completely eliminate the possibility of an ear infection.

Good: All the kindergarten and first grade classes had a music concert this morning. They were all dressed like animals. It was adorable.

Bad: Daniel looked pale and miserable from the get-go, and was on the verge of tears the whole time.

Good: He did NOT throw up on the girl in front of him. (He didn't throw up at all, in fact. Thank goodness.)

Bad: But he was still feeling bad, so 10 minutes into the concert, I asked his teacher to check on him. He insisted he was fine, but I could tell he wasn't, so after a few more minutes I went to check on him, and he admitted he wasn't feeling well, so we left. All this happened mid-concert in front of hundreds of parents, by the way. An hour later at the urgent care clinic, the PA diagnosed him with an ear infection.

Good: If you have tubes in your ears, infections can be treated with antibiotic ear drops. No yucky medicine to swallow!

Bad: It's bloody tricky to get those drops in properly. I did my best, but I fear some of the medicine just drained out right away.

Good: The ear drops are supposed to work quickly, so there's a chance Daniel will be ready to go back to school tomorrow already.

Bad: I'm afraid the other ear will start to hurt and I'll have to bring him home again.

Good: Ear infections are not contagious.

Bad: But head lice are! A note was sent home yesterday alerting all parents in Daniel's class that someone was recently treated for head lice and we are to be on the lookout.

I think I might keep him home tomorrow, just to be on the safe side all the way around.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I feel like I need to do a post updating y'all on The State of the Recall here...but honestly, it's hard to keep up on everything happening. Here are a few updates on various issues, in no particular order. Ready?

1. The state leg passed a voter ID bill, which invited a couple of lawsuits by the ACLU and League of Women Voters. A Dane county judge agreed with the groups that the bill doesn't do much to prevent voter fraud, but instead disenfranchises certain groups of voters (students, the elderly, the poor), so he blocked the bill. Repubs cried foul because that judge signed a recall petition and pictures of his signature were all over the Tea Party twitter feeds. A second Dane county judge upheld the ruling.

2. John Doe investigations into criminal activities during Walker's campaign have led to a few arrests, and seem to be creeping ever closer to the governor himself. In fact, Scott Walker has already used public money to hire powerful Chicago attorneys for criminal legal defense. This is puzzling, because he's not actually allowed to use public money for criminal legal defense unless he is 1) under investigation or 2) has been charged. He claims neither of these things is either way he's breaking a rule somewhere. Either he's using public money inappropriately, or he's actually under investigation or been charged. When a friend of mind explained this to me, neither one of us could understand why the media hasn't made more of this. Seriously, you'd think this would be huge - a person holding the highest position of public office in the state has, one way or another, BROKEN THE LAW.

3. Remember the Supreme Court election last April? When the incumbent judge, David Prosser, a former Republican legislator with a known temper problem who had once called the Chief Justice a "bitch" to her face barely squeaked out a win by 300 votes? And then he put his hands around the neck of another justice in her office? And then he got diverticulitis last fall and had to sit out on a bunch of rulings because he was in the hospital? Seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried. Well, now disciplinary action is being recommended for his inappropriate and violent behavior last June (the choking incident).

4. Four Republican state senators are up for recall this year. One of them, Pam Galloway, just announced she is resigning, supposedly for family/personal reasons, but it prevents her from having to run a campaign to keep her job. This makes the state senate an even 16-16 split, though they are out of session now probably until after the recall elections, so this doesn't do the Dems much good.

5. The GAB (Government Accountability Board) released scanned copies of the recall petitions online. The Tea Party has set up a website where you can search for people's signatures on recall petitions. So much for privacy, huh?

6. According to polls,the only person we know can beat Scott Walker in a recall election is Senator Russ Feingold. Everyone else (real or possible contenders) would be in a dead heat. But guess what? Feingold won't run. C'mon, Russ. We neeeeeeed you!

And I don't even have the energy to tell you about the craziness of the latest legislative session. There is never a dull moment in Wisconsin politics these days, let me tell you.

How's about I end on a high note, with some pictures of the kids outside today? Warm spring weather continues, and we've been outdoors more than not.

Daniel doing his Jackson Pollock impression using water and the side of the house:

A rare photo op with me IN the picture:

Climbing trees:

Digging in a rotten tree stump (seriously, who needs toys?):

Friday, March 16, 2012

Five on Friday: random edition

1. I wrote a real downer of a post a few days ago and took it down ten minutes later because it was just too whiny (even for me). The gist is as follows: I am perpetually frustrated because I wish I had more going on in my professional life. I still don't really have enough time to prepare for major gigs, so I'm not sure if I should be pursuing more at this point or not.

2. It's hard to stay sad when spring comes early to Wisconsin. I mean, the global warming part of it is freaking me out a little, but we're enjoying the warmth and sunshine all the same. See?

3. My eyes are really itchy. I don't normally have any problems with seasonal allergies, but the winter-that-wasn't and mild weather now has all kinds of flowers blooming already, so there are probably lots of allergens floating around that affect the hardiest among us. I suppose there are drawbacks to an early spring.

4. It's Friday, so I'm trying not to feel guilty about spending my precious kid-free time writing a blog post instead of doing something productive. Like cleaning.

5. Stuart's birthday was Monday! (So was Mitt Romney's, incidentally. Not that it means anything to us, particularly.) Anya and I baked him a cake, and after school, she and Daniel decorated the chocolate glaze with their favorite sprinkles, some of which are Christmas-themed, but no one seemed to care. We don't have 34 candles, so Stuart lit them in binary.

For those of you who can appreciate this, his t-shirt reads: "There are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don't."

Happy Friday, y'all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

it ain't over yet

Warm weather graced thousands of protesters today as we rallied at the State Capitol.

I'm not even sure what this one was about, exactly, other than a reminder that we're still here, still angry, and a recall election is imminent.

As I walked up State Street this afternoon, lots of people were out - protesters, people attending some big game or other, lots of people in green shirts and plastic beads celebrating St. Patrick's Day a week early. While waiting to cross the street, a group of young men, boys really, were discussing the goings-on. "What's with all the people at the Capitol?" said one. "Yeah, I thought this finally died out in the fall," responded another. "Why don't they just get fucking jobs?" said the first douchebag, then added, "Oh, yeah. It's Saturday." I swear, this is the closest I've ever come to punching someone in the face. Angry thoughts flew through my head, and in the few seconds before the light changed to green, I seriously contemplated giving those boys a piece of my mind, or at the very least a calm and reasoned lecture on Scott Walker and current economic situation and why exactly there aren't jobs to be had, and why this protest movement hasn't yet "died out."

But I didn't, of course. I was tongue-tied, as I often am, and chances are they would have laughed at me anyway. They'll find out soon enough, when (if) they graduate.

I didn't stay long at the rally. I had somewhere to be. It was heartening, though, to see so many people (tens of thousands) gathering again at The People's House to make our voices heard. One of my favorite signs says it best: One Year Longer, One Year Stronger

Sunday, March 04, 2012


This morning Anya complained that her ear hurt, so I took her to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with a double ear infection. This wasn't surprising, really. We're used to ear infections around here; even I kept getting them last year, and I'm not convinced my hearing is quite where it should be, actually. Anyway, what was surprising was the medication the P.A. prescribed. It wasn't amoxicillin - you know, the pink stuff in a big bottle you store in the fridge because it tastes better cold. I remember taking it all the time for ear infections as a kid. Daniel had several rounds of it last year before it quit working and he had to get tubes in his ears. Anya's been on it a few times, too, as recently as last November.

Not this time, though. According to the P.A., there are new recommendations out now to treat ear infections with a different antibiotic because there is so much resistance now to amoxicillin. She said there are pockets of the country with very high resistance to it; Denver, for example, has a rate of 80% resistance to amoxicillin. Yikes. The medicine Anya has to take (I can't remember the name and don't want to go look right now) is white and chalky, and has a base of amoxicillin with some other stuff added to kill a broader range of bacteria.

What do we do when this medication stops working? Ear infections are so common, it's no wonder there is resistance to the most prescribed antibiotic in the country. Anya will be fine. I could tell the medicine is working just a few hours after she took the first dose. But today has got me thinking about all those super-bugs and terrifying scenarios where the population is ravaged by terrible infections that no medication can stop. (Hmm, might have been a bad idea to rent the movie Contagion a few weeks ago...)

I think we could all use some fresh air and sunshine.

Friday, March 02, 2012

in like a lion

March is roaring in like a lion, isn't it? I was so sad to read about the destructive tornadoes yesterday, and there seem to be plenty more brewing today. My hometown in Kentucky is right in the path of some nasty weather that could potentially produce tornadoes; they even closed the schools. Here in Madison we're having a winter storm, and the heaviest snowfall is supposed to happen during the afternoon rush hour.

It's odd having all this snow now, since we had so little this winter so far. We got a few inches last Friday, too, and I'm just now getting around to posting pictures of it.

School was out for teachers' meetings, so the kids had a chance to go out and play in the snow for a bit: