I hope one day she has old lady pants.

Usually the things I write about are frivolous and self indulgent - like almost everything else on the internet.  Today, I am writing about my niece.  She is neither frivolous nor self indulgent.  She is seven years old.  She has curly hair, a love of rock and roll and she has cystic fibrosis.

When Arden was diagnosed at 3 months old, her parents learned that the life expectancy for a child with CF was 32 years.  Because of the financial support that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation receives it is able to fund research that is producing life saving treatments for people like my niece.  In Arden's short 7 years, with the help of this research, the life expectancy for a child with CF has grown to 37 years.  It is a great improvement, but I cry when I think that when Arden is my age, she could be very near the end of her life.
May is the a fund raising month for the CF foundation and I would like to make an appeal to anyone/everyone reading this to help us find a cure.  Every dollar that is donated makes it more likely that my all the smarty pants scientists that want to save my niece will have the funding to do so.  Please consider contributing to this cause.  I realize that many of us/you have suffered financial set backs in the last year, and that there are lots of places for money to go, but even one dollar shows that you care.  There is a link in the sidebar that will take you to a donation site.

Please enjoy this video of my beautiful niece.  It was produced by my sister (Arden's mom and associate bakery owner), and my sister (the news junkie, who never tries to scare anyone with her tales of doom.)  As usual, I sat and supervised.


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Pigs don't wear pants.

My son Mack has nightmares.  I very often wake with a start at 2 am to find him standing next to my bed just staring at me like an extra from that "I see dead people" movie.  I have tried to explain to him that this freaks me out and I'd rather he just say my name or something. In his defense the monsters in his head are arguably less scary than I am when someone wakes me up.

Sometimes he remembers what he dreams, sometimes he doesn't, but let me say this - the ones he's told me about would make Stephen King wet himself.  Once, Mack had a dream that he was at a fair, and he saw a clown with balloons.  Clown? Fun. Balloons? Fun.  Skeleton with an evil laugh?  Not so much.  Which is what the clown became once he got close enough to claim his balloon.  FYI- there are a lot of child therapists on the Google, be specific when you search.

Because of the nightmares, and the fact that I am loosing valuable mattress space to a combination of scared children and my rapidly expanding girth, I encourage my kids to avoid things that kindle fear of any kind.  Admittedly, this can be inconvenient as it eliminates even things like the daily weather forecast since my daughter is convinced that, sooner or later, we are going to be hit by a Kansas style tornado.  We aren't.  Also we are not the site of the next hurricane Katrina, or a Thailand style tsunami.  She remains unconvinced.  Unfortunately she, like so many people, believes that if the TV shows it happening to someone, it will eventually happen to her.  This is why, at our house, we never watch "the news".

I firmly believe that the point of network news (or any news for that matter) is to scare people bad enough to make them feel like they need to watch the scariest newscast so that they will know exactly how scared they should be.  The more viewers these scary broadcasts attract, the more sponsors the networks can land.  The more sponsors they have, the more money they make... and knowing full well that the only way to keep their viewers/sponsors/money is to keep up the scary, things quickly devolve into pictures of  (just for example) an endless line of people queueing up for some mystery vaccine, complete with masks and gloves and various other "necessary precautions".  Don't believe me?  Two words.  Swine Flu.  Actually, a few more words:  SARS, West Nile Virus, Bird Flu.  Seriously.  Who knew that in my life I would survive so many a pandemic.  I must have the best immune system of all. 

Don't get me wrong, I believe swine flu exists and can make a person sick.  Also I don't want it.  I don't like the name (it just sounds gross) and I'm pretty sure that when a person contracts it, it looks like that scene from Pinocchio where the lazy kid that smokes cigars and cuts class, grows ears and a tail and turns into a donkey... except you would turn into a pig  - obviously, duh.  Also, from then on, when people referred to you in conversation they would always say "you know, that kid with swine flu" even when you're 35.  Having thrown that out there, I hardly think that 64 total (US) cases of some random strand of flu is cause for me to start wearing one of those ugly surgical masks and stock piling MREs.  All I'm saying is that if this thing is that contagious, then why aren't the families of all of those spoiled little Mexico Spring Breakers all sick too?  As I see it, if this was 1918 all over again, those folks would already be getting a bulk discount from the local undertaker.  Luckily though, America, we're going to spend like a million dollars on swine flu stuff - because we have tons of extra room in the budget... and things like not sneezing on other people, washing our hands and staying home if we're sick seems a little too... rational...and free.

So, the pandemic coverage viewing ban is now in full effect at our house.  The last thing I need is more nighttime visitors with visions of killer pig attacks and giant dancing surgical masks.  FOX, CNN, OPB, ABC, NBC, et. all., be warned, I need my rest.  If you take that away from me, you'll be hearing from me - and trust me- you'd rather face a skeleton clown with swine flu and SARS than me with sleep deprivation.



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Stop biting my pants.

I did something this weekend that I swore I would never do.  I watched the movie Twilight.  In my defense - Friday is the worst night ever for television viewing, especially when you only get four channels.  Bill Moyers gets on my last nerve and I would rather do a stint in Guantanamo than watch "Super Nanny" or "Wife Swap".  So instead of finding something productive like blogging, tweeting, or facebooking I sacrificed my pride and rented a movie about teenage vampire love from the MacDonald's Red Box.  (How could a dollar movie be bad?)

My aversion to the Twilight series hinges (loosely) on  three things.  One - I have a bit of an addictive personality.  Two words:  Harry Potter.  I read each book straight through with almost no breaks.  My poor children learned to develop a taste for dry cereal and left over breakfast pancakes.  Additionally, I own all of the books on tape and listen to them whenever I'm doing kitchen chores.  At this point I think it's just for the background noise, but that could just be an excuse.  I am not however as... well, weird, as those people in the documentary "We Are Wizards".  I don't live a "wizard lifestyle" and I don't own a wand.  But... I did watch a documentary called "We Are Wizards" so...  Anyway, I find it best just to avoid anything that might trigger my more obsessive impulses.

Two - I don't like doing stereotypical girly things.  I don't scrapbook.  I barely take pictures actually.  I volunteer at my kids' school out of guilt, and do not plan on doing it full time after the public education system has claimed my last child.  (I'm planning a mitzvah actually.  You're going to want an invite.  It's going to be super fun.) I will never quote Oprah Winfrey, and I boycott her book club (is she still doing her book club?) In short - I'm a bit of a snob sometimes
 and it's hard for me to shake.

Three- Stephanie Meyer is Mormon.  Now, some of you may be scratching your heads at this because... so am I (Mormon, not scratching my head).  I just don't like feeling obligated to love or even half-heartedly support something simply because the author/politician/actor believes in the same God that I do.  I always want my loyalty to be based on merit... and how funny a person is.  That's important.  (This might actually boil down to the snob thing too.  What do ya think?)

Anyway.  I watched the movie and keeping in mind that I have never read the books, so I'm sure I'm missing some plot twists that some of you might consider important, I have a few observations.  

1.  Teenage girls love angst ridden boys that only they can fix.  This vampire boy has been alive since 1901 (did I do that math correctly) and there's only been one girl in 108 years that he couldn't stay away from?  Only one girl in 108 years that could make him emotionally attach.  Let's face it- I totally would've gone for that when I was 17.  (Now at age 34 I would think to myself - COMMITMENT ISSUES.  RUN AWAY.)

2.  When a boy saves a girl from a drunken gang of would be evil doers and pulls an awesome reverse-180 spinning driving trick she is going to think he's cool.  Especially if he buys her dinner afterward.  There's just nothing that can be done about it.  What I've learned from this is that my daughter will always do the driving.   

3.  The hair can make the boy.  Just be careful here, because sometimes the hair can leave the boy too.

4.  Hot trumps Creepy every time.  Think about some of the dialogue in this movie.  Vampire Edward tells Bella (the girl) that he's essentially been stalking her because he "feels very protective of her".  He tells her that he wanted to kill her when they first met and that he suspects that he still just might do so.  He tells her that he's been sneaking into her room in the night to watch her sleep because it "fascinates him".  He tells her that he is so strong and fast that she could never get away from him.   Hmmm.  This is all good with her though because... he's hot.  Now, think about how this would've played out if the boy looked, not like Robert Pattinson, (who p.s. was also in one of the Harry Potter movies) but like one of those slightly sweaty, greasy, dirty teenage boys with long, slightly frizzy, pony tailed hair, with patchy facial hair and acne- complete with long, black trench coat and army boots.  What do you think of the stalking, sleep watching, killing impulses now?  I don't know about you, but if that boy would've said those things to me, he'd be named as a defendant.  Pretty people can get away with a lot of stuff that the un-pretty just can't pull off, and that includes being creepy.

5.  Old-ish women like to watch young women being loved in a way that is reckless and primal and totally unrealistic, either because they were never loved that way by a boy and wished they had been, or because they were and wish they could be again.  Just remember girls that new love isn't always love.  Sometimes it's just chemistry.  Chemistry is fun and nice and tingly, but it doesn't hold your hair back while your throwing up sick with the flu, or tell you you're beautiful when you've gained 40 lbs (who are we kidding?) 60 lbs of "baby weight", or help keep you calm as you're trying to pay way too many bills with way too little money. Chemistry doesn't do that, Love does.  Chemistry might be sparkly and flashy, but eventually it explodes and then it's gone...and ask any chemist, sometimes it leaves a really bad smell behind and may or may not singe off your eyebrows.

As much to my surprise as anyone's, I actually thought that the movie was pretty good, (although I was really disturbed when my 9 year old daughter told me that many of her friends have seen it and did I think that she could see it too?  Yeah right kid), and it gives me added pleasure to imagine the look of horror on Bill Moyers' face if he knew that I would rather watch a pretty boy vampire than listen to him conduct an interview on the current climate of labor politics.  Like I said - the hair makes the boy and in this case Bill, sorry but there's no contest.

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Just wipe it on your pants.

Before I had children, I was a different girl.  I stayed thin with way less work, I never bought a car based on the size and location of the cup holders, and I knew a lot more about raising children.  Before I had children I gagged at anything remotely off-putting.  Once, my brother-in-law said the word "blob" at the dinner table and it seriously threw me into such an episode of heaving and retching that I actually had to leave the table and put a cold wash rag on my face.  Another time, an eensy weensy spider met his sad and crispy fate cooked a top a piece of my mother-in-law's lasagna.  My piece of my mother-in-law's lasagna.  It was just... I don't know... I can't even really remember anything except running away and gagging... violently gagging.  I don't think she's made lasagna for my family since.  (ps- It was totally not my mother-in-law's fault.  She is a fantastic cook, and I would eat her lasagna anytime.)

My first pregnancy put an end to pointless gagging.  I think my body saw it as an inefficiency that needed to be stopped.  There would be no more gagging, just vomiting.  I starting throwing up at 7 weeks and I didn't stop until 41 weeks, 3 days, when I was (finally) holding my fat, slimy little daughter.  I threw up at home.  I threw up at church.  I threw up at school.  I threw up in the car, on the road, in parking lots, and in the grocery store.  Sometimes I made it to the bathroom, sometimes... not so much.  It didn't matter what I ate, it didn't matter what voodoo home remedies I tried.  Nothing stopped it, and so... I learned to be really good at throwing up.  I stopped fighting it, and just did it.

Here is the miracle.  After I had my baby, nothing, and I mean nothing could make me feel even remotely sick or gaggish.  It was like the vomiting was the crucible that burned away my gaggyness.  (WARNING - I am now going to tell you some of the gross things that should make me sick, but totally don't... so, if you're a gagger, you might want to skip this part.)  I have literally wiped my child's nose with my bare hand and wiped it on my leg.  Worse than that, I have wiped the nose of a child to whom I did not give birth, with my bare hand and wiped it on my leg.  I have picked my child's binky out of the bark chips at the park and used my mouth to clean it off.  I have eaten a left over peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had been left on the counter over night, simply because I didn't have the energy to make something new.  (Don't pretend like you haven't done some of these people.)  I have had baby throw up in my hair and wondered if I should just put on a hat.  I promise you- I am not totally disgusting.  I am just... desensitized- like one of those soldiers that has to go through those secret army torture courses, so that they won't break when captured by the enemy.  It just so happens that the enemy that has captured me is code named "you've got three kids, deal with it".  (By the way - I haven't even given them my real name yet, let alone my rank and serial number.  Take that rebel insurgents.)  

I have turned into a pretty tough girl.  Today, however, I think I met my match.  I was doing the grocery shopping while my three year old slept in the cart (speaking of miracles) when I happened upon a man - clipping his fingernails.  In the grocery store.  Where I was buying food.  Now men, maybe no one has ever told you, but - this is not okay.  The clipping of the nails is an activity that should be confined to the house.  Your house.  The clipping of the nails is not an activity that should be done at church (I have witnessed this on more than one occasion), in the movie theatre while waiting for the featured presentation, or in the grocery store.  

Also, where the heck are your wives that should be putting an end to such nonsense?  C'mon ladies, step it up.  Think to yourself "would I have married _____ (insert husband's name here) if I'd have seen him doing ___________ (insert questionable activity here) in public?" If the answer is "no", then no matter how much you love him, what your husband is doing is grossing us out and you need to tell him to "stop it now, everyone is staring".  In the case of the grocery-store-groomer,  his wife was next to him pushing the cart and giving me a look that clearly said "you're disgusting" as I doubled over and gagged a huge pregnant gag.  As far as I'm concerned she should just be happy that a little pee didn't come out with the offending gag.  I know I was.  (Not glamorous, but true.  Sorry.) 

Clearly there are some things that a girl and her reflexes just can't get past, and for me public grooming is the crunchy cooked spider of social interaction.  I mean, even the best soldiers have their limits, and today amid the nail clippings and canned peaches, I definately found mine.

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