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My youngest’s got a fedora and a cane…

Son: Hey, do you know the name of my cane?

Us: No. What?

Son: John McCain!

(Confession: he was, for the longest time, pro-McCain. There, I said it. He actually cried over this several times pre-election day. His mind was set on McCain because he saw a lot of the commercials by the GOP camp during the 2008 PEK Olympics, and they all said, “My name is John McCain, and I approve this ad!” My son thought it was hilarious, and also McCain looks like a nice grandpa, and who does not like Grandpa??

He begged us so many times to vote for John McCain because, “He would cry if he loses! and I am going to cry too!”

I am happy to report that we did eventually win him over, and he watched the rally at Grand Park on TV with us, excitedly…)

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Obama calls himself a Mutt and I have two!

capt bd8a1982c14849af81249cee037aa384 obama ilda120 Obama calls himself a Mutt and I have two!

Is it wrong to have hero worship towards a politician? Ever since the night of Nov. 4, I have been walking through the clouds. Elated, of course, but that feeling also comes from my disbelief that we actually did it. Or rather, he actually did it! And of course, we all know there is a long way ahead to deliver his promises, and truth be told, I don’t expect him to be able to deliver all those promises: There are just too many issues to be solved, and the biggest elephant in the room, our economy crisis, is getting bigger every day.
However, I have to say, I am a bit miffed by our President Elect, why? Because he’s brought tears to my eyes almost every day since he stepped onto that stage in Grant Park in Chicago and gave one of the most inspiring speeches that any of us have ever heard. This morning, he did it again: I am trying to keep the tears from actually falling down because that would mean crying. And that would be a ridiculous thing to do, wouldn’t it? Crying over some news conference remarks?? Obama describes himself as a Mutt, in a passing remark at his first news conference as President Elect.
And I have two here!
My 10-year-old boy just confessed not long ago that he is self-conscious when we are out together because people stare. For some reason, reading this news article this morning gave me hope that my children’s lives would not be as unnecessarily complicated as I imagine they will be.
The day after the election, we looked at the Exit Polls statistics on CNN and marveled (but not surprised) about the “racial” divide along the party line: not as pronounced as in the past elections (12% more of the White voters voted for McCain vs. Obama, whereas Kerry was behind by 17% among Whites in the last election. So we could say that Obama did “cross over,” but the difference is still obvious in the graphs). My 10-year-old asked me, “Mom, which one will I be?” The question startled and saddened me, because his identify of himself is still being formed, and yet, on any official documents, surveys, forms, he does not exist except as “Other”. I have studied all the theories on OTHER in grad schools, but it does make me sad when all those theories all of a sudden become applicable to what I am dealing with at home.
So, thank you, President Obama! Now perhaps we can openly discuss issues around Race, not in a stodgy way, but in an everyday lived-through dealt-with way. They are messy topics and there are seldom clear cut right or wrong answers, but we do need still start talking about it more openly, and in my view, more casually. If we cannot find humors in some of the messiness, and if we cannot make fun of ourselves, then the day will be far away when we can actually be color-blind, which if taken literally by the way, in my mind, is like alchemy… (We will always notice somebody else’s appearances first, and we need to learn as a culture to not let certain signifiers become symbols).
Perhaps now it would be easier to lobby for a label for mutts around the country that is better than “Other”?
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Mom redeemed herself from being the Worst Mom of the Year…

51Z2Y99KAML  SS500  Mom redeemed herself from being the Worst Mom of the Year...

… by dumpster diving for child’s missing homework!
Thank goodness they are not perfect…

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Questions I ask myself every day (No.1)

Just because I am aware of my inadequacy as a mother, I am able to make fun of myself and I give myself the title “Bad Mommy of the Year”, does it absolve me for doing a bad job bringing up my children?

If I call myself out as a criminal, does it make my crime less appalling?

By calling myself a Bad Mommy, does it make me superior to women who are unaware of what a bad job they are doing or frankly don’t care?

By calling myself names, does it necessarily mean that I care? Or is my need to call myself names a desperate attempt to prove to myself and the others that I actually do care even though it may seem that I don’t?

And I want to make it clear: when I call myself “Bad Mommy” or “Worst Mother of the Year” it is definitely not a “Backdoor Brag” like the “Worst Mother of the Year” in this essay. (This mom certainly reads like a dream mom to me, and I am sure that she knows it and is proud of it even: “I am such a great mother with strong convictions that I do not succumb to my children’s whining and blackmailing!”) I really really mean it and I live with regret and fear every day…

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Overheard at my house (Episode 1)

Scene: after mommy serves them breakfast (oatmeal) with loud bang on the table and great indignation and runs upstairs to take her 1-minute shower before they have to rush to their first activity on a Sunday morning…

5-year-old boy: I wish mommy is less mean. Do you wish mommy is less mean, Older Brother?

10-year-old boy: Ya.

5-year-old boy: I wish daddy is nicer too and does not yell so much. Do you wish mommy and daddy are nicer?

10-year-old boy: Ya…

(Two brothers have a rare moment of peace and camaraderie)

(Bad Mom upstairs has to brace herself to prevent an emotional outburst and hits Sleeping Dad with the pillow)

(Two brothers break out in an argument over some trivial matter)

Bad Mom: (Forgetting temporarily her vow to be a less mean and nicer mother and screaming at the top of her lung) STOP IT THE TWO OF YOU AND HURRY UP BEFORE I COME DOWNSTAIRS!!!!!!!

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So, how do you explain Roe vs. Wade to a 10-year-old boy??

Am I a bad mom? Sometimes I worry that in an effort to bring up children that are progressive, tolerant, self-aware, and self-reliant, and to make sure that they become “contributing members of a civil society” in the future, I may have pulled a cloud over their childhood. If they are fortunate enough to not to know about “the world out there”, who am I to ruin their parade by telling them the “truth”?

So my 10-year-old had to do a research report on this presidential election. One of the projects was to interview a democrat and a republican, ask them this one question: “What do you think a Democrat (or Republican) believes?” I felt bad for putting our loved ones on the spot: voting is a private matter, in my opinion, and sometimes the true reason someone votes for this party vs. the other is for that person’s conscience to know, and their conscience only. The people we ended up interviewing over the phone, surprisingly or maybe not so much, gave similar answers with regarding to almost everything: such as “A democrat/Republican believes that the middle class should receive tax reliefs.”

The differences we learned from our friends and families are, based on their own subjective opinions of course, “A Republican believes in a smaller government, whereas a Democrat believes in more taxes,” and “A Democrat believes in equality in all people and the responsibilities of the government to come to its people’s aid when they are in need.”

What strikes me the most was the fact that women from both parties see “Roe vs. Wade” as the main dividing line that separates Republicans from Democrats: one mentioned that Republicans believe in the “Right to live”, the other, Democrats believe in “Roe vs. Wade”. My son, being 10 years old, naturally had no idea what they were talking about, and our friends and families, bless their heart, naturally did not want to go into details.

So, how do you explain Roe vs. Wade to a 10-year-old boy?

This was why I woke up with self-doubt for my ability to be a good mother this morning: I actually gave it a try last night by giving him a general description of what Roe vs. Wade was about. How successful, I am not sure. My son understandably was disturbed by the concept of abortion, which I didn’t go into too much detail of course. He does not even know how women become pregnant yet, oh my goodness… {{surge of more self-doubt}} At one point, I could see in his face his regret for supporting the Democratic Party (i.e. Obama in this election: he thinks Obama is the man, and the democrats will bring equality to the society, without me or my husband steering him either way… in fact we were quite puzzled by his interest in this election since we didn’t talk about politics in front of the kids until he himself showed interest in the topic… ) And I was upset with the teacher’s naivete in giving them the homework assignment: how does one talk about this presidential election, I mean, really talk about it, without getting into a discussion on the two sides over the “Roe vs. Wade” issue? How am I supposed to explain to my 5th grader, who despite his uncanny maturity still hugs stuffed animals at night? I know a lot of people would argue that this is the reason why there shouldn’t be abortion allowed, period, if you don’t know how to explain such a procedure to a child. This way you don’t even need to explain it. To me, this is the reason why the issue of abortion should not be made to hijack the public political debate. It is a personal choice, and yes, I believe that women should have the right to choose. It is ironic to me that Republicans, for all their push for a smaller government, desperately want to extend their control over private matters such as gay marriage and this, and leave public health care issues to strictly between “patients and their care providers”…

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What I learned from my 5th grader’s homework this weekend…

My 10-year-old came home with a 10-page homework packet last week, a research report on this presidential election. (Let me not start with the fact that the packet is from 1997 and asks for an example of a printed ad in newspaper or magazine. I don’t remember the last time I saw any candidate spending their money on a printed ad, at least, not in publications that we read at home, e.g. The Economist…)

Here is what I learned:

1. It is not easy to find out what exactly the Democratic party and the Republican party stand for.

We went to both parties’ websites and we ended up frustrated and confused. The “party platform” manifestos put out by both parties read so similar: they both use the same vague, generalized statements to show that they are THE party that will watch out for the little guys, the working American families. Both parties believe in education, better teachers, and the freedom for parents to choose the best education for their children.

I had to explain to my son that nobody will come right out to say, “Oh, yeah. We are going to raise your taxes, and we are not going to do anything about the education system nor the health care crisis.”  You just have to read between the lines.

Here is one great example from the “Republican Party Platform 2008″ document:

“It is not enough to offer only increased access to a system that costs too much and does not work for millions of Americans. The Republican goal is more ambitious: Better health care for lower cost.

First Principle: Do No Harm

How do we ensure that all Americans have the peace of mind that comes from owning high-quality, comprehensive health coverage? The first rule of public policy is the same as with medicine: Do no harm.

We will not put government between patients and their health care providers.

We will not put the system on a path that empowers Washington bureaucrats at the expense of patients.”

(By the way, how many people actually read this document?  It is entirely fascinating the wordsmith effort that went into this…)

The GOP certainly did not state that they are against “health care for all” since that, on the surface, will certainly provide bad PR and negative sound bites.

2. The symbol for the Democratic Party has been a donkey since the 19th century:

The donkey has its origin in Andrew Jackson’s campaign in 1828 when he was called a Jackass, and Jackson, true to his larger-than-life persona, adopted the image of the strong-willed donkey for his campaign. The symbols of elephant and donkey were later popularized by Thomas Nast’s political cartoons, (in which neither animal was portrayed in a positive light, therefore, it’s indeed curious that both parties readily adopted the images!)

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I voted. Have you?

vote I voted. Have you?

Early voting rocks!

Thanks to the well-thought-out planning of the government (I can’t believe I just said that!), there are a lot of early voting stations with convenient hours for voters this year. And according to the latest report, the election this year may have a record turnout because people are allowed to vote early, during a long range of days and hours.

I did have to wait in line for about an hour but it felt great when I stepped out the voting booth. Plus, my 5 year-old boy was so excited about getting the sticker that said, “I voted!”

One third of the voters are expected to take advantage of Early Voting, and I assume that means one third of the final total count, including people who otherwise would not have bothered and been able to vote on Election Day. A dear friend of mine put up a poster on her front yard to remind people to vote, now or on November 4. I think it is a great idea, esp. considering that Halloween is just around the corner, and people in your neighborhood are going to be walking by your house with their kids.

Make a poster and urge your neighbors to vote!

But before you do that, go vote early yourself!
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I dig “Really? Really??” “Are you serious?!”

I don’t understand why there was not more bluhaha around the AIG retreat. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, AIG brought all their top executives to St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif for a week-long retreat. The $443,000 tab includes $23K for the Spa. Here is the breakdown for a vacation of the lifetime:

(See for the full report)

Most of the attendees at the convention between Sept. 22 and Sept. 30 stayed in premium “pool view” rooms at the 400-room hotel, with 47-inch LCD TVs and marble bathrooms furnished with a “Deep Roman” bath and shower. The rate: $375 per night.

The group also booked 17 “ocean view” rooms, at $425 each, and one “presidential suite,” discounted from its usual $3,200 a night to $1,600.

Another $9,982 was spent on food and drinks at the StoneHill Tavern, the Monarch Bayclub, in-room dining and the lobby lounge; $6,939 on golf; $1,488 at the Vogue Salon; and $1,450 on no-show and cancellation fees.

An invoice dated Oct. 3 said AIG still owed the resort $40,543 in charges after a $402,701 deposit. The itemized bill does not show what executives specifically ordered at the spa and salon, but a look at the hotel’s spa menu shows 75-minute “intuitive massages” at $215 a pop (most of the executives spent $210 each for a spa treatment on Sept. 25) and men’s and women’s haircuts and styles starting at $50 and $75, respectively. Executives also spent $147,302 on banquets at the hotel and $23,380 at the Spa Gaucin, which features three-story waterfalls…”

The kick is, they went on the retreat IMMEDIATELY AFTER receiving the Fed’s Bailout package of $85 Billion.

Talk about reinforcing bad behaviours! And I got dirty looks from the storeckerk when I bought my child a lollipop after he threw a tantrum???

I cannot believe that there were not more reports on this. Weren’t people outraged? I surely am. I am utterly disgusted. Are people simply tired? Or have we been so thoroughly disgusted that we simply don’t want to talk about it any more? This fall has been great for SNL. You cannot make these stories and characters up. Most people weren’t alerted of this outrage until they saw the Weekly Update skit on SNL. (Fastforward to the 2:15 mark if you must…)

If I had written a story like AIG and the beyond-comprehension shamelessness in my creative writing class, I would have been criticized for being contrive, buying into the archetype, for catering to cliches. This is real life! In one’s wildest creative dream, one would never have been able to conjure up a character such as Sarah Palin. I wonder whether people on SNL should consider voting for Republican this time to make sure that Palin stays in the limelight for four more years. With her in the White House, they can probably get rid of half of their writing staff and simply replay whatever is going on in real life.

I am beyond outraged. I am actually for once, speechless.

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Now that’s customer service!

GR2008101502389 Now thats customer service!

(Bless the investigative reporter’s heart: at first glance, I thought this map was used for some sort of military reconnaissance maneuvering!)
I am glad to finally read a report on excellent customer service provided by cellphone providers. Seriously, aren’t you tired too about all the bad press endured by these companies? This story just proved that, yes they can, if they just put their mind to it, make sure that you can use your cellphone in your darn backyard, even if yours is a 15-acre ranch…
From Washington Post Exclusive: Verizon and AT&T Provided Cell Towers for McCain Ranch

My friend Joe (no relation to Joe the Plumber: and speaking of plumber, I am so glad that Joe is not a carpenter, because that would just be too allegorical, too weird, wouldn’t it?) complains about the lack of cellphone reception in his own house. Because the phone is provided and paid for by his company, he reasoned, “Well, I can’t really go about getting a new phone, now, can I? That would just be stupid, not taking advantage of the company-paid phone. I think I may have to move into a new house!”

Joe, I want to let you know: there is hope for ya yet! (Again, I am speaking to Joe who is not the Plumber mentioned in the debate 2 dozen times last night. It just happens to be an all-American name. How lucky for the candidates that it is catchy too…)

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