Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Can't politicians keep it in their pants?

Another congressman was caught in an affair - two at the same time actually... WHY!?!?!?

I totally don't understand why men, especially, can't control themselves when it means DISASTER if they are found out about an affair. Not only does it ruin them politically, try repairing marriage when an affair has been made public = when EVERYONE knows?

Now, I TOTALLY think that a person's private life is just that - private. If a man or woman has an affair, that's their business as long as no laws are broken. It is just a fact that men (and I'm using men as that's who our leader's and in the eye people have been) with power or influence or clout, tend to "get around". It used to be "hush-hush" and discreet, now it means blowing whistles.

So, if you are a politician, especially and you KNOW that every single man in modern history who has been caught in an affair has gone down BURNING career-wise, WHY? WHY? do they continue to "do it"?

And WHY does it always seem to be the ones that want the toughest punishments for these "acts" and those that preach family values, that seem to get caught the most? Ironic, isn't it? Thou dost protest too much!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Busy weekend - went to Gettysburg

Late this summer our family realized how CLOSE Gettysburg was to the DC area. We knew it was in Pennsylvania, of course, but didn't realize it was less than a 2 hour drive from where we live. Since my older son didn't have school and my husband didn't have work for Columbus Day, we went to check it out.

First, the Cyclorama is amazing. I had no idea that this was something made in the late 1800s and was meant to be displayed like this. I truly thought it was just a blown up picture from after Civil War, but no... it was painted to be shown like this - a panorama of the battlefield. Others were made around this time too. I guess when veterans of the battle saw it, they cried as it was so reminiscent of what they saw. Here's some info on the cyclorama:

And here is a link to a documentary (first is 4:30, second is 5:20) to the Gettysburg cyclorama: Supposedly there are three parts, but I could only find two (and it seems I'm not the only one).

The other really neat thing was how they have tried to keep the landscape similar to how it was during the battle time - trees growing where trees were known to be, rock fences, where they were, even groves of trees, exactly where they were before.

There is one point where you see a painting made around the time of the battle and you are standing RIGHT THERE and you can see exactly how far the confederate troops are from the Union position. You can imagine them marching across the fields, and you can just imagine waiting, watching the mile long line getting close enough to have within range...

The one thing that struck me the most was - how do you feed and water nearly 80,000 moving troops? How do you get everyone ammunition? Working guns? Together in those three days there were 165,000 troops.... at the end of the battle 7,000-8,000 were killed, but total 53,000 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. Can you imagine this little town? Every farm field was a graveyard, every public building, church and some private homes were hospitals. It took until late 1864 (the battle was July 1-3 1963) to move all the patients and clear out the city of all the doctors, etc. It was Nov. 1964 that the National cemetery was dedicated (with the famous Gettysburg address given by Lincoln). That cemetery is just a PORTION of the dead, most are unmarked graves scattered over thousands of acres.

I can't say that the day was filled with tons of great walks and fun filled hoopla, but it was good and it really does give you the idea of what they faced and gives you an appreciation of several aspects of the war during that time.

Here's the National Park site to check out more:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why does no one decorate for Thanksgiving anymore?

In my family growing up we had those paper decorations to hang in the window for EVERY holiday important to a Christian raised kid (and let me state, I am not Christian or anything else as an adult). We had decorations for: Valentine's, St. Pat's, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now that I have kids, I have a wall tree that we decorate for the holidays. I have decorations - TONS for Valentines, enough for St. Pats, TONS for Easter, Many for spring/summer, TONS for Halloween, Barely ANY for Thanksgiving, and TONS for Christmas.

The last few days and a day last week I went into various craft stores and little stores to find some hanging smallish Thanksgiving decorations and nada, zilch, zip! Halloween stuff is coming out of every row, and a TINY 1/4 aise for Thanksgiving, and then Christmas stuff coming more and more every day, because, you know, it's ALMOST mid October and Christmas is like "right there!"

I know there USED to be more turkeys and pilgrim stuff, but it's gone. It's all generic "fall themed" and even iwth that, no hanging decorations. I'm at a loss! I'll have to check out ebay next because my "thanksgiving tree" looks NAKED! At least Pottery Barn Kids doesn't skip over Thanksgiving....

What a twisted world when Halloween trumps the day of giving thanks - tricking and scareing people is more "in". And then the Christmas blitz takes over even before Halloween hits. Thanksgiving is lost in the shuffle.

Maybe I like Thanksgiving MORE than any other Holiday because it's a day to say, "thank you for all I have. Thank you to family and friends. Just THANKS!" There's no presents being exchanged, no big hoopla of anything except making plans to go to friends and family's houses for dinner and conversation. Maybe it's because religion or christianity is not at it's root (though no one can say it's not "religious" either).

I know Thanksgivings can be a day of stress for some people, but it has always been a special day for my family growing up and now one for my kids. My 12 year old says, "it's my favorite holiday". Ah, he's my son after all! (Normally he is just like is dad!)

Starting last year (and we will continue this year) we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house. It's MEANT to be an open house for all and I really enjoy making a feast to share with those I care about and for new friends being made. So WHY is it being forgotten in the retail stores? The most FUNDAMENTAL holiday of our nation? The day of giving thanks. Any more I think the holiday is more about shopping for Christmas than it is for giving thanks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Had a dilly of a time with this cake!

My son's best friend's mom and I have become friends and she asked me to make a cake for her IL's 50th wedding anniversary, which HAPPENS to fall on Yom Kippur, so I was a bit nervous. I decided to make TWO, one to start out on, and one to "perfect".

I got them both put together last night to decorate this morning and I was quite skeptical. I SHOULD have taken a picture of them then to compare as you won't believe me unless you are used to seeing "naked" cakes. Last night they looked like HUGE stacked marshmallow snowmen. I thought they looked lumpy and so imperfect. This morning they didn't look so bad (I guess I was super critical last night), but still... How would those marshmallow snowmen transform into elegant cakes?

But, let me start from the beginning: First, the cake was to be a somewhat mini cake. The bottom tier is 6" diameter. The middle is 4.5" and the top is 3". I've never worked with small layers before and it's a bit tricky. First, you don't bake them in small pans, but actually cookie cutter them out of a bigger cake (keeps them moister that way and flatter and more even.

So, on to assembly. First, I made it too tall, like WAY too tall, so I had to chop the "spare" down to size. I doweled it and every time I SWEAR I'm going to smash my cake when I put a dowel all the way through top to bottom. NEXT, came the scary marshmallow snowmen and that's where I left it last night.

This morning I started with dusting it gold. BUT... I got too close for air brushing and had to wipe it all off and start over (you should see the pretty sparkles on my kitchen counter now! (oops!). Then to figure out how to attach the little round balls to the side of the cake and to do the border. (I've never done drops before). For the spare, I decided to just make icing dots on the side to figure out placement (glad I did that!).

OK, then it was time to do the real one and as I worked, I just saw it transform into a cake I'm actually proud of! It's not just the picture that looks nice - I really did a decent job of it!

I don't think my giant marshmallow snowmen are recognizable now... I LOVE this cake... I've been making some weird (not too showy) cakes for awhile, so it was fun to do a "pretty" cake for a change. Now what to do with the spare?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My 15th Anniverary is in a week - what to do?

We are celebrating 15 years on the 15th. It's a week day and our weekends before and after it are tied up. Plus, our "main" babysitter, my mother in law (if you call watching the kids once every couple months regular) is out of the country until the end of October. Our other "back-up" can never be nailed down. We both keep saying we'll swap babysitting (we watch theirs once, they watch ours once), but it never happens either... so, we'll have the kids no matter what it seems.

So what to do? It's a beautiful time of year, but I'm not feeling overly creative these days. Plus, I'm tired of being the one to plan all the time, so I haven't gotten to it. We keep saying on a big anniversary we will get away and it hasn't happened yet. I think we still should plan for some time away, but it will have to be later, but what for now? I'm so drawing a blank!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

While cake planning - I got scared to death!

On a different topic, I'm sitting on the couch next to Henry, my three year old watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and working on the laptop finalizing in an email a cake order. The couch is right next to the window. I'm typing away and then I heard a LOUD thump and saw from the corner of my eye and could hear it was a BIG bird smacking the window.

Then I look outside and I see on our wood fence, a hawk with a bird flapping around in his talons. I think the smaller bird thunked the window as the hawk swooped and caught it... Of couse, there's a mark and slight hole in the screen now. But my heart was racing as it was LOUD! Ew!!! Hope that mark is bird poo and not bird guts! The view was an awful lot like this image:

Our backyard backs up into a park, so we constantly see deer and fox, but I've never seen the hawks in action. It was probably a robin as the tree in front of the house is alive with robins today as the dogwood berries must be ready for eating - lots of fluttering going on there.

While searching photos of a hawk with a prey I saw images of like hawks with rabbits, pigeons, squirrels, and a mole. And all this makes me realize there's one more reason to keep the cats in the house - besides the danger of cars and fox. I bet neither of our cats would be too big prey for hawks or eagles! Yikes!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The housing crisis - such a slippery spiral

These truly are musings. But, here you go. Right now my family of four lives in a townhouse in the DC burbs of Northern Virginia. My mother in law rents a one bedroom apt. 3 miles away. When we moved here, it was 2004 and prices were up and houses sold in a minute and a half. The asking price was the STARTING price. In the next 18 months we watched the house values grow another 100,000 for our house and in the last 2 years, watch it drop to where we bought the house and now we will watch it drop even lower.

My Mother in law wanted to buy a house when she moved, but everything was out of her price range, so she invested it.. So here we are, house prices finally come down so she can buy, but even in her SAFE investments she's lost a LOT of money this year (so far)... so is it a good time to take it out to buy a house that STILL might drop in price even more? Maybe she should wait and hope.

And here we are. We would love to buy a bigger house with a garage and space, but while we have good credit and the means to do it - even absorbing a small loss on our current house, we DON'T have the funds to buy a house without selling ours first. our house could sit on the market for a year or MORE.

We've thought about buying a house together (mother in law and us four as MIL is getting older and needs our help more and more), but again... her funds are dropping like mad, we are stuck with a house that needs selling.

Nearly EVERYONE is just like us - either their saved money for a down payment has dried up in the stocks, or they can't sell their house to get a new one! The ONLY people good to go are those who are first time buyers with money in the bank... And how many people is that? And as a new home buyer, are they seen as risky and do they have a harder time getting loans?

Any way I look at it, in my very uneducated ways, I see this as a very slippery slope that just spirals out of control... people wait out of fear and because they are waiting, the problem just gets worse...scary times! So, I guess I just better get used to the idea of living in this townhouse for a few more years! And just be thankful for what we have!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Halloween Costume search

I've always loved dressing up for Halloween and have done so whenever I have had a reason to do so. The past several years we have gone as a family to a party around Halloween. Everyone at the party we know through an organization we all belong to (Ethical Society), so it's fun.

The first year we went as characters from the Lord of the Rings. My husband was Gandalf, my older son was Frodo, the baby Henry was a baby hobbit and I was a peasant from Rohan.

The next year we went in our own costumes without matching. My husband was a red-neck, my son was a nerd, I was a "witchy" chef and the little guy was Blue from Blues Clues.

Last year we went from characters as Borat. My husband has a striking resemblance to Sasha Baron Cohen, so we found the perfect suit and so on and he was FABULOUS (got second place at a bar's costume contest). I went as his sidekick (yes, dressed up as a man) and our oldest did his own thing going as a gorilla and we dressed the two year old as the bear from the movie.

But how do you TOP Borat? You cannot KNOW how fabulous that costume was! I've been wracking my brain for WEEKS.. and in my sleepy state this morning I got it! We'll go as the quintessential family as Sarah Palin sees it. My husband will go as Joe Six Pack, I'll go as hockey mom and my oldest son will go as a hockey player and the 3 year old will be a hockey player in training. I think this will be SOOOOO funny as the people from the Ethical Society are ultra in tune with the political scene and well... we all think Sarah Palin is a JOKE.

I'm having so much fun trying to come up with the most redneck-like costume I can think of for my husband... and I'm trying to figure out what to do with my hair (it's waist length)... I need to make it "hipper" I think. I never wear lipstick, but I'll HAVE to for the costume to real give it the kicker!

So fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OK, Sarah Palin

When her nomination was announced and I learned about her stance and lack of experience and life circumstances (even before it was disclosed her teen daughter was pregnant), I was FURIOUS that McCain could insult female voters that way - COMPLETELY insulted. If you like Hilary Clinton or not, NO ONE can really say she's not ready for office or qualified for it, but PALIN????

I am so completely thrilled that her lack of readiness is so apparent, but still appalled with the converts. It does not say good things for the USA.

Though, I did have to ask myself why I felt she should be staying at home with her infant with down syndrome and her pregnant teen? Would I feel the same way if it were the father? Yes and no. I TRULY believe that a woman has every right to be in the office, but ANYONE who pretends that mom and dads are the SAME are so not facing the truth. This baby NEEDS his mother - more than an average infant. Plus she CHOSE to have this child with special needs therefore she is obligated to choose HIM over career prospects right now. And as far as the teen daughter? Isn't she going through enough without her now being watched by the whole country, no WORLD??? So yes, I feel as a female she has more obligation to turn this opportunity down, but you know what? If Mrs. Palin was Mr. Palin, I would feel the same - not the time to be in the public eye and away from home. But then it is OBVIOUS she is a self-centered woman only thinking of her own prospects and not those of her children which just seems so twisted and wrong. I would do ANYTHING to nurture and protect my kids and I am appalled that Sarah and her "family values" does not see how messed up her priorities are.