Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Me, neither.  I totally forgot my password and had to jump through hoops to log in today.  Weak sauce.

Anyway, we bought the house, we cleaned the house, we decorated the house, we now live in the house, we love the house, house house house housey house house house.  Love it.

Also, trying to have a baby.  I won't go into details because, you know, gross.

Couple of little changes.  Gonna remove The Mompetition from the blog roll because she's gone outta business, as they say.  Sad days.  She's moved on to greener pastures, given up tenure, etc. etc. other cliches.  Adding People I Want To Punch In The Throat for super hilarity.  You know I love me some hilarious bloggity bliggity blog blogs.

Speaking of hoops and throats, I'm pretty sure I knocked my throat on one of them there hoops, because dudes, I am SICK!  Sore throat of imminent doom and destruction has settled on me, and I'm pretty sure death is near.  Of course it is.  I'm having the BEST.WEEK.EVAR!!!

BTW, read that "evar" how it is spelled, please, as that is how I pronounce it.  Some duder on my Facebook made fun of my "misspelling" of this word, only IT IS NOT MISSPELLED UNINTENTIONALLY!  I am seriously not a moron.  I know how to spell the word "ever" properly.  I have since I was around 4 years old, promise.  I often type things out the way I would speak them, which means getting creative with the spelling and making it look like I'm an idiot in print.  Perhaps I should change this characteristic about myself.  I bet there would be a lot less red squiggly lines under my writing, and mayhaps people would not think I was a completely uneducated idiot of the first degree.

I am not uneducated, of course, and part of the best.week.evar! proves it.  I got all A's again this semester, so suck it, detractors.  Well A's in the two classes that have posted, which were hard as shit.  War and Conflict and US/Middle East Foreign Policy.  My guitar class hasn't posted, yet,'s beginning guitar.  The hardest thing I had to do was keep my fingernails short while simultaneously taking prenatal vitamins.  Pretty sure I can predict an A in that one.  Oh, wait, I just checked, it just posted.  A in the face! YEAH!  Take that, prenatals!

Also, Eric traded in his awesome and manly BMW for a less sexy and more family SUV, and I love it to pieces.

Too, Big Man had his first ever holiday program last night, and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen ever.  I've been looking forward to a holiday program from one of the dudes for, like, 4 years now.  AND I think Little Man has a spring program later in the year, which will be aweeeesome.  Big Man got to play the bells, and although he looked nervous and uncomfortable as crap through the first seven or eight songs, by the last two, he was dancing around like a crazy person with huge genuine smiles on his face.

Thirdly, if I can get over this death-bringing illness by tomorrow, I have volunteered for the first time to work a booth at the kids' end-of-semester Golden Celebration at their school.  I'm terrified for this.  The last time I volunteered (Little Man's field trip) it was NOT good.  Little Man showed off how horrible his behavior could be that day.  Hopefully it's not a repeat offense.  He's matured since then (in the two months) I'm sure of it!  I'm looking forward to it now.  Ask me again tomorrow around 3 when it's over.

Last, FRIDAY!!!  The kids have Friday off school, and I'm baking cookies with them, which means me upstairs with Betty Crocker while the kids run wild in the basement until it's time for frosting because I am more excited about this than they are.  THEN, THEN!!! CHRISTMAS AT THE ZOO!!  I have always wanted to go to Christmas at the Zoo, and we get to go this year!!  Then, Saturday morning with the boys Christmas, which they are very concerned about because how will Santa know to come on Christmas Eve Eve instead of Christmas Eve?  I hate Santa, but that's another blog entirely.  I just unconvincingly said, "Don't worry about it."

I have more to write, but sitting up is becoming increasingly difficult.  I'm goin back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali....if Cali is my bed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My chest aches

It is no secret that my past is not a pretty thing.  From the age of about 17 to around 27 my life was a mess, to put it mildly.  Things that happened during that time tend to come back to haunt me, especially at bedtime.  I believe it's a major source of my insomnia.  I spend a lot of nights crying into my pillow.

A lot of this rethinking showed up with my counseling for my Asperger's diagnosis.  Social training not only taught me how to interact and read others, it also taught me the cruelty of others, cruelty that I did not have the capacity to understand before my training.  I have a tendency to review past interactions, interactions that meant nothing to me at the time, and feel immensely hurt now that I understand them.  Boyfriends who I thought I loved at tender ages cheated, and it didn't hurt for more than a second, or even at all.  Donny's abuse really didn't have much affect on me until much later, and once I figured it out, there was no pain at all.  I was able to walk away from a years'-long relationship without a drop of hurt or care.  I'd moved on emotionally before I'd even moved out of the house.  Within hours of the boot flying at my face, actually.  I remember it being a huge problem in the break up.  He would cry and yell and scream about how angry and hurt he was and that he loved me and needed me, and we had to make this work, and all I could muster was a bored stare.  There was a common complaint of, "How can you be so cold?"  He's not the only one who has ever said that.  There are people in my life that I should be intensely angry with.  This is what keeps me up at night.  The coldness is gone, and now my emotions, or at least my thoughts, seem to understand what happened around me, and it hurts.  I'm pretty sure my emotions were intact before, but they weren't connecting with my brain.  My behavior acted accordingly, that's for sure.  With each hurt, I got a bit more reckless, but my noodle never connected it with the emotional "pain".  I suppose that's because emotions don't have a mental reaction, really.  They're not connected to anything.  To me, emotions are just words, or a fleeting physical reaction.  My chest aches now, though, so that's something.

OK, I am interrupting this pensive whine-fest for a little WTF.  I am trying to earn Swagbucks, and I'm watching SBTV, and one of the food videos is seriously, "Spatchcocking a chicken, how to".  W.T.F? Spatchcocking?!?!?!?  What in the heck is that?  I suppose, if I actually WATCHED the video, then I would know, but I don't actually watch the videos.  I turn them on, and then do other things while they earn Swagbucks for me.  That way I can get a free HDTV for Christmas.  You see what I did there?

Also, I was poking through my stats, and there's a way to see what people search to find my blog.  I gotta say, some of y'all are SICK, dudes.  Well, probably not my regular reading dudes, but some of y'all who land on my page.  There are my homies, who find me via Googling my blog or clicking through from FB or the blogs we all share as IndyMoms, and then, there are the strangers.  Some of them are looking for help, mostly parenting an autistic stepkid.  Sorry, can't help you there.  Some of them are looking for an outlet for anger, "my stepmom sucks".  Then, there's the sickos looking for porn.  I promise to you, several of my "readers" have found me by searching for adult websites featuring stepmothers.  I'm happy to say you will find none of that here, sirs.

Though you might have ten years ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For the sake of Pete!

Who is this Pete person, and why are we always worried for his sake?

Have we, as a people, forgotten the fine art of the apology?  I ask this because of an instance I witnessed in the halls of my established educational facility (IUPUI).  The incident triggered in my mind several other incidents that were of the same ilk.  What happened was this:  A girl was sitting in a busy hallway.  Classes had just let out, and the hallway was filling with walkers.  Sitting girl is quite tall, and decided she needed to stretch.  To do so, she stuck her legs out into the middle of the hallway, tripping someone.  She was tall enough that her legs went almost to the other side of the narrow hallway, blocking nearly the entire path in which people were trying to walk.  The person she tripped got upset and said, "Hey, you probably shouldn't stick your legs out into the hallway.  People will trip."  At this point, shouldn't the response from sitting (and now tripping) girl be, "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to trip you."  Shouldn't it?  Instead, her response was, "Pay attention to where you are going.  You could have stepped over my legs."  I don't understand the response, but I see it a lot.  Instead of apologizing to the person who has been offended, hurt, etc., the offender blames the offended for being offended, as though the offender's offensive action is the offended's fault.  Offend.  Just for good measure because I hadn't typed it enough.

Moreso, even if it is an accident, aren't you supposed to apologize?  The girl accidentally tripped the other person.  Had she said, "Sorry, it was an accident" then the tripped girl likely would not have walked off disgustedly shaking her head.  Also, I'd not be writing this blog, so there's that.  Thanks, tripping girl!  Anyway, this links to another incident that happened a few weeks ago.  Two groups of friends were out at separate bars.  One person in one of the groups and one person in the other group don't like one another.  Mutual friends of these two were out at separate locations.  One such person posts on Facebook that they are at such and such bar with such and such people, including the one person from one group that the other person from the other group doesn't like.  You following?  No?  Me neither.  So, the OTHER person that doesn't like the one person posts to the mutual friend that, "I guarantee you'd be having more fun with us at this other bar."  Rude, right?  The implication is, "Oh, I see you're at that bar I hate with that person I don't like.  You'd be having more fun at the bar I like with me instead of with those other horrible people."  The people she doesn't like were linked to the post, so they could read the rude remark.

In this situation, a few people pointed out the rudeness of this statement.  The offender, instead of saying something like, "Oh, that came out wrong.  I'm sorry" said something to the effect of, "Lighten up.  You all read it wrong."  That's not an apology.  You were rude.  You possibly hurt someone's feelings.  If you really didn't mean to be rude, and it was an accident, then apologize!  If you don't apologize, and then say something along the lines of, "It's not what I said, it was what you heard" then you are blaming the person you hurt, making it all the more likely that you really hurt them on purpose and didn't think you'd be called out on it.

Same thing happened in a relationship I was in once.  Boyfriend was in the living room with his friends and thought I was asleep.  They got in some sort of testicle fight, where one of them didn't want to go see some nerd movie and one of them did, so they needed to prove that nerd dudes are not as good as not nerd dudes or something.  My boyfriend needed his nerd friend to know that nerds are virgins and that he was not going to that movie or whatever because, "I get pussy whenever I want."  I heard this.  I was pissed.  I do not give up the vagina just because some dude demands it, and it makes me look like a total hoebag in front of these friends to say that I do.  It also made it seem like he had no feelings for me (not the case at the time) and that all I was good for was a piece of ass.  I was not happy with this.  So, I came out of the bedroom and demanded an explanation.  Whose pussy WAS he getting into whenever he wanted, because it sure as hell wasn't mine.  What explanation did I get?  Not an, "I'm sorry, current love of my life.  I was trying to prove to my buddy that I had more testosterone than he has."  Oh, no!  The "explanation" I got was to blame me.  "I didn't say that.  You must have heard me wrong."

There are many other witnessed incidences of this same thing, but I'm not going to recount them all to you, because my blogs are already too long as it is.  Back to the main question, do we not apologize anymore?  Seriously?  Can no one admit when they are wrong?  Because, dudes, I am telling this to you in all sincerity.  THESE ARE SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU APOLOGIZE!

You should listen to me, too, and I will presently tell you why.  Because I have had social training, and if there's one thing torture taught me, it's how to be polite.  I'm, like, a manners expert.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yay! A Blog!

I've been meaning to update this thing for the longest darn time.  I have so much to say.  Unfortunately, the blog crashed my browser every time I tried to update for the last month or so.  So, I downloaded Google Chrome.  I pinky swear it was because I wanted to update my blog and NOT because I wanted to play Angry Birds.  Promise.

That.  That is a lie.  The Dudes have become obsessed with Angry Birds, and I wanted to see what all of the fuss was.  I downloaded the Chrome version and beat it in a day.  Meh.  What I DO love about it, though.  The sounds!  SO FUN!  I love the music and the little noises the birds make.

Ok, ok, I'm watching Supernanny.  Sometimes, I watch this for tips.  I do the Supernanny time outs for the Little Man.  I do them with Big Man, too, but rarely.  Little Man does what they do on TV.  Scream and run, scream and run, though not all of the time.  Depends on his mood swings.  Big Man sulks to the corner, stands there for a few minutes, and goes about his way.  Sometimes I watch Supernanny to say, "Oh, goodness, at least the dudes aren't THAT bad!"  Then, sometimes I watch and go, "OMG, Little Man is TOTALLY that bad."  Either way, it makes me feel better that I'm not alone, or that I'm not "that mom".  This show also makes me realize that "that mom" is a stressed out messball.  I feel for her in public.  I find myself smiling and making faces at screaming babies and toddlers in the grocery store instead of disrupting my shop to go to a different section of the store until they're gone.  THANKS, SUPERNANNY!

Aaaaanyway.  WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!  We closed on it yesterday and get to move in TWO WEEKS!  It's a little bit stressful, though I think it's more stressful for the rest of the family than it is for me.  Little Man is having a rough time of it, I think.  We're trying to prepare him as much as possible for the new schedule, which is going to be CRAZY!  We aren't comfortable changing him schools in the middle of the school year.  We want to disrupt his schedule as little as possible.  Plus, he's started counseling at his current school.  Then, once we found out that the new school doesn't even offer full-day kindergarten, the deal was sealed.  We'll be driving the dudes an hour to and from school every day.  It's gonna be super nutso MaGoo until the middle-ish of June when they get out.

ALSO! OMGOMGOMG!! I GRADUATE IN MAY!  I am all signed up for my final three classes:  African Politics (my senior seminar), The Politics of Terrorism, and The Politics of Human Consumption.  Gonna be loooads of research.  I'm excited.  I'm writing one huge super paper on the Iraqi conflict this semester, and it's been a really enjoyable project.

The most stress actually hasn't come from the dudes or the new house for me.  It's come from the baby.  Yes, baby.  We are actively trying to conceive!  It's very exciting for us.  We've been planning it for a while.  The stress for me, though, is kinda horrible.  I am ready to get back to work, especially after I graduate, and I'm not sure that I can do that if I have a baby.  My main goal after graduation is to start working on LuLunacy ASAP.  However, I'd like to have a part-time money making job as well.  I don't like not providing financially.  If we have a baby, it wouldn't work with the daycare situation.  As it is, we've got a while to figure it out.  We aren't even pregnant, yet, and who knows if we will be.  Yet to be seen.

Holy Mcbobbysocks, this Glam Fairy show is the worst thing I've ever seen.  Time to shut off the electronics and practice guitar :D

Monday, September 26, 2011


WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!  I didn't wanna say anything until it was official because I didn't want to jinx it like I did last time.  But, IT'S OFFICIAL!  We move in the weekend before Thanksgiving and close on November 2.  WOO HOO!!!  It is the most beautiful house I have ever seen ever.  I was getting so frustrated.  I felt like I was doing just so much work to find us the perfect place to live.  We had to have driven over 1000 miles to go view all of them, and we probably walked through a good 25 different homes that didn't "feel" right.  Then, we put an offer in on one, but it already had a contingency offer on it, and their house sold, so they bought it.  Then, we put an offer in on a second one, and someone else's offer was accepted on that one, too.  It was SO discouraging!  In the end, I'm glad all of that happened, because THIS house is so much better than those!

Oh, pictures!

This is the front of the house.  The landscaping is really gorgeous.

This is the living room.  This is the only room in the house that I feel like it doesn't have much personality.  It needs a pretty wall color.  We do love how big the windows are and that they go almost to the floor.
THIS IS THE MOST WONDERFUL KITCHEN EVAAAAR!!  The counters are gorgeous, and the appliances stay, and I LOVE that built-in desk for the kids to do homework, and the VIEW out that sink window is

The dining room goes onto the back deck, also with a gorgeous view.  That wall back there is a textured wallpaper that has been painted red.  I stood there for a while just feeling up the wall.  Like Get Him To The Greek.

This is where the magic happens!  It is also red.  And big.  The closet in here is as big as a room!

MY VERY OWN SPACE!!!  This is the loft upstairs.  My books and my reading couch and my pretty cedar chest go here, and also my sewing stuff!  I can get back to sewing pretty things, and it will be fabulous!

I love this enormous window.  Two-story entry way.

The deck off the dining room.  THIS IS WHERE I WILL HAVE MY COFFEE!  Looking at this amazing view and listening to the birds.

Front porch!  Quick, get thee to Cracker Barrel and purchase some rocking chairs!  Sometimes, I will have my coffee here instead, to break up the monotony.

This little barn is where we would like to put chickens.  Szechuan Farms, we will call it.  I will make a tiny sign to go above the tiny door.  Technically, it's against covenants, but we're gonna try to work around it.  We want eggs.

GIANT GARAGE OF DOOM!!  Has a big upstairs loft thingie, too, for things like storage or an apartment.

We're on the lake!!!  This is my coffee-drinking view every morning.

It's awesome, amiright?  The day we bought it, we were too excited to sleep, so we decided to name it.  At 5:30 a.m.  It had to be something badass and actiony, since that's what we are.  Ninja House eventually turned into Jackie Chan Estates and Szechuan Chicken Farms.  You can't go wrong, really.  I mean, the place has to be awesome with a name like that.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Into the Land of Controversy

I've been having a lot of controversial thoughts in my head lately, and I've been spitting them out.  This is likely going to be more of the same.  I think I'm just going to make a series of statements.  With numbers, so that it is orderly.  I like orderly.

1.  I'm sitting at Panera right now, and for serious, the ladies at the next table are having a "my medical problem is worse than your medical problem" contest.  Dudes, WTF is up with one-upmanship?  How is there some sort of pride in how many bladder infections you can rack up in a year?  It's never anything positive, either.  I guess then it isn't called one-upping.  It's called bragging.  Whatever.  I'm trying to have my lunch, you namby-pamby ladies, and I don't need to hear all about your bacteria.

2.  Along the same lines, people have a right to complain and whine every now and again.  Sometimes, you are sick.  Sometimes, you hurt.  Sometimes, you've had a quite crap day, and you wanna whine about it.  Sometimes you're negative for a couple of days straight because the junk keeps pilin' on, ya know?  I think if someone is having a bad day and is whining and complaining, maybe listening is in order, instead of this attitude of, "Pffff, your life is easy.  Check out how awful MY life is."  (I swear, I just put "you're" instead of "your" in that sentence.  That is how seriously I take this.  I make grammar mistakes.)  Also a pet peeve of mine, "That's okay, because..."  Here's an example:

Gertrude:  "Man, my husband has been really inattentive lately.  He's been super stressed at work.  He's usually so appreciative of me.  It is hurting my self-esteem a little bit."
Hattie:  "That's okay.  My husband is inattentive all the time.  I've just gotten used to it.  He never remembers my birthday or to kiss me goodbye in the morning, and he never says thank you when I do his laundry and perfectly fold his socks."

See that?  Gertrude now feels like a horrible person because she had a small complaint about her husband, which she's allowed to have, ya know?  Gertrude is having a little bit of pain because of her husband's actions, and Hattie completely minimized those feelings because Gertrude's life can't POSSIBLY be as bad as hers.  Worse, the "it's ok".  The Hell?  No, it's not.  It's not okay that your homie is hurting, Hattie!  Even something silly like "My kid pooped on the floor."  "It's ok, MY kid poops on the carpet all of the time."  WHAT?  Why does your kid's behavior make someone else's kid's behavior okay?  I will tell to you right now, IT DOESN'T! 

3.  I like how I went back and forth between "ok" and "okay" in this story.  Screw consistency.

4.  I'm totally no nonsense.  In all aspects of my life.  Except when I am being nonsensical.  So I guess you could say I'm a "some nonsense" kinda person.  However, my no nonsense parts are super no nonsense.  There are things I will not tolerate, such as being disrespected, by anyone.  No one has the right to attempt to disrespect me and my choices so that they can try to dictate my behavior.  It will not happen.  Period.

Lots of folks are no nonsense in this way, but I think the way they act on it is different.  The "I will not tolerate this" attitude lends itself to violence, I think.  Or ghetto fabulousness.  Or argumentative back and forth.  Know what I mean?  Defending yourself when someone disrespects you is a natural reaction to being disrespected, I think, and in defending yourself, you often disrespect the other party, who in turn needs to defend himself/herself/itself/catself/ratself/shelfself/where was I?

Anyway, I don't react this way to the disrespect.  I'm just not all that argumentative.  That's not to say that I'm not confrontational.  I am.  But, I don't go into confrontation when angry, in general.  I like to think out my argument first.  Things usually go this way with me, someone disrespects me, on FB or through e-mail or even in person, and I walk away with no reply.  I delete them as a friend, I ignore their messages, I don't return their calls, or, in extreme cases of a disrepectful relationship, I moved out.  He just came home one day, and I was gone.  I just, never speak to these people again.  No explanations, no attempts at reconciliation.  Nothing.  I think this way of not tolerating disrespect has something to do with my Asperger's.  In my head, a pissing contest just ain't logical, and I can't justify any behavior that isn't illogical.  That's what makes parenting so difficult for me.  Children, they are not logical, so I don't understand them.

The kids are what started me on this topic.  I have a zero tolerance policy for disrespect in my home.  I, of course, am not going to just walk away and never speak to them again.  Some folks are more important than that.  This isn't some silly boyfriend or some idiot I went to high school with.  This is my family.  Concessions in my behavior must be made as far as my dealing with the inevitable disrespect that happens when you have children.

As such, zero tolerance and all, discipline for this is swift and ninja like.  There are no warnings.  For the most part, kids are kids, and they act up and whatever, and they'll get a "Hey, stop annoying your brother, or you'll get a time out" or "Dudes, for serious, stop shrieking, or you'll get a time out."  We will be warny mcwarnersons all day.  But, for disrespectful speech, no warnings.  Put your nose in the corner.  I am an adult in this house, and I won't be spoken to in that way, and that's that.

Here's where the controversial part starts in this.  I won't take a "kids are kids" stance on this.  The sweeping generalizations of "teenagers have a bad attitude" won't fly with me.  I've seen several IndyMoms threads over the years about the preteen roll your eyes and sigh crap, and I am telling you, no.effin.way.  I know most of the parents just laugh it off as that's how preteens are and what not and "as long as Mabel does what I tell her to do, I don't care if she rolls her eyes while doing it."  I just can't get behind it.

The thread that inspired this was entitled "How do you get your kids to help around the house?"  It was a thread about making housework fun and tricking your kids into doing their chores.  Not babies and toddlers, either, big kids.  I was staring at this thing in absolute awe.  Uh, in my house, you do what your parents ask you to do, and that's it.  No tricks.  No bribery.  You do what needs done.  You pick up after yourself, and you keep your space clean because that's what you do when you respect your family and their space.  I'm sure when they are older, if they go above and beyond, they'll get some allowance, like they would at a job.  I'm also sure that when they're older, if you don't do what I tell you to do when I tell you to do it, out of respect for your parents and your house, they'll have the same consequences they do now, toys will be taken.  Right now, I'll take your Lego.  When you're 17, I'll take your car keys.  Same thing as always.

Wow, this is long.  Aren't they always?  There's lots more I want to say, but I think I'm out of time.  I gotta get another cup of coffee and work on this paper on Iraq.

My next blog post will be about houses and babies and other happy things!!!  Life is really, REALLY going great right now.  The dudes are doing really well in school.  The behavior problems from Little Man at school have really leveled off as he's adjusted, and the ball is rolling to get him talking to the school counselor, which I'm sure will seal the deal on his awesomeness.  He mostly just acts like a normal 5-year-old boy now.  No more violent outbursts and whatnot, just a bit of testing limits on when he has to sit down and stop playing, etc.  Also, Big Man got Prospector of the Week last week, which means he is extra special helpful at school and got to have a trophy on his desk for everyone to see all week.  He acted like it was no big deal, but I could tell he was proud.  Also, I'm pretty sure he's doing some sort of insanely complicated math in his head all day every day.  Too, because I'm sick of writing also, he started reading a chapter book!  Captain Unnapants!  I hope he enjoys it.

Ok, seriously, I have to figure out how to fix United States' foreign policy in the Middle East.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Choices and the Blame Game

I woke up about 2 hours ago (3:30 a.m.! Why is there even such a time?!) in a deep depression.  I sit here full of woe and pensiveness.  And also water, apparently, because my stomach hurts.  It's also larger than usual, which kicked off the slight depression a few days ago.  I got sick a couple of weeks ago.  A sore throat and a severe cough.  I let it go for a week.  The kids had it for a few days, and it went away, so I assumed the same would be for me.  Not true, Sirs!  Turns out I let bronchitis go for too long, and had an acute asthma episode.  I didn't even know I had asthma.  It hurts, though.  Waking up several times a night, unable to breathe and unable to do a breathing treatment because the machine is loud enough to wake up the house.  Plus weeks of waking up at least once an hour to have a coughing fit.  Consequently, that also wakes up the house.

HOLY CRAP!  The cat just scared the living daylights out of me.  I'm sitting in the bathroom, because it is 5:30 in the morning, and I do not wish to wake up the house (again with this), and he just attacked the bathroom door, ninja style. 

Anyway, long story short, I've been sick; therefore, I've been inactive; therefore, I am gaining weight.  I have tried some movement and ended up with chest and breathing issues.

This damn cat is now meowing at the door!  HE IS GOING TO WAKE UP THE HOUSE!!!  AAAAAAAARG!!

Seriously, though, I'd let him if Eric wasn't included.  He didn't do anything to me.  My depression was small because of my weight gain.  It ballooned because of the way I'm being treated in my home lately.  That includes being woken up by screaming and fighting in the mornings, complements of two growing boys.  I've half a mind to lock the cat in their rooms and let him wake them up with loud noise at 4 a.m.  Get offa my lawn! *shakes fist*

I won't do that, of course.  It'd be a bad choice.  Oh, look!  The meat and taters of the post!

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head's teenaged daughter came home with a new boyfriend.
"Mom, Dad, meet my new boyfriend, Dan Rather."
"You can't date Dan Rather!  He's just a common tater!"

Ok, ok, in all seriousness.  We've had a rough couple of days here.  I'm feeling supremely unappreciated.  After vacuuming, cleaning up after the dudes, cooking their meals, getting them ready for school, packing delicious lunches, helping with homework, reading stories, hauling one to swim practice, etc., the parents of this house have been repaid by being punched, kicked, screamed at and lied to.  Requests for things such as, "Get your pants on." have led to 90 minutes of screaming (naked.  I nearly took a video, it was so ridiculous.)

Us:  Little Man, get out of the shower and put your swim trunks on.  We have to leave for swim practice in 10 minutes.
Little Man:  *sits in his room naked for 8 minutes*
Us:   We are leaving in 2 minutes.
Little Man: (after a couple of hours of being excited to go swimming) I DON'T WANT TO GO!
Us:  Ok.

It's at this point that the LM wants to assure us that he is the boss of the house.  He will get dressed and go swimming on his own time, not ours.  One, this makes us upset, which is fun for him.  Two, this makes Big Man upset, because Big Man will be late, and he likes to be organized and on time.  Little Man's favorite pasttime is upsetting Big Man.

That didn't happen today.  Truthfully, in this little display, it never happens.  Just like always, Little Man's fit got him nothing he wanted and only a time out.  I packed Big Man up in the car and got him to swim practice on time.  Eric, however, endured 90 minutes of nude screaming, flailing, punching and kicking walls and whining because Little Man did not get to go swimming.  He got zero attention for this behavior.  He threw his fit, and, just like always, when he was quiet and calmed down for 5 minutes, he was allowed out of time out. 

There was a similar exchange yesterday morning when I asked him to get dressed for school.  Here is the procedure.  If you miss the bus, I take you to school.  If you are late for school, school rules dictate that you miss recess.  Period.  Discipline does not stop in the mornings because you will be late for the bus.  If you choose to earn a time out in the morning and miss the bus, you choose to be late for school and miss recess.

In the last couple of days, Little Man has gotten it into his head that it is okay to have a snotty attitude with me.  I will ask him to do something, and he will ignore me.  I will ask him to do it again.  He will give me a snotty, "All RIIIIIGHT!" or "I WILL!" or "I SAID, OKAY!"  This, I will not tolerate.  He was given one warning.  "If you speak to me like that again, you will earn a time out."  I told him to get dressed.  I came back 10 minutes later.  Still naked.  Bus time approaching.  I told him the bus was coming in 8 minutes.  Get dressed.  "ALL RIGHT! I AAAAAM!"  That, sir, is a 5-minute time out.

He refused.  I Supernanny'd his butt right in there.  Picked him up, zero eye contact, placed him in the corner.  He kicked me.  He got no response.  He hit me.  He got no response.  He screamed, "I'll walk myself!"  He got no response.  He threw himself on the floor.  I picked him back up and placed him in the corner.  No eye contact.  No talking to him.  He got out to the bus with one minute to spare.

Big Man does the snotty attitude, as well, just not at home.  His Mimi and his Mommy get the brunt of his bad attitude.  He, however, looked in my face and lied to me last night.  About something stupid.  "Yes, I cleaned my room like you asked me to."  I didn't check.  He's 7.  I shouldn't have to.  Two hours later I walked into the disaster area that was his bedroom to put him to bed, only to find out he'd lied to get out of doing it until tomorrow.  He hadn't cleaned a single thing.  This was the straw that broke the camel's back.  The thing that's keeping me up at night, thinking and wondering and pondering and pensivenessing.

Of course, the inevitable question is, why?  Why do they act this way?  Especially Little Man, which I hate to say.  Big Man is really easy.  He's a people pleaser, mostly.  He has his moments, and he's a super duper control freak, but he's generally respectful.  So, why, Little Man?  Why the 2-hour fits every.single.time?  Why, in the years you have been doing this, do you not understand that you never get what you want?

Here's where the blame game starts.  I blame myself most.  I quit my job to stay home and fix this behavior, mono y mono.  It isn't fixed.  It's better, but he still melts down like he's a toddler at times.  He's not.  He's 5.  I'm consistent with discipline.  It isn't working.  I'm doing something wrong.  I blame Eric.  He's consistent with discipline.  Whatever he's doing isn't working, either.  He's doing something wrong.  I blame their mother, grandmother, and great aunt.  They're consistent with discipline.  Not working.  They must be doing something wrong.  The blame game goes on, on all sides of the fence.  In private, the two households sling mud at one another from behind closed doors. (Of course, we never communicate this into the open) One's too strict, the other's too lenient.  THIS!  This is what we are doing wrong!

The bottom line is this.  These two dudes are 5 and 7 years old.  They are not babies.  They know the rules.  More importantly, THEY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.  They can see that we blame everyone else for THEIR actions.  Little Man did not kick me because I am a poor disciplinarian, though if you ask him why, he will tell you it is MY fault that he kicked me.  Both dudes were in the bath the other day.  They splashed water all over the floor, a violation of a rule that has been in place for years, a rule they haven't broken in years.  If you ask them why, they will tell you it is their MOTHER'S fault for leaving them alone in the bath.   Big Man threw a fit because he forgot his crayons in the church library the other day.  When asked why he was screaming and crying and acting ridiculous, he said it was ERIC'S fault for not reminding him of the crayons.  Little Man was asked to put away his laundry.  When he didn't do it, he blamed ME for not giving him hangers (he uses a stool to get them himself).

They've picked up on the blame game.  In their heads, it's everyone's fault but theirs.  Personal responsibility is a complete enigma.  They've not been held to it.  Instead, we wonder what WE, as parents, are doing to CAUSE this behavior.  We aren't causing it.  They are choosing it.  Little Man CHOSE to kick me.  He KNEW it was wrong.  They CHOSE to splash all of the water out of the bath.  They KNOW it was wrong.  We are long past the stage of, "They don't know any better."  Yes, they do, and it's damn time they act like it.  No more blame game.  They receive discipline, and it is consistent.  It is not my fault.  It is not Eric's fault.  It is not Mimi, Mommy or Unny's fault.

From now on, Dudes, it's on you.   I love you.  I do everything I can for you. I won't tolerate this hating myself because I think I've failed you.  I haven't.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Unpopular Opinion

I have something to say. It may be unpopular, but it isn't poorly thought out. I've read several arguments on all sides, and these are the conclusions that I came up with. I tried not to be dogmatic. I tried to erase everything I thought I knew. I came out with a new perspective.

Parents: Do you let your teenagers rule the roost? Do they make the rules? Do they handle the finances? Do you discipline them at all, or do they walk all over you? Have your teenagers ever made a mistake? Have they ever lied to you? Did you ever make a mistake as a teenager? A big one? How long did it take for you to really realize the impact of that mistake? More than, "I got a punishment because I...insert whatever rule you broke here." I mean REAL impact, not remorse at getting caught. Impacts such as hurt caused to others, lasting life changes in the lives of others. When does a teenager grow up and realize that every choice they make affects the family? I'd wager to say, most of us don't "get it" until give or take our 30s, and some folks never grow up.

In the game of global politics, of world statehood, the United States of America is a teenager. We're a young country, and I'll be damned if we don't rule the roost! WE make the rules. WE control the finances. We go undisciplined. We make mistakes. We lie about them. We ignore the impacts on others and think only of the impacts to our domestic national security. Let me make clear, however, the "we" I'm speaking about. I'm speaking about the United States of America as a government, NOT about the United States of America as a people.

The United States is an empire. Our leaders won't admit it, and we, as a people, don't want to hear it, and we don't want to believe it. I think these reasons are twofold. One, "empire" is historically a dirty word. It calls to mind selfish brutes who destroy entire peoples for territory. Two, EMPIRES ALWAYS FALL! They get too big. There has never been an empire that can sustain large territorial acquisitions from a centralized location.

It's time to change the tides! Learn from our mistakes! One man in Tunisia began the Arab Spring! We, as Americans, can stand up to our government and say, "WE DON'T WANT TO BE ANOTHER FAILED EMPIRE!!"

We have pride here. Accepting defeat hurts our egos, much like in any teenager. Admitting mistakes is hard. Making up for them is harder. No empire in history has stood the test of time without being toppled by an enemy. To that end, no empire in history has ever willingly handed their power back, as a concession, to say, "This was a mistake."

Was our country not founded on the principles of sovereignty? How, then, do we take sovereignty from others, as though it is our right, because we have the money to develop technology that allows us to do so?

This is not to say that all of our empirical aims are done with selfish intentions. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. The United States is a nurturing country, as well. We fund humanitarian missions and help prop up poor economies. To go back to my parenting metaphor, we're much like mothers. Except, we're teenagers. Do we, as Americans, really want to be the teen mom of the world?

Our leaders fear for our national security. To these means, staying the global hegemon is in the best interest of the state. Perhaps it's time to rethink the theory. IS being the hegemon in the best interest for US, the people of the state? Why shouldn't we concede some of our power to states who have been there before, grown, and LEARNED from their mistakes? Let them take some of the power, and for God's sake, let them take some of the responsibility! We are one, very, very young country. Our empire WILL fall. They always do. We've done it one way for long enough. It's time to try something different.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I think my first order of business after I graduate (in 8 months!) is going to be to write a book.  Not an uber-serious political manifesto about US foreign policy in the Middle East, Oh, No!  That would be too much of a perfectly good use of my degree.  The book I want to write is fiction, sort of.  Fiction of the sort that makes pre-teen series books, a la Junie B. Jones, which, incidentally, I have never read.

It would be in the same voice as my blog, which means my heroine, LuLu Walsh, would say things like bliggity blog and Jerky McJerkJerk.  Perhaps I should...crap.  The bottom of my pants is all wet from walking in the rain.  I just tried to climb into bed and got my feet all wet.  AAARG!  I must to be changing my pants.

LuLu will say things like, "I must to be" and "I am telling to you."  She will be 13 or 14-ish, I think, and slightly odd (herein is where the "sort of" fiction lies, as I can use instances from my own teenaged years).  Some time later in the series, she will be diagnosed with Asperger's, which she will consistently call by the wrong name in an effort to deny that she has Asperhoitytoity's or Aspergersherger's.  Perhaps the book should BE LuLu's blog.  Then I can make a REAL blog here on Blogger in LuLu's name and write it as her.  That sounds fun.

I am asking to you, my 30 readers, do you like this idea?  Would your daughters like to read it?

Edited to Add:  LuLunacy!  Figured I better snag it up now :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A dark spot in an otherwise bright world

So, I haven't slept in a good, long while.  A few days.  Five, maybe six.  It's all just one long day at this point.  It started with a 3-day migraine.  The headache didn't let me sleep, so I took a Motrin PM for a few nights, and that started really weird dreams.  Dreams of being eaten by dinosaurs and the cat being kidnapped by drug dealers.  Just messed up.  They kept me awake every couple of hours, so I'd sleep for a few hours and then be awake for an hour and a half, etc.  Then two nights ago, I started waking up every 45 minutes.  Even a couple of naps I tried to take were interrupted by strange dreams.

Last night, though, the dream woke me up with a broken heart.  I was having a baby, but the nurses and doctors wouldn't let Eric or my mom in the delivery room.  When the baby was born, everyone kept calling the baby "Jason" and saying that he was called Jason after his father.  I kept screaming, "No! His name is not Jason!  My husband is Eric, not Jason!"  I kept asking for Eric, but they wouldn't let him in, and then a couple came in, and the nurses gave them my baby.  I woke up with a pain in my chest, and I couldn't get back to sleep.  It just hurt so badly.

I don't even know where to go from there.  I need to sleep.

We are still trying to buy a house and sell our house.  Nothing much has come our way.  It's at a bit of a standstill, which is fine, because with the kids in school and me in school, it's been a little crazy.  Little Man has been doing better in kindergarten.  We haven't had any major incidences for a couple of weeks.  He just has some trouble with volume control. 

Both boys have been acting kind of odd at home, though.  Little Man is acting out in ways he hasn't for years.  It's been weird, his attitude.  He's been really disrespectful and rude to his father, telling him "no" when told to go to time out and even yelling, "Listen to me when I'm talking to you!" at him.  We can deal with it.  He just gets to stand in the corner longer.  Big Man, however, is acting really, really strangely.  He's throwing crazy fits, which is not like him at.all.  For odd things like spilling his juice.  He's breaking down in tears and screaming like his world is over.  I really think he's not sleeping well, either.  He seems really, really tired.  He won't tell me when I ask him (not unusual).  He's still doing well in school, though I wonder how he's doing on the friend front.  He says he doesn't have any, but he doesn't seem to care.  Big Man is a lot more mature (usually) than other children his age, and I think he just can't connect with them.  He doesn't care about things like Spiderman or riding his bike like other kids do.  Maybe that's our fault.  He just hasn't seemed interested in anything we've brought to his attention.  He doesn't want to play sports.  I'm not sure he has any interests at all.  None that he will tell me about, anyway.  I try to bring home books about space, skateboarding, Captain Underpants, baseball.  He hates it all.  I've taken him to the store to pick out toys.  He takes 45 minutes to pick out nothing.  He's just not interested in anything at all.  He probably does genius-level math in his head all day, and we can't see his untapped talent.  He has all perfect behavior days at school, a whole month's worth, so I put a computer in his room.  It's Net Nannied (by me, because I have to put a password in for him to turn it on), of course, but he seems to be able to learn anything if it's attached to a monitor, so maybe we can see what kinda stuff he's into because that's what he'll look for.  I feel like I don't know the Big Man at all, so I don't know how to take his change in behavior.  I hope he opens up a little more.  I can tell he still doesn't trust me.  He asks me sometimes when I'm going to leave.  He's just such a serious and complex young man.  You get the feeling from him that he hasn't been a child in a long time.

I shoulda got a falcon.

Monday, August 8, 2011


What's that mean?  I don't know.  You don't know.  Google doesn't know.  It was my "word verification" so that I could post on Leti's blog, U8MyCrayons.

It's the beginning of the second week at school.  Hopefully it's better than the last one.  Well, Big Man did awesome, of course, because he feels embarrassed when he behaves poorly in public.  Heck, he feels embarrassed when he behaves poorly at home.  He's so flippin easy.  The worst we have to deal with is him telling the Little Man what to do all of the time and the monster that is "I forgot."  I promise to you that I am going to ban the word "forgot" from this house.  I can't do that.  I'm scared of what other "F" words they'll figure out to replace it with.

Oh, man, GO, BIG MONEY!

Sorry.  I love these Flo commercials.  Hilarious.  Also, "you look like a beach angel!" haaaaaahahahahaha

Ok, so, the big problem school wise is, of course, the Little Man.  I mentioned last blog that I was concerned that I hadn't been able to modify his behavior enough and that he'd get violent at school.  I was concerned that we'd made the wrong decision about allowing him to start kindergarten, even though his preschool teacher felt he wasn't ready.  I was positive I could turn his social skills around in time.

I failed.  I failed big time.  It took a total of five days for my failure to show its face.  He had three perfect days Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday he had to move his card because he got two warnings for "talking too loudly."  This is expected, as Little Man's volume control when he gets excited is about as good as mine.  Still, it wasn't too bad.  Friday, the poop hit the things with the stuff, and he did so poorly at school that he got a call home.  Eric let me listen to the message.  It was so embarrassing.  The teacher sounded so frustrated and upset, and I completely understood her frustration.  He reverted to the same behaviors that he had with me when I first started staying home with him.  He fought with her about using the restroom.  He hit her with his lunchbox.  He was told he lost his free time because of his behavior, and his response was, "Whatever."  She told him to sit still while the other children had their free time.  He refused and told her he wasn't going to do anything she said. 

*sigh*  He's lucky he's as easy to love as his brother.  He behaves this way, and you think he's possessed.  He goes from zero to terrorist in 0.23 seconds.  Then, once he calms down, he turns on the charm big time, and it's easy to forget that you have to follow through on the consequences.  The dimples come out, the big blue eyes with the cute wire glasses, the head cocked to the side and the innocent little, "sowwy."  What is unfortunate is that he isn't really sorry.  He thinks "sorry" means no standing in the corner, or he gets his toys back, or he gets to do what he wanted before he got in trouble.  Once he says sorry and still gets a consequence, he goes off again with screaming and fit throwing.  Our consequences have been working rather well at home.  I rarely deal with fits, and he rarely, RARELY hits me, like once a month if that, where it used to be every day several times a day.  The problem is, every authority figure he has, he needs to test them.  He needs to be on his worst behavior to see if they mean business, but darn it, HOW LONG DOES HE NEED TO TEST?!?  He's been testing mom and grandma forEVER now.  WHY is it taking so long for him to see that they mean business?!  Is he going to test every new teacher he has for the entire year he has them before he realizes they have consequences?  He'll get booted out of school!  He hits someone now, and it sucks, but it doesn't really hurt.  If he's still hitting by the time he's 15, he's gonna knock someone out and go to jail.

Sometimes I watch Supernanny to remind myself that it's not THAT bad.  At least he's not cussing me out or calling me names.  Yet.

Let's talk about awesome stuff, instead.  Academically, Little Man is doing REMARKABLY well.  Now, listen to me when I tell you this.  All summer, I worked with the kids on memorizing their address and phone number.  How I did this was that I made a template with it written on it, and I had them copy it to memorize it.  Dudes.  This shit DOES NOT WORK!  All summer I had them doing this.  For months and months.  First day of school rolls around, and I'm all, "What's your phone number?"  And they're all, "What you talkin 'bout, Willis?  We have a phone?"  Well, on Tuesday, Little Man's homework was "practice your phone number."  So, I tried a new technique.  I present to you:

Giant telephone!  I taped this big telephone to the floor and had them both jump from number to number.  They knew the number within 3 tries.  It took all of 60 seconds for them to learn it.  Heck, Big Man learned it backward, too!  Months of writing?  Failure!  Giant telephone?  WIN!  Except the next morning, at 7:30 a.m., Little Man decided to pick up my phone and try to practice his phone number on it.  He couldn't find the number pad on the touch screen, so he just started pushing buttons....and he called and woke up my friend.  Sorry, again, Liz!  Note to self:  Put the telephone in a high place.

Oh, crap!  I gotta go get my brakes checked!  Ciao! Aloha! Arrividerci!  Adios!  Uh....whatever goodbye is in French!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Terry says the only reason he signed the birth certificate is because he was drunk on moonshine!"

I haven't written a post in a very, very long time.  I know that, and I'm sorry, but I will explain it all here in this blog.  July was flippin crazy!  Eric and I got married and went for a week on our honeymoon, and as soon as we got back, the kids had only 6 days until school started, so we had to get them registered and shopped and get their schedules set, plus re-teaching them all of the rules of the house.  Little Man was a bit nuts for the week and back to square one on the testing limits department since he'd spent a week with grandparents.  This blog post is probably gonna be long.  I'm going to write it in pieces.

Firsty first!  WEDDING!  Dudes!  It was simply amazing.  I know most of you read my Facebook and have seen all of the 8804 pictures I've posted, so I'm only going to post a few of my favorites here.  First and foremost, I am OFFICIALLY AND LEGALLY a stepmother! (Click pics to make them bigger)

The dudes seemed pretty happy at the wedding.  Big Man didn't want to take off his tuxedo.  Little Man threw his jacket, vest, tie and shoes off as soon as he finished walking down the aisle.  He started undressing before he was even back to his seat!  I promise to you that I did not teach him stripping as a life skill.

Ok, ok, I need to back track a little bit to a few days before the wedding.  Eric and I hired a photographer that also happens to be a long-time friend of mine, but he lives in Las Vegas.  Therefore, our "engagement" photos didn't happen when we got engaged.  Rather, they happened two days before the wedding when he flew into the city.  We went to Broad Ripple Park to shoot them, and it was just beautiful out there.  Even though we took some pictures in a clearing near the pool, and the park itself was blaring loud, inappropriate rap music at high volumes.  It was odd.  The pool was full of little kids.  Anyway, here are some of the shots we got:

Ok, ok, so that's that.  It was really a lot of fun.  The next day was our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  That was NOT fun.  It was really stressful for me.  I had no idea what I was doing, but everyone kept asking me what to do during the rehearsal, and then when I made a decision and told someone what I wanted them to do, a dozen people would chime in as to why that was a bad idea, and we should do it their way.  It wasn't that their ideas weren't good, because they were, it was just a load of stress on me.  There seemed to be constantly more than one person talking to me at all times, so I'd get very confused.  Besides, there was a wedding coordinator there for the whole thing.  And in the end, we ended up doing exactly what SHE said about every detail, since she was the most experienced one in the room.  I wish she hadn't been so quiet and had stepped up to take charge instead of waiting until everyone was done yelling across the room at me and quietly saying, "Karen, I think we should do it this way."  I should have just shouted, "Listen up!  Do whatever Priscilla tells you to do!"  Then I wouldn't have wanted to kick myself in the shins.  As it was, the rehearsal nightmare was only an hour and a half out of my life, and it went well in the end, and then it was time for the rehearsal dinner, which was just what the doctor ordered.  No fancy, shmancy to-do for us, no, sir.  We just invited the whole entourage over to play in the sprinkler and have a cookout.  It was a good time with good family, and it was perfect.

Ok, listen, I just left to go do some errands, and one of them was to the library, and seriously, dudes, w.t.f?!?  Has library etiquette completely changed, or is it just my ghetto-ass side of town?  I'm unbelievably pissed.  That was my only fun activity for the day, and those jerks completely ruined it.  Listening to a radio with NO HEADPHONES, several people talking on the phone, and the librarians not doing a dang thing.  One lady was arguing on the phone and shouting while sitting at a computer.  What kinda....ARG!

Back to regularly scheduled happiness.  WEDDING DAY!!  Let's just say it was maaagnificent, and here are some pictures.  If you can't tell, I'm a damn happy bride.  It's been a couple of weeks, and I can say I'm a damn happy wife, as well.  I officially had my name changed yesterday (and got a parking ticket in the process, boo).

First off, as I mentioned in a previous blog, we are crazy about action films.  We fell in love watching action films together, and we wanted to incorporate that into our wedding in some way, even though we had a formal to-do planned.  We got married at a theatre, and the theatre had some poster boxes out front, so we used those, and our friend Stephanie made these for us to put there:

And we had the marquee!

It was really beautiful at night.  Here are a couple of pictures of the ceremony.  I was very giddy during the whole thing and giggling, etc.

On another note, I have a double chin, and I hate it.  When did my face get fat?  I do not know.  The rest of me is not fat.  I read that chewing gum can help it, but 1) I hate chewing gum, and 2) isn't chewing what got me into this predicament in the first place?  Oooh, I need to go clean the kitchen for the only time today.  More on that later.

We went to Key West on our honeymoon!  We were totally nerdalicious on it, too, and did a ton of geocaching.  (, check it out)  We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and drove down to the Keys, and just had a good road trip together.  Eric and I travel very well together.  There was a drawbridge going up on the way there, and that was pretty cool, and then a ship flying pirate flags went under it.  Our first few days at our hotel were awesome.  I think we were the only ones there.  It was seriously relaxing and exactly what we needed.  We did a lot of walking and bike riding and lying by the pool and watching movies and just not having a care in the world...until Thursday haha.  The hotel filled up on Thursday.  Key West is a party town, which we didn't exactly know much about when we chose our location.  That's really not our style.  Our hotel was on the "quiet" end of Duval St., but even so, it had its own piano bar, which was right outside of our hotel room, and very, VERY loud until late at night.  We didn't sleep well on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, and we had to leave Sunday morning at 5 a.m. to drive up to meet our plane.  After the third day of no sleep, we were kind of irritable, though we did have quite a few afternoon naps.  When we left there was a naked man outside of our room on the patio.  He was still drunk.  Not really our scene.  We enjoyed ourselves, but we likely won't go back.  We did like going somewhere we've never been before, and we went off the beaten path quite a bit, saw some parks and beaches and did some scavenging for geocaching, and then we went parasailing!  I was terrified but excited.

I am really scared of the water.  I wasn't afraid of going up in the air at all.  I'm not afraid of heights, but the boat, dudes, the BOAT!  I'm afraid of the ocean; and, furthermore, I don't like to get wet.  It's a complete sensory issue.  I can't really describe the feeling when water or Kool-Aid or spit or anything liquid touches my skin.  I can't tell if it's the getting wet part or the instant cold feeling as the water is drying or what.  It's not exactly pain, but I think it triggers the same feelings in my brain.  I DO go swimming and take showers, etc., I just have to know that I'm about to get wet and that there's going to be a towel nearby to get myself as dry as possible as quickly as possible.  I take very, very quick showers, and I dry off while still standing in the shower still immediately.  I just don't like it.  So, I was scared to go parasailing, but I'm not going to let this crap stop me from going on new adventures.  They promised me they wouldn't let me get wet, and they didn't, which I appreciated.  The view was amazingly beautiful.  Eric and I got to go up together.  Unfortunately, my Dramamine stopped working as we headed up into the air, and by the time we were back on the boat, I was feeling it.  I ended up vomiting over the side of the boat in front of ten people :(  That was embarrassing.  It was still a good experience for us.

Man, this is a long blog entry.

Anyway, we got back home, and a few days later, the kids started school!  I was a worry-face, like usual, about the Little Man.  We got all of their supplies, and we practiced some more writing and reading and numbers, etc.  We got a few new clothes and set up a school day schedule.  We weaned the Little Man off of naps and pushed the Big Man's bedtime back an hour, as he was waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. every day.  The Sunday before school started (yesterday), I was a wreck.  I was worried about the preparation for the Little Man.  As I've mentioned before, the Little Man is a challenge.  He's much less challenging than he used to be.  It's been he and I for so long now, working out the kinks in our relationship and working on his behavior issues.  His preschool teacher had told me that he was academically ready for kindergarten, but socially he wasn't there, yet.  I had seen so much improvement between ages 3 and 4-1/2 with him staying home with me and learning with me that I felt confident that by the time kindergarten rolled around, he'd be ready, and I told Eric so.  As the days toward kindy crept forward, though, I began to have my doubts, and I started to worry.  I was worried that someone would take a toy from him, and he'd hit them or scream at his teacher or not listen, etc.  I'm worried that everyone will know how to tie their shoes, and he won't.  I was worried that he would hate school.  He's been saying he doesn't like school ever since the middle of preschool last year.  Both boys flat told me they weren't excited for school to start, and they didn't want to go, and school was boring.

As it was, the first day of school was yesterday.  There was some confusion, as we'd gotten in the mail a card that said their bus number, and that's not the bus that picked them up.  Apparently there was the same mix up on the way home, because the bus was 30 minutes late, and Big Man said they made him go to the office with a note to fix it because he wanted to go on the right bus, and they kept telling him it was the wrong bus.  I was a wreck waiting outside for them for that long.  They got home, and Little Man tells me that he's tired of school already, and that two girls on the bus are mean to him.  He's got little bullies already :(  I asked what he did about it, and luckily, he didn't scream or hit them.  Big Man said he told the bus driver on them, and that was that.  Score one for the dudes!  They sat in a different seat this morning.  Furthermore, after Little Man heard that his big brother had stood up for him and taken care of the problem, he began shouting, "I love kindergarten, and I love my friends, and my teacher, too!!"  Then the boys both pretended to be teachers, and Little Man kept calling them "Mrs. Little Man and Mrs. Big Man" haha.  I'm really happy that my paranoia amounted to nothing so far.

Speaking of....the kids are getting home in an hour, and I've not finished my cleaning that I had planned for the day.  Since they go to school, I only have to clean the kitchen once a day!  It's a flippin miracle!  I usually clean it three times a day at least, if not more.  These two can't eat a Hershey's Kiss without somehow making it look like kitchenpocalypse 2011 in there.  I have loud music on that has curse words in it, too!  And, I watched Maury today, which is where the title of this post came from.  Never.again.  So much shrieking on that show, I thought the kids were still home. Crazy!

Ok, gotta get to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hey, heeeeeeeeeeeey!

DUDES! IT'S BEEN FOREVER!  I will tell you why in this here bloggity blog.  There is SO MUCH going on!  I am telling to you that Mr. Eric and I are getting married in 3-1/2 weeks!  It has been caaaarazy and also awesome.  You can read more about that on our wedding website:


We had a little snag with our invitations and the whatnot where they didn't get to people, so I had to email all of my guests that hadn't RSVP'd to make sure they got their invites, so that was fun.  People were all, "Karen, dude, stop being such a bridezilla.  I have two more weeks until the deadline!"  Dudes.  I KNOW!  I am not calling for an early RSVP.  I'm calling because invitations got lost in the mail, but I don't know WHOSE.  I just need to know if you got it.  Ninjas stole my invitations.  I like to think my mailman is the ninja, and he's upset with me because I did not get him a Christmas card and was only able to donate two cans of vegetables in this year's post office food drive.

In other news...I swear to you I love the flippin Duggers.  Not because they have 19 children, those crazy Duggers, but because they have 19 RESPECTFUL children.  How does THAT happen?

If I had a baby, he would NOT be wearing a stupid diaper that looks like jeans.  That commercial is so moronic.  "My diaper is full....full of FASHION!"  No.  It is not.  That diaper looks like K-mart jeans.  I'm going to invent diapers that say "Juicy" across the butt.  Goldmine.

Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes?  Guys! Ace of Cakes, naturally!  Hmmm....a group of people that screams at one another all of the time, or a group of people who are totally awesome to the max.  Well.  No brainer, really.  That's right.  I said it.  Those of you who prefer Cake Boss have no brains.

I told the dudes that we were leaving for the Children's Museum in an hour.  Clearly, now is the time to go out back and play in the mud.  I swear to you, I am watching them out the window, and I'm gonna have to hose them off.  This is likely going to take 14 baths to clean up.

We're watching a lot of baby shows.  These things are freaking terrifying, you believe me.  The Big Man has been asking about babies and how they are born.  He knows he and his brother were born via C-section, so when we watched Baby's First Day, and he saw some lady with her knees up to her ears, he asked me why she had to do that to get her tummy cut open.  I told him that babies come out their mommy's private bits.  The Big Man does not know that girls' bits are different than boys' bits, so he's thinking, itty bitty tube with a teeny tiny hole.  He looked down at his crotch, looked up at me with this horrified look on his face and says, "Oh, Karen.  I really don't think you should do that."  Sold, kiddo.  Sold.

We have done so.much.awesomeness toward the wedding.  I think we only have one or two more things to do, and we are good to go.  That's what the checklist says, anyway.  Pick up a gift for our best man, do a trial make up run, pick up our rings, and that's it.  We're good to go.  We've been looking online at our honeymoon spot.  We really neeeeeed the vacation.

Ok, ok, I really have to get these muddy kids into the bathing trough, pack up some lunches, and go have a day of hilarious fun.  They need the vacation, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Ottoman

Decades ago, a hole began to form inside of my heart.  It started small, and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger.  I tried to fill it with things that I shouldn't have.  Things everyone but me knew wouldn't work.

Almost 4 years ago, I met a man in a bar, at a Halloween costume party.  I hadn't been out in a while.  I had been spending some time alone, recovering from all of the heart fillers I'd been trying.  I felt nervous stepping back into the bar.  I wasn't sure I was ready.

It started with "I like your costume."  I agreed to a chat.  Then a dance.  Then a phone call, an IM conversation...eventually a "nondate".  I'm not ready to date, yet.  We can go out and have a good time, but just friends.  It's not a date.

The first nondate had us doing homework at my favorite coffee shop, followed by public humiliation via Dance, Dance, Revolution at the arcade, and ending at Blockbuster, where I promised him a movie he would never forget, Death to Smoochy.  Our coffee nondate had lasted 8 hours.

It didn't take long for that hole to feel like it was closing.  I was being completed.  A small fraction at a time, little by little.  With each nondate, the hole got smaller.  I'd come over after his sons were in bed, and we'd watch some bizarre movie I'd chosen, and I'd head home around 11.  My heart was becoming whole again, via popcorn and Jason Statham films.

One night, in the middle of an action film a couple of months into nondating, a small cry came out of the bedroom.
"The little man is awake.  Would you like to meet the baby?"
"Sure."  I wasn't sure.  What if the baby hated me?

The baby didn't hate me.  He came out in his father's arms crying and wanting soothed.  Eric introduced us, and Little Man smiled.  "Beeebaaaaaa".  Eric sat with him on the ottoman, creating a human rocking chair, and rocked the baby back to sleep.

My heart became a little more complete.

That same ottoman is where the hole in my heart completely closed.  I was sitting on it. 

"The ottoman is for feet."

These were the first words ever spoken to me by the Big Man, when he was the tender age of 3.

In 58 days, I will be married into this perfect little family.  The family that made me a person again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I've got a bagel...

I've got a bagel...I've got a bagel, hey, hey, HEY, HEY!

That's not really how the song goes, but I DO WHAT I WANT!

I'm supposed to be studying for an exam about terrorism.  How's that working out for me?  It's not.  I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep, and the Panera is noisy this morning.  I'm just reading the study guide questions over and over again and cannot figure out how to answer them.  Luckily, I can get as low as a 70 on this exam and still get an A in this course.  Suck it, grades.  One more year of school.  Seven classes.  Seven more A's to earn.  If I do that, I think that makes me valedictorian.  I don't really want to give a speech,  I don't know.  I'll probably just stand up there and say, "San Dimas high school football rules!!!"  And then I will go down a list of other things that rule.  Like O'Doyle.

Oh!  Here's a little story about currency!  Fun, right?  Yeah, yeah?  NO!!!  The kids have been super fighty mcfightersons lately.  It's becoming a SERIOUS problem.  Our technique of discipline for this is not working.  What is that technique, you ask?  It goes like this:
Dudes:  *fight fight fight* GIVE IT BACK! HE TOOK MY TOY!  NOOOOOOO!!! STTTTOOOOP IIIIIITTTT!!! *shrriiiiek fight fight shriiiiek*
Adults:  *takes toy, puts it in top of closet in unreachable location*
Dudes:  NOOOO! WAAAAAAAAH!!! *goes to pick up another of their 34967 toys* *fight fight fight* GIVE IT BACK!!!1 HE TOOK MY TOY!! NOOOOOOO! STTTOOOOP IIIIITTTT!!! *shrriiiieeek fight fight shriiiieek*
Adults:  *takes toy, puts it in top of closet in unreachable location*

Can you see what we did there?  Yeah, nothing effective.  We've been treating fighting over toys like this for years.  It hasn't worked for years.  What is the problem?  I'm glad you asked.  The problem is currency.  These particular toys aren't it.  They have a gazillion toys, so losing one is no big deal,  They have back ups to fight over.

Eric decided to do something different (and effing brilliant, if you ask me) the other day.  He was at his breaking point with the fighting.  He had to run two errands.  The places he had to go were next door to one another, and they were 3 minutes away.  It was a very short trip.  Both boys begged to go.  They'd been annoying one another all day, and Eric was apprehensive.  He only wanted to take one kid and give himself some well-deserved peace and quiet.  But, the dudes PROMISED they would be good, and he let them both go.  They fought the ENTIRE.TIME in the back seat of the car.  Then, to make matters worse, when he got angry and told them that the behavior would not be tolerated, they did that INFURIATING thing that little kids do.  They smiled and laughed as though he was joking.  And then they continued to fight.  "So what if he's mad," they thought.  "We're just gonna lose a stupid toy," they thought.  "Misbehaving isn't that important.  Besides, look how funny Daddy looks when he's mad," they thought.

He got home, and told them 50% of their toys were gone.  Sort them into two piles.  Every toy goes in a pile.  Half in one, half in the other.  They thought this punishment was hilarious.  They were having a good old time placing junk toys out in the hallway to be hauled off to storage.  Laughing about how they don't play with these anyway, and this and that is broken, and "It's okay, brother, it's just a few baby toys.  It's no big deal."

Imagine their surprise when it turned out that was their "keep" pile.  A bunch of broken blocks, Duplo Legos and parts of toys they'd broken long ago.  They had to watch us pack up all of the toys they actually care about and haul them off to storage.  It sucked.  There was much screaming and gnashing of teeth from two little dudes.  I'm pretty sure Big Man hyperventilated.  His life's blood went to storage along with his awesome construction truck that makes noise and plays rock and roll.

Does your misbehavior matter now?  Do we mean what we say now, dudes?  I believe it worked.  Big Man cleaned the laundry room the next morning without even being asked.  I'm sure he'll earn those toys back in no time.  Then again, they also have the option of losing all of the crappy toys, too.  There was much shrieking of, "Noooo!!! I NEEEEEEED that!"  There may come a time very soon where I implement a "needs week".  No luxuries.  Food, water, shelter, safety.  Needs.  No wants.  If the fighting persists.  Maybe even if it doesn't.

I've been dreading summer vacation.  Spring break nearly killed me with all of this fighting.  I'm already trying to think of activities.  They mostly involve volunteering.  We'll be cleaning up our neighborhood on walks and bike rides, etc.  I'm trying to find other age-appropriate volunteering opportunities.  It's time for the dudes to learn how fortunate they are to have things they want along with things they need.  Big Man, especially.  He's turning 7 in a couple of weeks, and he will be old enough to understand.  Just telling him isn't working.  He's at a stage in life where nothing is good enough for him.  When he got his chocolate bunny for Easter this year, he complained that it wasn't as big as last year's.  I bought him some new shoes, he said he doesn't like the color.  He complained this morning that I gave him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch instead of the ham that he wanted.  Nearly every time he's given something, he tells you what is wrong with it.  I'm hoping that volunteering for people that may have everything they need, but nothing they want, will show him that he should be grateful.

I am, however, concerned about this agenda with Little Man.  I don't think, at age 5, he is going to get it.  I think he's going to embarrass me, actually, by acting awful when we are trying to help others.  I think he's going to throw himself on the ground and scream to go home, no matter what we do.  I need to find a way to make sure it is fun for him as well as good for others.  Maybe make it a race of some sort as to who can pick up the most trash or dig up the most weeds, etc.  We have a TON of ferns in our back yard.  Eric and his ex-wife planted a few of them five or six years ago, and they've now taken over the yard.  They've grown out of the mulched flower bed and are springing up in the grass.  They need transplanted.  Perhaps the dudes and I could take a few around the neighborhood and see if anyone wants them and transplant them into neighbor's yards.  I don't know.

Why isn't this blog post funny?  I felt funny earlier.  Now I just want a nap.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

UPRISING IN EGYPT: How One Street Vendor Changed the World

UPRISING IN EGYPT:  How One Street Vendor Changed the World
Karen Baum
Muhammed Al Bouazizi was a 26-year-old college graduate; a college graduate who could not obtain a job in his homeland of Tunisia.  In order to provide for his family, he began selling produce as a street vendor.  Al Bouazizi was able to sustain in this way until a police officer seized his goods, and his livelihood, telling him that he did not have the proper permit to be a street vendor.  Al Bouazizi had not deepened the pockets of the correct government officials.  Had he done so, his lack of permit would not be an issue, and the policeman would have looked the other way.  On December 17, 2010, in protest of the corrupt authoritarian government that had stolen his fruit stand, Muhammed Al Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a government building in central Tunisia.  Eighteen days later, Al Bouazizi perished from his wounds, never knowing that his actions had started a revolution.  Unemployed graduates took to the streets, and on January 14, 2011, caused Tunisia’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia, abandoning his post.  Since then, the young people of other Middle Eastern countries have taken to the streets, hoping to overthrow their own authoritarian leaders.  A few protestors in Yemen, Algeria and Saudi Arabia have copied Muhammed Al Bouazizi’s self-immolation.  A staggering five young men in Egypt have done the same, as protestors in Cairo attempted to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak.  When the regime of this great Middle Eastern nation falls, international affairs around the globe will be impacted.  With one desperate action, in one moment, Muhammed Al Bouazizi has changed the face of the Middle East, and Muhammed Al Bouazizi has changed the world.
As the regime changes in one of the Arabs’ strongest countries, all eyes of the world are on Egypt.  In a revolution unlike any other in our generation, young men and women took to the streets, demanding freedom from oppression, demanding reform of a corrupt government, demanding a democracy with competitive elections.  Former president Hosni Mubarak had ruled Egypt with an iron fist for thirty years, continuing a long history of corruption in Egyptian history. 
From King Farouk through Mubarak, governmental corruption has been a way of life in Egypt.  While Egypt’s people starve in poverty, government officials and their families are known to live in a high state of wealth.  During the Palestine War in 1948, it was widely believed that King Farouk handed his own Egyptian soldiers their defeat by Israeli armies.  The king was thought to be diverting funds meant for defense into his personal bank accounts, thereby supplying Egyptian soldiers on the front lines with shoddy weaponry and insufficient supplies.  Egypt was defeated heavily during the war, and blame was placed on King Farouk and his corrupt ways.  It was then that Major Gamal Abdel Nasser, an Egyptian soldier wounded in the Palestine War, helped to form an underground group to fight corruption called the Free Officers. 
In three years, the Free Officers would overthrow the government and place themselves in charge. Nasser and his men ordered the king out of Egypt and placed the army in charge, promising the people to end corruption in the government.  Egypt was officially named a republic under the Free Officers, and eventually Nasser was named president, running under a platform of Pan Arabism.  Nasser was popular with the Egyptian people for his policy of alliance between all Arab nations, though it was difficult to implement.  Domestically, Nasser ruled Egypt under what he called Arab Socialism.  Private companies were nationalized, and the economy became ruled by a big government.  Nasser further ingratiated himself to the Egyptian people by expelling the British from the Suez Canal and retaining full control of the canal for Egypt.  Nasser’s idea of a unified Arab nation was popular throughout the Arab world, and his death in 1970 was mourned by Arabs all over the world.  Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, would prove to put the country on a very different path, one that was not popular with either the Egyptian people or the Arab world.
A Free Officer sworn to end Egyptian corruption, Anwar Sadat, seemed to have lost his way.  Sadat abandoned Nasser’s idea of Pan-Arabism and focused on retrieving the lost Sinai Peninsula from the Israelis, who had forcibly taken control of it during Nasser’s term in office.  A military operation into the area was unsuccessful, and Egypt’s military losses were heavy.  It was then that Sadat changed tactics and made the decision to move forward with a peace treaty with Israel in order to return the lost land, a severely unpopular move amongst the Egyptian people and the rest of the Arab world.  Adding insult to injury, Sadat aligned Egypt with the United States in order to facilitate the detested peace process with Israel.  The treaty decision was made at Camp David in 1978.  The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt, a victory for Sadat, but as a result of the treaty Egypt was expelled from the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organization.  A large number of Arab states ceased all business in Cairo.  Egypt’s economy firmly rested on American foreign aid and oil revenue crossing through the Suez Canal.  The gap between Egypt’s wealthy and poor grew wider and wider during Sadat’s term as Egypt’s president, and he was never able to gain back the approval of his people.  Again, the government had turned to corruption.  As Egypt’s impoverished people crowded in slums, Sadat and his family became substantially wealthy.  His brother, employed as a bus driver, managed to amass 150 million dollars.  Opposition groups became raucous in their calls for the end of corruption, but they were suppressed by the nationalized Egyptian media, which sent only government-approved messages to the people of Egypt.  Eventually, an Islamic extremist group, Al Jihad, was successful in the assassination of Anwar Sadat during a military parade in 1981.  Unlike Nasser, whose death was mourned throughout the Arab world, Sadat’s death was actually celebrated by some.  Vice President Hosni Mubarak was primed for the presidency, and it was now up to him to win back the approval of the Egyptian people.
Hosni Mubarak accepted his presidential nomination in 1981 with the words, “I pledge to God and the great Egyptian people to be loyal to the fulfillment of their aspiration and to complete the procession along the road of freedom, democracy, prosperity and peace.” (Solecki 59)  From the beginning, he let his people know that he would be taking a very different approach to rule than his predecessor.  Mubarak ingratiated himself to his people by arresting high-ranking government officials on corruption charges, including Sadat’s family.  He opened up elections to the five oppositional parties in Egypt, whereas Sadat had allowed only his party to run candidates.  Mubarak also released information openly, allowing the news media to operate freely in Egypt.  However, the democracy that Mubarak promised the Egyptians never came.
After Sadat’s assassination, a state of emergency was declared in Egypt, meaning military law.  This state of emergency law has persisted for the past thirty years.  While it is true that Mubarak opened elections to oppositional parties in the 1984 election, rules and strategies were put into place in order to make sure that Mubarak, of the National Democratic Party, remained firmly in charge.  In what is known as the electoral law, only parties with eight percent of the vote could obtain seats in the People’s Assembly.  In 1984, this meant that four of the six parties won no seats in the Assembly.  Furthermore, any votes acquired by the political parties that did not receive the minimum eight percent automatically went to the winning party, including the seats those votes would have won.  As a result, the People’s Assembly ended up being filled with 87% seats from Mubarak’s party.  This election was riddled with controversy, as rumors spread that the corrupt government had somehow fixed the election in its favor.  The rumors gained steam when yet another controversial election was held in 1987.
Toward the end of 1986, Egypt was under what became known as a constitutional crisis.  Egypt’s constitution, under the “Parties’ Law” passed by Sadat, makes the founding of new political parties increasingly difficult.  New parties must be distinct from existing parties; they must not be based on religion or class, yet they cannot contradict the principles of Islamic Law; parties must be based on the principles of national unity and social peace; they must accept the results of popular referenda; and parties cannot be contradictory to the principles of the revolutions of 1952 and 1971.  Members of opposition parties complained to the High Administrative Council, claiming that both the electoral rules and the party rules were unconstitutional.  The Council agreed, sending a case deeming the electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court.  To ease the tension, Parliament immediately took steps to change the law.  A rule reserving a certain number of seats for women was eliminated, and an item disallowing independent candidates was removed.  To further stall pressure by the opposition, Mubarak dissolved the assembly the day before a mass opposition rally was to take place, opening the floor for another round of elections in 1987.  This election, too, was riddled with accusations of corruption.  The NDP again won the majority of seats in the Assembly amidst allegations of inaccurate vote counting, misleading voter turnout reports, and the use of scare tactics to coerce voters in the countryside to vote for the government’s party, as voter turnout in the countryside was quite higher than the urban turnout, and the countryside is where the government has the most control.  Many urban Egyptians were said to have boycotted the vote, forcing the low turnout, because they did not want to support the government party.  Furthermore, during the 1987 election, Mubarak promised that this would be his final term in office.  Yet, in early 2011, Hosni Mubarak still controlled Egypt.
As the 21st century approached, the Egyptians saw the gap between the wealthy and the poor grow wider and wider.  Their country was being run by a president that the people saw doing nothing to ease the burden on Egypt’s impoverished population.  Rapid population growth and loss of jobs created massive poverty on the city streets.  Mubarak attempted to tackle this problem early in his presidency, but by the late 1990s and early 2000s, the problem had worsened.  According to Tarek Osman in Egypt on the Brink:  From Nasser to Mubarak, President Mubarak believed that economic problems were Egypt’s only issue and that if he solved this problem, all of Egypt’s problems would be solved.  Eventually, Mr. Mubarak sought help from the International Monetary Fund, where he promptly ignored all advice, save for raising food prices, putting more pressure on his people.  From the perspective of the Egyptian people, however, the main problem appeared to be the state of emergency law that Mubarak  imposed after the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, thirty years ago.
Hosni Mubarak was standing next to Anwar Sadat when he was killed.  This traumatic event led Mubarak to become obsessed with security.  He increased Egypt’s internal security forces to 2 million soldiers, larger than any force ever sent to fight a war for Egypt (Osman 194).  Most of Mubarak’s foreign policy revolved around security issues and military exercises.  He strengthened ties with the United States, thereby fortifying a cold peace with Israel, a position that angered the people of Egypt.  Mubarak’s peace with Israel earned him nearly 2 billion dollars in aid annually from the United States.  Money his people only saw as oppressive soldiers with tanks and new weapons roamed the streets of Egypt’s major cities, keeping Mubarak’s opposition at bay.  Under military law, anyone could be arrested at any time for any reason.  Torture camps were rumored to be embedded inside internal security buildings.  Any opposition to Mubarak was promptly crushed by his internal security forces. 
He [Mubarak] was president for 30 years and he wanted to be president for LIFE, and when he dies; his son would take over.  It was like " Mubarak's Kingdom", anyone who'd run for president with him will go to jail!  More than 48 million person are less than poor, 45% of the people live with less than a dollar a day.  Twelve million person are homeless.  That's how life with Mubarak was.  He was one of the worse presidents in the world.”  These words were written on Facebook, a social networking site, by Nada AbdAllah Saad, an Egyptian resident and supporter of revolution.  The people of Egypt live in a world where nearly half of the population of cities lives in poverty, scrounging for food and barely living.  Egyptian youth come out of university unable to find a job to provide for their families.  Their leader has stolen aid money meant to boost Egyptian economy and quality of life for Egyptian citizens to build an oppressive military.  Egyptians lived a life of fear in the streets, rumors of beating and torture in the cities for speaking the wrong words against Mubarak.  Eventually, the people of Egypt reached their breaking point.  Where Muhammed Al Bouazizi sparked the revolution of Tunisia, another young man, Khaled Said, was the trigger for the Egyptians.
A young man sitting at an Internet café in Alexandria, Egypt, is dragged from his chair and out into the streets by police in broad daylight.  There, he is brutally beaten to death, his head repeatedly smashed into a marble staircase.  The body is left to rot in the street outside of a busy café.  Khaled Said had committed the crime of attempting to expose a corrupt police force.  He had copied video of police splitting confiscated marijuana amongst themselves and posted it on the popular social networking video website YouTube.  Police carried Said’s body to the morgue, where his family was denied access to him.  They were told that Said died after swallowing “a bag of drugs” and insisted they had witnesses who saw the bag, though other witnesses, including the café owner, told the truth of the beating.  Said was just 28 years old when he was murdered by police while the city of Alexandria, and eventually the world, watched.  The death of Said was the breaking point.
Egypt is a nation proud of its heritage.  Egypt originated societies, architecture and government.  As such, Egypt’s revolution is as original as its history.  A fascinating revolution unlike any other in history, no matter how recent.  In response to Khaled Said’s brutal murder, an anonymous Egyptian, calling himself only El Shaheed (martyr), created a page on the popular social networking site Facebook, under Said’s name.  The page, titled We Are All Khaled Said, was a driving force behind Egypt’s popular revolution.  Shortly after the June 6 murder, We Are All Khaled Said featured prominently a brutal photo of Said at the morgue, showing his missing teeth and shattered face.  Clearly, this was not the result of a drug overdose. 
As the revolution in Tunisia swelled to success, El Shaheed and his small team of confidants decided to take the Facebook page to the next level.  The revolution was set to begin with protest on 25 January in Tahir Square.  Who of the page’s over 350,000 fans would be there?  As it turns out, thousands upon thousands, including El Shaheed himself.  El Shaheed was risking a lot by posting true information about Said and other incidences of Egyptian police brutality, but by publicly calling for and organizing a popular revolution, he was risking life itself.  Unfortunately, shortly after the first protest in Tahir Square, his attempts to remain anonymous were foiled, and El Shaheed, now identified as Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim, went missing.  Ghonim sent one last terrifying phone call to his team, “I think they’re following me.  I’m going to destroy this phone.” (Newsweek)  Shortly thereafter, Ghonim’s team confirmed he was missing, and his contingency plan went into place.  A player calling himself only “Admin 2” notified Ghonim’s wife and two children that he was missing, and concluded that the revolution must go on without him at this time.  Admin 2 kept the page alive, posting information about further protesting dates and locations and keeping the momentum Ghonim had begun from going stale.  Admin 2 set about changing passwords and security codes for all revolution websites, hoping he was not putting Ghonim in greater danger by following the contingency plan.  He told Newsweek, “I either protect my friend or I continue the movement.  It turns out I am not a good friend.”  Ghonim’s contingency plan spread all of the way to Washington D.C., where a teammate, Nadine Wahab, received a message from Admin 2.  The page must go on.  The page was more important than Ghonim.  Egypt was more important than Ghonim. 
Admin 2 created his own contingency plan, while Wahab lived in fear of what could happen to her in the United States.  After Google launched a campaign to find their missing executive, rumors began swirling that Ghonim was El Shaheed.  Wahab sent word to Newsweek trying to refute the rumors, claiming to be El Shaheed and stating all was well.  The purpose of We Are All Khaled Said was not fame or even leadership.  The page was showing the people of Egypt that they could lead themselves, they could revolt themselves, and they could rebuild Egypt themselves.  Ghonim was not interested in leading the people.  He was interested in having the people lead themselves.  Wael Ghonim was eventually released from a detention center where he was being held, blindfolded and oblivious to the revolution outside of his cell walls, on 7 February, two weeks after disappearing.  What he found was that he had become the face of the revolution, much to his dismay.  Though Ghonim had been outed against his wishes, the revolution had gone on without him according to plan.  By his release on 7 February, the Egyptian protestors were sure that Mubarak’s regime would soon be removed.
What began as a peaceful protest on 25 January soon turned ugly for the people of Egypt, as police fired tear gas and water cannons into the crowd.  A revolution that began as a call for protests in Tahrir Square spread cross country, as protests began in every major city in Egypt.  Though the opposition group Muslim Brotherhood denied any involvement in the revolution, interior agencies pinned the protests on them in Egypt’s media.  Three were reported dead on 25 January, a day called “A Day of Anger”.  The interior ministry calls for the people to go home and return to normal life.  Far from listening, the people flood the streets of Egypt’s cities for a second time the next day, with clashes between police and protestors becoming more heated.  Dozens are reported injured with another two dead.  On 27 January, protestors again take to the streets, their numbers becoming ever larger, and live gunfire is exchanged in Suez, killing one young  man.  It is here that Mubarak pulls cell phone and Internet connections from his people, cutting them off from a support network spanning the world over and connections to the social networks that have kept the revolutionaries informed.  The evening of 28 January, Mubarak attempts to make concessions by dismissing his government.  In the same day, he issues troops into the streets to fight the people of his country, threatening “decisive measures” if they do not go home.  The people are not acquiesced.  Though over 1000 people are injured and a reported 11 killed in Egypt this day, they continue to fight for democracy.  On 29 January, Mubarak again attempts to coerce the crowd into leaving by making concessions.  He’s fired his cabinet, and for the first time in his presidency, he’s appointed a vice president, Omar Sulieman.  This is not what the Egyptian people want to hear!  They will not stop until Mubarak steps down, and by the time the end of January rolls around, their numbers top 250,000.  Mubarak promises constitutional reforms; he promises government subsidies and cuts in food prices.  These promises that fall on deaf ears.  They mean nothing if Mubarak will not go.  He tries again on 1 February, stating he will not run for re-election.  This, too, is not what the people want.  The demands of the people of Egypt are clear.  They are finished with Mr. Mubarak and everything he stands for.  The Egyptian military officially sides with protestors, stating they will not hurt the people of Egypt.  Still, protestors are injured in clashes with Mubarak’s supporters, who are rumored to be, and some admitted to being, paid by Mubarak’s security to resort to violence against peaceful demonstrations. Protestors in February number over 1 million in Cairo alone.  On 5 February, more government changes are made with the leaders of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party stepping down, but Mubarak again refuses to leave.  By 9 February, labor strikes have begun in all of Egypt’s major cities.  Industry is ground to a halt as workers demand reform and higher pay.  Sulieman again issues a veiled threat to protestors, as though they are a minor nuisance, by announcing that the government “can’t put up with continued protests.”  Suddenly, on 10 February, rumors begin to circulate that this will be the day Hosni Mubarak will resign.  Tahrir Square is changed from a mass of anger to a celebration.  Hundreds of thousands dance in the square, while hundreds of thousands more watch from home around the world, awaiting the long anticipated announcement.  Mr. Mubarak finally shows himself on national television an hour later than promised, only to reiterate that he will not run for reelection in September and that he will maintain his duty at president of Egypt until that time.  Protestors are infuriated and show their disrespect by waving their shoes at the television in Tahrir Square.  Finally, on 11 February, Mr. Sulieman announces the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.  In 18 days, the people of Egypt have accomplished the major goal of their revolution.  For the first time in 30 years, the Egyptian people have hope for the future.  (Al Jazeera English) 
We had some rough days, but we literally made history.  Actually, it was the best days of my life.  After 25th January revolution, things haven't changed much, but I hope it will, and I hope we'll have democracy and we'll never go back to what we were before 25th January.  Egypt will be better, the best I hope!” says Nada AbdAllah Saad.  There are many factors going into whether Nada’s hopes will be realized, the main one being the power vacuum that has been created by the revolution and who of the opposition will step forward to run for election.  There are long-term demands of the revolution still to be met, such as a reformed constitution, free elections allowing all parties, and trials for members of Mubarak’s regime.
As a nation steeped in religious and political antiquity, Egypt has long been a model for other Arab countries.  Egypt has the largest population in the Middle East and the second-largest economy.  Therefore, whatever the outcome of Egypt may prove to be the dominant outcome of other regime changes in the Middle East.  If Egypt can achieve the democracy that people are asking for, then there is hope for democracy throughout the region.  Egypt’s democracy would be unlike any other in the world, if it can be achieved.  Egypt’s new political system is one that is charged with marrying a people’s democracy with an Islamic influence.  Whether this is a system that can be successfully achieved is yet to be determined.
Since the end of Mubarak’s regime, Egypt has been in control of a military government.  In September, Egyptians will vote in a free election to vote a new parliament, and the military will defer power.   A month or two later, they will vote for their new president.  New constitutional referendum, voted on March 19, limits the presidency to 2 four-year terms, as well as open a competitive presidential vote with judicial oversight.  (Al Jazeera)  Egyptians will be voting on several issues as they build their government from scratch, and the biggest question on the minds of the rest of the world is, will Egypt emerge as a religious or a secular state?
“What needs to happen…is a peaceful and orderly transition of power, to channel the revolutionary fervor into concrete steps for a new Egypt based on freedom and social justice.  The new leaders will have to guarantee the rights of all Egyptians. They will need to dissolve the current Parliament, no longer remotely representative of the people. They will also need to abolish the Constitution, which has become an instrument of repression, and replace it with a provisional Constitution, a three-person presidential council and a transitional government of national unity.”
These words were written by Mohamed ElBaradei in an Op-Ed piece he wrote for the New York Times in February 2011.  ElBaradei is a former UN watchdog chief, and the first to say he would run for president of Egypt during the next election.  ElBaradei had been working for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in the field of peaceful uses for nuclear energy, work for which he earned a Nobel Peace Prize.  He returned to Cairo from a self-imposed exile in the midst of Egypt’s protests to a raucous crowd of supporters.  Many Egyptians saw him as a strong opposition leader and promoter of democracy and peace.  ElBaradei has stuck to his position of a three-person presidential council, including a member of the military representative to ensure security.  In an interview with Dar Spiegel, a German magazine, ElBaradei cast doubt on the Camp David peace agreements saying, “Something the Israelis also need to grasp is that it's impossible to make peace with a single man. At the moment, they have a peace treaty with Mubarak, but not one with the Egyptian people.”  This statement has both Israelis and Western governments eyeing ElBaradei cautiously.  Since announcing his run for the presidency, ElBaradei has gained the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact that his opposition has held onto.  They say that the youth of Egypt did not fight for a religious state, but a secular one.  ElBaradei assured the people of Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood is on board with a secular state, though the Brotherhood has long fought for Sharia law in Egypt.  It would appear that the Brotherhood is willing to put democracy at the forefront in order to gain support for the organization and establish itself as a political player.
The Muslim Brotherhood has a long history in Egypt.  Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest Islamic group, and its main political goal has been to establish a constitution based on Sharia law.  In the past, the Brotherhood has been involved in accusations of political violence, even assassinations.  The Brotherhood denounced the killings and became involved with the Free Officers, a political party that placed Gamal Abdul Nassar and Anwar Sadat into the presidency.  However, political relations deteriorated, and the Muslim Brotherhood was again linked to violence and blamed for an assassination attempt on the life of former President Nassar.  The Brotherhood was banned, and many members were arrested.  In the 1960s, a Brotherhood member called Sayyid Qutb began taking the Islamic group to extremes, prompting the offshoots of the Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda.  Today, however, the Muslim Brotherhood denounces violence and has no tolerance for extremist movements.  The Brotherhood still wishes to establish Sharia law, but representatives have stated that a peaceful transition and regime change is more important, and they feel they have proven this position by backing secular candidate Mohamed ElBaradei.  Issam al-Aryan, a senior official of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council told the BBC, “"We want a civil state, based on Islamic principles. A democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary.”  Despite these claims, many Western governments are proceeding with caution regarding the Brotherhood.  The Brotherhood does have a history of extremism and violence.  It seems inevitable that the Muslim Brotherhood will have influence in Egypt’s new regime due to the vast size of the organization and the Muslim majority in Egypt, but just how much political involvement the Brotherhood will pursue remains to be seen.  If the Muslim Brotherhood is able to help successfully create a democracy based in Islam that the people are willing to accept, Egypt will be able to claim yet another first.
The only other person, so far, to state his intention to run for the presidency is Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League and former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak.  Per Al Jazeera, Moussa was very popular as foreign minister and a politician for the people.  It was widely thought when he was nominated for secretary general of the Arab League, that Mubarak was trying to get rid of Moussa before he became more of a political threat.  Moussa has not yet aligned himself with any particular political party.  Amr Moussa is known for taking a hard line against Israel, boosting his popularity with the people of Egypt.  However, he told the Jerusalem Post that he would keep the peace treaty with Israel, at least until Egypt was rebuilt.  Moussa’s campaign is focused on domestic policy in Egypt.  We as Egyptians have a responsibility to lay the foundations for peace... We cannot rebuild Egypt... while adopting an adventurous foreign policy,” he told the Jerusalem Post.  As secretary general of the Arab League, Moussa has been highly involved in Gaza in an attempt to both promote peace and Palestinian freedom, calling for an end to Israeli blockade in Gaza during a visit in 2010.  Amr Moussa may very well be stiff competition for Mohamed ElBaradei.  For now, only two men have entered the presidential race, and it is yet to be seen whether someone new will run beside them.  In any case, elections in September will be free for the first time in decades, but will the people vote?
Historically, voter turnout in Egypt has been low.  Corrupt governments have kept voters at home, under the assumption that their votes would be marred by a rigged outcome.  After the revolution, however there is evidence that voter turnout will be high in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections.  A free election was held to enforce constitutional referendums, including limiting presidential terms to two, with a much higher voter turnout than in previous elections, around 41% according to Al Arabiya News.  Many Egyptian voters have a great distrust for all politicians, and a large number may still stay away from the polls, deciding instead to “let their feet do the talking”.  No matter the outcome of the upcoming elections, the world watches Egypt.  The once great Arab powerhouse seems to be well on its way to becoming one again, a leader for democracy in the Arab world.  Egypt will be a model for the region, and that is a lot of pressure for the new leadership.  As Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Syria and others in the Middle East follow Egypt’s lead in revolution, so they may follow Egypt’s lead in government.  Should regime changes hold in all of these nations, foreign policies regarding Israel, international trade, and economic interdependence with the West, Russia, India, China and the rest of the world are all up in the air.  Starting with Tunisia, one man, Muhammed Al Bouazizi, has changed the entire region, and he has changed the entire globe.

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