Book Review of the Day

For a kid's book called Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes:
I want to love this book. The pictures are adorable, the babies are multi-cultural, the text flows beautifully, and the message about babies being basically the same wherever they are born is important. But I can't love this book, because apparently "everyone" is not aware that limb abnormalities occur in 2.6 out of 10,000 births in the U.S. In a nation of 300 million, that adds up to plenty of people, myself included. When the hook of this text is that "everyone knows" that "ALL of these babies" are born with 10 fingers and 10 toes, a refrain used repeatedly, that is not a book I want to share with my 4-yr-old. I don't want to confuse him, because HE knows someone without 10 fingers, and this book will give the impression that I am the only one in the entire world for whom that is true.

I feel similarly about books that teach kids that "we ALL" see with our eyes and hear with our ears. No, not ALL of us do. I wish the authors could have found something else that all of these babies had in common, because "everyone knows" that it's difficult enough to teach kids about the differences in people without books like this making those differences seem even more strange and abnormal.
How dare this author make generalizations in a children's book! I think we should also throw out books that call the sky blue, because sometimes the sky is gray, and books that mention pets, because some kids are allergic to pets.

The reviewer wishes the author could have "found something else that all of these babies have in common." Never gonna happen, if we are going to be so strict about including people with rare abnormalities in literature for toddlers. I challenge anyone to name something each of the characters in the book might have in common that some kid, somewhere, does not differ from.


Insert that "Law & Order" Sound Here

As a conservative, I'm generally a law and order type of guy. I like to see rioters get hit with water cannons and nightsticks, for example. Like many people, I tend to give police and prosecutors the benefit of the doubt when it comes to most criminal cases. And I think the OJ Simpson jurors were morons.

However, I have read a number of items in recent months that have given me pause. Coyote Blog, one of my faves, has a number of posts on police abuse. In addition, I just read John Grisham's 2006 non-fiction account of lazy, incompetent police and prosecutors in a small town (by regular folks' standards, at least - to me, 16,000 people is a lot) who railroaded four innocent men. And then there's the case of the West Memphis Three. While I am loath to support something that is a rock star cause celebre, this looks like a conviction based on thin evidence, coercive interrogation and an unreliable "witnesses" angling for a plea bargain, much like Grisham describes in his story. Of course, none of this would fly if juries didn't convict in such cases, but I wouldn't want to place my fate in the hands of most juries. (I think we should have some sort of quasi-professional jury system, in which qualified people serve for a year or two as a full-time juror, but that's another topic.)

I think it comes down to this: just like there are incompetent, corrupt, and/or lazy people in any walk of life, such people exist in the police and prosecutorial ranks. Add to this the fact that police and prosecutors are government employees, and that many prosecutors are politicians, the likelihood of these attributes being found in some segment of these professions increases.

Therefore, we need to be vigilant in our civil rights (particularly the 4th and 5th Amendments) and attentive and critical if we find ourselves on juries. For one thing, if you find yourself in a police interview, get a dang lawyer. This video, on why you should never talk to the police (I assume he refers merely to situations where one is a potential suspect, not a witness), is worth watching.

On a lighter note, this Chris Rock video describes how not to get beaten by police (warning: bad language).



If you follow me on Pinterest, you've already probably seen this but it is me to a T.

But not always a bad mood. Just a overwhelmed mood. I've got a lot on my mind but I want to feel free to think it, feel it and maybe even implement some of it, without feeling compelled to blog about it. Its odd but sometimes blogging is how I do think about things and work them out. Other times, I need to stay inside myself. Since I've been blogging for over four years now (really, is that right? sheesh, that's a long time in internet years), you would think I could balance myself by now but I don't think I can. So I'm taking a sabatical.

Sabatical. Doesn't that sound much nicer better than "break" or "whoops, its been three weeks and I haven't posted anything" or "Never mind me, I've just turned into a hermit." At this point, I could start spouting off about how a rose by any other name...but that would be cliche so I won't. I'll just say see ya later! I'll be back in September.

Oh, but Craig isn't weird like me, so he'll probably still be around every once in a while. Keep checking in on us so he doesn't feel lonely and unloved :-)


14 months!

Dear Lucy, 

I'm pretty sure I've thought this most months and actually said it several of them, but this might be my favorite age with you.

You've finally gotten past the everything goes in my mouth stage, (except rocks, rocks still always go in your mouth. Your dad thought we should just let you try them and find out for yourself you didn't like them but it backfired because you do! Yuck!) But this has freed us up to do a whole bunch of fun things together -

Like playdough, we play with playdough at least 30 minutes a day. You ask me to make balls for you and then you smoosh them between your fingers. Or you use cookie cutters or poke the dough with tools. We've done a few other art projects like water painting and crayons and you can use the chalk board but playdough is still your favorite.

You've started looking at books by yourself, mostly in the car when no one is around to read them to you. You look at the pictures and will babble and sign to yourself about what you are seeing.

You had a signing explosion this month. It has been hard for your dad and I to keep up. You can now sign at least 29 words including:
baby (this can mean yourself, another baby or your baby doll)
hot (your own version that I accidentally "taught" you by always waving your food while saying "hot" if you were being impatient and it was too hot for you to eat, but now you know it for hot items and hot weather)
spider (You know this doing the itsy-bitsy spider song with me but I didn't know how well until I signed bug and pointed to a spider in a book and you looked at me and signed "spider" - well then!)
alligator (You know this from a book but yesterday, I said "later gator" to you and you signed gator back to me, cracked me up!)
brush your teeth

You would probably know more but I have to learn them before I can teach them to you and its getting hard to think up new ones. I tried to find a sign for playdough but haven't yet.

You also do sentences like "kitty eat" and "kitty milk-milk." Now "kitty milk-milk" might sound like an odd sentence but one day you pounced on the kitty and she scratched you. You weren't that hurt, you didn't even cry, but I told you to leave the kitty alone because she was grumpy and wanted to sleep and that when you jump on her it scared and hurts her. After that you kept saying "kitty milk-milk," I guess you know what makes you feel better and you wanted the kitty to have that too.

You also babble with your hands. You'll just be moving them around and sometimes I'll notice real signs in there. At first I worried that you were trying to tell me something but you get frustrated if you do so I've learned that as long as your happy, I just nod along and then after a few minutes, you'll walk away.

You are starting to get pretending and imitation play. You love your baby doll and play with her more and more every week. You love to "talk" on the phone, whether someone is listening or not. In the afternoons, you start asking for Daddy so I wait until I know he is on is way home then tell you to call him and ask him to come how. You walk around holding the phone saying "dadadadada" and then, amazingly enough, in a few minutes he will walk inside!

You also love your small plastic cows and horses. You carry them around and pretend to feed them by holding there faces up to the little plastic hay bale while making smacking noises.

We just started the transition to only one nap a day. So far is hasn't been too bad, you are so active during the day that you wear yourself out pretty well.  I thought I would miss having that free time but we have so much fun to fit into our day, I don't have time to!


More Chicago

After our naps (yes, we all fell asleep), we were ready for more fun. We checked out and drove to our next stop, the Field Museum. This is where things got rough. We managed to pick the worst possible activity because right next door to the Field Museum was the soccer stadium where Manchester United was about to play. Ahh! Traffic was awful, everything was redirected and parking rates were bumped up. We paid 30 bucks to park for a couple hours! This did not make my frugal husband happy but we balanced it out but eating cheaply for lunch. What’s more Chicago than hot dogs right?

20110728 chicago 222 20110728 chicago 215 20110728 chicago 219

I wasn’t too sure about the toppings involved with a Chicago-style hot dog. I mean, pickles on a hot dog? But I really liked it. And I’m not a hot dog fan so that is saying something. Perhaps that is how I need to fix them all the time.

We spent a couple hours at the Field Museum but frankly, I was underwhelmed. Maybe we’re just spoiled by all the other awesome museums we’ve been to (like these in DC and these in London).

We were staying farther out of the city the second night because another major part of our trip was IKEA! We are planning a kitchen remodel in the future and wanted to take a look at the cabinets and meet with a kitchen designer. We were planning on doing that the next morning but took some time in the evening to look around, eat Swedish meatballs and do just a smidge of shopping.

We called it an early evening and since IKEA doesn’t open till 10, we had a leisurely morning too. That isn’t normally our style but it was nice. And it gave us time to eat breakfast. The hotel we were staying at was really busy that weekend, apparently there was a traveling team of basketball players, a group going to the Jimmy Buffet concert and a Jehovah’s witnesses convention. It took us about an hour to get our breakfast, find seats and eat – but at least there was some interesting people watching moments while we waited!

After our IKEA designing adventure, we headed home. Lucy did amazing on this drive but alas, the fates were against us. Even though we only had to stop once because she was fussy, traffic and construction meant that our trip still took us almost 2 hours over what it should have. Sheesh!

We’ve tagged along on business trips with Craig and visited family multiple times so I kinda consider myself a baby travel pro by now but this was our first real family vacation with Lucy in tow. We obviously slowed down our pace when planning our itinerary but travel is something we love and I’m glad to know that even with a little one, it is still something we can fit into our lifestyle.