Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Our very popular vomiting pumpkin
Where are all of my trick or treaters tonight? It's a bit slow for a Halloween eve. So slow that I'm blogging. That's a first for my cul de sac. Usually we are completely overrun by kids and all of the candy is long gone. Not this Halloween. That just means more Snicker bars for me!

The homeless hobo
Our house is down to only one trick or treater bringing home a haul of candy tonight. Jack wanted to dress up as Mitt Romney for Halloween this year. Actually more like a walking promotion for Mit Romney. His plan was to wear yard signs and Romney buttons. Sort of nixed that idea.

Halloween angel
Instead Jack has chosen a much more politically incorrect costume. A hobo. We had to change Jack's costume "label" from homeless person to hobo. Although he didn't know a thing about hobos, so this required a lesson. After learning all about hobos, Jack replied that hobos sounded just like homeless people. (Sigh and throwing up my hands.) So Jack went as a politically incorrect homeless hobo.

Trademark infringement
Hope you are all having a Happy Halloween! I'm back to eating out of the candy bowl . . .

Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh Baby! What a Name!

I'm not one to follow Hollywood celebrity—DC celebrity perhaps, but usually not California. Do you remember hearing that 42-year old Uma Thurman and her beau Arpad Busson had a baby girl back in July? I always marvel that women over age 40 have enough energy for a new baby, but that's not what struck me about Uma's baby daughter. It's her name. Ready for this? Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson. According to People Magazine, Uma and Arki are calling her Luna and each of her names hold special meaning for her parents.

Luna has quite a name to fill. Not only seven names but also a hyphen thrown in there. It makes sense that it took Uma over three months to officially name her child. Uma and her boyfriend must have been thinking up those names ever since Luna's first sonogram.

I'm the bearer of a long and somewhat unpronouncable name (but nowhere near baby Luna's).  Last year I tried to actually use my real name of Christianna instead of the nickname Christi. This experiment didn't go over so well. I never knew there were so many ways to pronounce Christianna. Then my mother actually informed me that I was pronouncing my name incorrectly. That's really bad! It's actually the "Dutch" pronunciation of Christianna. Although I love my given name, no one except my mother and my friend Drew can correctly pronounce my name. I gave up and went back to Christi.

As for baby Luna Thurman-Busson . . . seriously, why does someone do that to a child? I thought that the drawn-out, flowing aristocratic sounding names were reserved solely for royalty. All of the lengthy formal names that must pay tribute to long dead, royal relations. Some say that Hollywood is America's royalty, but must self-proclaimed Hollywood royals really follow suit with the endless names? A bit pretentious perhaps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lunch With the Speaker

Are you noticing a trend here? Politics and meals. They seem to go hand-in-hand, but I'm intentionally avoiding the price tag involved with these political meals. More fine dining politico fodder for you. It's the political season so I'm just riding with it for the next 14 days until November 6th when it will all be hopefully settled. Yes I say hopefully as I don't believe anyone wants a repeat of Bush vs. Gore in 2000.

Anyway onto the lunch with the Speaker . . . this one was a last minute invite, but I was game. As the wife of a man heavily involved in politics I get invited along to plenty of events. I'm not exactly the arm candy or trophy-wife sort although you do see your share of those women at political events. I tend to tag along for interesting speakers or people I know. John Boehner—the Speaker of the House—fell into both categories.

Mr. Boehner is currently Speaker of the House and has served 11 terms in Congress; he is second in line for the Presidency, following the Vice President. (I had forgotten about the whole Presidential succession thing and didn't realize the Speaker ranked so high up there.) The perpetually tanned Speaker Boehner is know for his dry and pointed sense of humor, his compassion that leads him to break down into tears on the House floor or while giving an interview on 60 Minutes, and the lively and entertaining parties he throws at the Republican National Convention (RNC) every four years. I had last seen the Speaker at a boisterous RNC party in Minneapolis a few years back.

Saturday's luncheon wasn't quite as energetic as the RNC party scene. Although John Boehner is the Speaker of the House, I still think of him as the Conference Chair when I worked in the US House. Therefore, I wasn't the least flustered when Speaker Boehner sat down next to me for the lunch and started chatting about his next stop in Bismark, ND. We had a chance to talk about the Freshman class of 1994 that ushered in a wave of change led by Boehner, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, and Newt Gingrich. Interestingly Boehner is the only one left serving in Congress.

He is currently on a coast-to-coast campaign tour, talking mostly about US House races and how he hopes the voters will return him back to his Speaker's chair. Most importantly his speech hit on the economy. The economy is the problem and needs fixing. Not a quick fix, but a real solution. He gets it. Hopefully the President and Mitt Romney will also get that the economy is the top issue. And not just for white men over age 40. It's the top issue for everyone . . . women of all ages included! The Speaker did not run away from this issue and devoted a good chunk of his speech to the economy.

I realize that people like John Boehner choose public service, but I cannot help but feel a bit sorry for him as he waved goodbye to the crowd. He only drank half a Diet Coke and ate half of his lunch, leaving his Creme Brulee untouched on the table. Bound for Bismark. I can't help but wonder if he'd rather be out on the golf course.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dinner With the Candidate

What do you do when an old friend becomes the Vice President candidate? Simple. You show up at his Minneapolis fundraiser and surprise him in the photo line with a familiar face from the past. Him being Paul Ryan who currently shares the top billing of the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney.

But first you and your husband have to show up early enough at the event to avoid any pesky protesters who may be blocking the door, including people making a statement by dressing up in Big Bird costumes. If you were the VP candidate would your campaign positions really be swayed by a couple of people in Big Bird costumes? Worth rewriting your budget plan over an angry Big Bird?

One you get past the protesters and make your way down a dingy, dimly lit corridor realization hits. This event is being held in a night club! The second floor gathering room with a distinctly industrial look is really a dance floor with a bar on one end and the photo station sectioned off with velvet curtains. But it works!

You get something to drink and survey the room. An hour slips by as the room fills up with Ryan fans in all degrees of attire ranging from tuxes and ballgowns to casual business attire. It remains foggy and drizzly outside, delaying the candidate's flight. That doesn't stop the crowd from queuing up in the photo line. Not just anybody can get into this line much less even into the building or this room. Minimum levels of support are a requirement for entry.

Flashbulbs start popping and the crowd gets a bit excited. Paul Ryan is has entered the room and is now behind the velvet curtain.

After attending many political photo op events over the years, the VIP traditional pose (wide-eyed and toothy smiles) seems a bit boring. I'm scheming. I propose doing something completely different. Unconventional even. How about bunny ears, flashing the peace sign, or jumping gleefully into the air? Something fun and memorable. My husband quickly dismisses my ideas as a great way to end up injured or arrested. He wisely points out that Paul Ryan is surrounded by Secret Service agents. "They won't react well to your scheme," he warns.

Point taken. There are a whole lot of Secret Service agents visible in the room and who knows how many are undercover or hidden with their distinctive wires tucked into their ears. I don't feel like getting hauled away for questioning or causing a scene.

We're next in line. I've given up on my photo op plan until the candidate—Paul Ryan himself—decides to throw the Secret Service agents a curve ball. He spots me and my husband, bursts into a genuine smile, and wraps me into a huge friendly hug! The Secret Service agents look astonished and quickly glance around at each other. In a split second they realize, wait Paul Ryan initiated it. The blond woman in the brown dress and suede Missoni heels isn't a threat. She's friendly. He's safe.

By now Paul Ryan is pumping my husband's hand and sharing a story about how he knew him back when he had hair on his now balding head. The Secret Service deems my husband "safe" as well.

We quickly snap the "official" picture, say our goodbyes, and promise to catch up soon. Given the frantic pace of the campaign trail and his entourage of agents, catching up may be difficult for awhile. I think that the Secret Service agents are happy for us to exit the room and move on to the next part of the event. The evening did actually conclude with a dinner with Paul Ryan.

Another day in the life a suburban Mom who sometimes gets the opportunity to escape her chic reality.

In case you're interested, I've listed the links to my other posts about Paul Ryan.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What To Do With the Doggie Doo?

A special trash can with a fresh supply of plastic doggie doo baggies has popped up at the entrance to the bike path in my neighborhood. I'm a bit confused that the city decided to spend money on this cleaning up "pet waste" project. Forgive me if I'm being short-sighted, but doesn't that just defeat the whole purpose of walking your dog outside?

The trail where this new receptacle is located leads into a wooded area along a pond that opens up to a grassy field, wetlands, the nearby lake, and a forest. If you have a dog and walk your dog along this trail, you're probably out walking and not thinking of picking up the dog poo when he goes in the weeds or the field. At least I'm not. I walk my dog every day not only to exercise him but also so that I don't have to pick up dog crap from my yard.

Yes I am one of "those" people who lets her dog do his business out in the wild when we are walking on the trails surrounding my neighborhood. If I walk the dog in the neighborhood and he decides to leave a pile of waste on someone's yard, I will clean it up with a plastic bag. That's the neighborly thing to do, right?

It seems rather silly to pick up after the dog when he poops in the weeds at the base of a pine tree 5 feet off of the trail. I'm not alone on this one. There is plenty of crap alongside the trail. Note, I said alongside. Dog owners are very careful to keep the pet waste well to the side of the trail. The problem lies with those other animals that roam around unleashed on the trails. That's what you have to watch out for—all of the wild animal scat and goose poop on the trails. If only the critters would be aware of where exactly they leave their mess. (Please realize I'm only kidding on this!)

Perhaps I'm clueless or just falling back on my central Wisconsin upbringing, but if the dog poops in the woods you don't have to locate it, pick it up, and carry it back home with you to toss out. Doesn't it all count as natural fertilizer? Maybe the city could spend the money on something other than doggie doo bags and trash cans in the woods.

Monday, October 8, 2012

29 Days and Counting

In case you haven't noticed, we're less than a month away from the elections. But how could you possibly not notice? The politicians are bombarding us, but some days I wonder if they actually understand what the voters are looking for.

I believe that I lie in the category that most candidates are targeting. I live in a wild card state as you never know what Minnesota voters will do next. I'm a middle-class woman, specifically a Mom with kids. I fit the demographic.

Maybe I'm mistaken in this analysis as it seems that neither party is really targeting me this election cycle. Mitt Romney is spending a small fortune targeting my husband, and it's no secret that Romney already has his vote. I've not seen any mail personally addressed to Christianna from Mitt or Barack.

Then there are all of the political ads that have gone completely negative really early on. Some candidates completely skipping over any niceties and going right for the jugular. Both sides are doing a fine job of pointing out their opposition's faults and flaws.

I don't really care much about all of that. Most voters are probably already tired of the constant, repetitive, mean-spirited ads. At least if they have to be negative be clever about it. I'm not seeing any wit or any of the issues that we suburban, Midwestern and chic Moms care about.

I care about the economy. I want to know why the price of a gallon of gas rose from $3.61 to $3.89 in the space of an hour when I was at the gym today. I want to know why my kids have to eat poor quality school lunches and pay more for the privilege. I want to know why other Mom's like me cannot find a job even though we have tons of experiences and talent. I want to know why my grocery bills are sky high!

To borrow a line from Bill Clinton and James Carville—"It's the economy stupid!" Twenty years later, we are back to the economy and wishing that the candidates would actually address the most important issues in this election. Even if that means ending PBS subsidies. At least Saturday Night Live and Big Bird were able to inject some humor into the Presidential race.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

School Lunch Meddling—Why Washington Just Doesn't Get It

Anybody out there still hearing complaints about the changes to the National School Lunch program at your school? Now that we're into our second month of packing daily lunches, realization sets in. This is the new norm. In addition to getting the kids out of bed, fed, dressed, homework finished up, out the door, and onto the bus we must now pack up a healthy lunch for each kid.

This is fine because it actually puts the parents back in control of what their kids eat for lunch. Here is where the problem lies and what Washington just doesn't understand. Childhood obesity is not related to the school lunchroom. The calories and portions included in the school lunch program are not the problem. The problem lies with the parents or whoever is caring for the kids at home. Yes the eating behaviors and choices we make are modeled by our children.

We've all seen it. Chubby kids waddling out of the convenience store loaded up with chips, a king-sized Kit Kat bar, and a super-sized Coke. They see nothing wrong with eating all of this junk all of the time because their parents are walking out in front of them with a box of donuts, a 20-ounce Diet Coke, and a large bag of M&Ms. Classic. Another example is fast food at McDonalds with their Super Sized fries and sodas for a paltry price. Need I say more. It's cheap, it tastes good, and it packs on the pounds.

One of my favorite Midwestern restaurant examples is The Red Robin. No portions are small at this establishment. Everything is huge and it's unimaginable how people can consume an entire meal at The Red Robin and walk out without going into cardiac arrest.

My point is our kids follow our example. If we consistently make healthy choices at home, our kids will most likely follow suit. If a family eats out or consumes too much fast food each week, it shows. I realize that people are busy. We all don't have the luxury of cooking each meal from scratch, but it really doesn't take much effort to throw a healthy dinner together or to cut back on the trips to the Dairy Queen.

But Washington will go on regulating the calories and portions of our kid's school lunches. Some cities will ban Super Size drinks and fast food restaurants. Bans and regulations really don't address the obesity problem facing America. It's time to sign the kids up for soccer. Turn off the TV and go outside for a bike ride. Take the dog for a walk. Join a health club and actually work out at the health club. Don't just brag about joining. Until parents start making healthy choices at home, the childhood obesity problem will remain.