Monday, January 31, 2011

Thanks Recessionista

This is an overdue shout out to The Recessionista

In December she had a give away for a $25 American Express Card.  And I won.  Yay me!  And I am taking it shopping tomorrow.  So thank you Recessionista!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

State Debt. Its not pretty

I came across this today - via the Daily Beast
50 states in Debt:

#40, Virginia

Debt 2009: $24.3 billion Projected 2012 Budget Shortfall*: $2.3 billion GDP 2009: $408.4 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 5.95% Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $10.7 billion (16%) Unfunded Health Care & Other Liabilities: $2.6 billion (66%)
On the chopping block: Health Care. New federal money will soften the blow of the loss of health coverage for low income Virginians, but the $293 million the state received is still $100 million less than lawmakers were banking on.
*Virginia operates with a 2-year budget.

The slide show links to the article: States Most Likely to go BankruptSeveral states in the Union are discussing bankruptcy, despite opposition in Washington. How bad is it? The Daily Beast crunches the numbers of all 50 states to find who's in the deepest debt—and it isn't who you think.

I have mentioned before that I am making my way through Gary Shillings book The Age of Deleveraging and in it he does discuss municipal debt and names some of the states that are not fulling funding their pensions due to budget issues.

He also then moves into a discussion regarding the difference between pay for those who are employed by the state and pay for those employed in the private sector, and historically the state has paid less but historically the benefits from the state were better than the benefits from the private sector.  He continues to show numbers that currently state pay is better and state benefits are better and to project what he sees as a major issue.  Not only are many states not funding their benefits programs, but the private sector can no longer provide the funds. He expects the private sector to demand change, and soon.

From the New York Times:
Among all the bad news about state budgets, there are four bright spots: North Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas, Wyoming. Those are the only states — home to less than 2 percent of the nation's population — that say they can balance their budgets for the 2012 fiscal year without slashing spending or raising revenues.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pink and Hearts and Glitter - What Fun!

Last Saturday I wrote a "Best Saturday" post about spending my day with my two littlest girls.  Well - here I am taking the opportunity to show it off.  While doing my Pink Saturday visits earlier that morning I had stopped by "The Stone Rabbit" where I'd read a lovely post about the author's day with her granddaughter.  One of their many activities was to create a Valentine Tree.  As we have a living tree this year- and I haven't wanted to put it outside because there is a significant difference on any given day between inside and outside temperatures - I thought we might also make a Valentine Tree.  And so as the girls worked busily away at their cutting and glueing and glittering I moved them to the tree...

Today I'm down with the nasty head cold that is going around.  It is Lemonade and Bourbon for me tonight and I'll catch up with you soon.  Happy Pink Saturday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By the Marina

an old sketch in pastels on paper- I've been digging though old works lately- Tag is the German Shepherd Dog sketched in in black and Mali is the Yellow Lab sketched in on the right

They are both dead and buried - ashes up in the front corner of the lawn so they can keep watch over the house.  I love walking to the Marina in the spring, summer and fall.  It is hard to sketch there in the summer - it is so green that all the greens sort of blend.  But in the fall and spring its wonderful.

Today it is wet and gray out.  Just now a spot of thunder rolled through.  I was snack mom in preschool this morning (Bitsy's preschool program is a cooperative.  Instead of a teacher and an aide there is a teacher and two parents in the class.)  I've a long list of house chores waiting on me- so I won't be out doing my usually visiting of your blogs for a little bit.

Stay warm!

Each Wednesday there is an Outdoor Wednesday Linkup over at A Southern Daydreamer

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm soooo clever!

Bitsy as I mentioned previously, is inbetween my hand-me-down sizes from M-Lyons.  M pretty much went from a size 3 to a size 6 in a weekend sometime two years ago and there isn't much laying around inbetween.  Bitsy is growing at a more traditional pace...
And she is into the color blue... "My room is blue so I want the blue cup" she'll say to me...
And so I had some scraps of this and that down stairs and decided that with all this bitter weather traveling along the East Coast USA this winter a pair of pants was in order.
I found a reasonable sized piece of chambray like fabric-
and a pattern previously used for K for size 4 shorts which I added a bit of length to

and then I got really clever.  I found some strips of pieced blue squares from AGES ago that I'd used to make a bed covering for Tiger's crib. (Tiger is now 10 yrs old) and thought they'd make lovely ruffles just around the bottom of the pant leg.

What's this? Well, I embellished around each pant leg and then sewed them all up together.  And realized, I'd embellished around the waist, and not only that, but the ruffles were upside down around the waist.  The whole thing was a mess!  Well Dee might rip out and resew- but never mind that

I just got out the scissors and cut the pant legs off.  Now to make it into a skirt!  So I used the pant legs to make a waist band and then added in elastic-

Bitsy in her skirt and her new shirt from Belks.  Remember I was going on about the prices? $2.50 for that shirt.  Seeing as how the skirt was made from scraps I already had, with the exception of the elastic in the waist, I'm feeling like I did okay with this outfit!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Best Saturday!

The husband left at 4:30 AM with kids 1,2, and 3.  Ski Team practice begins at 7:45 AM and we live about 2.5 hours away - give or take.  He gives himself time for the unexpected - whatever - and time to park, gear up, and purchase lift passes.  All the bustling woke me up.  Sigh.
Then Bitsy had a Birthday Party to attend at 10 AM so I had the girls up and dressed and at Target at 9:30 to purchase our gift- my car said it was 21 degrees out!  UGH!

Dropped Bitsy off- around the corner is the Carrot Tree. {AWESOME, AWESOME place to eat.}  I look at M-Lyons and say, "We have to pick up Bitsy in an hour and a half.  Lets get a snack."  M-Lyons looks at me funny, it is 10 AM and we ate not too long ago.  We stop at the Carrot Tree.
"Mom, what's the Carrot Tree?"
I get a coffee and a spinach quiche, she gets a milk and a chocolate cupcake.
Now - the Carrot Tree is a bakery at heart.  A real bakery.  Everything is cooked from scratch.  Everything is to die for.  AMAZING!
So my 6 year old and I have a charming little date- I catch up on her best friend, her kindergarten class, the kids on the bus and so on.  She sits in my lap.  She browses around.  We notice the baby chocolate cakes are on sale-

we decide we need one.

Last week at Wintergreen she took on a challenging bit of hill and was doing really well and caught an edge- poles went flying and she ended up spinning around with her legs all twisted up.  She wasn't hurt and she recovered like a trooper but we have this tradition- a good fall means you get "Falling Down Cake" and we didn't get cake last weekend.  She knows we owe her a good piece of cake - so we agree to wait till Daddy and the kids come home tomorrow and have falling down cake together.

We fetch Bitsy- and her treat bag.  Bitsy sits in the car and eats her treats and shares nicely with her sister (who just had a chocolate cupcake but never mind).  Bitsy's best friend at Preschool Beth recently cut her own hair- her mother took her to the hair dresser to fix it and now Beth has bangs.  Bitsy wants Bangs.  So we go trotting around to find a walk-in.  Super Cuts takes us.  Bitsy gets her hair cut in a nice little wedge with a stacked back.  Super cute!!!

Belk's is across the parking lot.  I want to see if they have long sleeved shirts for Bitsy marked down.  She is in between my hand-me-down sizes from her sister and needs just a few cold weather basics.  They do - shirts that were $10, marked down to $4.99 and then 50% off that!  FABULOUS!

Once home - I'm working on my skirt project that was supposed to be pants but that is another blog post.  I find that I'm nearly done but need elastic.  Off to Hancock fabrics we go- and there we make up for all my saving at Belk's.  Really I should not go near fabric stores!!!  In addition to stuff I don't need- cute corduroy marked down, upholstery fabric for couch pillows marked down to $4 a yard (good designer quality stuff here!) I end up with decorative felties for Valentines day.

We arrive home - clear the table and the three of us make a lovely pink and red mess.

Girls are off to bed and I am going to go finish that skirt!

Remember to Celebrate Today

grab your bag


a good friend

run (don't walk) to Pink Saturday!

because life should be celebrated

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happiest Countries


but actually published I think by

the world's Happiest Countries- such an interesting concept really.  The yahoo article goes into how they decide who has the happiest countries but I am somewhat astonished to read that Norway is the happiest country.  Not that I should have any reason to doubt Norway but its so cold, and dark, I was sure the sun would have something to do with happiness.

However the top 5 are:

the first 3 not being particularly warm places-
I can't speak for New Zealand and Australia, I'm under the impression that they are seasonal like much of Europe and the US.

Check out what they say about Norway: An unparalleled 74% of Norwegians say other people can be trusted, 94% are happy with the beauty of their environment, and a very high 93% believe hard work will help them get ahead in life. 

Most of the nations atop our list are democratic, business-friendly, and boast strong social safety nets.

By Christopher Helman
Think about it for a minute: What does happiness mean to you?

for the article click here

so I'm curious.  What would your criteria be for a happy country?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday - Treeloft Village

all the homes are built up on stilts hence 'tree loft'

our friends bought their tree loft, knocked it down and rebuilt

the view from the back door, its a weird photo, I'm shooting through glass & the blinds.  But you can see the lift is right across the way there.  On Sunday I skied while my husband handled dinner- and I just would pop up on the lift, look over, if the table wasn't set I went back down.  FABULOUS!

As I can't manage both M-Lyons and Bitsy (they both need help getting up onto the lift seat) we wait until after ski practice to head out, that way my husband can ski with us.  M-Lyons received those wonderful ski pants on her birthday.  My husband usually buys ski gear and he tends towards all black- my beautiful girls look like skier goths!  So I went out and bought those, if she opens them on her birthday what can he do about it? 

I'm linking up with A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I wrote this in December and then I guess decided it was too much of a 'rant' and left it in draft form.  But I just re read it and you know - I think its okay.

As I've been becoming into my own self, my grown-up identity I guess- I find myself feeling the need "to justify" things.  Like TIME.


everybody wants a piece of our time

we are asked to volunteer at church.  we are asked to volunteer at school.  we are asked to volunteer with the sports team.  and each group jealously demands a piece.

Sometimes I feel like we all need to carry a dance card:

"nope, see during that time of the day I am dropping small one off a preschool, stopping in with great grandma and picking up the man's dry cleaning. oh no, the next day I am snack mom at the preschool and then I'm going in to read at the kindergarten..."

because when we have the audacity to say "no."  NO, I will NOT commit to a babysitter once a month so I can sit on that committee.  No, I will not get a babysitter so I can work the bookfair at 8:15 AM.  (Do you KNOW a sitter who will show up at 8:15 AM?)  When I have the audacity to say no (okay, so honestly that is all the time) people act like I am a horrible person.


The school will go down in flames without a book fair?  Church will stop if I don't serve on a committee?  Ummm... it seems to me that my job is to look after my own.  Yes?  So if running out the door at every beck and call doesn't fulfill me, and by all means if it fulfills you then grab your keys now!, but if it doesn't fulfill me,  I really think that is okay.  And no, I don't think it is selfish.  I think it is called "mom."  And that works for me.

It works for me because not being over scheduled allowed me to re-adjust Friday and stop in the hospital to see my friend.  She'd been there since Tuesday - not because she is sick but because her 8 or 9 month old daughter is sick.  We found out about it at preschool.  I called and said "I'm running errands, what can I bring you?" She said "a salad!" which made me laugh.  And again - NOT being over scheduled allowed me to have her two other kids over today for a really long part of the day - they had lunch and made ginger bread houses and ran around and I took them home at 4.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sketch - Red Onion

There's been a red onion growing in my kitchen - I haven't thrown it out as there is something about the red, and the green, and the bowl that keep "talking to me" in my kitchen.
So finally, I dug out an old sketch pad and some prismacolor markers and set about a quick kitchen sketch-
having just posted about "drawing" I am very aware that I allowed this sketch to be entirely about color :-) but hopefully my rendering shows some sense of space as well.

red onion, prismacolor on paper Jan. 2011

also due to my limited palette options the colors are a bit brighter than necessary (for instance I haven't got gray...)
but it turned out well enough
I've promised myself I will sketch again.  I used to carry a book with me and keep myself busy sketching anything and anything when I was in school - and I've gotten out of the habit (kids will do that won't they?)

Metropolitan Museum of Art: book catalog

Its been ages since I've been to the Met.  Its been ages since I've been to NY.  But I get the catalog and I'm an on again off again memeber because - art is life

the clearance catalog came out just now-

Arts of Korea edited by Judith G. Smith
okay wow!  I've tried to find resources on Korean Art.  There are not that many and its difficult to find much on line.  I believe one of the museums in Hawaii is credited with having the best collection of Korean Art in the United States.  As mom to two Korean adoptees I've tried a few times to learn more about Korean art specifically because what we tend to be exposed to is usually either Chinese or Japanese.  So this book certainly caught my eye.

and the other book that just made me gasp is:

Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings by Colta Ives, Susan Alyson Stein, Sjraar van Heugten, and Marije Vellekoop, 2005

I grew up surrounded by van Gogh imagery.  My mother loved his work.  And while I respond to his energy and his color and his paintings, his drawings are what really get my attention.  I love his drawings.

And I was thinking about them recently because I've been toying with the idea of offering summer art classes.  And what I'd really like to do is a week on drawing exclusively with high school students - because there is so much you can do with just drawing.  And I wanted to look at van Gogh with them and Sargent - Sargent seduces with his smooth paint and lovely shapes and colors but try to copy him and you realize, he is a master draftsman.  Master.  Same with Da Vinci.  One of my profs at school has us read a collection that included a letter (? I think it was a letter) from Cezanne to someone- in which he was talking about how young people wanted to skip straight to the painting- but you couldn't be a decent painter without the foundation.  He wanted to emphasize that although his work was becoming closer and closer to abstraction, the foundation of good art was still the same.  Learn to DRAW.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pink Spots & Dots

 random, I rotated that photo in the iphoto file but it uploads in its original position - bother!

Well, last December the husband was away so I gleefully dragged my sewing machine upstairs and proceeded to "make a mess" with some fabrics stashed away.  I'm a great fabric stasher - actually I should say I am a great materials stasher, fabrics, ribbon, yarn, interesting papers, tissue paper, old wrapping paper - yes its a mess down stairs in "my room"

I first made a nice skirt for K out of that dot fabric, its a chocolate corduroy with pink dots.  Good fall/winter cozy fabric.  Then I took the scraps and combined them with the flowery fabric scraps (left over from a jumper I had made M-Lyons last year) and voila!  A skirt for Bitsy!

I found the t-shirt at Target last fall.  How cute is that?  I am just pleased as anything with myself over this outfit!

I am linking this to Beverly's Pink Saturday Post.
Beverly is featuring Karen at Scrapbook of Inspiration this week and she also asks us to mention another pinkie we haven't visited before.  Well "Random Creativity" caught my eye, nice title right? so I think I'll hop on over.

Weekend in Wintergreen VA

Being a family that skis is a little tough when you live in the Tidewater Region - it is kind of a flat area at sea level with rivers.  Not really snow ski friendly.  But- as I've mentioned before- the husband decided that  this year the kids would race.  He made friends with one of the families on the ski team during the team trip to Copper Mountain Colorado in Dec and said family has graciously offered us the use of their ski house at Wintergreen this weekend while they head else where.
So that is where I'll be-
Photos from New Year's Day Race:

Tiger trying to get low, still needs to shift his weight around a little bit but he's giving it a good shot

Dragon doing very well in his age group - a full second ahead of his brother even

Kathleen - she cracks me up.  She always looks like she is "up" but note that inside leg and her edges.  Even as she is coming down she doesn't look fast - and her times always rock.  Second fastest run that day and fastest combined times.  And she's all of 60 something pounds.  There was some discussion but we're keeping her on the developmental team this year as she really hasn't had much experience with racing.  I'm hoping that she learns a lot and gets her confidence up and that she is able to take on the race team next year.  She really loves being on the snow.

oh - and a touch of pink for Pink Saturday!
yeah its a boarding jacket but oh well - and yeah - Bitsy skis.  She's all over it this year.  Look out below!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Call regarding Shell's Oil Plan

so- I sat down to blog out a question Dragon just asked me "mom is adoption expensive?"
and then I answered the phone

The Natural Resources Defense Council is calling
about Oil Drilling
they need money to fight Shell in court-
they need to pay 400 lawyers and scientists
they are dependent on membership support
the main concern:
Shell plans to begin drilling off the Coast with a plan that was approved Pre-BP Oil Spill and the concern is that they cannot handle a leak/spill and the potential for disaster is great

like every one else on the planet I was horrified by the mess in the Gulf-
the consenquences are on going

like many people in this country I drive a car that runs on gasoline
the price per gallon is nearing $3 again

but if this plan was approved before the major oil spill then it needs to be looked at again.  We can't afford another mess of that caliber.

We have a large, unusual, and unexpected expense on our budget this year.  I cannot spend a dollar.  But I can blog about it and ask other people to blog about it and maybe we can remind ourselves that we were all HORRIFIED and said "HOW did this happen?" and that we shoud not sit by if oil rigs are being put in place without updated safety plans.  Really.  Not okay.

a quick look at NRDC website:

OE: The commission’s job was to investigate what happened in the Gulf and make recommendations on what to do about it. What did you learn that we didn’t already know?
FB: Although the American Petroleum Institute would have you believe that this disaster was an anomaly, we actually found something very different. We believe that it’s really a systemic problem, that the industry -- although very, very sophisticated -- doesn’t have a series of industry-wide operating standards that are based on the best safety practices that are uniform across the industry. There’s tremendous variation. Some companies, such as Exxon and Shell, would have you believe that they would never have done this. But there are a lot of companies operating out there in the Gulf that are not nearly as big as they are.
So our recommendation was that the entire industry has to be brought up to the highest safety standards that can be realized. The Interior Department has the primary responsibility for ensuring that happens. But the industry itself has to create a series of standards and literally self-police. That’s what the aviation industry does, that’s what the nuclear industry does, and one would have assumed that an industry as sophisticated as the oil and gas industry would do that as well. It turns out, they don’t.

What can we do?  Well, bloggers as a group can actually attract a certain amount of attention - so do letters, and phone calls to senators & representatives and so does joining the organization and paying membership fees.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

7th Grade English Lit (or its a family project!)

So K - our 7th grader - has to do a project for her English Lit class.  She did the basic book report already, and the poster, so now things get a little more complicated.
She can choose a comic book.  A power point. A character interview. A video book add or a scene.
As the book she read is "The Hobbit" a character interview sounds complicated to her "how do I pick one?"
She doesn't have time to do a comic book.  She could try a power point but again I think time is an issue.  The project is due Tuesday and she'll be skiing this weekend (poor kid, I know).
So I believe she is recruiting her family to act out scenes.  I'm personally flattered that I've been asked to be neither a dwarf, nor a hobbit (nor Smaug for that matter!)  In fact I think I'm the narrator but that is fine.
We had a good time coming up with scenes to consider - maybe when the dwarves are captured by the elves?   And characters, and style - not too formal now.  That was always my mistake as a kid, trying to be too serious.
Hopefully I'll get a copy of this video when its done- with any luck I'll be able to post it for you.  Should be silly.
We went looking for imagery of dwarves and found some photos of Jackson's that allude to his movie "The Hobbit" which I've heard rumors about. says that Ian McKellen will return as Gandalf.  I am so relieved.  I just don't think I could handle it if he didn't!  Obviously he is sought after in film and theater and can do so many things, but really I am so glad he is coming back to be Gandalf.

I started reading Tolkien about the same age as my daughter is now; my family lived in Germany at the time and I would go on these Volksmarches in the dark woods and get creepy crawlies up my spine thinking of gollum waiting to slide his nasty hands around my neck!  I wanted to be a wood elf.  And I was quite taken with Strider to be sure.  In fact when The Lord of the Rings came out I wouldn't go see it.  I didn't see how it could possibly live up to the book.  And then my sister saw it, 3 times in the theater, and told me to go.  So I went with misgivings - ah but it was FABULOUS!
I don't believe I've ever seen any of Jackson's other films but I'm forever a fan.  And the Hobbit's first release should be next winter? no, correction, I just looked at McKellen's page and it says December 1212. Sigh, such a wait.

ah but look, amazon has the dvd from the 1970's animation!
I remember that!  I remember my parents borrowing a tv (we didn't have one) so we could watch it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Age of Deleveraging

I am reading "the Age of Deleveraging" by A. Gary Shilling
I looked it up some time ago after writing a blog post about an article I read in November regarding adjusting aspirations to reality

This is going to be slow going for me - we are talking history & statistics, though written rather reader friendly in my opinion, still it is a topic in which I am a novice. (and it is 492 pages)

But this I found fascinating:

page 62
In 2005, all the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, then chaired by Republican Richard Shelby, voted to prohibit Fannie, Freddie and other government-sponsored enterprises from holding portfolios and instead make them stick to the less profitable but safer business of guaranteeing packages of mortgages sold to investors.  The bill also gave their regulator authority to set capital requirements that then were so low that their assets exceed 50 times their regulatory capitol.  All committee Democrats opposed the bill and Democrats kept it from coming to a Senate vote.
Attempts to tighten mortgage lending requirements, even before their virtual disappearance, were consistently and effectively axed by housing industry lobbyists.  The National Association of Realtors has one of the strongest lobbies in Washington.

hmmm... interesting food for thought.  So, who was on the Senate Banking Committee in 2005? Yahoo answers

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker

Members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs,
109th Congress Democrats:
Paul S. Sarbanes (Md.), Ranking Member
Christopher Dodd (Conn.)
Tim Johnson (S.D.)
Jack Reed (R.I.)
Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)
Evan Bayh (Ind.)
• Thomas R. Carper (Del.)
Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Robert Menendez (N.J.)

Richard Shelby (Ala.), Chairman
• Robert Bennett
Wayne Allard (Colo.)
Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Chuck Hagel (Neb.)
Rick Santorum (Pa.)
Jim Bunning (Ky.)
• Mike Crapo (Idaho)
John E. Sununu (N.H.)
Elizabeth Dole (N.C.)
Mel Martinez (Fla.)


Source watch offers 

Members of the
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs,
109th Congress
which appears to be an identical list so I'm going with "majority rules" and hoping they are correct-
I have more reading to do to get to where Shilling wants this to take me but for some reason this jumped out-
and the best way for me to digest and remember what I read is to share it with others- see all those teachers were correct. Do you homework, it helps you learn!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pink, Turquoise and Celebrations

Saturday, Jan 8th, M-Lyons turns 6!

That means lots of PINK
lots of TURQUISE
lots of glitter
lots of Polly Pockets
lots of Tangled/Rapunzel
lots of Toy Story 3

we decorate with these pony beads that my oldest strung for a Fancy Nancy party years ago... I love them!

and our fabulous "votives" the kids made summers ago glueing old wrapping tissue onto baby food jars

I insist on fresh flowers!

and my latest find!  An at home mom with a kitchen business on the side: Hansel & Gretel's One of a Kind Chocolate Favors  These are "Cake Bites" pink cake dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles each wrapped and ties with a pink ribbon!  How Cute is THAT?  I took them to school today at lunch - the kids were so excited and the teacher loved that they were reasonably sized treats and not messy!

These pink roses are for M-Lyons to give out tomorrow at her party!

Happy Pink Saturday to you all  - I'll be celebrating every minute of it!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Morning, Coffee and a Book - Decision Points

Ah - I just finished reading... me with a cup of coffee and a book in front of the gas fireplace my big black labrador at my side.  Can the morning get any better?  *sighs contentedly*

So- I picked up a copy of Decision Points after a phone conversation with my "little brother" Patrick.  He is in the Air Force - enlisted - in logistics (i.e. getting parts to the airplanes) and has served 3 or 4 deployments to war.  The last one was particularly brutal as he was on the ground, kicking in doors, securing areas.

Patrick is my tie to the world outside of mommyhood.  One time he came to visit for 2 weeks from Germany, bringing his D.V.D. collection- he'd help put the kids to bed (often after making us dinner) and then pick out a movie "you need to see this Cailin" he also keeps me up to date on current events and he likes history.  He isn't much into reading but he pays attention to the news.  Anyway - he brought up the book and so I went and looked it up and decided I wanted to read it.

I never voted for George W. Bush.  For the record, since being old enough to vote I have not yet voted for a winning presidential candidate, but I always vote.

But having lived through this time period that I believe is going to have a strong influence over American policy, both foreign and domestic, for a long time, I wanted to read "his side of the story."  I am very aware that we all interpret things differently.  If you and I spend a day together and then go home and write about it we will have very different things to say, we will focus on different details and so on.  I am also very aware that in depth analysis doesn't sell in the media and I am highly sceptical of anything that gets printed in the news, online or on paper.  I think USA Today kept the concept of newspaper alive but killed decent reporting with their short, sound bite, "articles."

Having strong ties to the military and believing whole heartedly that "the best defense is a strong offense" I was particularly interested in his discussion regarding 9/11 and Afghanistan and Iraq.  The chapter on Katrina is enlightening in that President Bush discusses the conflict between state government and federal government.  He also quotes his phone conversation with Governor Blanco on Sunday before Katrina.  (Katrina made landfall Monday.)  In his discussion on Sunday he asks if a mandatory evacuation had been ordered.  The answer was no.  He notes that Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane center had called Louisiana government officials the night before (Saturday night) to express his concern, "Max later said it was only the second time in his thirty-six-year career he had been anxious enough to call elected officials personally." Bush page 315
Bush goes on to note that he had asked the governor what else they needed and she had responded, "Mr. President, we've got it under control."
Famous last words right?
He then discusses the mess after the storm.  He only briefly discusses the organizational problems in FEMA and moves on to what to him was an area in which he did have control - the violence and looting.  National Guard had been deployed but he wanted to send the 81st Airborne as well.  He needed permission from local government.
"The next morning, Day Six, a call from Baton Rouge came in to the White House.  The governor had declined.
I was exasperated."
Bush, page 323

on page 320 Bush explains the problem in regard to the sending in Federal Aid to stop the looting and lawlessness that had followed Katrina, "The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibited active-duty military from conduction law enforcement within the United States."

I thought all of that was interesting because the mechanics of it all are not things we heard about- we just say images of devastation and a lot of confusion.

The final chapter in the book is on the financial crisis- another chapter I found very interesting.  He notes the decline in home values in 2007 and the increase in default mortgages that same year.  He discusses tax relief aimed to stem that tide.  He discusses Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and calls out specific congressmen who had ties to them, Lehman Brothers, and the auto industry.

All in all I am glad I spent the time to read this book.  It is fact filled and so not a breezy read.  At 477 pages during the busy season of birthdays and holidays at my house it took time.  But I find that I am now interested in picking up President Clinton's book regarding his time in presidency and I believe President Bush senior also wrote a book- I think it adds to my understanding of how my country works, how we have found ourselves where we are and perhaps adds to my perspective of how to get to where I wish I and the nation was instead.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Christmas Snow on my deck

Happy New Year!  I am excited to great 2011 and sad to say goodbye to 2010.  2010 was a year of healing and strengthening in my house, a great blessing, and leaves me feeling strong and ready for new challenges and adventure.

We spent the last week of 2010 at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, just past Charlottesville.  My oldest three kids are on the ski team this year- the developmental team not the race team- and they had practice Monday - Friday at 7:45 AM!  Good grief!  We were supposed to drive up Dec 26th but it started to snow here in Williamsburg on Christmas, a rarity, and it kept snowing.  I haven't looked up the official number but we had to have received a foot at least.  So we pushed out Monday morning at 5 and the kids missed the first bit of practice but were able to find their groups and so on.  Monday was brutally cold and windy at Wintergreen so I took the two younger girls to find the Residence Inn we were going to be staying at.  Loaded up on groceries- unpacked- made a good dinner-

Tuesday my husband took the 4 yr old out.  My husband both used to race and used to instruct.  I married well.  :)  So he spent Tuesday with Bitsy.  M-Lyons will be 6 soon and this is her third season on skis.  She  started a little timid Tuesday but she is build strong and was able to get her legs under her.  By Thursday Bitsy was bombing the hill turning only when someone was in her way (not what we teach them but what are you going to do?) and M-Lyons was turning on her edges.

Friday the D-Team raced- pretty much just as a trial to see how they did (one young 'un hit all the gates backwards).  My older two were on Team Summit out of Keystone a few years ago (we were in Colorado for 6 months) and the oldest did particularly well.  It was very satisfying to watch her blow every one away.  She doesn't ski particularly fast or aggressively when she is just out and about on the hill.  Put her on a race course and suddenly she's an animal.  As there is a little bit of type A over achiever personality amongst some of the parents of the team, I'd spent a week meeting moms - me in ski gear and braids and them in resort wear - and listening to them tell me how awesome their kids were.  I generally prefer to let the skis do the talking.  So yes, I was gloating.

K had the fastest combined times on the hill.  Go K!

Tiger pulled fourth in his age group.  He tends to sort of glide down the course.  He looks good, but he is a bit slow.  Hopefully the coaches will be able to help him work on speed!

Dragon has improved significantly over his week in Colorado earlier in Dec and his week last week.  He did great in his age class and also pulled 1st.

In addition to awesome racing - we did meet some wonderful families who didn't feel the need to tell me how much better their kids were than mine *grin*  One in particular fathered by an entrepreneur computer geek and ski nut (my husband's clone perhaps?) and his veterinarian pathologist wife.  They have 3 darling boys (the oldest is 8 so I'm still allowed to call them darling) and they were both very hospitable and gracious and just plain fun and interesting to hang out with.  Tiger made a good friend and I like his mom as well.  K has a few friends, one who she seems to especially like and I like her mom.  So I'm excited to be hanging out with this new crowd.

And- it is Pink Saturday.  And so I am including a photo of me skiing in my fab pink ski pants that I bought way back when before M-Lyons joined the family.  The photo was taken last year on our spring trip to Colorado- Vail got dumped with 32 inches that week.

Vail Spring 2010

Linking to Bev's Pink Saturday Link up - because I love it.