Say What?

On a recent trip, I saw this t-shirt worn by a man between the ages of, I'm guessing, 17-23.

And so there is no wonder why there are so many of us out there carrying signs like this:

I have been lucky enough to grow up always feeling and believing that anything is possible for me.  This is not to say that I haven't experienced my own-gender inequalities, I haven't my own stories of embarrassment and shame for staying silent when the conversations took a turn toward the sexist worst.  Particularly when I was young 20-something new teacher who needed to get along with a predominantly male faculty, I would either try to infuse some girl-power humor or....leave.

But when I saw that t-shirt, I just couldn't believe it.  I had thought we had evolved. I mean, I have been reading the news, I know the war on women's healthcare is on, but the times are bad Bad BAD when sentiments reach the t-shirt industry....because, you know, it means it is selling and which means the trouble is deeper than I thought.

I have tried to find ways to think this is funny.  Big Man and I joke about the roles we play within our home.  But we can do this because we have spent years in conversation delicately working out what gets done and how it gets done and in the end we don't care about the who and the how...we just want things to get done. 

For so long, I have worked under the notion that these ideas begin in the home. Big Man is crucial in how my daughter will expect to be treated by other men and how my son will treat women. I have long understood that a). in a life partner, I chose well, and b). his parents clearly did something right.   

Apparently, this is not the case in every home.

And so.....where are the parents of this world, and what exactly are they doing? Or is it that the forces of our culture overpower what begins in the home?

There is much parents can't control, and what their almost-adult sons wear is only the tip of that iceberg. But something just isn't right. That the t-shirt was made is one problem in and of itself, but that it tickled what is clearly a warped funny bone is a different beast entirely.

In the end, we have to own it. We have become idle, complacent, and my personal favorite...busy

Until this shirt (and all the ugliness that goes with it) is erased from this world,  I am suggesting to the company that they make a 2 for 1 special. Any man who buys such a  t- shirt will receive a free t-shirt for the woman in his life.   

I say fight fire with fire.


Orlando By the Numbers

The number...

of times Thing 2 exclaimed, "I am not a liar! My teacher will call me a liar! I wrote in my journal we were going to a hotel and the children's museum. Oh god!"  2
This happened during the big reveal. Instead of heading to a hotel with a pool and the Minnesota Children's Museum, we told them we were flying to Orlando. I had to turn off the video camera because his wailing drowned out Lucy's sounds of happy surprise.

of times Thing 1 inquired about the time.   Maybe306,000. It's only a guess.
We stopped counting when we realized she was in her serious traveler mode. This involves hyper-awareness of airport security procedures, gate location, and all thing regarding TIME. Surprised?

See here:

She rivals Grandpa Wilfahrt in her attention to detail when getting somewhere in a timely fashion...and I say this lovingly. This included consulting the Universal Studios wait-time app Big Man installed on our phone for this trip.  Curse or a blessing? Still not sure.

of people who asked how much alcohol was in the ButterBeers we were consuming.  6
By the second request, Thing 1 suggested that only real Potter fans should be allowed entrance to the park. She remained polite, however, and only rolled her eyes at me when those who were ill-informed were no longer in view.  I remained silent while pondering the number of parents who seemed a bit too curious about the effects of alcohol on their child's personality.
On a differeent note, I highly recommend the frozen ButterBeer with a creamy butterscotch foam. It makes waiting in the 85 degree sun for the fourth time to travel again through Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey line much sweeter.

wands purchased.   4
Indulgent parents found themselves embarrassingly captivated by Olivander's Wand Shop and couldn't say no to a wand with the hair of a dragon and blood of a newt. I know I have this wrong and Things will surely chastise me, but they are not here for reference. You get the idea, though.  The big highlight occurred after waiting 45 minutes to get into the wand shop. A snotty, self-appointed cool child who was ahead of us in line repeatedly told us that he knew where to stand to get chosen by Olivander to test wands because he'd been chosen 3 times.  Thing 2, with her Gryffendor tie and Harry Potter T-shirt stood quietly looking at all the wands when Olivander began speaking and pointed directly to her and said, "You! Let us find the wand that finds YOU!"   Take that snotty UN-cool child from one self-appointed snotty parent!

number of times I teared up on the ride, The Forbidden Journey.  2
It was so real, so purely everything you would want your kid to experience in having a book come to life, that it just blew me away. All of life's lessons were thrown at you in a dazzling, heart-thumping 3 minutes.  Repetition did nothing to diminish the excitement. Oh well. I am a sap and will not apologize for it.  I can only imagine what Ms. Rowling must have felt upon riding it the first time.
Best of all, we were ALL captivated...every single one of us.  And anything that brings my kids together in a conversation that is not competitive or nagging in nature will forever be priceless. 
of 3:30 a.m. spell casting sessions.  1
After the purchase of Wand #1, Thing 2 went to sleep dreaming of spell-casting only to wake up and 3:30 a.m.  Big Man found him in the bathroom casting spells so as not to wake the rest of us Muggles. He continued this mission until 4:30 a.m. when he drifted off to sleep saying, "Wingardium Leviosa!"

of rides we had to be escorted off of due to technical difficulties?     
Only 1, thank God.
We were attempting to fly on bicycles through E.T.'s home planet, but the bikes kept stalling. Forward we would move 2 feet only to stall again.  Our lucky bicycle made for 16 died right in the midst of some fantastical playground for baby E.T.'s while some psychadelic circus-like music played and played. Brightly colored E.T.'s romped on martian-esque plants over and over again. Did I mention the music kept playing while we kept sitting? Even when they gave up on ambiance and turned on the lights, the E.T.'s kept playing, and did I mention the music kept playing?  For our patience (torture), we were issued out-of-date "Fast Passes" to jump the lines on any other working rides we wished to enjoy (endure).

Good times were had by all. Actually, Big Man and I had more fun that we anticipated. Not being of Disney-ilk we fretted about the cost, the in-your-face consumerism, the over-the-top way that seems to be Orlando.  But, we found our way into it and discovered that suspension of disbelief isn't just for books and movies. It truly was an escape.  Pick any book you longed to walk into from your childhood and imagine that happening. That's what we did --we stepped into someone's imaginary world, and I believe our own imaginations are better for it.

It was also a not-so-subtle reminder that little ideas can become big things.  No one needs to hear this more than adults who often become jaded and easy to dissuade when it comes to dreaming.

I also realized that the highest cost to most journeys is not the price, but the willingness to take them.  And so, I thank my Things and Ms. J.K. Rowling. They pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I feel refreshed, reminded, and a little freer than ever to dream my own dreams.

It's About Time

The conversation began on know, the one where we discuss Daylight Savings Time.  We will go to bed and in the middle of the night, we will lose one hour and spring ahead.  It seems simple enough. I love daylight savings time because it is the only way I get at least one child to sleep until 7:00 a.m. even if it is fake.

But Thing 1 was stymied about this occurrence and wouldn't let it go.
We were visiting the farm and decided to head into town for some hardware for one of many things that don't work and this conversation ensued.

"So it's really 10:00? The clock says it's 9:00, but it's really 10:00?"

"No, it's 10:00. Dad changed the clock. He moved it ahead one hour."

"But wouldn't it be 11:00 then?"

"No, it said 9:00 and he moved it to 10:00."

"Where did the hour go? I don't get it. It just disappeared?"

"Well, at precisely 2:00 a.m., an hour disappeared and it became 3:00 a.m."

"How does it just disappear?"

"It just does. Everyone adjust their clocks accordingly. This happens twice a year in order to maximize on the daylight hours to save energy, supposedly."

"What if someone forgets to change their clock?"

"They will be late, I suppose."

"Do they still lose their hour?"

"Yes, you can't fake this system."

"But I feel hungry now. Are you sure it isn't 11:00? Maybe dad changed the clock the wrong way."

"No, my phone says it's 10:00."

"See! It's 11:00. You have to move your phone ahead!"

"My phone adjusts itself. Computers do this as well."

"But I am hungry!"

"Well, we'll have to get a snack or wait for lunch."

"Which is at 11:00?"

"Or 12:00, or when we get around to it."

"Why can't it be 11:00 now?"

"Because it's 10:00."

"But really 9:00 to me.  I know what I need....more breakfast. I didn't have much."

Thing 2 had been quiet during all of this. He was immersed in Magic Tree House number 6. Big Man tuned out two minutes after the exchange began because...well, that 's obvious, right?

Big Man jumped out of the car quickly when we arrived at the hardware store to avoid any more of this maddening line of questioning.

Thing 2 finally looked up from Magic Tree House book number 6.  "Hey mom, when I am hungry I don't care what time it is. But find that missing hour, please, because she is driving me nuts!"

He went back to his book.

Thing 1 looked at me.  "What?"

Then she started humming, something she does whether things are right in her world or not. The time might change, but this humming is something we can always count on.

As I opened the car door Thing 2 yelled, "Will you be quiet?"

Thing 1kept humming, Thing 2 went back to his book, and I went inside.

A rose by any other name....

Names are important. They recognize an individual, make a person tangible, and give them worth. In the beginning of the first Harry Potter book, the villain is so awful that for a spell, they only refer to him as He Who Must Not Be Named. This is how I have come to think of the man who directed vile, lewd, and blatantly inhuman comments towards Sandra Fluke after her congressional testimony on the importance of women's reproductive rights. For years I have never liked saying his name because I didn't want to recognize that his force was sharing space with my world. 

But recently, I was visiting with a woman from Bosnia.  She and her family escaped during the war but much of her family is still there.  She said, "Oh, I just received a text today from my brother. He always thinks of me on International Women's Day. It's so sweet. It's getting a little over the top, though, kind of like Christmas. Men sending roses and going big with the presents.  I hate that. I don't want people to forget the real meaning of the day."
I didn't fully understand what she was talking about and felt quite embarrassed about it. But then she told me about International Women's Day, which celebrates the power of women and recognizing how far we have come in our rights and freedoms and choices all over the world. On a radio program later that day, I heard an Indian woman say, "I can't even believe that you are still discussing women's reproductive rights in the United States, of all places!"

Which brings me back to He Who Must Not Be Named.  Perhaps he was abused by his mother. Or maybe one of his wives twisted his heart to pieces causing him to call a young woman he does not know a slut. To further request that she make videos of herself having sex so he could watch means he has no respect not only for women, but for himself.  What would make any person say such things?

During the week of International Women's Day, at least one trail-blazing conservative women made it clear that He Who Must Not Be Named was being treated unfairly.  Mrs. Palin, who likens herself to a mama grizzly, has apparrently forgotten about her female cubs when she says in an interview with CNN from Wasilla, Alaska, "Here is my two cents. I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights and never is that the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless.” 

Well, gosh.  It's too bad you didn't have 50 cents worth to share because I would have loved to know more about how you explain such uncivil discourse to your children, female, handicapped, or otherwise. 

Let's get real. Left or right matters not in any of's about being human.
It's about modeling for our children how we treat all people. Having a civil disagreement is one thing, but this was blatant demonizing of a young woman speaking her mind. International Women's Day is supposed to highlight women around the world rising up to make their voices and causes heard. Sandra Fluke was but one example of someone doing just that.

It makes me sad to think that on my home turf, supposedly the greatest country on earth, Ms. Fluke is learning the hard way that we have miles to go before we get any sleep.

My own silence was making me crazy. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. Yet one misguided man cannot chart the course of women's history.

Or can he?

I have decided the risks are too great because there are a few names that mean more to me than anyone by the name of Rush Limbaugh.

Lucy and Benjamin.

No villain, real or imaginary, will ever overpower the love I feel for my children. 

And our country is better than one disgusting headline. If men in Bosnia are showering women they revere with roses because they recognize their power and worth, for God's sake, I can speak up for a 30 year old woman in the United States doing exactly what I would want my own daughter to do. For Lucy, I am talking with my signature, in the fall I will talk with my vote, and as I see fit, I will talk with my wallet through organizations that seek to strengthen women's voices everywhere. For my children, I am engaging with friends and family to add to the conversation that all women are powerful, meaningful, vital contributors to our world at-large who deserve to be heard and treated with respect all the time.
They say silence can be deadly...and for Lucy and Benjamin, I am not taking any chances.