Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let's Call It Alternative Meds and Leave It At That

"I feel sick. Really, I'm sick. Ow! My stomach hurts. My head hurts, too! I mean it, Mommy, I'm sick!"

Hello, my name is Caution. Welcome to my life.

Every morning at our house starts with the above message of love and compliance brought courtesy of our two youngest boys. I handle it with some simple steps:

  • Kisses

  • Tickles

  • Throwing their clothing at them

  • Yelling
  • Threatening to take away privileges

My little plan works very well. It makes for a really delightful early morning for all of us.

Entirely delightful.

Last week, my 8 year old:

said his stomach hurt. He was certain that he would throw up if sent to school. He says that every day, and still I send him. And you know what? He hasn't worked up the nerve to call home yet this year.

So, back to last week. I knew he was taking a new medication and that his stomach probably was doing cartwheels, but I also knew that he would undoubtedly miss lots of days of school later in the year when his asthma gets really selfish and wants lots of attention. I knew he wasn't really sick.

What to do? I drove my daughter to school. I drove his brothers to school and then I brought him home with me. We gave the dog some loving. We told each other some jokes. We went outside and played basketball. We played really sorry, short-people basketball with tons of house rules made just for the two of us. We talked about stuff.

And after school had been in session for 40 minutes, he was ready to go.

You know what? Right there in the office, in front of the office staff and in front of another boy who really was throwing up, my boy gave me a mighty big kiss right on the lips.

Once in a great while, we moms do something right.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tell Me WHY

  • Why, when the Internet service goes out at my college, do they send out emails telling us the server is down?
  • Why, when the login requirements change for our work email and we are locked out of the email system, does the college send us an EMAIL telling us how to get into the email?
  • Why does my employer put up big posters all over the campus telling students how much money stolen books can bring the thief?
  • Why do the cleaning crews continue to add left-behind student belongings to the pile in one of my classrooms? The pile has been growing for two years now and covers one table and two desks.
  • Why, when the syllabus clearly states, "No essay submissions via email," do students send their essays via email (but always with the note, "I know you said not to do this, but ...)
  • Why is there a sign in our building which reads, "If you can't read, come see us."
  • Why do I get so highly annoyed when a student tells me, "My high school English teacher doesn't understand this assignment!"
  • Why do I actually laugh when a student turns in an essay which is clearly plagiarized from a magazine, and the student tells me he isn't responsible for plagiarism because he hired someone else to write the essay for him?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Caution! At the Wheel

I was sick last week. Sick, as in staring blandly at students as they asked questions, and then replying from a long tunnel,
"I'm sorry. Did you say something?"
And I survived anyway.
By Friday, I was much recovered and ventured to the grocery store. I had a shopping list, and that shock alone should have killed me. I also had a time limit and was running a bit shy, but I knew the express lines for 12 items or less are fast.
So don't ask me why I had 33 items in my cart, but I did. Things were fine until I rounded aisle 10 and ran smack-dab right into the end of another cart. I was to blame. I was on the wrong side of the road. If the grocery store had a traffic cop, I would have gotten the ticket and maybe a ride to the station.
I apologized! The other driver shopper was very nice and we went our separate ways. I berated myself for the length of the aisle and rounded the corner --
only to be stuck head-on by the same woman. I assume no blame for that one.

But I did quickly unload most of my items so I could get into the express line and out of that store before the news stations showed up to profile me.
I don't know if I can shop there again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You Owe It to the Economy

Hey, there is a fantabulous deal on a travel trailer over at ebay. You should check it out. Our economy needs you to spend! Come on, you know you want a travel trailer...


I Can't Believe You're Here!

Yikes! When my doorbell rang today, I had no idea who would be on the other side! Come in, already. It's great to see you, BATW readers. Oh no, don't bother taking your shoes off in this house. You are more valuable than our flooring.

Ignore the puppy. She loves people, but obviously we have some training to do. Pepper! Get down!!

Let's sit here at the table, but wait just a minute while I wipe it off. This morning was a little chaotic. Child #3 is not enjoying school this year. Every morning he tells me he has a headache, a stomach-ache, and then he takes his temp 12 or more times. Today I dragged him into school in a flood of tears. Oops! There's Child #4's lunchbox. I will take it over to the school in a while.

Just push those analogy essays to the side. I'll finish grading them later on. I thought the topic was so clever. The students were to explain some facet of their character using a favorite pair of shoes or a rock as a comparison. I don't understand why they weren't happier with the assignment...

Are you hungry? Let's see what's here. There's soup from last night and homemade bread (although it was taken out of the oven a bit prematurely) or there's a pasta dish from two nights ago. Oh wait. You probably want to sample the local flavors. That means we should order a Little Caesars pizza or a coney dog. If you just want a snack, how about a Michigan favorite: cider and donuts?

Then off to visit the local happenin' places. We could visit the local sports venues (or NOT), we could visit the refurbished art or Motown museums, we could stop by city hall and see where our first hiphop mayor was indicted on felony charges and forced to resign last week. I know. Let's stop by the Big Three. Things are pretty quiet at Ford, but GM has a new electric vehicle coming out and Chrysler has three electric vehicles slated to hit the showrooms in 2010. Ignore the somber faces. Tomorrow is expected to be another Black Friday with more layoffs coming and there's yet another foreclosed house a block over. It's been like that since Michigan took the #1 spot in the nation for unemployment. We are pleased to remind you that we are no longer the most dangerous city.

You're leaving already? I know. There are so many places to visit on this ingenious world tour Debbie organized. She's a mighty clever lady. Do you suppose I could tag along with you? I'll just leave my front door open and leave the pizza and coney dogs out for anyone else stopping by. After all, graciousness and organization are my middle names!

My Fall From Grace

A while back, I took a tumble. It was a silly little thing, but it hurt. You see, I was rushing to get dressed, and somehow managed to get my big toe caught in my "foundation garment." Yes, I really did.

That big toe set off a chain of events resulting in me losing my balance and falling headfirst into the end of the bedframe.

As I lay there hurting for the next several minutes, I considered my options.

  • I could call my children in to help me. Three of them are boys, so that would be a bad option (and would, no doubt, ruin them for life.)
  • I could call my daughter in to help me. She is 13 and doubts my sanity. That would be a bad option.
  • I could call Checkered, and as a loyal husband, he would drive 45 minutes home to help, if necessary. But then I would have to tell him how I fell. And that certainly would be a bad option.
So I lay there assessing my wounds, and then I remembered who I am!
  • I am a woman!
  • I have a doctorate!
  • I am a beloved wife!
  • I am an adequate mother!
And I got up and shook off the bruising.
Things were okay, but then I realized that I had torn my favorite "foundation garment" and that is what pushed me right over the edge.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where's Nancy Drew When I Need Her?

We've had a mysterious couple walking through our neighborhood for the past few months. They walk every evening just after dark and every morning just at sun-up. He always wears the same white shorts and no shirt and she always wears the same clothing, too.

They walk slowly and affectionately. And if a car's headlights illuminate them, they immediately move into a tight embrace with his back to the road. They remain in that embrace until the lights are no longer on them. Yet when their activity activates my motion sensing front porch light, they linger in that spotlight - again in the embrace.

When there are no headlights or front porch lights to find them, they have specific stopping points where they always pause for a lengthy embrace and kiss. One is on our corner and another is behind a van across the street.

And if that isn't enough, my neighbor came across them one early morning. The man stood on the sidewalk watching while the woman frolicked in someone's lawn sprinklers.

So we are left wondering are they exhibitionists? Are they casing houses? Are they homeless?

The only thing I really know for certain is that it's pretty good entertainment. I'm pathetic, I know.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

He Knew Who He Was All Along

A couple of years ago when our boy #1 fell in love with roller hockey, we were thrilled.  He had found a sport.  He had found a means to exercise.  He had a hobby.  And we were all happy until he announced that he wanted to be a goalie.

A goalie is an entirely other story.  It requires high muscle tone -  a trait he doesn't possess.  It requires lots of cash for the equipment and a thick skin to listen to the criticism of the spectators - traits his parents don't possess.

So we told him how he needed to really learn the game by playing for a few seasons.  He complied, but he still wanted to be a goalie and we still had our concerns.  What we didn't want was for our Miracle Boy to put himself in a situation where he would be on the fast track to failure.

And that is why we convinced him to play soccer for three seasons. Our little side trip into the land of less equipment was quite successful.  Our boy played well and, when in goal, made a lot of saves.  We congratulated ourselves on our clever detouring of his desires and our skillful parenting in helping him discover what he really should be doing.

But that hockey desire never faded.  Our boy never begged, but stayed consistent in his dream of being a roller hockey goalie.

This summer we spelled some of it out for him:
  • he had no experience as a goalie (but even as we said this, we saw the ad for goalie camp,)
  • equipment is really expensive (but we discovered that the league loans it for free,)
  • the other players would be soooooo much more experienced (but our league allows new goalies to play down one age group.)

So there we were - busted.  And there Miracle Boy was with his dream.

Last Saturday, he suited up for his first official game.

He was so nervous he said he was "tingling." 
Checkered was so nervous that he was biting his cheek and twitching his head:
And I? The perfect picture of calmness and serenity... until ....
...until my boy started making saves and getting up from the floor in a timely manner and until ...
I kept my composure until the person in front of me said about my boy,
"They've got a good goalie down there."
That is when I became a misty-eyed, blubbering mom.
And by the way, Miracle Boy's team won.  
Just one more precious memory tucked away in this mom's heart.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Just a Name

My first grader is kind of friendly with another boy in his class.

My child: "You know what Germy did today?'
Me: "Germy?"
My child: "Yes. Germy. Anyway, do you know what he did?"
Me:"Wait. His name is Germ -y, like he has lots of germs?"
My child: "Yes. That's exactly his name. BUT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT HE DID??"

Of course, when I looked it up in the school directory, Germy's name is really Jeremy.

That made me think of all the names I've misunderstood over the years. Here are two from my much younger years:

  • For two years, we lived across the street from a Greek couple. I have no idea how to spell their name, I now know that it was pronounced, "Morto-arrow." For two years, I called them Mr. and Mrs. Mortal-arrowhead.
  • Then there was the boy I went to school with named Victor Langdon. In middle school I was absolutely sure that his name was Victor Hugo.
And what of my own name? A while back, I realized one of my colleagues didn't know my name. We've worked together for years. We are pretty good work friends. She used to call me Lisa Marie, and when she introduced me to her husband, I became Lisa Marie Presley. I am neither Lisa Marie nor a Presley. But you know what? I always answered when she called me by that erroneous name. Maybe that's the mystery in and of itself.

I suppose we all have those temporary misplacements of someone's name. For my favorite pastor, unfortunately, it happened during a wedding. The couple was Jonathan and Debby. Simple enough, but the pastor referred to them throughout the ceremony as Jonathan and David. I guess there are those who would say he was way ahead of his time.

And what about odd names? I went to school with a girl whose first name was Jane. Her last name was also Jane. My boys attend school with a girl named Venus, and my daughter attends school with a boy named Mary.

So now the truth, have you butchered anyone's name recently or met someone with a name that puzzles you?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Did She Really Think We Were Simon and Garfunkel?

My friend, Jeannelle, posted the other day about her high school band experiences. It was such a great post that I decided to write about my high school band days.

Then I remembered that I wasn't in band in high school, BUT I WAS IN CHOIR! Except, at our school it was called chorus. I was in chorus for four years. I liked to sing, and it was a fulfilling social hour, so it was an easy decision for me.

Each day we would slowly make our way into the music room and proceed to have a good time while our teacher would eventually make her way out of her office, which also doubled as the Bermuda Triangle. Things went missing in that office.

After several minutes, the teacher would finally emerge with some music, but if a cute guy could start talking to her, there was always the chance that the music would never actually make it to the piano and we would never actually have to sing.

It all worked quite well for us with the exceptions of concerts. When we had a concert, panic would overtake the teacher and she would find some pop songs for us to sing. The problemo? I went to high school in the late 70's and the pop songs were always from the mid-60's. We were a very cool school choir indeed. I know the choirs from other school all envied us.

And since we had never really practiced the songs that much, the words were a little iffy for us. But the teacher came up with a great solution: she would just sing very, VERY LOUDLY, to make up for the weaknesses in the choir. Quite clever of her really. I'm sure no one suspected the truth.

Two more memories: We were on t.v. one Christmas. The teacher decided we would sing Ave Maria in Latin. Okay, fine. Except the camera kept focusing on me and I didn't know a single word. I later learned that became apparent to our entire tri-state region.

And lastly, during my senior year I was an aide to the teacher. That meant I spent one hour per day looking at the mess that was her office. One day the teacher wasn't there, and the principal was adamant that the sub needed to get into that office to get the LESSON PLANS (ha!) So, in a typically reactive way, the principal used her credit card to open the door and broke her card in the process. Later in the day, I innocently asked the principal if she would need to use my copy of the office key. Ew! Bad question indeed. She pulled me into a corner and SCREAMED that I was responsible for her broken credit card.

She was maybe slightly crazy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Her Shirt Made Me Blush

At 9:00 the other night, I was at the grocery store. My only goal was to get 50 percent of the items I needed. Remember, I never shop with a list, so 50% would be fantabulous.

I got into line and got back out only twice because I remembered some other essential item from my non-list.

Finally, I got back in line and paid and was leaving when I saw another mother. I started to walk around her when I paused to read her shirt. This shirt was the first time I've seen such a sentiment expressed in women's apparel. It wasn't an image. It wasn't just an explicit word or two. What was on her shirt was an absolute vulgarity. Really, really vulgar. The expression was one I probably didn't even know until I read some trashy novels in my 20's.

So, freedom of speech and all that, right?

Except for one thing: her son who was maybe 8 or 9 was walking behind her. He is old enough to read. Does he understand what his mom's shirt means? I really hope not and hope he won't know for a while yet.

I was sickened by the shirt and came home to complain to my husband. His response? He wanted to know why I didn't tell the woman that her shirt offended me. That is how he handles things. He feels that every time we don't challenge something like that, society slips a bit farther into the abyss.

That is NOT how I handle things. I am too scared that someone will shoot me for confronting them. SO, I just cringe and seethe and vent at my husband.

How would you have reacted? Are you a confrontationalist or an inward seether?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cruising on Futility

There are some weeks where it's not that I end up right where I started, but I can't seem to move off the starting block. No progress. at. all. And that's where I surrender the week to the futility powers that be. (Read carefully. I did NOT say fertility powers that be.)

Here are three examples of this week's futilities:


Thinking that the dog crate or a baby gate would be useful in blocking a doorway and thereby keeping a puppy contained in one room. Come on, did you know that some dogs can CLIMB?


Telling the city yet again about our stop sign is playing hide and seek. Those close calls between non-stopping cars mean little to the person receiving my complaints.


Trying not to laugh while watching Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin. Enough said.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rainy Days

Friday night Checkered and Boy 1 left to join the other 5th grade scouts at camp. They envisioned something like this:
Too bad for them that the remnants of some hurricane arrived here for a week-end visit. It rained without ceasing from Friday night through Sunday morning. So while Checkered and Boy 1 found that their tent leaked and that their shoes and sleeping bags were mighty slow to dry, the other three kids and I had some fun.

You see, when the hurricane remnant arrived, it brought with it his distant cousins, Lethargy and Carefree.

The other cousin, lots of video play time came, too.

Thank goodness, cookie baking time, stopped by.

And just when we were settling into our rainy week-end, Checkered called to say they were drenched, dirty, and tired and would be breaking camp a day early. That meant we had to scramble to get dressed, hide the evidence of our family room picnic, and act like we worked very hard while they were gone.
On Sunday the rains were still here, but what better thing to do than an old fashioned puddle-stomping!

Hope your week-end was equally as fun!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yes to Substitutions

Never in my married life have I had all the listed ingredients for a recipe. No. Never. Sometimes it might be the biggie ingredient (like ice cream in a banana split), but other times it's just a little sneaky thing like baking powder or salt.

It used to be that I would just ignore the little lost item. Afterall, what did salt do to deserve living in a bread recipe? Pul-leaze. Then I would bake the food and it would taste terrible and I would still give it to a professor to eat and the professor usually said it was great. So there.

Then I experimented with leaving some of the big items out of recipes, and maybe - just maybe - that didn't go so great. It really didn't go so great when it was Christmas Eve and my parents were here and I had also invited over the most refined student I've ever worked with. She, of course, is a gourmet chef. But, no, that didn't stop me from cooking for her and forgetting an ingredient or two and still continuing to cook because it was Christmas Eve and the pizza place was already closed. Okay. My mom saved that one with some nifty rearranging of the menu.

Moving forward to this week. All I wanted to do was please my children and husband with a chocolate cake when they returned home from their labors. So there I was doing my usual Google thing. (I am very grateful that Google had a friendly take-over of my brain some time ago. What would I do without them?) I typed:
"What can I substitute for oil, eggs, water, et cetera in a cake?"

It was such a simple question; one I've used 20.1 million times already this week decade. But do you know what the first response hit was? Do you?

Not apple sauce, butter, yogurt or any of the other things I've learned about over the years.

The first response was this:

"When will people stop messing up recipes by substituting ingredients? If you don't have what you need, you have 3 options: 1. go to the store, 2. find another recipe, or 3. use your substitution and resign yourself to the fact that you have ruined the recipe."

After I stopped crying, I substituted every single ingredient in the recipe and instead of baking it for 35 minutes, I baked it for 20.  It was perfect.  So there!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She Who Must Be Levitated

Say what you will, my third child has a profound understanding of my place in this family.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alpha Dog

When Pepper joined our family last week, we worried about her self-concept and esteem. After all, she was told by the Big City Humane Society that she was a large dog. (Does 10 pounds at 3 months count as large?) And she was told that she is a black Lab. We are still looking for that Lab drop of blood in her.

So we wondered what would happen when she came home and met the crazy puppy from next door. Would that same crazy puppy tease our little mis-labeled dog? Would that neighbor who specializes in digging under the fence and barking incessantly and biting her owner be cruel to our mystery pedigree Pepper?

Well, here's how it works:

The neighbor dog runs outside several times a day and waits patiently for Pepper to be forced outside. Then the neighbor dog playfully calls to Pepper,

"Please, Pep, will you run the fence with me? Please, please, Pepper, I'll let you snack on my untrimmed long grass if you will just sit with me at lunch acknowledge that I'm alive."

And the neighbor dog prances and jumps and puts her paw through the fence so Pepper can chew on it.

And once in a great while, Pepper deigns to be nice to the neighbor dog and sends her a text message. Sometimes, she actually says,"Hi," to the neighbor dog when they pass in the halls at school. And one time Pepper even smiled at the neighbor dog even though there was a cute guy nearby. And the neighbor dog is so happy and grateful because for a few seconds a day, she gets to be Pepper's BFF.

Pepper's self-esteem is coming along nicely, thank-you.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do Not Silence Me

On Tuesday our kids went to school. This is a big year for us because it is the first time all four kids are in school all day. So on the first morning after they had all been taken to school, Checkered and I were at a loss how to spend the long day. We could have cleaned the house or finished up the laundry or taken a walk, but it was 90 degrees and gloriously sunny.

So what we did was take our little, old boat out to the lake and cruised around. Without the kids in the boat, we hit a record breaking 23 miles per hour! For two hours we rode and rode and looked at shacks and mansions, and seaweed, and anything else we could see. I thought of 2.3 million things that I needed to say during the course of that ride, but there was one little problem.

In order for me to talk, Checkered had to stop the boat, put the engine in neutral and I had to yell. By the time we went through that a bit, what I had to say didn't seem so pressing or brilliant and I remained quiet.

And so you wonder what vital lesson I learned through that experience?

What I learned is that I despise having my talking curtailed.

Profound, ain't it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Labor Day

Hooking the boat up to the van: 10 minutes

Buying gas, snacks, and bait: 15 minutes

Driving to the lake: 20 minutes

Getting the boat into the water: 5 minutes

Realizing the boat battery is dead: 2 minutes

Opting for Plan B - ice cream at the Dairy Maid: Priceless

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Was the Point of the Night Anyway?

We joined some neighborhood families last week-end in the big city. It was baseball night! Nothing more exciting than a beautiful, fairly new ball park.

What impressed my kids?

Was it the artistry?

Was it the 2 million steps we climbed to get to our seats?

Was it the 10 million degree weather or the gorgeous sunset that followed?

How about the cool score board and tiger with glowing eyes?

Was it our seats that were this close to the scoreboard?
Was it the fountains or the excitement of being in the one nice downtown area?
Was it being with friends?
Maybe it was those Little Caesars $5 pizzas selling for $14.50?
Or the amazing fireworks show at the end?
Could it be the rides within the park?
Perhaps it was the drunk lady who lost her balance and baptized me in her beer and then showed all those innocent cub scouts a side of the moon they had never before seen?
What my children took away from their night at the ball park was the image of the homeless man singing and dancing and asking for money. They didn't feel pity. They didn't feel compassion. They didn't feel even a twinge of responsibility. What they did feel was something akin to giggles at his silly song. And now my 6 year old has been singing the same song.
We had a fantastic night at the park. But someone mentioned that there was baseball being played while we there! I have no idea what they are talking about.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mr. Obama, This is a change I don't believe in...part 2

I read a book a few weeks ago which changed my life. The book, Quaker Summer, by Lisa Samson is the fictional story of woman whose own life is transformed by the question of what does Christ want of her. She has spent her life making a lovely home for her family. She has been a good, thoughtful neighbor. She has offered her talents to those whom she feels need them. But what she has is a life of things, shallow friendships, and busyness. What she is not doing is making a difference in the name of Christ.

My synopsis pales horribly in comparison to Samson's writing, but suffice it say, the book changed me. Or maybe what it did was to help me acknowledge what I think the Lord is trying to do in my own life. I have begun to really pray and think about what Matthew 25:41-46 means in my day to day life.

I think we are to provide for those who have need. 

So all said, I don't begrudge my friend her allotment from the government, BUT I do believe the system has enabled her to become a taker.
Last week I heard an interview Chris Cuomo had with Mr. Obama's chief economic advisor. Granted, it wasn't highbrow money talk, but the issue of tax cuts came up. Mr. Obama's advisor explained how a large segment of tax payers would pay lower taxes under Mr. Obama's plan. Cuomo kept asking how those tax cuts would be subsidized, but there was no direct answer. Finally, it was explained that anyone with an income of a certain level would see a tax increase. Cuomo asked why it wasn't labeled as a tax increase, and Mr. Obama's advisor said the new tax rates would simply be a reinstatement of old tax rates. Voila! No new taxes!

Now, in the past when I've heard that a certain income group will shoulder more responsibility, that group has always been some point we will never reach. What alarmed me this time was that if I go back to full-time work, WE will be in that category of tax increase. 

Granted, I've not heard yet how Mr. McCain pledges to fix our money situation. Perhaps his proposal is equally as bad. I really need Chris Cuomo to explain it to me!

What really gets me is the Obama campaign's explanation that I am a "have" and have an even greater obligation to the "have nots." I thought of my friend, who does not work and is completely provided for. Checkered and I worked hard for our education. We work hard at our jobs. We give back to the community through our church and other groups. We don't have a lot in the bank and we don't have a lavish lifestyle. Is there room to simplify like Samson writes about? Yes. Is there more room for me to "do to the least of these"?  Surely.  But is the best way for me to do this a tax increase?

And now, Mr. Obama, that you've specified my new role in providing for society, does my friend have a new role for giving back to society or is it going to continue to be okay that some of us are givers and some will remain takers?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mr. Obama, This is a change I don't believe in ...

I have a good friend, who through my own quirky thinking, lives pretty well. She has ample food in her pantry. She lives in a lovely townhome. She and her children have medical insurance. She has a car to get around, and at the holidays, she has turkeys and hams and an abundance of gifts. Her children go to camp and participate in extracurricular activities. They have new school supplies and backpacks each year. She has internet access. If she chooses, she has job training and retraining available to her and when her children are college age, she won't have to cover most if any of their expenses.


Because my friend lives off the American government and the generosity of her neighbors. Her only "cash" income is child support and that ended when her ex lost his job. In other words, you and I support her.

Now before you react, understand that I acknowledge that my friend has experienced illness and injury. There are legitimate physical reasons why she can't work certain jobs. Her ankles are a mess and surgery exacerbated the problem. Her children have been sick and it is probably best that my friend be home after school. I get that and am sympathetic toward her situation.

At the same time, though, it seems to me that she could work some. She is home the hours her children are at school. When she has been offered some employment which would provide her a few hundred dollars in pocket money, she feels she must reject it because any record of earnings would make it impossible for her to keep her home and the other benefits. She has chosen to not accept the job training because then she would have to get a job. So what works best for her is to do nothing. NOTHING. And the government is okay with that.

I do love my friend. She is bright and laughs readily and her heart is preciously tender to others. She is kind to my kids and they like her and her children. She is woman of great ability.

But she has also learned to accept her lifestyle with ease. No, I wish her no embarrassment for her poverty. I do, however, wish that her lifetime of being provided for hadn't left her so willing to always look for the free road. My friend has no problem asking people if she can have household items she believes they are no longer using. She gets angry because one church does more to decorate her house than another church. Over the years, she has learned to drop subtle hints about which families are most generous to her at the holidays. My friend seems to have moved beyond the belief that this is a temporary station. She now seems to embrace the notion that because she is poor, she deserves all the help that can come her way.

I think about her often as Checkered and I each go to work and then come home to juggle bills. I think about that when my child is sick and we delay visiting the doctor because the $100 dollar fee for the office visit will arrive when our money is running way low. I think about that when we look at our decade(s) old furniture and know we can't replace it or cancel a trip to see family because gas would eat through the money we had saved for the trip. I think about it when I pay $100's for school supplies and sports and extra-curriculars. I think about it when I look at our kids' horribly embarrassing college savings accounts. And I think about it when my friend calls (on her free phone) to complain that she is poor.

And I was thinking about it when I heard an interview with Mr. Obama's chief economic advisor last week.

To be continued.