Dan running in the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K. He had originally signed up for a slow jogger's group, since he was uncertain how fast he'd be by race time. His actual time was TWENTY MINUTES faster than he had initially expected, a respectable 55:23. He's psyched.
The boys and I headed up to Monument to cheer for him. Griff heard that some people run in costume, so he wanted to wear one, too. It should be noted that he is not Spiderman. He is Venom.
I was psyched that Reese got into the cheering action and picked up the sign and yelled "Happy birthday!!" of his own accord. :o)
We came home and made cupcakes on time for the house to smell yummy when Dan got home.
All three boys were heavily involved in making the cupcakes. All of them added ingredients, stirred, helped get things out / put away, each of them cracked an egg, and, of course, all of them helped to lick the spoons/bowl.
They also all got in on the gift-wrapping action. I have never had a four-person team working on wrapping one gift before. I'd be happy not to be a part of such a team again. What was fun, however, was Reese's idea to hide the presents so that Dan would have to find them. First we went out for lunch, though. Then presents.
We had a break before cake. I experimented with the external flash that arrived a while ago but which had intimidated me too much to get it out yet. I had hoped to use it at the auction tonight, so practicing was now or never. A few test shots taught me a lot about bouncing the light (soooo glad I did all that wedding/flash photography research in January). I'm pretty happy about the quality of pics I can get with it inside the house. Lots to learn, but not bad on auto.
Oh, yeah, birthday. Here we go:
Yada yada yada, yummy cake, nap for Dan, screen time for kids, practice time for me...get ready, babysitter here, AUCTION.
The birthday boy got to do the drinking and I was the designated driver. Ok, I did have some wine, but had to remain very clear-headed for auction work and chauffering!
Dan also got to do all the hanging out this year with lots of gorgeous women (doesn't everybody clean up well?) while I snapped a few pics and then headed to the check-out table to help tally sheets and close out people's accounts.
Look at these girls, aren't they fabulous?
Also fabulous: auction chair Zoe Bunnell, who looked amazing in a Butter by Nadia signature wrap satin dress. (One of my favorite things about the auction is seeing everybody in beautiful clothes!)
We got home close to midnight, tuckered out but with a full and satisfying day behind us.
Happy 38th, Dan! (and happy 28th to my brother Todd!)
Won't be able to call it 'kropping for much longer. The week of April 10th our favorite location will close down for a week to change over to Martin's branding. I'm not sure what we'll be calling it then, if anything. Supposedly they're installing brighter lights, which makes me wonder, what will make them different from Kroger? And why would I shop at Martin's when Kroger is right across the street?
Anyway, on this particular Thursday morning I made the dicey call of attempting a "quick" shopping trip with two two-year-olds. We spent a fair bit of time inspecting the "monsters".
Xander told me, "Xander and Lukie are scaried of monsters."
The monsters simply went about their business.
I asked Xander later about the lobsters. It turns out he actually pronounces "lobsters" as "monsters." I'm uncertain whether he thinks they're really called monsters or if he just can't pronounce lobsters.
One thing everybody can pronounce: TREAT. Both boys agreed that the round yeast donut with chocolate drizzled on it looked delicious. We opted for vanilla/strawberry milk, instead. The two-year-olds even helped me to select bananas and bread, and put all the items in the cart on the conveyor belt at checkout, which more than made up for the crazy zigzag chase around the store prior to paying for our groceries.
This trio of hugging frogs came home with us today from the garden center, in addition to a bunch of seed packets, one daphne, one rhododendron, new Mud gloves for me, and 50 feet of plastic edging for my enlarge-the-garden project.
The yard has been raked/blown free of winter debris, I'm pruning shrubs and laying plans for flower beds and the veggie garden, and soon spring planting will be in full swing.
On Monday, after years of trying to make a decision, I finally bought a bike. I haven't owned a bike since I was seven, and haven't ridden one since Dan's and my first anniversary. I rode it home from the bike shop, exhilarated by the feeling of the wind and light rain on my face, enjoying finding new muscles in my legs. I parked it in the garage and Dan and I talked about securing it better this weekend. I hoped to ride it during the week but didn't have time, and planned to ride on Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon, I discovered it was gone. We think the back door of the garage was left open overnight and that the easy access tempted a thief. I'm heartbroken.
I beat myself up a lot on Friday and Saturday and many friends shared their own bike loss stories. Bikes lost immediately after buying them, three or four bikes stolen from the same home on different occasions, bikes borrowed from friends for a single day that were stolen, bikes stolen two minutes after putting them away, locks sawed, cars broken into, etc. I feel less stupid but still saddened.
The police haven't called me back yet (I'm supposed to wait for an officer to call me to get more info for the report). I'll bug them tomorrow and hopefully we can file a claim with our homeowner's insurance. If I'm lucky, the deductible will be low. If I'm not lucky, I'll have to wait quite a while for a replacement.
I'm super, super proud of Griff. He's one open-minded, confident kid.
He and I were in Target and I picked up a hat for myself. He looked up and asked for the pink one. Since I was buying a hat for myself for no reason other than that I liked it, I saw no reason to say no to him, so we both got new hats.
On Monday, he wore it to school. He came home that afternoon and reported that lots of children made fun of him, saying he was wearing a girl's hat, and that nobody was nice about the hat. His spirit did not seem crushed; rather, he seemed annoyed that his classmates were being so idiotic about gender boundaries.
Today, he wore it to school again, undaunted. After school he told me that several people gave him compliments.
THAT is some killer self-esteem. Way to be true to yourself and not let teasing get you down, Griff!
We've had gorgeous spring weather for a couple of days, and today was a day that Johannah said was a "the kind of day you should spend with family." We put our clans and produce drawers together for cousin play outside and stir fry for dinner.
My niece, Stella, who is such a YUMMY baby:
She finds her mama yummy as well:
The boys are all too busy digging to look at the camera:
A group of work trucks has been traveling around our neighborhood, first at one corner, then at another, doing something mysterious that has to do with manholes. Ruby hazarded a guess that it has to do with the pipes under the street, the ones that are for "dirty water from the sink and stuff from the toilet".
It was our corner's turn this afternoon. The closest manhole is right in front of the neighbors catercorner from us (the bus stop house). There was a guy sitting on the tailgate of a truck pulled up next to the open hole, so I put shoes on me & Xander and headed on over to ask what they were doing. I always feel odd doing that, it feels slightly pushy and socially inappropriate, but it hurts nobody and we can get actual interesting and educational information rather than continuing to make uninformed guesses, right? So, the guy told me that they are relining the pipes under the street (not clear on if they're freshwater or wastewater, forgot to ask). They mix up some kind of epoxy and send it through the pipes from one street corner to the next, and it hardens into a thin fiberglass lining in the pipe.
I had wondered how 80-plus-year-old iron pipes were still functional. Now I know!
Ruby, worn out at the end of a long Pennies in Protest organizational meeting, accuses her mother of being "mean to Haiti" after her 9,000,000th petition for donations to her collection is denied (many of the previous petitions were responded to generously).
I am WAY far behind on posts - despite whatever the date header up there says, it is actually March 13th and I have just updated blog entries as far back as Feb 14th, and still have everything after this one to go. The last week's worth of activism included state education budget protests, a strongly-but-kindly worded letter to delegate Bob Marshall, and then an organized counterprotest effort against Westboro Baptist Church.
You can read about the incredible Pennies in Protest community effort here:
I am SO AMAZINGLY GRATEFUL to the THOUSANDS of people - literally, thousands - who supported this in one way or another. Parents talked to their kids about hatred, kindness, and tolerance. Friends posted links and talked PiP up to other friends. Donations poured in beyond our wildest dreams. We thought this would be a small collection among a few friends. Hey, maybe if we were really lucky, a few other people would join and - haha - maybe we could reach $1K, wouldn't that be cool? We were not at all prepared for 2,000+ Facebook followers, buzz all over Twitter and Richmond, media attention extending outside Virginia, and, get this: over $14,000 in contributions made either directly to our site, handed to us in person, or donated to local organizations on behalf of PiP.
What is far, far better than that (although the money will do a lot of good in Richmond!) is that we stood up to bullies. Did the bullies like the attention? You betcha. I don't care. I'm not interested in the glee of hateful people. I do care about the hundreds of people who stood shoulder to shoulder with our local Jewish and LGBTQ communities. I care about the notes we received from them about Rabbis watching the Facebook numbers growing, and about the way people whose cultural predecessors and/or relatives were slaughtered in the Holocaust felt love and support from their community in the face of extreme prejudice. I care about the huge crowd of happy faces at VCU, proud of their own sexuality, whatever it may be. I care about the teenagers at Hermitage High School who saw that although four people showed up to tell them they're going to burn in hell,
Four friends, social media, five days. Nobody can ever tell me that one person can't make a difference. Every single person who participated in this outpouring of kindness is one person who knew another single person. I don't consider myself to be terribly popular or well-connected, but look how this thing spread outward from us, and how eager people are to DO SOMETHING! Richmond and friends of Richmond, you are wonderful.
..but somebody asked me about the personal side of things, how this whole thing got started. For me, it started from the feeling that I haven't been taking enough interest in social activism. I frequently disagree with something but apathy or low energy or poor organization or procrastination prevent me from writing a letter, attending a protest, volunteering for worthy organizations, etc. I believe in nonviolence, which means more than simply physical nonviolence. I believe in standing up for what is morally right, and my own moral code tells me that one of the most basic aspects of being a good person is defending the rights of other people - their bodily integrity, their autonomy, and also engaging in respectful discourse rather than banning expression or engaging in activities based in intolerance and ignorance.
I have never, that I can remember, participated in a protest rally until the one last week at the General Assembly Building. Economic times are tough, but state legislators are protecting their corporate buddies and slashing funding for the arts and education. I had hired a sitter for some alone time during Dan's work weekend, and decided to use that time to attend the rally. It felt like the responsible choice and I am really proud to have added one more person to that effort.
Riding that sense of responsibility and thinking about what I want to model for my children, I felt the need to do something when in one week, our governor wiped sexual orientation from an executive order listing factors that may not be used to discriminate against people in the workplace, and then the crazy Westboro Baptist Church was about to roll into town. I am ANGRY that anybody, anywhere would think that a person is less than fully human and fully deserving of respect and protection under the law for something as idiotic as who they're attracted to. It is equally enraging to me that religion is used to discriminate both for and against people. Religious language should not be included in the law (as it often is in Virginia) and religious belief should not result in a person being persecuted (as it does for WBC). This is INSANE, it's inhumane, and it would be irresponsible for me to sit at home and think dark thoughts about right-wing legislators and religious nut jobs.
On Thursday night, after learning of the planned WBC visit, three of my friends and I found ourselves on Facebook and Twitter at the same time, discussing back and forth how heartsick their message of hatred caused us to feel and our need to react in a positive, community-building way. We disagreed on what was best - absurdist counterprotest signs or love messages? Personal preference or behind-the-scenes work? Address the WBC picketers or address the rest of the community? Raise money? Acts of kindness around the community? We agreed that sitting on our thumbs was not an option. A friend of Sarah's linked her to an article about his synagogue in Manhattan and the pledge drive they ran in response to a WBC protest there. Genius. Maybe we could do something on a smaller scale? On Friday morning, Sarah made a site and Facebook page, Sara named our fledgling group, Patience and I got to work on the social media blitz. Sarah works in PR and has the knowledge and the resources to go with it, and drafted a press release and sent it to something like 3,000 media outlets. We contacted organizers of direct protests, we talked to the organizations being picketed.
By Friday night we had already raised over $1,000. Saturday and Sunday were a blur of phone calls, tweets, emails, and a meeting at my house. The numbers hit a lull on Sunday morning but then kept climbing steadily. Monday came. The press started calling. Donations were pouring in. Sarah and I did local news interviews and she interviewed with radio stations here and in Los Angeles. The word was spreading, and the coolest thing was how much ownership everybody was feeling! The word "we" was everywhere, people felt so empowered to be able to take their sense of revulsion at what the WBC was doing and turn it into support for their community. Everybody was watching the numbers, talking about Tuesday. It was AMAZING.
Tuesday hit hard, and I still can't really put it all into words, except this: the WBC people disgust me but gave me a lot of insight into their particular kind of fundamentalism and also strengthened my resolve to raise compassionate children. And the strength of my local community is something beautiful to see. I watched a man who survived the holocaust stride purposefully up to the picketers and invite them into his museum to see a picture of him lined up for selection for execution. I heard him respond with conviction and patience to their taunts and their praise of history's genocidal leaders. He and the people surrounding him that day give me hope. The out-and-proud kids at VCU and at Hermitage give me hope as well. NOTHING like this was happening two decades ago when I was their age. Today we stand up to the WBC. Tomorrow we stand up to the more insidious everyday bullies like Governor McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli. I hope Richmond will say YES to the challenge in this RTD editorial. I know we have it in us.
This is long and rambly and I'm clearly still processing (keep in mind it's back-dated, I'm writing on March 13th). If you came along with us on this journey, I'd love to hear what you're thinking and feeling, and how you're working for justice in your own community.