Category Archives: Election

Inauguration Day: Proud, Patriotic and Pantsless

So here I sit, under a blanket, with a cup of tea steaming on the coffee table. My laptop, with about 10 separate windows open (CNN.com, twitter, various blogs, email, etc.), is sitting on, well, my lap. CNN is on the television in front of me and my two year old son is napping (finally).

And Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Wow.

He’s been president for almost two hours now. And I could not be more grateful.

Someday my sons may ask me where I was the day President Obama was inaugurated. And so I think it seems only right I post today to “archive” it in some way. But I hate to disappoint them. Even though my parents live in the DC area, we are not there. We are home in Florida. Or I am, with C., doing dishes, making dinner and folding laundry. My 5 year old went to school today and my husband went to work and won’t be home until late in the evening. A family trek to DC was not practical or affordable right now. So here we are, its just another day in the neighborhood.

But I know its not. Something has changed. A subtle but deeply felt shift just happened, and we were all moved by it. Our country is now somehow altered with the swearing in of this single man. Hope is an extraordinarily powerful thing and the meaning of an event like today’s inauguation can be felt in every office, work place, and living room nationwide. Even in the far reaches of boring old suburbia, even in a little ol’ living room like mine.

As the crowds gathered on the Mall this morning and I gathered my robe around me while I watched, I suddenly figured something out. You know this whole concept of change that Obama has been going on about? Yeah, well, I have realized that “change” – or making it happen, rather – is something that we all must to own. It’s no longer Obama’s line anymore. Once he was sworn in, change has become an action that we are all responsible for. We can fix these issues if we all harness the energy of the people on that mall today and commit to making a significant difference in our communities, from where ever we stand. Even if we stand in a spot far from DC, maybe even at the edge of a cookie cutter community in Florida, in a home with stew simmering in the crock pot and a child napping in the front room. 

So back to my point. What was I doing when Obama was sworn in? Well, as Aretha Franklin began singing, I noticed a certain… odor… in my living room. And it wasn’t the stew. C. looked at me sheepishly – and I knew. Yup. I spent Obama’s swearing in changing a very full and fairly horrifying poopy diaper. Afterwards, I let C. “air” out some and left him pantsless. The poor child has had horrible diaper rash. And I dragged out his potty too which he graciously peed in for me – twice – while I caught snippets of Obama’s speech.

That’s where I was when Obama became President of the United States. I was at the helm of my current and very humbling profession, doing what I do best right now, being a mom.

(And you can’t say *I* wasn’t “changing” something during that very pivotal and historic moment in history, correct?)

So here is my two year old, only minutes after Obama officially became president, standing on our back porch: pantsless and patriotic. cinaug

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Filed under Deep thoughts, Educating myself, Election, Family, Florida, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Patriotism, Presidency, Reality check

Plan a Party to Celebrate the Inauguration

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Picture from Obama’s First Day

The countdown in on – there are less than two weeks until Barack Obama is elected president! And this liberal mom thinks the occasion calls for a celebration. If you are as excited as I am, and game for a get together, here are some ideas to host your own fabulously patriotic inauguration party.

Plan the Party

First thing’s first however: unfortunately, the date and time are not exactly “party-worthy”. The inauguration will be held on Tuesday, January 20th and President-elect Obama will officially be sworn in at noon. A parade will follow that afternoon and of course, all major networks will be covering the event. (Even Nickelodeon will be covering the event with young reporters!)

But back to the issue. Noon on a Tuesday is not exactly the time to host a hugely impressive gala. So there are a few options to consider.

  • If you are home that day, host a fun get together with other parents who are home also
  • If you usually work, consider playing hooky – and tell your partner to do the same
  • Have a Tuesday night BBQ or early get together to celebrate
  • Host an inaugural ball of your own the weekend before or after

Invitations

Now that you have decided what kind of party works best for you, it’s time to think about the invites. Sure, it’s a little late, but if your friends are as fired up to celebrate this event as I am, they will leap at the chance to ring in this new presidency. But since the date is coming up fast, consider sending evites. My Punchbowl is my favorite alternative to Evite and it has some fabulous invites at their site.

Regarding who you invite, obviously invite folks who share your own political views. But please consider inviting those that don’t also. In the spirit of bringing this nation together to solve these upcoming issues as Americans, make sure your invites go out to friends of yours on both sides of the political fence.

Decorations

Obviously, as we are all feeling patriotic, you should decorate in red, white and blue. I would also consider adding some sparkle to your event, especially if you hold your event at night. Get creative and recycle red table cloths you may still have from Christmas or some glittery decorations from New Years. String up a few Christmas lights with your red, white and blue too!

Food

The possibilities for food options are endless. You could go with traditionally American foods such as hot dogs and apple pie. Since Obama is from Hawaii, you could serve traditional Hawaiian foods. Ehow offers some great ideas:

“You can choose fun themed foods such as ‘Buffalo LEFT Wings,’ or how about some ‘Campaign Trail Mix?’ Other ideas that are clever include: ‘Lipsticked Pigs In a Blanket,’ ‘Sloppy Joe Bidens’, ‘Barack of Lamb’, and ‘Shredded Pork (Barrel) Sandwiches.’… Keeping the fun theme going for the drinks, why not create a shot and call them ‘Cheney Shooters.’”

I would also consider serving some of Obama’s favorite foods. He is a big fan of Italian pizza. Also, NPR found recipes for some of his favorite Mexican dishes.

Don’t forget Michelle’s favorite shortbread cookies for dessert! And, of course, serve “Yes Pecan” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Drinks

Apparently Obama’s favorite beer is Bud Lite which is easy enough to serve. And I would throw in some Busch beer too, just for fun. But what are some other patriotic, theme appropriate drinks to serve? You can find 10 “all American” cocktail ideas at Fine Living.com. Also, here is a fun recipe for Patriotic Punch. And then Hawaiian themed cocktails are also fun, and probably very welcome in the midst of winter.

Music

Considering that Aretha Franklin will be singing at the inauguration, her music must be a part of your playlist. Other options for Obama favorites can be found on his Facebook page:

“Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites), and The Fugees”

Games

DivaGirl offers some fun Inauguration games including having guests participate in some presidential trivia. While your group watches Obama’s speech, Ehow shares Bingobama. Print out copies for everyone!

Don’t forget about the kids – they may want to be a part of the inaugural fun as well! Kaboose.com has some excellent ideas such as making your own parade stick, presidential coloring pages and fun family quizzes.

More party ideas can be found at any of these sites:

And finally, if you are serious about hosting an inauguration bash for your entire community, visit Move on.org for more information about how to set one up.

Further Inauguration information:

Happy January 20th!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Election, Inauguration, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Obama, Partisanship, Patriotism, Presidency, Reccomendations, Silliness

Michelle Obama as First Lady, Feminist and Mom in Chief

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I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.

There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play.  They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.

And so Michelle Obama has chosen to make parenting these children her priority. However, within days of learning about her future in the White House, Michelle had already received her fair share of advice. Hillary has jumped in to say her piece. Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, had a few things to say. And even FDR’s grandson offered some words of wisdom. While Michelle did not formally ask for Laura Bush’s advice, the current first lady did share her suggestions with the press later.

I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.

However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach – she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.

In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned. 

“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] — the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”

She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post discusses the ever present question that arises between married parents such as the Obamas: who will work and who will raise the children?

“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”

She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.

But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?

According to Geraldine Brooks at The Daily Beast, she can make parenting her priority while still representing women as a powerful example.

“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”

And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.

“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”

Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.

“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”

And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under daughters, Election, Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Guilt and motherhood, Hillary Clinton, Inspiring people, Marriage, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Parenting, Politics, Women, Working moms

Maintain the Grassroots Momentum and Make Change Happen

On November 4th, we elected Barack Obama to become our 44th President. And on that evening, as a democrat, a woman and an American citizen, I could not have been more proud of my country. In a couple months, we will celebrate his election with an Inauguration, as he’s officially given the title “President of the United States of America”. But afterwards, with confetti still falling to the ground and his pencils freshly sharpened, we will be left to wonder… “Now what?” It’s time for change, right? So how does that happen? One thing is certain: Obama will have to work very hard to right this sputtering, smoking plane that we call our country. But we’re all passengers on that plane, and its up to all of us to fix it.

Over the past year, I think what amazed me most about Obama’s campaign was the unique, unprecedented support he received from individual voters. He made an effort to interact with voters in a way no other has. Yes, his outstanding speeches and a well thought out policy for change certainly resonated with citizens. Those two points were impressive in their own right. But what truly inspired me was how many people took charge and decided to give this election momentum by their individual actions.

Patrick Levine Rose wrote an insightful article about his experience working on the Obama campaign. Once again, it is a testament to how many people went door to door, how many phone calls were made, personal emails sent out, new voters registered, millions of donations (offering as little as $5.00 a piece) were given, large rallies and small get togetherswere organized. There is no doubt in my mind that this election was won because of powerful, individual grassroots efforts. He will be President not because of one brilliant campaign manager and a ton of loot – he will be President because thousands of regular people heard an important message and were called to action. Regular folks, with hardly much political clout other than their right to vote, are the ones who ushered Obama into the White House. What an inspiration.

So now we live in a country that has seen the power of individuals focused on a common goal. We know a grassroots effort can work. Thanks to every individual involved in his campaign, Obama will become President at the start of this upcoming year. And he has one hell of a mess on his plate. Obama Zombies aside, should we retire our Obama pins, put our feet up and breathe a sigh of relief exclaiming that everything will now be taken care of? Um, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. If we ever needed to get organized and do our part, it would be now. In my opinion? We have to keep up this kind of momentum if we want to get our plane running smoothly on all cylinders again.

Here’s the first step. Consider some of these questions and think through ways you might be able to make a difference on a local level:

What do you expect of our country? What do you expect your responsibilities are as an American citizen? What can we do as individuals withbusy lives? What can we do as mothers? How can we come together with Americans who didn’t vote for Obama? (Because guess what, we need their help too.) What can we do on a daily basis to change our environment? Can we stop hate on a local level? What can we do to fix this economy? (I can’t help but wonder if more shopping will stimulate our economy or just get us all in more debt?) What do we teach our children or how do we involve them at their schools? How can our place of business make a difference?

Now I need your feedback. I am going to list some spots where we can go online to get involved and make this exciting new concept of “change” actually start to happen. But these are certainly not the only places we can go to make a difference. Check out my list and then comment back with some of your suggestions. Think about those questions and remember that individuals working on a grassroots level can actually move this country forward. Yes we can because… yes we did.

Change.gov: Obama is offering Americans a platform to “Tell their story”. Take some time to write your perspective, your ideas and how you might want to see change happen.

BarackObama.com : If you volunteered for his campaign or would like to volunteer in the future, log in and take the survey offered.

Momsrising.org : A bipartisan group promoting mother’s rights.

MoveOn.org : A progressive, liberal group bringing individuals into the political process.

Dividedwefail.org: The AARP, SEIU and NFIB have created this group to bring about bipartisan change.

Wecansolveit.org: Founded by Al Gore, a non profit, bipartisan group focused on climate change. There is currently a petition asking you to support the EPA’s regulation of carbon monoxide pollution. If you are interested, click here. You have until Friday, November 28th to sign the petition.

HRC.org : A civil rights organization advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens.

What groups or websites would you add to this list?

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Causes, Communication, Economy, Educating myself, Election, Equal Rights, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness

Gay Marriage Bans, Discrimination and Fruit

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While last Tuesday night had many Americans dancing in the streets (and rightfully so – hell, I’m still dancing), we were also given a sobering wake up call. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona.

Forgive me as I state the oh so obvious, but this is very bad news for our country.

While we rejoice the fact that an African American man has become a United States President, there – sitting in the shadow of this wonderful moment – is hate, discrimination and fear. And so, a majority of people in these states voted that two people who love each other – who happened to be the same gender – do not deserve the same rights to marry as they do.

Gender. What the hell does it mean anyway? That I have to sit down to pee and my husband does not? That I have the physiology to make a baby and but my husband does not? Or that at Red Lobster, he goes into the “Bouys” room and I go into the “Gulls”? I mean, that’s it. Otherwise, we are as alike as any two people can be – with the same abundance of love for each other and our children, with the same abilities to think and reason, we catch the same germs when we get sick, we like to eat good food, and drink beer, and maybe he watches more football than I do but we BOTH watch Project Runway, for cripes sakes!

Now, my feminist tendancies are tapping my shoulder to remind me that men and women have not been treated the same since the dawn of man… er… people. (SEE?!?!) And gender is a very complex thing indeed (am wiping my brow remembering a Philosophy and Gender class I took in college). But, that’s not what I mean right now. I am talking about just the basics of gender. And that we are the same – except for some interesting bits of physiology. So, really, what it comes down to is that my husband and I – who love each other very much – are allowed to be married simply because he has twigs and berries, and I’ve gotta peach.

And so, depending on how we shuffle our twigs and berries and peaches, those with only the CORRECT assortment of said symbolic plant items can marry. Therefore, two people who love each other deeply but BOTH must use the”Bouys” room… well, call out the reinforcements and send lightening bolts down from the heavens – they absolutely CANNOT be married.

Folks think about it. When it comes to love and family, gender doesn’t mean anything. Love is love. And no one else should be allowed to tell me or anyone else who I can or can not love and marry.

Shoot, if all marriage boils down to is an assortment of the correct kinds of fruit, well then you may as well tell me that I couldn’t marry someone because he or she was shorter than I am. Or has a different shade of eye color. Or a different shade of skin than I do… (oh wait, we’ve done that one before).

Not allowing two human beings to marry – AND I DON’T CARE WHAT COMBINATION OF TWIGS, BERRIES AND PEACHES YOU’VE GOT – is discrimination people. It’s as simple as that.

So before I get any further stewed up and start hurling more fruit epithets your way, I will leave you with this. Please, PLEASE watch this special comment given by Keith Olbermann last night. He gets it so right for me and for all of us. Love is love people, and it’s simply a human right.

keith-olbermann        CLICK HERE TO WATCH KEITH OLBERMANN’S SPECIAL COMMENT.

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Filed under Election, Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Florida, Marriage, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Yes, We Did It: My Thoughts the Day After Obama’s Victory

It happened. Obama was elected president last night. How could I possibly express how extraordinarily proud of my country I am right now. It is a new chapter in our history and a moment I will never forget.

But I gotta tell ya. I am completely overwhelmed and utterly exhausted by it all. Its as if my emotional mainframe has been entirely blown out. There is so much to process about what this all means for us. In fact, as soon as I start thinking about all of it, I get choked up and totally distracted. So I stop myself and stay on task. Life must go on here – off to drop of T. at school, off to wal-mart for a new trash can, off to get flu shots…

Still, I can’t resist saying a few things today. Just a few thoughts. And then I will be on my way, to regroup and be back refreshed to post on another day.

First of all, I am struggling to really truly understand the depth of what it means to have finally elected an African American president. As we watched Obama’s speech last night and Congressman Lewisthis morning, my husband said he never thought he would see the day. I thought about it and said I had thought I would see such a day. Then I wondered why I have been so optimistic about that possibility. Well, I think its because I have seen another impossibility happen before.

On February 11, 1990, I happened to be in Johannesburg visting friends (I lived and went to high school in Swaziland at the time). Do you know what happened that day in history? Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I will never forget the sound of that entire city raised up in celebration. During my years living in its neighboring country, the impossible happened for South Africa: Apartheid was abolished, Nelson Mandela was freed and he became president. While I certainly can’t really compare the politics and complexities of the United States and South Africa, I can compare the utter joy of that day. And since then, I have believed anything is possible.

Another fleeting thought in my mind right now is how much repair this country needs. This election tore us all apart. While I listened to the radio this morning, it was as if the DJs thought Obama being elected was a sign of the end of days. There are grumblings about socialism and terrorism and baby killing. While ridiculous, I feel its a sign of fear and misunderstanding about Obama’s potential for leadership. We need to figure out a way to reconnect again and, even if Obama was not your choice, find the strength to bring ourselves back together immediately.

The realist in me won’t let me forget another very important point either. Why is it so damn important that do we bring ourselves together right now? No doubt about it, we have a hell of a lot of work to do to fix our problems. While Obama will be president, it is up to ALL of us to take responsibility and put our country back together again. Lets stop pointing fingers (Bush, Obama, McCain, Karl Rove, Cheney, either Clinton) – enough already, lets get focused and fix ourselves.

And one more thing. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona. Discrimination lives on. This is a wake-up call for all of us that nothing can be fixed over night – even a night as amazing as last night. We need to keep working and pushing forward to assure equal rights for every American. It’s only a mandate in our constitution after all…

Finally I will leave you with this video of Obama’s victory speech last night. What a moment in our history. Once again, I am deeply proud to be an American this morning.

(Phew. And I am really so damn tired. More from me – more fun stuff from me, I promise – once I reboot this worn out, run down, over thought system of mine.)

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Filed under Deep thoughts, Election, Equal Rights, Obama, Partisanship, Patriotism, Peace, Politics, Racism, Reality check

Holding My Breath on Election Day

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Ok Folks. It’s all come down to today. Forgive me for not really having many words. I am very busy wringing my hands and muttering to myself. And desperately trying to remember to breathe. I’m am grateful to have voted already because I can’t possibly imagine having to truly function today. But I will, of course. I will distract myself with writing that needs to be written and playgroups that must be played at. While I rock my Obama T-shirt proudly, I will ogle the voters that are already lined out into the parking lot up the road from here. On my way to kindergarten pick-up, I will drive past the fields of campaign signs that seem to have sprung up overnight. And I will over hear those conversations in the grocery store line: “Whats the difference between Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Osama Bin Laden? They both know someone that bombed our country… har har har.” And I will keep my mouth shut. Because today it’s time for this country to quiet down, focus and finally decide who they want in charge. The majority will tell us which direction we are headed next.

Make your voice part of the majority.

Please vote today.

Deep breaths.

I’ll be back to talk to you on the flip side…

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Filed under Election, Florida, Obama, Panicking, Politics