Saturday, September 30, 2006

Joey Turns FIVE!

Happy Birthday Joey!

Right after Joey was born, when the kids came to meet him at the hospital, Emma told me they had decided a good name for the baby was "Zilkie," like Zilker Park. So when Joey decided to have his party this year at Zilker, we knew it was an inspired choice.

We had a two part-party planned and the weather couldn't have been lovelier... it was beautiful, clear and sunny, high 80's. For the first phase we had invited 5 of Jojo's classmates from the preschool. They got superhero capes and masks and played on the playground, running tireless David ragged. Next, we all took a bathroom break and then rode the train at Zilker. Cupcakes and ice cream and presents were next. After a little more play on the playground, those kids and their moms went to pick up big brothers and sisters from various elementary schools.

We hung out at the park waiting for our reinforcements to arrive. Joey's big friends from the Bryker Woods came next. We ended up with about 5 more kids in phase two. So we played more, ate cupcakes and ice cream, rode the train again and had more fun.

We got to the park at 1:15 and left around 6pm, worn out and happy, and Joey declared it a great party. Posted by Picasa

superhero preschoolers Posted by Picasa

Joey and David Posted by Picasa

Joey's oldest kid-guest Posted by Picasa

Cupcakes and superheros and mommies Posted by Picasa

The big-boy half of Joey's party, and our second train ride of the day. Posted by Picasa

Virginia Snaggle-tooth Posted by Picasa

Joey's hero, Ross Posted by Picasa

Joey's beloved new toy, Gray Matter. (it's an alien from the show Ben 10) Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 29, 2006

Joey's Haiku

This morning, Joey turns 5! I can't believe time has flown so fast.

This. I thought of last night:

curled up together
midnight steals away from me
my last four year old

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

not a prude, but....

I've only got time for a teeny-weenie thought today, because I spent the whole morning shopping for Joey's birthday party (he turns 5 Friday!). I was at Party Pig, and made a quick check of the childrens' Halloween costumes offered this year. Actually, I'm pretty taken by how few kids costumes there are, and how the grown-up section is encroaching, but that is another post.

As I looked over the girl costumes, I noticed that there were probably 30 to pick from, although many were variations on a theme, pirate girl, cheerleader... Then I noticed, for the girl market, aged 6-16, the 30 costumes could easily be categorized as "sweet enough for a pentecostal" and "trampy." There were a couple of the trampy ones that were actually disturbing, one looked like a baby doll/hooker, there was a cheerleader of the damned/hooker, and witch/hooker. I'm not even categorizing the midriff bearing divas in the trampy category, I mentioned I'm not a prude, but it struck me that someone designed these costumes, and photographed them on 12(?) year old models, and their minds were not completely on kids having fun on Halloween.

Lucky for me, Emma is trending toward tomboy right now. My first stop of the day was Target to get Joey some Ben 10 toys and to get Emma "boy clothes." I was sort of sad about her abandoning her dresses a few years ago, but you know, maybe that's not so bad. I wonder if the tomboy label which lots of the girls in her grade and my scout troop are seeking, is because they are not ready to be mini teens.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Memorial Service

It's been really hard for me to get a coherent line of thought about the Ann Richards memorial service. It was held here in Austin on Monday, and it was wonderful and funny and inspiring, and bits and pieces of it keep floating to the top of my mind.

I was planning to head over by myself, but ended up going to the service with a good friend, which was even better. It was a beautiful Austin day, a day that wasn't 100 degrees in the shade, so everyone was walking together, enjoying the idea that summer might actually end someday. People were filing in from all directions, and we wandered up, into the Erwin center, and up the ramp to the arena space. The first thing I saw as I walked through the gateway into the seating area, was a huge projected image of Ann with her arms held up and a huge smile. There was a stage on the floor with giant flower arrangements, some bleachers, chairs, piano and podium, all surrounded by 4000 of my closest friends. It was almost like a concert getting ready to start, except the lights were more dim and the crowd was dressed nice.

Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas led the event. He was eloquent and funny. He said something I liked very much, about how "the good 'ol boys weren't asked to move out of the capitol, just move over" for the New Texas Ann was building. There was a gospel choir, and I felt the lump in my throat when the soloist sang. Jessye Norman, the opera singer, was there and I saw her look at the choir with admiration. They were fantastic.

Other bubbling memories included Erika handing me a Kleenex, just in case.

Liz Smith telling (cleaned up) antidotes about hanging out with Ann. She said that Ann was the most alive person she had ever met, and that we should keep her that way by living life with as much gusto as she would have. There were no tears, only laughter with her stories.

Henry Cisneros spoke, Jessye Norman sang twice, the gospel choir put out another powerful piece, and then Hillary Clinton got her turn.

She said, that when she met Ann, she felt like she was meeting a force of nature, and that it surprised her because she was already living with one. She said Ann told her, that she would have to figure out what to do about her hair, it either needed be completely unremarkable or go REALLY BIG. While she spoke, I sized her up as a presidential candidate. I've never figured out why the Conservatives hate her so much. She was controlled, and poised, and a leader, but I feared it might actually take an Ann Richards to open that door-- some sort of Texas Tornado, bigger than life, who would charm more than she offended and sweep us into a new era of politics. Hillary did say one thing that perhaps more than anything else has stuck in my mind.

She said when she was considering her run for Senator of New York, Ann was one of the people she sought for advice. Ann asked her what was it Hillary wanted; did she WANT to be Senator of New York? Then Ann told her that whether it was hard or not was irrelevant, anything important would be hard, wanting it was the key.

The service was nearing the end, and soon it was time for the last speaker, Lily Adams. She was the 19 year old, oldest granddaughter of Ann Richards. I feared, from the moment I noticed her on stage, that she must be quivering about having to speak. This was a friendly crowd, but we were a crowd.... a big one. And not too many people have the stage warmed up by a world famous opera star, two mayors, a gospel choir, and the lady who might make a serious run for the presidency. But it was her turn. She got up to the lectern and spoke. And she was strong, and poised, and funny, and ready. She told us about her Mammy. She talked about the lessons that Ann gave her, at basketball games, on campaign trails, in private moments. And while she spoke, Ann was our grandmother for a few moments, just like we always thought she was.

And Lily's stories, and the stories of a black mayor from Dallas, and a brown mayor from San Antonio, and a brash lady from New York, and a lady who might be president, all wove together and reinforced each other.

Ann Richards had pulled everyone along with her. The Texas Tornado expected people's best, and while I sat there, I felt like I had to do something, be governor, be a teacher, fight for a cause, be someone that makes a difference. Instead of feeling settled, I felt all wound up, and I realized I hadn't even cried, and no one around me had, because we were called to get out there and DO something.

After the service we were all given paper fans with a sly photo of Ann on one side, and a story on the back. It says:

"At the end of the State Treasurer's race in 1982, the only remaining campaign materials were masks of Ann's face made previously for her birthday party, so she passed out these masks at her last campaign rallies.

'When we left LaJoya's Senior Center and pulled onto the dusty road, I looked out the back window and saw a tiny little woman who couldn't have been more than four and a half feet tall who was probably in her eighties. She was in a cotton print dress that hung straight to her ankles, standing there waiting for a ride...

And she was wearing my face.

For me, the image of that woman is like a beacon in the storm.

Because that small woman is what the business of public service is all about.

I imagine seeing what she sees. She probably doesn't see much connection between the government and what goes on in her life, but you and I do.

There are real people with real lives who are counting on us.

And we will not - we cannot - disappoint them."

Ann W. Richards
1933- 2006"

I was being spoken to, a whisper in the ear, that being involved is our job. Fighting for what we think is right is worth the energy, and what makes our lives work. It's time to get to work, now I'm just trying to figure out what I'm being called to work on and what I want to do

Laugh now

A white house secretary walks into the oval office to deliver a message to President Bush while he is talking to some White House officials.

"Mr. President I have some bad news....."

"What is it?" he asks.

"Three Brazilian people were just killed in a car bombing."

Upon hearing the news the president hangs his head and begins to cry deeply to the shock of everyone else in the room. Finally, a few moments later, he lifts his head, wipes his tears and asks....

"How many is a Brazilian?"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday paper

I promise in a couple of days I'll move along to something else, but for all the out of towners, here is a nice funny read.

The Marching Bands Refused to Yield

That was the thought I just couldn't shake as I stood in line on Saturday morning. Ann Richards lay in state in the capitol rotunda, and Austin was invited to pay respects. President Clinton had come to town to that morning and was at the capitol in a private ceremony before the doors were opened to us. Waiting outside was almost surreal, because every high school band in Austin was lined up around the capitol, and you could hear bits of music, and drums and trumpets rumbling up all around us.

The Austin School District had been planning its 125 year celebration for months, and all the bands were there to march down Congress in a huge parade led by school busses. The line to get into the capitol stretched around the building, as did all the bands. We were all just waiting together. It sounded like warm up for a Friday night football game, times 10.

I stood next to a very nice guy, who remarked that Ann would have been happy to have all those kids, and the glorious energy pulsing around her.

I kept talking to him until the doors finally opened. He had been a former teacher, so we talked about schools and education and who we knew in common. He said Ann Richards came to his classroom once to speak to his kids, and the photo they took was used in promotional items often after that. She had signed a copy for him, which he still had. He now worked with a lobbying group, Education Austin, which I was familiar with. It does good work.

We looked at bands that had shiny new uniforms and lots of kids, and bands that had ten people in t-shirts and shorts. Some schools had ROTC corps of brown kids, and I remarked that within three years, many of those kids would likely be in Iraq. He pointed out that the schools with big ROTCs often had tiny ill equipped bands. As it turns out, the man I spoke with was the president of Education Austin. I didn't realize it, until he gave me a business card as we were leaving the capitol.

So with the parade starting outside, we slipped into the capitol. It was silent and lovely, not sad at all. Just before and after the casket were big displays of photos of Ann Richard's life. Her childhood photos before the casket, and after the casket, when you might have been sad, was a display of photos of her laughing, hard. With all sorts of people. It was great.

I wasn't planning to sneak some photos, but so many people were taking them, I just wanted some for the blog.

I spent the rest of the day getting ready for, and attending, a White Trash Pool Birthday Party for Connie. We had so much fun. It was fun getting food ready, and Robbin, the host, said she would have to always throw White Trash parties from now on.

We laughted and drank, and sat in the blow up pool. The best dressed among us wore a wife beater tank, cut offs, a gimme hat, and fake tattoos saying "Leonard" in a heart on one arm, and "Skynard" in heart on the other. We drank Lone Star in tall boys, and strawberry wine with screw off lid. We ate rolled up olive loaf lunch meat, my Pears Sheldon, Pork Rinds, and fritos with bean dip. Ann would have liked this crowd too.

splendor Posted by Picasa

the bands Posted by Picasa

yellow roses Posted by Picasa

waiting Posted by Picasa

Her Governor portrait. Posted by Picasa

not supposed to take photos I found out later, although half the people were. Posted by Picasa

The last thing you saw was this amazing display of Ann laughing. It was wonderful. Posted by Picasa

The mommies got the pool for about 40 min, then we would let the kids have it for 10. 40-10-40-10.... Posted by Picasa

hangin Posted by Picasa

Pears Sheldon was a hit in theory, although having sat in the hot sun for a while, no one wanted to chance eating the miracle whip. This recipe was passed to me by Rocky Sheldon, canned pears, miracle whip and cheddar cheese, and since it was a party, he advised serving on a bed of iceberg lettuce as a garnish. A hit. See how it glows! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rest In Peace Ann

I wish I could vote for you in November

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,'" Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 11, 2006

I just had a nice little vacation. I got to attend the second tri-annual Kennemer/Carter girls get-away weekend. We had it at my Aunt Shorty's sister's lake house. (Thank you Drue) and we just hung out, cooked, ate, drank, watched TV, talked, laughed, played dominoes and had fun. No boys allowed, and I took Emma for her to see what a "girls weekend" is all about. Posted by Picasa

Chicken Shit!...oh, I mean Chicken FOOT! Posted by Picasa

Kennemer girls at the get-away weekend. There were women from Shorty's family there too and for the most part, they were pretty good at dominoes, almost as good as us! Posted by Picasa

My cousin Amy and my cousin Becky. We represented our generation of Kennemer women at the 2nd get-away weekend. Only 4 more girls and we would have had a complete set. Posted by Picasa

Max and I got to go to the UT game for the first game. Little did we know it was the last game of the big winning streak! It was hotter than HELL the day we were there. Posted by Picasa