Category Archives: Random

Turns out parenting is just like working for Congress: poop, patience, and passion

It’s been a full year since I removed the government-issued blackberry from my hip and replaced it with a baby. Like whoa. I’ve been trying to think of something profound to write about this change, but that requires an uninterrupted string of logical thought, something I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the ability to do. But the good news is that disjointed snippets of random thoughts are exactly what the Internet is about, right?! Writing in transitional paragraphs is soooo last century(ies). So rather than bore you with just that, I give you…

The Top 10 Ways Being a Parent is Like Congress

10. You become immune to the poop. Government is full of crap policy options that will always make someone unhappy, so after a while, you stop noticing the regular everyday crappiness and focus solely on avoiding massive blowouts. Just like I can go hours without noticing poop under my fingernail and be pretty nonplussed when I do see it, people who work in government know that their days are bound to involve some kind of poop and there’s no sense getting all upset about it. That’s why a question about whether the negative tone of Washington bothers them is a silly thing to ask. It’s a poopy business, but someone has to do it.

9. Sometimes you have to cry it out. As I’ve said before, it’s easy to have lofty ideals about parenting when you’re not down in the trenches of sleepless nights and irritable babies. It’s also easy to have lofty ideals about how people in Washington should stop the fighting and just learn to compromise. Sometimes the best solutions come when people are willing to walk away from the table and let their opposition cry it out.

8. Always have distractions ready. Just because I played on the floor with O for two straight hours doesn’t mean he won’t climb my leg and cry for the five minutes I need to wash the dishes. So I have a long list of trivial items (spatulas, crackers, ripping everything out of my purse) to buy me a few minutes to get things done. Congress does this to us all the time. They’re like, look!, death panels, corporate jets, war on Christmas, and then when we’re distracted, they get the real stuff done.

7. No sleep. You cannot truly understand sleep deprivation until you’ve spent weeks (or months) getting three non-consecutive hours a night. I remember being unable to remember simple words. And I was straight up bitchy. Many of the people running our country do this for years. I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just saying most of them do a pretty damn good job considering they never sleep.

6. Patience. This will probably make me sound like a bad parent, but watching O learn to crawl KILLED me. I just didn’t have the patience for it, and on more than one occasion, may have gotten down on all fours and said, “SEEEE, it’s soooo easy!!!” (I am doing my best to chill now that he’s starting to walk.) Congress can cause most people to have the same reaction. But the truth is the vast majority of good legislation takes years and years to pass, often longer than most staffers (and a good share of Members) are there. It’s frustrating, but like babies, Congress was wired that way for a reason.

5. It always changes. Every time I think I have something down in parenting, O changes the rules and I have to start all over again. Fortunately for me, when he gets angry because I won’t let him play in the garbage/won’t let him pull the dog’s hair out/won’t let him shove his hand in his diaper, he can’t vote me out of office.

4. The greatest victories are hard fought. In the prenatal classes Tedd and I took, I could swaddle that fake baby like a mofo. Fast forward to Tedd and me sweating (and me crying) trying to swaddle a screaming, wriggling baby at 3 AM on the bedroom floor. But you better believe once I figured it out, I was the best damn swaddler that ever swaddled. All of the hardest parenting battles, including many, many fails, have led to my greatest lessons. It’s hard to remember this when you’re in the middle of it and think you’re wasting time. But when you look back, you know it was worth all the struggle.

3. Funny names for stuff. Baba, binkie, wawa, moomoo juice? Filibuster, hotline, franking, omnibus? Although now I get confused and may think omnibus is some cartoon dinosaur bus that eats both plants and animals.

2. Pulling fast ones. I’ll admit, I try to trick O all the time. Like, look a doggie!, and then I remove the chokable-sized object from his grubby paws. Or kind of like how I could only think of nine ways parenting is like Congress and hoped you wouldn’t notice. I guess Congress does this, too.

1. Angry because they care. The other day, I almost smacked a kid who tried to slam a lid on O’s fingers at baby gym. I thought, who am I? What is wrong with me? Moms as a species can be an angry bunch and often get a bad rap. But it’s only because there is no fiercer passion than a momma’s love for her kid and occasionally it just comes out wrong. People in Congress get a bad rap, too. So next time you think someone in Congress is an a-hole, remember this: it’s possible they are, but the vast majority of them – especially staff – are there because they truly care about the country. And I miss working with them terribly.

Thanks to new online magazine The Broad Side for cross posting.

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Excuses and Chocolate

We just got home from a long trip to the land of Granny D, Grandpa, and gluttonous Pennsylvania Dutch goodness, so I am woefully behind on my bloggity blogging. I am also behind on this week’s toxic challenge, but Granny D filled my head with lots of new ways to create a better world for kids and generally damn the man. For those of you who wonder who made me an activist, look no further than the woman who took me to my first protest at age 8 and had me playing with toys in the back of a League of Women Voters registration booth. And then there’s my dad, who had me building a solar panel for the sixth grade science fair and explaining things like “peak oil” to me a decade before almost anyone else was using the term. Now you know where I got it.

So as an apology, I bring you something extraneous and wonderful.

I realized over the past year that for even the most privileged babies, babyhood is a painful period. Aside from the whole birth thing, you have sharp daggers constantly popping up through your gums, you are always bumping your head, you have no way to communicate your needs, and you never know what’s going to happen next.

But every once in a while, things happen to you as a baby that are nothing short of miraculous.

Imagine this:

You’ve never really tasted the bliss that is chocolate.

Suddenly, someone puts in front of you a giant, moist, gooey chocolate cupcake.

You pick it up and dig your whole face in it. You attack that cupcake in a way that can only be described as primal.

Around you, people are cheering and laughing. They take your picture. They give you more chocolate.

I give you…


May your days be like a one-year-old’s first taste of chocolate.

Happy start to the holidays.


The Dubs-eses

Random Friday: Zombies, deals, and why I love my neighbors

Several friends have commented about how my blog topics are kinda scary and depressing.  It’s true.  However, A) being a parent IS scary and B) it’s not my fault the world can sometimes be a messed up place to raise a family (I can say that now that I don’t work for Congress and am a bona fide muckraking blogger).

But it’s Friday.  The Chicago winter of my discontent has begun again.  And I just sucked snot out of O’s nose with my own mouth (thanks Nosefrida).  I’m in no mood for depressing topics.

So today I will bring you my first completely random post with lame attempts to stick with my policy theme.

1) Zombies.  Holy mother.  How did I go so long avoiding zombies?  I know I’m late to this party, but last night we watched the first two episodes of Walking Dead.  When I put it on our Netflix, I thought, I love Scifi, I’ll love this.  Turns out I love sappy dramas about vampires and cyborgs everyone wants to have sex with.  You do NOT want to get it on with a zombie.  I went to bed with a headache from clenching my jaw so much and had very, very bad dreams.  And I will be insisting that we watch more episodes tonight.  As a joke, earlier this year the CDC made a zombie preparedness plan.  If you haven’t seen this show, you will thank me for both getting you to watch it and helping you be prepared for inevitable zombie outbreaks.

2)  If you do not know about this site, you’re welcome.  It’s pretty much every sale and coupon on the whole wide Interwebs brought together.  And it’s not just stuff you want but can’t have (e.g. tablet…sigh), but stuff you need like groceries.  And since Congress spent another week on a phony bill that wouldn’t have actually improved the economy, you really need this site.  (See, I can’t help being depressing!)

3) Neighbors.  For those of you who don’t know, my block is like Pleasantville circa 2011, and I am obsessed with it.  Everyone knows each other, families play football across my front yard, we watch each other’s kids, and when O got pushed down the street for the first time on his big kid bike, they all came out to tell me how cute he is.  I am realizing that although I worked for the federal government, I didn’t really know much about American culture until I had a baby, moved to a little house, and, for the first time in my life, really got to know the people who live around me.  And it is splendid.  Thank you to all my neighbors for being wonderful people and teaching this jaded, ex-beltway politico what life is really about.


You got a problem U.S. Postal Service, yo, I’ll solve it

I get really excited when the mail comes.  I know that sounds pathetic, but there are some days when it’s the most exciting thing to happen around here that doesn’t involve O’s bodily functions.  You know when the little email envelope pops up on your computer and even though you know it’s  junk or more work, you can’t help but jump to click on it? Well now all I have is the real mail and it only happens once a day.  So don’t judge.

Since I am new lover of snail mail, I am sad to hear about the U.S. Postal Service’s historic financial losses.  I thought I’d show them my love by solving their problems.  That’s just what I do now…build block towers, change diapers, save flailing federal agencies.

Let’s start with what I love about the Postal Service.  1) My mail carrier is the nicest lady of all time.  UPS guy, you suck.  You sprint to my door and completely disregard the sign that says, “don’t ring bell, baby sleeping, my day will be ruined if you ring that bill, seriously don’t ring it.”  You always ring it.  Mail carrier lady, you stick the mail in the slot so quietly that my yappy dogs never make a peep.  You always stop to chat.  You always say O is cute.  You are the best.  2) You also come to my house six times a week whether or not there’s something to deliver or pick up.  You just like to check in on me and O, and that’s swell.  (I’m totally cool with you not coming on Saturday – you deserve a whole weekend off.  Plus, Tedd is here then and I’m less desperate for adult interaction.)

I love that the Postal Service comes to me.  I hate going to them.  I never know how many stamps to put on those square, extra-postage-required cards, which means I have to haul my butt to the post office.  I never understand why the line is so long even though there are more people working behind the desk than standing in line.  And I am clearly not smart enough to figure out which of the 15 address labels will simply get my package to its destination for the least amount of money possible.

Here’s my solution:  personalized barcoded stamps that are connected to your credit card.

You go online and fill out a form with your credit card.  Then you are sent a bunch of stamps with barcode-y things.  You can slap one of those suckers on any piece of mail and put it out for your mail carrier.  The post office weighs it, charges your credit card, and sends it off.  YOU NEVER HAVE TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE AGAIN!

You want to add insurance or make it get there super fast?  No prob.  Under each barcode is a number.  You go online, enter your number, and check a bunch of boxes specifying what special services you want.  When the post office gets your stamp, they check the number on the stamp and apply the services you want.

The drawbacks are that people wouldn’t use the post office as much, meaning we probably won’t need as many post offices.  But I’m betting this idea actually creates jobs.  Remember UPS man?  I’m assuming he’s running to each door like a maniac and disregarding signs about sleeping babies because that’s how UPS makes money.  The Postal Service would steal a lot of UPS and FedEx business if people could send packages through the U.S. Mail without going to the post office.

Yes, I know they have the “if it fits, it ships” thing.  Here’s the problem, Postal Service.  Unless you are shipping rocks, you will always save money having the post office weigh it and give the appropriate postage amount.  I’m not going to pay $4.75 to send a photo of O to grandma; that’s just dumb.

I am on a mission to see this happen so I never have to stand in line with O at the post office again while he squirms and screeches like a pterodactyl.  And for those of you with jobs that are paid with money instead of sloppy, open-mouthed baby kisses, I remember how annoying it is to spend your entire lunch break at the post office.

I already pitched the idea to my cousin who works for the Postal Service.  I was going to email the Post Master General, but he doesn’t list his email address (hint, hint), so I’ll have to write him a real letter.  But I’m hoping someone who reads this has an in and can make it happen.


O obviously always steals the Victoria's Secret catalogue. Such a boob guy.