July 28, 2011

I Almost Forgot How To Blog

Stuff is happening though. I'll start catching up a little at a time.

Let's see... Okay, I'll start here - Aidan lost his first tooth just before his 7th birthday. He'd been mad as hell that he hadn't lost a tooth yet and when this one finally got loose, it hung on - or is it hanged on??? for weeks leading to him begging me to tie string to it and a doorknob and slam the door! I refused, he fumed and furiously wiggled the thing 24/7 until it FINALLY came out in his cereal one morning. I've never been so happy to see a tooth fall out in all my life.




More to come soon!

July 17, 2011

Robin Hood?

Aidan made out like a bandit for his birthday. I got him the iPod Shuffle, earphones because seriously, Apple, are there actually people whose ears hold yours?, and speakers to blare Dynamite at uncomfortable decibels. No, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Well, I was "the best mom, ever" for two days until Daddy broke out his gift. A freaking compound bow. Now, with visions of camo and bucks dancing in his head, I'm lame again. Um, fine by me, good luck keeping him quiet and still in the woods. Hee hee hee...


July 14, 2011

Norma and Her Toyota

My spitfire Grandma made the paper with her one woman quest to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska

Just a quick note to remind everyone - this is not a discussion on capitol punishment, I don't need you to quote the bible for me, and for the love of my laptop, please do not get started on politics. Be respectful, this is my grandmother and if you think I lose my shit over someone screwing with my kids, sit back and watch what will happen when it comes to my grandma. I'm sharing this because she is just too cute for words. I mean, how can you not love a woman who calls herself an old bag? 

from the Lincoln Journal Star...

Norma and her Toyota take on the death penalty in Nebraska

DAVID CITY -- Norma Fleisher has finished her soft serve at the Runza on Fourth Street. She's wearing her Summer of 2011 uniform -- SAS shoes, faded jeans, black fanny pack and one of two matching T-shirts she washes out at night in motel room sinks.
They say: Abolish the Death Penalty.
It's Sunday, Day 25, County 73.
Her weathered Nebraska map -- taped in the Sandhills, ripped just below Loup City -- is spread across the table in the Butler County seat while the after-church hungry and the shorts-wearing young fill up on burgers and fries.
Her '92 Tercel is parked out front, a magnetic sign on each white door with words to match her shirt.
She's ready for a nap, the 84-year-old Lincoln woman says. A nap and then on to Seward by supper time. County 74.
Most summers, the great-great-grandmother would be home tending her tomatoes. But last year, she decided to do this instead: Visit each of Nebraska's 93 counties with a message.
A message she couldn't have delivered 20 years ago: The death penalty is wrong.
***
On June 15, Norma backed out of her driveway and headed north. She was in Wahoo by noon, ready for lunch at the Dairy Queen on North Chestnut Street.
She had dinner in Fremont at 6. The next morning, off to West Point for breakfast. Lunch on the Pender courthouse lawn and then back to the second of many DQs to come -- this time for dinner, and this time in Wayne.
8 a.m. Noon. 6 p.m. Same routine, day after day.
She carries peanut butter crackers in the Toyota and Cheez Whiz and store brand Pop Tarts for towns without cafés. She totes Diet Mt. Dew by the 12-pack.
If she doesn't have an invite, she dines alone, parking the car where folks will see her signs. She keeps a journal in chicken-scratch pencil and reads while she waits for someone to take notice.
Sunday, she paws through a tote bag in her front seat for the novel she's reading now, "Fools Crow" by James Welch.
She's gone through all the books she brought, she says. Six so far.
She checks in with her son every night. She checks in with the Lord all the time.
***
Norma was glad to see Nebraska execute Charlie Starkweather in 1959.
Her husband carried a shotgun when he picked up two of their kids from school the day the bandy-legged murderer committed his last Lincoln crimes and fled west.
She was still in favor of the death penalty when she retired as a CPA in 1991 and decided to head to Africa as a missionary for the United Methodist Church.
The church sent her to Nashville instead. Said she wasn't suited for a Third World country, the small woman with soft white hair and gold-rimmed glasses explains.
"I wanted to suffer for our Lord, but my biggest hardship was when they didn't have frozen yogurt in the cafeteria."
She spent more than seven years at the Scarritt-Bennett Center dedicated to educating laity, eliminating racism and empowering women.
She served as the retreat center's accounting manager.
She served by visiting prisons, too, even though she didn't want to.
She'd started going to one of the three nearby Methodist churches. The controversial one, Norma says, in a poor neighborhood that believed what Jesus preached in Matthew 25.
Norma always had trouble with that chapter.
"I was OK feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, but when it came to visiting prisoners, I thought, ‘Why did Jesus want me to do that?' "
Dalinda was the first person she met behind bars -- an African American, HIV-positive, schizophrenic.
"She had the biggest heart," Norma said.
After that, Abu, on death row for killing a drug dealer. He's still in prison, Norma says, his case still under appeal. She went back to Nashville in 2001 to testify on his behalf.
"I told them all the good things he was doing for himself and the community."
That story isn't the first thing she tells strangers on her travels through Nebraska.
If she only has a small window, she starts with money.
It costs a lot more to kill someone, Norma says, than it does to keep him alive and in prison for life.
***
Back in Nebraska in 1999 -- after her time in Tennessee -- Norma joined Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty. She became a regular at its weekly vigils.
"We sit for what we stand for," she says with a smile, the curved handle of her cane resting between her knees.
Last summer, the idea that led her to David City on this steamy Sunday started to take shape.
She was sitting in front of the Governor's Mansion when Sally Ganem came out, curious.
The first lady asked questions, and then she listened.
"Being a bleeding heart liberal, I'm not in favor of much of what our governor stands for, but I sure do like his wife."
A few minutes later, a man on a motorcycle stopped. They had a nice chat, too. Norma didn't change his mind, and he didn't change hers.
But it got her thinking. Here she was in Lincoln, where lawmakers gather and citizens hold rallies calling attention to their causes -- death penalty opponents included.
What about the rest of the state? Who was getting the word out in Burwell? Or Franklin? Fullerton or Stanton?
Then she thought, "You old bag you, you aren't doing anything. Why don't you go?"
***
Last winter, after she'd highlighted all of the county seats in blue on a new map, she wrote letters to churches -- giving preference to the Methodists -- wondering if they'd be willing to host a potluck or a coffee where she could share her message.
"I reminded them that the United Methodist Church is against the death penalty and our bishop is against the death penalty."
Last month, two nuns went to see her off that first day in Wahoo. A couple in Wayne gave her a bed for the night. Another couple -- a retired minister and teacher -- bought her meatloaf and mashed potatoes in Grand Island.
Albion had a breakfast for her. Six adults and a 5-year-old showed up in Grant. One man came to a salad luncheon at the church in Rushville. His 28-year-old son had been murdered in Phoenix three years ago.
"That took the wind out of my sails."
A fellow death penalty opponent, the brother of a Lincoln woman murdered in 1980, went to see her in Central City.
On the small-town streets, people have been civil, she says. Some avoid eye contact, some smile. A few tell her they like her shirt.
When she has an audience, she tells them what she thinks executions do to us, as a society.
"We are hiring someone to take a life."
She tells them America is the only industrialized country to execute people. She tells them Iowa does not have the death penalty, but has fewer murders per capita.
She tells them it costs "three to 10 times more" to execute someone than to keep him or her in prison for life.
"If I see them losing interest I usually quit. I don't want to make enemies."
***
Her mom was always fiscally conservative, Nancy Kail says. Washing bread wrappers, reusing foil, refusing to raise Nancy's allowance without a good reason.
And it was the cost of executions that originally changed Norma Fleisher's mind.
"Then, of course, she learned more and that some of the time they're not even guilty."
They're all proud of their mom, Norma's oldest daughter says.
"All of us kids agreed, we didn't want her to do it, but we also knew better than to even attempt to talk her out of it."
An 84-year-old lady in a car with 125,000 miles that has been rolled once?
Norma understands.
"I've always called it ‘my hare-brained idea.' "
***
Sunday, after Runza and her afternoon nap and dinner at 6 with her grandson at Amigo's in Seward, Norma heads for home and nine days of rest.
Then a final push. She'll swing west to York, Aurora, Clay Center, Hebron. Then south and east to Fairbury, Beatrice, Tecumseh. The One Stag Café in Falls City. The Avenue Grill in Nebraska City.
And up north to Papillion, one last Runza.
Since June 15, she's put 3,200 miles on the car she bought new nearly 20 years ago. She's seen more of Nebraska than she ever had before or will after.
She knows she's blessed to be making the journey.
She doesn't know if she has changed a single mind.

July 13, 2011

Things That Make You Say WTF, Lady!!!!

Today I took the fearsome foursome - Aidan, Asher, Jayden, and Julyan - to the zoo. Alone. I've done this before and survived and I like to live dangerously so I thought, what the hell. Pffft! What the hell is right, mkay? 

First thing we head to the jungle. In there are all these fake vines, some of which drape over the walkways. I knew what was coming so I went ahead and asked an employee if the kids are or are not allowed to climb on, hang from or otherwise molest the vines. The answer? Yep, just don't let them climb out beyond the designated walk-ways, no playing Tarzan, etc... Good deal, hang loose, fellas! Aidan was just ahead of me - as he usually is - and he starts climbing onto a vine. Out of nowhere this woman right in front of him turns around and screams Get off those vines! Right now! and then proceeds to walk back to him and jerk him off of the vine. 

Yes, this bitch not only yelled at my son but put her bat shit crazy hands on him RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!! 

As best I can remember, after a split second of stunned stillness brought on by white hot rage, I got to her and pulled her by her shoulder off of Aidan. You better get your damn hands off of my son right this minute. I'll handle the parenting and discipline of my child, thank you. Now I didn't smell anything but I think she may have shit her pants at the sight of me - apparently she wasn't aware that mama bear was nearby. Well! He's not supposed to be on those! she snarled back. I looked around like Are you fucking kidding me right now? Um, actually he is allowed to be on them and even if he wasn't what the hell makes you think it's okay to yell at and grab someone else's child? Continued in my head - Like seriously, I don't know how you were raised, if your parents let random strangers man-handle and discipline you but if you want to get your ass whooped, touch my kid one. more. time.

And I spent the rest of the day seething about it. I mean, what the hell is wrong with people? The thought has crossed my mind to snatch some mean ass kid at the playground up and have words with him/her but damned if I'd ever actually do it. Not unless I wanted to start some serious shit with his/her mother. All I can say is...WTF, lady???

July 10, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, Aidan!


Today we had a triple birthday party for Aidan and his cousin Julyan, who share a birthday of July 12 and Kid Sister whose birthday is actually today. I could go through the whole thing blow by blow but I'm lazy so here are 693 photos of the event. Clearly everybody had a great time. Happy Birthday Aidan, Julyan, and Kid Sister!!!
Kid Sister
Skinny Bitch


Aidan's gift from Mama and Dad
Julyan and Jayden

Welcome to Iowa, Julyan!!!




Aidan's army birthday cake
Oh yes, he performed a perfect cake drive


Kid Sister's birthday cake

a little game of baseball

And finally it's quiet!!!
 

July 2, 2011

Greener Grass

The neighbors behind us erected something along the lines of this in their backyard yesterday.
Their daughter, the two girls who live next door to us, and some random little boy were all playing on it. Jayden, Julyan, Aidan, and Asher were all lined up at the fence watching - just drooling over this thing that to them is the epitome of everything they dream of. Did the kids or the parents invite our boys to play? Um, negative. They just looked at them. I'm like Really? You're just going to let them watch? Really? I guess all that money can't buy you common decency. You suck! So now I'm hell bent to throw the most obscene birthday party for Aidan and Julyan in a couple weeks. I'm talking bounce house, water slide, batting cages, elephants... whatever it takes. And when those kids are drooling at the fence I will invite them over because even I'm not that big of an asshole.