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I have moved!

Posted by Sandra on October 2, 2009


For my tens of loyal readers out there, I’ve moved the blog to a more customizeable format (still with WordPress – I love their spam blocking and filtering features!)… change your bookmark to: 

Vintage Mama’s Rants

Hope you like the new, more interesting format… I’m hoping to be able to spend more time writing too!  🙂


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Getting ready to move…

Posted by Sandra on September 30, 2009

I think.

No, not my family.  I don’t ever want to have to move this house or this family.  When they all grow up and move out, I’m selling everything except what will fit in a $200,000 RV and I’m going to spend the rest of my life driving around the country.  Yeah.  That’s the plan. 






The hubby, the camera, and the RV.  That’s all I need.






Anyways, no… I’m getting ready to move my blog.  I want more freedom to personalize the themes and I also want to take advantage of advertising.  Hopefully I can migrate all of my posts to the new blog so I don’t lose any data or links…

So I hope my tens of readers will move with me!  I’ll be sure to post the links for the new blog so you can update your bookmarks.  Thanks for a great year of readership, and I’m hoping that as the girls get older and I get more free time, I can expand my blog into more interesting and informative… stuff.

Posted in **My Family Life** | 2 Comments »

I love my job…

Posted by Sandra on September 29, 2009

Senior Pictures

Senior Pictures

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Roasted Tomato Sauce

Posted by Sandra on September 28, 2009

I’ve had so many questions about this sauce, so I thought I’d post pics and explain better!

Take 6-10 tomatos, any kind; cut in half to make “cups”.  Place on cookie sheet coated with olive oil.  Slice a large onion (or two, depending on your tastes!) and top the tomatos with the slices.  Slice or chop garlic cloves and sprinkle on top. 

At this point, depending on what I’m going to use the sauce for, I’ll slice a couple of green or red peppers, some jalepeno peppers, or similar spicy peppers to taste.  For the example below, I have an orange pepper and two jalepenos because I’m making chili.  I remove the seeds but sprinkle them over the whole pan for taste.

Then liberally salt (I prefer Kosher salt), some pepper, and basil if you like.  Fresh is always best, but the pics below show dried.  Drizzle olive oil over everything.

Bake at about 325 or so for an hour, then crank the heat to 450 for about 20 minutes.  We want the tomatos and vegetables to be really roasted!

Let cool for 30 minutes or so, then puree in a food processor or blender to desired consistency. 

I use this for a base for spaghetti sauce, chili, salsa, or anything requiring tomato sauce.  I make big enough batches that I can freeze part of it for use later.


Unroasted tomatos, onions, garlic, and peppers

Unroasted tomatos, onions, garlic, and peppers


After roasting

After roasting

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Swine Flu 1976 & Propaganda

Posted by Sandra on September 25, 2009

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Our new kitty, Bow…

Posted by Sandra on September 23, 2009



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Beautiful Senior Pics

Posted by Sandra on September 20, 2009

I loved this client for senior pics, and just wanted to show off some of my favorites from last week’s shoot:

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Our lovely day in the park…

Posted by Sandra on September 11, 2009

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A Different Lesson Plan for the President’s Speech

Posted by Sandra on September 8, 2009

Just in case you don’t like the “Menu of Classroom Activities [for] President Obama’s Address to Students Across America on September 8, here are ten suggested alternative questions to explore with students from pre-K through high school.

  1. President and Mrs. Obama have chosen to send their daughters to private school, at a cost of about $29,000 a year for each girl. What choices, if any, should other parents have about where their children go to school and about how to pay for educating their children?
  2. Why is it important that the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of Congress, or the governor listen to what citizens say, whether in town hall meetings or in any other form of citizen communication? Why is what citizens say important to these elected officials?
  3. When elected officials pass laws should they and their staffs also be obliged to follow those same laws or should they be exempt–and in either case, why?
  4. If an elected or appointed public official breaks the law what should be done about that?
  5. When elected officials publicly make a promise, what should be done if they go back on their word and do something completely different–including the exact opposite of what they said they’d do?
  6. President Obama is a big believer in personal responsibility. How does “personal responsibility” apply to elected officials and to citizens, in general?
  7. How much control should individual citizens have over their lives versus the amount of control given to government when it comes to things like education, health care, saving and investing for retirement and any other issue?
  8. What limits, if any, should there be on freedom of speech, such as on the radio, on TV, on YouTube, in print, in classroom discussions, etc.?
  9. What do you think about giving some students special preferences in admitting them to schools or awarding them money or prizes: what guidelines do you suggest?
  10. What is the one piece of advice that you would to each of the following groups: Teachers? Principals? Parents? Your fellow students? The American people?

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Guest Blogger; Obama is not my kid’s mama!

Posted by Sandra on September 7, 2009

Children are so impressionable.  It doesn’t take much appeal to get them on board for a project.  Last year, I had my fill of fundraisings. Some I didn’t mind; however, when they started coming home begging me to give them a dollar to wear a hat for Diabetes or Cancer or some other fundraiser, I hit the limit of my endurance.  I was sick of my little guys’ hearts being manipulated for money.

Let me give another example.  If my husband and I were divorced (which we aren’t), and I asked my children to ask their dad for the child-support payment, I would be taken to task by the government’s Child Services.  I would be chasitised for manipulating my children to achieve an ends.

Which is what I think some of those school fund-raisers do–or rather that is how they go about soliciting funds–by preying on the tractable hearts and minds of my children.

Children are so responsive to cries for help.  They do not see the “man behind the curtain” as in The Wizard of Oz.  They do not doubt that the person asking them for help has ulterior motives.  They are like little birds in the nest, happily opening their mouths to swallow the food their mother bird, or others that the mother bird trusts, drops down their gullets.

Based on this reasoning, I do not want my little guys listening to Tuesdays speech, beamed into my children’s classrooms, without parental guidance.  How many of those children will think the president is directly talking to their classroom or their school.  Imagine! The president needs their help!  “Gee, Mom, President Obama says I can help him.  He wants me on his side.  Wow-I need 3 ways to help him.  My teacher helped me come up with a plan.”

My malleable, trusting sons will come home telling me we need to help the President of the United States implement his socialist agend.  Then Iwill be the bad guy because I do not believe in his plans.

My high school students are different.  We have discussed politics, our beliefs, and history.  I am a firm believer that you need at leat 3 reasons to believe what you believe.  You just cannot believe because your mama or daddy does.  Understanding why you stand for something is critically important.

Faithful did his sophomore paper on the difference between capitalism and socialism.  Most of the students in his class seemed to think that socialism was the way to go.  “Everybody should get equal pay,” they said.  “After all, not everyone gets the same opportunities.” My son responded, “Well, do you want the garbage man doing brain surgery on you? “   

Marx’s ideological theory, “From everyone according to his ability to everyone according to his need” is the foundation of exploitation and reducation of freedom.  There is no American Dream in socialism.

Our forefathers fought to keep the government out of our life, our religion, our dreams, and out of how we raise our children.  A president attempting to beguile each child in America, trying to get little children to promote his agenda, doeson’t seem like the government that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison established.

When President  Obama goes into each classroom, bypassing our own community checkpoints like our school boards, bypassing parents–it sure seems like government is getting pretty personal, pretty intimate with our day-to-day life.

Even more insidious is that he knows those children will go home all pumped up, like they do for those fundraisers, begging their parents to support a president whose plans they cannot even begin to understand.  They just want to help. When their parents do not jump on the bandwagon with them, guess who ends up being the bad guy? The government driving a wedge between parents and children sure doesn’t sound like my America.

On Tuesday, my two youngest sons will be having ice cream with me and their dad while President Obama speaks.  We’re going to be reading the Preamble and Article 2 of the Constitution.  We might even talk about what President James Madison, the 4th president of the United States, thought when he wrote the Federalist Paper 45.

In Matthew 22:21,  Jesus says to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” So far, in American, my children do not belong to our government.  They belong to their parents.  Let us keep it that way!

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National Keep Your Kids Home From School Day!

Posted by Sandra on September 1, 2009

National Indoctrination Day is next Tuesday, September 8th.  Most of us have renamed it “National Keep Your Kids Home From School Day“.   

My children will not be attending if our district is participating in this indoctrination experiment.  I have already contacted the school board and the principals and they are trying to find out if our schools will be showing this hot air next week.  If they are, the principal has assured me they will have an alternate for my kids – however, I wonder what that will be?  Sitting in a hallway?  Perhaps being beaten out back because they don’t support the Otard?  If it ‘s anything like what happened pre-election, that wouldn’t surprise me.

Think it’s a joke?  Look at the official paperwork sent to the teachers.   Moms and dads, you MUST protect your children at all costs!!obeyAnyone remember reading about Hitler in your history classes?  Yeah.  This makes my stomach churn.

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The Truth about the Flu Shot

Posted by Sandra on August 31, 2009

What’s in the regular flu shot? 

  • Egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses
  • Gelatin: can cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually associated with sensitivity to egg or gelatin
  • Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™): can cause severe allergic reactions, including  anaphylaxis. Also associated with inferility in female mice.
  • Formaldehyde: known carcinogen
  • Triton X100: a strong detergent
  • Sucrose: table sugar
  • Resin: known to cause allergic reactions
  • Gentamycin: an antibiotic
  • Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose flu shot vials


Do flu shots work? 

Not in babies: In a review of more than 51 studies involving more than 294,000 children it was found there was “no evidence that injecting children 6-24 months of age with a flu shotwas any more effective than placebo. In children over 2 yrs, it was only effective 33% of the time in preventing the flu.

Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2 (2008).

 Not in children with asthma: A study 800 children with asthma, where one half were vaccinated and the other half did not receive the influenza vaccine. The two groups were compared with respect to clinic visits, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations for asthma. CONCLUSION: This study failed to provide evidence that the influenza vaccine prevents pediatric asthma exacerbations. 

Reference: “Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for the prevention of asthma exacerbations.” Christly, C. et al. Arch Dis Child. 2004 Aug;89(8):734-5.

 Not in children with asthma (2): “The inactivated flu vaccine, Flumist, does not prevent influenza-related hospitalizations in children, especially the ones with asthma…In fact, children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than children who do not get the vaccine.”

Reference: The American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference, May 15-20, 2009, San Diego.

 Not in adults: In a review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital or take time off work.”

Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (2006). 

Not in the Elderly: In a review of 64 studies in 98 flu seasons, For elderly living in nursing homes, flu shots were non-significant for preventing the flu. For elderly living in the community, vaccines were not (significantly) effective against influenza, ILI or pneumonia.

Reference: “Vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.3 (2006). 


What about the new Swine Flu shot?

Some of the new H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines are going to be made by Novartis. These shots will probably be made in PER.C6 cells (human retina cells) and contain MF59, a potentially debilitating adjuvant.  MF-59 is an oil-based adjuvant primarily composed of squalene. 

  • All rats injected with squalene (oil) adjuvants developed a disease that left them crippled, dragging their paralyzed hindquarters across their cages. Injected squalene can cause severe arthritis (3 on scale of 4) and severe immune responses, such as autoimmune arthritis and lupus.
    • Ref: (1): Kenney, RT. Edleman, R. “Survey of human-use adjuvants.” Expert Review of Vaccines. 2 (2003) p171. 
    • Ref: (2): Matsumoto, Gary. Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That’s Killing Our Soldiers and Why GI’s Are Only the First Victims of this Vaccine. New York: Basic Books. p54.  

Federal health officials are starting to recommend that most Americans get three flu shots this fall: one regular flu shot and two doses of the vaccine made against the new swine flu strain.  School children who have never had a flu shot are targeted for four shots in the fall – twice for seasonal flu, twice for pandemic swine flu. (July 15, 2009 news)

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been talking to school superintendents around the country, urging them to make plans to use buildings for mass vaccinations and for vaccinating kids first. (CBS News, June 12, 2009.)

Is Mandatory Vaccination Possible?

 1946: US Public Health Service was established and Executive Order (EO) 9708 was signed, listing the communicable diseases where quarantines could be used. 1946 and 2003, cholera, diphtheria, TB, typhoid, smallpox, yellow fever, & viral hemorrhagic fevers were added.

April 4, 2003: EO 13295 added SARS to the list. 

April 1, 2005: EO 13295 added “Influenza caused by novel or re-emergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic.” EO 13295 also: The president gave the Sec. of HHS the power to quarantine, his or her discretion. Sec of HHS has the power to arrange for the “apprehension and examination of persons reasonably thought to be infected.” A cough or a fever could put a person at risk for being quarantined for an extended period of time without recourse. 

January 28, 2003: Project BioShield was introduced during Bush’s State of the Union Address. This created permanent and indefinite funding authority to develop “medical countermeasures.”

The NIH was given authority to speed approval of drugs and vaccines. Emergency approval of a “fast tracked” drug and vaccine can be given without the regular course of safety testing. 

December 17, 2006: Division E: The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREPA) was added as an addendum to Defense Appropriations Bill HR 2863 at 11:20p on Saturday night, long after House Committee members had signed off on the bill and gone home for the holidays.

Section (b)(1) states: The Sec of HHS can make a determination that a “disease, health condition or threat” constitutes a public health emergency. He or she may then recommend “the manufacture, testing, development, administration, or use of one or more covered counter measures…” A covered countermeasure defined as a “pandemic product, vaccine or drug.”

Division E also provides complete liability protection for all drugs, vaccines or biological products deemed a “covered countermeasure” and used for an outbreak of any kind. In July, 2009, complete liability protection was extened to drug companies that included any product used for any public health emergency declared by Sec of HHS. 

Pharma is now protected from all accountability, unless “criminal intent to do harm” can be proven by the injured party. They are protected from liability even if they know the drug will be harmful.

“By 1853, Parliament began passing laws to make the untested vaccine compulsory throughout the British Empire. Other countries of Europe followed suit. Once the economic implications of compulsory vaccinations were realized, few dared to disagree. Then, as now, the media were controlled by the vaccine manufacturers and the government, who stood to make huge money from the sale of these spurious vaccines.”… Tim O’Shea, D.C.

What can you do?

These are just a few suggestions; please come up with more of your own! Add to this list and spread the word. 

  • Give this information to everyone you know and love.
  • Contact local first responders (EMTs, Paramedics, Fireman, etc). Tell them what is will be in the flu shots and that *they* will be the first ones to get it.
  • Contact local police and discuss concerns about mandatory vaccination. You go to church and to the grocery store with these folks and their kids play with your kids. They are not “scary” people. Take them coffee and a treat to get in the door.
  • Contact local city council members about your liberties. You need their support to maintain your right to refuse.
  • Write a small article for LOCAL, community newspapers. Watch for samples on
  • Have at least 3 weeks of food and water at your house and be prepared to voluntarily self-quarantine of given no other options.
  • Stock up on Vitamin D3 (3000 IU per person), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, etc and homeopathics for the flu
  • Check out and A pdf of their oath for easy printing is on I am sharing this with local military recruitment office, reservists and retired military people we know.
  • Connect with other activist organizations those who support 2nd amendment issues, the environmental and animal rights. Help spread the word about their passion and get them involved with yours. You can’t do it all, but you can do something! * As stated years ago by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”



For more information go to or 

Full Version in PDF (5 pages) here
Tri-Fold Brochure of this information here
Handout Version in PDF (2 pages)  here
Version in Spanish here

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Oh this is fab reading!

Posted by Sandra on August 27, 2009

From The Guinea Pig Diaries: To Serve With Love
How A. J. Jacobs survived a month of playing the perfect husband.

By A. J. Jacobs From Reader’s Digest
Originally in The Guinea Pig Diaries

The most common theme of all the e-mails I get—with the possible exception of those from Canadians who are furious that I once misspelled Wayne Gretzky’s name (who knew Canadians could get so worked up?)—is that my wife, Julie, is a saint.

Readers have said they’re in awe of her for putting up with the beard I grew for my book on the Bible and the endless stream of facts about, say, China’s opium wars during my year of reading the Britannica, and all the other nonsense that has come with my writing projects. Some people have even said I owe her something—precious stones, perhaps.

But others have said I need to pay Julie back by spending a month doing everything she says. As in, a month of foot massages and scrubbing dishes and watching Kate Hudson movies (if Julie actually liked Kate Hudson, which she doesn’t).

I can’t argue that Julie’s a saint. But the experiment is …

Well, if I’m being honest, it’s actually a pretty good idea. It’ll let me explore the tricky power dynamics of the modern American marriage.

So I decide to launch it.

When I tell Julie about Operation Ideal Husband (or Operation Whipped, as my friend John calls it), she jumps for joy. I don’t mean metaphorically. She bounds around the living room on an invisible pogo stick, clapping her hands and saying, “Yay!”

Julie usually does wear the pants in our family, to use a clothing metaphor. But for one month, I will wash those pants and iron them. I’ll be geisha-like in my obedience and think of nothing but her happiness. I will be an obedient 18th-century wife to my 21st-century wife.

Laying the Groundwork

First I ask Julie to tell me some things she wants from me during this month. She begins to talk. It’s a good thing I brought a notebook.

“Well, let’s start with the bed,” she says. “No forcing me to the edge of the bed with your six pillows. No waking me up when you come in at night using your BlackBerry as a flashlight. And no talking during movies. No looking over at me during sad parts to see if I’m crying.”

I’m scribbling away, trying to keep up. It’s kind of disturbing how easily this river of minor grievances flows out of Julie.

“No buying the first fruit you pick up at the grocery store,” she continues. “No wasting food. If the boys”—we have three—”don’t finish something, wrap it up and keep it for the next meal.”

My wife is in the zone. I have pet peeves, too, but I don’t usually recall them with such accuracy and speed.

“No making fun of my family,” says Julie. “No complaining about having to go to New Jersey on New Year’s Eve. If I ask a simple question like ‘Is the drugstore open on Sundays?’ and you don’t know the answer, try saying, ‘I don’t know.’ Do not tell me, ‘It is a mystery that humans have been pondering for centuries, but scientists and philosophers are no closer to an answer.'”

Okay. I can see how that might get old. Fair enough.

“Go to sleep at a decent hour so you’re not a zombie in the morning,” she adds without missing a beat. “No telling me when an attractive woman friends you on Facebook in a lame attempt to get me jealous. No putting things back in the fridge when there’s a teensy bit left.”

“Now wait a second,” I interject. “You just said, ‘Don’t waste food.’ I’m getting mixed messages here.”

“It’s a fine line, but I think you can figure it out.”

I must have looked like I’d just gotten beaned by an Olympic shot put to the forehead, because suddenly Julie softens.

“I love you,” she says.

“Noted,” I say.

The First Day

“Good morning, honey! You look terrific!” I say, really playing this up.

“Thanks, sweetie!” she responds.

Soon after these niceties, Julie assigns me my first chore of the day. “Can you think of a third gift we can give your father for his birthday?”

Three gifts? That’s my initial reaction. My reflex is to make some clumsy remark like “So two gifts aren’t enough? What was he, born in a manger?”

Instead I just say, “Sure.”

This is something I notice throughout the day. Whenever Julie says something, my default setting is to argue with her. It’s (usually) not overtly hostile bickering. It’s just affectionate parrying. Verbal jujitsu.

I also know it’s not good. You playfully bicker enough, and after a few years, it stops being playful.

I’ve got to reboot my brain. Marriage doesn’t have to be boxing. Maybe it can be two people with badminton rackets trying to keep the birdie in the air.

So I spend the day trying to suppress my “me first” instincts. For every decision, I ask, What would Julie want?

Checking with my inner Julie every 20 seconds or so is exhausting, though. I start to cut the cantaloupe for my sons’ breakfast and stop. Julie once complained that I cut cantaloupes all jaggedly, like a graph of the NASDAQ. I couldn’t care less, but it matters to her. So I use a sharper knife and make a smooth and straight cut.

“Are you liking this?” I ask as she watches me.

“Loving it. And it’s great for our marriage. Right?”

“Right!” I say.

And bite my tongue.

Henpecking Through History

I reflect for a moment: If I’d tried this experiment a couple of hundred years ago, I’d have been breaking the law.

According to Stephanie Coontz in her fascinating book Marriage, A History, if the wife was the head of the household, the husband wasn’t just an object of contempt—he was a criminal. “A husband could be fined or dunked in the village pond for not controlling his wife,” she writes. In Colonial America, men sometimes “sued for slander if neighbors gossiped that a husband was allowing his wife to usurp his authority.”

In the Middle Ages, rural villages had charming rituals for those who didn’t discipline their wives: “A ‘henpecked’ man might be strapped to a cart or ridden around backward on a mule, to be booed and ridiculed for his inversion of the marital hierarchy.”

Coontz makes clear that for most of history, marriage was wildly undem­ocratic. Husband and wife were like czar and peasant, chairman of the board and receptionist. In fact, wifely obedience was pretty much synonymous with marriage.

So I would have been seen as a traitor to my gender. I tell Julie about my research and read to her from a 1788 poem by the Scot Robert Burns called “The Henpecked Husband”: “Curs’d be the man, the poorest wretch in life,/The crouching vassal to a tyrant wife!/Who has no will but by her high permission,/Who has not sixpence but in her possession.”

“You’re very lucky you weren’t his wife,” I say.

“Yes. Very lucky,” Julie replies. “But you’re not allowed to do that this month.”

“Do what?”

“Compare yourself to other husbands,” she says.

‘Tis Better to Give

One of Julie’s guidelines for Project Ideal Husband is, naturally, that I should buy her flowers. I object that we’re in the middle of a fierce recession (I know, not very obedient of me). Flowers in New York are so expensive, I surmise, that they’re kept hydrated with water drawn from the fjords of Norway by specially trained geologists.

“It doesn’t have to be flowers,” she says. “Any gifts will do.”

I was a decent gift giver when we were dating. I gave books and soaps and cinnamon-scented candles. Then the presents trailed off. Maybe my gift-giving deficiency is genetic. My dad is still living down the gift he gave my mom for their first Valentine’s Day—absolutely nothing.

So I start bringing Julie a gift a day. Mostly no-foam lattes. But also DVDs and soaps and books.

I start to plan the gifts days in advance. I look forward to seeing Julie smile when I plop them on her desk.

I haven’t gotten any “jumping for joy” outbursts from her again, but when I present her with the autobiography of

Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady on TV before a bout with drug addiction, she rubs her hands with glee.

Over the years, I’ve observed that behavior shapes thoughts.

My brain sees me giving a gift to Julie.

My brain concludes I must really love her.

I love her all the more.

Which means I’m happier in my relationship—if a bit poorer.

Mr. Mom, the Sequel

I’ve always chipped in and done my fair share of housework. But just to make sure I’ve got it covered, I ask Julie to list all the household chores she does.

“I clean up the kids’ rooms,” she says. “I set up playdates for our kids. I take them to their doctors’ appointments. I pay the bills. I get baby gifts for our friends …”

If this were a movie, it would show the hands of a clock spinning around, maybe whole calendar days flipping by. It’s a long freakin’ list.

“I fill the liquid soap dispensers. I wash our place mats. I get new ink for the printer.” On and on it goes. Finally, Julie pauses. “This exercise may cause a lot of trouble for you.”

I’ve been thinking the same thing. She does chores I did not even realize existed.

“Let me do it all this month,” I say.

“I can’t let you do that,” she says, envisioning, no doubt, the chaos that would descend in a matter of days.

Still, I give it a try.

The next morning, Julie says, “Okay, call the pediatrician and schedule the … You know what? I’ll do it. It’s faster.”

This is the problem. Julie is just more competent at a lot of these tasks. Or all of them. She is the single-most-organized person in the world. My wife actually tabs and archives all her magazines.

Okay. I decide I can master this domestic stuff too. I decide the key is to be aggressive, or proactive, as they say in business meetings. I have to be an alpha househusband.

I find out about a great cable-TV drama airing in two weeks. I type an e-mail to Julie: “Should we record it?”

Before I press Send, I pause.

The “we” in that sentence? That’s actually “Julie.” The true meaning of my e-mail: “Julie, would you record it?”

I delete the e-mail. I schlep into the living room and program the TiVo myself.

Yeah, I know. I’m a hero. But there are dozens, hundreds, of little chores to be done. I’m overwhelmed. One day, I spend two hours writing and the remainder of the day reattaching knobs to cabinets and putting stray CDs into containers.

To paraphrase the title of a recent bestselling book about modern-day women, I don’t know how in the world Julie does it.

Power Corrupts

The truth is, Julie is actually the sensible one in our marriage, the straight man to my wacky schemes. I probably overrepresent the conflict. Sure, fights happen in our life. But I don’t write about the hours of peaceful, contented existence we share.

Yet at 20 days into the Month of Doing All She Says, the power seems to have gone to her head. Her requests are coming faster, more abruptly.

“Change the batteries in the kids’ toys.”

“Clean out the coffee machine.”

She even snaps at me. Literally. One night, I ask her something while she’s watching Top Chef, and she answers me with three snaps and a wave of the hand, which is sign language for “Get out of the room now.”

She’s also e-mailing me daily to-do lists. One item on today’s list: “Put four Diet Cokes and four beers (any kind) in the refrigerator.”

I write back: “Thanks for allowing me to choose the brand of beer! You clearly have faith in my judgment!”

“You’re welcome!” There’s a pause. Then she writes, “This is the best month of my life. Let me make the most of it!”

Satisfying the Wife’s Appetites

I’m making chicken piccata for Julie—chicken with lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine. When she hears the baffling sound of me pounding the chicken breasts with a rolling pin, Julie comes into the kitchen. She looks surprised. Then skeptical.

“Is this going to be more work for me?” she asks.

“That’s what you say to me when I’m making you dinner?” I reply, appalled.

“You’re right,” she says immediately. “Thank you.”

In cooking my dinner, there is no Mr. Mom wackiness like there was in the 1980s movie starring Michael Keaton. The rice pilaf doesn’t explode all over the kitchen walls. The chicken breasts don’t send us to the hospital with botulism.

I light the candles, pour the wine, serve the chicken.

“No napkin over your arm?” asks Julie playfully.

Aside from the napkin oversight, I’d go so far as to say that my dinner is actually romantic.

“If you cook for me every night, we could have sex every night,” says my wife.

“I don’t want to have sex every night,” I reply.

“I thought all men did,” she says.

“All men who are 17,” I say.

The Change

One night near the end of the experiment, I am sitting at the computer when Julie walks in the front door.

“What time did the boys go to sleep?” she asks.

“Six-thirty. They were very tired.”

“Are you serious? Six-thirty?”

I like the look that is now spreading all over her face. It is a look of … surprise. Respect.

Shortly after that, Julie says to me, “You know, I think we’ve cut the sass in our marriage by about 35 percent.”

I agree with her. Since I have been saying nice things to her all month, she’s been saying nice things to me. Sure, it took a while for things to change. And Julie did actually snap her fingers at me—that’s true. But overall, we have moved into a vicious cycle of niceness.

Finally, Julie admits, “I think this has been one of the best months we’ve ever had.” She adds, “I’d like to thank the readers who came up with this idea. Although I’m still angling for the Year of Giving My Wife Foot Massages as a follow-up.”

And just like that, the experiment ends. My last task at the end of the month is to find all the missing pieces to the kids’ board games, a massive operation that involves bookshelf moving and rug lifting.

In the end, I see that this has been good for us. We’ve each learned to appreciate the other more. I’ve also learned the fine art of refilling liquid soap bottles.

I’ve even continued filling them. This extension of my diligence as a househusband has earned me “a big gold star,” as Julie puts it.

It’s not always about the grand gestures, we both came to see, but rather the accumulation of little gestures. The little gestures are the ones that count. So a gift of a John Legend CD goes—almost—as far as a necklace on a birthday.

Recently, when one of my readers met Julie, he asked her, “Why on earth did you marry A. J.?”

And she answered, “Because he makes me laugh, he cares so deeply about me and our kids, and he makes my days interesting. He also makes a decent chicken piccata.”



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Posted by Sandra on August 20, 2009

I’ve had it.  My old sign either had too many words or too many words with more than one syllable.  It used to read:

I will seal my driveway myself
I have enough magazines to kill a forest
My kid’s already sold me what you are
I’m good with my God
I don’t want your home security system
I don’t care that my lawn is dead

It has now been changed to this:

And after five days, I have not had one knock at the door.

When do Girl Scouts start selling again? 🙂

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Playing with light…

Posted by Sandra on August 17, 2009

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Mother-Son Day!

Posted by Sandra on August 16, 2009

Took Brett out for the other half of his birthday present Friday… it’s AWE-SOME!!!!

HUGE Props to Ria at The Columbus Tattoo Company; 8 E 13th Ave, Columbus, OH 43201-1808 ~ (614) 299-5992.  Easy to get to, close parking.  Wonderful shop!  I highly recommend them – if you go, tell them who sent you!

Brett… getting his first tat on his RIBS!  He’s my HERO!!

Don’t let me distract you, Ria!

Blurry Ria hamming it up…

Beautiful shop!

My phoenix; because I’ve risen from the ashes, a new person… it’s stunning!

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I’m jealous…

Posted by Sandra on August 13, 2009

I wish I was young enough – eh, who am I kidding, I AM young enough! – to race towards a plastic sheet, flop down on my cushioned tummy, and fly thru the water… ah, to be a child!





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I Blinked…

Posted by Sandra on August 10, 2009

I wanted you so badly,  I couldn’t stop thinking about being a mom.

Then I blinked, and the pregnancy test said yes!  My hopes and dreams for you began right away.

And then I blinked, and you were in my arms.  I remember holding you that first day, when we had to go home alone.  We laid together in bed and I just stared into your blue eyes, and thanked God for giving me such a perfect gift.

And then I blinked, and it was your first day in school.  I remember walking behind you because you wanted to be a big boy, but you still snuck me a big kiss on my cheek before I snapped your picture and left you to your first teachers.

And then I blinked, and I was in the stands in the school gymnasium, listening to you play the saxophone so beautifully, watching your eyes as you made such stunning music.

And then I blinked, and you turned 16.  This weekend we celebrated this milestone with friends and family, we laughed and loved.  You’re driving, you’re growing, you’ve become such an amazing young man.  I’m so proud of you.

And I’m afraid to close my eyes.

The next time I blink, you will be off to college and a career, off to having your own family, off to making adult decisions and living your adult life.  How I cherish the moments between blinks, and how I wish they could last forever.

I love you, Brett.  Happy 16th Birthday.

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It helps that she’s so adorable…

Posted by Sandra on August 7, 2009

We had an impromptu shoot yesterday looking for artistic graffiti in downtown Columbus. We stopped by the museum and by the arts college and snapped a few shots. Girlfriend knows how to work the camera!





All three of them got cute for me a few times too:

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Children’s Shows Rant

Posted by Sandra on July 29, 2009

Yo Gabba Gabba is just plain creepy.  When I see a man in an orange jumpsuit, all I can think about is “inmate”.

The duck on Wonderpets needs intervention.  Bad.  A lisping role model is not really ideal.

I can’t put my finger on it, but something is wrong with Lazy Town.  It disturbs me.  On many levels.

The chick that does the voice on Wow Wow Wubbzy is the same one that does the Squirrel on Sponge Bob.  That voice makes me want to peel my skin off my face.  Please make it stop.

Someone please tell Ruby that she doesn’t need to begin and end every sentence with the word Max.  And interject it in the middle.  I’m fairly certain she says his name at least 3,629 times per episode.  If you’re the only two people in a room, I’m certain he knows you’re talking to him.

And where, exactly, are Max & Ruby’s parents, while they’re galavanting at the mall and all over town??

Change Sesame Street’s theme song back to the fun sing-song one it used to be.  Not the crap “rap” version it is now.

Let the Cookie Monster eat all the cookies he wants, for God’s sakes.  No kid gets obese from watching a muppet eat sweets.  It’s because the mom drives to the store and buys them, then lets her kid eat them 24 hours a day.

Bring back the Electric Company.  Like it used to be.

Shouldn’t Barney be dead by now?  What exactly is the lifespan of a dinosaur?  They didn’t live this long a billion years ago, for God’s sakes.

The Spider Dad on “Ms. Spider” is scary looking.  I’m all for scary – my kids love horror movies from as soon as they can sit and watch one – but this dude is eerie.


Now for some praise.

I can listen to Dora all day.  Really.  I don’t even mind that they’re teaching Spanish in my country, which should only speak English.  I just like the show.

The kids on the Backyardigans can SING.  They’re amazing!  I’m guessing it’s studio-enhanced, but I don’t care.

The best cartoon – no, the best SHOW – EVAH – is Family Guy.  It should be required viewing for all parents so they can work the bugs out of their uptight butts and have a few laughs.

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