The Crafty Lawyer

Random thoughts, ideas and pictures of a multi-tasking, yarn-addicted Lady Lawyer

Yes... I really DO have 5 kids

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 in retrospect

The following post is from my facebook page on Thanksgiving morning.  I realized that I hadn't posted here in forever, but since the FB post sums the whole year up well, I am simply copying it here verbatim...
My turkey is in the oven so I get to reflect on the past year.... long post alert; feel free to read or not.

On Thanksgiving 2010, we were lucky enough to have our Airman son, Mark Jr., home for the holiday because my sister-in-law, Laura, had just married her new husband, Tim. That wedding brought everyone in our family who mattered together and added a new niece and nephew (Brenna and Bill) to our RIDICULOUS brood. We were planning Melissa & Mike's wedding. It was a time of celebration and fun. A few short days later, Ryan would tear his MCL and Chip would tear a tendon in his foot. The next six months or so were consumed with injury, rehab and frustration as Ryan tried to grasp (at not quite 10 years old) that he was NOT unbreakable. He had a very tough 6-9 months, including an appendectomy in March and a random virus in June that caused more weight loss. Those same next six months would bring decisions: whether to send Jenny to private school, whether I should run for local judge, whether we should keep Ryan IN public school... as 2010 moved to 2011, a lot was in the air.

I learned a lot in early 2011. After deciding very reluctantly to run against a long-term MDJ because another candidate was doing so anyway, I was suddenly told that as a county solicitor, I was not "allowed" to have any political activity at all. Now that's funny since I replaced an OCY solicitor who became a judge, but that was what I was told. On Feb. 28th, I was forced to make a split second decision about whether to give up my professional dream of becoming a local judge OR whether to stay as a solicitor for Children & Youth. Despite being the more qualified candidate (I have a four year college degree AND a law degree AND I've lived in Whitpain for 40 years AND I'm a practicing attorney), it was obvious that the local powers-that-be wanted the other candidate (NOT the sitting judge). In an instant, I made the decision that has, in retrospect, been the best thing that ever happened to me. My job at OCY matters to me -- it is thankless in the extreme; it is stressful; it is emotionally-draining and it is WAY more time-consuming than the two days a week for which I am paid -- but the job I do matters to the children and families of Montgomery County and I love my co-workers who are the most dedicated group of individuals I could ever hope to meet. If someone were to offer me the MDJ spot now because the newly-elected judge was unable to serve, I would accept that position (I would LOVE to be MDJ and would be qualified for the job), but I would NOT sacrifice the family time that I have gained because I am not "allowed" to be involved in any political activity. My life is blessed because I cannot be political and that frees up time for my children and myself.

Good thing too... Ryan and Jenny are keeping us HOPPING. They attend two different schools (because we were NOT going to expose Jenny to the lowest common denominator theory of education; she's just too bright). Both have progressed in karate -- Jenny with one green stripe and Ryan with his green belt as a result of REALLY hard rehab, new maturity and old-fashioned hard work. Both kids swim almost year round -- Jenny is adorable at 5 in her second winter of competitive swimming and Ryan is starting to bloom in the pool as he adjusts to his new height, applies his karate maturity to his swimming and is starting to be very competitive both as an individual and for his team. Jenny also does dance after school at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy and she wants to add t-ball this Spring. Ryan plays his clarinet, sings in chorus and does Chess Club, all while doing VERY well in school (we're still TRYING to keep him in public school but that is a decision-in-progress). I cannot begin to express my pride in Ryan in particular this year -- he had to deal with a LOT of trials and he has come through with flying colors. At not-quite 11, he is FAR from where he wants to be (or where he can be), but he has learned the value of positive thinking and perseverance and hard work. Mark and I, quite literally on some evenings, tag out the kids to get them to everything -- it is, in a word, INSANE. It's also something my children would not be able to do if I had stayed in the political arena in order to run for an office for which I was the most qualified candidate but which I was never going to be allowed to obtain. I am blessed because God works in strange ways -- by stepping out of politics, my life has become filled with the joy of my children's accomplishments.

My older kids are thriving... 2011 gave me a new son-in-law who I could not love more if he was my own. Melissa is about to hit her five year mark at the Clerk of Court's Office. Chip will get teaching tenure and his Master's Degree in 2012. Mark Jr. was promoted to Sr. Airman and continues to advance in the military, serve his country and travel around Europe. I am thankful he has not been deployed and grateful for his service to our country. As a parent, a person is judged (whether we admit it or not) by how their adult children turn out -- Mark and I must have done SOMETHING right and we are VERY blessed by our older kids and enjoy spending time with them when it can be "scheduled" I miss Mark Jr. terribly today -- holidays for military parents and families are TOUGH -- but I am so proud of all SIX of my children that I consider the centerpiece of my life.

I am also ridiculously proud of my husband, Mark, who realized HIS professional goal this year when he was made Chairman of the Science Department at North Penn High School. Sometimes, qualifications, dedication and long-term effort count. NPHS is very lucky to have my husband and I never stop saying how blessed I am to have a true Life Partner. The other day, Mark said it best: "we keep each other's heads above water sometimes." There is no challenge that I have faced in the past 20+ years that has not been made easier because of my incredible husband and best friend.

As God closed certain doors, and as each of us progresses as individuals through this maze called LIFE, people we thought were friends drop by the wayside. Sometimes, that's because a person did something that I find causes a permanent separation (not a fight... why bother?) and sometimes it is a natural progression based in shared activities or lack thereof. 2011 took a few people from my life for a variety of reasons (luckily, no major family losses for once !) but my life is still full because God always opens a window. My life is blessed with my WingSisters, my knitting friends, my Woman's Club group and my closest friends who I know WILL come to a wedding for which they have RSVP's yes (if you've said you're coming to an event and you are NOT in the hospital, send a quick text that you won't be coming -- rudeness is NOT ok). I schedule lunch dates with Kim (and Louis too). Cara and I started 2011 by freezing our BUTTS off at the Eagle/Packers playoff game and we still try to make time for each other (especially on our spa days !). The other members of the Ambler GKK dojo are my sanity and my rock -- some Mondays after Court, I really NEED to be punching and kicking ! The other swimming parents (Summer and Winter) who, along with Mark and I, "get it" when we talk about the need to be in a HOT, chlorine-infused pool balcony at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday AND Sunday mornings so our kids can improve their swimming times. My kids' fantastic teachers, instructors and coaches -- Krystle, MaryAnn, Jessica, Alex, Chris, Bruce, Mike, Barbie, Josh, Dan, Brad and ALL of the GKK black belts (I still can't believe that, at almost 48, I not only have a green belt, but a couple of brown stripes on it !! You all have SO much more faith in my abilities than I do). And my incredible OCY co-workers: George, Maria, Joanna, Rose, Erin, Jen, Laura, Laurie, Marilou, Kerri, Liz, Maryann, Suzanne and ALL of the caseworkers and support staff. Last, but not least, my extended family -- Laura, Laura, Gayle, Tim, Ira, Joe and a BOATLOAD of nieces, nephews and cousins. I am particularly thankful that my mom, at almost 80, will be sitting at my Thanksgiving table in a few hours. I am blessed with the fullness of my professional and personal life, beyond measure.

As I end 2011 and look forward to 2012, I am in a different place than I thought I would be when I reflected a year ago. I work hard (with a full time law firm and a part time solicitor job), but I play more. I laugh more and spend more time doing charitable work, volunteering NON-politically, crafting, knitting, designing cards and scrapbook pages, making candy (which I don't eat!) and sharing my life. God, Goddess, the Universe... whatever greater power controls my life... has taken me on a meandering path to where I need to be at this moment. Forty years ago, my parents moved us into the house in which I still reside. Thirty years ago, my knee went BOOM and changed my path. Fifteen years ago (ok, almost 16), I opened my own law firm. As I approach my late 40's, I know that I am where I am supposed to be right now. There is a lot to be said for being content. For that, I am very thankful.

From the Keagy Clan to all of you... HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 2011 -- Moving Forward

For weeks now, I have put my "Birthday Resolution post" on hold and this is not that post although it is related to it.  I wanted to have the chance to speak to MDJ Murray directly before making this announcement and I had that opportunity earlier this morning.  An "official" announcement will be forthcoming along with the formation of a committee and the opening of a facebook page (and a bank account and appointment of managers, etc.), but this is my pseudo-official announcement that I will begin circulating petitions next week for the office of Magisterial District Judge for district 38-1-21.   The district is comprised of Whitpain, Lower Gwynedd, Upper Gwynedd and North Wales so if you live in those areas, I may be asking for your support in getting signatures. The judicial positions are cross-filed: I need Democratic and GOP signatures and if you can help out, please message me and I will get you the forms you need.  That applies to friends and family from both parties... if you live in the district, I need your help !! 

Many of you know that this has been a very difficult decision for me.  I never wanted to run against MDJ Murray as an incumbent and chose not to do so six years ago.  When I first heard last winter that Judge Murray was going to seek re-election despite his inability to complete the term, I stepped back and said I would not run.  However, based on many conversations with people that I trust and whose advice I take to heart, I will be seeking the endorsement of the GOP committee for this district later this month.  Judge Murray cannot fill his term because he will be forced to retire next year.  I don't make the rules, the legislature does.  We lose many great judges to mandatory retirement.  If it was simply a matter of me waiting until Judge Murray retired and seeking first the appointment and then the election to fill the remainder of the time, I would be happy to wait.  I wanted to wait out of respect to Judge Murray and have told him that personally.  Unfortunately, my hand is being forced by a a third person seeking the seat who is planning on running against Judge Murray whether I do so or not.  I am not willing to look back in five years and say "I wish I had run in 2011."

When it comes down to it, my qualifications both personally and professionally are strong.   I have lived in Whitpain Township for almost 40 years.  I have raised (or am raising) five children here. My three older children are hard working good young people -- a clerical worker at the courthouse, an inner city middle school teacher and an American Airman, serving his country.  My husband and I have done a good job balancing the demands of our careers with making sure our kids grow up to be responsible citizens.   I have volunteered with schools and in the community and I have done so constantly -- not just since the Summer of 2007 when one of my opponents moved here.  I have started Mock Trial teams at Wissahickon and at Gwynedd Mercy Academy as an attorney adviser.  I have served as an executive officer for the Wissahickon Band Parents, the Cheerleading parents and the musical theater and drama groups for the high school.  I currently volunteer both at Shady Grove Elementary where my 10 year old is in 4th grade and at Hobbit House pre-school where my youngest daughter attends pre-kindergarten.  I have taught crafts to children, to adults as well as making items for charity.  I am an active member of Woman's Club of Whitpain and have served as a committee person, Whitpain Township and Area 10 GOP secretary for many years.  I have worked the polls in the rain, in the cold and while pregnant (my youngest daughter was almost born AT the polls on May 16, 2006).  My husband is a Chemistry teacher at North Penn High School and he also serves on many committees and does work with children.  Our scheduling skills alone qualify either of us for elected office.  We didn't just move to the district and have me decide to be the Magisterial District Judge --  I have lived here and worked here and volunteered here my entire life.  We are devoted to this community and have shown that devotion for decades.

Professionally, in addition to being a wife and mother, I went back to law school in 1992 when my older children were 7, 4 and 2 1/2.  After school, I opened my own law firm where I work full-time to this day.  I am an experienced lawyer who has devoted her practice to criminal defense and family law for the past fifteen years (17 if you count my two years as a certified legal intern before law school graduation).  I chair the Rules of Criminal Court Committee for the Montgomery Bar Association -- a joint prosecution and defense committee.  I am active in the Women in Law committee as well as in the Criminal Defense committee.  Since last Spring, I have been a part-time Solicitor for the Montgomery County Office of Children & Youth where I assist in keeping the kids of Montgomery County safe once they have been adjudicated as dependent children by the Juvenile Court.  I am also the attorney in charge of child support for that office; which means that if OCY places children, it's my job to try and get the parents to help pay the costs of that placement.  I have served for 14 years as an arbitrator for Montgomery County -- sitting on three lawyer quasi-judicial panels to try and relieve the civil court docket by resolving smaller cases and district court appeals.  My professional experience is such that I am the most qualified person to run for this seat: I can fill out the whole term AND I know the law and the rules.  Magisterial District Judges are not required to be lawyers -- but it is a tremendous advantage that I have such a variety of litigation experience.

On a very personal note, to my friends who have helped me agonize over this decision and to my wonderful husband who has supported me in more ways than I can ever express, thank you.  I may collect hundreds of signatures, go to the mini-endorsement convention that will be held late this month and not receive the endorsement of my party.  If I do not receive that endorsement, I will not run.  Period.  I think any candidate who runs in a race like this without that endorsement should step out of the race and I have held other people to that standard for years; I expect all three candidates for the endorsement to show their respect for the committee's decision.  I may get the endorsement and not win the primary.  I may win the primary and not win the election in November.  But to not try would be a travesty.  I have, for many many years, wanted to run for this seat.  It is a shame that I have to do so against one person I respect tremendously and that has been my dilemma.  But I cannot sit back and let my dream be taken away by someone who has not been here for a fraction of the time that I have devoted to this district.  All of the support that I have received and know that I will continue to receive is appreciated.  It's appreciated a lot.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A new day dawning.

It's now July.... mid-July to be exact... and it's been three months since I posted anything.  I realized that since I was up early and Jenny was still sleeping, I would try and catch up a little.  So,,,,, here's what's new:

When we last left me, I was just adjusting to the fact that my knees were no longer in excruciating pain ALL the time and that, this lack of pain would let me work out, lose weight, have less knee pain and finally break the 29 year vicious cycle I have been coping with as best I can since October of 1981.  When I saw people staring at how fat I was, and even now when they still do so, I wanted to scream at them: "Try walking on these knees... just for ONE day!!!"  By the time I had the chicken cartlidge injected on March 18, 2010, I was on crutches almost every night just to get around my house, taking 3 advils every 4 hours or so and so tired of being in pain that I couldn't stand it.  When I first went back on weight watchers in very late February/early March, I would try and walk more and it was simply NOT possible.  Very few people knew how crushing the pain was -- what was the point in telling people (who don't really care anyway)?

And then I sprouted feathers and now have wings!!!!!!!!  Two weeks after the injections, I started walking 2 miles a day; VERY slowly and tentatively.  In mid-April, I added an elliptical workout, with no resistance and no incline -- I am still VERY careful.  My initial rate on the elliptical was 2.5 mph, but I worked out 3-4 days a week, including starting to do ab crunches and some weight lifting on the machines.  I slowly worked my way up and, as of Wednesday's workout, I am now doing 4.35 mph 3-4 times a week on the elliptical.  I am also focusing very carefully on each section of my abs.  My daily workout routine includes anywhere from 400 to 800 crunches, front, obliques and lower (BLECH!!!) and I now intersperse those ab workouts with free weights -- 3 pound weights at home, 5 at the YMCA gym.  I also swim laps whenever I get the chance and play in the pool with Ryan, Jenny and children of friends of ours -- it's a FANTASTIC upper body workout to be throwing Jenny around like a "beach ball."  Those are HER words, not mine.

And then there is karate class.... the love of my physical lifestyle!!!!  I had signed Ryan up for karate after winter swimming ended because he wanted to do it and I didn't want him to be Slug Boy until summer swimming started.  I would take him to class in his little gi, knit outside the classroom as he did the moves and learned and he really liked the class.  One afternoon when I was working out at the gym (karate is through the Ambler YMCA), one of the instructors/black belts and I got to talking.  He had seen me amping up my workout so I joined karate class too.  WOW!!!!!  What an incredible workout!!  What an incredible hour/90 minutes, three times a week!!!  What an amazing way to help me reach my fitness goals AND to clear my mind of the drama that surrounds me.  After I finish a karate class, I feel better -- mind, body and spirit as the Ancient Greeks might have said.  There have been days in recent weeks where I truly believe I would have cracked completely if I didn't have karate class to look forward too.  Tuesday night was such a night -- but Wednesday was karate and, after clearing my mind and opening it to learning martial arts, I felt human again.

As an example, Thursday started at 6:15 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. after a swim meet.  This would be my last as Beachcomber's announcer, registration chair, gopher to get water, batteries, computers, printers, copying lineups.... all so that I can be belittled, demeaned and chastised by people who need to get their power kicks on the shoulders of others.  I knew going into the meet that I was done volunteering for a few years because with Melissa's wedding next October, there is NO way I can make a commitment to summer swimming.  I had actually made the decision NOT to be involved several weeks ago when one family had played games with registration -- it eventually got in on time, but the fact that no one "allowed" me to say to this particular game player "STOP!!!", added to the fact that the rules made up by one person (despite her claims to the contrary) apply only to MY child -- her child goes to the practice that is more convenient for her schedule.  Summer swimming is supposed to be a fun way for kids to stay in shape until September; it is NOT supposed to be filled with drama and control freakiness.  There was SO much I could have said to this woman 10 days ago: when we joined the team, there were (I think) 52 swimmers... now there are 112; when I have a written registration policy, no one follows it, but when this woman sets an arbitrary age for participation NOT supported by our league's rules nor voted on by the board or the parents, that "rule" is then used to hurt a 4 year old child's feelings; when I suggest that we have never HAD an actual parents' board election, I am removed from ALL emailings including those about coaches gifts.  The list of her mean actions and nastiness and passive aggressive dishonesty could fill 10 of my very long blog posts.... or I could walk away, have Ryan and Jenny swim next year without participating.

Karate, when added to the Year of Chaos that was 2009, has helped me learn to walk away.  I'm not saying that I am perfect.  I am not saying that I couldn't have handled my disagreements with this woman better (because I DID finally tell her to go f*** herself after she got done SCREAMING in my face" "If I don't have my credibility, I have nothing."  I guess she has nothing then because what her friends say about a meeting without minutes where she then turned that meeting into a rule book which she now points to as if it is the engraved Word of God.... must be nice to be the unelected Queen of the World, but I can let it go because that was my Life Lesson of the last 18 months.  I'm sad for the dynamic that has Mark taking Ryan to Relay Champs today, Individual Champs next Saturday and the banquet which I am not attending, but in the greater scheme of my life, I am going to enjoy karate class and taking Jenny to swimming this week and next Saturday.  I am going to enjoy having next Tuesday night to FINALLY go see Eclipse (since I missed seeing it with friends because of the summer swim schedule).  I am very happy in my life and I refuse to allow mean-spirited and narcissistic smug people get under my skin... much.  The karate pads DID take a pounding last Saturday.

And of course the big news... I was chosen in early May to be the new part--time solicitor for Children & Youth of Montgomery County.  I still run my firm, but I also now have the chance to do that "something positive" that I was looking for professionally.  I love my co-workers (who are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met).  I love the camraderie of an office setting.  I love what our offcie's mission is -- to protect kids!!!  It has been a big adjustment to work 2-3 days at OCY and run the firm and deal with all this swimming garbage AND helping Melissa plan the wedding AND deal with the fact that my husband went on strike in April and therefore had to teach until June 30th (please GOD!!!  Can there NEVER be another strike???).  I feel good professionally... like what I do matters.

And then there is the physical improvement.  Yesterday marked 17 months without a cigarette.  I have now, unofficially, lost 40 pounds.  I feel FANTASTIC and know it is only going to I work to be a more fit person... not a skinny person (although I wouldn't object to skinny), just someone who isn't a grossly obese smoker, waiting for a heart attack or for diabetes to set in.  When I set out to make certain changes in my life in 2009, I had a plan... so far, so good.  The picture of me, Mark and the 2 youngest kids was taken on July 2nd... I am down another 8 pounds since then.  I am wearing some non plus-size clothing and am knitting myself a VERY expensive tank/shell to celebrate.  NONE of my clothes fit and I absolutely LOVE going to clothes stores and buying COLOR... no more blacks and browns for me.  I wear coral, purple, teals, greens and yellows.  If people want to snicker behind my back now at the fat girl wearing clothes that aren't shaped like tents, let them laugh now.... come next October at Melissa's wedding, I will be the second most gorgeous woman in the room.

Last but most certainly not least... my kids are happy, healthy and thriving.  Jenny can and did swim a full 25 yard lap of the pool without touching the wall.  Ryan has been getting extra swimming lessons with one of his coaches and is now beating me in swim races (which may need to be MY new motivation!!!).  Mark Jr. LOVES Italy and the Air Force... I can't wait until he comes home on leave in November!  hip's substitute/temporary teaching job became permanent and he will be returning to teach 7th grade Social Studies for a 2nd year.  Melissa and Mike are at his sister's wedding today, but we've booked the reception venue and plans are moving forward.

Short version (Bless you if you've gotten this far)....LIFE IS GOOD and anyone who tries to change that will be unsuccessful... I am no longer all about pleasing everyone.  It's my turn.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trying something new

My sister has, for about a year, been earning money from home by writing blog posts.  I'm not going to take things that far, but when Blogger added the Amazon link, I decided to try this out.  What's amusing is that I tried to add a link to Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious recently and was unable to do so.  Changing our diets by hiding food has been an incredible experience -- the kids know we're hiding veggies because Mark is so NOT subtle about it.  They are eating healthy, I am shopping in produce aisles and am looking forward to fresher produce as Spring and Summer approach.

Kids are doing great!  Melissa and Mike are making wedding plans. Chip loves teaching, loves his freedom, loves his new car. Mark Jr. went to Venice this weekend, also bought a car, was named Innovator of the Month for his squadron in February (he just told me today) and continues to love the Air Force as he approaches his 1st year anniversary on April 13th.  Ryan is taking karate in the off-season from swimming, still playing cello and loving the freedom to run around with his friends.  Jenny and her friends are inseparable -- playdates turned into family dinners both Friday and Saturday night this weekend; we are thankful that these three wonderful little girls have brought us new friends and a new social life.  Jenny continues to love school, swimming and ballet.

I finally joined Socks for Soldiers, Inc. and am in the process of knitting my first official pair of regulation socks.  This is a wonderful organization that just celebrated its fourth year.  The knitting is structured, but worthwhile.  I am also finishing a sweater for a friend of mine's baby and then will be making another one for another friend who is due in May.  Meanwhile, I've finished two of the three "Best Friend" sweaters for Jenny and Kayla and have the yarn for Katie's.  I can't explain enough how MUCH these little girls love each other!  Also on the needles are a pair of plain gray vanilla-patterned socks for Mark and a pair of green Eagles socks for me in a mock cable.  I recently made three hats for Ryan and his two best friends as well as the girls' sweaters.

The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb.  I would have been turning cartwheels down the street on my new, chicken-cartiledge-injected knees IF they had gotten something good in the trade and IF Michael Vick was going to be the new QB... draft picks and Kevin Kolb...?  Nope.  Not so much.  Phillies look good (not that I'm watching... I promise... not until August or they lose).

Work...... BLECH!!!!!!  I am busy and most of my clients are not making me TOO crazy, but the few who ARE making me crazy are doing so in spades.

Politics....??????  Read the post from a month or so again.  It's the 10 Amendment, Stupid.  It's not "whose spending more money on what pet project."  If it isn't authorized by the Constitution, the federal government needs to get the heck out of it!!!!  That includes health care, marriage, crimes, prayer in schools and anything else not specified

Friday, March 12, 2010

Healthier all the time

Not sure if I am correctly adding the link to this incredible book will work... this is a short post. After I had been one year without a cigarette (plus a week or so; needed to catch up on some lunch dates), the time had come to get serious about the weight thing too. I have struggled with my weight since having kids and having a couple MORE kids at 37 and 42 was definitely tough on the weight control. Add quitting smoking. Add bad knees limiting my ability to exercise at ALL. Add a sedentary profession. Add just plain me being just plain ornery because I wanted to keep SOMETHING bad in my lifestyle.... well those "additions" have added up. My goal is simple -- quitting smoking was step one, making myself more mentally healthy was step two and losing weight HAD to be the final step.

But the time has come for Step Three. I went back on Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago and have been losing steadily and at a healthy rate. I'm making healthier food choices for me and the family and Mark and I are committed to doing so as much as we can within the confines of the craziness that IS our life. Enter Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious." Because Mark and I have such crappy eating habits, our kids do too. Jenny is fine -- she's watched me TRY and eat healthier over the last year and is very good about fruits and veggies. Ryan...? Not so much and it's not a problem for him. Now. Ryan swims a lot. He takes karate now. He runs around with his friends. But his eating habits are atrocious and that's our fault. No problem now... in fact, he could probably stand to gain a little weight... but I don't want to set up an issue for him later in life.

All else is good. Work is too overwhelming to think about on a Friday night with 2 briefs due in the next few days. I like where I am, where I am going and how I am starting to feel.

Ohhh... and I learned to knit right-handed (that's a story for a WHOLE different posting) and the sweater that Jenny is wearing in the picture above has left-handed back and front but right-handed sleeves. The picture is from yesterday at her Star of the Week pizza party at school -- please note that I am eating a salad!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We the People of the United States of America...

ok... here it is. I have been mentally cooking how to phrase this blog post for well over a year but I have finally, on the eve of the President's 1st State of the Union Address, had enough. I have had enough of spin, of rhetoric, of talking heads who twist each and every piece of data and poll result into an object lesson for their side. Let's start off from my own political perspective because the labels no longer fit the majority of the voters and to just slap a label on me is to underestimate where my vote may or may not go on Election Day.

I am a small-"c" conservative and a member of the Republican Party. Since 1982, when I first registered to vote, I have voted in almost every primary and every general election except one (1984 -- it was a geographic thing). For a time in the 1990s, I was a registered Democrat and switched back to the GOP because the Dems simply did not understand what the People were saying to them. The Republicans seemed to understand the concept of smaller federal government in favor of local control of most issues. Or they used to understand that concept better than the Democrats. Now, neither side of the debate, on a national level, gets it. Every problem that we face as a country could be better solved if the national politicians not only "got it", but acted on that indefinable "it" in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution of these United States.

I am personally pro-Life. I believe that Life begins at conception and ends when God decides that person's time is done. I do not believe that anyone else gets to make that decision for another person though -- up to a certain and reasonable point. My belief in the point in time at which Life begins is just that -- my BELIEF. I have no scientific ability to back it up. I am not God nor am I His messenger on Earth. People should get to make that decision on their own belief structure up until that decision takes a viable life. My own solution would be to allow abortion up until the end of the first trimester so long as counseling on other options is actively provided AND so long as the person is over the age of 18. I believe in parental consent laws. I do NOT believe abortion should be legal after 12 weeks or so unless the mother's physical health/life is in documented grave danger. That is MY belief; agreement isn't necessary. I am not running for President or Senator or any other national office that seems to have taken over yet another local issue for the federal government.

I am also, therefore, anti death penalty. Save your arguments about why the death penalty is ok -- it's the law of many states and the wish of the majority. I disagree with the majority on that issue because I do not believe the government has the right to take a life. What if the government gets it wrong? Even if they get it wrong ONE time, it becomes state-sponsored murder. I am not ok with that. I am a huge fan of real life sentences without the slightest chance of parole. Throw a convicted murdered/child molester/terrorist into the deepest, darkest, dampest hole you can find. Do not give that person internet access or unlimited appeals. But taking their life is just plain wrong. And again, criminal law should be a state-based issue. Federal government can deal with criminality in the military or from terror attacks (and in military tribunals for God's sake!). Let the states deal with issues locally wherever possible.

Is anyone sensing a theme yet? Without going into an endless lecture about the limitations placed on the federal government by our Founding Fathers, let's just say it simply: Jefferson and Madison et al. got it correctly. Small federal government is best and should have LIMITED powers to deal with the bigger picture issues. It is simple. If I have a problem with cars driving too fast near my son's bus stop, I will make that problem known to my local Board of Supervisors in my township. I will NOT ask my two senators to pass a federal law that ties highway funding to the number of tickets written by all jurisdictions in America with no money set aside to track such tickets and with no controls on how long the program lasts. The abuse of the federal powers is rampant in this country and neither side gets it.

Now I am a little spoiled. I live in a Republican township, in a Republican school district and a Republican county where the elected officials pride themselves on keeping our taxes as low as they see possible (they don't always succeed, but they DO try). I can and do use our public schools for my kids. Because I am involved with my community, I know who to turn to if there is a problem. Not everyone is so lucky. The gluttony of the federal government over the past two decades is now so out of control that if you put a stop to one piece of spending, it becomes an unraveling of the entire federal government and therefore the state governments that have become addicted to the federal funds that they should never have received in the first place.

So step back and imagine what the federal government SHOULD look like under the Constitution with its current amendments. National defense? Absolutely... mandated by the Constitution. Postal service and currency...? Yep. Articles of Confederation didn't work so well when we were first starting out because 13 colonies with their own monetary systems wasn't so great. Immigration...? Yep... it relates to the borders. Interstate commerce...? Yep.... but not everything IS interstate commerce that is claimed as such; that's the second biggest power grab in American history. Maintenance of federal highways...? Of course, but not as a political blackmail tool to get the states to comply with unrelated federal legislation. Banking regulation.....yep. Within reason and only because currency and the value of the dollar relate to the value of the federal dollar. That being permissible, there is an extremely fine line between regulation and dictating to private companies. The banks insured by the FDIC (a federal agency) should be required to be responsible in their overall practices and report problems in a timely manner -- they should NOT be charged fees which WILL be passed on to their customers and which will further tighten lending and therefore consumer spending. Common sense.... what a concept.

Everything else... let me repeat that EVERYTHING else is in the purview of the state or local governments under the 10th Amendment. Without the 10th Amendment, 4 or 5 of the 13 colonies would not have ratified the Constitution. Period. The Founding Fathers did not believe that a large federal government was a good idea. We fought a war over this in the 1860s. I know that the South lost and that history is written by the victors, but even the Union troops are rolling in their graves at HOW big the federal government has now become. Some areas where the federal government should not ever, ever be...? Education, Health care (except as it relates to crossing state borders which should be regulared as the banks should be; a Glass/Steagal Act for the insurance companies), Welfare, Unemployment, and all of the "social issues" for which there is a tremendous variance across the country.

Auto company bailouts....? I don't think so. Not ever!!!!!!! I don't see the federal government lending my small business a large chunk of money that allows me to pay myself a huge bonus. Like all small business owners, I am struggling right now. If my struggling clients don't have money, I don't get paid. I am still providing legal services, but these people can't pay what they don't have. Federal Government having summit after summit -- on race, on the middle class, on climate change -- NO, NO, NO!!!!! I want the transparency the President promised when he ran for office. How much did President Obama's trip to MA to stump for Martha Coakley cost the taxpayers????? That is political action. How much did the trip to go get the Olympics to Chicago cost???????? Add up all of these junkets and travels and photo opportunities and you are talking REAL money. All the pork in the so-called Stimulus Package (also inappropriate)...? I want to see every penny posted on the internet like we were promised. Oh wait.... President Obama is great at speaking. Not so much with the governing.

The GOP is equally at fault. Not only did former President George W. Bush never meet a spending bill he didn't sign, but the GOP (nationally) is so damn worried about social issues in which the federal government has NO business that they are just as guilty of the spending. Stop running to the Far Right, guys.... I am looking for fiscal conservatives who give more than lip service to the size of federal government. I don't care if, in running for federal office, you share my beliefs and values. Those running for federal office need to learn the lesson of NJ, VA and MA. That lesson is NOT that the GOP candidate should win or will win... that is simply a decent by-product of the lesson because it limits what the Far Left can do to us.

Both parties are SO far away from what Joe and Jane Smith want or need from their representatives. Maybe THEY should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olberman tell them we want. Maybe they should listen to what We the People are telling them... because we are shouting it over and over again.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

We didn't start the fire...

it was always burning since the World's been turning.

Free association is the only way that I can reflect on 2009 in any sort of meaningful way and Billy Joel's epic words have never been more true than in this crazy, maddening, overwhelming, ever-changing, upsetting and joyful end to a difficult decade. So here goes...

Recruiter's visit, documents, MEPS and DEP. June date, never mind, April is a finer time. Party for our family, that date is not good for me. Easter Sunday, all together... BMT the next day. BMI, 319, is he coming home again? Heat in San Antonio, riding on an airplane. Mississippi, never mind, we'll go to Mobile this time. Rental car in Alabama, a new one in Biloxi now. A week in heat, humidity, shrimp boating and a Confederate cemetery. Plane ride, back again, Mark's phone flushed down the airplane potty. When is Jr. coming home? Driving through a 2 foot storm. Safe at last, home again, broke his ribs while hugging him. Next stop Italy... got your passport, family?

We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the World's been turning...

New President, federal spending, auto bailouts, stimuli. Do we have a 10th Amendment? Never mind, it's inconvenient. Cash for Clunkers, Health Care plans, unemployment double digits. More troops to Afghanistan but without a working plan. Underwear bombers on Christmas Day; Obama looks the other way. What's politically expedient? He'll find it every time for sure. Senators who switch their party, bribes to others for their votes. Politics in 2009??? Give me Clinton back again!

We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the World's been turning...

Blake's death, Eagles losing, rain and rain and Phillies losing. Many people, fewer friends, endings o'er and o'er again. Wait, it's Fall, Eagles back. I still believe and don't look back. Knitting 'til my fingers bleed, making cards and writing briefs. Changes, changes everywhere... and without a cigarette!!!!

We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the World's been turning...

Knitting friends who sent me yarn, Black Friday shopping, Wicked tickets, Eagles/Dallas for the title, for the bye and for home field. And...

Most of all, there is HOPE. Not the false, politically nuanced crap that is perpetually spewed by our elected representatives. But I have a true feeling that the new decade will bring change and chaos but with a renewed positive outlook. Not only is Mark Jr. about to have the adventure of a lifetime by being stationed in Italy. Not only are all five of my children thriving in their schools, activities, jobs and careers. Not only am I starting the New Year and decade with my incredible husband, my sons and Jr's friend (and Wii bowling).

But Melissa and Mike got engaged on Christmas Day -- and I knew for a week because Mike properly asked Mark for her hand. We spent this afternoon craft shopping and wedding planning for a wedding that is tentatively scheduled for October 1, 2011, our anniversary and my Daddy's birthday. My family has been together for the holidays and we are truly blessed by that -- most military families do not have that luxury and we are beyond grateful that the schedule was finally in our favor!

For all of you who lifted me up, held my hand, dried my tears in 2009... may this new decade bring you peace, prosperity and joy.