Thursday, September 28, 2006

A page out of Dad’s book*

Last night while No. 1 and I were waiting for No. 2’s ballet class to be over, he asked me what we were having for dinner. He was sitting on my lap and I whispered in his ear “sloppy joe’s.”

He claims he doesn’t like sloppy joe, but I think he’s just like his mother: when he thinks he doesn’t like something or has already said he doesn’t like something, he feels obligated to maintain that persona even if he really does like it.

“And french fries,” I said.

“Well, I’m not eating it,” he said very matter of factly and defiantly.

“Well, that’s what’s for dinner and if you don’t eat it then you’ll be one hungry little boy.”

Fastforward a bit to me making dinner while feeding the baby in the highchair. No. 1 is upstairs playing with some kind of boat in the bathroom sink.

“No. 2,” I say, “Will you very quietly and very nicely go tell No. 1 that it’s time for dinner?”

When No. 1 comes downstairs, he comments on how good dinner smells and starts talking about how he’s going to eat the sloppy joe anyway.

“Well,” I tell him, “I decided that since you don’t like sloppy joe to make something else instead. I made crumbly burgers.”

“What’s a crumbly burger?” he wants to know.

“It’s a crumbled up hamburger with the ketchup built in!” I exclaim.

“Aw, man! I wanted sloppy joe,” No. 2 complains with a pout. (I just can’t win, can I?)

“Smells like a sloppy joe,” he says.

“Well, it’s a crumbly burger,” I tell him as I put his plate on the table in front of him.

“It tastes like a sloppy joe, too, but it’s good,” he says.

“Well, they’re similar, but this is definitely a crumbly burger,” I try to convince.

The Mr. walks in from work.

“Hey Dad guess what,” No. 1 yells. “We’re having crumbly burgers for dinner! It’s a crumbled up hamburger with the ketchup already built in!” he says as if having ketchup built in to something is some sort of reward.

“All right!” The Mr. says. “Crumbly burgers are yummy.”

“Crumbly burgers?” he says to me with a coy smile and a wink.

And now here’s the thing: he would have put up a fuss and a fight all evening if they were “sloppy joe,” but since they were “crumbly burgers,” he ate it all.

*Apparently, I used to refuse to eat onions (among other things). So Mom and Dad in their infinite wisdom told me that those weren't onions, they were leaks. And I, of course, promptly ate whatever had the "leaks" in it. Last summer when No. 1 and No. 2 stayed with Mom and Dad for four days, No. 1 claimed he didn't like onions. So, you guessed it, Dad told him they weren't onions, they were leaks. Naturally, he ate those. Not long after that, when I made my famous Swedish meatballs that happen to have onions in them, I quickly told No. 1 that Papa let me know how much he liked leaks so I made the meatballs with leaks instead of onions this time. The aresenal of parenthood groweth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A conversation with God

(Ahem.) I don’t remember having ever begged you for anything. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I do remember asking repeatedly for things (sometimes for me and sometimes for others), but I don’t ever remember saying the things I’ve said lately: “Please, please, please. I really, really want this and here’s why…”

I know and respect that you have a plan for me. I know and respect that you have and will continue to give me choices. I understand that I’m at this point in my life and in my career for a reason. I understand that I’m supposed to be learning something. I just wish I could catch one break, though. I want to do right by my family. I’m not asking for a windfall, I’m asking to break even. I’m asking to not have to worry about being able to pay for car repairs or extra curricular activities for the kids while still budgeting for groceries and heating costs. I’m asking to not have to continually ask my parents for financial help. I know that could be seen as stubborn, but I’m old enough that I believe there are certain things I should be able to do on my own. Yes, it’s a pride thing, but pain is temporary and pride is forever. (Sheesh, maybe I should heed my own advice there! But how temporary is temporary? It’s all relative, I guess.)

I found something that I want pretty badly. The description seems *perfect* for me and my schedule. I could be wrong because that’s been known to happen, and I certainly don’t intend to question you. But this thing could be an answer to my prayers. This thing could bring more than just money to me and my family. And it’s not like it would be a great amount of money either. In addition to helping out financially, this would certainly give me a leg up career-wise in a number of ways.

I know that I’m good at what I do. I know that I would do this thing very well. I know that I just need someone to give me a chance. I knew (I think) when I chose this profession that I would be a dime a dozen, but I know that with a chance I can also be a diamond in the rough (I believe that to a certain degree I already am). I know that this might not be “The Thing” you want for me.

I would really like this to happen to/for me. I’m asking ever so nicely and repeatedly. I’m almost begging, even though I don’t want to be a begger because beggers can’t be choosers.

Thank you for listening.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Real Reason We Go To Weddings

Friday night I sat outside in front of a gorgeous, peaceful waterfall. As the outdoor sanctuary filled with friends and family, I reveled in how much love was there. My cousin and her significant other had been together for eight years, brought a beautiful son into the world four years ago, and were now finally getting married.

Four bridesmaids, including my little sissy, preceeded the bride, who looked stunning. As I listened to C and D exchange vows they had written, I looked around and saw all the couples getting closer, holding hands tighter and exchanging smooches.

Yes, we’re there to love, honor and support our friends and family, but we’re also there for ourselves. To remind us how we felt when it was us up there, or to imagine what it will be like when it's our turn. I couldn’t keep my eyes off C and D—or my children. They were extra special beautiful and sweet to me in those moments. No. 2’s hair felt softer than ever, No. 1’s eyes and smile the most vibrant I had ever seen, and I wondered if I’d always remember just how No. 3's voice sounded.

I longed for The Mr. to be there with me (he was working; the wedding was out of town). I wanted to silently reminesce with him about the day that was ours. To chuckle about sobbing through my vows, to recount the moment the sun pierced the stained glass windows of the church and shone right on his face as he was saying his vows to me, to squeeze each other’s hands and feel each other’s skin, to gently kiss and whisper ‘I love you.’

Weddings are full of hope and faith and love. And renewal.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Re: Don't Bypass State Insurance Coverage Requirements!

Dear Mrs. K:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding health insurance for small business owners, employees, and their families. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your views with me, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I am a sponsor and one of the strongest supporters of Small Business Health Plans (S. 1955) to provide access to quality, affordable health care to millions of Americans at no cost to taxpayers. SBHPs empower small business owners, who otherwise cannot afford health insurance, to offer "Fortune 500" company quality health insurance to their employees.

SBHPs allow national trade and professional associations, from the National Federation of Independent Business to the American Farm Bureau Federation, to respond to the needs of their membership and sponsor health care plans. In other words, SBHPs are a solution to a problem that does not discriminate by locale - it helps the small business owner in cities and towns as well as the farmer and rancher. Any small business owner can buy into these plans for themselves, their employees, and their dependents.

Unfortunately, on May 11, 2006, S. 1955 received 55 votes, but was denied the opportunity to come before the Senate for a vote since 60 votes were required to overcome the opponent's filibuster. This bill is similar to legislation that twice passed the U.S. House of Representatives last Congress on a strong bipartisan basis. Not only does this legislation have bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, but President Bush has voiced strong support as well.

I understand your concerns with respect to preempting state insurance laws. Let me offer several observations in response:
1. 46 million people currently have no insurance. Most of them work in small business. Benefit mandate laws do not help you if you don't have insurance at all.
2. The state benefit mandate laws currently do not apply to big company health insurance. Yet that insurance tends to be high quality and almost always includes coverage in the areas protected by benefit mandates. Small business health plans would be just as good as current Fortune 500 plans; they would allow small businesses to get coverage on the same terms and conditions as big companies.
3. I am open to commonsense solutions that would allow states to keep their benefits provided it would not render the bill unworkable. I supported an amendment offered during the Senate debate of S. 1955 that provided the following: if 26 states covered a benefit then that benefit would apply to SBHPs, to protect that benefit in its adopting states. These benefits include those which have been widely adopted such as breast reconstruction, diabetic supplies, emergency services, mammography, maternity stay, mental health coverage and parity, prostate screening, and many others. With this amendment, the uninsured would have national pools set up under federal law with certain basic patient protections and coverages that are guaranteed.

I believe that now is the time to enact SBHP legislation to unburden small business owners from worrying about how to provide health care to their employees. This is real help for small business owners and their employees - quality, low-cost health insurance without any taxpayer expense.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If I may be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to write or call.

If you would like to contact me via e-mail, please visit

Senator Jim Talent