Saturday, June 30, 2012

PRO-CHOICE, PRO-CHOICE, PRO-CHOICE (me!), sandra, ttgp

i've just been to visit my barefoot blogger friends extraordinary blog: and am sharing my thoughts in the aftermath of reading her post: planned parenthood, i've been wondering about them

i do believe i will go to my grave defending the rights of women to choose. it would surprise no one more than me, if any argument, article, speech or circumstance came along to change my opinion

few things come immediately to mind.. first and foremost, a huge debt of gratitude to the founders of planned parenthood

next, i'm always conscious of the common denominator between anti-choice and pro-choice philosophies: ultimately, no matter what side you stand on, for what reasons, all of us stand together in hoping for and working towards... something, anything we can do to prevent (PREVENT! PREVENT! PREVENT!) females.. young ladies, women, from getting themselves in a position that forces them to make such a difficult decision

in fact, a life or death decision.

and i remember here such sage and powerful words my sister contributed a long time back.

-when asked, "if there was any one thing you could ask God to change about the world.. what would it be?"

and she answered, "that girls would not start their periods until after age 18."

i've never forgot that.. rises up in my consciousness everytime the subject does.. about abortions

my own beliefs are based on the following thoughts and experiences:

having been a pregnant teen myself. i can remember with more vivid detail than i'd like, my emotions from that time.. everywhere i turned in my neighborhood as word spread, people looking back at me with such huge disappointment -not you- not you!

and not sure i can describe here, the weight i took on, the heaviness accumulating inside me, each time someone gave me that look.. of anger, disappointment, judgement, disappointment, disappointment, disappointment

my guilt. my shame. self-loathing multiplying exponentially, with no way to undo my circumstance

lucky for me (and thank you to God) my mom, sometime prior, had shared an article with me from the newspaper. it was about a highschool girl who had commited suicide. she was pregnant and couldn't face her parents.

"honey," she said to me, "yes, of course, i would be disappointment if you got pregnant.. but never feel like you have to do something like that.. you can tell me.. please know that you can come to me with anything okay.. i love you no matter what... "

and she talked to me about how pregnant teens of her generation were sent away to live with "their aunts." -how she remained a virgin until 18, because she was terrified of being sent away.. exiled. but this was before the invention and accessibility of birth control. she was honest with me about how, had she had access to birth control pills, her virginity may have ended before age 18, and before marriage.

my mom was disappointed to learn i was pregnant at age 15. devastated, i'm sure. but, she loved me through it. "you'll get through this.. things have a way of working out.. we'll get through this.. i love you"

and - in the face of shaking heads and judgemental neighbors, she even planned a baby shower for me, that was attended by a few select friends and family members. i think she could sense i was folding under the pressure of so many people disappointed in me

in fact, i was. despite the amount of love and support my mom provided in abundance, i was slowly folding; feeling crushed and overwhelmed

i had many conversations with God. " i cannot handle everyone's disappointment.. letting so many people down.. those looks.." -people in my neighborhood that once smiled and hugged me, barely said a word.. avoided me. conversations were suddenly so short

"but i cannot get an abortion.. God -just can't do it- certainly understand why others do - but i just can't - i know you understand"

and with all the exaggerated emotions of a teen, and under the influence of pregnant teen hormones, and despite my mother's love and support, this 15 year old girl decided to commit suicide. it seemed at the time, and under all the circumstances, my only way out. i couldn't handle the pressure of having the baby; and i couldn't handle the pressure of aborting the baby. the only escape from having to make one of two decisions i was ill equipped, too young and unqualified to make, was to end my life completely.

but i had a painful miscarriage on that day instead. -this third thing- this other tragic, unpredictible thing that happened to me, oddly (or miraculously, graciously, mercifully) ended up saving my life. but i will never forget the stress, the weight, the confusion, the direction pregnancy pushed me. i have nothing but love and compassion for pregnant teens, and am, and always will be grateful choices are available; options. i will never forget the exaggerated feelings -out of perspective- the hormones.. the inability to think clearly

the inability to process, at 15 years old, with the insight of a healthy, grown, mature woman; because, in fact, you are not a healthy, grown, mature, woman.. you bring to the table only the mental, emotional skills of a young, confused, scared, teen.. this is very important to remember. sound judgement and rational decisions are not the norm for pregnant teens

next, and contributing to my opinion even more significantly than my own experience - i remember my work as a peer-counselor for other pregnant teens. and whether people want to hear it or not, whether people believe it or not, whether people can digest it, face it, or acknowledge it or not.. i can tell you from this experience

and i am not guessing but KNOW -KNOW- without access to legal abortions for those who want them, YOU WILL INCREASE SUICIDES. THIS WOULD RESULT IN DANGEROUS, LIFE-THREATENING, SELF-INFLICTED ABORTIONS. i have zero doubt to the truth of this.

and, IF PARENT PERMISSION IS REQUIRED -this too, would increase suicides and life-threatening, self-inflicted abortions. i know from my peer counseling experience, not all teens have mom's, parents, guardians as loving as my own

and the OVERWHELMING FEAR some pregnant teens experience -which may very well be exaggerated and irrational - is nonetheless, experienced in the pregnant teen's mind as VERY REAL

and i know from my experience, that while we may associate teenage pregnancies, abortions, with the less-educated, less-supervised, delinquent/troubled type teens

teens from well-educated families, with high status and expectations, were the most adamant about keeping their pregnancies and abortions top secret. i promise you, the suicide rates, and self-inflicted abortions would increase in this demographic group the quickest and most dramatically if abortions become illegal or require parental permission. -black market rising-

when you are scared, confused, under the influence of youth-associated-ignorance and hormones of pregnancy -last thing this vulnerable human being needs is to be backed further in a corner-

for these reasons: my personal experience and memories; my time as a peer counselor for other pregnant teens; my accumulated life experiences, conversations and observations over the years with so many others who share this experience.. silently... privately.. confidentially..

i will always support CHOICE. i will always have compassion/love for pregnant teens and respect whatever decision they make based on their individual and unique life circumstances.

to have the baby and make it available for adoption. to abort the pregnancy. to raise their child.

but my greater, louder message, hope and prayer -knowing the enormous emotional weight unplanned teen pregnancy can bring -

is that we do a better job PREVENTING teenage pregnancy. preventing our young girls from getting in a situation that forces them to make life and death decisions at such a young age.

in this regard -and also based on life experience/conversations/observations over the years- i'm all for making birth control very accessible; socially acceptable. i'm proud of, support, and applaud anyone who practices abstinence, but don't see this as realistic for the entire population of teens. -and we cannot afford to ignore the non-abstinent population of teens-

and i'm most grateful for the work and service planned parenthood continues to provide for our communities: guiding, providing, supporting, comforting, helping.. educating and saving lives.


Friday, June 29, 2012

TRAVEL: a short conversation captured by (me!) sandra, ttgp

and he told me quite casually, about his travels around the world, his recent visit to paris

"have you traveled much sandra?"

"i've been to hell and back a few times."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND (me!) writeousmom

i don't understand how anyone can sit inside on such a beautiful day and watch tv, when you can just as easily sit near a window and blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


dearest beloved scientist friends,

earlier i wrote to you to point out how ridiculous it is to try and reduce God into a mathematical formula.

but!  this morning i write to say,

that to leave God out of ANY equation..   this is an error of even greater arrogance.

yours so truly,

sandra, tvgp

 back to the origins of the drawing board...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Movies on (my!) mind, Sandra tvgp

Spacing, grammar, punctuation all at the mercy of this I-pad. -and most frustrating of all... The inability to scroll down to anything beyond what shows in the 1st, visible page. - Does any of this stop me? No. And if this I-pad crashed, I would drive to the library and use the computer there -if my car got a flat, I would still walk there. -if the power went out at the Pleasanton library I would hitch hike to the Livermore library. -the God given instinct in me to write -It is equal, in it's life sustaining nature, to my instincts for love, sleep, food, water and sex. And so despite a list of obstacles I will not bore you with: "I've got movies on my mind!!" And I'm going to type to you about it. -as desperately as the whole world needs to see a genuine love love story, the whole world needs to see a documentary about Joyce Meyers life. Here's the thing.. Her enjoying everyday life program has and does reach bazillions of people around the world. But! There is still this other equally important percentage of our world population who would never watch her tv church show but who would watch a movie about her life on the silver screen. Surely to God! There is a director, producer, cinematographer, etc who sees the potential like I do: /if this thing will please allow me to bullet point. $: sufferings in her childhood include being raped by her father over 200 times. Her mother unable to cope does nothing to stop it. $: takes herself @ age 9 or 10 + recruits her cousins to "get saved" at a local church, only the pastor that day neglects to have an alter call. -she makes her way up to the front anyway and insists! On being saved. (oh, I love that). -is deceived by the devil shortly after that she has not been saved because she cheats during a hide and seek game. $: marries a petty theft, abusive womanizer man. $: steals money from a place where she worked.. $ eventually divorces. Will one day go back and confess stealing crime to former employer. $: always it's somewhere in her heart and mind to have a ministry. A big ministry! $: meets and marries Dave Meyers who himself had prayed to fall in love with someone who needed help. Gets more than he prayed or bargained for in his spitfire of a damaged and rebellious wife. Dave takes it.. Takes it... Takes it.. Until he can't take it anymore.. Finally confronts Joyce after reading a book and receiving holy instruction/permission from God.. On the brink of divorce but God also confronts Joyce via prayer and she ultimately starts to surrender and submit to her husband when after so many years of abuse she had sworn! To never let a man tell her what to do. $her first home bible study class she describes herself as wearing short-shorts with a cigarette in her hand. (oh, that's another one of my favorites!).$ They have 4 children on shoe string budget and have to "believe for socks... Believe for kitchen towels.. Etc. /$/. Cute story and scene of her cheating on the use of one per family coupons at the grocery store.. Sending her kids in one line, herself in another..$ her ambitions to minister result in being kicked out of church and losing many friends -$ small van for a long time for tracvelingministry work. $ ministry grows from 20 people in a house to global tv channels, many radio stations, dream centers/hope centers around the world.. Countless best selling Christian books. $ULTIMATELY takes care of the father that raped/abused her once he has reached his senior years -forgives him! And he apologizes and accepts Jesus shortly before he dies. -hers & daves marriage has lasted over 40 years.. They have helped, saved more people than can be calculated.. She is a direct example of passage in 1 Corinthians 1:26-

Thursday, June 21, 2012

(me!) in my new bikini by (me!) Sandra, tvgp

I The capitalization gives it away doesn't it. My computer has crashed -again! Crashed while I was preparing a presentation for my upcoming heart photography exhibit. If that doesn't feel like the enemy's work. -what would? And so I'm on hp's I-pad, my fingers tap-dancing on glass again to a song I didnt choose or want called: frickin' default grammar settings. Anyway. -how could I even ask for dr Larry robinson's help again. -I already felt as if I was exceeding my limits the last three times he so generously helped. The temptation, the justifiable impulse is to kick and scream and cry. Who knows how much data/one of a kind photos are lost. I'm so extra grateful then for the backups dr Larry accomplished during grants last hospital stay. But I did not kick or scream or cry. I just sat there for a moment breathing slowly in and slowly out. Heard my beloved Joyce Meyers words whispered in my ears, " you have to be a pit bull in the spirit" -My interpretation is that you must be constantly, chronically determined to recognize anything and everything that might be the work of th e devil. -the enemy, and fight back with the instincts of a pit bull. so. - I grabbed my computer by it's throat with my teeth and ...didn't let up until I saw blood! And the very vision of that made me laugh. And the instant I heard myself laughing even though my computer was taking it's last breath write in front of me. I knew the holy spirit was with me and we had already won! "be anxious about nothing... That bible passage came to me and then even better, this one: phillippians 4:12 "I have learned the secret of being content in every situation" And so I closed my computer and went shopping for a bikini Oh! You should see it! Like, a gorgeous hue of ocean blue... some very attractive pattern slit design along the neckline... Cute little way it ties in a bow, not just in the back and around my neck, halter style.. But in the front Between what Solomon would suggest is my cluster of grapes I love the color! I love the design! I love how comfortable.. How sexy.. And, well... Would you like to see a picture? You can't. My computer crashed remember. I can't upload or access any of my pictures until I get a new computer So, I'm just waiting on the Lord... Waiting on our Lord... Phillipians 4:14 "yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.. I love you. Amen. And I have devoted what's left of my life to applying what I've learned: So in this instance

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SWEET LOVE & AFFECTION for (me!) sandra, tvgp

i stopped needing to put sugar in my coffee today.  i believe God is liberating me from yet another crutch

can't explain it to anyone who hasn't experienced the same..  one day you can't imagine life without it...  (cigarette, candybar, 3 tablespoons of sugar, whatever it might be...)   and then you wake up another day and don't need it  -at all.   just like that.  no effort.   holy spirit does all the work for you

"thank you Jesus!"

apparently all i really need is your sweet love and devotion...   gently touching my emotions


"i wanna stop.   and thank you baby...  i just wanna STOP.   and thank you baby

how sweet it is to be loved by you..."


gently, deeply..   they both work. you know what i mean.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THE ANTI WOODY ALLEN FILM by (me!) sandra, tvgp

let me not be selfish.  i will start my day by sending a get well card to squidmann in half moon bay;  care of his wife

i mean, as i did not receive a request off from blogging form, or receive word of any upcoming vacation..  i trust he's on his death bed; this is our agreement.

   -speedy recovery, bloggerman...


and now i'm left to initiate a blog myself.    i prefer responding, but, if you only respond and never initiate, well..

i don't know what happens; i'm not that stupid.



had breakfast and coffee this morning with some of my filmmaker friends,  -usually i just listen, but apparently this week God wants me initiating everything, including conversation,

fine, whatever; amen.

"you know what the whole wide world is starved for?"  i asked them

and they are very talkative, so unless i just jumped write in with the answer, i'd still be there, so i just jumped write in with the answer,

"the whole wide world is starved for a genuine love, love story"

they gave me their attention.   "that's write,"  i said,  "a genuine love, love story...   we've had several decades now of temporary romantic love, lust, sleeze, divorce, cheating, love gone wrong, can't find love..  loved and lost..

seemed like love, could-have-would have-should-have-loved...  but i challenge you to name me one,    -ONE! genuine love love story"

-again..   hold your own self to blame if you ask talkative, imaginitive people questions.. 

so i was careful again to answer my own question, because if you hand the table over for a minute, it's theirs for hours

"you can't!   -but here's my scene, here's my scene..   first scene the whole world is starved for:

the wife

and first of all, the wife is genuinely in love; completely devoted; makes love and flirts with her husband after 26 years like it was still their honeymoon, k

and the wife is really successful, doing..  not sure, but has to go to one of those uppity social events, where the rich and powerful, good and evil, sleezy and faith-filled all end up in the same room, dressed up really nice with fancy food and cocktails   -write

and she gets dressed all pretty in front of her husband..  and he loves the sight of her..   and helps her with her bra, only he gets distracted and they can't even get ready for the event without stopping to make love

then they finished getting ready, and on the drive there, wife says to the husband, "i saw the invite list.  there will be a miss couldn't care less there..  i've seen her in action before.."

it's husband/wife, wife/husband code.     /can you imagine?!  husband and wife on the same team? 

the whole world is starved for it! i tell you!

anyway..   cut to the uppity social event..   and the wife is off mingling with one set of socialites, and the husband a different group

and a very attractive young woman makes her way toward the husband..   she flirts and makes a few obvious seductive moves to gain his attention, and he  -to her great surprise takes a step


now..  she doesn't give up that easy; has a wake of destruction/divorce she intends to keep growing   -and so flashes the husband the best of what she has to offer..   goes close enough to whisper to him..   "like what you see?"


the husband..   he starts searching the room with his eyes..  searching, searching...   until he finally locks eyes on his wife, who is talking to a mr. whatever he wants  (husband/wife, wife/husband code for men who use power/money to get what they want (even if it's someone elses); but don't want it once they got it)

and he looks at his beautiful wife, and then back at miss couldn't care less, and he says to miss couldn't care less  -all cary grant like,

"i like what i see over there.."   and looks directly at his beautiful wife!

it's like an anti woody allen film!   the husband and wife on the same team vs. the cheaters/tempters

and   -standing ovation please...     THE HUSBAND & WIFE WIN!

the whole world is starved for it, i tell you!   -k-


gets better.   the husband then looks at miss couldn't care less, and as he walks away with disgust at her behavior, and not like..  oh it's so hard to walk away from temptation..  

he looks at his wife again, and back at miss couldn't care less, and says,  "i think i married the last woman on earth who still has some class and integrity about her..."

oh, i tell you, i can hear the whole audience clapping.. cheering...

and then they lock eyes across the room, husband and wife, and wink at one another; that knowing wink:   she knows he's about to exit the scene from  miss couldn't care less..  

and she knows he's about to come over and rescue her from the narsisitic company of another one of those, mr whatever he wants

miss couldn't care less is left in the dirt!  

loyal, faithful husband joins equally loyal, faithful wife and they toast one another with a knowing smile.  flirt.  and continue conversation..

this ups the ante, as they say, for mr whatever he wants..   increases the challenge.. and so he has someone come escort husband away to the bar to meet someone very important..

and tries to isolate the wife..   lure her with stories and evidence of his power and wealth..

points to his castle, visible through the window..   "i like what i see when i look at you.." he says all seductive to this other man's wife.. "do you like what you see?"  and points to himself and castle

and she searches the room...  searches for her husband...

you know what comes next!  you know...    but i'm tellin' ya..  the whole world is starved for it!

 of course!  she looks at her husband of 26 years with an affection money cannot buy..

with a love that will not be ruined by self-serving, highly practiced, male or female manipulators  

and she looks at her husband, then back at mr whatever he wants, and looking at her husband, says, "i like what i see when i look at him..."

oh!  husband and wife win again!   tempters LOSE!     it's a genuine love love story!

the secrets and the codes and the flirtations are between the husband and wife, not between the spouses and cheaters...

the whole world needs it...   the whole world wants it...


i'm not done:

backstories... gotta have backstories.    -for the husband..   when he was a child, his dad was tempted away by some woman..    left the mom alone, broke, and the kids all had to move... different neighborhood, different schools..   and mom had to work, so..  they were left without anything they once knew   -fell on hard times, for a long time..

so, the husband..  he doesn't see the temptress as a temptress..  he's sees a woman who is self-absorbed and manipulative and selfish, a woman who..   -couldn't care less about what she does, or who it effects..

the wife...    her dad was a whatever he wants type..     she watched him, as a child, want and get, want and get..    get whatever he wants

she watched him set a goal, and stop at nothing   -no matter who it hurt, to get what he wanted, and then lose interest once it was his..

so, the wife, she doesn't see the castle as a temptation..    or herself as truly desired..   just another conquest on an infinite list..."


"do you have director in mind?"   one of my filmmaker friends asked

"not woody allen."   i said with a smile,  "anyone but woody allen."

Monday, June 18, 2012

SONG OF SONGS by (me!) sandra, tvgp

now i'm pretty sure   -in my whole life, i have never seen anyone holding and reading the bible and laughing really hard

but that was me, last night.   -alone in my room, randomly scanning the bible, finding passages here and there to read, digest..

mostly profound, some confusing   -all, out of their true historical context

but then i happened across, song of songs

i cannot speak to its historical context, or explain much about it from a scholarly perspective

but for a poet like myself,  words like, "let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth--

for your love is more delightful than wine."

is exactly the type of passage that's gonna keep me reading   -and so i did:

in song of songs, there is a lot of he said, she said,

i'm not going to retype everything   -read it yourself.   it's only, in my bible, 4 1/4 pages.   very doable.

and see if you don't laugh at the same places i did

4:2 & 6:6     "Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
coming up from the washing,
Each has its twin"

i mean, now we have braces, whiteners, and several other products to make your smile alluring... but back in the day..   if you just had all of your teeth,  (top and bottom!)  you were a great catch.


6:10 is good of course:   who appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession

but  7:7:     -your breasts are like clusters of fruit?     -pair of something might serve as a compliment, but   7:8    -like a cluster of grapes?       

and you've already read by this time,   "your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking for Damascus.."     that's pretty funny.   i get the feeling his heart was in the write place..  but perhaps he could have used a little help with his romantic analogies

let me close with a little something she said in chapter 7:

may the wine go straight to my beloved
flowing gently over lips and teeth

i belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.

Come, my beloved, let us go to the

let us spend the night in the villages

Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded

if their blossoms have opened
and if the pomegranates are in bloom--

there i will give you my love.

the mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,

that i have stored up for you, my beloved.


and today, my answer to the favorite word question on inside the actors studio woud be

"beloved."    -but only when it is pronounced with three syllables; be~love~ved.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


"How many times can you miss that big head of yours?!"


honestly.. it baffles me that taryn didn't make the short list on this one...

i took the next one though.. now that we know the rules (ONLY ONE CAPTION PER PERSON, PER CARTOON and that ONLY OVER 18 stuff...), we've decided to compete & vote. if we agree hers is funnier i submit under my name, and if i earn her praises, i submit my ONE caption

and i'm very proud of myself on this one, because i think i sound much more intelligent and knowledgable than i actually am

until only 4 or 5 days ago, i knew nothing of babylon. i mean nothing. -except that it's in the title of one of david gray's songs..

but in a recent conversation with my neighbor, when i shared with her my personal financial strategy:

"hit it big!"

she ran inside her house and brought me back a book off her shelf called: the richest man in babylon.

i read it in 1 day; soaking up as much financial wisdom as i could.

but where it really came in handy was with the issue of the new yorker that showed up in my mailbox, like, that day!

i went straight to the cartoon caption contest.. and i do not come write out with 'em like my daughter, i had to play around some with the order of the words, but check it out:


"once used, i'm told, for handwriting on the wall papers of babylon"

-not bad, huh

CAMP CHARACTER a belated "THANK YOU!" to LAURA DITTO & KATHY BRUNO from (me!) sandra, tvgp

belated but very "BIG THANK YOU!" to mrs. laura ditto & kathy bruno for another great experience for our boys @ camp character. -when people ask me about camp character i always feel i'm not providing enough information about how remarkable this program is, or truly covering in conversation, how many great things they accomplish in one short week. so i'll let them tell you

/and here thank carla graci for telling us about it in the first place. our boys have attended 3 years in a row now -and want to highly recommend this experience to any parents/children for next year. it's one of the best, in my opinion, of pleasanton's summer school activity selections.

and be sure and stop by the museum on main, where their hometown community quilt is currently on display

excerpt from an email sent by the co-directors of camp character:

Congratulations - You have signed up your child for a very worthwhile
adventure that hopefully will set the stage for a lifetime of serving
others. Many studies abound as to why this is important for our
children. Students who volunteer on a regular basis get better grades,
are happier, are less likely to be depressed, and exhibit fewer "risky
behaviors". Not to mention what it does to the receiving party! And
who knows to what amount the receiving party may "pay it forward"? In
fact, you'll notice your camper will have an assignment to "pay it
forward"... via their Giving Plates!

Some Camp Character Service Projects your child may choose -

1. Project Night, Night - for Shepherd's Gate's children. Inside the
Project Night, Night tote will be a camper-made no-sew blanket, children's
book, stuffed animal and a pack of tissues.

2. SPCA - Make dog biscuits, dog pull toys, no-sew cat beds. AND build a
dog bed!

3. Giving Plates - Your child may choose to make a Giving Plate for
someone they know, in need. Some campers may need your help on this. Who
does the family know that could use some hope in their life right now? Is
there a family member, friend of the family, neighbor who has just had
surgery, is sick, someone pass away, lose a job, or is just sad? Some
children may like to give their Giving Plate to someone anonymously.

4. Friendship Bracelets - for our friends.

5. Camp Character Bracelets - each colored bead represents a Character

6. Place Mats for Seniors AND Color Me a Smile - Delight a senior with a
child made place mat or art piece.

7. Messages to our Heroes - Made a card for a soldier.

8. Pleasanton's Museum on Main - Be a part of our own Pleasanton History!
Contribute to a Hometown Community Quilt!

9. Campus Beautification - As a part of our service learning efforts we
have an opportunity to pull weeds and pick up trash for our Walnut Grove
and Harvest Park Community!

10. Giving Plates - A Pay it Forward Activity - Your child will decorate a
plate, bake brownies, and put it all together to give to someone in need.

11. "My Families Hope for a Cause" Banks - Your child will choose a cause
that is important to them and create a "piggy bank" for it so that the
family may contribute their cause.

12. Bag rice and beans for the food pantry!

13. "Cool Ties" and Cards for our Troops... our local heroes.

14. Hats for the Homeless - Tori Forest (from Tori's Sewing Studio will bring her sewing machines and help us make
hats for the homeless!

Our CC Collections!
You'll notice that we are collecting items for local causes and abroad.
If you and your child would like to contribute
please bring them in anytime at your convenience during camp hours. These
collection bins will be located right by the MP door.

1. Pennies for Peace - Your child will see a DVD on the subject. Go to
for more info. Parents - if you have not read it all ready, you may want
to read this summer Three Cups of Tea One Man’s Mission to Promote
Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. In so doing, you'll gain insights as to why we
(and your child) feel this is a worthwhile venture. Men and women alike
won't be disappointed with this non-fiction book, what an adventure! His
new book Stones to Schools is out in hardback.

2. Project Dignity - We'll collect items to keep our homeless warm this
winter such as - gently used blankets, scarves, hats, jackets, sweaters,

3. Valley Bible Food Pantry - We'll collect food cans for our local food
pantry in the Tri-Valley.

4. Empty Snapple Glass Bottles - We need empty Snapple glass bottles to
create Hope for a Cause "piggy banks". Check your recycling bins.
Please bring some in, if you have any. Thank YOU!

Special Guests - Special representatives from Guide Dogs for the Blind
will visit us... with their dog! They will share with us how dogs can
serve! A special guest from Museum on Main will share with us how to
contribute to a Hometown Community Quilt which will be displayed in our
museum! AND a representative from Pleasanton Military Families will come
and share with us how our hometown heroes serve our country. WOW!

Field Trip - On the last day of camp we will go to the Valley Bible Food
Pantry and SPCA to deliver our rice and beans bags and our can
collections. And then we are off to the SPCA in Dublin to give them our
camper made dog biscuits, dog pull toys, no-sew cat beds and dog beds!
Please have your child wear their Camp Character T-Shirt on the last day
of camp. Please fill out a field trip permission form on the first day of
camp. Or fill it out at home and return, please.

Who I Am Makes A Difference - Your camper will receive a Who I AM Makes A
Difference paper "ribbon". Your child will bring home some ribbons to
give to others of their choice to "lift-up" or acknowledge, in a sense,
"pay it forward" and give that person some ribbons to give to others.
We'll give your child a chance to do this at home and reflect upon this
activity at camp a few days later.

Additional "Homework" Assignment - Invite your camper to go to Click on the "students" link on the top-left of the
site. Your camper will learn that they can share their time, talent
and/or treasure (money) in serving others. Click on one for the 6 games

What a terrific website!

READING ROCK STARS & LEMONADE by (me!) sandra, ttgp

we've finished up our first week of outside reading time.

the kids are doing a great job! the turn out has been low, but this gives each child a turn to read out loud to the others.

i've supplied them with a portable microphone for two reasons: one, so their voices can be heard over the passing traffic. two, -help 'em feel like rock stars when they're reading.

it is the sweetest thing, watching and listening to these children. our friends carla and dominic have joined us everyday! and then, other school friends dropping by on different days.

and today: an honorary visit from grandpa pez!

this is just so much better than reading at home, alone! so much better reading outside, on the green grass, beneath the green trees; in the park. outside in the sunshine with friends, fresh air and frosties from the meadowlark dairy when we're done.

we all look forward to it. bring food and drink picnics, blankets, (my $39.99 backpack chair), frisbees and balls to play with afterwards.

4 or 5 stories; one read by each child, and then 1 or 2 pages of madlibs. -big hit, these madlibs! thanks carla and dominic! -how much fun is that? smelly forests, farting dwarfs and pickle flavored sock fairytales.

-my friend catherine called this idea ingenious.

but -i'm giving the ingenious award to her!

her father is a victim of alzheimers. every october she participates in a walk-a-thon in san francisco to help raise funds for alzheimer's research, but this year, she found a way for her young children to express their love and contribute in the fundraising too.

melted my heart to pull up to this very special lemonade stand

pre-school hula girl holding up the sign

kindergarten graduate working the stand

pamphlets and cookies on a table nearby

friends and neighbors

neighbors and friends

-drinkin lemonade with awareness and love.

GO JACK GO! by (mommy!) ~and #1 fan

somewhere near the top of my favorite memories list, for both of my children, is the joy i experience attending their sporting events. my daughter, #11, with nick name "dare devil" printed on the back of her dark blue/light blue jersey; playing for the first time this year on the girls softball team, crushers. (until she fractured her wrist rollerblading) and my son, #23, participating eagerly in his 2nd year of baseball with the owls, a team coached by his father. [and do notice, how my lucky numbers are scrambled between their two jerseys]

the sports park where the majority of their games are played, is one of the nicest sports parks in the bay area i think. huge, well manicured, with plenty of green fields and playgrounds, a variety of healthy gorgeous trees, a wide inviting walking/running/biking/skating path, plus a skateboard park and tons of picnic areas.

and we fill the stands.. me, my sister, her children, grandma, grandpas, friends, neighbors to show our support through attendance, applause and personalized cheers

and too bad, i was thinkin' , this same team spirit, environment and audience support isn't provided for reading.

everyone gathers for a baseball game, but reading gets accomplished indoors mostly, and with little to no audience

no colorful uniform. no "team" -no friendly competition. no family/friend gathering place.

and i can already hear my children moaning... "oh no! mommy.. don't! no! forget it! no way!"

but it was the sweetest, most precious, wonderful thing last week, when my son voluntarily read to our 4 year old neighbor, his reading homework book. -and i could see how much more fun that was for him.. to read to someone (besides his mommy), and to have an audience; and to be outdoors

and so i'll work on that this summer; making reading a fun sport

* photograph by taryn/lions wayside park


Friday, June 15, 2012

RE-PUBLISHED TODAY by (me!) sandra, tvgp


i undrafted, if you will, & republished several of my blogs regarding president obama.

let there be no doubt who i'm voting for    -again!

"to his re-election!    cheers!"

ON POLITICS & RELIGION by (me!) sandra, tvgp

politics: i heart obama
religion: i heart Jesus

WHAT MANY THINK ABOUT OBAMA by (me!) sandra, tvgp

perfect! just this morning on the comcast page, a headline reading "POLL: MANY THINK OBAMA IS (incorrect religion here) "

and i won't bother to read it, but it serves a greater purpose -a timely one.


a) i know obama's correct religion thank you to reading his book, the audacity of hope.

b) the headline serves to further lies (even though it mascarades as a way to correct them)

c) what many people "think" is very different from what educated people, "know"

d) what people think and/or say of or about obama does not make him who he is

e) ugly, false statements about obama are no reflection of obama, only a direct reflection of the author of the ugly and/or false words.

f) when you are a successful person, you can count on having false things said about you; in abundance

g) notice... that the people who go on to be great successes in this world:

keep their eyes/hearts/minds on the high road and do not get side-tracked by trying to defend every false thing said about them

and certainly do not try to say false things back as a way to even the score.

the successful person, will see falsehoods for what they are. shake them off... pay very little attention, continue on with friends, family, who know, love & support them.

continue growing

pursue the high road.

the main thing here, for me.. is about attention. -when a person shares falsehoods, lies, starts rumors, tries to degrade, etc. the more attention they are given

the more attention they can generate, the more they can stir people up = the more power they feel they've displayed

but when you pay it no attention... when you respond with "so what" and/or "who cares"

no such negative, evil power has a chance to grow.


thinking here a minute of obama's daughters..

now we all know obama has enemies, and awful things are said about him all over the internet, all over cyberworld, and all over print publications

but i'm pretty confident obama's daughters are not wasting one second reading the non-sense or trying to defend their father, or correct any lies

i'm pretty confident they are just going on about their lives.. hanging out with friends/family, studying & homework, enjoying recreational activities, traveling, etc. -growing into amazing, well-rounded, successful, intelligent, compassionate, caring women


love what joel osteen had to say on this subject also... i will paraphrase to share

that when your heart is in the write place with God... those things that your enemies say about you to try and put you down

God will ultimately use them; to promote you.


and i close here with a great passage from the (teen) bible, recently seen on joyce meyer's show:

MATTHEW 12 35-37

35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil producer produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And i tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

TBTG! FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR by (me!) sandra, tvgp

how many people, i try to explain to my children...

how many people have populated the planet; (that's too big), how many people have populated the united states of america? ( i don't know the answer myself, but i know it is several many digits)


and how many days do we have on our calendar?

and how many people's birthdays -out of those 365 days- do we celebrate?

the answer is -a very small percentage -a very small number of people's birthday's are celebrated/recognized compared to the number of people who have lived in the united states and have birthdays, yes

and so, martin luther king jr... what did he do, what rare thing did he do, that earned him such a high place of recognition on our calendar?

they are still too young to fully appreciate his accomplishment.

but i am not.

oh! i feel him shining down from heaven today, don't you. with barack obama as president!

do you think he could have imagined such a day?

the surprising answer to that question is YES!

talk about the audacity of hope! when blacks were so gravely mistreated, oppressed, unjustly crucified

when the world was violent, and so specifically violent against blacks;

when segregation was the norm

when so few people saw anything wrong with blacks n' whites drinking from different faucets, eating at different restaurants, sitting in different places, going to different schools

in the most hostile environment, when hopelessness seemed perfectly justified; rose a genius of a different kind.

i'm blown away by his vision.

his accomplishment. especially in context with his environment

1963, the year my brother was born. 3 years before my own birth. 6 years before my younger sister's birth

he led a non-violent, peaceful, march for equal rights in washington d.c.

i note here, as would he, that the ultimate success of this effort; this grand effort! belongs to many, many, countless people

the manifestation of his vision is a collaborative one; God at the top.

when i consider the racist environment my parents grew up in, in ohio, -again, when segregation was the norm

and then take in, how despite their own upbringings, they raised all of their children true to martin luther king jr's famous quote:

to treat people based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

i'm always so grateful; so proud of them; happy for us.

and i consider,

i consider how there are some cultural habits, behaviors, systems, standards that

when examined -do surface as unjust; sinful, in a universal and very concrete way. and that encourages me to always examine the cultural standards, not accept them simply because they exist and i was born into them

no, "that's just the way it is," for me. and i hope the same is true for my children.

and -skipping back n' forth

i just love, that martin luther king jr was awarded the nobel peace prize -and president barack obama too.

what greater honor, than to be an ambassador for peace.

i'm so inspired by both of their life stories; their magnificent, against all odds, accomplishments

and most impressed with the path they chose for reaching their audacious goals. such integrity.

thanks be to God for both of them! -and now, i can't remember who it was..

but there is someone... a famous someone. a boxer/fighter? a singer? i can't remember and will have to look it up

but whoever it was, he is to thank for getting martin luther king jr's name on our national holiday celebrations list

there are quite a few hoops to jump through... it was quite an effort and accomplishment too, to have martin luther king jr a recognized figure in history, and celebrated on our calendar

it was not bestowed without someone going to great lengths... this is important to recognize also.

-and so, skipping around again,

but not only are my children still too young to fully appreciate this holiday, but thankfully

they are growing up in an atmosphere so far removed from the racist atmosphere their grandparents grew up in,

that they can't appreciate how far we've come. equality is more the norm now -and that, i think, is actually an accomplishment of a different kind, isn't it. because in fact, it is not a lack of appreciation so much as it is the fulfillment of God's plan and martin luther king jr's dream. -which lives on.

to peace! and equal rights! and character! ~amen.


oh! thank you wikipedia

there are only FOUR -4!- individuals who are recognized on our calendar

and the famous person, i couldn't initially think of, who helped spearhead martin luther king jr. day was...

stevie wonder. -how cool is that. "happy birthday to you! happy birthday!"

i'm gonna go listen to it on youtube....

AUDACITY OF HOPE by (me!) sandra, tvgp

we paid our first visit yesterday to pleasanton's newly opened historic landmark: the alviso adobe community park.

it's gorgeous; very interesting to read about the history, to take
in the spectacular views

and during our picnic, and casually as we earned and lost millions playing monopoly, i asked my kids a few questions -writeousmom- style

"so, it's so nice to have today off from school isn't it," -and they nod their heads a big yes.
"why do you have today off from school?" i ask, like i really don't know. -and they can both answer, "it's martin luther king's birthday!"

"well, what did he do to become so special that everyone is celebrating his birthday?" i ask.

and they can both give a -reader's digest/highlights- version of an answer. they both work in "civil rights" and "equality"

"wow!" i say.. "think of all the people you know.. all the people in the world.. and think how many people you know that are so special.. that have done something so remarkable with their life.. everyone is celebrating their birthday. that's pretty special," i say with a smile.

and my daughter shouts, "the world's gonna be celebrating my birthday!"

and i said, "you do that.. you make a name for yourself, so big, doing something so wonderful..
you earn yourself a national holiday"

and i tried to work in, how martin luther's kings dream is made manifest in their lives.. in this new exciting, very historic, presidency
and then, i'm guided when to stop and change the subject, by their facial expressions.. their comments, like
"are you making us learn again?!? we're supposed to have today OFF you know.."
and so i took in jack's wonderful, fun, stories about his recent trip to see the harlem globe trotters; his face so lit up, his memories, details so vivid. -and the autographed basketball in his lap the entire time we picnicked and played monopoly
and i took in taryn's wonderful, intriguing stories -about new moon- enjoyed so much listening to her retell me about the romantic, mysterious, vampire/mortal dramas going on in each book of the twilight series...

and we walked all around, and peeked through the windows in the buildings, and read all the signposts, and thanked the Lord for such a beautiful day in january

and headed back home.
and this morning i'm just thinking so much
about the audacity of martin luther king's dream
the audacity it takes to believe in and practice
and how much hope i feel, thank you to the combination
of martin luther king's dream and barack obama's
"to the great leaders of this world!"
~ amen ~


TO IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS! by (me!) sandra, tvgp

i said to one of the customers at amelia's a couple days ago, "i'm pretty confident obama will win."

and he said, (with a smile that has no adjective to describe it) "oh -i think those republicans might still have some dirty tricks up their sleeves"

and then, was reading scott adams blog, and he wrote some about how there might be a riot..

because the population on the whole would be voting for barack, but somehow mccain would win, and i could very easily picture a riot under those circumstances

and i admit here that even though most of me was confident, a small part of me braced for huge disappointment it will all be okay no matter who wins, i tried convincing myself

and i cannot watch tv or listen to the radio as the results come in. i never ride that rollercoaster.

instead i went out to dinner, then shopping with my children. we stayed out pretty late.. were exhausted arriving home, said prayers, went to bed

and so when i awoke yesterday to the great and historical news; i cried from happiness.

feel very hopeful.

and of course, had a brief conversation with my mostly uninterested children, about the significance of this event

"i'll tell you this," i said, crawling into the bed with them

and they looked at each other with their oh-no, here she goes again, faces and turned up the volume on spongebob squarepants, smiling/laughing, then giving in

"when your grandma sharon and your grandpa pez were your age.. this would have NEVER been possible... you would HAVE NEVER believed a black man could become president of the united states of america! and you know what else..

when your grandparents were your age.. you would have NEVER seen a woman anywhere on the ticket.. couldn't even imagine it!!

and you know what else.. when your granparents were your age.. you would have NEVER seen the word GAY on a ballot.. no one even said the word out loud!! now there are signs everywhere..

and i know it's hard to tell sometimes.. but as a people..

as a nation..

we really, and truly, are making great progress. i'm very hopeful."

and then my daughter said, "are you done now?"

and my son said, "can we watch cartoons now?"

and i said,

"YES! thank you for pretending to listen" and skipped out of the room.


i did not vote on many issues tuesdays, only the ones i felt very strongly about based on life experience and research/reading

but i did vote for obama

locally, for hosterman

and i voted no on proposition 8

and i voted no (forgive me/forgetting #) -but i am strongly against any laws legally requiring minors to seek permission for abortions. i am convinced (based on life experience, peer counseling pregnant teens, reading/research and observations) this will result in increased suicides among pregnant teens and dangerous black market abortions.

and i am celebrating every win

and see any defeats as very temporary.

but win or lose, i'm grateful for the opportunity to vote. grateful and very pleased too, to see people in this tri valley area with completely opposite points of view, peacefully demonstrating.

God shines!

AND, i also told my children, that had the same communication and leadership skills that barack obama demonstrates been demonstrated by a white or latino, or mix, or any other race candidate

i would have voted for that person. -that my vote was based on these things: his exceptional ability to listen, his exceptional ability to see both sides and find common ground between groups of people with polar opposite points of view.. his exceptional ability to lead and inspire... his exceptional ability to rise above.. stay focused.. fight the good fight without being provoked/taking bait which would lower his standards.. it was based on my understanding of his life experience.. the wonderful exposure he has had to many different cultures, belief systems..

based on my reading/interpretation of his book, the audacity of hope

how beautifully he came to his own christian-based value/belief system, while maintaining the ability to respect and understand others

based on the understanding that in this time/age, we need to elect a world leader, not just a president of the united states

and based on everything i've seen and read, he seems very qualified. but my vote was cast based on the content of his character

so i say a big ~AMEN! & HALLELUJAH~ here to dr. martin luther king

and to impossible dreams, coming true.

CLEANING DAY by (me!) sandra, ttgp

true story: i did set aside today, TODAY, FRIDAY, to do my gangbuster house cleaning. and in all fairness to me, i did borrow a vacuum, and it is sitting in the middle of my living room carpet just waiting for me to put it to good use. but a strange thing happens when i have lots of house work ahead,


i absolutely must blog. and everything i thought about writing in days past but passed on, seems really important, and everything i thought could wait 'til tomorrow or the next day, feels terribly urgent. write now!

i'm not sure why this happens, but let's just say, God motivates in mysterious ways.

where should i begin? -scott adams- i've just read his post, and as one of his regular readers i did in fact know that he "funded a survey of over 500 economists to see which candidate for President of the United States has the most support from economic experts"

and this speaks to me first on how difficult it is to get at the truth! when citizens don't feel they can get straight/accurate answers/information from books, newspapers, television, random interviews with pre-selected experts

look at the length this man is willing to go, and at personal cost, to get past the pollution and towards the truth. i'm very curious what the results are

and then, i'm curious what size audience of voting citizens/politicians will read the results, and how influential the results of this survey will be

mostly though, it reads like a sad commentary about mass-media's inability to communicate to the public in any trustworthy and reliable way AND sad, sad, but true.. in this example, we have to count on the generosity of a wealthy person (people) to care enough about a given topic, to fork out the $$, to tap the knowledge of experts, to get to the truth, to share with the masses

in the mess of a house that who built?

so i'm sad for our current state, and grateful to scott adams.

that said, -and with no way to even pretend i know anything about world economy-

on an intuitive level, from micro life experiences, on a much, much, smaller scale

it is my feeling and understanding, that to base any decision.. to make any decision based solely, exclusively, on the economics of it.. is short-sided. the economic, profit value of a thing, is only often, one of several things to be factored in on decisions both big and small.

so in this case, for example, in theory.. let's say one president's economic policies/plans prove, by analysis of 500 experts combined, to be superior in bringing the most prosperity to the most people over a given time frame with sustainability and growth included (which would be my personal standard)

it comes to my mind then, that WARS, are very costly -economically, AND more importantly, costing human lives. we must protect and defend our freedom PLUS spread democracy

or $$$ means nothing. - we want to move away from wars - except for where absolutely, undeniably used to protect and defend (not dominate/rule/control)

which candidate then, is best qualified to accomplish those goals: protecting/defending our freedom AND spreading democracy. -in my imagination, this is the priority.

it is also vital in my opinion, that america lead by example. so if we continue on this path, of the have's having more and more, while the population of have not's increases the number of people we have living in poverty

what role model are we? who wants that to spread anywhere? it's embarrassing and shameful.

but what if...

what if?
what if we walked into the presence of leaders around the globe, and could show those leaders and their citizens how we LIFTED our own people out of poverty; how we reduced, not increased the gap between the rich and poor

how in 2008, we had this embarrassing amount of people living in poverty, but we did this and that.. and in just 5 years the trend is already pointing towards huge success!

how in 2008, we had this embarrassing amount of people incarcerated, but we did this and that, and in just 5 years, the trend is already pointing towards huge success!

how in 2008, we had this embarrassing amount of children waiting to be adopted, but we did and that.. and in just 5 years the trend is already pointing towards huge success!

how in 2008, we had this embarrassing number of children dropping out of highschool, but we did this and that, and in just 5 years the trend is already pointing towards huge success!

a powerpoint presentation (that if we could make come true) would help us inspire, lift and unite the whole wide world.

strong, healthy, educated, hopeful people = strong economy; that's my thinking.


(sees vacuum in peripheral) what's next? oh yes!


speaking of poor people ~relatively speaking~ i am one. -very conscious of the fact, i am not poor by world standards, but i do live in what has been called one of the wealthiest communities in the region, and within that region, i live in a very hand to mouth kind of way

for the most part, i want to say i make a great poor person. i am so happy with my little space where i write; so happy in my neighborhood, i'm not personally troubled much by not having money to spend on clothes/shoes/vacations, that sort of thing.

when it bothers me, is when i wish i could do more for my children, wish i could have more space for my children.. i let this motivate me towards financial independence. because.. when signing up for the new school year, for example, the paper announcement read: bring SEVERAL checks.

and it was just like that too: SEVERAL. bold and all capitals.

because you need a check for the directory, a check for the pta, a check for the yearbook, a check for the p.e. clothes, a check for the spirit wear, and three more checks for things i can't remember. but i only had one check, and if i didn't want it to bounce, had to keep it under $30.

that hurt. and i know i've got find some paying work and soon.

and the other time it bothers me, is when i wish i could do more for my parents. especially on special occasions,

like my mom's birthday. we did have a wonderful time, no doubt about it. my sister and i, took her and our dear friend robbi to tyme for tea in niles. just walking through the door makes you feel pretty special. all the lovely decorations, the gift store with victorian, sparkly decor, collectible tea ware, old books, fresh baked goods, vintage fashions, antiques galore and rose embellishments adorning throughout. the see-through drapes with tiny lights twinkling in the entryway to the tables.

( i want to duplicate that look here/the drapes/lights for nighttime writing )

and then of course, the tea itself.. the beautiful tea cups, the delicious speciality teas, the three tier tray variety of fresh baked scones, tea sandwiches, pastries, and the lemon curd and raspberry preserves!

PLUS mimosas! and a great visit.. i have no doubt my mom is being sincere when she says it was a very happy birthday, and that she likes the pretty blouse my sister and i picked out for her,

but as a mom myself now, at 42 1/2, with two young children -as mentioned and hinted at in earlier blogs regarding my dad-

i just have such a deeper apprectiation and greater understanding of all she's (he's/they've) done for me (for us) over the years, and

and when i consider it.. when i let it all in... i'm so overwhelmed. the unconditional love in sickness and in health. the hand on our face and forehead to check for fevers, the running of her fingers through our hair to help us fall asleep. the love that never wavered before puberty, during puberty, in the aftermath of puberty. (and what a test that is!) the help and guidance with school, friends and boyfriends. the ongoing inspiration and support. loving me enough to track me down and ground me when i crawled out of windows at midnight. the clothes, the gifts, the breakfast, lunch, dinners and homemade desserts. the picnics, the parades, the very special birthday parties. the sending us to hawaii before she had ever seen it herself

and with not much money, but an abundance of love.. she, to this very day, has the most magical way of making each of the three of us, plus her grandchildren

feel like we are equally and unconditionally and enormously, infinitely loved.

to experience, share, pass on this magical love, is probably the greatest gift, write...


but what i really wish, is that i could afford to send her first class to where ever in the world she most longed to see, and for as long as she wanted to see it.

i'm letting this motivate me also, toward financial independence.


(steps over clothes/clutter on way to kitchen to refill tea cup. steps over clothes/clutter to return to blogging) what else is there? oh yes!


it's been a conscious decision on my part the past two years, to budget in whatever way i needed to in order to remain available for my children before and after school.

none of this availability possible w/out the support of my ex-husband, but that support will be terminating soon, according to our agreement.

and i'm just so grateful for the time i've had; we've had. the conversations that take place in between the doing of things like homework, snacks, meals. just being in each others company and presence. being available to help and guide. being available for sick days.. holidays.. and all those days planned, and unplanned, the kids don't go to school. we know each other well, through all these moments combined, and i can literally feel our love deepen and grow. i'm confident i've shared my values and that those values are understood and respected. i'm confident in myself, as a parent, that i've paid (i continue to pay) close attention to each of my children, and recognize and celebrate and love each one for the unique individual they are..

this time i've had the past two years, which has allowed me to parent, to write, to heal, is not a luxury my mom ever knew when my parents divorced. from stay-at-home mom, pta president, kool-aid and cookies after school to


gone to school, gone to work. with us, her three little rascals, shuffled from day care to day care to different day care; and not without consequence.

and it is those memories combined with the experience of having the time/availability over the past many years, and therefore understanding the value of that time/availability in a very real and practical way, that helps me keep focused on my greater goal: to somehow remain available.. through part-time work and a strict budget, for those moments..

for those moments that alone, can seem not so important really, but added together make all the difference in the world and lives of the people who experience them together.

for this i pray. ~amen.


(notices dust on shelves and spots on mirrors on visit to the bathroom) what else then? oh yes!


there is a chronic little ache in me, a disappointment in myself, that i do not have greater stamina for helping my sister with her two children. i often think, that were i not already exhausted from my own life, raising my two children, and being in perimenopause mode

if i were her younger sister and not older, a young-spirited sister with no children of my own yet..

i might have the energy to do more. but my confession to the world is this: i've been operating on the fumes of my back up tank for years already

(oh! look, it's 10:49, i can switch from tea to wine now)


there's no dancing around it. i wish i could do more, but can't. that said, i do what i can. babysit for an hour here, an hour there. help with transportation to and from school, take one or both, one or the other, to the park now and then, on little, short outings, to a play maybe, a movie, or for ice cream at meadowlark and a visit to a local park. it's not enough. so i was glad

this past week, with my children on vacation, me with more open time than usual, that i was able to help for a greater chunk of time. two all~dayers, vs. an hour or two.

9a-2pm. or, 8:45 - 2:17 to be precise. and my nephew had his own sitter, so my only responsibility was my 4 year old niece. my highly energetic, non-stop, go-go-go, go some more 4 year old niece. and i know going in it's going to be a challenge because, just do the math:

2 hours babysitting stamina + 5 1/2 hours of babysitting = send help.

and in fairness to her, she has been diagnosed, and has some learning/social/behavior challenges. and in fairness to me, i am much younger than i feel.

and i tell myself on my way over, "you can do it! you can play for hours!" and i always start out pretty strong.. make-believe; dance party; swinging in the backyard; puzzles; more make-believe,

but inevitably i hear my niece say, "auntie sandy.. why are you on the couch? don't you want to play with me?"

and i need at least 1/2 hour rest for every 1 1/2 hours we play. i don't know how my parents do it.. they both take turns babysitting on the all-day shifts, and they don't appear nearly as worn out as i do on the half-shift


anyway.. this past day, i took my niece to downtown livermore, where i thought we could walk, window shop, visit a park or two, grab a snack.. be outdoors on a beautiful morning.

and i notice when she is with me, we turn a lot of heads. that is, she turns a lot of heads. those giant sparklin' blue eyes, rosey cheeks, blond silky bouncy hair. dressed in the cutest fashions by her mom.. her "i own this town and everything in it" little prance down the sidewalks

and the gregariousness of her personality. you'd think she was running for office..

she shakes hands, makes introductions, asks questions, gets answers AND cell phone numbers or email addresses so effortlessly..

and her imagination cannot be topped. here i've taken a picture of her pretending to order pizza from the audacity of hope.

and after i took her picture, she insisted on taking a few pictures of her own. then a few more; and a few more after that. here she's taken a picture of me losing my patience and asking for my camera back.

and then we walk some more. and she holds my hand. and i am all hers. only hers.

the luckiest auntie in all the world.

"let's pretend like i own horses, and you know me"


"say 'i know you, you have horses'" -she is a wonderful director too-, so i say,

"hey, i know you! you're that lady that owns those beautiful horses!"

"yeah.. i know. i have four horses but one died." she tells me, looking down at the sidewalk, all sad like

"oh i'm sorry to hear that.. how did that happen?" i ask her

"he's was born without four legs. he didn't have any legs. he didn't have any legs, or a nose, or a face, so he died"

"oh my," i say as the laughter slips out, "that is very sad.. no legs, or a nose, or a face.."

"yeah.. but you can ride my other ones.. are you afraid of horses?" (she's recently joined a horse therapy program)
"i'm a little afraid of horses"

"they won't hurt you.. do you want to feed my horse a carrot? i'll give you a carrot"

-pretend like your feeding my horse a carrot!- she directs me,

and so i do. then we switch to pretending like she is a mom, and i'm her daughter; then she's the aunt and i'm her niece; then she's a dog and i'm a dog; then she's hungry and its time to go get a chocolate chip cookie, for real.

and time for auntie sandy to do something new... so we head to my place where she draws pictures for her cousins on the mirror glass doors with erasable markers.. very creative!

and plays for a bit with her cousins legos.. and watches some tv.. and snacks on some grapes.. and ask lots of questions..

and then it becomes my turn to play pretend. -i pretend to be reading, when really i'm trying to lay down and sneak a rest.

worked for about 5 minutes. "where's your flute?" and so i let her play with my flute..

watch as she slobbers all over the mouthpiece trying to get some sound out, but can't quite get the thing to work. "you do it.. you play it and i'll press the keys"

only we can't quite get that to work either, so i come up with a plan..

"you sing twinkle, twinkle, little star and i'll play it" (because that's the only song i remember)

and you know what..

"WE DID IT!" (triple high five on that one!) somehow, some miraculous way.. she forgot certain words and i forgot certain notes.. and we were both off key, but there was no doubt about the fact they we were trying to perform twinkle, twinkle, little star.

it did not sound like london bridges, or tisket tasket, and it did not sound like nothing at all.

you could -if you wanted to- tell, that this charming team was indeed trying to perform mozart's twinkle, twinkle, little star

and i was SO happy! so proud.. kissed her whole face all over. gave her a great big hug, and..

i had it all planned out so that when her mom came to pick her up, we would surprise her with our special little number.

perhaps we might video tape it and send it to all our friends and family.

perhaps we might even take our show downtown, i thought.

but two rehearsals and she was done and ready for something new. and by the time my sister came to pick her up, i had no stage presence left in me.


curtains closed. show over.

and normally.. with more energy, under different circumstances, i would have mustered up whatever it took to rally my niece and surprise my sister with our enchanting little number

but instead, i barely made it to the door when she arrived, "are you exhausted?" she asks

"yes. i am" ~ i couldn't even politely lie ~

and my niece was tired and grouchy.. and my sister said, looking at my worn out self

"that's what everyone looks like after a day with my child"

and they left for home and i collapsed.

and i thought about how exhausted my sister must be..

single mom, working,

two young,

busy-busy children..
and feel asleep praying

and wondering how she does it.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE by (barack obama!)

hardcover pg 189/193:

buffett had invited me to omaha to discuss tax policy. more specifically, he wanted to know why washington continued to cut taxes for people in his income bracket when the country was broke.

"i did a calculation the other day," he said as we sat down in his office. "though i've never used tax shelters or had a tax planner, after including the payroll taxes we each pay, i'll pay a lower effective tax rate this year than my receptionist. in fact, i'm pretty sure i pay a lower rate than the average american. and if the president has his way, i'll be paying even less."

buffett's low rates were a consequence of the fact that, like most wealthy americans, almost all his income came from dividends and capital gains, investment income that since 2003 has been taxed at only 15 percent. the receptionist's salary, on the other hand, was taxed at almost twice that rate once FICA was included. from buffett's prespective, the discrepancy was unconscionable.

"the free market's the best mechanism ever devised to put resources to their most efficeint and productive use," he told me. "the government isn't particularly good at that. but the market isn't so good at making sure that the wealth that's produced is being distributed fairly or wisely. some of that wealth has to be plowed back into education, so that the next generation has a fair chance, and to maintain our infrastructure, and provide some sort of safety net for those who lose out in a market economy. and it just makes sense that those of us who've benefited most from the market should pay a bigger share."

we spent the next hour talking about globalization, executive compensation, the worsening trade deficit, and the national debt. he was especially exercised over bush's proposed elimination of the estate tax, a step he believed would encourage an aristocracy of wealth rather than merit.

"when you get rid of the estate tax," he said, "you're basicaly handing over command of the country's resources to people who didn't earn it. it's like choosing the 2020 olympic team by picking the children of all the winners at the 2000 games"

before i left, i asked buffett how many of his fellow billionaires shared his views. he laughed.

"i'll tell you, not very many," he said. "they have this idea that it's 'their money' and they deserve to keep every penny of it. what they don't factor in is all the public investment that lets us live the way we do. take me as an example. i happen to have a talent for allocating capital. but my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society i was born into. if i'd been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. i can't run very fast. i'm not particularly strong. i'd probably end up as some wild animal's dinner.

but i was lucky enough to be born in a time and place where society values my talent, and gave me a good education to develop that talent, and set up the laws and the financial system to let me do what i love doing - and make a lot of money doing it. the least i can do is help pay for all that."

it may be surprising to some to hear the world's foremost capitalist talk in this way, but buffett's views aren't necessarily a sign of a soft heart. rather, they reflect an understanding that how well we respond to globalization won't be just a matter of identifying the right policies. it will also have to do with a change in spirit, a willingness to put our common interests and the interests of future generations ahead of short-term expediency.

more particularly, we will have to stop pretending that all cuts in spendig are equivalent, or that all tax increases are the same. ending corporate subsidies that serve no discernible economic purpose is one thing; reducing health-care benefits to poor children is something else entirely. at a time when ordinary families are feeling hit from all sides, the impulse to keep their taxes as low as possible is honorable and right. what's less honorable has been the willingness of the rich and the powerful to ride this antitax sentiment for their own purposes, or the way the president, congress, lobbyists, and conservative commentators have been able to successfully conflate in the mind of voters the very real tax burdens of the middle class and the very managable tax burdens of the wealthy.

nowhere has this confusion been more evident than in the debate surrounding the proposed repeal of the estate tax. as currently structured, a husband and wife can pass on $4 million without paying any estate tax; in 2009, under current law, that figure goes up to $7 million.

for this reason, the tax currently affects only the wealthiest one-half of 1 percent in 2009. and since completely repealing the estate tax would cost the u.s. treasury around $1 trillion, it would be hard to find a tax cut that was less responsive to the needs of ordinary americans or the long-term interest of the country.

nevertheless, after some shrewd marketing by the president and his allies, 70 percent of the country now opposes the "death tax." farm groups come to visit my office, insisting that the estate tax will mean the end of the family farm, despite the farm bureau's inability to point to a single fam in the country lost as a result of the "death tax." meanwhile, i've had corporate ceo's explain to me that it's easy for warren buffett to favor an estate tax- even if his estate is taxed at 90 percent - he could still have a few billion to pass on to his kids - but that tax is grossly unfair to those with estates worth "only" $10 or $15 million.

so let's be clear. the rich in america have little to complain about. between 1971 and 2001, while the median wage and salary income of the average worker showed literally no gain, the income of the top hundredth of a percent went up almost 500 percent. the distribution of wealth is even more skewed, and levels of inequality are now higher than at any time since the gilded age. these trends were already at work throughout the nineties. clinton's tax policies simply slowed them down a bit. bush's tax cuts made them worse.

i point out these facts not -- as republican talking points would have it -- to stir up class envy. i admire many americans of great wealth and don't begrudge their suceess in the least. i know that many if not most have earned it through hard work, building businesses and creating jobs and providing value to their customers. i simply believe that those of us who have benefited most from this new economy can best afford to shoulder the obligation of ensuring every american child has a chance for that same success. and perhaps i possess a certain midwestern sensibility that i inherited from my mother and her parents, a sensibility that warren buffett seems to share: that at a certain point one has enough, that you can derive as much pleasure from a picasso hanging in a museum as from on that's hanging in your den, that you can get an awfully good meal in a restaurant for less than twenty dollars, and that once your drapes cost more than the average american's yearly salary, then you can afford to pay a bit more in taxes.

more than anything, it is that sense, that despite great differences in wealth, we rise and fall together--


and i like what i read there. i do not feel poor people are entitled, in any way, to money hard-earned (or even inherited) by the wealthy. but what i do feel, experience and see, is this dangerous truth, that our system is currently set up so that the rich get richer and the poor, poorer

the more money you have the more you can earn; the less you have, the more you are penalized/taxed from an already reduced/shrinking amount

and i can't pretend to understand our tax system, and math is not my best subject, and i'm not knowledgable on the world's economy

but my mind does always turn to % as a fair solution. that we are taxed, in each income bracket, the same percentage

because i think 20% (or 10, or 30 or whatever) % of total income allows the wealthy to remain that way, without robbing the already struggling middle and lower classes.

THEN, you know, being the incredible problem solver i am..

i think, there should be an amount where, once you achieve said amount of wealth, your % drops as a reward

oh, i don't know really -except that what we've been doing is definitely NOT working and we need to implement real change. and my heart leans towards looking at what's best for america vs. the individual.

MY AUDACITY TO HOPE by (me!) sandra, ttgp

my dad,

who i love and respect enormously,

has lectured me twice now on how the whole world is going to fall apart if obama wins this election. "please don't vote for him!" he begs me, "he does not have the experience.. he will make decisions that will send us back one hundred years.. he will destroy us.. think about it.."

my dad,

who i love and respect enormously,

has his wall filled with pictures of family & friends: children, grandchildren, and then three or four pictures of george and laura bush.

so we don't exactly see eye to eye in the political arena. often times, in fact most times, i avoid engaging in any political discussions, because like religion, once people have their point of view established (cemented) in their brain, all the talk seems an unneccesary waste of energy.

i am very conservative when it comes to my own energy.

but a couple things aligned to change my mind recently. for one, i had just read some of barack obama's book, the audacity of hope and had it marked, labeled, decorated with notes to myself, and for two, my children were both present when my dad started in

"tell me you are not going to vote for obama" he says with great passion. "he's never passed a law! he has no experience! he'll ruin the united states of america" (something like that)

and i started singing, "i have evidence to the contrary, i have evidence to the contrary"

and mostly for the benefit of my children, i took his bait.

" i love political debates" my daughter says. -and that sealed the deal.

so i went and picked up the audacity, and said to my dad, "what i love about obama is how he can take people with completely opposite points of view -polar opposite points of view- and rise above the conflict.. hear each sides point of view... find the common denominator.. and bring them all together. that's what we need in a leader. that's what i want in a leader. he does not instigate, intimidate, or weaken.. he is not provoked easily.. he rises above and brings people TO-GETH-ER"

and my dad threw out some more anti-obama thoughts and suggestions, and then was kind enough to give me the floor and allow me the time and space to read aloud from my book

i retype here what i read:

the audacity of hope, pg 58/59 hardcover:

i believe there are some crimes -- mass murder, the rape and murder of a child -- so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is jusitified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment. on the other hand, the way capital cases were tried in illinois at the time was so rife with error, questionable police tactics, racial bias and shoddy lawyering that thirteen death row inmates had been exonerated and a republican governor had decided to institute a moratorium on all executions.

despite what appeared to be a death penalty system ripe for reform, few people gave my bill much chance of passing. the state prosecutors and police organizations were adamantly opposed, believing that videotaping would be expensive and cumbersome, and would hamstring their ability to close cases. some who favored abolishing the death penalty feared that any efforts at reform would detract from their larger cause. my fellow legislators were skittish about appearing in any way to be soft on crime. and the newly elected democratic governor had announced his opposition to videotaping of interrogations during the course of his campaign.

it would have been typical of today's politics for each side to draw a line in the sand: for death penalty opponents to harp on racism and police misconduct and for law enforcement to suggest that my bill coddled criminals. instead, over the course of several weeks, we convened sometimes daily meetings between prosecutors, public defenders, police organizations, and death penalty opponents, keeping our negotiations as much as possible out of the press

( i think that's key)

instead of focusing on the serious disagreements around the table, i talked about the common value that i believed everyone shared, regardless of how each of us might feel about the death penalty: that is, the basic principle that no innocent person should end up on death row, and that no person guilty of a capital offense should go free. when police representatives presented concrete problems with the bill's design that would have impeded their investigations, we modified the bill. when police representatives offered to videotape only confessions, we held firm, pointing out that the whole purpose of the bill was to give the public confidence that confessions were obtained free of coercion. at the end of the process, the bill had the support of all the parties involved. it passed unanimously in the illinois senate and was signed into law.

and i don't think for a second anything i read changed my dad's mind about his vote, but he respectfully listened.

that's what i wanted my children to see.

later my son would ask, "what is a democrat and republican anyway?"

and i can't remember how i answered except to emphasize, that in some families, you are whatever your parents are.. it is dictated to you

but in our family, as you grow and learn more and read and have your own life experiences, you can decide on your own.

i am an independent proudly voting for barack obama. my dad, who i love and respect enormously,

is not.