Friday, September 26, 2008

Let me present.....the models!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (who is a photographer) asked if I would be interested in having my girls do some modeling for a baby clothes designer in return for some free prints. Since I haven't ever (shhh, I know - bad mom!) had their pictures taken professionally, I figured it was a perfect opportunity - I'd get a couple prints and they'd hopefully get into this clothing designer's catalog and website.
Well........Kristina put a *sample* of the pictures from the session up on her blog today. OH MY GOODNESS! Ok, I know I'm a little bias because they're my kids and all. But KRISTINA ---- OMG, these pictures are AMAZING! I've been wanting to get the kids pictures done by Kristina for awhile, but have had it on the back burner of "wants" since she's a little more expensive than JcPenny. Well, after seeing my kids through her lens......it will be worth every penny to have her take our pictures....even if we have to save to do it because they're just awesome. Kristina was so great with the girls - she kind of ran the session around them - rather than the other way around. She worked with whatever they did - if they wanted to walk, move around, jump, etc. and she got some fabulous shots.
Anyway, here's the link to her blog site where the twins pictures are, and to her website so you can check her out if you need pictures taken in the Hampton Roads area.
And if you want to check out the company that the kids modeled for, it's www.tailoredtadpole.com. The clothes the girls had on is from her "spring collection" and I'm not sure when she's putting those up there, but both the dress and the tank/skirt that we had on were SO precious! They're all handmade, and the quality is incredible. Plus......the owner of the company, Linde, is really great and down to earth. She helped with the photo shoot and the twins loved her! She's put her blood, sweat and tears into her company - so please check out her site if you can!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Zach's first soccer game

Hey everyone,


Just wanted to post some pictures of Zach's first soccer game this season - his new team is called "The Blitz." I didn't take these photos, Zach had asked me if I would leave my camera at home (apparently it made him upset ??) - another mom took these.


He scored two goals this game, and 5 goals in his second game. Not that we're keeping score or anything, this is afterall, just a fun league where they practice and learn to play! :)

Click this link here for a slideshow. He looks like he is working so hard ... he really does try - most of the time! :) Enjoy:
When you click on the link, click SLIDESHOW to the top right. I thought I'd try a new site ... I don't like it as much as KodakGallery. I thought I'd be able to post a slideshow like Photobucket (but I think Photobucket is hard to use sometimes and takes forever to download) so I thought I'd try this, but I couldn't embed the HTML code onto my page for some reason - I kept getting an error. Anyway, just click the link then click SLIDESHOW to see the pictures.
xoxoxoxox,

Rachel

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday Zachy!

This post is dedicated to Zach ... who officially is 4 years old! (Well, not officially - he won't be until about 630 tonight) but here's a collection of photos from when he was born, through the current days.

Things are sure different today than that night I had you ... but one thing that will never, ever change is how much I love you! You are a royal terror most of the time (And don't worry..I'm looking forward to telling you all about it, I've already put the mother's curse in for my revenge) but I truly love you to pieces. You are the cutest thing and the things you say out of the clear blue make me melt inside! I don't know what I'd do with out you, buddy! I'm very proud of how good you're doing in school and soccer...you're an ALL STAR! Happy FOURTH birthday, Zachy! xoxoxoxoxoxox

Love you lots...

Mommy






If you're having trouble viewing, go to: www.kodakgallery.com/tramontana

Saturday, September 20, 2008

OK one more political post!

Sorry, I can't help it. I know I promised, I'm sorry but I can't help it. Really....I can't. I just can't stand Sarah Palin, and well....this is my blog. So you can take it or leave it, read this post or not....but I'm sharing some information I came across that I think you might find interesting if you are undecided. (You're welcome to your opinion in the "comments section" of the post.)


In her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin used this quote: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity." This is a an apparent direct quote from an anti-Semitic writer, Westbrook Pegler. I would just like to know what would possess her speech writer (supposedly former Bush speech writer Matt Scully) to use the words from an anti-Semitic.?

The JTA asked to talk to Scully about why he chose to include the Pegler quote, if only anonymously attributed. In the meantime, the McCain camp says it’s “unbelievably ridiculous” to think the quote suggests Palin has any sympathy for Pegler’s views, racist or otherwise. (We don’t disagree, but we still think it would be interesting to understand the thinking behind quoting a person with that kind of baggage). "Frankly, I would not be surprised to learn that a lot of people involved in American politics 50 years ago were anti-Semitic,” a spokesman told JTA. (www.jta.org)

I also read this article, which furthers my voting decisions...and I hope gives you some more information:

In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped. Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, "I would choose life." At the time, her daughter was 14 years old.


Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies. But Palin's position was palatable within the state's largely Republican political circles.

Now that she's John McCain's vice presidential candidate, Palin's abortion policy (among others) is undergoing renewed scrutiny. The Alaska Republican has long declared herself pro-life. And her credentials on the topic make her the belle of the ball among religious conservatives. But Democrats and abortion rights advocates say her stance, specifically her unwillingness to grant her own child a choice to end a pregnancy induced by rape, is drastically at odds with public opinion -- even among many Republicans.

"This is absolutely outside the mainstream. Even in South Dakota they rejected [outlawing abortion in cases of rape] in '06 because it has gone too far and everyone can identify that in a case of rape or incest a woman should have the chance to make the decision with their family or doctor," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro Choice America. "Women voters are going to reject both her and John McCain, and I think we see it specifically because we reach out to Republicans and independent pro-choice women. They live in the suburbs and exurbs. They are very much part of the mainstream America. And woman in general will reject that ticket."

Palin makes no secret of her abortion views. A member of the group Feminists for Life, she told the Alaska Right to Life Board in 2002 that she "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion." In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire filled out during the 2006 gubernatorial race, Palin again stated that she is against abortion unless a doctor determined that a mother's life would end due to the pregnancy. "I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society," she wrote, "we cannot condone ending an Innocent's life."
But it's not just abortion policy that has Democrats up in arms over Palin. In that same 2006 questionnaire, the soon-to-be governor said she would fund abstinence-only education programs in schools. "The explicit sex-ed programs," she added, "will not find my support." The stance, which reflected the priorities of the GOP, nevertheless led to an incredulous editorial in the Juneau Empire.


"Abstinence may be a laudable goal, but failing to educate teenagers about how to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy is tragically misguided. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, abstinence-only programs do not reduce sexual activity, teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Every day 10,000 U.S. teens contract a sexually transmitted disease, 2,400 get pregnant and 55 contract HIV. Unintended pregnancies happen to Republicans, Democrats and people of all faiths."

While Palin's positions have drawn the ire and concern of the pro-choice and progressive community, they are largely -- save abortions in the case of rape -- in line with John McCain's own stances. The Senator is against federal funding of birth control and sex education. He has called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and received a zero rating from NARAL. Once, aboard the Straight Talk Express, McCain was asked if he supported the use of contraception or President Bush's abstinence-only education program to stem the spreading of AIDS.
"After a long pause, he said, 'I think I support the president's policy.' Does he believe that contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV? After another long pause, he replied, "You've stumped me."



Link to the article.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pre-school update...

Just wanted to post an update on Zach and how he's doing in school.
You remember the Teddy Bear Tea - the kid who pouted the whole time, the kid who screamed and kicked when we got there and who didn't want Mom to leave him on the 2nd or 3rd day?

Well he LOVES school.
He is sooooo excited to go each day - he loves his teachers, loves to play and sing and he gets so excited when it's time to leave. Even his sister love going to drop him off or pick him up at his class. When I took them the other day to pick him up, he brought them in his class room and showed them around and brought Addie to meet "Miss Sharon". It was very cute.
His teachers say he is doing very well and he loves singing in class...go figure, Mr. Shower singer. I'll be posting a new video soon, I heard him singing a song that I think you'll all find really sort of ...............interesting. If he ever gets on American Idol someone remind me of this video, okay? (heeheee!) His teachers also said he's the most polite little boy. (That's a compliment, right?) :)
Just thought I'd share the latest school news.
You all have a great night....talk to you later!
xoxoxoxox,

Rachel

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The last pictures of our trip ... The Eiffel Tower ...

Sadly, this is my last post about our trip to Europe. These are pictures from our visit(s) to the Eiffel tower. We visited during the day, and at night ... and we also had a private "behind the scenes" tour which I HIGHLY recommend. The private tour cost $20 Euros per person and you get a completely private tour (there were 4 other people only) of the "inner workings" of the tower - we got to go into the engine room to see how the lifts operate - actually see the cranks and pulley systems, we got to go into an underground hidden "bunker" that was built during the revolutionary war - which is now used as storage and access for the Towers restaurants - it also has tunnels and secret paths for the French president should there ever be a situation where he needed to leave the Élysée Palace (French equivalent to the White House). We also got to go up the "freight elevator" in the tower, and onto a catwalk basically where painters and maintenance crew go to do work on the tower (where public is not allowed to tour).

I thought it was interesting to find out that every inch of the tower is painted - HAND PAINTED, by BRUSH, every couple years (I think every 10) a new color, and that color is then patented. Our guide told us that because the paint (new paint on top of old paint on top of older paint) weighs so much, they've had to close many shops and restaurants (leaving all but two restaurants) and they've had to make the restaurants mostly glass (no painting, and weighs less). Our tickets got us up to the first floor (with no waiting .... which was great, because the wait to get up to the first floor was probably 300+ people long - at least) and from there you could either buy tickets to the second and top floors or walk to the second and then buy a ticket to the top. I thought the view was really good from where we were so I had no desire to walk the several hundred steps (UP)to the 2nd floor (the line for the elevator was very long) so I decided to have a seat and write out postcards with a croissant and a glass of champagne while Sam climbed the steps up to the second floor for some pictures. We also got a full history of the tower and of Gustave Eiffel ... which was very interesting.


Here are some of the pictures we took of the tower (from the ground, on top, and from the water - we did take a boat architecture tour) and a video or two of the tower lights.



Au Revior,



xoxoxoxo,


Rachel



PS: One thing I want to tell you ... since we have been home a whole month - Sam DID get a ticket in the mail for SPEEDING where there was a posted speed limit sign in Heidelberg (not on the autobahn!) They got him with a photo ticket. Yikes!!!





Love the moon here


Not the best picture (focus-wise) but love the moon and how lit up everything is....
Looking up from the bottom
Looking down from the top (of the first level)




Looking up from the 2nd level to the 3rd level ...







Here's a couple videos we took of the Eiffel Tower - of the lights twinkling - this is just before it's getting ready to happen. Apparently, from what our tour guide told us, they turned the twinkling lights on for New Years of the millennium and they plan to leave them on until New Years of 2010. They go on (after dark) every hour for 10 minutes.


video



video


OH - ONE LAST THING BEFORE I FORGET!!!


Believe it or not, I've only shared JUST a FEW of the pictures (LOL) that we took in Europe. (Yeah, right.) If you want to see the whole 500 and something, just go to our KodakGallery, www.kodakgallery.com/tramontana (it's the first album). There are many wonderful photos, but just too many to put on our blog. They're not labeled, but they're in order of our trip (I basically just dumped them off the camera when we got home and onto the Kodak site.)


Ooops forgot two things I wanted to tell you!

First, the diet cokes. These cost 22.00 at an outdoor Italian cafe in Paris at lunchtime. 22.00 Euros. So that was like 30.000 American. Umm, yeah. For one "large" and one "medium" diet coke. With no ice, and no alcohol. Oh and no refills!! We loved Paris, but JEEZ, it was expensive...particularly restaurants. (The food was hardly more than the drinks, believe it or not! They make fabulous pizzas in Europe, everywhere we had pizza it was great.)

And the rainbow. If you read my first post after our return, you remember that our flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Philadelphia went off with no problems - which was amazing considering the problems we had GETTING to Germany, then the subsequent problems with our luggage being lost for 3 days. Remember that our flight from Philadelphia to Virginia was cancelled because of a massive storm? They actually shut the runway down for awhile and while we were in line waiting for a shuttle to HOWARD JOHNSONS (US Airways kindly put us up in a hotel because we'd been travelling for so long) - the rain stopped for awhile, the sun sort of poked through the clouds, and we see this rainbow. Yeah. I think I shed a tear or two over this rainbow and not ones of joy either - it was like a cruel joke, lol.....I just wanted to get home to see my kids.....and we couldn't .... and then there is a rainbow right after the storm. I HAD to get a picture.


Paris ... Continued....

So.....continuing on with Paris........a month later! :)

Here's some pictures from Notre Dame...........I had to remove Photoshop from my computer for now (space constraints!), so I am not able to do any work as far as making the pictures come out any clearer or lighter, and I'm not yet trained on how to take indoor photos with my fancy Canon Rebel camera. (One of these days, in my spare time, I'm going to take a photography class! Maybe an online one??)
All I can say is our pictures of Notre Dame don't do it justice. The architecture is ... breathtaking and I can't even imagine what it would be like to be at a mass service there. You get the goosebumps walking around this 11th century building - the stained glass is indescribable. We lit prayer candles, and took a few photos while walking around. It was an amazing part of our trip to France.





Too dark, I know!

The stained glass in this cathedral....incredible.











Next, and last up on our European .... are our pictures of the Eiffel Tower. I saved the best pictures for last. We loved going to the Eiffel Tower and we went there more than once ... it was amazing to see it both during the day and at night when the lights were on, and then as it got darker, the lights sparkled for 10 minutes at the top of every hour - which is something they started doing on New Years of 2000 and will continue until 2010.
More on that another night!
xoxoxoxox,
Rachel

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beware...Political Post :)

It's my one and only political post. It’s a long one, but it’ll be my only one….I promise. These are just my opinions and a couple of facts/quotes I've found. I figured that everyone is tip-toeing around on their blogs and not talking about politics. Well I’m going to have my say (it’s my blog, anyway!) and then I’ll be done. You can take it or leave it. I hope that you all have an opinion one way or another and that your opinions are based on facts and/or feelings ... and not the hearsay or opinions of others. I hope you all get out there and vote. That's the most important thing. We are given this wonderful opporunity (gift) in America and there are millions of Americans who DON'T have an opinion either way.

I’ll start by saying that I know all politicians no matter what their “party” are mostly crooked – they change their statements time after time and when it suits them. They ALL do this, it’s nothing new, and if you think your candidate isn't wishy washy on some topics or hasn't flip-flopped … think again. They have. If you think they haven’t lied or told half truths to get them where they are….think again. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of their game – tell the American people what they want to hear.


I am a democrat by nature. I believe in the in the working class people, and while I’m anti-union because of what it has come to stand for (workers who do less making equal pay) I do believe in consumers as the advocates for just working conditions and equal pay, for civil rights, for protecting the environment, for reproductive freedom (pro-choice!), for gun control, for education, for better health care, and for a humanitarian social policy. That said, I've voted for both parties. I've tried to make “informed decisions” based on the issues and beliefs each candidate stands for and have not voted “democrat” just because that’s what my voter registration card reads. (I'm also argumentative....which I think has to be the trait of a democrat!)


I think as I am getting older politics in general, especially around election time, interest me more. I think it’s the hope and promise for a better future for our children, one where there is equal treatment for all, where women continue to have the right to choose, where everyone has the opportunity to have good health care and can get a good education. I am not as interested about the taxes. I know I should be…but either candidate is going to raise our taxes, it's a fact. We have to know that by now. (Otherwise how are they going to fund all these wonderful programs they keep telling us about?) I am more interested in seeing what our presidential candidates – and their “teams” can do for our planet and becoming less dependent on foreign oil so that we don’t have to live in as much fear that when the gas price hits a certain dollar amount how are we going to afford to get to work?

Prior to McCain picking Sarah Palin, I was more “on the fence” with who to vote for. I've always kind of liked McCain, even though he’s a hot-head, he’s always spoken his mind, something I respect. However, since choosing the Palin, my decision is easy. Obama. No question about it. I know that Palin is only a VP contender and not our President, but McCain chose her with the thought in the back of his mind that she would be running this country should anything happen to him. I believe that Palin is a hypocrite (hiding her pregnancy from her constituents until she was 8 1/2 months due), I believe that she is immorally dishonest – she couldn't tell her own kids that she was having a baby with downs syndrome – at least to prepare them – instead she chose to let them figure it out when they meet the baby for the first time. I realize that taking care of a DS infant is not that much different that taking care of a healthy infant and the additional care isn't needed until the child is a little older. However, I would imagine that her kids didn't know that, and that had to be horribly shocking, and even more heartbreaking to know that your mom knew but didn't tell you. And her reason for not telling her kids? “She wasn't sure how to tell them, because she was shocked and unsure if she was ready to embrace a child with special needs” is so pathetic … what are us Americans to think when she has some really horrible news to share with us? Is she going to tell us? Will she be holding something back, hiding it by the scarf she’s wearing? I find it cliche to see her up there talking about her policies when she has in her own state funded sexual education programs that included only abstinence … and yet her own teenage, unwed daughter is pregnant.


Prior to the RNC I was undecided. I thought it was disgusting the way Mayor Giuliani ripped apart people who donate precious time to “ community organizing.” The way they laughed and mocked at Barack Obama for trying to help his community was appalling to me. From Wikipedia: Community organizing is a process by which people are brought together to act in common self-interest. While organizing describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common agenda. Many groups seek populist goals and the ideal of participatory democracy. Community organizers create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved. Organized community groups seek accountability from elected officials, corporations and institutions as well as increased direct representation within decision-making bodies and social reform. Where negotiations fail, these organizations seek to inform others outside of the organization of the issues being addressed and expose or pressure the decision-makers through a variety of means, including picketing, boycotting, sit-ins, petitioning, and electoral politics. Community organizing is usually focused on more than just resolving specific issues. Organizing is empowering all community members, often with the end goal of distributing power equally throughout the community. Community organizers generally seek to build groups that are democratic in governance, open and accessible to community members, and concerned with the general health of the community rather than a specific interest group. It surprised me that was the focus of their entire speech, since usually community organizers and people who support their communities (big or small) are usually selfless human beings who donate precious time away from their families and work for free. Remind me if I ever want to run for office not to help my community or organize any efforts to “help thy neighbor.” Apparently for John McCain’s group, community organizing isn't an important bullet point for a resume.

Let’s put a couple other things out on the table, since I know you Obama haters are already going there: (Smile)



On Obama voting “present”: He voted “present” 129 of 4000 votes – or roughly 3% of his votes while in the Illinois Senate. For anyone who is interested, a present vote is a third option to an up or down "yes" or "no" that is used with great frequency in the Illinois General Assembly. It has many varied and nuanced meanings that, in the context of the actual bills, border on boring. It's most important use is as a signal -- to the other party, to the governor, to the sponsor -- to show a willingness to compromise on the issue if not the exact bill, to show disapproval for one aspect of the bill, to question the constitutionality of the bill, to strengthen the bill. Basically to me – it says “let’s keep working on this” and it seems to be what he did when he didn't agree with some portion of the legislation but perhaps agreed with the bill in theory. As well, if you look at the facts, in many cases it seems he voted “present” as part of a group strategy. By the way – FYI - you can’t vote “present” in the US Senate. You can miss the vote, but present isn't an option. And to be clear – in this present term of congress, Senator Obama missed 45% of the votes, while his running mate Senator McCain missed 64%.

On EFCA – (The Employee Free Choice Act) This is something I totally and completely disagree with, and I hope that Obama and his team revisit this legislation. I don’t think many people even know what this is and/or how it will affect them. I believe that many union workers today (particularly teamsters – sorry if I’m offending anyone) use the union as a way to work less and get paid more. NOT ALL PEOPLE, but I've personally, first hand, witnessed people who think they are entitled to the same benefits and pay just because they are part of the “union” and not because of their work ethics. And unfortunately, the union backs this theory up. I understand the reason unions were formed, and think they had their place in history, I do not believe they hold many benefits for our society today – which I know is a major conflict to my democratic beliefs. However, with that said, since unions are unfortunately an everyday part of our society - we have to respect their place and try to work with them and those who organize. There are companies who threaten employees pay, benefits, employment …even physical harm should they consider organizing. That isn’t right either. EFCA will mean many changes to our workplace. Here are some other facts you might not know about this piece of legislation, this is very important:


EFCA Excludes Employers From The Representation Process. Secret ballot elections work. In fact, the overall union election win rate has remained steady at 58-61% in recent years. The NLRB’s time-honored election process establishes a fixed timeline and gives employers, unions, and employees adequate time to communicate facts and share points of view. By contrast, EFCA will create a largely unregulated atmosphere where employee “choice” is sealed off from any input save the union’s. This violates the spirit and intent of the free speech rights expressly set forth in our labor laws.


Employers Must Consider Year-Round Campaign. EFCA allows a union to gather signatures without the employer knowing anything about it until the union asks the NLRB for certification. At that point, it is too late for the employer to do anything about it. Facing that scheme, an employer would have to consider seriously communicating with employees throughout the year about the benefits of operating union-free. This not only would be a major distraction for the entire business, but also any discipline would take place in the context of the employer campaigning against the union. The odds of any adverse employment action becoming the subject of an unfair labor practice charge would increase dramatically.

EFCA Allows A Government-Paid Arbitrator To Set Wages and Benefits. Perhaps the most shockingly anti-employer provision in EFCA is its requirement that the union can call for mandatory arbitration if the parties have not reached a first labor agreement after only 120 days following certification. EFCA’s mandatory arbitration provision is essentially government-mandated interest arbitration. The arbitrator – a government employee – writes an entire two-year labor agreement for the parties. Imagine just these few examples of potential outcomes as a result of this provision:

Arbitrator imposes on a struggling employer a restrictive no-subcontracting clause, a plant closing moratorium, or a broad successor and assigns clause obligating a purchaser of assets to assume the contract.

Arbitrator grants significant pay raises when the employer sought concessions.

Arbitrator requires the employer to make contributions to an underfunded union defined benefit pension plan instead of providing a 401(k) plan.

Arbitrator establishes overtime pay on an 8-hour day instead of a 40-hour week.

Arbitrator says that seniority – not merit – is the basis for promotions, transfers, layoff and recall, etc.

Arbitrator mandates employer participation in an expensive union health and welfare plan.
Substantial labor unrest is a strong possibility when these first contracts expire as employers take a hard-line approach in renegotiation's to achieve the terms and conditions they wanted two years earlier. This could result in more strikes and have a destabilizing effect on the economy.
EFCA Makes Increased Litigation Inevitable.

If EFCA becomes law, it will likely come under legal challenge before the ink is dry on the President’s signature. Employers will find themselves mired in more NLRB litigation because year-round campaigning could “taint” otherwise legitimate disciplinary decisions (or so employees and unions will argue). Union pressure tactics to gather signatures could lead to legal objections when the union claims representation. Some employers may have no choice but to seek to modify or vacate arbitration awards setting the terms of the first labor contract. Employers may be less inclined to settle cases where the NLRB insists on EFCA’s harsh fines and penalties.
Higher Union Density Could Mean Higher Costs. EFCA will undoubtedly reinvigorate Big Labor’s organizing efforts. This renewed energy and EFCA’s card-check process will almost certainly result in more organizing “victories” and thus increased union membership. As union membership climbs in various industries and geographic areas – combined with mandatory arbitration of first contracts – employers could see corresponding increases in labor costs. When you consider this on a national scale and in the context of highly competitive cost pressures, EFCA’s impact becomes significant.

The Impact of the Employee Free Choice Act on Employees
Employees Will Make Uninformed Choices
. It is ironic that a law named the “free choice act” is designed to inhibit employees from making an informed choice. Union organizers lawfully can promise employees higher wages, more paid time off, guaranteed pensions, and a host of other “goodies” to induce a signature. Who will give employees the facts about the collective bargaining process? Who will inform employees that union promises are not guarantees? What about employees who want to speak out against unionization?


EFCA Would Create An Atmosphere Of Peer Pressure … Or Worse. The NLRB’s secret ballot election process protects employees from any undue pressure at the crucial moment when they are being asked whether or not they want to be represented by a union. No one ever knows how the employee voted, unless s/he volunteers that information. EFCA would strip away the secrecy of the process and introduce the potential for high pressure tactics in its place. It would subject the employee to the urgings of professional union organizers and pro-union coworkers in an unregulated atmosphere.

Employees May Lose The Right To Vote On Their Labor Contract. Ignoring the “Employee” in its title, EFCA’s mandatory arbitration provision gives employees no opportunity to ratify their first contract. The union presents its case for the labor agreement it wants, and an arbitrator decides. The employee is left on the sidelines, even though the union expects him/her to be a dues-paying member.

EFCA Invites Work Stoppages After The First Contract. In situations where the parties are living under the two-year first contract mandated by the arbitrator, there is a strong possibility that the employer would seek wholesale changes in negotiations upon contract expiration. Unions typically oppose concessions, so the stage for labor unrest and work stoppages would be set.

Basically - a union would be considered organized if 50% of the workers just sign union cards. This could put pressure on the workers (who may not otherwise WANT to organize) to join the union for fear of retaliation. There are also a lot of other little things which makes EFCA something we don’t want, but it’s something Barack Obama strongly supports, and the Teamsters are one of his biggest supporters. Unfortunately, some version of EFCA is not something that John McCain doesn't reject so strongly that he wouldn't consider EFCA in conjunction with another bill – for example, he might sign EFCA in order to get an energy bill passed. So EFCA is a very real possibility with either candidate. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed on this one.

On Obama’s experience:
Everyone is commenting on Obama’s experience versus Palin’s experience. Let’s get some facts out:

Obama:
B.A in political science from Columbia University, with a specialization in international relations
J.D. in Law from Harvard, graduated magna cum laude; President of the Harvard Law Review
12 years (92-04) teaching constitutional law
7 years State Senator: sponsored more than 800 bills
4 years Senator for Illinois, a state with 12.8 million people

Palin:
Bachelor's in journalism from University of Idaho
4 years Wasilla City Council (8000 people)
6 years Wasilla mayor (8000 people) Left the town in a financial deficit.
1 year "Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission"
20 months governor of a state with 660,000 people

Ok, Obama did not run a city, a corporation and he wasn’t a governor of a state. I will give you all that. However, he obviously has political experience beginning with his education all the way through his career. Does running a state with 660,000 people make Palin more experienced? Nope. She said it herself, she hasn't really been that focused on the war in Iraq. (HUH? And this woman could possibly be put in charge of our military????) <-- more on that in a second. She talks a big talk – she has definitely got her speaking skills down, and she definitely wins the “Sexy VP” award. I love that she brings up how she “gave up the luxuries at the governors mansion” for the good people of Alaska – such as the corporate jet – which she listed on eBay. It cracks me up that she apparently tells that story over and over but ALWAYS fails to tell people that the plane didn't sell and that they finally sold it to a plane broker, at a loss to the state of about 500,000.00 (check www.factcheck.org). She also fails to mention that she left her little tiny town of Wasilia in a deficit. Hmm. So she ran a city into the ground, sold the infamous plane for half a million dollars less than it was worth … but because she has some management skills she’s more qualified? HELLO PEOPLE….she has been quoted as saying she hasn’t been that focused on the war in Iraq. Read this: Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting? Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices. WTF! That quote infuriates me, and literally has me seeing red!!! And you want to put your trust in this woman…..who hasn’t been “really focused” on the war in Iraq? I don’t know one single person who the war in Iraq doesn’t affect, hardly know anyone who doesn’t know someone who is there or recently has been there on a tour since we’ve been “at war” … and the death tolls are on CNN practically every night (4157 Americans as of today). So I don’t know one person in this country who can say they haven’t been focused on the Iraq war…particularly someone who is actually involved in our government?

I watched some of the RNC and DNC. I will tell you that I thought there was much more excitement and overall hope for change watching the DNC. Perhaps that is the eternal optimist in a democrat. There was just “joy” – people were clapping and crying and hugging with the prospect that maybe we’ll work towards a better and more peaceful future for our children. But with the RNC, what I saw was mostly anger … let’s win at all costs, let’s drill (remember “drill baby drill”),and we’re going to take down anyone who threatens us…we’re ready! I know the conventions are mostly rhetoric, but I’d GLADLY stand beside someone who was getting people as excited as Obama was – people who WANT to see change and at least TRY ... experience or no experience rather than the same old same old.

My husband told me something that a co-worker said to him – apparently there is something in the bible that indicates that a Muslim/person of middle-east descent will get into power and that will be the beginning of our end, and they believe that if Barack Obama gets into office, that this could be it. Well, if you look back at Barack’s family tree (check Wikipedia) – there is no middle eastern blood running through his veins. He is African and American. His father’s people were from Africa (Kenya) and his mother’s people were from Kansas. His father adopted the Muslim religion because of all his travels to the middle east and found it intriguing, as people have done with many religions. It just shows you, though, how when people hear something, they believe it without checking out the facts! They hear Obama – and they think: Muslim from the Middle East. Ha! How wrong they are!

And I’ll leave you with a couple more differences ON THE ISSUES:

Iraq:
Obama:
•Withdraw all combat brigades during first 16 months in office
• Temporarily keep a much smaller "residual" force there to fight terrorists, but no permanent bases
• Opposed going to war with Iraq in 2002
• Opposed the troop surge

McCain:
• Withdrawal if Iraq is secure, no timetables (If the end is in sight, why won’t you give a timetable McCain??)
• Would support a long-term non-combat troop presence in Iraq, unless Iraqis want us to leave• Supported going to war with Iraq in 2002
• Believes our initial strategy in Iraq was a failure, but that the troop surge is succeeding

Healthcare:
Obama:
• Seeks universal coverage through federal subsidies
• Mandates that insurers cover all who apply
• Allow private plans, but monitor them for fairness
• Invest in technology, regulate insurance and drug company profits

McCain:
• End tax exemption for employer-based insurance
• Create healthcare tax credit to help people pay for private or employer-based insurance
• Thinks individual responsibility will lower costs
• Would work with state governments to cover uninsured groups

Energy and the Environment:
Obama:
• No offshore oil drilling, subsidize clean coal
• Subsidize corn ethanol, keep tariff on imported sugar ethanol
• Large subsidies for renewable energy research
• Consider constructing more nuclear plants
• Double fuel economy standards within 18 years
• Cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
• Auction off all emissions credits, limit the use of offsets
• U.S. must take first step in emissions reduction, but all countries must join in

McCain:
• More domestic oil drilling, subsidize clean coal
• End corn ethanol subsidies, lower tariff on imported sugar ethanol
Stable tax breaks, not subsidies, for wind and solar
• Construct 45 new nuclear plants
• Enforce existing fuel economy standards
• Cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions 60% below 1990 levels by 2050
• Give away many emissions permits to industries, allow unlimited use of offsets
• U.S. must take first step in emissions reduction, but all countries must join in


Abortion and Stem Cell Research:
Obama:
• Supports Roe v. Wade & Freedom of Choice Act
• Allow partial-birth abortion bans with expanded exemptions for health of mother
• Pregnancy prevention through contraceptives and comprehensive sex ed
Federally fund embryonic stem cell research
McCain:
• Amend constitution to ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and risk to mother's life
• Ban partial-birth abortion
• Pregnancy prevention through adoption and abstinence-only sex ed (Yeah, that worked for Palin's daughter!)
• Federally fund embryonic stem cell research
NOTE: Palin is fiercely pro-life and supports overturn of Roe v. Wade and is anti-abortion in all cases EXCEPT in case of risk to mothers life, even in cases of rape and incest. This is probably the biggest sticking point for me on Palin – a woman’s right to choose – I’ve never been in this situation, and I’d never have an abortion, personal choice. However, I am pro-choice because I believe people have the right to make the decision that is the best for them. I believe they will have to live with that decision and will stand up someday and face their Maker with the decisions they’ve made and have to answer for them. I cannot imagine my daughter being brutally raped, and then being forced by our government to carry that baby to term, and my belief (wrong or right) is that our God would understand that. I totally get the "Pro-Life" movement and do not believe in abortion as a form of birth control. However, in cases of rape, incest, etc. - I do not see, and will refuse to understand where ANYONE has the right to tell someone what they have to do with their body, especially after that trauma. (I get that the baby didn't have a choice either.)
I also find it extremely disturbing that one could be so pro-life on one hand and so pro-death penalty on the other hand. You don’t get to take away someone right to choose about their body in one aspect – especially if that choice was taken from them by being raped, and then decide for them in another aspect.

Gay Rights:
Obama:
Do not reverse state court decisions that legalize gay marriage
• Supports national civil union legislation
• End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

McCain:
• State voters, not courts, should decide on gay marriage
• Leave decisions on civil unions to states
• Continue "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Economy, Taxes, and Spending:
Obama:
• Several tax increases for highest-income earners
• Tax cuts for low- and middle- income earners and many other specific groups
• 5-minute filing for taxpayers who do not itemize
• Has not pledged to balance budget
• Spending increases for healthcare, energy, military
• Economy and tax code too skewed toward wealthy
• New stimulus package with rebate checks and aid to local governments
• Extend and expand unemployment insurance
• Government-backed mortgage relief for some subprime mortgage-holders

McCain:
• No tax increases, make Bush cuts permanent
• Further tax cuts for people with dependents, businesses, estates
• Create an optional flat income tax
• Balance the budget by 2013
• Cut earmarks, subsidies, other unspecified areas
• Believes tax cuts will best strengthen the economy
• Stimulate economy with tax cuts for businesses
• Create personal accounts for unemployment insurance
• Government-backed mortgage relief for some subprime mortgage-holders


Social Security:
Obama:
• Social Security funding problem is real but manageable
Fund by raising payroll tax on people making over $250,000 a year
• Opposes personal accounts and privatization

McCain:
• Current Social Security system is broken and unsustainable
• Do not reduce benefits for current retirees, reduce future benefit growth to fund system
• Add voluntary personal accounts with which young workers can invest money

Guns and Crime:
Obama:
• Some restrictions on certain types of guns
• Supports death penalty in more limited circumstances
• Ease some drug sentencing requirements
• Undecided on medical marijuana

McCain:
• Do not restrict guns for law-abiding adults (This means even automatic weapons!)
• Keep death penalty as it is now used
• Tough drug sentencing except for first-time users
• No medical marijuana


I just hope we can get past all the petty crap in the media today and focus on the real issues at hand. Lets focus on the hope that is real and the people (us) who know we can make a difference and elect Barack Obama!!! It's time for a change in our government and we can do it.


By the way, I watched these clips - John McCain on The View. These ladies were TOUGH on him! They need to be on the debate panels!!


Oh, and anyone who thinks JM isn't out to overturn Roe V. Wade .... Um, think again! I LOVED Whoopee Goldberg's comments - does she have to worry about returning to slavery .... perfectly put Whoopee! Again, after watching this - I have no doubt who I'm voting for.



Good luck to everyone, and Happy voting!


















And one last thing that I found on a blog that I read- VERY INTERESTING! The political compass. Take this test to find out whether you lean more left ... or right. www.politicalcompass.org. It turns out, i'm not as FAR to the left as I thought! (Smile!)
Have good evening everyone...
xoxoxoxo,

Rachel




Do we have a future NFL star on our hands?

Well I don't have to wonder where Zach gets his interest in sports. If it's not his Dad ... it's definitely his brother Ben!

Ben plays baseball, hockey and football ... which are three incredibly competitive sports in Minnesota...and he does all three very well, but he does exceptionally well in football, which doesn't break his dad's heart any!! (Smile!!)


Here's Ben's latest football picture ...hot off the press!



He looks so grown up and serious here...he's going to be twelve in another month (twelve! unreal!!)


Zach's got a lot to look up to as he gets bigger ... and I think he'll have fun as he gets older and gets to go out and visit and see Ben play in his games! Dad's going out in a couple weeks to see Ben play in a couple football games.....he's very excited!


Here's a picture of Ben playing hockey last year and also one of him after he won an award for being the "Scoring Machine" for his team. (How cool is that??)





Way to go Ben...keep up the good work!! :) We love you!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Date night?

Almost forgot what that was like!

;)

Sam took me to Cheesecake Factory tonight for my "official" birthday dinner - that's where I've been dying to go - and we had a great dinner, though we did sit at the bar because it was an hour wait ... already at 6:00! They don't know anything about portion control there - both of our entrees had two full chicken breasts and Sam's dessert could have fed 6 people easy, maybe more. Seriously, so much good food has to go to waste there. I had vanilla bean Cheesecake........yum. I was going to take a piece home for our nanny - they had this chocolate cake I know she would have loved but it would have been all melted by the time we were done with the movie. One thing however my delicious (and I mean YUMMY) martinis did NOT go to waste there! Ha!!

Speaking of the movie - we saw Brad & George's new juncture.......Burn after reading..... It's a Coen Brothers movie (guys who did Fargo) all I have to say - it was frickin' hysterical. :) It was very serious and hysterical too. Brad Pitt plays a character you're just not used to seeing him play ... very funny.

Well it's 1:00 AM so I should hit the sack. Sam's already sound asleep. (bummer!)

Catch ya later!!!

xoxoxoxoxo

Rachel

PS: Are any of you guys going to Disney on Ice or the Disney Playhouse thing?

The Blitz ... first practice

Well, actually second practice. First practice that Mommy attended. There are five kids on his team total .... three boys and two girls. They kids are a little older this year so it's a little easier to coach them - they are at least running in the right direction! Seems like they all get along well, and the parents were all really great too. Should be a fun season ....the first game is tomorrow. (Well, it's today, it's actually already happened ...doodoodooo.....no you're not in the twilight zone, I'm behind in my postings!! Heeheee)

Great kicking Zach!!!

Good kick!

That's a Beckham move right there! (LOL)

He likes his new friends!


Playing red light green light

Awww......sweet!

Spreading the trees apart .........

CutiePatootie Avery........

Getting the talk from the coach the night before...

Here he is at our house in his uniform...getting ready to go .....


Here he was last year getting ready to go.....looks about the same size, hasn't grown too much!

Zachary did good in his first official game today....he scored four goals but only 2 were for our team. 1 was for the other team (oops) and one was for another game. (huh??) Don't even ask on that one, lol. We went to play park and McDonald's afterwards, lol. Seems to be the "after the game treat."

Anyway, thought you'd enjoy! :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The importance of 5 point harness

A friend of mine sent this to me today, and I was so sad after I watched it. I know we are (were) going to be looking at booster seats for our kids in the not-so-distant future...but...I think we'll keep them in the "5 point harness" as long as possible. (Note: There are other 5 point harness car seats that hold kids weighing more than 40 lbs. ... even though this family recommends the Britax ... there are much less expensive options.)

Definitely has opened my eyes. :(

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The inside mommy ...

Last night I was laying in bed with Zach (thinking of ways to torture him when he's older for the bedtime hell he puts me through now) and he said something that I thought was cute, or really rather sweet.

When he gets in his bed I always push him towards the wall so I can lay on the outside of the bed (which means I can slip right out once he finally falls asleep). I always joke and say "get in bed, inside boy." And he'll reply back "okay, outside girl." Last night he said he wanted to be the 'outside boy' so I finally relented (easier than arguing with a 4 year old) and he said .. "thanks, mom." I said..."so I'm the inside now girl, huh?" and he goes ..."no, silly mommy, you're not a girl....!" I said "No? Then what am I?" He said .... "you're a mommy. See you're big and tall, and you have mommy hair (he's rubbing my hair) and mommy glasses and mommy eyes (he's rubbing my face) - you're a mommy." I said but "I'm still a girl...." He said "No, just a mommy....you take care of me and sissies and you take care of everyone." I said "Just a mommy then, huh? Is being a mommy important to you?" He said "yes, I'm lucky you're my mommy. Zachy's lucky....." ****Sigh****** So if anyone wonders why this kid is so dang spoiled, there ya go. He's a heart breaker sometimes.
Though I just thought of something. I wonder if by big and tall and mommy hair and mommy glasses and mommy eyes he really meant - big and fat four eyed, gray haired lady with wrinkles. Eesh!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pretend Play ?

Since the girls have been little they've loved puppets and especially stuffed animals. They like when they're in the bath and you wash them with one of the many puppet washcloths (particularly "ze lion" and "mr. monkey") and we have a multitude of different voices for their favorite animals. I noticed recently that when they pretend like they're babies they talk in a different voice, and when they play with dolls they talk in a different voice, and when they play kitchen they use a different voice ... here is them playing with their stuffed dogs tonight.

By the way - whenever I ask them what the stuffed animal or baby's name is ... it's always whatever color it is (so if it's a green frog, they'll say hi, I'm green).
It's funny because Zach wasn't ever into this kind of playing, but he can make every kind of zooming car or truck or airplane noise you can imagine!


video

JUS' GO AWAY!

Well now, Zach sure does tell me here, doesn't he?



video


By the way, something I realized today, while Zach was taking his first big boy "shower" (which he thought was pretty cool because normally he has to share the space with his Dad, lol!) that singing in the shower - it's something either hereditary or you just learn to do it on your own very young.


Think I'll go sit on my bed now.