Liveblogging the Oscars!

And so it begins… Well, not quite yet. The actual Oscar ceremony doesn't start until 7:30 CST. Right now, though, ABC is having a live pre-show. Go fix yourself some guacamole and grab some junior mints. Put the kids to bed early (or let them run around and destroy the house – your choice!) I'll meet you back here in a little while. And feel free to go over to The Twitter to check out any pre-show pre-blogging shenanigans. (@haikumama – or you can click on the thing over on the side there that doesn't line up with the rest of the sidebar and it will take you there.)

FIND SNACKS.

I'll see you soon.

PS. You might want to make yourself a daiquiri. To go with the birds.

PPS. I'm letting Ike eat M&Ms for dinner. This means he will begin liveblogging soon, as well.

PPPS. And by "live-blogging" I mean "running crazily around the house and then barfing in a corner"

6:58: Ike-a-saurus ASLEEP! Wee-er one watching an endless loop of cartoons – in the other room.

7:00: have just finished laying the red carpet from the couch to the fridge.

7:02: I hope we get the Natalie Portman dork laugh again tonight. I'm going to make it my ringtone.

7:13: So when Nicole Kidman was picking out her dress she thought, "Which dress will make my hips look wider and more mermaid-y? Ooooh. THIS ONE."

7:17: For the rest of the night I'm saying Cawin Furf, just like Russell Brand.

7:23: Almost show time. Maybe I should fix some actual dinner right quick.

7:29: The Cedar Park Jewelry commercial and the Goodwill commercial both just had the same background music. A win for one, less of a win for the other?

7:32: OMG, an Ambien juice pouch. These writers have been to school board meetings!

7:36: Watch out for the Libyans!

7:39: Anne Hathaway would be funnier if she wasn't acting.

7:41: For serious. This blows. I mean, it blows in an attractive way, at least, but still.

7:42: Wait, wait, wait, they're trying to lure me in with Gone With the Wind talk.

7:43: The pace of this show right now

[five minutes in the future] is at

[ten minutes in the future] about

[fifteen minutes in the future] this speed

7:47: Super glad I didn't have to go through high school with the last name "Pfister"

7:52: I want Helena Bonham Carter to be my friend, even though I would be scared that she might eat my face off at some point.

7:56: Oh, Furf smiles and makes THIS TREACHEROUS MOMENT somewhat bearable.

7:57: Is treacherous the right word? Probably not. So I will change the subject by telling you all that my brother-in-law is from Lowell, MA from whence The Fighter hails. He is very excited about this fact.

7:59: Melissa Leo is swearing and thanking people who aren't in the room or the country. Awesome.

8:01: What if your job was the Guy In Charge Of Making Sure Kirk Douglas Doesn't Face Plant On Stage? That would be a sweaty job.

8:02: Sexy-off: Justin Timberlake or Mila Kunis? Discuss.

8:04: The Lost Thing wins for best animated short. Coincidentally, that is also how one could describe the chemistry between James Franco and Anne Hathawy.

8:07: I do like it that it looks like the Toy Story 3 guy is accepting his Oscar on the side of a road in south Georgia.

8:12: here is what Jame franco is tweeting during the commercials. Yep. Still boring.

8:13: Let's give some writers an award! And wear white dinner jackets! Be careful, Aaron Sorkin is going to try to snort you guys!

8:17: Another writer award! The King's Speech wins! The winner pulls a Liz Lemon and stands six feet away from the microphone. Love.

8:22: OH GOD NO, THE SINGING.

8:24: Please, anybody, stab me in the face right now.

8:25: "It's a boy in a girl suit?" quote from my daughter as she runs in the room. "Back to Barney!"

8:27: Russell! Brand! Is! Always! Shouting! And! I! Think! He! May! Have! A! Thyroid! Problem! Judging! By! His! Jutting! Eyeballs!

8:28: Jesus, they must have given out those Ambien juice pouches in all the gift bags.

8:30: Reese Witherspoon has pretty, glowy skin that is ACTUAL glowy, not neon. For that, I forgive the fake hair.

8:31: Hey! It's that fucking cocksucker store owner from goddamn Deadwood!

8:32: It's awesome that Christian Bale is going method for his next film: Santa Claus Before The Fattening.

8:34: A shot of random people in a balconey. Perhaps I should know who these random people are. Perhaps they are people brought in to glow in the dark so that James Franco can keep focused.

8:40: The old movie on the screen has old movie lines going through the movie AND the curtains. Excellent effects. Totally believeable.

8:42: Those flesh colored microphone nuggets people wear nowadays? Look like a) giant zits b) floating extra noses c) huge make-up colored moles d) all of the above.

8:43: Trent Reznor wins an Oscar! Maybe he'll liven this show up!

8:44: Oh, Matthew. You are the same color as my fake bamboo floors.

8:47: I mean, I get the whole Longhorn fan thing. I'm a Horns fan, too. But I would not actually dye my skin the color of the jerseys.

8:48: Acheivements in Sound Editing: ereasing all of the groans and whines from the audience as this show just gets slower and more weird.

8:50: the background behind the sound editing winner looks like he's riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride.

8:53: By the time this show is over, I will have grown a beard just as impressive as Christian Bale's.

8:55: So Cate Blanchett bought her dress at the Anthropologie Backwards Dress Sale?

8:57: Rick Baker just thanked his wife like Tim Gunn talks about shoes. Excitedly, and with wavy hands.

9:00: Third award and nine nominations for Colleen Atwood. MAN, she kicks ass. Also, I'm wearing those gloves right now.

9:03: Randy Newman plays music in front of giant porthole showing clips from a movie we should all probably be watching instead of what we're watching right now.

9:06: You guys! Chuck is singing on the Oscars! That means explosions and spy-type things are imminent. Whew. Finally.

9:08: Also, with an Obama sighting in the mix, you have to think the Intersect is involved somehow.

9:12: At any moment, Leo is going to bust into the room, turn the whole damn thing on its side and I'm going to be all, "Ooooh, I'm DREAMING this crappy Oscar show. While I've fallen asleep in the car driving to HEB. I mean while I've fallen asleep in the car driving to HtExaBs."

9:16: This guy, with the hair? Someone let HIM host the rest of the show.

9:18: You guys. I don't even think I can make jokes any more at this point. I mean. I just. I don't. WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?

9:20: OMG. One of Oprah's favorite things? Apparently a bra MADE OF DIRIGIBLES.

9:22: Maybe all of the acceptance speeches should be done with (in?) autotune.

9:25: Secret Millionaire. Another show I will never watch!

9:27: Here's how the phone call went, "Oh fucking shit, Billy, get your ass down here. Franco is high as balls, Anne is auditioning for fucking Fiddler at LA middle school, and Kirk Douglas just fell off the fucking stage. GET DOWN HERE. I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE IN THE HOT TUB WITH MEG. [pause] Just get down here. Bring Carrie fucking Fisher with you. Jesus Christ."

9:31: Thank God Robert Downy, Jr. and Jude Law are here to strip down and wrestle.

9:32: Oh no, wait. They're just here for more jokes about how crazy RDJ is. Yeah, you were crazy before Charlie Sheen went batshit. Now you're just a talented, adorable actor. Sad.

9:34: "The 83rd Annual Academy Awards will continue forever, because you are now trapped in a time vortex that is completely controlled by James Franco's backstage bong."

9:37: You guys! I've been so horrified by the Oscars I forgot to eat my Junior Mints! That must be the glitch in the Matrix. Hang on. everything is about to get better.

9:44: Oh, GwyPal, must you sing into a dildo?

9:45: Man, Gwyneth looks terrible. Girl needs a cheeseburger and some Theraflu.

9:46: Why can no one find the mic tonight? They're maybe mistaking it for some young starlet, lost on the stage?

9:48: The envelopes that announce the winners all look like the priority mail envelopes I use when my taxes are late and Turbo tax and I are fighting.

9:52: Uh-oh, it's a parade float of orchestra members and Celine fucking Dion making me want to stab my face.

9:56: And then a Lena Horne impersonator floats out on Oprah's boob dirigibles and we all clap.

9:57: Not really.

9:59: PS. what the fuck, forgetting Corey Haim? He is not Christian Bale's wife.

10:01: Ooh. Shiny, shiny blue dress. Someone skinned a Na'vi for that one.

10:03: You go, Tom Hooper! But don't chew your teeth like that. It's kind of horse-y. Thanks for the mention of The Triangle of Man Love, though. (Oh, man, many jokes could go here now).

10:06: Annette Bening continues to appear at awards shows as if she rides there on a motorcycle, sans helmet, in a tornado. I like it, though. She's like the crazy Einstein of Actresses of a Certain Age.

10:09: Bets on the next Hathaway dress? Dragon skin? A stole made of Joan Rivers?

10:11: Nope still skinned Na'vi.

10:12: Those Hathaway "WAHOO!s" after she mentions other famous people make me think Franco is goosing her.

10:14: Natalie Portman, all pregnant and round. Come on, come on, let's hear that dork laugh tonight.

10:17: She wins! But she's very serious. No laughing.

10:18: Also, I think the random (possibly glow-in-the-dark) people I was talking about before are part of Natalie Portman's family. You know, FYI.

10:19: Lovely lady, that Sandy Bullock. She should know better than an ass bow. Really.

10:22: "You've inspired an entire generation" to Jesse Eisenberg. Inspired them to what? Be huge billionaire (exagerrated) assholes?

10:24: Oh don't show Furf weeping. I want to see him grinning. At me. In the dark. Right now.

10:25: Mr. Darcy wins! How has he only had two nominations? What? He is so staid and calm talking about abdominal stirrings that might mean dancing. Ha.

10:29: A commercial for Tylenol cream?! Will it work as shampoo? Because we are all going to need a cleansing, pain-relieving shower after this mess.

10:31: Stephen Spielberg gets the Jurassic Park music when he comes out on stage? That seems weird. But whatever. At least Celine Dion wasn't singing it.

10:36: The Best Picture Oscar goes to The King's Speech! A movie I saw in the actual theatre. Huzzah!

10:37: So the awards have all been given out, yes? And they want us to stick around to hear kids sing a song? Don't they know you're supposed to fit that stuff in while they're stringing you along? Has no one learned anything from PTA meetings?

10:39: And now the kids from PS 22 sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow while Franco and Hathaway fly off into the sunset on Oprah's boob dirigibles. "And God bless us, everyone!" Franco shouts. "Wahoo!" replies Hathaway. "Wahooooooooo!"

On writing and mama-ing and getting stitches out and putting new floors in and some renegade fake Emily Dickinson just for fun

Blog!

I have been busy doing the things busy people do, mainly trying to prevent my children from getting any more stitches. I've also been trying to finish the third draft of a new manuscript so that my agent will smile upon it and we can get it out to some editors and see what's what.

In the middle of all of that there was a doctors appointment to get stitches out, an ear infection discovered, a shark's tooth growing out of someone's tonsil, a writerly conference that was busy and fun, then I got sick with some kind of sinus funk and my husband and his dad started replacing our floors and I have had a headache that's lasted for six days (and counting).

These are all excuses as to why you haven't heard from me in a while.

IN OTHER NEWS:

You will be hearing from me more, as I have been freed of the hockey date with my husband on Sunday and can now liveblog the Oscars. WOO. (And don't worry, we are not getting divorced over this, he is just going to take the wee one to the game and we are going to have another non-Oscar night date instead. All because he loves me and somewhat tolerates my dorky need to publicly make fun of people who are fancier than I am.)

ADDITIONALLY, I have written you all a poem that is not a haiku:

(with apologies to Emily Dickinson, who wrote a lovely poem that I have corrupted by changing the subject [and words] to be about the cold brew coffee I ordered from my farm delivery people this week)

God Gave a Venti

God gave a Venti to every gal,
But just a tall to me;
I dare not drink it, though I'm dazed,–
My caffeinated treat
To sniff it, hold it, enjoy the heat
That makes the cup all mine,–
Too happy in my tea-scarred ways
For larger plumes of steam.

It might be exhaustion all around,
I am in a dream,
Such a score within my mug,
My luck's come in it seems.
I wonder how the dailies feel,–
With Starbucks and trades fair?
Regardless, I with this small tall
Am brew queen of my lair.

Why we transfer

The Austin Independent School District is in a world of financial hurt right now – like most school districts in Texas. And something that doesn’t help is when politicians like Florence Shapiro (chairwoman of the committee in charge of remaking the school finance system) make public statements that are blatantly untrue.

From an Austin American Statesman article:

“State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, pointed to Austin’s school transfer policy as the driving force behind the need to close or consolidate schools as the district grapples with a budget shortfall of $94 million to $113 million.”

What Ms. Shapiro fundamentally misunderstands is that most of the schools slated for closure in Austin are schools that students transfer to, not from. Students often transfer to these schools away from overpopulated campuses because these students learn, thrive – and yes, test – better in a smaller school environment. These are not underutilized facilities that need to be closed or consolidated. These are schools filled with children – and it just happens that many of those children are transfers.

So why do people transfer? Why do I transfer my son (and daughter who will be in Kinder next year)?

Well, here’s the story: when you have kids and you buy a house, you want to know about the schools in your neighborhood. When you have kids and you buy a house and you don’t have tons and tons of money, you want to know about the schools in your neighborhood, and you keep your fingers crossed. At least this is how it typically plays out in Austin.

Schools are not all the same here. They just aren’t, which is good and bad. In Austin, though, as a way around this, parents are given a choice to transfer their children to a different school. Maybe the school you’re zoned for doesn’t have what your child needs in a special education program. Maybe the school you’re zoned for doesn’t seem academically challenging enough. Maybe it seems TOO academically challenging. They are many, many reasons why you might not think the school you’re zoned for is the best place for your child. And so the district gives you a choice. Minority to majority transfers get priority. Siblings also get priority. If your child is zoned for an academically unsuccessful school, you get priority (I think). The rest of the people seeking transfers become part of a lottery, vying for open spaces on the campuses of their choice. Many campuses are closed to transfers because they’re full. At some campuses, certain grades are closed. Basically, you throw your kids’ names in the pot and you wait to find out if the transfer has gone through. If it hasn’t, you can choose another school, or you can go to your home school.

This system, of course, gets people riled up. I hear over and over that if transfer students would just stay at their home schools then the differences between schools would be lessened. I hear complaints that schools with lots of transfers are creating “rich white kid” environments. I hear a lot of things. And when I hear them I try not to feel judged for the decisions I’ve made as a parent and a taxpayer.

For Kindergarten through 2nd grade (and the first month of 3rd), my oldest son went to our zoned school. He loved kindergarten there. I loved his teacher. It was a nurturing environment and the transition from pre-school went seamlessly. I loved the diversity of his class and school, I loved going up there to visit with his class. We were good.

First grade rolled around and we were still OK. His teacher was still pretty great, she worried about him and our family when we needed worrying over. However, I started noticing the school culture as a whole wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as the teachers we’d been lucky enough to get. The principal marched around like a drill sergeant, blowing a whistle at the children and never smiling. The amount of photocopied handouts was dizzying. I started to worry – not just for my son, but for my much more sensitive daughter. When she starts school, a drill sergeant deal isn’t going to work for her.

Throughout second grade I worried more and more about the overall culture of the school. It just didn’t seem to fit with our family. It didn’t fit with our parenting style. Was that something I could change? Try to get like-minded parents together and take over the PTA? I joined the school’s CAC to see if I could learn more about the inner workings; to see why things were run they were run. What I learned was that our school was in a tight spot financially, test score-wise, etc. As a Title I campus, with over 69% of students on free or reduced lunch, the campus had financial obstacles as well as testing obstacles. Our principal was fairly new, brought in to turn things around. Test scores were improving bit by bit, as fun was eliminated. Want to dress up for Halloween? Sorry kids we don’t do that here. It’s too distracting from academics. Here, learn how to bubble this Scantron.

My husband and I decided this wasn’t the best place for our kids. For some kids, maybe it’s perfect. For ours, it wasn’t. So we looked at other schools. Test scores were not a big deal for us, but a nurturing, “whole learning” environment was a big deal.

After talking to friends and researching schools, we narrowed our choices down to two. Both schools were half the size of the current school, in less “modern” buildings, and centered in the part of town where we would have bought a house if we hadn’t been in a “you have a week to find a house to buy, GO” situation.

Our transfer was denied to one of the schools. Full. Our transfer to the other school was also denied. Full. My son went back to his school and I started working on plans for what do with my daughter when she reached Kinder age.

And then – in the middle of the first semester of third grade we got a call: you’re in, if you still want to come. We decided that, yes, we still did, and so we transferred. My son is now at a school where he can learn Spanish, have a Shakespeare class every two weeks, enjoy an author’s conference, run off his energy in extra recess time, and hang out with kids and parents we’ve been hanging out with for years. Dressing up for Halloween is highly encouraged.

Is it a “rich, white kid school”? No. It’s diverse, stretching across a variety of socioeconomic lines (and we are far from rich). Is our home school damaged by us being at the other school? No. They have their ways, and those ways work for a lot of people. In addition, the district is saving money because they no longer have to bus my child to and from school. He has transferred from an overcrowded campus to an “underutilized” one. (Which is not underutilized at all, in actuality. It is at capacity right now – because of transfers just like us.)

We choose to transfer because the district understands that some schools and some families just aren't a good match. They trust parents to choose what’s best for their child. We have chosen a more urban, highly diverse, small, nurturing school for our children. It works for us.

We are not the problem. Our school is not the problem. My children are not the problem. The problem is misinformation, mismanagement of basic research into Austin school facilities, and mostly, mishandling of state and federal money. THAT is what needs to be criticized, Senator Shapiro, not parents and students who are making the best (and at Zilker it is the very best) out of a dire situation.

Stitches

not name of a cat
not my sides after laughing
stitches – in forehead

My husband, Ike-a-saurus and I spent an exciting evening in the ER Saturday night, having said tiny dinosaur's head stitched up. I guess it was only a matter of time, but still. Yikes. Turns out that when you fall into the TV stand (or speaker – we're still not sure), you will gash a giant hole in the middle of your forehead that will squirt blood like a horror movie and freak the SHIT out of your mom.

Once we got to the ER, though, an amazing thing happened. Ike-a-saurus was just another bloodied kid. We weren't immediately taken to a room. We had to wait like everyone else. And when we got a room, it didn't have a fancy Philips monitor, just a crappy Nellcor that we didn't even use. Ike was in the ER as – wait for it – A REGULAR KID. My husband and I were almost giddy as we sat in the waiting room all, "look at us! We don't have crowds of doctors rushing around us! We are watching the Disney channel and complaining about waiting! High five!"

Yes, yes, we are insane.

We walked in the door at 7 and were home just after 11. The shortest ER trip we've ever had.

Not that I'm condoning stitches, I'm just saying that when the FREAKING OUT OVER A GIANT HEAD WOUND subsided, I was all, what? We are regular people? What?

Being regular only lasted a couple of days, though, because this morning we had our re-up with the Texas medicaid waiver program we're on. Long meeting wherein our case manager told me that this time (maybe even this exact day) two years ago the nurses in the ICU told her they didn't know if Ike was going to make it. Yes. Thanks for bringing that up. She also assured me that the two of us met in the hospital, of which I have absolutely no recollection.

So, after those fun reminiscences we spent a couple of hours talking about lungs and airways and failure to thrive, and the universe put me back in my place.

Not so much regular.

But you know what? I'm cool with that. After everything that's happened, I'll take today over ANY day. Even if I have to clean stitches and keep tiny fingers from poking extra holes in the hole that's already there.

Wednesday is the two year trachiversary. It's a day we are going to celebrate, not cry over. A day that saved Ike's life, even if it caused a few years of epic hardship.

Nothing like a whack in the head to make you realize how lucky you are!

Things that I will have when I am dirty rich

1. Someone to cook me food. And not a regular ol' talented chef. No, I'm going to have someone intuitive, who'll be all, "I know you didn't ask for it, but you're going to love this." Also, this person could cook food for everyone else in the family, too.

2. Someone to wash all of the clothes, dry all of the clothes, fold all of the clothes, put away all of the clothes, and match all of the socks. If they can't match socks, they will just go out and buy new socks, without me having to ask.

3. Someone to wash the dishes. This person can just rinse them and stick them in the dishwasher, that's fine. But only if the dishwasher is one of those silent ones – which it will be, because I will be dirty rich.

4. An assistant to pay all the bills on time and sit on hold with whomever needs to be talked to about about whichever thing is screwed up.

5. A driver on those days that I hate everybody and will have road rage problems

6. An on-call nanny. Most of the time I like to be around my kids, but some days it would be nice to spontaneously call someone and say, "OMG, TAKE THEM TO THE EFFING PARK. I WILL PAY YOU A MILLION DOLLARS. JUST GET OVER HERE."

7. Regular haircuts

8. Mystery salve that will make my hands look like nice young lady hands instead of creepy, dry mummy hands

9. Floors that are not disgusting

10. A constant stream of new fleece blankets when it's cold outside

11. A movie theatre in my house, where, if you talk during the movie, you will get tossed outside on your ass by the giant dude who is hired only to toss people outside on their asses.

11a. Sometimes, when I want to mingle with the masses, I will go to a real movie theatre. In these cases, the big dude will come with me, and he will continue to throw people outside on their asses

12. A time machine

13. An entire countertop made of that stuff that charges your iphone when you lay it down

14. A new toothbrush every night

15. A human stuff organizer/photographic rememberer who will always know where all of my things are as soon as I ask

16. Football watching get-togethers with Obama where we text each other zingers and eat queso

17. Ear buds that don't hurt my abnormally small ear holes

18. Some sort of futuristic toy organization thing that keeps toys neat, but still visible, so the kids don't lose things

19. An extra backyard that is only a vegetable garden

20. Coffee that doesn't torture my guts