Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Republicans for Prez

Last night I watched the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential candidates debate. All of the questions were from YouTube and some of the people/skits were pretty funny. While I still like the standard "old-fashioned" debate format, YouTube definitely livened things up, and it's a good way of getting Americans to hopefully become more interested in and involved with the election.

Before I go on, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I'm on the Mitt Romney campaign. Most of you already know that. I haven't really done much for it; so far I mainly just get the campaign e-mails. But he is the man who I want to be President. I'm going to have to register as a Republican so that I can vote for him in the primary. I'm an independent, but I definitely lean to the right. My brother would say I'm all-out Republican because I watch Fox News and agree with Bill O'Reilly on most matters, but I don't think so. I don't have a problem voting for a Democrat if I think that person is better for the job. (As evidenced by my voting record--I voted for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004.) The balance of power doesn't matter all that much to me, I just want the best people in office no matter what their party is.

So, having said all that, here are my awesome insights about each of the Republican candidates so far. I'm putting them in the order that they were announced at last night's debate:

1. Congressman Duncan Hunter. He seems nice and smart enough, but as a candidate he's kind of forgettable because he doesn't really stand out. I don't have that much to say about him. Of the group that is left, I predict he'll withdraw from the race first.

2. Congressman Ron Paul. I think he's pretty great, I really do. My super-liberal brother Ben is even going to register Republican so that he can vote for Ron Paul. He's the most honest candidate and he seems to say exactly what he thinks and doesn't play the political game. I like how he's straightforward and sticks to his guns--he truly believes everything that he says. (In some cases, that's unfortunate, but more on that momentarily!) It's pretty cool that he was an obstetrician before going into politics, helping to bring life/joy/screaming babies into the world.

The big "but" with Ron Paul is that he's wrong about foreign policy. His views would work in an ideal world, but this world is far from ideal. His non-interventionist strategy would only let evil people attack us and others a lot more easily. And they want to get us because they are radical fundamentalists and not just because the U.S. is over in their countries. There are other "buts" about Paul too, but that's the biggest one for me. So even though he has a lot of good ideas and he seems like a great man, I really don't think he could make it work as President.

3. Senator John McCain. I've never been a big McCain fan. I saw him in person once when I was volunteering at Penn's 2001 graduation and he was the speaker. It was pouring out that day and he was smart enough to keep his speech short and sweet since all everyone wanted to do was get out of the rain. Anyway, I like McCain for his military experience. I think he would be good when it comes to that kind of thing. The rest of it, though, I'm not so sure. My biggest problem with John McCain is that I've heard several times that he has a bad temper that he doesn't control very well, he swears like a sailor, and he holds grudges and is openly rude to those who he's ticked off at. I don't want that kind of a person running the country. We need someone even-tempered and good-natured (not another LBJ!).

4. Senator Fred Thompson. I have been stumped as to the popularity of this guy. What is the big deal? I hadn't even heard of him up until a few months ago, and I follow politics regularly. That being said, he was good in the debate. He has a quick wit and good answers. His demeanor is calm and strong. But I still don't know what's so great about him and why he would make a good President. What has he done that is so special?

5. Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He was great as mayor of New York and was amazing in the wake of 9/11. I was a big Rudy fan back then. But the more I've learned about him the less I've come to like him. It's good that he's moderate and therefore might be able to reach out to both sides better, but I don't think he's very well qualified to be the President. To go from being a mayor (yes, even the mayor of NYC) right up to prez is a big leap, isn't it? Plus, I don't trust him. I don't mean to be a Bible thumper, but he cheated on his wife and left his family. I do think it matters what a person does in their private life because it shows what kind of a moral compass that person has, and one's level of personal morality can have a significant impact in politics. I also don't like his new wife Judith, and they have exhibited some downright strange behavior together in the past.

Giuliani and Romney really went after each other in the debate, and Rudy struck first, going after Romney on immigration and accusing him of employing illegal immigrants at his "mansion." He was talking about Romney's house in Belmont, Mass. and was trying to make it seem like Romney is a hypocritical, distant, super-wealthy guy who's disconnected from the general public. First of all, I have seen that house, and though it's big and beautiful, it's not a mansion, it's just a big colonial. Giuliani was exaggerating and I bet he knew it. He kept trying to say that Romney hired illegals to work at his "mansion" (the landscaping company he hired to work on his lawn had some illegals, but that's not Romney's fault or responsibility). So I was glad when Giuliani got booed when he kept trying to go on and on about it. So anyway, it just made me more unhappy with the guy. I'm worried that he's going to win the nomination, and I just can't imagine this man being our President.

6. Governor Mitt Romney. He is brilliant and articulate and accomplished, but he didn't do as well as usual in the debate last night. Some of his past and present positions on issues like abortion, waterboarding, and gays in the military made him stumble a bit.

Romney may not be the most upfront candidate, but he's far from being the most deceptive or malicious. He's just playing the political game and probably had to position himself the way that he did in order to win the governorship in liberal Massachusetts. Electoral politics really is a game, after all.

Now that some of the things he said in the past are coming back to haunt him, maybe he should have had better integrity and said what he really believed, but I have to tell you, I'm a Mormon too and in the past I went back and forth on the constitutional right to abortion issue, finally deciding that it shouldn't be a matter of constitutional rights when it comes to ending a life. So I understand his line of thinking on that because it mirrors my own. I don't think he's saying whatever he can to get elected, but he is walking a fine line, as are all of the candidates on both sides. They're all players of the game and have to be strategic in whatever they say and do. It's one of the things I hate about politics, but unfortunately it's the way it is.

Mitt Romney is a good person and I know that he would make a good President. He would clean up Washington and get it running better and that would have numerous beneficial effects. He's so good at that sort of thing. He did it for the state of Massachusetts, he did it with the Olympics, and he's done it many times in business when he's helped companies that are falling apart get back on track.

And his Mormonism should absolutely not be an issue for voters. It wasn't a factor when he was the governor, and it won't be if he's President either. Sometimes I have to laugh about some of the ignorant assumptions and reservations being made about the LDS Church. Sometimes the intolerance and lack of understanding really anger me. If it keeps him from getting the nomination I am going to be really annoyed.

Last but not least about Romney, for now, is that he would be, like, our handsomest president ever!

7. Governor Mike Huckabee. He's a nice guy, and he's making me nervous because he's been gaining on Romney. I like Huckabee, but I don't "heart" him. He seems to be honest and good, but sometimes his nice-ness comes off as preachy and too sweet for a man running for President. He's not as strong and presidential as some of the other candidates. He doesn't have the accomplishments and successes that Romney has had. But I think I'd take him over Giuliani. A Romney-Huckabee ticket could be good. Then maybe the people who are scared of/hate Mormons will vote for them since Huckabee is a Baptist minister. I don't know if those two together would be strong enough to beat Hillary though (yes, I do believe she will be the Democratic nominee. But more on that another time!). It might take Giuliani or McCain to do that (as the VP candidate, of course!).

8. Congressman Tom Tancredo. He's really into immigration and seems to be good with that, but not much else. What else has he done? I'm not sure. He's kind of similar to Hunter: likable but not very memorable, although he stands out a bit more than Hunter does. He'll probably be the second one to go.

If you've made it this far, I'm very impressed! This is my longest post ever. That happens with politics, it tends to make one either have a lot to say or nothing at all to say. I will write about the Democrats running for President sometime soon, so stay tuned.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Peter was in The WSJ!

Here is my chance to reveal a little-known husband is the exciting world of...retirement planning. Ha ha. Well, I guess it's exciting to some. What is indeed exciting is that Peter was mentioned in The Wall Street Journal not too long ago. The heck with his career, this is especially good for me because my blog is modeled after The Wall Street Journal's name. So I see this as an auspicious event heralding good things for my little blog. Maybe the two are somehow linked. Maybe not. Anyhow, Peter knew the article he co-wrote was going to be mentioned in The WSJ but didn't know when, so we didn't even know until a few days after it was in the paper. Luckily we kept that section since it was about Retirement.

If you're interested, it was in the weekend edition of the paper on November 17-18 in The Journal Report section on Retirement and Social Security. It's the cover story and here's Peter's brush-with-fame mention, located in the first column on page R3:

"But first, take a few minutes to read a new report: "Rethinking Social Security Claiming in a 401(k) World," written by James Mahaney and Peter Carlson, retirement specialists at Prudential Financial Inc. It's the best discussion we've seen about filing for benefits and possible strategies for doing so."

Alright! Go Peter! Jim Mahaney was Peter's boss in New Jersey and they came up with a new patent-pending approach to capitalizing on Social Security payouts in retirement. Smart guys! If all goes well perhaps this will be the first of more than a few mentions of Peter in our favorite newspaper in the years to come. And maybe The Doll Sweet Journal will become famous too. Next time The WSJ could just throw in something like, "Carlson's wife, Donna, has an excellent blog that should be read by all, with a clever twist on the name of this paper." And then they would write the url of my blog, and it would get a ton of hits. Sounds like a pretty ideal situation to me, and very realistically attainable as well!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

10 Things I'm Thankful For

1. To be an American and to live in this great country.
2. For my religious faith, which is everything to me and provides me with the answers to life's most significant questions. I don't know where I would be or who I would be without it.
3. To be a mother, what I always wanted to be more than anything else. I'm so thankful for John, who is truly one of the greatest blessings I will ever have in life.
4. For Peter, who is a good person and also my best friend. He works hard to provide for us and he excels in just about everything he does. I'm thankful we still have fun together, laughing and chasing each other around the house and such.
5. For my family and my friends. Especially my mother, who is a good friend and who will travel the three hours round-trip just to babysit John or to help us with a fix-it-up project in our house or yard. And especially for Christy, my faithful canine sidekick for the past 12 years who knows me so well. I'm so thankful she's still alive and kicking!
6. For my good health.
7. For my education.
8. For good books, music that makes me feel good, and entertaining movies and TV shows, all of which let me go somewhere fun and different for awhile.
9. For the beauty of nature, particularly around here in New England.
10. For the basic comforts of life, which many in the world go without. Delicious foods and drinks, a comfortable house, clothes, cars...we have so much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I want to go shopping!

Well, the holiday season is officially upon us--Oprah's Favorite Things show was on today! There's nothing to get me in the mood for Christmas like shopping and the lure of new things. After all, that's what the holidays are all about, right? Ha ha. This particular show is on at around this time every year and is kind of a cultural event for Oprah fans, as well as for most retailers across the country who would kill to get their products to be on this show, thereby ensuring their sales success for the holiday season.
The show is really fun to watch because the audience gets so excited. It's always a surprise for them when they find out that they're at the taping of the Favorite Things show, and they go absolutely nuts because almost everything Oprah picks they get to have. On this show the most expensive gift she's ever featured was a fancy LG stainless-steel refrigerator with a built-in HD TV. And everyone got one. Lucky! And to end the show, one of my favorite singers, Josh Groban, sang some beautiful songs from his new Christmas album, which I just bought on Saturday. So it was fun and got me into the spirit. I would love to go to that show. Who wouldn't, with all the expensive free goodies to score?!

I like seeing what Oprah picks every year. She has good taste and chooses some great things that make nice gifts for others and for yourself. I'm happy because I've been wanting a nice new watch for awhile, and there was a watch featured that's nice but also in the affordable range, since the Cartier I would love to have is just a wee bit out of reach for now. Peter, take note!
This is a great list to go to for gift ideas. There are 20 items on it. These are my favorites: #1, a palm-size HD camcorder; #3, the watches; #4 (mmmm...cupcakes); #7, this Planet Earth DVD set looks amazing and we've been wanting it since it came out earlier this year; #10, scrumptious soaps from Portugal; #13, check out this refrigerator. I don't even like stainless steel that much but I'd take this in a heartbeat!; #14, this sorbet looks yummy and I'd heard good things about it before this; #16, Scrabble Premier Edition; and #20, the Josh Groban Noel CD, which is really good.

Another reason the holiday season is here, at least here in Connecticut, is because it snowed today for the first time this season. It was a pretty snowfall, and one that took me by surprise. The flakes were big and puffy and pretty, but the roads were slippery, which always stresses me out when I have to drive, which I had to do this morning. I wrote in a previous post that I've never been in any car accidents, but I've had a few scary close-calls and they've all happened because of snow or ice. But it was all good. The snow that's left on the ground will probably be gone by the weekend, but I'm sure there will be more in the not-too-distant future. I hope we get more than we did last winter. It would be wonderful to have a white Christmas, which hasn't happened forever!

Anyhow, please forgive me for my materialism. It's all in good fun. Things like cupcakes, a cool watch, and great music and entertainment can bring more happiness to life. On a more serious note, I'm not going to get in trouble for having those pictures from on my blog, am I? If I'm violating copyright laws, is it serious enough that I will get my booty kicked by someone official?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Random Tidbits

-And I thought I was dumb because I'm blonde....There was a strange study I heard about in the news a few days ago. It says that curvaceous woman with hourglass figures tend to be more intelligent. What?? I'm wondering, did they conduct this study in Asia at all, because Asian women generally tend to be petite and they also tend to be very smart. So there's one strike against that study, and I feel better already! Ha ha. I was always long and lean and stick-thin until I had John. The after-effects of pregnancy and childbirth were great because they gave me a more womanly figure, so that I finally had hips and a defined waist instead of being built like a boy. So by the logic of this study, I guess my I.Q. rose a few points when I became a mother. Maybe it will keep going up as I have more kids and become more "curvaceous." Yes!! Maybe there's hope for me after all!

-We went to Cold Stone Creamery on Saturday night and I couldn't wait to get my favorite flavor, Rocky Road Trip. My craving went unmet when the guy behind the counter said that they no longer served it (at all, ever again) because they had become kosher. I have never heard of that happening. I was so disappointed. I hope it was just that franchise and not the whole chain. I don't want to live without Rocky Road Trip. I have never had better Rocky Road than at Cold Stone. The way they make it is so good!

-The Land of Nod sells nice solar system bedding and things for boys rooms now. I've been looking and looking, and finally found something good. I think they just came out with this. They even address the Pluto issue if you read the product description (which, by the way, I disagree with...I don't think Pluto should have been demoted. It is too a planet!). For some reason John loves the planets and space. He had all the planets memorized in order before he turned 2. And his knowledge has only grown from there. So when I re-do his room soon, I'll probably get some of this stuff.

-For Red Sox fans, check out these insider pics of the team celebrating at a bar at Fenway a few days after their World Series win. Muchas gracias to my sister Jennifer for sending me these.

-We joined Netflix recently and we love it. It's so easy, and it's cheap too. It's never been so convenient to get the newest movies as well as all of the older ones that I never got a chance to see. I highly recommend Netflix!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

8 Generally Unknown Things About Me

1. I was called a different name when I was younger. It was “Josaleen” (prounounced Joe-zu-leen). It’s my middle name. It would have been my first name but “Josaleen Donna” didn’t sound right to my parents. So I was called “Josaleen” by everyone until 1st grade, when my super-strict teacher wouldn't call me that because it wasn’t my official first name. From that time, I was known as “Donna” in school, but still “Josaleen” at home. As I got older it was embarrassing when my friends came over and I was called by this other name, so I forbade my family from calling me it anymore. It took a few years, but by high school I was Donna to pretty much everyone, though I have relatives who I know still think of me as Josaleen and probably always will! That's okay with me, though. It's kind of a pretty and unique name.

2. I have a perfectly clean driving record. I’ve been driving for over ten years now, and I’ve never been pulled over and never had an accident. I don’t know how this is because I know I speed too much. I still get lectured about it every time my mother is in the car when I’m driving. I can always shoot back that my driving record is perfect. Knock on wood!

3. I have an obscure talent: I’m a good diver. I took swimming lessons growing up, and I was an average swimmer, and I was pretty bad at treading water (I was always one of the first who had to reach out and grab onto the wall), but diving was something I was good at and really liked doing. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about all of the different dives I would try if I had the opportunity or the training. Not that I could have been one of them, but I feel a certain wistfulness when I watch the summer Olympics and see the divers!

4. I'm an ardent recycler. I don't know why, but I must recycle every piece of paper (even small scraps!) and all containers. It bugs me when I see recyclable things in the trash. I'm not a big environmentalist or anything, but reusing things like that just makes so much sense. This is silly, but I'm kind of proud that I usually only have to change my kitchen trash once a week, since so much of what would go in there can be recycled. My next step is to get a composter so that food waste can go into that. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

5. I don't really enjoy talking on the phone. I only do it when I have to. There is something unnerving to me about not being able to see who I’m talking to. It can also be a big time-waster. The only people I call with any regularity are my mother on Sunday nights and Peter at work when John is driving me crazy and/or to whine “When are you coming home?”

6. I have the ability to take good power naps. I can lay down for 10-20 minutes and program into my mind the amount of time I want to nap, and unless I’m really overtired, I will wake up at that time feeling refreshed and awake. This skill was incredibly useful in college. I could do it at the library or bookstore or wherever I was studying. I would just stretch my arm out across the table, lean my head down onto it, and I was out like a light, and then I’d wake up 10-20 minutes later and be ready to work. It’s a very useful skill these days too. In fact, I took a 15-minute power nap this very afternoon. It helps me get everything done that I need to do in a day.

7. I have a sense of humor that some might think is weird, or cruel. I can’t help it, but I think it’s really funny when people trip and fall, unless they’re elderly or it’s a child or the person truly gets hurt. Some of the times I have laughed hardest have been falls Peter has made. He had a fall in the bathroom one time that was just priceless. Ha ha! I also think some juvenile things are really funny, like certain bodily functions. You know what I mean!!

8. I once hit the jackpot at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. And I was underage when I did it too! Okay, so the truth is, I was around 11 years old, I obviously wasn't gambling, my family was in the mall part of the casino, and my brothers and sisters and I were playing around with the pay phones. I hit the coin return on one of the phones to see if any change would come out, and all of these quarters came spilling out. Jackpot!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


As is usually the case with Halloween, we had a fun time this year. For the second year in a row the weather was mild, even in the evening when it was time to go out trick-or-treating. I don't like being outside in the cold, so the weather was a real "treat" for me! It was also lighter out for longer than usual because of Daylight Savings Time being pushed back a month, and that was nice too.

We went to a Halloween party at our church on October 27th, and John had fun playing games and going "trunk or treating" (from car to car in the parking lot). Here he is at that:

John's costume was a dalmation. We have a Disney Sing Along video for "101 Dalmations" that he was kind of obsessed with over the summer. He came to love Pongo, the dalmation dog. When I'd try to get him to say "hi" to people, he would say "Pongo" instead, which was kind of embarrassing. So when I saw this costume online I knew it was "the one." He liked it too, though he would only wear the head and feet when Peter helped him put them on. The weird thing about this costume is that doesn't have a tail. What's up with a dog costume that has no tail? Weird, but still cute! If I were more crafty I would have made a tail myself and sewed it on, but unfortunately I'm no Martha Stewart when it comes to that kind of thing.

How sad: a tail-less doggy!

Trick-or-treating was fun; he seemed to understand it more this year and he was pretty good about saying "trick or treat" and "thank you." Next year when he's 3 I think he'll really get it. Our neighborhood has only a few kids, but just about everybody gives out candy, so it was nice to go out and see all of our neighbors. When I was growing up, the neighborhood was always teeming with children on Halloween, so it's really different to have it be so quiet. The good thing about it is that Peter and I can both go out with him and just leave a bowl of candy on the doorstep since so few people come anyway.

Getting ready to go out
"This hat stinks, but I'll wear it for daddy and for the love of Pongo."

All ready to hit up the neighbors for candy!

He/we (what's his is ours, after all!) got a lot of candy, and since he only likes lollipops, there was a lot of extra that he got to play with by sorting and organizing it repeatedly. That boy is so much like me in that respect! That's what I always liked to do.

Dividing the spoils, post trick-or-treating.

After John went to bed, I was tired so I vegged out and watched three straight hours of TV: a funny Halloween episode of a cool new show called "Pushing Daisies," then "Ghost Hunters" live, and then a scary CSI:NY that really creeped me out. Perfect for Halloween! And last but not least, here's my little cutie in his "I Love My Mummy" glow-in-the-dark shirt a few days ago. We hope you all had a happy Halloween too!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Cause of Our Recent Woes

Here it is:

That's right. The subject matter of this innocent looking picture has been a scourge in my life recently. Two weeks ago we took the rail off of John's crib and put on a bed rail because he's getting old enough to start the conversion process over to a real bed. He adjusted well to it and loved being able to get out of the bed instead of being trapped inside. But that is where our troubles began.

The first few nights he slept fine. Then he figured out that he really could get up whenever he wanted, even if it was pitch dark outside, and I started getting a little bedside visitor in the early-morning hours. First it started in the 6:00 hour, then the 5:00 hour, and the absolute worst was the 4:00 hour. Being too tired to get up and put him back in his bed and listen to him cry (or having to repeat the process when he'd just come in to our room again), I let him into bed and we snuggled up together, which was nice, but not at all sleep-inducing, especially since John would usually not go back to sleep, so I wouldn't be able to either.

The result was that for about a week straight I was so sleep-deprived. John was too, but it didn't seem to bother him as much. I, on the other hand, got massive headaches and lost all productivity and sense of normalcy, scheduling, and organization that I usually have. It is amazing what a lack of sleep will do to a person. It was like revisiting the newborn Baby John days again, only this time it was much worse than that ever was. My life was in chaos!

If you're wondering about Peter, he is a heavy sleeper, so this didn't affect him as much. Plus, my side of the bed is closer to the door so John came over to me. He also probably knows that I'm more of a softy than Peter. Anyway, despite all of that, it wasn't helping Peter either, and we decided that this had to stop. After all, we're the parents, and we shouldn't let the course of our lives be totally dictated by our child, right?

So we decided to close his bedroom door at night before we went to bed so that he couldn't leave his room when he got up. We did this for the first time a few nights ago, and John woke up at around 4:30 a.m. crying because now he was trapped in his room, so Peter went in and put him back to bed (he's much better at that than me) and closed the door again when he left. John cried some more but then went back to sleep. And ever since then, it hasn't been a problem! We just make sure his door is closed before we go to bed at night. When I go in to get him in the morning, his room is a disaster area--I have no idea what time he's getting up to play, but at least he's staying quiet and letting me get some much-needed sleep. Life is good again!