Category Archives: Family. And stuff.

How to provide for your family if you’re famous but not-rich


Back in 1969, Neil Armstrong, who died Aug. 25, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins, the other Apollo 11 astronauts, figured out a way to provide for their families when the threesome couldn’t afford life insurance back in the ’60s.

They signed autographs — lots and lots of autographs.

Look! Pakistan has more maternity leave than we do!

Of course, that’s not hard if your baseline is zero.

Those nutsy, krazy, kookie Swedes!

They’re looking to extend paternity leave.

Who has mandatory paternity leave? And who doesn‘t?

Seen in a doctor’s office recently

I am not shaking this nasty summer cold, but I’ve shown good faith effort. I even went to an urgent care facility, something I usually do only if there’s a bone breaking through the skin.

While there, I saw this poster in the bathroom. I also saw scads of little postcards and note cards with the local domestic violence hotline printed on them.

Domestic violence is not one of our issues, but I found it comforting that the doctor would make it as easy as possible for a patient to talk about it. I once was getting an examination, and the doctor complimented me on my overall health (for someone in my age group, I figured), and I made some lame comment about how lucky I am, that all my wounds are self-inflicted, and his shoulders slumped and he said quietly, “Is there something you want to tell me?” and because I’ve written about domestic violence and suicide, I knew precisely what he meant, and I proceeded to apologize profusely for my lame joke. He spent the rest of my time in his office treating me very gently, and in a follow-up phone call one of his office workers made a point of asking me if everything was OK.

I was horrified that she or any one would spend time worrying about me, and continually reassured them all that yes, I’m fine, and no, he doesn’t hit me, ever, and no, I don’t hit myself, either.

Part of me was annoyed that this even came up, but the bigger part of me appreciated their tenacity to give me a chance to talk about whatever is going on in my house. I know how hard it is to tell someone when something really lousy is going on, and I walked away from there feeling pretty good that my doctor was so quick to key on what might have been a problem. And I learned to keep my lame jokes to myself.

Something all church bulletins could/should say:

You can read more here.

It’s hard out there for a kid

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has published its 23rd annual Kids Count Data Book, and the news? Is mixed. From the report (which you can read here: KIDSCOUNT2012DataBookFullReport):

Unlike the domains of  education and Health,  where children are  benefiting from long-  term progress overall,   the economic well-Being  of children and families  has plummeted because  of the recession.


In 2000, the official child poverty rate, which is a conservative mea- sure of economic hardship, was 17 percent. From 2000 to 2010, the number of children living in poverty jumped from 12.2 million to 15.7 million, an increase of nearly 30 percent. The additional 3.5 million children living in poverty is nearly equivalent to the entire population of the city of Los Angeles.

And thanks, Leftover, for the links.

Like father, like son and daughter

Back during my active parenting days, when things would get hairy, (I remember 12, 13, and 14 most acutely), I used to tell my son that my fondest prayer was that one day, he’d grow up and have a son just like him.

Sometimes God answers prayers, and sometimes, She doubles up on them. See the photo above? Someone taught the grandbaby (I think it was his other grandma) that if he’s annoyed, he should wrinkle up his nose and take sharp, shallow breaths through it. At the grandbaby’s recent birthday party — which he shared with his twin sister — the grandbaby in question got wiggly, and when his father tried to pick him up, he did that nose thing.

Back when his father was small and he’d get wiggly and someone would try to distract him, he didn’t do a nose thing, but as soon as he was verbal, he’d stick out his lower lip and say emphatically, “Not happy.”

Below is the girl-baby. She looks like her classically-beautiful mom, and she can work a room with the best of them. She has this adorable little giggle, and she likes to be swung around. She can also put her little foot down and not be moved. She shares that with her father.

(Thank you, God, for answering my prayers in full and then some.)

These babies sometimes act so much like their father that when I pick one up, I feel like I’m reaching back through time. Having my memory jogged so often can make a granny feel that you can go home again, maybe go back, show some patience,  and do it right this time.

Today is my son’s birthday (and yes, he was born on a Friday the 13th, too). He is an awesome father, and a fine human being. And yes: I hope all his children turn out just like him.


One way to never have to worry about being a bad parent?

Don’t have kids.


brought this and this and this, but I like that first link especially. I’m a parent. I wanted to be a parent. I worked hard at it, but I find it weird to consider the pressure we put on people who don’t want to have children.

Happy Father’s Day

Here’s to dear old Dad, especially if dear old Dad was a hell-raiser.

My father wouldn’t have fit on a Hallmark Card. My parents’ divorce removed him from any daily contact with his children, and when he came into our lives (once a year, for years and years), he’d stomp in and try to give us course corrections. We called him Master Sgt. Campbell, behind his back. To his face, we tried to be perfect children — or I did.

He drank. He got into bar fights. He was a sniper. Back when my parents still liked each other, my mother once inked onto a photo of a group of soldiers parachuting to the ground in the distance, “Hero.” He got blown up in Vietnam, and then rallied enough to cuss out a Catholic priest who was giving him last rites.

I guess you could say he was a man’s man, and when I worked up the nerve to tell him I was divorcing 100 years ago, the first thing out of his mouth was “Honey, you’re doing the right thing.” I believe I started crying. I’d expected a heater-blast of condemnation, and I got love, the unconditional kind you read about. Just like that, our relationship changed, and — I’ve said this before — if he was an imperfect man, he was the perfect father for me.

I have a later photo of my father and my son, where my son’s grin wraps around his head twice, and the look of love on my father’s face made him look…gentle as a lamb. I stare at that photo more than is healthy. I’m posting the one of my father in uniform because I’m living proof that what you think you see in a person may be wrong, wrong, wrong.

My father died in 1992 of a particularly virulent kind of cancer. He went out with his chin up, as he reassured all of us that he’d made peace with the world, and that Scots are noble by birth.

I love and miss him still.

May you have been blessed with a hell-raiser of your own. Feel free to send me a photo (JPEG preferred) of your father, and I’ll post it here:

Say hello to Sharon’s father, who is about 54 in this photo. She says she also have a photo of him in his military uniform when he was in his 20s, but of course can’t find it now.

How much is Dad worth around the house?

As we slide toward Father’s Day, according to’s Father’s Day Index, if you calculated the work Dad does around the house, he’s doing about $20,248 worth of work.

Mom’s work, on the other hand, is worth closer to $60,182.

You can earn more here. The original index is a part of a push to encourage people to buy life insurance, and who knows if it’s accurate, but it’s interesting

1. To see what jobs are associated with dads, but even while taking a jaundiced view of the gender-specificity of’s ideas of household chores,

2. To think that women may still be doing the heavy lifting at home while earning less in the marketplace.