Anne-Kari Friedner and Family

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Monday, November 26, 2012

High praise indeed.

Today Katherine and I were at the comic book store, and Katherine was commenting on everything there (as she is wont to do): questioning time-travel logic, musing on the dearth of female superheroes, squealing with delight and disgust over Walking Dead action figures etc (no I don't let her watch that show). She interrogated the owner about when more Doctor Who merchandise would get in and chatted with another kid about the importance of reading not just 'regular books' but also comics.

Just as we were leaving, a scruffy college dude shyly came up to me and said "I just want to tell you that you've got a really smart neat little girl there, I mean if she's your daughter, I mean even if she's not your daughter - anyway someone is raising her to be really cool. Um." I swear that is nearly verbatim. I smiled and said something along the lines of "Well thank you, I try to raise 'em up right with a decent appreciation for the geeky side of life." Katherine blushed and rolled her eyes but she gave the scruffy college guy a big smile.

That's my girl :) Also: cute 20 something comic-book store boys think I'm a good mom, y'all.

6:37 pm est 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Invisible children

Uganda, the LRA, night commuters and child soldiers

I stumbled across a 55 minute documentary about the ongoing civil war in Uganda called Invisible Children recently.  While the documentary has quite a few problems as a film – it's obviously shot and edited by (well-intentioned) amateurs, unevenly paced, odd (and occasionally distracting) musical scoring choices etc – its message is both shocking and haunting.  What’s more remarkable is that the filmmakers now devote themselves full time to a very successful aid organization that they created because of their experience making this documentary.

Here’s the basic situation in Uganda as I've been able to glean (from this film and other sources, see the end of this note):  A rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, has been trying to overthrow the government for over 23 years.  The LRA is led by Joseph Kony, who believes that God has chosen him to create a theocratic government based on the ten commandments.  What is more remarkable, and utterly horrifying, is that the LRA has abducted approximately 30,000 children since 1987, forcing most of them to become child soldiers.  These children are trained to kill, maim, rape, and torture.  The girls who are abducted are forced to become child ‘brides’ to officers.  Joseph Kony himself is believed to have dozens of child ‘brides’.

Death is the sentence for children who try to escape, who refuse to kill, sometimes even for those who cry.

Every night, even now, thousands of child leave their villages and walk to the nearest urban area to sleep in parking garages, basements of hospitals, etc to avoid being abducted by the LRA, who routinely take children from their huts under cover of darkness.  The children who make these trips to relative safety are referred to as ‘night commuters’.

Invisible Children is a very good starting point (despite the problems listed above) if like me, you are ignorant of the Ugandan crisis.  And from what I can see, the non-profit organization ( that sprang from the film is an excellent one.  There has been significant pull back of the LRA in the much of Northern Uganda.

But the more I read up on this situation, the more I saw how complicated it is.  The LRA has started to spread into bordering countries.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Joseph Kony and many of his ‘generals’ for multiple crimes against humanity.  This has been, understandably, seen as a triumph, and helps bring international attention to the LRA’s atrocities.   And there has been increased talk of international military action to wipe out the LRA.  As recently as December, after another LRA. massacre of civilians, armed military from several countries attempted to raid LRA. strongholds.

Here’s a problem:  now that Kony has been indicted by the ICC, he is no longer willing to show up for any peace talks for fear of being arrested.  And Ugandans desperately want peace.  They have gone so far as to extend amnesty to LRA members, even those who have committed horrible crimes.   But many Ugandans, both governmental and civilian, see the ICC’s indictments as throwing a wrench in the peace negotiations, and potentially harming the amnesty program.

And as for military action against the LRA:  as in most guerilla warfare, the foot soldiers on the front lines are the first to be killed.  And most of the LRA’s foot soldiers are children under the age of 16 (some as young as 5).   I simply cannot, in this case, accept that the ends (getting Kony and his generals) justify the means (killing children, even if they are “trained soldiers”). 

In any case, military action has been largely ineffective against the LRA. In one case, a US-backed military offensive backfired horribly, resulting in fleeing groups of LRA soldiers massacring almost a thousand Congolese.

And what if there were some way to end this war permanently and peacefully?  What happens then to the children who have been the dehumanizing process of LRA indoctrination?  These children, who have been desensitized to violence as part of that process, have killed and maimed so many.  Some children escape the LRA, and upon returning to their villages they are often ostracized and feared.  There is no real mental health infrastructure in place to deal with the massive psychological damage done to all the parties – the parents and siblings of these children, and of course the children themselves.   This is practically an entire country of people with PTSD.

Invisible Children doesn’t delve too deeply into these complexities.  What it does do is pull you in and make you pay attention.  The most heartbreaking and affecting moment of the entire film comes from the last interview of Jacob, a former child soldier who has lost almost everything and is now hunted, along with one of his brothers, by the LRA.  Interviews with Jacob and his surviving brother Thomas are sprinkled throughout the film.  They are in turns angry, funny, lost, and hardened, even suicidal – and like the other children in the film, they hide their pain and talk about the atrocities done to them and their friends with anger as the only displayable emotion.  But when Jacob lets a little of his sadness out when talking about his murdered older brother, his crying becomes a raw, wrenching keen that undid me completely.

You can see the movie Invisible Children here:  The website for the nonprofit organization is

Some of the articles I read after seeing Invisible Children:"'s%20resistance%20army&st=cse

5:23 pm edt 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Revolution Involves Laundry Chores

I’m elbow deep in mail and bill sorting early on a Sunday, and Katherine charges into the room.

“Mommy, I need you to do something for me and it’s VERY SERIOUS.”


“I need you to put all of Patrick’s clothing away and then tell me and I’ll tell him that it’s all put away.”

“Uh, why would I do this, and why are you asking me to do it?”

Katherine:  “Because I’m supposed to do it.”

Wait a minute.  “Why are you supposed to put Patrick’s clothing away?”

“Because he’s my new boss, Mommy!”

Pause. Okay.  “How did this happen?”

Katherine sighs, and explains thusly:  “Cuz Patrick is going to pay me and I’m his servant so I have to put his clothing away, but I don’t know how to and anyway I don’t want to so I want you to and then he’ll give me money, so okay?”

Oh for crying out loud.  “Let’s go downstairs.  I need to talk to Patrick.  And by the way, it’s not happening.  Patrick, you are not her boss, you cannot pay her to do your chores.”

Patrick, deep in his game of Super Smash Bros, shrugs and says “o-KAY Mom.”

20 minutes later –

“Mommy, I need some money.”

Sigh.  “Why?”

“Because I need to pay Patrick to BE MY SLAVE!”

“Katherine, that is also not going to happen.”

A dirty look is shot my way, and I hear Katherine stomping back down the stairs.  Faint sounds of whiny arguing is heard.

“He’s going to be my slave anyway Mom.  He has to!  He is not the boss anymore!”

“Really? Has there been a coup?”

“A what?”

“Patrick isn’t boss anymore because you made yourself boss?”

“Yep.  A coup!  A coup!”

“Yeah.  Well.  No, I won’t back that one either.”

Too late, she’s already triumphantly descending the stairs, hollering, “It’s a coup, Patrick!  I’m taking over. YOU ARE MY SLAVE.”

I give up.  “Make it a bloodless coup at least,” I yell down the stairs.

“What’s that?”

“No fighting or hitting!”

“A bloodless coup!  A bloodless coup!  You have to put away my laundry and I won’t hit you!”

I guess the paperwork will have to wait.

11:07 am edt 

Friday, July 18, 2008

Welcome Welcome Welcome HARRISON!
Happy new baby to Doreen and Tommy who just got back from the hospital with the adorable Harrison Sawyer Friedner.  D&T, let me know if I can put some pix up on my site of the new addition!  CUZ HE'S CUTE!!!
5:13 pm edt 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Scatological Observations of a 4-year-old

Warning:  many excrement related and potty-training relevant discussion below.  This is the unfortunate byproduct of finally potty-training the child - so much attention has been paid to her potty trips that she now has, well, an obsession with crap.

Me:  "Katherine, you better make a potty try before we get in the car."
Katherine:  "It's OK Mommy - My poo is staying safe in my butt.  It doesn't need to come out."
3 minutes after strapping her into her car seat:
Katherine:  "My poo is ready to leave my butt now."

Katherine: "Why doesn't the dog use the potty?  Ewwww he's poo-ing in the yard!  Let's get some toilet paper and show him how to flush it down the potty!"

Katherine: "Poo is the Daddy and Pee is the Mommy" (wha?)

Nearly every time she goes potty, one of the following (sometimes more than one):

"I had a lot of pee! Lots and lots"
"My poo was LOUD this time"
"My poo took a loooooooong time"
"I peed AND I poo'd!"
"My poo is (brown, dark, curly, smelly, funny looking, etc etc etc"

And of course, since I am a mother and therefore am entitled to absolutely no privacy whatsoever:

Katherine (pounding on the door of the bathroom): "Mommy!  Are you in there? Are you making a poo?  Let me in I want to see what kind!!!  Mommmmmeeeee!"

11:48 am edt 

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Week 11?  Or is it 12?  Who knows, the days are blending together.
So yes, to those who have asked, I am still sick with this stupid, stupid virus.  I am sleeping 15 hours a day, this ridiculous fever continues unabated and I have watched all 7 seasons of the West Wing.  The worst part, or really, one of several worst parts, is that I can't even read for 20 minutes without getting a splitting headache.
I go out daily for my doctor-approved 1/2 hour of errands or whatever, then I come home and sleep that massive excersion off for 2 hours.  I previously said of this illness that I would have loved it when I was 15, all this laying around watching TV, but that at 39 years old it sucks.  At this point I think even my 15 year old self would have had enough already.
I know I'm lucky, it could have been much worse, and it was a relief finally getting a diagnosis.  But I miss my LIFE.  I miss walking my dog, I miss work, I miss playing with the kids...
Yeah yeah, whine whine whine.  I'm definitely feeling sorry for myself at the moment. I'll post again when I'm not so pissy.
I hope everyone else is doing well.  I welcome any DVD suggestions.
4:02 pm edt 

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Good Night Story


“Mommy I want a talking story tonight,” says Katherine.  “Talking story” means “tell me a story”, and must always begin “There once was a Princess named Katherine”.  From there, my feeble imagination must take over, and since I’m a feminist of sorts (e.g., never shall any Bratz dolls enter my home), I try to create stories in which Princess Katherine not only wears beautiful jewelry and fancy dresses, but she wears them while learning to sail, or building a house, or running a race, or becoming CEO of a multi-national conglomerate and revamping their HR policies to include paid maternity leave and free childcare centers on site.  Or something.


So.  Anyway.  It was Talking Story time last night, and usually she lays there quietly, thumb tucked in mouth and eyes wide open staring at me, patiently listening as I fumble around trying to come up with something marginally creative (and not too painfully didactic).  This time, however, I started with the usual “There once was a Princess named Katherine” and she immediately interrupted me:


“And she had big girl underpants!”  - said in a gleeful manner.


“Yes, OK.  And one day Princess Katherine - ”


“She had BIG GIRL UNDERPANTS, MOMMY!”  Apparently, a key plot point in need of reiteration by me.


“Right, she had big girl underpants – “


“Her underpants go over her BAGINA!”


“Yes, indeed.  So Princess Katherine, wearing her big girl underpants, wanted to go on an adventure - ”


Now I receive a look of derision and frustration:  “No she didn’t!  She wanted her dessert, and put her plate in the sink, and then she wanted to find her blankie, and she wanted to PEE in the POTTY ALL BY HERSELF, and then wipe her BAGINA with toilet  paper and flush the toilet and wash her hands and see a My Little Pony movie on the TV and ….”


This went on for about 5 minutes and I’ve forgotten most of it (must start carrying around portable tape recorder), but it did somehow wind its way back to the key element:


“… and she had on her BIG GIRL UNDERPANTS!  Because she PEES IN THE POTTY!”  By this time, she was practically shouting.  She then sighed, and said somewhat reluctantly, “OK I’m done Mommy, now I need to go.”


“Yeah, um, ok honey, goodnight-“


“MOMMY!!! I need to go!!!!!”


As in, to the potty.



1:43 pm edt 

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kevin! Yes, really. Kevin.
Seems like a strange name for a dog, but ladies and gentlemen --- drum roll please ---
And a very sleepy Katherine.  This is the best picture I have of him so far as all the other ones are totally out of focus for some reason.  More to come!
As you can see he's a fairly calm dog.  He's very sweet and apparently endlessly tolerant of being relentlessly 'played' with by the children -- in other words they have chased him around, thrown dog toys all over the place, run up and down the stairs with him, rolled around on the floor with him, yelled "Doggie!  Doggie! Kevin! DOGGIE COME HERE LET'S PLAY", and generally acted like they were both on triple espresso shots ever since we got the poor guy home.  Our old phrases were things like "Stop hitting your sister" and "No you may not have a Snickers bar for breakfast" - these have been replaced entirely by "LEAVE THE DOG ALONE."
Thank heaven that this dog is so sweet.  He's about 10 months old, a rescue dog we adopted just two days ago, and seems to have some german sheperd and assorted other breeds in his background.  He is a sweetie, crate trained and nearly housebroken. So far he's been fine in his crate for long stretches on time, but that's been at night when he's been sleeping in the bedroom.  Today is his first day being alone in the house and in his crate during the day, so I have no idea what to expect when I get home from work (1pm).  Fingers crossed that he hasn't freaked out and peed all over his crate or chewed his way through it.
Especially since we have kinda sorta got the house in order.  Now here are some pictures (taken IMMEDIATELY after I spent 5 hours organizing, cleaning etc) of our home:
More floor visible plus Kev's new crate.
Dig it, our dining room is ACTUALLY A DINING ROOM.  You know, that place where people eat, like MEALS.  Who knew?
Why, lookie there!  More floor and something that resembles, dare I say it, an actual LIVING ROOM!
Yeah I know, still got toys around. But who cares - FLOOR I TELL YOU!
And who knew that a kitchen table could be more than a place to dump your mail, newspapers, assorted broken Burger King plastic toys, piles of change and old receipts from Safeway, lint from your pockets, etc.
Of course you realize this will last approximately 12 more hours before the house reverts to its usual state.  But at least the boxes are no longer taking up more room than the actual furniture.  YIPPEE.
11:33 am edt 

Friday, July 27, 2007

Random Act of Blogging 7/24/07


Back in the stone age of cellular technology, cell phones were as big as a brick and almost as heavy.  I remember seeing people using them only occasionally, usually yelling into them because there was so little technology supporting them and they could hardly be heard.  These people invariably looked either slightly embarrassed when using them, or massively self-important to have such a remarkable thing – a portable, wireless phone!  See, I’m a cutting-edge BIG SHOT!


Then came the era of the smaller, less obvious cell phone.  Not yet ubiquitous, it was very confusing to me to see people walking down the street, yelling into their hands.  In NYC, one usually assumes that such a person has lost their mind, regardless of their Calvin Klein suit.


Now, of course, the rotten things are everywhere. Even worse, they now fit into your ear, so it’s harder still to tell the crazy people talking to themselves from those simply on a call.  Many have ranted about how obnoxious people can be, thinking that they absolutely must be on the phone all the time – in the theater, on the subway, during a meeting, while having open-heart surgery, etc.  Most of us cell detractors have reluctantly accepted this part of our brave new world – not me, however.  I hate the damn things.  But such is life these days.


But I ask you, when did it become de rigeur to talk on a cell phone while you are IN A STALL in a PUBLIC BATHROOM?  What is so damn important that you have to make a call while sitting on the toilet?  I don’t want to pee while the person in the stall next to me is yelling at their spouse about paying to much for airline tickets, or making dinner plans (Ew!  You are on the TOILET!), or just chatting away – “Hi!” (pause) “Nah, I’m not doing anything, just thought I’d touch base” – a sample of a real conversations I had the displeasure of hearing in a public bathroom.


The first time it happened, I felt uncomfortable flushing, like it was rude or might embarrass the moron in the stall chatting away – give away their position, so to speak.  Then I thought better of it – just flush, it’s not my problem that they choose to be so gross. 


Now when it happens, I flush TWICE.




Grumpy McLuddite


PS:  I know a million people have blogged the same issue, and I don’t care.  So there.  Fffffft.


10:22 am edt 

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Random act of blogging 7-25-07
I had years of ballet as a child - years.  Posture, balance, spinning without getting dizzy, complicated footwork, etc. 
As a bartender, I was able to answer the phone, ring up an order and pour mixed drink all at the same time without dropping anything (or getting the orders wrong). 
As a mother, I have been known to nurse one child with one arm while helping the older child tie a pair of shoes with the other arm.
One would think that a person who could do all these things could be trusted to walk barefoot for 4 feet in her own home with injuring herself, right?  I mean, that person I described up there is no klutz, and shows great coordination, right?  Right?
Not so much.  I did, indeed, get up from bed the other night to walk the 4 feet from the bed to the bathroom and managed to stub my pinky toe SO HARD I CUT OFF THE TIP OF IT.  Gross, I know.  But really that is exactly what I did.
Anyway, there are new pix up.  Don't worry, none of them are of my toe.
9:37 am edt 

Saturday, April 7, 2007

More Wedding pix
Check out the wedding page for a few more pix.
7:33 am edt 

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Congratulations to Tor and Kathleen!!
Yep, they got hitched and it was quite the party.  Pix on the wedding page!
9:59 am edt 

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yep, I'm back
Finally getting back to this little website. Most of you know what's been going on with me, and I'm feeling a lot better.  Well, ok, some better.  But I'm hopeful.  New pix of the kids and other events on the "latest pictures" page!
5:33 pm edt 

Monday, October 2, 2006

Some New Links
I'm finally getting around to adding assorted links, click if you are so inclined...
10:43 am edt 

Sunday, October 1, 2006

6 Flags
Lockheed Martin may stink in terms of some of their benefits, but the kids would argue that a free full-day pass to Six Flags is worth the dwindling health benefits. And I have to say, with lunch included and every ride free, it certainly is a nice perk... see new pix on 'Latest Pictures" page.
4:56 pm edt 

Saturday, September 30, 2006

86 Shopping Days To Go
So Patrick has his wish list for Christmas - actually he's had it for some time now - and has been asking me if I think Santa will bring him what he wants. Most recently he's taken to asking me in the car on the way to the sitter's house, first thing in the morning. I think he knows I'm distracted then and might give him a straight answer, but I keep thinking I'm too clever to have to give him one.

"Mommy, do you think Santa knows what I want?" he asks me plaintively.

"Well, Patrick, if he doesn't we can always write him a letter."

"But will he get the letter in time?"

"Yes, yes, don't you worry, we'll make sure."
Patrick thinks about this...

"Mommy, do you think he'll get me what I want?"

Hmmm... "Well, he probably won't be able to get you EVERYTHING you want.."

"But why?"

"Well, Patrick, first of all, nobody gets EVERYTHING they want, but you can be sure you'll get a lot of very cool presents."

"Do you think he'll get me a Game Cube?"

Not being entirely sure what a Game Cube is, but being fairly certain it's some kind of hyper-priced video game system, I answer: "I don't know, Patrick, that's a very expensive present, OK?"

"But Santa has lots of money, Mommy."

"Ah, well, I don't really know about that -"

"No, Mommy, he does! He's very very rich, he gets presents for everybody, so he can get me a Game Cube", Patrick says with confidence.

"Yeah but Mommy and Daddy don't have lots of money" I say and immediately realize that I've made a mistake.

"Do you have to give Santa money for my presents, Mommy?"
Patrick asks, incredulous.

"Um, OK, no not really, but..."

"So if you don't have to give him money then you don't have to worry about my Game Cube because you don't have to buy it, right?"

How did I get into this? Now I can only think to say my standard answer: "Well, we'll see." There. Good answer. Doesn't address anything directly, just vague enough to mean almost anything. I can tell he's not really buying it, but at least I've ended the discussion.

Or so I thought. "Mommy, if you don't have to give Santa the money for the presents he's getting me, that means you will have lots of money to buy me OTHER presents, right?"

I need more coffee.
8:43 pm edt 

Friday, September 15, 2006

South to Drop Off, Moron


It’s the end of Patrick’s first day of Kindergarten, and I’m feeling fairly smug as I appear to be the very first person in line at the “Kiss-n-Ride” spot. (For those not in the know, Kiss-n-Ride is a cutesy-poo way to describe the area where parents line up in their cars to drop off and later pick up their kids – you don’t have to get out of the car, the teacher escorts the kids to and from).


Sure, it took me 15 minutes to FIND the Kiss-n-Ride area (in the mornings I drop him off in front of the school), and it’s pouring rain, and I forgot all the forms I was supposed to bring with me, but hey, at least I’m the first in line to pick up, right?  I mean there’s a great big sign saying “Kiss-N-Ride Starts Here” and a fat white line painted on the pavement in front of me.  It seems pretty obvious.  I wonder why all those cars in front of me were parked in the “No Parking, No Standing” zone – but hey, not my problem!  Besides, there’s plenty of room for me to drive around them after I pick up my kid.


And out comes Patrick with his new classmates (and I notice I have neglected to put him in boots, despite the forecast.  And I forgot to pack his umbrella.)  Patrick gets in the car while I am mildly chastised by his teacher for not sending those forms in, and sternly told that I have also forgotten to put his name tag on his shirt (And the Mother of the Year award goes to….).


At least I can just drive off now, kid in tow and properly strapped in, so I start to pull out and around the illegally parked cars.  Suddenly everyone’s honking at me and the teacher is back at my car window, looking even more stern – you see, although I think I’m first in line, that sign and the big fat white line LIED to me – all those people in the no-parking lane?  Are actually in line ahead of me.  And I’m not supposed to even THINK about moving until they all leave first.


Y’all remember “Mr. Mom”?  You know the scene I’m talking about?

10:10 am edt 

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Truth in advertising
So I can say that without a doubt, "Snakes On A Plane" is in fact exactly what it claims to be. There are lots of snakes. On the plane. I have only one regret about plopping down my seven bucks: I should have arranged to see it with theater full of junior high school kids. This is a big, stupid, fun B-movie that would have been way more fun with a bunch of sugar-pumped freaked out teens screaming and throwing popcorn and clapping wildly every time someone gets bit or Sam Jackson curses.

An endorsement of this absurdity? You bet. Go see it with your favorite group of 14-year-olds. It's motherf*!$%ing fun.
8:58 pm edt 

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

FINALLY I have internet access again!  I am reformatting my little website.  I will start with a few pix of Patrick's bday, courtesy of Ed (aka Grandpa).  More content to come.
10:00 pm edt 

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