Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wichita, here we come!

Well, I've come to my senses a little bit...I've entered who knows how many different giveaways...but I am now into the 900s (after a while, I had to skip anything without a description, and only entered if it was clear that I was interested!) AND I've even been getting some cleaning and packing done.

Of course, I dumped my bucketload of cucumbers and a small batch of green beans on my MIL for "payment" for watching our dog (okay, a bucketload of cucumbers might be more of a punishment, but at least they are no longer my problem!)

So, I've got a few dishes to wash by hand; a load of diapers to wash, dry, stuff and put away tonight; three beds to make (all sheets are currently in washer and dryer); toys and entertainment to pack; counters to clean in the kitchen; and floors to vaccumm and mop (and of course, a general pickup of toys!)

Hubby has a bunch of trash to take out; a trunk to pack with all of the stuff we are taking; and the lawn to mow (I don't really care, but HE REALLY does!)

So, I feel like we are doing pretty well for the day before a vacation!

Our plans for the trip include:

Getting Eva's hair cut (she started to give herself a haircut last night at Grandma's)
Getting Eva's eyes checked (possibly...need to find out if LensCrafters or something like that can check eyes of pre-readers...she puts her face on the page to write...)
Shopping for exciting items like laundry detergent, fabric softener, dishwashing detergent, air freshener, canning jars, detangling spray, etc.
Going to the conference and having a good time (and hopefully not spending TOO much money at the vendors)
and at least one fun thing (museum, movie, swimming pool, zoo...we don't know yet!)

Then we will come home and collapse for about a week before even contemplating anything but necessities!

So, I'll be back to post my winner for the Bloggy Giveaways sometime on Tuesday...and I'll be sure to take some good notes at the conference!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bloggy Giveaways Time!

Well, since I missed the last quarterly bloggy giveaway...I figure I might as well participate this time!

So, since hubby just recently joined me at this blog, I think we'll give away two books.

But first, quickly who we are: I'm Majellamom, stay at home, soon to be homeschooling mother of two sweet girls, Eva (almost 4) and Charlotte (21 months). Hubby is il postino, which should give away something extra about him. He's a hard working stand up guy who loves to think, read, and state opinions. His only male companion in this house is our dumb pug dog...who is not exactly all male anymore. We are a Catholic family in rural Colorado. We love to hang out with our family and do all sorts of dorky things together. We blog about whatever we are thinking about...which is kind of a scary, when I think about it...

So, for my selection, I will be sending out a well loved copy of "Guiltless Catholic Parenting from A to Y*" (*Nobody knows everything there is to know, but here's wisdom to help you do it well.) by Bert Ghezzi and others.

And since hubby is not yet home from work, I am sitting here contemplating what would say something about him: A dorky history book? An in depth theology book? But in the end, I've decided on a joke audio book...

I promise the jokes on this book on tape are more entertaining than most of the jokes he tells. So, the second giveaway is a tape (yes, tape...we are that old!) "A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Tape" featuring Garrison Keillor, Paula Poundstone, Roy Blount, Jr. and more.

So, have at it! For fun, leave me a funny comment about something quirky or dorky about yourself or your spouse!

And then go check out HUNDREDS more giveaways at the Bloggy Giveaways main page!

EDIT: Oh yeah, I always forget to add this--I'll take comments through Monday August 5th, and draw on August 6th. I'd stop the giveaway sooner, but we will be at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference this coming weekend...and I doubt I'll be recovered enough to do much before Wednesday!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prayer request

Please pray for Gene, an old, old family friend who just had a stroke and will be undergoing surgery soon. He was at one point a near-Olympics-level wrestler but, more enduringly, he's the person for my folks' parish that a lot of small parishes seem to have: the one who is always around, making sure the altar light is lit and everything is just right. He trained me as an altar boy a zillion years ago, and seeing how frail he looked in his Fourth Degree (Knights of Columbus) regalia during a pretty recent Eucharistic procession was one of the things that ended my fence-sitting and got me to go through the Fourth Degree ceremony.

Lord Jesus the "Divine Physician," hear our prayer.

Humanae Vitae turns 40

Ok, so the anniversary was about a week ago or so, but The New York Times just ran a pretty good overview of the encyclical and its stronger-than-expected "legs." It was written by John L. Allen Jr., who is pretty widely recognized as one of the better journalists covering the Vatican and Catholic "megatrends." He also happened to have grown up in our general neck of the woods and just recently moved to the Denver area. I've liked much of what he's written, though I could generally do without his primary venue, National Catholic Reporter.

Anyway, the whole story can be found at The Deacon's Bench. Also, note Deacon Greg Kandra's reference to Cardinal Stafford, who was the host bishop for WYD Denver in 1993.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cloth Diaper giveaway!

Okay, since I'm a cloth diaper addict I thought I'd better pass along word about this giveaway:

Baby Cheapskate is giving away 12 BumGenius 3.0 one size pocket diapers.

I have two BumGenius diapers for Charlotte (I'm not sure if they are the 3.0 version, but I think they are!) and they are my favorite velcro pockets. I have a deep love for the one-size variety in general, but I do prefer snap to velcro (Charlotte gets off velcro diapers if her pants are even a little bit loose, like her summer shorts). If BumGenius made a snap variety, they would be the perfect pocket diapers IMHO.

So, go check it out, and sign up if you are interested in trying cloth diapers (or know someone who would make a great baby present...if I win, they'll probably go to a friend in town who just asked another friend about cloth diapering...)

This is enough cloth diapers to wash about every other day with a toddler...awesome giveaway!

Fair update

First of all, I apologize that I left hubby unattended for fair after giving him full access to this blog...(I'm mostly kidding...)

So, for those of you who are impressed that I enter things in the fair, let me first give a few facts: In the open classes (meaning, not 4-H) there are usually not more than 4 entries in a class, and they give 3 places. Often, there will be only 1 entry in a class. Also, since my MIL is the superintendent (and I am her everpresent assistant) I feel obligated to bring as many food items as possible...I don't actually go to or compete in our own county's fair...I've heard that there is more competition, and my fragile little ego probably couldn't take it!

So, here are my entries and results:
Scrapbook layout of Eva's 3rd Birthday - 2nd place adult division special occasion
Scrapbook layout of Eva being cute - 2nd place adult division everyday
Canned green beans - 1st place vegetables
Dilly beans - 2nd place pickled foods, Ball award (there were only 4 jars that fit all the rules for the Ball award, and two of those were mine!)
Spicy Dill Pickles - 3rd place pickled foods
Whole Wheat Bread - 1st place (got beat out for best of breads by the white bread 1st place)
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls - 3rd place (white dinner rolls got 1 and 2, wheat got 3 and 4)
Banana Bread - 3rd place (out of 3)
Apple Pie - 2nd place (it was the only entry)
Brownies - 2nd place (out of 2)
Chocolate chip cookies - 3rd place (out of 3)
Ranger cookies - 3rd place (out of 3)
Chocolate Truffles - 2nd place (only entry in misc. candy division...or any of the candy divisions for that matter!)

But Eva did pretty well:
1st place children's beginner photography (for a picture of a tire) AND best of show!
3rd place sock puppet
2nd place "design a book cover" preschool class
Her cookies didn't place in the 13 and under category (there were 4 recipes, and the other 3 were done by girls between 8 and 10)
Then, we put our cookie tray (had to have 5 varieties of cookies, plus be on a decorated tray that wouldn't be returned to us that fit with the fair theme, which was about generations) which had a family tree, pictures, and recipes from 5 generations under Eva's name (as each picture of a family member for the 5 generations had Eva in it!) and that took 2nd place (it was the only cookie tray, but the judge remembered that she didn't like our cookies in the judging, so she wouldn't give us first...)

So, as you can tell, our foods judge is one tough cookie!

Hubby also entered a photo of the girls through the welcome sign at his mom's house, and took 2nd place in the adult beginner photography class.
We also entered a couple of veggies out of the garden, but as they were located in the beef barn this year (they tore down one of the buildings and haven't gotten the replacement built yet, so we were in a smaller, hotter, more miserable space this year) I never went to check and see if they placed...I guess we'll find out when we get our premiums.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Sectarian" vs. "Pervasively Sectarian"

A pretty major decision, Colorado Christian University v. Weaver, was filed this Wednesday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit regarding college funding in Colorado. Some background: Colorado has in its state constitution what is referred to as a Blaine Amendment, which is a prohibition on the government directly funding any educational institution that has a religious affiliation. Thirty-nine states have some version of this idea, which swept the country in the late 1800's and early 19oo's as a result of huge levels of anti (Catholic) immigrant sentiment, and the rise of Catholic schools in this country (at the time, there were very few Protestant schools, and various courts have explicitly recognized that these amendments specifically had Catholics in mind). Anyway, a lot of time and energy goes into figuring out how to "get around" these amendments because, frankly, religious institutions often do a better job--more cheaply--than the state-funded schools and colleges.

One way states have been doing this is by providing funding directly to the students, rather than the schools, who then have the choice of where to use that money. Basically, vouchers (which I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of too much here, other than to say that's what the current strategy to avoid church/state issues is). In Colorado, the Court recognized that the intention of this change in college funding was to give students as many options as legally allowed without violating separation of church and state. So, the state-granted scholarships could be used at religious colleges ("sectarian") as long as they aren't TOO religious ("pervasively sectarian"), as defined by six criteria. The Court, in a nutshell, decided that the state could not discriminate between religious groups like this: either they all qualify, or none do; also, the Court said the process of deciding which were "sectarian" and which were "pervasively sectarian" got the state unconstitutionally "entangled" in measurements of religiosity.

I do think the state's decisions leading up to this have been slightly comical: two "sectarian" schools were funded, while two "pervasively sectarian" schools were declined. Included in the first group were the University of Denver (DU) and Regis, the local Jesuit university. DU is nominally Methodist, but I am willing to bet money (having known a bunch of DU students) that the majority of the student body there doesn't know it. For them to say that Regis is only as Catholic as DU is Methodist is, with no offense meant to Regis, slightly embarassing to Regis as far as I'm concerned. To be fair, one of the criteria involved measuring the percentage of students who were members of that religious group; however--when applying this to Regis--the state measured how many students were Roman Catholic, while--while applying this to Colorado Christian--the state measured how many students were Christians of any denomination (including some, such as Mormons, who many of the other students wouldn't have counted as technically "Christian"). The Court rightly pointed out that this was stupid.

While I think this was a great decision in terms of religious liberty, I'm not sure if it will ultimately be good for the colleges involved or not. I wouldn't really be surprised if the state legislature, which is now controlled by a different party than the one involved in pushing through this funding strategy, just says, "OK, we'll make sure the students can't use their money at ANY religious institution, then." For more of the initial reaction, including a disappointing (to me) quote from the Anti-Defamation League, check out The Denver Post's story.

Oh, and if you've never read a legal decision like this, first: congratulations, but also: this one is actually way better than average. Many decisions are written by judges who couldn't communicate their way out of a paper bag, but Judge Michael McConnell (who is described by the First Things blog as a "famed law-and-religion scholar") has produced a very readable and, if you're kinda nuts like me, enjoyable document. One of my favorite bits is Footnote 8 (pg. 37): "We are unable to figure out why the statute employs these two different expressions for what appears to be the same thing." Also, I like the phrasing of this snippet from page 27: "But the analogy is inapt." Hee-hee: inapt.

Yes, I am a dork.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Looking for a few good men

No, not the Marines, your local church. Saw this on the Deacon's Bench and thought I'd put in my $0.02 on it: a USA Today story entitled "At nation's churches, guys are few in the pews."

A quick quote:

Blame the church, not the men, says David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church.
Warm, nurturing congregations ignore men's need to face the epic struggles of living for Christ, writes Murrow, of Chugiak, Alaska, on his website,

While this story mostly focuses on the e-free types, I've definitely experienced problems with this not only at our current parish, but with my mindset growing up in a rural community. It's so easy for farmers and ranchers, in particular, to label religion as "women's work" and claim they can't get away from the cows and the crops for 1 or 2 hours on Sunday morning. To be honest, that's probably the biggest reason I got cold feet about going back to the family farm. The non-Catholic members of the family figured I'd only be able to get to Mass about 1/4 of the year due to seasonal workload, and the Catholic (male) family members weren't in any mood to push the issue.

It's really affected my ability to meet and make friends with guys my own age in our current parish, too. Of the dozen or so women who are pretty active in MM's "young women's Bible study group," only three (besides MM, by my count) are married to men who are Catholic and attend Mass on any kind of regular basis. Some of the other husbands are actually fairly hostile to religion in general. So, it kind of puts a crimp in some of the men's ministry type of things, not to mention general male bonding and whatnot. What has been the experience of any of you who might read this?

WYD aftershocks

I ran into this quote at AmericanPapist, re. World Youth Day:
"In what is often seen as one of the most intensely secular nations in the world, Australia received a wake-up call..."

So much of the story of WYD in Australia reminds me of Denver's: the culture there seems pretty comparable to the American West's, the numbers were roughly the same, and I think there will be a similar effect on the local Church.

In the Archdiocese of Denver, the two local seminaries are bursting at the seams compared to 15 years ago, lay organizations like the Neocatechuminal Way and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) are thriving, and I know of at least two local priests that have gone on to become bishops since then, not to mention Cardinal Stafford's and Archbishop Gomez's advancement.

For me personally, it's been the gift that keeps on giving: I was kind of a punk kid when I went, and really didn't appreciate the significance of what I had been "dragged to." As time goes on, though, I realize more and more what an impact it really did have on me. For example, going to concerts and other (secular) gatherings involving lots of people in the same demographic as WYD later on really woke me up to the fact that the joy and love I saw on display there wasn't just because of the exuberance of youth; rather, it was the Holy Spirit at work.

For a really great personal conversion story related to WYD Denver, follow the link to Marcus Grodi's Coming Home Network.

It's amazing what 2 gigs can do...

My dad is a computer nerd...and of course, growing up I was a computer nerd myself (for instance, I had my own Texas Instruments computer and went to TI User Group meetings with my dad when I was about 5 or 6)...I built my own computer in high school, and never bought a computer out of a box until I got this one in 2003. Of course, I had my dad help me figure out what to get so it wouldn't become obsolete too soon.

But recently, hubby and I have been grumbling and contemplating getting a new computer...Surely those dual processor things work faster than this...not to mention we were always getting warnings about not enough virtual memory, even though we appeared to have drive space.

So, when my parents came out to visit us last week (the first time they've come out since Christmas 2006...of course, the whole cancer treatments for 6 months were a pretty good reason...but they really haven't had a good excuse not to come for a while now.) I had my dad look over our computer to see what the problem might be. He did all sorts of stuff that I probably would have understood a dozen years ago, but I don't really understand now. He made it so the virtual memory pulls from both drives, stopped all the animations, which look cool but are pretty useless (like when you watch a window shrink or grow...ours now just pop up) and ordered me some new memory sticks for my birthday (not til next month, but I'm not complaining!)

So, the two sticks of 1 GB memory each arrived the other day, but since I've been very busy baking for fair, I didn't foresee myself getting the memory in until the weekend, at least...however, hubby went on strike and told me that I need to scratch off some of my fair entries (to be fair, I guess I did do a bunch of canning, so that's three entries I wasn't counting on...I pulled out some scrapbooking pages for the scrapbooking contest...and I made banana bread for the first time since Charlotte's birth, as I think this is the first time we've had overripe bananas since then!) So, we got the memory in, and we are both just floored at what a difference it is making. Web pages even load more quickly! (We just assumed everything was so very slow because of dial up's still not fast, but until we break down and get high speed Internet, it will do!)

Back to baking!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NFP Week talk

For anyone who might've been interested when MM referred to our NFP Week talk, here is the version we presented at three Masses this past Sunday (2 in Our Town, one down the road with the same priest). The only changes are as follows: A) where MM talks about the expense of a basal thermometer, we pretty much eliminated that sentence and created a smoother seque into the next paragraph because, before the second Mass, Fr. came up to us and asked us not to mention the basal thermometer because there were little kids in Mass (this kinda made us scratch our heads, but we figure it's usually best to humor Fr. --maybe he thinks "basal" means "vaginal," like one of my dear cousins did?); B) at the beginning of the "societal effects" paragraph, I made a little tie-in to Fr.'s homily, saying something like, "Artificial contraception is one of those things Fr. talked about in his homily: a weed that is pretty benign-looking at first but eventually causes all kinds of harm..." and C) I changed the wording of the sentence about the abortifacient qualities of chemical contraception to specifically use the term "abortifacient." For some reason, Fr. really wanted us to do so. Anyway, enjoy (or whatever you do while reading someone else's NFP Week talk)!

IP: Good morning! For those of you that do not know us, I am IP and this is my wife MM (we live in [our town] and attend St. [Whosit’s]). Father [J] has kindly given us permission to speak to you for a few minutes about Natural Family Planning. The American Bishops have deemed this coming week as national NFP week. Some of you may be wondering what natural family planning is:

MM: Natural Family Planning, or NFP, is fertility awareness. Basically, a woman learns about her body and is able to determine when she is fertile and when she is infertile. IP and I teach the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP through an organization called the Couple to Couple League, but there are many other organizations that teach NFP.
NFP is NOT the rhythm method. It is a scientifically proven, completely safe and extremely reliable method for spacing children. Even the World Health Organization has found that NFP is 99% effective.
Fertility awareness through Natural Family Planning is great for women and it is great for marriages. Couples who use NFP have an extremely low divorce rate, around 4%. Couples tend to have stronger, happier marriages after making the switch to NFP. Women learn to understand their bodies. They do not have to pump their bodies full of chemicals, they are more able to tell when something is wrong with their bodies, and they do not have to deal with any unpleasant side effects that contraceptives may cause.
NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy, and is 100% reversible. If a couple has been avoiding a pregnancy and decide that they are being called to have another child, they can change course instantly.
The challenges that come with NFP are few. Most couples using NFP to avoid a pregnancy have to abstain somewhere between 8 and 12 days per cycle.
Natural Family Planning is also easy on the wallet and easy on the environment! There are few costs associated with using NFP. Generally, the costs include a class to learn the method and a basal thermometer. Also, using NFP keeps artificial hormones out of your body and out of our environment.

IP: What about society as a whole? Well, the Church has always known what the advocates of contraception also realize: anything that affects the family as profoundly as contraception affects all of society. The Supreme Court stated in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, a major challenge to Roe vs Wade in 1992, that “people have…made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” In other words, if a society allows and encourages the use of contraception, that society needs to have legal abortion available BECAUSE of contraceptive failures. Not only is contraception linked to abortion philosophically, but all chemical forms of contraception (the pill, patch, shots, IUDs) cause countless very early abortions by preventing fertilized eggs—brand new humans with souls—from implanting in their mothers’ wombs. If you oppose abortion, it is important that you understand the connection between abortion and contraception. One more great reason to learn, use or support NFP!

MM: We would like to thank you for your time. We would love to chat with you more about Natural Family Planning…answer any questions you may have, hear your stories. We will be around after the Mass. Please come talk to us and pick up more information on Natural Family Planning.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Canning tips...

Well, since hubby was gracious enough to go out into our very small garden yesterday and bring me in over 6 lbs of green beans and a dozen largish cucumbers, I've put some of my baking tasks on hold to get some canning out of the way. My MIL is thrilled, because she was worried that we wouldn't have any canned goods at the fair (I haven't actually canned in about 3 years, as it took that long to get hubby to dig up a garden here!)

So, after making 4 pints of dill pickles, 4 pints of dilly beans and 5 pints of canned green beans, here are my tidbits of advice:

1) When deciding to pressure can for the first time, it is REALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA to do so on the same day as terrorists attack your country. You will be so high strung that you will put your pressure canner away and not use it again for 7 years. Then, you will decide that since you don't have that much room in your freezer at the moment, and since you are just about out of vinegar and don't want to run to the store, that you will can green beans in your pressure canner. The seven years of neglect will have worn out your gasket...and you'll spend the whole time they are canning wondering if there is enough pressure inside (since steam is escaping through the sides, rather than jiggling the weight). You will decide that your family is pretty healthy to begin with, and what is that $300,000 life insurance policy on hubby for if we don't live dangerously??

2) No matter how full you THINK you have packed your jars when doing a raw pack (as I did with the dill pickles and dilly beans) when you are done canning, there will be about an inch of space at the bottom where no produce will stay. You will curse the fact that you couldn't even manage 1/4 of the jars to look good, and prepare to ask the judge how to prevent that from happening again next year. Then, you will sincerely hope that you have better luck getting 1 nice looking jar out of 5.

3) Although you just spent two days complaining about your aching back/feet/wrists/whatever and how much you are sweating, wasting on air conditioning, how little you are saving over grocery prices...when you get to the end of the produce you will secretly wish you had more to do!

So, I guess I'll just have to look forward that much more to canning with Katie in August! Oh yeah, and Katie, if you read your stovetop a flat top, or raised? Important information for the sake of my pressure MIL blew it up once trying to use it on a flat top stove!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Noxious weeds...

Well, this week is National NFP week in the U.S. So, hubby and I got to speak at three Masses this weekend at two parishes (all the Masses except the Spanish Mass) about natural family planning.

Writing our talk was interesting, and I may post the two versions of it. Hubby wrote one first, then I started almost from scratch with my version. Hubby wrote an intellectual treatise, and my version was more practical and to the point.

So, because we spoke at three Masses, we got to hear Father's homily three times! He started with the parable about the weeds and the wheat, and mentioned that he had been weeding his roses at the rectory but left something that looked like a small rose plant. Just a few days later, he went back and the plant had grown a lot and was attacking his roses, and very clearly a weed. He went on to talk about how some weeds are very attractive, and look like good plants.

Some poor Jehovah's Witnesses stopped by the house where the parish office is located while Father was there...and he answered the door in is their eyes got really big, but they still tried to tell Father all about their beliefs. Father hit them with a bunch of scripture verses, and eventually tried to give them information about the Church, which they refused because they believe that they already know about the Church.

He pointed out that they are like an attractive weed. They come dressed nicely, with a Bible (their own special translation) and pamphlets that are very attractive to the eye. He stressed that we need to know our Bibles and know our faith, so that we can answer people who challenge our faiths. He really recommended "The Essential Catholic Survival Guide" which is published by Catholic Answers. So I really need to add that to my very long Paperback Swap wish list!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quirks: 6, Tags: 0

Actually, my quirks are many and various, but I'll only cover six here. And I would tag somebody, but I seriously can't think of anyone to pass this on to. I am the proverbial chain-letter killer - not out of disdain for the format, just because I'm not particularly popular.

Anyway, here we go:

Quirk 1: I have an evil gift for getting songs stuck in people's heads. I'm constantly being persecuted for it at work and at home. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!

Quirk 2: I never get tired of a joke. Especially puns. An example: I can't help but respond every time somebody at work says "R.R." (like, Q: "What road is that on?" A: "RR.") with "Oh, is it 'Talk Like a Pirate Day?' All right!"

Quirk 3: I snuffle and, I admit it, snort a lot. I seem to be allergic to all of God's wonderful creation, and my dad's entire family seems to have reeeeally bad sinuses. One day I told a co-worker that I should be a ninja. She scoffed, "Hah, you couldn't go five minutes without snorting!"

Quirk 4: I drag my left foot just a tiny bit more than my right foot. I think it's 'cause I hurt my left knee somewhat during high school football. It's not really that noticeable, but over the life of a pair of shoes, you can really see the difference in tread wear.

Quirk 5: Related to Quirk 3, I tend to mouth-breathe fairly often. This also runs in the family; in fact, Whimsy's mom once offended a group of "blood" family (as opposed to the "married-into's") by joking around about how we all stand around with our mouths hanging open.

And finally, Quirk 6: I go to all kinds of trouble to keep things secret from MM (majellamom) because I'm convinced she, deep down, really loves surprises - no matter how much she denies it - but I always end up telling her about it before I mean to under the slightest amount of pressure. Today's our 9th "secular" anniversary (we ran off and got hitched, then validated it in the Church later on), but she's known for weeks now what I got her. What's worse, I paid 4 bucks for a Visa gift card to order it under her radar, only to wind up spilling the beans anyway. So, not only was she not surprised (which is actually how she says she likes it), but she was also irritated by the waste of money on the gift card.

Tag, anyone who reads this is it!


Okay, Christine over at Good Company tagged me (us?) for this meme...and being the good sport I am, I of course will participate...but being the rule breaker that I am (and the fact that I'm don't know that many bloggers), I'm not going to tag many people!

Rules of the Quirky Meme:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six fellow bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on above blogger's blogs to let them know!

My quirks:

1. I eat M&Ms by color order, and I don't eat the blue ones unless I am desperate because I don't like the way they taste (the food coloring gives them an off taste!) My favorite holiday for M&Ms is Halloween, because the brown, orange and yellow don't have an off taste.

2. I listen to Harry Potter audio books virtually every night while I am going to sleep. This started on a car trip when we took some books on tape with us read by someone with a British accent...they put me right to sleep every time we got in the car and turned them on. I really should look for a British rosary or prayer CD instead, but I have to admit, I like the stories...

3. I eat round things (like hamburgers) in a circle, and square things (like sandwiches) in a square.

4. I don't dream in pictures, just sounds.

5. The shampoo bottle MUST be left on the left hand side of the conditioner bottle. I don't care if the current bottle of shampoo is black and the conditioner bottle is white...I generally don't open my eyes in the shower very much (there isn't much vision is bad enough that I can't identify anything with my glasses off...)

6. I have an unnatural love of Alton Brown...or at least that's what hubby says...but honestly, it's just an unnatural love for his program, GOOD EATS. Have you ever seen the potato episode or the grains episode with the stalkerish "biggest fan"? I could be that lady! Speaking of, if you want some beautiful delicious extra chocolaty brownies, go down to my fair post and click on the link. Even hubby had to admit they are awesome.

Okay, I tag Whimsy...and Katie, who can leave her quirks in the comment box!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I've paid my dues, time after time...

Ok, I actually haven't (and I'd like to keep it that way). Mowing the miserable weeds on our extra lot today, I started pondering the labor laws in Colorado. I'm pretty lucky to have an artificially secure job because, as part of a nationally unionized labor force, it's harder to get rid of me than athlete's foot in a dorm shower stall. I'm even luckier to live in a state that is, for the moment at least, more on the "right to work" than the "union shop" end of the spectrum. In other words, I'm allowed to have a job in a workplace that is mostly unionized and not have to pay union dues in order to work there. This is important to me because the union that would represent me is pretty active politically, and the politicians it supports are "pertinear" 100% pro-abortion.

In 2007, this very nearly changed: Governor Ritter (who, along with our neighboring state's governor, Kathleen Sebelius, and our illustrious Senator Salazar are among the mythical Catholic Democrats who "personally oppose abortion, but won't legislate morality") shocked all involved by vetoing a bill pushed through by the newly-minted majority Democrat state legislature that would have made it easier to require people like me to join unions. From the sound of things, he has no problem with the idea; he just didn't want to spit in the eye of the business community so early in his first term:

Anyway, I got to wondering today what my options were, short of walking away from my job (which I am totally prepared to do, before I'd help pay for the campaign of, say, Barack Obama - the presidential candidate my union has endorsed). I've never once regretted not finishing law school, but at times like this I miss having access to such resources as WestLaw. With the resources at hand, though, I was able to figure out that Communications Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988) gave workers in a "union shop" the right to only pay an "agency fee" - the portion of dues not devoted to political activities. However, the unions seem to have sidestepped this pretty easily by setting up PACs to deal with all direct political contributions, isolated from dues-money. I have no doubt that I'd still be paying for generic political activities, but the "agency fee" is apparently the full cost of the dues because, as the union president explains online to another employee who shares my concerns, the dues themselves are not used for donations to specific candidates.

So... my best hope at this point seems to be rooting for the passage of Amendment 47 on this November's ballot, which would enshrine "right to work" language in Colorado's constitution, trumping the kind of legislation I'm sure is on its way back through the legislature in the near future. Or, I could look for new work, or I could just get over it and pay my dues... I don't know, do you think I'm overreacting? What would you do in my place? Please post your comments!
* and sorry for the long, boring post ;-) *

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcoming il postino!

Okay, against my better judgement, I have set up an account for hubby to post on this blog (of course, I DID invite him to join the blog when I was first setting it up and he said something along the lines of "blogging is dumb" or "I'm too important for that" or something of that nature!)

So, rather than having him IMPERSONATE me all around the internet (occasionally accidentally, other times purposefully...I'm sure he'd argue that whole "the two of us became one flesh in the sacrament of matrimony" line) he is now officially a contributer to this blog.

Now comes my disclaimer: Not all opinions that are expressed by my husband on this blog are ones I agree with. Most likely, they will be half baked thoughts that he was yaking at me while I rolled my eyes and ignored them. He knows that if things are posted on my blog, I will eventually read them, thus he will get his weird points across!

So, welcome to my dear, sweet hubby, il postino.

New Must Read Blog...

I'm so excited that the official announcment has FINALLY been made. Faith and Family magazine (my favorite magazine EVER) has a new website Faith and Family LIVE! The best part so far is the blog with 5 wonderful Catholic women bloggers. Right now they are having a great giveaway with 80 prizes, so go check it out if you haven't been already!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silly DH ponderings

If you read my first post on "So You Think You Can Dance" you know that I spend too much time A) watching junky pop culture stuff and B) thinking about that stuff and not, say, ways that I could improve my ability to provide financially for my family. Or anything useful whatsoever.

Nevertheless, I have long since been conditioned to not only "think critically" of this kind of thing (which DW is at least equally good at, the little C. Wright Mills-ette) but to also think about it with, for lack of a better phrase, an "interesting angle" in mind. This was largely developed in my too-many philosophy of pop culture classes in college, but was brought to a frankly unhealthy extreme by a German-born English professor I once had. The world is a better place because I seem to have lost the diskette on which my "Gorillas in the Mist" essay was saved.

Anyway, some of this line of thought came back to me as we were watching "So You Think You Can Dance" again tonight. Will and Katee performed a ballet routine that had been choreographed by, in Nigel's words, one of the greatest living ballet artists in the world...and his "partner." Now, I DID say, "Maybe he meant business partner," but even I am not so naive to really have believed that when both of our so-called "gaydar"s were screaming otherwise. This was really neither a surprise nor a big deal, though: the dance world is pretty much chock full of people living "alternative lifestyles" and, if we assume the best in people, i.e., that they are living chastely and trying to steer clear of any near occasions of sin, then that's fine.

The thing is, though, this routine was a beautiful demonstration of how completely complementary the male form is to the female form (and vice versa), from the head to the toe, even if we pretend for a moment that the reproductive functions aren't involved. Will and Katee were just gorgeous together, equally and yet totally differently amazing. And this is where the "interesting angle" thing comes in: God made the human form so beautiful, but not with men or women in isolation from one another. The beauty of one is all the more evident by its contrast with the other. There's a pretty compelling, natural law-style argument to be made by this that God created men to be with women and women to be with men. And I do mean, also, in the Biblical sense.

The fellas who choreographed Will and Katee's routine are undoubtedly great artists. As such, they have (whether they know it or not) a more direct feed from God's brain to theirs: they are masters of Beauty, and all true beauty comes from God. It just kind of struck me, watching, how people who may be completely seperated from God's plan for human sexuality in their personal behavior can be such powerful witnesses to it through their art.


I'd say totally worth watching on TV...but it seems to be used as a filler on TBN (it is also aired Tuesday nights 9e/10p on HISTORY International channel, which we do not get). Netflix also has them available.

Basically, this really dorky history buff named Dave Stotts (he's very least for other dorky history buffs...) went through all these cities that were very important in the shaping of the New Testament, rented a car, drove around to a bunch of important sites, and explains why they are important. It's just packed full of information which is filling in a lot of the gaps in our educations.

Hubby puts it this way: "It bridges the gap between areas that I did learn in school and helps make sense of the later history by giving the foundational information that just happened to be connected to early Christian history, and was therefore offlimits in public schools. For example, I had always gotten the impression that the Jewish diaspora was a result of the persecution of Jews by Christians, but it was actually imposed on them by the Roman empire in the 130s in order to keep Judea from being a military nuisance."

On second thought...maybe I shouldn't ask him for quotes...

I am just always amazed at historical facts...I mean, we as a society are so amazingly lazy compared to people in the ancient world. For instance, just looking at a map of the travels of Paul is shocking...particularly since there were no good forms of travel back then! Even more amazing was this information about Hannibal (I think I must have slept through all of the interesting history classes...We definitely didn't look into ancient history in History club in high school...yes...I belonged to the school History Club...) He trained war elephants, got them to Spain, and then marched them from Spain through the Alps over to Italy to attack Rome. He then spent 16 YEARS trying to conquer Italy, but never managed because he lost support back home...

So, put these on your queue, set your DVR, watch them, because they are so cool!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Well, I'm impressed!

Thanks to Whimsy for sending me this quiz...I have to admit, I probably fudged a little bit on I didn't mark "stockings are often crooked" because I don't even wear hose unless we are attending a wedding...and I did mark "writes husband's parents freqently" because we visit them all the time, and I do e-mail my MIL quite freqently.


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Of course, when I did the test for hubby, naturally he had to score higher than me!


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

My cool dudes...

Well, Charlotte is a child of a few words. Mostly they are really important ones like "cookie" "ice cream" and "poop"...and of course "Charlotte's" which sounds like "Shar-es"...

So, Eva just decided that they wanted to play outside (my presence was also requested, but I denied since it is still before 8 am and I'm still in my PJs) and Charlotte was all for it. They got their crocs on, I checked to make sure the locks were in both gates, and Eva opened the door. Charlotte took one look outside and ran to the kitchen saying (and I really wish I were making this up) "SHADES" clear as day, until I got down her sunglasses and put them on her...then she happily went outside.

Of course, that meant that Eva saw her sunglasses, and came inside to make me find HER sunglasses because "It's hot outside so I need my sunglasses."

And we won't even get into the girl's fashionable outfits that they put together this morning!

Speaking of outfits...Eva is outgrowing all of her size 5 shirts, and a lot of her pants are getting snug around the waist (not too short, of course...she was cursed with being short and stout!), so I got out my bin of "next size up" clothes, and found several size six shirts, dresses and pants. Funnily enough, somewhere along the way I picked up size 6 "skinny" jeans and size 6x (which I can only assume is similar to "husky" for boys, or whatever the terminology used to be for girls)...I put the skinny version in our giveaway bag, and kept the plus sized is becoming infinitely clear that the word "skinny" is not going to go on the clothing of that child...maybe the other one...but with the way she eats, I'm kinda doubting that too!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gearing up for fair...

Well, it's been sweltering hot around here recently! I've mostly been staying home in the a/c...with the occasional walking trip to the grocery store to save on gas (honestly, I don't know if it is worth it!) Eva had a swimming party for the summer reading program last week, and my MIL came down to go with her...hubby had a long break between his shifts, so I got to go to a crop for several hours. I got 13 pages done for my scrapbooks (all 12x12, too!)

Today, Eva asked to make cookies as a "surprise" for dada...I'm just finishing the baking now, while she, Charlotte and hubby are outside playing. Eva's been telling him that they are strawberry cookies, and he asked her if she was fibbing and she said "they're not strawberry, they are chocolate chip but I am not telling you!"

Actually, her desire to bake has worked out really well, because I think I have enough dough left over to freeze for fair (in about two weeks). So, here are the recipes I am hoping to get done for fair:

Easy and Fun Peanut Butter Balls (for Eva to make for the under 13 cookie division)
The Chewy (the cookies currently cooling on baking racks behind me)
Southern Biscuits (I've done one test run of these, and they turned out to be a little sticky, and baked a little lumpy, but tasted good!)
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Carrot Cake
Cocoa Brownies
Super Apple Pie
Chocolate Truffles
Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread (this is the recipe that I use to bake all our bread in the cooler 100 degree heat, I prefer store bought!)
Fantastic Whole Wheat Rolls (I take this to holidays, etc. Both bread recipes come from the same cookbook "Fast and Healthy Menus for Busy Moms")

and finally, if we have time and ambition...I recently dyed two very ugly stained up canvas grocery bags, and I am hoping that Eva and I can each decorate one for the "decorate your duds" division.

So other than the burn on my arm from rotating cookie sheets, and the fact that I had intended to clean the house from top to bottom today and instead made a pretty large mess in the kitchen, we have had a wonderful day! Now it's just about time to show dada his SURPRISE!!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A stealth hubby post

I'm not sure I really would get permission to post this, so I figure it's easier to seek permission, as they say. Anyway, I was inspired by reading Jennifer F.'s great article, "A Sexual Revolution," on the America website and thought I'd share our personal mini-conversion story re the Church's teaching on contraception in the form of our "witness talk" as a newly minted NFP teaching couple. Also, I'm really proud of DW for having written 98% of it as I procrastinated. This is an edited version in order to protect some modicum of anonymity, so bear with it. Our decision to use NFP has made our Catholic faith so, so much more meaningful to us over the years. PS, a "H/T" (hat-tip, in the parlance of Deacon Greg at "The Deacon's Bench) to Whimsy for her prominent role in this process. So, here you go:

HIM: I am a cradle Catholic, and [DW] is a convert. Both of us grew up thinking that contraception was no big deal. Neither of us was catechized as to why contraception was wrong. We had learned the lesson that to be responsible was to prevent pregnancy.
HER: So, it really isn’t all that surprising that we first went down the contraceptive path. We eloped in July of 1999 and, because we were both still in college at the time, we thought it would be in our best interests to use birth control until we graduated. Not only that, but we were planning on staying in Denver after college and, with the higher cost of living there, thought we should plan on having a smaller family when we did start having children. So I went on Depo-provera and experienced a number of side effects, even though I only received two shots (6 months of birth control). For one thing, I gained a large amount of weight while on Depo. Worst of all, though, was that I did not see the return of a cycle for almost three years.
HIM: During the time we were going through this, we would frequently visit one of my cousins and her family who also happened to live in the Denver area. She is very strong in her Catholic faith—so much so, in fact, that we thought she was kind of nuts at the time. I don’t really remember talking with her about the problems we were having with contraception, but she still volunteered the information that she and her husband were very happy using NFP and often urged us to take a class. Seeing how enthusiastic she was about it (not to mention how badly our decision to use contraception had backfired), we finally signed up for a class.
HER: By this point, maybe in part because we enjoyed spending time with [DH]’s cousin’s kids so much, we had determined that we would like to have a larger family…not huge, just larger than average. Our teaching couple was pregnant with baby #8 during our classes. I was very impressed by them, but at first thought that NFP must not work, if they were on kid #8!
HIM: Our minds and hearts were converted through our NFP class. We knew that we didn’t want to continue with chemical birth control…but we still had a more difficult time understanding why barrier methods were problematic.
HER: To compound the confusion about barrier methods, my lack of a cycle for a number of years after coming off Depo made charting almost impossible. Fortunately, since that time, research has been done and CCL now has some great rules dealing with coming off long-term chemical birth control. I really could have used that information 8 years ago!
HIM: NFP was also really the catalyst that helped us to trust in the teachings of the Church. We still had a long struggle to accept the authority of the Church, but at this point we know that the Church will not lead us in the wrong direction, even if we don’t understand intellectually why a teaching is what it is.
HER: That’s very true. NFP has helped to teach us virtues. When we were first married, we tended to be very selfish. When I graduated from college, [DH] had decided that he wanted to go to law school…in large part, I believe, so that we could live on one income, but in another way, to prove himself intellectually. I struggled the same way! When [DH] decided on law school, a couple of my college professors started to strongly recommend that I go forward with my education to get a PhD.
HIM: So, we went off to graduate school, willing to compromise so that we were at the same school, but we both wanted our degrees. I think what we really wanted, though, was the recognition and status that comes with having a higher level of education. In other words, we were focusing a lot on how other people would view us. However, it didn’t take very long to convince me that I didn’t want to be a lawyer.
HER: And it only took me one semester of teaching to realize that I didn’t want to be a professor!
HIM: At that point, we took a closer look at what WE wanted as a couple. We realized that, even though it wouldn’t get us any honors or titles, what we wanted most in our heart of hearts was to settle down, have children, and raise them in a small town where they could be safe and surrounded by a loving extended family—the way I had grown up.
HER: However, God wasn’t done teaching us about selfishness…in fact he probably isn’t done yet! We faced difficulty in conceiving, unlike so many of the teaching couples and NFP users we had met! We tried charting to achieve pregnancy, but I still had difficult cycles…in the end, we put our trust in God that He would build our family in whatever way it was meant to be built. In 2004, we had our first daughter, Eva and in 2006 our second daughter, Charlotte.
HIM: This whole process of learning to trust God, which was really initiated by our decision to learn NFP, has also led us to be more grateful for the gifts we’ve been given and to be better stewards of them. When you leave your fertility in the hands of God, you need to be a little more careful with the resources you are given. CCL taught us the importance of a mom in the first 3 years of a child’s life. In being open to life, that may mean giving up a second income for a long period of time.
HER: Realizing the importance of a mom, and deciding that I would stay home with our children if and when they arrived also helped us to be more counter-cultural. We have gone without a lot of things that many people think of as necessities. We have two 10 year old cars, we have dialup internet and we have the most basic phone service we can have and still have a number. We only have cell phones because our parents have family plans to keep in touch with us. We live in a small house and we avoid debt as much as possible, all because we know that for me to stay home, we have to make ends meet.
HIM: We also communicate better as to what our hopes and dreams are for the family because of NFP. Regularly we have to consider how having another child would change our lives, rather than just not thinking about having kids at all. We won’t have a perfectly “planned” family, because it is not our plan we are following.
HER: Probably the best thing about NFP for me is that I do not have to deal with the harmful (or just not comfortable) side effects of contraception. I don’t have to pump my body full of chemicals, and by charting my cycles, I can tell my doctors when a baby is due, which is a great help since I still have longer than normal cycles. The fact that NFP works well with irregular cycles is great!
HIM: As for the practical, how we use NFP…
HER: I have to say that practicing NFP would be a lot more difficult without [DH]’s help. On a purely practical level, I am so not even CLOSE to being a morning person. Our temperature taking time is sometime before 6 am!
HIM: 5:40, to be exact!
HER: Right, way too early to be awake any way you look at it! [DH] has to get out the thermometer, get me to take the thermometer and put it in my mouth, and then get the thermometer back from me after it is done. I have a hard enough time concentrating on the beeps so that I stay awake and keep my mouth closed until an accurate temperature has been taken.
HIM: That’s not to say that she isn’t capable of dealing with her temperature herself. If she’s away from home, it gets done. But as a husband, I am the head of our family, and as head of our family, I accept the responsibility of helping with our charting. I also am in charge of marking down temperatures and observations on our chart in the evenings. Because I help so much with the charting, I generally know what is going on in [DW]’s cycle. She likes things like interpreting charts, so she generally does that part.
HER: If a husband isn’t involved in the process of NFP, or isn’t supportive of the use of NFP it will probably be a source of frustration for him. But, as a wife, I know that when I used contraceptives, it was very easy to feel used by my husband, but with NFP, there is not the feeling of use. We have to mutually agree that we are willing to be open to another baby if we are using the fertile time.
HIM: I really encourage husbands to get involved and have at least a basic understanding of NFP. Your support of your wife will mean a lot to her. She will appreciate your effort, even if you struggle with some of the sacrifices using it might entail. NFP has really improved our marriage, and I think it can do the same for yours.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My little religious fanatic!

Okay, so hubby and I are now understanding the whole "child-like faith" thing, thanks to little miss talks-a-lot (otherwise known as Eva). Here are two recent examples:

I had a little party for my direct sales thingy at my house. One of my friends brought her two kiddos, who played outside with mine. Hubby supervised them, so got to hear the whole conversation. My friend's daughter K is a year younger than Eva, and they were drawing with chalk. K was drawing squiggles and circles...and Eva drew the above picture...She very clearly told her friend that it is a picture of Jesus on the cross! Very cute...I may have to send it in to Faith and Family magazine...I don't know if they take sidewalk chalk drawings for their art page...but I think that it is great for an almost 4 year old!
Second one happened yesterday. We had a rough morning...Charlotte wouldn't let me get her out of her crib, and both girls with cranky in general, and particularly with each other. Somehow Eva fell off a chair and bonked her head (not major, but we did have some waterworks because of it) so she was sitting with me for a while. I almost always wear a 4-way medal and a medal of St. Gerard Majella. Hubby wears a crucifix and a medal of St. Gerard Majella as well. We did a novena to St. Gerard before we had Eva, so he's kind of a family patron of sorts. I've worn mine since my pregnancy with Eva, and hubby got his from his (Lutheran and Methodist) coworkers when Eva was born. So, she first determined that the dove in the center of my 4-way medal was an angel (I thought that was a pretty good guess!) and then identified "St. Gerard 'Jella"...she then pointed out that he is holding a cross (something she notices a lot) and asked me why. I said "I think he has a cross because he loves Jesus very much!" and she asked me why he loves Jesus so much, I asked "well, why do you love Jesus so much?" and without missing a beat she said "Because Jesus is my best friend and he loves me so much!"...I told her that I was pretty sure that St. Gerard felt the same way as she does.