Friday, August 29, 2008

My struggle with friends...

Okay, I don't think of myself as that tough to get along with (maybe I am! Don't tell me though, cause I'm feeling a little depressed as it is...) but this whole Bible study drama thing is getting to be too much for me.

As an aside, isn't it wrong on so many different levels to have drama in a Bible Study???

Basically, the new thought is that no one wants to come to Bible study anymore because we don't do much fun stuff...we actually do a study. Several years ago it was basically a social gathering where we would discuss (for at least 3-5 minutes) what we had read that week. Mostly people chatted, gossiped, etc.

Then came the blow up--two people (who were the ones accountable to the parish) wanted to get us back to praying (simple things...making sure that we prayed before we ate, before we discussed, and at the end of the evening) and several people didn't take it very well. It even turned into an issue with people who had missed that night as they took sides. Several people hardly talk to each other even now (which is an amazing feat, as most of the group is related to each other, at least by marriage).

So, the theory is that if we take more time away from study for socializing, that people will start coming back. At least this time there is lip service to keeping a balance between the two.

And here lies my dilemma...I've always HATED the socializing part of Bible study. Not because I dislike socializing (okay, not COMPLETELY due to the fact that I'm not that much of a socializer...) but because EVERY SINGLE social event turns to a conversation about people I don't know, but everyone else (for the most part) does. about 10 out of 13 of us grew up in this town. Another one married a guy who grew up here, and finally one other woman and I are complete outsiders.

What I am struggling with right now is this--do I just go along with all the social stuff and give it another try in the hopes that I will be able to relate to the group in some way...or do I politely decline from the social opportunities because I am fairly certain that they will go the same way they always used to?

And if I politely decline, what do I say when someone notices and mentions it to me. Also, if I decline, do I try to find another outlet for friendships with other people in town, or do I just decide that family is plenty?

Hubby's inclination is that I should try for 6 months or so to get along and do the social stuff before making any decisions...I'm just not sure yet. Any thoughts?

And McCain's VP pick is...Sarah Palin!

It feels so weird for something in the world of politics to go just as I'd like it to (so far) that I'm not really sure what to say. I am so, so glad that Senator McCain chose a pro-life candidate, though!

I will say that I have been moved by Governor Palin's personal witness for life when it comes to her fifth child, Trig. Palin's son, born this April, was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome in utero, but Palin says she never considered "terminating" her pregnancy. Upon Trig's birth, the family issued a statement which reads, in part:

"Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."

For more on this part of the story, you might want to check out a good op-ed piece by Nat Hentoff (which I didn't stumble upon until today) here.

Now, for the peace of my family, a break from politics for a few days! ;-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hubby's favorite foods...

I just found an envelope that I scribbled some notes down on over a month ago while I was cleaning today (I've been doing a lot of cleaning in the last 24 hours...when I'm really ticked off, I clean...)

Shortly before our anniversary last month, I got to thinking that in our nine years of marriage there are several dishes that I know hubby loves, but that I have never learned how to make. (Partially because I find many of these dishes to be exceedingly gross...but still, you'd think I'd OCCASIONALLY make some of his favorites!) So, I sat down with him, and had him come up with a list of ten things that I don't make that he would like me to learn. So, for the enjoyment of all (and so I can throw away the AAA advertisement envelope that it is written on) here is the list of things I need to learn:

Frog-eye Salad
Funeral Potatoes
Tater Tot Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Watergate Salad
Pretzel Salad
Pan Fried Round Steak with White Gravy and Mashed Potatoes
Goulash (that includes macaroni...pretty sure this dish really isn't goulash!)
Sweet Potato Casserole

and finally, he listed one that I do make occasionally, but that he really loves:

Sour Cream Enchiladas

Also, this goes to show you that AllRecipes has virtually everything!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

VP blogs to check out

I'm becoming a nuisance to myself and all those around me with my current presidential race obsession, but here are a couple of blogs having to do with the so-called "veepstakes."

First, the Dems: I've really been enjoying reading "Catholics Against Joe Biden." I'll admit the name makes me a little antsy; I'm sure he has some lovely traits, and I feel for some of the personal tragedy he's experienced...but I just can't stand the thought of someone so blatantly spitting in the Church's collective face with regard to abortion.

On the other side of the aisle, the idea of Alaska governor Sarah Palin for Vice President seems like it could be a real wild-card in this election, especially given the relatively broad dissatisfaction among women with the way the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton relationship has played out. I'm especially impressed that she is a member of Feminists for Life.

Anyway, take my opinion for what it's worth... but, again, the thought of a pro-choice Catholic Vice President is getting me all riled up.

PS: Finally got someone to look at the house's little foundation "issue" today and it looks like it's a lot less serious (and costly) than I was afraid it would be... what a relief!

Why I don't get along with other women...part 3,571

I'll admit it...I don't like women that much.

Obviously, it is nothing against women as a whole, or even against women as individuals (since I am one and all...) but there is just something that goes horribly wrong when women get together.

I'm involved in a women's bible study group. We are all around the same age and around the same stage in life (married with mostly preschool aged children), and almost all of us are Catholic (one is a non-Catholic married to a Catholic and raising her kids Catholic). Some days we get along just great...right now is not one of those times.

Basically, we have two warring factions (maybe a little overdramatic...) one group does not want us to have a leader, resists any sort of leadership, particularly if said leadership is the women in the group that are in charge of reporting our activities to the parish (hence, technically the leaders). This side also mostly wants to socialize, and keep us from offending anyone by getting too deep into the faith. The other side would like a hard core bible study, and are a little antisocial (okay, maybe that's just me...but not quite as enamored with the social aspects).

I ended up being the facilitator when we did Johnette Benkovic's "Full of Grace" study because I had done it before. I tried to pass the torch with our new study (Kimberly Hahn's "Chosen and Cherished") but no one would take it, so I'm facilitating again.

To make things worse, Father has set up the RCIA/Adult Education classes so that they are the same evenings as our bible, the group as a whole seems to think that Father should work around the schedule of church activities rather than having church activities work around Father's schedule. Last meeting, there were 5 of us (out of 11-15...11 got books for this study) and we chose to move bible study night so it wouldn't conflict with RCIA/Adult Education. I have already started to get flak for that since I did have it put in the bulletin...but it is of course, from people who weren't there last time.

We also have this dumb secret sister first I thought it was fun...and actually it is kinda fun to come up with gifts for my secret sister. The first year, the woman who was my secret sister was a total dud (1 card all year, gift at Christmas, gift at end of year...whatever, it was fine, although I did think a birthday card would be traditional), and this year's secret sister is a little better (did several things early on in the year, but missed my birthday as well...of course, I do have a sucky time of year for a birthday anyway...) But when we have secret sister stuff (Christmas party, end of the year reveal) it takes a lot of time away from our bible study we talked about doing either an "end on your own" thing or a coffee on a Saturday to reveal.

Here's were the current drama starts:

Next bible study is at our house, so I sent out an e-mail stating what I was cooking, what other people could bring, what chapters we are doing in the study, that we were moving days starting the following meeting, and that we had talked about the secret sister thing at the last meeting. I knew that one of the ladies had said she would take care of it, but I hadn't heard anything from her (and she has a tendency to tell me that she will call back about something and never call back...which is fine, but doesn't make me all that confident that things will get done) so I put a throw away comment at the end of the e-mail saying basically, anyone interested in organizing? Do we still want to do secret sisters? Knowing full well that there was next to no chance that anyone would take me up on organizing anything...

Well, I first got an e-mail (private to me) from one of the ladies saying that the one who had said she'd take care of it was dealing with it. I didn't bother responding, because I figured that she'd be doing it anyway...I thought that by offering it out, the people who don't want any leadership from the actual leaders of the group would be less put out by one of the leaders taking charge if they were offered the chance to be involved (do you see how convoluted this gets really quickly???) AND I figured that if anyone expressed interest, I could tell them that the lady who was going to take care of it was working on it and to call her to see if she needs help.

So, I get a call from the lady who said she'd do it telling me that if she says she'll do something, I should just let her do it, and basically keep my nose out of it. I tried to explain my reasoning...but at this point, I am just about ready to quit.

It's so much like all the drama in Altar and Rosary that caused me to try to start a K of C ladies auxillary in our old parish, which was thwarted by the new Grand Knight (the old one helped me get started) who wouldn't give us the names of the Knight's wives because his wife was an officer in Altar and Rosary and he didn't want to get in trouble with the A and R ladies...

I've never been able to get along with other women (particularly in women's groups), so I don't know why I bother trying...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Go Chaput, Go Chaput, Go!

I realize that lots of people watch stuff like "The Hills" to avoid thinking about politics and religion and the stuff like that, but right now I'm trying really hard to think about politics in order to stop obsessing about foundation repair (waiting all weekend for insurance and construction people to come back to work is making me CRAZY!).

Anyway, I just wanted to point out how proud of the leadership in our archdiocese I am. Archbishop Charles Chaput now seems to officially the go-to-guy for quotes on Catholic politicians, at least visavi the issue of pro-choice candidates receiving communion. Here's what he told the AP:

Chaput, one of the nation's most outspoken bishops on Catholic political responsibility, said Catholics who disagree with the church on "serious, sanctity of life issues" separate themselves from communion with the church and should not present themselves for the Eucharist.

Biden "has admirable qualities to his public service," Chaput said in his statement. "But his record of support for so-called abortion 'rights,' while mixed at times, is seriously wrong. I certainly presume his good will and integrity — and I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for Communion, if he supports a false 'right' to abortion."

Chaput added that he looks forward to speaking with Biden privately.

So, among the things to be thankful for today is: an archbishop with cojones. ;-)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why married men live longer than single ones...

subtitled: "What my husband ate while I was away"

It's amazing that single men can survive...if they are anything like hubby. I was gone for 3 days...a total of 8's what happened:

Lunch--PB&J sandwich and peach (not so bad so far)
Dinner--PB&J sandwich

Breakfast--cereal (normal)
Lunch--bag of popcorn (free at Ace Hardware) and Mountain Dew
Dinner--Tomatoes with salt, dry cereal

Breakfast--cereal (again, normal) plus starbucks double shot (not normal)
Lunch--forgot about lunch...ended up taking a late break after realizing he never had lunch, and went to 7-11 to eat two taquitos and another starbucks double shot
Dinner--microwaved a can of refried beans with creole seasoning and drank a can of peach nectar with applejack...

He is very glad that I am home and preparing meals for him again...of course, when he was single and not living in the dorms, he survived on bread and ketchup sandwiches, and leftover bagels and cream cheese that he would find in conference's a good thing we married young!

Certifiably Insane...

What do you call two moms, eight children under 6, 175 lbs of tomatoes, 36 lbs of pears, 50 some quart canning jars, 20 some pint canning jars, two dozen half-pint canning jars, four batches of jelly and three canners???

Yeah...I'm tired...very tired...

However, the mission to Denver was a big success. I came home with 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 7 quarts salsa, 11 pints pearsauce (like applesauce, but with pears) and 12 half pints of jelly...

I also came home to a box of peaches with 20 some left, so I may have to do one more batch of canning...

Not to mention, I don't think either of us have looked in the garden recently (what with home improvement and destruction going on around here!)

Of course, I do want to show of my beautiful new backsplash (don't mind the mess...I mentioned that we just got home, right!?! And the corona box is full of canned food...not liquor!) and lovely new curtain. Sadly, I don't have a before picture, but the main reason we could afford this house was that it was unfinished (including almost no cabinet doors in the kitchen!), so hubby has stained and installed all the cabinet doors, sealed the tile counters, installed the backsplash and trim (also a almond color tile backsplash on our island behind the stovetop, which is almond colored, like the sink) and installed my new dishwasher. We have also put in a garbage disposal (the plumbers installed that one), so at this point, our only main challenge in the kitchen is to cover up the florescent lighting around the cabinets (you can see a little bit of the unfinished part in the picture...)

"Choice of Biden...

...Re-Opens Catholic Wound"

Biden's own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the "great civil rights issues of this generation."

Bishop Saltarelli denounced the notion that politicians can 'personally oppose' abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn.

"No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: 'I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.' Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: "I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena," said Bishop Saltarelli.

John McCain: please, please, please choose a strongly pro-life running mate. I honestly think pro-life Catholics are going to be the difference in this election.

Things are about to get interesting in the "religion and politics" realm!

BTW: I'm obviously back from self-imposed exile. Got a lot of household stuff done, but in the process found where a bunch of water had run under our foundation. Next comes insurance adjustors, quotes from contractors, and me trying not to lose it. *sigh*

Oh, and MM and the girls got home safely last night, thanks be to God!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"No we can't!"

As luck would have it, on the same day I posted about Archbishop Chaput's new book he was posting some great thoughts about religion and politics on the First Things "On the Square" blog. Here's my favorite snippet:

Our leaders should inspire us; they should stir our hearts and call us to live the ideals that make America great. But sometimes the answer to the realities we face is not “yes, we can,” but “no, we can’t.” No, we can’t spend money like hedonists and outrun our debts forever. No, we can’t ignore the poor of the Third World and expect to be loved abroad. No, we can’t allow the killing of roughly one million unborn children a year and then posture ourselves as a moral society. No, we can’t make wicked things right by spinning them in a clever way.

So, in that spirit, I'm really going to try to say "No, I can't blog for a couple of days." MM and the girls are out of town on a suicide canning mission, so I (not to mention MM) feel it's important for me to get some home-improvement-type work done while they're gone. The only exception I foresee is a quick comment on the Democratic VP nominee if he or she really is announced before the convention starts. After all, four of the names floating around--Sen. Biden of DE, Sen. Reed of RI, Gov. Kaine of VA, and Gov. Sebelius of KS--are all pro-choice Catholics...and I may not be able to resist!

Monday, August 18, 2008

religion and politics

There's an old story about when GK Chesterton was first offered a newspaper column. Supposedly his publisher told him he was free to write about anything he wanted, as long as it wasn't religion or politics. Chesterton is said to have responded, "There is nothing else worth writing about!"

I'm really looking forward to reading Archbishop Chaput's new book, Render Unto Caesar, because its subtitle "Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life" has been somewhat of an obsession of mine for some time now.

As such, the last couple of days have been pretty interesting for me. First, of course, there was the forum involving Senators Obama and McCain at Saddleback Church. I won't go into it much here, but the First Things blog has an interesting comparison of four world-class medical doctors' (from such places as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School) answers to Pastor Warren's question of when human life begins--they all say at conception--with Obama's response, "Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade."

Then, this morning, The Denver Post ran a pretty interesting column about faith-based initiatives by Jim Towey, who ran the White House office that deals with these from 2002-2006. It's worth a read, but I'm still kind of unsure about exactly how I feel about the government funding faith-based groups that provide community services. I don't think there's necessarily a separation of church and state issue involved, but I worry about the strings that might come attached to such aid. The old rule of thumb, "With government money comes government control" has a lot of truth to it, and I worry that some groups will lose what makes them effective--the fact that they're based on something beyond self-interest--while others will be forced to get out of areas still needing service because the state forces them to violate their beliefs (see, for example, Catholic Charities of Boston's response to state mandates requiring them to allow homosexuals to adopt children).

I talked a while back to our local state senator, whose kids are all homeschooled, about potentially providing vouchers for homeschooling parents. He strongly felt that tax credits would be a much better system because, frankly, he doesn't trust the government not to tie too many strings to money given more directly to parents. This, coming from a state senator, really gave me something to think about.

The freezer is full...

Well, it is now official...our freezer is full (it really doesn't take that long to fill it, as it is only the size of a dishwasher)

Today I canned 5 pints of bread and butter pickles (I'm ignoring the leftover cucmbers that didn't make it into that batch and hoping they go away...) and we froze 13 bags of corn.

Both girls "helped" us shuck the corn, with Eva being slightly more helpful (she probably did 5 or 6 herself) and Charlotte being slightly less helpful (she got one ear out of the husk and spent the rest of the time eating it and trying to take bites out of more...)

Then I spent a LONG time blanching all the corn, hubby cut it off the cobs, and I bagged it up. Since I ran out of ice midway through the blanching project, hubby had to run to the liquor store for more (they have the best ice prices in town...of course, they only sell 20 lb bags...), so I do have some leftover ice in the freezer that we'll use up for Eva's birthday party on the 31st.

We do need to make a little room in our refrigerator's freezer before Saturday, as it is SHARE day, and we ordered a grill package and a produce package. (Incidentally, I ordered these two items, then three days later got an e-mail coupon code if I would purchase those two particular items...I just have the worst luck with sales!)

The really good news is that I now can officially procrastinate canning all the fruit in my fridge, since I will be going up to Denver to do some canning on Wednesday. Yeah!!! And I should be able to come home with some canned tomato products, which are my favorite to can (and to eat!)


I've been thinking about swords a lot the past few days, for someone who is neither a homicidal maniac nor an employee of a renaissance festival.

First, I've been reading a series of sci-fi/fantasy books (yes, most are either one or the other, but these are both futuristic AND sword & sorcery) by Christopher Stasheff. I've really been enjoying them. It's funny, because they were recommended to me by my father-in-law (who is totally areligious) with the phrase, "You'll like him, he's Catholic." At first I was a little insulted by that, like my f-i-l thought I was more bigoted than I actually am or something, but I actually really do like the fact that Stasheff's Catholicism is very evident in his characters and settings.

Second, MM and I watched a really stupid movie called "King Arthur" on TV the other knight (hehe), which was produced by that Bruckheimer guy or whoever produced "Titanic." Oh, and Keira Knightley was Guinivere. Anyway, one of my many complaints about it was how they used their swords for every little domestic task, seemingly. Give me a break.

Finally, I finally got my grandpa's old Knights of Columbus sword from my great-uncle. I have to admit, I can't stop playing with it (I know, I know: paging Dr. Freud). There's just something so COOL about the sound of a sword being unsheathed. There are a lot of better reasons to become a fourth degree Knight, but the fact that you get a sword is definitely a (secretly) good one.

For me, anyway! :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Look I Made a Frosting Cow!"

Yippee ki yo ki yay! Today is your special day! Yippee ki yay ki yoo! Today we celebrate you-hoo-hoo!

Happy birthday, majellamom! I love you.

PS: For anyone who doesn't know, that was from the VeggieTales version of the story of Joseph's ("technicolor") coat: The Ballad of Little Joe.

PPS: One example of the dorkiness I love MM for: when I sang that to her earlier she said, "I was just reading that story in the Bible; did you know that all those brothers were from four different mothers?" I realize I probably should've known that, but I'm just slowly getting over my cradle-Catholic hesitation to actually sit down and read the Bible.

My favorite talk from the Midwest Catholic Family Conference

Well, I have to admit that I had a hard time on our recent vacation. I was TRYING to remember the advice from Faith and Family Magazine about family trips being about having experiences as families, not as a vacation for mom. I didn't really mind the cooking and cleaning...but the lack of naps and the difficulties with discipline on the road got to me.

Hubby says it is mostly because I insist on sitting towards the front at Mass...but it was really difficult not to compare our kids behavior to other families around us. It seemed like everyone else's children were very well behaved, and that other moms weren't as frazzled as me.

So, my favorite talk from the conference was titled "Family Rules: The Power of We" by Jim Stenson. He has a great website here. Basically, he suggested that successful families should have a mission, a responsible chain of command, and a set of performance standards. For these standards (or rules, or whatever you want to call them, he suggests the following categories:
--We respect the rights and sensibilities of others.
--We all contribute to making our home a clean, orderly, civilized place to live.
--We give people information they need to carry out their responsibilities.
--We use electronic media only to promote family welfare, never to work against it.
--We love and honor our Creator above all things; we thank Him for His blessings and ask His help for our needs and those of others.

Go check out his website for more, as all the information he shared is there!

Also, We ended up buying a DVD/CD set called "You're a Better Parent Than You Think" by Dr. Ray Guarendi. The Catholic Answers table was having a buy 2 get one free sale, that hubby didn't think we should take advantage of (ironically enough, during one of the talks he went to, they announced that they had changed it to buy 1 get 1 free I could've gotten the OTHER book I wanted to, had I just waited...) I can't say that any of it is earth shattering advice or anything, but I really needed a pick me up for my parenting skills.

Things have been a little bit calmer around our house...I've been able to deal a little better with disciplining Eva--Dr. Ray's DVD really has reminded me that talking is not discipline, and Jim Stenson reminded me that having consistent expectations for the whole family to follow can make it easier to be clear in my expectations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

But it's a muuuu-sical!!!

Okay, with Eva is VERY MUCH like living in a musical...

It's probably mostly my fault, as I've been encouraging such behavior all her life (BTW, since I know most sane people haven't watched as much VeggieTales as I have, the title is from "Lyle the Kindly Viking" where Larry the Cucumber...whatever his character's Viking name is...keeps singing lines that don't need to be.)

But, I am taking a break from the musical that is our lives for a canning update (although I really should be composing a canning anthem at this point...I mean, we even have a song for our last Vet...)

So far, I am pretty much out of pint jars, because I've realized that unless it is a tomato product (salsa, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes) I won't go through a quart jar at a time. I have PLENTY of jelly jars, so that's probably next on my list (besides raiding my MILs house for pint canning jars or heading to ACE for another case) Here's what I have done:

8 pints dill pickle spears
4 pints dill pickle chips
9 pints sweet pickle relish
4 pints dilly beans
5 pints green beans
6 pints peaches in light syrup

What I have failed at:
growing enough tomatoes to do anything with (beyond a few salads and BLTs)
keeping up with the amount of cucumbers and beans coming out of the garden
making sweet gherkins...I have learned that I should stick with fresh pack pickle recipes, as I don't think that I have the patience or stomach for brined pickles (I have a lot of paranoia about food borne illnesses thanks to my biology teacher of a mother!)

What I need to deal with in the next 24-72 hours:
25 lbs of peaches (minus about 24 maybe 15-20 lbs left???)
36 lbs of pears (I should not be allowed to go to anniversary sales...I'll leave it at that)
A heaping colander of green beans (cleaned and snapped this afternoon by hubby)
A gallon bucket of even MORE cucumbers (maybe hamburger dills or bread and butter pickles...or we could go for a drive in the country and throw them at mailboxes...)

I'll be back tomorrow with a post (FINALLY) on my favorite talk from the conference...that is, if I can dig my way out from underneath this produce!

Friday, August 15, 2008

My new dishwasher...oh how I love thee...

Okay, you know you've been a housewife too long when you wax poetic about your new dishwasher...particularly if it is a inexpensive, not many frills variety.

I am currently researching whether or not to use my Cascade 2in1 Action Pacs with my new dishwasher, or if I should give them to my MIL and only use the Electrasol Tabs. I remember reading somewhere a while back that they could cause costly repairs (and I just didn't care with our old dishwasher...they dissolved very easily in the pathetic wash cycle the dishwasher could manage).

So, the dishwasher we ended up getting is an Amana 24 inch Tall Tub built-in in black. According to the saleslady, it was a top pick by consumer reports last year (and at least one reviewer got it because of something they read in consumer reports). Hubby stayed up until 1:45 last night (this morning??) getting it installed and making sure that it works. I've run it twice today, and my stuff seems to be coming out very clean! I am really pleased with it.

Hubby also found me some duct tape out in the garage (which is a pit where we can never find anything) so that I could repair the cheap WalMart laundry sorter that I broke down and bought over a year ago in desperation....the plastic joints were cracking, so a lot of duct tape later, and it's functioning well (if looking a little ugly!)

Our pug dog, Bubba had his checkup with the vet today. Hubby's been worried recently that he was looking skinnier and was worried that we haven't been feeding the dog enough...and our little report from the vet said he weighs in at 17.94 lbs and states "good job on Body Condition" because last year he was slightly overweight at his checkup. The good news is that hubby and I are doing a good job of keeping our dog and kids at healthy if we could just figure out how to do the same for us!

Bubba's problem area is his I googled how to brush a dog's teeth this afternoon. Plus, we researched heartworm medications, because he hates the current stuff we lame are our lives?

I just had to go let Charlotte out of her room...where she had escaped and gotten stuck with my newly repaired laundry kids are weird, I know!

I'm planning on writing a little bit about my favorite talk from the conference before too long...maybe for our 200th post? Sometime next week, I'd bet...unless hubby gets the blog writing bug again!

Sharing is overrated

Going back a few weeks, we talked about some of our (often embarassing) quirks. Well, this is kinda another one: I love some of the kids shows on now and sometimes even watch them without the girls around. Case in point: "Yo Gabba Gabba." Now this is a show that the girls love (although Eva seems to be coming down a little from the peak of her excitment about it) and I really like, but MM has only grudgingly accepted in the house--not for any moral reason, I don't think; just because it annoys her so much sometimes.

I think part of it is that, even though MM loves music and has a far better educational background in it, I love to sing in funny voices with random lyrics pretty much all the time. Eva has inherited this from me, and Charlotte is coming along nicely as well. YGG caters to this annoying quality in the three of us and has the added benefit of really bizarre costumes, character names, and Biz Markie teaching kids how to beat-box. Yes, Biz Markie, along with miniature monster, a magic robot, and the occasional celebrity (like Elijah Wood) teaching a "Dancy-Dance." It's awesome.

However, there are occasionally some things about it that get on my nerves a little. For example, today the kids and I were watching an older episode that we had saved on the DVR. One of the characters was playing with a ball and didn't want to share. This one, Brobee, represents the most toddler-like of the monsters, so he frequently has to deal with toddler-like issues. Anyway, the trees in the forest started singing to him about how fun it is to share your things with your friends. He responded that he was having fun playing with it on his own, so why share? Because, the trees said, it's a lot MORE fun to share.

This seemed like a stretch to me, personally. Maybe it's because I'm sort of anti-social, but I frequently have a lot more fun doing things alone than I do with others. I'm not saying kids shouldn't be encouraged to share; in fact, I get on our kids all the time about needing to. But that's the thing: it's important to share because it's the right thing to do. I don't see why we should sugarcoat it and say it's going to be so much more fun than just keeping your stuff to yourself when, potentially, it will actually be a lot less fun to share. It makes me wonder if, deep down, whoever wrote that segment just doesn't believe in things being objectively right and wrong, that they want to encourage good behavior while appealing to no more than the person's self-interest as a motivation.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into a show with the word "Gabba" in its title.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today is the day!

So, hubby had to go into work this morning (his boss really doesn't like to stick to a schedule of any sort, and often will say "I'll give you a call if I need you back earlier" when hubby asks when to come back after lunch...) even though he was scheduled to have the whole day off. I'm not complaining, though, cause it's about $50 worth of time...

After he gets home, we are heading to my MILs house. She gets the kids for the day, then we are borrowing FILs pickup (we were supposed to borrow MILs big SUV...but she hit a phesant and it now needs a little work!) to drive up and buy a dishwasher. YEAH!!!

We'll also do a bit more shopping, then head home...maybe get the dishwasher installed (I kinda doubt it with the time frame) then go to the anticipatory Mass at our church. Then, hubby will go visit his parents and bring the kids home, and I'll go to my bible study (we are starting Kimberly Hahn's "Chosen and Cherished" tonight.)

Yesterday we finally decided on a plan for a backsplash in our kitchen. It's not going to be as nice as the cabinets and countertops, but we ordered some peel and stick tiles, will be looking into getting some trim today, and ordered some colorful curtains so that I can take down the horribly ugly lace thing that we've had since we moved in (I really don't like old lady window treatments...or wallpaper, but we didn't have the wallpaper problem in this house!)

Then tomorrow I have even more pickles to make, and I think I'm going to can some pears as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From the current issue of Time...

Under the heading "Verbatim" on page 17...

"'Even the patience of the brothers was being tested by our slow Internet' Father Daniel Van Santvoort, Cistercian monk, on his Welsh monastery's decision to get broadband access"

So, when religious orders start surpassing you technologically, does that really say something about you?


It's often said that the truth hurts. Well, when I told this little story at work yesterday, I knew I was about to get a little pinch:

Two days ago, after work, I took the girls to the best of the local parks to give them a little fresh air and to give MM a chance to breathe, if you know what I mean. Anyway, there was a birthday party going on, complete with inflatable castle (which the parents graciously invited my kids and the daughter of another couple who happened to be at the park at the same time to play on) and everything. I'm not absolutely sure, but I think most of these kids were about 6 or 7; in other words, at least a couple of years older than Eva. However, she got right in there when it came to playing in the sandbox and running around with the other kids. Not only that, but she apparently was trying to take charge. The last thing I heard before I intervened a little bit was her raising her voice to say, "You do it how I tell you! I know everything, and you're wrong!"

Ohhhh. I know where she gets that, and I don't just mean my Aunt Joyce (aka, "The Colonel"). And so do the people I work with... so I braced myself a little bit when I told my fellow clerks (who are both women) the story. Sure enough, they both got wicked glints in their eyes and said, laughingly, "Hmm, where have we heard something like that before?" "Well, how about a while back when you said, 'You do whatever you want, but I'm pretty sure I'm right!'"

By the way, yes, I did actually say that. And no, I didn't turn out to be right in that instance.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Like Al Smith, eh?

Joe Klein, who has been rhapsodizing ad nauseum about Barack Obama for months, has a column in this week's Time in which he engages in a little wishful thinking about how similar Barack Obama's situation is to Ronald Reagan's in 1980: a celebrity with not a lot of political experience going into the conventions with smaller lead than the party feels comfortable with, but (Klein envisions) both winning landslide victories after demolishing their opponents in head-to-head debates. We'll see...

But, anyway, the beginning of Klein's concluding paragraph struck me as a little odd:
"It may be that Obama is not Reagan. It may be that he is more like Al Smith, whose Roman Catholicism was too much for a Protestant nation to handle in 1928."

Now, this is pretty outrageous on a couple of fronts. First, comparing Obama to Al Smith is being pretty ignorant about history. Smith had double the years of elected office Obama has had, including having been governor of New York for eight years, and he was running against Herbert Hoover--a media darling who had never held any elected office. In that sense, maybe John McCain has more in common with Smith than Obama does.

Second, Al Smith was the victim of deep-down, visceral, widely-accepted anti-Catholicism. If you ever see some of the campaign materials used against JFK about 30 years after Smith, you can imagine what he must have gone through. For Klein to use this analogy, which by extension reads, "...whose African-Americanism is too much for a white nation to handle in 2008," is playing the race-card pre-emptively and without provocation, much as Obama has been doing himself since he won the Democratic nomination.

Anyone want some cucumbers???

Still a little bit sick around here, but at this point I'm just mostly sick of cucumbers!

When hubby first planted our garden this year, the beans did fabulously (they still are, actually) but he thought that the cucumber plants had all he planted a second row of them...well, the first plants weren't dead afterall, and the second ones are thriving, too!

I loaned my waterbath canner to my MIL quite a while ago, and I took one of her canners home before we went to Wichita...well, I was nice and returned that canner with the bucket of cucumbers we gave her when we left...and she still has the canner (and another bucket of cucumbers...) so I've been doing my waterbath canning in my stockpot, which works fine, but I think the max I can do at a time is 5-6 pint jars (I definately couldn't do many quart jars in it!)

So, yesterday, I did 3 pints of dill pickle spears and 5 pints of sweet pickle relish. I also am midway through doing a pint or two of gerkhins (they require a couple of days of soaking.

Talking to my mom last night (she called to see if I wanted some videotapes that I made with some of my friends in middle school...I told her to burn them, please!) she mentioned that some homemade sweet pickle relish would make a good Christmas gift. The poor woman doesn't know what she's getting into, because I have enough monster cucumbers to make at least 6 more pints (if not 9!) So, in a while I need to run to the hardware store (for more pint canning jars and a new nightlight for the girls...they've been using a GentleVapors thing with a nightlight the last few nights!) and to the grocery store (for more green pepper, onion, celery seed and mustard seed). Then, there is a lot more canning in my future.

I also have a tentative plan for getting my dishwasher (birthday present), but I'm waiting to find out if hubby's schedule is what was written down, and then I need to check with my MIL so we can borrow her vehicle and possibly leave the children with her.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Well, Eva brought home a cold from Wichita, and now Charlotte and I have it...

So, I'm not getting a whole lot done at the moment...even though the girls stayed overnight with grandma.

Hubby and I went to help run the beer garden at the county fair in a larger nearby county last night. The Knights there run it, and mostly they use their money as a fundraiser for the parish school. They also let other Knights councils come in an help some nights for a portion of the profits. Hubby got to work as a bouncer (no beer past this point) and I got to take money and serve. It was actually a lot of fun, if a late night (we didn't even stay until close, and got home right around midnight!)

We also had the opportunity to go to the nearest big box home improvement store while we were there, and found a dishwasher for $329 that I'm going to be getting as my birthday present (YEAH!!!) Hubby and I had a real disagreement whether or not a dishwasher was an appropriate birthday present. He really felt that a housewife was OWED a dishwasher and it didn't make an appropriate present. I asked him what an appropriate present would be...he said flowers, or jewlery or new clothes. I reminded him that the last time he got me what I wanted for my birthday it was new laundry baskets (I think that might've been for my 25th) and that I still LOVE them this many years later. I think he's finally given in...

So, my question for you guys today is: If you had a dishwasher in bad shape (ours doesn't consistantly fill with water, so we have to dump 2 1/2 gallons of hot water in the bottom before we run it) would you consider a dishwasher a good birthday present? Or would you feel as though the dishwasher should be replaced (given that we've already had one repair call on it this calendar year and they found a wad of extraneous wire duct taped into the front panel...) AND you should get some other (less practical) gift for your birthday?

Once I'm feeling a little better, I have one small bucket of little cucumbers, one large bucket of medium sized cucumbers and one large bucket of monster sized cucumbers to deal with...I am seeing a vast quantity of pickle relish in my future!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More thoughts on Wichita

Tim Staples was another of the more prominent speakers at the Midwest Catholic Family conference this year. He is one of an increasingly large and influential (within some circles, at least) group of Catholic converts like Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, and now Francis Beckwith (who, until last May, had been the president of the Evangelical Theological Society). In Tim's last talk of the conference, "Why Be Catholic," Tim linked the conversions these intellectuals to the success Pope Benedict XVI has had in reaching out to other traditions.

Specifically, Tim spoke about how the Pope's comments about Islam (and this Easter Vigil's baptism of a prominent convert from Islam) incited a great deal of outrage in the Muslim world, but now he is in talks with over a hundred Muslim religious leaders--which would not have come about otherwise. Less prominently, BXVI ruffled the feathers of many within the Eastern Orthodox churches early in his papacy by removing the title "Patriarch of the West" from the list of titles on the "papal resume," based on the logic that he is the head of the whole universal church (this title was instituted somewhere along the way in reference to the schism between Catholic and Orthodox churches). Despite the controversy, this attitude toward the Orthodox churches has been bearing fruit, too: this past Pentacost, an Assyrian (Orthodox) bishop and his entire diocese were brought into full communion with Rome.

Tim's point was this: BXVI is a great example to the rest of us that a lot can be gained by being firm in our convictions. We should be proud to be Catholics and to tell people what we believe without embarassment or compromise. In Tim's words, "It's time for us to stand up and start acting like Catholics!"

Damian Thompson writes here that this attitude on BXVI's part is the crucial difference between now and 1994, when the Anglican Church first allowed the ordination of women, in terms of numbers of potential converts from Anglicanism. Without much pressure from an ailing Pope John Paul II, overly-ecumenical Catholic bishops actually discouraged traditional Anglicans from leaving their church then; now, Thompson suggests, BXVI will make sure that doesn't happen, and the numbers will be much higher.

I think this has a lot to do with the success of the Pope's visits to America and Australia this year (much to the surprise of the media in both places, I think). People--especially those in the Gen X and "Millenial" demographics--are just starved for capital-T-Truth and really respond to someone who says what he believes and believes what he says.

In other news, I hear pro-choice Catholic governors Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia are near the top of the list of Obama's potential running mates... hmm

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thoughts on conference, Take 1

Phew! We're still so worn out from travelling and whatnot that neither of us has really worked up enough momentum to tackle much of what we learned about in Wichita, but I'll take on just a little bit right here. Hopefully there will be more to come.

So, the theme for the whole conference was what Mary said to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana: "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:5 Not coincidentally, this was also part of the Gospel reading during the first big Mass of the conference, on Saturday. Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life was the homilist and, while he did incorporate the message of the reading into his homily, he probably would've said pretty close to the same thing no matter what the reading was: that, especially in an election year such as this, we need to remember that life is the first and most foundational of all rights and, while we should work to alleviate all kinds of other social ills, if we do so without protecting the sanctity of life from conception to natural death all our work will be "built on quicksand." Despite its predictability, Fr. Pavone's homily was very good and very powerful, and it ended with a definite message of hope: unlike the apostles on Good Friday, we know what the outcome is going to be so, during the darkest times, we can say, "It's Friday, but SUNDAY'S COMING!"

All the while Fr. Pavone was speaking, I couldn't take my eyes off the sweet little Down's child in the row ahead of us. He was probably about 18 months old, I'd guess, and just exuded a calm joy throughout the Mass (made even more evident by contrasting it with our girls' increasing impatience with Fr. Pavone's long homily). I got to thinking about the girl in Eva's section of the kids' program with the severely malformed legs, of the Boehmer Family Jugglers' (one of the featured speakers/performers at the conference) second-oldest son who had been born with only one and a half arms but had gone on to be, literally, a world-class juggler. How many of these people would have been "therapeutically" aborted without people like Fr. Pavone fighting for their lives? Thank God for him.

I also thought back to that homily later this weekend when we became what felt like some of the last people on earth to see WALL-E in a theater before it goes into the DVD and pay-per-view rotation. I loved the movie, but won't write too much on it here as it is no longer "fresh" news. But, going back to Fr. Pavone's homily, I will note that I was touched by one moment in the film when some of the humans finally start to rediscover what it means to be fully human; in this case, a man and a woman work together to save the lives of some helpless babies. See: even Hollywood gets it on some level!

Why Isn't Cold? Heat Is The Agony!!!

Okay, so we are back from Wichita...and the title should alert you to a dorky thing that hubby and I do when traveling.

Whenever we go on long car trips (and where we live, there really aren't any other kind!) We turn town names into acronyms.

There's a little town in Colorado that we thought had the lamest city motto ever. The town is Ault (I apologize if anyone from Ault is reading this...the town is cute...but come on...lame motto) Anyway, Ault is A Unique Little Town.

So, as an example of one Colorado town we've done this to, Simla - Some Idiot's Melting Ladles Again

We even managed Colorado Springs once...but I've forgotten that one. I'd tell you what we call our town, but 1) that'd tell you where we live, and 2) it is not blog appropriate (and is pretty creepy, too)

So, I give you the Kansas version of our acronym game:

Wichita - Why isn't cold? Heat is the agony! (It was 105 and humid our whole trip)

Salina - Sally applies lipstick in New Amsterdam

Goodland - Good ones only drink lagers and nice drafts

And, we realized a little Nebraska town has an even lamer town motto than Ault. Wauneta, NE has the motto "we're halfway between here and there"...maybe we would have found it funny rather than lame if we hadn't been in the car for so VERY VERY VERY long!

I'll be back to write about the conference sometime this week...gotta go break up a fight between the girls!

My Bloggy Giveaway Winner is...

Commentor #7 - momo3!

Thanks to everyone who entered! I loved the dorky/quirky confessions about you or your spouse!

Check out some other Bloggy Giveaway winners here. (It was closed before I could get in...bummer!)