Thursday, December 31, 2009

2/3rds Moved and Eat From The Pantry Challenge

Today we moved more stuff out of our house, but this time it is being stored at the correct house (yeah!) so we still have more packing and all of our large furniture and garage stuff to move, but things are going along okay with the contract on our old house. Hopefully we will close on it by the 12th of January.

We also have officially moved into my MILs house, bringing suitcases with clothing and most of the contents of my pantry (which are now combined with her overflowing pantry). I just saw that Money Saving Mom is doing an "Eat From The Pantry Challenge", so I mentioned it to MIL, and she said that it looked like we had plenty of stuff in the pantry. So, I figure that since I am here for a while (I wish I had a move in date for the new house...but I am hoping we will move in before the end of January.) the two of us will try to make meals from the pantry...our rules will necessarily be slightly flexible (since we do want both of us to survive the combined living arrangements) but here's my thoughts:

No purchasing pantry items.

Dairy products will be purchased, as will produce.

Eating out will be allowed (if only to make sure that the six of us keep our sanity).

I'm not going to put a dollar amount on the groceries, since I have no idea how our different methods of shopping (me with my couponing and generic brands, my MIL buying name brands that she and FIL prefer).

The "Eat From The Pantry Challenge" will end when we move out of MILs house, since most of my pantry items will probably stay here at MILs house, and I'll have to restock at the new house.

I'll try to remember to blog occasionally about how things are going, both with the living all together, and with the pantry challenge.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick Takes Friday - Leaving on a Jet Plane

1-
We've had a lot of lasts in the past week. Eva's last ballet lesson, Eva's last story time at the library...it's been a little tough, and maybe not just on Eva. Hubby and I are pretty nervous about the impending move.

2-
Things appear to be going okay for the sale. Two days ago we had the appraisers show up. We don't know what their verdict is yet, but since one of them told me that she liked our house, I'm taking that as a good sign!

3-
I'm not sure if I mentioned the not so good news portion of the sale. We had to amend the contract because the lender said that we forgot to put in the $2700 of seller concessions. It wasn't forgotten, it was the first we or our realtor had heard of it, but we figured that a buyer where we have some expenses is better than no buyer.

4-
We found Eva a piano teacher in our new town, and the teacher is willing to give it a try with Eva, even though she is pretty young. I know that my childhood piano teacher normally didn't take kids until they were 7, but I started around 6 (when I inherited the piano that hubby is dreading moving again!) She'll start lessons on January 5th.

5-
Bags are packed, we are at the in-laws to leave off the dog, and after lunch we will be heading off to my parents house to have a Christmas celebration with my brother, then stay the night. In the morning my brother will drive us all to the airport and take possession of our car for a week (I'm only a little bit nervous about that!). Then it is a 12 hour travel day. We fly to Portland, then have a 4 hour layover, then we are on the plane to Hawaii (we will get in late at night, then drive across the island to our resort.)

6-
It is kinda funny that my non-religious parents managed to take us for a week long vacation during which we will need to attend Mass three times. We'll see if my mom and dad come to any of the services...my mom might come to Christmas, but I'm having a hard time imagining my dad there.

7-
So, here comes a week with basically no naps and too much to do, I think. We'll see how Charlotte holds up with all of the activity. She's cranky this morning because she missed her nap yesterday. I'm really hoping that both girls end up sleeping on (at least some of) the planes.

More quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Checking in...

Well, it's been a little while since I blogged at all...not even quick takes recently. We have been busy.

Hubby is done with work, and has started to learn his new job.

We are splitting time between our house and the farm, staying at MIL's house, which required some cleaning out of junk to fit the four of us at night. We have the new office pretty close to set up now!

Our house is under contract and if everything goes as planned (*fingers crossed*), we will close by January 12th! Not sure if we will be able to move directly into our next house, but at least we have enough space to sleep here at MILs.

Details are finally being hammered out about the new business (not sure I want to ask how things are going with the split of the old business!) Yesterday, we had a meeting about health insurance, so it looks like we mostly know what we will have coverage for.

We have a bunch of snow today, so I am not really sure if my plan for the week will work out. We are supposed to go home tonight so that Charlotte can go to preschool and Eva to ballet tomorrow. Then, Thursday I have Bible study, and Friday we are doing a family Christmas with MIL, FIL, hubby's brother and his wife.

We are less than two weeks from our Hawaii trip...getting a little nervous about packing for all four of us from two different houses when most of our summer weight clothes are in boxes somewhere in MILs basement.

That's about it for now, I guess. I'm not sure if I'll be blogging much for the next couple of weeks, but maybe I'll get back into the swing of things (if only for Quick Takes!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon lunacy

I don't mean to offend anyone who might be reading this (too much), but I have become absolutely sick of hearing female thirty-something friends and acquaintances rhapsodize about the New Moon movie. Apparently it's not just the women I know, either: CBS News reported a couple of days ago that, although "the movie is about teenagers and aimed at teenagers," half the audience is over the age of 21. CNN ran a story on November 16th entitled "Older women crave 'New Moon' vampires" that explored the phenomenon of "Twilight Moms" (more on that later).

It's not that I find this kind of obsessive fandom annoying in itself - after all, I got hooked on "Lost" when we actually had no TV, just by reading the transcripts online. What irritates me and, frankly, gives me a little bit of the heeby-jeebies is that New Moon appears to me to be a convergence of two really disturbing trends in our society: the sexualization of children and the infantilization of young adults.

Diane Levin, co-author of So Sexy So Soon: Protecting Children in a Sexualized Society says
she hears from worried parents about how pop culture and the bombardment of product advertising are making their young daughters focused on their appearance and being sexy, starting with girls as young as 5, and how that sets them up to believe it is fine for boys to see them as objects. ...[T]he sexualization of young girls disrupts their ability to develop meaningful relationships with peers, disrupts their ability to be empathetic to others and from developing normal sexual relationships later in life.
The Twilight series, of which New Moon is the second part, has been defended in many circles as a "love story that promote[s] chastity, among other virtues." But NPR reports that "if Twilight is trying to send a new message about teen abstinence, it might not be getting through," quoting one 17-year-old as saying, "That [Twilight] is completely selling sex to kids."

It's hard to argue that New Moon isn't selling sex to somebody, anyway, when the media blitz for the movie includes Ashley Greene, the female lead, posing suggestively on and in the most recent issue of Maxim magazine. And male lead Robert Pattinson tells Rolling Stone that "it's really strange" for girls as young as eight years old to have an "incredibly sexualized thing around [him]," considering the books are said to promote chastity. "I think it [the series] has the opposite effect on its readers though," he says.

Twilight has that effect on more than just its young fans (i.e., its "target demographic"), though, and that's where the intersection of social phenomena really seems to happen. Pattinson in particular seems to be of special interest to "cougar" Twilight fans, according to the CNN story cited above. A 32-year-old woman named Jenny tells the reporter, "We love to talk about how sexy Rob Pattinson is and what we would do if we got close... No one's being judged for being married and saying, 'I'm 54 and I think this 23-year-old is absolutely delicious.' " Another woman says she knows people who justify their attraction to Edward (Pattinson's character) by telling themselves, "Edward is just in a 17-year-old body, but he's actually 108."

What I think is at the root of this is not only that these women are not "acting their age," but that many of them never really learned what it means to do so. Many people in their 20s and 30s today were raised in an environment in which parents often tried to be more "buddies" with their kids than authority figures. The extreme example of this is the infamous "Cool Mom" of Arvada, Colorado who told police she had sex with some of the friends of her teenage children and "also provided marijuana, methamphetamine, and alcohol to the teens because she wanted to be a 'cool mom' and it made her feel like she was 'one of the group.'"

I believe this style of parenting is one of the factors that has brought us to a point at which, according to Robert Epstein - who is a psychologist and the author of The Case Against Adolescence - "most Americans now believe a person isn't an adult until age 26." This artificial extension of childhood, or "infantilization," has numerous negative effects on both young adults and society, according to Epstein. "Imagine what it would feel like," he says, "when your body and mind are telling you you're an adult while the adults around you keep insisting you're a child. This infantilization makes many young people angry or depressed, with their distress carrying over into their families" and causing tension and conflict with those around them.

So, we now have pre-teens who think they are adults and thirty-somethings who think they are teenagers, and they all come together to lust after the sexy 17-year-old vampire. But besides provoking something of an "Ew!" reaction, is there anything really wrong or harmful with a 15-30 year span of people essentially viewing themselves as peers? I think the answer is clearly yes.

To cite just one area in which these trends are problematic, think about the seemingly dramatic increase in inappropriate student-teacher relationships in schools. Charol Shakeshaft, an expert in teacher sexual misconduct, says young teachers are "certainly more at risk" of engaging in problematic relationships with their students for a number or reasons, including "[p]roximity in age to their students, immaturity and a classic novice-teacher mistake of wanting students to like them." These "inappropriate relationships" can range from the dramatically ill-advised, such as telling a class of eighth-graders about how you were unexpectedly impregnated by your boyfriend of just a couple of months (as recently happened in our little town), to the criminally sexual (as has been alleged to have happened in our little town during the past year).

The common thread is that these teachers are not the stereotypical "dirty, old men" many people envision. They may not be "dirty" or even necessarily predatory. It's just that both the students and the teachers are under the illusion that, rather than being an authority figure, Mr. X is the "big man on campus" or, rather than being the tough grader everybody struggles to satisfy, Ms. Y is the cool older sister in whom you can confide. I think this is symptomatic of a much broader breakdown in appropriate generational boundaries and our understanding of authority... and so is the New Moon phenomenon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Takes Friday - the countdown begins!



1-
It's a really good thing hubby isn't the one who usually does quick takes. He came home last night (he and the girls got kicked out of the house for my bible study group) and told me that he only had to work for a couple of hours today, and asked if there was anywhere I wanted to go, or anything I wanted to do. Well, he left for work this morning, got there, realized it was Friday (he had been thinking it was Saturday) and thought that since he really hasn't worked the window in the morning in months, he would just change during his lunch break into his uniform. Well, about 20 minutes after he was supposed to be at work, he came crashing back into the house to change into his uniform, because his boss wanted him to work the window...go figure!

2-
The countdown - 7 more days of work (8 if you count today) then hubby will be done!

3-
Eva rode in a tractor with grandma last night...something that she has wholeheartedly refused to do up until now (I think she only agreed because it was with grandma instead of grandpa...but she says she'll even ride with grandpa sometime now!) and she had a great time. Once we can convince that chicken of a kid to do something, she usually ends up having a great time. Like when the last day of swim lessons they were allowed to go down the water slides...Eva would NOT do it, until I threatened and bribed and her favorite swim teacher said he would take her down...then she wanted to go again and again.

4-
Charlotte goes to a coop preschool once a week, and this week when I went to pick her up, the mom in charge told me that there had been a bit of a catastrophe. So, I'm having visions of Charlotte smashing something really expensive (since I could see her happily playing when I was told this...) Turns out the little stinker gave herself a haircut while my friend was working with one of the other kids. Sadly, I didn't think that warranted the word "catastrophe" since it wasn't her first time cutting her own hair, and I doubt very highly it will be her last. Fortunately, it isn't very obvious where she cut it, so I didn't even have to give her a cut to repair it.

5-
I'm getting quite a stash to wrap for Christmas! Unfortunately, I moved my wrapping paper organizer to my MIL's basement...so I'll have to brave it down there next time we visit and bring my big canvas bags of gifts along. I'm trying to decide whether I am done shopping for the girls or not. I always swore I would never go overboard like my mom always did at Christmas...well, let's just say I never will be able to go that overboard while we live on one income, but there is a joy in buying gifts for your kids that I didn't particularly anticipate.

6-
Okay...speaking of that not going overboard item above...I have to admit, I was looking around online for something for the family that I wanted to get, but didn't really know if it was a good idea (a little bit pricey...) and I just took the plunge, and so an excessive Christmas will now officially happen (not that the whole Hawaiian vacation from my parents didn't already make it an excessive Christmas, or anything...)

7-
Here's hoping to a lack of buyer's remorse...

More quick takes at Jen's blog.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

House showing today...

We are having a house showing today, and I am so nervous I feel like I am going to throw up. I think I'll probably feel this stressed out every time someone looks at the house until it sells.

There are many advantages to living in a rural area, but selling real estate is not one of them...my mom really doesn't seem to understand this. She keeps telling me that she always knew someone was very interested when she kept seeing the same card from a realtor on her countertop after a showing. Of course, when you live in a town with two (maybe 3) realty businesses, they don't do silly things like leave business cards...besides, I think my mom keeps thinking that our house should be having showings all the time...but when the whole town is about 2000 people, that's not a lot of population to come see the house.

So, please pray for us today (and whenever you think of us!) that we get a reasonable offer on the house soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Semantics

Before I get to the meat of this post, I just want to share a little aside: when somebody at work recently said, "It's all about semantics," one of his co-workers replied (jokingly, mercifully): "What do you have against Jewish people?!" But I digress.

MM and I had a good conversation recently. I know - husbands and wives aren't supposed to do that - but it occasionally happens around here. I told her that I've really struggled with wrapping my mind around this, and I certainly don't agree with how this idea has translated into legislation in Washington, but I do agree with the basic premise that (as our own Archbishop Chaput phrased it), "The Church regards access to basic health-care services as a right, not a privilege."

I said that I knew everyone already had the right to emergency medical care, but that I knew of a person in our town who had tried to kill himself because he was diagnosed with cancer and couldn't pay for chemo treatments, and it made me think of loved ones who have gone through that struggle or similar ones. Emergency rooms don't offer treatments for leukemia or multiple sclerosis, after all.

MM responded that, for all intents and purposes, government-run health care wouldn't either. Especially in the case of someone whose "best days are behind him or her," the treatment for MS would probably amount to pain meds and a wheelchair. And if you were lucky enough to get chemo or other more aggressive treatments for cancer, the delay in treatment would probably render them meaningless.

Then she said something that I thought was fairly profound. "Maybe," she said, "we can agree that everyone ought to have health care when they need it, but I'd rather not call it a right. If we think of it as a right or 'an entitlement,' we expect it to come from somewhere else - such as the government. If we think of it as an obligation that we have to those who can't afford it, then maybe we end up in the same place, but we get there in a whole different way."

We have something of a model for this way of thinking in our town. There is a fairly small Hispanic community here, and they do a very admirable job of looking out for one another. There are frequently Mexican food buffets to raise money to help with a family whose father needs dialysis treatments, or another who has a young child with cancer. I don't know what kind of dent these make in medical bills, but they serve as a great example for the rest of the community - and provide some hope and reassurance that someone cares whether you live or die, which the person I told MM about apparently did not have.

The whole system of Knights of Columbus life insurance actually started in pretty much the same way. Catholic immigrants to America in the 19th Century frequently held dangerous and poorly-paying jobs, and this often left widows and orphans who today would probably become essentially "wards of the state." But back then, a group of visionary men led by Fr. Michael McGivney decided that it was their obligation to provide a way for Catholic men to give their wives and children some level of support in the event of a death in the family. This did not presume that the government would "take care of them," it was a solution that they could implement on the local level through cooperation.

This is the essence of another principle cited by at least some of the Catholic bishops in regards to the healthcare debate: namely, "subsidiarity." Our Sunday Visitor recently ran an article weighing the two, possibly competing, ideas that people have a right to health care, yet we should strive to
"respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives," in the words of the bishops of KC, K and KC, MO.

So, this might be a good starting point. I think MM and I are both right to some degree on this: however you want to say it, people do have a right to medical treatment (as far as I'm concerned); at the same time, we would be foolish to expect this right to be fulfilled by the government. I don't think bake sales and buffets are ultimately going to make a huge impact (at least financially) on people's health expenses, and I do think there are places where government could improve the insurance system (such as limiting tort awards and allowing nationwide competition between companies), but MM's point is essential: we need to start with the assumption that we are responsible for meeting the needs of one another in our community.

From there, we "just" need to find the Fr. McGivneys of our time: people who will develop creative ways of addressing an identified problem, without expecting the nanny state to do it for us. Again, quoting Archbishop Chaput (as cited in the OSV article mentioned above),
"Real healthcare reform need not automatically translate into federal programming."

Quick Takes Friday


1-
Well, our house is officially in the local paper and on our realtor's website. We still haven't had any showings since we officially listed it. I am getting pretty tired of having the house super clean at all times. Having to be so neat all the time makes cooking meals and homeschooling more difficult.

2-
Hubby has no more than 12 more days of work left. Only 16 days total until he is done there, and then we'll start a strange month of traveling back and forth to the farm while still living here.

3-
We had the girl's portraits taken on Wednesday, which being a federal holiday we deemed "home school picture day." So today's pictures come from that (we bought the CD so that we could share them so, we own the copyright to all of these.)

4-
My bible study group met last night, we had a very good discussion about improving our spiritual lives, and one of the ladies told us that one thing that she has started doing is reading the daily readings on her computer before getting on Facebook in the morning. I thought that was a great idea, so we set our homepage to EWTN, and this morning (in my normal morning stupor) I remembered to read the daily readings, plus at EWTN, they have a Saint's quote for each day as well.

5-
Charlotte turns 3 tomorrow! I can't believe she is getting so big. I've been trying to get a bunch of pictures ordered for printing, and it's been a while since my last batch, so I have two years worth of pictures of the girls...it's amazing to see how much they've grown from last Halloween to this Halloween, or from last year's portraits to this year's portraits.

6-
We are all recovering from being sick...finally! This weekend Charlotte spiked a fever (103) and so I took her into the doctor on Monday. I decided to make sure to see our normal doctor, since we'd already taken Charlotte in twice to one of the other doctors. Turns out that she had a double ear infection. So, in the past few weeks, I've had antibiotics for a sinus infection, Eva for pneumonia, and Charlotte for ear infections. I am looking forward to us all being done with medicine and better overall.

7-
Speaking of the weekend...we managed to pull off that 50th birthday party for MIL. She even enjoyed the party...we had a great turnout, particularly considering that we started inviting people Friday morning, and the party was Saturday evening. After the big cake and ice cream reception, we got Chinese food and did a smaller family thing (of course, the smaller family thing still involved 13 people...but really, that's pretty small for hubby's family!) Really, it was a great party...everything went smoothly, and there wasn't a lot of pressure on us to make it great because it was so last minute. Hubby's sister ordered a cake at Walmart, bought a table cloth, Premium M & Ms, nuts, candles, plates, cups, napkins, and a pop up decorative card. Hubby's aunt booked the room, ordered the gift (at least a month ago), wrapped it, got a card for us all to sign. SIL brought over serving utensils and serving bowls, then hosted Chinese food at their house. We made a batch of iced tea, bought a gallon of ice cream, and brought plastic utensils. That was it...I'd definitely plan a party that way again.

More quick takes at Conversion Dairy!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

1-
Well, our house is now officially listed. We had our first showing yesterday, and I guess the guy thought the house was nice, but didn't like it being so close to the railroad tracks. Now, our town is pretty dinky, and I don't really think there is ANY place IN TOWN where you will not at least hear the trains as they go through...we at least get to see them. We've been praying to St. Joseph to intercede for us for a quick and relatively painless sale of our house. The good news is that our agent thought it could sell for more than we paid for it four years ago (of course, we bought it unfinished, and put quite a bit of money into finishing the house), the bad news is that we're listing it at $14,000 less than it appraised for four years ago. Bummer.

2-
We've finished with most of the little projects around the house. Hubby still is cleaning out the crawl space a little bit, and wants to put up a few pieces of trim in the kitchen. But we are now at the hard part...living in, staying home all day in, and homeschooling in a house that is within a couple of minutes of clean every day.

3-
Hubby has no more than 19 more days of work. His last day will be the 30th of this month, so 24 days total.

4-
The girls had a fun time trick or treating on Halloween...we started at Grandma's house, and went around to most of hubby's aunts and uncles out in the country. We even trick or treated at the house we will be living in next year, and got a tour. So, now I actually know the layout of the whole house (I had only ever been in the living room, kitchen and mudroom of the house before). The aunt and uncle living in the house now are going to be moving into town, but are waiting on their son-in-law to come do some tile work (he's a contractor) and he keeps delaying when he will be able to do it...so who knows if they will be out by the time hubby has to start work up there on January 1st!

5-
Eva is still coughing a lot, even after a full run of antibiotics, so we probably need to take her back to the doctor...we just aren't sure when to do it! Honestly, I am so sick of being at the clinic now that it's not even funny. We were just there with Charlotte, because we thought she might have a urinary tract infection...turns out she is fine physically, but the doc thinks that the stress of our upcoming move might be the problem causing her to have accidents frequently, so besides more laundry and the use of pull ups sometimes, there's not much we can do.

6-
I taught Charlotte's coop preschool class this week, which was exhausting. Note to self...I do not EVER want to be a preschool teacher or daycare provider. We made pumpkin bread, did a porcupine glue craft, learned about the number 2, read a story about a raccoon, and made raccoon masks. I think the kids all had fun, but it was just draining...probably in part because while the preschoolers were working on their crafts, I was working with Eva on some of her school stuff, so she did her handwriting, part of religion, phonics and part of her math during the coop preschool time. She got to help make pumpkin bread, listen to the story and do free play with the other kids.

7-
MIL's birthday is next week, and it looks like she'll be in the tractor driving grain cart for dry corn harvest on her birthday, so the other night while she was at church, my FIL called me TWICE to make sure we were planning something for MILs birthday. We all went in on a gift for her (which I can't state here, in case she reads this before we celebrate!) and he wanted to make sure she had something since it is her 50th birthday. So, we've been going back and forth plotting on facebook, but we have about four indecisive people trying to make last minute plans, so it's a little bit slow going. I have a feeling that hubby and I will be making a bunch of phone calls tonight...that is, once we have a confirmed place for the shindig...we will have a cake, that much I know already. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get this all pulled together by tomorrow!

More quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quick Takes


1-
Happy (almost) Halloween! Our town had it's trick or treat street last night because the school has some sort of day off today. I normally find the fact that everything has to revolve around the school in all these little towns annoying, but since we basically have a blizzard today, I guess it was probably a good thing that the girls got out (in the snow) to trick or treat! This picture is of them before going to the library for story time, Eva is dressed as Mulan and Charlotte is (clearly) Snow White. You can't really tell in the picture, but we sprayed both girl's hair black with temporary hair dye. NOT a plan I'm going to do again, as it took about 4 hair washings to get it out and it got all over their clothes and faces because of the snow while trick or treating.

2-
Hubby just left for work. He wasn't sure if he would be going in at all today, because the roads are closed. The truck never made it to Denver last night, and even if it had, the roads out here are closed, so they'll get a double dose of mail tomorrow (just the thing everyone wants on a Saturday!) On the plus side, the last time the mail couldn't get out here was a couple of years ago, right before Christmas. Hubby ended up volunteering to deliver packages on Christmas Eve that year.

3-
My parents had come up with the idea that we should go on a trip as a family for Christmas, since this is the first time hubby won't be working at Christmas (the p.o. doesn't like to give people time off between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for some reason!) Originally, the plan was going to be driving somewhere. We suggested Santa Fe, NM or Branson, MO (both under 12 hours of driving...about all I think I could handle!) somehow, by the end of it, my parents booked airfare to Hawaii for a week. We will be staying at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu. I'm excited about the trip, but also a little stressed out with all the little stuff I need to deal with. Eva is very excited about her first plane trip, and her first trip to a beach. Charlotte doesn't really get it yet, I don't think.

4-
Speaking of my parents...my dad just had his 61st (I think) birthday this week. His school also had a snow day on his birthday, and I am pretty sure they are still having a snow day today. So, he's having a good time not going to work. My mom is still on fall break from her school. Personally, I am about ready for them to go back to school, because they are having WAY too much time available for worrying about trip details, and I don't have the time right now to deal with their worries. Like yesterday, I am running out the door to get the girls to story time, and my dad calls to tell me he is e-mailing me an article (he needed our e-mail address again) and he's still talking to me as I am driving away from the house, telling me that my mom suggested that we get state IDs for the girls. Personally, I think it would be a waste of my time (and money) to get IDs for the girls, but my parents are worried that we might be delayed in security if our girls names match the name of someone on the terrorist watch list. I think that is very, very, VERY unlikely! So, anyone fly with kids frequently (or ever)? Anyone ever been delayed because TSA kept their kids back to check on them?

5-
Our goal to have the house ready to list by November 1st seems to be right on target. Other than A LOT of cleaning that I need to do (I have a ton of black hair dyed clothes to wash, and have a lot of floors to clean, not to mention some clutter and half a dozen cold medicines to put away) hubby has come pretty close to finishing the repairs. We have a new kitchen faucet, the wall is built in our basement/crawlspace, and he has the primer and paint in the house for touching up the wall where we had patch some cracks. We still had hoped to paint the doors (not happening in the blizzard), replace some weather stripping, and hubby wants to put a sweep on an interior door (which could probably get done tonight.) The hard part once the house is listed will be keeping everything clean and tidy all the time...it's just not in my nature!

6-
I'm pretty sure I've whined on the blog about us all being sick...but this week I finally sucked it up, and took myself and the girls to the clinic. Well, it turns out that Charlotte just had a cold, Eva had a slight case on pneumonia, and I had a sinus infection. Eva's on day 4 of Zythromax (my favorite antibiotic...gotta love the five day total thing!) and seems to be doing better, I guess. She never really slowed down, but her appetite is back up to normal. I'm doing better, too...still on antibiotics for a while, but I was also given a sinus rinse thing to use...I guess it's kinda like a neti pot. Basically, you squirt water up one nostril while bent over with your head tilted, and it rinses gunk out of your sinuses, I guess. It's pretty gross, but works pretty well. I'm thinking I might get one for hubby, as he ALWAYS has sinus problems.

7-
Well, I fully intend to enjoy my blizzard today by staying in my PJs and sipping hot tea all day long. Of course, I still have to carve pumpkins with the girls (I meant to get it done yesterday, but with all the running around a black spray on hair color, it just didn't happen!) and do a bunch of laundry, but there's something so satisfying about spending a cold day at home in jammies with a warm beverage, isn't there?

More quick takes at Conversion Dairy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

No, I haven't completely given up blogging...

I have just been extremely busy! I've been contemplating several ideas for future posts, though. Just to let you know that I'm still alive, here are some possible coming attractions. Please let me know what you think of any one(s) of them, or feel free to suggest anything else! "Discuss amongst yourselves." Hope to get back at it soon.
Post ideas:
1. "Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future."
2. State Department report on religious freedom around the world
3. Has the Republican Party lost its collective mind??
4. Upcoming Hawaii trip
5. Getting the house ready to list for sale (which is why I haven't had time to blog)
6. your brilliant suggestion!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

1-
Hubby had his 32nd birthday this week. He also had to carry mail on his birthday, and my aunt and uncle came into town for a visit, so my surprise for him was limited to making a carrot cake in the morning, and having it on the table when he walked in the door for his 30 minute lunch break. Because I got started on the cake later than I should have, it wasn't completely cool when hubby called to give me a 20 minute warning, so the frosting looked really bad (lots of crumbs). So, for the second year running, I pulled out some Halloween themed sprinkles to cover up the bad looking frosting. I chose grey and black headstones with purple sprinkles. It looks like next year, I need to make a cake with a non-white frosting so that I can use that last section of the can, white ghosts. My aunt thought that it was mean of me to put headstones on his cake before he turns 50. It's really not MY fault that his birthday is so conveniently close to Halloween!

2-
My aunt that was visiting is my mom's sister. It is kind of funny how much they are alike in many ways, since they have lived on opposite sides of the country for their adult lives (my parents have been in Colorado for over 30 years, and my aunt and uncle have lived in Ohio their entire lives.) There are also a lot of differences, but mostly due to the fact that my aunt is very religious (my uncle is a retired Methodist pastor) and my mom is not very religious at all. It makes a big difference in life.

3-
We seem to be passing a cold back and forth in our family, and back and forth with my in-laws as well. I was feeling pretty awful on Saturday and Sunday, but have been getting better all week (I still have a hacking cough) but Charlotte seems to be the one down with it now...she was really hacking all day yesterday, and seems to be a little tired and cranky. It is always hard to tell when that kid is sick though, because she never stops, and nothing really slows her down (for instance, when she broke her arm, she didn't really seem too hurt, but hubby noticed that she was favoring the other arm.)

4-
38 more days until hubby is unemployed. I'm getting a little excited, and a little nervous. Of course, that means that we only have eight days left before our target date to list the house. Not completely sure we'll meet our goal, but we are getting closer. I have the bathroom, the girls room and our bedroom all ready to stage (I know what needs to go away in each room before showings) I'm getting closer on the living room/dining room and kitchen...I have a long way to go yet on the laundry room. I haven't started the outdoor staging.

5-
It's been snowing the last two days...yuck! I'm glad that hubby took the time on Sunday and Monday to finish up the outdoor painting...other than the doors, which we haven't totally decided what to do with yet. We are thinking of painting them a slate gray color, but I guess we'd have to have some good weather to get that done!

6-
Because of the snow, school was cancelled in all of the little towns around here yesterday. Because the schools were canceled, so was story time at the library, which bummed Eva out a little bit. But, since Charlotte has been coughing so much, she's not going to her coop preschool class this morning, which is a bummer, because they will be doing something with orange paint...and I don't do very many painting activities (too much cleanup!) with the girls here.

7-
Speaking of school...my mom and my dad are both school teachers, my aunt and my uncle are both former school teachers. My grandma worked in the library at a school...I'm guessing there are educators further back in my family, too. One of my mom's not so great traits that my aunt shares is a strong bewilderment and disapproval of my homeschooling. Not to say that they MEAN to be disapproving, but they both think it is a phase I am going through, and while both my aunt and my mom bring me curriculum stuff when they visit, they just can't help themselves to open up their mouths (sometimes right in front of Eva) and state their opinions that I must be nuts to home school, and that living in a rural community that is relatively free of crime, I have no real reason I could possibly WANT to home school. Of course, then later in the conversations it will turn to many good reasons to avoid institutional schools, such as a college that has taken a dorm that was not in use and turned it into a sort of quarantine dorm for students with the swine flu...

Well, I guess I might need to go check on my little coughing girls! More quick takes (as always) at Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

1-
Okay, I know I say this just about every other Quick Takes, but YEAH for PAYDAY!!! I still haven't taken back over the budgeting, and I think that the low dollar amounts in just about every account were making hubby twitch. He's going to take us girls out for lunch today to celebrate, and I already have dinner cooking in the crock pot. I am liking my meal preparation today!

2-
I'm trying to get into some sort of cleaning routine so that when we put the house up for sale (our current goal date is November 1st) we have a system to keep the house mostly clean. I am not a particularly neat person. In fact, I used to be a slob..unlike hubby who used to be a neat freak. In college, I used to go into his dorm room and throw his laundry all over his floor (it was always neatly piled in a laundry basket) because his room was unnaturally clean. Now, I would say we are a balance of the two. Mostly clean, but there's always a couple of things that probably should be cleaner or neater. Not the best cleaning philosophy for selling a house. So, as of now, in the mornings (right after getting the girl's breakfast) I put away their clothes, make their beds, make my bed, unload the dinner dishes from the dishwasher, and start reloading with anything left over and breakfast dishes. At lunch time, I will continue loading the dishwasher, and run it if it is mostly full. Then, at dinner, I am unloading the dishwasher (if necessary) cooking, eating, praying, reloading the dishwasher, running it, starting a load of laundry while the girls and hubby pick up toys, wipe off table and get into jammies. After the girl's bedtime, the laundry gets dried, folded, and put away, except for their clothes, which go into a basket until the morning. I still need to work the floors and counter tops into the deal. Not to mention continue packing items we won't need for a while.

3-
On the cleaning front, for Eva's home economics this week I had originally planned to follow the lessons in the order of her book, which would have had her learning how to cook with eggs this week and use the stove next week. I thought about teaching a kid to cook while trying to keep the house in excellent shape for showings, and decided to skip the rest of the cooking (and all of the baking) until we are in the new house. So, I skipped ahead to the cleaning section, and taught Eva how to vacuum. Charlotte wanted to learn, too, so I gave her the dust buster and had her vacuum underneath the couch cushions. I think having Eva able to run the vacuum will be helpful to last minute cleaning sessions.

4-
Eva is currently taking a ballet class twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. This Monday was a federal holiday, so hubby was able to come with me to take her to class (Charlotte had spent the night at grandma's house) so we watched from the second floor. She is so serious about her class, you can just see the concentration on her face, but at the end of class, they were learning a step (a little bit like a grapevine) and Eva was just not getting it (she kept putting one foot behind the other and stepping back more and more with that foot turning herself in a circle) so after class, hubby decided to try to show her how to do the step...I thought it was pretty hilarious, particularly since hubby was showing her how to do ballet moves in the middle of the community center while people were picking up their kids.

5-
Some other moms in town and I have started a cooperative preschool class once a week, and Charlotte had her first week. She had a lot of fun, and was not at all sad about us leaving her there (I'll be teaching at our house the first week in November). She is the youngest of the group, but appears to have held her own. It's funny, she is the only one of the four kids that isn't the oldest...so she has prior experience with things like cutting with scissors, where the others, being the oldest and 3 or 4 years old, really haven't done any cutting at home. She has her own pencil box and notebook to take to class and bring home, and she just loves them.

6-
Today is the feast of St. Gerard Majella, Eva's patron saint. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Eva's baptism. So, tonight I am going to get out Eva's baptismal candle to light during dinner...maybe I'll make dessert, too.

7-
That dessert will have to be made of apples, I think...since I have a large bowl full from MIL on the counter. I also have all of the carrots and beets that hubby pulled out of the garden when the ground softened up enough. I need to figure out how to cook the beets (we only got two large and two small total), and figure out what to do with the carrots...I am thinking that I may slice them up and blanch and freeze them. I just have to figure out how I am supposed to do that!

More quick takes this week at Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 09, 2009

No Quick Takes...

Well, Jen at Conversion Dairy PUT AWAY her computer for a full WEEK...so there are no official quick takes this week, but I thought I'd pop in with a few thoughts.

Hubby is a morning person and I am NOT...so it is not unusual for hubby to tell me something when he leaves in the morning, but he usually knows better than to make me guess something before 7 in the morning (actually, before noon its probably not a good idea). This morning he bounded in the room to say goodbye (its just not natural to be that cheerful at that hour of the day...) and said "Guess who won the nobel peace prize?" I mumbled, "someone stupid, no doubt" (otherwise why would he be bothering me) I have to admit, I found it a little surprising that President Obama was the recipient. Not that I should have been, after the whole Al Gore thing several years ago. I had a good chuckle at Simcha's post this morning.

I've started some packing. It's hard to figure out what to pack (other than most of our books, which are already packed and waiting in the garage to be moved) and what I will need in the next 2 1/2 months. My mom really wants us to get our house on the market as soon as possible. Hubby the perfectionist doesn't want it listed until everything is perfect. We've been having some disagreements about how to handle the selling of the house. I do think that my mom had a good point about the $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit which actually expires on December 1st.

Hubby has been hard at work trying to make the house closer to perfect. Yesterday he installed a new bathroom faucet, and earlier in the week he had done some patching, filling, caulking jobs that needed to be done. I haven't been that on top of things, but I guess I need to get moving.

Eva started Ballet classes this week. She seems to be enjoying them, but I have to admit that running around at the same time as all the school moms are running kids to activities after school is not very much fun. Lots of traffic and people around.

Charlotte will start her coop preschool next week. We had our planning meeting this week, and I don't have to be the teacher until the first week of November. I put together most of her pencil box (I still need to buy her some new crayons) and she was very excited carrying it around the house. She's so goofy about things...she says "Holy Moly" about almost anything she finds exciting or unusual. So, she said "My pencil box?? Holy Moly!" when I showed it to her.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Quick Takes Friday



1- Life seems to be getting very busy for us...and to think that all summer I kept thinking "I can't wait for fall! Things will finally slow down then!" Yeah...not so much. Starting next week, Eva has ballet class twice a week, Charlotte has coop preschool once a week (although next week is a planning meeting, not class) and Eva has story time once a week. Add in my Bible Study, Knights of Columbus activities, doctor's appointments, birthdays and out of town relatives stopping by for a day, and we have a very full October calendar (and of course, trick or treating with the girls!)

2- In the past week, hubby and I finally looked into the buyout thing being offered by his employer. We had originally thought it probably wouldn't be worth it, because the amount you get is based upon the hours you work, and hubby is part-time. BUT, when we looked at the numbers, it turns out that he worked just over 10 hours more during the time frame than the minimum to get the full amount. Plus, we figured out that we would have a month worth of free health care under the plan, and the option to continue coverage if we needed to, for up to 18 months. After hubby talked to his dad about whether he would be able to give hubby a start date of January 1st, we decided to go ahead and do the program. Hubby told his boss yesterday, and is just waiting to hear back on a couple of questions before he mails in his resignation form. SO, he will be unemployed for about a month between the date he has to leave his current job by and the date when the farm is all split up. Kinda scary!

3- We drove up to Sidney, NE on Wednesday, mostly because I found out there is a Salvation Army store there, and we were cleaning out our garage (which has been a pit of despair since we bought the house, and it came full of junk...) so we took up a large load of stuff, then stopped by the Cabela's store before coming home (to look at the fish and animals). We ended up buying some vanilla and nuts...when we put it into Quicken and typed in Cabela's...it brought up the purchase of our entertainment center, which we bought before Eva was born...at a different Cabela's. One brother of the guy who founded Cabela's opened a furniture store in Chappell, NE...it is FAR less famous...but we thought it was pretty funny that although the name Cabela's was already in Quicken, it wasn't THE Cabela's that everyone knows about...I know, I'm a dork!

4- School is going well with Eva. We've started to split the day in half. In the morning we start with reading, then do religion and handwriting (and sometimes phonics, if we have a lot in the second half of class) then in the afternoon, we do Phonics (if not done already), Math, Spanish and an Elective. Right now, we are doing Art on Day 1, Home Economics on Day 2, Music on Day 3, and Science on Day 4. Eva made a very nice carrot tray in home ec yesterday, she peeled the carrots independently, and then I helped her use a garnisher to cut them up (she doesn't really have the coordination yet that I trust her not to cut herself...but that will come with time and practice, I guess!) We made a little dip, and made a fan pattern with the carrots to serve with dinner.

5- I've been being nosy using the computer this week. I've checked out the websites of both Realtors in town to see what they have listed, and how the houses are priced. I have seen what not to do when the realtor comes to take pictures. Note to self...clean up EVERYTHING, and take pictures YOURSELF! Also, one of the Realtors in town either can't spell or can't type...I'm leaning towards the can't spell, because she seems to be able to create Internet slide shows, so I would think she could type!

6- At story time yesterday, we got there a few minutes early, so Eva got to see some of her friends that are in the earlier group. She went up to hug one of them, and they were chatting away. Her little friend was telling us that she just went on vacation and got to stay in a hotel and go shopping, and swim in the hotel pool. I asked her where she went, and she told me a hotel. Then Eva stated in a very serious voice "What COUNTRY did you go to?" and her little friend answered, equally seriously "Denver!" I had a good laugh with her mom. They had gone up to Denver to pick up the little girl's aunt at the airport, and decided to make a mini vacation out of it. I never would have thought to ask her what country she went to, but that's exactly how I found out where they went.

7- We borrowed the movie "Tarzan" from the library, and had a family movie night last night...much cuter movie than I had expected! I was impressed (of course, it was the Disney Tarzan...I liked the goofy elephant.) Charlotte kept swinging from couch to couch and pretending she was a monkey all through the movie. Little goofball!

More quick takes over at Conversion Diary!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quick Takes Friday



It has seemed like a rather LONG week, but then again, I can't believe it is Friday today...the paradox of adulthood...

1-
This week we stayed home. VERY unusual for us...usually I can count on us visiting my in-laws at least once in a week, but after we spent last Thursday with them, we decided to stay home on Sunday, and they ended up coming down here on Tuesday to celebrate new SILs 22nd birthday, so we didn't even have to travel.

2-
This weekend we are not staying home...on Saturday afternoon we are planning on taking the girls to stay with grandma overnight. Hubby and I have been hoping to have a movie date all week because...well, hubby loves to sit in a movie theatre, and I would like to see the movie Julie and Julia. It was playing last weekend in MILs town, and this weekend in ours...the schedule worked out best for us to see it here and the girls to spend the night with grandma. Then, on Sunday we are going to go shopping in a town about 1 1/2 hours away after church, then DH has a Knights of Columbus district meeting in a town 1/2 hour away from the shopping town, then we will go home by way of MILs house (which really isn't on the way at all, but I guess we should pick up the kids).

3-
Story time at the library started for Eva this week. She enjoyed it as much as ever. Unfortunately most of my friends kiddos are in the earlier story time group, and Eva is in the later...so I get to hang out at the library with a bunch of moms that I have very little in common with. Fortunately, I can spend some of the time wandering around if hubby is off work and comes too...if it's just me, I'll be sort of trapped into hearing all of their conversations because they all sit in the kids play area with their little ones, and of course, Charlotte is too young for story time (I did point out the irony that if Charlotte had been premature, she would be old enough to be in story time to one of the librarians...dumb age rules...)

4-
I finally am getting back to menu planning after a LONG time off...it just seemed like too much work to plan out a menu, but honestly, this week with a menu plan has gone VERY smoothly. We have moved things around and skipped a few meals that were planned out, but being able to look down and see what our meals are supposed to be today and tomorrow is so nice, and not doing the last minute "what do you want for dinner" thing at pretty much every meal is much less stressful than having to ask the question as soon as I have finished making each meal...

5-
Hubby changed the heading picture of the blog last night...with a picture he took last night while I was off at Bible study. Eva, being the goofy kid she is said that instead of "cheese" she should say "Hail Mary!" since they were getting ready to pray.

6-
About two weeks ago, I went through all of the girls clothes, and at the time I asked hubby if I should just pull out their shorts and tank tops and put in their winter clothes, and he thought I should put in their winter clothes but also leave in their summer stuff. Well, this week it has RAINED and RAINED and RAINED...so, naturally, Eva came out in a long sleeve shirt and pajama shorts the other day to go outside. I should have just put away all the shorts while I was feeling ambitious, because I sure am not feeling ambitious this week.

7-
WE HAVE HARDWARE!!! Our kitchen cabinets have been an ongoing project since we bought this house (in November 2005). We could afford the house because it was unfinished...of course, we don't really have the skills to finish much of anything...but apparently we have the capability for living a very long time with things unfinished. There were almost no doors when we moved in...and we hired some guys to make doors to finish the kitchen and laundry room (we have 31 cabinets with doors and 15 drawers...I think there were 7 doors with hardware on them when we moved in) but to save money, we didn't have them stain or install them...so the unfinished cabinets sat in the garage for quite a while. Then hubby came up with a system, and eventually we had doors and drawers everywhere. Well, then we lived with some doors and drawers having hardware, and some not. When I had my Bible study group pretend they were home buyers to see what our priority projects should be, they all agreed that the lack of pulls on some, but not all of the cabinets was a big eyesore. So, this weekend, hubby drilled and I helped put on drawer pulls and cabinet handles. They look sooo much better now, it makes me wonder why we waited this long to do them.

That's it for me this week, but there are more quick takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Because I Said So"

Anyone who, like me, had a parent who would sometimes respond to questions about a particular decision with the phrase "Because I said so" probably grew up with at least a little frustration toward that assertion of authority. Also like me, probably most of those people have gone on to use the same phrase with their own children!

The thing is, it's just a lot easier to say, "Because I said so" in the middle of the action of our daily life than to enunciate what we really mean when we say it. More or less, I think most of us really mean: "Because I have a plan and, even though I don't have time to tell you all the details and considerations that went into developing this plan, rest assured that I have your best interest at heart and will do all I can to see that you aren't hurt because I love you. You're just going to have to trust me." Kind of a mouthful, isn't it? You can see why we use the shorthand of "Because I said so!"

All this has come to mind in the days following this Sunday's Mass and, particularly, Father's homily on this week's Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Father primarily focused on the humility it takes to do as Jesus says, citing first the phrase "Thy will be done" in The Lord's Prayer, but then referring to the procedure the Vatican follows when approving Marian apparitions.

"What is the first test the Church uses to see whether an apparition may be 'of God,'" Father asked us. Several responded with some variation of, "By its fruits." When told that this wasn't what he was looking for and asked again, "By its fruits" was still pretty much the only answer offered by anyone in the congregation on the second (or even third!) try. The correct answer, apparently codified in new rules by the Vatican earlier this year, is "Whether or not the visionaries are obedient to the Church's request to remain silent about the apparition until further investigation has taken place."

I don't know about anyone else in the parish, but this was really food for thought for me. The first thing I thought of was Međugorje, and my vague recollection from earlier this summer that a priest at the center of this so-far unapproved apparition had been laicised. Looking up the story to refresh my memory, it turns out that, besides the flashy-headline-charge of inappropriate relations with a nun, Fr. Vlasic was also accused of "dubious doctrine, the manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders." Disobedience... maybe Father was onto something.

Not long after, I thought of Christ's command to Peter, James and John right after the Transfiguration "not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead." It was only while preparing this post that I really noticed that the Gospel passage referred to in Father's homily also begins with a desire by Jesus for secrecy ("Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it") and that this passage is only 21 verses further into the same chapter of Mark than the story of the Transfiguration. Interesting: I know that I and others I've talked to have often wondered why Jesus asked everyone to "keep it on the down-low." So what was Christ's explanation to His disciples for these instructions?

As far as I can tell, He never really offered one. It may not have been too much different, in some respects, from the Church's explanation for its policy of skepticism-first toward Marian apparitions - maybe best enunciated (in my limited experience) by Fr. Jean Honoré, Archbishop of Tours, in "The Tide of Vain Credulity: the Church's Role in Apparitions." But in both cases, the most likely answer is ultimately, "Because I said so," which, as I said earlier, is shorthand for "I love you... and you're just going to have to trust me."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Takes Friday



1-
Why is it that every Thursday I have a mental list of things to do for quick takes, but by Friday morning, I've always forgotten ALL of them???

2-
We've had our new car for a week now, and are adjusting pretty well so far to one car living. I did, however, almost manage to bounce the $15,000+ check this week, because I put a cash deposit into our checking account twice (once I put it in as a transfer, and then I just put in the total from my bank trip involving 3 different checks plus the cash, forgetting that I had already put the cash in Quicken...I am SUCH an idiot!)

3-
I'm not sure if I ever posted about the girl's Halloween costumes...probably not, because it got pushed aside by the car fiasco last week...while we were up in the city for appointments, I made a stop at a thrift store to look for some long sleeved shirts, dresses and PJs for the girls...when I walked in they had a HUGE selection of Halloween costumes, so I called MIL and the girls and made them come in. Charlotte declared that she wanted to be snow white, and amazingly enough, we found a snow white costume IN HER SIZE for about $8 (I saw the same costume with a couple of accessories at Sam's Club for almost $30 later that day...and just saw it at Walmart for $20), and Eva picked out a pink velvet princess dress (Renaissance style) but said that it looked like Mulan, so we are working out a Mulan costume for her out of it. Yesterday, we got a couple of bottles of black temporary hair dye...since they both want to be characters with black hair, it sounded like fun, and a makeup kit to do the white face for Mulan, etc. Eva didn't want any of it, until I mentioned that it all washed off...then it was okay. Is it weird that my kid seems to think I would be willing to dye her hair permanently black for a Halloween costume???

4-
The whole one car thing is going to get much more complicated in October...Eva will have ballet lessons on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, Charlotte will have a coop preschool on Wednesday mornings, and Thursday afternoons Eva will have storytime at the library. The good news is that everything but the coop (which I think will move from house to house) is very walkable, if the weather is good...we'll just have to see how the weather cooperates!

5-
We are getting closer to having hardware on all my kitchen cabinets...at least, we have enough of it purchased. Hubby got 6 drawers drilled and installed this past weekend, and I am hoping that we can finish it all this weekend. My contribution was removing hardware from the cabinets in the laundry room and from the drawers that already had pulls, because we ended up finding a cheaper coordinating pull to put up in the laundry room and on the drawers in the kitchen. I think it will look very nice when all is said and done. Of course, it is another one of those projects that would probably not be done for a very long time if the whole selling this house thing wasn't on the table again.

6-
Can I tell you how very sick of explaining that we are homeschooling I am??? Eva is now old enough that the first question anyone asks her is if she is in preschool now. EVEN with people who I have told numerous times we are homeschooling. Then there's the whole shocked look I get when people do ask me how homeschooling is going when I tell them we are on a short break right now. I know that the public schools just started up, but WHY ON EARTH would I use the public school calendar??? I have no kids in the schools, no one in our house works for the schools...why would I care what they are doing???

7-
I went to a deanery meeting for Altar and Rosary society yesterday. For those of you lucky enough not to be familiar with this, Altar and Rosary society is a women's group in the parish that theoretically pray the rosary and take care of the altar cloths...they have this theory that EVERY WOMAN in the parish is a member of Altar and Rosary because they are women...deanery is the meeting of all of the regional Altar and Rosary societies where they bring together the things they have been doing for distribution, have a program, a business meeting, a Mass and a lunch. For about the first half an hour, I started to think that maybe it wouldn't be that bad to be involved in Altar and Rosary stuff again (I had some REALLY bad experiences last time I was involved...LONG STORY) but then, during the business meeting the woman who was elected president of deanery (who orbits another planet, and is just WAY out there) asked a question, to which several of the women WOULD NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION, but instead turned it into a lecture on how exactly the letters should be sent out to invite the parishes to the deanery meeting (what should be on the letter, who should send the letter, criticism of the way she was doing everything) and they never got to the question she was asking. Now, these catty old ladies are only getting what they deserve for electing a space case as president...not to mention they elected my MIL to secretary (trust me, she is NOT the woman you want in charge of anything organizational...) Anyway, that ten minutes was enough to remind me why I never want to be a part of Altar and Rosary again (beyond the technically being a member because I am a woman...)

Okay, I guess that's it for me, but there are plenty more quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quick Takes Friday - the new car edition



1- Well, the bad news came in Tuesday. The girls and I were up in the city for doctor's appointments with MIL when hubby got a call from our mechanic...there were metal shavings in the oil filter, which equals dead car. So, MIL and I stopped by one car dealership for a look at vehicles to see what the price ranges were.

2- Hubby decided on Tuesday night that he would take Thursday off work so that we could go buy a car. Of course, that meant we needed to come up with some amount of money for car buying.

3- Wednesday was spent calling MIL a billion times with questions and concerns...her talking to her credit union about cashing out her CD early, and me calling ours to find out if they could get the money in our account right away so that we could write a check on Thursday. Also, researching the inventory of about a dozen car dealers.

4- We took an extremely scenic route to the first car dealership we wanted to check out a vehicle out...and because of that detour, we rearranged our whole shopping plan. We test drove 3 different vehicles, a 2005 GMC Envoy XL, a 2006 Dodge Durango with third row seating, and a 2006 Ford Explorer with third row seating. Hubby really was rooting for the Ford before we test drove any of them. I was rooting for the Envoy. Hubby ended up liking the Ford the LEAST, the Dodge was in the middle, and the Envoy was his favorite. As for me, the Envoy was my favorite, but I probably would have put the Ford next, then the Durango. Obviously, since we agreed, we ended up purchasing the Envoy.

5- Buying the car took longer than I had anticipated (but with all the getting lost and running around, I wasn't all that surprised!) I had originally said "no way" to car shopping on Thursday, because my bible study group was meeting at our house at 6:30 pm...so when we finally got done at the dealer (about 3:45 pm) I called to tell people to let themselves in if I wasn't there, and to change the menu from stuffed peppers to stuffed crust pizza. I got home about 5 minutes before people started to show up, and was just lighting candles (the whole house reeked of onions from my prep work for the stuffed peppers) and opening blinds when everyone arrived. It all worked out okay in the end, though.

6- We had to say goodbye to our little red Saturn, which we traded in...and also to our blue Olds (that we had JUST UNDER one year...not making the list for best purchases ever...) which was picked up by the salvage yard (had we found a way to deliver it to them 90 miles away, they would have paid us $150 or $200)

7- Today has been all about car insurance quotes, since we only have 5 days to get our insurance updated or changed. So far Progressive Direct has the lowest quote, hands down. Still waiting to hear from our current agent (and not thrilled that he hasn't called yet) and hubby's family's agent (who was supposed to call sometime after 5:30...it's now 7:30 and we haven't gotten a call.) So, by Monday I hope to have all the quotes and a decision made!

Here's a picture of what our new car pretty much looks like, from Edmunds.com:


More quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Joy and Work

It's funny how God seems to send you little notes of encouragement when you most need them, if you open your eyes enough to see them.

As you may have guessed from some of the posts below, 1) we're having car problems right now and 2) we ain't exactly wealthy; as a result, we're going through a fair amount of angst right now, waiting to find out what exactly is wrong with our car and how we ought to deal with the problem of family locomotion in the near future. Between that and some physical (and impending fiscal) pain from a minor procedure I had this week, I've literally been sick to my stomach the last couple of days.

Fast forward to today, while I'm taking a little break from delivering mail, and I pick up a copy of Rolling Stone that turned out to be undeliverable. Years ago, I read this magazine pretty frequently, but neither my interests nor my sensibilities really line up with it anymore. However, the current issue features Stephen Colbert on the cover and, while I don't get to see his show very often because we don't get Comedy Central, I like a lot of what he represents - mostly based on Deacon Greg's fairly frequent mentions of him on his blog. What really got my attention was the description on the cover of Colbert as a "God-loving square." So, I got "ahold" of a copy and read the article. It turned out to be pretty extraordinary.

I already knew from Deacon Greg and a couple of other sources that Colbert is Catholic, but this article (in Rolling Stone of all places) illustrates just how important the faith is to him, and how unashamedly he discusses it. Looking on the magazine's companion website, I found out that he not only practices his faith, but even shares it with the next generation by teaching the First Communion class at his local parish!

A couple of things that stand out for me, especially given our family's current stress level, are Colbert's takes on work and suffering. Discussing the first, Colbert shows the author (Neil Strauss) two notes he has stuck to his desk. One says, "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." The other simply says, "Work" because, in Colbert's words, "nothing ever gets better unless you work." He further explains, "So I have 'work' here and 'joy' over there, and I try to put the two together somehow."

As for suffering, Colbert talks about having experienced the tragedy of losing his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was a child and, when asked whether going through the "dark period" that resulted has helped him do what he does or made it more of a challenge, Colbert responds:
Not to get too deep here, but the most valuable thing I can think of is to be grateful for suffering... To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity, because what else are you going to do - say, 'No, thanks?' It's there. 'Smile and accept,' said Mother Teresa. And she was talking to people who had it rough..."
Reading this actually spoke quite eloquently to our situation, and in many ways it was exactly what I needed to hear. In sum: be glad for what you do have (even the suffering), work to change your life for the better, and - most importantly - do everything you do with joy. As Colbert says about his show, "...if you can do it with joy...then it's 'The Joy Machine' as opposed to 'The Machine.' Considering the speed at which we do it, we'll get caught in the gears really quickly unless we also approach it with joy."

Again, this really was just what I needed to hear, and from a really unexpected place. I highly recommend you read it if you have a chance!

Reasons to homeschool numbers 3,000,091 and 3,000,092

As I was in the shower today (enjoying one of the few moments of silence in my life) I started thinking about different things going on, and I won't explain the progression from one item to the next (it started with thinking about going to Mass tonight, and ended with my two new reasons to homeschool...) I ended up ranting inside my head, and thought since blogs are basically for ranting and raving, I'd come post my thoughts here.

So, the first one, reason 3,000,091 to homeschool is this: I know all schools, both public and private, do fundraisers...and that reason alone is a much lower number on my list (Colorado spends $8167 per student, among the lowest funding, with New York spending over $15000 per student) Even with Colorado's low school funding (for comparison, we don't expect to ever spend more than $500 per kid, per year)I find the fact that schools feel they need fundraisers to make ends meet disconcerting.

Due to the dumb cut off date, Eva is finally old enough to be going to PRESCHOOL (yes, we are over half done with Kindergarten) so, several of my friends kids have just started preschool. At our last Bible Study, one mom was telling us that the PRESCHOOLERS are required to do the fundraising, as well as the older kids. I mean, honestly...making 4 and 5 year olds sell crap for the school??? Just ridiculous. It just means that they expect the parents and other family to buy stuff, because I am ASSUMING they don't want 4 year olds going door to door selling stuff! (I guess what they probably REALLY want is the PARENTS to sell stuff...) And of course, there are rewards for selling the crap for the school...you get some sort of money "school bucks" or something like that. These "bucks" can be used at the school Christmas shop where you can buy cheap crap to give as gifts to your parents and siblings. As if that's not enough...the school wants the parents to come in an run the Christmas shop.

While I am on the subject of cut off dates (although this has nothing to do with homeschooling), I am very aggravated with the library. You see, at our library, they have an awesome story time program. Unlike other programs I've heard of, the kids must be signed up for an official time, and must be 3 to be a part of storytime. Of course, Charlotte won't be 3 until November, but the library says that it's cut off date is that they must be 3 before storytime begins (in late September...) and she can't just join a group in the middle of the year. NEVER MIND that EVERY SINGLE LIBRARIAN has told me that Charlotte is more than ready for story time...she doesn't fit into the dumb age schedule, so she is not welcome!

And of course, the reason 3,000,092 is President Obama's address next week. Last time I checked, the schools weren't doing the most fabulous job of educating students...for instance, this says that 75% of high school graduates are not ready for college...so, lets waste time with a "stay in school" speech by the president followed by questions such as (for the younger kids) What is the president trying to tell me? What is the president asking me to do? What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about? What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?
Teachers could extend learning by having students:
· Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants, puzzle pieces, or trails marked with the following labels: personal, academic, community, and country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in that area. It might make sense to focus first on personal and academic goals so that community and country goals can be more readily created.
· Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals. Teachers would collect and redistribute these letters at an appropriate later date to enable students to monitor their progress.
· Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.
· Interview one another and share goals with the class to create a supportive community.
· Participate in school-wide incentive programs or contests for those students who achieve their goals.
· Write about their goals in a variety of genres, such as poems, songs, and personal essays.
· Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals.
· Graph individual progress toward goals.
Or, for the older kids, great questions like: Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us? What might he say? Do you remember any other historic moments when the president spoke to the nation? What was the impact? What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines or phrases do you remember? Whom is President Obama addressing? How do you know? Describe his audience. We heard President Obama mention the importance of personal responsibility. In your life, who exemplifies this kind of responsibility? How? Give examples. How are the individuals in this classroom similar? How is each student different? Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally successful. To whom would he speak? Why? What would the president say? What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them. Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything? Is he challenging you to do anything? What do you believe are the challenges of your generation? How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?

Yeah...couldn't they use all this time to actually TEACH and LEARN something???

Okay, rant over!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Quick Takes Friday



1-
We were just talking about how reliable our ugly old car is the other day, so naturally, when we went for a drive yesterday, it started making horrible noises and we couldn't get it above 35 miles an hour. So, hubby dropped the girls and I at home, and took it up to our mechanic (thankfully it made it home AND to the mechanic!) Our first guesses were something with the transmission (yuck) or something with a belt (we were crossing our fingers) or something else entirely. It's looking like something else entirely so far...and maybe not in a good way. Today they are going to drain the oil to see if there are bits of metal floating around in it (that would be very bad...terminal, in fact). If that is okay, they are going to look at some cover somewhere in there to see if it is cracked (that would be a best case scenario). They are going to call us every step of the way to see if we want to proceed to the next diagnostic thing. We obviously don't want to put too much money in this car, because we were planning on replacing it in the next year (probably more like 6 months) anyway.

2-
Neither of us slept very well last night. I had a hard time going to sleep, and hubby had a hard time staying asleep. Not good when we are both worrying that much. We have been researching vehicles a little bit (it does tie my stomach up in knots to think about at car loan, but that's what we'd probably do...) Any recommendations for SUVs with 4WD or AWD? We'd love to get something bigger (that could seat more than 5) if we are going to keep it for a long time, but it is looking like those will be out of our price range if we need a car sooner rather than later...so we are not discounting 5 seat ones.

3-
Eva's birthday party was awesome. It was really nice not having to worry about much, and just getting a chance to relax with family and friends. We had about 8 kids there, and almost 20 adults who acted like kids were swimming (plus another half dozen non swimmers that wandered in and out during the swimming part.) I was really glad that Eva got simple presents this year...she so often gets SOOO much stuff...but she got some dress shoes, some books, a magazine subscription, some candy, some bracelets (made by a friend who has 4 boys), an inexpensive digital camera, and ballet lessons and clothes from MIL. I even managed to tell my parents about our upcoming move before they came out, so that MIL and FIL didn't have to try to keep it quiet.

4-
Upcoming move? you say...well, I don't think I've actually blogged about the whole deal, but since most of our town knows, pretty much all of hubby's hometown knows, and even my parents know, I figure it is probably safe to blog about now. Hubby comes from a farming and ranching family, and his dad has farmed and ranched with his brothers for a very long time now. To make a REALLY long story short, the brothers agreed to split up the farm, and so in January FIL will be on his own...well, not entirely, because hubby's little brother is already out working for the farm, and sometime in the new year we will be moving out to the farm, too. Of course, we don't have any little piddly details like "when will we be moving?" (not that I like to plan or anything) but that is the main reason why we are looking at SUVs to replace our car (if, in fact, the problem is terminal or too expensive to bother with on that old of a car).

5-
I have been combing the net for zucchini bread recipes, because I STILL have zucchini coming out the ears, and have enough frozen shredded zucchini to make a batch a week and STILL not run out before next summer. Here is the one that I made last night...not the healthiest of options, but very tasty! Donna's Chocolate Zucchini Bread

6-
ONE MORE DAY OF SCHOOL...I've been having to force myself to finish up 3rd quarter of Kindergarten with Eva, and I just about have no ambition left. I had planned to finish it up a couple of weeks ago, then start 4th quarter on September 8th. Now I am just hoping to start 4th quarter by the end of September. We got a few new items for school, including a home ec curriculum that is driving my MIL crazy. The title of it used to be Home Economics for Home Schoolers, but it also is published as Lessons in Responsibility for Girls. THAT is the part that just ticks off MIL...she doesn't think that things should be published for girls (never mind that we have TWO GIRLS so far...) and thinks that all home ec stuff should be gender neutral (wanna guess what decade she was a teenager during???) But, as we only have girls so far, I know my first two students will be fine with the "for girls" title.

7-
And finally, I'll leave you this week with a self portrait of Eva, taken with the camera she received for her birthday:


More quick takes over at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When party comes before principle

As a pro-life Catholic (who would think there could be anything else?!), one of the things that most saddens and infuriates me are people who - sometimes from the rooftops - proclaim their pro-life beliefs, then act in complete defiance of them. Nowhere does this seem to be more prevalent than in the higher echelons of the Democratic Party.

I have often said I am pro-life first, before any loyalties to a particular political party. As an illustration, I sometimes tell people that if a pro-life Democrat were running against a pro-choice Republican, I would vote Democrat. The problem is, I've never been given the chance.

I know there are Democrats out there who are ardently pro-life and believe they can change the party from the inside. A guy I was friends with in college falls into this category, in fact. I wish him luck. However, it seems that anyone who desires to advance within the party must first check his or her pro-life beliefs at the door.

One example comes from here in Colorado. In 2006, The Los Angeles Times reported that "local abortion rights activists [were] despondent" because their only choice against pro-life, Catholic Republican Bob Beauprez was self-described pro-life, Catholic Democrat Bill Ritter. Well, it turns out that they really had no reason to fear for their agenda.

As former Colorado State Treasurer Mark Hillman
pointed out just over a year ago, "Ritter restored state funding for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; signed legislation that requires all Roman Catholic hospitals to distribute emergency contraception to rape survivors; said he will not seek to appoint judges who oppose abortion rights; and has 'no antiabortion legislation on his agenda.'" Noting Ritter's propensity for trying to come down on both sides of the fence on other matters (such as labor issues) Hillman notes, "Once a politician trades for political gain what he knows to be right on an issue as fundamental as human life, it's hard to imagine anything he won't compromise. With no discernible core beliefs - except the desire to be governor - Ritter is understandably indecisive."

Another example comes from a column by Colman McCarthy in
The Washington Post during the 1988 presidential campaign. McCarthy describes a hypothetical confrontation between the Jesse Jackson of 1977 -who was an ardent spokesman for the rights of the unborn- and the Jesse Jackson of 1988, who had turned 180 degrees away from his prior beliefs in just over a decade. "Jackson of 1988," McCarthy wrote, "[said] abortion is acceptable because ''it is not right to impose private, religious and moral positions on public policy.'" But the 1977 Jackson would have responded, according to McCarthy, how he had previously written about those who justify legalized abortion based on privacy: "That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned."

Perhaps the most timely example of this kind of hypocrisy comes from a letter written in 1971. It says, in part:

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old. (source)

The author of that letter, Senator Ted Kennedy, died this past week with ratings of 100% each in 2008 from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. Kennedy's salvation is certainly between him and God. I hope he, as a practicing Catholic, took the opportunity to make a good confession before he died, and be reconciled with God and his Church. But it breaks my heart to think about how this country could have been different if he had spent his 47 years in the Senate defending life, rather than worrying about what groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood thought of him.