Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick Takes Friday - Haircut Edition

Okay, so all my quick takes today aren't going to be about haircuts...but the girls and I did get haircuts today, and I thought I'd share some before and after pictures of the girls (I don't like having my picture taken, thus I am exempt...)

1. Our haircuts on Monday went well...we went to a friend of mine from church. She has a little girl in between Eva and Charlotte's ages, a little boy who is younger than Charlotte, and is expecting her third. Eva got her hair cut first so she could go play with her friend. The older girls kept asking questions like "Can we play with play-doh?" which of course, was a no...but they had a ton of fun. Charlotte joined them after her haircut, too. I was amazed that my friend's little boy slept through it all!

2. A storm came through on Monday night and into Tuesday...very high winds, very yucky...but MIL had a doctor's appointment up in the front range, so we did a whirlwind trip up there. I got a ton of shopping done, too...particularly considering the compressed time we were working with! We met BIL and his fiancee for dinner, and got to show them the girl's flower girl dresses for the wedding. I still haven't tried them on the girls...I keep thinking they ought to be clean and dry before doing so, and I haven't found a time when they are both yet!

3. I finally got a call from the surgeon's office on Wednesday morning. My insurance company has approved me, and I am scheduled for surgery on April 9th (Holy Thursday). I have my all day pre-op class on Monday (hopefully the weather cooperates for it!) and have to decide on which band I want...Lap-Band or REALIZE Band. They are pretty similar, but that actually makes it harder to decide, to be honest.

4. I had been trying to go visit my parents with the girls, as they are on their spring breaks right now...but when I talked to my mom about the idea, she told me that the weather was supposed to be bad, and that we were supposed to get a blizzard. I hadn't checked the weather (I keep thinking that it is spring, so all the snow should be over!) but sure enough...we have a blizzard!

5. One of hubby's coworkers is pregnant and due any day now. She'll be induced in about a week if she doesn't go into labor before then. Another coworker is on vacation this week (her kids have spring break, so she took it off...) The pregnant co worker's two other kids were puking last night when she got them home from daycare...hubby thought that her going into labor would just top it off. So far as I know, she hasn't yet...but my theory would be, that she'd go into labor right after nursing the kids back to health and not getting a decent night's sleep...that's just how it seems to go to me!

6. Tonight the Knights of Columbus are having their first ever Fish Fry...of course, we have a blizzard outside, but according to hubby, it can't really be put that should be interesting! Also this weekend, the Knights have a 4th degree and district meeting going on...I am in charge of entertaining the women and children. I'm pretty comfortable entertaining children (although I doubt there will be any, other than my own) but I really have no idea how to entertain women...any suggestions?

7. Last Sunday we had the second class in our current series of Natural Family Planning classes. We just had one of our two couples there (the other couple was out of town, so hopefully we will find time for a catch up class before class 3) so we didn't take the scheduled break. At one point, I needed to use the restroom, and I heard voices in the other side of the basement. So, I got up and went to see what was going on. There were several men coming in, I told them that we had a class going on, and asked if I could help them. They said they were there for a Knights meeting (yes...the meeting that will be happening THIS SUNDAY!) so, we had to sort all of that out. One of the men had even cut a trip out of state short so he could be back for the meeting...on the wrong weekend!

Of course, go check out the other quick takes at Jen's blog!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fox (Catholic) News Channel?

Finding out yesterday that Martha MacCallum is Catholic (see earlier post) got me to wondering: I already knew that two of Fox's biggest names, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, are, how many other on-air Catholics might there be on FNC? Here's what I've been able to find so far (with links to the source for each name):

Bill O'Reilly
Sean Hannity
Martha MacCallum
Neil Cavuto
Bret Baier
Bill Hemmer (at the time of the linked story with CNN, but now on Fox)
Steve Doocy

In addition, former Speaker of the House and frequent Fox contributor Newt Gingrich is reportedly entering the Church this Sunday (March 29th)! And, of course, Fr. Jonathan Morris is often called upon to comment on stories that pertain specifically to Catholicism. (If you're wondering about Glenn Beck-a favorite of MM-his Wikipedia entry says that he was raised Catholic, but has since converted to LDS.)

Now, there are obviously a lot of Catholics in the world. I may have missed other on-air Catholics on Fox, or some of the ones I listed may not practice their faith any more. In any case, this seems like a pretty large percentage of the channel's top-rung talent, and my sense is that their Catholicism may unconsciously influence the overall "feel" of their coverage. During the Holy Father's visit to New York and D.C. last year, I definitely felt that FNC did the most respectful and thorough job of covering the events (outside of EWTN, of course). Maybe this list helps explain why.

Is the Catholic glass half-full or half-empty?

This is kind of a long video, but I found it really fascinating because of what the debate turned to, moreso than what it was intended to cover (although that is an intriguing issue in its own right).

Martha MacCallum of Fox News Channel was interviewing Phil Donahue, a Notre Dame alum, and Fr. Jonathan Morris about Notre Dame's decision to award President Obama an honorary degree this May, despite his continued disregard of the pro-life point of view (by the way, you can sign a petition if you believe Notre Dame should cancel this plan). Right out of the blocks, and for the entire interview, Donahue kept trying to tie this debate to his larger thesis that the Catholic Church is in crisis, and that it needs to consider changing many of its views in order to be more attractive to mainstream Americans. As you can see in the video, he cites his own divorce and refusal to obtain an annulment before remarriage as evidence of modern society's rejection of Catholicism's "archaic" rules and standards.

Sadly, I've seen this before: my late Grandma Eva, for whom our little peanut is named, never followed through on seeking an annulment after her divorce from my grandpa. And, like Phil Donahue, she held that against the Church-even though it was completely her choice not to seek an annulment (which would probably have been granted, had she followed up on it). Just as Donahue refuses to see the vibrancy of the Catholic Church in America, my grandma used her victimization (both real and imagined) to justify her own pessimism and, ultimately, her own failures. It seems to me that these are both cases of people reacting defensively to their own shame, and determining that-since the fault can't be with them-it must lie with the Church.

In this case, MacCallum-who is Catholic-and Fr. Jonathan essentially destroyed Donahue's argument with their own experiences of parish and seminary life. But watch the video and see if you think anything they said is likely to reach Donahue's heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pics from Chuck E. "Jesus"

These are from my phone, so they're not fabulous...but not too bad. I jest a little about how Charlotte says the name of the restaurant, but maybe she's just a good product of her parents' Jesuit education: she's "finding God in all things." ;-)

Great story from our visit with Brittney

Reading over MM's quick takes below, I noticed that she mentioned our visit to Brittney. We're asked so often how she is doing that I thought I'd update her status a little bit here, and relate a really neat story that her dad shared with us while we were visiting.

Britt is doing well enough to be home, but she still has a long way to go before she could live without 24-hour care. She has some use of her arms and legs, but still can't stand unassisted (and even with assistance, not for very long). She can move herself around to some degree with her wheelchair, but still needs help getting to a particular location. She still hasn't worked out a system, whether verbally or with some kind of signal, to indicate "yes" or "no," and the speech therapists at the hospital she was in until last week weren't very positive about whether or not she could understand what others are saying to her...but, since she's been home, she showed them!

Sometime last week, Brittney's dad went to the refrigerator in their house to put away some dip he had been eating. But when he got there, Brittney was parked in her wheelchair in the way of the door. Since he had something else to do, he had Britt hold onto the dip container temporarily and said, jokingly, "Put that in the fridge for me, will ya" (or something about like that). Well, Brittney proceeded to use her right arm (which has less coordination than her left, right now) to pull the refrigerator door open. When it was blocked by her wheelchair, she moved just a little bit and tried again. When she still couldn't get it open enough, she moved a little more and finally got the door to open all the way. She then used her left hand and chucked the dip into the fridge from across her body!

So, this was pretty encouraging for us to find out that she definitely understands at least some of what we're saying to her, and I think it gave her folks evidence that she is still making progress. So we have a little more hope that we'll have her back someday more like what she was before the accident...and a little satisfaction that "the experts" underestimated her!

Quick Takes Friday again!

Well, it does seem like this is the only time I remember to blog anymore, but I guess if I blog every Friday, that's better than going weeks without blogging at all!

I got a call from the bariatric surgeon's office. All my tests are in, the woman in charge of insurance thought that everything looked normal (she was going to run it all past the doc one more time to be sure), and it turns out that our insurance company has changed their way of getting pre-certified. It used to be that everything had to be mailed in, and that it would take about 3 weeks from the date sent to the date approved...well, it turns out that now they allow them to be faxed in, so the office thinks I should have approval by next Tuesday! Tentatively, we've scheduled my surgery for April 9th (Holy Thursday). I also have to go to an all day pre-op class in a little over a week.

Also on the schedule for Holy Week...I am hosting my future sister-in-law's bridal shower. Of course, I planned the date and ordered the invitations BEFORE I found out that my surgery date could be that soon! So, I'm planning a light lunch with quiche, fruit salad, sun dried tomato pasta salad, and the blueberry salad I posted a few weeks ago. MIL is making a cake, so beyond making the food, I need to clean up the building where we are having it, and decorate. Fortunately, hubby's sister (all these SILs are going to get confusing!) is helping me to host...I fear that she is going to have to deal with a large percentage of things that must be done the day of the I should be 2 days post op, and wandering around with my chicken broth and sugar free jello...

We took an impromptu trip last weekend to see the state basketball finals. I lost my mind when hubby posted on facebook that he would like to go, and so before he got home I had booked a hotel room, packed a bag and had the girls ready to go. On Sunday we (of course) went to church, and the normal priest at that church had recently had some surgery, so the retired bishop of the diocese was the celebrant. That was pretty cool. Fortunately for the girls, and unfortunately for us, there was a Chuck E Cheese's visible from the highway right by our hotel, so we took the girls there for lunch. Charlotte says "Jesus" and "cheeses" about the same, so we are slightly concerned that she may think that it is Chuck E "Jesus"...

Speaking of Charlotte...her new favorite phrase (which I think can be directly attributed to her father...) is "I know dat!" Including things she would have absolutely no way of knowing.

On Wednesday, we visited hubby's family. His brother and fiancee where there as well, which was fun. Somehow, my MIL got out of visiting her MIL by volunteering to watch the girls. So, hubby, me, BIL and future SIL went into town to see their grandma at the nursing home, and then out to see their cousin Brittney who is finally home from the hospital! It was so good to see Britt out of the hospital. It's a lot of work for her mom now, but it looks like she isn't going to go back to work now, which I think will be a very good thing for her and Brittney. I can't imagine that she'd be able to keep her mind on her work without worrying about how Britt is doing...not to mention the stress of hiring a caregiver. There's enough stress just trying to arrange for all her therapies and supplies.

Today is payday...I have to admit that I am not as excited as normal, because I know we have more expenses than income for these two weeks. I guess the good news is that we do have money in the bank, I just wish we didn't have to use it!

Eva is finishing up on her second quarter of Kindergarten...of course, the plan was to take two full years for one year of Kindergarten...but it's looking like we will be done much earlier than that. She is getting really close to reading now, so hopefully it will start to click for her soon.

Well, that's it for me this week. Be sure to check Jen's blog for more Quick Takes!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

Well, I have no pictures this week...just wasn't ambitious enough to take any. Though I do wish I had taken my camera with me to my sleep study...then I could have had my sleep tech take a picture of my head! She had to place about a dozen electrodes on my head (measuring and marking the spots with pen through my hair...and doing anything through my hair is difficult!) some on my legs, belts around my abdomen and chest to measure movement while breathing, a thing up my nose and in my mouth to measure air flow, and then they have a speaker and camera so they can see and hear you all night long. If I had problems before 2 am, they would have put me on a CPAP machine for the rest of the night...but I didn't have any problems by 2 am...I did find out that I breathe shallowly when I am dreaming and on my back (I do fine when I dream on my side) so, there is a possibility that I may have to go back for a second sleep study. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have to...they're not particularly the most fun thing to do.

Yesterday I had a heck of a day...Hubby wanted me to be back to his mom's house during his lunch break, which was supposed to be 3 hours, but ended up being 2 hours. Then he insisted on running a couple of errands before driving up to his mom's house (which is a good 40 minutes away from ours). So, he got up there with his dad's pickup, we packed up the girls, and he ate his lunch in the car. So, I took the girls home, fed them lunch, finally got them down for naps (well, Charlotte anyway) and about the time Charlotte really fell asleep, I found out that I had miscalculated while shopping and put almost $50 too much on the debit card for our local checking account. So, I had to wake up Charlotte, pack the girls up, go see hubby at work to get his ATM card and a check we needed to put in the bank, go to the ATM to get out cash, take cash and check to local bank to put in checking account. Then, we had less than 2 hours before hubby was off work (and he didn't have a car, so I thought we'd be nice and pick him up...) so we went to the park, then to the grocery store...finally after we picked up hubby we went out for dinner (it was that kind of day all over!)

I got new shoes for myself and Eva while up in the big city. Eva's new shoes have Dora on them, but they don't blink. My new shoes are...well, just normal shoes...and Eva commented that they don't have Dora or blink. I told her I didn't think they made Dora or Blinkie shoes in mommy sizes. She said "well, some mama's have blinkie shoes, but you don't." I'd like to convince Eva otherwise, but I don't think I'll be able, if anyone has mommy blinkie shoes, please let me know!

I had dinner by myself at the bar of a restaurant during happy hour...and had water to drink because of my sleep study. It was kinda fun, but pretty weird to eat all by myself.

Hubby took the day on Wednesday (his day off and the day of all my doctor's appointments) to borrow his dad's pickup and clean out the garage (it's been a long time coming!) He thought he'd have to pay for two trips to the dump, but when he took the first one over (which was all metal) he didn't have to pay anything. They must be able to recycle the metal. Then, his second trip was about to fall out of the pickup, as he had several mattresses (that came with our house) perched on top. They made it to the dump, and hubby just managed to get done unloading the pickup as they were locking the dump for the night.

The girls stayed at grandma's house from Wednesday morning to Thursday afternoon. While there, they had about 3 ice creams each day, and did whatever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to! They also got to see hubby's cousin Brittney when she got home from the hospital on Wednesday night. So, that was the good side...the down side is that my FIL had MILs car because his truck wasn't working, so MIL got a ride over to Brittney's house with one of her SILs who has granddaughters fairly close in age to my girls (and had car seats in her car already!). Well, FIL came to pick up MIL and the girls, but didn't stop and get the car seats...and refused to go get them because he had to go unload some MIL strapped the girls into her car in normal seat belts...coming home from the house of someone who has severe injuries and disabilities from not wearing a car seat in an accident. I've lectured MIL already (even though I was trying not to...) but have to admit that I am not happy at all about what happened...

Getting the girls up to grandma's house and getting me to the doctor's office were challenges this week. We got about 2 miles out of our town to find out that the road between our town and MILs town was closed and detoured. Now, in our county, no dirt road goes more than 2 miles in one direction before turning, so we decided not to use the detour created (because it detoured to the wrong side of town...) and instead went on a back route to MILs house. Then, I dropped off the kids and hubby and got on the road....I thought I had missed my exit because of some road construction on the highway (had to call MIL to see where the right exit was) and then the highway into the city was closed down and I had to take a detour. Of course, I managed to get pretty lost trying to get back on the road home the next day. I really shouldn't be allowed to travel alone!

More quick takes are up at Jen's blog!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Belated Lenten Resolution

Did you know that Union troops during the Civil War found a document, Special Order 191, lying on a battlefield...and it turned out to be orders from Robert E. Lee detailing plans for a whole series of upcoming battles. It's true! (I even heard about it on "The Rest of the Story" once!) This information helped turn the tide of the war, which at that point was going badly for the North, and was probably instrumental in determining its ultimate outcome. Can you imagine if that document had never been found?

Well, Harry Turtledove did more than just imagine it: he's written thousands of pages of "alternate history" based on the premise that, because of this one small change in actual events, the entire history of North America was radically changed. I read the first book based on this idea, How Few Remain, a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. Then, a few months ago, I found out that there was a trilogy of books following the same characters through World War I (in which the USA and the CSA -Confederate States of America, that is-were on opposing sides).

So, I ordered those three books from Paperbackswap, and promptly wanted to do nothing but sit and read them. The problem is that they are each about 500 pages long, plus (it turns out) there are seven MORE books (each about the same length) following the same characters through the Depression era and World War II. Assuming the books average around 500 pages each, that's 5,500 pages of "what if"s! At that point, I have to reassess how committed I am to seeing the series through (kinda like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which to date has totaled about 9,600 pages, and-as much as I like it-has gotten to be an endurance test).

Besides being a daunting amount of reading, I think I would probably have a problem with the books' affects on my relationship with my family. Knowing how I get when I am engrossed in a story, I would probably try to read the remaining books every chance I get until finish them all. It would make it hard for me to get what I need to do around the house done but, more importantly, it would keep me from giving enough attention to MM and the kids.

THEREFORE, I've resolved to give up reading these books for the foreseeable future. I have the first of the Depression-era trilogy on its way via Paperbackswap right now, but I think I may even list it back on the site to avoid tempting me to get sucked in again. I didn't really plan on giving anything up this Lent but, as timing would have it, this works out pretty well. I think this will result in my growing more as a father and husband than something like giving up chocolate would, anyway.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A new book I want to read...

Okay, so I really enjoy the blog Owlhaven...and Mary has just finished her book "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family", which I really, really, REALLY want to read. Turns out that she's doing a giveaway for people who blog about it, so here I am...

But of course, being the Paperbackswap addict that I am, I first went to PBS to see if I could be first on the wishlist for the book...

I'm number 3 on the list...

So, here's to hoping that I am the lucky winner! Make sure you head over to her blog and check it out!

Quick Takes Friday

I'm preparing for my sleep study next Wednesday night, and part of the prep work is keeping a sleep log. I'm not totally sure that my sleep has been what it usually is, but if this is indeed a normal week of sleep...well, no wonder I'm a little grouchy sometimes! (Okay, I shouldn't complain...I've gotten decent night's sleep this week, but I am the type of person who really needs 8 hours...)

Using my MILs laminator/sticker maker (which she said was mine, and that she had another one that belonged to her somewhere in her house...I don't remember her getting me a laminator...but I may just take her up on it one of these days...) I finished up the Dino Colors and Alphabet Hearts games for Charlotte. I also made her a VeggieTales tot book from here. But Eva hasn't be left totally out of the action...I'm working on putting together two lapbooks for her to do after we finish her schoolwork (she has 1-2 more weeks, depending on the subject, and I've scheduled until Easter for this quarter of work...) so I have to figure out how to put together a bigger lapbook sometime soon.

Hubby spent the entire day on Wednesday working on the house! We have been in here since January 1, 2006 and the house has been unfinished in several places since then. So, Wednesday was spent getting the soffiting (I really have no idea how to spell that, and apparently, neither does the spell checker...) on the trim of the porch (lots of very detailed cuts required) in a few more days of working during his break, it should be completed. Then I am hoping to find a utility sink at the Habitat Restore while I am up for my psychological evaluation and sleep study next week. I was inspired to at least give it a try because of this post.
On Wednesday, I managed to jam my big toe pretty badly tripping over the door to our bedroom...the good news is I fell into the bed (I guess that's one of the nice things about having a bed that takes up an entire room!)...the bad news is that my clumsiness continued for most of the day, and included managing to slam my finger into the latch of MILs screen door (I'm still not sure how I managed that one...) and a few small incidents with scissors. My toe still hurts today, but at least my hands are better.

We went to do the Stations of the Cross last night at church...we decided to make it to at least one daily Mass or pray a family rosary or something extra related to church each week during Lent. Father moved the normal Thursday night Mass to Thursday morning and has no Mass today (I think he may be out of town for meetings...I'm not really sure.) Normally, Stations are done after the Thursday night Mass, and we usually can't handle keeping the kids calm and controlled for more than the we did Stations instead of Mass (since hubby can't make it to the morning Mass times...) and it went pretty well. There was another little girl there (she's between Eva and Charlotte in age) and the three of them did get into a little bit of trouble for trying to play. We had to give Eva a lecture on "we are here to pray, not to play right now..." BUT, all of the other adults told us (hubby and me and the other little girl's grandpa) that the girls did a really good job. I guess I'm glad that the standard isn't too high for the 4 and under crowd.

Funny wedding planning note about my BIL...he and his fiancee had figured out a head count of 150 for the reception meal, so they decided that they needed to order 200 invitations to the wedding to make up for those who won't be able to make it (his fiancee is from out of state, so I'm sure that there will be quite a few people unable to attend...) The next day, his fiancee realized that they didn't need that many invitations, as the 150 for food included families that would only need 1 invitation (so, for instance, our 4 wouldn't need 4 invitations, just 1) but BIL was certain that they needed that many that's what they ended up with. And now BIL had to admit that he was wrong...not something the men in that family do very well. Gotta love wedding planning...and gotta love the fact that we don't have to do anything like that for a long time...
But, we are coming up on our 10th anniversary this summer...time does fly! So, we are thinking of a vacation for the two of us (the girls will gladly stay with grandma...) but aren't getting too creative. Obviously, any trip we take will be on a small budget, but it looks like travel bargains might be easy to find this year. We don't have passports, so we'll probably stay in the states...and we don't want to do anything that would be really close to something educational (then hubby would want to take the girls...and so would I...for a home school field trip...) so as of now, we are thinking of Vegas. Any other recommendations? I've never been to Vegas, and hubby hasn't been since before he was old enough to gamble (I'm guessing he went there sometime during high school for some school related thing...) so I don't even know if it is worth going.

Of course, as always, there are more quick takes at Jen's blog, with a very sweet picture of her brand new baby girl! Big congrats to Jen on such a cutie!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I am a crafty supermom!

Okay, it isn't that often that I get crafty with or for the kids around's just not really in my nature (although I guess when I did alphabet crafts with Eva for preschool, I must have been temporarily insane!) So, since I did get all crafty, I took some pictures (before things get destroyed.

I recently came across the idea of Tot School. I found the idea through a Carnival of Homeschooling post a while back, and just found the idea interesting. Since Charlotte is getting more difficult to contain while I do school with Eva, I thought doing some tot school with Charlotte would be a good idea. I got the template for Alphabet Hearts here, and the template for the Cinderella Tot Book here.

Eva found the instructions for how to make a spiritual bouquet at EWTN kids. So, for art class this week, we made this spiritual bouquet for Brittney who should be coming home from the hospital next week.

Finally, here's another view of the Cinderella Tot Book, and also a peek at Dino Colors, which I found here. The Alphabet Hearts and Dino Colors folders still need some work...I need to go use my MILs laminater to make them a little sturdier for little miss thing. I'd better get to class, since Charlotte is dancing around me and wants her Cinderella book!