Monday, April 27, 2009

On Whales and the K of C

I once read that whales -at least some of them- still have leg bones somewhere in their massive bodies, left over from another era when they lived on land. It's hard to imagine these graceful giants on land; even if they were significantly smaller, their movements must have been a lot more awkward than what they enjoy now.

In the same vein, the Knights of Columbus were at one time ungainly land animals, so to speak. My grandpa and his buddies used to typify the Knights, from what I can tell: good-hearted guys, but very much interested in the organization as something more like Fred Flintstone's Water Buffalo Lodge. Some priests to this day are pretty ambivalent about having the Knights in their parishes because they developed a reputation as a bunch of guys who like to hang around and drink (and sometimes wear funny hats).

Like the whales, though, the Knights have become more graceful and elegant. From the top down -and not in small part because of the leadership of our current Supreme Knight, Carl A. Anderson- we fall on a spectrum closer to lay movements like Opus Dei now, and further away from drinking clubs like the Water Buffaloes. Service to the community and to the Church has always been a part of what the Knights are all about; now it's the very essence of the organization.

Likewise, "family" has always been a part of the K of C's self-image. One of the primary reasons it was established over 125 years ago was to provide a support system for widows and orphans of Catholic men who often worked (and sometimes died) in the sweatshops and construction sites of a rapidly industrializing country. During the "Water Buffaloes" era, though, the organization's activities too often pulled fathers away from their families for events in which women and children were not welcome. Fortunately, many councils now have a great deal of participation from relatively young fathers, and the organization as a whole is focusing on fatherhood more (notably in its Fathers for Good initiative).

One area that is lagging somewhat behind these positive trends, though, is the state convention (at least here in Colorado, as far as I'm concerned). We just got back from attending it for the first time as a whole family, and it was overall a positive experience...but there were a few things about it that I view as a little off-message. First, there just wasn't enough for the rest of the family to do while the men's business meetings were taking place, especially for really young children like Eva and Charlotte. This may largely be because so many of the men who attend are at or past retirement age; however, if the convention targeted young families more, more young families would probably attend.

Second, the tradition of state officer candidates and other sub-groups wining and dining...and wining some more...the delegates in the hospitality rooms screams "Water Buffaloes" to me. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy sitting and talking with other Knights and their wives in an informal setting, and I don't even mind the alcohol. But the fact that you can hear the merry-making from nine floors down in the hotel strikes me as the wrong message to send to the employees and other guests of the hotel, many of whom are potential Knights -or, more importantly, potential Catholics. Also, it doesn't seem like the most family-friendly way of doing things: I felt pretty uncomfortable taking the girls through for food really early in the evening, even though there wasn't anyone who was any less than sweet to the girls. It was just too loud, too crowded, too...much. Maybe a less rowdy, but still fun, alternative would be to keep the free food, but set up a cash-bar system. I've always noticed that paying for my own booze keeps me from overindulging quite as much!

Now, let me emphasize that the state convention, like the K of C as a whole, is family and service oriented. You can see it in the people they choose to honor (last year's Family of the Year, for example, was a homeschooling-NFP teaching-domestic church-deluxe family) and the people they choose to lead them (next year's State Chaplain is one of the kindest and holiest priests I've ever met). But a lot of these guys have been attending state conventions since my grandpa and his buddies were living it up, and there are quite a few things in any organization that are done a certain way because "it's always been done this way."

But I think some of those vestigial legs are becoming less noticeable, and these whales are starting to show a lot of grace. In more ways than one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quick Takes Friday, the money edition

1. I am now two weeks post-op, down 31 lbs total (including my pre op weight loss) and on to the pureed foods diet, which includes finely chopped scrambled eggs...I've never been so happy to eat eggs in my life!

2. On Tuesday, I went up to the big city with MIL for one of her doctor's appointments. Every 28 days, she has an infusion for her MS which takes two hours. The girls and I spent the two hours at Wal Mart, where I did some serious coupon shopping...I was so proud of it that I took this picture. Two things are missing from the pic, 1 gallon of milk that I bought for MIL and one of those $1 cups of oreo cookies from the checkout area that Eva chose to buy with her dollar (I took the dollar and paid for it so we didn't drive the checker crazy!). Here's why I am so proud...even though I often see pictures where couponers pay $1 for $200 worth of groceries, I don't live close enough to anything with good sales to do that sort of my grand total for this transaction was $27.10 for 31 items. I roughly estimate that had I bought these things in our town (without coupons) it would have cost just over $90. Also, I thought it was pretty cool that my receipt is double sided...what a good idea!

3. Hubby rototilled our extra lot this week. He made a nice big garden plot in the back, and did much of the rest of the lot pretty lightly to break up the ragweed (which he is allergic to). We will probably plant some buffalo grass seed on the front part. I'm really looking forward to the garden part, and once my seeds and plants arrive it'll probably be about time to plant. I got all my seeds and plants from Gurney's this year, as I didn't feel like running all over creation getting seeds and starter plants. I ordered yellow onion sets, tomato plants, green pepper plants, hot pepper plants, carrot seeds, beet seeds, cucumber seeds, zucchini seeds, yellow squash seeds, cilantro seeds and basil seeds. Gurney's is a part of ebates, so I get money back on my orders...not tons, but I've gotten $40 something back from them so far, and have earned almost another $20.

4. Also in my bargain shopping this week...I've been struggling with the issue of kids bowls for years now. We've gone through three sets of plastic bowls in Eva's lifetime (so, maybe 3 years of eating regularly out of bowls) and it was driving me crazy. Well, I finally got smart and copied Katie, who has these great bowls from pottery barn kids that have survived her 6 kiddos...and at $9.99 per 4 pack, they weren't too expensive, even shipped to my house! It looks like I may have bought them out, though...but a similar set of bowls (set of 4 for $14) are still available if you search bowls.

5. Our really cool 1997 Saturn SC2 has needed new tires for a while (okay, it WAS really cool in high school when my mom bought it...of course, getting the car as a gift 10 years later makes it a little less cool...) and because one of hubby's coworkers is on maternity leave added to the fact that next month is one of our three paycheck months, he has gotten more hours recently and we had money in the bank that wasn't already earmarked for something (okay, maybe emergency savings, but I want hubby to have a safe car to drive) so we had a new set of tires put on the car this week.

6. Last night we went to a nearby town to participate in Dave Ramsey's townhall for hope, which was being broadcast simultaneously at over 6,000 locations across the country (you know it is everywhere when we found a location near us!) It was pretty cool. Lots of good information, and since I am a dork, I found the whole discussion of economics to be fun. There was also a "fellowship time" afterwards, so we got to chat with some like-minded people (at least in the financial realm). Of course, I don't know if I will ever really get used to protestant churches...Our neighbor's kids (they attend the church that we were at) we climbing up and jumping off the front platform (I'd call it an altar, but it clearly isn't) and our girls wanted to play with them, too..but I spend too much time at our church trying to keep them off the altar, so they went outside to play instead. Anyhow, the townhall for hope is well worth watching if you missed it!

7. This weekend is the Knights of Columbus state conference in Denver...actually, it started on Thursday but with the shortage of people at hubby's work and my recent surgery, hubby wasn't going to take time off. His boss is going to cover for him on Saturday evening, though, so we are going up after he gets off work on Saturday, and will get there in time for the Mass and the business meeting on Sunday. The cost to stay at the conference hotel (even on hotel discounters) would have been about $125 after taxes...and I am just way too cheap for that, so in the end, I did the whole priceline thing, and got a 2 1/2 star hotel within 5 blocks of the conference for under $60 after taxes...much more my level.

More quick takes at Jen's blog!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks!

Surgery went well last week...I was pretty nervous about it, and right before I went back to the OR, the OR nurse came out to talk with me. She told me that during the surgery they put a board at the end of the bed, and that they would ask me to stand on the board because partway through the surgery they stand you up a little to let gravity help move things out of the way...I don't remember anything from the OR besides a big light, so I think I may have twisted my ankle a little bit.

The anesthesiologist came out to talk to me beforehand, too...and so I told him all about my anesthesia problems with Eva (couldn't get an epidural in, spinal only covered my legs, general anesthesia, couldn't intibate me, etc.) he checked out my throat, told me that I look like an easy case, and gave me plan A and plan B. Plan A was to put me out and intibate me...plan B was if he couldn't do plan A to wake me up and intibate me with a scope, then put me out again. Apparently plan A worked out. I'm a little bit bitter that he saw me as an easy case, since the quack nurse anesthetist from Eva's c-section told me I was too difficult and would probably need a scope anytime I was intibated...

On Friday, we got to head home (well, not home...I stayed at MILs house) and did all the grocery shopping for the shower on the way home. The bridal shower went really well, although my attempt at having a better count of people by asking for regrets only didn't work any better than asking for RSVPs. Hubby says that RSVPing is just not part of the culture out here...I argue that anyone that is too lazy to RSVP is just rude. I understand that things happen, but I'd rather have a last minute RSVP than set up for 31 people and have 15 show up. Future SIL had a good time, so that's all that really mattered.

Easter didn't quite go as originally planned. Hubby went to Holy Thursday and Good Friday...I stayed behind to get a nap (once in our room at the hospital outpatient house, and once at MILs house). We were originally all going to go to the vigil, but after spending all Saturday morning preparing food and all afternoon showering the bride-to-be, we were all a little tired, so we decided to go to the 1 PM Mass at MILs church (crossing our fingers that it wouldn't be a Spanish Mass...we lucked out, it wasn't!) So, we had a later Easter dinner than usual, but it was still a good day.

I finally fessed up to my Bible Study friends about my surgery. I figured there wasn't much of an option, since we eat dinner together. So, I was either going to have to skip 2 or 3 sessions so they didn't ask why I wasn't eating...and let's face it, when I started measuring 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup onto my plate after that, they'd get suspicious. They are being very supportive...but of course, had a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I had to explain things 3 times...once on the car ride out, once for the hostess, and once more when another person arrived.

My post op appointment was on Wednesday. I was cleared to drive and take my vitamins (they offered me a clearance letter to go back to work...I didn't think hubby needed, if they had offered me a letter saying I couldn't clean for two weeks, I would have taken that!) and set up my appointment for my first adjustment. I was down 12 lbs from my pre op appointment (1 week before), but some of that might come back, since they decided I am slightly dehydrated. Everything looks good, and I am healing as expected. Between MIL and myself, we've had so many appointments up in the big city recently that when I was done with my appointment, we couldn't think of anywhere we needed to shop for anything. So, we went to Red Lobster (Eva's request...what a goof ball!) for lunch, and headed home. I'm getting very used to ordering strange things at restaurants now. We've been out to eat 3 times since my surgery (it's been one of those weeks!) and I ordered a small apple juice the first time, and mashed potatoes both other times (my full liquid diet says that mashed potatoes thinned with milk count as a full liquid, so I'm good with that!) I'm looking forward to the pureed diet in a week, when I can have finely chopped scrambled eggs.

Yesterday was the grandparent's tea for Eva's story time. Every year, they host a tea party for the last library story time, and the kids get to invite a grandparent. They listen to a story, drink tea and eat cookies, and get folders with a paper from each story time the child attended throughout the year. Eva went to 22 this year, and we get to see how she answered questions, and whatever crafts they did all year. Eva took MIL again, and they had a great time. I told MIL that she's got at least 3 more years of grandparent's tea to attend, because Eva can do 1 more year of story time, and then Charlotte will be able to do 2 years (because of Eva's birthday she was able to do 3 years, but I'm not sure if Charlotte will, because she will turn 6 part way though the 3rd year.)

More quick takes, as always, at Jen's blog!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hope of Easter

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. Or maybe it's just so obvious, everyone else has deemed it redundant to point out. Whatever the reason, though, I haven't seen anything really explicitly comparing the ordeal of Captain Richard Phillips to the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. And that, given the fact that Captain Phillips was rescued on Easter Sunday, seems a little odd to me.

For anyone who might not know, Richard Phillips is the captain of the Maersk ship Alabama. While it was travelling down the coast of Africa last week, Somali pirates attempted to hijack it. Partially through the efforts of the crew in fighting back, and largely through the captain's decision to offer himself as a hostage in exchange for his crew's freedom, the ship and all of its crew (except for Phillips) escaped.

According to The Boston Globe, the father of the Alabama's second-in-command called Phillips a hero, saying:
"I have made it clear throughout this terrible ordeal that my son and our family will forever be indebted to Captain Phillips for his bravery. If not for his incredible personal sacrifice, this kidnapping and act of terror could have turned out much worse."

The same article quotes Richard Gurnon, the president of Massachusetts Maritime Academy (of which Capt. Phillips is a graduate) as saying of Phillips, "He was the good shepherd. He willingly exchanged his life for the lives of his flock, his crew."

This is exactly the kind of imagery that came to mind for me, as well. And it doesn't end there: Phillips spent the next several days floating adrift -"dead in the water"- with four heavily armed pirates, who could have easily made the ocean more than just a symbolic tomb for the father of two. But, just as Jesus emerged from what his followers feared was his final resting place, Phillips was rescued completely intact (and on Easter Sunday, no less) by the daring actions of Cmdr. Frank Castellano and the crew of the USS Bainbridge.

Now, I don't know exactly what motivated Capt. Phillips to offer himself in exchange for his crew, or in what proportion different parts of his character and background worked toward this decision. But it is worth noting that he and his family are Catholic. Not only that, but Cmdr. Castellano, his primary rescuer, is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. In fact, the cargo of the Alabama even included 860 metric tons of food aid from Catholic Relief Services, destined for the poor in Rwanda. So, Catholic principles run all through this story.

I think all of this may best be summarized by a quote from VeggieTales' "An Easter Carol," which we watched with the girls again on Sunday morning. In a vision of a world in which the true meaning of Easter is forgotten, the angel Hope shows a Scrooge-like character how a police officer who, in the current reality, is unusually heroic now backs down from the first sign of aggression by a criminal. "What do you think made him brave in the first place?" Hope asks. "Without the hope of Easter, why would anyone risk their life for someone else?"

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm doing great!

Just in case anybody reads my blog that has not already heard on facebook, my surgery yesterday went extremely well. The biggest problem that happened was that it took 2 nurses a total of 3 times to get my IV in. Beyond that, the anesthesiologist had no trouble intibating me (and didn't knock out any teeth, which was one of the warnings on my consent form!) I didn't see the surgeon at all today (well, they did take away my glasses when I was wheeled into the OR), and I don't even think I was awake enough to place my feet correctly for the surgery, so I think I twisted or sprained one of my doesn't hurt too terribly, but in a couple of hourse, I think I will call over to the doctor's office and see if someone could take a look at it...I'd hate to have a blood clot and just go home thinking it was nothing!

I was so tired after surgery that I took two naps yesterday after at about 3:30 to 5, and another while hubby was at Holy Thursday Mass (I was just to darn tired to make it, which was just as well, since hubby got there 20 minutes early, and the church itself was completely full, and the basement overflow was already half full) from about 7ish to 8:30ish. So, needless to say that I had some trouble trying to go back to sleep this morning after taking some pain meds.

So, today I am planning to call the doctor's office and go in if they think I should, shop at three different stores on the way home for shower supplies (I'm not supposed to sit for more than 30 mins at a time, but it looks like the easiest way to deal with that is to pick the specials at a grocery store about every hour.

I'd better go put my feet up again! Thanks for your prayers this week!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

We're off to see the wiz....err...surgeon! is finally here! Tomorrow I am tentatively scheduled to have my adjustible gastric banding surgery at 9:40 (Mountain time), and I am just finishing up a little cleaning and packing (and, obviously, some blogging!). My MIL should be here within an hour to pick up the girls, and hubby should be home from work in about an hour. We have a three hour drive up to the hospital, and I have a pre-op appointment at 1 pm. Yesterday was full liquid, and today is clear I've had an exciting breakfast of sugar free lime jello and crystal lite.

I weighed myself this morning, and according to my scale, I am down 20.4 lbs, just over the 20 lbs that I'm supposed to do...we'll have to see if the doctor's office scale agrees this afternoon.

We will spend the next two nights near the hospital, and will get to head home sometime on Friday morning. I'll be spending the night at MILs house to get ready for the bridal shower on Saturday, then I'll finally get to go home after the Easter Vigil (long enough to sleep, turn around and go back to MILs house for Easter dinner...)

I'll have hubby post something when my surgery is over!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Signs You May Have Chosen the Wrong Major

Actually, I've been pretty glad in some ways that I studied Sociology...but its attractiveness to potential employers has never really been one of them. See how the ad Facebook started showing me yesterday (on the right) is preying on one of my bigger fears?
By the way: how come so many of my friends kidnap me with the sandwich under a cage? What's that supposed to mean?! :-)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Quick Takes Friday...already!?!

Okay, so I have to admit that I've been whining all week about how long the week has been...but when I was checking blogs today and saw that Jen had her quick takes up for the week...well, I have to admit that I had to think twice about it. First I wondered why it was up on Thursday...then I realized that since I have fish sticks in the oven, it must be Friday.

Surgery is set, I am done with all of my requirements (other than losing 20 lbs...I'm down 17 as of this 3 lbs in 6 days? Hopefully that is doable!) My pre-op class was on Monday, and other than giving me a million things to worry about (I couldn't believe the number of times that they said "if x happens, we will stop the surgery") I'm fairly excited and nervous about the procedure. Of course, I am trying to think of having my surgery on Holy Thursday as a good thing rather than "uh, close to the agony of Jesus am I going to get in this situation??"

The girls fit just fine in their flower girl dresses. My MIL was convinced that we'd have to have at least Charlotte's dress hemmed by quite a bit. As it stands now, both girls have about 1/4 inch dragging on the floor, and as the wedding isn't for 8 weeks, we may not need to hem them at all...

There are so many things that I want to get done before I leave for the hospital (including sewing dresses for the girls that are all cut and ready to go, and getting our will that I made out BEFORE Charlotte was born signed...I know, I'm a pessimist...) but I doubt I'll be getting much of it done.

Our Lenten penance service was cancelled due to snow last week, so we went up to the one at MIL's church. We met her for supper beforehand, and I took a couple of pictures of the girls. Between people from our church and another smaller parish, we outnumbered the people from MILs church. I had the priest laughing pretty hard after my confession (I don't know if that's a good thing or not...) I had been to confession once already during Lent, so my confession was pretty to the point...I didn't make any explanations for my sins (I'm working hard on not excusing them) and I got done in about a minute. He told me I should do a homily based on my confession, and we were both laughing as I left. MIL (who was behind me in line) asked me if he kicked me out...

At said penance service, we ran into some friends that we haven't seen in quite a while...I hadn't realized how long it had been until I asked how old their little boy turns out he is almost 2! Last time we saw them, she was, it's been a while...and beyond that, they told us that their oldest will be 16 really soon. It seems pretty impossible, but that's the way it always is when kids grow up!

The entertainment for the women and children went okay last Sunday for the Knights of Columbus meeting...the ladies entertained themselves, and I entertained my kids (the only children, as I had expected!) Hubby made me make enough sloppy joes for 30 people out of fear that there wouldn't be enough food...well, the Grand Knight also brought about three items, and there was enough food for an army. It all went well, even though we now are going to be scheduling an insurance review with our agent. He asked if it had been a while, I said that we'd just updated it recently (either right before or after Charlotte was born), and he said we should be reviewing it annually, or at least every other year. I guess he can come talk to us, but I'm pretty firm on the amount and types of insurance we need at this point in our lives.

Hubby was so thrilled to see Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba today...I think he needs a life, but to save him the trouble of posting it it is:

Happy weekend, and then Happy Easter to everyone! No quick takes next week (because of Good Friday overall, and because I should be traveling home from the hospital more particularly...) but I will try to have hubby post how my surgery goes!

Check out more quick takes at Jen's blog!