Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
The wedding went very well...we had enough food at the rehearsal dinner to cater the wedding, to be honest...but that's the way it goes in hubby's family! We don't want anyone to go hungry.
For a very long time, Eva has been telling us that when she grows up she's going to marry B (a friend's son who is about 1 1/2 younger than her)...well, then she met the ring bearer at the wedding, L...now she's going to marry L instead...unfortunately, Charlotte has also decided that she's going to marry L.
Naturally, I forgot to get my camera as we left for the wedding, so no pictures until I get some from someone who had a camera there...
The cake...what can I say about the cake? Well, the very wonderful caterers were in charge of cutting the cake, and they cut normal wedding cake slices (maybe 1/2 to 1 inch wide?) when MIL planned on MUCH BIGGER slices, so there was a ridiculous amount of cake leftover. The head caterer was so impressed with MILs cakes, she said they were a joy to cut and offered her a job (it'd be a long commute, though...) MIL still wasn't quite satisfied with how the cakes looked (they looked great) but she hardly ever is satisfied and she usually should be (well, except for the collapsed house cake from Eva's last birthday, but she's still blaming that one on FILs driving...)
The visit with my parents went relatively well. I was pretty worn out from wedding stuff (helping cook a zillion tons of food, helping with 17 cakes, etc.) and it was a pretty short visit, and that made it pretty good! Their neighbors gave us a big box of school materials that they no longer needed, so that was awesome. I can't wait to go through it all.
After the tire incident a couple of weeks ago, our car has not really been the same (not that I particularly expected it to be the same after I rearranged the underside by running over the darn thing...) and when we came home on Monday, the tailpipe all but fell off...so we've been doing the one car thing all week. But today is payday (woo hoo!) so the car is at the shop right now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an inexpensive repair.
Speaking of cars, a dealership from a couple of towns over had a tent sale this week at the grocery store parking lot. Hubby and I were sorely tempted by a 2000-something (I don't remember if it was an 05, 06, or 07...anyway you look at it, WAY newer than our vehicles) Saturn Vue with all wheel drive. Of course, since we don't have $15000 to spend on a car right now, it wasn't gonna happen, but it was an awesome looking car.
Well, that's about it for this week, more quick takes over at Conversion Diary!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As Catholics, I think we have good reason to be proud of the progress we have made: in a country that has gone through some periods of really widespread and ugly anti-Catholicism, it now appears that two-thirds of the nation's highest court will be made up of Catholic justices. Admittedly, some justices are more fervent believers than others (for example, Justice Scalia is in regular contact with his brother, the priest, while probable future-Justice Sotomayor is described as someone who "was raised as a Catholic and attends church for family celebrations and other important events"), but that's basically American Catholicism in a nutshell...and we all pretty much understand and accept it, to greater or lesser degrees.
What also often typifies American Catholics and - in my mind - is less acceptable both from the Right and the Left, is a tendency to place political ideology higher in the hierarchy of points of reference for decision-making than personal religious beliefs. This is where the pride of accomplishment mentioned above becomes pretty bittersweet: when it comes down to the fundamental issues on which all Catholics should agree (specifically and most importantly, the "life issues"), the Catholics on the Court are all over the place. In this regard, I'm afraid that Sotomayor will identify herself as liberal first, then "Catholic" somewhere down the list. To be fair, though, Steven Waldman's thesis in a piece for The Wall Street Journal bears repeating:
So, maybe there's some hope on that front. In any case, she'd be replacing a reliably pro-choice vote...so there's nothing much lost (at least on that level) either way.
[T]here’s stunningly little information about her abortion views -– and what we do know hardly paints her as a pro-choice activist.
Judge Sotomayor has ruled on only three cases indirectly related to abortion, and in each instance she took the position preferred by the pro-life forces, albeit for reasons unrelated to the merits of abortion.
An interesting side note spotted by the "Articles of Faith" section of The Boston Globe's website actually relates to my last post, at least a little. Commenting on "the language [President Obama] used to describe the role of Catholic schools in offering children a path out of poverty," Michael Paulson quotes the President as saying, "Sonia's mom...sent her children to a Catholic school called Cardinal Spellman out of the belief that with a good education here in America all things are possible." Interesting language for someone who just shut down many kids' escape route from the failed Washington, D.C. public school system, isn't it?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Expressed in these terms, one of the major problems we are going to have in getting back on our feet as a country is that, in many of our most important private and public institutions, we are systematically holding our "Jonathans" back in order to let the "non-Jonathans" keep up. In recent news, two decisions by the Obama administration highlight this mindset: the Chrysler bankruptcy and the discontinuation of the Washington, D.C. school voucher program.
In the case of Chrysler (and, more broadly, the entire American auto industry), many people point to the company's inability to adjust its labor costs to reflect actual market conditions as a major reason for its downfall. The labor unions involved, particularly the United Auto Workers (UAW), have fought against giving back anything gained for their members, even though many of those gains came during a completely different market reality for the company. Add to that the "legacy costs" to the company of health care and pensions for former workers, and one can see a large part of why the company fell on hard times. But when it became necessary to make sacrifices in order to keep the company alive, it was not the UAW who "took one for the the team." Rather, Chrysler announced plans to close nearly 25% of its dealerships across the country -a part of the industry full of entrepreneurs, family businesses and, generally, "Jonathans"- while the UAW had to settle for... 55% of the company!
Like the American auto industry, the American public education system is in bad, bad shape. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in Washington, D.C., where fully half of the city's public schools receive a failing score for federal education standards. An innovative vouchers program -supported, among others, by the principal of the private school President Obama's own daughters attend-was created to serve as an institutional "Jonathan" of sorts: it sought to find out what parents and students wanted from an education, and figure out ways to make that happen. However, under much pressure from teachers' unions, the Obama administration announced earlier this month that no more students would be accepted into the program, which would then cease to exist when the current group of students completes school. This prompted Megan McCardle of The Atlantic to write:
I think that there is probably a special place in hell reserved for politicians who betray our nation's most helpless children for the benefit of a sullen and recalcitrant teacher's union. There they spend all eternity explaining to their victims why they couldn't possibly have risked their precious babies' future in the public school system, yet felt perfectly free to fling other peoples' children into it by the thousands.As you can see, one common denominator between both of these examples, as well as in the Postal Service (where I work) is the dominance of labor unions. In my own experience, I've seen "Jonathans" who work hard and care deeply about their customers -as well as "anti-Jonathans" who are just the opposite- both receive the security of a guaranteed 40-hour work week and a set schedule, while those they work with take a cut in hours to balance the total allotted to each office. The point is, whether they are "Jonathans" or not is totally irrelevent: the only area of the Postal Service in which an individuals merit (or lack thereof) is either rewarded or punished is in management, outside the realm of the "craft" (union) jobs.
So, if Dave Ramsey's thesis is that our country needs more "Jonathans" to be able to regain prosperity, and labor unions are a hindrance to the discovery and nurturing of these people, what is the logical conclusion? For us, at least, it has been to short-circuit the system. Educationally, this is happening through our decision to home-school our kids. Occupationally, so far I've been limited to refusing to join the union (which I would do anyway, considering how much money it funnels to anti-life politicians). For now, that's all I can really afford to do...
But enough about me; how about you? I 100% guarantee that, if anyone reads this, at least some of you will disagree with my views. What are yours? I look forward to seeing them in the comments!
Friday, May 15, 2009
I am still spring cleaning...the 10 day plan isn't going to quite cut it for our house...not because it is big, or anything...probably because it is so small that I have stuff stashed pretty much everywhere.
Two of the places that I tackled this week are our front hall closet and our bedroom closet...both house an amazing array of stuff (we have about 10 paintings in the back of our closet that I forgot about...we don't have as much wall space in this house as we did in our last!), including my trigger trombone, which did live in the front hall closet, but is now in our room. I had fun taking it out and playing a little bit (it's been a LONG time...my lung power must be much less than it used to be!) and both girls got to try it out. Surprisingly, Charlotte did a much better job at moving her lips correctly than Eva did. Charlotte's been wondering around the house pretending to play a trombone since then.
I seriously need to pack some stuff up and get it mailed soon...I have several things on ebay right now that I need to find packages for, I have a wedding gift to mail to a college friend whose wedding we missed last weekend, I have a little baby gift that I need to mail out (Christine R...send me your mailing address!), I have a book to mail, and I have another wedding present to wrap and deliver (to BIL and his fiancee, we'll probably take it up this weekend when we try to make it to their graduation.) That's a lot of packing things up to do!
The room that is giving me the most problems with spring cleaning is our laundry room. It is pretty good sized, it has our washer and dryer, chest freezer, treadmill, a bookshelf (for my paperbackswap books), a utility sink that hasn't quite been installed, several shelves, lots of cabinets (holding all sorts of stuff I need to go through) and a small closet (also stuffed with stuff!) Not to mention my filing cabinet and a huge box of things to be filed...When I go in to tackle it, I may never come out.
Hubby just got home from work...his coworker who has been out on maternity leave is back, so his paycheck is going to drop pretty substantially (just after I got used to the higher paychecks...bummer!) and our tomato plants came in the mail today, so I'm assuming that the box also contains our peppers, which means that we can finish planting our garden finally!
I just discovered that it is easier for me to plan two weeks of school for Eva than planning one week at a time...before you say "well, Duh!", in my defense, when I was first getting into school with her, my plan for the week would change several times with her either going faster or slower at learning the concepts than I had expected. We finally seem to be in a groove, so I had planned two weeks ago the first two weeks of class (which went really well and ended today) because I figured that post-surgery, it was better to get more planning out of the way. Today I was about to go back to one week of planning, but then I realized with BILs wedding next weekend and a visit to my parents, I am not going to have much planning time available. So, I did two weeks worth of lesson plans and am looking forward to not having to think about lesson planning until June.
From the spring cleaning, we have a ridiculous amount of stuff to take to thrift stores...the only problem is that we are about 3 hours from the nearest thrift store. That means that I am going to attempt to take a few bags with me every time I go up to the front range in hopes of getting all of our "we don't need it anymore, but it is still in decent shape" stuff out of our garage before the end of the year!
More quick takes at Jen's blog!
Saturday, May 09, 2009
I still have to clean off the piano, clean out the piano bench, put all the shoes on the "shoe mat" away, take the shoe mat, rug under dining table, and floor mats outside to beat them clean and dust, vacuum and mop in the living/dining room. In the kitchen, I need to clean out the fridge, clean off the bookcase things on the ends of my kitchen island, and vacuum and mop the floor...I guess I should also consider cleaning the microwave while I'm at it!
Monday I will be doing the bathroom (and whining the whole time, I don't doubt...I hate cleaning bathrooms!), and I am really looking forward to Tuesday and Wednesday when I do a good cleaning of the girl's room. There is an end in sight!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about something I meant to put in my quick takes...hubby reminded me on Tuesday that today would be the "Stamp out Hunger" food drive by the letter carriers...I almost always forget things like that, but since I was traveling to the city where good grocery deals could be found, I decided to go shopping with my coupons and get as much food as I could for approximately our weekly grocery budget (pre-surgery...I haven't been cooking or shopping the same as I used to since my surgery.) of $45-50. When I walked into Safeway to do this, the first thing I came across was a deal for the smaller sized boxes of Cheerios (not the huge family sized ones), where if you bought 10 boxes, they were $1 a box (or $3.29 per individual box). I found really good deals throughout the store, matched up some coupons and for just under $40 (which was after I used my $10 catalina from the Living Well promotion that just ended) I sent 10 boxes of cereal, 10 cans of tuna, 10 boxes of macaroni, 6 cans of vegetables, 3 jars of peanut butter, 1 jar of jelly, 1 6-pack of applesauce cups, and about 6 jars of baby food to the post office this morning for the food drive. I was so impressed that I could get that much food for our town's food pantry in one inexpensive shopping trip! I just felt so bad when hubby told me that he had talked to someone who helps run the food pantry here in town who mentioned that at the moment the food pantry is almost empty. Just thinking of kids in a family who can't really afford to buy food right now made me really want to do something. I know how cranky my kids get if they don't eat every 3 1/2 minutes (okay, it feels that way, but they eat 5-6 times a day!) and that motivated me.
Friday, May 08, 2009
I don't know if this spring cleaning binge was that great of an idea...maybe my bad attitude is because yesterday and today are in the kitchen. I love my kitchen...it's huge...but that means a LOT of stuff to go through. Our house is about 1500 sq ft, and I think that the addition (which is a large bathroom, large laundry room and a HUGE kitchen) must be about 500 sq ft by itself. My desk and computer are in the kitchen, so are the bookshelf and cabinet where I keep school stuff, and about four other cabinets where various things that we don't have another place to store are kept (sewing machine, scrap booking, some household tools, games, etc.) Yesterday I managed to clean out the class cabinet,the class bookshelf and my desk. Fortunately, I cleaned out the pantry a week or two ago...so that means today, all I have is cleaning out 17 cabinets, 15 drawers, 3 open spaces (bookshelf-type built-ins), 4 counter tops, the refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave and floors...So, here is one before shot, and several after shots of my cleaning binge so far.
Yesterday we worked on the yard for most of the day. Hubby only had to work in the morning, so he prepped the front half of our extra lot to plant some grass seed, while I worked on prepping part of the back half of our extra lot for planting a garden. We went to Ace to get some tools and some grass seed...wow does yard stuff add up! Of course, the fact that we've been married almost 10 years, and have been homeowners at least 5 of those years makes it a little disturbing that we didn't have much in the way of decent yard tools. Hubby really wanted to plant Buffalo grass, but when we found out that they wanted $21.99 PER POUND for the seed, and figured that we would need about 15 lbs, we went with the cheaper ($2.79 lb) rye grass mix. The robins have been enjoying the buffet out there...but at least it'll probably keep them away from my vegetable garden!
I had my first fill for my REALIZE band on Wednesday...it was about what I thought in terms of comfort...basically, they have you do a stomach crunch while they stick you with the needle so that they can hit the port and get the saline solution in. I have 3ccs in now, and I was just FINALLY able to have solid food again this morning (I have to do clear liquids for the remainder of the day after the adjustment, then full liquids the next day, then back to normal foods.) I also did two classes, one on basic nutrition after WLS, and another on emotional eating, which was very informative...but at the end, he had us practice a visualization technique. I think I may be very strange, but I cannot visualize things...I try, but I cannot get a picture in my head. I can visualize sounds or feelings (I could visualize standing in a summer's breeze, for instance, and I could hear birds chirping, but I cannot see the grass or flowers or birds...)
Thank goodness I had appointments on Wednesday, because on Tuesday the girls were driving me so crazy that I texted hubby to let him know that I was contemplating listing them on Freecycle...he texted back that as long as someone picked them up, that was fine...then I told him I was about to offer free delivery. I almost went and dropped them off at MILs house one day early, but I couldn't find her...she left her cell phone at home and was gone all afternoon.
I have an outfit for the wedding! Woo hoo! (I hate shopping for or buying clothes) MIL was ordering a dress for herself, and ordered a skirt and blouse combo for me, too. It is very pretty, dark brown, and I may actually post a picture of myself in it (may being the key word there...). Of course, I don't have very many shoes (anymore...I know what you are thinking Katie!) so the only dress shoe options I had are black almost flats that I bought for SILs wedding 3 years ago (hubby thinks I should throw them out because the toes are so scuffed up!) or brown ankle boots, which I think would look a little silly for a spring wedding. My other brown option is my crocs...but I think, again, that would look silly. I found a very cute pair of brown heels (I don't think I've worn heels in 5 years) on Wednesday, and other than learning how to walk in them again, I'm pretty happy with having clothes to wear. Bonus, I can wear them out to dinner on our Vegas vacation!
Hubby drank the last of his beer last night, and for the second time in our beer making history (of 6 months or so) he is beerless because he didn't listen to my advice. Here is my advice...we have enough bottles to hold two batches of beer. My theory is that right after we bottle one batch, we should start a second batch fermenting. Then, when it is fermented in about 3 weeks or so, we can bottle it in the second bunch of bottles...that way, when he is done drinking the first batch, the second batch is ready to drink. But does he listen to this advice...NO! He always says something like "well, when I have a day off next week, I'll go ahead and start another batch!" He said that about 6 weeks in a row now, and never has a batch of beer gotten made...not to tell him I told you so, but...
My brother (who is 33 and lives with my parents) had a bad week last week. On Wednesday he was fired (for something he has been warned about a couple of times that he never really took care of, which was dumb in our current economy!), he didn't tell my parents, who didn't think anything of him not going to work on Thursday (his weekend was Thursday and Friday)...well, after my parents left for the weekend on Thursday evening, he had to call them and let them know that someone had slammed into his parked car and crushed the driver's side doors so badly that they couldn't be opened. Then he had to fess up that he had been fired, and THEN he had to let them know that he didn't have comprehensive insurance (on his 2004 car...we don't have anything other than liability, but our cars are a 95 and a 97, and both worth about $1500...so we could literally replace both tomorrow with cash if we needed to) and surprise, surprise, he has no money saved up, even though he moved in with my parents several years ago so that he could save money to buy a townhouse or something...so, once more, my parents are bailing him out and crippling him in the process...I don't know how a 33-year old can have so little sense, and take so little responsibility for his actions...and my mom keeps asking for my advice as to what she can do to help him...and I don't think my theory of "cut him off, throw him out on the street and make him live his own life on his own" is going to be one that she likes...
More quick takes at Jen's blog!
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I haven't done much dusting or washing or any vaccuming yet, but today I worked on the DVDs in the entertainment center, the book shelf in the dining room including the girl's puzzle cabinet. (I just had to add this picture, because so many of my pictures end up like this thanks to a short blonde child...)
I can't believe how much junk was in those areas! I also had the girls bring all of their books out of their room to consolidate them...I know that for the next 6 months they will migrate back to their room, but that's okay.
I also found out a disturbing fact about my bibliophile tendencies...just in the dining room bookshelf, we have 118 kids books and 129 adult books. Add to that our "school bookshelf" and I'm pretty sure kids books outnumber adults...as long as I don't count my special overflowing bookshelf for paperbackswap postings (currently 121 posted), the cabinet where I keep books we have listed on Amazon, and the small piles currently waiting to be donated to the church or the library.
So, here is some proof of my bad housekeeping skills and my temporarily organized bookshelves and DVDs.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Eva and I also started back up with school, and while I am sure that it will take a couple of weeks to get back into a good routine I think it went pretty well.
To add to my insanity, Simple Mom just HAD to have a Spring Cleaning Party this week and next...and of course, the totally nuts part of me decided that would be a great idea. (That same side of me went all around the house taking BEFORE pictures for this blog that I will not show until I have some good AFTER pictures!)
I have been working on day one today, which is a "clean sweep" where you just get rid of the clutter that is out and about. I think I've filled up our trash can at least twice today. I am proud to say that I finally gave up on some stuff...I subscribed to "Canticle" magazine for a year, and while I am sure it has great articles, I have to admit I never even finished my first issue...I found the layout of the magazine to be a big turn-off (I'm so vain!), and today I gave myself permission to throw out all of the issues (they were all at least 2 years old...) In retrospect, it might have been better to put them in a giveaway box, but then I would have had to take the giveaway box somewhere, and I've got enough boxes waiting to go "somewhere" out in our garage...
Tomorrow is the living room, part 1, and I'm pretty excited to get to some serious cleaning/de-junking!
Friday, May 01, 2009
Well, my spending spree has not quite ended...On Wednesday hubby and I booked a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We are going a month early, as one of his co-workers has most of the month of July off, and since hubby has another Knights of Columbus meeting in Colorado Springs, we are flying out of Denver on Father's Day, staying 4 nights at the MGM Grand, flying back to Denver on Thursday, driving to Colorado Springs and staying at a Hilton down there (have I mentioned how very much I LOVE priceline??? I'm addicted, I have to admit. To stay one night at the three star hotel where hubby's meetings will be the hotel gave us a special rate of $147 a night. I spent $5 less than that for three nights through Priceline.
In the "it's a good thing we already booked a trip to Vegas" category...yesterday I drove to a town about an hour from ours where my college roommate and her hubby live to visit. About 10 miles out of town (going 65 MPH) there was a tire in the road (I'm guessing pickup sized, my MIL thought it might be a semi tire) and all I had time to do was aim my wheels so they missed it by going over it...it launched us into the air, we landed, I started to lose control, got back in control pulled over, said a few things (which Charlotte repeated in the back seat) that I really didn't want my kids to hear me say, figured out how to use my hazard lights, called hubby. I checked my tires (all inflated) and looked for things hanging down from the car (nothing), so I proceeded into town, called roomie, asked her where her mechanic was located and if she could pick us up there...Well, the car is staying a few days down there (thank goodness MIL was willing to drive 2 hours to come get us...hubby was working in a town an hour in another direction!) I pushed back the part of the frame that is under the engine and holds it in by about a foot, and bent the part that connects the back driver's side wheel to the axle badly enough that it's pretty amazing that I didn't lose the wheel during the accident. So, my car looks about as good as the tire does (we stopped to take a picture on the way home...here's what I could remember...I saw the tire bounce off the road as I regained control, and it went down into a ditch next to a field with a fence. Not particularly the best description of something around here, because about 95% of the drive looks like that!)
As I mentioned last week, we went up to the Knights of Columbus Colorado State Convention last weekend. We got there in time for Mass, and they do a really cool thing during the prayers of the faithful. They read the names of all of the Knights and Knight's wives (and some children if they are minor or unmarried)who have passed away in the last year, a candle is lit for each person, then they had 3 men, I military, one police, one fireman in uniform carry a bell to the front to ring three times while a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace". The girls didn't nap on the way up, but fell asleep during the reading of the names...and SLEPT THROUGH the bagpiper in the hotel ballroom where the Mass was held!
After the Mass, we took the girls up to get dinner at the hospitality rooms, which were very crowded, but an interesting experience. Then we went back to our hotel (Priceline again...I'm so cheap) which was two hotels down, and hubby took the girls swimming, while I exercised in the fitness center (I have a few more days before I am cleared to swim and bathe, etc.) The fitness center was cool, it had a built in TV for every treadmill, bike, elliptical machine, etc. Very cool.
Sunday, hubby was in business meetings all day...he had been told that there would be a kids room for kids activities...well, technically there was. They made breakfast, and my kids ate a ton, but they were the only kids (there was one other girl, but she was about 10, and after a while left to go hang out with her 14 year old brother) and they colored in the 10 year old's coloring books for a while. Charlotte threw a hissy fit so bad that I had to take her down from the 9th floor and out of the hotel to finish her fit. By the time I came back, it was basically Eva, a woman I know (who I left Eva with who was smart enough NOT to bring her two boys who are exactly a year older than each of my girls...) and two women who were cleaning up the room...so I ended up wandering around the hotel lobby for several HOURS with two small children bouncing off the walls...I was really ready for a nap by the time the men got done a half an hour late.
For a fun family thing after hubby got done, we went to the Children's museum. The girls had a blast, but it was so crowded! Apparently, it is not a good idea to go on a Sunday...Charlotte LOVED the grocery store and restaurant play area, and Eva loved everything, but could have spent all day doing crafts in the arts and crafts area. She told everyone we've seen about the fire truck however, and they had a cool exhibit where she learned how to dial 911.
My plans for today and tomorrow...not go anywhere or do anything...I'm tired and I don't want to get in a car for a while. I guess the fact that I'm car-less today while hubby works in the same town he was yesterday should help with that!
Of course, there are more quick takes over at Jen's blog!