Friday, July 31, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

My major accomplishment this week...sewing dresses for the girls. It took having MIL sit next to me and interpret the pattern into English for me, but the second dress I did entirely by myself (it doesn't look as good as the first, but the girls both seem to like them!) Now I am thinking of other projects I could sew...hubby really wishes I wouldn't...I think.

Hubby's major accomplishment this week was finishing up the light cover in our kitchen. I posted an "in progress" picture recently, and am feeling too lazy to get the camera out this morning, but it looks really good. He ended up putting in cross bars in between the light covering. He even ended up having $40 worth of unused materials to return to the lumber yard. So, that's one more item off our to do list (there are still plenty more home improvement projects to go!)

MIL is driving all over the region to judge 4-H Cake Decorating, so on Tuesday the girls and I went with her to one fair (only 30 minutes from WalMart, yeah!), we went shopping while she judged, and then had lunch at the fair and looked around for a while (before coming home and sewing dresses...yes, I AM insane!) Eva was really bummed that none of the rides were open (it was the first day of fair, and we were there in the middle of the day). We might be going with MIL again on Monday (to a town an hour away from ours, but they have some interesting sights, and a Safeway.) Then on Tuesday, we will be going over to our own county's fair. Hubby is going over at 6:30 am to pull pork off a roasted pig for the Knights of Columbus. Fortunately, it looks like there is enough help going over for that, so the girls and I will wait until later in the day to go over.

Speaking of fairs and Knights of Columbus...on Thursday hubby and I will be going to help the Knights of Columbus with a beer garden at yet another fair (that makes it likely that I will be at 5 county fairs in three weeks...) We were going to skip it this year, because on Friday morning we will be leaving at 6 am to drive to Wichita for the Midwest Catholic Family Conference. Of course, I guess I still need to tell MIL that we'll be leaving the dog and kids on Thursday afternoon, spending the night at their house, and then leaving first thing in the morning...Hmmm...maybe I should consult her before deciding these things!

Because I am a cruel mom, I've decided to make the girls match for the conference. So, on Saturday, they will be wearing their strawberry shortcake dresses that I just finished, and on Sunday they will wear the red and white checked matching dresses my mom sent them for Easter. Friday they will probably look like slobs...but we'll have a long drive there. I'm hoping to get to Wichita early enough that we can take the kids to the pool before the conference starts to get some energy out of them...but we'll see I guess!

I have a LOT of cleaning to catch up on, and a lot of packing to do this may be out of the house on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday...Not to mention part of Saturday and all day Sunday! During the summer, our parish has a sign up for different parish groups to host coffee and rolls or a breakfast. This Sunday we are hosting for the Couple to Couple League, since we missed national NFP week. Another couple who have been NFP users forever, and are very supportive of our teaching are bringing 11 dozen donuts and will be there to help serve, but I will probably be going to Mass on Saturday, after assembling 12 egg casseroles, so that Sunday morning I will be able to cook casseroles, slice up watermelon and make coffee and apple juice. Yes, I DO plan to lose my mind completely by the end of next week!

My mom started back to school this week. My dad didn' he's probably rubbing that in right about now. As for our school, Eva will finish her third quarter of Kindergarten before her 5th birthday. We have two more days this week (I procrastinated, so now we get to do school today and Saturday!) then three more weeks to go for this quarter...after we are back from vacation, of course!

As always, there are plenty more quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fair results!

Well, I promised I'd be back with some fair results and I even have some good pictures (oh my new camera, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!)

The theme for fair this year was "Keepin' It Country", and I completely forgot to bring scrapbook pages or any sort of crafty thing, because I was so busy trying to get food stuff together. Hubby did pick some veggies out of our garden for the garden class, and the girls decorated book covers while we were there for that contest. Here's our results:

Green beans - no place
Giant Zucchini - 2nd Place
Giant Vegetable - 1st Place (cucumber)
Slicing cucumbers - no place
Summer Squash (yellow straight or crooked neck) - no place, but the judge said ours would have gotten first if the straight and crooked neck were in different classes)
Summer Squash (zucchini or coccozelle type) - 2nd place
Whole Wheat Bread - 1st Place AND Overall Yeast Bread (won 25 lb bag of flour!)
Miscellaneous Yeast Bread - 1st Place (Pretzels)
Banana Bread - 3rd Place
Zucchini Bread - 3rd Place
Pumpkin Bread - 2nd Place
Fruit/Vegetable Batter Cake - 1st Place (carrot cake)
Any Cookie made by person 13 and under - 1st Place (Eva's Gingerbread Men)
Intermediate Level Decorated Cake - 1st Place
Canned Fruits - 2nd Place (Pear Sauce) and 3rd Place (Peaches)
Canned Vegetables - 2nd Place (Green Beans)
Pickles - 1st Place (Bread and Butter Pickles) and 2nd Place (Dill Pickles)
Spiced Products - 1st Place (Zesty Salsa)
Relishes - 1st Place (Sweet Pickle Relish)
Butters and Jams - 3rd Place (Strawberry Jam)
Jellies - 2nd Place (Pomegranate Jelly)
Miscellaneous - 2nd Place (Apple Syrup)
Miscellaneous B - 1st Place (Spaghetti Sauce)
Decorate a Book Cover, 3 and Under Division - 2nd Place
Decorate a Book Cover, 4-6 Division - 4th Place

So, total premium money was $51.50, and the bag of flour (according to MIL who bought an identical one for fair baking) runs about $17 at the grocery store. Not bad!

Besides spending ALL DAY on Friday with the foods (and skipping the BBQ afterwards to relax at an air conditioned restaurant) the girls and I stayed overnight at MILs house so that we could see the parade in the morning. The girls got a ton of candy...and Eva didn't find it funny when I suggested we put it up until Halloween and use it for trick or treaters (I have never actually been around to hand out candy to trick or treaters, to be honest...most kids around here don't go trick or treating, other than the downtown event, and possibly to relatives houses...)

Saturday, the Knights of Columbus put on Kid's Games. They were divided by ages and sexes, which was great news for Charlotte, but not as great of news for Eva. Charlotte had 2 other girls in her she came in first, second or third on all four races. Eva had about 10 little girls in hers, so she only placed in one race: the three legged race, and she and her little partner took first. Then the Knights do a penny scramble, where they throw money into sawdust on a tarp, and give the kids a minute to dig in it...the big kids all stand around and whine while the little kids are digging, because it is SOOO easy to find the money then (unless you are a 3 year old!) All in all, the girls came home with $5.35 from the kids games. They also got to pet animals at the petting zoo. There were NO RIDES this year at the fair, which made Eva sad. We did eventually find the bouncy house thing, but not until I was out of cash and out of energy. When we went back Sunday morning, it had already been packed up.

I met a woman and her husband that I just really clicked with...they own several cows, and sell shares in their herd of animals...if you buy a share of a cow, you are entitled to 1 gallon of raw milk per week for a monthly herd maintenance charge of $28. They also have chickens, goats and three little boys that they home school (the oldest is a little bit older than Eva, and the youngest is just a little bit younger than Charlotte. She's working on having some goat cheese making workshops before too long, and I am really looking forward to that. She also told me that I could bring the kids by anytime, and learn how to milk. Yeah, she's basically everything I'd want to be if I were in the country...don't know if I'll ever get that far (she rendered the lard for her apple pie!) but it's cool to meet someone who does all that. They even have a website for their farm.

Now, I really should get to cleaning up the kitchen from my all day baking disaster!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Church woes...

Okay, they are not exactly woes...but hubby and I were just discussing the Mass at our parish this morning on the way home from MILs house.

We had a visiting priest this morning, because our pastor is on vacation. Our pastor is somewhere around 5'6"...the visiting priest (a friend of his from seminary) was over 6 feet tall...wearing our 5'6" priests vestments. He had a great opening joke about our pastor stealing his vestments from the Infant of Prague statues...

Mass was wonderful...with two exceptions. Number 1: The music. Now, I have been working on just singing the music that is played rather than whining about it, so this should not be read with a whiny tone...but DH and I were saying it was like a top ten list of most hated songs from the Gather hymnal today. I jokingly said that I should flip through a Gather hymnal and pick out my ideal Mass music, but I don't have one at home, so I'll just have to go off this list of common titles and first lines.

Today we sang: Gather Us In, I Danced In The Morning, All Who Hunger (this one I actually really love, and we sing it a lot...I could do with far less of almost everything we sing though...), Pan de Vida, and Sing of the Lord's Goodness.

For my ideal Mass (remember, I am only going by first lines and memories here): Lift High the Cross, I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light, All Who Hunger (I said I like it), Eat This Bread, Faith of Our Fathers.

So, any suggestions or changes you would suggest to my ideal Mass music? It is late, and I could have missed something I really should have chosen.

Now, back to Mass today. Problem number 2: Our parish has a custom of letting people get up and give announcements before the final blessing. Of course, having a visiting priest means that he didn't know the custom, and he gave the final that point, if I were to have an announcement, it would need to be pretty friggin' important for me to make it. But NO...THREE different people got up to make announcements...none of them urgent, and ALL of them went on and on...

Really, it is indicative of the problems we are having as a parish...struggling with the authority of the priest...that people thought that their two cents about things was so important that they had to speak EVEN THOUGH Father had already given the final blessing. Only one small comment in the 10 minutes or more of announcements was even timely (that we were having coffee and rolls put on by a certain group following Mass) and several of them were sparked by people's reactions to Father's homily.

I don't know if I need to talk to our pastor and suggest that all announcements should to be submitted to the lector before Mass, and can be read in that space by the lector, rather than having individual people make announcements. Really, it was WAY out of control today, and was really hard to keep all the kids sane(I have mentioned that we have a ton of children in the parish before...well, imagine wailing and gnashing of teeth from close to 50 kids ages 5 and under while people ramble about their thoughts on life the universe and everything while making a point like "we are studying the Eucharist in our catechism group. We meet at 6:30 tonight. All are welcome to come.")

Okay, enough random thoughts for tonight, I should get to bed and get some sleep. I promise it will be back to useless stuff like fair results later this week!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On this date in 1968...

Pope Paul VI promulgated a little document that has probably inspired more debate and commentary than just about any other papal encyclical in the history of the Church.

It's amazing to me that 41 years after the publication of Humanae Vitae -and long after most of the rest of the "industrialized" world has embraced widespread access to both contraception and abortion- the federal government here in the United States is still hashing out exactly how comfortable we are with either as a country. Sarah Posner, writing on The American Prospect's "Tapped" blog, discusses the prospects of a bill introduced this week by self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan and his pro-choice co-sponsor, Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act," more commonly known as "Ryan-DeLauro" seeks to reduce the "need" for abortions, in part, by providing wider access to contraception.

This kind of reasoning, of course, leads many people who would support the theoretical goal of reducing abortions to withhold their support of Ryan-DeLauro. Some pro-life activists fret, or at least appear to in their portrayals by such media outlets as Newsweek, that this division will lead to a weaker pro-life "bloc." At least one blogger who subscribes to Ryan-DeLauro's philosophy claims "Pro-Lifers would also serve their own agenda better by not aligning with anti-contraception crazies." Despite all this, though, I find the situation (as described by Posner) reassuring:
Evidence of a looming internecine showdown among abortion opponents includes Democrats for Life of America's recent ouster of Ryan from its board over his sponsorship of the bill. That led Ryan to call DFLA a "fringe group" because of its opposition to contraception. DFLA is one of the major proponents of the Pregnant Women Support Act (PWSA), a bill that is intended to reduce the number of abortions through economic and other measures aimed at persuading women facing unintended pregnancies to carry them to term. The PWSA is supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention.
To me, this shows that there is still an active "ends-means" debate going on, and that there are still large (and fairly powerful) groups of people who are not prepared to make the Faustian bargain of accepting one thing they believe to be evil in order to combat a larger evil.

I'm glad for this, at least in part, because I believe abortion and contraception are inherently connected. More importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court believes this, too. As one of today's strongest defenders of Humanae Vitae, Dr. Janet Smith, points out here, part of the Court's rationale for preserving Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) was th
at "for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail."

So, despite being a "tough row to hoe" (even with Catholics, sometimes), I'm glad there are still people out there who take Humanae Vitae seriously. I think a lot more depends on this struggle than just how people choose to prevent or allow pregnancy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday (DH edition)

This is the first time I've tried this, MM is going to be busy all day with county fair insanity, so I thought I'd cover for her this week.

1. The county fair in question is actually in the town I grew up in, about 40 minutes away from here. My mom is usually Foods Superintendent, so MM feels obliged to submit about 600 entries in solidarity with her...then volunteer to help coordinate things on the day when judging takes place, etc. That is today. I think I helped pack up about a dozen canned goods, at least half a dozen baked goods (including a cake decorated as a John Deere tractor), and several items from our garden.

2. Making today kind of iconic of how busy our summer has been, and will be at least until after we get back from the Midwest Catholic Family Conference, I will actually be working at a booth for our Knights of Columbus council here in our town tonight. This town's big summer festival always seems to be concurrent with my folks' county's fair, so MM has still never attended (much to the amazement of the women in her Bible study who were born and raised here).

3. Speaking of MM's Bible study, I was a little bit of a jerk last night when she got home. I just got grouchy and, eventually, a little worried as the hours went by. I can understand a good discussion, but it raged on nearly four and a half hours! I don't think I've had that long of a conversation ever, for any reason. At our Knights meeting on Tuesday, it only took us an hour and fifteen minutes to install new officers, figure out at least four different events coming up, and sing two goofy songs! But, I definitely should have been less grumpy about the time. Sorry!

4. I just finished listening to my Pray as You Go podcast. I try to do this every day, so I have started to notice that there are certain musical pieces that keep recurring. One that I definitely don't mind was this morning, and (as dorky as it is to admit this) it never fails to cheer me up. "Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing Ngaza Ngambona: "They are blessed who keep His commandments; they will have their eternal place; come in, all of you, so that you may be happy and be able to say, 'I've seen Him on the cross, the One who loves me...'"

5. I always ramble on too long with these kind of things, and I need to hurry up so I can get ready for work!

6. One of the only things lately that I've been tempted to come up for air long enough to blog about was the asinine cover story in this past week's Parade magazine. Let's just say the solutions they imagine for the "child-care crisis" don't include much in the way of encouraging mothers to become stay-at-home moms. In fact, the first couple of paragraphs try to show what a bad idea it is to rely on one income in this economy. Scare tactics: pfaw!

7. Another potential stand-alone blog post was more or less already done by Joe Carter at First Things, of all places. He links to the beautiful, breast-cancer themed routine on this week's "So You Think You Can Dance," and provides some interesting perspective. All I would add is this food for thought from "The Human Cost of Healthcare Reform," found here:
Overall Britons and Europeans in general die at a higher rate from all forms of cancer than US citizens and the difference is dramatic in cases where early detection and treatment are important. For example, women with breast cancer in Britain have a 46% death rate as opposed to 25% in the US.
Well, hope you liked 'em. Go to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10th Anniversary Post

Well, I almost feel obligated to post something today, so here goes:

10 years ago, today hubby had two flat tires, missed work at McDonald's, I missed my economics class, so we decided to get married to improve the day.

HINT NUMBER ONE that my hubby was a hick: We went to the DMV that morning to get our marriage license...all was going well, we were just about done with the paperwork when hubby asked the poor clerk "So, do we just go in back to get married?" I sank down into my chair, and explained to the startled woman that hubby was from a very small town (where the DMV is in the courthouse) and explained to hubby that the courthouse was across town.

We then headed over to the courthouse, found out that judges couldn't marry people until after hours. Made an appointment, moved all my stuff out of my parent's house to his apartment (in case they didn't take the elopement very well!) Showered, dressed up, bought a disposable camera, had dinner at McDonalds...then went and got married (with two court clerks as witnesses/photographers).

We told my dad, who took it better than expected, then had to call my mom and tell her (I made my dad do that, I think) told hubby's parents, and then I spent the night at my parents house, since hubby was housesitting for his boss.

So, obviously, we did our big anniversary celebration last month with our Vegas what happened today?

We got to church, hubby opened the missalette for the first reading, looked at the date, then poked me and whispered "Happy Anniversary". Then, Father gave a homily on taking time away from the crowd to be with Jesus, with the example of turning off cell phones to get away...right after Mass, hubby got on Facebook to admit he forgot our anniversary.

Then, we went to MILs house for the day. After lunch, I decided to clean out her refrigerator (she knew I was going to blog about it...she's just VERY lucky I didn't have my camera on me!). After 3 full trash bags, with some stuff having use by dates of 2007 (her pantry was worse last time...I think I found something from the late 80s or early 90s...) we took a break. MIL needed to take the Women of Grace DVDs and Facilitator's Guide to a woman over in Nebraska, so hubby and I offered to drop them by on our way to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (YEAH!!!) which for the matinee was only $3.50 each (double YEAH!!!) Then we picked up McDonald's to take home to everybody, finished cleaning out the fridge, and finished off a bottle of liquor that they brought home from their cruise earlier this year.

Now, we're home, the day is almost over, and I think it's almost time for bed...but for when he gets around to reading this: Happy 10th Anniversary my dear (hick) husband!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

Well, here it is Friday again, so I am back to blogging (since quick takes Friday is pretty much all I get around to these days!)

We've been making some progress on the home improvement front. On the 4th hubby installed my utility sink, and then this week he worked really hard on the florescent lights in our kitchen. Basically, we have them running around the perimeter of the kitchen, but there was no cover over after three years here, hubby finally came up with a solution that works for him (he's an obnoxious perfectionist...) and it looks pretty good! Unfortunately, he burnt out the motor brushes on his Dremel while cutting the plastic. So, after checking every store conceivable within a 1 1/2 hour radius, he ended up calling Dremel to get the part, which is supposed to be replaced every 60 hours of use (trust me, he's gotten 60 hours of usage out of it on home improvement projects around here...I never actually thought that thing would be useful, but I stand corrected!) Shipping was okay from Dremel, but when I was looking online at stores, most of them charged $7 to $8 to ship an INTERIOR PART FOR A DREMEL...something about that just seems wrong!

On Sunday, we had a picnic at the park with MILs side of the family. We don't see them that often (although several of them live in the same town as MIL), we mostly just see MIL's dad and one of her brothers (and his family). So, seeing the more extended group was fun. Although, this is the side of the family where most of the siblings (MIL's dad and his brothers and sisters) have been married between 3 and 5 times each. One of the sisters is a teacher in a private school for learning disabled children, and we had a great talk about schools and homeschooling. It's really nice to have one side of the family be excited about our homeschooling the girls. I mean, my MIL and FIL and all hubby's siblings are just fine with it, but the more extended family on his dad's side is a little anti-homeschooling...and then there are my (public school teaching) parents, who just don't get it, and I'm pretty sure are still hoping that I just get over it before Eva needs to be in school.

Tuesday MIL had a doctor's appointment, so we took the opportunity to take the girls for their Chuck E Cheese reward for Charlotte's potty training (and Eva's not waking us up every night with nightmares), so the girls, hubby, myself, MIL and SIL went up, and my mom and dad met us at Chuck E Cheese's...the girls had a blast, and SIL is super competitive at skee ball. Of course, while she was driving MIL over to her doctor's appointment, I had the best skee ball game in my life (it really doesn't take much...I'm really bad) and scored over 450,000, which won the grand prize (I didn't realize they had a grand prize) which was up to 250 tickets. So, the girls ended up getting slightly more interesting junk at the end of the trip.

Anyone want zucchini??? Hubby swore he was keeping up on bringing in the squash for me, and then he brought in 7 baseball bat sized zucchini. I threatened his life if he ever brought in more that size (after shredding the 7, and freezing 14-2 cup portions of zucchini for baking), and I now have another 6 sitting on my counter...and that's after he begged a friend to come over and take some (I think he talked her into taking 3). We also have beans starting to produce, so before I know it, I'll be in full swing of canning again.

I am working on eating lower carb foods, as per my doctor's orders, and it's a challenge for me, since I used to cook spaghetti about 3 times a week. Last night I made stuffed peppers, and they were SOOO good, so here's my kinda sorta recipe for them:

1 1/2 lbs hamburger (that's just the package size we get from the packing plant, could do less)
1 med zucchini chopped
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped carrot
1/2 c. crushed croutons (I said lower carb...)
1/2 c. ketchup
5 large red bell peppers

brown hamburger...realize that it is greasy, find almost empty ketchup bottle in fridge. Squeeze remainder of ketchup into a mixing bowl. Use funnel to pour off grease into ketchup bottle. Throw hamburger on top of ketchup in bowl. Preheat over to 350. saute zucchini, chopped bell pepper and carrot. Ignore instructions to boil whole red peppers for 5 minutes, instead just cut off tops, remove seeds and wash, set upside down to drain. Put sauteed veggies in mixing bowl, add crushed croutons. Mix well. Fill each pepper with meat mixture, set in muffin tins (to keep upright while cooking) bake for 30 minutes. Watch children and husband devour. Serve with cottage cheese because you are feeling too lazy to make anything else.

I am enjoying myself very much right now...Eva is at the end of the year swim party for the summer reading program, accompanied by MIL. Charlotte is in her bedroom with hubby watching Pocahontas on the little TV/VCR that grandma brought down because she felt so bad that Charlotte can't go swimming today. We already finished school, MIL has offered to take us out to lunch (so I don't have to cook) and she's going to stay around this afternoon to watch the girls while I take our pug Bubba to the vet (otherwise, hubby would have to take an hour or so off work this afternoon, since he scheduled the appointment in the middle of the girl's usual nap/quiet time.)

We are planning Eva's 5th birthday party now, and I'm pretty excited about it. This will be her first friend party, and we have rented out the pool in MILs town (our pool is outdoors, and closes as soon as school is back in August 30th is too late for here!) and Eva has asked grandma to make her a little mermaid cake. I figure, swimming, cake, juice boxes, I don't really need to do much else, besides find and send out invitations!

As always, more quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Takes Friday - TGINT

Yep, it is the thank goodness it's nap time edition of quick takes around's been a busy morning and I am looking forward to a couple of hours (hopefully) of uninterrupted mommy time (and I intend to spend at least a little of it catching up on the dishes and the laundry...instead of wasting time on Facebook.)

Today I have some fun 4th of July pictures. Eva was being particularly uncooperative, so I didn't say, good...just fun. We had a great time, hosted a cookout and invited the inlaws was a small gathering this year, only 10 people, but it was fun. Only MIL, FIL and SIL stayed for the fireworks. Every year, we head over to the park by about 8:30...and every year, we wonder when they are going to start the just in case I look back next year to see when they start, the lights at the stadium went off at 9:29, and the fireworks followed directly afterwards.

We had dentist appointments this week...and hubby tried to back out of them (he did have a good excuse, since the full time woman at work is on vacation this week) but we decided to suck it up and go...the problem with rural living is everything is SO FAR AWAY!!! Our dentist is in Kansas...he's the nearest dentist that takes our insurance, and since our health insurance pays for cleanings and checkups (minus a $20 copay) we figure it is worth it...until we have to drive over and back...This time, there was all sorts of road construction, so we took a different route there, which worked out well (a few more miles, but no road construction), but we took our usual route back...TWO separate places with one lane roads and pilot cars...As for the dentist, hubby was really excited, because he didn't get any fillings (partially because he whined to the hygienist about getting them every time) Eva's teeth are really good and she sat through a cleaning. Charlotte let her look at her teeth and got a toothbrush (no cleaning yet, I don't think she'd sit still long enough!) I had to get a filling...yes, I, the person who mostly gets told what excellent teeth I have, had to get a filling. I would like to point out, however, that I think it was my first filling since I got my braces off (1996 maybe?). They do WAY different fillings now than I had way back then. Very quick, but I'm not so sure I like having my teeth sandblasted to get rid of decay...

Wednesday was the final turn in day for the summer reading program, so we took the girls to the library to turn in stuff and get new books. I was talking to one of the librarians, who told me they had 400 kids in the reading program this summer (that's a completely insane number given that the town is only 2000-3000 people...) Eva got all of the prizes this year, and I ordered her the American Heritage First Dictionary (one of my friends thought that was mean...she let her daughter pick My Little Ponies book...I thought that was twaddle...) but don't know if it will work out...the library hasn't called me yet, so we'll see! CRAZY was the only word to describe the library while we were there...

The difficulty I have been having with Charlotte since potty training, is keeping her in panties...she's a little nudist. I've been trying to institute a rule that she must wear panties while we eat...but today hubby had a weirder than normal schedule, I was throwing lunch on the table, and she was wearing a long shirt...I found out at the end of lunch that she had no panties on. The other day we walked up to Subway for dinner. She was in her stroller, buckled in, and wearing a dress (she loves dresses right now), we got there, ate dinner, she said she needed to go potty, and when we got into the bathroom, she pulled up her dress and said "where panties go???" That was my question, too...she must have shed them when she used the potty before we left home.

Clearly, I need a life...but I was pretty excited the other day when I found out there were new crops available on FarmTown (Facebook)...they have recently added, Raspberries, Cotton, Carrots, Peppers, Blueberries and Pineapples...I still need to get to a higher level to get Pineapples, but I have planted Raspberries, Carrots and Blueberries so far. I also found out that you can now hire people to plow for you, so I can hire someone to harvest, hire someone to plow, and all I have to do is plant and sell my crops.

My parents got back from their trip to Europe this least, I assume they are home by mom called me from the Atlanta airport when they found out that their layover would be an extra hour. It sounds like they had a pretty good time, but my mom seemed a little unimpressed with Russia...or maybe it was because they couldn't see as much as they wanted to...I'm not really sure...They want to come out and see us before my mom has to be back at school, which this year is the 30th of July! It sounds like she might be teaching IB Biology this year, so I think she is probably excited about that. So, I'm looking up at my calendar and thinking "how on earth are they going to make it for a visit before the 30th?" I'll be going to Greeley with MIL for a doctor's appointment and a trip to Chuck E Cheese's on Tuesday (yes, the potty training bribe must be paid...), Thursday we have a pool party, Friday Eva has a pool party, Sunday is our 10th anniversary, and Fair in hubby's hometown starts that next we'll see when they come out!

My young married women's bible study group started a new book this week...and I only have myself (and one other former member) to blame. We used to have about 17 women, but we are down to 7, and normally more like 5 of us can make it...we had 4 last night. Our book is called "Praying With Women of the Bible" by Bridget Mary Meehan. Another woman suggested it a couple of years ago, so I put it on my Paperback Swap list, and ended up getting it, but never got around to reading it. When we were discussing the next book, I pulled out a pile, and we all thought this one would be interesting, and hoped that it would help us deepen our prayer lives. Then there was an ordering fiasco, where we found out that the author was dropped by the publisher, and finally I ended up finding used copies for everyone. The first two women were Sarah and Hagar...on the good side, it was interesting to learn more about them and re-read their story (I had read it before, but had forgotten about Abraham asking Sarah to say that she was his sister in foreign lands...and had also forgotten that it wasn't completely a lie, in that Sarah and Abraham had the same father but different mothers...yuck!) HOWEVER, my take on it is that it is written from the perspective or for the 60 year old ex-nun who is working towards a woman, if you can get past that tone (and the "prayer experiences") I think it will work very well. Recently, about half our group went to a Charismatic retreat. The most Charismatic one in our group received a prophecy there that the reason our study group has become so small is so that we can go deeper into prayer. She told me when she opened up the pages for our first session and read the prayer experiences, it was confirmation of that prophecy to her. So, she has been appointed as the official "prayer experience" person, and I will do my best to participate in whatever she throws at us...

More quick takes over at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

No Air

As you've probably noticed, I've become a big fan of YouTube since we finally upgraded from our dial-up internet connection. Perhaps unfortunately, I've also turned Eva and Charlotte into YouTube junkies to some degree. It's become a little bit of a ritual for Eva to sit on one of my knees and request music videos based on Peter Pan, while Charlotte sits on the other and asks for music videos featuring Disney princesses. I know: I'm warping my kids. Anyway...

Another thing MM and I are fans of, which I wrote about here and here, is "So You Think You Can Dance." Again, yes: we are dorks. Well, yesterday the two things came together nicely when the girls and I were watching this video, while MM was in the other room. The song it was set to reminded MM and so much of one of our favorite performances on SYTYCD that I thought I'd share it with all of you. So, here for your viewing pleasure are Katee and Joshua dancing to "No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown:

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Cardinal and the Coup

The media outlets that are bothering to cover the coup in Honduras in any detail were, in most cases, quick to imply that Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez's public request that ousted President Manuel Zelaya stay out of the country for the time being was another illustration of the old Latin American model: the Catholic Church siding with the wealthy elite to keep the poor in their place. This cliche is probably most famously developed in Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, which has regained some notoriety of late with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's gift of the book to President Barack Obama.

The truth about the Church's role in Honduras is more complicated than the secular Left's talking points make it out to be, though. If you actually listen to what the Cardinal says, which you may do below thanks to the wonders of YouTube, you will see that his primary concern is to avoid the seemingly inevitable violence that would break out if Zelaya returned to that highly charged environment. In addition, he advocates for his country's people when asking that the international community resist any calls for "blockades, which will only hurt the poor."

Leading up to the coup, it is clear that the Church was strongly opposed to Zelaya's attempts to lengthen his term as president and change the country's constitution. However, "a priest working closely with Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras" has reported that the Honduran Church had hoped to deter Zelaya's play for a dictatorship without resorting to measures like a military coup. He says:
[T]he coup is not the solution within a life in democracy. The coup does not resolve the political problem that has emerged over the last decade in the exhaustion of the system of political parties in Honduras; there has been a traditional bi-party system since the last century, since 1920 or so…These parties need to reform themselves, but these reforms should not should not via a caudillo, authoritarianism, nor a coup d’etat…
Lost in ALL of the reporting, so far as I can tell, is the influence Cardinal Rodriquez carries in the region. He is only the second cardinal from Central America and was widely considered "the top candidate to become Latin America's first pope" at the time of Pope John Paul II's death, and -being 20 years younger than Pope Benedict XVI- still could be. In fact, at least one betting website apparently lists him as the odds-on favorite to succeed Benedict. So this is a story that could be a lot bigger than just Honduras, or even Central America.

Check out the video, aired all across Honduras, and decide what you think about the Cardinal's intentions:

Friday, July 03, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

We had a pretty good time in Las Vegas...not so sure I'd go back again. Lots of smoke, wasting money and other not so good for you things. Maybe my opinion of the trip would be different if 1) we hadn't gotten suckered into lying while we were there (long story) and 2) that hadn't meant that we would need to go to confession when we got to the Knights of Columbus with our former priest who is now the state Chaplain for Knights...he is just so extremely holy, it is very intimidating (not to mention he gives weird penances...) and I could just feel how disappointed in us he was over the whole situation. When I mentioned that the only reason we went to Vegas was it was the only destination I could come up with where hubby didn't want to bring the kids, he told me that our kids SHOULD go on vacation with us (which they usually do...) He also told me his list of 4 things that married couples should do each year. Number one, every year the wife should go on a weekend retreat, just her and God, the more silence the better. Number two, every year the husband should go away for a weekend retreat, just himself and God, the more silence the better. Number 3, every year the couple should go away for a weekend retreat together with God. Number 4, every family should take a yearly family vacation and make sure to do something for their faith on the trip, visit a shrine, a Cathedral, or something else while on vacation.

The highlights for our Las Vegas vacation for me were seeing the Bellagio fountains (so beautiful!), meeting with hubby's high school classmates who live and work as lawyers in Vegas (too much fun chatting with them) who are getting ready for their first daughter, finding a new purse after mine (that was my mother's day present) kicked the bucket completely...after looking at tons of purses in the over $100 to WAY over $100 range (one was $895 on sale!) I found a plain but functional purse at the Gap for under $20, finding gifts for the girls (we wanted something personalized, but do you know how hard it is to find things with the names Eva and Charlotte???), and lazing around in the Backlot River pool (basically, a river shaped pool with a current so all you have to do is float along!)

Our biggest fight during the vacation happened after we had flown back to Denver while we were driving down to Colorado Springs. The weather was pretty sketchy, so we stopped at a mall to kill some time while the rain and hail died down a little bit. I found two books on clearance for $3 each at a bookstore, one that I thought Eva would really enjoy having read to her, and another that I thought would be fun to read (by this point in the trip, I was out of reading material until hubby finally finished his book). Hubby gave me this whole speech about how he had promised me that he would tell me not to buy books from a bookstore, since I do so much paperbackswap...he basically was a big jerk to me about it, and I told him so, which he didn't like. In the end, I put both books back, reminded myself to stop telling hubby anything, and we went on our way. He felt a little bad about the fight, so I think mostly to make it up to me, the next day, we spent some time at another bookstore, and in their clearance books, we found the same book I wanted in hardcover for $1. At that point, he did let me buy the book, and I finished it before he got done with his morning of meetings the next day. The book was The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook by Steve Doocy and contains such useful advice as "Never play strip poker with your neighbors or any member of the Knights of Columbus."

When we got home on Sunday evening, we didn't go pick up the girls, because I had an appointment on Monday morning. So, Monday morning as hubby was heading to work, he woke me up, told me to get out of bed and get ready to go...and I had to ask "why is it that I need to get up again???" (I really couldn't had been a long week!) So, I got up, got dressed, and headed out the door. I found out that it is a much faster trip up there without children in tow, so I managed to do all my shopping before my appointment (okay, mostly I needed dog food and a couple of items from Walgreens). I ended up not getting an adjustment because it turns out I lost 9.2 lbs in two weeks! The doc told me to keep doing what I had been doing...of course, what I had been doing was a TON of walking in Las Vegas and eating out for every meal, and not cooking, cleaning or caring for children. I doubt I'll do quite that well at home, but it does make me think that maybe the restriction of my band is working.

We have been falling pretty quickly back into a schedule. Tuesday Eva had a library thing, Wednesday and Thursday we did school, and we will be doing school again today after I get done with these quick takes (you gotta have priorities!) and the girls have been sleeping pretty well, considering how different our schedule is from grandma's (complete lack of a) schedule. I think we can safely say that Charlotte is officially potty trained! She even makes it through a great majority of nights without having an accident, and will NOT wear a pull up anymore.

I'm VERY excited for tomorrow! Hubby has the day off work, so that means a two day weekend, and we are going to host a little picnic here. I'm not sure who all will make it, but it sounds like it will be a smaller crowd. The girls and I are going to make a flag cake, and we are going to have hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, baked beans, and watermelon (and whatever salad(s) MIL brings down). The girls are excited to wear their dopey 4th of July's a picture of Charlotte in hers last year. (which reminds me how very much I love our new camera...our kids just move way too much for our old one!)

We are trying to decide whether or not to go to the Midwest Catholic Family Conference next month in Wichita. I'd love to go, the speakers look great, and it is always fun for us to go. Hubby's main issues are that Charlotte still won't be quite old enough for the kids program and she will probably be very mad that Eva gets to go and she doesn't, and that we have so many household projects to do around here. So, we really aren't any closer to making a decision yet, but the good news is the registration fee doesn't go up until after the 24th of July, so we still have a couple of weeks to figure it out!

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