Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Education?

We've been enjoying episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise via Netflix. Last night we were watching a couple episodes that featured an 'altered timeline' wherin Nazi Germany attacked and gained ground in the US, including Washington DC. Hubby and I remarked about the chilling sight of the Nazi flag hanging down the sides of the White House, as well as a propaganda clip wherein the US flag was flying with the swastika, subordinately.

Eventually Big Sister asked, "What are Nazis?"

I replied something along the lines of: "People who wanted to remake the world in their image, who were terribly evil and killed so many people." Struggling for a way to encompass Naziism in two seconds for a seven-year-old, and coming up short, I added, "you'll learn about it eventually in homeschool."

She thought about that for a moment, and then with some surprise, stated, "wow, we're going to learn a lot about Star Trek in homeschool!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dailiness

I was just journaling last night about how last week saw none of my daily chores accomplished. I have a general weekly routine; launder sheets on Mondays, clean toilets/sinks on Tuesdays, etc. I lamented that I had 2-week-old sheets and toilets! Ick!

Today, naturally, was day 13 of Toilet Germ Life. While the sheets washed and dried, and Big Sister gathered laundry from their room, I heard an unusual sound. Well, it wasn't so much unusual (sadly), but more unexpected. I thought Organique was downstairs with Li'l Artist, but the 'tap tap tap' I heard from down the hall was definitely something or someone in the bathroom messing with the toilet. I immediately investigated, and found a very wet Organique stirring in the toilet with the toilet brush (is it just my kids, or do ALL children find that to be their favorite toy at this age?). The plunger was in a puddle on the floor nearby, and the toilet water was a pale yellow infused with shreds and bits of stirred-up toilet paper. I hollered for backup (which was already en route; Big Sister had heard the same thing I did), flushed the toilet, and tried to figure out what to do first.

You'd think I'd have this down by now...

Anyways, the toilet acted plugged, which also surprised me, because their didn't seem to be anything, ahem, likely-to-plug in it, and I decided to give Baby a bath. I removed her wet clothes, and started warm water running in the tub. At this point I couldn't find the tub stopper... and I looked back at the toilet in an0guish. Her sisters hadn't seen it, and I had used it two nights ago when I took a bath, and it would've likely been on the edge of the tub. I SO did not want to fish for the item, especially not knowing for certain that it would be in there. I tried swirling a clear area for better viewing, but toilet paper shreds do not cooperate like that. I eventually used the plunger in an attempt to 'de-plunge' the toilet. That is, to carefully create suction and draw things upward as opposed to pushing things further through the system. Still nothing concrete. I found one of those little hook-hangar things that new socks come on, and tried to bend it to create as much length as I could. It did a good job of fishing out clumps of soggy paper. And then! Swirling up through the morass was the tub plug! I retrieved it, did my best to decontaminate it and myself, and started the bath again. Considering we can't get out the driveway (Hubby can in his truck, but that doesn't do me much good), losing that permanently wouldn't have been very fun.

____

Well, as just as I completed the above, the girls managed to pull over a five-shelf unit here in the computer room -- that Hubby cleaned carefully when the rest of us were out of town the weekend before Christmas. Thankfully, though Organique was part and parcel to the incident, it didn't fall on anyone, so aside from a big mess to clean up, we were spared.

Dailiness.

Remember The Other Raid?

Not the FLDS this time, remember the organic food co-op family that was raided SWAT-style? They're fighting back, thankfully. So far it doesn't look like the original story was embellished at all.

"We had a sheriff's department group of about 11-12, I don't know, 13 men come into our home. It was violent, it was belligerent, they didn't identify themselves," Jacqueline Stowers said.
She and 10 children were forcibly herded into a room and held there for at least six hours, she said.
"In the meantime we had people with guns inside and outside," she said.
The legal representatives said a report from the sheriff's department said one of the deputies "even snatched a cell phone out of the hand of a teenage son who was attempting to call Mr. Stowers (during the raid)."
"In addition, the complaint alleges the governmental authorities confiscated all of the Stowers' personal food intended to provide for and nourish them all through the winter months," the organizations said.
The complaint also seeks a preliminary injunction against the Department of Agriculture and declarations stipulating that Manna Storehouse and the Stowers are not a "retail food establishment" under Ohio's Food Safety Code. As a private cooperative, Manna Storehouse is exempted from the Food Safety Code, the organizations said.
Officials with the
Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit, said several of its members had been participating in the co-op, but now their food supplies are disrupted.
The Buckete Institute's spokesman, David Hansen, said, "The use of these police state tactics on a peaceful family in simply unacceptable."


Like the CPS dismantling families to 'see if' there might be abuse or neglect, this is abuse of government power. While the armed, no-knock raid for a third-degree misdemeanor charge is horribly over-the-top, so too is the idea that if the government hasn't stamped it's approval on what you feed your family they can empty your cupboards at a whim. One can live without a car, or even electricity, but food? I'm not really comfortable with the government holding the power of life and death over me in that way. Are you?

The Common Room has more, and commentary.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

FLDS Roundup

I'm woefully behind on blog-reading, let alone blog-posting, but within the couple-hundred unread posts in my google reader, was another FLDS update at the Common Room. You remember the FLDS fiasco in Texas, right, when someone made some prank calls claiming to be an abused teen, and several days later (because it was such an emergency) law enforcement raided their community, removing hundreds of children, separating families, and worse.

Her post is full of links and quotes, but I'll point out two of them here.

Crimmins [a CPS person] said the intention all along had been to conduct individual investigations, but the children were removed so that could be done. The agency had accused the parents of being uncooperative and deliberately obscuring the identity of the children.

The Headmistress points out the glaring admission here: CPS thinks children can/should be removed so then they can investigate. We should all sit up and take notice of this, if we haven't already.

The last paragraph is one to notice as well (actually, they all are). How does an agency like that continue in it's ways???

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Can't. Blog.

Too Busy.

Baking. Cleaning. Hubby's diet. Out of town. Snow storms. Back home. Stuck in driveway. Christmas cards unsent. Stamps lost. Dog ran away. Neighbor called pound. Nearly adopted. Bailed out. Locked in garage. Knitting unfinished. Sewing unfinished. Kids loose.

Must go.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

God's Great Baby Plan

I ran across an interesting post about the natural, God-instilled biology that actually facilitates the mother-child bond. Rina describes herself as "not a baby person" - never was 'into' holding others' babies and the like. She's had five (I think) of her own now, and has learned a few things. She cites scientific data and it all comes together to testify to God's great design. Fascinating.


**One thing she mentions is information about oxytocin... (a hormone that contracts the uterus during and after labor, and which is in force during breastfeeding, as well as other, more intimate *ahem* moments we share with our husbands)... I recall a study that found that injecting roosters with oxytocin caused them to cluck and gather baby chicks to themselves in a very nurturing, motherly way. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beyond Infanticide

Remember my rant about Obama's willingness to put the final say over my children's [education, healthcare, etc] into the hands of the government?

Admit it, you thought I was a little into the tin-foil-hat camp. The government doesn't want to hurt anyone, they just want a better society. They're not going to put you in jail over refusing to vaccinate your kids.

Well, get out your own tin-foil-hat now: Belgium already imprisons parents for that. Five months, I hear.

Oh, well just vaccinate your kids then. It's not like they're going to die from it.

I got an email yesterday highlighting Belgium's practice of murder* of children under 12 months. That's right, Belgium permits doctors to terminate the lives of “deficient” children up to a year old, even without parental consent, for the sake of “a better society”. (emphasis mine)

From the UK Telegraph:

Euthanasia is currently permitted on infants and more than half of the Belgian babies who die before they are 12 months old have been killed by deliberate medical intervention.

In 16 per cent of cases parental consent was not considered.

If "parental consent" was not considered in a portion of cases, I daresay it's not considered at all. That the parents may concede is of no consequence. Obviously it will be done no matter the parents opinion.

For a better society.

Didn't Europe deal with this mindset a few decades ago? How is this any different than Hitler's "master race"? He did a lot to terminate the lives of the deficient for the sake of a better German society, did he not?

There are always those (yes, even in America) who think it's their right to define 'deficiency' and 'suffering' and 'quality of life' for the rest of us. Whether because they're footing the bill, or designing a pain-free utopia, I wouldn't know. But the question is, will we let them?

Faithfully Following has posted on the same issue.

*the term was originally 'assisted suicide', but I don't think they're taking the child's opinion or preference into consideration any more than they're considering the parents' wishes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Careful Words..

A while back I read this post at Clothesline Alley which I thought was very thoughtful and timely. She writes from the point-of-view of someone wanting to have a child/more children, and how that situation feels when others are offering questions or comments on the planning of their family.

I know that some time ago I realized that a lot of what I said to people in this regard might not be received as nicely as it was presented.. That is, while I might be lightly teasing or even happily encouraging (and if I ever DID encourage anyone toward parenthood, be assured it was because I thought well enough of them to do so!), I could not know for sure what the situation was for the other person. Saying, "you should get one of these!" about my baby might not mean the same thing to the recipient of the comment.

For instance, I usually meant, "babies are wonderful, they're blessings, and I hope you will be so blessed." If the couple was actively preventing that blessing, would they take that as encouragement... or judgment? I never imagined it could be considered judgmental, but what if it was? Worse, what if they'd stopped 'preventing' (and I didn't know that) and were dealing with a recent disappointment? Responding with, "yeah, we'd like to..." then establishes an expectation, that the couple is "trying" -- and that's not anyone's business. What if they'd been trying and trying, and each month brought heartache? Wow, my cute little "encouraging" comment just became an arrow in their hearts...

It's best not to assume, and not to comment. Unless someone shares their fertility situation, it's just best 'not to go there.' We cannot know if the couple is making choices, or dealing with unwanted circumstances, and as Amy's post demonstrates, it's best to err on the side of caution.

Another good read on the subject is from Laine's Letters; here, another thought here, and a follow up, here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Here We Go Again...

Do you remember Hubby's crazy diet from last year? Well, I'm sorry to say he's put back on a chunk of the weight he so fabulously lost. The doctor hadn't seen or weighed him in awhile, and last month was alarmed at the speed with which he'd gained. So, he ordered another food-sensitivity test (among other things), and we got the results back last Wednesday, just in time for holiday get-togethers. *sigh* Hubby thinks it's mostly an issue of self-control, and I agree, but that doesn't make it any easier! Seems like over-indulgence causes his body to find certain foods poisonous, and that facilitates weight gain. Not fun.

He has more things he's sensitive to, this time around, but that's probably because they tested him on 154 foods instead of 115. Red pepper is okay (thank goodness), but black pepper isn't. Thankfully (and astonishingly) coffee remains fine, and even wheat, although rye tested sensitive. All shellfish but the clams are fine this time around, but he tested very high for sage (yes, the herb), and again for parsley. Carrots are ok. Spinach, notsomuch. And the yeasts were the highest reaction. No more homemade wine for this man! At least not for 90+ days...

I gathered up a few brain cells the other night, and organized the 'okay' foods into an amenable four-day rotation. Which is proving to make tonight's Church Christmas Banquet (which we've committed to and paid for) and exercise in extra-work. I need to plan and prepare something from "day 3," pack it and he can eat it while watching the rest of the world dine on cheese and dairy and pumpkin and vinaigrette. I'm pretty sure this church won't be serving a keg, however, so we're clear on that note. :)

Last night I steamed some broccoli, defrosted 3 quarts of cooked rice, and mixed it with a big pile of canned salmon. I seasoned it with toasted sesame oil and lemon juice, and while not something I'd make normally, he did eat and enjoy it, more or less. I made a bunch of it, so I can freeze individual portions for emergency "day 2" meals in the future.

It's the little things that kill. Did you know saltine crackers have yeast??? Who would think? I thought I might make a salmon-loaf type thing last night, but couldn't use bread crumbs, obviously, so started looking at the saltine crackers (now, before you take me to task, NO, I usually don't buy such things, but just recently did for making my favorite Christmas Cracker Candy, ok? Forgive me.). But yeast is in there. Plus, they were not only wheat, but had malted barley flour, and that just complicates things terribly. Barley is reserved for a different day. I mean, c'mon.

So, that's what we'll be doing this holiday season. Talk about practicing self-control.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shock and Awe

The other evening, Hubby said something about wanting to 'make something for dinner' that he hadn't had in a while. Well, I wouldn't want to let an opportunity like that pass me by, so I busied myself with some knitting during the time I'd normally be fretting over and preparing dinner. I did ponder what I might make for myself, since Hubby's cooking is, well, not always palatable to myself. Let's just say he enjoys strong and varied flavors.

I tried not to begrudge him a package of precious ground beef, nor a quart of my hard-won frozen tomatoes, as he went to work trashing the kitchen preparing the meal.

In addition to the beef and tomatoes, there was tomato paste, a can of olives (which were 'blended' so finely he had to remind me they were in there), salted pistachios, an onion (diced, but of notable size), some rolled rye flakes, and I'm not sure I want to know what else.

There were a few tortillas left, and some of us ate it that way, with cheese and sour cream. Others ate it in a bowl with the cheese and sour cream as toppings.

Did you hear that? *I* ate it.

It was edible.

It was... it was delicious.

Maybe we could make a habit out of this, eh?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Freedom" of Choice

Of course, it's the kind of freedom that enslaves and destroys.

Have you signed this petition yet?




I've posted before (I think) about Obama's promise to Planned Parenthood that "one of the first things" he'd do is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which effectively repeals any and all state and local restrictions on abortions (parental notification, partial-birth abortion ban, etc) and require religious and faith-based medical institutions (Catholic hospitals) to provide abortions. Also, more taxpayer money would be funneled that direction.

I recall Obama's assertion that "privacy" is a right he sees in the Constitution, and as it pertains to abortion should not be infringed upon "any more than our First Amendment rights." I'll remind you he has no qualms about infringing our Second Amendment rights - apparently just because they were written up by the same brilliant and inspired minds at the same time, by the same people, in succession, does NOT mean that they hold anywhere near the same weight in importance. I mean, come on. Let's not jump to conclusions here. *ahem*

In any case, fight FOCA, if you can. Sign the petition, write to your representatives and senators (especially if they'd be likely to support it), tell your friends. Someone's baby will thank you.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Customer Disservice

Some months ago, my mom pointed out the darling family portraits she was exhibiting of my brother and his wife, and my stepbrother and his family.

"I just need one of you guys, and then I'll be set."

"Ok, I'll try to get us together and break out the tripod."

"No, I want a REAL family portrait. Taken at a studio."

To her, "studio" means Sears Torture, er, Portrait Studio, which I long since abandoned. I grimaced a bit, and put it out of my mind.

Some months later, it was still in her mind, and she mentioned it again. Again I requested to do it myself, and again she declined. Then I pleaded. Pointed out that dragging my three darlings into a germ-infested waiting room to catch every virus wiped on the chairs and toy table wasn't high on my wish-list. That trying to get anyone to smile - much less me - after hours of waiting in uncomfortable clothes, getting hungry, tired, cranky was the kind of misery I should have the freedom to avoid as an American citizen. To no avail. Perhaps it was my less-than-motivation that made her offer to pay for the photos (I don't think she paid for my brother's, but she probably did for my stepbrother). Even that wasn't enough to get me on the phone to book an appointment, but I became obligated, nonetheless. Finally, a couple months later, she 'reminded' me again, about the time I got some sales-pitch postcard in the mail from Sears.

I bit the bullet and called their 1-888-Make-An-Appointment-With-A-Less-Than-Congenial-Employee number, and asked for the earliest available appointment the following Saturday. She gave me 10:30 which I accepted, and we hung up. I got to thinking about early December Saturdays at the mall, and at the portrait place specifically... and decided I might need a better plan. I called the local Sears and got the direct line to the portrait studio where I explained I'd just made an appointment, but was considering making another, so as to get the "kids only" photos out of the way. She said they weren't usually busy at all on weekdays, so I booked an additional appointment for the following afternoon (a Tuesday). I asked about how their Saturday mornings usually went, whether to expect a long wait or not. She asked when my appointment was, and then pointed out that this studio would be open at 9 that morning, and they had a spot at 9:30 if I liked. I liked, so I switched to 9:30.

My Tuesday appointment went fairly well, though combining a photo shoot with other errands like grocery shopping and a visit to the dentist wasn't the brightest thing I've done.

Come Saturday morning I am, of course, a mad woman, trying to get three children dressed and brushed and in the car (not to mention Hubby and his less-than-enthusiastic involvement) -- PLUS I had to have my hair down and makeup on (requirements of the Check Writer). We slipped into the parking lot at exactly 9:30 and I bailed out of the car to let them know we had arrived, and not to talk any walk-ins ahead of us.. please?

The automatic sliding doors didn't open for me, however, and I stood there for a moment, perplexed, before an employee pried them open for me and some others who had walked up to the door. I hurried through the next set of doors and turned into the portrait studio... which was empty, dark, and not at all bustling like I expected. I stood another moment, perplexed again, and began to wander around. On the counter was a printout of the day's appointments, beginning with a 9:00 booking. Worse, we were on the list, but not until 10:30! I waited for Hubby to bring the girls in, wishing I'd remembered my knitting. A woman I recognized from Tuesday showed up, and I asked her about the situation. "Sears decided not to open until 10:00, I guess. I'm only here this early (it was 9:40 by now) for a conference call. I'll call someone, though." She proceeded to call "Tammy", her short conversation consisting of, "I need you here right now, there are people waiting and no photographer." I was hoping Tammy was across the store, or across the parking lot at worst, but no, she just happened to "live closest" to Sears. *sigh* Another family came, with two young girls, and eventually I disclosed to her the situation. A photographer showed up, but didn't seem in too much of a hurry to get things rolling, other than clocking in at the computer and checking a few other things. A third and fourth family showed up, and then "Tammy" who took a look at the schedule, started asking who was there, and when our appointments were. I explained to her that we had arrived at 9:30 for a 9:30 appointment, but somehow the time had reverted to my original appointment. She apologized, saying their server had gone down for two whole days and they couldn't book appointments or anything, and unfortunately she had to start at the top of the list. By now it was 10:15. She took one family into a studio (there are 2), and the other, earlier-arriving photographer sorted through some paperwork, and looked as if she might ask us to fill some out. I pointed to their little pocket of paperwork on the wall, saying mine was already in there from last week. At this point I was also on the phone with my dad, saying such tempered things as "just HOW badly does Mom want this family portrait???" and "they'll be lucky if [Hubby] doesn't walk out of here after burning the place down." Apparently mom wanted the portrait, even if charges of arson were eventually filed. The gal looked at our old paperwork, and thought we were just doing pictures of the girls. "No," I explained, "we already did those earlier, today we just want a family portrait, just one shot of all of us together. White background, sheetrock, whatever's up." Pointing this out, while plucking my youngest from all kinds of mischief -- and possibly the thundercloud on Hubby's face -- helped common sense prevail, whereby she said that she would take us if it was just one quick shot.

I'm so glad my husband didn't have to go to jail for arson. It took two shots (Organique had her tongue hanging out in the first one - which I had Christmas cards done up with), and we were ready to order (again), pay (more), and leave, thankyoujesus.

So, while we left in fairly good spirits (and with considerable compassion for the employees dealing with such a scheduling debaucle), I think my Smile Savers card will go unused, notwithstanding bribes and other manipulations. Mom (she never reads here, so I'll have to tell her again in person), if ever you get it in your head to have happy little family portraits that are *not* taken by yours truly, you're gonna have to dig deeper and spring for the shmancy photogs that have little shops and studios downtown, ok? That's the new rules. Maybe Hubby will even smile for them.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Are You Kidding Me???

An aggressive SWAT team raided a home and held the family at gunpoint on their couch for 9 hours - children and babies included.

Their crime? No official charges have been filed yet, but it centered around their 'family business.'

Ooo... what do you think it was? Meth manufacture? Drug dealing? Prostitution? Sex slavery?

No.

They run an organic food co-op from their home.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turkey Into Soup

Well, the Green Death is all et up, as is the pecan pie (that went fast), pumpkin pie, peach pie, peach cobbler, stuffing (we ate that for 3 meals/day for quite some time...)... and I'm sorry to say the mashed potatoes served the birds. That is, they were all calorie-infused what with butter (a lot) and cream cheese (a lot). They were intended for a potluck that wasn't, and while reheating them in the crock pot worked grandly, keeping them warm in said crock pot for ... a day or two... probably wasn't the best idea. I tossed them when they began to turn a toasty brown shade.

But the turkey! It continues to bless us.

On Sunday I took to it with a knife, dicing up a gallon ziploc full of bits, and mostly filling another with larger chunks. These went into the freezer to make pot pie and other yummy things later. I removed the skin (and attached quills, ahem) and fed it to the cats and dog, and broke the remainder up and put it in my roaster thing. Does anybody know the name for that? My mom used to call it "the Nesco", but this one isn't a Nesco brand. It's like a giant, rectangular, steel, thermostatically-controlled crockpot. Great for roasting, and making big bunches of whatever. Anyways, into this contraption went the skinless bird - lots of meat, and all the bones. I turned it to just over boiling (212 degrees or so) and let it simmer that day. And night. And yesterday. Wait, did it really cook that long? Hm. Well, as long as it's kept at least 140 (the magic bacteria-inhibiting temperature) it's fine. I didn't boil it all that time, but kept it hot. This morning I turned it off for a few hours, and then did the tedious task of separating everything within it. I get out several bowls of varying sizes, and sort accordingly: Bones Which Might Kill The Dog (Hubby requests I not feed her such, otherwise I would), Nice Meat Which We Will Eat, and Weird Creepy Stuff For The Dog. What's left is a murky, bit-infused broth, which is remedied by pouring through strainers/sieves/filters until it's fairly nice. This is a step my mom didn't (doesn't?) do, and it's made all the difference in the world to me in the palatability of homemade soups. I'm also much pickier between Meat and Weird Creepies. (Sorry Mom)

At this point I looked at the clock and freaked out because we were making an unusual Tuesday trip to town - consisting of grocery shopping at Costco, portrait-taking at Sears, and a dentist appointment. And if that's not a perfect schedule for a masochist, I don't know what is. But don't worry: we survived, if barely. Organique only screamed and cried when it was her turn to have her picture taken. And ran around. And left the studio. And tripped and banged her head, which of course, resulted in more screaming and crying, only this time with a nice mark upon her forehead.

But we were talking about soup. Tomorrow I will dice some carrots, de-insecticide some celery, then dice it, cut up an onion, toss in some (more) bay leaves, thyme, maybe savory or sage, and eventually some peas, and have tastey soup. Oh, and probably some barley, and a pound of salt. Hubby doesn't think it's food if a spoon can't stand straight up in a bowl of it. I don't think it's food if it isn't nicely salted.

Once upon a time I let my turkey carcasses end up in the trash. Now I never do (perhaps because so much effort and expense goes into raising and readying the buggers), and I encourage you to try it, if you haven't. It's wonderfully nutritious, perfect for the season, and makes several meals with the addition of a few cheap veggies and a grain.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The "Need To Know" Basis

This is a public service announcement:

Children need to know the difference between sharpie markers (used by Mama to label and date Ziplocs of leftovers) and dry-erase markers (used by Mama to mark up the refrigerator like a white board).

It would also be helpful for them to know that the latex-painted white back door IS NOT a white-board equivalent, as is the fridge.

My children (now) know these things.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Today I am grateful for so many things. We are healthy, we are well-fed, uninjured, not dead, we have our needs met and very many of our wants. God is good, and we do well to commemorate that.

I wrote that yesterday, after making 16 cups of flour, 3 lbs of butter, 4 eggs, some water, vinegar, baking powder and salt into a massive pile of pie dough.

And before I subsequently burned four beautiful pre-made crusts, messed up a handful more, got behind in my schedule and had to leave six pies in the oven when leaving for the church pie auction (don't worry, my oven has a time-bake option, and they finished baking on their own).

Today my homegrown still-somewhat-feathered 23-lb (I got an old kitchen scale from Grandpa's house that weighs up to 25 lbs!!!!) turkey is roasting, I made stuffing/dressing/whatever with sausage, homemade (and storebought) bread, celery, onions, seasonings and spices. Since the church potluck turned into a pie auction, I have a double batch of Green Death to share and eat, and 5 lbs of mashed potatoes ready to rewarm in the crockpot. Oh, and after giving away four pies at church, I have... seven? left, plus four little 'kiddie-size' pies. Blessings and abundance, certainly.

I have also a strong, loving husband. Two pairs of deep brown eyes that look up to me, and one set of maybe-almost-possibly-hazel like my own. I spend so many days worrying and striving over what I should be, or do, or accomplish, and much time is taken up with concerns for my family, my home, my neighborhood, state, and nation. Today I choose to focus on the myriad blessings that surround me each day. The sun warming me through the window. Our large and-yet-affordable home. The amazing people God has put within it. Vehicles that run, and more toys than we need or deserve. My immersion blender that made the pecan pie syrup so smooth so effortlessly. My heart overflows. There is not enough room here to even scratch the surface. I'm so grateful. The way my oldest caretakes my youngest. The way the middle child is learning to share with her little sister and bless her. That my husband is not desiring to permanently limit our family to what is. That my pantry and freezers are full of provision and blessing. That we have neighbors whom we can bless with it. That my husband's family is near enough to spend holidays with. That we still live in a nation where homeschooling is an option.

God is good, and we give thanks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hey, Look!

Win a Free Organic Embroidered Ergo Baby Carrier Hands Free System from Along for the Ride

Like Annie said, if I don't win it, I want someone I know (well, okay, not know in the traditional sense, but loosely,-digitally-acquainted-with works too) to win it!

Dangerous Addiction

While I pine away this morning, beating myself (metaphorically!) into submission to my husband's decisions for us today, I thought I'd publicly confess my (most recent) addiction. Now that the cold weather is upon us, I've let my knitting needles out of their off-season hibernation.

And oh, my.

I've decided I need three of me. At least. One to sew (things like knitting bags and needle-holders?), one to knit (all the Christmas gifts I have in mind and NO way to complete timely), and all of us to cook, clean, organize, and educate. Emphases on the 'clean' and 'organize'.

We were back in Gi-gi's neighborhood for a day or two, and my dear friend was in town from New Zealand to visit her folks. We are mutually guilty for getting ourselves into knitting... I began after she brought me some sturdy wool from NZ last Christmas to crochet some wool soakers. The wool inspired me to something nobler (knitting), and by January, when I saw her again, I was preaching the virtues of interchangable circular needles and everything else that I fancied, in my vast 3-week experience. In any case, I took her to a yarn shop I'd visited last weekend (which nearly resulted in the dissolution of my marriage, but that's another story. :)), which we both thought was entirely lovely and wonderful. We had googled directions to two other yarn stores in neighboring towns, and made our way to the first.

Heaven help us.

It was in an old downtown storefront, with old wooden floors and high ceilings. It was amazing. Yarn everywhere, wool, alpaca, mohair, cashmere, synthetics, blends, hand-dyed, kettle-dyed, variegated, in hanks and skeins and those cute round doughnuts. All the way to the ceiling along the walls, and in cubby-style bookcase things everywhere in between. A room of sock yarn and racks of chunky yarn, worsted, aran, dk, sport, fingering, lace... and I don't even really know what I'm saying! Like most shmancy yarn shops, nearly everything was out of my price range (unless I aspire to knit a single mitten, or something equally tiny), but this place was running sales. Fifty percent off a LOT of things, and 40% off a couple different brands of yarn. This is how I roll.

I bought 2 tiny skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino to make a gift for my brother's firstborn (due in Jan). I had been working on a sweater, but it's just NOT HAPPENING. ALL that time spent drooling and I only came away with that!!?! I know. But don't worry. I went back the next day! (it is a very good thing that I live far, far from this store) This time I bought 4 hanks of a hand-dyed red wool to make a thingy. A, um, short poncho thing (this is not the exact pattern, but similar. The cabled band at the bottom is narrower and, um, simpler). You see, my friend (who could NOT even purl last I saw her!) has showed me up entirely by knitting all kinds of incredible and amazing things, and I am provoked inspired to at least attempt something similar. Okay, fine, copy her thingy exactly. "Me too, me too! I can do that!" At least, if she makes and sends me a copy of the pattern, I can. Try.

I console myself that she lives in a quiet corner of the planet with no children and no job (NZ wouldn't approve her for working) and her husband goes to school full time. That, and she seems to find winter twice each year, which kindof seems like cheating in the knit department. :)

I also bought a skein of dark red sock yarn. Not because I've ever knit a sock (okay, I knit a pair of tiny ones in worsted cotton last winter/spring), but because I might want to try someday when I have nothing else to do (*guffaws*).

Well, I'd love to go cast on something, but I should probably clear a square foot of kitchen counterspace, or sweep the half-bushel of biscuit crumbs from below the dining table.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ach!

UPDATE: Wow, Annie! Thanks! That's so amazing... Apparently Google can translate... loosely. See below..

I really want to knit this darling baby cap. I have the yarn (I think). I have the needles (I think).

If only I could read.

*sigh*

I'll post the 'translated' knitting instructions below. And then sigh again, because I *still* don't know that I can read it. :)

A debut hat, but you also can enlarge something good and also for a baby of 6 months can use. The M├╝tzlein is wonderful in the fit, especially among Kaputzen. It can be easy for a girl with a ruffle, or simply leave it for a boy.

Material: Sockenwollreste (about 20g), or any other soft wool, matching needles to

Here you go:

  • 66 meshes hit (um, 'cast on 66 stitches?')
  • 4 Rows curly right knit (from the picture maybe it means garter stitch?)
  • Hole 1 series work: * 1Mre, 2M re knit together, 1 envelope * Repeat until all meshes are exhausted (Grasping at straws here... it's a hole row... k1, k2tog, yo (yarn over)???)
  • 3 rows right curly (right curly indeed...?)
  • Now begins the "heel": it will be shortened series worked, at the end of a series of 1 mesh are left. If 22 mesh in the middle are left are 2 rows on all mesh knit. Now starting from the middle 22 rows of mesh knit extended again. Here at each end of a mesh of the closed mesh to accept. The principle of the heel is well explained. (....Huh? None of this is well-explained...)
  • If all mesh knitted back, nor 8 rows curly right knit. (Are these instructions? They don't seem like it.)
  • Verstechen threads and the "gap" between the first and last (Krause) close ranks (I'm pretty sure this is a quote from an old WWII movie...)
  • An air mesh chain of about 40cm in length and crochet by the hole series draw. That is the connecting band for the cap. (I think this means crochet a chain and draw it through the holes for a tie.)
The size of the cap can vary quite simple - you just need a larger number of mesh hit.

Well, okay... I'm off to Mesh Hit!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stuff

We spent this last weekend based at Gi-gi's, helping my cousin-once-removed with my Grandpa's house.

Oh my.

Bless his heart, the man spent his retirement (possibly his life) shopping garage sales looking for a bargain. The good news? He found several. The bad news? He found several.

Bikes? 8
Chain Saws? 5
Bench Grinders? 4
Coffee Makers? Hard to count. In the dozens.
Same for Bread machines. And pressure cookers, though I never matched a lid with a pot with a weighted top-thingy.

Sadly, sewing machines weren't one of his fetishes. The one that was there was tagged and bagged by his late wife's family. Which is probably just as well.

Hubby spent most of his time helping sort through the garage -- his own personal nirvana, I think! Cousin was so grateful for our help, and mostly let us have anything we might have use for. Which, with Hubby and the garage, proved to be a very dangerous freedom, I fear.

I chose the last room in the house that hadn't been inventoried and sorted, and cleared out cupboards and drawers in the overstuffed kitchen. "Sorting" was a trick, as he didn't always keep like things with like. I found an adorable saucer in the mug cupboard, and much later found the matching teacup somewhere else entirely. Along with the small-appliance fetish, he apparently collected knives. They were in drawers, cupboards, knife blocks, boxes in the garage and elsewhere... I sorted through piles (a hundred, maybe?) of mostly junk, but came away with a handful of gems. I also cleaned the place out of pyrex and corning ware, though there was no duplicate for my favorite pyrex bowl I broke last month. :(

While 'stuff acquisition' is a two-edged sword, we came away very blessed. Hubby had been asking for a bench grinder for Christmas (and was able to pick a nice one), and hoping to replace his skil saw (he estimated there were 30, and found a treasure of a one with a 'worm drive' and the blade on the left side). I'd been waiting for my Costco coupon to become current to go buy a set of pyrex pans/bowls. I'd also spent years glancing lovingly at Corelle dishes (they're nice-looking, and stack so thinly, and not made in China), Cutco knives, and immersion blenders... But "nice" and "necessary" were (and are) always two different things. I came away with most of a set-for-12 of Corelle, four Cutco knives, and selected one of three stick blenders I came across!

I brought home a few sheets - some stained and destined to become the liner in a diaper bag or somesuch, and two twin-size felted wool blankets for the girls' beds. And while I don't know if it's useable yet or not, I found an (ok, I found several, but I only grabbed one) old 35mm SLR and a big zoom lens. It's an old cheap brand I don't recognize, but it might meet my need for a shallow depth-of-field while I pine away for a Nikon D80. :) Sorry, I won't be able to post any photos from it here.

We're going back up again this weekend - Hubby to tote home the table saw he's been given, and a loveseat hideabed (to replace the @$)*&%^@! hideabed couch in our family room that throws my hip out of alignment just by looking at it). And, I've been given a big, beautiful framed print from the living room, if I can transport it home safely.

So - it's been an exercise in perspective yet again, realizing God pays attention to my silly little wants, and finds ways to bless me with some of those, even in the midst of our grief. He is good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Deja Vu?

I typed this out earlier this week, but then didn't finish it before leaving town. I was also sidetracked by writing a rare mass-mailed notice on the subject, because I have far more people in my address book than readers of my blog. :) But I want to put it here anyway.

I wrote my election thoughts post on Sunday evening, though it didn't post until early Monday morning.

While sitting here at the computer trying my darnedest to get some replacement crib parts, I browsed a couple emails that just popped through. One of them is from Parentalrights.org, and is eerily similar to some of what I wrote the other night.

They write:

"Imagine If..."
The Reality of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Imagine an Air Force mom, serving her country on a month-long deployment, who learns that her daughter has been secretly removed by local authorities, claiming the child has been "abandoned." Children begin mandatory sex-education at the age of four, regardless of their family's opinions, beliefs, or convictions, and parents are imprisoned if their children fail to receive any of their mandatory vaccinations. Parents live in a state of constant supervision and suspicion.

Imagine if your national government had the audacity to appoint a "guardian" to monitor your child from birth, charged with the legal responsibility to evaluate your decisions as a parent and armed with the legal authority to "intervene, prevent or rectify" any violations of your child's rights. Public and private schools alike are policed by the national government, and classes begin with singing about the principles of peace, tolerance, and the United Nations. Your child's confidential medical records, stored in a nation-wide electronic register from birth until age twenty, can be accessed at any time, without your knowledge, by any physician, teacher, or government social worker in the nation.

Now stop imagining, because for parents in the 193 countries that have ratified the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, each of these scenarios is true.
Read the rest of this article.

I had a hard time wrapping up this post (and in fact, didn't), so I'll close with the last paragraph of my email:

If this seems alarmist to you, please, research it until you feel secure in your opinion. I don't want to GIVE you your opinion, just point you to a relevant issue today. How relevant? Well, this Convention came through under President Clinton, but has never been ratified. President-elect Obama supports ratifying this, and he has promised considerable change. This isn't *my* preferred brand of change, obviously. ParentalRights.org supports amending the Constitution to preserve our historic (and I think, God-given) rights as parents. Even if you're not a parent, if you see the value in this, please sign their petition. Tell others. If your kids are all grown, think of your grandchildren. If you really don't care, but you like me, sign it, k?
:)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memorial

It's been a busy week! Tuesday saw us loading up and heading to Gi-gi's for the night, so as to make it to my grandpa's memorial service on Wednesday morning. The weather was supposed to be wet and windy, and it was an outdoor service. I packed warm dresses, tights, and extra-layers for the girls, and made sure I had my nylons/long johns/tall socks/etc ready to go. We arrived early at the Veteran's Cemetery, where all the cars parked in lanes like an airport drop-off. At the appropriate time, an old man in a golf cart led the parade of cars around a big loop, ending about 1/8 of a mile from where we began. :) Apparently they didn't have carseats and buckles (and paranoid parents) when he was young, or he might've given us the option to walk...? Everyone gathered around an open-sided shelter of sorts, and the short service began. I'd never been to a "full military honors" service before, and it was so poignant and moving. Two officers stepped out to the center, snapped open a flag between them (held like a bedsheet for catching apples) and a third man, on a nearby knoll, played Taps on the bugle. I cry at commercials like this - you can imagine how I was feeling seeing all this in real life - and for my own grandpa. When the bugler was done (and oh, he did a fine job), the officers smartly and carefully folded the flag into it's triangular shape, and presented it to my uncle, thanking him for his father's years of service to his country. Then he soberly and slowly saluted, turned on his heel, and marched out.

Various people stood up and shared memories they had of him - most were about "Uncle Jim" - he had many neices and nephews, but only three children (two now gone) and four grandchildren. After his divorce from Gi-gi (and his grandchildren living distantly and/or growing up), his siblings and their kids became his primary family. And I'm so glad he had them. Like when my mother died, I was fascinated to see him through the eyes of others who loved him. In many ways I know more about him now than I did before -- and it was the same with my mom's death. He certainly had his character flaws, but he is remembered for his gentleness, his jokes and laughter, his stories (oh, his stories!), and his just-down-right-decency toward others. Oh, and his inability to ever throw anything away.

Due to this last trait, we are heading back there tomorrow, to further assist in the dunging-out of his house and garage. My duties will encompass all efforts to keep *my* (okay, "our") garage from looking like Grandpa's. And that will be a big job.

--

I remember once, when Gramps and Gi-gi were still married, her telling me about my grandpa, in less-than-admiral tones... "Your grandpa will buy anything if it's a bargain. Anything!" said with utmost derision. Grandpa was just then tinkering in the garage (probably unloading another garage-sale haul from somewhere). In my youth and ignorance, I promptly trotted out there and said to him, "Grandpa, Grandma says that you'll buy anything if it's a bargain." He got a thoughtful look on his face before he slowly nodded, and with pride said, "yep... that's right."

Talk about a lesson in perspective.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Election Thoughts

I have had this mulling around in my mind this past week, though my grandpa's death has displaced those thoughts somewhat. They're still there, though, and I feel like I need to write this, though the people (I think) need to read it, won't.

I am disheartened by what an Obama presidency is likely to bring, but even moreso by the people that voted for him. I know more than one person whose vote for him was nothing more than a lifelong habit of voting for democrats. No, it was more; it was a willful choosing of ignorance, shutting their eyes, plugging their ears, and singing, "la la la la la la la" to drown out the truth of that man's positions and plans.

The truly ignorant don't bother me as much. How can I hold someone accountable for acting as shallowly on election day as they do every other day? It's the Otherwise-Reasonable that get to me. Those who are supposedly well-informed, who seek information and act upon it. Who try to do right in their daily lives.

My angst is two-faceted: On the one hand, I am truly concerned for them. Even though the ones who voted in this (red) state didn't amount to anything in the final count, they will have to face God one day, and give account for their support of him. I truly, truly think there will be judgment for this. The other side of the coin is far more selfish, however. I actually feel like an Obama vote is an attack upon my children.

Does that seem unreasonable? It sounds like it. I want to say, "he supports the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. You have elected to remove my children from my authority and responsibility and make them ultimately children of the state. This is against God's plan, how could you do this? If that is ratified, I only have a right to parent my children as long as my parenting is pleasing to the state! How long until my morals, values, convictions become 'hate speech' and reason enough to 'reassign' the children God gave into my keeping. And you choose this for me." Do you suppose the baby bonds will indenture my children into the Mighty State Preschool Program that Obama envisions? What if I decide I don't want my children vaccinated according to the Mighty State Guidelines? Oh, that's right. They're not 'mine' if his plans come to fruition. If the state is in charge of my medical care, at what point does the 'choice' to kill an imperfect baby become an 'obligation'. Australia recently refused citizenship to a Down's syndrome person - because the state would have to foot the bill for healthcare. Might we eventually refuse 'life' for the same reason? Obama voters, YOU are doing this, to me and my children. Your candidate, indeed, your victorious candidate is okay with leaving abortion survivors to gasp their life away in biohazard bags without so much as comfort care. He thinks it would add a burden to 'the decision' to require someone to take a second glance at the life they've tried (unsuccessfully) to snuff out. This is not about pregnancy termination! Newsflash to Obama: once your baby is delivered, you're not pregnant any more! And as far as I know, women don't have the Right To Dead Babies, just yet. He, in fact, can't wait to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, rolling back every limitation (gestational age, method, parental notification, etc) currently imposed on abortion in varying states and districts.

God, please change his heart! And the hearts of those who support this! Show me, and each of us, what we can do to advance Your heart in America today.

I don't know if my fellow voters will see the day when they regret their support of him. I imagine not, if they're as quick to hide from the truth in the future as they have been in the past. I do hope, however, that the election of a black man to the presidency will bring healing to people who have felt as though there has never truly been an even playing field. I hope they can hold their heads high, knowing that America holds the same opportunities for them as for me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dutch Sheets Follow-Up

A couple months ago I posted about some hopes/predictions one man had about the election, more-or-less. A dear bloggy-friend sent me this follow up, so I thought I should post it here as well. I'm inclined to believe this one, moreso than the last, although that's unfortunate.

He writes:

November 6, 2008

I feel certain that many in my stream of the Church want a statement from me concerning Tuesday's presidential election. I will be frank in my remarks but I do not, however, intend to vent anger or attack anyone. I have read several statements from friends and colleagues I respect very much.
Their thoughts are well stated and, for the most part, insightful. None of them, however, seem to want to say some things that I believe need to be said. I do not claim infallibility or to have the final word, but my convictions run deep and I believe I bear a God-given responsibility to share them.

Was This God's Will?

Was what happened Tuesday God's will? I am quite confident it was not. America was offered a very clear choice between moving further toward protecting the unborn or further away; between a Supreme Court that would move toward honoring God, life and morality or away from it. The stakes couldn't have been higher nor the cost greater. As a nation we put on blinders concerning Barak Obama's background, associations, beliefs and practices, and set these causes back years, possibly decades.
And in doing so we took another step away from God and His plans for America, and another step toward judgment.

Judgment Will Increase

This is not a fire and brimstone warning from an angry, legalistic preacher. In fact, I feel more sadness and grief than anything else.
Perhaps I feel what Jesus felt as He wept for Jerusalem while announcing its judgment. I am not hoping for judgment; I am saying it is inevitable. I don't know where the unbiblical belief comes from that says a nation can live any way it pleases, can reject God and His ways-even mock Him-and not receive His judgments. Nor do I know when the belief came that it is always mean-spirited or judgmental to warn of these things. To the contrary, I believe it is our responsibility.

In warning of judgment, I am not suggesting that God is going to intentially and directly hurt people. Much judgment is simply the absence of God's protection and provision, caused by a rejection of His laws and ways. We have been experiencing some forms of judgment in America for years, but God in His incredible patience and mercy has kept us from the level we've deserved. I believe this will change to a degree and judgment will now
increase:

  • For those in the Church who aligned themselves with pro-abortion forces, I believe judgment will result.
  • For leaders in the Body of Christ who refused to take a stand for fear of losing people, money, and tax-exempt status-I believe there will be a degree of judgment.
  • For those, both within the Church and without, who voted money over morality-a potential raise or better health insurance over the life of a baby-there will be judgment. (The irony is that this decision to base one's vote on the hopes of a better economy won't produce the hoped for result anyway. The scriptures teach that it is righteousness which exalts a nation and that the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord.)
I have heard the argument that God cares as much about social justice issues (such as poverty and racism) as He does abortion, making a vote for Obama OK. I certainly believe God puts a very high priority on caring for the poor and I, too, have wanted to see equality demonstrated through a "minority" president. But to equate having a better income or the desire for a first black president, regardless of his positions on abortion and morality, to the issue of killing 50 million babies is not justice-it is a gross distortion of justice and great deception. I fear that we have been desensitized to this issue of abortion. I believe it kills babies and takes innocent life. I also believe it is blood sacrifice that empowers demons. Let's not forget this in our noble attempts to be kind and conciliatory.
For African Americans I can easily see how it could bring healing to have a first black president, just as it would be for Native Americans to achieve this or for women if a woman were elected president. Again, I have wanted to see justice in this way. I am only saddened that the price for this healing ended up being Barak Obama, a man that will set the cause of life and, most-likely, our God-given destiny as a nation back so drastically. (I also realize there are some who interpret any criticism of Obama as racism. Racism is so NOT what I am about nor what I live, that I will not even dignify any such accusations with a response.)


What Can We Expect?

What are some of the judgments we can expect on our nation from this election?

  • More economic woes
  • More violence in an already violent nation
  • Disease and death (satan, who is responsible for these things will have greater inroads to our nation.)
  • Natural disasters (weather-tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, drought; fires; earthquakes; etc.)
  • Terrorism (they will fear us much less now)
  • War, perhaps on our own soil
  • Judgments relating to the Court. The stacking of the Supreme Court against the sanctity of life and God's influence on America will occur, which will in turn cause the shedding of more innocent blood, more rejection of God's laws and the stealing from us of our godly heritage-all of which will perpetuate a cycle of even more judgment.

How Did This Happen?

I've been asked if this could have been averted had there been more prayer. I'm not sure. I believe there was a remnant of Christians fervently praying over these elections-I don't think there was anything more they could have done. Others, obviously, should have done more. The complacency and lack of discernment concerning our real condition in America-especially by the Church-is both appalling and horrifying. America is in serious trouble and it seems no one wants to say it. Fewer still are willing to do anything to change it.

Though I understand our reasons, we must be careful in our attempts to placate our feelings and calm our fears through religious phrases like "God is still on the throne" or "God has a plan". He was on His throne 35 years and 50 million babies ago. And He had a plan back then. The problem is, it was us. I understand our reasons for waving high the banner of God's sovereignty at times like these-it gives us hope. I will wave it, as well.
But please be careful with this. Too much emphasis on God's sovereignty and we're worthless; too little and we're hopeless. Maybe we should say, "we lost a critical battle but God will give us strategy to win the war." Then find the strategy.

But still yet, since God is usually willing to work through a remnant, I thought we had enough prayer. Obviously, God decided otherwise. There comes a time when He will not forgive or bless the majority based on the prayers or actions of only a few. America rejected God and asked for a king; I believe we now have our Saul (see 1 Samuel 8:5-7)-a man who does not have God's heart for America but his own. Like Israel in scripture, our nation believes it can turn from God and still be blessed. In His mercy and justice He will show us otherwise.

Like many, believing I had many promises and confirmations that God would "grace" us with a pro-life president in this election, I failed to consider strongly enough that all promises-even scripture-are conditional 99.9% of the time. Though I never prophesied or made guarantees that McCain-Palin would win, failing to factor this principle in strongly enough no doubt caused me to share my optimism with others inappropriately. If this caused any harm or confusion, I apologize.

Has the fact that my prayers weren't answered shaken my faith? No. I'm a little confused and discouraged. I'm also somewhat angry at the nation in general and much of the Church. Mostly I'm grieving over the nation and what this will cost us. I am not, however, angry with God and do not question His justice. And it is not true that we wasted our time, energy and money in our efforts anymore than it is a waste when we share the gospel with people who don't get saved. We must keep in the forefront of our thinking the fact that ultimately we are doing this for Him and that He will reward us for our faithfulness. And who knows, perhaps He will store up all those prayers for the next battle (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-5).

A friend and fellow warrior said it well,

"We did 'give it our all.' I know the Lord was pleased with that. A coach wants to know one thing at the end of a heartbreaking sports loss: 'Did you leave it all on the field?' (your passion, your commitment, your strength, your courage, etc.) I know that we 'left it all on the field.' We didn't hold anything back until the game ended. Tragically, it ended in defeat. We will rise for another day because Jesus is worthy."



Where Do We Go from Here?

Does this election outcome shake my faith that we can see a great awakening and ultimately reformation in America? Absolutely not (and it strengthens my resolve). We will simply get there through greater pain and loss. Even my passion to see the Supreme Court shift is not from a presupposition that there can be no spiritual awakening without it. It is simply due to my deep conviction that their decisions bring so much death, destruction, curses and judgment to America; and because our full destiny as a nation is unquestionably linked to their decisions. So, yes, we will get an awakening and reformation; but the reality is that this reformation of the nation will reform the Supreme Court (and government, in general), not vice-versa. My faith has never been in people or a political party; my faith is in the God who works through them.

I've been asked if my feelings about Sarah Palin have changed. They have not. I believe she is an Esther, a Deborah, with a huge mantle from God for reformation. God has a great destiny for her related to this nation if she chooses to continue down this path.

So, in conclusion, we must re-group as an apostolic, praying church and advance. We must maintain an immovable faith in God, His plans for America and His mercy. And we must move beyond simply asking God for a spiritual awakening and ask Him for strategy to produce reformation, as well. I, for one, am just getting started!

For God and this great nation,
Dutch Sheets

Gramps & Gi-gi, part III

What are we talking about? See here, and here and here.

When my mother was 7 and my uncle 9, Gi-gi sat down for a coffee break at work, and the coffee tasted bad. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was pregnant. This coffee tastes horrible!" [this is the part where us mortal women shake our heads in disgust] Yes, the only pregnancy symptom Gi-gi ever had (aside from a growing belly) was that coffee tasted bad. No morning sickness, no sciatica, no tiredness, nothing (she also never had any obnoxious menopausal symptoms). I do not share that gene, sadly.

Gi-gi had my aunt in February of 1960 [my aunt who passed away this summer]. My mother and uncle were settled into parochial grade school at this point, and because Gi-gi wore a trench-style winter coat to mass every day, the other parishoners were astonished to see her tote an infant into church one day. "Where did you get that baby?" they cried. "Where most mothers do, I suppose." was her answer.

I don't know what Gi-gi did with work or school at this point. She eventually became a school nurse for several elementary schools and a middle school. My mother was not inclined academically, and while she graduated from high school, she didn't pursue much beyond that. She joined the hippy-ish lifestyle, living with friends, smoking weed, shacking up here and there, and even hitch-hiked to Alaska. My uncle became a nurse and joined the military (I'm not sure in what order he did those things) and served in Vietnam. He spent some time after that motorcycling across Europe before getting married. During this time, Gramps and Gi-gi continued their lives.. Gi-gi had opportunities (and took them) to help the government update medical things in Saipan, see Russia (under Soviet rule), and more. Grandpa wasn't much interested. He (we) camped, fished, fixed and rode his motorcycles, went to garage sales, visited his old military buddies. And apparently carried on a relationship with an old friend of theirs. Finally, around 1988 he 'left' Gi-gi for this woman. Gi-gi insisted on counseling, where the counselor gave them each a legal pad on which to write some grievances. When Grandpa turned his in, the counselor was astonished... There were things on the list that dated back to the early, early days of their marriage, and she had never seen such a thing. Nearly 40 years' worth of heartache, anger, bitterness stored up, all spilled out on canary yellow paper.

The counseling didn't work. Things didn't work out with the woman he'd been seeing, but within a handful of years, he married again, and bought a house a few blocks away. He married a twice-widowed woman (also an old friend of theirs) that shared the same first name as Gi-gi. That wasn't something he liked, so she began to go by "Gloria." I tried relating to her as a 'grandma', but that didn't work out well. I was a teen at this point, and didn't live in the same state anymore, so that's understandable. They were married six years before the tylenol she took for her knee pain destroyed her liver. Her obituary was published while Gi-gi was out of town with my mother (when they realized she was likely to die, my mom asked to go away awhile - she didn't want to deal with Grandpa's grief over a woman whom she didn't get along with well :( ) at this time. The obituary used her given name, 'beloved wife of Jim,' and their last name. Gi-gi returned home to an answering machine full of shocked condolences -- followed by relieved humor when friends discovered that she hadn't died after all!

These past many years, Grandpa has lived in that house (which was bought with his wife's money, and which her children have grasped at since their mother's death!), collecting piles and piles of 'bargains' until his home wasn't fit much for company - certainly not for small children. After the birth of my oldest, he became very friendly - visiting at Gi-gi's to see the baby when we visited, etc. His sister then circulated a letter supposedly penned by their late mother which accused Gi-gi of many evils. For the record, I disbelieve the accusations, and am *highly* suspect of the legitimacy of the letter itself, but true or not, this re-opened the rift between Gi-gi and all members of "his" side of the family. Visits were then limited to good weather when my children could be outdoors. For several years he would not darken the doorway of any place that Gi-gi was. I did see him and share a few moments with him at my aunt's funeral this summer.

Life is so uncertain. Take this opportunity to pen that letter to your old gramps' and grannies. Give them a call, or stop by if you're able. You just never know..

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gramps & Gigi, Part II

To catch up, read here and here.

Why did they do it? Gi-gi told me once that she married Jim because she "felt sorry for him." Of course, this was decades later after they were divorced, so who knows? Did Jim imagine that a strong, independent, career-minded woman would settle down to become Suzy Homemaker after the "I do's"? If so, he was to be disappointed.

They bought a house in town, a few blocks from Jim's parents' and added on to it. They had my uncle in June 1950, 10 months after they were married. Three weeks later his about-to-expire reserve unit was called up to go to Korea. His reserve time was due to end within days, but they didn't want to lose the troops from the system, so started with the units about to be released. And new baby or no, he had to leave (and you think today's war-politics is obnoxious). He was gone until the baby was 11 months old (and 33 lbs!).

I can't imagine that dynamic. Walking back into your family after a long time - 'meeting' a little boy that you probably don't even know what to do with - and your already independent, capable wife seems to be doing it all just fine... without your help or input.

Within a few months, they were expecting my mother. She was also born in June (1952), with some considerable complications. Gi-gi was in labor, and was in a hospital room with the back of the bed towards the door. The doctor was telling the nurse, in the hallway outside, that it was gonna be a while before the baby was born. About this time Gi-gi realized that was not the case, and worse, discovered the baby was footling breech (one foot hanging out, I think). She could not get the attention of the doctor, and no one else was in the room (didn't they have those nurse call-buttons?) so she removed one of the steel stirrups from the foot of the bed and tossed it backwards over her head, clanging into the hallway. The doctor came and my mother was delivered with the umbilical cord around her neck and not doing very well. She did improve, though, and they became the 'perfect little family,' big brother, baby sister, $27/mo. mortgage payment.

I don't know a lot of the daily-life details of the years following. Grandpa returned to work at this hospital at some point, because I remember his retirement from there in the 80's. Gi-gi continued to take classes, toting my toddler-mother to campus, depositing her under a tree with color book and crayons, and checking on her periodically. A different world, obviously! Gi-gi eventually graduated with a real-life degree in the 70's, some 30 or so years after her first post-high-school class. She also had become a school nurse, keeping similar hours and seasons as her kids.

I know Grandpa didn't involve himself much in certain areas. He got no end of grief from Gi-gi when Gi-gi discovered that instead of changing my mother's diaper (when he was tending her), he'd lay her on the seat of the car and drive three blocks to his mother's house so she could do it. :) When her reminder to mow the lawn wasn't heeded within a few days, she'd do it herself. And that summed up a big part of their relationship, I think. Her 'get-it-done' attitude ended up emasculating him, and lowering him in her eyes. Sometimes I see this tendency in my own marriage, and I struggle against turning into that kind of wife.

Well, the story is growing too long, so stay tuned for another dramatic episode. :)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gramps & Gi-gi

Since my post announcing my intention of writing some family/life history, I've started and stopped a dozen times in my mind. Where do I start? With the ancient-est ancestors I know about, or my own story, or little anecdotes? Losing grandpa and posting about it has given me a starting place, of sorts, so I'm glad for that.

Where were we? Ah yes, Jim was threatening to wrap the tire pump around Gi-gi's neck... She replied, "well, if you're gonna be that way about it, go right ahead!" and allowed him to air up the tire. Gi-gi worked nights heading up the OB floor. She was 21 I think. When her supervisor noticed "Jim, from plant services'" interest in Gi-gi, she began sending Gi-gi for her midnight coffee break anytime she saw Jim in the hospital cafeteria. Presumeably this is where they got to know each other. I don't recommend the setting, as there were probably no two worse-matched people than they.

There was also another young woman. I don't know her name. But her heart was breaking as she watched the young man she loved pursue the night OB nurse. The night OB nurse observed this, and made a plan. Gigi had recently converted to Catholicism, and wanted to be a nun, but there was a 2-year wait before a convert could join a convent. By the spring of 1949, she had made arrangements to move to Wisconsin to work and help put her younger brother through chiropractic school. She took this other young woman aside, and told her she was leaving. "I'm going away for awhile. Now's your chance; you can have Jim." She left for Wisconsin.

Jim discovered that Gi-gi had left, and quickly discovered where she'd gone and called her up. "You can't do this. I'm coming to get you." "On your motorcycle? In April?!? Across the Rockies, you'll kill yourself! *sigh* Fine, sit tight. I'll be back in August."

She was back in August, and in August they were married. At six a.m. (because Jim's dad couldn't get time off work) on a Wednesday (because the priest was down from wherever only to get the mail that one day). The organist overslept, but someone roused her. They honeymooned on the coast, where (according to my brother) Jim began to wonder what in the world he'd done...

And the other young woman? She eventually became a nun..

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another Loss

They say bad things come in threes. My still-young aunt passed away last summer, and I got news last night that my grandpa died. Can the election be considered the third, or should I be on guard still?

My grandpa died at home, apparently in his sleep. I am grateful for this, as his greatest fear was having to live in a nursing home, or languishing with some disease of the mind.

He was Gi-gi's husband for 38 years, before he decided that was enough.

He lived about four blocks from her, and about three blocks from his childhood home.

He was a gentle soul, perhaps not a strong man, but it's hard to say how much of that was his nature and how much was necessary being married to the original feminist. :)

He served in the Pacific in WWII on a battleship, in the boiler room I believe. After the war, he returned home and at some point got a job with a railroad. Another man was hired on five minutes later. After some months, the railroad was going to promote my grandpa and let the other guy go, because grandpa had 'seniority' (even if it was only five minutes' worth). The other man had a family, so grandpa resigned on the spot. He was a good man. He met my grandma while he was working for Plant Services at the local hospital. She was a young nurse who rode her bike to work and therefore wore *gasp* pants. The (Catholic) hospital administrators asked her if she wouldn't please wear a skirt, to which she replied, "well, it'll fly up when I ride my bike to work and my underwear will show, but okay." They relented.

One day, after her night shift (this sometime in 1948), she found her bike tire flat. She was directed to plant services, to "Jim," for help. He also worked nights. She walked her bike around, saw the young man, and said, "I need a tire pump to air up my tire."

He turned and retrieved one and walked to her bike, ignoring her outstretched hand.

She: "I didn't ask you to air it up, I just asked for the pump."

He: "Do you want me to air up your tire, or wrap this thing around your neck?"

--

And so it began, a not-happily-ending story that, for my sake at least, I'm grateful happened anyway.

Gramps, I'm sorry I didn't see you more often. I was getting ready to send you another batch of pictures, and a letter, and I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner. I hope you can see your precious great-grandkids, or at least know you're missed. I hope you voted.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Children of the State?

This is a great article highlighting our distaste at all things 'socialized'... national healthcare, banking bailouts, airlines.

But 90% of us frequent socialized education without a second thought.

Let's be done with that, shall we? Seems like we Christian Conservative/Evangelical types tend to take pride in our pro-life-ness, that we endeavor to bear children and raise good families. But what good is that if we're handing those very children God has given us over to state indoctrination every day for 13+ years?

It's time to rethink that.

Half a century ago, my father said often: "If I fail to feed my children, the government will step in. If I don't house them, the government has programs to help. Of course, I don't intend to turn those duties over to the government. But I would much rather have the government feed and house my children than to have the government shape their minds." ....The bells of freedom on every front traditionally ring more clearly where a biblical value system has been inculcated. No one should expect anything resembling such a result from secularist state-sponsored schools, which will naturally glorify the state. No one should be surprised when that's what happens.

From World Magazine.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Not Looking Good For America

Not that "good" was/is really an option this election, but it's definitely looking like the worse possibility is upon us.

But, America has weathered terrible outcomes before. Woodrow Wilson comes to mind, with his 'civilian militia' helping inform on their neighbors. People were actually imprisoned for "speaking against the administration" in their own homes. Obama has referred to a civilian militia of sorts, "as big, well organized, well funded" as the military. I wonder what he has in mind for them to do?

It's finally becoming widely recognized that FDR did more to intensify and prolong the Great Depression than anything else. His big, giant, fascistic government-is-all acted like everyone's trials would be resolved by government involvement, and did the opposite. Like the woman at the Obama rally who breathlessly gushed about how she 'never thought this day would come,' but she was so excited that she wouldn't have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage anymore. Will she turn on her savior when he can't keep those promises? Or will she continue in the faith, blaming someone else when she gets foreclosed upon?

While I've often lamented 'how can this even be a close election? Has anyone even read the Constitution?' I am also heartened that it's 'close'. After all, few can deny that all major media outlets have been SO slanted in Obama's favor that it's not even humorous. With two years of such widespread, repetitive support, it's only reasonable that the less-informed (and less-motivated-to-be-informed) would swing that direction. And looking at the subscription rates of celebrity magazines and the viewership of American Idol, there's a lot of people waiting to be told what is cool (I'm sorry if you read People or watch American Idol. I'm just illustrating a point).

In addition to the weight the media has given Obama's side, there is the financing issue. Of course, you might not know about that either, given the media's hush-up about it, but the now-historic fact is, Obama's the first presidential candidate since before I was born to reject public financing (and it's limitations) for his campaign. Privately, he's raised an incredible amount (he's also spent an incredible amount). Much of it from highly suspect sources (fake names, unapproved credit cards, foreign support, etc) too.

And in case record funding and 200,000 journalists campaigning for you isn't enough to put you over the top, there is always ACORN and the incredible amount of fraudulent registrations and voters. There are people using park benches as addresses, there are people voting in several counties, there are out-of-state visitors voting where they shouldn't, there are the "vote from home" participants, voting in their home state and again via absentee in a battleground state.

It's a miracle he's not getting 80% of the popular vote.

So, now that I've made peace and found the rationale for such an irrational outcome, there's just one last decision for a red-stater like me to make:

Have more babies, buy more guns, or both? :)