Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yet Another Study...

...Showing homeschooling produces people that "excel in all measured areas of adult life." (emphasis mine)

income, education, entrepreneurial endeavors, involvement in their community

more socially engaged and almost twice as likely to have voted

more sources of investment income and self employment

no cases of government support as the primary source of income

happier in their work and their lives in general

actively engaged in their local communities, keeping abreast of current affairs, highly civically involved, tolerant of others expressing their viewpoints, attaining relatively high levels of formal education, religiously active

No mention was made in the article as to methodology, family size, whether Mom managed to "hold it all together," or other demographic.

Do you suppose the politicians and social engineers who tout how important education is will start advocating home education as a viable, indeed superior, educational choice? If they had a shred of decency or honesty they would.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another One Bites The... Cookie?

Actually I think it was bread.

Darling Baby #2 - our 5-year-old Little Artist - lost her first tooth Christmas Eve, with the help of an auntie and some tough bread to bite on. Adjusted for birthdates, she lost this first tooth within a month of her older sister's first loss. And also has a second one close behind! She was given the same warning about Gi-gi as her sister was, and never even mentioned it to her the two days we visited prior to Christmas (and that was hard, mind you! She was showing it off to everyone!).

I still think 5 1/2 is so young for losing teeth, and had a hard time believing it was possible (again). She now sports a gap-toothed grin that reminds me she is growing up so quickly!

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're So Rich

There are families who do very little for Christmas, regarding gifts and the like (and I so admire them), purposing to focus on the Truth of the season instead.

While sometimes I wish we were like that, so far we aren't. :) I'd guess we're pretty normal.

But I'm surprised sometimes at what constitutes 'normal' for others. There are families who anxiously find themselves short on cash this time of year (and especially this year), and worry how their kids will get to "have" Christmas. Maybe they scrape up some extra money, sell something, or ask friends and family to pitch in.

I've been surprised to discover what is "normal" for some families. Even the "struggling" ones. We're not struggling really, though we're always fairly careful with our spending.

We spent $20 each for the 'big' gift for the older 2, less than $10 (I think - Hubby actually picked hers out) on Organique, and $5 for a couple BPA-free teething rings for Baby. I sewed** each of the 3 mobile ones a skirt, a nightgown, and a "bakery hat" as Little Artist calls it. I made a chicken-scratch bookmark for Big Sister, and Daddy (the big spender) bought the Ladybug Game, Uno, and a puzzle as family gifts. Their stockings had a sampling of the goodies we'd made for giving, and an orange.

Of course, my folks sent gifts - slippers, nightgown, and bathrobe for each of the oldest, a hand-me-down game for Organique, and cute striped velour sleeper for Baby - which we opened on Christmas morning, and when Granny gave me an outfit for each of them over Thanksgiving, they were saved and wrapped for Christmas also. So even if everything wasn't from "us," there were still plenty of gifts to go around.

Christmas evening allowed for gifts from Hubby's folks too, plus a 'family gift' of a movie, popcorn, and goodies in a basket from his sister and family.

What abundance. What abundance! We're so blessed. Some have far, far less. And (maybe just as bad,) some "need" far, far more! I am struck by the massive amounts of gifts many kids have to show off (I don't mean that in a bad way. Just that like all kids they are excited to show others their gifts.). Ours look pretty modest in comparison. But what makes me feel so rich is that.. that's ok. My kids don't need $100-worth of trinkets to feel like Christmas "happened." Don't get me wrong; I'm sure they'd LOVE $100 gifts (I do realize my children are young still and haven't quite developed an appetite for the extravagant that may yet come.)! But they love homemade things. They don't (usually) see commercials that tell them everything they're missing out on. Our "Christmas" can be modest. Maybe even stark to some. But for us it's perfect. And for that, I'm so grateful. We're so rich.

How about you? Are you "normal?"

**Most of their sewn gifts were made from my 'stash' of fabric. I really never spend more than $2/yard for fabric.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Have you all seen this ad? It's been around the blogs for a while now, but I just had to post about it too. I'm still a little surprised that it's real, but I love it:

"Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khaki’s and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by and cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

I emailed them (Had to click through to the levi strauss site, then a Contact Us form) to give my thumbs' up, encouraging them to not just SAY such things, but DO them too.

There's all sorts of criticism, of course, saying this is sexist. I say, "probably. And we need more of it."

We've never been a Dockers household, but the likelihood of our ever being one has gone up dramatically.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ouch, Organique!

That poor girl. She's two, you know. Has big sisters who are bigger and stronger and taller and (apparently) more coordinated.

In the past 30 hours (from this writing), she has fallen from playground equipment (six feet up, maybe a bit less), bruised and scratched her chin, cut into the inside of her lower lip with her teeth, fell from a tall (counter/bar sized) stool and bloodied her nose and bruised her forehead, and bounced haphazardly on her toddler bed and re-bloodied her nose. I am not counting the full-force belly flops she does on the floor when bounding somewhere suddenly, or the literal bouncing-off-walls that happens concurrently.

I think she's like her daddy. Tightly wound bundle of excitement spiked with caffeine and plutonium. I suppose the junk food we've had around here lately hasn't helped. Speaking of, I've bought marshmallows for some holiday gift recipes, and she got into one bag the other day. Ate a couple. Next time I saw the bag, it was half empty! Giant, jet-puffed marshmallows, half gone?!? I put the remainder of the bag up high, on our 6.5' tall fridge. They were safe there. For a few days. I found 2 left in the bag the other night. And she'd taken liberties with my sharpie markers that are up there too, decorating Daddy's menu plan very nicely. Hm.

Her daddy was like this, I think. His mom told me of waking in the night and checking on him, only to find him sitting on the stovetop fiddling with the knobs. God's grace? I think so! When we found Organique in the same place, it was (barely) daylight and she had emptied the garlic powder into a still-dirty skillet, and was only fiddling with the onion powder. Hubby now puts the baby gate at the top of the stairs before he leaves for work!

I'm hoping to keep the facial injuries to a minimum, at least long enough to enjoy holiday festivities without sidelong glances from the relatives. Though just keeping her alive might be a more reasonable goal.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Animals Awry

It's been a bummer week, critter-wise. I blogged about losing Aflac, and this week seemed to mark the end of the guineas. I say "seemed to" because those things are like a stray cat. They may be here one day, and then gone a while, then back. There were four at last count (pre-Thanksgiving), but I spotted only 3 one night, and wondered if we'd lost the little chocolate one. We let the chickens out some days, and pen them in when they go to roost. I think at least 2 guineas went to roost with them. We didn't let them out the next day, apparently, but the day after that found the two dead in the coop. I suspect the chickens "picked on" them, and they were overwhelmed. Which just breaks my heart. Big Sister hauled their frozen carcasses to the front driveway, honked the van horn for my attention, and waved the birds about by their feet, with a regretful, matter-of-fact look on her face, if that's possible. Perhaps we'll replace them, though I can't be sure. The Fancy Neighbor seemed to enjoy their presence in the mornings, after I assured her that they would eat bugs, but not decimate her landscaping. RIP weird guineas.

The latest creature to cause havoc here is the mice. Ew. I noted with some surprise an empty cob of corn tucked back between a couch and end table, along the wall. Organique often 'rearranges' the decor, and even likes to pop the little dry popcorn kernels from the cob... but she doesn't leave a tidy pile of bee's wings. I moved the loveseat and found evidence of mice. Nasty critters. I vacuumed and set a trap, and caught one that night. And the next. And the next. But not for the past 2 nights.

This afternoon we enjoyed a very uncommon environment. Organique was napping upstairs, Baby fell asleep near me on the couch while I worked on some Christmas gifts. Big Sister was reading aloud, Little Artist was listening, and there was no radio or Christmas music playing. I kept hearing an odd little squeak, like perhaps the dog whining from out back. Maybe it was Baby breathing through a stuffy nose? I sent Big Sister to listen, and she didn't pay much attention until I pointed out a scratchy, scuffling sound. I had her stand in the middle of the house, and listen, and she finally heard and pointed to a corner of the dining room. There is one cupboard against the wall below the counter overhang, and there was considerable activity coming from within. I crept near, quite astonished, and cracked the door open. There was MUCH evidence of the nasty critters, and I expected to find a nest or something. Instead, a shallow cardboard box, labeled "indian popcorn for decor" was certainly the focus of the mice's efforts. Yuck! My pretty, beautiful corn! I got a tablecloth from the shelf nearby, and thought I might perhaps envelop the box (the top was partly open, and blocked from closing by something) and hurry it outdoors, where the mice could do some good by lessening my cat food bill. That would not do, I decided, and gave the box a couple pokes. One small mouse scurried out onto the floor (and I did NOT startle, not at all) and I thought it might be hiding in the tablecloth I'd set there, but had found some tiny crack to wiggle through to get beneath the cabinetry. There was still another creature inside, so I retrieved the trap from the living room and put it in side the cupboard. I hoped to hear an immediate "snap!" but I didn't. I scared him out enough to watch, horrified, as it literally shimmied up the hinge-side of the cupboard and around the edge to fit between the wall and the side of the cabinet.

The girls, once afraid of being eaten alive (don't they remember playing with mice? Oh yeah, they were dead mice.), were by now hovering at my shoulder, exclaiming that they wanted to see them. I set one of those spring-loaded, wooden, scary traps inside as well. Mmm.. peanut butter. And we left it alone for a while.

A few minutes later (20? 30?) I peered inside again, uncertain if there had been a third mouse or not, and found the black plastic trap sprung, without a ... wait... was that a tail? Sure enough, the trap had closed (like the mouth of an alligator, kinda), but had come down on the verrrrryyy tail end of the mouse. Maybe an eighth-inch of his backside was on the outside, as well as the tail. I didn't think it could really be dead, so I picked it up carefully, took it outdoors, called, "here, kitty kitty!" and opened it up on the driveway. It wasn't dead actually, but Gilbert took care of that.

When Hubby got home from work, the girls were still staking out the cupboard (Organique was awake by then), using a large Christmas light bulb from a lighted decoration to try to flush out any remaining corn gluttons. Hubby bent down, took the box to the porch, peered in and did not startle, at all when a young mouse leaped out and ran down the length of the porch. I don't think the cats were near enough to notice, sadly.

Hopefully we'll catch the remainder of them (I have three traps set just now), and I can begin to *gag, choke* clean out that cupboard. You'd think, with our ability to put men in space, the internet, cell phones and GPS technology, we'd have figured out how to mouse-proof our living spaces. Apparently not.

On a more positive note, we got an egg the other day. Twenty chickens. Over 3 months. One egg. I'll not tell you what I spent on chicken feed during this time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You're Welcome.

I know most of you come here for the plethora of advice and tips I offer as an expert on all things domestic.

Ok, you can pick yourself up from the floor and wipe your tears now. I was only kidding.

But, I DO have one tried-and-true method for one of life's challenges.

But it only works sometimes. In some places.

But it worked here on Friday!

I had to pick up my azure order, of which only half came. They were out of 50-lb bags of hard white wheat berries, and also gallons of honey. The half that came was a 10 lb box of blueberries and one of strawberries.

Problem was, this was my first stop. And I still had to hit Costco, the cheap annoying store, and maybe the fabric store. I had a coupon. I didn't want my berries to defrost in the van, see, but I didn't want to rush home either.

No problem.

Two boxes berries + 1 luggage rack + 1 ratchet strap + 15 degree weather = frozen berries all about town! Yes, I really did do errands with a couple boxes perched up on top of the van. And I could keep the van as warm as I liked to nurse baby and such between stops. I'd have taken a picture if I'd had the camera, but I didn't so you'll just have to use your imagination.

I did remove them before hitting the highway for home. I don't trust my ratchet-strapping skills that much.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Steppin' In It.

Oh I do. Thoroughly and often, apparently.

And I can't say I have any lofty, wise commentary about this situation. I'm posting this here more because there might be others who knew of this or felt the same way, yet went unnoticed by me.

The back story is this: A decent chunk of my friends and relatives (both genetic and by marriage) have tattoos. Some many, some few. I ran across something that I could match, with certainty, to my tattoo post, that did more than hint at hurt from my wondering whether or not tattoos were an outright offense to God. And while the post was a positive portrayal of a specific incidence of 'tattoo,' I remain generally uncomfortable with the idea of tattoos... on me.*

So I wrote to this person. I don't know the fruit of it yet, but I praise God that He brought this to my attention. It might well be a non-issue in this person's heart by now, but, as I said before, others may have been privvy to this person's hurt... OR, some of my hundreds of silent readers may have felt the same (ok, tens? Tens of readers? Maybe?).

So... I came across something, and can hardly believe I missed it the first time around.. Forgive the long wordy intro, but it's relevant to context, I think.

[blah blah blah. How I came to find this evidence of hurt. Not so relevant to blog readers. blah blah blah]

As always, I gear my blogposts for the great wide expanse, and my own personal workings out of issues. I hope I never, EVER use it to slam any individual. My thoughts on tattoos in that post are just that - MY THOUGHTS. Because *for me* I don't have peace about getting a tattoo *on me*. *I'm* not willing to risk doing something that may be breaching God's standard of conduct *for me* in that area (along with the whole baking cookies with the grandkids thing). Now... one scripture passage (Leviticus 19) that deals with tattoos also admonishes against wearing clothes that are made with both linen and wool at the same time.. Um, I'm fairly confident that's a symbolic reference. Unless God shows me something new there, I'm not too worried about eternal damnation based upon the fiber content of my clothing (unless it's made in China, and then maybe... :) ). Another one says not to cause your daughter to be a prostitute. Good idea. That one I take pretty literally (and would dare to say that's a standard for everyone wanting to be godly). :) For me (and that means *unto* me), the tattoo/scarring one falls somewhere between those. No, I'm not lining up to get any. But am I ready to call Franklin Graham (Billy Graham's son) an offense to the Lord (he's like a walking art canvas)? Heck no. That's God's business. Now, the tattooed gangster might be condemned (lest he repent), but I imagine the whole drive-by-shooting thing might be the main element in that. :)

I really don't want you to be hurt by these musings. I was not trying to put forth that I think all tattooed Christians have missed the mark based on their tattoos. Maybe? Maybe not? As I said, I'm not willing to judge that! And I feel terrible that you took it personally. I always assume my 'regular' readers comment, and forget that you or others stop by sometimes. I kindof wish you could use a blogger ID (that I know is you) and say "hey! What are you trying to say?!" But that's hard too (at least for me) because you (I) wouldn't want to sound accusatory on the one hand, or hyper-sensitive on the other. I know that any time someone goes against the flow with a decision they make (and that could be having tattoos or not, depending on the demographic of the particular group), it automatically feels like judgment to the rest of the flow. Trust me; saying that I homeschool in certain circles makes for interesting commentary. Everyone thinks it's a referendum on THEM (they respond with, "oh *I* don't have the patience," or "*I* could never..," or "*My kids* would..."). Seriously, they don't have to defend their educational choices to *me*! But you'd think it the way they respond (to be clear, I'd probably do the same on a subject I hadn't really considered before... if someone spoke of their anti-lock brakes for their kid's safety, I'd want to be able to nod my head with 'me too' or offer some legitimate reason as to why my vehicle weren't so equipped... which is so silly!).

[Person I'm addressing], I don't think your tattoos make you less of a Christian, nor do I think my lack of them makes me more of one. Please hear my heart in this. You are a blessing and treasure to everyone who knows you, I'm sure! Forgive me for writing carelessly, and please know that you are not 'judged' in this household.

Blessings to you guys..

*and, ok, my kids, while they're under my stewardship. We're all about full-disclosure here. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sisters... Sisters...

There were never such devoted Sisters...

Have you watched White Christmas yet? You need to. So do I.

This picture was taken late October.

Organique had one of these little suits in a 6-month size. Later I found them on clearance and bought a 9-month size, and a 24-month size. I had no idea I'd have girls wearing them at THE SAME TIME. Or that my next 2 1/2 month old would be nearly too big for the 6-month suit.

But truly, when Organique isn't trying to poke Baby's eyes out, or pinch her fingers and toes, she's so loving. Too loving, really, but what can you do? :) The girls were allowed to watch a Muppet Christmas Carol the other evening, Big Sister and Organique sharing a small seat. I came in and was going to set Baby with Little Artist for a moment, and Organique nearly raised the roof, demanding to be near her baby sister. If I prop Baby in the corner of the couch, Organique is right there, sitting by (nearly on) the little chunk.

It's exasperating sometimes, trying to protect the little one from such exuberant love.

But someday I'm going to miss this like crazy.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Heh.. Lookee That.

I wrote a blogpost a few weeks ago. And didn't publish it. Imagine that, *me* forgetting to wrap up a post? Crazy, I'm sure.

It was originally entitled, "We're Leavin'"

Yep. Road Trip.

How come I want to type "Road Trip From Hell?" there? I hope it will be fantastic. But there are just so many unknowns!

FIRST road trip (more than 2 hours) in our van (by the way, we named her Ruth).

FIRST road trip with FOUR children.

FIRST road trip to take Baby anywhere, really.

We are going to my folks' for Thanksgiving.

Oh, would you like to hear something funny? That doesn't really have to do with this story? My brother made arrangements to take his wife and darling baby girl to our folks' for Thanksgiving. So my mom got all nostalgic about the idea of having *all* the grandkids/kids there for the holiday, and called me up all excited to invite us too. I was, shall we say, less excited than she at the prospect of taking four children through mountain passes in late November. However, I agreed to talk it over with Hubby, who sounded almost like he wanted to do it. So we agreed, albeit weather permitting. My mom is thrilled, of course. My bro? Notsomuch. He calls me the next day to say, "Hey, what's with inviting yourselves to Thanksgiving? You have, like, FOUR kids, and it's going to be chaos and what the heck?" (my brother, he loves me). I laughed at first, and then asked him to think it through (and walked him through it), and he realized *I* hadn't invited us *anywhere*. So I told him to complain to Mom, and pray for bad weather (and that Mom would be praying for good weather and we could see who God loved more). :)

So anyways, weather permitting, we're going not just to my folks, but adding a hint of 'vacation' into the trip too. We'll take a long route, and spend a night where we 'vacation' when we 'vacation'. Why is it, do you suppose, that I can only type 'vacation' with those semi-quotes around it? Perhaps I don't really believe in 'vacations' any more... :) We did go there 5 years ago (we 'vacation' but rarely, see) when Big Sister was 3, and Little Artist was about 4 months old. Anyways, we're planning to drive all day, maybe stop and see an old friend, stay 1 night, enjoy our 'vacation' for half a day, and then get to my folks' by bedtime or so.

Of course, googlemaps doesn't necessarily factor in a potty-trained 2-year-old and a nursing baby on their time estimates, so...

The good news is that we'll arrive a day or two ahead of my accommodating brother, and leave a day before he does too, giving him ONE WHOLE DAY without the chaos that is our family. :P

So I'm filling up the outside of the fridge with "to do" lists and "to take" lists and all that, trying to get ready in the time we have. I excavated the toy/clothes/shoe/trash bin that our van had become, removed carseats, un-did all the straps and latches and upholstery - laundered the appropriate stuff, aired it dry, and did my best to reassemble the right parts to the right seats in the right manner. I vacuumed and windexed and spit-shined the inside of the van - right down to the rear cargo area - I even removed and laundered some of the long floor mats.

Of course, THEN I went to the feed store, where for the FIRST TIME EVER a bag of OVERLY-MOLASSESED grain BURST open and spilled all over the cargo area, bumper, and loading area of the mill. *sigh* Does MOLASSESED have another S, do you suppose? Will the heavy-handed molassifier come re-vacuum my van, do you suppose?

I have re-vamped the seating chart (keep Organique away from Baby, lest she poke out her eyes, keep those who need it within reaching distance of Mama, etc etc), upgraded Little
Artist from carseat to booster seat, reinstalled everything, and now need to figure out how and where to stash everything we'll need (reading material and knitting for the road? snacks? drinks? baby's crib and jammies handy for our 'vacation' night?), and whether or not to take the stroller, whether or not to leave the cloth diapers at home.

There's still the homefront to consider. How to keep the chickens fed and watered (they're not laying, so that's not an issue)? What about the cats? Hubby will deposit the dog and her house at a coworker's - he'll hardly notice the extra canine in the backyard I'm sure.

I'm cautiously excited; there's no such thing as "simple" in this scenario, and I'm so afraid I'll forget to take something or do something and wreck the whole deal. We'll see how it goes! :]

I Want One

Which is typical for me these days. I figure 3 grand could grant me my immediate wish list.

I got to briefly admire my Granny's Amazon Kindle over Thanksgiving. It was so cool, though suffering 'low battery' so I didn't handle it too long.

I don't expect to drop that kind of money on such a thing anytime soon though.

But...! Mary of Owlhaven is giving away a similar item. I didn't even know Sony made a Pocket Reader! "Free" of course fits into my Christmas gift budget just right. This would be excellent, methinks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


On our Thanksgiving trip, in which we made a half-day's stop for some family fun, Little Artist was looking out the window as we meandered through a small coastal town. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and she remarked breathlessly at what she saw...

"...Look! The leaves are dancing! Oh Mama, even the weeds (neatly-spaced tufts of sea grass in the landscaping of a bank) are dancing!"

I love how God shows Himself in children.

Monday, December 07, 2009

RIP Aflac

Aflac, that erstwhile Pekin, is no more.

When we returned from our Thanksgiving trip, she wasn't hanging out in the usual spots. By now, we're certain she's gone for good. Hubby thinks some white feathers he saw lately were *not* from the turkeys or geese.

Aflac came to us over 3 1/2 years ago.

I wanted to raise some turkeys, but didn't want us to "fall in love" with them and not want to eat them, so I got a duck to go along. Turns out, falling in love with the turkeys was not a problem. Didn't really like the duck much, at times, either.

She started out in the garden cart, swimming in a paint tray. We didn't know she was a she until a few months later when we started finding eggs in the backyard.

She was even part of my long-time profile pic!

Now she is gone, as is the trampoline, Mary Jane, and the Little Monkey in the bucket is even mostly memory.Come to think of it, that little aspen tree in the background is gone too, Hubby having chopped it's diseased self down this year.

She was forever getting into (and soiling) the kids' wading pools.

Getting into the garden, before it was fenced.

When we sold Mary Jane to my cousin last summer, I sent him photos of the car, labeled for clarity.

She has a striking photo in my brother's Birthday Tribute from a couple years ago.

Ah, Aflac, we will miss you pooping all over the walkways, dirtying up any drop of water you could access, playing in the sprinklers at midnight, loudly quacking a greeting (scolding?) when we drove up to the house, and being our general watch-duck.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Prayers, Please

A friend of mine on Facebook - an old friend from middle/high school, just lost her baby to miscarriage. YEARS ago she had a tubal pregnancy, and lived a pretty wild life before and after, and had longed for a baby in the midst of that. But every pregnancy miscarried. She and her now husband have adopted some kids out of foster care, and she was surprised to get pregnant again (I'm not sure how much time has lapsed since her earlier miscarriages and this pregnancy), but spent the morning in the ER, and lost the baby.

Pray that this loss would not be in vain. She does not know the Lord or His great love for her, and I pray that somehow she might turn to Him and be comforted. I can't imagine the heartache, most especially without the Lord.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Grocery Adventures, part II

I had another experience when grocery shopping the other night. This one less maddening, if only because it was so heartbreaking.

I was maneuvering my cart - just Baby and me - down the canned fruit/juice/condiment/pickle aisle in search of olives. It was a fairly full aisle, with at least two people on their cell phones while shopping.

One of these was a mom with a dozing baby in an infant carseat. He was bigger than my 3 1/2 mo-old, but presumably less than a year. She paused her conversation to instruct a boy, about 4 maybe, on which can of fruit to get (which he naturally dropped, and scuffled around on his knees with his coat dragging to retrieve). As I passed by, she leaned to see under the hood of Baby's carseat and from behind me I heard this: "Awwwww..." And then, "why couldn't one of you have been a girl?" My heart just sank within me. I could not believe I'd just heard - quite loudly and in public - a mother speak to her boy like that. I can only guess what might be said at home, behind walls of privacy. I gently shook my head as I continued on. I wanted to go back, pluck the woman's phone from her, look into her eyes and point out what amazing treasures she's been given to steward. That these are men, in her keeping, and will likely one day be someone's husband or father. Or to ask her by what means she expects to demand a particular gender in her family. Or to express my gratitude that, on behalf of all girls, she doesn't have any to raise with that attitude. Okay, so those last comments only came to me much later.

I'm trying to find the lesson in this for myself. My own sins are never so glarlingly obvious to me as this (well, some are, actually). How often am I ungrateful, even resentful, that I don't have what I wanted or expected or worked for? When I anxiously await some gift, thinking that certainly I will have it as I expect, because Susie Christian has that, as does Lucy Righteous and - oh! - even Mary Notsoperfect. I mean, certainly I've earned it if she has been blessed with it.


Too often! I have to remind myself that I am not *entitled* to the blessings of others. Whether it's the 'big' things like someone's house or income or marriage or family, or the 'little' things like help with the dishes or time to meet for coffee, these are not owed me. It is not necessarily for my happiness that God gives (or allows) certain things. Perhaps He prefers refinement. And perhaps, instead of wanting, I should too.

Grocery Adventures

I'm back home, safe and (somewhat) sound after our holiday trip. More on that later, perhaps.

I went grocery shopping last night, and was assaulted by the craziness that is the cheap grocery store on the first day of the month - when food stamps are deposited into beneficiaries' accounts.

It was like the UN in there, and I don't mean that just in reference to the surprising diversity of languages I heard. More in the sense that people were enriching themselves by way of "helping the poor," and acting incredibly entitled to *my* money.

When I'd finally finished my modest shopping, I stood in line. There were no short ones, so I stood behind a non-english-speaking family whose cart was overflowing with stuff. And this is the store with the really deep, large carts. They piled their groceries until the belt was full, but their cart still had two-thirds left. The stuff I saw was not your frugal beans and rice, either. Well, there was rice, but there was also boxed pizzas and steak and rice krispie treats and popsicles and granola bars and cereal and jugs of juice and Marie Callendar's microwave meals and frozen shrimp and jello and animal crackers and Arizona drinks and crab legs. Crab legs!!!

My mom, a divorced, handicapped mother of two was on food stamps back in the day. We had a lot of help from my grandparents, and sometimes those food stamps would build up in the drawer. I'd get permission to ride my bike to the store and spend some of those - on Snapple drinks, ice cream, whatever I wanted (and could carry home on my bike). I didn't understand all the ins and outs of the system then, but I certainly realized that we ate "fancier" than a lot of other people I knew who actually had to pay for their own groceries.

Eventually I developed a philosophy, which was brought to my mind last night as I watched the eastern-european ladies wave their benefits card in the clerk's face and argue for many minutes (I found a new line after 15, and they were still there, holding things up much later when I left the store) about how much they should have, or whatever. Why should the "poor" be more wasteful with my money than I am? Why should they be able to buy boxed cereals - or! - already-made rice krispie treats??? That's absurd. One would assume that they need me to buy their groceries because they don't have a job - or enough of one. If that's the case, they might have time. Time to learn some other skills, time to prepare their own rice krispie treats. My philosophy is that certain foods be scrapped from the food stamp allotment. No boxed cereals. Just oatmeal. Certainly no Snapple! No bread, just flour and yeast and ingredients. No seafood over $5/lb!! Canned tuna will do. Cake mixes, refrigerated cookie dough, pancake syrup out. Heck, throw out sugar and chocolate chips too, and these folks might just be a little more motivated, ya think?

Now, of course there are people who have fallen on temporary hard times, and this safety net is just that for them. While I still think one's family and church be the first lines of defense, I understand that this type of thing can be a "hand up" to them. I DON'T think it's reasonable for this to be a "lifestyle." Most especially when they're buying the kind of things I saw, while chatting away on their blackberry.

And these people can vote.