Friday, May 30, 2008

Just So You Know

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Hey, my parents and family read this blog - what did you expect?!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Which I Fail to Control My Temper

Over at Like Merchant Ships, Meredith posted a video of Elizabeth Warren, author of the Two Income Trap. The comments on Meredith's post are all (so far) along the lines of "Wow, how depressing. My children will have a hard time being middle class. The government should do something!"

I suppose I may be the lone voice of dissent but I've actually read Warren's books and I do not agree with her premise or conclusions.

We are considered "lower-income" (my husband is an assistant pastor - not a lucrative field, but very rewarding!) and we have three children. We are also debt free and are working on owning our home. If we can do it, anyone can.

Government intervention (for health care, school funding, etc.) is not the answer. More government actually means less money in our pockets because "the government" doesn't have any money of its own - it belongs to its citizens. Less government intervention (i.e. lower taxes) would actually lead to more money available for what we personally choose for our families.

It may be harder now than it used to be, I don't know. But we have to take personal responsibility for our own actions - it isn't possible to "have it all". I may step on some toes here but if you are buying too much house just so your kids can go to a "good" school (something Warren blames for the two income trap) maybe you ought to consider, oh, I don't know, Mom staying home with her kiddos, homeschooling, Christian schools, charter schools, on-line schools...Do you realize how many options we have these days?

It isn't "too expensive to have children". It may be too expensive to have more than two children and live a quintessential yuppie-puppy lifestyle but that's not my goal. And we, despite not looking rich on paper, do have "stuff". Lots of stuff, far too much stuff. I fight a constant battle against stuff.

These books telling us that it's the government's fault or society's fault are not helping anyone.

And for Pete's sake stop whining. I get enough of that from my kids! So you couldn't afford that McMansion you had your eye on - so what? If your goal for your kids is that they grow up to be materialistic me monsters then maybe the world would be better off if you didn't have children, or at least if you limit your procreation to one. Thankyoverymuch.

I'm guessing I'm not going to win any awards for compassion any time soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Subway Views

So, have you heard about the Great Subway Controversy of '08*?

Yeah, I hadn't either until this morning.

And no, I am not boycotting and, as a matter of fact, I just ate at Subway yesterday with my beloved, my children, and my grandparents.

The food was great.

I'm a homeschooling advocate, homeschool graduate, homeschool mom, etc. (just in case you need to know my credentials) and this just strikes me as NOT THAT IMPORTANT in the great scheme of things. I tend to be against boycotts anyway (they seem to just make the boycott-ers look ridiculous and I don't like looking ridiculous) but this one strikes me as beyond absurd.

Just my $ .02. Which, for a limited time, if you add another $4.98, will buy you a footlong at Subway.

*The link takes you to Principled Discovery where Dana is moderating a much larger discussion on this than I could.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Special Day...

Happy 20th Birthday to my (other) baby sister, sometimes known as the Princess. Welcome to your own long march to 30. Enjoy your day!
We love you!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why I Call Him Prince Charming

My birthday loot from my Beloved.

Something to read: The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street. Review Here. Swoon.

Something to listen to: Two c.d.'s. (Yael Naim's self titled project and KT Tunstall's Eye to the Telescope)

Something to watch: Northanger Abbey. Review Here. And this is how we separate the good husbands from the super-stupendous ones: he bought the UK version, which has almost 10 more minutes of footage. (We're Region Free, remember?) Swoon, again.

Everything is exactly what I wanted. Maybe that little sheet of paper I've been calling my "wish-list" helped a little bit. But mostly, it's just because he's a really great guy.

Mr. Darcy's got nothing on my Prince Charming.

So Big

Ever have something so big happen in your life that you think people can tell just by looking at you?

So big you check the headlines of the news and expect your heartbreak is going to be listed there?

So big you've already cried all the tears you have but you're not really sure you've even begun to grieve yet?

So big you think your life will never be the same - and you're right?

So big there are a million things you want to do but you're not sure what to do now?

So big you can't imagine what's going to come next?

So big you know things have to get better?

Someone I dearly love is going through a so big time right now. This is so big all I can do, for now, is pray, pray, pray some more. And love her no matter what.

And that's enough.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Which I Offer My Decorating Advice

This is not a blog that offers home-keeping advice. I, regretfully, cannot take a yard sale plate, a swath of fabric, two stubs of candles, and a lemon and create a to-die-for centerpiece. I am in awe of those of you who can but I, despite my addiction to all things decorating, am not one of those people.

However, due to my aforementioned addiction to decorating (which I feed by subscribing to far too many decorating magazines to list here. It would be embarrassing. But if you have some you don't want, I'll take 'em!), I have noticed a disturbing new trend. I have seen this not once but twice in Better Homes and Gardens alone. Take a look at this picture (from BH&G) and see if you can tell me what's wrong:

Yes, it's the books, THE BOOKS ARE BACKWARDS.

This is just so, so wrong. Why treat your precious books like they are errant toddlers? If you don't love them in all their multi-colored glory why not give them to someone who me?

"But Karen", I hear you saying, "They clash with my color scheme."

My first reaction to this argument is to say (and here you realize that I am a book lover first, a decorator second), "GET OVER IT."

Yes, I would say that in big capital letters. Books are not embarrassing mementos or shameful trinkets (If they are they should be recycled. Yesterday.) They are books. They deserve to be looked at, admired, lovingly read and re-read.

Barring that you could wrap them in brown paper and write the titles on the spines or wrap them in some coordinating fabric. I've seen several people who have done that to suit their decorating schemes. I don't love the idea, but I don't hate it, either. I would never do such a thing, but if I come to your house and you've wrapped them in brown kraft paper I won't storm off in a huff. But if you turn them backwards I will leave, so help me. I will leave and it may take serious counseling before I can return to your humble abode.

So cover them, if you must.

Anything but turning them to the wall. If you can't read them, then what is the point?

Stop the insanity. And by that, I mean the whole turning-the-books-backwards thing. Not my own personal yes-I-defend-helpless-books persona. That's not going to be stoppable.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This day not so long ago...

Someone let this amazingly beautiful and funny girl get married and move far, far away.
Love and miss you, Lulu!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Visiting Cranford

The Masterpiece season on PBS just ended Sunday with the final installment in an Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation, Cranford. This series was so much better than most of the pitiful Jane Austen adaptations we were given this year. The writing, acting, and pacing were just superb.

I have to admit I was curious how they would pull off a series based on a book with so little central plot. The producers (and writers I suppose) made the decision to incorporate plots from two other Gaskell works in addition to the characters and stories of Cranford itself.

For the most part, I thought this worked well. Unfortunately the lines from My Lady Ludlow did not work in quite as well, for me. They did not integrate well into Cranford society although I must admit that I loved all the scenes with Mr. Carter, Mrs. Gallindo, and Harry Gregson, whether they belonged in Cranford or not.

And, as I always say, with any work from Gaskell: don't get attached. She makes you love characters and then, inevitably, they die in truly heartrending fashion. Her humor is a different style from Austen, but it is there, and I highly commend the producers of this movie for getting both the humor and the pathos exactly spot on. Some of the actors were better than others (Dame Judi Dench is incomparable!) but for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my three week sojourn in Cranford.

Now if we could get Austen adaptations of this caliber I'd stop complaining. Then again, maybe I wouldn't. But we'll most likely never get a chance to find out because anyone interested in producing Austen is always determined to make it "relevant" or "accessible". (READ: modernize it and destroy everything that first made it charming.)

But that's a sermon for another day.

If you'd like to watch it:

Monday, May 19, 2008

This day in history...

What, did you think I was going to let my birthday go past unmentioned?! How can I ignore the inexorable march to 30?

Seriously though, thanks to everyone who made my day (and yesterday, too) so wonderful!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This might be crazy talk

OK, so those of you wiser and more familiar with the ways of the world, here's a question for you:

Why do yard sales / garage sales/ tag sales / estate sales / etc. start at o'dark thirty in the morning?

Why do they not go from, oh, I don't know, 12 noon-4 p.m. instead?

'Cause that would be a lot more convenient for me, I'm just sayin'.

Today after meeting my "good daughter" obligations (read: attended a function downtown with my mom. It was nice but it ruled out any bargain hunting in the a.m hours.) I hurried my children out of nap time (crazy! That's just crazy!) so we could rush over to some local yard sales as they were packing up the goods.

We bought $5 worth of books and $4 worth of Legos. So it wasn't a total loss.

But still, 12-4 would be a lot more fun: walking in the sunshine, searching out the real finds, after a leisurely brunch...

I can't be the only one who thinks this way. So if, in the future, you get to attend a yard sale in the cool of the evening instead of the cool of the dawn, you'll know whom to thank.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random Bits of...Randomness

All my literary brain cells seem to be used up by my
nearly all consuminglabor of love novel right now. Oh, and I did manage a short post over at Doses of Reality. I'm still not back into the whole "politics" scene but hey, it's a start.

So what, other than microwave explosions, is on my mind right now?

- It's been really windy here lately. How windy, you ask? I quote my dear little Tigger: "Ack! This wind is blowing my pants down!" Yes, she really did make a sound like "ack". It could have been "agh". I'm not really up on these onomatopoeia.

- A trip to the big "I" blue box store is in my near future. Yippee! Our new desk project is finally happening.

- Just five days until my birthday. That means 4 more shopping days for those of you concerned. Get.On.It.

- All my girls have a hacking cough that sounds like they really ought to think about giving up that pack a day habit that they don't have. They're not sick, just coughing.

- My brother-in-law is supposed to be back from the Sandy Place today. Hooray for Airman Dan! We've been making up silly songs about his return all day. Love you, Lulu and Dan! Be thankful you can't hear how much.

- Sweet Pea's eczema has responded really well to her new medicine. Except for a new spot that has popped up. Her eczema is kind of like that Whack-A-Mole game: get one down and another pops up.

- Polly has finished her first grade math (Saxon 1). Small tear, little sigh, as I realize that my baby is starting second grade work in some subjects. How is that even possible?

- Sweet Pea's vocabulary is growing. These are the words she says now: "Mama", "Daddy", "Dog" (this occurs multiple times a day), "Ball", "Eat", "Hi", "Bye-bye", "De-too" (thank-you), a word that refers to her oldest sister, "Out", a few not as recognizable attempts and (I am not making this up, as Dave Barry would say) "Croc". That would be referring to footwear, not animals. She gets up in the morning and puts on, by herself, her little red crocs that she got for Christmas. She puts them on again, immediately after nap-time. Sometimes she even gets them on the correct feet.

Never a dull moment...

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Simpler Life?

Well, unless you are in my immediate family (and by that I mean you are Prince Charming or one of my three girls), or your first name starts with R or M and your last name starts with V, you were not present for our little fire Saturday night.

Yes, fire with smoke and acrid smell and everything. A real, honest to goodness fire. In our microwave.

It was my fault, I suppose. I put, per Tigger's request (not that I'm blaming her!), a pack of microwave popcorn in our formerly trustworthy appliance. I pushed the "popcorn" button, so convenient on the front. And one minute later smoke billowed forth and the microwave unceremoniously gave up the ghost.

Were you to come over this evening you could probably still smell the effect. Folks, It.Was.Bad. Headache inducing bad.

So now, we are attempting to live without a microwave. Not because we can't afford one or easily get one, but because we are experimenting to see what life is like without one.

Lesson #1: You cannot have the previously scheduled chicken stir-fry for dinner when the chicken is still in your freezer. You remind yourself to plan ahead, get the chicken to defrost for tomorrow and eat pancakes instead.

Lesson #2: The microwave clock in the corner that you use to check the time? It.ISN'T.There. Stop looking! Look at the stove where there is another perfectly good clock. STOP looking where the microwave isn't!

Lesson #3: You can still exist without a microwave but you will have lot more dirty dishes. Including dishes that are not dishwasher safe (your trusty cookware). You will not like this particular consequence.

Stay tuned. Think we can last the whole week without one?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

For The Mothers

If I could give you diamonds
for each tear you cried for me.
if I could five you sapphires
for each truth you've helped me see.
If I could give you rubies
for the heartache that you've known
If I could give you pearls
for the wisdom that you've shown.
Then you'll have a treasure, mother,
that would mount up to the skies
That would almost match
the sparkle in your kind and loving eyes.
But I have no pearls, no diamonds,
As I'm sure you're well aware
So I'll give you gifts more precious
My devotion, love and care.
Author Unknown
Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rainy Days and Thursdays

*singing* Always get me down... *singing*

What's that you say? The original lyrics say Mondays? Never you mind. I happen to like Mondays. It's Thursdays that seem to last for-ev-er.

Our usual Thursdays involve running around our area, squeezing in everything we possibly can (TKD, Bible study, and anything else we can think of) but today all my plans have been cut short because Prince Charming had a pressing dinner date.

I kid, I kid.

He had to go to work on getting yet another college credit so he can renew his teaching licence, meeting our wonderful state's persnickety regulations and filling their money grubbing pure as the driven snow hands. ($300 per credit, are you kidding me?! And he needs 3?!)

So I am home, on a rainy afternoon, with three kiddos who have a raging case of Cabin Fever and I'm coming down with a nasty form of it myself. I have plenty of things I could and/or ought to be doing and not one do I actually want to, you know, do.

All things considered, I prefer the manic Thursdays to the house-bound ones, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mothers and Others

OK, so I'm just back from our annual Mother-Daughter-Friend banquet at church. Yes, that is what we call it. We're just clever like that.

I have no pictorial proof to offer you this year. Just take my word for it that Polly, Tigger and I attended, along with The Princess, Grandma, and Gram. And forty something other women and girls. (I mean there were over 40 people there, not that the people were over the age of 40).

Some observations:

Do we honestly think that our mothers are thrilled to be offered a piece of (depending on the caterer) bland white chicken b.r.e.a.s.t, undercooked chicken b.r.e.a.s.t, charred chicken b.r.e.a.s.t or chicken b.r.e.a.s.t doused in some colorful but unappetizing sauce? (Unusual punctuation is to deter any crazies...)

Nothing says family and/or friendly love like arguing over who actually wins the flower door prizes.

A tiny bathroom with one stall is, shall we say, inadequate for a crowd of 40+ women, some of whom are very young women (read: potty training) and some of whom are quite a bit older (read: needing a restroom to "powder their noses").

Where did the real sugar go? Some of us are not on diets. Out with the Splenda, Equal, Sweet-and-low, et al. Bring back real sugar. And real coffee, while we're at it. Real butter would be nice but I'm not going to hold my breath.

There are a lot of nice women in the world, but none nicer than in my own family, whether by birth or marriage, even if they weren't all at the M-D-F banquet.

Just a friendly reminder: there are only 5 shopping days left until the big day. Yes, that would be Mother's Day. So get your box of chocolate or potted plant now, before there's a run on the stores. And if I can drop a gentle hint: I'd prefer the chocolate.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm Not Ready For This...

Brother Bear, my sweet* super-terrific little brother is, as of today...wait for it...officially a teenager. Where did that little boy go?
He's starting to catch up with me now. By next year he'll only be half my age. OK, I'd rather not think about that, if you don't mind.
Happy Birthday, A-Bear!

* He'd be angry with me for calling him sweet. He'll be angry anyway, for posting this adorable picture of him. He may not speak to me for awhile. But it's worth the risk.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Butterfly Day

Let's get a few pictures of our butterfly outing, OK, girls? OK, it was really bright in there.
The nectar squirted all over our hands actually worked...sometimes.
One of the biggest butterflies we saw.
Sweet Pea is missing her usual nap time, hence the pacifier (known as "boppy" around here for reasons known only to Tigger) and the blanky (known 'round here simply as blanky).
We should have gotten Sweet Pea out of her seat for this one. They really did enjoy themselves, I promise. They just tend toward silliness when the camera comes out.

Books of 2008 - April

Where did April go?! I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I wanted. And May isn't really getting off to a great start, either. Anyway here's the list:

1. Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. Non-fiction. Excellent book. Should be required reading for anyone who cares about America or the future. (Hopefully that would be all of us...)

2. Homeschooling The Early Years by Linda Dobson. Non-fiction. Slightly dated and not especially groundbreaking. Useful if you're new to homeschooling, I suppose.

3. Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt. Fiction. One of the first Pride and Prejudice sequels written. Well written. I have no complaints about Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy but Georgiana seemed out of character to me. Some interesting new characters but not too many.

4. Heroes by Paul Johnson. Non-fiction. Engaging and well-researched as Mr. Johnson always is. Skip the first chapter on Jewish heroes as his view of Biblical history is a bit one-sided. The rest is great.

5. Raising Unselfish Children in A Self Absorbed World by Jill Rigby. Non-fiction. I read Ms. Rigby's other book a few years ago. She makes many good points but (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) there is something about her "voice" as an author that just rubs me the wrong way. I don't mean that as a critique on her actual voice, as I have never heard her speak or her as a person, because I don't know her. Still, there is something in her books that actually makes me want to raise my children to be selfish or disrespectful and I know that can't be the result she's looking for.

6. The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. Fiction. This is a series of books that I used to enjoy and now I like them less and less the more I read. I feel compelled to continue with the series, since I've read them all but I don't like her characters or plot lines any more. I hear you saying, "So don't read her books any more," and I know you're right but I just can't stop. Once I've started a series, I finish. It's a compulsion I really must learn to control.

7. Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. Non-fiction. The first book, brought home by Prince Charming from T4G, that I finished. Very useful, although I disagree on some points.

8. Why We're Not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Non-fiction. Again, brought home by Prince Charming. Very engaging read and I agree with 90% of it. It has an uneven tone because the two men wrote separate chapters. DeYoung's chapters are much deeper and better researched. Kluck throws in a few swings at the "Republican party/homeschool" crowd (chapter 6) that seem more motivated by ego and wannabe coolness than any actual point. (And hey, yeah, I am guilty as charged...)

9. The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer. Non-fiction. Quick read. I actually read this all in one night when I could not fall asleep. For stories that have supposedly "never been told" I sure knew almost all of them. Must be the homeschooling.

10. Groovitude by Darby Conley. Fiction. A collection of Get Fuzzy cartoons. I've just started noticing this cartoon in the paper. It's sarcastic and anti-cute and it's really growing on me. (Another cartoon in this category is Pearls Before Swine).

11. The Blood Ballad by Rett MacPherson. Fiction. Series mystery. Easy, quick read. Nothing new but it's a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon.

The real literary fun this month was listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel (unabridged) on c.d. while driving around town. Prince Charming and Polly really got into it. I lament again: why hasn't someone made a faithful movie or t.v. adaptation of this story?! Everyone wants to fiddle with it, add more plot lines, change the ending, etc. It is perfect as it is!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Three Girls

Perfect Polly
Terrific Tigger
Splendid Sweet Pea
All of whom tolerate rather than enjoy picture taking sessions. More pictures coming soon!