Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We're all okay

I've simply had my hands full for the past few months.

Our baby boy, Salvador, was born at 6 pm on Oct. 29th. He's healthy and beautiful. I could write a long post about his gorgeous eyes, precious fingers and toes, perfect belly button, etc, but I won't. I'll find time to post a picture instead.

We spend Thanksgiving and Christmas at my parents house. Our house has not sold *sigh* and is currently off the market. Thanksgiving was a perfect example of too many people in too few rooms--five kids under five, one teen and nine adults. I needed a break to recover from Thanksgiving break.

My sister-in-law and her kids were not a Christmas, so it was marginally less crowded. Everything went well, but I admit, I really wished that we were living down there already, instead of having to choose to either spend the night or drive the hour back and forth. I have to work to remember to wait on God. More on that some other day.

God bless and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christmas Shopping Accomplished (nearly)

I am not usually the type that buys Christmas presents early, but I think I will be quite busy soon, so I did what I could online yesterday.

The hubby: check! All complete, something he expects and a nice surprise
The teen: half check, but her dad is better at finding the other presents than I am
The toddler: Check
The baby: Baby's first Christmas, they always get a personalized stocking, so check
Really, all that's left is the shopping for the adult gift exchange. We draw names, and the teen is included in the adults, so my family is responsible for gifts for my mom and both my brothers. It doesn't really matter who drew who, I end up doing the shopping. That's okay, I enjoy it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Please stop asking that!

I'm going to rant. I thought I should warn people.

Stop asking me if this is my last child, or if we plan to stop "now that we have our boy" or hinting that we ought to stop for similar reasons. A polite and genuinely interested inquiry about how many more we want is fine, but I find that everyone from the bagger at the grocery store to theneighbor up the street has to share his or her opinion on my family size. It's annoying, and frankly, I find it more than a bit rude.

I have three children. One is 16 and in a few years will be off to college and her own life. It's a situation that makes me feel like I really only have the younger two (and no, the youngest isn't technically here yet. Soon.). I don't want to stop at two. I believe that siblings are a priceless asset to children and families, much more important than a newer car, a boat, a bigger house or just more stuff. I'd rather give them a little brother or sister.

I'm not saying that we won't stop until we've hit a round dozen or anything like that. I'm not sure I have the grace for ten or twelve kids, but I don't want to stop at this one. Certainly not because so many people act like I ought to stop. Those people who do decide to limit themselves to one or two, taking occasionally extreme measures to ensure that their family never grows again, have their own reasons. Health. Finances. Space. Mental health. Their reasons are between the spouses and God. Please, stop assuming that I must look at it the same way. Don't ask if we're getting the husband "snipped" after this (He's my husband, not some randy dog who keeps jumping the fence. What an insulting thing to ask.)

It's even harder to keep friendly in this type of conversation when the other person share how their husband had the vascetomy only a week after the baby was born. They seem so proud of it, like this unneccessary operation, which has forever altered their spouse, which may not be reversible if they change their minds, is an intrinsic good. I remember holding my first baby. She filled my arms and my world and I was sure that I would never want for another thing forever and ever amen. Then she grew up. It probably isn't inevitable, but for those who have sterilized themselves so quickly after a birth, how do they feel when the baby turns one and is toddling off? Is there ever some pang of regret, some sense of wishing for one more, one more chance to swaddle and cuddle (and yes, become sleep-deprived and nutsy from exhaustion)? It's hard, with that first or second babe-in-arms to look forward and think, "I will want to do this again. I don't want to end it here." Isn't the outlook after birth a little different than that a year later, or two? With the decision made, the cut finished, the tubes tied, the process complete, the only road back is harder, fraught with tougher decisions that it would be before. It is cutting off potential as well as flesh.

So for the record: We are not stopping after this child. We don't know how many we want. Children come one at a time (usually) and we can decide one at a time. We will consult God about it, one at a time. In the end, He has the final say. Had my parents' planning gone well, I would not be here. Neither would my younger brother. My parents then would have no grandchildren. I don't think they regret at all that they had four instead of two. If they had sterilized themselves after number two, though, they would never have known they they would be missing these children so much further along down the road. I can't help but think it would have left a hole they couldn't place. We won't cut off our future potential for the convenience of the present.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Patience

Patience is a virtue, one of the supernatural moral virtues, I think. And it ought to count double or triple because there are many types of patience. I'm better at some than others.

I'm pretty good at the "I've explained this type of math problem six times and she still doesn't get it" type of patience. The type that leads a mom or teacher to explain it yet again.

I'm not too bad at the "It's eleven PM and my toddler refuses to sleep tonight" patience, though the closer I get to my due date, the more Hail Mary's I need to keep it.

I'm downright awful at the"waiting for my house to sell" patience. Waiting on God's timing seems much harder than being patient with people. Maybe it's because I feel like God could hurry things up if He thought it was neccessary. Knowing that a) He won't and b) it will turn out better this way, doesn't exactly make me more patient. It just means I have to apologize more for my impatience.

I'm not doing too well on the "Baby could be here any day, labor could start any minute" patience. Part of me feels so ready (the part that has to pee every 20 minutes and can't sleep at night because there is no comfortable position anymore, it's really ready) and part of me remembers that the due date isn't for a week, and that it would be great timing, since my husband has four days off in a row right then. And those other parts think, "Seven days? That's 168 hours. 10080 minutes. That's a long time." It's a lot of trips to the bathroom.

So I'm ready to wait, and figure out which part of the virtue I'm earning and which I need to work on. I'm still finding it easier to wait on baby than on God, though, Lord knows, it's the same thing right now, isn't it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Birthdays and False Alarms

We celebrated my 2-year old's birthday yesterday. It wasn't her actual birthday, but most of the people we know work, so we set a weekend party. Birthdays have always mystified me a litte. The parties, anyway. When I was growing up, they were for friends and family. We had the choice of what Mom would make for dinner, what type of cake and ice cream we wanted (and that was the only time of year, other than holidays, when we had dessert) and we had people over for a party. Today sometimes, I see parents paying a huge amount for a party venue, or spending quite a bit for McDonalds or Pizza Hut or the pool to host the party. Fun, but is it neccessary? We had at least 16 people over, ranging in age from two months old (my neighbor and buddy from college and her baby) to over 65 (Grandpa). The kids took over the back yard (thank God multiple times for the glorious fall weather) and were quite enthusiastic about the rats. The adults staked claim to the couch and the teens managed to hang onto the edges, looking cool but still taking part. We had enough cake and just barely enough ice cream and everyone went home tired, full and happy, which means it was a successful party.

Then we went to church. It was a normal Mass, until after the Eucharist, when I started having the most intense Braxton-Hicks contractions I've ever felt. After about the third one, I sent Chalea back to catch our doctor's nurse, who goes to our church, to ask her to wait after the Mass was over. Her advice was to take a nap (I'd need the rest) and make sure my bags were completely packed. We both expected to see each other before morning. Here it is, morning, and I'm still at home. The contractions never intensified and faded for a while every time I changed position, so I figured they were false labor. Maybe it was the busy day. I'm still on high alert, though. I ought to call Mom too, because I'm sure she's been on high alert all night as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

All's Well in Baby-World

Thirty-five days! Five weeks! Let's all hope we make it this time. Last time, well, things didn't go so well. Without the grace of God and the wonderful doctors and nurses at the hospital here, they could have gone much worse. Childbirth is natural. It happens all the time. And without the help of modern medicine, it could be deadly. Last time almost was.

This time there are no blood pressure problems--in fact, I've been running nice and low (Below 110/70, usually). With Lilli, It shot up about 50 points within 24 hours, so I have to take it every day. That increase in blood pressure is a sign of preeclampsia, which can lead to seizures and all sorts of unpleasantry. It's why I was induced at 38 weeks. It wasn't the near-death experience, though.

The NDE was uterine bleeding after the birth. It went undetected for at least two hours. According to the doctor, I was about 15 minutes away from the point of no return. Thank God I asked to go to the restroom when I did, and that the nurse realized how serious the gushing blood was (though how someone could not, I'm not sure. I have no idea what is normal after a birth).

So with this little boy, we are all praying that everything is healthy and normal and on time, if not a little late. If I'm lucky, he could be born on All Saints' Day, which would be very cool. He might think a Halloween birthday is more cool, of course. Little boys tend to.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Idolatry Is Alive and Well

One of my favorite subjects to teach this year is world history. I've always enjoyed the subject and the text we are using, Christ the King, Lord of History, is excellent. I would have understood a great deal more about the Old Testament in my teens if I had used this book. We just finished the chapter on the Kingdom of Israel, spanning the time of Saul through the liberation by Cyrus the Persian.

I was particularly interested in the part about Jezebel. Everyone knows who she is, sort of. She was a queen and a nasty woman to cross. I just never thought about why. Jezebel was a foreign queen in Israel. Like most foreign queens, she brought her gods, Baal and Astarte, with her. These two had some particularly objectionable traditions and forms of worship. Since Astarte represented, among other things, love and fertility, her holy days included enough free sex for the sixties. Baal required child sacrifice. All in all, a recipe for moral and spiritual disaster. Jezebel was very faithful in her efforts to enforce worship of her gods and no others. Faithful Hebrews were forced into hiding. With things this bad, you know God would send a prophet.

He sent Elias. For three and a half years, it didn't rain in Israel. Considering that the society was pastoral/agricultural, three plus years of severe drought was not something to be taken lightly. However, it didn't get the country back on track. It took something spectacular, the humiliation of 450 prophets of Baal and fire coming down from Heaven to incinerate an altar satuated with water, to return the people to God.

Fast forward 3000 years. Despite all Elias did, despite all God's warnings and consistant messages throughout history, idolatry is still here. Baal and Astarte, under different names, still receive their worship. The common attitude toward sex is often to go ahead and do it if it feels right, that people simply cannot control their sexual impulses and, well, let's be responsible and wear condoms since it's obviously going to happen. Though we are expected to exercise self-control in all other areas of life such as eating and finances, we are expected to be slaves to our sexual appetites, slaves to Astarte. In the wake of this, we sacrifice one million babies a year to Baal. We call him choice, or freedom, or reproductive rights, but it's still Baal, demanding the blood of innocents. Sexual promiscuity and the devaluation of human life go hand in hand. If we can use this other person for pleasure, reduce them to nothing but a vessel for our pleasure, it is easy to reduce all people to either useful or useless. How very easy then to dismiss even the most basic rights to those unseen and unheard.

This time around, each of the faithful is called to be Elias. Each one is called to stand against the false gods. I don't think there will be fire from Heaven, but we can pray for a denunciation of the pagan gods just as public and dramatic, and with just as strong a shift in public practice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So far, we like it

Home schooling, that is.

Here's what the teen likes:
She got to "do school" in her pajamas yesterday.
She had her choice of food for lunch.
She drank not one but three cups of hot cocoa during her morning classes.
She took a power nap after lunch while I convinced Lilli to take her nap.
Our goal is to have all classwork, other than reviewing some of her Spanish or other vocabulary terms or somee reading, finished by four. So far, so good. She isn't bothered then by parental questions about homework, how she's doing, is she missing any papers, etc. I know where she is and we're all good with that.
There are no racist, sexist, or other bigoted comments, no one pushing her down the stairs, no one filching things out of her back pack before class, no one trying to be a class cut-up, or clown or bully. Yes, those things all happened. Among all that, plus massive cell phone use, no apparent regulations on dress or behavior for the student body at large, Douglas High School just wasn't an academic environment condusive to her learning.

What I like?
I'm not on my feet for 6-8 hours of the day.
I can take bathroom breaks whenever I need them.
I can teach from my recliner if necessary.
I have one student and she has so far been very independent with her work and willing to make corrections when needed.
I get to have toddler snuggle time quite frequently.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today

Today

I watched as the
Children trudged, shadows long
In the early morning breeze,
To school.
Off to school, the shine already
Gone, books a burden, the
Excitement of friends not
Enough to pull their feet faster.
Faster.
While the lean shadows say
"No hurry. No hurry."
The wind, cold for August,
Is sweet. Freedom seasons
Each gust; it lies bitter on
Their lips, summer regrets
And might-have-beens, the glory
of potential gone.
And it is only
The first
Week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why Extreme Environmentalists Scare Me

Before anyone jumps in here and starts calling me names and assuming that I want to deplete all planetary resources and leave earth as a hollow shell, I want everyone to be clear on my environmental opinions. I think clean air and clean water are wonderful things which we should work toward having. We need to work toward a clean alternative fuel for our transportation, but until then, we should make use of the reserves and resources we have. We are stewards of the earth, not its rulers. That means we should use the resources wisely, not squander them.

I also would like everyone to note that I am concerned about EXTREME environmentalists. That certainly doesn't include anyone who wants to go a little green.

Lets, face it, there are some people who have put the earth and environment so high on their priority list that they are essentially a new version of the old "Earth Mother Goddess" worshippers. Some actually admit to this. Most don't. They have their head wrapped in science and reason and all the writings about how dangerous humanity is to the earth. This attitude has been building since at least the seventies, possibly earlier. Try reading a sci-fi novel from that period. Almost all assume that humans overpopulate the earth and therefore must find other habitable planets. Earth is god(dess) and human beings are public enemy number one.

They're good lobbyists. They have a persuasive arguement and many people can listen to them and think, "Well, yeah, I agree with some of that." Please recall, though, that these people are the ones who think China's one-child policy is a great idea. You know, China, that doesn't allow freedom of worship and forces women to have abortions. That's who they point to as an example of how to help the environment. It isn't just about local produce, hybrid cars, carpooling, solar panels, wind farms, or recycling. The one true way to save the earth is to reduce the enemy. Us.

They won't go for a child limiting policy at first, but with the wrong people in the White House and on Capitol Hill, they'll lay the foundations for it. Financial incentives will be the first step. Maybe the child tax credit will disappear for any children after two. After all, two is the replacement rate; it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to stop after two children. Eventually, there may not only be no child tax credit, but children will be come a taxable item. Like a luxury tax on flesh and blood.

If we move toward a government controlled health care system, the restrictions will become even greater, and harder for people to live with. Perhaps no prenatal care for third plus children. Perhaps no health care at all, unless it is totally paid for by the parents. The message, that these extra children are a burden, not a blessing, comes through clearly. I doubt it will belong after that before mandadtory tubal litigation happens immediately after the second child's birth. Why not make it a regular c-section and take care of birth and sterilization all at once? Those who refuse the tubal may lose some or all of their health benefits for them and their family.

But don't worry, we'd be saving Mother Earth.

It might not happen in my lifetime, but if the wrong people are elected, if the extremists are allowed to lay the right foundation in law and thought, we could be looking at a future dystopia not too different from Lois Lowery's The Giver. What type of society kills people who are inconvenient? Ours. And if those in control decide that the number of births is inconvenient, don't expect any morals about the sanctity of life to stop them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back-to-School Not-so-Blues

I think the entire county was shopping back to school sales yesterday. Wal-mart and the mall were INSANE! School starts tomorrow for this community. Most of the others around here started last week, but we're a little late due to state fair. Plus, the middle school needed the extra time to finish the new roof. It's still not finished, but they got quite a bit done last week.

Even though we won't be part of the usual back to school (our only purchase was new sheets for the teen to match the comforter her grandparents gave her), here are some tips for parents and students:

For the parents:
1. Don't expect the teachers to remember you if the only time you met was for five minutes at open house.
2. Support the teachers. Comments like "Her homework policy is way out of line" give your student an excuse to be disrespectful to the teacher.
3. Contact the teacher if you have a problem and, please, wait until you are calm to do it. Going over his head or yelling at him on the phone (or in person) will only cause resentment and get you labeled as the dreaded psycho-parent.
4. Please don't e-mail every day. Not even every week unless you've made an agreement with the teacher.
5. Use powerschool.
6. Set and enforce rules and consequences with you child. This means about homework and what happens if they don't do it, what happens at home if they are in trouble at school, and following through. Bedtimes are also helpful.
7. Don't give your child a cell phone. If it's too late, please don't call or text them on it during class times.

For the students:
1. Go to bed at a reasonable time. No time after 10 pm is reasonable on a school night.
2. Homework first, video games, TV, computer, skateboarding, texting, talking with friends, etc. second.
3. If you have a cell phone, leave it in your locker, turned off. You can check messages at the end of the day. If it's in your pocket, you'll be tempted. Don't put anything on your phone you don't want the teachers and your parents to see. If the teachers take it from you, they will check your contact list and your picture gallery.
4. Make sure you have everything for the next class before you stand around talking with friends for the rest of passing period.
5. Never, never give out your locker combo--especially if you're the new student. That friendly girl who just buddied up to you might also be the class klepto.
6. Don't save food for later in your locker. It starts to smell.
7. Failing a class will not hurt the teacher. It won't even annoy the teacher. It's a really stupid way to try and get back at her. It will probably annoy your parents, but I'm sure you can think of ways to annoy them that don't include summer school or retention.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And I wasn't there

First, look at that baby countdown! Under 75 days already. I can hardly believe it.

Today was the teachers' first day back to school here. I wasn't there. I couldn't help reflecting on the difference, on how today would have been different. Of course, there are the mechanics of the day--up at 5:30 instead of 7, packing lunch instead of fixing it at home, etc--but the meat of it was the way the time was spent and the company kept.

The first day of school is usually deadly dull for teachers. Other than the pleasure of seeing one's coworkers again and catching up on all the summer news, the majority of the day (the majority of the week, often) is meetings. We gather in the commons, which is either much too hot because the air conditioning is broken (again) or much too cold because the air conditioning is working really well, but doesn't hit a set temperature easily. The principal will probably start the day with test scores and AYP information because he likes charts and numbers and made the powerpoint himself. If any goodies are served, the secretaries brought them, because the principal won't remember.

The first meeting takes all morning. It doesn't matter how much or little information is conveyed, the meeting takes all morning. Breka for lunch and a chance to escape, then back for, yup, more meetings. Maybe CPR training. CPr training is good, but I'm glad I don't have to do it while I'm pregnant again because it involves a lot of getting down on the floor and getting up again.

By the end of the day, I'm exhausted, even though I don't feel like I've done anything useful.

My day today, thankfully did not involve meetings. It did not involve a screaming tearful farewell between the toddler and me at the babysitter's house. I woke and did my morning routine. I woke the girls, dressed the fed the toddler, let the teen dress and feed herself (okay, so I made her eggs; I'm good at making eggs). We had our Spanish lesson and we've added health to the day, so we had that lesson as well. We ran errands, which involved stopping by the HS with the intent of telling them that Chalea is no longer a student. They were having meetings in their commons, which is between the front door and office. So that didn't get done. I really want to tell them that she needs to be taken off the enrollment because they get the money for her until she is taken off. They aren't teaching her, so they don't need the money.

After lunch, we took Lilli to the playground for a little bit, took her home and put her down for a nap. Chalea watched her while I went to a doctor's app.

Different? Oh definitely. Less stress, for one. Time to put my pregnant feet up for another. Maybe the lack of stress will prevent me from developing pre-eclampsia and having to induce the baby early this time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Off to the Fair

Actually, we have already been to the State Fair. The first few days are free, so we can browse the exhibits (I like the quilts--some are just glorious) and the vendors without paying $4 a head. It's still a moneytrap, but not quite so bad, especially if we eat first. Fair food is neither cheap nor healthy (yum, funnel cakes, mini doughnuts, kettle corn, and the splendid catering tent) and it's all TEMPTING! We did buy a pin for me. I've been drooling over the recycled angel pins made by a local lady for a few years and I finally bought one for myself. She uses jewelry to construct the engels and they're just beautiful. I had a terrible time deciding. We also bought Lilli a knitted poncho and Chalea a personalized bracelet and learned that my Spanish still needs a lot of work (not a surprise).

Speaking of, we started Chalea's Spanish class this week. I think she's has a bit of an advantage over some students, since she has heard Spanish ever since she was a baby. The pronunciations seem to come pretty easy for her and she's doing alright with the vocabulary.

The house is STILL up for sale. I know, I know, I'm supposed to wait for God's timing and be patient and everything, but I'm having some trouble with that. It's hard to see why moving later rather than sooner would be a good thing right now, especially as I get rounder and rounder. On my last baby, I had terrible side pains during the last trimester that made lifting or being too active difficult. I also developed pre-eclampsia and had to be induced early. We want to avoid both of those situations this time. Hopefully, not working will help (My doctor seems to think it will), but moving a household isn't exactly stress-free either. So those of you out there who pray, keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Books! The Books Have Arrived!

There is something a bit awe-inspiring about seeing an entire sophmore curriculum in a box. It's one thing to see the list of classes on paper, but a completely different one to have the textbooks staring me in the face. Wowza! Frankly, despite nine years of teaching, this is intimidating. I knew I would be completely responsible for Chalea's entire HS education from here on in, but I didn't know know, if that makes sense.

Each subject has a teachers guide with a day-by-day break down for the subject. I know exactly what and how much to teach on day one, day two, day three and on until day 180 or more. Of course, because it is home schooling and flexibility is one of the main advantages, I can speed up lessons that Chalea learns quickly and slow down and reteach on the ones she struggles with. I know the public school try to do tailored Individual Education Plans for students who struggle, but here, I have the ultimate IEP. Totally one-on-one and at the student's speed.

Yeah, I'm excited. Life was feeling weird, knowing that fellow teachers go back to school on the 18th, and students on the 25th and remembering that neither Chalea nor I will be joining them. This makes it less strange. I will still be teaching. Chalea will still be learning. Lilli will still be making life very busy and interesting. And our Baby Bean will be coming along too. I could not be more busy if I had continued as a public school teacher, but I would have been less happy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time Evaporates

I cannot beleive that it's august already, that State Fair is almost here, that school will be starting in about three weeks (enjoy it while you can teachers and kids). We spoke with the surriculum coulselors at Seton Home Study program this week. They received my oldest's entrance exams and we worked out which classes she needs. Here's her "Class Schedule", though it has nothing to do with how much time we'll spend on each and which time slots we'll use:
Algebra 1
world history
Spanish 1
earth science/health (she has to make up a semester of earth science and the health class is one semester)
Religion 9
Literature 10
We've discussed the possibility of her joining the choir class at the high school (and just the choir class), but I'm not sure we'll do that. There are a lot of activities available through the community there, including sports, acting, various dance classes, all sorts of very active 4-H clubs, and volunteer opportunities. I don't see any reason to put her back into the HS drama and trama scene, even if it's only for 90 minutes every other day. We will try to get her into the driver's ed program, which is after school anyway and will give her an extra credit this year.

I'm excited for the books to arrive. I'm really excited about teaching world history and religion (doctrine this year) because those are two things I enjoyed studying myself. She's never had world history, so it will be nice to introduce something totally new. The math overlaps a little, but that's not a bad thing, in math.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dogs and dinner rolls

On the whole, I have a pretty good dog. When we adopted him, he was 80 pounds of pull-you-down-the-street exuberance and needed some training and manners quick. He also had a tendancy to try and dominate everyone and everything. Thanks to the wonderful, knowledgeable people at Leerburg.com, he is mostly a good dog. He doesn't go into bedrooms, climb on furniture, dig holes or bark to excess. He has learned his place and lets my toddler use him as an armchair. She adores him (and he adores kids in general). What happened today was not his fault, but mine. I was stupid.

Tomorrow we are celebrating a family birthday. Since my sister-in-law is making her (splendid and wonderful) pulled pork, I volunteered to make rolls to put it on. I have a recipe for cornmeal dinner rolls that I think will go great with pulled pork. It involves cooking the cornmeal into a grits-like mush, letting it cool to lukewarm before adding the yeast and then making the dough, which of course has to rise twice. They are really yummy, but boy, they take a lot of time. The first rising went very well (I was happy because the first time I made these, I didn't let the mush cool enough and it killed theyeast, which meant no rising at all), I punched it down rolled it out, cut the rolls, place them on the cookie sheets and put them outside to rise again. With the air conditioning going, it's too cool inside for them to rise. After a while, I noticed they weren't rising on the grill (which was in the shade), so I moved the to the patio cahirs (in the sun). Today was a bit cooler than usual, and it was clouding up a bit, so I hoped the sun would get the proper rising going. Then I let my mind wander off into Sandra Boyton land to read to my toddler and had a massive brain fart. I let the dog out when he asked.

By the time I had my older daughter check on the rolls, about 30 minutes later, they were gone. Poof! And I have a dog with a very bad tummy ache. I'm keeping him outside (with plenty of water) because the vet said he could have diarrhea or vomiting and we just had the carpets cleaned. I am not scrubbing doggy diarrhea out of my newly cleaned carpets, even if the roll fiasco was my fault.

Dino Bones

Last week we all had a bit of cabin fever. There is only so much time I can spend waiting for the real estate agent to call and book a showing. We packed up, visited Fort Fetterman, then drove to Glenrock by the back roads and went to the dinosaur museum. They don't have much room, but nearly all the displays are real bones, not casts. All the real bones come from Wyoming, many from this south eastern corner and some from right outside Douglas and Glenrock. As just a walk through, it probably wouldn't be a very impressive tour--like I said, the don't have much room--but the volunteers who clean the bones that have been brought in are working right in the back room. One of them gave us a tour; the absolute most informative museum tour I've ever had. She knew how old all the bones were, could describe where they were found, how they wer prepared and brought in, then she showed us the work room where about six ladies were cleaning rock from around various bones. One of the dinosaurs they found, an aquatic one, might be a new species. That would be a huge deal in the anthropology community.

It's hard to remember, when things are so hot and dry, that most of Wyoming was covered by shallow ocean, and that this was so long ago that the rocky mountains didn't even exist. The landscape was completely different than it is today. It's one of those ancient facts I know, but don't quite comprehend. I wish I could rewind geological time and watch all of it happening. It's hard to wrap my head around 65 million years or more.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sometimes, I have to say something

Occassionally in the morning, I watch the Today show. Lots of news and tidbits and the local weather report comes on pretty frequently, which is nice. Yesterday, they brought in a guest who had surveyed couples and determined that couples without kids are happier than those with kids.

Well.

They chatted about how taboo it is to say this and why it might be true, but I thought they were off the mark, not to mention, a little too careful not to offend anyone.

Can you imagine this information being passed on to kids? "Oh, we'd be happier without you honey." "We'll be happier when you're gone." As if American kids today don't feel unloved enough, this has to be dropped on them. And the reasons given, of course, are about money and time and romance.

I think the reasons are a great deal deeper and more dangerous. Throughout the past 90 years or so, a creeping attitude of gratification and selfishness has insinuated itself into American society. People feel they should have things because they "deserve" them. unfortunately, most of the things adults feel like they deserve are expensive. They take money. The nicer car, the boat, the renovated kitchen (with granite countertops), the bigger house, the better restaurants, all of it requires mucho dinero. The things that perhaps don't require all that money require time. Many require both. What is the point of the boat if you never have tiem to take it out on the lake?

Amazingly enough, kids take money and time as well. The estimate on the Today show was that raising a child from birth to age 17 required about $275,000. For each kid. After all, kids are truly another mouth to feed, they require clothing, going out gets more expensive, as does going to the movies and kids want things. they aren't innocent or immune from the "I deserve it" attitude. By the time they're in intermediate school, they have a strong desire to acquire, just like Mom and Dad. Kids are expensive. And boy, are they time consuming. Sorry, parents, but you can't just flop on the couch with a book because the baby, or the toddler, or the teenager (or anything in between) needs you NOW.

Right there is where modern society and thinking had chosen the parents over the child. The child is now a burden. He or she is not a gift, not "arrows in the quiver" as the Bible puts it, but a drain on money and time and energy. Why, kids might interfere with your love life. This attitude has been realized and cultivate since the 1920's (at least). It fuel the spread of contraception because now, couples would finally be free from the fear of children.

Couples today are happier without kids because they have bought into the the twin attitudes they they deserve to get what they want when they want it and that kids are only going to stand in the way of that. Many people don't even realize they've been tainted, they simply decide to stop at one or maybe two, but God forbid they have four, or five, or *gasp* more. The disservice this does to our children is immense. They pick up on attitudes. They detect the undercurrents of people's feelings more accurately than most adults. They know when they are not wanted. They also know, intrinsically, within their soul, which is aware from conception, that they should not be unwanted but cherished. They know they are being cheated.

The long term result of this used to show up in our parent-teacher conferences. The student wasn't performing well, or wasn't performing as well as Mom and Dad wanted. How could be fix them? What could the school do to correct this problem. There are strategies and thing a school can do, yes, but more importantly, they parents need to remember that they should love unconditionally. This life they helped bring forth is something important and precious and the safeguarding and raising of it should be a primary concern.

A word here to the kids who are reading. Unconditional love from a parent does not mean giving you whatever you want. It doesn't mean being your friend. It means loving you enough to keep you safe, even when you think it will ruin your life. Think of it this way. I'd be a pretty poor parent if I let my toddler play with a knife, or drink pesticide. My toddler may really want to play with that knife. It's shiney and interesting. She will probably throw a tantrum when I tell her "no." None of this changes the fact that a loving parent will not let her play with the knife. For the same reason, I won't let my teen go to a party where there is no adult supervision (and where I don't know the adults supervising). She may really want to go. That party is going to be fun. She may stomp around the house, tell me she hates me, and not speak to me for days. None of that will be pleasant. But the potential for her to get hurt there is just as high as the potential for my toddler hurting herself with a knife. Either way, I'd be a poor parent to let it happen.

At some point, not too very far in the future, my teen will be on her own, at college, and she will be the one making that kind of choice for herself. The hope is that she will make a good choice. A healthy one. Those type of choices can only come when a child has a strong set of parents who have set limits, endured tantrums, and still reminded their child that they love him or her, warts and all.

That kind of parenting doesn't sit well with the "I deserve it and and now" attitude. It doesn't sit well with the "Kids are a burden and will take ll your time, money and energy" attitude. In a country where the vast majority of citizen identify themselves as Christians, though, there is something else that should be more important. We are called to see children as a blessing, the greatest gift God can give us. We are called to lay down our lives for others, not in some dramatic moment, but daily, hourly, for others. We are called to serve with a service that is love. That kind of love is not the physical love of the body (lust), not the love of friends, which says "I love you until you betray me", but with the love that says, "I will do what is best for you even when you do not want what is best for you. I will do what it takes to show you the way to Heaven."

It's hard. Never think it is easy. Never think those pervasive attitudes poisoning our society will skip some people. They don't. They affect me. They affect my family. We have to be aware of them. We have to fight them. If not, the human race will continue to self-destruct.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baby Bean is . . . .

A boy! Our first boy. All my husband's brother have about five boys each, so it's no big deal for them, but this will only be the 2nd grandson on my side (my poor nephew on this side was in danger of being overrun by the pink frilly brigade). Husband is, of course, very excited. I don't think he'd be one iota disappointed with another girl, but there is something about a boy that is very special to men. I won't deny him the joy of it. I'm pretty happy too. I like a family with some variety.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Word on Contracts, Agents and Communication

Wow, we almost bought a house. We have not sold ours, but we almost bought one. We intended, and told the agent, we wanted to make a contingency offer, which is a promise to buy the house once certain criteria is fullfilled. In our case, we wanted to buy the house when our house sold. This meant that other buyers could offer on the house and if the seller accepted on of them instead, we'd lose the house. We really liked that house!

But the contract that was drawn up set the contingency on us getting pre-qualified for a loan, not selling our house, so when the bank said, "yes, you qualify," we were locked into buying a house while still paying the mortgage on this one. That would work until September, when I am no longer working and no longer receiving paychecks. Eep!

Long story short, the agent was really pressuring us about this; every time something came up that would block the loan, he had a more complicated way to try and solve it. We had the bank re-run the numbers with just my husband's salary, which did not qualify us (and that's a more accurate portrayal of the future anyway) and terminated the contract. It's pretty standard that if the buyer does not qualify for funding the contract is void. The agent was still trying to find a way around this, but honestly, enough was enough. Everything looked so good for a while, then it started to sour pretty quick. If we're blessed, our house will sell for the asking price or near it, and this house will still be on the market in Wheatland.

In other news, I have my ultrasound this morning, so I might know if Baby Bean is a boy or girl. I'll keep everyone posted.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Decluttering

Thanks to my mom, I'm a big fan of HGTV. It's amazing how many shows they can come up with about buying and selling houses. For someone trying to sell a house, they can be simultaneously helpful and anxiety-inducing. I mean, if people can look at a lovely, large house and reject it because it doesn't have granite countertops, I fear I'll never sell my place. (I don't have granite countertops. I do have some nice ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom, though). I've learned about "staging" a house, so all the cleaning and decluttering this week (a marathon of it) is focused on that goal. Making the house look neat, clean and open so it will appeal to potential buyers. We've loked at enough houses to know that we seriously consider ones that are well staged more often than ones that are simply tidied up.

With this in mind, we have taken everything out of the bedrooms but the beds and dressers. Both girls' rooms were painted, the younger one, which was pale yellow over a froggy border and hot pink under is now a lovely cool green under the border. The older daughter's room, which was rose and periwinkle (pink and purple for the boys) is now pale, pale green with white trim. It looks so good, I wish we'd done it a few years ago. The only major declutter projects left are the kitchen and the garage (and dear Hubby get's to do the garage because it's pretty much ALL his stuff).

Whew. I don't think I've ever done so much housework in so little time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yup, You Found Me

If you are looking for your 7th grade language arts teacher, you found me. I'll get things up and running here as soon as I can. Right now life is finishing grading, packing boxes, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and de-cluttering. Yikes, not my favorite things.