Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Bubba was finally diagnosed and treated for his asthma, and has found great relief with his allergy treatment as well. I never thought we could take a camping trip and he not suffer the whole time. While I'm so pleased with his progress, it took a toll on us all this year with the first 9 weeks of the year driving twice a week 50 miles round trip for shots, then we moved to once a week... but thankfully our last appointment, right before Christmas, the doctor moved us to every other week for the duration of the treatment (another 3-4 years). Woohoo, this will make our weekly life and schedule so much easier to manage.
Bobcat went through a lot this year as well, but really has handled it like a champ. At the beginning of the year he went through a battery of tests to check his growth hormone levels. Thankfully that all came back normal... but they found a nutritional marker which led us to a GI. There, after a rather scary biopsy, he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. While it has been a big adjustment both from the dietary standpoint and the financial standpoint, the success he has already shown in just three months is amazing. He has grown 2 inches!!!! This is huge, and we are expecting still more in the coming months!
Snookie... well, nothing really major has happened to Snookie... he's just Snookie. He's Mommy's little boy, but growing up before our very eyes. I still can't believe how far we've come in just 4 1/2 years. When he first came home to us he said less than a handful of words... now he is reading, and when you aren't watching he's quite bright (ahead of his brothers in many ways at this age).
This year also marked a big shift in our sacramental life. Bobcat received his First Communion in February, and in September Bubba began his lessons with Daddio so that he too may receive his First Holy Communion in the spring of 2009! Wow, every Mass I'm amazed as I watch Bobcat take part in the Eucharist... it's one of those moments when you know that you are attaining the goals set for you in your vocation as a parent!
On the homeschooling front... wow, first - second - third grades! I can't believe that I've been homeschooling for 3 1/2 years already. I have to say that this year really has been the gold star of all the years we've been doing this. All in all, the boys have taken this year on with a much better attitude, and we've been able to tweak the areas where we were struggling. Plus Daddio has taken an even more active role with adding Math tutor to his role along with Sacrament Prep! This has been a big help to me, and the boys love having him more involved (and I have a few more ideas for next year that he can take on :-)!
Traveling... wow, this year we had the opportunity to really enjoy the great outdoors. We camped in several locations with RV's, in tents, and even with a group of friends. Then there was the amazing summer beach trip. This year was really special because we were able to spend it with our dear friends, who were very early on in their pregnancy of our godson (who's due oh so soon!).
In summary, this year was filled with struggles, but ultimately was truly wonderful! And next year... well, we have a godson that is to arrive anytime now which means a trip down to visit and attend a baptism. Bobcat's health is supposed to continue to climb! Bubba will make his First Communion. MORE CAMPING, of course. The sky is the limit, really!
So there you have it people, the Llama household is movin' and shakin'! We hope that your year end review is filled with a since of great progress, and that your coming year is filled with grace and great anticipation!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Okay, Scrooge aside, we had a nice Christmas just the 5 of us. We got up at a reasonable time, attended the 8:00am Mass (which for our church was practically empty), and came home for breakfast and a few gifts! We tried to take some pictures (which didn't go well), but after a hearty meal it was time for the annual shredding of wrapping paper. As usual we had a very modest gift exchange... but the delight was very apparent with the boys... who enjoyed a new set of PJ's (including a homemade fleece robe) and slippers, and LEGO's (their first real set). Also a relative sent them each a horse (which was a huge hit). Nothing needed batteries, nothing had flashing lights or made any noise on their own, and all needed imagination!
Sidenote: I had no idea that the robe would be immediately transformed into a Jedi Robe!
After all was picked up and the boys headed to their rooms for some intense Jedi Lego barn yard antics, Daddio and I headed into the kitchen for several hours of cooking.
That evening we were to have family guests, and were quite excited to try out all these lovely dishes. Unfortunately our guests decided not to show up... and we enjoyed the meal on our own. It was delicious! We have a second duck waiting for another lovely opportunity to enjoy such a tasty meal!
While our time was lovely, dealing with our relations really turned out poorly. I'm glad that portion of our Christmas season is over. Now we get to enjoy our children, our home, and our food in peace.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Anyway, apparently geese are very expensive. At least they are at Central Market, and I wouldn't have any idea where else to find one. 14 lbs at $7.99 per... not gonna happen. So we decided to try another type of bird. The ducklings were just $3.99 per pound. Smaller, so we got two. We shall see how that turns out.
We saw another bird in the store that we had never heard of: "capon". Is that something that everyone else knows? They were fairly large, and a good price, but we weren't feeling that adventurous to buy something we'd never even heard of. Turns out it's just a castrated rooster. Google reveals the following fascinating info:
The bird is fastened on a surface on its left side with the wings held together above the body. The legs are also fastened together and the bird stretched out to its full length in order to expose the rib cage area. Feathers in this rib area must be removed and the skin disinfected with 70% ethanol or another skin disinfectant.
Using a sharp scalpel or knife, a one-inch incision is made through the skin and other tissues between the two posterior ribs. The skin should be moved to one side before making the incision so that skin cut and muscle cut are not aligned afterwards. The incision should be deep enough to expose the abdominal air sac covering the intestines and other abdominal organs. Care must be used to avoid cutting a large vein in the skin that runs diagonally toward the back of the bird. The abdominal air sac is punctured with a sharp hook or probe to expose the internal organs. The testes are located on the dorsal wall at the anterior end of the kidneys, posterior to the lungs. The testes of a three-week-old cockerel are about the size of a large wheat kernel and may be yellowish, white, gray or black in color.
Both testes should be removed from the single incision, the lower or left testes removed first. The testis is grasped with special forceps and then twisted free from its connective tissue while slowly pulled from its attachments. Care must be taken not to rupture large blood vessels located between the two testes. The upper, right testis is then similarly removed. Electrically heated cautery equipment is available for incising the skin and removing the testes. It prevents excessive bleeding and may reduce the incidence of "slips". The rib spreader may now be removed and tension on the bird released, allowing the skin and thigh muscle to slip back into place. Once the bird is released, the incision should close without need for sutures or bandage.
Now, I'm no PETA wacko, but this sounds pretty bizarre to a city boy. I don't think we'll be partaking of capon any time soon.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday morning, Snookie asked if we could go to monk mass. We've talked about monk mass before. Monk mass is a totally different experience than mass at our home parish. It's worth the drive, and we went pretty often earlier this year. But eventually we decided that we liked the earlier time slot available at our home parish, and then when we got Bobcat's diagnosis, we discovered that our home parish could accommodate with a gluten free communion host. We wouldn't expect special treatment from the monks - after all, they are not a parish designed to serve their parishioners. It's really their mass, and regular people are allowed to come. That's my impression anyway. Bobcat could receive the Precious Blood (wine) only, but the monks don't serve that to the lay people. A decision which I totally endorse, by the way. I wish they would serve under the bread alone at our church because it would involve fewer extraordinary ministers (lay people), and because it takes them so much time to cleanse all those chalices when they're done. It's no wonder so many people leave early, I'm always tempted to leave myself. I thought it was very cool that Snookie, age 6, preferred monk mass. Even a child can recognize and enjoy when things are more reverent.
Well, let me tell you, our experience at regular mass this Sunday was very disconcerting and really made us long for the monks. First off, nobody took the pyx with the GF host from the altar (it's supposed to be the deacon, but we had a visiting deacon who clearly hadn't been informed by the church lady in charge of that stuff). So Bobcat and I had to stand there with everyone staring while Father went up to retrieve it. I am seriously considering becoming an EM myself, just so I can serve him myself and be a lot more discreet about it. But, I don't like the idea of lay ministers, and I don't really want to be one. I know a certain number are necessary, but we have way too many, and I don't want to be among them, or to leave my family during the most important part of the week.
Okay, this is getting long, but here's the really weird part. The announcement was made that for Christmas Eve, there would be two "youth masses" (4:00 and 6:00). That's fine. I'm okay with "family masses", I guess, if it means that the homily will be geared towards children, but everything else is still done reverently, and children and parents will remain seated together. But this is definitely going to be one of our new pastor's interesting inventions. Because for these masses, we are invited to bring a blanket! It's going to be in the parish hall, not the church. I hate to criticize a priest, but this new pastor of ours has raised a few eyebrows with his way of doing things lately. I almost want to go, without the kids of course, just to see what it's all about. Morbid curiosity. MommaLlama and I were joking that maybe the blankets are for the kids to wear and then everyone could pretend to be a priest and help consecrate the Eucharist. I just can't imagine what sort of bizarre stuff is going to happen. Santa will probably visit and deliver the homily.
Anyway. Maybe when Bobcat's GI tract is fully healed, he'll be able to tolerate one little communion host per week and we can go back to the monks.
Friday, December 19, 2008
So, to rectify the situation, they both gave Snookie the cookies they would have had for dessert, and now they are working on a list of 100 reasons why they love Snookie. It's taking a while. But I think they, especially Bobcat at age eight, are old enough for some of Dr. Ray's famous writing assignments. It's making them think. They've actually come up with some good ones, and we'll share a few when they finish. A couple of my faves so far:
-We love (Snookie) because he is fun to play with.
-We love (Snookie) because he is sweet.
-We love (Snookie) because he shares his new toys.
-We love (Snookie) because God made him.
When this is finished, they will read him the list. I'm pretty sure Snookie is over it, but I want them all to know that this is serious. We'll let you know if it works.
"Sorry for growing up so fast. I should sowed my wild oats, been drunk more often, experimented with illegal substances, been a roadie, etc. I forgot to backpack/hitch hike across wherever, searching for the meaning of life. I should have been confused and angry and dabbled in Buddhism, and tried to get discovered in Hollywood.
I apologize for discovering the One True Faith so soon, and for falling in love with a great girl, who happened to be my best friend, and who I knew would be a great mother one day.
Oops. I forgot to waste my 20's. My bad."
Then the real voice says, "Thanks, I do look fly, don't I?"
Like I wrote before, I'm not saying it's easy to find the right person. And I don't condemn anyone whose real adult life started later. I'm just really grateful I didn't have to wait long. We felt 30 when we were 19. We actually wanted to grow up, and we don't feel like we've missed out on anything at all. I don't regret already having a better career and a longer marriage than either of my parents ever did. I don't mean to pick on my parents or anyone else, and I don't mean to brag. But I've never been convinced that the man-boys I work with who have endless play money are truly satisfied with their lives of leisure or their live-in girlfriends. It's time to grow up, gentlemen. It's a challenge, but it's also a lot better on this side.
Oh, if we had only known the road that lay ahead...
If we knew then what we know now... well, I don't think we would have changed a single thing. During our dinner out on Tuesday I told Daddio that while I always dreamed about my married life I could never quite picture what it would be like. But now that I'm living it, it is exactly what I've always wanted to do! (This last picture is courtesy of Bobcat during our trip last week.)
A girl really can't ask for more... a great husband (who takes her camping)... a great dad to their children (who knows just when to give mom a break)... and a great provider (so that we never worry about what lies ahead).
Monday, December 15, 2008
Today 26 degrees...
From our campsite we could watch the sunrise/sunset over the rim... and you can actually see the moon moving above the edge of the rock!
Oh, I guess I should tell you where these lovely shots are from... the Grand Canyon of Texas... or by its proper name... Palo Duro Canyons! What a truly magnificent place. Every where you look, you can see God's awesome hand at work.
The hiking is really great. They have several trails to choose from, for all different levels of hiking ability. We are fairly good hikers as a pack, and so the moderate trails were definitely fun in the mornings before us old folks were tired and sore... then in the evenings we chose the easier hikes.
This next shot is a picture of a formation known as The HooDoo, it sits on the southside (I think) of Capitol Rock. It is a really neat formation! You can see it on the Lighthouse Trail.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
She has a million excuses to skip this event. I helped her make the list, and completely let her off the hook. Freezing weather, fussy Snookie, 30 minutes driving each way (probably worse on the way home with traffic), stuck with my little car for the day because I took her SUV. Seems like a lot of trouble for a possible 2-minute viewing.
But in the end, this mommy of boys knows that space shuttles are AWESOME. And Bobcat has new binoculars from his birthday, and what better way to use them for the first time? You're a great mommy, my dear! Thanks for embracing the world of boys and going above and beyond.
Friday, December 5, 2008
We have been unable to conceive, so we obviously enjoy complete control over the size of our family. But we still get the same questions as other people with more than two children.
Q: Are you having any more?
A: Maybe. Probably. Eventually.
Q: Oh, you want girls, right?
A: That would be great, but we wouldn't love boys any less. I'd feel like a eugenicist Nazi by "custom ordering" a girl and refusing to accept a boy. Adoption is not shopping - at least, it shouldn't be.
Q: Your boys have been through so much. Don't they deserve all of your time and attention?
A: Why do you assume they will be neglected if we adopt another? Are our hearts two sizes too small? (Yes, we're grinchy, but we still like babies.) Is our house too small? Would that be a good enough reason to shut God out of our love life, if we were fertile? If not, then how can it be a good enough reason to never adopt again?
Q: Okay, so you're basically amazingly generous freaks who wantsto save all the orphans. Bless your hearts. I know I could never do it. There's a special place in heaven for you, etc., etc., etc.
A: *BARF* Not really. We're not saints. We just wanted a family like everyone else.
These questions can be challenging because while we want to be real and honest about the challenges of parenthood, particularly adoptive parenthood, we feel that performance anxiety that Darwin referred to. If people see your kids climbing over the pews in church and bowling with frozen turkeys in the grocery store and destroying every room of your home, they won't exactly be drawn to consider a more generous and open union.
But for us, these questions are doubly painful because, while fertile people are insulted by the family planning questions, infertile people are both insulted and reminded of their infertility.
Ironic isn't it, that we have the control that the world wants? They take pills and patches and mutilate their bodies to avoid the gift of life. Meanwhile, we are supposed to be totally over it, right? How dare you secretly wish for a pregnancy! I know that for a fertile couple, discerning how many and how often is a challenge, and I'm not saying that we'd throw caution to the wind and have a dozen kids. But we'd like to have the option of being "out of control".
And I assure you that "freedom" is not all it's cracked up to be. Consequences are a big part of what makes the marital act so unifying and satisfying. That is a big challenge for infertile couples. It's something I'm still learning about after eight years of marriage. Early in our marriage, we were told that pregnancy was possible. So we watched, waited, got our hopes up... Hey, maybe that temperature drop was significant! We'd embrace, and then wait and hope. And invariably be disappointed. That hurts both spouses, but especially the wife. Without getting too graphic, it eventually occurred to me (common knowledge to most of you, yet sheer brilliance to me) that there is a reason why women are more receptive at certain times. I had actually developed a sort of "contraceptive mentality". I felt that because there is no danger or consequence to our marital act, there is no reason why I should be denied my marital right. We didn't have the deliberate barrier that contraception puts up. We were giving ourselves as fully as we could. But at the same time, that sensitivity and communication was lacking, especially on my part. I didn't understand what the big deal was. It wasn't her fault, after all. You're not a "failure", don't take it so personally. We'll have a family eventually. Why should I be frustrated and denied?
That is a dangerous path, and I can see how, taken to an extreme, a husband's selfishness and frustration, coupled with a woman's obsessive single-mindedness, leads to divorce. Sex without consequences is never good, especially if you have chosen to construct the barrier yourself.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It turns out that I don't want anybody to have fun, at least that is what my father-in-law told me on Sunday. Great Granny and Grandpa were asking about our tank and if it had a DVD player in it. I said no, and that we don't need one. GG thought that was great, by Grandpa had this comment "What, do you not want anyone to have fun?" Um, no, that's not why I deprive my children of a DVD player in the car... we don't have a dvd in the car because we don't NEED one. Take Sunday's trip, we were in the car for 3 1/2 hours to GG's house. During that time the boys read books, listened to music, talked to one another, played with the few toys we brought and played games. The same thing happens on the 7 hour drive to the beach during the summer, or the 4-6 hour drive to our different camping destinations.
It's not deprivation, it's simply not relying on mindless entertainment (or media babysitting) to get where we need to go. We're forming character, if you will. I'm not saying it's evil or wrong to have one, I just don't think it is necessary! Of course this conversation came after the one where he asked if we had PSP's, Wii (feel free to give the grown-ups this one), gameboys, guitar hero's.... all to which the answer was no.
I guess we are just too mean, making our children play with toys or games that don't require batteries... :-).
So the boys are sitting at their desks working on handwriting and chatting with one another and notion of gifts comes up. They talked about toys or practical items and their value... then Bobcat made an interesting observation!
Bobcat: "Grown ups don't need toys for Christmas or birthdays because all they really do is read and cook stuff!"
What I take away from this is that they see us reading, and that it is fun and informative. Then the cooking part... I cook way more than we eat out and that is normal for them, and hopefully they will continue that trend as they grow-up. Oh, and the kids don't know this... but every gift idea that Daddio has given me had to do with cooking (camp cooking to be specific).
And one more thought from Bobcat that has nothing do with the previous: "I just don't understand how God was never born, I'm going to try and remember to ask Him that when I get to Heaven."
Monday, December 1, 2008
-When men and women fall in love, they get married.
-Then they have babies.
It won't be long until they need more information.
Visiting the various family members this weekend was almost the first step in their learning about how broken their extended family is. We were playing outside at Granny's house yesterday, and they almost opened a can of worms when my six-year-old half-brother (their "uncle" - weird, right?) was explaining that there is a swimming pool at his mommy's house but not at his daddy's house. Bobcat looked really confused - why would there be two houses? So I quickly changed the subject. It hasn't come up since, but I'm trying to get myself ready for the explanations they'll need.
So, how do I explain this to our children? I don't want to sound too judgmental. I hate that word - judgmental. I am judgmental (if I'm anything!) After all, it's my right and duty as a parent to make judgments. Rather, I should say, I don't want to be too harsh. I don't want to make them angry with anyone. But, I'm not going to say, "It was nobody's fault, these things just happen." Because that's (expletive deleted) simply untrue. There is always fault. I have my theories. I'm not going to share the ugly details with the children, but I will obviously have to explain to them that divorce is wrong. I'm sorry, mom and dad, if the kids are shocked by your repeated failures. I'm not going to make excuses for you. It will be hard to hide my anger and digust as I see the disappointment on their little faces. But I have to explain to them that OUR marriage is secure because it is built on our faith. They need to know the difference, and to know what makes a good marriage, so that they will trust in their parents and feel safe.
I really think boys are more clueless about this stuff than girls. I know I was pretty naive and only learned anything from my sister when we were younger. But I could be wrong. Maybe they know more than I think they do, but don't want to ask. No, I really do think they would ask about it if they had a question. I've planned to not say anything unless/until they bring it up. It'll click sooner or later.
I had thought for a long time, that if they ever ask why Grandma and Grandpa divorced, I would just say, "I really don't know. You'll have to ask them yourself." I'm sure they would do a decent job of keeping the message age-appropriate. But, I don't want them making those excuses I mentioned earlier, however subtly. And I don't want my parents to feel ambushed by curious kids. They deserve their privacy, I guess.
I suppose for now the answer is, "You're not old enough to have that information. We'll talk about it more when you grow up. All you need to know today is that everyone in our family loves you, and that Mommy and Daddy will never let our family be broken."
Can you tell that I'm totally over it? It didn't bother me much for a few years, until we had children of our own. Parenting definitely forces you to re-address the things you thought you had put away for good. Frankly I'm angry that I'll have so much to explain one day, maybe sooner than later. They've had enough pain in their young lives, and will have to deal with issues from their birth parents. That's more than enough pain for a sweet little boy. It sure would have been nice if our families were models of normalcy. Oh well, here we are. Again, just remember that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.
The menu included:
--ham that was glazed with whiskey (distilled is GF) and brown sugar (a la Martha Stewart 2007)
--sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon
--cherry pie (pictured here)
--chocolate chip cookies
The ham was simple, we've done that before... as well as the sweet potatoes. The pie... well, I've never made a pie before let alone a GF pie. So I picked up a pie crust mix from our friendly GF store (and tried to remember just how the chef did it at the GF support group meeting at the beginning of the month). It was really quite comical how that pie came together... but Daddio was very encouraging and I managed to get it done! Next up, the cookies. I tried earlier in the week before to alter a previous recipe to be GF with disasterous results... so I took the easy way out and opted for a mix here too.
One thing about GF cookies the chef told us is that they have a hard time staying nice and fluffy. The gluten in flour gives the structure to the food you are cooking... so the cookies do get kind of thin (which is really sad because my cookies are usually lovely and fluffy). After all was said and done the cookies were flat but tastey!
If you're wondering about the little shapes on top... yes, I cut those out of the crust... I didn't want to attempt to grid the top... the crust was very unforgiving and these shapes were much easier to deal with!
And the reason I'm glad the work was all finished on Wednesday... well when I woke up on Thursday I felt worse than I had all week... damn this evil cold, I am so ready for it to be GONE!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
1) Do you have to fail an IQ test to be selected as a Thanksgiving parade commentator? My goodness these people are annoying.
2) Monopoly now comes with a calculator. I guess that's better than the credit card version, but it still pisses me off.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I see all these great pictures, sift through all these amazing recipes, and in the end up feeling like I want to sit in the corner and rock... this whole Celiac Disease really has my number. Everywhere I look I see flour... wheat flour... and I still don't have other flour IQ yet... I don't know how to fix a recipe to work for our situation. And to be honest, the stuff I've found that is GF lacks a certain luster (and trust me bean flour SUCKS!).
So why am I unloading this all here... THANKSGIVING. Daddio agreed for us to attend Thanksgiving at a relative's home, by doing so I have to create a meal for Bobcat that we can bring with us (with enough to share because he told them we would). Normally when you show up somewhere for this sort of thing you bring one dish... I have to prepare an ENTIRE MEAL all the way down to a dessert, because it isn't fair for Bobcat to miss out on anything because of this stupid disease (while also making sure it isn't cross contaminated while we are there). Then there is a chance that we will be traveling over the weekend to another relative's home for a visit... which means another set of meals, but now that have to be travel proof!
I don't mean to whine... but goodness gracious there is only so much a mom can do.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I call BS. To me, it just sounds like immature dudes enjoying every minute of their freedom and wealth and selfishness, and conveniently blaming women for their “confusion”. Mommallama and I met in high school. The high school love was obviously not completely mature. I suppose we were as much "in love" as kids can be. We thought it was something special, and we had enough common sense to maintain certain boundaries and allow ourselves to grow up. We learned a lot about our faith in college and seriously discerned what sort of spouse we ought to be looking for, and we considered religious vocations. By the second or third year, we knew that the ideal partner was the person we were already with, and as soon as I had a degree and a job, we were ready to marry.
So, our "courtship" lasted five years, but I honestly believe that if we hadn’t met until we were 25, it would have taken me all of three months to propose. That’s not to say there wouldn’t have been other women to date and discern. But when a confident young Christian knows what he’s looking for, and knows where to look for it (NOT in a bar), it should be pretty easy to discover pretty quickly whether someone would be a good wife. I mean, really, how difficult can this be? Maybe I'm missing something because I've been married basically all of my "adult" life, but what else do you need to know? Do you have:
-Have fun/sense of humor
-Common ideals for roles as husband and wife, father and mother
-Physical attraction (This does not mean "sexual compatibility". That's a stupid notion. Especially for men - trust me, you're "compatible". You'll like it, and if you remained chaste while single, your wife will always be the best you've ever had.)
It's not rocket science, young ladies. Does he meet all of your criteria, or doesn't he? He's an adult and he's not going to change much, so if there's something that disqualifies him as a spouse, move on. Don't hang around waiting for him to be "ready" for marriage. Putting yourself on the Pill so that you can be a "strong, independent woman" that he can use for physical pleasure will not help the situation. He might eventually get attached enough that your begging and threats will get him to propose, but eventually the novelty will wear off and it'll be a miserable marriage.
And that is all there is to it. Hopefully our boys will take our advice and keep their heads on straight during their young adulthood.
He wants to be good, and he is very very sweet. But he's not so big on delayed gratification or self control. It must be fun to be Snookie.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Big Three CEOs Flew Private Jets to Plead for Public Funds
The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.
All three CEOs - Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler - exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.
"This is a slap in the face of taxpayers," said Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste. "To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a hand out is outrageous."
Way to lead by example, guys. Next time take a page from the Palin playbook and start putting the jets on eBay. I wonder if they parked next to Al Gore's jet, maybe on his way to the latest global warming conference?
By the way, those planes measure fuel in gallons per minute rather than miles per gallon. One trip to collect a Nobel prize uses enough fuel to drive our SUV for seven years. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, hybrid weenies.
This year we had a very small crowd, on the kid front we had our three boys and my 6 year old niece... so we were able plan some fun activities that fillded the majority of the time and know that I wouldn't feel overwhelmed in the process!
Bobcat wanted pizza for his birthday meal... so before the party started I pre-made the GF crusts. When the guests arrived they slipped into their custom aprons and got to work building their own pizzas!
(Snookie, Great Grandma, Bobcat)
(Bubba and Niece)Next up was cupcake decorating! Yes my friends, I pawned off all my usual birthday work on to the children... what? They loved it!
The kids got into... and so did the grandmas and great grandma!
The party was a grand success. The pizzas were tasty, the cupcakes were... decorated, and the birthday boy enjoyed himself!
Happy 8th little man!
"...I think that even the most dedicated of adoptive parents would agree that in a perfect world, children would never be harmed or abandoned or neglected by the very people who ought most to protect them."
How could I not agree with that? However, I've struggled with this issue for some time. My mother is twice married and divorced. Either the first marriage (to my knowledge annulled) should not have occurred and my sister and I should not be here today. Or the second marriage (also, to my knowledge, annulled) should not have have occurred and my "half siblings" (I hate that term, but don't know of an alternative) and step-siblings should not be here. Divorce is objectively evil. And yet, we are here.
Our boys' birth parents were never married. They shouldn't be here. And they have a little sister who remains with her birth father, to the best of our knowledge. She should not be here. (Or maybe she should be -HERE-, with us and her brothers.) But if it had been a foursome, would we have accepted them? (Three seemed like a great fit, but four would have probably turned us away.) They are here.
You could follow these messy trails for generations. Every family is affected. And you can expand it to entire nations and peoples. Slavery was terrible - should there be so many black people in this country? (Let us be sure to blame the African sellers as well as the European and American buyers.) They are here.
Why are we here?
Rick Warren puts it so beautifully:
You are not an accident.
Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact, he expected it.
Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment. You are alive because God wanted to create you! The Bible says, The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me (Psalm 138:8a NIV).
God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of you skin, your hair, and every other feature. He custom-made your body just the way he wanted it. He also determined the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your personality. The Bible says, You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something (Psalm 139:15 Msg).
Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book! (Psalm 139:16 LB).
God also planned where you'd be born and where you'd live for his purpose. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail to chance. He planned it all for his purpose. The Bible says, From one man he made every nation and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (Acts 17:26 NIV).
Nothing in your life is arbitrary. It's all for a purpose.
Most amazing, God decided how you would be born. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you. It doesn't matter whether your parents were good, bad, or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom you he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you. While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children. Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not unplanned by God. Gods purpose took into account human error, and even sin.
As we celebrated Bobcat's eighth birthday last weekend, I was so thankful for God's mysterious plans. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "God draws straight with crooked lines." I praise God for those darn broken ovaries. Bobcat, I'm so glad that you are here. You are ours. You are loved.
John Paul II, Letter to Adoptive Families (Sept 5, 2000)
Since this is National Adoption Month, and I've been remise in posting that... I thought I would share this quote from the late, great JPII!
And then, perusing the news online with my coffee this morning, I came across this story:
Breakthrough Windpipe Transplant Uses Stem Cells
And, you guessed it, they are talking about adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells. Isn't it interesting how the scientific research that respects human life also yields the greatest results? It's almost as if God planned it that way...
I believe that would put the current tally at:
Adult Stem Cell Research - Dozens and counting
Embryonic Stem Cell Research - BIG FAT GOOSE EGG
Friday, November 14, 2008
Two famous modern works by American artist Mark Rothko have been displayed incorrectly on their sides for years in a British museum, art historians say.
"The pieces from Rothko's Black and Maroon series, like many of his popular and valuable works from the 1950s and 1960s, consist solely of colored stripes."
Seriously? If you don't even know which way it's supposed to hang, is it really art? I had to look this guy up on Wikipedia and here is my favorite quote.
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
I took Art Appreciation in college, and I did enjoy it. But come on. You just can't take this so seriously.
Visit them here: Planted in the Valley
Also, how cool is the news of the new "Blessing of a Child in the Womb"? I hope it gets approved and published soon, so we can use it on our boy!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This morning the boys and I went on our monthly homeschool group field trip. We love these, and I for sure look forward to each month's new location.
This particular station recently received a new fire truck which was the hit, I think, of the entire place (sadly no fire pole... but we were invited back when the new location is opened where they will have one). Also, not only are fire feighters/EMT's stationed here... but the local police force uses it as well... and of course there were several there. For our boys that's pretty much the end all be all of uniformed AWESOMENESS!
Ahhh... a successful and fun morning.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
What does "fairness" mean? The way Senator Obama explains it, it's ensuring a fair outcome. That's not what they used to say. The civil rights leaders wanted a "level playing field". That means a fair opportunity. That's different!
As far as I can tell, in the United States today, every person is given a free education to 12th grade. You do have to pay for college, but there are numerous financing options available. In fact, the poorer your parents are, the more grants you get. That's not fair, is it? It doesn't bother me. I think it's generous and helps families succeed in the long run. But I digress.
No college can discriminate based on race or gender. No employer can discriminate based on race or gender. I'm not claiming that there is no racism, sexism, class-ism in people's hearts. That will never be completely gone. But can anyone deny that every person who works hard has all the opportunity in the world to succeed in this country?
I don't begrudge people with more money and bigger houses. Their superior wealth is due to many things:
-two incomes (working mom)
-inherited family money
-they're smarter than I am
I'll add that some people actually don't want a lot of money. They think it will only bring problems. They want enough to pay their bills and have fun now and then, but they choose to live simply, and to not pursue the next big promotion.
We won't all end up in the same place with the same income and the same amount in our retirement accounts. You can't eliminate these natural variations among people. All we need the government to do is to be a fair referree.
For the most part in this great nation in the 21st century, the OPPORTUNITY is equal. However, the OUTCOME is up to you. And what you get belongs to you. You ought to recognize it as a blessing from God and be generous to those less fortunate. But when the government interferes to "spread the wealth", that is the exact opposite of "fairness".
Of course, we will give to Ceasar what beongs to him, and give to God what belongs to Him. I am not going to hole up in my bunker with my shotgun and refuse to pay taxes and claim that Texas is still an Independent Republic (some people believe that!). But I do hope that the government will recognize its limited role.
I really liked President Bush's support of faith-based organizations. He understood that the constitution's prohibition of the establishment of an official state religion (such as the Church of England) was in no way intended to ban any public reference to religion, or to refuse to partner with people of faith, with well-established organizations that are already doing good work and operating efficiently. Using tax dollars to promote the common good does not equate to a government "endorsement" of one religion over another. Any non-profit organization that is willing to help people ought to be supported, and ought to be allowed to draw their own lines and, yes, discriminate in order to comply with their own morals.
What liberals do not understand is that without faith, people are not motivated to do good works. Some are, but not all. So let people immerse themselves in whichever faith it is that drives them to be a good citizen, whether it be Christian, Buddhist, pantheist, or atheist. But no, liberals would rather forcibly take from one and give to the other ("spread the wealth") than stay out of the way and allow people to give generously as they see fit.
One commenter makes a very interesting point:
If you really wanted to drive the US to socialized health care you must first create a crisis that you can pin on some outside source. In this case it would be the Vatican shutting down hospitals because they don't respects a persons "rights".
Welcome to the end around.
I applaud the bishops' firm stance. A similar situation has already taken place wherein Catholic Charities in Massachusetts does not provide ANY foster care or adoption services because they are no longer allowed to discriminate against those suffering from same-sex attraction (i.e, gays). But the idea that this is all part of the Democrats' plan - to use Catholics as an excuse to advance socialized healthcare - is disturbing. It would be a very tense stand-off. Perhaps the Supreme Court will intervene.
Tax Cuts for the Rich
Suppose every night, 10 men go to dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If it were paid the way we pay our taxes, the first four men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.” Now dinner for the 10 only costs $80.
The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free. Can you figure out how to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share? The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody’s share, then the fifth and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.
The restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of $59.
Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man pointing to the tenth, “and he got $7!” “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me!” “That’s true,” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks.” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor.”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They were $52 short!
And that, boys and girls and politicians, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Switzerland and the Caribbean.
"...the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them."
It is true that not everyone has the fullness of truth. But nobody can claim that there is no objective right or wrong. Nobody can be "personally opposed, but..."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Creative Minority Report shows that the Governator wants the courts to overturn it. Could someone please explain to me how they will manage to declare a constitutional ammendment "unconstitutional"?
What do you think they would be saying if it had failed and a bunch of Christians were protesting? Do you think they'd be arrested for hate speech?
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
To be fair, there are surely people who didn't vote for Obama because of his race. I don't consider the content above a commentary on race as much as an unthinking infatuation with "change".
A: We all cried when Obama won.
Except maybe for different reasons.
***I was also going to put Baby Jesus on the list, to make MommaLlama laugh. She has a weird sense of humor. But I don't want to offend anybody else.
Happily, the famous Prop 8 "gay marriage" amendment passed in California. Sadly, Prop 4, which would have required parental notification, appears to have failed. We're not talking about parental consent - just notification. Minors can't get their ears pierced or a tattoo without parental consent, or even an aspirin from the school nurse. But an abortion? Sure, why not. They probably got knocked up without their parents' approval. We might as well further distance them from their loving parents and let them further destroy their psyches and souls by killing the baby in private.
At least Arkansas got one right. They banned "unmarried sexual partners" from fostering or adopting children. Good for them. The media indicates that it was "targeted" at gays, and that might have been a primary concern for the voters, but I think it's also great that it applies to heterosexual couples. Marriage is more than a piece of paper. Shacking up or playing house does not make a marriage. In fact, every study shows that it is far more likely to fail, even if the couple does end up married after a time. It's a commitment before God and the state, and children deserve a real family. I applaud single people who foster and adopt - our boys' foster mother was single, and she clearly did an awesome job with them. Many people want to help children even though they haven't found a spouse. But unmarried "partnership" is not normal and healthy and safe for children.
"Two animal-welfare measures passed -- a ban on dog racing in Massachusetts, and a proposition in California that outlaws cramped cages for egg-laying chickens."
Well, I'm certainly relieved. I've been up all night worried about those chickens.
Now look, I don't support animal cruelty. Human rights and kindness to animals are not mutually exclusive. Far from it, they are both very biblical. So it baffles me that people who see dignity in animal and plant life do not extend the same sympathy to unborn humans.
To raise awareness, I'm staging an event. Come on over to the house tonight and watch Daisy and Maggie chase a chicken around the back yard.
(You either gotta laugh or cry, foks.)
These things are cyclical. I'm disappointed, but it's not the end of the world. I think the wholesale change message was merely designed to get votes, and it worked. Even McCain distanced himself from President Bush as much as possible. The whole reason McCain was nominated is because he was the one Republican that a Democrat might vote for. That might have worked if he was running against Hillary. But I called this one as soon as Obama won the nomination. I hoped, but I was ready for this. We've been fed a steady stream of Bush bashing from Hollywood and SNL and Comedy Central and the entire MSM for so long that we voted for "change". Whatever the hell that means. Nobody could explain exactly what they want changed. The war was a big one at first, but the Democrats have definitely backed off on that.
Even in his acceptance speech, Obama hinted that "it may not happen in one year or even one term". In other words, "All that BS I promised? Yeah... that's not really gonna happen. I'm just like all the other politicians. I just wanted your votes. Thanks, suckers."
That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. We'll see how bad it really is soon enough. The worse it goes, the better for Republicans in 2010 mid-term congressional elections. Unfortunately the Democrats will take all the credit for the stock market's inevitable rebound, just as Bush had to take the rap for it's decline. That will be a problem for the Republicans.
I was kind of surprised at Obama's mention of gays in his acceptance speech. That might be indicative of his agenda, or it might just have been an obligatory shout-out to the pink mafia who he knows were big supporters. I suspect the latter.
And FOCA is obviously a big concern. But (maybe someone can enlighten me on this point), perhaps it will pass only to be challenged, and the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts will kill for being too broad and far-reaching. They might not be able to roll back the evil that already exists, but evil may not be able to advance any further.
Finally, the obligatory religious message about keeping life in perspective:
My wife and I have a greater mission, to my mind, than President-elect Obama does. We have these three boys who need a family. They need someone to love them, raise them, teach them, and bring them to God. Everything else pales in comparison.
It strikes me how little these politicians see their families. Even people higher than me in business frequently have terrible family lives because they are so focused on worldy success. Politicians probably justify their pursuit of worldly success by saying that their cause is so great that it's okay to make their families suffer. Wasn't that the main argument against anyone who questioned Sarah Palin's political ambition with a special needs baby at home? - Her cause was great enough... The country needed her more than her family did. A "higher" calling. I don't want to resurrect that whole argument, but part of me is happy for Trig today. (Of course, I would vote for her again if she runs in 2012, but it's way too early for that kind of talk.)
Fr. George Rutler warned on EWTN's The World Over a couple of weeks ago that we should not get too hung up on worldly matters. God still sits on His throne. We just celebrated the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and that should help us to remember that we are in this world but not of this world.
Monday, November 3, 2008
The bad: Cowboys... At least we have a bye next weekend.
The ugly: At least we know they weren't performance-enhancing drugs...
(Some of you know what I'm talking about.)
Friday, October 31, 2008
So, I had the idea to save it for tomorrow. Because, after all, we will be celebrating All Saints and All Souls for the whole weekend. We'll teach the kids about the religious aspect of the holiday while we work on the pumpkin.
See, I'm not lazy, I'm creating a "teachable moment".
Update: Now I'm officially lazy. November 5th and it's still just a pumpkin. Whatever. Halloween is almost as dumb as Christmas (regarding the secular aspects).
"Mommy, how do you SPELL - W?"
Um, I think I have failed at some point in his home eduction if he thinks you can SPELL LETTERS!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The boys seemed to really get into it. There was a lot planning on their parts, and even naming of their pumpkins.
I bought 'googly eyes' that we hot glued to the pumpkins and then I let them have at it with paint and ideas just started flowing. Trust me, I have come a LONG WAY in 4 years... my inner perfectionist when it comes to kids and crafting has really settled down and I didn't offer any real advice or take over the paintbrushes in a misplaced sense of helping!
All in all they came out cute, funny, and VERY original!
Notice the number of eyes (5)!
Check out the RED HAIR!
Bobcat added a yellow mustache!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Me: "Um, sure."
Bubba: "Jing-O bell, Jing-O bell, Jing-O always"
Me (interrupting): "Well, that's not quite right... the phrase is JINGLE BELLS!"
Bubba: "Oh right, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle al-ways, oh MY fun it is to ride one horse open sleigh, HEY!"
Me: "Yeah... still not quite right."
I sang it to him the right way... he was like 'Okay whatever' then turned around and walked off... not singing it the right way and seemed a little frustrated that I had corrected him. Poor little Bubba, he just can't catch a break!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Case in point... Daddio comes back to the car to retell this little gem: Friday, at the allergist they were waiting for his appointment. In walks an African American mom and little girl... Snookie announces something to the effect "Look Dad she's adopted because she is brown." He never took into account that she 'matched' her mom, or that not all 'brown' people are adopted! What Daddio didn't know was that the morning before at breakfast he was asking if girls could be brown like boys!
Funny thing is, this is somewhat of an improvement... he used to not remember that HE was adopted!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Levin doesn't use the term "Antichrist", but I've seen it other places. Every modern influential leader is at one point or another called the Antichrist. According to Tony Alamo, I'm the Antichrist!
I'm not saying Obama isn't dead wrong on every major issue. I'm not saying he's not a little more worrisome than Clinton. Obama comes across as more ambitious, and with a grander vision. But, don't you think that most of what he says is just designed to get votes? The Democractic Party gambled on the "Extreme Makeover: Government Edition" strategy, and it seems to be working. Once he gets in there he'll be as old school, do-nothing, useless as this Democrat congress has been. I don't know. Maybe I've been so focused on the single issue of abortion that I haven't studied the other, secondary issues so thoroughly.
All I'm saying is, every generation has feared that things couldn't possibly get worse. And yet they always do! (That's supposed to make you feel better.) And the world keeps spinning. And the Lord still sits on His throne.
Rich Mullins put it so well:
The Lord in Heaven laughs
He knows what is to come
While all the chiefs of state plan their big attacks
Against His anointed One
The Church of God she will not bend her knees
To the gods of this world though they promise her peace
She stands her ground Stands firm on the Rock
Watch their walls tumble down when she lives out His love
Where are the nails that pierced His hands?
Well the nails have turned to rust But not so the Man
He is risen and He reigns
In the hearts of the children rising up in His Name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood?
Well the thorns have turned to dust but behold the love He has given
It remains In the hearts of the children
Who will love while the nations rage
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Too much mind reading, probably. But I can't shake the feeling that if they wanted Obama to lose, they would vote for the only guy who stands a chance of beating him. They ridicule that option by saying that you can't vote "against" someone, you can only for "for" someone. Okay fine, I vote FOR the guy who is AGAINST Obama.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I failed to obey the self-imposed rules at least five times this past week, and I just knew it would cost me something. I was hoping for a break-even, and expecting a small gain. Go figure. I guess I did more good than bad. I also suspect that the total lack of beer for a month has something to do with it. I never drank heavily, of course, just two or three beers a week. I really like beer. But I decided to give up (most) gluten in solidarity with Bobcat, so have switched to wine. It's like a perpetual Lent. Now I think beer may have been a bigger dietary problem than I knew before. Or, more likely, I did know better, but I chose to ignore it because I really like beer.
I do plan to be good this week, though. No more eating out or trips to the candy dish in the office. The total loss since I began counting is -15.3 lbs. I still have a ways to go toward the final goal, but I'm encouraged by the progress.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Then we went to the pumpkin patch. We opted out of the $5 per person corn maze (maize maze?), but the kids had fun running around and playing with a wagon. I am so pleased with my new flash and its ability to softly fill the entire outdoor scene and eliminate harsh shadows. I'm still working on my technique (and want a couple more gadgets - wireless shutter release and a diffuser) but overall I'm really happy. Here are a couple of shots from today.