Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't mess with the marching band.


Marching Band Girl Beats Back Muggers With Baton

Go band nerds!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Around the barnyard #10


On the last issue of barnyard, I had a comment from Steph B. regarding laundry... so I thought I would spend a post talking about it, at least a little.

As you can see from this picture (2004), it was laundry time and I had my usual gaggle of helpers, Snookie, Maggie, and just at the bottom of the frame you see the top of Daisy's head. Snookie had just turned two, and spent the majority of his time hanging out with me... and where he went, the dogs were always close by (they never knew if he might have a snack or sippy cup in hand that they might get a little taste of...).

Pre-children laundry was fairly simple; we had our unmentionables and our weekend clothes, and the majority of our work clothes were dry cleaned (boy, that was nice). Then on that wonderful Friday, August 6th 2004, we had three boys all 3 and under to suddenly care for. Did I mention we also immediately started potty training all three of them? FUN TIMES! Laundry went from every few days to piles every day (not to mention all the other chores I was suddenly having to do every day). It took time, but eventually I came up with a routine that worked well for us... and every one had clean clothes when they needed them. My current routine has been altered over the years, and once the potty training ended certain areas of laundry definitely settled down.

Our families go through seasons where the laundry expectations change, and so to will your routine (sometimes it goes from a real pain in the rear, to not so bad and even completely manageable... or the other way around :-).

As far as mother's health, well obviously this goes through its own ups and downs... being ill, injured, pregnant, or just given birth will all throw a wrench in the works. For me, I've only had to deal with injury and illness... and for me, in those times I am so thankful for my routine. Why, well going into the illness or injury my laundry wasn't piled to the ceiling... and with just a little help from someone I could maintain some semblance of our laundry. That could be help from my dear husband (who is great at jumping in when I'm not able to get it done for whatever reason), or my kids (this was very helpful when I couldn't walk around because of ankle injuries... they brought it to me and then would put it away, even my stuff!), or if you are lucky enough to have a relative or friend who can pitch in from time to time during your down time.

You, obviously have to find what works for you and for your family... and I know most moms dislike laundry... so my whole point was and is... find a way to get into a routine where you don't allow it to pile up (dirty or clean) and you might find it not to be such a thorn!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ice Caps

Okay, I'm not sure why this has never occurred to me, but I found it hilarious. Read this post at Michelle Malkin. It's about a meteorologist who is challenging MSNBC's documentary on climate change. First he points out that we really don't contribute to melting ice caps. Also, that the Antarctic ice cap is actually growing, not shrinking. And finally, the part that made me go, DUH...

"Keep in mind that if the Polar icecap (without Greenland) melted…it would hardly cause sea level to rise, because the icecap is currently displacing water in the Arctic Ocean."

Remember that from elementary school? Frozen water (ice) takes up MORE volume than liquid water. Water lines burst in the winter because ice EXPANDS. If the polar ice caps melted, the sea levels would DROP, not rise. So why are they always trying to scare us about rising sea levels?

Maybe I'm missing something here, please fill me in...

Monday, April 27, 2009


I should point out that this post may ramble... so if you are having a MONDAY morning you may want to skip it till you've had some coffee and your de-scrambler is up and running!

Do you ever look in the mirror and think to yourself, "Huh, who am I, and where did I come from?" Intellectually you know the answer, but as you take in your environment you start to question those answers that you've held true.

As with most adopted children, my boys will probably go through something like this... and maybe that is why God has chosen my circumstances for me so that in a way I could relate or at least sympathize with them in a way others might not be able to. No, I'm not adopted myself, but if you look at where I came from and the events that have transpired the last 27 years... one might assume that I was. If you are questioning the 27 years, and remember my 30 years old post... well, I'm referring to my sister. Yep, I have a younger sister... which I doubt I've ever actually mentioned here. There's a reason for that... we are siblings by blood only. There is no relationship beyond that there, and there hasn't been one in decades. To say we are different is an understatement, to say we are polar opposites is getting much closer! I know many will say that about their siblings but not really mean it... WE REALLY ARE THAT DIFFERENT (you can ask Daddio). The funny thing is, if you listen to my parents you would not really see that. You would think that we were close, loving sisters and friends who work on making the best out of difficult situations. Truth is I haven't spoken or seen my sister since last summer and it wasn't on the best of terms... and we live in the same metroplex!

But why do I question my identity or my worth? Here I sit, in a lovely home with a loving and a doting husband, three beautiful boys, and a life that has been beyond my wildest dreams. That's the TRUTH, right? When there have been choices to make in my life (hard or easy), I've done my best to follow the right path with no help from anyone other than my husband (even before he was my spouse). I'm a law abiding, morally just, God-fearing woman! And yet this weekend, I looked in the mirror, tears streaming down my face asking what's so wrong with me that I don't deserve love and respect or even the smallest of relationships with my parents? Why is it that after a lifetime of not smoking, hardly ever drinking, and never once taking drugs, that I'm left with a barren womb and all the other nasty side effects of my syndrome... and there is a baby boy laying in NICU in an incubator, born 5 weeks early and had to be resuscitated, drugs in his system, and a whole host of other issues... born to a mother (now three times over, out of wedlock and has lost custody of all the children) who had drugs in her system, and to a father who had drugs in his system and is just as much a deadbeat as the mother?! That mother, no not the birth parents of my children... no... MY SISTER! To make the situation worse, my parents just told me, three weeks after this baby's birth... and the only reason they told me was because they were worried that my 7 year old niece might slip up and mention that there was a new baby!

My parents made it crystal clear that they don't want me involved, they don't want my help, and they weren't going to allow me to go and visit this child in the hospital. This child, whom they can only visit a few times a week because of their own work schedule and trying to raise the other two children (my niece age 7, and my nephew age 14 months)... when I know that I could work something out so at least the off days I could be there for at least a small amount of time. Am I going to fight them on this one? No. Over the last year or so I've just conceided that no matter what I do it doesn't change the outcome, and therefore if my parents don't want me to be involved... then that is what I will do. I am merely a relationship of convience for them. If it becomes dire, then they will use me in some way...

And the sad part (okay, all of it is sad)... the information my parents did give, I know is still laced with lies and cover-ups, because that is what they do, EVERY TIME something is going on (this is just the tip of the ice berg... there is simply not enough time to go into the events that have occurred during my lifetime).

I look in the mirror and I see them... my mother's face at age thirty, my father's eyes and hair, I have their blood coursing through my veins, but it's not enough to build a relationship on (they've made that abundantly clear). I'm not like them, I'm not like my sister, on the inside there is nothing that resembles them in anyway.

I can look at my boys, and to a certain extent know what it feels like to be rejected for someone or something else, to feel abandoned by the people who should always love and cherish you. To even be singled out as different, and not accepted. No, not for the same reasons, but those feelings... I can identify with them. Over the last few years, I've learned that blood doesn't make a family. My love for my husband and my children have nothing to do with blood, and yet I love them more than my own life! I didn't have a choice as to where I came from, but I did make the choice to be with my husband and to bring our boys into our life. Love isn't inherited through genes, it is an ACTIVE choice!

Please don't misconstrue my post... I am completely aware of who the real victims are (and it's not me)... it's my niece and nephews... most especially my newest nephew in this particular circumstance. But it is in light of these instances when I start to reflect on what is happening in my own life, that it brings out certain emotions pertaining to my own existence... my own struggles.

My sister in Christ sent me this lovely quote that I want to share with anyone who reads this and in any way questions their yoke:
"We do not always know why such things as sickness and setbacks happen to us, for our minds are far too puny to grasp God's plan. A person is a little like a mouse in a piano, which cannot understand why it must be disturbed by someone playing Chopin and forcing it to move off the piano wires... Because God's ways are not our ways- because the salvation of a soul is more important than all material values- because divine wisdom can draw good out of evil- the human mind must develop acceptance of the Now, no matter how hard it may be for us to understand its freight of pain. We do not walk out of a theater because the hero is shot in the first act; we give the dramatist credit for having a plot in mind. So the soul does not walk out on the act of God's drama of salvation- it is the last act that is the crown of the play. The things that happen to us are not always susceptible to our minds' comprehension or wills' conquering; but they are always within the capacity of our faith to accept and of our wills' submission."
--Fulton Sheen

She found the perfect thing, don't you think?! Just one more reason I CHOOSE to love her (it's not a hard job, she's easy to love :-)!

For those still scratching their heads, I'm sorry for my randomness... I just needed to write something so my brain could start to assimilate the information.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on charismatic Catholicism

I read an interesting post over on Darwin Catholic about healing masses and the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church. I don't want to start an argument or hurt any one's feelings here, just going to share my personal thoughts and experience.

The parish and high school youth group where I grew up was rather charismatic. I am a fairly reserved person, but eventually I let go and enjoyed the high. I think I was particularly vulnerable and emotional because of broken family teenage angst. Looking back, I had lots of "spiritual" experiences, but my faith was not very deep, and I was susceptible to Protestant/evangelical arguments against Catholicism. (Maybe there are charismatic parishes that are also very orthodox, but they don't usually seem that way, do they?) I joined a nondenominational musical group and toured for two summers sharing my testimony, mostly in Catholic churches, and lead people in prayer as they recommitted their lives to a personal relationship with Jesus. I didn't believe in "saving" people with the little formulaic prayer, like most of my teammates. But I did see Catholicism as just another denomination, and I considered leaving it.

Then, in college (most people lose their faith here, but it's where I found mine), I really caught fire with Catholic apologetics in college, and my pendulum swung back the other way pretty quickly. I was invited to lead the class and I would skip actual classes to do my research. I considered a religious vocation. Then I decided that marriage and 15 kids was the way to go. I had very little respect for other Christians, and none at all for wishy-washy Catholics. I became judgmental and condescending. I couldn't understand why my mom and my siblings didn't want to abandon that fluffy parish of my youth for a "real" Catholic church. I felt betrayed by my weak sauce CCD and confirmation classes, so I volunteered at the local parish to teach high school youth group. I would give them the "real faith", only to be disappointed that the students and other teachers and youth minister and even the pastor lacked my inquisitional zeal.

I think I have calmed down since then. I still consider myself fairly traditional and very orthodox, but I don't really long for the Latin mass (E.F. or N.O.). I like how some of the prayers are being done in Latin and I like the idea of traveling the world one day and being able to follow along at mass anywhere. But I want most of it in English, and I want to see and hear and understand what's going on. Basically, I just want a reverent Novus Ordo with quality music and good preaching, but no altar girls.

I'm still learning to discipline myself to pray every day, to visit the blessed sacrament sometimes on my lunch break, and to go to confession regularly. I want a deep personal faith and to avoid sin because I recognize how miserable I am, and how badly I need God's help to raise these children well. I hope I am less proud and more humble. I can get worked up sometimes, especially in election years. ;) But I really don't want to argue and debate in Internet forums or write too many lengthy blog posts that nobody will ever read. I want to evangelize when the opportunity presents itself, without being too in-your-face. I'm convinced that I belong to The one true Church established by Our Lord, and I'm happy to explain why if someone is interested. I'm not timid or afraid, but I'm not overly confident, and I'm not going door-to-door. My mission field is inside this house, and my flock is pretty small.

I listen to lots of contemporary Christian music, and also the Catholic Answers podcast. I'm looking to acquire more traditional black gospel music, to expose my boys to a part of their heritage, but I will evaluate the lyrics to make sure they don't represent a non-Catholic view of salvation or grace or the so-called "rapture". I still like the occasional song from the Gather Hymnal (although I can't even hear Gather Us In with a straight face because of the awesome Curt Jester parody (I can't find a link for it right now)). But Yahweh I Know You Are Near was always a favorite (until the Pope told us not to use the name Yahweh out of respect for the Jews...) Here I Am, Lord was a favorite from my youth and I still like it even if it's not perfect. You Are Mine makes me think of my boys - they played that one of our first weekends with the boys and I was holding Bubba and thinking of how I was going to be a better dad than my dad was... sappy, I know. Mostly, I like the oldies and the organ rather than the 70's and the guitars. Occasionally, when the organist is really jammin' on Holy God We Praise Thy Name, or All Creatures Of Our God And King, or Salve Regina, I just have to raise at least one hand (not too high), and close my eyes and sing nice and loud.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Around the barnyard #9


Daddio and I were talking on the way home from rehearsal about my barnyard posts and what, if anything, I should talk about. He hit on something that maybe I haven't spent enough time mentioning... so hopefully I can make it clear now!

Are you a big project kind of person, or a maintenance person? I am of the opinion that housekeeping should be more about maintenance, than tackling big projects every single day. Just thinking about tackling a big project every day makes me feel overwhelmed!

Once you get your house under control, every daily activity shouldn't take more than about 20 minutes (TOPS)! Why??? Because it is just maintenance cleaning, not DEEP CLEANING. Take for example mail... every time you get the mail, sort through it right away. At that very moment throw away the junk, and file away the bills. By doing that, now you don't have a pile of mail just sitting out on a counter or desk.
"Oh but where I put the mail isn't near a trash can, and it is inefficient to take it to the trash right then!"

Two things... either put a trash can (or shredder) where you deposit the mail... or walk to the trash can and consider it exercise!

Instead of letting the dishes pile up in the sink all day long with the notion that it is easier just to stand there and do it all at once LATER, try having an empty dishwasher every morning and loading it as you go during the day. Then those few items that come up during the day that need to be hand washed, only take a moment!

I've already talked about laundry in another post, but I will mention it again. If you keep it up during the week, rarely will you have a day where you spend all day doing laundry (vacation is the only time I am doing several loads at once to get back to the caught up category). Folding one or two loads a day only takes a few minutes (especially if you get the kids involved in putting their own stuff away).

Same goes for bathrooms, if you are regularly cleaning them... then you aren't having to break out the power washer from the garage to get that soap scum off! Dusting works the same way, dust regularly and it won't be a marathon event. And if you clean as you work in the kitchen there is hardly ever a reason to spend great deals of time cleaning it...

You don't need to always DEEP CLEAN if you keep your home clean every day! By the way that term annoys me to no end! If you have to deep clean something, then I feel dirty thinking that I was around before it was deep cleaned... you know what I mean? Nothing should get so filthy that it needs to be deep cleaned, unless there was a fire, flood or toxic spill! YUCK!

If you are having to spend more than 20 minutes on a task, maybe you need to reevaluate the regularity of your routine or the effectiveness of your effort!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Around the barnyard #8

More on kids...

I've been called a lot of things in my life, most often coming during my time as a parent. It's been interesting hearing other people's take on how we live our life and raise our children. Ultimately I only give credit to those with whom I respect, and the comments from others... well they roll off like water on a duck!

That leads me to the advice I want to share with you. I've mentioned on previous posts, both in the barnyard series and just in general, that children should pick up after themselves. They should keep their own rooms clean, and in general help out around the house. WHY? That's the big question I get a lot of. "They are just kids, they don't need to bother with that sort of thing"... "or if they pick up what they've taken out it might stifle their creative nature"... and so on.

My answer (sometimes it has to stay in my head along with a long list of other things I want to say) is, what is your job as a parent? To train up your children... right?! For me, I want my boys to know how to keep their property in good working order, to be able to clean up after themselves, and ultimately make a good husband or priest devoted to God and family. Now, if by age 5 they haven't figured out that stepping on toys breaks them... we have a problem. If by age 5 they don't realize that stuff belongs in a certain place... um, we have a problem. If they can't follow simple instructions (obedience), we have a problem.

At age two, Snookie knew that his toys had a place. He didn't always get them back in the right place, but he knew they didn't belong on the floor. When he would forget, one of the other two (aged 3, and 4) would remind him or move it to its place on their own. Rarely did I have to clean up behind them in regards to their toys. This was laying the ground work for respect... respect of property. After some time, we moved on to putting away a toy you were no longer playing with before you got something else out. Were they perfect in this, no... did they get in trouble for it, no... but they were reminded of what we've asked of them. Why did we do this... well, we had a couple of reasons. First the 'gameroom' they were in was a small space, and there were three of them hardly ever playing with the same stuff... floor space for everything was an issue. Then there was the damage and injury issue. We've lost several toys to someone stepping on them and breaking them... and hardly ever did they break their own toy... oh no, they would break someone else's toy! Let the crying ensue!

Since the gameroom is now the office/learning room, the boys have had to make due with even less room now that all of their stuff is in their room. But this isn't a problem, because they've learned not to pull everything out and dump it on the floor and hope fun will show up. They pick the thing (or set) they want to play with and they play with it till they don't want to play with it anymore, put it away and move on to something else.

We also have the practice of when I call out to say it is time for a meal, then the play area is cleaned up before they wash their hands and come to the table. Again, this is one more way to cut down on the mess. If they have to clean it up a few times a day, there is no reason for it to get out of hand. Secondly, the next time they will go into that room will be to either go down for a nap... or in the evenings to go to bed. And that room, there is no way to pull out Snookie's bed if there are toys laying about (it's a small room for three boys).

Now, what about if 'they've built or created something so wonderful and I just don't want them to dismantle it because it's time for bed' or whatever? Obviously we don't make them take apart every lego creation they come up with... but there too, we have a place for that. They can keep it out on the top of their cubes, or it fits in can go back into the cube that holds the legos (or magnetix, or knex... or whatever it is). Now the train set... that is differently story, that does have to get dismantled every time... we simply have to have the floor space, but there are times when they have built things they were really impressed with and we took a picture! That pleased them to no end (they love that sort of thing), other times we've carefully moved things to the living room... but it can't stay long. They completely understand and like rebuilding whatever it was, trust me, they love coming up with new ways and new improvements. I know, I know, some of you are thinking this sounds harsh. Maybe you have tons of room for that kind of stuff... if you do and they can keep everything tidy around it... more power to you, we DON'T have the space for that with the way their room is set up.

Moving on to older children. I want to share with you a few things my parents did with me, that I plan on doing with my children... by the time I was 12 or 13 I was preparing one dinner a week (for the whole family... my parents, my sister, and myself). I was given a day that I would do it, and then asked for the menu and ingredients so that proper groceries could be purchased for it. The first few weeks I had a lot of hands on help from my mom. Oh, I should say that 95% of our meals were homemade. Rarely did we eat out or eat things that were frozen... it was just a thing that my mom did (of course that all changed when I moved out, then they ate out all the time...). Anyway, I was taught how to cook, by doing! Not by watching or helping, but by actually preparing the meal start to finish. They did this FOR me to teach me how to plan a meal, prepare a meal, and to participate in my FAMILY. This was expected of me because I was a member of the family. When I turned 16 they added the responsibility of actually grocery shopping for the family. They also opened a checking account in my name, and would put in enough money to cover the groceries. During the week I would be given the grocery list, and expected to take care of that task by a certain date. Again, I was a participating member of my family, and I was learning how to grocery shop... and a side benefit was they were building my credit name by opening that account. In return for this task, I was given car privileges. I didn't complete my responsibilities... well, that fun thing I wanted to borrow the car for... suddenly the car was unavailable.

My parents didn't do it to be mean, they didn't do it because they didn't want to do it themselves, they did it to train me... teach me... prepare me for being a grown-up. It wasn't mean (although I know at times I told them it was), it was exactly what they were called to do as parents.

So in conclusion, having your children clean up after themselves isn't because you're being militant... you are teaching them a skill they will need to have to be an adult. If you wait until they are older, it will only make that much more difficult to form such a good habit.

Now... go and enjoy this beautiful day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blessed be the Lord

What an interesting string of blog posts I have just read. First, a great, feisty, hopeful post about the joys of a large family, even when they become teenagers, found here at Blessed Among Men.

Then a really inspiring post by an excited dad who the world would say is too old for another baby, found here at Catholic Dads. How great it must feel to be given one more ride just when you thought the party was over!

Then, a truly sad post from Aaron at Catholic Manhood, about their recent miscarriage.

And of course it got me thinking about our little godson's parents, who suffered so much before they finally made it all the way through, and couldn't be happier with this precious little guy.

Another couple we know has an infant in ICU, status post heart surgery. Apparently the latest news is somewhat optimistic, but they're far from out of the woods. Please pray for baby Gabriel.

Keep pondering, and there will come the obligatory moment of infertile people self-pity. But quickly remember that we're blessed beyond measure, and chastise myself for wanting what is not within my reach.

Of course, these ruminations always include our friend, Steve, whose only child was killed by her own mother.

God's ways are so far beyond our understanding. I don't know which of these things God actively ordered, and what He just passively allowed because of our own free will and sin. It doesn't really matter though, does it? All we can do is try to stay in a state of grace so that our own actions are not evil, and accept whatever comes our way with humility and obedience and a song of praise. (That doesn't sound very hopeful the way I phrased it, but I did mean it to be hopeful.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Lego a Day blog

Have you seen this blog? I think it's very cool.

A Lego A Day Blog

As a wannabe photographer, I'm truly impressed by the quality of the photos, and the many creative scenes and captions that he dreams up. I think I'd run out of material, but he always keeps it interesting. And the kid in me just gets a kick out of the Legos themselves. And let's be honest, I'm totally jealous of his Lego collection. This one is definitely worth following!


Careful what you let them read. I've received car magazines for several years. When I'm done, I let the boys have them, and they enjoy looking at the pictures. But lately, they've started reading, and reading pretty well. The other day, I overheard Bubba reading the following passage from an editorial column in Motor Trend:

"There are lies and damned lies. Then there are the statistics about what causes the annual body count of death and injury on our roads."

Daddy, what are statistics?

I was equally parts impressed by his reading skills and surprised to hear such adult language coming from a seven-year-old!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A beautiful piece

Take a few minutes to listen this amazing piece which fully captures the emotions of Easter Sunday!

Russian Easter Overture

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Crazy Headline

Talk about an attention grabbing headline:

Obama May Block Sun's Rays to End Global Warming

Doesn't this just sound like something from an old Bond movie? Or maybe Pinky and The Brain?


New Cameraman

Over the weekend we went down to Dino Valley for a day of running and playing outside! Boy did we need it. Once we got down there and hit our first trail, Bobcat's camera died (batteries... ughhh). Daddio, being the super nice daddy that he is, handed over our camera to him and let him take the pictures for the rest of the day. Here are a few from his collection:

Here, Bobcat is working out horizon angles. They can be tricky.

We have several where he sort of cut off the tops of heads.

But a huge benefit for him taking pictures is that Daddio and I get to both be in them :-)!

Mary, Our Mother

Charlotte has written a lovely (cry inducing) post over at her blog about the fourth station when Jesus meets his mother. Please take a moment to pop over and read it.

I remember when we watched The Passion of Christ several years ago... and I remember crying during this scene. I wasn't even a mother yet (although we were in the process), but I could feel such agony already... a mother's love for her child.

So it looks like I found my added meditation for this year's conclusion to Holy Week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

another milestone

Snookie has outgrown his old car seat and now enjoys his brand new big boy booster seat and real seat belt.

It's a bittersweet milestone because we are, of course, far too young and fly to have no more little guys in baby seats.

a sweet love story

So yesterday afternoon, MommaLlama and I got into one of those (rare, but not unheard of) marital snits. I'll spare you the details, but she took off to run some errands, and when she got back I was still grouchy, so I took off to run some errands of my own. I decided on the way home to drop the argument and bought a couple milkshakes to smooth things over. She gladly accepted, and a truce was declared. Then this evening, she showed me something in the freezer - it was the ice cream she had bought for ME when she was out last night. I didn't even know it was there, because I left before she had a chance to tell me. I got a kick out of how we both independently decided to bury the hatchet and both brought home a peace offering. So, you know, bad for my diet, but good for my marriage.

I see the light!

The last few weeks have been TOUGH! The boys have been in a mood... to say the least, and I was starting to dread every morning. And to top it off, I'm STILL sick.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel, and today was another marker of that!

Snookie is finishing his last page of Phonics for this year (well when he gets out of time out for throwing a fit about doing it the proper way... the last few weeks have been endless fits around here)! Woohoo. He was the last one still working on phonics. So here's the count:

Finished: Handwriting, Phonics
Still working: Math, Spelling

Finished: Handwriting, Phonics
Still working: Math, Spelling, Grammar

Finished: Phonics
Still working: Math, Spelling, Grammar, Vocabulary, Reading Comp, Handwriting (almost done)

Math will continue in some form all summer! Spelling will finish up in about 3 weeks for everyone. I am going to continue a grammar study most of the summer in some fashion (creative writing is something I think I'm going to introduce to them that will work with grammar). Bobcat's vocabulary only has a few more weeks to go, and his handwriting has a few more days! And everyone will be working on Reading Comp during the summer.

It feels so good knowing that my plans are working (much more quickly than I thought), and we will be done well before our vacation (with the big stuff)... so we can go and relax and not worry about what we are coming home to!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Praise report

Our family budget, like most others', has been a little tight lately. Thankfully, I'm not worried about job security or the basics of life, but we have some debt and savings goals that we don't seem to be meeting lately, and we also want to have enough set aside for our vacation next month. (It's not all that fabulous, and we do everything as cheaply as possible, but our annual beach trip is a tradition that we want to continue. The boys will remember our family time when they're grown, and MommaLlama certainly deserves a break at the end of the school year!) I know mine are minor concerns compared to the many unemployed, homeless, and hungry in the world, but they have been weighing on me for some time. So I wrote a tithe check for an amount that was really more than we could afford at the time, and I asked God to take care of us.

Well, our small act of faith was returned not just 10 times over, but 100 times or more, by way of a really great mortgage refinance. It was something I had been planning to investigate, and we get solicitations in the mail all the time, but I've just never got around to it. However, I felt compelled to respond to this one letter I received last week, and things just worked out beautifully. Tremendous long term savings (lower rate and shorter term), and some very helpful cash flow advantages for the next couple of months.

MommaLlama noticed my act of faith in our register, but she never questioned my sanity, at least not out loud. She trusts me, and I think she's seen it work enough times by now. I don't mean to imply that tithing is an investment strategy, or to promote the Joel Osteen type of health and wealth gospel. Just that God does care, and He does want to take care of our families. I don't know why I was chosen to receive such blessings while others are poor. Maybe it will all be taken away and we'll be tested like Job one day. I hope I could survive such a time with grace and faith. But for now, I'm very thankful for the relative comfort and peace of mind He has given us. I do believe He has given it for the children, not for me.

So, thanks be to God, and I hope someone else is encouraged by our little blessing, and receives one of your own.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Great Giveaway

The Apronista is hosting another great apron giveaway... I love these things. Go check out Sassy Smox's and pick out your favorite and then leave a comment on The Apronista's blog for a chance to win!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homeschooling in the news

Sorry to just copy and paste an article, that many of you may have already read, but I found this fascinating:

Shock: Brazilian Homeschooling Parents Face Arrest Even after Early-Teen Sons Pass Law School Exams
Family appeals case to Brazilian Supreme Court
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MINAS GERAIS, BRAZIL, April 1, 2009 ( - A Brazilian family fighting criminal and civil charges for homeschooling their children have appealed their case to the nation's Supreme Court of Justice.
Cleber and Bernadeth Nunes, who have homeschooled their children since 2006, were initially prosecuted in 2008 for "intellectual abandonment" for failing to enroll their children in a school approved by the Brazilian government.
Despite the fact that their two oldest children, David and Jonatas, passed law school entrance exams at the ages of 13 and 14 respectively, local government officials were not impressed. They assessed a fine equivalent to roughly $1,800 USD and ordered the couple to return their children to school. They refused.
After initiating a criminal trial against the Nunes, the government ordered tests for David and Jonatas. The tests covered a vast array of subjects and even the teachers administering them acknowledged they could not pass them. However, the Nunes children both received passing grades.
Despite the performance on the tests, the Nunes lost their case repeatedly in local civil courts. They are now appealing the case to the nation's highest court of justice. A decision in the criminal case is still pending. In the meantime, they have been ordered to return their children to school, and have continued to refuse to do so.
"Our hopes are great," Cleber Nunes told LifeSiteNews, despite the fact that they had been advised to "leave our house, move to another place because the authorities could come at any moment and execute the penalty" against them. At one point, he said, representatives of the local Tutelary Council had even told him to go to the USA, where homeschooling is legal.
Nunes told LifeSiteNews that the "penalty" would likely be that the authorities would "take possession of the children, that is they would give them to another family" and "send me to prison for failing to comply with a judicial order." Such an action could be taken against him at any time.
However, Nunes has decided not to flee, but to stand his ground. He continues to refuse to send his children to public school, and says that they study six hours a day under his supervision.
"For me, intellectual abandonment would be to leave my children five hours daily in school, looking at the backs of the heads of the students in front of them, barely learning in a passive manner," he told the Brazilian news network UAI. "I hope that someone has the good sense to judge the case, recognizing the freedom of parents and deciding to copy the good examples of developed countries, where family education is common."
Nunes says that he is hoping that before his case is judged by the Supreme Court of Justice, the Congress will have passed Resolution 3518/08, a bill to legalize homeschooling authored by representatives Henrique Afonso and Miguel Martini.
"We are not going to wait until they judge this case," he told LifeSiteNews. "We are going to mobilize the society to pressure the Congress and vote in favor of the bill."

Wow. God bless the USA! (For now...)