Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marriage in the Age of "Me, Me, Me...."

The subject of divorce comes up quite a bit in our sad, secular world. Few families are left unscathed by this blight and because it's because such a common event some don't even think that it's that bad. With the current secular views on individual rights and pleasure, it's surprising that any relationships survive more then a few months, much less a few years.

I've been thinking about this thoroughly depressing topic a lot lately, because two members of our family have recently separated and the wife is telling anyone who will listen that she's going to file for divorce. Let's call them Joe and Jane. No one in Joe's family has ever been divorced. Every member of Jane's family who has been married has been divorced, from her parents to her siblings.

Joe and Jane have had an extremely tough year. He lost his job at the start of the recession and hasn't been able to find work. They are so far behind on their mortage payments that it's pretty much inevitable that they're going to lose their house. They have two children, one who's already in grade school and the other who is just barely out of diapers. Life has not been easy. In fact, it's felt downright unfair.

Now, it seems, that Jane has decided that she wants to go out and have a good time. She's kicked her husband out of the house and her children have lost their beds so that her friends can live in the house. Most weekend she dumps the kids off at her inlaws house so that she can "go out." She had her older child at an age that is now considered "young" by our society's standards (21) and feels cheated by life. She wants to go out and do the things she "missed out on" when she was younger. She wants to "have fun."

And that's exactly what she is doing.

Unfortunately the kids don't seem to be having much "fun." They seem down right devastated that their family has been torn apart. Even the little one, at the ripe old age of two, knows that something is very, very wrong. But that's not her problem, is it? She's not supposed to live her life for her children, is she? She's supposed to do whatever makes her feel "fulfilled" and this year that doesn't feel like marriage.

Our society tells us that if you aren't happy in your marriage you have the "right" to leave. In fact you have the "right" to destroy your family just as you have the "right" to destroy your unborn child.

In our culture doing what "feels good" has been elevated to a god-like status. Many people seem to believe that we're supposed to be "happy" all the time, ignoring the part of the vows that run "for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health" as well as the "'till death do us part" part of the vows.

The part of feminism that brought us artificial contraception and abortion tells women that if they aren't "happy" in their marriage, they should leave. Marriage isn't seen as something that's forever, it's something that lasts while it's convenient.

If you view marriage in that light it's surprising that anyone makes it to their 50th anniversary. No one is going to be happy all the time. Life is a series of ups and downs. Couples who make it through the downs often find that they have been brought closer by the trials...

Please pray for this young family. They need all the prayers they can get if they are going to make it through this tough time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where a Kid Can Be a Kid...

We were supposed to go to the pumpkin patch today, but it turns out that neither of them open until next week (although they've already started advertising, which is why there was some confusion). Since we'd planned a big day we decided to make up for it by going to Chuck E. Cheese. Sadie is a big Chuck E Cheese fan.

When you walk in the front door, they stamp the child's hand with a stamp that is only visible under a black light and then they stamp one of the parents' hands with the same number. The numbers have to match to take your kid home. This is such a great safety precaution, although when we go to Chuck E Cheese it's usually during the week at around 11:30, which means that we pretty much have the entire place to ourselves.

We got a meal deal today that came with a hundred tokens. That meant that Sadie got to go on all the rides that her little heart desired (she loves the fire engine ride and the Chuck E Cheese photo car ride) and the grown ups got to work for about an hour to try and win all the tickets that we possibly could. We've gone twice now and have saved up 720 tickets. Only 1280 more until we have enough to get the big Chuck E Cheese bouncy ball.

We also learned that it's pretty much impossible to get Sadie to smile when she gets her picture taken by the photo machine that turns the picture into a sketch afterwards. She's so busy looking up at the video screen with her face on it that no amount of effort can get her to look down under the screen at the video camera. However, those pictures may make an appearance when she's thirty and her father finally allows her to go on her first date.

Three Hour Naps, Spiders and a Pumpkin Patch

Sadie is asleep. it took a while to get her to go to sleep because we are at that short, wonderful time of year, where we don't need a heater or an air conditioner and so the room is entirely silent. Sadie isn't used to going to sleep in a silent room. I turned on her teddy bear which makes a heart beat sound, but he really just seemed to irritate her (although she loves him to pieces when she's awake).

It may also have to do with the fact that she took a three hour nap today. She's down to one nap a day now, but it tends to be a super long power nap, although three hours is on the long side even for those naps who are in the "super long" category.

She's also almost completely recovered from a nasty little spider bite on her leg. We noticed it after it happened and never saw the spider. At first it looked like a mosquito bite. By the next day it was the size of a fifty cent piece, which, if you think about it, is pretty big for a bug bite, particularly on a baby (unfortunately the "next day" happened to be Saturday. Why do things like this always happen on the weekend when you can't call the doctor in the office?). It didn't really seem to bother her until Saturday night when she started screaming when we tried to put cream on it. Yesterday it was a little smaller and today it is down to the size of a quarter and no longer seems to hurt at all. However if you ask Sadie where her "ouchie" is she will point to the spot, although one out of four times she accidently points to the wrong leg.

I am now paranoid about spiders and am checking for them everywhere. I think it happened when we were in Trinity Center on Friday. It doesn't help that she has such sensitive skin and that mosquito bites tend to stick around for weeks when they get to her. I hope this spider bite fades faster!

Tomorrow we should get some cute pictures. We're headed into the city to go to a pumpkin patch. Sadie is going to go crazy when she sees big pumpkins. She's already in love with the little ones we have here and lugs one around with her all the time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"On Being Catholic"

I just read the article, On Being a Catholic: 'Back to School' on Catholic Online by Canadian journalist David Warren. It reminded me of a homily that I heard recently that I have been going over again and again in my head (the homilies point was actually the exact opposite of the point of this article, which is why I'm still thinking about it). It bothered me quite a bit, but I'm not going to go into that just yet, because I want to think it over a little bit more. If you don't make it over to read the entire article, here are my favorite highlights.

"Yet we have today, at least in the more progressive and nominal Christians of North America and Europe -- most certainly including Catholics -- the curious notion that Christianity is compatible with Islam. That it is likewise compatible with all other religions. That it is compatible with a Darwinian cosmology, and therefore with atheist materialism. That it is part of "diversity"; and so on. "

This is the part that reminded me of the homily... The phrase "Fullness of Truth" kept going through my head on repeat... It seemed like that what was missing. I felt like the Catholic Church was being reduced to "just another church" on line with any other church in the world. But now I'm doing what I promised not to do and writing about the homily before I've thought it through. Let's just say that this is a preview of the post I'm working out in my head.

"I have a day job writing newspaper columns. I make clear that I am a Catholic. ("The worst kind, a convert," as Marshall McLuhan used to say.) I get a lot of mail. And whatever our bishops and bureaucracies may think they have achieved, in the way of teaching the faith, I get to see their results.

For sure, some of the Catholics who write to me are well-educated and well-formed. But on inquiry, I find a large proportion of these are also converts; and that even among those who are not, most have learnt the Faith by their own efforts. Many of these are, as one can see by the way they phrase religious ideas, careful to avoid heresies.

But many other correspondents, declaring themselves to be ‘cradle Catholics’, are at no pains at all.

I often wonder what the Church is for such people. A nice venue for a wedding, to be sure; a bit of formal "closure" for a funeral. A building that may be worth including on an architectural preservation list, since no one is ever going to build another like it. Beyond this, some vague sense of an ethnic identity.

"I was born a Catholic," someone wrote to me recently (already in error: Nobody is born Catholic), "unlike you. Don't you dare tell me what a Catholic should believe!"

The sense of some Catholic ethnicity -- hyphenated Irish, Polish, or whatever -- goes with other sentimental thoughts. But Catholic means "universal," so there is a problem when we find nostalgic mush on both sides of the hyphen. They may or may not vaguely remember a rather cumbersome Catechism."

Okay, this part probably really spoke to me because I have so many "Cradle Catholic" friends from my "Catholic" College that this really applies to. Being Catholic for some seems like more of an ethnicity than a religion.

"But the whole thing may now apparently be reduced to a "bottom line." It comes down to being nice to people and trying not to notice if anyone is mean. It is about being open-minded, and accepting people as they are, unless they happen to be very religious.

Indeed, whatever else Christ may have done, according to this very common view, He reduced all the Ten Commandments to just One Commandment: that "you mustn't judge people."

I wish that were a parody of what I am told in e-mail so often, by self-described Catholics -- who then go on to judge me. I've been told these things not only by the laity, but even by several "modern" Catholic priests, one of whom was clever enough to add the word "misogynistic" to describe my opposition to abortion. "

This one gets me into more debates on the forums. "You're not supposed to judge" is an excuse for any sin under the sun and is usually followed by a judgement about exactly what sort of person I am. The argument "what exactly do you think they mean when they say that "reproving the sinner" is a spiritual work of mercy?" usually doesn't get any response. But you really should check out the entire article! It makes more sense altogether without my scattered thoughts in the middle!

Daydreaming about Mantillas

The baby is napping and I am daydreaming... about mantillas. It's because I bookmarked a couple of sites that I stumbled across the other day and I can't help but go back and visit them. I shouldn't be imaginary mantilla shopping. I have all the chapel veils I need. The first one, a white lace triangle, was highjacked by Sadie and is still being held hostage, with no sign of being returned in the near future. Thankfully one of the women at our church brought one to me that she had worn years ago and had run across, and I've defended it from little lace happy fingers.

Paul also bought me a black rectangle lace mantilla a while back. I actually was surprised that I like the look of the rectangle cut better than the triangle. The veils on my dream list are from these three stores:

And here are the veils. I've always wanted a gold or beige veil because both white and black feel like they stand out so much against my hair (although looking at some of the gold ones, I have to admit that they are rather bright). Here they are...

This one is for Sadie so she I can reclaim the one Paul bought me after we got married!

This picture is here because of the peineta (the piece under the mantilla). I'm just crazy about how these look, although I'm not brave enough to wear one (yet)!

I probably wouldn't actually wear something this bright, but I love it! And who knows I've been getting braver lately!

This might be my favorite. I love the color! I just wish it was a rectangle, but I think it's so pretty that it definitely makes the list!

I love the size of this one and the fact that I could wear it like a shawl and then pull it up to cover before going into the church.

This is my second favorite color out of the veils here and it has the larger size, making it my favorite veil. Sadie would have a field day if she got her hands on this one. Oh well, buying a new veil is not on the list of priorities for the near future, so I don't have to worry about her getting her hands on it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daddy's Little Princess Bunny

Sadie is so happy that Daddy is back from his weekend away at school! She even managed to stay up until her got home last night! She doesn't like it when he's gone and practically rips the phone out of my hand when he calls. Thank goodness for speakerphone because she hadn't quite gotten the hang of putting the phone to her ear yet (unless it's the little toy phone that came with her kitchen... she walks around with that pressed to her ear all the time. Once when the real phone rang she ran over and picked her little phone up.). Today's post are our most recent Sadie and Daddy pictures. Enjoy!

It Couldn't Hurt to Ask... On Toddler's and Behavior in Church

Mass has been increasingly difficult to survive lately. Sadie has had a severe case of The Wiggles that starts as soon as we walk in the door and ends as soon as we're back outside. The Wiggles are, unfortunately, usually accompanies by The Squeals and sometimes general fussiness. I've been spending a lot of time in the back of the Church and even more time outside on the front steps or, when the screaming gets really loud, around the side by the cemetery (our Church is very old and very poorly insulated, with thin windows... even when a parent goes a distance from the Church the crying can still usually be heard inside).

Today on the way to Mass, I had a thought. If Sadie can recognize the difference between a backhoe loader, a giant excavador, a skid steer and a bulldozer, she may be big enough to understand what Mommy is saying when I ask her to be quiet. So I turned around in my seat and looked at her. She was angelic in a little red velvet Christmas dress (that may or may not fit by Christmas) and black patent leather shoes with her little boom box on her lap playing music, and a sweet little smile on her face.

"Sadie," I said, "we're going to Mass right now to see Jesus. And you need to be very big and be a very good girl. You need to be very quiet while we're at Mass, okay?" She continued to smile and play with the boom box. "Do you think you can do that?"

"I definitely think she can Mommy," Paul replied from the driver's seat. "She's such a good girl, she won't have any problem being good at Mass today."

I turned back around as we pulled into town. I didn't really think it would work, because even if she was listening and understood what I was telling her (both very possible) what are the chances that she would have the self control to actually sit quietly for an entire hour without making a peep?

Apparently I underestimated her. She sat on my lap for 90% of Mass and spent the rest of the time alternating between standing in front of me and being held in her father's arms. And she didn't make a peep until after we'd received communion and had come back to our seats. Then she said "ya ya ya" several times. I put my finger up to my mouth (she's recently learned how to shush and thinks it's pretty funny) and she stopped talking and starting looking around with her finger up to her mouth.

There was one moment of cuteness I just have to share. When the bells rang for the consecration Sadie was standing on the kneeler and started to dance. Then she went back to being serious and watching what was going on around her.

Today was definitely a success. I hope "asking" her to be good during Mass keeps working! I actually heard father's homily today (and it gave me an idea for another post...).

40 Days for Life : A Prayer for Day 5

Today's 40 Days for Life Devotional

Day 5 - September 27


May the truth of the final judgment shape our thoughts, priorities, and choices here on earth.


The King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

-- Matthew 25:31-46


Caring for others is not optional.

Jesus' picture of the final judgment concludes with this sobering word: the wicked, who failed to care for others in their various needs (e.g., the hungry, the thirsty, the aliens, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous who did seek to meet those needs will end up with him, enjoying eternal life.

We know that this was no parable! Jesus has given us fair warning! Everything in God's Word points to the truth that compassionate concern and practical care for all people, especially for the poor, the destitute, the weak and needy is required of us, if indeed we hope to escape the punishment of the fire of hell.

And who are the poor and needy, if not helpless, unborn babies, as well as the aged and infirm at the other end of life? Surely the "least of these" embraces not only those at both ends of the continuum of life, but all others in between. Just how we, as Christ's true followers, respond to his admonition "inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me" will determine whether we enjoy eternal bliss in his presence or the bleak and dreadful reality of eternal punishment in hell. Nothing in God's Word could be clearer!


Gracious and merciful Father, we gladly embrace your Word that counsels us to care for the least of your children, and we renew our dedication to defending the unborn and all whose right to life is compromised by our godless society's selfish lack of concern. Free us from our own failures and sins so that we will be truly pro-life in every area of our lives. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Ben Sheldon
President Emeritus, Presbyterians Pro-Life

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Outfit of the Week

This weeks outfit of the week is in honor of our third anniversary (which was earlier this week). We actually got married a year to the day from our first date.

It's funny because we got married before I converted and looking back my first thought is "I can't believe my shoulders aren't covered!" These days I would be searching for a little sweater or cover of some sort to go with it.

A Big Girl!

Sadie is learning, learning, learning and gets a huge smile on her face every time she tries something new. This weekend it has been:

1) The Itsy Bitsy Spider
2) Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes (the song)
3) Combing the first half of the Itsy Bitsy Spider with the second half of Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes= "The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out... knees and toes knees and toes" (by dance motions)
4) Shushing people
5) Putting her finger up her nostril (this evolved from shushing people... maybe if I don't make a big deal over it she'll forget how to do it...).
6) Nodding her head up and down and smiling when ever anyone says yes.
7) Pointing at the TV and saying "ah" whenever a touchdown is made in a football game.

I was watching her tonight as she excitedly fluttered around Paul after he got home from school and she just seemed so much more grown up! There are so many things she's learning to do!

We also went to the Harvest Festival today. There were a ton of vendors there, but the high point was definitely the string band that was playing kids songs. Sadie even danced a little! It was quite a day!

Geocaching: A Fun Activity for the Whole Family

My husband says that Geocaching is like the video game "Mafia Wars." Very addictive. I don't see how you can compare something that involves going outdoors on a giant sort of treasure hunt to staying inside and staring at a computer screen and playing a video game, but I guess his point is that once a lot of people start looking for geocaches they find it hard to stop.

My Aunt and Uncle and cousins first discovered geocaching years ago and got my grandparents hooked on it. Then my parents joined in and when I was home from college they would take me along. Paul never really liked it, but now that we have a little one, we're getting back into it (and hopefully once he sees how much fun she's having he'll enjoy it a bit more too!).

Geocaching is basically going out and looking for little hidden boxes that people have stashed all around the world. All you need is a hand held GPS. You get the GPS coordinates online (sometimes with other hints is you want) and you go find the hidden treasure box (which is often times an ammo can).

You end up at places, even around your hometown that you might not have otherwise gone. Yesterday we went about an hour out. I wore clothes that I wouldn't mind getting dirty, because I had a feeling I would be the one scrambling around in the dirt if any scrambling was required (it was and I ended up scrambling down a cliff... which was not anywhere near the geocache and then scrambling across a rocky embankment... which again was not anywhere near the geocache). There are different terrain difficulty levels from super easy (you could reach it in a wheelchair) and getting increasingly more difficult. My grandfather uses two walking sticks to get around and he has a blast finding them. It's great for families.

There are even virtual caches where you get sent to a sight that has some sort of information (usually like a monument of some sort) and then you enter the info on line to get credit for the find.

Once you find the geocache you open it and write your username on the log (register on the site before you go out). You can also bring along a bag of nick nacks or toys or coins (or pretty much any small, inexpensive thing) and trade it in for something in the cache. This is particularly fun if you have little kids. Then you go home and "log the cache," which means going to the website and finding the caches you just found and writing a little note that includes what you traded (if you traded anything). There are even "travel bugs" which people take from one cache to the next, that make their way around the world.

Todays pictures are from our geocaching adventure yesterday. My favorite spot was an old graveyard out in the middle of nowhere. There were a ton of "unknown" graves, including the "unknown stagecoach robber" shown above and an "unknown Spaniard." You can definitely find some interesting sites and little ones love running around looking for treasure!

40 Days for Life : A Prayer for Day 4

If you haven't already, check out the 40 Days for Life Website!

Day 4 - September 26


We ask God that we may understand the concept of justice, as a gift he gives and as a responsibility that shapes our work.


Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

-- Amos 5:24


Justice, a key theme of the Scriptures, is something God does and that we too must do.

When God intervenes to save his people when they are helpless and in slavery in Egypt, he "does justice." He manifested his justice in the plagues that were sent upon Egypt, whereby Pharaoh was convinced that he must let the people go. Justice is manifested as, in awe and wonder, God's people see the Red Sea open before them, allow them to pass without even getting their feet wet, and then close again to drown their powerful enemies.

God is a God of Justice; he rescues us when we cannot save ourselves. His justice, above all, is seen in Jesus Christ, who, when we could not save ourselves, rescued us from the kingdom of sin, Satan, death, and hell. The mighty work of Christ on the cross and in the resurrection is the perfect manifestation of God as the God of justice.

We, then, are to be the people of justice; we are to "do justice" by intervening to save the helpless in the name and by the power of the God who saves us who are helpless ourselves. That's why we have a pro-life movement; that's why we have a 40 Days for Life Campaign; that's why saving the unborn is our business.


God of Justice, you heard the cry of your people when they were being oppressed in Egypt, and you proved yourself to be the God of justice, who rescues the helpless. You likewise rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and brought us into the Kingdom of your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who saves us from the power of Satan, sin, death, and hell. Make us people of justice, ready to intervene to save the helpless. Indeed, as your prophets have announced, let justice roll on like a mighty river, to save all who are in need, especially the unborn. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Friday, September 25, 2009

We Love the Itsy Bitsy Spider

Sadie has a little boom box that she carries around that is filled with music. It makes every single trip we go on so much more comfortable, because when Sadie has the little blue plastic boom box in her hand she is usually happy. She plays games with it. One game she likes to play is to switch the song any time someone says "I like this song." This doesn't happen very often, as she has over a hundred preschool/toddler age songs, but occasionally a Disney song does come on. Today when the theme song from Enchanted came on Nani, who was in the seat in front of me, said "don't say that you l-i-k-e this s-o-n-g." As soon as she said the words, spelling out like and song, Sadie clicked the button and changed it to the next song and smiled.

There is one song that she listens to every time though. The Itsy Bitsy Spider. And today when it came on she looked over at me and started to try to do the hand movements. She does the spider like the sign language sign for "more" and then she twists her hands a little (she's doing the spider hand movement in the picture). Then she lifts her hands up and wiggles her fingers to do the rain. And off course next the sun comes up. Now I'm not sure where she came up with this, but she has been trying to run around behind me and make the circle in front of my bum (thank you Sadie, apparently that's what reminds you of the sun?) while giggling (at least she knows she's being silly).

Her other achievement is the ability to "shush" people. I put my finger up to my lips and shush her when she uses her "outdoor" voice indoors. She started to do that today at lunch and I made a shushing sound without really thinking about it and she got a huge smile and brought her finger up to her mouth and then spent the next five minutes looking around the table at everyone and smiling and shushing them. She certainly learns quickly!

40 Days for Life : A Prayer for Day 3

I wish that there was a 40 days for life event going on near us! I looked on the site and the closest one was over three hours away... Check it out though, there may be one near you that you could participate in.

Day 3 - September 25


We pray for God's gift of strength as we strive to protect human life during these 40 Days for Life.


Loving heavenly Father, help us to see the worth of all human beings by the way in which you provide for us. We would ask that you provide also the faith, grace and courage to enable us to protect that which is so precious to you. Through Christ our Lord, amen.

Dennis DiMauro
Lutherans for Life


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

-- Matthew 6:25-26

Natural Family Planning: Part 7: Pius XI

I haven't had a chance to write a NFP post in a quite a while and since the baby is still miraculously asleep (at 7:30 am!) I thought I'd steal the chance right now. Hopefully I won't be cut short by Little Miss Bunny, who is most definitely not a morning person.

As I've talked to various people about NFP over the years, I've come to realize that it is largely misunderstood. There seems to be a belief that the Vatican took the command to "be fruitful and multiply" and using that bible verse alone has decided to make us all have giant Catholic families... Something seems to be missing....

While Genesis 1:28 is a beautiful verse and is used in the NFP argument, it is hardly the sole basis for condemning artificial birth control, as various Popes and other theologians have taught us again and again.

Unfortunately, ignorance is bliss for many in this case and if the percentages you hear quoted about the number of Catholics who use ABC are correct, it seems that many have either ignored the teachings or never heard of them. My next series of NFP posts will give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they haven't really heard the Church's reasons behind the condemnation of all forms of artificial birth control. That's where we'll start:

Pope Pius XI

It is important to realize that in the first modern papal condemnation of unnatural methods of birth control, there are both a call to generosity in service of life and the acceptance of the principle of spacing babies through natural family planning. The reasoning of Pope Pius XI concerning generosity emphasizes the supernatural destiny of Man:

"Besides God wishes men to be born that they may be worshippers of God, that they may know Him and love Him and finally enjoy Him forever in heaven; and this end, since man is raised by God in a marvelous way to the supernatural order, surpasses all that eye has seen, and ear heard, and all that has entered into the heart of man."

God had no need to create the universe. He did so simply to share his goodness with others. By entrusting procreation to couples, He put Himself in the position of needing couples to cooperate in the procreation of those "others" with whom God wants to share his life and happiness in heaven for all eternity. There is also no question that spouses benefit by being parents adn that children benefit from having ample brothers and sisters.

(Pope Pius XI issues Casti Connubii, "Chaste Marriage," on December 31, 1930, to reaffirm traditional Christian teaching against unnatural forms of birth control.)

Taken from The Art of Natural Family Planning, 4th Edition, by John F. Kippley and Sheila K. Kippley

Perfect timing. Someone just woke up, so I have to run!

Update: The Kippley's Website can now be found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Worry the Squirrel is Safe

When we saw the fox in the backyard a couple of days ago, he looked pretty cute. We looked around and didn't see any cute furry animals for him to go after (there's a reason are cats are indoor cats) and so Sadie, Nani, Grumpa and I stood by the window and watched him prance across the back lawn. Except suddenly, he stopped prancing. He skulked a ways and then ran up into a tree. I had never known that foxes could run up into trees. We thought that he was going to get onto the roof of the house, because the tree almost touches it. Instead, about ten seconds later, we saw exactly what he was going after. A squirrel plummeted out of the tree, side by side with a free falling fox. Even without seeing the squirrels chipped ear I knew who he was. Alvin. Sadie's new squirrel friend (Teddy disappeared mysteriously a few weeks ago).

I couldn't let a fox eat Alvin.

I ran outside and yelled and the fox and I were face to face. He went from being a cute, fluffy forest animal, to being a snarling ball of fury with evil, beady eyes. He was not frightened in the least. Luckily he was distracted for long enough for Alvin to escape into his burrow. The fox was still looking at the squirrel's tunnel so I threw a water bottle and stomped my feet (very dignified, I know) and he finally sauntered away.

Sadie watched the entire incident from the window and apparently it made quite the impression. She started searching through her animal books looking for foxes and squirrels and pointing them out. Today when we got home from the library Sadie sat down and showed Nani a picture of three foxes. When Nani asked her what Mommy said to the fox Sadie smiled and said "Na! Na! Na!" (which is her word for "No!" after reading Bartholomew Bear. It made quite the impression!

40 Days for Life : A Prayer for Day 2

The 2nd Day of 40 Days for Life. Click here for Daily Devotionals.


Lord, we thank you for those who have repented of committing abortions and have resolved to defend life. We too repent and resolve. We repent of every instance in which fear has made us silent when we should have spoken. We repent of the ongoing bloodshed in our land, and for thinking that we can deprive the unborn of protection but keep it for ourselves. We resolve that we will advance the cause of righteous candidates for public office, and that we will be more afraid of offending you by our silence than of offending others by our speech. We resolve that we will proclaim your name to the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Five Minutes a Day

I just ran across this ad (quote below), which is trying to sell stories for parents to read to to their kids. Except that it makes one huge assumption, which is that parents who don't have time to spent five minutes reading their kid a story they have in their home, will somehow be able to manufacture five minutes to spend with their kid after spending the time having found and printed the story...

Huh, that's funny. I thought we were supposed to have time to "do it all." I mean, just ignore the fact that there are a finite number of hours in the day and if you spend most of that time at work, you're spending most of your time away from your children...

I know that many mom's really have to work to support their children and that must be incredibly hard and they should have all the support that we can give them... what gets me is that many don't and if the way you spend your time tells what your priorities are... it doesn't paint a pretty picture about where are kids fall on our list of priorities.

The average working parent in America spends less than 5 minutes a day reading to their children.” So opens the presentation by, which allows parents to customize children’s stories – with their son or daughter’s name incorporated into the tale – and print or email it to themselves. This product works with the iPhone so that busy parents can create customized bedtime stories for their children – complete with illustrations – so that they can be read any time, anywhere.

So that's my little rant for the day.

Added: Since my husband read this post and said it's unclear who I'm ranting at I'll add a little clarification. I don't think there's anything wrong with the product. I was merely inspired to write this post because the need for the product (parents unable to squeeze in time to read to their offspring) is, in my mind, directly linked to the feminist thought that we could all do everything and do it well (and let's face it we can't be in two places at the same time!).

The product reminds me of quite a few products on the market in which your kids name can be added to a story or song or video to make it more special. That's great if you want that sort of thing! What I have a problem with is parents who put work before their children.... especially when it's not necessary to put food in their mouths and keep a roof over their heads (and is instead because they want to live in a bigger house, drive a nicer car, go shopping more often...).

Dear Man...

Brooke had a great post today over at Tending to the Truth (one of my favorites blogs!). She discovered this gem on the internet and I wanted to pass it along for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

Dear Man,

No offense intended kind sir, but I do not desire to be you. On the contrary, I am proud to be quite different. This current movement of modeling your clothing and your mannerisms has been pushed upon me by society for far too long. ‘Tis a pity that your foul mouth has infested mine, and that it has become acceptable for me to utter such filth in the presence of others. We have strayed from our feminine ways of modesty, reserved nature, and politeness, exchanging these for provocative attire, brashness, and ill manners. Often such motives are to appeal to your unbridled masculine desires, and in doing so I am losing my identity as a unique and respectable sex. I have been fooled into believing your wants should be mine as well. I have rejected such beautiful and intricate attire for fear of appearing weak or unattractive beside you. My fight for equality has become a fight for the right to imitate and please. In my struggle for equal dignity, confusion has occurred, making it a struggle for your ambitions and manly qualities, or often to appease them, and even you have forgotten who I am.

I have received what the so-called “feminists” of my sex have asked for: I open my own door, walk in behind you, pull up my own chair, and pay for my own meal. In our blindness for more power rather than equality, my innate qualities have been underappreciated. Delicacy does not imply a lack of strength, and displaying my emotions does not mean I lack the ability to be logical. In envying your qualities, I have forgotten to value my own such as my nurturing nature, sensitivity, and compassion. In lowering my standards, I have equally lowered yours. For this I apologize and promise to work to regain the respect and dignity those in the past have worked so hard for. I only ask that you help me in this fight by supporting my right to be equal in dignity and rights with a role distinct from your own. I now realize that just because I now have the right to act like you, does not mean I should. I desire, not to be treated like your fellowmen, but rather as your compliment and counterpart, whose qualities although quite different, are just as valued.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Backhoe Loaders, Brush Rigs, Ambulance and Fire Trucks

How many trucks can exist in one small town? The answer in our town is "a lot." And today Sadie saw a lot of trucks. We went geocaching with Daddy and Nani and Grumpa and Nini and Gigi before going out for an anniversary lunch. The geocache just happened to be at the fire station in town. Sadie knows the names of pretty much every truck we see these days and she wasn't all that impressed by the ambulance or the "fire chiefs truck." After spending about five minutes looking for the geocache she spotted the garage. And it was full of fire trucks (she gives me a look when I say "fire trucks" because she recognizes them as "fire engines" in her truck and tractor book). She squealed and raced across the parking lot. Once inside the garage (which had a water tender, a brush rig, a rescue truck and three fire engines- Grumpa told me the various names of the fire engines but I can't remember them all! Sadie probably can...) Sadie tried to escape. She sensed that Mommy and Daddy weren't going to let her stay forever and that was exactly what she had planned.

After we returned to where Nini and Gigi were geocaching Sadie tried twice to escape and sneak back to the fire truck. She did get a stuffed fire dog out of the cache though and after that accepted that it was time to go to lunch.

But who could have guessed that lunch was going to be so exciting? Cal-Trans had torn the sidewalk that runs through downtown up and are removing the roots of the trees (and several giant trees) while business goes on as usual in the shops that open onto the sidewalk. We were having lunch in a place that just happened to look out at the backhoe loader (one of the tractors that Sadie is the most obsessed with in her book). While we watched the backhoe loader work a procession of other trucks and large vehicles went past and Sadie was delighted to see a RV towing a boat, a RV towing a hummer, log trucks, container trucks and tons of cars and pickup trucks. It was quite the day! I'm not sure we'll ever be able to top it!

The "Right" to Die

It seems that the respect for life is dwindling abroad as well as at home. In an article titled "It's my life and I demand to end it when I want" David Aaronovitch demands the right to end his own life on his own terms. Here are a few highlights.

Past ambiguities about what you could and couldn’t do tended to favour those whose job it was to interpret them — usually the priestly classes of the professions. But over the years we have come increasingly to believe that our judgments about ourselves, albeit as informed by some experts, have a sovereign quality. We have gradually applied this to our clothing, our sexual existences, our capacity to choose and change partners, our fertility, our spiritual beliefs — and now, inevitably, to our deaths. The choice to do as Freud did, to say: “I want to die now, please help me,” is no more or less than the choice that I want for myself. And even that understates it, I realise, because it is the choice that I now demand.

Life has become so devalued in the West that the choice to live or die sits next to choices about sexuality and fertility (in Mr. Aaronovitch's mind at least). But in some ways he is right to make that link: Our culture's frivolous treatment of fertility and the lives that result from it ties in to the devaluation of human life. We can kill our unborn children in the womb and now Mr. Aaronovitch makes the next logical step, we should be allowed to kill ourselves as well. Has life really become this cheap?

So why should we not have the right to determine, within reason, when and how we die? Some religious people will say, in essence, because God says so. But one may observe that sometimes God so invoked seems to have served mankind well (as over opposition to eugenics) and sometimes badly (as over, say, family planning). Church folk will forgive me for addressing some of the more secular objections raised in July’s Lords debate.

"Within reason"? Who defines what is "within reason?" Suicide is now "reasonable"?

First there was the point made by Lord Mackay of Clashfern, that “any proposal to alter the current position involves a judgment that a certain kind of life, or a certain span of life, has become unworthy of support from [the] principle [of the sanctity of life]”. To which I reply: “No, it doesn’t.” What a proposal might do is to permit the liver of a life to decide its value — not Lord Mackay, me or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Finally someone brings up the sanctity of life! Thank you Lord Mackay. And Mr. Aaronovitch: "Yes, it does."

Third, and related, was the contention, advanced by many, from the Bishop of Exeter to Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws that the law ought not to be changed because people would either feel “pressured into dying” or actually would be pressured into dying.

This seems to be the problem we're all facing... but hey, it would cut costs... and we really need to cut costs if this health care plan is going to work....

A Dip in the Cesspool that is Cable Television: The Marriage "Discussion"

While Sadie was taking a nap today at Nani and Grumpa's house the TV was on. This was the case yesterday and the day before and I'm beginning to see a trend. There is an all out assault against traditional family values going on (I know, I know, this probably doesn't come as a surprise to any of you). What did surprise me was how blatant it was.

The subject of marriage pops up over and over again, and in their own special Hollywood way the script writers and producers "show" both sides of the argument.

On reality shows they find the stupidest traditional marriage advocates on the face of the Earth and tear them to pieces while they sputter and stutter about the Bible (I would think a high school diploma would mean disqualification from defending traditional marriage on these shows). What young person watching the show could possibly think "I want to be like that guy"? They certainly aren't going to bring on anyone who could make a reasonable case for preserving marriage. They hardly even bring on people who can speak in complete sentences if they have a conservative viewpoint.

Then there's daytime television. In a ten minute period they showed a "homophobic father" disown his son and a "good Catholic wife" threaten to leave her husband if he didn't apologize to his son for telling him he shouldn't be having sex with his teenage girlfriend before they were married. Both fathers "saw the light" and apologized in the next ten minute section (and suddenly gained a good 50 IQ points to rise from "dull normal" to "average"). It's hardly a flattering depiction.

Unfortunately it seems to be a typical scenario. The liberal media had a field day between 2000 to 2008 depicting our President as a barely literate buffoon and now they'd like to complete the picture by painting every morally conservative person in the country with the same brush.

I know I shouldn't be surprised and in truth I'm only surprised by the frequency of the subject... I am so glad that we don't have cable and the more I think about it the more I realize that that probably won't change. I wonder if there's a way just to get the sports channels... although they seem to have some of the worst commercials...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Serious Case of the Wiggles

Sadie is sound asleep, taking an early afternoon nap. She’s even snoring, making a cute little whining sound (she’s still a little fussy).

Sitting through Mass has become quite the challenge. I’m beginning to look back on her less mobile days fondly (at least for the couple of hours each week that we’re sitting in pews). I used to worry that she was going to cry and disrupt the service as I rushed her out of the church. These days I worry that she’s going to break free of her father’s grip and race up to the altar screaming (or laughing) as she goes for the chalice (we’re big on cups these days).

I bought her Church Shoes, which I’d read could help children understand the seriousness of the situation, but I think that a straight jacket would be more effective.

Instead we shuffle her back and forth between us and try not to go completely insane!

On Sunday she spent 90% of the hour on the steps out in front (at least you can hear everything from there). She cried for most of it and if you’d told me in advance, I never would have believed the reason.

And here it is: Flowers.

Anticipating a rowdy hour we sat at the very back of the church so that we could make a quick exit when the wiggles struck. Unfortunately Sadie noticed the beautiful vase of flowers on the table behind us, in the nook under the stairs that go up to the choir loft, about five minutes into the service. She decided that those flowers should be hers. She reached for them. I stopped her. A tantrum ensued. I took her outside.

We make sure that the outside time isn’t fun. She has to be held until she calms down (we don’t want to encourage tantrums, just so that we can go outside!). And this Sunday she calmed down pretty quickly on each trip outside. Then we would go back into the church and she would see the flowers from a few feet inside the door and the screaming would start.

Who knew that in twelve months a leaking diaper would seem so much easier to deal with then a severe case of the wiggles!

"The Case for Killing Granny": Newsweek Reaches a New Low

Newsweek has done it again. Here's an article titled "The Case for Killing Granny" by Evan Thomas. We're about to run off to Mass (today is our anniversary, three years of wedded bliss and four years since our first date) but here's some food for thought. Although it certainly isn't the kind of thought I like to start my day with....

But the need to spend less money on the elderly at the end of life is the elephant in the room in the health-reform debate. Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it. At a more basic level, Americans are afraid not just of dying, but of talking and thinking about death. Until Americans learn to contemplate death as more than a scientific challenge to be overcome, our health-care system will remain unfixable.

It doesn't seem to me that the problem lately has been a fear of death in America. It's a lack of respect for life, which is apparently a problem for Mr. Thomas.

There is no way we can get control of costs, which have grown by nearly 50 percent in the past decade, without finding a way to stop overtreating patients. In his address to Congress, President Obama spoke airily about reducing inefficiency, but he slid past the hard choices that will have to be made to stop health care from devouring ever-larger slices of the economy and tax dollar. A significant portion of the savings will have to come from the money we spend on seniors at the end of life because, as Willie Sutton explained about why he robbed banks, that's where the money is.

"Overtreating patients." Is that what we're calling saving lives these days?

The desire to see a physician is often pronounced in assisted-living facilities. Old people, far from their families in our mobile, atomized society, depend on their doctors for care and reassurance. I noticed that in my mother's retirement home, the talk in the dining room was often about illness; people built their day around doctor's visits, partly, it seemed to me, to combat loneliness.

Let's ignore the fact that many of the elderly actually need to see doctor's far more than a young person because their health is failing. My grandmother died this past summer and she had to see the doctor many times a month because she had frequent bladder infections, which nearly claimed her life on a monthly basis for years before her actual death.

Check out the article if you can stomach it. It let's you know how little respect some people actually have for life.

Added: I just posted this and after talking with my husband one more thought popped into my head. The basic idea of cutting costs and not ordering unnecessary tests is one that could help fix part of the problem with our system. However Mr. Thomas sites his grandmother's choice not to undergo further procedures (and she was allowed to make that choice) and then tries to derive implications that could be used across the board to cut costs.

That's where we disagree.

If a person who is dying of cancer doesn't want to go through yet another round of chemo it's their choice. I have a problem when the choice becomes the insurance companies or the governments (as some now claim it will be) and is taken out of the individual's hands. That's why the second quote about making "hard choices" is so disturbing. Who will be making these hard choices? More then ever this causes me to wonder if our elderly will be pressured towards ending their own lives, a claim which I thought earlier was just a political scare tactic. It seems to be a real possibility if many people agree with Mr. Thomas' views.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Rough Day Made Better: Sadie Falls in Love

Sadie had another tough day. She tripped and bit a hole in her top lip. She still doesn't seem to be feeling great, although she's not sick. I am waiting for her eighth tooth to break through and explain it all away, any day now.

The day started out badly when I had to wake her up so that we could go on a planned trip to Redding to do some food shopping. Sadie is not a morning person. I am, but apparently she takes after Daddy. I never realized that sort of thing was so ingrained at such a young age. After a rough start, waking up, we went into town. We were early (she could have slept a little later!) because we wanted to grab lunch before we went to the store (afterwards we'd have to go straight home with the groceries in the triple digit heat) and we decided to go to a local toy store. We were hoping to get some ideas for Christmas (I was favoring the Radio Flyer pedal cars) but as soon as we walked through the door Sadie's eyes light up. She had seen him.

She only had eyes for Rody.

I think Rody (who we've named Robby, which is the name of Sadie's cousin, two uncles, her Grandpa and her Grumpa... there's so many it's hard to keep track!) will be one of those toys that she looks back on fondly in twenty years. It reminded me of a rocking horse that I had (although the rocking horse was brown and fabric) and while we hadn't planned on buying anything, we left the store with Robby.

The horse was between two bicycles in the store and Sadie spent the entire time we were there trying to move them to get to Rody.

When we got home she repeatedly kissed his nose, patted his back and ears and tried to shove me away any time I touched him to steady her. And of course, they "galloped" slowly across the room together. I think she's in love... It's only a matter of time before she's horse crazy.

Love At First Sight: Sadie and Robby

We were trying to pass the time while waiting to go to lunch today and my husband and I took Sadie into a small local toy store to look around. I love the store because it has lots of low tech toys that require actual imagination. When you walk in you see Radio Flyer bicycles and tricyles and they usually have those Radio Flyer pedal cars (although they were sold out today). There are doll houses and toy horses and stuffed animals and tons of wooden toys, along with hundreds of other items. Sadie saw what she wanted the moment we walked in the store though.

She only had eyes for Rody.

I think Rody (who we've named Robby, which is the name of Sadie's cousin, two uncles and her Grumpa) will be one of those toys that she looks back on fondly in twenty years. It reminded me of a rocking horse that I had (although the rocking horse was brown and fabric) and while we hadn't planned on buying anything, we left the store with Robby.

The horse was between two bicycles in the store and Sadie spent the entire time we were there trying to move them to get to Rody.

When we got home she repeatedly kissed his nose, patted his back and ears and tried to shove me away any time I touched him to steady her. And of course, they "galloped" slowly across the room together. I think she's in love... It's only a matter of time before she's horse crazy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Attacks Tomato!

They say a pictures worth a thousand words, so here are three Sadie pictures for todays blog. We have yet to master the fine art of self feeding. But she does enjoy herself!

Outfit of the Week

I forgot to post my Outfit of the Week yesterday! It's an old picture (Paul has long hair! And it got way longer before he cut it.) of a jacket that is still an absolute favorite. I was a little nervous to wear it at first because the print is so bold, but over time it has become a favorite. The purse came with soaps in it from Bath and Body Works.

Being Catholic Isn't Easy at Some "Catholic" Universities

The first sign that we were making a bad decision came in the form of a laugh. My husband had just asked a priest at one of the colleges he was considering for grad school if the school was loyal to the teachings of the Magesterium and if the professor’s had to sign a statement declaring their allegiance to the Church and it’s teachings. And he laughed because the idea was so ridiculous as to be unimaginable.

I felt a sinking in my stomach but continued to smile. The program had amazing scholarships and we wouldn’t have to move half way across the country a month after the baby was born. So we told two very traditional universities in Texas that he wouldn’t be attending their programs and stayed in California.

Looking back we were more then a little na├»ve. We had both been reading and studying and devouring every book on theology and Catholicism that we came across, but having never experienced a liberal “Catholic” college as a practicing Catholic, we really didn’t know what we were in for (or more specifically what he was in for).

Still I doubt it would have helped had we been warned that he was about to enter a program that is considered by many to be the second most “liberal” Catholic theology program in the country (behind the Jesuit Theological Union). We talked about the conversation and thought that heterodox classmates and professors could sharpen his apologetic skills as he was exposed to passionately divergent viewpoints. And that has happened. My husband loves a good argument and he’s had the plenty of opportunity for it.

What we didn’t expect was that politically liberal self-righteousness would possibly affect his grades. The prevalent idea in much of academia is that anyone who doesn’t agree with ultra liberal beliefs is a “bigot” (a term often used to refer to orthodox Catholics in their current reading assignment).

Last year my husband received a graded paper covered in personal insults. This professor was still allowed to give my husband a grade in the class (his first A-, ruining his 4.0 GPA). He had to tell another professor that he wouldn’t discuss the Church’s stance on condoms with him because he was afraid it would affect his grade (the man had become outraged because he agreed with the Vatican on that issue).

Yesterday a fellow student went off on a tirade bashing the Church, Church leaders, and the Church’s teachings. At the end of his monologue the professor called him “very wise” and then refused to call on my husband who (naturally) had a response.

Then there’s the assigned reading. I picked up the 400 + page book, which was written by a Jesuit priest, and read one paragraph. The reading was difficult and at first I thought I might have misunderstood the author’s intent. I asked my husband to clarify and he asked me what I thought I had read. I explained that it sounded like the author had serious problems with the sacraments of baptism (because of infant baptism) and holy orders. He said that came up many times and was a good assessment of it.

As my husband reaches the halfway point in the program I am reminded of a quote I read (I believe it was John Paul II who was being quoted) in Pope Benedicts book Jesus of Nazareth. JPII was asked why Catholic Colleges who went against the teachings of the Church were allowed to continue and he spoke of the parable in which weeds are sown in a field along with the grain seeds (Matthew 13:24- 30). The landowner’s servants come along and ask if they should pull out the weeds. He tells them not to because the wheat will be damaged too. When the harvest comes the weeds will be gathered into bundles and burned… That would make me nervous if I were a heterodox Catholic educator who spent a large portion of my classes bashing the Church and spreading division.

I can say that we won’t make the same mistake twice. The next step in my husband’s education will take us to an Orthodox University… only 21 months of of heterodox Catholic education to go.

From the RSV CE
Matthew 13:24-30

24 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' 28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29 But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Hay Truck and a Snake!

Sadie still is a little under the weather (which is mostly manifesting itself in extreme fussiness) but we still had an exciting day today. First off a hay truck showed up at our house this morning to deliver 10 tons of alfalfa. Sadie could hardly believe her luck. We walked down together (she was still in her pajamas, although we did put on a jacket because it's finally getting chilly at night) and checked things out. First we walked all the way around the truck. Then we went in the barn where the hay was being unloaded. Then Sadie decided that it was much cooler to be carried around the hay truck by Grumpa then to walk with Mommy.

So Sadie and Grumpa walked around the truck again. Sadie tried to pick the bugs off the front grill and Grumpa even opened the door so that Sadie could look inside the cab. Then she went over and Grumpa let her stand on the bed of the truck and then, when she got brave and started trying to walk away, across the bed, got up there with her.

She did get momentarily distracted by the pumpkins in Nani's garden and even found one that was no longer attached to the vine (probably the result of a thieving ground squirrel) and carried it around for the rest of the day.

By midmorning though, it was clear that Sadie wasn't feeling hot. She curled up on my lap and slept for three hours (my arm has almost recovered. Every time I tried to move and shift her weight at all she would start to whine and fuss in her sleep.).
The other surprise of the day came when Nani and Sadie were walking down to water the lavender. Sadie started pointing at a plant on the ground next to her foot. Nani looked at it and didn't see anything. Then a snake shot out and went between Sadie's feet before disappearing into the grass. Sadie, who had a frog jump and land on her chest earlier in the week, is still fearless when it comes to slimy, slithery animals.

And that is our very exciting day.

Today is Opening Day

There are a bunch of idiots tramping around outside carrying rifles. This worries me immensely.

It's not that I have a problem with hunting in general. But today is Opening Day and it seems like quite a few people out there are determined to make some very bad decisions. I won't lay the blame completely on "city people" (or Flat Landers to use the term that is more common here) but I would be willing to bet that not a single car parked by the side of the freeway belonged to a local.

Here's the problem: I just drove into town and over the course of the ten mile drive we passed at least a dozen trucks full of hunters. They had stopped on the side of the interstate (because now they're in the country) unloaded their guns and binoculars and were waiting for the deer to cross the freeway. I have to wonder if they really plan on firing a rifle at a deer on a freeway (this seems like a recipe for incarceration and disaster) but I can't think of any other reason to flock to the freeway.

Locals have spots where they go and those areas are deep in the woods.

Today I saw hunters with their guns looking for deer in a subdivision, next to houses, and another group standing with binoculars looking into someone's beautiful green backyard for any bucks that might be hiding there.

These specific hunters by the freeway all have large shiny trucks (and with all the dirt roads local cars are seldom shiny here) and brand new camo gear. And the lack of common sense tells me one very important thing: these people should not have guns! In fact they don't seem to have the judgement necessary to operate a motor vehicle.

These hunters don't seem to understand that, while they have left the city, they are still in town (or next to a major area freeway) and that that is not the wilderness! It is not a safe place to hunt. There are people here! I can only imagine how busy the poor game wardens are trying to keep all of these people from killing each other.

At least the locals go far enough out that when they mix booze and hunting they aren't likely to shoot anyone innocent bystanders!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ding Dong the Fridge is Dead....

I expected the worst, but even still, it was disgusting. I pried open the refrigerator in the little travel trailer that is next to our cabin. I could have sworn that I cleaned it out when we stopped using it a couple of years ago (around the time when I became pregnant and the cabin was completed). Apparently I did not, so today when I ventured to complete my deep cleaning of the trailer so that we can start using it again, I had no one to blame but myself.

We used to live in the trailer. The cabin was a huge upgrade. While the trailer had a sink and ice cold water the beds were teeny tiny and hard on both of our backs. We were thrilled when Paul and Dad finished the cabin and we were able to buy an actual bed (it's probably why we went out and got a king size) to sleep in once the cabin was finished.

I was lucky enough to have saved the swine flu mask that they gave us during our visit to the doctor's office last week when Sadie was sick. Because we've had mouse issues in the past I put it on before I went inside. Earlier this summer when I started the cleaning project I found that any time I went into the cabin I ended up coughing for a couple of days. So Sadie is definitely not allowed in until it's really been cleaned out. The fridge was making a strange swishing sound and I braced myself as I opened it. I half expected water (I don't know where it would have come from... I was basing this fear purely on the sound that it was making...) to rush out and flood my sneakers (I had an even greater fear that somehow a raccoon had opened the fridge and was stuck in there trying to get out...). There was no flood of water (and no raccoon), but the smell was nearly as bad.

English muffins. I remembered once I'd pried the door open. There had been a sale on English muffins. I'd bought three packages and frozen them to make little pizzas later. Apparently when the fridge had died (and it is most definitely dead) the english muffins had liquified. It wasn't a pretty picture. There was mold everywhere. It may take a while for me to look at english muffins the same way.

After two hours of scrubbing the fridge and freezer were clean. I was still hopeful that the breaker was switched, although this was truly wishful thinking since the fridge light was working and I imagine they would be on the same breaker... I did try to tell myself that the light was probably battery operated, just to keep the dream alive for a little longer). I was happy to find that the tiny living room was free of mouse "evidence" (to put it delicately), which means they must have moved on for the time being (we do have those electronic devices that are supposed to make sound to keep the mice away).

With the trailer closer to working order we are closer to having (kind of) running water, in the form of a garden hose plugged into the trailer. The downside is that the water empties out into a tank that has to be dragged up a steep hill to be emptied (something my husband is not all that exited about).

I am happy to say that the mask worked and for the first time since I've done a day of cleaning I don't have a cough. Now I just need to finish the tiny bathroom and the sleeping area (two very narrow beds) and we'll have our own little area to spend time in during out waking hours. I love the cabin, but it is almost completely taken up by the bed and the crib. If we're not sleeping or watching a movie, there isn't much room to move around.

And while the initial opening of the fridge was kind of horrifying, it wasn't that bad once I started working. I kept my mind on the reason for the two hours of scrubbing, which was making a nice place for my family to spend time and have meals together. It may be tiny, but I have a feeling in a few years (once Paul finishes all the years of grad school and is a canon lawyer or professor) we'll look back on our trailer and cabin wistfully. In the meantime, I'll never let it get this out of control again!

The downside is that my Dad went down and checked on the fridge and it is, in fact, dead. It had a good, long life for a refrigerator, having been manufactured in the 1970s. He said he can pull it out and we can get one of those little fridges for dorm rooms to put in... but that will probably be in a few months. Still I'm glad I got all that mold out. It'll be in it's place for a while longer and it would have driven me crazy to know how bad it was inside if we were spending time in there.

Tom and Jerry and a Cement Truck

Sadie is feeling little bit sick today and needs lots of rests (recovering from her shots). We went into town for Grumpa to get his hair cut and while Sadie and I were walking down the street a cement truck from the local quarry went by. The driver saw me pointing and Sadie staring, wide eyed (she's been looking at the cement mixer in her courderoy bear book and her truck book) and tooted the horn. It may have been the high point of Sadie's day.

The other high point of the day came when Sadie was resting on my lap at Nani and Grumpa's. Since she's under the weather I was looking for a cartoon she could watch. We tried the Tigger and Pooh Super Sleuths and she wasn't all that impressed. Then I found Tom and Jerry. Sadie couldn't stop laughing. She could hardly breath when Tom got smacked over the head with the broom. She laughed until she had started coughing, which turned into hiccups. Then she hiccuped and laughed as poor Tom tried to keep the house clean while Jerry tried to make a mess. Now she's sound asleep on my lap.

When she wakes up we'll read more about Courderoy and Bartholomew! Sadie loves her bear books!

Our Vaccines are Done (for a few years, at least)

Here is a quick Sadie update for the night before we both drift off to sleep!

Sadie had her fifteen month vaccinations today and was up and running around this afternoon. It was the last of her baby vaccines. Now she doesn't need another (with the exception of flu shots) until she turns 4. Maybe that will give her a chance to forget how much she dislikes going to the doctor's office.

She definitely remembered why we were going today. We had a full out melt down that lasted for most of the two hour visit (they had some sort of emergency they had to fit in and were running behind... I can't complain though, because a few times with Sadie's ear infections they've fit us in!).

We have also read about Bartholomew bear several dozen times in the last few days. That book has definitely grown on Sadie. She's not going to be happy when we return it to the library! The best part about that is that when we check it back out in a few weeks she gets so excited (we got to see that when we rechecked out Peekaboo Who, which is another book that she loves).

Today's Women are Less Happy...

Someone posted a link to this article this morning on CAF and I clicked over to see what it had to say. It compared surveys from women in 1972 and women today, when asked to rate their level of happiness. Across the board women were less happy today and men stated that they were happier (if you go to the article there's even a little graph that shows men's happiness levels going up and women's happiness levels going down). Of course, if you read my blog regularly, you probably have a good idea of where I am going pin the blame...

Feminism, which supposedly freed women to do whatever we want, whenever we want, can't work out a way to force or manufacture happiness. It seems that the freedom to leave our families, to work and be mothers and juggle every responsibly under the sun, to control our reproductive systems and to kill our unborn children, still hasn't made us happy. Imagine that.

What's Happening To Women's Happiness?
by Marcus Buckingham
September 17th, 2009

Imagine it is 1969 and we're in a thriving American city. Let's choose Detroit. The '60s were good to the Motor City, and the future would have looked bright as new chrome. Now, imagine stopping a working woman on Detroit's Woodward Avenue, perhaps a young bank clerk, and asking if she would cast her mind forward, decades into the future. Not to picture the flying cars and space-themed restaurants that always seem to pop up in visions of the future, but to think about the role of women at work, in business, in government, in life. What do you think she would have said?

1969 was an intense, rousing time for women in America. Betty Friedan had published The Feminine Mystique a few years earlier, and had founded the National Organization for Women in 1966. And Gloria Steinem had just published the essay in New York Magazine that clearly separated the modern Women's Movement from other oppressed groups, "After Black Power: Women's Liberation," in which she called for meaningful work, equal pay, and the goal for all women to be freed from the role of only "servicing men and their children."

Fast forward 40 years: no matter how optimistic the guesses of our "woman-on-a-Detroit-street," I bet they wouldn't have outstripped what's actually happened.

Women rising

I doubt she would have guessed that by the early twenty-first century, women would be running the governments of countries as powerful and widespread as Germany and Ireland, Bangladesh and New Zealand, Chile, Mozambique, and Jamaica. Or that the wife of one U.S. president would spend months in 2008 as the national favorite to become president herself and, barely failing in that quest, would become an outspoken Secretary of State, or that the Speaker of the House would be a woman, or that John McCain would choose a moose-hunting, helicopter-riding, crowd-pleasing mother of five as his running mate because she'd stared down oil companies as governor of the tough state of Alaska.

How about education? I'm sure she would have forecast that more women would be completing high school and attending college, but do you think she'd have predicted that during the 2008 school year, 59 percent of all the bachelor's degrees and 61 percent of all the master's degrees would be earned by women, not by men? Or that by 2009, four out of the eight Ivy League universities--Harvard, Brown, Penn and Princeton--would have female presidents?

And work? Again, she would probably have bet that, in the future, more women would be working, but would she have guessed that October will be the first month in which women outnumber men in the workforce, that women would be holding more management and supervisory positions than men, by a margin of 37 percent to 31 percent, that in like-for-like work women and men with the same amount of work experience would be earning the same, and that women's pay would actually be increasing faster than men's? I doubt it.

Yet the biggest surprise would have come if you had asked her just one more question. Given all the evidence of women running corporations and universities, hospitals, media empires, branches of government, army divisions, and countries, do you think women in the future will be happier?

Of course they will be happier, she would have said. With all these opportunities and achievements, how could they not be?

Well, as it turns out, too easily.

Happiness lost

Each year since 1972, the United States General Social Survey has asked men and women: "How happy are you, on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being very happy, and 1 being not too happy?" This survey includes a representative sample of men and women of all ages, education levels, income levels, and marital status--1,500 per year for a total of almost 50,000 individuals thus far--and so it gives us a most reliable picture of what's happened to men's and women's happiness over the last few decades.

As you can imagine, a survey this massive generates a multitude of findings, (see the full report by Wharton Professors Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers) but here are the two most important discoveries.

First, since 1972, women's overall level of happiness has dropped, both relative to where they were forty years ago, and relative to men. You find this drop in happiness in women regardless of whether they have kids, how many kids they have, how much money they make, how healthy they are, what job they hold, whether they are married, single or divorced, how old they are, or what race they are. (The one and only exception: African-American women are now slightly happier than they were back in 1972, although they remain less happy than African American men.)

To read the full story click