Thursday, May 31, 2012

"But Everyone's Doing It!" and Other Lies About Why the HHS Mandate is Okay

Ever since the lawsuits against the HHS Mandate were filed last week the issue of religious liberty has reemerged in the forefront of my thoughts and this morning I'd like to address another angle that's often used by the media and opponents of religious freedom everywhere when attempting to force practicing Catholics to embrace and personally subsidize behavior they know to be evil.  It goes something like this:

"But everybody's doing it.  Even Catholics.  In fact, 98% of Catholic couples use contraception.  This is just a bunch of old men trying to force their own beliefs on everyone else."  

With this argument it can be hard to know where to begin, because there's so much wrong with it.  Let's start with oft quoted statistic of 98%.  Even the Washington Post felt the need to point out that the data was skewed.  I've already written about the dishonesty in these statistics but thought it was worth bringing up again.

Honestly, I personally, wouldn't have been surprised if a pollster went out and asked 1000 women on the street and got the 98% statistic, because people who identify as Catholic have very different views of what that means.

I have friends who identify as Catholic who haven't been to Mass in years and who disagree with pretty much everything that the Church says.  I've known people who seem to look at the label as "Catholic" as a sort of add on to an ethnic label, while the actual religion has no bearing on their lives.  There are Catholics who pick out the teachings that make them feel warm and fuzzy and ignore the rest.  Some of these Catholics attend Mass and some don't.  There are Catholics who say: "The Church was established by Christ and guided by Christ.  He promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against his Bride and honestly, I believe him.  I submit to the teachings of the Church, and I'm going to do my best to live them."  And there are a whole lot of people somewhere in the middle.

So I wouldn't have been shocked if the 98% statistic had been right.  Thankfully, it's not.  It's highly skewed (what else could we expect from Planned Parenthoods happy little polling organization!).

But even if it wasn't, does the government have the right to force a small group to violate their religious principles to pay for the recreational sex lives of the general population?  Can the government force us to violate our consciences using the logic that:  "Everyone else is doing it!"

The simple answer is no.  That was a key ingredient that went into the mix during the formation of our great nation.  Religious liberty was to be protected.  And while these days some people seem to think that means freedom from religion, it is actually freedom of religion.  Yes, the Constitution states that the state can't establish a religion.  But it also guarantees the free exercise of religion.  And a big part of the free exercise of my religion is not paying for babies to be killed (and that includes being prevented from implanting after a new life has been formed).

See, the fact that we all sin, doesn't make sin suddenly acceptable.  That's basically what you're saying when you use the "but everyone's doing it" argument.  Does saying:  "Well everyone sins, so it's okay for the government to mandate that we do something objectively evil!" make sense to you?  

The thing is, a lot of people, from the media to various self proclaimed dissenting Catholics, would like the Church to be a democracy.  They'd like us to be able to vote for what we think is right or wrong this week and be led my the court of popular opinion.

I'm a bit baffled by this, since it's pretty simple to exit the Church and find another church where you could vote on right or wrong and do whatever it is you want... but for some reason these particular Catholics would like to take the ship down with them.  I guess it's probably a nudge from the one who's been trying to take the Church down since it's foundation with Peter.

This response extends to the argument that says that "Catholic institutions aren't following Church teaching perfectly so it's okay for the government to force them to do other things that they find morally abhorrent."

After all, we complain about Catholic In Name Only (CINO) institutions all the time.  They're already not following Church teaching, right?  So how's this any different.

Repeat after me:  The government isn't to prohibit the free exercise of our religion.  It's the law of the land.  Even if we reveal our imperfect humanity with our mistakes and extremely poor choices, we're still allowed to strive for perfect unity with Christ.  The government can't take that from us.  

Besides, there are plenty of Catholic institutions with plenty of Christ loving Catholics who are doing their best to align their lives with Church teachings.  It's easy to focus on the bad, and the embarrassing Catholic College mistakes.  I've certainly done it... a lot.  And as a result I'd like to point out (although I think it's beside the point) that there are plenty of Catholic institutions that are seriously striving to do the right thing.  Off the top of my head:  Ave Maria University...  Franciscan Steubenville University... Christendom University... Saint Thomas (in Southern California.. and the one in New Hampshire... and the one in Houston!).  EWTN...  The list goes on and on.  I'm sure many of you could add to it.

But honestly, the fact that there's "CINOs" out there that fall short, doesn't mean we should codify those short comings into an illegal law.  And it doesn't justify the fact that the media has completely ignored the existence of people and institutions that do follow Church teachings to the best of their ability.

So please, don't swallow the lies the media is peddling about the Church, Catholics or Catholic institutions, hook, line and sinker.  Pray.  Trust that the Bride of Christ will overcome this assault, just as she's withstood the others.  And speak out about the evils of contraception as it continues to damage our culture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

HHS Mandate Silence and Misinformation

 You would think that the fact that over forty Catholic organizations are suing the federal government might actually make the nightly news.  Yet if you've been waiting for this sudden influx of media coverage you've probably noticed that the only sound you've heard on the major three networks is crickets chirping.  Fox News pointed out in the wake of the lawsuits, that the major networks had devoted a grand total of 19 seconds to the issue, and so for the most part the only sound any of us have heard, if we haven't gone out seeking information on this topic, is silence.

And maybe that explains why so many people are so desperately ignorant when it comes to the topic.  The comments on Patheos' Facebook page set forth perfect examples of the "arguments" that people are setting forth, with Catholics being slammed with insightful comments like:
"Are you kidding me? What a joke. The government gives ALL citizens freedom, not Catholics the freedom to override that right. Dumb article. Dumb lawsuit."
"So can I file a lawsuit against the government because they are using my tax dollars to pay for a war? What about paying for corporate welfare? War and usery is against my religion...."
"Cammie, no one is forcing these Catholic companies and organizations to buy anything. The ACA simply states (among numerous other things, like children can't be rejected medical treatment because of a pre-existing condition) that if they offer medical insurance, they have to offer *comprehensive* health care insurance, which includes birth control. And the people that choose to buy BC are the ones paying for it still. No one is paying for anyone's sex life except the person having sex. They pay out their own Premiums, their deductibles, their prescription costs.  
I find it ironic that you feel that it's forcing someone's sex life costs onto others (which it's not) when Catholics attaching this measure are forcing their religion's interpretations onto all others and trying to mandate their beliefs into law. 
If you don't like it, don't do it. Simple as that. No one is forcing you or any other person to use birth control."
 Oh where to begin?  I guess the first comment is as good a place as any.

When did freedom mean the freedom to have our sex lives subsidized by other people?  When did freedom mean that we could take whatever we wanted from other people without having to pay for it?  And would someone please tell me when contraception became a constitutionally guaranteed right in this country and that by saying "no, we're not going to pay for your recreational sex lives!" Catholics were somehow violating the law and "overriding that right."

Moving on...

The second comment seems to imply that the commenter believes that Catholic institutions are fighting against paying a tax.  While I absolutely do believe that we should dispute the right of a government to pay for the slaughter of the unborn (or to allow that slaughter at all), that's not the issue in this case.  This isn't a tax.  The HHS mandate is the federal government forcing private entities to pay for contraception and abortive services.  That's a clear violation of our religious freedom, and another example of how the current administration is trying to take away our choice of what we can and can't purchase with our own hard earned dollars.

Then there's that last, third comment, directed at me.  The woman seems a tiny bit confused over what we're talking about.  Maybe she didn't read the article and put all her energy into responding to me.

Rather than going to usual route of: "Some women need those drugs for other reasons!  And you're taking them away!" she decides to claim that Catholics are fighting against children being given medical coverage for pre-existing conditions by fighting "comprehensive coverage" that she seems to think just happens to include contraception.  Now I should begin by saying that both arguments are completely false.  Drugs like estrogen would still be covered for medical reasons.  Because reasons do matter hugely in these cases when we determine what is and isn't moral.

For example I took misoprostol last year.  It's a nasty little drug when taken for any reason.  It is used to induce early abortions.  It's also used to treat ulcers or, as in my case, in a last ditch attempt to help get rid of the "debris" that remained three months after my miscarriage.  Two of these three scenarios would be covered right now.  One wouldn't.  Can you guess which on it is?  I'm sure you can.  Because anyone who can read this post can likely figure out which of these three uses would be considered moral by any Catholic who actually believes in what the Church teaches.

The second part of the argument, that what we're fighting against is children being covered for pre-existing conditions, is patently false.  Anyone who wants to know what we're actually fighting against can read the whole lovely text here.  It's not long.

Besides to hear the third commenter talk about premiums and deductibles you'd think that employers don't ever pay for a cent for insurance coverage, and that it's just these poor women paying for it themselves.  If that was the case, this wouldn't be an issue would it?  Because Church institutions not paying for these services wouldn't matter because, based on the claim, they're already not paying for them.

Her claim goes on to say that we're trying to "mandate our beliefs into law."  So not paying for someone else's contraceptives is somehow changing the law?  No.  This mandate changed the law.  And it changed the law to violate our constitutional right to freely practice our religion.

Yes the misinformation out there is pretty insane.  And I have a feeling in the next months we'll be given ample opportunity to try to clear up the misconceptions... if anyone is actually listening.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 11 of Our Great Cross Country Adventure: 700 miles from Vegas to our Nor Cal Home...

Originally we’d planned on stopping in Reno for our last night on the road, but after the night in Vegas everyone was ready to get home to California. 

It was a long day.  We zipped through a cold and then snowy Nevada. 

Paul commented on the desolation of a hundred mile strip of freeway, and we looked at the map to see that it was marked: “Nevada Test Sight.”  Then it was back to tiny, partially deserted towns and the occasional brothel. 

We got in the car at 7am… at 4 we hit Reno (we’d only stopped for gas and fast food after leaving Vegas)… at 7:30-something we were finally home after almost 13 hours in the car.  And after 24 hours of recovering I’m okay with not being in the car again for any length of time for a while…

Now to get my brain working again so I can right blogs about actual issues that are going on right now.  Like all the awesome Catholic institutions filing suit against the government!  

And now for a few pictures from our last day on the road...

When it started to rain, something went horribly wrong with the windshield wipers...

Day 10 of the Great Cross Country Adventure: Williams to Las Vegas with a bit about how the Excalibur Hotel nearly drove me crazy...

This post is a little longer because of the several paragraph rant on the hotel craziness at the bottom.. 

We left William early in the morning and headed west towards Nevada.  The wind was insane as we sat in the car in parking lot waiting for Paul to return with breakfast from Safeway, and it actually felt like the wind moved the van several inches, despite the fact that we were in park and had the emergency break on. 

Once we were on the road I couldn’t help but marvel at the elevation signs.  William is a little below 7,000 feet above sea level.  And the descent down, with the increasingly desert-y landscape, was still at surprising heights. 

For some reason, today, my navigating skills were seriously lacking.  I missed two exits that we were supposed to take.  Unfortunately one of those exits was the last off ramp for ten miles, resulting in a twenty mile round trip mistake.  Crafting and navigating don’t always mix (and knitting kept winning out when it came to keeping my attention!). 

We got off the freeway to see the Hoover Dam and after snapping pictures headed through a dust storm to Vegas (where I missed another turn).

And that’s where Sadie’s little castle dream came true.  We stayed in the Excalibur…

But honestly, but the time we arrived at the Exacalibur, I was pretty focused on the last leg of the trip and getting home. 

It’s not that traveling with a toddler and preschooler across the country hasn’t been fun, because they’ve surpassed every expectation that I had about the long trip in the car by being pretty solidly cheerful the entire way (I’m beginning to suspect that both actually enjoy long car rides… there was certainly a lot of loud, off-key baby singing!), but I was ready to be in one place for more than a day and to not be packing and unpacking every 12 hours. 

We arrived at the motel and were instantly mugged greeted by a hotel employee who rushed over and guided us to a desk while asking us if we were ready to check in.  I was a little confused as check in was still three hours away and we’d been planning on getting lunch, but I went along, because they didn’t really allow a chance to say no, and because having a room key instantly would have been pretty nice.

Instead the sales pitch began.  They wanted us to go on a two hour tour of a new resort and if we did we’d get to see the jousting match (or a choice between a number of other shows) for free.  I thought this was a little crazy.  I know that Sadie and Mae were looking awfully cute in their princess dress, and were being particularly quiet at that moment in time but still… you want to ship us off on a two hour tour of a resort?  After a lovely four hour drive this morning (and with roughly 3000 miles behind us already)?  The other tour members would be begging to have us thrown off the bus before we even reached the new location.  And despite protests to the contrary, I don’t think it’s a great idea to take the baby who cries when the mouse frowns because his tail is knotted at the beginning of Cinderella, to see a staged jousting match where there will be fighting…  Talk about hysterics.

We grabbed lunch at a buffet, and after fending off a half dozen more sales pitches about the new resort, we made it to our room… and then we headed back out to see Vegas. 

Now I have been to Vegas before.  I went to Computer Camp there when I was around 13 while my Dad was in meetings for some school related thing (computer camp?  yeah I know…. my coolness factor just keeps going up, right?).  Apparently when I was in Vegas, around 1995, it was when Vegas was trying to brand itself as a family friendly travel location, complete with roller coasters and games.

After a couple hours walking around the casinos I’d remembered thinking were awesome as a kid (the roller coaster area at the MGM Grand! The river inside the Luxor!) I found that the city had dropped the fa├žade of being family friendly a long time ago and embraced it’s Sin City roots.  The MGM, which was all about the Wizard of Oz, complete with indoor Emerald City, when we visited, was dimly lit with dark red lights and was all about being trendy right now.  A man at the Luxor informed us that they’d filled the river in 7 years earlier and that we might want to get back to Vegas a little bit more often (before launching into the same tour sales pitch we’d gotten at the Excalibur). 

We finally made it back to our hotel, exhausted.  As we crossed through the door a cute little blonde , in a teensy Excalibur peasant wench costume, came over and gushed over the girls, asking us if we’d like to have their picture taken with them (there was also a couple of six-pack not quite covered men with vests) and assuring us that we didn’t have to buy the pictures.  We passed on the pictures, but they did give the girls each a mardi gras necklace, with Sadie for once being speechless.  The girl was incredibly nice and genuinely seemed excited to see the girls in their princess dresses.  I'd say that she was probably the most pleasant person we encountered on staff in the entire hotel.

Then it was on for dinner, which, I will admit, was not my finest moment at the Excalibur.  We’d bought passes to the buffet, where the girls ate free, and we had enjoyed lunch there.  Mae was fading fast, so we were just looking to go in and eat and get home before she fells asleep at the table. 

We were escorted to a table and I went to get the girls food and drinks, while Paul waited with them.  When I returned, Mae Bae was slumped to one side in a booster seat, looking precarious.  Paul informed me that the resort was out of high chairs….

I scanned the room.  There wasn’t another baby in sight.  I told Paul to wait.  Earlier I’d seen a huge pile of high chairs and I was fairly certain I could find them again.  I walked around the edge of the room where a friendly older man stopped me and asked if I needed help.  I told him we were looking for a high chair for our one year old and he quickly went to get one, assuring me that they had plenty.  As I pushed it away he asked why a server hadn’t brought it and I said that we’d been told that they were out of high chairs.  At that moment his face fell and I realized that something was not quite right. 

Then the drama began.  The server rushed over and began to lecture us on how you couldn’t have high chairs on tile floors, they were very dangerous and besides it was a fire hazard. 

Um yeah.  It was the same type of high chair in the same restaurant we’d had lunch in (and it was early, so it wasn’t like the place was crowded, it was probably around 3/4 empty...). 

And that was the unfortunate moment when the pieces began to fit together and the pregnancy hormones began to surge.  You see they’d brought us in and told us twice they were going to get the chair.  And then I guess someone said no to the chair and rather than move us to another high-chair approved area, they decided it would be better to lie.  After all, Mae’s tall just like her sister and ought to be fine in a booster seat… what is that kid, like three (and maybe a 1 year old who isn’t quite as spirited would have done okay…)? 

But it was pretty clear when the servers story changed rapidly that she’d been lying to begin with.  And things went down hill fast.  She wanted Mae in that booster seat.  I asked if we could move.  She pointed to a crowded area with a teeny table. 

The thing is, if I wasn’t already pregnant, exhausted and tired of this whole Baby Seat Game, I would have said “fine, that will work.”  If they’d told us right away what was the problem, I would have happily moved over there.  But now, I’d been lied to and lectured to by this woman, who was still speaking to us like we were disobedient children for getting the high chair, and I had been pushed to the limit of “pleasant.” 

So I interrupted the lecture.  No a table won’t work.  I tried to remain calm and polite but my volume was rising from its normal quiet level.  And if they wanted us to move we’d move.  They could move us to one of the booths we were at earlier, where a high chair was okay (apparently she knew where that was since, in the giant restaurant they did end up moving us to the exact same table).  She was still arguing at that point though, because I started repeating, with ever increasingly volume, that what bothered me was that they’d been lying to us since we walked in.  I think I said it three times with ever increasing volume, before we were whisked to our new table, with every one being suddenly very nice and polite (it only took 20 minutes!). 

Again, not my finest moment... but seriously... continuing to lecture the exhausted looking pregnant woman in your restaurant for asking for a high chair is not a great strategy for a positive dining atmosphere...

As we finished our last night on the road with the girls falling into bed and quickly falling asleep, I have to say that Vegas isn’t a place I’m planning on visiting again anytime soon, especially with kids.  The Excalibur looks cute and kid friendly from the outside, but between the king sized bed for four people (um… going from two beds to one bed is an upgrade?), the restaurant debacle and the constant harassment from sales people it wasn’t really worth it. 

I was thankful to get on the road the next morning…

Day 9 of the Great Cross Country Adventure: Tucson to Williams

Day 9 was the single longest day of driving on the trip up until that point. 

We started out the day in Tucson, and after repacking the car, with all the new fabric stored safely inside, we headed north towards Phoenix.  I had carefully mapped out the day so that we would reach Chandler at lunch time, since I’ve been craving the Spaghetti Factory’s Garlic Cheese Bread for months (and honestly probably for more like a year since it’s one of my favorite restaurants and even when we lived in California we still lived hundreds of miles away from the closest location). 

Unfortunately, shortly after leaving Tucson, the air conditioner completely stopped working and our mini van rapidly became very hot.  110 miles later, roughly a mile from the restaurant, it kicked back on. 

I spent lunch hoping that it would start back up when the car stopped (while being thankful that neither of the girls felt like trying the garlic cheese bread, because I’m pretty sure if either one had tasted it they would have devoured the entire plate in about two minutes flat). 

Instead Mae Bae attacked the regular bread loaf.  Paul cut her off a generous, 3 inch across end piece and after a few minutes of eating it she spotted a break in bread security and swiped the rest of the bread, so that she had a loaf in her left hand and her end piece in her right.  After a debacle involving butter (she acted like she wanted some and then was highly offended when Paul listened to her request and put butter on her small piece of bread), she settled in to eating bread, macaroni and cheese and ice cream. 

After leaving the mall we put more gas in the tank (so far gas has steadily risen in price since we left Louisiana… it dropped from Florida to Louisiana, and then has risen from Louisiana west, with notable jumps in small towns, which we pretty much expected).

Yet as we headed north towards Phoenix, something happened…  I started to think that the desert was actually quite pretty.

Now let me preface this whole next section with an explanation.  As many of you know, Paul attended the University of Arizona for his undergraduate degree.  He’s a big Wildcat fan.  I think if he had the space he would have a Wildcat room in our home.  He’s also a big Tucson fan.  As a result of these two facts, he has a natural competitive rivalry with ASU and the entire Phoenix area. 

And you see, he spent the previous forty-eight hours before we left Tucson, asking me repeatedly what I thought of every single street we drove down, and practically every grouping of buildings we passed by.  Did I think they were pretty?  Did I like the mountains?  What about that mountain?  What about that brick building? 

My lack of enthusiasm about the desert landscape immediately off the I-10 was not pleasing to him (I’ll admit that I don’t think that’s the best representation of the desert landscape, but it’s mostly what we saw since the rest of the time we were in the city).  And I must say my hesitation was also influenced by the fact that I really don’t feel like packing up and moving from the swamp to the desert when he graduates!  Give me a place with four seasons please! 

Besides, whenever I drive through the desert I find myself checking off the list of survival skills I possess and while I’ve always felt I’d be okay in the forest, I think I’d be a goner after a single day in the desert (I know, I’m weird, but those are just the kinds of things I’ve always thought about as we’ve traveled, since I was a kid).  By the time we hit Chandler I was hoarding water and sipping slowly off of my bottle on the off chance that we broke down on the 10 and were somehow (completely illogically since it’s a major route) trapped there for any length of time. 

Anyways, back to the original point… as we entered Phoenix I found myself pointing things out in an obvious “Oh, look, isn’t that cool” sort of way.  I tried, vaguely, not to be overly enthusiastic, but I kept seeing things that were neat and pointing them out and Paul started to get the idea that I liked Phoenix, which was something he’d spent the previous two days trying to cultivate in Tucson, until at last he exclaimed that I like the “fake desert” and not the “real desert” like Tucson has (because I liked how neat the desert was on the I-10 around Phoenix…).  Yeah…  no competitiveness there at all, right?  I think I know where Sadie gets it from…

Thankfully upon heading up into the mountains, and passing Flagstaff, we finally found a town that we could agree on in Arizona.  Williams is a small town on Route 66 and we used it as our base for our adventure out to the Grand Canyon… but I’ll spare you the details of that part of our day here, since I already wrote about it a bit on Friday's Quick Takes. 

By the time we entered Nevada I was quite smitten with the whole Northern section of Arizona that we’d driven through…  It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the country so far… and at least there’s one town that we agree on!

Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Road Trip Edition

--- 1 ---
So yesterday we went to the Grand Canyon, which means we're really nearing the end of our cross country journey.  And I said something, as I shivered and danced from foot to foot in the 60 to 70 degree weather which now feels freezing cold after 10 months of humid hotness, that I didn't think much of.  Paul, who apparently doesn't feel the cold like the girls and I, seemed pretty sure we were all being wimps and I replied with something along the lines of:  "I'm cold!  Sadie's cold!  Mae's cold!  Even the new baby is freezing!  We're all cold!  It's cold!!!!"  Paul jokingly replied:  "Well the new baby needs to get a little tougher then!" (or something like that).

Not a big deal, right?  A totally innocent conversation?  Can you see where this is going?  Because I certainly didn't...

As we reached the rim of the Grand Canyon, several minutes later, Sadie burst into tears.  I thought she was afraid of the drop and scooped her out of the stroller.  She sobbed through the pictures we snapped.  Nothing would console her.  She sobbed back to the car.  When I asked her is she'd be happier with Daddy holding her she was furious and went on a sobbing rant we couldn't really understand.

Back in the car we bundled in blankets and headed back to the motel... and when we got there, and she was calm and smiling again, I asked her what was wrong... was she afraid of the drop?  was she cold?

"The baby was hurt!!!" she wailed.

"The baby wasn't hurt..."  I explained, trying to think of what she could possibly have been thinking.  "The baby was safe in Mommy's tummy."

"Oh Mommy!  I'm so sorry!"  She exclaimed, hugging me... and then I realized what had happened and that I was the one who should be sorry because she worried so about every little baby related thing...

So yeah... Epic Mom Fail at the Grand Canyon yesterday... hopefully seeing a princess castle today will make up for it...
--- 2 ---
Mae Bae has reached that age where she's decided she's old enough to tell us what she wants to wear and she's pretty upset if there's any disagreement.  Which is why she was wearing this bathing suit top yesterday, and rocking her Minnie Mouse sunglasses:

--- 3 ---
Paul and I have found one of those rare towns that we both actually like.  We like it enough to say: "Okay, if _________ places don't work out, I could see myself living here."

It's small enough that I like it.  It's out west, which is another plus for me, since I have found myself baffled by certain aspects of culture in other parts of the US (what's considered rude some places... and what's not in others!  There's a lot of variety...)... until I realized that I'm a small town western sort of girl...  and it's beautiful here ...  and at over 6000 feet I think I'd like the seasons!

--- 4 ---
Using Hot Wire and booking hotels has made me realize that the ratings of hotels often have little to do with how nice they will be.  Because of the various Hot Wire deals we've stayed at 1 star hotels and 4 star hotels on this trip.  Last night we stayed at a Motel 6 and it was actually far more comfortable than the 4 star hotel we stayed at in San Antonio.  It's been really hit or miss... And I really didn't expect the Motel 6 room to look like this:

I have a new found appreciation for motel rooms with laminate floors.  It's so much easier with little kids!

--- 5 ---
It was kind of shocking to go from this:

To this:

To this:

To this:

And finally to this:

Arizona is a beautiful and varied state!  I didn't expect all this variety in one day!

--- 6 ---
I hear Sadie telling me we'll be "late to the castle" if I don't hurry up, so I guess I'm done for the day.  I hope it's everything she imagined... because we're headed into Nevada!

--- 7 ---
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 8 of The Great Cross Country Adventure: Exploring Tucson

 Today began with a death march in the heat lovely tour of the University of Arizona campus at which time pregnancy hormones did one of those ugly morning flare ups where you’re suddenly exhausted from spending a week on the road and nothing sounds good to eat or drink, even though your hungry and thirsty and the last thing you feel like doing is braving the oppressive temperatures to look at historic brick buildings and you feel like you’d like to have a Mae Bae worthy temper tantrum right there at the idea of taking another step.  It took about 10 seconds inside an air conditioned building, with a bottle of water, to totally change my perspective.  Suddenly things were rosy and wonderful again, although Paul probably thinks I’m insane now and would probably sooner hitch hike across the country than suggest another road trip any time soon.  

After the walking tour failed we piled into the car and took an air conditioned driving tour (and blessedly the air conditioner worked all day today). 

Then Paul made the best suggestion I have ever heard.  He asked if I wanted to go to the fabric store we kept driving by.  I excitedly said yes and we headed over to it.

Inside a plain, cement building were stacks of fabric.  They were in cardboard boxes and piled on tables.  Some were on rolls and some were flung in giant piles with signs hanging over them that said things like: Apparel Fabrics $2.99 a yard.  Others were $1.99 a yard. 

Mae giggled as we walked down a colorful wall covered in spools of lace trim with a sign that said the lace trim started at 25 cents a yard.  As I examined the spools I found that most were actually 25 cents and that they were actually pretty fantastic.  I just about started jumping up and down when I found three huge boxes of brightly colored lace at 1/3 of the price of the stores I normally go to, that was comparable quality. 

After Paul carried about a dozen armloads of fabric to the cutting table I told myself I couldn’t go over to see the second half of the store where the beautiful chiffons and beaded lace were beckoning me (gorgeous beaded lace for $7.99 a yard!!! I had to tear myself from the store!) and finally made my way to the cash register to collect my two gigantic bags of fabric. 

He’s a pretty awesome husband.  Especially after my rather sulky start to the day…

He took us to lunch at a restaurant he worked at during college, where Sadie insisted on tasting my hot chicken wings, made a face and said she didn’t like them, and then asked for more and Mae sat at the table giggling as she ate yet another cheese quesadilla. 

Then it was back to the hotel for resting and swimming. 

The wind picked up while we were in the pool and Mae clung to me as strips of palm tree bark and a lawn chair were blown into the pool (she seemed to think it was all quite wonderful as long as she had a firm grip on Mommy’s neck).  Sadie, on the other hand, discovered a passion for going under water and kept insisting on Paul and I going under water with her.

Now our restful day is at an end and it’s time to get back on the road and head north.  I’m starting to get impatient to arrive at home.  This week has been fun, but it’s exhausting!  Eight days down, three to go!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Needle Felted Angel

I've been staying busy on the trip for the most part, and somewhere in far Western Texas I pulled out my bag of wool and started needle felting.  I figured it was a dangerous idea, after all, I stab my fingers when I'm needle felting on a good day, and so needle felting in a moving car seems like a rather risky idea.  Still, I decided to give my rosary making calluses a break, and set out to make an angel for the top of our Christmas tree.  

A ridiculous amount of white wool, and two hours, were devoured before the finished project was complete, with Sadie and Mae cheering from the back seat as we pulled into El Paso and me repeatedly asking Paul if he thought it was good enough.  And so, here's the finished tree topper (complete with dashboard background):

Day 7 of Our Cross Country Adventure: Las Cruces to Tucson

Day 7 was a big day on our trip for two reasons.  The first was that Paul attended the University of Arizona, and has pretty much wanted to take us there forever.  The second reason was that I'd planned two days in Tucson as a little mid-way break from the constant driving, and so we wouldn't be packing up to leave immediately after arriving.

We left Las Cruces and stopped at a customs checkpoint where we were all asked if we were US citizens and I was thankful they didn't require driver's licenses, since for all we know Paul's is hidden somewhere in the car or is back in San Antonio.

Then we were back on the open road, with cactuses becoming ever more frequent and Paul constantly asking what I thought of the desert.

He may not have like my somewhat grumpy answers.

You see, despite living in a fairly dry climate for 29 of my 30 years, that one year of humidity has apparently done terrible things to my nose (I'm sure pregnancy isn't helping either) and the dry air hurt.  I was pretty shocked, since my nose should be used to dry, triple digit summers.  Yet somehow my nose has forgotten what dry air is like and it was not pleasant.  More than that, I'd finally splurged on a new set of cami-secrets (the little shirt cutouts that raise your neckline), since mine was worn to death, and yesterday, a few hours into wearing it for the first time, I glanced down to find a spot of blood from my increasingly unhappy nose.  So that was less than fun, although today seems better, so I'm hoping I've adjusted quickly.

We made it to Tucson by lunch time and Paul took us to Bison Witches, one of his favorite sandwich shops.  Then we headed over to the U of A campus, with me and the girls wilting as our air conditioning proved that it only works 80% of the time and that it wasn't willing to give it a go in the 100 degree heat.

We retreated into the U of A bookstore where we thankfully found a stand of Mae's favorite Llama Llama books and met up with one of Paul's best college buddies.  After frozen yogurt we re-braved the heat to make our way to our hotel (thankfully the air conditioning was working again).

The girls loved the pool and the view of the pool from our room, and were able to get their wiggles out in their lifejackets (Mae is getting bolder each time we go swimming, now she barely wants me holding on to her).

Then it was on to a somewhat disasturous dinner at one of Paul's favorite restaurants, in which none of the very fancy meals looked even vaguely appetizing to my pregnant stomach and I finally settled on a ridiculous salad that at least included 1 hot pepper (let me say that everything on the kids menu looked awesome and I found myself wishing that I was under the age of 10...).

I think I'm just coming to terms with the fact that I'm not really a fancy restaurant type of girl.  I'm much happier at a laid back restaurant... and I don't need a dozen bizarre ingredients on each dish, especially when I'm pregnant and still a bit queasy.  Thankfully Sadie wanted to trade lettuce for carrots, and I did swipe one of Mae's uneaten cheese quesadillas.

Now for another day in the desert.  What are the chances that today isn't going to be the hottest day of the year?

And now for more extra pictures!

Day 6 of Our Cross Country Adventure: Fort Stockton to Las Cruces

I wasn't exactly sure how Day 6 was going to go.  You see, I'd always heard horror stories about how awful El Paso was/is and so I specifically picked a town a little bit further down the road hoping to avoid whatever it was that made so many people frown when they heard the name.

Yet as the day wore on we found ourselves approaching El Paso at lunch time (or so we thought, having not realized we'd crossed into another time zone some time earlier) and so we decided to make a stop.  And I have to say, while I'm sure that there are plenty of places in this city (or any city of its size!) that aren't lovely, the place we pulled of the freeway was a pretty spectacular shopping center with tons of restaurants and shops (it's one little drawback was no sidewalks).  I found myself wishing I'd made reservations in El Paso, as we strolled around a giant shopping center and I realized how much I appreciated having so many stores in one place instead of spread out all over town!

I was also extremely excited when I came across a huge maternity section in the Ross store, with plenty of $5.99 maternity shirts!  I hate buying maternity shirts at maternity stores where the prices are so outrageous, but in recent years it seemed like everyone was discontinuing their maternity lines (like the Walmart in our area when I was pregnant with Mae!).  So I was pretty thrilled.

After lunch and shopping in El Paso we headed over to Las Cruces, New Mexico where we stayed in an awesome little Best Western with the friendliest desk clerk and rooms with South Western charm.  We finally gave up and picked up a play pen at the local Walmart, since apparently there are plenty of babies in the South, and every motel we stopped at seemed to have just given out their last play pen (and Mae does not sleep well in beds yet... at all...).  I guess a play pen is something we should probably own anyways...

Las Cruces was actually one of my favorite stops along the way.  The rocky mountain range reminded me of Castle Crags, the mountain I saw when I looked out my bed room window growing up (or a desert version of Castle Crags at least!).

Then it was on to Arizona... but first a few more pictures from our New Mexico Day!