Thursday, September 30


Yes, folks, you read that right, it's morning and I'm blogging! What in the world is going on here???

Well, as it turns out, I hog-tied "Night Dy" last night and hauled her rear upstairs by (get this) ten-thirty! This AM, "Morning Dy" hopped right out of bed, showered, dressed (no, not to the shoes, sorry Flylady), did some laundry, tidied the kitchen, made the bed, and settled down to read the boards. Mmmmm, ok, now *this* is what I'd imagined when I wanted to start getting up early. (For more sense of the Night/Morning people residing in my happy home, check out Staci's musings a few days ago. So true.)

There was no sunrise to watch this morning, but it was beautiful and dark when we arose, and it felt SO good to sit on the back patio and just enjoy the gentle brightening of the sky. A hot cup of coffee, a good man, and a clean dishwasher. Mmm, good stuff!

So, what's on the plan for today? Should be busy, should be fun, but it's not going to be, erm, an interesting blog. HA! Isn't that always the way? It's the weird, out-of-step days, the tirades and ironic highlights that seem to make the best grist for the mill. Alas, there isn't much some days. Sorry folks.

*Wake the children (who are, thanks to this gloriously grey Eyore-like weather, sleeping past six o'clock nowadays! WaHOO!), get them fed, dressed, and somewhat educated for the day.
*Call Zorak and tell him we're ready to brave the Great Big World
*Stop at the pass office on base to admit that I, um, can't find my base pass, no, I'm-not-a-terrorist-who-has-loaned-it-to-a-psychotic-suicide-bomber, yes, I really mean that, and may-I-please-have-another-so-I-can-pick-up-my-husband-from-work-on-days-we-really-need-the-Suburban?
*Make it to Spanish co-op. Perhaps on time, perhaps not. That will depend on the folks at the Pass Office.
*PARK DAY!! I'm so excited! I always forget about Park Day with our homeschool group. Yesterday I got an offlist email from one of the ladies reminding me of it and asking if we wanted to start coming! *Hmmm, could I have found an Activities Coordinator who will call me and remind me of things so I don't completely forget to show up for life outside the house????* (I'll blog more about AC Friends tonight- it's really kind of sad, but beautiful that friends look after me that way. Ha Ha.)
*Market. We're out of fresh fruit, and it's driving us all nuts! (Can't believe I actually wrote that.)

Oh, did I tell y'all about our stop at the Republican Party booth at the fair? Actually, it was Zorak's stop at the Republican Party booth. The boys and I stood outside and spun in circles until we were dizzy and fell over. (I'm sure he didn't proudly point us out to the folks at the booth...) Well, Zorak came back out just beaming! Come to find out, the Republicans have a candidate running against Barbara Mikulski!! Oh, well, gotta find out more aout that, then! So in I went (while Zorak stood outside and spun in circles with the boys- we're odd, but we're well-matched.) I did sign up to volunteer to support Pipkin in any way possible. Zorak and the dizzy boys rejoined me at the table and bumped happily against my leg at this point. (The boys did, Zorak wasn't too wobbly.)

The gentleman recognized Zorak, (enter A-ha! moment here) then he asked my age. (I am so past the point of thinking anyone is ever hitting on me!) The conversation was a little strange:

Me: 30
Him: Would you consider signing up to help out with the Young Republicans group in St. Mary's County?

*awkward silence*

Me: No. I'm not a Republican. Sorry.

He was a little surprised, considering my enthusiasm toward Pipkin (of course, having corresponded with Mikulski, just about anyone would be tickled to support Pipkin, but I'll blog about that later, as well.) Then I had to come out and admit that I've defected to the Libertarian party. I don't think he's ever heard that before, gauging from his reaction. Considering Zorak had just signed up to help with the YR group, it was probably doubly unexpected.

He did ask why! Wow, how cool. I explained that the Republican Party has gotten a wee bit grabby with individual rights, almost to the point of being as bad as the Democratic Party, and that gave me the willies. So, I will support Pipkin in any way possible, but just can't align my support with the party as a whole. He was gracious (and so was I). We reiterated our support for Pipkin, and look forward to helping out with the campaign.

You know, both sides are like that now, and it's depressing, really. Fewer freedoms, more restrictions "for our own good". It's as if we go from our father's homes to our Brother's homes, and never know the point of being grown ups in our own rights. Just sort of sad. Too many hills they want us to die on that I'm not willing to die on. Hills that have nothing to do with Freedom.

...And now for something completely different...

I added some new links to my sidebar, but evidently I'm functionally illiterate in HTML and they don't work because I have too many "http's" in there. I'll fix that tonight. One I love is Modus Operandi, but it seems it's now doing the same thing Krista's (Homeschooling 101) does on my browser, and I get an odd message- my ISP won't let me go there. But check it out (and Krista's, too). Neat stuff!

OK, time to get the boys up and dressed so we can get going! Have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, September 28

It is a bizarre sensation to log on to NOAA and see that the hurricane that has been terrorizing Florida is the same front that's brought all this rain to us today! Wow. I just haven't the words to synthesize it. What we're experiencing here is nothing to what others have experienced. Perhaps that's what makes it seem more surreal: this doesn't feel like what I would imagine a hurricane would kick off. This feels like, I don't know, late summer monsoon weather. Well, whatever it is that brought it, we've had to turn the a/c back on just to try to pump some of the moisture out of the air. It was downright stifling in the house today. Both John and Jacob have been covered in a sweaty sheen for 48 hours. Poor kids.

Our library evidently has stopped calling each time a "hold" comes available for pick up. They used to call for each hold as it arrived. I've been waiting a few days before picking up our new books, as I didn't want to have to make multiple trips to get what we needed. They never called again, though, after that first call to tell me they had one book in. Well, I broke down today and took James to return some books and pick up the one book that was waiting so it didn't get sent back. HA! We had three big stacks ready and waiting! Gosh, if I'd known, we'd have come sooner. *oops* However, the living room now resembles... something untidy. Books are everywhere, and we had a blast reading before supper. Both boys traipsed upstairs after supper with armloads of books for bedtime. I do love the library!

OK, let me go on record as being in AWE of anyone who has actually hooked up the camera to the TV to watch clips or slide shows! *I salute you, in humble adoration and mild envy* The closest I've come to that is reading somewhere in the instruction manual that it's possible. Otherwise, that's right up there with getting the VCR to record a show on the proper channel (which has never happened for me).

School today was entirely child-led. James did 30 someodd pages in a reading workbook, and ten pages of math. John wanted to do things that pertained to the "k" sound (C and K). You know, it was just too hot to argue, and it's not like they made poor choices. So, no Latin or music, but hey, it's all flexible and good. It was a very good day!

Still no word on buildable land or affordable housing. *sigh* Still looking. :-)

Alrighty, then, I'm going to go catch up with Frodo and see what's going on there, then up to read to my little Hobbits for a bit. Y'all be good to each other! Kiss those babies.


Head Coverings?

So, does a do-rag count as a head covering?

John wanted a proper "pirate hat" the other day, and the best I could do was to tie a bandana at the four corners.

Fast forward two days, James came down with it on his head. Then he untied one corner and put it over my head.

There, now your head is covered, and the tail comes down to cover your braid. That's better.

Um, either I am in dire need of a new hairdo, or James is thinkin' I'm just not modest enough for his taste!

So, do ya think this counts? LOL.


Tech Blog

Hi Diane! Thanks for the note. I have to admit I'm really *really* not a technical person. (Reference the whole "plug thingie" bit about the CD-DVD thing.) Any successes I've experienced are usually due to pure dogged determination and a good grounding wire. However, I'll share what we stumble upon as we go along. You have to promise to do the same, though, OK? Maybe if we all share our tips and newfound ideas we can make some use out of these newfangled gadgets.

So far, the best perk we've enjoyed from the short video clips on the camera is the ability to create short email video messages for family and friends far away. The boys sang Happy Birthday for Jess' son, Ryan and we emailed it to him (took me three days to figure out how to "convert" the file for email- d'oh!- but it can be done!) And it was really fun when Ryan, and all the rest of the gang, sent a Thank You video back! So that's our typical birthday card now. We'll also use it to tape the boys doing their memory work or singing a song and email those things to Gram, who can no longer read.

Also, and I haven't played w/ this just yet (because I found it the other day), our camera software has the ability to create single frame photos from the video! Now, considering how difficult it is for me to get catch all three boys mid-motion without at least one of them being some kind of UFO-like blur across the screen, I think once we figure out how to do this, it's gonna be FUN!

I'll try to figure out how to upload and save movie files. Perhaps one of my more tech-oriented readers will decide to do their kind deed for the day and walk us through it? Wouldn't it be fun to have movies on the blog!


Sunday, September 26

Just thinking out loud

Lord of the Rings: brain candy, deep reading, or a little of both? I can't decide, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the read. I do, however, find myself getting confused after reading LOTR for a bit and then going through The Hobbit with James...

CD-DVD: *sigh* The box didn't come with the proper pluggie thingies and the computer is ignoring it. That is the official report from the "Tech Dept." It's going back.

Neighbor Kids: Zorak has become the local "fix-it guy" for the neighborhood boys. We're very glad they are comfortable coming to the door when they need help with their bikes or anything else, and we enjoy having them around. Still, it is a little sad knowing they don't have someone at home to do these things. (We don't know the details of their home lives, only that they don't have anyone at home to show them how to take care of their things, or to keep them supplied with tools and such.) He wants to pick up brake pads this week. The boys are cruising around on bikes with no brake pads and they're grinding their wheels to death.

They are very good boys, and we enjoy having them around. They're in 8th and 9th grades, right on the cusp of testing those waters of manhood. It's a tenuous period. We hope to help keep positive things and healthy activities within their grasps as they grow. Active young men will look for things to do, and it's human nature to do whatever is easiest. Zorak remembers that all too well. *grin*

Church & Tithing: You know, there is simply no delicate way to handle the mandate of tithing when discussing it between believers and non-believers. It sounds like it's all about the money, which completely depends on your perspective, I guess. I'm pretty sure that's because the two parties are not coming from a common foundation or using common definitions. Obviously, we don't tithe. Not because I don't believe in it, but because Zorak earns the money and he doesn't agree with it (y'all should've seen his face the first time I suggested tithing! "Ten percent of all of it???") He's never taken issue with me tithing monies I've earned, which I appreciate and respect. I also respect his stance on the money he earns. Today in the Visitor's Class, the topic of the day was... ta-da! Tithing! Zorak and I had a good talk about it after class, but that's one of those topics that probably won't ever find a consensus.

Computer Time: I think I'm going to cave in and allow the boys scheduled computer time. If they're going to be on, I'd rather it be doing something slightly more productive than playing MOHAA with Zorak. Now that the computer is running stunningly better, we'll install some programs on the boys' log-in and work it into our regular routine. It helps that we don't have access to regular TV, so I don't feel like it's just one more thing to compete with for their attention.

Typo: oh good grief, we watched Horatio, not Horation. *sheesh* Evidently I didn't have enough coffee last night, eh?

All-in-all, a quiet weekend with not much going on. After church today we came home and made fried chicken. We told stories and made root beer floats. Then we read ourselves into a stupor and tucked the boys into bed. I love days like this.

Oh, and John has discovered the ultimate filibuster! He makes up a story to share. It's generally long and involved, but comes to an ending something along the lines of, "And they lived happily ever after... Except for the time that..." and he launches into yet another impromptu story! This will go on for as long as you can stand it. He has found it useful for both supper and bedtime so far. We usually give him a little leeway, just to appreciate his creative and wonderful stories. (And to quit giggling- it's really hard not to giggle when they're so cute.)

Ah, well, I am going to head out and gather this week's schedule. Hope you are all having a lovely end of September!


Neat Day!

The hard drive has been replaced successfully! Not only did we replace it, but we *knock on wood* managed to piggyback the two drives and transferred all our files intact! It was a tense few hours and we went to bed just as the sun was thinking of coming up, but it worked! Zorak says he feels "like such a Beta nerd". (Picture the Superman pose w/ a cup of coffee in hand as he says this.)


Jacob walked! Not just one step or two, but up to five at a time, and he kept at it all day. I don't know who is more proud of him: us, the boys, or himself.

St. Mary's County Fair is where we spent our afternoon. It was absolutely wonderful, and probably one of the best County Fairs either of us has ever attended. We had a lovely time in all, saw several people we know, enjoyed the rides and the junk food.

We learned so much about goats that we hadn't known before. Neither of the boys wanted to milk one, although they both had several opportunities to do so, but they did enjoy hearing about them and touching them. One gentleman in particular spent plenty of time answering all our questions and sharing "getting started" stories about raising goats. The nubian goats are just beautiful!

We also were fortunate to find and visit with the folks who brought draft horses for the horse pull. Holy Cow! These horses are mammoth! We had to head out around seven thirty, and the teams were only pulling around 6,000 pounds when we left. (I say "only", as we heard last year's pull was up around 12,000 pounds by the end- can you even imagine? The power and grace in these animals is just awe inspiring.) They weren't even straining! It was amazing.

The bonus, the unexpected thrill of the entire fair, though, came as we headed for the gate. Among the competing sounds of loud 80's rock, the calls of the horse pull announcers, the whirrs of various vittle makers, we heard something familiar and... we stopped, listened, and turned to face one another. It was like our own personal Cricket in Times Square! We heard Western Swing! Playing live, no less! Oh, finditfinditfindit! I chirpped happily, hopping up and down, trying to discern the source of the melodies amidst the din. We found it, and we danced. We waltzed, we two-stepped, we danced the happy, strange, spinning dances that only children (and parents of children) do. We danced with the boys, we danced together, we swayed and hummed and just absorbed the familiar, warm music we both love so much. This bit of serendipity delayed our exit from the fair by about half an hour, but none of us minded. The band is truly excellent, which only added to our excitement.

Nobody seemed to know the name of the band, but we plan to track them down and if they play locally, then there's a date night coming on!

We got video from the fair on the digital camera- wow, this thing is GREAT! Not only can we take great snippets of video with it, but we can extrapolate stills from the video clips once we've uploaded the files to the computer. Wow, technology has come such a long way from the Commodore 64, or Polaroids! Neat stuff.

Anyhow, Zorak and I stayed up way too late watching Horation Hornblower (which we thoroughly enjoyed, and now I'm going to have to read the entire series!) so that's all I have time for this evening.

Enjoy a beautiful Sunday!

Friday, September 24

Technical Difficulties

Well, the computer was kind enough to let me know it's dying. That gave me time enough to try to back up the files before it goes under completely. Sort of. There are a few things it seems I will never learn: go to sleep at a reasonable hour the last two weeks before the baby is born, fill the gas tank when it hits the 1/2 full mark, and back up my hard drive regularly to an external source.

As it turns out, the vague period between your first inkling that your computer is dying and the moment it actually dies is not the time to discover that your CD burner is also kaput, or that your photos are too numerous to fit on all the zip disks you own (including cannibalizing from hubby's school set).

The new hard drive is waiting patiently beside my chair. Photobucket is going to charge me double in the morning, I'm sure. Zorak is picking up a new CD-RW at Wal-Mart (while we're in there, we might as well do all the fixin' it needs). It's going to be a long night. Hopefully, though, it will be a productive one.

In case we don't see you until Monday, have a beautiful weekend. Enjoy the fresh fall air (chilly fall air for those of you way up North!) Be good to one another, and hug those babies.


Thursday, September 23

He's Home

So, just wanted to share a snippet about the joy of homeschooling an accelerated and/or asynchronous learner (edited for clarity since it's not three am this time 'round!) This is part of a larger thread on the concept of grade skipping advanced children.

We don't have to pick one or the other (comfortable surroundings with a healthy environment or quality academics). They can learn at their own paces, grow at their own paces, garner the skills they'll need to be fledglings at their own paces.

If that means we're having to bone up on physics theory or other high-end (or obscure) areas of study so that our children can continue their educations at home until they're 18 or so, that's fine with us. That's actually what we anticipate.

They'll probably have things they will look back on and say they wish we'd done this or that differently (rare is the child who doesn't), but hopefully they won't look back and feel they had to pick between an excellent education or their childhoods.

And now, I'm off! Not that I don't love spending time with you all, but hey, you guys didn't bring me a big honkin' box of baklava!


Wednesday, September 22

Our homeschooling days...

Mmmm, the bliss of the cocoon has begun to show benefits! Thank you to those who encouraged that we just follow the nudge of the soul. It's been a great week! It's been a slightly different week, but good in new ways and warm, fuzzy ways. Anyhow, I thought I'd touch base on education tonight- both mine and the boys'.

We've pretty much ignored Latin this week, except for the prayers. I know, bad Classicist. Hey, I have two more stages to play with (and most of this first one), so I'm really not sweating it. Besides, we promised James we would attend a Latin Mass over the bridge once he finished Prima Latina... and I'm in no hurry to drive an hour and a half to sit through a church service that *I* won't understand most of, anyway. LOL. We've focused on Spanish a bit more this week, trying to get the boys into a comfortable spot with that.

Still trying my darndest to reconcile the differences between Castillian Spanish and Mexican, but I think we can find a way to make it blend. We've read one book a day in Spanish all week, and that's rapidly become one of the highlights of each day! (Who'd a thought?) Too bad I can't speak/read Latin as easily as I can Spanish. As for the pronunciation differences, I figure the boys will end up wonderfully adaptable with dialects, or totally unintelligible in any Spanish-speaking country.

Math this week has been a mix of everything. Place value has been the study du jour for John, which he is mastering with great finesse. He can build, read, and even write just about anything you ask him to. He still likes dotted lines to trace, though- it's fun for him, and a bit more interactive that way. So, dotted lines it is! Review of skip counting by 7's, word problems galore, and a ton of mental math games have been the plan for James. He makes up most of the games. Today he wanted to play what he called "string along", where you begin by adding two numbers, then adding another, subtracting a number, etc. (He, erm, kept up better than I did.) Later, and I've no idea what started it, while we were putting away the wash, the boys erupted into an impromptu game of "what number am I?", using their bodies to form numbers. That was fun, and a great game for building concrete understanding of the symbols, as well as spatial comprehension of forms and axis orientation!

Reading is always a "go" here. I will admit to spending more time reading in the evenings than Zorak traditionally does. Namely, I am bone-tired by the end of the day and the mere thought of wrestling or roughhousing makes me want to hide in a corner and whimper quietly. Still, it's so important (for all of us) to spend time together, and while I have zero drive to be mauled by three excitable little monkeys, it is nice to snuggle with them once they've been sedated, er, bathed and jammied. So, we read and read and read until they (or I) begin to fade. John surprised me by bringing in a stack of books he literally could not see over, announcing, "We'll begin reading from the bottom of the stack!"

Can't seem to find read alouds for the boys that James doesn't get to first. Of all the books we picked up at the library this week (over 20), there is ONE he had not read by this morning. That one, he said, he started to read but just "didn't find it very interesting". *pphhttbbbtthhh* I'm going to have to hide a secret stash of books to read aloud for that boy! (Oh, I know. I'm definitely not complaining, I'm overjoyed!)

History has been moved to the supper table. The boys this week have requested Lei Zu & the Silkworm, and the Anansi stories (both found in Story of the World Vol.1) each night. Tonight, however, we also read about the bull-jumpers of Crete. The boys acted it out after supper. I was in stitches. They're pretty good backpack, er bull jumpers.

And what have I been doing with my quiet evenings this week? I've been simmering through Lord of the Rings (which, I have to laugh at myself here, I'm reading the same way I read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt- with one thumb in the appendices, constantly flipping back and forth. It is going to take me a month to finish this book, but that's ok. I plan to be here in a month...) My "snippets of time" selection this week has been Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which has not failed to provide all the enlightenment and humor for which it has become so well-known. This is a delightful little book! I've also enjoyed music that usually gets butchered by my own personal Weird Al (Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor... It is amazing what Zorak can do to seemingly innocuous lyrics, really!)

Zorak is doing well, and will be home tomorrow. We contemplated meeting in PA and doing a little visiting over the weekend, but tonight he said he just wants to come home and "do what we do". That sounds perfect to me! Thanks for allowing me to wax sentimental while he's been gone. I'll try not to be too sappy too often, but sometimes a little sap is good. That's where you get yummy syrup for breakfasts, healing balm for scars, and gin. (OK, gin's from juniper berries. I couldn't think of one made from sap.)

*update: wine! You can make wine from birch sap! There ya have it! Learn something new every day!*

Enjoy those precious babies (of all ages)!

Tuesday, September 21

Missing Zorak

It's quiet. I didn't realize how much we talk together. Our conversations and banter feel so natural that for the most part it goes unnoticed until it's gone. Then it's awfully quiet. He's such a great conversationalist- witty, funny, sarcastic, occasionally smarmy, but always warm and honest.

It's also really cold. Now, listing this as one reason to miss him in no way intimates that he could be replaced by a hot water bottle. Not by a long shot! But that is one definite perk. If I can outlast him by about four minutes, my side of the bed is warm. Yup. Not necessarily a bonus in the summer, but sure would be nice this evening!

He smells really nice and gives the best hugs. I am a geek, yes, and am wearing his shirt. I can't get a hug right now, but this is close.

I also used his coffee mug today. :-)

Wow, it's almost funny to think he's got me thinking and acting like a twitterpated school girl.

What am I saying? When it comes to him, I feel like a twitterpated school girl! After ten years, it's still a wonderful feeling!

The boys sure will be glad when he's home, too. They miss him the most in the evenings, when he is generally there to wrestle and read after bath. We talk a lot about Daddy during the day, about what he does and why, about how Daddy would handle this situation or that situation.

They know Daddy will always pick the morally right choice, even when it's not the easy choice. They know Daddy will always help the underdog. They know Daddy loves them and misses them even when he's far away. They know Daddy is so smart~ he's the smartest, bestest, biggest, lovey-est Daddy in their whole wide world!

Yep, Zorak is loved and missed.

Monday, September 20

Oh, today was nice!

Our Wonderful Neighbor was right- the weather today was absolutely perfect! It was just gorgeous, and of course, we had to go play in it. The boys rode their bikes and built a "shelter" among the trees (there's a nip of forest-like stuff at the edge of the property, with plenty of deadfall for small children to enjoy and make stuff with), and just sat and visited with us moms. Just beautiful. I love this time of year!

We're enjoying the redesigned family room upstairs, too- it's got great natural light, there's plenty of creative space for three boys to romp and play, and room for all of us to negotiate around during lessons. It's not really a large space at all, but the right furniture did wonders for its usability.

Zorak arrived safe and sound. He called to chat a bit and say goodnight to the boys. I'd forgotten the quiet void that one of us being gone creates. We are actually glad for this opportunity with his work, and I think he'll enjoy the work itself... but we both said we're really glad he didn't take a position with a lot of travel. That's something we've both done in the past, and it's a whole different ball game pre-children. Ah, in the meantime, we'll just cruise along and try to keep the pace. He'll be home much sooner than we first thought, so that was nice to hear.

We went to the library this evening, just before supper. That's really a nice time to go- we've never been in the evening before. The boys got to watch one of the volunteers clean the big fish tank, and the guy was great- he explained the tool he was using, let them touch it, played with them. Wow. And they both remembered to say "Thank you" when we headed on in to the books. We stocked up on wonderful books- some old favorites, some new surprises. Eats, Shoots and Leaves came in, too! WOOHOO! So after I'm done here, I'm going to curl up and do a little learnin'.

I do owe y'all an apology- I got sucked in and broke my own rule- don't talk to strangers. So, for my part in the unpleasantness on the blog recently, I do apologize to you (the innocent bystanders, friends, family, the ones I ought to be talking to) and I will remember my own rule in the future. Please forgive me.

Let's see, what else is going on over here? Not too much. With Autumn on its way, things always look a lot brighter. There's just something about the crisp air, the light breeze, the incredible shade of blue in the sky... it puts a spring in our steps and whispers that there is something amazing around every corner, in every meeting, in the daily to-do, even. We really love the fall.

Tomorrow will be a day of library books spread out all over the living room, music playing in the background, and time spent just hanging out enjoying one another. Someone used the term "cocooning" to describe what I've been feeling, and I think that sums it up really well. There are tides and seasons to everyone's life, and if we listen to the rythm of those cycles, things go much more smoothly, more enjoyably. Incredible things happen inside cocoons! And a time of emergence follows shortly after... good stuff, this life.

Wrap your arms around those sweet babies and breathe in the love!


Lookie! A troll!

Wow, I didn't know I had a secret loather! And a long-reading one, too, evidently! Is that cool, or is it scary? Hmmm. Actually, a little creepy, but I won't go into that because I might get tired from telling someone how much I hate snarky anonymous posters who can't follow the rules! Wouldn't want to make anyone else angry, now, would we?

LOL! Ah, so let me see if I have this straight... if I'm angry over having to cough up $800 to register a vehicle in MD, that's not OK. And if, after the two week three-ring circus of trying to get the thing registered, I'm just thinkin' it's not feelin' like it's worth it, and I make the comment that I resent being forced to pay for two years (am I allowed to resent this, or is this another problem you have with me?), and in my exhaustion and frustration say that I don't want to be here that long... oooohhhhh, bad Dy. It evidently upsets people who are FROM Maryland. Why would this upset you? Ought I to have been tickled pink over spending nearly a grand on this? Did ya want me to just keep it quiet? Was I inadvertently airing Maryland's dirty laundry? Or were you just unaware that other states don't really charge that much and you're mad at the messenger? I'm missing why this has your panties in a bunch.

Or, looking at the other referenced incident, the "whole blog of June 16th", if I am bothered by the level of Big Brother poking his nose into my home when he can't even run his own schools well, that makes me "inappropriately nasty". I cited my examples for being frustrated. So, just HOW does that make my frustrations "inappropriately nasty"? What in the WORLD are you talking about?

Since, dear reader, you signed your cheerful little note, "Sheeple", I'm taking a wild stab here and guessing you are in favor of the government involvement I discussed in that post. OK. Yay for you. You evidently see some benefit to it that I'm not seeing. At the time, I'd have asked you to share them, but ya know... not so much now. I think perhaps you have enough issues to deal with than trying to be civil to someone when Big Brother isn't making you do it.

I'm so glad to see you've completely missed the things we like here- they may not be the same things YOU like about Maryland, and you might be offended by that, too!

And see, my question that you inappropriately replied to was in response to another snark-n-run attack from the other day- had nothing to do with MD. Entirely different issue altogether! You're funny.

Finally, and then I'm going to play outside with the boys, why on earth are you coming if I'm so offensive to you? One Click Away! It's that easy. I'm not blogging to make you mad, and I assume you don't come online to get your feathers ruffled. From the tone of your comment, you find nothing of redeeming value here, so I don't know what you think you're going to find by coming back. Anyway, it's a big world, and there's plenty of room not to have to run into one another. If you actually know me IRL and honestly feel that I've somehow set out to hurt your feelings, let me know and we'll talk, but this anonymous deal just doesn't bring out the bleeding heart in me.


Sunday, September 19

Put another pot on to brew

It's going to be a long night. I'm doing the wash so Zorak has all he needs for an upcoming trip... thought I'd post random thoughts as they come to me... the fresh pot of coffee is just about done.

I just read this tonight, and found it enjoyable and thought-provoking, told in a lighthearted way. I think I got it from Carmon. But it's late...

*Updated: yep, that's where I found it!*


And I'm wondering, just how many inappropriately nasty comments does one have to make to a stranger in order to get the coveted NOW "Aggression Badge"? Just curious.


Haven't been to the boards at all lately. I've been in a very homebody mood, not just in real life, but online, too. There's been too much activity, too much ignorant hostility in the world around us lately. It's too much fun to curl up on the couch with the boys and lose ourselves in a good book, or a rousing game of Uno. Do you suppose my dragon-slaying days are over, or this is just a lull? Whichever it is, it's nice.


Oh- there's the dryer. Be right back.


Mmmm, back. Fresh load going, fresh coffee in the cup- what other things are out there?


We met a wonderful magician today! He is from Ecuador. He came to the US as an exchange student his Junior year in high school, and has returned for college. He's funny, and smart, and very witty. We thoroughly enjoyed standing on the sidewalk out front, visiting with him. He did some magic for the boys. While John bounced up and down, giggling with glee, James was busy turning the poor guys' hands over to see how he did that. A good magician is a humbling thing, you know that? Just when you starting thinking you're pretty observant, you find yourself drawn in and awestruck. Sometimes it's nice to view the world like that once again. I didn't want to know how he did it.


The boys did math today during church. *shhhh* They don't know it was math. They just thought they were really fun pages to do, you know, for fun. Hee hee.


We kept Jacob with us today for Sunday School. He'll not be going back to the nursery until something changes there. When we have left him in the nursery (three times- just for Sunday School), I've always left explicit instructions, both verbal and written (there is a "special instructions" section on the sign-in sheet), to come get us if he needs anything. If he needs a clean diaper, a drink, a snack, a hug. If he is anything less than deleriously happy to be there, come get us. Twice I have been taken with a need to go peek in on him, and both times it has been clear that our directions were not heeded. Once, he was asleep in someone's arms, and while I wasn't really convinced of her story (she claimed he just climbed into her lap and stared at her until he fell asleep- he doesn't fall asleep like that, not this kid), at least he was being held, and so I held my peace.

The second time, however, I poked my head in and there he was, red-faced and tear-stained, out cold in a swing with his head flat on the tray. I was so angry I could barely be civil. The lady running the nursery tried to actually talk me out of taking him from the swing by telling me, "He was crying and fussy, so I picked him up, but that didn't help, so I put him in there. He seems fine now." ARGH!!! And obviously he wasn't at some point before he passed out like this!

I explained, through clenched teeth, "I am his mother, and this is my job. I was under the impression that you understood when I said to come get me if he is less than 100% happy. Obviously I was mistaken." Her response? "Well, he seems ok now..."

AEIGH!!! What part of "COME GET ME" does not come out the same as it sounds in my head?!?!

The part that really galls me is this attitude that I am a "nervous first time mother who needs to learn the ropes". Um, no. I have been hearing things like "you need to let him cry" and other such nonsense for six years now. I have picked up and comforted three children, and while I've never once resented picking up a crying baby, I certainly resent someone telling me how to raise my child!

Anyhow, this is "that mentality" that I mentioned I was concerned about when we first considered coming to this church. Zorak agrees that it needs to be addressed (at the very least that they acknowledge that we aren't all Ezzo fans and that not every child is to be treated as an Ezzo-ite). He also, however, wants me to wait for the pastor to mention it. (Pastor seemed a bit confused at the presence of a baby in class today, but said nothing.) While I am normally more than ready to march to the top of that hill and duke it out, I'm wondering if perhaps my less-than-thick skin as of late has been a preparation to listen to Zorak's wisdom and wait for them to open a dialogue. I don't know, but my baby won't be left alone in that room again any time soon. Attitudes don't change overnight.


How long does it take for a load of clothes to dry? Two cups of coffee, at least...


OK, this was funny. True. And funny.


Well, the last load is about to go into the dryer. It's almost one o'clock. Tomorrow's going to be a hectic day, to say the least.

James' Surprise Party

Turned out not to be as much of a surprise as we thought it would be. He heard the little neighbor girl say something about "surprise" and then her Mom said, "SHHHHHHH!" So, he knew it was coming. BUT, he didn't know *when*, and I wish we had a digital version of the expression on his face when he walked in the door.

It was a blast for everyone!

The day started out great~ we had 24 snails cruising across the back patio, so the boys got to hang out and play with them for about an hour. Then it was waffles for breakfast, and some time to play. (They don't normally wait, but I am pretty sure John foraged and found some snacks Zorak had left out the night before.) I ran to the market, then to pick up his gifts and the party stuff (it is very quiet, and kind of lonely to go to the market alone- next time I'm takin' one or more of the boys with me). I got home and we started cooking supper for a family at church.

Erin (our Wonderful Neighbor) took James & John to the market w/ her and her girls (she says there is no way she wants four children- "They were all great, but there are just so MANY of them! They're everywhere!" The four children are aged 6, 5, 4, and 2- so yeah, that could be overwhelming. *grin*) We got the cake made and decorated, the house cleaned, fajitas and all the trimmings prepared, chips fried up and salsa made- then Zorak picked up James and took him on an errand, while Erin brought the kids to the house to wrap presents and finish decorating (spread confetti, fling streamers- the fun stuff).

Everyone was waiting when Zorak and James came back, and boy was he surprised! At first, all he could do was inhale. LOL. Then he realized there was a total stranger in the dining room (other neighbors had brought a friend of theirs who was in town for the day- that's part of our open door policy- friends of friends are welcome any time) so the first words out of his mouth were, "Wow! ~ Hey, wh- who are you?"

Anyhow, we did things a little backwards, but it worked out great. We did presents first, then ate supper, then cake. That actually is a great way to do things (provided you aren't doing the "30 loud children hopped up on sugar in an enclosed space" parties- then, I wouldn't recommend it). For the low-key get togethers we have, though, it's wonderful, as all the kids enjoy playing together. James got the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, Sea Monkeys (yes, I am a dork), a new Etch-A-Sketch (the old one had developed a mortal wound in one of the moves and had to be put out of its misery), and a book of Optical Illusions. The neighbors gave him guest tickets to Busch Gardens and a Rubik's Cube (ARGH! It's ok, though, they have a child's b-day coming in March... that gives me time to plan. LOL!) It was a wonderful day of frolicking and playing, dancing and balloon-sword fighting, singing and squirrelling around as any young boy loves to do. He said at bedtime that his favorite part was having everyone there for dinner. I hope all three boys always remember that it's about celebrating life with those you love.

The tradition Ben & Claudia (our old Wonderful Neighbors from AZ) started of giving one sibling gift was continued today- we bought John his very own DVD of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He bounced around for five minutes, hugging it to himself and shouting "yay yay yay!" The first thing I heard this morning was, "Mom, can I watch..."

Six. It just feels so big. But he's still so small, just a little guy compared to when he'll be "Daddy-sized". I can't believe six years have gone by, and I can't find the words to express it. Perhaps another time, the words won't fail me, but right now all I can do is choke up and shake my head in wonder. Wow. It's just amazing, and James is such a great kid. I wonder if the next six are going to go by this quickly? After the boys were tucked in, Charles and I watched a few videos of years past. *sniff* I'm speechless. We are so blessed.

Enjoy those kiddos!

Saturday, September 18

*shhhh* It's a Surprise!

Well, we are having a surprise party for James today. It's definitely going to be a surprise. He wrote up invitations for his actual birthday and distributed them about- "Monday at 2:34 PM"...

I love how kids need to have very specific, detailed things. Dates and places are of utmost importance to them. "How about the fourth Tuesday of 2005?" or "Can we go at ten twenty-one AM on every Monday?" I don't know where they get these things, but I suspect it's from their growing grasp of the detail of time, and the power to determine the when and how of their schedules. We try to accomodate, but sometimes it's hard. "Mom, can we get ice cream from the ice cream truck every six years on a Thursday?"

This bizarre weather seems to have thrown everyone a bit off. Not only did James sleep like the proverbial baby (the one I didn't have), but so did Jacob, who slept from two until six-thirty the other day and was back out at nine. All three boys were out cold last night and didn't get up until eight this morning. I hope it's the weather, at any rate! If it's not, I'm going to worry that they're up to something. Might be a good idea to scout the house for hidden "experiments" and the random apple core, just in case.

This morning we found 24 teeny tiny snails on the back patio. That's been today's excitement, and we've learned what they eat, how they reproduce, and just how badly it grosses Mom out when you show up at the back door with a snail crawling up your arm.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, September 16

The more mundane

Today was, overall, one of the less eventful days. It certainly wasn't one of the better days, either.

We had Spanish lessons at ten. Everyone slept until nine. Argh. Short, hurried breakfast, then off we went. It went well, for the most part. Our local homeschool group held a curriculum share today that I've been looking forward to for a long while. We did not make it. The boys were just too "off" from the wonky morning. I couldn't put my finger on it, but my Spider Sense was tingling, so I took heed and we stayed in. (I'm glad for that.)

We lunched, then trekked upstairs to the newly decorated "family room", where we read, played Uno, and enjoyed each other tremendously. Then the phone rang. I have no idea what transpired in the time it took me to run downstairs, grab the phone and head back up, but James was raging mad as I topped the stairs. The best I can figure is that Jacob touched, bent... perhaps drooled on... one of the Uno cards... to which, for whatever reason known only in the dark recesses of a frustrated almost-six-year-old's brain, the obvious response was to damage many more Uno cards himself while growling and screeching like a trapped, rabid wolf. Um, yeah, you can go to bed until you calm down a bit. En route, he took the time to stop and smack a guitar that hung from his bed. Note the past tense~ hung. Said guitar has been entered in the Witness Protection Program. I did stay calm, which surprised even me. James was hysterical and belligerant and downright nasty. It is impossible to convey anything to a belligerant, nasty, vengeful almost-six-year-old who has flown with wings spread wide into the Depths of Hysteria. So, I took a deep breath, let him know that while he may see this fit as necessary, the rest of us are under no obligation to listen to it and he can either stop. Now. OR, I can close the door. Either way, we aren't captive to his fits. He stopped. Then he got suspiciously quiet. He was out cold in less than two minutes. That was shortly after lunch. He slept until I woke him at six this evening. Well, that certainly explained a lot.

Jacob went down after drooling on many more Uno cards while John and I played a few rounds. We hadn't played since John learned all the numbers, so this was pretty fun and new for all of us. We had a great time. John watched a movie while I laid down with Jacob and read Lord of the Rings erm, ok, passed out along with the baby. He woke me up when his movie ended and we spent a while reading more about dinosaurs than you'd ever want to know, building with blocks, and just enjoying a little one on one time.

Friends from Arizona will be on the East Coast next week!! We are hoping to coordinate our schedules to get together. They are just the neatest people, and they've got a wonderful little girl we all adore. We really miss them. They left Arizona shorly after we did, and it just feels like it's been forever since we've seen them.

Have not heard from a friend in the Pensacola area. He's a police officer, and I don't imagine things are looking very good right now. We're sure praying he is safe and sound, just busy helping others.

Tomorrow is Friday already! You know, I thought I had a grasp of time at one point. No longer do I suffer from that delusion. Anyhow, Zorak got word that he'll have to work extra on James' birthday, so we now have to plan a party on the spur of the moment for this weekend rather than Monday. (Not like that's anything different than how we normally do things, it's just strange to have a head's up.) We are going to talk to the Wonderful Neighbors and see about doing a "surprise party" for him. I think he's to the point where he'd "get it" and enjoy it. We'll see.

Have a wonderful Friday, and enjoy the world through your children's eyes!

Wednesday, September 15

Birthday Pictures

Jacob is our surprise baby. We thought we were done with two children. We thought we knew what was best for our family. We had strong feelings about limiting the number of children in our family for many, many reasons. Those thoughts vanished when we learned about Jacob's pending arrival. It's just not possible to look God in the eye and say, "No, *we* know better than You do." Well, at least I just couldn't go about things like that, at any rate.

The transition from one child to two children was, for me, really rough. John was 2.5, and I had just become almost comfortable in raising two children without the constant fear that I was going to forget one of them somewhere or that the incessant sibling "things" would drive me to chew my own hair out (I was raised as an only child due to the age gap between my siblings and myself- sibling relationships are entirely foreign to me at this stage). So, when we learned that Jacob was coming, I cried. For three days straight. I laid awake at night, terrified that I could never be the kind of Mother James had, or John deserved, let alone manage with another child in the mix. I cried so hard I threw up. It wasn't the baby that was the problem, it was me. If I am to be perfectly truthful, I'm still amazed on a near-daily basis that I didn't get myself killed before I turned 25! To be entrusted with not one, not two, but three precious babies who would rely on me and need me to "have it together" was... pfft. Terrifying doesn't come close.

We were also in Zorak's third year at Riddle. My mother had passed away the previous Spring. My best friend had died that summer. Our church had become a battle ground of incredible proportions and we were now homechurching. Saying that I was exhausted is like saying Marry Poppins was cheerful.

Still, a baby! Another wonderful little one in our home, our hearts! Our hearts had grown and filled with more love than we'd been capable of finding the words to express when we had James. We thought we'd reached the pinnacle of joy and had literally peered into the heart of God when we held him.

And then came John! Who can explain the ability of the human heart to double in size to accomodate more love? It's like the flight of bees- seemingly impossible, yet there ya go. Our love for John soared and shone as brilliantly and as deeply as our love for James.

The same was true for Jacob/Emily (we didn't know which, and really thought we'd used all our luck in having two boys thus far). Only with the boys already running about and aware of the idea of a new baby, it was all even more exciting. Jacob was a gift, right from the beginning. Imagine a spiritual and emotional Christmas where you get everything you have always wanted and just couldn't imagine anything left to wish for... and then finding just one more present tucked behind the tree... and it's perfect! Absolutely perfect! That's us, and how we felt about Jacob for the remaining eight and a half months of his preparations.

Not a day has gone by that we haven't enjoyed him, enjoyed the boys all together, enjoyed the new dynamic of our lives. Not once have I gone to bed without sighing a thank you from the depths of my heart for all that I have, and our family seems complete now. ('Course, we thought that before, too, so we've stuck with the less stubborn "seems", "feels", "pretty much" syntax this time around.)

And now he's one! My goodness. What would this past year have been like without the three boys? I wouldn't even want to guess. Jacob has taught me to slow down, take a deep breath, yell less and nap more. In just one short year, he has reminded us all that it's the little things that count the most, so your little things (a hug in the morning, a laugh over supper, a surprise nonsense game in the middle of the afternoon) should be many and varied, and enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, September 14

OK, here's my issue with the OSCE (ok, issue*s*)

I'm having trouble writing this post because I have SO many arguments against this very bad, bad idea that I don't know where to begin. Here's a quick synopsis of what I'm trying to say, and then I'll flesh it out.

This organization is useless for its purported purposes, and is subject to corruption the likes of which the United States, with its ever-depressing pool of politicians on the scene, has never seen face to face.

This organization had elected to the Presidency of it's elections unit an individual who has a very specific agenda, and questionable ethics. He is one of very few US Federal judges to have ever been impeached and removed from office. (He was caught taking bribes to let racketeering criminals walk.) Yet he's the head of their commission to ensure "fair and democratic" elections. Oookkkkaayyy...

Our Constitution delineates the process by which our elections are run, and the states, the ones mentioned in the United States, are the ones responsible for the election of National offices. This is a states issue, and the power and authority to handle the debacle of the 2000 elections needs to be on the states themselves. (AND many states, particularly those in question after 2000, have taken steps to truly ensure fair AND democratic elections!) This simply isn't the place for foreign interests who are not beholden to, nor desiring to conform to OUR Constitution. But it's OUR Constitution, and these are OUR elections.

You can get a vague, undetailed primer on the organization at the organization's website here. This is a monitoring organization, of which we (the U.S.) are a part, although I'm betting most of the Citizens of the US aren't aware this organization even exists, let alone that we are a part of it, funding it ~we're paying a little over 9% of its operating budget~, and are now considered "obligated" to permit foreign interests into our country to "monitor" our elections.

You can get more information at CNN (which is tickled pink by this), the EUobserver (again, thinks its neat), and from the American website (which states some of my biggest concerns with this issue, although not as unbiased as I would like to see- this isn't a partisan issue, this is a national sovereignty issue, but that's just my .02).

My concerns with having a European Security group overseeing our elections are many, starting with the fact that it is the states themselves, not the State Department that runs our Federal elections. Power, in America, is supposed to flow UP- FROM the people TO the States THEN on to the President. We've got it all wrong to think that the power needs to be meted out in doses that we common folk can kin.

Jeff, thank you for your comments -is this Steph's Jeff? Hi!- but I will have to disagree that it's all ok based on the ideas they're just watching and they've been here before. If anything, the fact that they've been brought in before makes me feel worse, although that was at least on a state level and the state (CA) had a say (though probably not via a referendum, I'm guessing!). The idea that they're "just watching", however, while exactly what the PR face is all about, is mostly not true. Please allow me to elaborate:

They come prepared with their own Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. We, as "member states", are bound by that membership and the organization's own by-laws state that this agreement is "based on a legally-binding statute in the form of a treaty". Their CCA is to be considered an OSCE-related entity, outside the PR realm of the OSCE itself, yet fully compliant with the OSCE. So the actual OSCE does the watching, but by our mere involvement with this organization and its monitoring, we bring ourselves under the jurisdiction of the OSCA-related CCA. Our power as States has been yanked completely out of our hands and placed in an international forum whose decisions are binding. Our Presidential elections could potentially be hung in the balance of Alcee Hastings' crew and a committee in Geneva. Furthermore, we would be "legally bound" by their decision, regardless of the "will of the people".

There are other reasons we simply do not need to have monitoring in our elections: the states, as is appropriate, made changes after the 2000 election to ensure that another situation such as that did not happen again. That's their job. They did it. But that's not good enough? Why? Let's take a look at who will be "just watching" and see if it makes any of us feel any more certain that this group can somehow "ensure" a "fair and democratic" election for us (with thanks to Ron Paul-R, Tx):

*In Bosnia, the State Department observed intimidation of prospective voters and incomplete voter registers. 107% of the possible voting-age population turned out for that election, and the OSCE gave its nod.

*In Tajikistan, President Emomali Rakhmonov and cohorts continue gaining power in elections the State Department dubbed as "neither free nor fair." In Turkmenistan, President Saparmurat Niyazov, a former Communist Party leader, has held office since 1990 and in 1999 was appointed president for life.

*In 1998, the OSCE observer team that was to monitor the cease-fire between the Serbs and Albanians was caught sending targeting information back to the US and European Union in advance of the U.S.-led attack on Serbia.

*This year, the OSCE approved the election of Mikheil Saakashvili in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with a Saddam Hussein-like 97 percent of the vote!

Since the Florida aberrations in 2000, a nationwide election came — and went — in which a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives was chosen in undisputedly free and fair elections.

In October 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft unveiled the Voting Access and Integrity Initiative, pledging the Justice Department would prosecute any election fraud more vigorously than ever.

Voting machines have been replaced, ballots re-written. I cannot think of a single country that has bent over backwards the way the US has to remedy a situation as quickly, nor as clearly.

This is also about a step in general that we have no business making in many ways. It's about more than just watching. This is about finally getting the US to kneel before the UN and start "learning its place" in the International Community. If y'all honestly think it's about "fair and democratic elections," then... I don't know what to say.

There are probably more typos in this entry than I'd care to admit. It's ok, I'm going to call it good. There is so much more to say, but I could fill an entire Civics class with the history and information needed to get it all out there and at some point I think Blogger would seize up on me and refuse to allow more entries. So, I am going to go read a bit of the Lord of the Rings, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, then go kiss my babies and get some rest.

Be good to your little ones.

You guys are funny!

Yes, Jess, I was pretty sure Dee's concoction might kill me. It sounded too much like stuff my Grandma used to pawn off on us, and she didn't really like us all that much. *grin* (I'm kidding, Dee- well, not about Grandma, but I know you're not ready to have me offed just yet!)

I am recovering nicely from a psychotic case of "Mastodonitis", as Zorak dubbed it. I'll let y'all figure that one out, but let's just say that thanks to enough water intake to make the EPA eye me suspiciously for the drought in the Southwest, my handy-dandy grapefruit seed extract, and the incredible blessings of hot water, the Mastodon is dead and I am on the mend. I just love my voodoo bag. I will never need a "National Healthcare System", which, by the way, have y'all noticed that suddenly we seem to have one (or so I keep hearing on the radio) and it evidently needs to be reformed? Silly me, I know about Medicare, but I simply don't remember the US instituting a "National Healthcare System". Hmmm, odd. Well, my projection: they're getting us accustomed to hearing the term and with our feeble memories we'll soon forget that it doesn't really exist, but we'll- or some will, I should say- be quite gung-ho to get it reformed! Oh, huh? What's that, you say? Yeah, I know. Scary how accurate I can be, isn't it?

I left the computer unguarded while I was curled on the couch, begging for morphine (or death, but the caffeine just wasn't working anymore) and Zorak discovered Scrappleface... I've felt better for a day or two, but couldn't outlast him for computer time. We need another computer or my blogging may be limited to the random monthly entry.

For the past two days, however, I've been reeling from the recent news that we're no longer a sovereign nation and the power of the States has been rescinded and handed over to the UN. It's all good. What were we thinking with this whole democratic republic concept, anyway? What the hell, why stop there? Like the politicians have been telling us for years: we're too stupid to take care of ourselves, anyway. This is for our own good. Soon we will no longer be Citizens, but residents, perhaps subjects. I hope the same people who believe that dear old Alcee will somehow provide a fair and objective monitoring of our elections wake up soon. Perhaps he can bring about a 107% turn out in our elections, too! Wouldn't that be grand? We've been wanting higher voter turn-out for a long time, and the OSCE sure seems to do a bang-up job of making sure elections are fair and just... and, of course, Alcee doesn't have an agenda of his own at all... nope. Extortion and racketeering aren't relevant reasons to deem someone incapable of fairness or impartiality! Pft- silly, silly Freedom Lovers. It's just time to admit defeat and quit dreaming that America has any ingenuity or survival skills left in her at all.

And this is SUCH good news, that I'm sure your Congressmen and Congresswomen came running home from D.C. to let y'all know about these events, is that right? No? But what about "the will of the people"? Ohhh, not OUR people, some OTHER country's people! Now I get it.

I'm still too stunned and particularly disillusioned with all that I have held dear these many years to really blog in detail about this whole treasonous fiasco, but I will do so shortly. Once my bitterness and disgust either rein in a bit, or gel up for a good old-fashioned tongue lashing (which Colin Powell, the traitorous coward, deserves.) That, however, will have to wait. It's one o'clock, and I'm not back up to full steam just yet. I just wanted to pop in and say that I miss reading your blogs and the boards- have I missed anything out 'n about?

I'll be back blogging again soon. The whole morning-blog thing fizzled horribly, didn't it? I'm just not up to par in the AM, and entries fell short of any real depth or zest, even for the random navel gazing. Nobody's navel is mildly interesting before ten AM. Isn't it the truth?

Anyhow, be good to your babies, and get out there and do something good for your neighbors tomorrow!


Friday, September 10

Friday Math

What do you get when you mix a six-hour visit at IKEA with a few hours drive time, a sick mommy, and a lost "favorite CD"?

You get a short, grumpy blog.

Sorry, guys, just don't have it in me tonight. Zorak is coming in with pizza, I'm sucking down water and antibiotics, bundled up like an Arctic Explorer and still shivering. The boys are in dreamland, waiting for the sun to come up so they can play with their new train tracks (it was time to add to the collection). I'm going to curl up and feel puny for a bit.

The trip was great, the boys are troopers and have a lovely time! It was a good visit, although the ONE item that started the whole trek wasn't available anywhere at any time and they can't tell us when it will be- all the alternatives are sold out, too. *snort* That's funny!

Anyhow, will talk to you later on. Kiss those babies.


Thursday, September 9

Birthdays, Trips, Products 'n Stuff

Amy, wickles? Really? You're liking those things, aren't ya? I'm going to have to try them, I really am!

WHY can I not find a commenting utility that will email me when someone comments AND let me know which entry the comment is under? That would make my inbox make a lot more sense. :-)

Today is Jacob's birthday. He's one. 1. Wow. I'm completely unprepared for this milestone, but it's been a good day anyhow. His party will be Saturday, just a Mexican Food Cookout with friends. Jacob doesn't mind (care), but the boys are a little put out by the fact that we aren't observing his actual birthday in a properl manner. I'll get pictures up over the weekend. I was going to post a link to his birth story, but it's no longer on Upsaid's servers, so I'll have to dig through my backed up files to see if it's there.

We took the boys to Spanish with the Wonderful Neighbors, then went to the library. Zorak and the boys are picking up Chinese food for supper. When they get back we'll do "dinner and a movie"~ not traditional Cleaver-style supper, but it sure is fun once in a while.

The nifty new product I mentioned the other day is W Ketchup. Now, this item has created an incredibly violent knee-jerk response that I truly don't understand. We have a free economy, we have the beauty and strength of enterprise and invention that have made the good things in America what they are. We also have the right to support or not support a company based on what it does with its revenues. Yes, the owners have the right to do with their proceeds as they see fit- that's money they've earned. We, as consumers, also have the right not to spend the money we've earned in a manner that is inconsistent with what we believe. Why some people think the road should only go one way is absolutely beyond me. Anyhow, we're ordering a case of this stuff, if for no other reason than that we're absolutely thrilled to see that there are those out there who aren't so cowed by the "you can't make a difference" mentality as to just roll over and whine themselves to death. These guys are putting their necks out there in a very cool way. So, whether you like Heinz ketchup or are boycotting it, or just prefer Hunt's, or whatever your reasons are for doing what you do, check out W Ketchup in the spirit of Free Enterprise and remember that it's absolutely OK to disagree and to do something constructive and productive about it!

Zelie, I don't know which IKEA we're going to... would probably help if we figured that out before tomorrow, eh? Probably college something or other- does that sound familiar?

Anyhow, the guys are back so I'm going to go enjoy a fine supper among wonderful company! Will talk to y'all later!

Tuesday, September 7


Bloggets are like bullets in a memo, only on a blog. Today was a great day- but the boys got all my creativity and you get... bloggets. (You want fries with that?)

* School today was abbreviated, but great. We enjoyed math, shouted Latin, giggled our way through Bible, did a little reading. Good stuff. Oh, and PE. Well, we wrestled in the living room. I got creamed royally. The boys may one day be the first Classically educated brothers to hit the pro wrestling circuit. Not quite what I envision in my self-indulgent daydreams, but hey, if they're happy, I'm not whining.

* Lunch with Zorak- always a winner.

* BJ's run. 5# bags of M&M's. We are thoroughly spoiled.

* Zorak arrived home before we did. The boys have a habit of hanging on the front door handle and pushing against the door- knowing full well that it's locked. Today it wasn't locked. The look on their faces as they tumbled inside was priceless. The gleeful chorus of "Daddy! Daddy! You're home!" when they saw Zorak in the hallway~ even better.

* Who knew cabbage tasted good with Montreal Steak Seasoning and butter? Yum!

* Three days 'til the IKEA expedition!

* Two days 'til Jacob turns one. Wow.

* I found a great new product on the market today, but want to wait until my energy has been replenished so I can give it the attention it deserves. Anybody want to hazzard a guess as to what it is?

Be safe tonight.


Up and Running

Well, Jess, I've been trying for two days to upload videos to my email so I can send them to you. It's not working. Blast this dial-up!! Here is a belated

Happy Birthday, Ryan!!!
We Love You!

The boys are doing math pages, the video upload is locking up my system, and the baby is trying to figure out how to get into the M&M's. What better time to blog, eh?

On a whim we made cake last night. I don't think we ever convinced John that it wasn't someone's birthday.

We've also discovered that singing to Jacob... makes him cry. This is going to make for an interesting day on Thursday. Heh heh.

I'm very thankful that Frances seems to have done her worst and moved on. Hopefully the Floridians can now begin to rebuild (or prepare for Ivan? Just can't seem to catch a break this year, can they?) I know many of the ladies from the WTM forums have checked in. We're still missing a few of our special invisible friends, though. Can we have a quick check-in of our Florida readers & bloggers?

In a more frivolous vein, I wore a lightweight sweater today, in the hopes that this beautiful weather we've been having up here would hold. No such luck, I am a sticky, stinky blob right now. *sigh* But do you think I'm taking this sweater off? Not a chance!

Several people have contacted me to say they had not added to the ideas brainstorm because their ways of helping out weren't tied to an organization. Please, add in anything you do that makes a difference. The more individualized and personal, the better, I think. What I want to show is how much we can (and in my humble opinion, should) do ourselves rather than expecting the government to do it. We're more efficient, more creative, and not burdened by the beaurocracy that has grown up in our government. I've written before about our situation while I was growing up. We had next to nothing, and yet I could fill a volume with stories of the people Mom helped out in gentle, honest, straightforward ways- ways a committee would never think of doing. Don't be shy. I'll gather ideas for a few weeks and then will post a community activism page on our website with a link on the blog.

This is gonna be a long week for Zorak. Three days of toil. (Yes, that's gleeful sarcasm!) Fortunately, as his first year here comes to a close, he's getting more work to keep his hands and mind busy. He's thoroughly enjoying that. So, short weeks are actually packed with productivity and he's always happier when he's active.

We haven't been reading nearly as much as I would like lately. This is entirely my fault. Thankfully we don't have TV to suck us in during the lulls in reading activity. It is so much easier to get back into bookworm mode this way! A trip to the library is certainly on our plan for this week. Any good books y'all have read recently you'd like to recommend?

Ah, well Babyzilla is destroying Math City... time to go intervene.

Enjoy those babies and have a lovely Tuesday!

Sunday, September 5

Great Ideas, but I *know* (I *hope*) there are more yet to be tapped!

Wow, guys, the four of you (from the over 200 who've looked since I posted the volunteering challenge... *ahem*) have shared some wonderful ideas!

Beth's church is putting its collection plate where the need is (go guys!), and she is working on the Pay it Forward Principle~ "Although I love to sell on eBay, lately I've been giving away a lot of the things I'd normally sell. The beautiful wooden puzzles went to the boys across the street, boxes of books went to our local library, bags of clothing went to a neighbor, and some homeschool items went to a friend in need."

Amy mentioned the ever-needed and often overlooked need for companionship and caring presence in nursing homes, suggested taking a single mom under your wing, and added, "Get to know the people around you. You will never know the many places you can help that are sitting right under your nose if you don't walk out the front door and sit down with your neighbors once in a while." *She also blogged a wonderful entry with more thoughts on it! Go read- I'll wait.*

Cheryl mentioned that guilt, er, inertia is a motivating factor. She passed along the link for Warm Hearts, Warm Babies.

Sarah (I'm guessing this was you! Is this you?) mentioned grabbing your copy of Phonics Pathways (or whichever program you've got lying around! *grin*) and taking it to the local soup kitchen.

I didn't think this would be a difficult one, really. Come on, guys- have we truly become that dependent on the government to be the almighty "Righter of Wrongs" that nobody can think of ways to improve the human condition? I'm not asking anyone to travel to another continent and purify water supplies for entire villages (although that would be pretty cool, really.)

How about some of these...

* rather than "adopting a highway", and having to carry all the regulatory burden that accompanies that, grab a bag, stick a nail on the end of a stick, and go pick up trash! I guarantee you'll find plenty.

* teach a child a skill- woodworking, bookbinding, sewing, cooking. Trust me, there are plenty of children who don't have mentors to show them these things. Who knows, perhaps the child you help may turn a corner and end up being the next Emeril or Christopher Lowell?

* offer to paint fences in run-down communities, or plant shrubs, or... take the stick and pick up trash.

* Big Brothers, Big Sisters, anyone?

I can think of many, many things that would be simply wonderful for communities, but unfortunately they are not feasible with the government regulation that's in place right now. Hmmm... what about doing something to ease that?

Think about it this way. If you have $1000 to put toward helping those who need it, would you rather be in charge of how that thousand is spent, or would you rather pay someone to hire a committee which will hire a lawyer, who will in turn hire research assistants, who will report back to the committee, which will then form a steering committee to report on who should be hired to oversee the hiring of the staff that will eventually.... oh, you know what, we ran out of money...

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

Friday, September 3

Let's Take a Step Back

Well, guys, I think it's time to take a break, refill our cups, take a walk around and see what we can do to help make someone else's situation better. Y'all have already read my suggestions on mentoring, so let's brainstorm some other ideas on ways to improve things! Let's get creative! I would love to hear your non-government directed ideas for making your street, community, county, state, or country a better place to live.

I'll go first.

Did you know that one deer can feed 200 hungry people? Sometimes it's amazing what a difference one single action can make. Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry is dedicated to helping provide meat to America's hungry citizens. There are three ways to help: donate a whole deer you've harvested and FHFH will cover the cost of having the meat processed by an authorized processor; use one of the authorized processors yourself and donate a portion (or all) of the meat; make a financial donation. FHFH also links to other "hunger related sites", some of which I will link here, for your perusal. (Please note: some of the groups they listed include legislation advocacy groups that are looking to Capitol Hill to "fix it". I am including here only those that allow for individuals or small businesses to be involved directly in making a difference.)
Second Harvest
Farm Share
Meals on Wheels

Habitat for Humanity- grab the kids, get involved, and make someone's life a lot better!

Would you like to find out about helping with crisis relief, such as the hurricanes in Florida, wildfires in California, or the situation in Sudan? Try Network for Good and see what you can do to help! Just type in your zip code and take it from there.

If you're in the Los Angeles area and would like to donate your time to teach the arts or athletics children with life-threatening illnesses, contact CoachArt and make someone's quality of life a lot better.

Project Linus is a wonderful organization that could sure use people who sew or quilt, or are willing to learn! The blankets donated to this group are distributed to children in need.

Newborns in Need has a list of items they need, as well as patterns for clothing you can make and donate. Here's a snippet from their website: Newborns in Need stands ready to help when disaster strikes or a crisis happens. We were actively involved in relief efforts when the hurricanes hit on the east coast in 1999 by responding quickly to the need. Everything from baby clothing to rubber boots were sent to help with the relief effort all up and down the east coast. Chapters in the area were able to relay back pertinent information to assist in more accurate donations so that the area received what they needed without having to deal with excess that simply gets in the way.

Buying a coat on close-out and thrilled about the deal? Buy two and donate the second one.

Doing groceries and using double coupons or shopping the sales? Buy duplicates and take them to the local shelter.

Donate your gently used clothing, books, or time to your local shelter. Ask if they need someone to tutor their residents or help them prepare for taking the GED/getting into college.

Just imagine if everyone had somebody willing to help out when times were tough, just enough help to really get that hand "up" that makes a difference! Now, think what would make a difference to you if your circumstances took a turn for the worse, and act on that difference. Share it here, too, so that others can get some ideas of the many wonderful ways we can be the citizens we are meant to be!

While I set the criteria for volunteer ideas to be non-government directed, I did run across something very interesting while doing my news run tonight- so I am going to add this here. We've all heard about the President's "faith-based initiatives" plan, and we've heard about it from all sides. But, as usual, there's more to the story... I had no idea how much, and was quite surprised to see that a lot of it is good. Take a look at the Principles and Reforms for a Citizen Service Act.

And if, by chance, nothing mentioned above gets your civic juices flowing and you just can't think of anything, well, then I will capitulate and give you this link (it's government related, but it's still volunteering opportunities for the average Citizen, and there are some great ideas on the whole site- think of it as a, erm, a compromise, if you will.)

Kiss those babies and enjoy your family this weekend! I hope you all share some wonderful ideas here on the front porch.


Inequality of Income As It Relates To Taxes

Here's my .02 (which you'll have to give back because while the Feds haven’t taken much of our money lately, the State of Maryland sure has!) To keep it short and simple (go ahead and *snort* here) I just want to say that if you earned it, you ought to be able to keep it. There is nothing inherently evil or nasty about that philosophy. (Editor's Caveat: this isn't about not paying taxes, this is about income redistribution through tax codes, the topic at hand. I love and appreciate our collectively funded infrastructure assets, and this isn't about those.)

If you think you're not carrying your fair share, then change that- yourself- mark the box, write the check, and go to bed with a clear conscience. The "rich" are already paying a higher *percentage* of what they earned than the rest of us are, which is hideously unfair (definition 1:6:a,b), if you want to get right down to it. Many of us plain folks get back most of our Federal tax monies. Those who aren't earning enough to pay in? Well, they didn't pay any in, so there isn't any money to give "back" to them. The money you get back in your refund is just that- it is the money you paid in to begin with- the rich folks aren't getting any of "our" money in their returns. They aren't getting any of the poor folks' money in their returns, either. It's their own money, and if that’s your return, then it's your money; do with it as you see fit.

IF, however, you're one of those who is complaining that you're not getting "back" enough of someone else's money, well, there is nothing anyone can say to make you sound more reasonable or your behavior to sound less shameless.

Wouldn't we all love to have more money we didn't earn? We could all get together and decide that anyone making more than X amount of money owes the rest of us a percentage of it! Majority rules, and since the majority of us don't make enough to be on the "sharing" end of that decision, that would pass. That is what most of this "equal distribution of wealth" argument boils down to, and that's just a bad, bad idea.
Tax codes won't actually deal with the disparity in earnings, which is the true concern; they are simply income transfers from one household to another, performed by an enormously expensive bureaucracy.
Relying on income transfers to "equalize" a society creates unnecessary burdens throughout the society.

What we are saying when we complain that the "top 1%" benefit the most from a tax cut is that we have this drive to penalize those who have earned much in order to spread the wealth with those who have not earned as much. Let us not forget that taxes are refunded from what we have given in the first place. America isn't about equal success, it's about equal opportunity. We are ON the path to prosperity, but no politician can lift and carry every single person down that path. No government tax structure short of pure unadulterated* communism is ever going to make it equal. Our only hope for improving the lots of others is to get involved, motivate our communities, neighbors and LOCAL governments to make things better by rolling up our sleeves and working together.

Anyway, I don't think I will ever agree that those who show initiative and motivation need to be penalized or held responsible for the rest of the world. I don't think I will ever agree that anyone but Mr. Buffett deserves his tax refund unless he personally extends that money himself. After all, it's his to do with as he pleases. He got more back than we did, but he put more in to begin with, too.

* that's a joke, b/c there is no such thing as unadulterated communism- it will be corrupt, and there will still be inequalities, only under a communist government you don’t get to complain about it or try to “fix” it anymore*

Wednesday, September 1

Shhh, I'm not here *again*.

MargaretWV!! That was you! Thank you for letting me know, and for joining in. I wasn't sure who it was, but I always love having you come hang out on the front porch with us. My apologies if I sounded harsh (obviously, if I'd known it was you, I wouldn't have). I've seen so many great blogs go south when people begin posting comments anonymously, and didn't want to see that happen here. I will remember to give the benefit of the doubt in the future (I do forget about the blogger thing not having a space for the name the way haloscan does.) Anyhow, thank you for joining in the conversation and sharing your insight!

Your point about Buffett being a value investor is well taken. I'm sorry. I honestly didn't mean my reference to him as a speculator to be a smear, but if it is, please let me go on record for saying that wasn't my point. Also, I knew he'd invested in Coca-Cola- but did not know he'd bailed them out of trouble. Privately funded support and rescue of public companies! Someone tell the airlines about that? *grin* I love it. That's the kind of personal motivation that makes a free market work. Very cool.

I also really like that he has set up a scholarship fund. You know, though, if he thinks he's got "too much" money (as he said in several interviews) from these tax breaks, well, why not set up several more? His money, directly invested in the futures of students and other people willing to improve their lots in life will go much farther than if it's put back in the Federal coffers and filtered to the end recipients through real estate overhead, staff, paperwork and regulations...

Ah, Distribution of Wealth... oh, another hot topic. (I should probably start a separate blog, eh?)

Alrighty, I just typed up a huge blog (it's still growing as it sits there in my Word document), but would y'all share your thoughts on the concerns over this "growing inequality in income distribution" with me? I am curious to see how tax cuts play an important role in this issue (is it an issue? is it an issue the gov't need to be poking around in?) as far as you see it.


Can't... type... without... stating... opinion... hurts to... try...

There- the post is saved. I am committed to paper. Before I share (go off? depends on your pov, I suppose), though, I would like to hear what y'all think. Just... well, y'all know.

Ok- I am fast running out of opening paragraph words, so I guess I'd better make the most of this last one, eh? We had a beautiful, relatively arid day here today! The boys and I went to the beach with the Wonderful Neighbor and her girls, and our Wonderful-Other-Neighbor-Who-Moved-Over-The-Scary-Ass-Bridge also came with her girls. We were there for three hours and everyone had a fabulous time. James got to swim- his week was made. Wonderful Neighbor and I waded into the water, cringed mightily over the really nasty floating thingies and random nibbling creatures in the water- and tried fervently to remember being children and just not caring what the water looked like. (BTW, I can't do it- I just can't remember! I'd like to think I always had sense... but, oh, YUCK!) I think swimming at this particular beach is just as gross as swimming in the Great Salt Lake in Utah, really. Still, the kids had a blast and nobody got cut or scratched so there was no ER visit... it was a good afternoon. And we need to get aqua socks!

The weather tonight is... *shivver with delight*... slightly chilly! Mmmm, it feels GOOD! It's not quite cardigan weather, but it's getting there! It just hit me tonight, though- can y'all "smell fall" out here? We haven't smelled it yet, and I just realized we might not! That's a strange concept, really. Either way, I am going to grab my book, get a fresh cup of coffee, and go read out on the back porch. This is a night that's just too pretty to stay inside looking up census data! Go, enjoy your evening! I'll see y'all tomorrow!


A Gentle Reminder, and Another Beautiful Day

Just a gentle reminder- I enabled anonymous comments only so that visitors do not have to register with Blogger in order to leave comments. However, just because you "can" abuse it, does not mean you "should" abuse it. My policy on the blog is that this is my virtual front porch- you can come, say hi, have a cup of coffee, but I don't talk to strangers. If you have something to say, you can at least sign your name at the end of it and join in the conversation like an adult sitting on the porch, enjoying time among friends and acquaintances.

It'll really piss me off to disable comments, but I'll do it if this feature gets abused. Thanks. :-)

Now, as for Warren Buffet supporting Kerry. I'd like to draw a parallel here, because, to be honest, I smell one. A capitalist who has made his fortune and is, by nature of legal loopholes and large assets, mostly immune to the conditions the rest of us would face, is not necessarily the one I would uphold as an example of, "See, the little guy who made good supports Kerry!" Not quite. I'm tickled pink for people who do well for themselves, and just love seeing ingenuity and motivation pay off- it's wonderful. But let's look a little deeper.

George Soros is another of the world's biggest capitalists- he, too, has made his money on speculation, basically contributing jack squat to the rest of society in the process. He, too, supports Kerry. It doesn't surprise me that these two support Kerry. I do not know much about Buffet, but I do know that Soros is one of the most machinating, manipulative and dangerous self-styled King-wanna-be's in the world. The man is the epitome of capitalistic success and is a self-made billionaire- but that doesn't mean he thinks the rest of the world ought to be free. As a matter of fact, Soros is the pocketbook (the big, deep pocketbook) behind a number of so-called "grassroots" efforts which has people following him about thinking they're doing something from the people, when, in fact, they are doing his bidding in a very Machivellian fashion, hastening to fruition his desire to see a State-run control of the People. Right up there with the State. (It's all in the capitalization, don't ya know.) *OK, in re-reading this, I realized that is a painful pun. I'm so very sorry. But it's too good to edit, so it stands- everyone groan here.*

Buffet has not contributed financially to Kerry's campaign. (Unlike Soros, who has coughed up several million thus far. Ah, the beauty of the McCain-Fiengold legislative marriage from hell. The truly little guys have been silenced, but the financial gurus are running the asylum! But that's another day...) Buffet has only advised Kerry on economic strategy. He also advised Schwarzenegger on economic strategy. This is his job, it's what he does. He is, after all, "the Oracle of Omaha", and he is a financial wizard. Also, interesting to note that Buffet did not offer his services, but was sought out by Kerry.

Buffet complains about the tax cut and said he has "too much money" because of Bush's plan. Um, well, then give it back. There is a handy-dandy little box right there on your Federal forms that allows you to return to the coffers any cash you don't think you've a right to keep. Until I see these billionaires checking that box and giving their "fair share", then who are they to demand that the government step in and make everyone else do it? Do any of you think they don't have loopholes through which they may slip to avoid suffering the consequences to any real changes to the tax structure? I really don't think they have much to say about tax cuts and tax structure that's worth hearing. To be honest, if you're even a little bit curious, dig deeper to see what else they support and where these guys are going with this.

OK, well, it's a gloriously beautiful day here, and I'd sworn not to do anymore political blogging. Sheesh. This stinks. I'm sorry, and will get back to my regularly scheduled navel gazing ASAP.

We're going to finish our lessons and go play at the beach. (I really hope the jellyfish are gone!) Talk to you tomorrow! And remember- play nice! We don't have to agree, and I'm pretty sure we won't, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a decent, wonderful, invisible friend on the other end of each monitor- please treat each other as such.

You're all grown ups, and I expect you to behave as such. *putting on my best "Mom look"*