Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's the weather report for my hometown:

Tonight: Windy with snow showers. Dangerous wind chills approaching -25F. Low around -5F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. About one inch of snow expected. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.

Tomorrow: Snow flurries early. Then partly cloudy by the afternoon. Cold. Wind chills may approach -15F. High around 10F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.

Bwwwwaaaaaaaaaah!

Happy New Year, Eskimos!

What?

The boys and Husband are watching a show on Greece - beautifully photographed and showing all kinds of picture-perfect villages:

Two: "I'd rather have my house built of soda cans."

Huh?

Bellaire, Texas: Stuck in the 1950's

Here's a lovely story about a police shooting in Bellaire, TX, a small city completely surrounded by Houston and close to us:

"Tolan and his cousin Anthony Cooper, 20, were returning from a trip to a fast-food restaurant when he pulled up to his home ... A Bellaire police patrol car raced up when Tolan and his cousin got out of the 2004 Nissan Xterra and walked toward the front door. "They're in the driveway and (a Bellaire police officer) gets out of the car yelling, 'Stop. Stop," Morris said. "They didn't know who it was because the spotlight was on them." A Bellaire police sergeant and a backup officer ordered both men to the ground. They dropped to their knees then were told to lie on the ground, family members said. The commotion on the front lawn roused Tolan's parents, who came outside. The sergeant told them the Nissan had been stolen. "My sister was telling them, 'It was not a stolen vehicle. It's ours," said Tammy Morris. Family members said one of the officers pushed Tolan's mother up against the wall of the home. When that happened, Tolan leaned up and complained about the treatment she was receiving. "That's when the (sergeant) shot him," Tammy Morris said. White, the city spokeswoman, confirmed that the shooting happened when Tolan attempted to rise to his feet... A Bellaire High graduate, Tolan was working the late shift at a local restaurant the night before he was shot. He also once played in baseball's minor leagues with the Washington Nationals organization, family members said.""

The Bellaire police better hope there's another side to this story, since what it sounds like is that an innocent black man was just shot in an almost-100% white neighborhood. Criminal assault, Section 1983 violations - anything else you can think of?

The only contact I've had with the Bellaire police was appearing in court for a ticket. There were maybe 70 people there; 2 of us were white: a teenage boy and me. Everyone else was black or Hispanic. But seriously, I wouldn't live in a neighborhood like this, even being white. I'd rather take my chances with HPD - they seem to know the difference between real crime and imaginary offenses. Living in the city itself, I'm much less likely to find one of the boys spread-eagled on the hood of his car in our driveway someday. That makes me feel a little better, I have to say.

The. Best. Chocolate. Shake. Ever.

This shake is uber-milky and wonderful; give it a try.

12 oz lowfat milk
2 scoops unflavored whey powder
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder
1-2 bananas, preferably broken in several pieces and frozen
1 tsp vanilla
a shake or 2 of cinnamon
big squeeze of agave nectar

Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth. This will make 2 big, fluffy shakes.

Some extras to note:

*You can add ice if you want it Frosty-like
*Breaking up bananas into several pieces and throwing them in the freezer in a bag is the best way to deal with them when they are ripe and no one wants to eat them. They work great in any shake.

This shake is loaded with all kinds of goodness, especially a whopping dose of protein. It will keep you and your kids away from sweets and other nasty carbs for hours.

Enjoy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Michael Kelly on Happiness

Michael Kelly, who was one of my favorite writers of all time, once wrote this on happy families:

"Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina one of the great founding untruths of the intellectual age, 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' This was exactly, entirely wrong. Happy families are all idiosyncratic, each with its own unduplicatable history, each with its own cherished oddities. Very nearly every unhappy family is very much alike, the same tedious, awful story of selfishness and dead love and the destruction wrought by the fall of one of another family member into the grip of one or another vice.

Reject Tolstoy and all his minions. Look around the table on Christmas night, or as you light the menorah, and regard your doddering parents and your annoying siblings and your dotty aunt and your insufferable uncle and your cousin the schnorrer and your nephew the nose-ringed, and rejoice in your magnificent wealth."

Amen.

Catty-Corner v. Cater-Corner

Husband and I had a spat over this at dinner last night and, marvelously so, we were both right.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fighting For Middle School

A NYT story on the application process public school kids go through for middle school in NYC. A gift from the city that can turn even public education into a rat race.

HT Instapundit and Ann Althouse.

Emmie Yelding: August 14, 1919 - November 26, 2008,

A number of famous people have passed away recently, and the papers are full of obituaries for Harold Pinter and Eartha Kitt, among others. But I like my Sunday obituaries quirky, and so I give you Emmie Yelding, circus performer and zoo owner.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why I Don't Go to the Movies Anymore (warning: spoiler alert)

Because even if I went to what looks like a cute holiday movie, it would be ruined for me by its creators.


Why do they have to kill off the dog? What makes us want to go see that? How is my heart warm when I leave the theater with my sobbing children (who are soon to lose their own dog, thank you very much)? Why can't I go to a "family movie" and leave feeling good? Is that so hard for Hollywood? Apparently it is.

And I'm actually glad people are vandalizing these movie posters in LA. Yup. I am.

Temporary Repreive

Oscar is much better today, so we are holding off on calling the vet for now. Not permanent good news but a nice reprieve all the same. I'm glad to have my smelly puppy around for a little longer!

Two: On Exercise

Two (at the dinner table Christmas Eve): "Gaga, you should have never stopped exercising."

Gaga (my MIL): "You're right, little one. I need to start walking soon, at least."

Two: "No. It's too late for you. You're already floppy."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bittersweet Christmas

This has been a wonderful Christmas. We started out yesterday at a beautiful church service, then went to MIL's for dinner and presents. This morning the boys slept in, and then we had fun opening presents and eating, eating all day long. MIL came back for dinner, and we feasted on filet, butternut squash soup, asparagus, and parmesan artichoke risotto. Oh, and chocolate mousse brownie cake for dessert. Friends came by on their walk mid-afternoon and carolled us, we stayed in pajamas all day, and the boys played with almost everything they'd been given (above is One's book swag). All in all it was a beautiful, peaceful Christmas.

Except for this:


My baby Oscar has had his last Christmas. In fact, he's had his last full day. The past week has been very bad for him - he's slipping away very quickly - and before he gets into pain and suffers more humiliation we're taking him to the vet. Tomorrow. I want him to go so badly -he needs to go -but I am so selfish in my pain. I want to have him forever. I can't bear the thought that next week when I come home from work he won't be in his "comfy place" close to the front door waiting for me.

I'll write something more about him tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to snuggle up with him as much as I can, whisper in his ear, and enjoy my puppy one last time.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings on the birthday of the King of Kings!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa's Favorite Cookies

These chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are taken from David Waltuck's Staff Meals cookbook; not only are they healthier, they are more interesting than plain old Toll House cookies. We'll be baking them today for Santa to eat tonight.

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)
2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 and either butter baking sheets or use parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars in stand mixer until fluffy. Add salt and baking soda and mix. Add eggs and mix. Add flour one cup at a time - mix more each time (and scrape down the bowl if needed). Add oats one cup at a time (ditto on the scraping). Add the chips, stirring carefully.

Bake 10-12 minutes and eat as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your mouth. Milk required. These always work for everyone in this house.

Another Gift Wrap Idea

I recently ordered some fabric gift bags and have been loving them. Not only are they "green" they look really great under the tree. Here's another option from The Container Store:


My boss found these and put our Chrismas presents in them: double-extra cool if you ask me. And what works for me? I can use it myself now!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One Quotes

One: "Do you know what we heard today on the radio? The fastest talking woman in the world."

Me (in a foul mood): "Did she talk as fast as Grandmommy?"

One: "Oh yes, almost twice as fast."

****************************************

Me: "Look! Look! My college roommate got married! Here's her Christmas card with her wedding picture!"

One: "You and she are the same age? 'Cuz she looks much younger."

Reasons Not to Believe in God

Amanda Witt linked to this great list of over 300 arguments why God does not exist.

My favorite:

DONAHUE'S ARGUMENT
1. Check out this video segment.
2. Now how can anyone watch that and believe in God?
3. Is the caller there?
4. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

Can't you hear his voice now? Is the caller there? Brings back memories, so many memories ...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fall in Pictures

We're still having fall in Houston - check out Wordless Days to see some pictures of it.

Breakfast Bliss

Someday soon I'm going to break down entirely and buy this on my way to work:

I'm not saying I won't be sorry afterwards, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Did you notice where it says country gravy? Those words get me in a special place every time, y'all.

The Trip to the Mall

We had a happy trip to The Galleria last Friday; it wasn't too crowded and we didn't buy too much. What could be better?

Actually, what was better was that the boys beat the down escalator. I always wanted to do this and only ever received a firm "NO" when I tried it as a child. But no one was around on our way down to the second level basement parking lot, so the boys ran up the down escalator and won. Three cheers!

Park-Bound


One of the joys of Christmas vacation in Houston.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

Two: "I really love explosions."

Helping Hannah

Here is a request from the very-talented Chris Muir of Day by Day:


Click on the image to easily read the story, and please help Hannah have Christmas by sending her a card.

Blessings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Worth Wearing Glasses For

We have our new HDTV set up, and tonight I started re-watching Band of Brothers on DVD. Even though they aren't Blue Ray discs, the picture quality is so remarkable, I'm even wearing my glasses in the house.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Don't Miss

Michele has a great post on what makes her miserable at Christmas, and it has me thinking about what I want to do at Christmas and what I definitely don't want to do anymore. No, I don't want to turn Christmas into "buy nothing" season; some presents are nice and, while the boys get a great kick out of emptying their banks for Living Water each year, they also get a lot out of something under the tree. But otherwise, there are a whole host of things I've culled out of my Christmas routine over the past few years, and I am so much more relaxed because of it. Here is my list:
  • Set up the tree - but let the boys decorate it themselves
  • Put up a few decorations - but leave the outside lights to the neighbors
  • Bake for Santa with the boys on Christmas Eve day - but not for the neighbors or teachers or co-workers or anyone else
  • Buy some presents for my immediate family - but skip most of the adults (by mutual agreement), and rein in my urge to buy the boys 14 things each
  • Work out a present limit ahead of time with grandparents and hold them to it
  • Spend as much time at church as possible during Advent
  • Attend only one Christmas party
  • Make room for an Advent Conspiracy contribution in my Christmas present budget
  • Take as many spontaneous opportunities to do "Christmas" things that the boys and Husband want to do - for example, It's a Wonderful Life was on last Saturday night and we let One stay up to watch it. I gave up getting up for early church and we slept in and went to 5:30 instead
  • Use cloth bags for lots of presents to avoid spending hours wrapping everything
  • Rest on Christmas Eve day as much as I can, to be ready for both 5pm church with the boys and 11pm church with my MIL (a special present to her - no one else will go with her)
  • I did send tons of Christmas cards this year, but I used labels, put together photos from the past year rather than spend an afternoon torturing the boys into posing for new pictures, and ordered the pre-printed cards. Not the most personal thing, I know, but to me the pictures mean the most so I focused on that
I think there's so many things you can cut out of Christmas. Not just shopping and spending money kinds of things, but the activities that wear you out and prevent you from focusing on the few things you like best. Have a better Christmas!

Blessings, y'all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coward

"Britain's prime minister announced Wednesday that his country's soldiers will leave Iraq by the end of May ... the end of the mission could be a political boon to Brown if he calls, as expected, a national election for June 4."

It's one thing to make a decision that will cost lives based on the highest principles; it's another thing altogether to make such a decision solely for personal, political gain.

Bragging about my Husband

A co-worker of mine reports that a mutual friend told her yesterday:

"That man knows more about Texas law than any attorney I've ever met."

It's why I married him. Honest.

New Christmas Carols

Michele has a list of new-fangled Christmas carols - here are some of my own:

What Child Is This? (and what is he doing in a barn - can somebody call CPS?)

Oh Come Oh Come Amorphous Being Who Might or Might Not Be With Us (depending on your view of things)

Decorate the House/Condo/Apartment

Arriving at 12AM Under Clear Skies

Once in a City Purportedly Belonging to a King (who as a child threw stones at others who were different than him)

I Saw Three Ships (and they all looked like The Rainbow Warrior, mommy!)

Here We Come Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beverages so as not to tempt those with substance abuse problems

Depression-filled Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ball and Chain

The work Blackberry is hooked up - I am officially chained to my job until further notice. Which, considering how slow things are, might be sooner than I think ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookies and Gin

I read this and spit Diet Coke on my computer screen. So pretty.

Thanks Michele.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're Getting Ready

Contradictions

There's something pretty cool about snow on bougainvillea and palm trees.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh My!

This is a variation on The Princess and the Pea; it's called The Lambchop and the Snowflake:

Chapter One: Snow sticks in the backyard.

Chapter Two: What is this white stuff, mommy?

Chapter Three: My toes are cold, mommy.

And oh! My arthritis!


The End.

The Great Blizzard of 2008

I know, all y'all back home can laugh and laugh and laugh. And when it's still snowing where you are at Easter and we're grilling out back in shorts, it will be my turn. But I'm calling this a blizzard - and it is, Houston-style.

Gathering snow from the palm trees to make snowballs:

A glimpse of the Christmas tree:

The precious snowball:

It's actually sticking to the neighbor's car!

We love snow.

Snow Flurries

Right this minute, outside my window.

Wowza.

Party?

Isn't it interesting that in this entire AP story on IL governor Rod Blagojevich, they never once mention his political affiliation? The writer points out several times the political identity of others in the story - good Democrats who are "shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in here", of course. But there's not one reference to the fact that Blagojevich is a Democrat too, not anywhere in the close to 1,000 word article.

Anyone have an explanation for this puzzling circumstance?

Snow!

We might get snow flurries this evening!

If we do I'll have pictures.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lobstah

One of Husband's outside counsel went over the top today and sent us 2 of these sweet, wonderful friends for Christmas:

I'd like to tell you I took a picture of them when they were all cooked and ready to eat, but I had scissors in one hand and a fork in the other: no room for camera - sorry!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Real Christmas List

Melanie has a list of what she really wants for Christmas - I like the idea so I'm stealing it. We'll try 12, for the 12 days of Christmas of course.

More than anything else, I want:

1. to wake up and find that the slight beginnings of my double chin have disappeared

2. aspartame not to be poisonous

3. every variety of CSI/Law and Order/etc to disappear from my TV forever

4. a large, fashionable Spring wardrobe to appear in my closet, because from where I sit right now, ain't nothing going to fit come March

5. my five year old to decide veggies and fruit taste like chocolate

6. a phone that isn't full of static

7. clients with brains (this is a new wish - never had clients quite this dumb before)

8. my odometer to stop working so I won't be over my lease mileage in 18 months

9. self-washing dogs

10. the ability to go back in time and kill the person who would later invent reality TV

11. leg-shaving to become riotiously unfashionable

and

12. the ability to give Husband his true Christmas wishes - all 12 of them

Choppy Choppy Bang Bang

That is Husband's new nickname for Two - can you tell why?


He wouldn't let me take a picure of his bangs while her was awake, so I waited until he fell asleep.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lunchtime Singer

One and his friends got into a music discussion yesterday at lunch, and he took it on the chin for some of his choices. In particular, he announced that he liked Amazing Grace, and proceeded to belt out the first verse. Twice. Thank goodness they eat outside. He sang to hoots of derision, but he sang all the same, and hadn’t changed his opinion by the evening. He told me his friends liked “modern rock” and he didn’t know what that was and wasn’t sure he liked it. I gave him some examples and he realized he did have something in common with them, even given their hatred of Amazing Grace. So he’s off to school today to announce that he didn’t realize they meant Green Day, No Doubt, Good Charlotte and Everclear, because he likes them too. But he wanted to add he also likes The Lads, Van Morrison and Bob Marley, and he’s not going to give up liking Amazing Grace any time soon.

I’m so proud of my dorky child who sticks to his guns! And to him, Amazing Grace isn’t a stuffy hymn – it’s something that Robbie sings most Sundays these days, and if Robbie sings it, it’s on One’s list. Then again, Robbie could stand on his head and sing The Chipmunk’s Christmas Song and One would be all over it. Seriously though, my son thinks of music as an act of worship as well as something enjoyable and fun: how can I not be proud of that!?

How Do You Feel Today?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That Little Acronym

One has been visiting with a therapist for a few weeks now, mainly about his occasional inability to control his reaction when angry or hurt. There have been a few typical-boy incidents at school and the teachers suggested he spend some time with a therapist - and we readily agreed. In fact, two years ago he spent some time with the same therapist working on some basic anger management skills and it helped a lot. So we're back and we're pleased so far.

But today, today - the therapist said those magic letters to mom. Yup. A ... D ... H ... D. I flew at least a foot in the air in surprise. And then he followed up with that magical word ... medication. Once again launching mom into space for a brief moment.

Okay, what he really said was that, on the subject of impulse control, One was somewhere between normal and a diagnosis of ADHD. The doctor couldn't say how close he was to either end of that spectrum until he worked with One some more and we saw (or didn't see) some behavior modification. He then said if there wasn't modification then medication could likely help. So no, he didn't announce off the bat that my kid needed drugs, and therefore I did not slap him and stomp out of his office. Sorry to deprive you of a good story.

Seriously though, I was so completely floored with the idea that my almost-always-under-control eight year old boy might (in someone's opinion) need drugs. He's eight. He acts like an eight year old boy. He reads for hours on end. He always finishes his school work in time to go outside for recess. He never forgets to brush his teeth, take his vitamins, pick up his room at bedtime - he just doesn't. And yes, he gets maaaaaad sometimes. And he kicks mulch and stamps on a foot now and again. Once he even lost control of himself so completely he stuck a friend in the tummy with a ruler. Not maliciously, just a little bit over the edge in some complicated sword-fighting game (in class when he'd been told to put the ruler away, okay?) This is borderline ADHD? This is possible medication territory? This is non-remediable behavior?

Did I mention that he's eight years old? E-I-G-H-T. Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight. As in: he learned to walk somewhere right around the Bush inaguration. 8.

I am proud to say that I have not melted down over this one. I called a wonderful neighbor when we got home, a psychologist who decided that home schooling her delightful boys was more interesting than therapy, and who is a great resource on all things psychological and educational. We had a wonderful 45 minute visit (bless you Mary Ann!) and worked out some strategies that Husband and I can work on some more and perhaps take to One's therapist and the school as well. The goal is, of course, to help One meet this challenge and overcome it, and for him to grow older and wiser in the process. So instead of the shock and awe I felt coming out of the therapist's office, I now feel peaceful, positive and dedicated to helping my child work this out.

If You're in Houston this Saturday ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Forgot to Mention

The boys and I lit the first Advent candle at church this Sunday night. So cool to be asked! The best part? When One took a look at the crowd in front of him and pulled his hoodie up over his head. Yup - that was the best part, hands down. :)

Ouch

I went to the dentist today and had my very first cavity filled. The dentist did a great job and it barely hurt at all. At the time. And now?

I wonder if there's some Tylenol 3 in the medicine cupboard ...

Kudos

The Mumbai Muslim cemeteries are refusing to bury the terrorists who attacked the city.

Monday, December 1, 2008

To My Boss


Dear Boss,
If I'm late for work this morning, it's because, when I got out of the shower, this was in my bed. And it called to me and told me I hadn't had enough sleep. And I believed it. I'm sorry.
Sincerely,
Tari

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After Thanksgiving

All is peace and happiness here, at least for a moment - I thought I'd record it just in case I forget later that peace actually does happen around here. More often than not, if I were honest with myself. Some things that have brought peace with them:

The rain has passed, the sun is out - I can see the bright pink spot of the 8 year old girl next door as she swings back and forth.

The boys and I rebuilt their enormous toy castle for the first time in two years, and they are growling happily at one another in their best English accents. Besiegers have shown up, and they are brave men dealing handily with them.

My fridge is full of leftovers that are calling my name.

Dinner last night was wonderful - quiet and full of good food, including a spectacular bird created by Husband. He is earning the title "Master of Turkey" the hard way.

Tomorrow we might gather enough energy to put up the Christmas tree - the earliest ever in this house. Why not enjoy it for an entire month?

I spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone with my 88 year old grandfather last night; he's getting a little frail but still has a mind like a steel trap. We talked about everything from politics to Hannah Montana to random bits of family history. He revealed that his uncle (a man I've never heard of before) worked around the world for the precursor of Bectel, and once offered him a job in Venezuela. Who knew? If I had six months to sit and listen and write it all down, what a book his life would make. True of anyone who is cruising towards 89 I would bet. It was so good to hear him the same as ever.

I also talked to my aunt and cousins, and heard my aunt brag about her older daughter for what must be the first time in over 20 years. My cousin has been through a rough time, and now is working and succeeding and has found some measure of peace. I could hear the joy in her mother's voice like I've never heard before. It was beautiful.

All is well with us - hope all is well with you. Blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fabric Gift Bags

I've been debating what to do about gift wrap this Christmas. I love Christmas wrap, I love wrapping presents - especially with expensive, glossy wrapping paper. I actually volunteer to wrap presents for my mother in law every year, just to get a few more boxes in. But all that trash on Christmas morning really bothers me. As much as I love the wrapping up, the bags and bags of paper headed straight for the trash is not a good thing.

So I searched a while online and came up with this: Lucky Crow fabric gift bags. I just ordered them today so I can't swear they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping so. I'm sure there are those of you out there on speaking terms with a sewing machine who could make these at home. I am not, so buying these bags instead of making them is required. Oh well - since they are reusable, I should recoup the cost in a year or two (I like really, really expensive wrapping paper - did I mention that?).

If these are a flop and children cry under the tree Christmas morning, suffering withdrawal from gleefully ripping paper, I'll let you know. Otherwise, until you hear different, these work for me.

Astronaut

This is my favorite song by The Lads:

When I grow up
When at last I find I'm a grown up
When I cannot climb any higher
What will I be

When I grow up
When I've finished school and I have to go
When I've learnt the things that I've got to know
What will I be
4,3,2,1, blast off!

Astronaut
Wouldn't it be fun
Flying in the sun
And on to Jupiter and Mars
Heading out to Pluto
Flying in my spaceship
Going anywhere I want to go

When I grow up
Will I want the things that I want today
Will they be the things I'll need on my way
What will I need

When I grow up
When I've done the things that I tried to do
Will I be someone to look up to
What will I be
4,3,2,1, blast off!

When I grow up, will my dreams belong to me
When I grow up, what will I be
Will there be hope for me
Does anybody know, which way to go
Cos I want to know

Every time I hear this song I get goose-bumpy. The thoughts of my boys growing up, as well as thoughts about what have I done since I was in the place where I dreamed of my future, always makes me wonder. Where will they go? What goes God have for them? Will they listen, and follow, or will they run away, as I did for so long? I want to teach them to ask God to give them the plan for their lives, and to not rely on their own wisdom. But yet I send them to the best school (in my mind) to receive the best education, so, presumably, they can “make it on their own” and “do what they want with their lives”. There are so many contradictions in my actions as a parent I’m surprised the boys don’t complain of dizziness.

And in my own life, where am I? Am I someone I would want them to look up to, to follow? When Paul says “look to me and you will see me imitating Christ” – isn’t that what we’re supposed to tell our children? And do they see it? Most of the time I don’t think they do. They can see me love them, see me put my needs before theirs, but what else? Not much, I’m afraid.

There’s so much I want them to learn, and so much of it involves altering my own behavior to teach them how to live. It’s hard, this parenting thing.

Grace that is New Every Morning

Every night I go to bed thinking “God, I did today but I don’t think I can do tomorrow.” And then I wake up and His grace is there, and it is sufficient for me, and it is new that day and carries me just far enough – just to the end of where I have to go that day. I love that I’m at this place – where I have to wait for His grace and am never disappointed. Somehow it feels much stronger than feeling I could race on and on without stopping (all on my own dime). Perhaps that is because He is much stronger than I am …

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness

Michele has a thankfulness list up, and since it’s the season, here’s mine. We’re going with Michele’s theme of small, nice things to be thankful for, on the premise that you already can guess I’m terribly thankful for God, my husband, the boys, the dogs, Ecclesia, blah blah blah. I am immensely grateful for:

My iPod and its cute little player I keep at work
My Nikon
The boys’ school
New York Bagels that are still warm when you buy them in the morning
Jonny Quest reruns
Robbie’s music at church
Houston restaurants
Whataburger breakfast tacos
The fact that Husband is cooking the turkey again this year
Boys big enough to bathe themselves
Instapundit
The sunshine today
The few pairs of shoes I own that don’t hurt
Not having gained any more weight for 6+ months
Sleeping in on Saturdays while the boys watch TV
TiVo
James Lileks
P.G. Wodehouse
My cleaning lady
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
My bed: the most comfortable one in the world
Kate, Michele, Elizabeth, Sarah, Liz, Tony, Missy, Nina, Meg, CC, JMom, MoziEsme, and Jen
Online CLE
Amazon
Toasted English muffins with butter and peanut butter

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Gift of Forgiveness

Sometimes I think that, in order to understand the amazing nature of the gift God has given us in sending Christ to die for the forgiveness of our sins, you have to know what it feels like to not be forgiven. Not only did Christ’s sacrifice take our sin away and enable us to be in relationship with God, it also took away the crushing weight of the knowledge that we were not forgiven. I’ve learned the hard way, from very personal experience, that when you wrong someone and then own up to it – when you apologize – and forgiveness isn’t forthcoming, the weight is almost too much to bear. You feel that you, personally, cannot be made right – that you are broken by your sin and cannot be mended. The relationship is also broken, for to look into the eyes of someone to whom you have apologized and know that in their heart they can’t find forgiveness inalterably changes a relationship, if it doesn’t destroy it completely. The mistrust that the lack of forgiveness creates – the fact that both of you (the unforgiven and the unforgiving) question each others motives and fail to trust one another – is a heavy burden. So not only do you know that your wrong is bigger than their love for you, but you are forced to forever question their love from that day forward. The pain that the lack of forgiveness creates is so great – how great is our God that He has spared us from it forever!

Random Aside

I served Communion at church last night, and I have to say that repeating the words “the blood of Christ shed for you” 100 times or more is cathartic, to say the least.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book List

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the greatest museums for kids on Earth, is writing up great booklists for kids on a variety of subjects. They add a new topic every month, and divide things up into age groups. This month the subject is the Middle East; here are just a few of the dozens of excellent books on the list:

Keating, Susan. Saudi Arabia. Mason Crest, 2003.
Khan, Rukhsana. Muslim Child. Albert Whitman, 2002.
Kummer, Patricia. Jordan. Children’s Press, 2006.
Kummer, Patricia. Syria. Children’s Press, 2005.
Laird, Elizabeth. A Fistful of Pearls and Other Tales from Iraq. Frances Lincoln, 2008.
Losleben, Elizabeth. The Bedouin of the Middle East. Lerner, 2002.
Matthews, Mary. Magid Fasts for Ramadan. Clarion, 2000.
McCoy, Lisa. Qatar. Mason Crest, 2002.
McDaniel, Jan. Lebanon. Mason Crest, 2003.
Metha-Jones, Shilpa. Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Crabtree, 2004.
Minnis, Ivan. The Arab-Israeli Conflict. Raintree, 2003.
Mobin-Uddin, Asma. My Name is Bilal. Boyds Mill, 2005.
Monroe, James. Djibouti. Mason Crest, 2002.


Check it out and enjoy.

Unplanned Vacation

Well, I'm back. No, I haven't been to some exotic locale, but then again I haven't been home languishing in bed with the flu or anything like that. I've just had a bad case of LIFE, and it's taken me this long to get back to the computer and start posting again. Part of it is that I started a new job on the 10th; it's actually back to an old job, in a way, but new this time around. To be more clear: I'm back at work full time at the company I was with for 5 years as an employee and 2 years as a part-time contractor. No posting from work, and no offence but the boys are way more interesting than the computer and my tired thoughts at the end of the day. Now that I know that, I'm going to try to plan out posts a little better, and maybe even submit some to post during the day while I'm at work.

While you're waiting for me to have profound, interesting thoughts (yes, I've been waiting for that for 38 years) go over to Wordless Days and check out the profound, interesting photos.

Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recycling Myths: Fact or Fiction?

Popular Mechanics does a great job debunking 5 common myths about recycling.

The bottom line: yes, Virginia, recycling is good for you.

HT: Instapundit

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

No, I'm not about to write about the books; instead Elizabeth has tagged me with the unpleasant task of writing about high school. Ewwwww doesn't even begin to cover it. Well, here we go:

1. But What Were You Like? Dorky, just like now. I was a day student at a small boarding school in the middle of the woods. I didn't have to work incredibly hard, but I didn't like to do much other than study so I guess I had a lot of free time. I was painfully shy as well.

2. Prom Dreams. God is very good. Of all the humiliation I suffered in high school, prom was not one of them. We had 100 guys and 50 girls at school, so prom wasn't really going to work out very well.

3. Wildness. A little of everything stupid, just like most high school students. Some of it might possibly have been illegal. Really I was just warming up for college - I did a little of everything bad, just so I could go to college and say "of course I do that" and get myself into exponentially more trouble.

4. Car. Nope, not until college and my precious Louise - a 1984 blue Subaru wagon. In high school I lived next door to school and town was 1 1/2 miles away. We walked. In -20 weather, we walked quickly.

5. Fashion. Quirky is the polite word for it. I had some bad hair, but usually only when I gave into the idiotic urge to get a perm. At least I was terrifically skinny. Fashion is hard when you live in a town of 3,000 people in the middle of the howling wilderness and the weather dicates long underwear several months a year. You want to look good, but you don't want to die, either.

6. Education. I liked almost all of my classes, but for mostly social reasons I was dying to get to college. The education part of high school was the best part for me.

7. Employment. I worked summers at a swanky clothing store, where despite the fact I spent every dime I earned on clothes I still looked like crap. Go figure.

Like I said - it was bad. I hope y'all don't have nightmares ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wordless Days

Is back - please check it out.

Anyhow I Love You

Husband has been singing this song to me for close to 19 years, without actually having heard it himself before:



As I've said before, I grew up a little nervous. Not just about God, but about most everything. Due to a whole bunch of circumstances I won't go into right now, I'm always a little afraid of being left. Husband is the most patient man in the world; he knows my irrational fears and he quietly reassures me that

"Just you wait until tomorrow when you wake up with me at your side and find I haven't lied about nothing."

Listening to him tell me he loves me is a balm to my heart. Not only that, loving him and being loved back, building that trust together, has helped me accept the love that Christ has for me.

Thank you God for my loving and gentle Husband!

More on the Election

My candidate lost on Tuesday, as I'm sure you're aware, but I have been suffused with the most overwhelming peace since I woke up Wednesday it's been unbelievable. It isn't a peace based on circumstances; it has to come solely from Christ, and for this I am unimaginably grateful. I was meditating on the most obvious passage that came to mind, from Philippians 4:6-7:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I made my request to God: I prayed for this election fervently. And although I don't think my request was granted (although only God knows) I have this transcending peace all the same.

This is so stunning to me - this gift, and the fact that I am able to receive it. Four years ago, had President Bush lost to John Kerry, I have to say that peace would have been the last thing I sought. Instead I would have relished my righteous anger, simmered myself in vitriol, and refused to accept any consoling peace from Christ. I can't say that I have made a huge journey of faith in the past four years, but it is comforting to realize that, as often as I stumble and fall, sometimes I do get a little farther forward.

Praise be to God, from whom all blessings flow.

Living with Mystery

Two of my very favorite quotes are from St. Augustine:

"God is best known in not knowing him." - De Ordine (II, 16)

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe, that thou mayest understand." - In Ioannis Evangelium

Like all children, the boys ask "WHY" a lot. When it comes to matters of faith, I can't always answer them. So I struggle to give them what answer I can, and then try to teach them that a little mystery in life is a good thing. And that a little mystery in faith is an even better thing - because if we knew it all, what would be the point of following Christ? It's a hard lesson to learn as a child. We tell them in all other aspects of life: "go and find out", but sometimes in faith we have to say "wait and someday you may know - or you may not - but you must believe anyway." As I've grown up I've become more comfortable with knowing there are some things I can't understand, but as a child to be asked to live with a mystery is like being asked to put the Hardy Boys down before the last chapter and never know whodunit.

How do we teach our children to wait and live with mystery? How do you teach children to be as accepting of Christ as the most devout Buddhist is of the world, and yet as curious as Rikki Tikki Tavi?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the Election

I'm going to stick with my time-honored tradition of saying "Amen" to someone who writes better than I do, and point you here to read "how I feel" about the election results.

"Legal racial segregation was prevalent in America within living memory, yet we appear to have just elected a black man to the position of maximum honor, authority and influence in the country. The manner of this political victory is important, as well. This was not some prize bestowed upon him, and Barack Obama didn’t just buy a winning lottery ticket; he out-smarted and out-worked both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. It is healthy that the American political system gathers the energies and talents of those who feel excluded into the nation to change it, rather than pushing them away from the nation to oppose it."

Toys for Christmas

This year we're not actually shopping for toys. Yes, you read that correctly. The boys have so much, and it seems that every new thing, no matter how asked-for and exciting, is quickly put aside, broken and forgotten in the face of markers, drawing paper, wooden blocks, Legos, and sharp implements with which one can dig in the dirt.

So no toys this year. No batteries. Although, perhaps, a trampoline. Husband and I are in violent disagreement on this one, but the boys are fighting on my side, so there may be a trampoline.

What exactly do my kids play with that I would recommend?
  • Real, big Legos. The kit Legos get lost - you miss one piece and the whole thing's a wreck. The boys prefer the big Legos, so they can make anything they want.
  • Big wooden blocks. They last forever, your mom doesn't get mad when you draw on a couple - they're great.
  • Toy soldiers. Need I explain why?
  • Digging tools. You may not have enough mud in your backyard to want to buy these, but we have a good amount, and the boys' enjoyment of it has made me cast aside all plans of landscaping to get rid of it. Which is cheaper. And more fun.
  • A knife. Well, this is true only for One, but he received a Swiss Army knife last year and has had a great time whittling palisades for the front porch. Again, helping me out with those landscaping solutions: I don't have the heart (or the time) to take down the palisade and plant flowers in the porch flowerbox instead of sharpened sticks.
  • Paper, markers, tape, scissors. The possibilities are endless.
  • Weapons. Although the boys frequently make their own weapons, ready-made swords and shields are always popular.
There. All you need to keeps boys from 2 up busy all day long. It works for me, it will work for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Humor

Because I can't take this day any more seriously than I am already, here's a little nugget of fun from Drudge:

Nudist group wants clothing-optional polling site.

Go ahead. Click on the link. You know you're laughing right now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Courage

From Praying for Grace, via Mary Ellen Barrett.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tony Hoare: February 4, 1938 - October 2, 2008

Tony Hoare was a bank robber turned screenwriter, who died at 70.

"... on leaving school he went to London in search of excitement. He found it as the member of a gang of bank robbers. They were never very successful. After a job in Warrington they repaired to a nearby pub but their southern accents immediately gave them away and they were arrested. Although a terrible driver, Hoare was the getaway man. He could reflect that he made far more money writing about crime for television than from his own crimes."

One of My Favorite Places

Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis is one of the best places on Earth. Over 100 acres of art, scattered throughout a beautiful natural setting - it's not to be missed.



This is One's favorite piece. When he was 18 months old we took him to visit and he stopped dead at the sight of this one. I wish I knew how to use the scanner, because I actually caught him with the film camera, one foot trailing behind him as he stood overwhelmed by this thing in front of him.

If you're in St. Louis, stop by. Especially with kids. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

21st Century Slavery

What can you do to stop it? Check out these 33 different ideas at the Call + Response website.

Think it doesn't happen here? Unfortunately, you're wrong. According to Slavery Map, here's just one incident that happened here in Houston:

"Maximino "Chimino" Mondragon and 8 other traffickers worked with Walter Alexander Corea and his son Kerin Silva to smuggle over 120 women, mostly from Central America, into the Houston area and force them to work in brothels. Lorenza Reyes-Nunez, aka "La Comadre," was involved in the trafficking and forced abortions upon women who became pregnant. The others involved include Maximino Mondragon's brother Oscar Mondragon, half brother Victor Omar Lopez and the wives or ex-wives of the Mondragon brothers, Olga Mondragon and Maria Fuentes. They are from El Salvador and Honduras."

Slaves were traded in open markets in Galveston before the Civil War -- Galveston was called by one author the largest slave market in the New World -- now 50 miles inland slaves are trafficked through the US's 4th largest city.

You don't have to fly 1/2 way around the world to stop slavery: it's in this country too. You can help wherever it is; please get involved. It's not just that there are 33 things you can do -- it's that there are 27 million reasons to do it.

Call and Response

Halloween Fun

We had a great time last night for Halloween, and the boys were, as befits the children of a very dorky woman, archaeologists. They wore these nifty shirts:
along with khaki shorts, hiking boots and floppy hats, and they carried all manner of tools in very cool belts. They were comfy and enjoyed themselves immensely, their candy hoard is now threatening to take over the butler's pantry entirely, and they've used their tools to dig a large trench in the backyard:

Meg and Marcus joined us for the fun; we had pizza and then Marcus kept Husband company on the porch while Meg and I chatted and walked up and down the street with the wild, running "Petrie" brothers. We gave away 12 bags of candy to all manner of costumed children; only one group all night hadn't bothered with costumes. The whole block was in on the fun (as it usually is); our next door neighbors had great spooky music and their usual graveyard:


All in all, a good time was had by all.

Rating Books by Age

There is a movement in the UK to "band" children's books by age: 7+, 9+ and so on. A website has been established by authors, librarians, teachers and parents in opposition to this trend.

Our local Barnes and Noble organizes the children's section by age, as most bookstores do. Amazon allows you to search by age as well. This seems to be much the same thing, although I agree with the opponents to banding on the idea that having a big "7+" sticker on the front of a book deters older children who may still enjoy the story, far more than how a bookstore shelves its books.

Honestly I don't think parents need this kind of additional information to help their kids choose books. Sure, it would be easy to say "okay honey, you go buy anything you want as long as it's banded under 10+", but that's just lazy parenting. I've never bought a book (or a toy or a movie) for my boys asked for without examining it first, and I've never needed a big age sticker on the front of a book to be able to tell if it was appropriate or not. If I'm on the fence and we're in the store, I make a promise to come back and get the book or buy it online after I go home and do additional research - I've never had a freak-out over that, although I have compromised - on a wet, rainy Saturday, perhaps - and agreed to buy another Hardy Boys now, and research the new book later on.

Age banding isn't the way to go because it could discourage children from reading "young" books. More importantly it doesn't work because it substitutes another person's judgment for that of a parent. Discouraging parents to do their homework and pay attention to what their children are interested in is an unhealthy recipe indeed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Life: The Only Issue

Tony Woodlief writes on the virtues of single issue voting:

"Yet there is also painful clarity that comes with single-mindedness. Jobs, highways, schools, economic growth—none of these matter if we're willing to sanction murder to get them. Perhaps my mentality is a recipe for political isolation for Christians, for the losing of elections, and maybe even a loss of national greatness. I worry that the alternative, however, is to lose something far greater, which is our ability to discern good from evil, and to act accordingly."

Amen.

Fear of Gays

I've been doing more thinking about this James Dobson nonsense, and I've noticed something not too surprising: well over a 1/3 of his "predictions" stem from his desire to see gay marriage stopped at any cost. Last time I checked, homosexuality, while Biblically forbidden, is not a major sin that Christ gave numerous sermons on. I know this is an obvious point but it's still one worth making.

The Posterchild for Fearmongering and Hate

James Dobson, one of my least favorite people, has written a "letter from the future", designed to scare the daylights out of his sheepy followers.

It's one thing to carefully and accurately take statements a candidate has made and go to the next step. But what Dobson has done is inexcusable. Here are some of his makebelieve nuggets from 2012:

  • The Supreme Court is 6-3 hyper-liberal and affirms a constitutional right to gay marriage, among other things
  • Four major terrorist attacks on US soil have occurred
  • Russia has re-taken all its former satellites
  • Iran drops a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv
  • Canada-style completely socialized health care with no opt out
  • Gas is $7 a gallon
  • Adoption is non-existent because all Christian adoption agencies have closed
  • The Boy Scouts have disbanded
  • Homosexual behavior is taught to first graders in public schools
  • Home schoolers are persecuted to the point that many leave the country
  • There are no more conservative talk radio shows
  • Pastors cannot preach on radio or television
  • Churches are forced to perform gay marriages
  • Public schools aren't allowed to say the Pledge (and "under God" has been removed)
  • A grave shortage of doctors and nurses occurs because they can no longer refuse to participate in abortions
  • Gun ownership is illegal in several states

Can someone tell me how many times this man was dropped on his head as a child?

Get this, Mr. Dobson: people react much better to love than they do to fear. I know you belong to the wing of Christianity that believes that scaring Christians into "belief" is easier and better than helping them understand the great and powerful nature of Christ's love for us. Well, that tactic doesn't work in the long run when it comes to Christianity, and it shouldn't work in politics either. Vote because there's something good you want to see done. Vote because you have hope. Don't be an Eyeore. And never forget, as John Piper eloquently reminded us the other day (thanks again, Liz), that voting and politics and world systems are a blip in the eternity we will spend with Christ, and shouldn't be the focus of our lives and energy.

Australia on Down Syndrome

A German immigrant to Australia has been denied permanent residency because his son Lukas, 13, has Down syndrome. Fortunately, the Victorian Premier is on his side, as are a number of other prominent government officials, so hopefully this will be straightened out quickly.


AP Photo.

Friday Linkage

Here's my lazy Friday morning post - a handful of links to articles and sites you might not have seen. Enjoy.

If It Redistributes Like a Duck ... David Harsanyi's column in the Denver Post. Link via Dr. Helen

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting by John Piper. Liz linked to this and it helped me a lot yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed by the election and What It All Means. Reference? To Say Nothing of the Dog, one of my favorite books of all time.

I'm finally getting out some winter clothes (for these chilly 70 degree Houston days) and I'm thrilled to find all my CAbi stash from last year. If you've never been to a CAbi show, find one in your area and have at it. The clothes are Ann Taylor priced but of even better quality. My neighbor hosted a party last fall and all of us had a blast trying on clothes together.

HillBuzz - a group of PUMAs with a great sense of humor and purpose. Here is a great post on ignoring the media. Thanks to Barbara at Mommy Life for the link.

Apple Cake recipe at How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. This is definitely a cake my grandmother would have made. She was a spectacular cook.

Did you know that Elizabeth Peters, creator of Amelia Peabody, has gone back and written another Vicky Bliss mystery? It's her first since Night Train to Memphis in 1994. Wow, I'm hoping Santa reads this post and buys Laughter of Dead Kings for me. I know he reads my blog in the evenings after his nightly cigar ...

A somewhat harsh post on Who Owns Ya, Baby? HT Instapundit. And reference? Oliver's Travels, of course. "In just a few short years, the federal government will have a controlling interest in nearly every facet of your life. And you, you lazy sheep, will be grateful for it, because at last, your government will be taking care of you, and the only people who will pay the cost will be those damnable rich people who have too much money and are too greedy."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Apologize for Being Late

Okay, this almost makes me like the guy, because I am always late:



And no, I'm not going to try to spin this one as an "issues" post. It's a joke, folks.

Lack of Honesty = Not the Best Policy

Linked from Instapundit:

The Washington Post reports that "Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed. Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited."

My only familiarity with online payment systems is in the software industry, where there are strict export control rules on what kind of code can go where. Similar to campaign donation rules, the export rules dictate who can and can't buy product from you. The Department of Commerce has a list of "no go" countries for technology export, and a list of denied persons. In the same vein, campaign donation laws limit the amount of money a person can give and prohibit donations from foreign nationals, among other restrictions.

In the realm of export control, you must have a fairly sophisticated system in place up front before you distribute technology. Many technology vendors use a pre-packaged software system that is explicitly designed to weed out fake purchasers and check the denied country and denied persons list. An individual using a "pre-paid" credit card wouldn't get very far, I'm willing to bet.

For the very same reasons - indeed for even more important reasons - a campaign should look to follow the laws regarding donations to the Nth degree. Obama defends himself by saying "the law doesn't require that we check beforehand, only after" but give me a break: what is illegal is using prohibited funds. Why follow the letter of the law when you are, in truth, breaking the spirit of it?

Scripture calls us to truth, to honesty, to right living. It doesn't call us to skate the fine edge of the law; instead we are to walk the straight, narrow path of righteousness. Read Proverbs if you don't believe me.

"He whose walk is upright fears the Lord, but he whose ways are devious despises him." -- Proverbs 14:2

"A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man." -- Proverbs 12:2

"The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward." -- Proverbs 11:18

"Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death." -- Proverbs 10:2

"Better than a little righteousness than much gain with injustice." -- Proverbs 16:8

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BUMP: My Moronic Homeowner's Association

Sends this email late last night:

"Deed restrictions prohibit yard signs in Old Braeswood. This is the time of year when, understandably, everyone gets excited about upcoming elections and wants to display their pride in their candidate of choice. It's wonderful how politically active our neighborhood is. Our deed restrictions, however, prohibit all signs except a single “for sale” sign not to exceed five (5) square feet. All political and contractor signs need to be removed asap. We encourage you instead to exercise your creativity and come up with a more interesting approach. How about a cocktail party where we all forget the rules of polite discourse and argue about the issues, or a costumed mock debate? We can also wear our candidates’ tee-shirts and display bumper stickers on our cars. There are many ways to show our political support, and we invite you to share your ideas/ways with us. The most interesting ones will be published in the newsletter. Please send photos and a brief description to info@oldbraeswood.com."

Can you say "violation of constitutonal law"? City of Ladue v. Gilleo, people.

UPDATE: I called our association president and told her - very diplomatically and politely - that her email had a little something wrong with it, and she just fell over. She says she was trying to stop people from stealing each other's signs, and figured if the children won't stop stealing each other's toys, you take the toys away and put everyone in time out. She is sending another email telling everyone they can leave their signs up. And yes, I really was nice on the phone. I can do that when I really want to.

2nd UPDATE: Apparently the association's president has received "several e-mail's (sic) with various points of view about the issue," so they won't be recinding their first email after all. As long as they don't expect my sign to come down until after the polls close on the 4th, that's fine with me - they can be as ignorant as they want to be.

3rd UPDATE: After a little legal research, I dug this up:

“In DuBose v. Meyerland Community Improvement Association, a Harris County District Court ruled that a covenant prohibiting the display of temporary political signs was unconstitutional. The judge wrote, 'The U.S. Constitution does not end where deed restrictions begin.' The DuBose case was reinforced by a new statute passed by the 79th Texas Legislature effective Sept. 1, 2005. The statute addresses how and under what circumstances an HOA may regulate the placement of political signs. The new law, found in Section 202.009 of the Property Code, divides the regulations into two categories: things that cannot be prohibited by HOAs and things that are discretionary. In the first category, HOAs cannot adopt or enforce restrictive covenants that prohibit owners from displaying signs on their property that advertise a political candidate or ballot item for an election. The signs may appear on the property anytime 90 days before the election and ten days thereafter.” [emphasis added]

Next step: I have the name and number of the attorney who won the Dubose case; I think I'll give him a call ...

Divorce and Loss

Here is a wonderful piece written by a woman who shares custody of her 5 year old with his father.

"Even though I have had child-free time for some years now and can look forward to it, I still feel at a loss after my son leaves. I still feel sad and strange when he goes off without me. And even though I now have time to concentrate on my other life — my non-parenting life — things can just go a particular kind of quiet at my place when he's not around. It's the missing."

I'm not sure that this emptiness is something that parents always expect when they think about divorce. I know how quiet things are when One is gone overnight at a friend's; I can't imagine regularly being without their noisy, comforting presence.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Removal of Snark

Okay, the b*tchy post on Michelle Obama's wardrobe is gone. Housecleaning. Soul cleaning. Blog cleaning. All seems like the same thing these days.

College: $30/month

Can you believe that? It's true in Nicaragua. But where many work 60 hours a week to make $30, it's not a dream that can become reality. Until groups like Logos Communities decide to make a difference.



Watch. Pray. Give.

Blessings, y'all.

Therapy Much?

My mother in law came to visit yesterday:

MIL: "Why don't you have Oscar put to sleep? Then I can buy the boys a puppy for Christmas."

We're all very grateful I wasn't in the house at the time. If I had been I'd be writing this on the wall of the county jail with a pencil stub.

Can we move and not leave a forwarding address? She called four times yesterday and came by twice. Once she called my cell phone immediately after Husband told her I was upstairs taking a nap. Who does this kind of stuff? And what kind of nuts put up with it?

I spent 16 years estranged from my father and 4 years not speaking to my mother - I think it's time we tried that tactic on the other side of the family...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thomas Felix Rudolf Gerhard Braun: August 30, 1935 - September 24, 2008

An Oxford don in the 19th century model:

"He had almost total recall of the text of Herodotus and of many of the fragmentary Greek historians whose works are collected in Jacoby’s Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. ... He was profoundly knowledgeable across an extraordinary range of subjects including the history of the Jews (in almost all periods), the migrations of the Slav peoples, physical geography, and German literature, to name but a few. ... Although his first language was German, he spoke English perfectly and knew Latin and Greek to a degree that few living people now do. His knowledge of other European languages included French, Italian and Modern Greek. He always taught himself the rudiments of the languages of the countries he visited and he enriched his scholarship with a knowledge of Hebrew, Persian and, to a lesser extent, even Chinese."

Pumpkin Vomit

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hip Hip Hooray!

The tall ship Elissa in Galveston is once again welcoming visitors!

picture compliments of Canupnet.

Public Schooling v. Home Schooling in PA

From the Volokh Conspiracy:

"Staub v. Staub, decided Tuesday by a Pennsylvania appellate court, holds that in child custody cases where the parents disagree about whether to send their children to public school or to home school them, there is to be no rule or presumption in favor of public schooling. "To the contrary, we hold that the well-established best interests standard, applied on a case by case basis, governs a court’s decision regarding public schooling versus home schooling," without any presumption that one or the other is more in the child's best interests." [emphasis mine]

Given what could be the coming administration, it's comforting to see state decisions in support of home schooling. Why? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if home schoolers had a fight on their hands from the Federal government under a Democrat super-majority government. Just sayin'.

Biblical Equality

If the subject interests you as much as it does me, take the time to read this article from the Center for Biblical Equality on the role of women in the church.

"Understood in its own time and context, and read with Christ at the center of the whole of the Bible, Scripture does not limit the leadership of women in the church. Women and men of all races and classes are equally responsible to the call of God on their lives in society, home, and the fellowship of believers."

Amen.

Iraqi Christians

Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul, in northern Iraq, after death threats - 13,000 of them have left, some for Syria. Can you imagine a situation where you as a Christian would feel safer in Syria than where you are currently? Whew.

At the very least, please pray for these brothers and sisters. And let's think for a second before we complain too much about our country's financial situation or current election stress.

Friday, October 24, 2008

He Will Not Rest, He Will Not Let Me Go

Need a little meditation on the goodness of our Lord? Plug in the headphones, dim the lights a little, and listen to the first 6:35 minutes of this. Recorded on 2/17/08 at Ecclesia---every time I hear it I am taken back to this evening service, and the incredible peace that flowed through the room as we listened to Robbie's music and the words of Psalm 121.

The Big Dream

Michele Catalano writes this great article on The American Dream and how it has changed for the worse over the years.

"Long ago, the American Dream was one of simplicity ... Prosperity was found not in the money you made or the things you owned, but the feeling of well-being that came with providing a comfortable life for your family. If you owned the land you lived on and your kids were healthy and your wife was able to put a hot meal on the table at dinner time, life was good. You were living the American Dream. Maybe you could even buy a car to take the family on a beach vacation.

In recent years, not only has the concept of the American Dream changed, but so has the attitude toward achieving that dream. Years ago, even in times of financial hardship, the attainment of the dream was brought about by hard work and, in times of financial crisis, by making do with what you had. Talk to anyone who has been through the Great Depression and they will mostly tell you the same thing my grandmother said about those times: “It is what it is.” Making do became part of the dream, not a sign of failure to realize the dream."

That last sentence is something to think about, isn't it? That our hard times and struggles -- as long as we go through them together -- become part of the dream of this life here on Earth. We are more used to thinking of our troubles being part of our spiritual growth, but they can also enrich our temporal lives. They can inspire us to seek simplicity, draw us closer to our family and community, and remind us what is truly important about being human.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flabbergasted

As Husband said when he showed this to me, surely a sign of the apocalypse.

Their motto: "Life is short. Have an affair." Oh my sainted aunt.

According to their FAQ, some single people sign up for this married dating service. But, alas, they may have a harder time finding a partner. Why, you ask?

"Single people don't have as much to risk and you may find some attached people unwilling to take a risk with you. People in relationships may feel that you have an upper-hand and that you may not be sympathetic to their circumstances. Take your time to build an additional level of trust with attached people you wish to meet."

But, single people dating marrieds isn't all bad.

"Alternatively, single people have more flexibility with their schedule & are usually more available. Singles are more apt to work within your limitations since they have few boundaries. Single people can also be more fun to be with - their guard is down & they don't care who sees them."

Isn't it nice the kind people at Ashley Madison have worked all these details out for you ahead of time? If you're going to bother to have an affair, it should tick along smoothly, don't you think?

Lt.Col. Malalai Kakar, died September 28, 2008

Who even knew there were women police officers in Afghanistan?

"Known simply as Malalai in Kandahar, Kakar achieved legendary status in the province after killing three assassins in a shoot-out. ... Kakar did not exploit her femininity. She presented herself as a typical, tough-talking, swearing officer and did not hesitate to dispense instant justice. On one occasion she beat a man who she discovered had been keeping his wife in chains in his basement. 'I’m very famous as a dangerous person in Kandahar,' Kakar once said. 'People fear me. If I go near the shops, they take their stuff and leave.'"

She was, as you can probably guess, murdered by the Taliban.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Britian's Modern Police State

Britian plans to require passports from all cell phone buyers soon.

"Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance."

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

Advent Conspiracy: Get Involved this Christmas

Here is the Advent Conspiracy 2008 Brochure. Please read and pray.


Blessings.

Poverty and "Hope"

As a recent Pajamas Media article points out, the vast majority of African American voters will be voting for Barack Obama. However, as Obama's record in Chicago shows quite clearly, an Obama presidency does not promise much in the way of help for poor African American voters.

Obama on affordable housing: "'The Boston Globe on June 27 exposed the thousands of so-called affordable housing units built cheaply in Chicago by developers backed by Illinois and federal tax subsidies championed by Barack Obama. Sewage flows through many units; others are burned out with roofs caving in. Due to neglect by owners tied to the Obama campaign, many have been slated for demolition.'"

Obama on affordable healthcare: [Michelle Obama] "spearheaded an effort to steer poor black patients away from her fancy hospital and into local clinics. According to the Washington Post on August 21: Primary-care doctors opposed [Michelle Obama's plan] as a break with the center’s commitment to the community. Opinion research showed that a small but passionate group of people already considered the hospital to be elitist, arrogant, and lacking in 'cultural empathy' for the surrounding economically depressed South Side neighborhood, according to a draft report obtained by the Washington Post. Some doctors in focus groups dismissed local health clinics as 'wholly inadequate.' . . . Quentin Young, the South Side physician, described the medical center’s level of charity spending [on indigent care] as 'ludicrous.' Young, known in Chicago for having been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal physician, is chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates health care reform. Young considered himself an ally of Barack Obama while he was a state legislator. 'That’s shameful,' Young said of the percentages. 'They are arguably, if not defrauding, then at least taking advantage of a public subsidy. We would like to see them give more than the minimum. The need is there.'"

Obama on subprime loans for poor borrowers: "The Congressional Black Caucus and key Obama advisers — including former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines and Fannie Mae Chairman Jim Johnson — all used carrots and sticks to force banks to steer more and more subprime loans to borrowers unable to repay. The LA Times reports on September 9 that Obama is the top recipient of political donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives. The result: housing prices were artificially inflated and many black people who were conned into borrowing to pay the inflated prices are now losing their homes. Others conned into taking out unnecessary mortgages could lose homes they once owned free and clear. Now many black neighborhoods are full of abandoned repos. The foreclosed former homeowners will have credit ratings even worse than before and their jobs may be at risk as the effects of the housing crisis shake Wall Street and Main Street alike."

Read the whole thing, as Glenn Reynolds says.

Also, please note that the sources of these stories that PJM puts together in this article are mainstream, liberal papers: The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and the LA Times. In fact, all three papers have endorsed Obama.

Does Obama really care about the poor who hand over their votes (and their hopes) to him? The evidence says no, but only time will tell.

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."---Proverbs 22:9

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."---Proverbs 28:27

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."---Proverbs 29:7

"The scoundrel's methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just."---Isaiah 32:7

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."---Matthew 19:21