Friday, November 27, 2009

The Truth about Vampires

Is that they suck.

Ha. Just being funny; don't mind me.

If you prefer something more amusing than moi (I know, so hard to think what it could be) check out these 20 lessons girls can learn from the Twilight books.

Books like this make me realize (again) that all teen fiction should be pre-screened. Especially when one has girls.

... and for smoking

Why is the movie An Education rated PG-13?

"PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking."

Yes. We live in THAT country now. God how I hate fascists!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks be to God!

"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."

v 1-7

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote of the Evening

One: "Don't ever read Meriweather Lewis's journals at bedtime."

What's for Dinner?

Like everyone else today, I am in the midst of planning for the Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. Here's what's on the menu:

Husband's perfectly brined and roasted turkey (he could win awards, I kid you not).

Mother-in-law's stuffing with raisins, onions and celery. Lots of white bread and butter - yum.

Whipped sweet potatoes, full of honey and butter and topped with mini marshmallows. Because you're never to old to pretend you're seven again.

Brussel sprouts roasted a la Barefoot Contessa. This year I may add some red onion and apple to the pan, just to change it up a little. This is Husband's favorite vegetable, so perfection is important.

Green bean casserole - not the traditional one but a new recipe from my friend Kelly. It involves sour cream and lots of cheddar cheese, so I knew from the moment I saw the recipe that it was made for us.

Some cranberry salad nonsense, also provided by the Mother-in-law. She and I love the stuff. We open a can of whole berry cranberry sauce for Husband, who has lived through too many Thanksgiving cranberry salad nightmares to be able to eat in anymore. If you ever think of it, ask him about the lime jello salad with shredded cabbage his mother made one year. He brings up the subject at the Thanksgiving table every. single. year. Poor, scarred man.

Rolls of some sort, being purchased perhaps right this second by Husband, who is at Whole Foods looking for last-minute ingredients. I married well - have I mentioned that before?

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream and Goode Company BBQ Pecan Pie with vanilla ice cream. I. love. pie.

The best meal of the year is only 24 hours away! Aren't you excited?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hey, Look:

My hairdresser's on TV:

She told me today it would be $20 more for my haircut, since I was now in the presence of a TV personality. :)

Adoption Works

A beautiful story to read here.

And if you haven't read the background story to the new movie The Blind Side, just do it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Color Belts

The boys tested successfully for their blue belts tonight at taekwondo - everyone there did well, in fact. The only drawback to getting one step closer to black belt is you test later and later (but arrive for roll call with everyone else). Instead of dwelling on that, however, here are some of the bright colors we encountered tonight:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Proof

that dogs are smarter than we are. I'm inside working and they are - well, see for yourself:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Bible and Ecomonics

An interesting editorial with a good point: is it right to take passages of the Bible that tell us how individuals behave and use them to tell people how the government should act?

I would say no.

Saturday Afternoon Sushi

Fall in Houston

The leaves want to change colors:

But the hibiscus are telling them it isn't time yet:

Friday, November 13, 2009

School Days

Some random pictures from around school - we're still loving it and the boys are doing great.

Another cool clock, to go with the one outside:

The unofficial Chinese Mom's Club - they wait here every day for dismissal. Love the parasol.

Beautiful geometric front gates:

Marching home

Red is such a school color, isn't it?


We had conferences today and all is well. It's refreshing to know that Two is just as stubborn at school as he is at home, and his teacher thinks it's a riot and just rolls right over him anyway. And he loves her for it. One's teacher is the first he's had who emphasizes to us that he is so smart, which is also fresh air. She also knows he's a stubborn, prickly, exacting grouch at times, and she, too, likes him anyway. Such a good start to the year!

Visualize World Peace

One of the most recent projects in One's 4th grade class was based on a book found by his teacher - A Million Vision of Peace. Inspired by the book, Ms. O had One and his fellow 4th graders draw a picture of how they saw "peace".

My first question to One when he told me he'd completed this project was "did you draw a Marine?" No, explained One patiently. "I was going for something that wouldn't make Ms. O have a fit."

(Translation: "Mom, you are so difficult sometimes!")

"Well?" I asked. And then he told me. And so, here is what he came up with instead:

Obviously, my fourth grader rocks. Big. time.

And Ms. O loved it, too, by the way. As I knew she would.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Light Cameras Suck

Red light cameras, which are multiplying around Houston like rabbits breeding, may be more of a hazard than a help. The local CBS affiliate in LA did some research on cameras there and found:

"The final figures? Twenty of the 32 intersections show accidents up after the cameras were installed! Three remained the same and only nine intersections showed accidents decreasing."

HT: Instapundit.

Having dealt with these cameras for a while, I'm not really surprised. If you forget which intersections have cameras, you're in trouble: you look up, see the yellow light AND the camera, and crash on the brakes as fast as you can. Not a safe maneuver.

Isn't there an easier way to solve intersection crashes? Like timing the lights so all four sides are red together for 5 seconds, just to make sure everyone is done speeding through? I dunno - people go off to school for degrees in city planning; they have to have learned something other than "bust someone for making a split-second decision that didn't injure anybody."

It's pretty obvious at this point that the cameras are privacy-invading revenue generators and nothing else. Just another example of government at work for you.

A Pleasant Reminder

Isn't it always wonderful to be reminded that people with too much money (and perhaps not enough brains) can get away with things the rest of us can't? Today's reminder:

Angelina Jolie is planning on adopting from Syria. Yes, Syria. You know, a Muslim country. With that religion that doesn't recognize adoption - that one. The one about which the US State Department says:

"The Embassy has been informed that Sharia law restricts distribution of inheritance to spouses and certain blood relatives and, for that reason, adoption does not exist in Syria."

and also:

"Adopting a Syrian orphan is a difficult process and, often, an impossible one unless one of the adoptive parents is originally a Syrian citizen. American citizens who are not also Syrian nationals must secure a court order from a Syrian court granting them custody or guardianship of the child. As a cautionary note, this approval is very rarely granted. In the case of a Catholic child, at least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be Catholic, unless the church authority makes an exception for the prospective adoptive parent that is from another Eastern Christian denomination, i.e. Greek Orthodox. The religious courts will also pursue an investigation to determine whether the prospective adoptive parents are of good behavior and high moral reputation before deciding on the case."

I guess none of the above will be any problem for the shudder-worthy Ms. Jolie, who will get what she wants regardless. If baby wants a rainbow family, then that's what baby gets!

Why are celebrities like her (and, of course, Madonna) bent on giving international adoption a bad name? Rhetorical question, of course.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Afternoon with Two

Yes, as has become obvious, I've decided to start posting pictures of the boys. And so, here is an afternoon with Two:

Art class, with his favorite art teacher in the world:

A little shopping for dinner:

And some dirt on his nose (actually, I think that's pencil from art class, but it's cute whatever it is):

Life at six-almost-seven is so good, especially for Two. He has had his bumps in the road, but he has none of the "existential angst" that plagues his older brother (there's something to write about someday!), and therefore cruises through life with a lot of good times and relatively little care.

Maclaren Recall and the General Dangers of Boys

Ouch! I'm glad I'm out of stroller range. Instead, we have safe things to worry about, like

"get off that skateboard or get your helmet!"

"are you sure it's safe to have six kids on the trampoline at once?"

"what do you mean you're riding your bike to the park alone, Mr. Six Year Old?"

"whose idea was it to play tackle football in the house (on the wood floor)? and

"well, yes, you got kicked in the head at taekwondo, but that's what all that padding is for, honey."

I just have to keep them alive. That's really my only job. They will be stinky and have horrendous table manners, but I'm going to get them to 18, dagummit!

I love boys.

It's Good to have a Friend

Isn't it?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stranger Things Have Happened

When One was three, we "tested" him for a pre-pre-school class at the school affiliated with our then-current church. Yes, they tested him: that should have been my first wake up bell (but this was my first child, so I qualified for the mom version of a handicapped sticker - you know how it is). Anyway, everything they asked him to do, he announced proudly "Oh, I can do THAT!", even when it came to things like drawing circles, squares, and triangles: things he had absolutely no idea how to do. They all looked like lopsided circles, but did I care? Of course not: he was three.

Fast-forward to first grade at the same school, and Husband and I are being berated by the elementary school principal about One's terrible printing, being told he might have dysgraphia (impossible to diagnose in a six year old boy, I learn later) and practically ordered to take him to an OT to "fix" his atrocious penmanship. We shrug: he's a six year old boy. We later take the big shrug and pull him out of school altogether, to relax and homeschool for the year.

A year later, One begins to learn cursive as part of his Montessori odyssey. Not surprisingly, his handwriting improved dramatically, and now he has fine cursive that his 4th grade teacher compliments him on.

And he has this:

Who could be prouder?

Sidewalk Chalk

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Orthodox Podcasts

Ancent Faith Radio has some great podcasts on the differences between Orthodoxy and both Catholicism and Protestantism: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy - Ancient Faith Radio. Check it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Xmas Xplained

As I'm sure you would believe, I was taught that using the abbreviation "Xmas" for Christmas was done by non-believers to "take Christ out of Christmas". Raised Baptist - no big surprise there. But what is surprising is what I learned recently from the teacher of our catechumens class at St. George: the "X" in "Xmas" is the Greek letter Chi - the first letter of Christ's name in Greek (Xpistos, or Christos). So, no, that X isn't "X'ing out Christ's name" - it's just an abbreviation.

Also interesting, we came to this discussion of "Xmas" through a question as to why angels are frequently pictured on icons holding orbs in their hands with the letter "X" on them. Answer? The orb with an X is a sign of the authority given them by Christ. Seems simple to me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More New Math

Ed Young + John O'Quinn = oh my skull I'm going to vomit.

"The preacher said O'Quinn finally was happy, finally got past making up for a troubled youth at the hand of a mean-spirited father and absent mother. He spoke of how O'Quinn could finally revel in a flannel-pajamaed Christmas Eve celebration with family and hot cocoa like the little boy he didn't get to be."

Why don't I stay Baptist (it's what I was born, after all)? I can lie, cheat, steal and be an absolute b!tch all my life, then repent to a gullible preacher and receive a glorious (albeit cheesy) eulogy after negligently killing one of my most faithful employees in a reckless accident. And apparently said preacher would also guar-an-damn-tee that I was kicking back in Heaven once I was dead. Sweet!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day

If you're here in Harris County, your polling place is listed here; just click on the link towards the top left of the page and it will take you to a loooooong list.

There are 11 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. This site has a conservative view of them. Moreover, if you click on each amendment it opens a window with a more detailed description and a short "pro" and "con" argument. Very helpful.

And if you're of a right-leaning disposition and still don't know who to vote for, the Texas Conservative Review has endorsements for city council and controller, as well as grades for the mayoral elections. Pages 3 and 15 are what you want if you're in a hurry.

Get out and vote! And don't forget to bring the kids with you; nothing says good parenting like bringing the little nippers along to help you participate in democracy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey Californians

Stay home! We promise you, you would hate Texas; it's really (cross our hearts) not as nice as your wonderful state. We eat too much meat, drive large trucks, and think country music actually sounds good. We would really prefer that you keep your pot-legalizin', real estate-flippin', liberal Democrat-votin' selves on the West Coast where you belong. That way, when the big earthquake comes and you all fall into the sea, so many problems will be solved all at once.

Thanks, y'all. We knew you sensitive types would understand.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Think I Made It

Well, I didn't keep my promise of blogging through my mother's visit, but honestly, nothing of note happened so there was nothing much to say. She even made it through church with us today; she hated it but she was fairly gracious and said not much afterwards (just a few nasty asides like "oh, One isn't really in Sunday School class - it's catechism, like the Catholics." and, when invited to come forward at the end of the service to kiss the cross: "I kiss Jesus in my heart every day - I don't need any rituals, thank you.") Otherwise, she behaved herself. Thank God for His mercy!

It's clear she thinks I've lost my mind and traded "faith in Christ" for "religion" but I'm not overly obsessed with her opinion anymore. Once she had the power to take away everything that mattered to me (my father), then she had the power to drive me to distraction while trying to stop me from marrying the person I love the most in this world. Finally, she prayed that what has become the greatest joy on this earth to me - motherhood - would be forever withheld from me. Well, she succeeded for a while in the first endeavor, but now I have my father back after long years of being without him. I married the man she hated, and 14 years later she has a bit of egg of her face about that, doesn't she? And God gave me two perfect children, even as she begged Him to make me barren.

To put it simply: she has no power over me. Oh, sure, she can cause the occasional panic attack, and bring back an unpleasant memory once in a while, but she can't stop me from worshipping God the way I feel called to do any more than she could stop all those other, most-important-to-me, things - at least not in the end. Ever since I sat in Divine Liturgy this morning I've felt the most amazing sense of release; some piece of fear stuck in my heart for so many years dissolved in the prayers and the incense today and left me forever. Maybe now I'll be able to love my mother for who she is, perhaps for the first time in my life. I might somehow free to do that; I don't know why, but I think I am. Because God is good. Oh. so. good.