Friday, September 30, 2005

Pot Luck Ideas

We used to really hate pot lucks. Trying to get a table, stand in line, load plates for a bunch of kids, carry drinks through lines of people, and then because we are a large family, not having anybody fit to sit at our table with us. What's the point of staying for a church potluck if all that happens is my kids eat 6 desserts, and we get stressed out and feel lonely??

On one of my egroups recently, the subject of potlucks came up and I shared some information about ways that our church does these dinners in a much more family friendly way. It is so much nicer and we like it so much that I thought I would post it here for anybody who might benefit from the ideas.

In our church we now usually have a few different tables set up around the room. One will be the main pot luck type stuff. One will be a small tablethat is more "kid friendly." It will have things like already-cut

sandwiches, cookies, and individual bags of chips, bottled water and Capri
Sun type juice drinks. Plenty of napkins and child size plates as well.
There is sometimes also another small table set up someplace else that has
munchies on it such as veggie trays, bowls of pretzels or chips, etc. With
the way this is set up, it is really easy to come into the room, quickly
make it over to the kid table, and get the youngest ones set up with the
things they most like to eat. For adults that are waiting, they can get
something from the munchy table. Plus, having the 3 tables makes the crowd
dissipate somewhat so that it doesn't feel like you have to wait and wait
forever to get food. They also do almost entirely bottled or canned drinks
now, which just cuts down on having someone need to fill cups, spills on the

way to the tables, etc. They usually have a table set up with 3 colorful
tubs with ice and drinks in them, grouped according to type. Very easy!

When we just have one line to go through, I have a
stack of plates for however many young ones I am getting food for, and I
just use the top plate or two to put larger amounts of the things I think
they will like. I do not even try to get some of everything I think they
would want. I just get 2 or 3 tried-and-true items that I know they will
like, and that is that! When I get back to the table I fix individual
plates for the children.

Now that we have some older and responsible children, we often have the
older children watch the younger ones at the table, and my husband and I and

the middle children go through the line together.

One thing that I love is when people who do not have little ones to help
come to offer assistance. I have seen Mennonite churches do this in a very
sweet way. They had teen girls stationed near the head of the line, and
when a family with many youngsters came along, a girl would come alongside 1

or 2 of them and help them get their plates filled and back to their seats.

I plan to teach my older children to do this sort of thing as they get old

For food to bring, I find that it is smartest for me to bring the kind of
stuff that will make my own life easier. :) If your children like a
particular type of sandwiches, bring enough for all of them plus a bunch
more. Sandwiches always seem to go fast at potlucks. Cookies are also very

good since they are "grab and go" and so much less messy than trying to give

little ones something gooey or sticky or needing to help them cut something.

Finally, I now try to choose a table that is a size that allows us the
possibility of visiting with other people. We let our older children go off

to sit with friends, and we try to pick a big table and put ourselves in the

middle, hopefully encouraging others to join us. Sometimes the church
has little kid-sized tables and chairs set up in one area, with colorful
plastic on the floor, acting as a "splat mat" sort of thing.

Some other things that our church does for pot lucks that I will just share
since we are on the subject include having a child-friendly activity
available for the children to do when they are done eating. Sometimes it
has been a big long sheet of paper (like you cover banquet tables with) on
the floor, with little packs of crayons here and there. This is placed in
an area that is not near any entrances or exits, such as in a corner of the
room where we are eating. There is usually an adult or two that has
volunteered to hang around that area and make sure everything is going ok.
This past Sunday it was the church's birthday and so there was an area with
helium balloons with curly string. The balloons were just on the ceiling.
The church had used those cushiony interlocking primary colored floor pieces

to create an obvious area for the balloon play. The balloons really added
to the atmosphere, and it was an easy and fun thing for the children to
wander over there after eating and grab a ribbon and jump around with their
balloon in hand. :) They also had an adorable centerpiece idea, which was
helium balloons tied onto the pull tab of soda cans. Those were on the
tables. Very festive and simple! Then the families got to take a
centerpiece home with them.

We just love it that our church is one that thinks outside the box, with the

goal being to break down barriers to people actually getting to fellowship
and build relationships. They have some great people on their committee
that come up with simple, good ideas that really help make it pleasant and
easy to be a part of what's going on.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well, As It Turns Out....

I got to go!

After my mom's comment here, plus a private email from her urging me to take the opportunity to do something for myself, I decided to stick one little toe out into the possibility of going by asking my husband if he would mind if I went. He shocked me when he said, "Fine! Sounds like fun for you! Go!"

Next I called the book store to see about the tickets: Were there any left? I am so glad I called because what I learned was that you didn't *really* need a ticket at all. Anybody was able to come and see Diana Gabaldon and hear her speak. The ticket was for the privilege of standing in line and then having her sign your book. Ha! I didn't even want to buy the book, so no ticket required. hehe

Then I called a friend from my book group to see if I could ride along with her, therefore making it much more fun than going all by my lonesome. A ride and a friend to hang out with: check!

I dug up a coupon for a free sub at Subway with the purchase of a drink, and left early enough to get that for my dinner. $1.26 later I had made my only expenditure of the evening.

An hour before Gabaldon I got to see Silas House, whose book Clay's Quilt my book group read, plus another author, Bev Marshall, who has a new book called Hot Fudge Sundae Blues. They each read a bit from their books plus answered questions. Silas House was reading from his new book The Coal Tatoo. I really like Silas House's style. He is from Eastern Kentucky, and writes beautifully, while also really bringing across the flavor of the culture there, and helping the reader understand and appreciate it. So many people think of the mountains of Appalachia as a sad, worn-out kind of place, and House brings pride and beauty to what he knows and loves.

Bev Marshall was a cute lady and her book is written from the perspective of a 14 year old girl. I enjoyed the segment she read and think I will probably read the book. It seemed to very skillfully capture the angst and feelings of the young teenager, and had a bittersweet feel to it.

The crowd for Diana Gabaldon was pretty much filled to capacity. I think there were probably 250 or more people there. The area was decorated with tartan plaid, Scottish coats of arms, and other Scottish-looking items. 15 minutes prior to her speaking, a drum and bagpipe group marched in, setting the mood for the crowd that loves the Outlander series, which is originally set in Scotland. There were also Scottish dancers, whom I couldn't see save for the occasional bouncing hand or head, since the crowd was so thick around them.

Diana Gabaldon made her entrance flanked by Scottish pipers and a tall Scottish-looking escort wearing full kilt and tartan regalia, plus a broadsword strapped across his back. She wore a long black dress and a colorful scarf across one shoulder, and looked much more elegant than she does on her book jackets.

She was a more bawdy speaker than I expected her to be. I'm no prude, but I was kind of surprised at how much she seemed to want to keep her chatter onto sexy things. She's on a book tour, though, so maybe she just missed her husband. ;)

She didn't say anything that I hadn't already read in The Outlandish Companion or her web site so it wasn't really that enlightening. She did read a section from the new book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, but I actually found it difficult to follow since she uses a Scottish accent to do the voices. That's as it should be, I suppose, but it was tricky to understand her in a crowd. I'll enjoy reading it to myself more.

Another book group friend met us at the event and the three of us stood together sweltering in the crowd of admirers. As it turned out, I can be thankful for middle-aged and old-aged comrades, because the friend that met us there ended up with hot flashes and decided she would leave and not have her book signed. I asked her if she wanted us to get it signed for her. So, I ended up with her book and ticket, waiting in line with all the other Outlander enthusiasts, in order to be very efficiently put before Diana Gabaldon herself, and just as quickly dismissed.

There were so many people there that the tickets had letters on them. We were called up in groups, A's first, and so on. Fortunately, both of my book group friends pre-purchased their books, so they had "C" tickets, so it wasn't a terribly long wait. (there were probably 50 or more people with each letter) While in line some helper people came along with sticky notes, asking what name you wanted your book to be signed to. They got the books opened to the correct page, book jacket holding it's place, and sticky note there to prompt Diana so she could sign as quickly as possible. I was impressed with the efficiency, but it definitely was nothing like I expected. By the time one reached Diana, a man took the book, opened it up, and set it before her where she very quickly signed it "2______, Diana Gabaldon" and swiftly slid your book back at you with nary a hello. We did say a few brilliant and noteworthy things such as "What could we say that you haven't already heard thousands of times?" and then shuffled on our merry way, passing by a table of Scottish cookies and cakes which we both didn't eat since we are trying to lose weight.

What I really thought would be fun to say to her was, "Hi! It's nice to meet you, even though I wasn't about to pay $28 to buy your book to do it. This is actually my friend's book that you're signing. She had to leave because of hot flashes."

Now THAT would have been memorable! But, alas, I didn't have the guts to do it.

It was nice to get a little break from being home, but honestly, it was very impersonal. Diana smiled a lot, but mainly looked like she had her smile just pasted on, and kind of seemed to look through everyone. Maybe for someone as popular a writer as she is, and for as long as she's been writing, it might get old. She just didn't seem that engaged or connected to the people, and so it kind of left me feeling less than impressed. As Gretchen said in her comment in the previous post, it seems kind of less than impressive to have to buy the book in order to meet the author, rather than the author seeming like they appreciated their fans or whatever. I guess with someone as popular as Gabaldon, perhaps a line just has to be drawn in order to keep it managable, but it didn't seem as warm as I hoped it would be.

The up side to all of this is that my hot flash friend said to hang on to the book until next week when we meet for our regular book group meeting. So, I get to read the book right away! It's a whopping 947 pages or some such, so it'll take some attention. What's worse, is that as Carmen mentioned to me once, indeed this *isn't* that last book in the series after all. She said that there would be at least 1 or 2 more books, which in Gabaldon-speak probably means 3. It will be very hard to wait 2.5 years for the next one!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tell Me It's No Great Loss, OK?

Tomorrow night Diana Gabaldon, author of my literary delight, The Outlander series, will be at a local bookstore tomorrow night. You have to have a ticket to attend, and the way you get a ticket is to buy her new book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Sadly for me, it doesn't seem that I'm going to be able to attend. Reason number one is that we are on that same, old, moldly poor streak, so spending nearly $30 on a book (even one that I am sure I will love) seems a bad choice under our current situation. Reason number two is that my husband has worked two 24 hour shifts in a row (still there now) plus will be gone for most of the day tomorrow. Then he will be gone for most of Thursday and then another 24 hour shift on Friday. If he comes home tomorrow night to have me walking out the door to meet Diana Gabaldon, I think he will be sorely disappointed.


So, I am trying to comfort myself about this. My 13 year old son also helped. After I told him how excited I was that the new book is out (and I AM! I am just about hyperventilating thinking about getting my paws on the next book!!!!!) I asked him to help bring me out of my disappointment in not being able to go. I said, "Ok, so, I go and buy a $28 book, then get to be in a crowd of other Outlander-happy women who will watch Diana Gabaldon speak and read to us, and then wait in line, clutching my book, standing next to other women, all of whom will be telling how much they love the Outlander books and how they discovered the Outlander books and how much they are looking forward to reading this new one and stuff like that. Then I will eventually get to the front of the line where I will meet Diana Gabaldon, hand her my book and ask her to sign it, and say something very basic about how I love her books--as if she hasn't already heard that same comment dozens of times before during this same event. And then I will leave, and go home and start reading."

My son says, "Yeah, Mom, you don't need that. Why would you want to go hang out with a bunch of other middle-aged women for that anyhow?"

Middle aged?

Did he actually call me middle-aged?

What is there? A sign on my forehead that says INSULT ME, PLEASE! ??

I notified my son that 34 is NOT middle-age. He said that he figured the cut off for young was the 20s, and after that you were into middle or old age. I assured him that middle age is probably somewhere more like 45 or something....right? Exactly when does middle age begin, folks? I know it can't be at 34.....I'm just getting ready to hit my best years yet!

So, yeah! Who needs a night out with Diana Gabaldon and some of my friends from my book group (who, admittedly ARE middle-aged or beyond)? Not me! Nosirree! I will just sit on my husband's lap and congratulate myself on not spending $28.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Little By Little

Well, I just spent a half hour typing this post out, and then Blogger ate it. Ugh! I hate it when that happens. But, as it turns out, that post may have been even worse than this one will be, so we will consider it a mercy killing and move on.

All I wanted to tell you was that a few days ago (before the church insult) I heard this interesting thing. It was from a model, who says that each day she weighs herself, and if she sees that she is a pound over her goal weight, she immediately eats a little less and exercises a little more. This way she never gains weight or has to do a huge amount of work to get back in shape.

I really liked that tip, and the idea of just looking at one pound. I usually look at my weight loss needs as the whole 15 pounds that I currently want to lose. I am thinking now of trying to just focus on one pound at a time a see how it goes.

I don't own a scale, as I have always found them to be demeaning. I am 6 feet tall and curvy. The numbers that most people see are not the kind of numbers I will ever see this side of terminal illness. Even though I know intellectually that I should weigh more than people 6 inches shorter than me, those numbers seem awfully big. I have decided to try to weigh myself once a week at the home I go to for small group instead.

One my my 2005 resolutions was to lose 25 lbs. this year. I have 15 left to go, and not quite that many weeks left, with the two fattiest holidays thrown in there. Think I can do this? I am going to give it a try. It would be really nice to start 2006 already have reached that goal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Today the kids brought home a survey from the PTO that the parents are supposed to fill out and send back. It's one of the basic idea-and-contact-information-gathering type things. What jumped out at me was this:

"What ideas do you have for the PTO? Actvities you would like to see brung to the school?" literacy programs?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

At dinner tonite my 7 year old son made an announcement. This is my son who says he wants to have 12 kids someday, and often wonders out loud who he will find to be his wife. He is already planning! It is very cute.

At dinner he started in sounding like he has something very important to share:

"Mom. Hey Mom. I want to tell you something. Um, you know, if I ever get two twin kids, do you know what I will name them?"

(then he got interrupted several times, and repeated all of the above each time, as a running start to his announcement....this is a child that does not know the meaning of *starting where you left off*)

What will you name your two twin children, Jake?



"Tom? Both of them will be named Tom?"

"Yeah. Tom."

To which all of us at the table tried our hardest to stifle laughter.

Either he's completely illogical, or completely efficient. I haven't decided which one.
We watched Garden State the other night. It's rated R, and earned it with persistent bad language, drug use, and some graphic you-know-what. The movie's flavor is sort of a combination of Lost in Translation (which I hated because it was so dull), but with some seriously funny stuff. Part of the humor is the fact that the jokes are just allowed to BE, without anything extra. (something I have a hard time doing in my writing) For instance: A woman singing "Three Times a Lady" at a graveside burial service. HILARIOUS! You have to see it to appreciate it. The other funniest moment was when the main male character has to try on a homemade shirt that was made from leftover material from a home decorating project. The camera just gives us one shot of this: the guy, looking pained, wearing this shirt, standing in front of a wall covered with the exact same pattern, such that he almost completely blends in. It's just a few seconds, with no words...but hilarious. Very clever.

I guess if you can get past the things that earned it an R rating, it's a pretty good movie. Except that I am sick of movies where people know each other for 4 days or something and decide they are in love and are going to change their whole life because of it. I wonder if people actually believe this happens, and make coordinatingly absurd decisions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

And if *that* wasn't enough for you...there's MORE!

So, the solo sleeping thing was short-lived, as you might have predicted. One thing that I have always hated about trying to sleep without my littlest kids is that I have a very hard time falling into restful sleep because I am always kind of bracing for someone to start crying and needing me to come get them/pick them up/etc. It almost always happens, so it's not a false concern. When the kiddle is in the bed, I can just cuddle up and sleep knowing that nobody is going to waken me with anything other than sticking their little toes down the back of my underwear or cracking their forehead into my nose. Little stuff like that.

A mini movie review today: Hitch. Loved it. Clever, fun, sweet, funny, good story. I enjoyed seeing an interracial romance in a movie without the race being an issue. 10 years ago you wouldn't have seen that. Heck...maybe not 5 years ago. Too many graphic sex references for me to say ok for Sullen to watch it, but the hubby and I enjoyed it very much. Definitely a winner movie in my book.

Here's where I will pretend I am in a Blog-Your-Most-Boring-Stuff contest:

Today's highlights included taking Jake the Great to get evaluated for the learning quirk stuff, and putting air into one of the Burb tires All By Myself. (sing it with me: "I'm a big kid now!")

Tomorrow should be equally as exciting, with 3 kids going for eye exams. Yee haw! Do we know how to whoop it up on a Saturday or WHAT?

Ok, forget the boring stuff. Here's some primo news:

Our darn little doggie has been digging to get under our fence lately, running away almost daily. Today she had a big adventure and ended up getting a ride to the high school, was temporarily adopted by a lunch lady/animal rescue enthusiast, and finally brought back home again where she is now on the Black List. You know, we already had one dog that ran away all the time, and we gave her up to go to a place that could keep her safe and not let her be a nuisance to the neighbors. Now here we are....deja vu all over again. Stinkin pets....ugh! The lunch lady actually offered to keep our little runaway, and I had half a mind to tell her yes, thank you, and good luck. Will have to see about that. My little children are quite fond of their doggie, so I do not know that this will be a possibility.

I picked up two new books from the library today. The one I've started reading is The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan, who is also the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. I'm enjoying it, and with McMillan's track record, I don't expect to be disappointed.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Guess what I'm going to do tonite?

Sleep in my own bed.


Hubby is at work, and all kids are tucked into their own beds. If my Sleep In Your Own Bed For Crying Out Loud plan pays off, maybe all of them will stay where they are til morning. I seriously Do Not Know if I can successfully sleep in my bed alone, but I am going to give it a try.

Oh, and, yeah, thanks for asking. The New Job is going just great. I am less tired today, which is a help. My laundry is caught up, my meals are organized, the house is picked up (mostly) and stuff is getting done. I like my new plan, like feeling that I did a good job and actually have something to show for it at the end of the day. I like having some parameters set for my own stuff without letting those get totally overboard. I like glancing at the clock and then my little schedule to see what's next and getting it done. I like having time to do Flylady chores. And what I like even better than that is when my house already is beyond needing the chore she assigns!

I know it's completely dull, but this is a big part of the life of a stay at home woman. Clean. Organize. Tend. Plan. Balance.

I was thinking about my little crying session with my red pencil from grade school and wondering what all was behind the tears. One thing I thought of was just seeing my original last name. I wondered if, for me, or maybe even for all people who change their last name when they get married, if there is a loss there that is at least a little bit painful. To give up Your Name. To give up the way people have identified you for your whole life up until that point, and to take on the name of a person that did not exist before. In some ways I guess this is a nice thing, or even a beautiful symbolic thing about marriage. I have never taken issue with the whole whether-or-not to take your husband's name thing, but also never really understood the "I don't want to lose my identity" thing. I wonder if maybe I understand a little better now.

For me, I got married when I was 20. Basically, I was never an adult before I got married. So, getting married (and changing my name) created a line in my life between childhood and adulthood. I never really got to ease into adulthood or be truly independent like I thought I would. It was just one day I lived with my parents (or in my college dorm) and slept in the same twin bed I had had since childhood, and another day I was married and moved 12 hours away and my life was completely different. I was away from family, friends, everything I ever knew, all the places I knew how to get to, all the memorable spots of my growing up years.

In some ways the moving away was good. We got the space and pressure we needed to have to stick together and figure out how to be our own family unit without interference. It was also good in that I was just removed from any ties that might have made it hard to move on. It was just completely new territory, and no map to follow. Whether good or bad, it definitely forces you to work!

So, anyhow, back to my pencil.... (because it's All About the Pencil, can't you SEE??) maybe it was just the surprise of seeing my old name and mourning the loss of that old friend. Interestingly, when I was IMing my mom earlier today I asked her if she read my geeky confession of crying over my red pencil, and she said yes and that even *she* cried. (she also said she didn't know why) I mentioned the name theory to her and she said that every now and then when she is writing her name she will write her original last name, which she hasn't gone by in 36 years or something. So maybe this is a common phenom. Or maybe it's hereditary. ;) I don't know. But, by crackie, I'm loving my pencil and have used it all through the day. A little piece of my past to acknowledge through the usual routine of my life.

But, enough about the pencil. I'm seriously going to lose readers if I keep up with this theme.

(hey! there's an idea. If the knitters can blog, maybe I can create a blog all about the pencil. Imagine it! Pencil memories. Best pencil ever. What I wrote with my pencil today. Hey---maybe I could have my pencil go on adventures with me and write to the blogosphere from the perspective of my little red pencil. I mean, heck! This pencil has been with me for probably 25's been around! It's seen a lot. You think of flies on the wall, but a pencil....that's....something!)

Alright. I'm stopping. Honest. It's all this working around the house that's got my brain in a tailspin. Well, that plus PMS plus having my husband gone basically all week long.

Other than that, I am issuing myself a challenge to not visit any of the blogs I dislike for the next 24 hours. I have found some that really rub me the wrong way and all they make me want to do is argue and point out how completely narrow-minded, illogical, cliched, and pitiful they are. And then there are a few that are just so boring that I could almost cry. (probably like most of you suffering through this post feel right now) I need to refrain from going to blogs that I go to just to scoff at. Although, you know, when one is in a scoffing mood, it is better to go scoff at a lame blog than to scoff at a real-life lame person. I may start a favorites folder specifically for "blogs I love to hate." Then when I'm in a MOOD I will know just where to go and privately pooh-pooh.

I'm not perfect, but I do appreciate that the internet allows me some more socially acceptable ways to deal with my flaws.


Because of Winn Dixie

Today's Brave Writer suggestion was to watch a movie with your child. Absorb plot, discuss characters and issues, and so forth. I went to the video store and rented Because of Winn Dixie, since I've been meaning to see it, knew that the book is well-regarded, and I had vague notions that it had some discussion and essay-worthy stuff on it. What a great choice!

Because of Winn Dixie is the beautiful story of a lonely, motherless girl, her heartbroken pastor father, and the stray dog they come to love. In a summer's time the family learns to share their joys and sorrows in order to know and be known by others--to create community with those they befriend in their new little town.

The actress that plays the main character is just adorable and beautiful and very talented. The dog has the amazing ability to smile, and it so full of character that he really makes the movie extra special. Jeff Daniels is very convincing as the sad pastor-father.

My 13 year old son had been sure (from looking at the cover) that he would hate this movie and that it would be stupid. However, he was proven wrong. :) (I love to prove him wrong.) I was also able to come up with quite a few discussion/essay questions. I'll include them here in the comments section in case any of you would like to use them for your own family.

In short, Because of Winn Dixie is a great family movie that displays faith, hope, community, and healing in a moving and realistic way. I loved it. It'll have to go on the Christmas Wish List.

Before I start my work day I thought I'd tell you this one little thing from the other day.

I was reorganizing a shelf, and in the process was sorting crayons, markers, colored pencils, regular pencils, pens, glue sticks, and so on. Then I went on to sharpen all the pencils.

In that process, amidst all of the cute pencils my kids have gotten from school ("My principal is proud of me!" "Reading first" "Welcome to the first day of school!") I found a simple, slightly worn red pencil with fading gold stamped letters on it. What did it say? My original name.

It was a pencil that I've probably had since 3rd grade or something.

And there it was, in my hands. A link to the past.

I actually cried a little while I looked at that antique pencil. I guess that as I get older, and as my children get older, and there is more distance between my origins, my past, and my present, maybe it doesn't even seem like what used to be was real. I cried for the girl that used to be. For her strengths, her weaknesses, her victories and defeats. For the roads I took and the ones I didn't. For all the stuff that got mixed in to bring me to who I am today. Not crying in a where-did-I-go-wrong sort of way. Just a wow-isn't-life-wierd-how-you-actually-do-grow-up-and-move-on-and-grow-and-change and feel like the past and the present are both equally out of your reach. Or something like that.

I don't know. Having PMS plus reading a sad book both surely contribute to the melancholy symbolism of it all. Still, though, wouldn't it mean something to you if a little symbol of your past ended up in your hands when you least expected it?

I hope I can manage to hang on to that pencil for a long time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Job: Day Two

(Otherwise known as "Why did I start this when I was about to get my period?!")

Well, I'm here. I'm surviving. I'm beating the odds! And that's about all. I almost caved this morning when I was so tired (despite going to bed at 9:15pm) that I almost crawled back into bed and said, "the heck with it!" It's amazing what proving one's point can do to motivate!

So, I forced myself to get in motion, to brush my hair and get out that blasted bra. Once I got going, it wasn't all that bad, although I will admit that I am still very tired.

I have mowed grass, picked apples and pears (twice), swept, cleaned, washed dishes and put them away, cleaned a bathroom, done school with kids, done laundry (and kept up on it), taken kids to play with friends, and hosted guests for about an hour and a half. Now I have to go make lasagne and salad and maybe a dessert and try to perk myself up and look pretty because my husband is coming home from his trip later this evening! He has to work his regular 24 hour shift tomorrow, so hopefully I will be enchanting for the few hours that we have together tonite before he is gone again. Since I know I can collapse tomorrow, if needed, I think I can hang on til then.

I definitely get more done when I am thinking in terms of a job. I am also definitely more tired. Maybe it'll help me sleep better at night, eh? A bonus!

From the archives: Who cares!? If you want to know, go look at Sept. 2004 for yourself. That's how tired and in a hurry I am.


Oh, funny from today. My oldest son gets a list from my most days telling him what to do. I jot things on it starting the previous day so that I don't forget little chores that I notice he could do. So, the list always has his school stuff, regular chores, plus any special jobs and things I need to add. Lately he's had things on his list such as "complete thank you notes from your birthday that was a month ago" and helping me with organizational projects like "organize DVDs" or moving toys to a new location in our house. He often feels that the list is crazy long and oppressive, but he usually feels that way about most stuff.

So, this afternoon I asked him (as I do a dozen times a day), "OK, what else is on your list?" and he says to me, "Ummmm....let's see......dig a hole to China....."

I used that as inspiration for his writing assignment. I told him to write something facetious using the list torture as his leaping off point. It could be a poem, story, a fake list, whatever. So he came up with his own list. He wrote:

Today's List
Do all 482,157,798 online classes
toy relocation project (plane to Africa with Steve Irwin at 2pm)
mow White House lawn using scissors
write thank you notes from your third birthday
save the people in dimension x from your arch nemesis, Stupid Man!
dig hole to China
and don't give me a hassle about it!!

That kid cracks me up.

Oh, hey--y'all can pray for my momma. She's in NC where Ophelia is hitting.

See ya tomorrow on my blog break, kids!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Time for Bed

First day on the new job--I'm beat! I think I worked harder than usual. But, hey, I beat the first day odds! Onward and upward. I'm hoping to at least show my son that I can keep a new inspiration going for at least a week.

I'm so tired I can barely think. Finished the book (Night Ride Home), but don't have the energy to write about it. I liked it. It was easy to read. It was sad and rich and so real I could feel it, and good at the end. This may be all the review you will get. If you loved Bridges of Madison County, this one will probably appeal to you. (it's not the same thing, but has that sort of feel to it)

Good night. I gotta go to bed. Another day at my new job coming right up tomorrow.....

11 Children Found Caged in Ohio

One of those Parents Behaving Badly stories to make you shake your head.
(who said Ohians were somehow more civilized, anyhow?)

First Day of the Rest of My Life

Last night I decided to have some fun and tell my oldest son about my "great new job" that I would be starting today. He looked very interested and confused, by the end asking, "so what is this job, anyhow?" I told him that the new job is actually my old job, but that I am going to try to change my thinking and practice of it to be more productive, as if I were actually getting supervised and paid. I said, "Hey, you know, even if it's just a fun inspiration for me for a day or two or a week or whatever, anything to make it more fun and to help me get more done and be more organized will be a help." He says, "Lay your money down, folks! Bets on the New Job lasting one day or two are 50/50. Bets on the New Job lasting one week are 1000 to 1. Who wants to place their bets? Place your bets now, folks!"

Well, ha ha ha. THANK YOU SULLEN for your support!

Actually, this child just knows me well. He has seen me dream up a million weird ideas, and lived through me implementing hundreds of great new plans, schedules, healthy eating regimes, exercise plans, and so forth. He knows I'm great at the thinking, but that I'm forever in a state of *tweak.* I would just like to say that I think tweaking is just fine. I would rather be in a state of tweak than with no fresh ideas, or plodding along forever and ever amen in the same rut I started out in. Tweakers are cool, people! Believe it!

So, I have started my new job. I got all dressed (even sprung for wearing a bra), did my hair, and got right at the tasks needing to be done. Right now I am on my computer break. (Some have coffee breaks, but I'm not a coffee drinker, so...) I have already done school with one child and done quite a bit of picking up, cleaning, mending, and so forth. (yes, today I begin the tedious task of trying to hand stitch up all of the multiple stab wounds thay my 2 year old made in the couch cushion a few weeks ago when he got ahold of a knife)

The main differences that I think my new outlook will help me with are:

-balancing the things I love to do with the things I need to do (I can easily fall into doing mostly one or the other, and it ain't pretty!)

-not getting sidetracked dozens of times a day

I have a schedule set up that I am trying out, and will tweak and tweak and tweak some more as needed.

Other than that, from the archives, one year ago today I wrote about how the blogosphere played a starring role in busting CBS and their fake Bush memos. Also included was an article by William Safire on the same subject.

In media news and reviews:
Last night I watched Ice Princess with my kids. A cute movie about a girl who is a physics whiz who applies scientific principles to ice skating. It's a typical kid-with-a-dream/parent-with-a-different-dream story line like in a zillion other movies. It also includes a sweet little romance and plenty of teen angst. It was basically clean and fun to watch and we all enjoyed it, even if it was completely predictable.

I have also started reading Night Ride Home by Barbara Esstman. The cover caught my eye at the library the other day, and the reviews on the back convinced me to take it home. So far it hasn't disappointed. Good thing I have built-in reading times (and limitations) right now..... I will write a full review when I am done.

More tomorrow or later, on the next break!

Monday, September 12, 2005

One Year Ago Yesterday

Here's why you should thank me for having 6 kids
Public service announcement: bad hair cut

Other than that, I don't have much to say. My husband is off on a trip for the next few days to see our niece get married, and I will be functioning as a single mom til Friday. Should be a blast.

Today I have big plans to catch up on all the laundry and to plan out my new schedule for my new job, which as you may have guessed, is actually my current job, with a new attitude. Hopefully it will help, even if just for a few days. I am also going to spend some time working on my son's writing program thanks to Brave Writer and one of her tools that I downloaded today.

Blogger is freaking out and underlining everything for no apparent reason, and I have no idea how to make it stop.

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Job!

Big News! I've got a new job. It's going to be perfect for me. It's full time, plus some overtime. I get to do a wide variety of things that I love to do, things that I'm good at, and all of it is stuff I already know how to do. I have built-in time to pursue my interests and hobbies, because my employer believes that the best employees are the ones who have time to cultivate their own selves. My employer even believes in naps! Can you believe that? (Short ones, though. Not 3 hour ones!)

This job is ideal for me because it also allows me to still be home with my children, and even to keep homeschooling! I get free health insurance, and all the vacation and sick days that I need. (it's just on the honor system)

I get to organize my schedule to suit me and my goals and my family's needs. Pretty much anything I have to do can flex if one of the kids is sick or if I need to do something else.

I start Tuesday! Awesome, eh?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Who Are You?

I had a fun opportunity tonite. Before I tell you, though, I have to give you some background story. (there are no short stories with DollyMama, are there?)

For those of you that have been reading with me awhile, you know how I loved the Iris Krasnow books, and how I've been ruminating about the things I'd like to do someday, and about what I'd like to do and be when I grow up. All of that kind of thing.

Well, recently I was eyeing some stuff around the house, thinking about how I still want to do that word painting and such, and thinking about the windows that I painted in my bathrooms and how much I enjoyed feeling (and being!) artistic on those days.

I've also been thinking about how much I like to think and write. Indeed, I do write, just about every day either here or somewhere. And I have books in my brain to write, and hope that somehow I am going to develop my talents in writing enough to write a book or at least an article that somebody would want to read.

(and, you know, why is it that just as I'm trying to write about trying to write well, I write so poorly?)

I thought about SARK and how she wrote in one of her books (or probably more than one) about how years ago people would ask her what she did and she would say she was a writer. People would ask, "what do you write?" and she would reply "journals" and they would smile as if journals did not count as real writing. Little did they know she would become famous for it!

So, what I'm getting to here is that I realized that I would love to get to the point that when I introduce myself to people I might be able to say, in some semblance of seriousness and truth, that I am an artist and a writer.

And, you know, just admitting that feels kind of daring, embarrassing, and thrilling!

So, I haven't really gotten to delve into my artistic side enough to truly think of myself as an artist, but I have been doing a lot of writing lately. I was at this church event tonite and when it came my turn to introduce myself to the small group I was in I started with,

"I'm DollyMama and I'm the mother of six children"

to which they smiled and looked impressed and one man said, "and that just about says it all because who could have time to do anything besides that?"

which of course he meant in a sweet way, and because he has no idea that I actually do other things.

So I said, "Actually, I do have some time and do some other things to. Do you want to know what?"

and of course they did.

So I said, "I'm also in the process of becoming a Certified Natural Health Professional, and I have a small health and wellness business, and I write."

So, it was a little bit of a cop-out because I didn't actually say I AM A WRITER, but it was close. It was a start. Probably a very accurate start on that little goal of mine.

And it was fun. I write! I'm creative! Heehee.....

I wonder if something magical takes place when you start to claim that you are what you want to be.....

Small Town Day

I just returned from a fun little small town excursion. This weekend is a festival here in Podunkville, USA and so there was a parade. My daughter's Girl Scout Troop was riding in a truck, tossing candy, so we had to drop her off and then hang out, watch the parade, and pick her up afterwards. My husband ended up getting called for OT today, so I was on my own.

As I might have mentioned before, I don't take my kids many places en masse by myself, especially if it requires getting them out of the car. I guess this started when I had too many babies to carry, lug diaper bags for, etc. at once. We used to have a double stroller, but now that the little guys are 5, 4, and 2.5, it seemed we had outgrown our need for it. I don't know how long ago we got rid of the double, but it seems like at least a year. So now we are down to one umbrella stroller for the littlest kiddo.

I spent some time wracking my brain last night, trying to figure out how I was going to herd 4 little boys through sidewalks full of people, through looking at booths of crafts and free balloons, across busy streets, and so forth. I never did come up with a really good plan except to do the best I could and go forth!

I am happy to tell you that, similar to my uneventful, non-tragic grocery shopping trip yesterday (totally lacking in blogworthiness, but great for the parental sanity!), it was really just fine! Really! As in, I am having something of a brain revolution here, thinking that it seems I have gotten over The Worst Of It (the worst being navigating through having 3 babies in 3 years)!

I had the 2 year old in the stroller, the other ones walking. The didn't stay right next to me, but within a few feet, and always stopped or came back when I called to them. It was No. Big. Deal.

So, stick a golden star on my nose, whydon'tcha?

The boys loved the parade (I have actually taken them to parades before, largely alone, but I think I always had the help of older kids and double strollers and baby backpacks). Their favorite part was when the people riding along toss candy out. I have some seriously great candy scavengers, I tell ya.

But what I really want to ask you all is this: Am I the only person who gets emotional at parades? Am I the only one who sees the military personnel marching along and starts to cry? That gets totally choked up when the fire trucks and ambulances go by with their lights and sirens going? I always do that. I never see anybody else doing it though. What do you think? Abnormal? Insane? Unstable? Overly hormonal?

I await your diagnosis.

Oh, and, no archives for today. Don't cry about it, though, for heaven's sake!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Here's a tear-jerker, with a happy ending.
Survivor Story: 6 year old leads 5 toddlers and a baby to safety in New Orleans.
Can you IMAGINE being those parents, counting on the helicopter team to appreciate the chance you have taken enough to remember to COME BACK for you? Oh. My. Gosh. I would have been a wreck.

Hidey-Ho Neighbors!

I'm going to stop telling you all every day that I didn't sleep well. OK? Because, really, it's getting kind of boring, isn't it?

The hubby and I watched an unusual movie last night: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The story takes place in Savannah, Georgia, and now I am truly wondering if people paint their walls hot pink and shocking lavender and go around drunk with loaded guns a lot in that area. Oh, and *is* Savannah deep in "voodoo country" as the movie says? Any readers from Savannah? I am quite curious! Until I hear differently, I don't suppose you'll find *me* anywhere near Savannah! I will add that anyplace with cottonwood trees and fog is, to me, the perfect place for murder and mystery. Don't you agree?

Anyhow, it's sort of a mystery, with some funny stuff, some clever stuff, some sass, and some acting that made me wonder if it was really bad or really brilliant. It kind of walked a line right there that kept me guessing.

Overall I guess I liked it ok. If you like movies that are a little bit different and not your typical story line, this might be one for you.

Personally, I suspect this might be the worst movie review I have ever written.

SO, now that THAT's out of the way....what else?

Big day ahead of me today: grocery shopping, with a twist! The twist is that I will take my 2 and 4 year olds with me, which I am sure to be sorry for. But, it must be done, and I am truly spoiled since I never have to grocery shop with children along. Today's shopping trip will give me a renewed appreciation for my blessings. :)

From the archives, One year Ago Today:
Very Mom caused me pain with her telling of the Great Poop Battle of 2004
I wrote more about the hilarious-but-terrible experience of being bullied into teaching a preschool church class.
and kind of a funny story about an escaped convict running loose in our town.

Thank goodness that I now have archives to guarantee that I have something to write about, even when I don't! Phew!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Another revolution has begun!

Well, dear readers, you've been with me through the Potty War. You've been with me through Operation No More Milk (Aug. 9 and forward). Now we shall embark on a brave new journey: Operation Sleep In Your Own Bed For Cryin' Out Loud!

Yes, the time has come. I have gotten to the point of desperation (which, for me, is exactly what it takes to exact such changes in my life). My sweet 4 year old darling son Doodles is doing very well at going to bed in his own room. The problem has been that he is in the habit of waking up in the night and coming into my bed. I love to snuggle and all of that. It's just that he's getting so big, and I am getting crowded to the point where I cannot sleep comfortably when he does this.

Some of the things that have disuaded me from taking action on this issue before include:
-my husband is not always here at night and I did not want to have to get out of bed and risk having the 4 year old start screaming and crying and wake other people up, thus creating an unpleasant middle-of-the-night scene
-my back hurts at night (which my mother says is because I am dreading being crowded to death) and so I don't feel like getting up (or turning over, or doing anything at all....)

However, when the chimes of desperation start to ring in my head, I feel the strength building up inside me. I decided yesterday that we had seen the last of dear Doodles crowding me out of my rest. And when he came into my bed last night I promptly jump up to nicely escort him back to his own room. Happily, hubby was home and ended up doing it for me. So, hey--one night down!

Doodles didn't even cry or make a peep, so I can be hopeful that this is going to be an easier process than I created it into in my imagination.

Another new adventure that I am being forced into via desperation is helping my 13 year old to learn to write well. I had planned to enroll him in an online writing course but got thwarted when our money supply did not equal being able to pay for the class. (I LOVE it when that happens!) So now, after not having to worry about this subject since he started school in July, I am thrown into having to come up with a way to teach the kid to write--on the cheap! I went back to Brave Writer and have decided this is probably going to be the best solution to my needs. Julie at BW is a homeschooling mother and a writer who sees her mission as helping homeschool parents learn how to teach writing. Like me, I guess lots of other homeschool parents think they know how to write well enough, but have little or no confidence that they can teach their children the same. There are a lot of free resources at the site, and then she has subscription e-newsletters with language arts activities for each month. (only $6 each or less if you sub for a year) So, onward and upward! I shall be a Brave Writer, even if I don't feel like it. :) Yesterday my son actually wrote a 422-word essay about who he is and what he cares about. It was a good start!

From the archives, one year ago today I discovered the Blogging for Books Contests and submitted my entry, which is the story of my high-risk pregnancy, birth, and NICU experience with our 4th child. It's complete with some NICU photos, in case you want to check it out. I also have another rough night with my breathing-challenged baby (seems my rough nights are not a new phenomenon). I also wrote a commentary/rant/educational post about diet and how ridiculous it was for the government to try to pretend like sugar isn't involved in making people fat. Go. Read. Be enlightened. (snicker)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Usually I'm complaining because I can't *get* to sleep. Today I'm aggravated because I couldn't *stay* asleep. 4-freakin-a-m, people! UGH.

So, anyhoo, from the archives:
One Year Ago Today we reached 100 hits,
and I wrote a follow up to my No More Mrs. Nice Mom post, commenting on an article called The Power of No.

On the agenda today:
Finish reading a book for my book group that meets today (only 100 pages to go...)
Take some more baby steps for my business (I am trying to do at least one thing per day)
Figure out how I'm going to help myself get a normal sleep routine back in place

That's the news til now, peeps. You all just keep on sleeping peacefully. DollyMama is on night watch.....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dream Analysis, anyone?

I had this pathetic dream yesterday, and since we all LOVE to hear about other people's dreams, I knew I had to share.

In the dream (start wavy dream sequence screen) I was, for some reason, shopping at a nice health food store. I was going through the store with my cart (empty) and saw Spunky and her kids shopping. So, I went over and introduced myself. Spunky looked at me with a fairly terrible look, as if to say, "Dolly Mama is even worse in person than I imagined she might be!" She said a polite but short hello, and then gave all her kids The Eye (as if to say, "Hurry, but don't let on that we want to get away from this person very, very fast"), and they all scurried to pay for their stuff and get out of the store.

After feeling like I had totally alienated Spunky and co., I was walking through the produce section. I picked up some grapes, and realizing I was hungry, started eating them. I meandered through the store, picking up a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The store I was at is one I only get to a couple times a year, so I tend to stock up on the things that I can only get there. As I got toward the middle of the store, I had eaten the entire bunch of grapes, and then realized to my horror that they had not been priced before I ate them! They were supposed to be weighed in order to know the price. (I guess I had been thinking it was like a box of cookies that you can just open and eat some from and then pay for at checkout just the same) So I started panicking, wondering how I could fix this problem. I hurried back over to the grapes, counted the empty stems from the bunch I had eaten, and was trying to remember if the grapes I ate were bigger, smaller, or comparable to the ones I was looking at, so that I could come up with a comparable bunch to have them weigh so I would know how much to pay.

Then I got distracted by some need out at my car. I guess my kids were with me or something. So I walked out to the car, taking my cart full of unpaid for groceries with me! Once I got the situation at the car under control, I realized that I had taken the groceries out without paying, so I was horrified that I had somehow screwed up AGAIN, and hurried back into the store. Once inside, I had the additional horrible realization that I did not have enough money to pay for all these groceries! I guess I had forgotten that I had only stopped by the store to get one specific thing, not to stock up for months of natural foodery.

So then I started the slow, embarrassing process of going back through the aisles, putting the groceries back on the shelves. At some point I noticed that the store staff had noticed I was behaving strangely (what with all that grape-stem counting, scaring off Spunky and co., and coming back into the store with a cartload of food...). A man from the store came up to me to say, "Can I help you ma'am?" but not in a how-can-I-be-of-help-to-you? sort of way, but in a are-you-mentally-unstable? sort of way. So, I just smiled a crazy, insecure smile and said, "Oh, no. I'm fine! I just changed my mind about a few things!" and proceeded to return every single thing from my cart back to it's rightful spot on the shelves, except for the grapes that I selected to stand in for the ones I ate. I paid for those and left.
You know, I love to discuss ideas, and I love to challenge thinking that I find to be inconsistent, not well thought-out, or just interesting and I want to know more about it, but I'm also a real softie and I don't actually enjoy tension and always worry in a debate situation that I have somehow come across as a shrew and offended the other person. I now keep copies of almost everything I write that is even mildly controversial, because I worry so much afterwards about what I said. So, I guess that explains the Spunky part of the dream.

The other, well, it's a combination of money stress and feeling like it's hard to get a handle on doing all my stuff well......

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

Yes, yes, it's true. Dolly Mama Strikes Again! is one year old. I actually missed it. My blog was born on Sept. 3, 2004. I hope to start adding "One Year Ago Today" links for those of you who just can't get enough of what I'm saying right now. Plus, I have plenty of brilliant musings in the archives that should not be forgotten!

For now, some blasts from the past, from Sept. 3-6:
An explanation of the name of this blog
Some general stuff about me (sort of like a 100 things, except I didn't go to 100, thankfully!)
My reading group idea, which never really took off, possibly because I only had about 15 readers at that point. Possibly something to try to resurrect?
My AOL story (they STINK!!)
Some good stuff about the importance of what mothers can bring to a family.
"School sucks"
Book review: The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue (which I LOVED)
The horrible beginning of being drafted to teach 3 and 4 year olds at church (which I truly stink at) A terrible experience, but great blog fodder!
No More Mrs. Nice Mom
and finally, from one year ago today, when I was tickled pink to have 74 hits!

Phew! The list here was just the posts that were somewhat entertaining enough to warrant a mention. I *really* needed an outlet, eh?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Movie review: Million Dollar Baby

My sister recommended Million Dollar Baby to me a few months ago, and last night my husband and I finally got around to watching it. It's not a feel good movie, folks. In fact, my husband said it was the saddest, most depressing movie he has ever seen. (Thelma and Louise used to hold this spot for him.)

Clint Eastwood plays an aging boxing coach, and Hilary Swank a 30-something female boxer from a poor, welfare-dependent family. Technically, the film has some artful use of light, and Morgan Freeman is a great choice both as supporting actor and narrator. I will admit that I am puzzled by the title and don't feel it's a good fit for the film.

The story combines family issues, regrets, hard work, achieving one's dreams, spiritual questions, and, in the end, the issue the film grapples with is euthanasia. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that it handled the issue in a realistic way. (spoiler coming up, so consider yourself forewarned) The movie One True Thing (which is based on the book by Anna Quindlen of the same title) did a better job in addressing it.

In the story, the Hilary Swank character is injured terribly in a boxing match and becomes paralyzed from the neck down, and is dependent on a ventilator to breathe. She ends up asking Eastwood to help her die, because she doesn't want to continue to live with her situation. Suicide isn't an option for her since she can't move, although when he turns her down she does attempt suicide the only way she possibly could: by biting her tongue til it severs. Her life is saved after the tremendous blood loss of this suicide attempt, but once Eastwood sees how badly she wants to die, he reconsiders his original refusal to help her. Eventually he decides that helping her to die is the kindest thing he can do for her, and so he does.

The thing that doesn't add up about the euthanasia issue in this movie is that the Swank character never requests to be taken off of life support. Wouldn't this have been the simple answer? My husband thought that maybe people aren't allowed to make a decision like that, but I am thinking that there is no way a patient cannot refuse any treatment. Anybody know the answer to this?

I think euthanasia is an interesting moral issue, possibly because I am not sure I think there is a completely easy answer to it. I know that the only acceptable Christian answer to euthanasia is that it is never ok, that it is sin. However, this seems too simple an answer to me when we look at real life situations. At this site there is a lot of information on the subject, and one of the interesting things I noticed was that although they are against mercy killing, they seem to be ok with suicide. So, if it is ok, although tragic, for someone to decide to kill themself, what option do they have if they are physically unable to carry out the act?

I do understand the slippery slope issue involved, and so perhaps that is enough to make a lot of people say No Way to euthanasia for any reason.

One thing I wondered about as an offshoot of this topic was medical technology and life expectancy. Today people can live longer than ever, many times thanks to science and medical technology. My premature son might not have lived if medical technology had not been available. Heck, *I* very well might not have lived without medical technology both for his birth and for the birth of our 6th child as well. Boy am I thankful it was available! But in the case of a person like the Hilary Swank character in Million Dollar Baby, medical technology was being used to keep a person alive who did not want to be. If we are against euthanasia, and perhaps also against suicide, is it also immoral to not avail oneself of medical technology that will save a life? I am curious about the differentiation that some people see here. Please know, I'm not saying I disagree. I am merely thinking about the issue and am undecided about it.

So, how about "do not resuscitate" orders in nursing homes? Apparently the patient or their family has made the decision that if they become in need of medical technology to save their life, that they do not want it. Apparently they do not feel their life is worth keeping on with if they don't have to. Maybe they are looking for a way out....? Is this an immoral thing?

What about living wills? Is it immoral for someone to draw up a legal document that says that under this circumstance or that, they do not want to be kept alive? What about when people do not want to be kept on feeding tubes? Is it really more "moral" to let them die a slow death of dehydration and starvation, rather than a quick and painless death thanks to pharmaceuticals that can only be obtained through a physician?

I guess public schools and taxation weren't big enough issues for me this week.....

Speaking of Taxes

My post about school programs has veered off into the subject of taxes. I was mulling this over and had some random thoughts to put out to you all for discussion:

1. Do you know of any nations that do not charge any sort of taxes?

2. So, if you are against taxes, does that mean that you think all taxes are bad, and that no citizens of our country should have to contribute any amount for the many "perks" we enjoy as Citizens of the USA?

3. Although I would agree that Americans are overtaxed and that there is a lot of financial waste when the government gets to handle our money, overall I guess I tend to think of taxes as a mandatory fee for living in a really nice place. A lot of people pay fees if they move to a gated community, for example. Your fees might be covering things like clubhouse and pool use, a gated safety system, private security personnel, yard services, and so on. When I think of all the things that I have because I live in the USA, it doesn't bother me all that much to contribute to it. Some of the stuff that taxes provide isn't stuff I need, but in many cases I am glad to know it is there in case I *did* ever need it.

Please, no more of the "stealing from one to give to the other" comments, only because it's already been said. I'm just wondering if there are other countries that somehow have a successful system without any taxation, and if any of you feel happy to pay taxes to support a great nation like the US.

Also, are any of you aware of the Fair Tax movement? What do you think about it?

More Katrina Links

Another katrina blog, this one from someone relatively close to the action.

For the few of you who, like me, have no TV, if you want to see some before and after pictures, you can go check it out here. It might seem weird to some, but for me, I have not had TV or ever seen TV footage of the World Trade Center going down, of the Tsunami, of all those hurricanes that rocked Florida last year, or any images of war. I find that without the pictures, it's easy not to care that much. Yes, I can care intellectually, but with the addition of photos, my heart gets a lot more involved. I'm a lot more inclined to remember, to pray, to think about ways to help.

Here is something really interesting, that isn't just a Katrina thing. It's the ALERT Academy. ALERT stands for The Air Land Emergency Resource Team. It's a Christian-based organization that trains and educates young men (as young as 17) in firefighting, rapelling, swift- water rescue, and lots more in order to help people in desperate emergency situations. Groups from ALERT are on their way to the Astrodome in order to serve. What an amazing opportunity for young men who are interested in a future career in military or emergency service work! WOW! They also have training for young ladies in emergency preparedness and service. Here is a recent update from the ALERT site:

A team of four ALERT medics is currently in the city of Lafayette, LA, just west of New Orleans. They are relieving the wearied medical personnel who have been working 24-hour shifts. The team went in conjunction with the East Texas Medical Center. They will be providing triage, handling ambulance runs, and assisting with loading and unloading medical choppers.

The team at the Astrodome in Houston has been working non-stop, around the clock. The men have been enlisted to handle a variety of jobs including crowd control, security, crowd care, logistics, and checking-in the refugees. In addition to these tasks, men have been setting up cots and sleeping quarters, unloading buses, and generally doing what they can to keep things in order amidst the chaos at the Astrodome. ALERT men are also stationed at a complex across the street from the Astrodome that is being used to house and feed the refugees.

The ALERT men leaving tomorrow morning will be working with the Friend Ships ministry from Lake Charles, LA. They will be deployed to Gretna, LA, a southern suburb of New Orleans, which is completely surrounded by water and is not receiving necessary food and water. Water and MRE’s will be distributed immediately, then a field kitchen set for hot and healthy meals to be served.

Back here in Big Sandy, the ALERT campus has been opened up, free of charge, to meet the needs of the hurricane refugees headed to East Texas. Families have already begun taking rooms on the campus. Donations are being taken to help feed and care for these displaced people. Several ministry-minded Friend-of-ALERT families have volunteered to come help with the daily needs here on campus related to care and hospitality for the disaster victims.

The response from our Cadet ranks is very encouraging. Though we are not at liberty to take these young men and their fathers into the heart of the disaster area, there continues to be a myriad of ways they are able to be a part of the ministry to victims.

We are excited to have, for the first time, a response from the ladies that have completed our STEP program. Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness is a program for young ladies ages 15 and older held here on the ALERT Academy camps each summer. A team of older STEP ladies is scheduled to relieve an ALERT team at an evacuation center in Nacogdoches, TX, Saturday morning. ALERT was requested to help set up and establish the center and has completed that commitment, but our STEP team has been asked to help staff the center during the next days.

ALERT funds their work through private donations. See their web site for more information.

Blaming the President? Baloney!

My friend Sooz's hubby sent me this link to a very good blog entry about Katrina. While I'm horrified at how slow the response time was to help katrina victims, I think it's absurd to blame the president. Check it out!

This verse (and chorus, for those of you who remember it) came to me as I was thinking about compassion, and serving breakfast to my children.

Micah 6:8
He has shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

So when you suddenly have 400,000 people who need a new place to live, how does that work? It's not live every state has 2500 low-income housing opportunities just vacant, is it? (I know that not all the people need low income housing, but it seems like a lot of them do)

I am having trouble imagining where all of these people will end up. I guess they will end up scattered all over the country. Yesterday I was thinking that it will be interesting to see how this event shapes our country, historically speaking. So many people from Louisiana's Gulf Coast, now moving to so many other locales...

I thought about churches that are willing to open up their entire buildings for people to stay, and it made me wonder about the people whose lives will be radically changed in a spiritual way because of their displacement. For some, this tragedy will end up being the best thing that ever happened to them.

What an opportunity for ordinary citizens to reach out to people. What an opportunity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bring hope to the hopeless.

I'm thinking about the web sites where you can volunteer to open your home to people who are displaced because of Katrina. On the one hand, I think it's a great idea. On the other hand, I don't know that I have the guts (or appropriate situation) to do it. My husband isn't home every night. I have 6 children to care for. Do I really have any business having strangers come live in my house? If they were ideal, then it would be fine. But, if they aren't (and how would you know in advance?), then what? If I think I have trouble sleeping now, I can only imagine how poorly I would sleep wondering if the boogeyman had moved into my family room!

This is one of those rubber-meets-the-road things that I think about sometimes. The Bible tells Christians to open their homes to strangers, to feed them at their table. I know of some people who live this out radically despite having children. There is a group of Christians in central KY that purposely moved into the inner city simply to put themselves where the needs are greatest, in order to be a compassionate witness for God's love, by living it out daily. (you can check out their blogs here, and here, for starters.) They do open their homes to strangers. They set an extra place at their table and pray for God to send someone to them to eat with them. They look for practical needs and ways to meet them. I admire these people very much and sometimes I wonder if my own family shouldn't consider doing something more radical in order to actually be where the needs are. It's so easy when we have our nice, safe homes and our nice, safe neighborhoods, and our clean, fancy grocery stores, and all of our bills getting paid, and a car to take us where we want to go, health insurance, and so on, to never even come into contact with the hurting and needy in our society. (For the record, I think that there are lots of needs in the suburbs as well, but they aren't usually the kind you can easily spot) We can easily get into the mindset that we would like to avoid these people. And so we do, and our life revolves around comfort and beauty and convenience, and those that are going down the tubes just keep on going, because a lot of Christians don't want to get their hands, or their lives, dirty by getting involved with them.

My husband and I have some very dear friends who gave up their normal, nice life in a small, quaint little town, in order to go to a poor central Asian country to do just this. The husband works at a non-gov't organization working toward educating the people about business practices, helping them start and maintain their own businesses, brings in relief to those that are suffering and to refugees that sometimes cross into that country when war and unrest across their borders drives them away. They are dedicated Christians who live each day as examples of God's love. They are regularly asked for medical help or financial help. They get involved in community work and community life. They have opportunities to share God's love with these people, and they develop relationships with their neighbors. Our friends have a life that is totally given over to loving people that have needs, and of not only helping them in the practical ways, but also sharing with them the hope my friends have in Jesus Christ. It's awesome. And it's a prickling reminder of how little we are doing right here in our own town.

I think that the New Orleans situation is going to be a good example of what people really expect in our country. Some would think that the country expects the government to somehow pop up and meet every need. But I don't think that's what we're seeing. We're seeing that regular people are giving their money, brainstorming on ways to meet needs, volunteering their homes, giving their time, giving up their conveniences, in order to help their fellow citizens. That's good news, methinks.

I received an email yesterday via an egroup I am a member of. The author of the email stated that she is in Houston and has a friend who is an ER doc who had been working at the Astrodome as the buses were arriving, who shared with her that children were arriving from the Superdome wrapped in blankets, or with only a large tshirt on, with feces running down their legs, sick, and hungry. This woman is now trying to set up a children's area within the Astrodome. She is taking donations of items for children (everything from baby equipment, to formula and diapers, to toys and educational items, teddy bears and blankies to give for immediate comfort, and so on). If you are interested in donating via paypal, let me know in comments and leave me your contact info and I can send you her paypal addy. (I'm not going to publish it here and let the spammers bother this woman)

Apparently, the plan is that the Astrodome will be used to house people for MONTHS. wow.

Friday, September 02, 2005

More Katrina

OK, I'm probably the thousandth person to say this in their blog, but, the way this Katrina disaster is being handled is SICK. I am literally feeling sickened to read about these suffering people, put into an inhuman situation, with no help for them yet. This is a completely unacceptable level of response for America. I am shocked.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Stuff

First off, if you haven't yet considered it, now is the time. Lots of charities are collecting money to assist our fellow Americans who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. I'm not going to recommend one, just that you go and take a look and pick one that looks good to you and do what you can. Here is a good spot to find a place to donate through.

Now that the business end of things is done....just a few random thoughts. I am wondering why this emergency wasn't planned for better. I don't have TV so haven't seen any live coverage of the situation, but even from the little reading on the net that I did before, during, and after the hurricane, it seems like there was a lot of warning that the storm was going to be extremely bad, that it was headed straight for a place that is below sea level, that the levees were not expected to hold up, and that economically a lot of the population was not going to have the option to leave.

So....WHY is it that so many thousands of people are sitting in New Orleans starving, dying of thirst and heat stroke, receiving no medication or health care, with criminals running rampant??? How can it be that this could go on? In America! In 2005! I mean, truly it seems like a thing that could not really happen in our country.

One of my husband's firemen stopped by our house today to say that he is being deployed via National Guard to go on down to New Orleans to try to keep the peace. He'll soon be packing an M16 and a 9mm, which I guess might be some sort of dream come true for a young guy with lots of testosterone.

There is an interesting blog written by a couple of reporters who stayed behind to report on katrina from the front lines. It's called Dancing With Katrina. You might want to check it out.

Also, I heard about this blog from the Big Yellow House. This young woman was on her way home from a mission trip when katrina swept away her home and town. Wow.

One other thing: Gun control. I suppose that advocates of not having guns might use the situation in New Orleans to make their point. I would just like to say that if I was stuck there right now, I would be mighty glad to have guns on hand. The criminals will always have theirs. I want the law abiding citizens to have theirs too!