Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm just a puddle of sweat...

The boys and I have spent the morning working in the yard and things are starting to look pretty good. My daisies are so sweet and have spread quite a bit. The peony bushes are gorgeous and I just bought three more to put in on the other side of the yard where we are clearing grass for another bed. I decided that we all needed to come in for a break from the heat.

We've been drinking lots of smoothies. The one that I made for lunch today was awesome:blueberries, strawberries, peaches, yogurt, skim milk, vanilla protein shake powder, ground flax seeds, ground blanched almonds, and cinnamon.

So now that I've cooled off and sipped my smoothy, I'm heading back out to plant some petunias (my only annuals) and do battle with some weeds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Added to the blogroll

I've made several additions to my blogroll lately. Just today I made the exciting discovery that another friend has entered the blogosphere: Pistol Packin' Presbytera.
I have also recently added several others. In no certain order they are Living Like a Lutheran, Homestead Lutheran Academy, and Little Mouse on the Prairie.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Yes, I have yet another blog...

Although this will have absolutely no interest for most of you, I had to post that I have started a genealogy blog. Until I figure out some details it is going to be pretty basic, but I wanted to try out Word Press, so that's where I'm doing this blog. I've reserved the same name on blogger in case I don't like it. :)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blog envy

I have a confession to make, right here in the blogosphere, in front of everybody:
I'm suffering from blog envy. Or perhaps, really, it's more than that. I'm suffering from lifestyle envy. Or, perhaps, it's both.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade my husband and children for anything. I like being me. But I am so tired of living in a typical suburban house on a typical suburban lot with oh-so-typical suburban neighbors. I'm tired of driving to the grocery store and buying lettuce in a bag and grainy orange tomatoes and having to pay a tremendous premium for my chicken that is free-range and hormone-free.

I'm tired of spending so much time and energy worrying about the grass being weed-free and the lawn edged. I'm tired of having to get in my car all of the time to go anywhere.

I read the blogs (starting here) of those with homes in the country and chickens, goats, cows and a pantry full of home-grown, home-canned good things and I long to have that. I wish that I could sew and knit and do all those homey domestic things.

Maybe this is just one of my frequent "bugs" that I get. Maybe I'll wake up next week and be glad I don't have to touch the dirt with my freshly-manicured nails. But today I really want a small farm.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Those sheltered homeschool kids...

I did something rude at Starbucks this morning. I was overhearing the (loud) conversation of two women waiting for their lattes and heard the word "homeschooling " so of course my radar went up. I'm always looking for new friends.

As I listened, the blonde was telling--with great horror--about a neighbor's decision to pull her children out of school. ("And--like-- it's just such a good school, too!") The listener was making all sorts of "uh-huh" and "you're right" kinds of noises. As she stepped forward, away from her friend to grab her drink, the blonde exclaimed very loudly, "And I just--like--worry about them. I just don't know how she thinks they'll ever--like--survive in the world. They just won't know how to do anything on their own!"

That's when it happened. I was trying to hold back my laughter and I snorted. Loudly.
They both looked at me and I smiled at them and said, "I couldn't help but hear your [very loud] conversation. I homeschool my kids and it's always interesting [entertaining] to hear other [clueless] people talk about it."

The blonde said, "Don't you worry that they'll be--like--backward? They won't know anything about the real world." They called her friend's drink and they went walking off before I could say anything, but all I could think about was my homeschooled-through-high school daughter who is currently 14 time zones away, traveling alone, on a trip that she partially paid for with money that she earned, and that we could help out with because she has a scholarship that covers her college tuition.

I thought about my 15 year old son who could fly to Florida and hang out with his grandparents and the other snow birds and be an engaging enough companion that people there want to see him again, and who is very handy at all kinds of indoor and outdoor work.

I thought about my two youngest sons, who, as squirrely as they can be sometimes, know how to dress for and behave at a performance of the Bach Collegium or the Philharmonic. Who know that you should look people in the eye and address them directly when you meet them and that you should hold the door for ladies and people with their hands full. And, like their older brother and sister, they are learning to be useful where they can at home and at church.

Ya know, I think they can handle the real world just fine. I just wish the blonde was--like- reading my blog.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Putting my homeschool mom hat on

I added and updated some content on my website today. I've realized that I've been neglecting it since I started blogging. I did a little more writing on my homeschool page, driven there by a question that I got from a potential homeschooler asking about socialization.

So, if you're interested go check it out.

Bush Lied and other urban legends

One thing that has frustrated me greatly over the last couple of years is the repetition of the "Bush lied" mantra of the left. It reminds me of the demonstrably false playground taunting of a boy in my grade school class, "Chris is a girl! Chris is a girl!" Except in the case of Chris, no one really believed it, no matter how many times it was repeated. Unfortunately, the continual repetition of "Bush lied, " often by those who undeniably know that they speak falsely, has managed to convince not only the far-left loonies, but also many other otherwise reasonable people.

Much of the media has been complicit in this continued rewriting of history, that's why it's always refreshing to see an article like this one in the Wall Street Journal.

I'm not a supporter of many of the things that President Bush has done. I'm far too Libertarian and far too conservative to be pleased by many of his actions. In an ideal world I would prefer an isolationist foreign policy, but being realistic, I know that we are not likely to ever go there. But whether I agree with all of his actions or not, I really makes me angry when I hear the likes of Ted Kennedy calling Bush a liar for stating things that Kennedy himself believed to be true at the time.

It does our society no good to have lies perpetuated by either side. Much of what passes for political speech today sounds far too much like school-yard taunting, and revisionist history puts us in danger now and in the future.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

I love redbuds

Your horoscope for today

I feel very confident that these mad-lib style bits of advice are every bit as good as the "real" thing.

Today's Horoscopes

Aries — Ram (March 21-April 19)
Someone you know may be feeling verbose. Stay out of the way!

Taurus — Bull (April 20-May 20)
Don't buy in public. It could prove embarrassing.

Gemini — Twins (May 21-June 20)
Control the urge to clean. find instead.

Cancer — Crab (June 21-July 22)
climbing too many stars will leave you exhausted!

Leo — Lion (July 23-August 22)
A loved one thinks you are crunchy. Do not be taken in by flattery.

Virgo — Virgin (August 23-September 22)
sing in private when possible. It's difficult to concentrate when people are watching.

Libra— Scales (September 23-October 22)
Avoid mending hats.

Scorpio — Scorpion (October 23-November 21)
Never loan money to tall cats! They are poor credit risks.

Sagittarius — Archer (November 22-December 21)
Today is a good day to hug a skillet.

Capricorn — Goat (December 22-January 19)
You may receive some cars from a secret admirer! Water them every day, and they will last a long time.

Aquarius — Water Bearer (January 20-February 18)
Unless you organize your flowers better, you won't get anything done.

Pisces — Fish (February 19-March 20)
A good friend will give you $111 to buy new shoes. Be sure to thank your friend.

To do your own mad lib-type story go here.

HT: crouching mommy, hidden laundry

Friday, May 19, 2006

This won't mean anything if you aren't a fan...

The Seafood Unwrap is back!

Tonight after our dance lesson--45 minutes of tango and West Coast Swing--my husband and I went to our favorite Friday night spot, Mad Anthony Brewing Co. I had a wonderful, smooth, tasty maibock and Colin had his favorite Irish Stout.

The big excitement of the night for me was the new menu, which brought back a couple of old favorites, notably the seafood unwraps, which we have been sure to ask about each and every time that we've eaten there since they got rid of them. So guess what I had for dinner tonight. : )

Rotten Tomatoes for the DaVinci Code

I really hadn't planned to say anything about the DaVinci Code movie. There's enough hype about it, but I can't help but be a wee bit pleased that it is, apparently, not a very good movie. Most of the reviews have been lackluster and Rotten Tomatoes is rating it as pretty rotten.

I read the book for my book discussion group over two years ago and found it to be mildly entertaining as fiction, but badly written and very draggy. I've always loved a good conspiracy theory, but a good conspiracy theory can't just ignore facts that don't go along with it. The DaVinci Code ignores many facts, as more well informed people than I have demonstrated. When I challenged the factual nature of this book in a conversation with an online friend, she opined that due--of course--to my Christian brainwashing I couldn't be expected to understand the "deeper truths" of the novel. An atheist's analysis of the "facts" in the DaVinci code may convince her.

Suffice to say, I won't be seeing the DaVinci Code this weekend. I may see it later when my Netflix queue is getting empty. We will, however, be heading to the movies with the kidsthis weekend to see Over the Hedge, which is getting decent reviews and looks very funny.

HT: Get Religion, The Burr in the Burgh

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pictures from Sydney

Bethany has put up some pictures from her trip to Sydney on a Flickr photostream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Environmentalism isn't just for libs

I suppose I'm an environmentalist, although I prefer the term conservationist. I recycle. I freecycle. I look for products with less packaging. I don't put my two avacados or one lemon in a little plastic bag at the grocery. I represent a company that produces environmentally friendly products and I use them myself. I belong to a natural food co-op. I pay extra for my license plate to support the IDNR. I groan with my daughter when I see yet another patch of trees completely obliterated for another strip mall.

But I'm not the kind of political environmentalist that thinks you should be forced to be like me.
I'm not in favor of government telling some guy that he has to leave the trees on his privately owned land. I'm not going to try to pass laws to make you re- or free- cycle. I'm not even going to try to force you to use cleaning products that don't have nasty things in them, even though the ones I use are better, safer, and less expensive.

I'm also not tree worshipper, although there is one particular big sycamore that I've been known to hug.

I've always seen conservationism as an issue of stewardship.This view is wonderfully articulated in a great post about Christian environmentalism at The Burr in the Burgh. I would like to quote from it, but I won't because I want you to read the whole thing. He also refers to an article from this month's World Magazine by Gene Edward Veith.

Good stuff!

Monday, May 15, 2006

I thought April showers were supposed to bring May flowers.

This is a picture of my two youngest enjoying the April flowers at Foster Park. We have now enjoyed five straight days of May showers, so I decided that I needed a reminder that the sun will shine again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

How old must they be?

I have been reading much lately on various blogs about the age at which children should be allowed to join the rest of the Church in the Lord's Supper. Why do we wait until age 14? Is this Biblical? Or is it just American pietism once more informing our practice? Should we be witholding this Sacrament, with all that it offers, from our children?

Go read Pastor Petersen at Cyberstones.

Each successive child in our family has been confirmed a little younger. If I had any more they'd be younger still. My 10 year old niece is very jealous that her cousin who is a month older than her is confirmed and she won't be for four more years. I overheard a conversation between them where she explained that she knows just as much as him, and she wishes she could be confirmed. So do I.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No more Idol for me

The American Idol season has come to an end at our house.

I cannot bear to watch Elliot and Katherine for one more week now that Chris is gone.
Maybe if Bethany were here to share the agony, I could handle it, but she is on the other side of the world.

Katherine is pretty and talented, but not at all my cup of tea. I actually am not crazy about female voices, for the most part. Elliot has a nice voice, but watching him is like nails on a blackboard. I don't know why, but he just bugs me.

And, as I've said before, I could take watching Taylor in a bar while I shared Lutheran beverages with some friends.

This is a good thing really, I need to be working as much as possible. Now I have one less distraction.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Brahms would be pleased

The Bach Collegium's final performance of the 2005-2006 season was absolutely wonderful. They performed Johannes Brahms' German Requiem (in English). The Collegium, under the excellent direction of Dr. Daniel Reuning, surpassed anything that I have heard from them before, and offered what is now my favorite performance of the Requiem. I only wish I could have a recording. The text of the Requiem is beautiful, but the thing that really made this performance stand out was the use of period instruments and the smaller size of the group. It was goose bump inducing!

If you are in the area and haven't been to a performance, next year's schedule will be on the website shortly. You really need to hear them. There is nothing like live music well-performed.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

To the Other Side of the World

The last couple of days have been full of preparations and shopping because Bethany is leaving Tuesday for Australia for almost a month. Intellectually, I understand that she is going to be gone for 26 days, but I keep wondering at what moment it will hit me that my baby is gone to the other side of the world and won't be back for weeks.

I'm not worried. She has traveled overseas before. She has flown alone to Florida. She is a bit nervous about changing airlines at LAX, but heck, I'd be nervous about that! She will be staying with family. Colin's younger brother and his wife live in Sydney and they have all kinds of fun planned for her.

I suppose it's good practice for me. Her junior year she's planning to study for a semester in Germany. (I plan to visit, of course!) And I guess someday she'll get married and leave home, but I'm hoping she won't go too far away.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Election Day Woes

Primaries were held yesterday in Indiana, and I have served for a few years as an inspector for a precinct. This means that I am in charge of making sure the supplies get there, the machines are properly set up, everyone who is supposed to vote gets to, and that everything is properly finished up. Then I get to take the documentation of the votes cast downtown.

I really enjoy the opportunity to do this, although it can be stressful at the time. It is very satisfying to help people exercise their right to vote.

Yesterday had the usual frustration plus a few additions.
First, there was the fact that we had new machines. From my perspective they were great: easier to take down and set up and simple to close out. And for most voters they were not especially difficult to use, and in time will probably be considered downright easy. However, my three precincts were voting at a senior citizens community and many of the older people had extreme difficulties with the new machines.
Second set of frustrations: We had people handing out candidate info within a few feet of the polling place. Voters were complaing. When I asked them to please move to the required 50' distance one man got very belligerent and said that I was on a power trip. I told him that I was going to go inside and make a phone call to make sure that I understood the law properly. I did.
I went back out to ask them again to move. More verbal abuse from this man and from some teens who were handing out info for a schoolboard candidate. Then he went stomping off threatening to "report me."
So I called the election board again and reported the whole incident. We didn't know who he was campaigning for and he didn't come back. I knew that I was right, so I thought it was over. About three hours later I received a call from a member of the election board. A man claining to be a police officer said that he was handing out literature 85 feet away from the polling place and that we went out and told him to leave. Yeah right. I went out in the rain to harrass some guy doing what he had every legal right to do.

Third set of frustrations (this is always the case): People. They want to be able to vote where they want to vote. Precincts shouldn't change. Sites shouldn't change. They should be able to move and vote in the new precinct even if they didn't change their registration. I was very sympathetic, helped people figure out where they needed to be, called voter registration to find out why they weren't in the book, etc., but I was frustrated by the mentality that *someone else* was responsible for making sure that they knew where to go and were properly registered.

One exception to my frustration with people: The precinct where I worked last election was a fairly low-income area. There are lots of elderly people who can't drive and many other residents without cars. The polling place yesterday was outside that precinct by a fair distance, especially for a walk in the rain. The few people from that precinct who were able to figure out where to go and made it there made sure we knew that they were NOT pleased with the new location. Several of them said that they felt like someone was purposefully making it hard for them to vote. I told them that I was sure that that wasn't the case, but I could understand their frustration.

Overall, though, working at the polls is a good experience. The Allen County Election Board does a good job of instructing us thoroughly. There were procedural improvements that made things go more quickly, and the people downtown were very efficient. We were out of there in less than five minutes. And--in spite of all the pre-election angst--not one person at our three precincts questioned the need for an ID. Several even commented that they were glad. And I had people who remembered me this year who had voted in the last election at that precinct. One man even thanked me for coming back.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Promising Youth

There is an excellent article in this month's Touchstone Magazine that our pastor made sure I noticed. Fortunately it's online, so you can read it, too. (Go read it!) He drew my attention to it because the girl in the article--called Promise by the author--reminded him of some girls we know.

I'm pleased to say that my daughter is one of these girls. As I read the article I was amazed by the parallels between the girl in the story and our Bethany. We didn't start out intentionally raising her to be a "Promise." In fact, little about our parenting was intentional early on! But because I had been blessed by attending a Lutheran school for part of my childhood, we sent her to a Lutheran School. Then when that wasn't working out well we began homeschooling "temporarily" out of desperation and I became a stay-at-home mom. In time she became part of an amazing network of friends that she met via a Lutheran homeschool email list that I'm on and through Higher Things. Through these same connections we know lots of teens who give us reason to be hopeful.

We're trying to raise our sons to be the male counterpart of girls like Promise. Our 15 year old is well on his way. Ten & 13 are works in progress. :)