Monday, November 30, 2009

I Crossed the Finish Line!!

Yay me!! I managed a post a day, every day in the month of November. I had a really great time participating, but I think I will welcome the opportunity to skip posting when I don't have much to say. I think those of you who follow me will probably appreciate that too. :D


Sunday, November 29, 2009

New background

Hope you like the new decor! It took me awhile to find something I liked AND that would work with my format. I wish people would design their center columns just a little bit wider. So, this is the best of what would fit. I like it, but it just doesn't quite make my heart go zing like the last one did. :P

I guess I just need to break down and learn how to do these things for myself. :P

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Word Count & A Forgotten Favorite Photo Friday

Some of you may have noticed that my word count ticker for NaNoWriMo hasn't moved for several weeks. Truthfully, I wish I had done better than I have. However, I'm not feeling sorry for myself in the least. There were several factors that conspired against me. I let them and I'm okay with that. By participating in even a very limited way this year, I have already learned a TON that will prepare me for actually finishing the next time I attempt this. (Which I may very soon. Who cares if it isn't actually in November if I knock out 50,000 words in one month.)

I do want to share one little point of victory. I may not have been writing in a novel everyday this month, but I have made at least a small blog entry every day in November so far. It has been pretty fulfilling and a ton of fun. I just spent a few minutes doing a bit of tallying. Prior to the start of this entry, I have blogged approximately 6497 words between this blog and my private blog. If you add that to what I did on my novel and you'll get about 7225 words.

Not too bad. Definitely more than I've written in any given month for YEARS. It's good practice and I'm grateful for it.

I also realized today that in the hubbub of Black Friday shopping, I neglected to post a favorite photo for Favorite Photo Friday, so here it is now. I can't look at this one without breaking into a fit of giggles.

This one is SO BOB!! It was taken 3/07, just as Bob was approaching his 2nd birthday. Here he is in all his messy faced glory, riding the toy horse that Princess Bug brought home from the circus. Oh, he makes me laugh! This was before our kitchen/front room remodel and you can see the old icky brown cabinets, the big hole in the linoleum, and the horrible dark brown carpet. Nice. Yup, I don't miss those at all. :D

P.S. I'm giving you all fair warning that I'll be fiddling around with my backgrounds for a bit. Last time I did that, I was driving my sister-in-law all sorts of crazy and she had to come back later. :P

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I'm not a crazy, rabid Black Friday shopper. I've never gotten up at 4am to go stand in lines to get that thing that everyone just has to have. I do, however, make my way around to a few stores to get things that I want after the main crush of crazy is over. I'm stoked to say that I managed to knock off a big chunk of my shopping today. :D There are still a few things we need to find, but we've gotten a lot finished.

So, do you get up at the crack of dawn to track down the perfect deal?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Song

Well, I shared my deep and "spiritual" Thanksgiving video a couple of days early. So, I guess I'll share the silly and fun one today.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm grateful to have such good friends in my life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Quotation Has Come To Mind

From The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

"'When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you.'

That lesson has stuck with me my whole life. When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In The Spirit of Thanksgiving

I had planned to post this on Thursday, but I'm feeling a little brain fried tonight and not coming up with a good blog topic for the day. It's always a good think to ponder on what you are grateful for (especially those challenges that don't feel like blessings at the time). Enjoy!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Footprints in the Snow

I had a rather interesting experience today.

Last night we had our second snow storm of the season. This morning there was about three inches of snow on the ground. There was also a set of footprints that led from the sidewalk into our driveway, back to the sidewalk and up the street. When I went to explore a little more closely you could tell that that set of footprints came up the sidewalk, out to the street where RM's car was parked, back onto the sidewalk and into our driveway and out. It even appeared that they made a brief stop at our mailbox. Obviously someone had been out and about checking cars to see if they were locked. Luckily ours were last night (which they are about 98% of the time).

I decided to follow the footprints a bit in both directions. Those same footprints stopped in the driveways of several of my neighbors as well. I decided to report the suspicious behavior to our local sheriff's office. They sent an officer out. When he arrived, I explained the situation. We had not had anything stolen, neither had my neighbors that I knew of, but obviously there had been someone on the prowl. He asked me what I wanted him to do. I explained that I just wanted the suspicious activity documented (we are trying to start a neighborhood watch in our area) and that I wouldn't be surprised if they had reports of cars broken into as the day when on.

Tonight about 9pm I got a call from a detective with the Sheriff's office. Apparently they had arrested a couple of suspects for breaking into cars along several streets in our neighborhood. He had seen our report and was calling to see if we had had anything stolen. They were in the process of trying to return stolen items to their owners.

I'd like to flatter myself and say that my call helped catch these guys. (After all, there was a set of footprints clearly leaving my driveway and heading up the sidewalk. I think the officer was following them as he left.) But whether I did or not, I am very grateful that last night wasn't one of those very rare nights when I forgot to lock our van or left my purse in the car.

Rationally you know things like have to happen fairly often. But, it is rather strange to have distinct evidence that it has happened, like footprints in the snow. You also have to wonder at the stupidity of these guys, going walkabout on a night where they could leave a trail for the cops to follow. :P

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Ok, as promised, here is my review of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, which is a non-fiction book.

From Goodreads:
Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

As I glanced through reviews given to this book by others on Goodreads, I was surprised to see several low ratings. The chief complaint seemed to be that the book itself is poorly written. Huh. I didn't catch that. Maybe because I listened to it on audio book and didn't actually see much of it in print.

I was captivated by the story the book presents. I was fascinated by Greg Mortenson's efforts to help the children in these mountain villages. I learned a lot about the culture of the area and gained a great deal of respect for these people. They truly aren't much different than we are. Most want the same things we do, a chance to improve ourselves and to give our children a better opportunities than we have had. I think Mortenson is on the right track. Ultimately we will only defeat extremism and terrorism through education and love. Once the general population has been given sufficient education and opportunities, I think they will naturally reject extremism.

Whatever the flaws in the structure of the book itself, I found the themes of the book enlightening and inspiring. I highly recommend it. *****

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm Drawing a Blank

Usually when I sit down to blog, I have a distinct topic in mind. Not so at the moment. As I sit here reviewing the events of my day/week, I am undecided about what I should share.

I could tell you about cleaning the bedroom that Sunshine Boy & Bob share. It still isn't done, but it's amazing how much better it is in there. Any discussion of that topic would have to include my complete and total frustration with the overall state of my house and my apparent inability to get my kids to embrace cleaning. I welcome any insights anyone wants to share there.

I could tell you about the library book (my library book) that got knocked off the kitchen table, smashed up against our sliding glass door and left to soak up condensation. The end result is that I had to buy the book for twice the cost of what it would have been to buy it online or from any of the big bookstore chains. It's a very good thing that I really, really, liked the book. It's too bad that now my copy of the book has wrinkly water damaged pages. :P Of course, this discussion wouldn't be complete without a review of the book. I'll try really hard to do that properly tomorrow. In the meantime, the title is Three Cups of Tea. It's awesome.

I could tell you about chasing all over the valley to try to locate the specific toys my kids want for Christmas while they were still on sale for a super price. But, that is just kinda boring. (By the way, if anyone happens to spot a Chihuahua Webkinz for a good price, let me know.)

I think I will tell you that probably the highlight of my day was going to visit a family friend who has some mad chiropractic skills. I haven't been this in alignment months. Of course, I'm already trying to slip back out. :( I'm just praying that this helps get rid of the terrible numbness I've had in my left hand. And that, my dear readers, is an entirely different blog post in and of itself.

I'll stop rambling now and try to think about a better topic (with book review) for tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday

Pictures of our family in our Halloween costumes are typically among my favorites. This year's picture is no exception. :D Our family has had a "theme" to our costumes from the time Princess Bug turned one (her second Halloween) until the present. This year I had to get creative to pull us together into an overall theme because Princess Bug had a definite plan for what she wanted to be. This just might have been the last year I'll get them all to agree to a group costume. *Sniff*

Here we are as "Our Favorite Magicians."

Top row: Me as Madame Mim, Lashes as Alec (Presto the Magician's Rabbit), and Renaissance Man as Merlin. Bottom row: Princess Bug as Elphaba from Wicked, Bob as Presto the Magician, and Sunshine Boy as Harry Potter.

While I have you all here, I want to share a really cool story about Sunshine Boy's scarf. The Wednesday morning before Halloween I was at "Crafty Ladies", which is group of ladies from my ward that get together every other week for a couple of hours to visit and work on whatever craft projects we have going on. I was using the time to work on our Halloween costumes. I mentioned that the costume shops wanted $20 for Harry Potter scarves, so I was going to sew my own from scraps of felt left over from previous years' costumes. My friend, Teri, volunteered to make one for Sunshine Boy instead. She is very fast at knitting and crocheting and told me flat out that she could have a scarf finished before I could. So, after "Crafty Ladies" was finished for the day, we made a run to Wallyworld to pick up some yarn.

Would you believe she crocheted the entire scarf and had it back to us by Friday afternoon? Would you believe she would have had it to me even sooner, but she got sick on Wednesday night? Sunshine Boy was ecstatic about his scarf. It was just the perfect touch to his costume (along with the homemade light up wand that RM made for him) and it made him feel so special to know it had been made just for him. In fact, he's still wearing it around. I don't think I could get him to put it away into the costume bucket even if I wanted to. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Holiday Happy

I just wanted to share with you one of those "little things" that is making me happy right now. Two years ago I stumbled upon this at my local grocery store.

I am an herbal tea fan and it sounded so yummy I had to try it. I was right. It was perfect, probably my second favorite flavor ever. I bought a couple more boxes before the season was over. When they were all gone a few months later, I was sad. I made a mental note to watch for it the next year. Yay me! Something else to look forward to for the holidays.

Last holiday season came and went, but though I kept an eye open for Ginger Snappish, I never saw it anywhere. So sad!!

A couple of week's ago I stopped into the brand new WinCo grocery store in our area to check it out. (I must admit, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But, I digress.) As I'm nearing the check out stand, what do I see? An entire display of Ginger Snappish and it's sister, Eggnogg'n (which alas is a black tea flavor, so I had to pass it by). It was even on sale for a very good price. I promptly put three boxes in my basket. I may even go back and get more. :D

For those of you who are now curious, here is the description of Ginger Snappish from the Bigelow Tea website.

A snappy ginger herbal tea with a subtle hint of lemon! Bigelow's All Natural Ginger Snappish Herbal Tea...take a special moment just for you! This delicious caffeine-free herbal tea is a blend of ginger with a hint of lemon. 20 individually foil wrapped tea bags per box.

And, here is the list of ingredients:

lemongrass, lemon peel, cinnamon, ginger, lemon verbena, rose hips, natural gingersnap, and natural lemon flavor with other natural flavors (soy lecithin), licorice root, citric acid

If we're lucky, my very cool Master Herbalist sister-in-law will chime in and tell us all about the wonderful healthful properties of these various herbs. Then I might be able to tell you why it is that I crave this stuff. :D

Happy holiday find for me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Details & Other Stuff

Ok...I'm back with the details I promised. :D

1. Off and on (for a really long time now) Renaissance Man's right knee will give out without any warning. It just refuses to hold his weight. Once it gives out, it will keep giving out for hours. There have been times when he has actually fallen completely to the ground. It hasn't ever been painful, just really frustrating (and occasionally embarrassing when he falls in public). Well, it has been steadily becoming more frequent. Then, on Sunday, he was in the kitchen helping me clean up a spill on the counter when his knee popped. He was instantly in so much pain he couldn't walk. I helped him to a chair and we immediately iced his knee.

Monday he went to the campus clinic to have his knee looked at. They took x-rays and gave him a brace and crutches. They think it is a torn meniscus. He was told to ice it at night, take 800mg of ibuprofen three times a day and use his crutches until it stops being painful. If he is still in pain in 3 weeks, he's supposed to go back and they'll do an MRI. They are hopeful that it will heal without surgery, because sometimes they can. However, it sounds like surgery is quite common as well.

So, if you are a praying type person and you happen to remember, would you please pray for us that RM's knee will heal without surgery? Thanks!

2. I was reading diligently last night to finish The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt there were some really remarkable insights and some great quotations to be had. It's a quick read and not much of a downer considering you know from the get-go that it was written by a man with terminal cancer. I thought he did a great job celebrating his accomplishments and sharing the lessons learned from them. However, I know one friend who felt like the author was arrogant. :) I guess I can see that, but it didn't bother me. I'd definitely recommend this one. ****

3. I had a friend call me to day to check up on my NaNoWriMo progress. You see, I was the one who got a couple of my friends to sign up. Of course, they are now both significantly ahead of my word count. I haven't even reached the first day's objective yet. Sigh. Truthfully, I wish I cared just a little bit more. My October was so outrageously busy that I still haven't recovered. It's just a bit strange to be in a position that I'd rather clean than write. :P Still, I've been writing at least a little bit every day on my blog for NaBloPoMo and finding that rather fulfilling. I'll be curious to see by the end of November how many words I've written for my blog as opposed to how many I've written for a novel. I'm not giving up on NaNoWriMo, but I'm also not fretting about it.

Other Stuff:

I'm canning again. I know, you thought I was done. Nope. I'm just now getting to the 7 boxes of apples that have been living in my garage ever since they were picked the first weekend in October. I just haven't been able to get to them until now. (See the aforementioned outrageously busy October.) There area few advantages to having my canning delayed this long.

1. My tart Granny Smiths have managed to sweeten a bit over time. I didn't have to put any sugar into the applesauce. It was darn close to what store bought unsweetened applesauce tastes like.

2. No fruit flies. They have all disappeared for the year. Yay!! No need to set fly traps. :)

3. I think my furnace has turned on a whole lot less than my AC would have. :)

I still have way too many boxes to use up, but hey, at least most of them stayed perfectly good until now.

I'm still hoping to find some pumpkins somewhere because I still really, really want to try canning pumpkin this year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Have Just Three Things To Say.

1. Renaissance Man is on crutches.

2. I'm trying to finish a book before book group at 10am tomorrow.

3. I don't want to break my post a day in November streak, so I'm posting this now. But, I will post about both of these topics again, in detail, very soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free New Moon Gift

Some of you may remember that my friend Lori designs and sells some awesome t-shirts on Cafe Press. Some of her specialties are Twilight series inspired. She just sent me an email letting me know about some New Moon Freebies at Cafe Press. Go check it out!

Moody Lizard New Moon Announcement

One of her designs is prominently featured. :D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thinking of You

This post would have been much more appropriate yesterday, but I just didn't manage to make it.

My uncle passed away from cancer two years ago yesterday. He was a really remarkable man and in many ways a second father to me. (My own father passed away when I was fourteen.) He was kind, funny, and loved to laugh. He was a man of great faith and a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He was loved and respected by hundreds. I feel blessed to have had him in my life. I really miss him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If The Shoe Fits...

Just wanted to share a few funny video clips that feel awfully close to home. After all, if you can't laugh at yourself (or your husband)... :D

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Friday Funny and Introducing Favorite Photo Friday

Here's the funny:

Renaissance Man and Bob were driving home from Grandma's house tonight. They were listening to the oldies radio station when America's "Horse With No Name" came on.

Bob:"Daddy, why doesn't the horse have a name?"
RM: "They just didn't ever give the horse a name, I think."
Bob: "I think I know what I would name him."
RM: "Oh really? What's that?"
Bob: "Blank."
RM: "Blank?"
Bob: "Yeah, Blank."
RM: "Like an empty line?"
Bob: "Yeah, Blank."

Favorite Photo Friday:

I am blatantly stealing this from my friend Sarah. I decided it was a really cool feature on her blog and that I want to do it too. So, thanks, Sarah, for the inspiration. I'm going to try to share one of my favorite photos every Friday. Let me know if I forget. :)

In May of 2007 we went to a community event at our local high school. While we were there, we stopped by the school's greenhouse and bought a bunch of plants for a really good price. Sunshine Boy found a flower that he kept bending over to see so that they were directly at eye level with each other. He simply fell in love. The teacher was uncertain exactly what kind of flower it was since it was a freebie and not a variety they had planted that year. However, to this untrained eye it was clearly a daisy. After a couple of conversations with the flower, Sunshine Boy determined that HIS name was Mimi and that he was very happy to come to live in our garden.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thank You Mignonne!!

In case you haven't noticed, I have a new background. :D I asked for links and Mignonne shared one that has me happy dancing. I was having trouble finding a background I was completely happy with at any of the links I had. However, I found several at My Style Backgrounds that I would have happily used. This one made my heart sing when I saw it. :D

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mignonne!

If anyone has any other suggestions, I'll happily collect your links as well!

BTW...I left comments for everyone on my Christmas music post.

I Need A New Background

I love my current background, but since it sports jack-o-lanterns and not merely pumpkins, I've decided I need a new one. I've seen several that I'd like to try after Thanksgiving/Christmas, but nothing Fall/Thanksgiving that I knew at first glance was "the one". So, where do you all find your fun backgrounds? This is the list I've managed to bookmark so far:

Shabby Blogs
hot bliggity blog
Delightful Dots
Scrappin' Blogs
Aqua Poppy Designs
The Cutest Blog on the Block

I'm sure there are others out there that I haven't come across yet. Come on, share your blogging knowledge with this newcomer. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I guess it's that time of year.

There comes a point in every year when the siren pull finally becomes too strong and I finally yield to temptation. Today I went seeking Christmas music. I didn't listen to a whole lot, but I went seeking Christmas music to soothe my ruffled nerves. Not all Christmas music will do this for me, of course. Just like contemporary music, there are certain styles that don't appeal to me. But, there are certain songs that make me happy, calm, etc. I'm going to try to assemble a holiday favorites playlist soon. In the meantime, here's a favorite with a little video. :)

I'm behind in my blog reading again. I'll catch up with you all again soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reflections -- A Pleasant Buzz

As a member of our PTA presidency I was asked to oversee the Reflections contest this year. It has been long overlooked at our school (3 entries last year) and our president wanted to revive the program. My friend Lori helped me and together we pulled it off. This year's theme was "Beauty Is...".

A few weeks ago we held a short assembly to get the kids excited to participate. Yesterday we collected, sorted and had all the entries that had been turned in judged. We had over 30 entries turned in! Today we hung them in the display case for the school to see with award ribbons on them.

We left the school feeling the buzz of a project well done and over (or nearly over). :) Thursday after school we take them down and send the 1st place winners on to council. Then we get to hand back the other entries with participation prizes. The only thing to do after that is have fun shopping for the awards and prizes for the winners. :)

Here are the proud mommy moments of it all...

1) Sunshine Boy took 3rd place in his age group for visual art! I know I'm his mommy, but, I think he should have placed higher. However, I wasn't allowed to judge. ;)

If you can't tell, that is the Earth and Moon. :) (The first place winner's drawing was of butterflies and flowers. I guess the judges found them more beautiful. ;) )

2)Princess Bug took 1st place in her age group for photography!! Her submission will go on to compete at council with a chance to move on to State. These were the two photos she turned in. We enlarged them to 5x7 and mounted them portrait style (in the order seen here) on a 11x14 sheet of black foam core. Printed, the pinks were equally intense.

Pretty good for a, at the time, nine year old don't you think? Her grandpa sold Princess Bug a really good, older model digital camera for a SCREAMING deal just before we went on vacation this year. What the camera lacks in mega pixels it more than makes up for with its Zeiss lens. (Those of you who know photography will get the lens thing.) Then he gave her a quick lesson on how to use it. These photos came out of that very first photo shoot. Can you believe it? :)

Between having the project pretty much over and having my kids do so well, I'm feeling a pretty good buzz about Reflections.

(Too bad I didn't get that buzz after Super Saturday make up night tonight. But, that's a different blog post entirely. :P)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ever have one of those days...

that just runs you ragged and wears you out? One that for its much busyness leaves you feeling like you've gotten not a lot done? Today was one of those days for me. I'm really looking forward to going to sleep, if only the 20 month old would first. :P

Here's a couple more Sesame Street Google pictures. I'm sure they are about done, and then I will be too. :D

One of the most fun about this has been sharing the fun video clips with my kids. It's just fun and funny to listen to my kids wandering around the house la-la-ing slightly off key Carmen or offering to sell me an O.

Edited to add: You know what's even funnier? Falling asleep at the keyboard and somehow managing to click the publish post as you drop off. Blogging in my sleep. I impress even myself. :P

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

I'm just now getting around to uploading my October pictures from the camera to my computer. I haven't had a chance to properly sort through them all, but I thought I'd share a few really quickly.

We went to the pumpkin patch the Thursday before Halloween. It's honestly the first time I'd had an opportunity to even think about going. We had fun, even though it was quite cold and we were in a rush to make another appointment. I got some really cute individual pictures, but the attempts at a group shot were comical to say the least. :D

A little too much personality.

Is anyone looking at the camera?

Maybe portrait instead of landscape will help. No? OK. We're done.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All Together Again

Last night PrincessBug had a sleep over at her cousin's house to celebrate her cousin's birthday. I dropped her off about 3pm and we didn't get her back until about 5:30pm today. It's amazing how much you can miss someone, even in a short amount of time. Her brothers all missed her and were eager to have her to boss them around again. I kept looking around for one more. It was also unusually quiet around our house. Hmmm...

Any way, we are all together again and very glad to be so.

While I'm here, I'll share a couple more Sesame Street Google pictures. They are just so cute. I promise, I'm not nearly as Sesame Street obsessed as I appear to be. :D

Friday, November 6, 2009

Guess What I'm Doing?

Remember the great vinyl cutting disaster of Super Saturday 2009? Well, I have excellent news. I am at Renaissance Man's place of employment, where they replaced the expensive cutting blade on the vinyl machine. We are cutting the last of the vinyl now. Super Saturday make up night will be Tuesday and then I AM A FREE WOMAN!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Slow Progress

Well, I'm doing pretty well on my quest to make a blog post each day in the month of November. But, so far I'm not doing nearly as well on my NaNoWriMo script. *Sigh* It's probably too much time spent blogging. ;)

I made a ticker to track my progress until the official NaNoWriMo widgets are working. :P

See, now you can all keep track with me and give me grief for spending too much time blogging. :D

Hey look! Another new Sesame Street birthday notice at Google! It's so cute I had to share it too (and maybe one more sketch for good measure).

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!!

It was a very happy thing to pop a Google window and discover this:

Yay for Sesame Street's 40th Birthday!

In celebration, I though I'd link you up to a few (who am I kidding, way too many) of my favorite Sesame Street sketches. Here they are in no particular order. Enjoy!!

Now I really need to go do something useful!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Skewed Perceptions

I guess I should preface this post with a warning that it might be a little soap boxy. I'm not really fishing for compliments or criticism. I'm just trying to wrap my head around something.

A little background. It should be no surprise to anyone that the finances of a family in grad school would be tight, especially when the grad student is the only one earning an income to support a family of six. However, as last Christmas rolled around, I was feeling particularly blessed. As a result, I made sure our family picked out some Angels from the Salvation Army/Toy for Tots Angel Tree. By the time we were able to go shopping, the childrens' angels were pretty much done, but there were a few crucial items missing from some previously returned angels, so we filled in the gaps. We also helped with a couple of Golden Angels for senior citizens. I felt it was very important to teach my kids to look outside themselves to help others in need.

Well, a couple of weeks ago our school sent home notes letting everyone know where and how to apply for help for Christmas from the Angel Tree program. Can you imagine my shock when I discovered that the income we have made for the last several years (supplemented by student loans) would qualify a family of three for assistance from the Angel Tree? I was also shocked to see just how much a family of six can earn and still qualify for the program (somewhere in the ballpark of 14K more a year than we currently make).

I find myself feeling as if something is just really skewed in either my perceptions or the perceptions of our society, or maybe both. Just who are these families that can't provide Christmas for their kids making that large an income? We made that much once, before the dotcom crash and before RM returned to school. That is the place in life where we finally started being able to put money in savings and pay off our debts. We felt as if we had plenty and to spare.

Somehow it has never crossed my mind that my family is "impoverished". I've always cringed filling out free/reduced lunch forms or CHIP applications just waiting to be told I've crossed some magic line and my kids won't qualify for help. Is there something wrong with me that making what we do it would never cross my mind to apply for help with Christmas? I simply feel too blessed and too surrounded by generous family to ever think we needed help that way. Let the funds go to help others who need it more than we do. We have all that we need and many things that we want. We are doing okay.

I guess now I'm feeling a bit jaded. Did I buy things for children whose parents make a third again more than we do last year? How many of these needy children are really needy? I'm going to have a hard time feeling good about contributing to that program this year, which will really stink for families that truly need it.

I'm also kind of feeling that ignorance was bliss. I think I preferred not knowing just how we look on paper to those who decide just where the poverty line is. Now I know why I've had people look at me strangely when I don't apply to various assistance programs beyond the few we already have. It's uncomfortable to think that "they" assume we aren't able to provide for our kids' needs.

So, I guess I'll keep plugging along, doing my best to feel blessed and highly favored and NOT resentful of others in need. All hail taking pride in your poverty. (Ain't it great how the adversary twists things all around on you. :P)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Something I Forgot to Add to the List

I forgot to add something else to today's random list.

4. My friend Lori is having a sale on the cool t-shirts she designs. You can check it out here.

A Few Randomish Things

I have a few randomish things to share today.

1. My dear friend Carin is having a four year blogoversary very soon. She's having a giveaway of some cool quiltish things to celebrate. Go check it out!

2. As I was getting caught up on my blog reading, I came across this post by Kara, an acquaintance of mine whom I'm really enjoying getting to know better through her blog. I've always known that it was important to read to your kids, but I'm recommitting myself to read more often after reading this fantastic paper. I just wanted to share.

3. Many of you know how much I love art history. I love learning about the artists, the historical setting of the paintings and the time period the were painted in, as well as technique. Well, I also like to laugh. I was recently reintroduced to Sister Randy. The Sister Randy sketches take an irreverent look at art history that just breaks me out in giggles. So, if you know art well enough to recognize the famous paintings Sister Randy so grossly misinterprets, you will probably get a kick out of these. Just be warned that Sister Randy is, well, often randy, irreverent, and once in awhile swears to make a sailor blush. The easiest way to view these is probably on the Sister Randy station on YouTube. There are also more videos at, but I was having trouble getting those to play for some reason. I've seen most of the skits from the Art History 101 & Art History 102 series, but I can't vouch for the other series. Some of my favorite (and among the cleanest) sketches are Paper, Rock, Scissors, Pull My Finger, and West Side Story.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's November 1st

Wow. How did that happen? This is a day I've been looking forward to...and now that it is here I feel unprepared.

I guess I'd better back up a bit and explain.

Some of you may remember this post where I told you about signing up to participate in a writer's workshop. I never properly recorded my experiences there on my blog (which I intend to remedy). One of the things I learned about was National Novel Writing Month, which just happens to be November. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. The goal is not to write a publishable novel (though if you happen to do it--great!), the goal is to develop the habit of writing. I've been so excited to try it this year!

Now it's here. And, my life just isn't where I thought it would be. I still have Super Saturday silliness hanging over my head. My house is even more trashed than usual because I haven't been home for the last three weeks. And, we're out of milk.

But...I'm going to do it anyway.

I don't know how I'll squish it in with all the backed up laundry, dishes, clutter, uncompleted canning (fermenting apples in the garage, anyone?), and extra-curricular activities (the PTA's got me in charge of Reflections), but I'm going to go for it.

I know of two friends who were also planning to participate, so with any luck we'll all cross this finish line together. And, if things go terribly awry, I can always play along with National Blog Posting Month. (Who knew that November was made for writers. ;) )


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