Monday, August 31, 2009

We Can Drive for Miles and Miles...

...and miles and miles and mi-iles. Oh ye-ah.

But now we're home. At the official count, according to the official familial mileage tabulator, we did 4800 miles.

We stayed the first night in Billings, MT, with Ron and Val F. Very gracious hosts. Lovely people. This was a somewhat unusual thing for me, because I had never met the F. family. According to the way I was raised, one ought never to impose upon the kindness of those one barely knows. But my husband was raised in a more gregarious manner and he was totally comfortable with it. I told him that he'd have to baby me along. His mom said something to the effect that our lives are richer for taking these risks with regard to the proffered kindnesses of others. And boy was she right! I feel very privileged to have met Ron and Val and we very much enjoyed our stay.

We left Billings the following morning and drove to Ontario, OR. That was kind of a long haul. We planned to stay the next two nights in a hotel, so it was not so important to arrive at a polite hour. I think we pulled into town at about 10:30. (The time changes work in our favor when traveling West.) We stayed two nights in Ontario, and visited with my Aunt Beth for one full day and had breakfast with her before leaving town the second morning. Aunt Beth is a very spry 80 year old lady. In fact spry is not even the right word. Spry implies something different. But Aunt Beth has been blessed with good health and healthy joints and a sharp mind. I always worry about visiting older relatives with my entire crew, but it seemed to be no problem at all for Aunt Beth.

Beth's great grandson, Craig, is expecting his first child and he stopped by with his hopefully soon-to-be wife while I was there. This was fun, because his mom, Teri, was a playmate of mine whenever we were together as kids. I had never met Craig and have not seen his mom, Teri, during adulthood but for a brief "Hello-Goodbye," over 13 years ago.

Another of Aunt Beth's grandsons, Franklin, lives with his grandma, so I got to see him, too. Frankie is another cousin I remember playing with during childhood visits. He graciously romped with my kids during our breakfast visit on our final day there. We reminisced over many fond memories and had fun catching up.

Oops it's getting late. More later.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maybe Some Day

I'll learn how to put those little video window things right in my blog post. It that what embedded means? On second thought. Maybe you'll just have to content yourselves with links. I feel very savvy I know how to do that.

On another Note

This video clip did not entertain me. I think it's somewhat sick the way the announcer is so philosophical about the late Sen Kennedy's sense of humor.

For Any Stephanie Plum Fans

This Good Morning America story of the Lipstick Bail Bonds cracks me up. I love the whole notion and I love that these ladies have the emotional wherewithal to pursue their choice of career. I"m not sure I'd be bold enough.

I especially like all the "Lipstick Gear" the Golt sisters market on the Lipstick Bailbonds website.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Check out this book review at TCS Daily. The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature. I might have to request that one from the library. Call me bigoted, but I would not generally look to an NPR science reporter to provide this insight. I will just have to read the book and perhaps revamp my narrow minded stereotypes.

Name Change

Alleged Alien, Unprivileged Enemy Belligerents: This is the new phrase we are supposed to use when referring to those people formerly known as Enemy Combatants.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Groovin' on Barry

Goldwater, that is.

I just finished The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, written in 1960. Awesome. Excellent. I can't say enough. OK, I really have mentally formulated several blog posts while reading it, but, alas, I'm leaving on vacation on Wednesday morning and the book has to go back to the library. So the blog posts will not get written at this time. Read it yourself, if you just can't wait.

But, never fear, I fully intend to write more about this. I will either have to re-request it upon my return home, request our local used book store to let me know if it happens in, or, horrors, put out the $13 to buy it new. (Really, I'm not too cheap to do that, I just like the challenge of digging up a used treasure. I like the inscriptions one sometimes finds. And, lest anyone accuse me of harming the environment with my outrageously large family, I try to make as many of these ecologically sound choices as I can.)

I might opt for this edition used for a mere $59; or really splurge on a collectible copy for $125. That one is just like the one I had to request from the University of Minnesota Library. I can't believe that this treasure could not be found in any of the libraries in our local system. (Not so subtle hint, Laura?)

Really, though, I encourage everyone to read this. It is a short, quick read. And although the primary threat to national security in those days was communism and the Cold War, many of the points Goldwater makes are equally applicable to both the ongoing War on Terror and the encroaching soft tyranny that is becoming exceedingly more apparent here on the home front.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson

These terms are not one and the same.

According to
1. subordinate; subsidiary.
2. auxiliary; assisting.

And according to

Axillary: Pertaining to the cavity beneath the junction of the arm and the body, better known as the armpit.

The word "axilla" was borrowed directly from the Latin. To the Romans, as to us, the axilla was just the armpit.

A perfumer might have an ancillary scent. Hopefully not an axillary one.

Further, the axillary artery is definitely not ancillary.

I'm glad I cleared that up.

Friday, August 7, 2009


For those of you who noticed the above new gadget, what can I say? I love these tickers! I have one for exercise minutes and one for weight loss and now one that moves itself daily to count down the days until our anniversary.

I wish I could have one for all my goals, but then I would spend so much time moving my little guy that, well, then I guess I probably wouldn't get to move them at all.

I get to move my exercise one several times a week. My goal was 1200 minutes before our upcoming vacation. I'm at 1115, so I just might make it. I am quite sure that I would not have been as faithful with my exercise if I didn't have my little frog to move through the mushroom patch.

Unfortunately, the sunshine that is supposed to be passing the ripening fruit for my weight loss does not move much at all, so I have to pacify myself with only occasional solar motion.

Have I said that I love tickers?

I use Ticker Factory for my exercise and weight loss and Lily Pie for the anniversary. Ticker Factory has more options to choose from; Lily Pie has mostly child and family landmark days toward which it counts automatically. Perhaps Ticker factory does, too, but I haven't taken the time to look. I am sure there are many other ticker sources out there, but these are the two I've seen.

Happy Ticking, and I hope you get to move your guy often.

Old News

I know, this is old news, but I just came across this quote and thought it good.

With regard to the Franken/Coleman debacle of the last several months, more specifically with regard to the 25 Minnesota precincts whose vote totals were higher than the actual number of voters, Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times had this tongue in cheek retort.
If everyone has a duty to vote, who could scold a voter for going above and beyond the call of duty?
Reminds me of the old voter fraud joke, "Vote Early, Vote Often."

It's a shame voter fraud is a joking matter, but I guess it keeps us from crying.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Trouble Commenting on Some Blogs

I just figured something out. Really, Joe figured it out. He came in when I was on the cusp of the solution, though.

First the problem: There are some people upon whose blogs I am unable to leave comments. Those are the blogs that use the drop-down menu when a commenter tries to identify him 0r herself. So, if anyone has had readers say they cannot leave messages, and if you have this kind of comment form, read on.

I don't know why this happens. Apparently there is a way for such a blogger to re-build his or her layout. This is the cusp upon which I was when my husband came in and rescued me. I was at a loss to even understand any of the helpful things the folks at the blogger help forum were saying. I have the impression the problem has something to do with the firefox browser maybe? And I really didn't understand any of the directions for re-building my layout.

But alas, for anybloggers who, like me, are technologically stunted, there is a very, very easy thing to change on your blog that will enable all readers to leave messages. I am going to use the tech-illiterate directions, so if you are a savvy user, you won't want to bother with this. Just find your own answer.
  1. Go to your dashboard.
  2. Click on the settings tab.
  3. Click on the comments tab.
  4. Scroll down to the "Comment Form Placement" section. Mostly likely the "embedded below post" button is highlighted. Click either of the other two. The "full page" button will give your readers buttons on the comment form, from which to choose their identities. The "pop-up window" button will give your readers a pop-up window comment form, again with the buttons to identify themself.
  5. Don't forget to save at the very bottom of the page.
You're all set. Now you can all find out what I think of your blog. Aren't you excited?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Thought

From the Foreword to The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, 1960.
The Challenge is not to find new or different truths, but to learn how to apply the established truths to the problems of a contemporary world.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Reproductive Manifesto

I often have people ask me why I have so many kids. Or, "Are you done now?" Or, "How did you decide?" These are the nice questions. As anyone who has a large family can attest, there are always plenty of snide or aghast questions. And again, those that are supposed to be funny and original, but really ought to be allowed to die a peaceful death after their overworked lifespan.

(For a humorous response to those worn out questions see this musical anthology "quiverof7" put together.)

While these questions are certainly not original and sometimes tiresome, they are usually not ill intended. They are, however, indicative of the pervasive attitude within today's society for one to view oneself as the ultimate director of one's life. God works miracles all the time. He works out challenges that we sometimes think we can't get through. And He is ultimately in full control of our destiny. (That word, destiny, always sound like a bad seventies song. But hopefully you know how I intend it.)

I can immediately think of a quite large handful of people I know of who ended up with a different family than they planned. There are those who conceived a child while "on the pill," or after having a vasectomy or tubal ligation; children who were adopted after a couple was sure they were done; or any multitude of other family situations in which family size changes unexpectedly.

I know of women who are convinced they cannot bear children and men who have been told they'll never father a child, and yet they do. There are women for whom medical wisdom predicts or even seems to guarantee a difficult pregnancy, and they end up with a wonderful pregnancy. While some of these things are more miraculous than others, they are all unplanned and unexpected situations that God works into the lives of His people.

My point is that we just don't know. We can't say what will happen to us. Two Bible passages on this subject come to mind. Each is a favorite of mine. And both are excellent reminders that God in control and that our human wisdom is fallible.

James 4:13-15 so aptly points out both how little control we have in this life and also exhorts us toward the "God willing" attitude with which we must always seek to live our lives.
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
Malachi 3:10 is God's response to His people when they withhold offerings from him.
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
With that introduction to my views on family planning, I also offer this "statement insurance." I in no way cast judgment on another couple's decisions for their family size. With the exception of a few particular methods of birth control against which I feel no qualms about speaking, I will leave that decision to each couple to make prayerfully. I do, however, think the decision to plan pregnancies or lack thereof, is often made too lightly; and very often with the idea that we indeed control the outcome of such decisions.

My purpose is threefold. First, having seen the blessings God has heaped on me through my large family, I'd like to encourage others to give it a try. Test the Lord and see if He won't open the floodgates of heaven to you.

Second, I'd like to encourage any who are overwhelmed with what God has asked them to do in the area of family size. God will never give you more than you can handle (I Corinthians 10:13); He will never leave you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5); and His plans are to bless you not to hurt you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Thirdly, because often, in general conversation, I get the impression that others carry false ideas of why I have a large family. Some people think I'm some sort of super holy person, to accomplish this great thing. Others assume I'm self-righteous and legalistic about large families. There are some who see big families as a homeschool family corollary. And still others think its a plot to populate the world with descendants holding to my own "narrow world view."

In simplest terms, we refrain from planning our family, because it is a comfortable place for us. Does comfortable mean easy? Certainly not. It is comfortable in the sense that we don't have to worry about anything. It's easy in that way. We don't have to wonder if the kids are far enough apart, or too far apart. Or if we have enough. Or if a certain child would be better off with or without a sibling. Or if we're rejecting some little person God has in mind for us.

This is going to be hard to explain, but please stick with me. God not only knows what will happen, but also what might have been. Put that together with the passages that tell us that God sometimes gives people their own way, even though He might have better plans for them. This leads to the idea that God may have things in mind for us, and periodically not grant them to us, in order to allow us to pursue our own preferences, in contrast to the better thing He might choose for us.

Now we continue to those passages that remind us of our human weaknesses, especially those that point out our intellectual weaknesses. So how on earth could I possibly make the best decision in this. My reproductive capacity is just too big a thing to leave to my human whims and temptations and philosophies. What color to paint the house or what car to buy or what to have for supper? Yeah, that I can handle (although the supper thing is sometimes tough). But I just don't feel adequate to make the decision of how many kids to have.

There are many Christian couples who prayerfully decide to "try not to have children." They will often say something like this, "Well, if God wants me to have a child, He can overcome this deterrent I'm using and give me a child anyway." Absolutely true. But that truth can be turned on its head just as easily. "If God thinks this is not a good time to have a child, He can and will prevent me from having one."

So no, I did not set out to have ten kids. There is not some magic number or gender combination after the attainment of which we will "be done." I am not a supermom. I do not think birth control (except any abortifacient method) is sinful.

But I am a strong proponent of big families and the blessings they can be for individuals, and society, and God's kingdom.

Two Year Old Translations

I love it when my kids start to talk. I love the funny things they come up with to get their points across. And I love the, "Aha!" feeling I get when I figure out one of the ideas a little one is trying to convey. That moment when he or she is clear enough and I am imaginative enough so everything clicks. Then I file that bit of vocabulary away in the current edition of The Two-Year-Old's Lexicon that I carry in my brain.

I had just that sort of Donna moment today. She has really enjoyed putting on the other kids' flip-flops lately. As she was involved in this activity today, she kept telling me, "Hlops, Mama! Mama! Hee elhy hlops. Mama! Elhy hlops. Hee elhy hlops. Mama!" And so on. I was at first at a loss to translate that one. But eventually I recalled that the other time I had heard the "hlops" term was also while trying on flip-flops. Aha! and so her conversation translates to, "Flip-flops, Mama! Mama! See Elsie's flip-flops. Mama! Elsie's flip-flops. See Elsie's flip-flops. Mama!"

I thought that was pretty good. It reminded me of Jeremy's bicycle=biddicle; motorcycle being mobiddicle; and popsicle being mobiddicle pop. Or Matthew's hunt hoy=front loader.

They are all so sweet at two, right? Well, I maybe I should rephrase that. They have sweet moments at two.