Friday, July 31, 2009

I want farmland

Home-grown and lovin' it!! Of course, Charlie picks the green tomatoes - just too enticing :) We have tons of tomatoes, they just haven't turned yet. We've gotten about 5 ripe tomatoes and 3 peppers. We have some summer squash - one is on its way to ripening. It's rather cute. Just like the 'baby' peppers. I don't know why we never did this before. Thanks to my MOM for buying all the plants for us and thanks to my DAD for planting them :)

                                                                            isn't it cute?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The TRUTH -- Health Care Reform

I read this on Raymond's blog this morning - catching up on all those emails and blogs after having been gone for a week.

Here’s to your health, unless you are too old, too young, too disabled or any combination of the above. The health care reform bills wending their way through Congress should be focused on the well being of each citizen. Instead, it seems the bills, designed to contain costs while simultaneously extending health coverage to everyone, target certain vulnerable groups including the elderly, the pre-born, and the disabled. It all comes down to cost. How to pay for this colossus remains a question on the Hill. But the consensus seems to be: raise taxes and ration care. Both ideas have been woven into the current health care bills.


The elderly or people with catastrophic diseases are clearly in the sights of the Administration and the Congressional leadership for the simple reason that they cost too much. A quarter of all Medicare payments occur in the last year of life, costing the government more than 100 billion dollars a year according to Forbes Magazine.

I spoke this week with Betsy McCaughey, a patient advocate and former lieutenant governor of New York. Ms. McCaughey has actually read the various bills coming out of the House and Senate committees (which is more than one can say for most of the members of Congress). What she has found should give us pause. In a recent article, McCaughey wrote:

“One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and ‘the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.’ This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care.”

This “Advance Care Planning Consultation” would encourage all of us, but especially those with severe illnesses to submit to hospices rather than pursue expensive therapies that might extend life (and cost a bundle). The bill also establishes a tracking system to insure that doctors are advocating “advance care directives” where you predetermine what type of care you would accept or refuse at the end of life. The problem with all of this is it assigns a utilitarian value to human life. If you are too old or disabled, there will be a built in incentive to push you into hospice and palliative care rather than work to beat the disease. Inexplicably, the AARP supports this provision. Talk about thinning your base…


Two House committees have rejected amendments banning the funding of abortion in the Health Care Reform bill. The way abortion funding works is: if it isn’t specifically banned, chances are it is covered.

If there are any doubts about where this Health Care Reform plan is headed, look at what happened in the Senate. On July 9th Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) managed to pass an amendment that compels insurance providers to pay for “preventive care and screenings” for “pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.” This seems innocuous enough. But when Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) asked if the amendment would include abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, the answer was basically, yes. When Hatch suggested adding language that read: “not including abortion” he was rebuffed. His formal amendment to prohibit abortion funding in the Health Care Reform plan was also defeated in committee.

Remember: The “essential benefits package” covered by the government plan won’t be determined until AFTER the reform bill is passed. An amorphous “Advisory Committee” run by the pro-choice, Catholic, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will establish benefits and covered treatments. Given the administration’s track record, it is hard to imagine that abortion would be excluded from coverage. For more on this hidden "Supreme Court of Health Care" check out David Broder's very good piece here:

[the entire article can be read here]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man on the Moon

~ Neil and Buzz erecting the flag~

Today is the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon in 1969. Go here to see this video which Buzz Aldrin is narrating.

I bought the DVD series When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions -- last fall and we actually just got around to watching them. They are incredible! I highly recommend them. The astronauts are being interviewed throughout - which just adds so much to this documentary. It's a great treasure to have. And the kids actually really enjoyed it too, which is good. That's the reason I purchased it!

Do You FORWARD Your Emails?

Saw this over at the coffee shop!  As one who NEVER forwards emails, it brought a smile to my morning :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our Read Aloud

When Kayla was young I read James and the Giant Peach to her. It was around the same time when the movie came out. In fact, it was already at Blockbuster on video. I told her all along that when we finished the book we would go rent the movie. So the night that we finished it, we got up and drove to Blockbuster. It was so very exciting for me her to be able to watch the movie after having read the book. It's one of those memories which we periodically dig up.
So, now I'm reading The Tale of Despereaux to Therese and Sophia - with the intention of seeing the movie afterwards [Dani breezed through it before she went to the beach]. The movie is already in my Netflix queue; certainly one to be added to our home collection. I've heard great things about it. Anyway, we're halfway through the book, in Book Three, and we're finding it very difficult to put it down each night. It's proving to be quite the captivating story for these three 2 little girls!  We're really looking forward to the movie, though it'll be hard to compare to the book in my opinion.

I'm thinking we'll read some more Narnia books [having only read the 2nd book thus far] - gotta brush-up on all my different British accents for all the characters in this series! - , and probably this one too - by Kate DiCamillo, author of Despereaux - which was suggested to me by Megan.

In other news -but sort of related news- Sophia's hamster, Fuzzy, died on Tuesday :( He was a panda bear hamster - just the sweetest breed of hamster.  He was a good 1.5 yrs old and lived a long and happy life, for a hamster.  He is now buried next to Panda [Therese's first panda hamster].  We still have Oreo - Therese's 2nd hamster - and here she is on the front of the birthday card Dani made for Therese last month:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What's Going On?

What have y'all been up to this summer? We have been taking it easy, doing math work in the morning, and reading some.

We have some friends that went on vacation for 3 wks. and asked us to pick their blueberries while they were gone! They just didn't want them to go to waste.

The first time we went, I took everyone. The bad news, was that when I went to get Joseph, the 4yo, out of the truck... he had no shoes on! This proved to be a blessing though. I just had Dani take him and Charlie to the trampoline while the other 3 kids and I trekked to the bushes [which are approx. 10-12ft. tall]. Therese and Sophia were pretty helpful. John Paul... not so much. He was fine, just not pickin'.
The second time we went, I took only Therese and Sophia.

It took us about an hour each visit to fill our 1.6 gal. tupperware container. Both times we filled our container - for a grand total of 3 gallons of blueberries! For those of you who have never been blueberry picking, it is very time consuming - picking every little berry one at a time, proves to be quite a chore ;)

There were SO many. I hated to leave them all just sitting there. But the girls were getting 'ready' to go. And I knew we should probably head back home so I could start dinner.

So far I made some jam, and blueberry muffins. This recipe was suggested to me by a friend and she posted it on facebook. I highly recommend it. And for those of you who use you'll know by the rating that they are awesome. So if you're interested, surprise your family this week with these muffins. And if you don't have fresh or your grocery store is out, frozen would be fine too - just make sure they're totally thawed.
The berries which weren't eaten out of the bowl I just froze. I will definitely be making pies and more jam. But for now, they wait. Pancakes and muffins will be screaming for them :)

Oh and if you'd like a blueberry sauce for pancakes or cheesecake and such, this recipe is the bomb!

In other news, Dani took off to Ocean City, MD with Oma and Opa, to meet Paul's brother and his family. They rented a condo for the week. We would've all like to have joined them, but it wasn't in the financial cards for us this year.
Those of you who facebook know that I was counting down the days when I'd be missing my "right arm" [aka Dani]. How the run of my days was going to be so much different... so much more difficult, for me.

She left last Friday morning and surprisingly... we've done really well. I've come to realize that I rely on her much more than I actually need to. But when she's here, it's just easier to say "Dani could you......?" - I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but something I think I'll try to curb. And I will say that most of what she does is just part of being in a family. Large, or otherwise.

The other good news is that she is having a blast - getting to hang out with her cousin who is a year younger than she is. Sunday and Monday they'll go visit Washington D.C as well, since they're so close. Then Tuesday we leave for our drive up to OH to Karl's house [Paul's brother] to pick up Dani. We'll come back on Saturday.

In the meantime, my sister comes to visit!! She'll be here on July 20th [next Monday night]. We won't be able to see her until we get back from Ohio, because we leave Tues. morning. But the cool thing is that while we're in Ohio, she and my parents will fly to Houston to visit my our brother - whose wife is now expecting! Yay! So, they leave Wed. and come back Monday morning. Karen will be here for a good 3 weeks.... leaving, sadly, on my birthday. These next 3 yrs are going to be rather tough - moreso on her than me. She will be a postulate - the next step after the candidacy [if you click on the link that's Karen in the Candidacy photo, first person]. There will be no phone calls, emails, or her coming home. That's what we've been used to in this first year. But it's part of their formation and makes them grow closer to Christ, their ultimate Spouse! Truly beautiful.

Then, a few days after she leaves, we are headed for the beach! Yay! My dear brother Chris and his wife Nina got a beach house for the week and my parents and we are coming along to join them! So we'll be gone for a week with them and Chris' 2 daughters [ who I am so excited to see, it's been 2yrs since I've seen them... 2 yrs is a long time in the life of young girls, 14 and 11!]. I can't wait for us all to be together. It's going to be a blast. I'm just sorry that Kayla won't be joining us on our trip - college bound :(

So - that's what we've got going on here! Hope you and yours are doing well and enjoying your summer months. They go by so fast!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wizard's Brew

Dani headed up this experiment - it consists of 6 short videos; camera's video setting.

To make your own Wizard's Brew
you'll need:

a clean glass jar/s

white vinegar

food dye


dishwashing liquid

baking soda

STEP 1: half-fill a glass jar with clear vinegar. Add several drops of food dye, then sprinkle a little fine glitter over the top of the vinegar.

STEP 2: Add a good squeeze of dishwashing liquid to the jar. Then, gently stir the mixture with a metal spoon to mix everything together.

STEP 3: Put the jar in the middle of a large baking tray or a sink. Add a heaped teaspoon of baking soda to the jar and see what happens.

~~~~The foam that pours out of the jar is formed by a simple chemical reaction. When the vinegar and baking soda mix, they make lots of tiny bubbles of gas. The bubbles churn up the dishwashing liquid, making lots of foam!~~~~

Have Fun!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Not to Wear

I read this post today at Totus Tuus - and yesterday I read this article  - Don't Wear that Mini to Mass - which Danielle Bean referred to on her blog

Here is a bit from the article:
I Can Wear What I Want

To refute the assertion that we have a right to wear whatever we want, imagine the following. Doing your best to concentrate on the great spectacle of divine grace that is about to unfold, you are dutifully and fruitfully praying before Mass -- dutifully because you regard attending Mass as a holy obligation wherein you are bound not only to worship God but also to strive for the removal of the impurities that keep you from Him, and fruitfully because you have on this rare occasion penetrated the fog of sloth and distraction that normally envelops your tired soul and are truly feeling the loving presence of Christ.

Into the church I stride, hoofing it proudly down the central aisle right past your pew, sporting a set of antlers from Cervus elaphus, the North American elk. It is an impressive rack, just the kind that sets the does to nudging and whispering -- twelve points, not counting the knobs. Be honest. No matter how deeply in prayer you had mercifully fallen, wouldn't you be jolted completely out of the sweet arms of grace? Wouldn't you, now kneeling amid the shattered pieces of your holy reverie, say to yourself, "Antlers! That idiot is wearing antlers!"

Further, imagine that I shuffle proudly into the pew right in front of you, fully aware that I had attracted everyone's attention. And there you are, stuck for the entire Mass, peering through my great rack at the priest. And there you are a bit later at the most holy part of the Mass, the elevation of the consecrated Host, framed for you by those same ridiculous antlers. And then, walking up to receive our precious Lord, you are not piously thinking, "My Lord and my God," but either impiously cursing or uncontrollably laughing. Your chance to restore your soul is shot for the week.
Go ahead and read the article in its entirety here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm With Him!

Don't you agree that we need people in office who have a moral backbone? I mean a true honest-to-goodness-without-a-doubt CLEAR moral backbone. I do. I think most of us do. Even the 'sheeple' do - they just don't know it because they only follow. They don't inform themselves. They simply follow.

Alan Keyes has a very thought-provoking post here.

In my opinion [and let me say again: my opinion], Sarah Palin is way overrated. I didn't care for her as a running mate and I surely don't care about her resignation and future plans. Tough tooties the Left gave her a bunch of crap - it's their way, plain and simple. I mean, it can't really be that unbelievablely shocking the things they said about her, wrote about her or showed about her - can it?? It's just par for the course with the libs, ya know? I don't have ill feelings toward her or about her... it's just that in my book, she's not the conservative with a moral compass she's touted as being.

When you read his post it'll become clear: we need true soldiers! Leaders who know that our freedom and responsibility to govern comes from Our Creator!

Ultimate Revenge --- the very creative kind!

Have you heard or seen this story on news reports? This is quite the story of "you messed with the wrong guy".
Here's the scoop:

On March 31, 2008 Sons of Maxwell began our week-long-tour of Nebraska by flying United Airlines from Halifax to Omaha, by way of Chicago. On that first leg of the flight were seated at the rear of the aircraft and upon landing and waiting to deplane in order to make our connection a woman sitting behind me, not aware that we were musicians cried out: "My god they're throwing guitars out there". Our bass player Mike looked out the window in time to see his bass being heaved without regard by the United baggage handlers. My $3500 710 Taylor had been thrown before his.

I immediately tried to communicate this to the flight attendant who cut me off saying: "Don't talk to me. Talk to the lead agent outside". I found the person she pointed to and that lady was an "acting" lead agent but refused to talk to me and disappeared into the crowd saying "I'm not the lead agent". I spoke to a third employee at the gate and when I told her the baggage handlers were throwing expensive instruments outside she dismissed me saying "but hun, that's why we make you sign the waiver". I explained that I didn't sign a waiver and that no waiver would excuse what was happening outside. She said to take it up with the ground crew in Omaha.

After being put through the usual customer non-service wringer - maybe he should have called The Fixer! - Carroll embarked into the seedy underworld of corporate irresponsibility and denial of service that major airlines really excel at. Rather than a simple "sorry, our bad," and an offer to fix the issue, he got a series of more maddening conversations and correspondents with various United personnel, culminating in this gem of an exchange:

Another month went by and I received an email from a Ms. Irlweg, in Chicago I believe. Basically said she was sorry this happened and denied my claim. Some of her reasons included :

* I didn't report it to the United employees who weren't present when we landed in Omaha

* I didn't report to the Omaha airport within 24 hours while I was driving to places that weren't Omaha

* It was an Air Canada issue

* Air Canada already denied the claim (as I mentioned, because Air Canada would not pay for United's damages), but I'm still unsure as to why I needed to report it in Omaha within 24 hours if it was clearly Halifax's responsibility

* Someone from United would need to see the damage to a guitar that was repaired

So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.

Okay - so that's the run-around-of-the-story. So what did he do after nearly a year of playing their games you may ask? This is what he did. This is his ULTIMATE REVENGE - the link will take you to the complete write-up and video - and not only is it hysterically funny, it worked!

Not only did it grab the attention of United Airlines, Taylor Guitars, news media around the country - it got the attention of everyday folks too. Folks who are flying on their vacations. Folks who are flying on business. Folks who are flying to their gigs.... who!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Media Slant

Another example how the media glorifies the evil and slams the beautiful.  Even if you do nothing but look  at the comparison between the two photos...  it is apparent.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sacred Heart

This is indeed no small miracle - this is the evidence of the supernatural.  Something that happens everyday -  all around the world.  WATCH THIS!

4th of July Part II

After the race, we came home to get the 2 younger boys - we had to relieve Kayla who had to be at work at 10am.  Dani also had to take care of a couple dogs down the street before we continued our festivities.  Then we headed back to downtown for the parade.  We've never been in all the years we've been here.  It was so great!  I cannot say enough about the beautiful weather... an added blessing to the day!

It was still a very nice morning - but luckily for the kids, there was some free lemonade for the taking!

Gotta like that!
The "hair repair" - luckily Charlie can pull it off!!  LOL [but that's another post]
Homer from Home Depot
And then... partly through the parade, my camera battery died!  You have no idea how many great shots were lost because of it!  The inflatable Uncle Sam, the firetruck, the Blues Brothers....Whaaaaaa!  I was bumming :(  After the parade, we went to the town's square where there were tents set up for just about any and all local businesses.  There we were entertained by the local "Blues Brothers" band - and boy were they entertaining.  They were in the parade as well, driving their beater-of-a-squad car - which they drove onto the grassy area by the gazebo before said entertainment began.  Our kids thought we were a bit.... 'touched', but we had fun be-bopping to a few songs.  We only stayed for a few songs because of the rising temps, the cranky and hungry kids, and a sniffly coughy Charlie Horse.  Plus, I was hungry too and ready for some A/C.  Off to the local burger joint on foot to where Kayla was busy earning her dough! 
When we got home I was able to catch a few zzzzz's [even with Mom and Dad over - sorry for abandoning you two!  :) ]  before dinner and fireworks.
Onto our fireworks that evening...
not a lot of photos, but a few.
Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy 4th of July!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our 5K-ers

Our 4th of July began with a 5K run at 7:30am. Paul and Dani both registered to run it. Paul has been running on the treadmill since January - a New Year's resolution of sorts. He has met many goals along the way. Needless to say, I'm very proud of him for sticking to it. I know how difficult it is. He has motivated me somewhat as well ;) [I'm not going to run or anything, but...]
It was a beautiful July morning here in ATL - pretty much unheard of. As I gathered 3 of the kids to go down to the race before 7am, I quickly realized just how cool it truly was... Sophia ran inside to grab a sweater and for John Paul I grabbed a jacket. Chilly. The thermometer in the truck informed me that it was a balmy 59 degrees - perfect for a morning run [though it was probably in the mid-60's when the race started. Still perfect!]

And yes, Dani now has a new shirt to add to her t-shirts. Yay :)
Here, the mayor of the town is about to start the race...

So, the race started.... about 5 mins. later the leaders passed by again. During the wait to see Paul and Dani pass us by going in the opposite direction, we heard shouts of encouragement for the runners, clapping, whoo-hoo-ing, and a "run Forrest, run!". I got a chuckle out of that. While we waited I got some shots...
Looks like he's saluting, but really he's just shading his eyes :)
and the Chick-Fil-A cow! [one of the race's sponsors]
About 10 mins. later they came...
Love the expressions here :)
What a ham!!
As we walked to the finish line, the leaders were already done!! The winner did his 3.1 mi. in 15:01. I knew Paul's time would be around 35 mins. or so. In the meantime, the cow visited us...
She scared John Paul. His back was to her when she tapped him on the shoulder. As he turned around, "AHHHHHHHH!!!!" It was pretty funny. To me, that is :)
The Sweet Tomatoes Tomato
And the priceless photo shot:
"When you're smilin', when you're smilin'... the whole world smiles with you!"
[10 bucks if you know to what I'm referring]
I think he's just excited that he beat the little girl behind him! LOL His time was 31:48, The really amazing thing is that Dani beat Paul! So amazing that I didn't even look for her as Paul came across. I expected her a few mins. later. Seriously. Paul told me that when they'd run together she'd take lots of walking breaks. She just never really stayed up with him. Paul thinks she was just being gracious now. But not the day of the race. She not only kept up with him, she beat him by a few seconds! So needless to say, I don't have a picture of her crossing the finish line. :( Sorry Dani Girl. It was so exciting to be there and see them run this 5K. We are so proud of them!!!
The proceeds from the race benefited The Hope Center. Isn't that great?!
What a wonderful cause to run for!!
This post has taken me a very long time [in Blogger Draft - thank you Jessica!!!]. The rest of our 4th will be continued!
Hope your 4th of July was filled with fun, food, family & friends!
God bless America!!