Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Okay, so I know what the true meaning of Christmas is. But like poor Charlie Brown, I didn't really have much feeling for Christmas this year, either in the spiritual or secular senses. I got a nice gift, the warm winter coat I've been wanting for a couple of years. The girls were happy with their gifts, even though they were by no means extravagant. Mr. BTEG even scored himself some free Christmas gifts: a Google TV keyboard and the latest in smart phones. And of course the most important thing was the remembrance that God became man, became incarnate for us and for our salvation. I was rather numb to the whole thing. Not getting to Christmas services due to various health issues may not have helped this, although I was not tuned in to Advent very well either. I am taking two things from this season. One, I need to stay on top of my mental processes, even though I can't twist them into something perfect. Two, thank God that His incarnation and my salvation do not rest on my feelings being "right."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't Blink

Wow, the days are going by quickly! In a couple of days, the girls will be home for winter break. The Musician will also be celebrating a birthday soon. I have most of the gifts purchased, although I have to exchange some earrings. The Dancer came home today, and her friend had given her the same three-pack that I bought the Dancer for Christmas. Oops. They were, of course, ballerina-themed earrings.

Speaking of dance, the Dancer has started assisting at a tap class for 7-8 year-olds. Great experience for her, but another day to be at the dance studio. We do get the Dancer's tap classes for free now, though.

The Dancer's Winter Concert was tonight. The chorale did sing the J-word in one of the songs. :O The Dancer participated in the String Orchestra, and the band also played. The high school freshmen musicians in attendance, including my Musician, were scoping the band for future members. :) Yes, these current 6th graders will be getting Freshmen Wake-Up from the current crop of freshmen, in only three years. I'm sure it will come all too quickly.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Winter Is Unofficially Here

I was so glad yesterday that Mr. BTEG and I have cell phones. Due to the inclement weather, poor Mr. BTEG ended up playing Escape from Cleveland as his usual bus was non-existent (some people were waiting at the bus stop for over an hour) and traffic was almost at a stand-still, so he advised me not to come and pick him up. He ended up getting to Tower City and taking a train out to the near west side, where I came to get him. It would have been awful if we hadn't been able to communicate with each other throughout the fun.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Picky PIcky

I was surprised and slightly heartened to see this article about picky eaters. It's nice that someone even floats the idea that picky eaters are not people who just don't want to eat healthy food, or who just don't want to try new things. I'm a little miffed at the speculation later on, however, that picky eaters may still be made, not born, by unpleasant experiences at the dinner table or stomach issues. They still can't quite bring themselves to accept picky eaters completely, it seems.

My name is Barb the Evil Genius, and I am a picky eater. It started in babyhood, when my skin turned yellow. My concerned mother took me to the doctor, only to find out that I did not have jaundice. Instead, it was my refusal to eat strained green vegetables that led to my skin tone. My current general practitioner is skeptical about the tale, although I have met another extremely picky eater who claimed her skin turned orange as a child, for the same reason.

Later on, when I graduated to solid food, I lived for a time on hot dogs and applesauce, being all that I would eat. It's easy to say, now, that my mom should have simply waited until I was really hungry. A neighbor tried this with my youngest sister, who refused to take a bottle. My sister outlasted the neighbor, and screamed for what she wanted the whole time to boot.

I am blessed to be able to say that my picky eating has not negatively affected my marriage or my social life. I did get scolded once on a college group outing to Louisiana and back, when a Chinese restaurant was chosen one night for dinner. I don't really eat Chinese, and there were protests as to why I hadn't spoken up. It was difficult for me to explain that I hadn't really wanted any of the other choices, either. And I didn't want to chain the entire group to my pickiness.

Mr. BTEG urges me to try new foods, but it's not a relationship issue if I don't like something. Occasionally the family will go out for something like Chinese, and I will eat something from somewhere else. It's not the end of the world. I will admit I can now eat sweet and sour fried chicken (hold the sweet and sour) and white rice, but not enough to really fill me. My daughters also eat more kinds of food than I do, although they also have likes and dislikes. My eldest currently favors a four-alarm level of spices, but then she ate salsa with a spoon when she was two.

I do find it interesting that we picky eaters tend to have very similar tastes in what we eat and drink. To me, it points toward the idea that we are indeed wired differently somehow when it comes to eating. I also look to the example of a pastor we used to know, who had his own taste preferences. He did not care to eat anything sugary. To him, it all just tasted like... sugar. No variation in the flavor experience. However, he could not get enough salt. That always tasted wonderful to him. For me, I have to agree with the final quote of the article: "We don't all have the same experience when we eat."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Head Cases

My mind has been straying back to this article several times during the past couple of days. It bothers me not as a what-could-have-been but as a what-could-be. I have never struggled with mental issues to the extent that the author's son has. I made it through college with honors and successfully held down a number of jobs before becoming a full-time mom. My children are also currently doing well in their lives. Yes, I should place my trust in God, but in my frailty I wonder at times if my mind will deteriorate more, or if one or both of my daughters will suffer from mental illness, which does seem to have a definite genetic component. I do have a whole host of changes before me, God willing, even thought many of them will indeed be positive. In the end, however, there is nothing I can do to alter things, so I have to rely on God, and on my loved ones working through Him.

On a second note, I do agree with the author's assertion that we should rely on ourselves as much as possible. As was pointed out somewhere else on the blogosphere, for middle class taxpayers, what usually happens is I support your unique need through my taxes, and you support my unique need through your taxes. If we weren't paying these taxes, we could just take care of our own needs, with a lot less waste of money. Plus, I stated this when my husband was going through his mysterious health issues, but I cannot say it often enough: bureaucracy does not care. The person who was the most help to us through all of our issues was our primary care physician, who has known our family for several years. From other places, we either received no help, often for reasons that made no sense, or extremely delayed help, due to the number of hoops required first, and that fact that managing our issue was just someone's job, and not a vital issue as it was to us.

One last thing; the author wrote that he did manage to find manageable coverage for his son despite the health issues, but fears it may become out of reach under Obamacare. I believe this is an intended consequence. God be with us all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Questioning

I am going to be posting on higher education, in regards to my family in particular, but as I was planning the post out in my mind, I took a side trip. I have always been disappointed in my college career. I wrote too much trying to explain, so let's just say I don't know why I went to the college I did, or took some of the courses that I did. However, when I get down to it, I always get back to the fact that I met my now-husband there, so I can't completely regret my college choice.

Which leads me to a point where I get theologically muddled: what was God's involvement in this? Dawn Eden, in her book, says that a man's wife is chosen for him by God. How does God plan things for us, however, which involve the actions of other people? How did my husband and I end up going to the same college, and both make friends with the same person who would eventually introduce us? I never felt a "call," or anything similar to go to the college I did. I went because they supposedly had a good program in a major my father pushed towards. I ended up not really being interested in that major, and not seeing the program as that good anyway. I completely fumbled my way through the whole higher education process. God knew all that would happen, since He is omniscient, but did he *direct* any of it? And if so, how?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Absolute

My life is flying by, and I am feeling more and more caught up in the small but rewarding world of family. I am so thankful that we decided to stay in the same school district, even though it really limited our options for a new place. The girls' friendships with fellow students continue to grow and develop, and it would have been hard for them to start with a new bunch of kids this year. I think those who are natural extroverts and who make friends easily might find this hard to understand, but from the perspective of my husband and myself, this was the right choice.

I'm trying to be more active in the girls' schools this year. Signed up for the local PTA and was horrified to get an "advocacy alert" for a Congressional bill, with which I don't even agree! Our local PTA is part of some large email client, and the national PTA seems to want to use us for its agenda. Laura is also not a fan of the national PTA. When did this become a top-heavy, self-important organization, and not just some moms passing out candy canes at the Christmas holiday party?

As you might guess, I really hate this push for everything to be centralized and bureaucrat-ized. My guess at the reason is for the accumulation of power. Think about how much more "important" one would feel as the head of a national organization, telling people how to vote and making them fill out useless forms? At times it does sound nice to have the perks and privileges of the influential. A private jet instead of getting groped by the TSA is appealing at the moment, for example. Thinking about it, though, I don't know that I would be any happier in the long run. I can't imagine the climb to get and maintain power would help my soul. It wouldn't improve my relationships, which to me are what life is all about. How many people think beyond what will get them ahead today, though? How many people have gotten to the top and jumped off in despair?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Businesses Are Evil

The other week I skimmed the headlines of the local newspapers at the grocery store, and saw that American Greetings, a local greeting card company, with product carried nationwide, is once again making noises about leaving their current headquarters. They claim to want another city where they can pay fewer taxes, and are suggesting they may even leave the state. What's funny about this is that they worship Ear Leader to the extent that they created a Christmas ornament of him a couple of years ago. They were probably disappointed that it wasn't prominently featured next to that other fascist dictator, Mao, on the White House Christmas tree.

Anyway, yes, the company has been solidly Democrat for decades. So, Mr. CEO of American Greetings, I need to tell you something. Don't be a greedy fat cat. At some point, you have made enough money. You need to spread the wealth, especially for all those children in your headquarter town. The city is only levying taxes for your own good.

As for the city itself, well, I don't know how high their tax rate is, but I do know that they are proud of being the first city to have a seat belt law, and they also have a no cell phone while driving law. So the leaders of this town also seem to be pretty happy to tell others what to do. This Dem on Dem squabbling is funny, except the prospect of losing thousands of area jobs? Not quite so funny.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Between

Settling down in our new place. Hasn't helped that we all got sick, but that's to be expected this time of year when your immune system is worn down by stress and extra exertion. My brain is unfortunately too confuzzled (a term coined by the Musician) to write coherently about what I want to write about, this late. I have strong attitudes about things, but I don't feel like I can do serious writing any real justice, right now. Hopefully soon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mad at Ohio

At my daughter's dance lesson tonight, I was talking to a father who happens to be a teacher in our school district. He informed me and the other mom there that the state of Ohio is shifting to mandatory full-day kindergarten AND mandatory *preschool.* I'm angry and appalled! Yes, I sent my daughters to preschool, and they enjoyed it, but it was only mornings, not every school day, and I certainly wouldn't want it to be forced on every child. I also don't see five-year-olds as necessarily being ready for all-day school, either. They're still so young! Of course, too many children that age are in all-day daycare anyway, and I have to wonder if parents who do have children in daycare were a driving force behind this. It also makes me mad that I am subsidizing their daycare, basically. They are probably using some sort of excuse about helping the children academically, but seriously. When my daughters were kindergarten age, they were still solidifying letters and numbers. I don't see going to a whole day making a difference in that. Not to mention that there is evidence that even Head Start ends up not giving kids an advantage in the long run. Where is the evidence that all-day preschool will work?

Another issue is the cost. Our school district is blessed to be in a financially good place at the moment, but adding all those extra kids, and the extra hours, will put a strain on the district's budget. How will districts that already struggle financially deal with it? Especially in this economy? It will mean more levies, and of course the schools know how to manipulate parents, by cutting "non-essential" classes like art, extracurricular activities and busing. Of course, so many parents work today that they are apparently happy to pay the extra taxes to ease the burden of having to drive them to school, and pick them up right after school.

I'm so disappointed in Ohio. I'm definitely contacting my legislators, although it's a bit late at this point. I wish I had a place to get good Ohio news besides the local rag. Homeschooling did not work out in the long run for us, but I think I would probably homeschool during the preschool and kindergarten years if I had children of that age. It's a sad development.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Moving Along

So we've moved, and it has been stressful and exhausting, but not as bad as it could have been, so I'm being thankful for what we have. I've been rather busy, and I have to admit it is fun getting everything arranged and put away. I'm trying to concentrate on the good instead of the bad, which is a great idea all the time, but I find myself concentrating on the bad too often. Looking forward to Thanksgiving. We'll be guests, not hosts, so I won't have to worry that there are boxes all over the house. Which there will be. Also plotting ways to keep my winter active and upbeat. Will be getting to back to "real" blogging, too!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time Flies When You're Moving

Wow, the days when I don't blog seem to fly by so fast. At least this time I have a good excuse, and that is because we are moving early next week! We are looking at it as a positive, as I think it will be. One of the only negatives I've found so far is that the Dancer will be picked up by the school bus about half an hour earlier. She seems pretty cool with it, though. She's very good about scheduling her shower, lunch packing, etc. Fortunately, both of the girls are very good about getting themselves up, as I am just awful about it. Getting to sleep and getting up at the right times seems to be an issue for bipolar people. I personally also seem to need a lot more sleep than the normal recommended amount. Not sure why this is, but I just try to arrange to get enough.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Turn and Turn About

One of public education's problems is the teachers' union, which often uses parents' desires to have a good education for their children, to gain excessive wealth and benefits for themselves. How do we define excessive? Here's some of my ideas. When many occupations don't see raises for years, but the teachers' union demands raises every year, that's excessive. When unemployment numbers are soaring and taxpayers find it harder to meet their own family's needs, but teachers' unions still demand the same size raise, that's excessive. When health care premiums are rising for just about everyone, but a teachers' union still demands absolutely free health care benefits for its members, that's excessive. When a state is going bankrupt, but a union insists they still receive what they're used to, in the end, that helps no one. Individual teachers can be great (winks at Katie,) but the union is too demanding and uses "the children" far too often.

Watch Chris Christie here as he takes apart the teachers' union in his state. One thing I like about Governor Christie is that he uses facts and hard numbers when talking about the issues. Also, he doesn't need a teleprompter.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Here We Go

I may be passive-aggressive posting this here, instead of dealing with things head on. On the other hand, I have tried expressing my ideas when issues come up, and have gotten nowhere. Once, when I said straight out that I was hurt and offended, I got "You don't need to be offended" as a reply. Well, thanks! I guess that fixes everything! Right now I just feel the need to spout off about what I see as a problem I don't know how to change.

Here's my biggest issue right now. I'm tired of seeing people say to my face, on the one hand, that if public school works for your family, hey, great. This comes after I say something if someone says, oh, you really must love your kids since you homeschool them. So I guess I must hate my kids? Well, they aren't going to say that. Then they put up some article that talks about how the public school system was created to dumb kids down, and the education establishment is just out to get your kids and make them stupid. So what does that mean? Public school as an entire entity is a mind control factory determined to turn your children into mindless cogs of the state. But hey, whatever works best for your family, you know?

I think part of the problem is that because of a few people that I am friends with, I have fallen into a larger group with whom I have next to nothing in common. I'm starting to see the group as a homogenous entity, and feeling out of place because I don't buy into what they say. Often I feel like chucking the entire thing out the window. At this point, I don't know how to cut ties with many without cutting ties with everyone. Oh bother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blank Slate

Goodness only knows, there's enough to blog about out there. For some reason, I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts together enough to write a good blog post. Of course, we are moving in just over a week, so perhaps that is a contributing factor. I'm mentally unpacking and arranging things in the new place already. I suppose that's more fun than packing and sorting things here.

And now I just realized another reason for my mental vacuum. The Musician came in to my bedroom talking nineteen to the dozen, and the Dancer was not far behind. I'm starting to feel like I need a social secretary to keep up with them and their plans! Not to mention a dedicated car and driver. I keep going by reminding myself that these days will go by very quickly, so I should enjoy them while I can.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food for Thought

Just read on Facebook that the Mythbusters are going to be doing a show with President Obama. I love the show, and I am so disappointed in this. Mythbusters should not involve politics. I don't want to know which way Jamie and Adam's politics fall, and I take this news to confirm what I strongly suspected, that they are leftists, perhaps even with socialist leanings. With this administration charging into socialist territory, and the Mythbusters being filmed in a very blue area of California, I suspect the cast of Mythbusters does lean socialist, but I really didn't want to know either way.

The President is also a very divisive figure right now. Even die-hard Democrats are starting to lose enthusiasm, although they often blame it on staff, rather than the top guy. Why make a decision that will make a good bit of your audience unhappy with the show?

As I was thinking over this, I remembered that the cable show Cake Boss did an episode where the bakery made a cake for Governor Chris Christie. I wouldn't ask Buddy to turn down such a offer that would give him publicity in high places, but if we're going to be fair, that shouldn't have shown on television as well, I guess. Am I being partisan when I feel that Buddy was making a very lucrative and high-recognition business transaction, while the Mythbusters are very likely (to me) doing this for the "ooh, we get to do a show with the Lightworker" factor? Buddy's cake reflected a lot of pride in his home state, at least, as well as being for the Governor. As I read on the linked webpage, Mythbusters has already tried this myth *twice*. Why do it again?

Am I overreacting? I doubt the Mythbusters would *do* a show with Governor Christie, or with someone like Sharron Angle or Sean Bielat. I wonder if Buddy would make a cake for anybody.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Talk to the Hand

So Justice Alito plans to skip the next State of the Union Address. I think this is a great decision. This way he won't have to sit there like, as he says, a "potted plant" while the President of our country demeans our Supreme Court, which was designed to be a check and balance to Presidential and Congressional power. But what happened to our President being bipartisan and bringing everyone together? Yes, this is a rhetorical question. He is really only pushing people further apart. Let conservatives unite to decrease governmental control over our lives.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Hate Guilt

I am excited about the changes that I see coming up in the political world. I like the idea of more conservative candidates, who actually listen to constituents and are real people instead of elites. But it nags me that I'm not doing anything to help. I hate cold calling. Heck, I hate calling people who I do know, but not very well. Would prefer not to have any yard signs at this moment. Signed up with Americans for Prosperity, and I understand they are still getting things underway, but the "local" events they have held so far would have been about 30-45 minutes away from me. I also hate knocking on strange doors. Knocked on a few neighbors' doors to try to help the Dancer sell magazines for her school, and it was *excruciating*. I know some of you who read my blog can identify with this. I do believe in conservative principles, but then I also believe Christianity and would not want to knock on strange doors "selling" it. Will still try my best to spread conservative ideas where I can.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

So Much to Do, So Little Time

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

--Robert Louis Stevenson

I go through dry spells where everything is dull and boring and the world a yawning wilderness. Then I go through periods like where I am now, where I want to sew things and knit things and buy things and sell things and be wildly crafty and do it all all at the same time! Right now I feel like the world is *too* full of wonderful things! Since I am getting better at understanding my motivations and my moods, I'm hoping to have a productive winter, but not getting unrealistic. :)

Quick Observation

My tendency to emphasize words in my writing is so Victorian. I can picture myself penning a letter and underlining or even double/triple underlining words. Don't know why I do it except to better get across my "voice." It doesn't bother me although at the same time I hope I don't come across as weird. :)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Parenthood

I may have made an important discovery. I think a medication I was taking temporarily has contributed to my *extreme* tiredness. I'm hoping this will turn out to be the case. There's so much I want to do in real life, things I want to discuss here on my blog, and I hate being too tired to do anything but the very basics.

I've been thinking a lot about raising children, as I drive my two daughters to and from and all over town. What I see as an important thing for my child to do, or be, or know, may not matter a great deal to another parent, even one that shares many of the same religious and political values I do. In my case, some of the things I want for my daughters are things I feel I lacked while growing up. I imagine this applies to all parents, but it's still interesting noting it in myself. There are of course all the cliches, like a mother wanting her daughter to be Homecoming Queen just like she was, or a father wanting his son to be the star quarterback because the father always rode the bench. I'm trying not to relive my teen years through my daughters nor try to make them fulfill dreams that I couldn't. What I want to do is spot places where I was "weak" and make sure my daughters get a little more support in those areas. Ultimately my parenting will be imperfect, like everything else I do. But I want my daughters to think I did a good job.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Children and Church

I saw a sign yesterday at a local megachurch that happens to run a daycare. The sign was advertising a reduced rate at the daycare for employees of the hospital directly across the street. I disliked it. Let me tell you first a bit about my feelings about churches and daycare. It is true that the Christian church has a long record of providing all sorts of aid. I'm not an expert on medieval history, but a lot of this help seemed to come from monasteries, from priests and nuns who made it their vocation to live to serve others for the glory of God. Nowadays, everything seems to be a "ministry." In my view, doing things for people in the hope that some of God will rub off on them in some way. This includes daycare at some churches.

If a church-going person feels called to help out a fellow church member, neighbor or family member with childcare, that's one thing. However, I'm not sure a church should be directly running a daycare, anymore than they should be directly running a soup kitchen, a hospital or a homeless shelter. The church is the Church. It is there to give Word and Sacrament. Individual Christians are supposed to help others in need. I also dislike seeing a church daycare being run as a straight-up business, instead of just helping those who need help. This includes running a discount program as an incentive to sign your kid up there. I'm sure some of the people who work at the hospital do so because they can't afford not to work. As always, there are of course other people who work for the extra clothes, fancy house, vacations, etc. The Church should support the family, and that means encouraging a parent be at home when possible.

I'm not sure how I feel about church schools. It is my understanding that church schools started in the Catholic church because of anti-Catholicism. Lutheran schools were started in the age before homeschooling vs. public school, and I believe were started to give Lutheran students some catechesis as well as the education they would have received at a public school. I don't see anything wrong with that, since the children are presumably mostly children of church members and the church is proclaiming God's Word to them. Obviously however, a school is not a requirement, nor something that should take resources from the church that are needed elsewhere.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Now We See the Violence Inherent in the System

Did you think over-aggressive Muslims were the only ones that wanted to blow you up? Well, think that no more, because now devotees to AGW, or climate change, or "Hey look, there's a cloud in the sky," now wish to explode you as well. At least, however, they've given you a head start by letting you know that if you don't reduce your "carbon emissions" by 10%, you're going to get blown up and leave nasty spatter everywhere. And it'll be funny. Or something.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be True to Your School

Too tired tonight to do a serious post, so I'll just talk a bit further about the American high school experience, as this week is Homecoming week at my daughter's high school. Tomorrow is Hogwarts Day; every class is assigned their own house. Freshmen are Hufflepuff; the Musician is wearing black and yellow and planning to speak with a British accent all day! Tomorrow night is a bonfire at the high school; the band is playing so the Musician has to be there, but I'm sure she'll enjoy it. Friday at school is of course Spirit Day, when the school colors are worn. Friday night is the big Homecoming football game, then Saturday is the Homecoming parade. Crazy busy, but will be very fun!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Botox Never Dies

I had to report on this story from The Blaze, since I talked about this ridiculous plan for young people's health care in a previous post. What kind of parents tell their children to take their time following their dreams? If a dream is worth doing, it is worth doing as soon as possible, not just dreaming about it. For that matter, what it is a young adult supposed to be doing if they do have to work for a while towards their dreams, that they still need their parents to provide health care? And if a young adult can't provide his own health care, does that mean Mom and Dad also have to provide food, housing and clothing? I'm sorry; I'm going to raise my children to be better than that, thankyouverymuch.

On a side note, as one of Beck's commenters said, if Ms. Botox doesn't like pledges, does that mean she doesn't pledge to protect and uphold the Constitution? Does her word mean anything?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Slice of America

One of my college professors, an immigrant from Germany, said that she didn't completely understand American culture because she hadn't gone to an American high school. That may or may not be true, but as I attend high school football games with an adult eye, I realize how much of it is uniquely American. Now, American football is played in places outside of the United States. As a matter of fact, a team from Canada came down to our area to play earlier this month. Of course, the article shows that there is still a difference in popularity between football here, and anywhere else.

Are high school age level marching bands a mainly American thing? I did a little searching on the internet and couldn't find much on foreign marchers. I have read that teenage sports can be taken as seriously in other countries as high school athletics here. However, is there that "Friday night lights" feel? The cheerleaders, the marching bands, Homecoming, the age level of spectators--from octogenarians to toddlers? Do school boosters have concession stands, serving local versions of our pizza, hot dogs and popcorn? Do other countries have similar jock/cheerleader stereotypes?

I am having fun attending all these high school games. I'm also finding I enjoy watching football at the high school level.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tell Us What You Really Feel

Ohio Tea Partiers, if you weren't sure before, now you can know exactly what the Ohio Democratic party thinks of you, straight from the mouth of the Ohio Democratic Chairman. You know, back in the old days, when the economy was good, your kids didn't have to be on your health care program well past the age of majority. They could go out and, you know, get jobs that provided health care insurance. Or pay for it themselves. Or go without. No, I'm not thankful you're "giving" me things I don't want, and worse yet, making me pay for other people's little pweciouses. I will show you how I feel about you and your party in November.

h/t Ace of Spades

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Parody

There's a hundred and eighty days of school attendance,
Summer comes along just to end it.
So the annual problem for our generation,
Is finding a good way to spend it.

Like maybe ...
Buying some groceries,
Or fighting in traffic,
Or climbing up the laundry tower.

Discovering dust bunnies under the bed,
Bunnies: Hey!
Or giving the dog a shower.
Surfing the internet,
Creating some dinner,
Or locating our missing brain.
Mom: It's gone forever!

Finding a lost sock,
Painting the bathroom,
While trying not to go insane.
Kids: Mooooooom!

As you can see,
There's a whole lot of stuff to do before the kids come home this fall.
Kids: Mom, we're home!
So stick with us,
'Cause busy moms can never do it all!

So stick with us,
'Cause busy moms can never do it all!

Kids: Dad! Mom's been home alone too long!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

High School Bands

The Musician took part in an event called Band-O-Rama last night. Six Ohio high school bands, including hers, performed at our high school. Let me get the awful part out of the way, which is that there was a freak accident last night and a young man was taken away in an ambulance. I'm going to try to find out how things went this week; I really hope he's okay. Don't want to post too many details online.

So, on to the fun part. It was interesting seeing all the different approaches the bands took. Team F danced into the stadium, with their band director dancing beside them. They also had a colored red light in their sousaphones, red being one of their school colors. Sousaphones, let it be known, are the slightly smaller version of a tuba, and are usually used in marching bands. Tubas wrap around the waist and not the shoulder and are generally used whilst sitting down.

Team S had 287 band members!!! That's almost 3/4 of the entire population of my high school alma mater when I graduated. It took 12 buses to haul them and their instruments into town. Their trombone section did a "suicide line" at the beginning of their program. A suicide line is when a player alternately bends forward, and swings his instrument over his neighbor who is bending forward. Someone in the stands behind us kept commenting how their band must have so much more money, since there are so many more band boosters, etc. Yeah, and they also have more members to fund, costume and transport.

Team A had an electric guitarist as part of their band. They also did a four-season musical theme, with their color guard using a seasonal flag for each song. Alas, the only two songs I can remember are "Summertime" and "Hazy Shade of Winter."

Team E was absolutely the most fun. They also did a catchy dance routine coming into the stadium, and they did a fun little moment in the middle of one of their songs, where they put down their instruments and played leapfrog, pantomimed cat fights and fist fights, and some of the drum guys in the back even threw around a football. They also did a little act at the beginning of one of their songs where some of the band members were pushing and shuffling around like they didn't know where to stand. Their last song even ended with a field full of smoke, from what looked like fire extinguishers but I can only assume were some kind of safer smoke propellant. However, the Musician did think that their performance of Seven Nation Army was not as good as her band does. This is a whole other band in the video, although coincidentally also a local one.

So speaking of the Musician's band, they performed last, as the home band. Their band director is very stiff and formal. No dancing, no smoke, no goofy routines. They were also the only ones that performed several pieces outside of the general pop and rock genre. Their theme this year is "La Nouba," featuring songs from Cirque du Soleil. They played three songs from "La Nouba," and also Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." They had, I believe, the largest color guard, and their baton twirlers had the fanciest costumes. The baton twirlers' costumes were a step up from their normal ones, however, and seem to be only for competition type events. The color guard and baton team also did a nifty number where large balls made out of six hoops were brought out onto the field. These balls were pulled apart to form hula hoops, which the dancers than tossed around the field. They were very good musically, and the dancers fun to watch.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hate You Can Believe In

So the First Lady supposedly hates her current position. You can believe this or not, of course. Ms. Bruni is not all sweetness and light herself, it is said. Plus why would Michelle say something so damaging to someone with whom, by many reports, she does not get along?

The sad thing is, Michelle acts like she hates her current position. The constant scowling, the talking on a cell phone while walking up to where our citizens lost their lives on September 11, 2001, in Pennsylvania, the being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. There is even starting to be discussion that she is intentionally wearing bad outfits and making all sorts of gaffes as some sort of passive-aggressive move, because she is so unhappy. Honestly, when she is being compared unfavorably to Liberace, the Grimace, and drag queens, you'd think someone around her would figure out what was going on. Unless she just doesn't listen to anyone who isn't fawning over her. It's all very interesting speculation. I just wish it wasn't being made about someone who is supposed to be representing us as a country.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

We're on the Road to Nowhere

Okay, so this doesn't actually concern roads, but this "stimulus" deal has mostly been used on roadwork, for what it's been worth. And heck, right now it feels like our country is on the road to nowhere! Anyway, I happened to drive by this site where there is an expensive stimulus sign, and... absolutely nothing happening. Not shovel-ready, is it?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Never Gonna Give You Up

Due to the incredible pop culture movement that is rickrolling, Rick Astley has returned to the music scene!

This, after rickrolling the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

XKCD also caught rickrolling fever.

H/T: Ace of Spades

Friday, September 03, 2010

Communication

Not only do we access our daughters' grades, homework and other notes online, the "newest thing" among our daughters' teachers seems to be having blogs. Do you think time putting up homework assignments, updates on what the class is currently working on, and pictures, time well spent? It certainly can help give parents a handle on exactly what their child is learning.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Whirlwind of Life

Life has not slowed down; it has instead gotten more hectic. I think I have been more tired in the last couple of days than I have been my entire life. Sure, in high school and college, I burned the candle at both ends often, but I was also a lot younger and so I think I bounced back more quickly. The past couple of days I was operating on auto-pilot, and not doing well when I had to go off-course. This caused a lot of laughter for those around me, especially when I ended up asking for scrambled pancakes at the IHOP yesterday.

Friday night was the first high school football game, and the Musician's first night in the marching band. The place was absolutely packed, on both sides, since the rival high school directly adjoins our town. I find it interesting the way they have the home team stands set up. One section was for season ticket holders (yes, seriously,) three sections were general admission, one section was for the high schoolers, and one section was for students at the middle school and intermediate school.

We saw quite a few people we knew. Our GP was there, our favorite phlebotomist (who is now a stay-at-home mom and who we called our vampire,) a young man who works at the local grocery store, and of course lots of teachers and students the girls know. Thursday night a young woman who taught the Musician's riding classes came to the marching band preview. She could very well have been in the crowd on Friday night, since the place was so full you couldn't see everyone.

Mr. BTEG worked one of the concession stands Friday night; the profits go to the band, and all band parents have to help with some of the fundraisers. Yes, fundraisers can be a pain. On the other hand, our band room is beautifully appointed, the uniforms are nice, and we don't have a pay-to-play system like some local schools do. Concessions did a booming business; they were pretty much out of everything by the time the game ended. Some other group was doing a Krispy Kreme fundraiser which also seemed very popular. I will have to find out where the donuts are next time!

This was my first Friday night football game! My high school had so little money at the time I attended that our football field did not have lights, so all games were on Saturday afternoon.

It seems to me that people give more readily when there is some sort of incentive. There was a Souper Bowl fundraiser for local food pantries that pitted the two schools competing against each other to see who could raise the most in money and nonperishable food donated. It did spectacularly well. Human nature, I suppose. Our side won the fundraiser, which is just as well, as the football team played poorly and lost the actual game. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tired

I have a post brewing, but at the moment I am tuckered out. The Musician is in marching band and had Band Camp this week, so I drove her to and from the high school twice a day, in addition to dropping off and picking up my husband at the bus stop. Then there was an Ice Cream Social for the band tonight, in addition to getting all the parents to sign up for stuff.

We're seriously getting into that time of our lives when we're going to spend our time driving our girls around to activities. We may as well enjoy it, because I'm sure it will speed right by. Mr. BTEG is already working concessions at the high school football game next week. Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear Nancy Pelosi

I oppose an Islamic worship center, under whatever name, being built in that particular location in New York City. To make it easier when you investigate me, I am eagerly awaiting my big check from Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated any day now. Now get out of this country, you traitorous, Botoxed hag.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yes, That's a Cute Dog...

In my continued and determined quest to find us someplace to live, I looked over pictures of a condo which is currently priced too high for us, but I was curious to see what you were getting for the asking price. One of the pictures in the listing is a picture of the owner's dog. It's a cute little dog, to be sure, but unless it comes with the condo, I don't quite see the point. Is this like having fresh-baked cookies on the counter when you tour the house?

Also pictured was one of... the floor. Just the floor. Yes, it's a slate floor. Do we need a picture of it to revel in its wonderfulness? Slate floor is listed in the description. You can marvel at its beauty when you take the house tour.

For that matter, I think with the poor economy, interest in things like slate floors and stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops is going to go way down. We currently have stainless steel appliances; I hate them but they came with the house. They are hard to keep clean. I don't know about slate floors, but granite counter tops are apparently also notoriously hard to keep nice. The place we're currently most interested in has granite counter tops; I'm interested in spite of that. As a matter of fact, there are rust-like stains on the counter top around the sink. So why have all these poncy features that jack up the price of the house but add no true value, and may add more work? When the economy was rocking, maybe, but not now.

This house hunting is frustrating, but I'm certainly getting an education!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Things You See When You're Looking

House hunting has brought out some interesting things that make me go "Hmm." For example, the people describing their listed home as a bungalow. I was pretty sure I knew what a bungalow was, but I went and looked around on the internet a bit to update my knowledge. The only thing I had wrong is that the bungalow terms I saw described them as one or one-and-a-half stories. Although I did see pictures that looked like they were two stories. Still, I had the general idea right. A long, sloping front roof, with a porch at the front of the house. Long lines. What today would be called an open floor plan. Built-in cabinets.

However, when I see somebody list their house as a bungalow, I'm pretty sure by now what I'll see, and it's not a bungalow. It's more akin to what I would describe as a cottage. No front porch. No long lines. No built-ins. Just a small square house. People also seem to have forgotten the description of Cape Cod, a cottage with an extra bedroom or two on the second floor. Even realtors are not immune to not knowing how to describe a house properly, and it's their job, for goodness' sake!

I'm also seeing a huge difference in prices asked for homes. For example, two condos are listed in the same condo development. One is an end unit, with a basement. One is a middle unit, with no basement. Same number of bedrooms and baths. Yet the one without a basement is asking $500 more to rent! The only guess Mr. BTEG and I have is that those whose asking price is high either did not put enough down initially, or took out an extra loan on their property. Still, when housing prices have dropped dramatically, it's difficult to ask someone else to make up for your shortfall, when there are lower priced homes that are about equal. Of course, this also belies the idea that a drop in house values automatically translates into lower prices for the renter. People who bought high, or did something else like I described, may still be trying to make up the difference on their homes. It doesn't mean they'll get it, but it's one less home out there to interest you.

Oh, and if your home is "just listed," your realtor really ought to have a picture up that doesn't show snow on the front lawn. That just screams, "We tried to sell the house earlier this year, and didn't get any takers." Which in turn smells of desperation.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Modern Church

Incense kicks off people's asthma (among them, my husband.) Recovering alcoholics would like grape juice instead of wine for the Eucharist. Others need gluten-free wafers for the host. Me, I have OCD, and as I have said before, using the common cup for the Eucharist, for me, is liking kissing everyone in church on the mouth. Fortunately, our church allows dipping the host in the cup. I see the arguments for a common cup, but I personally wouldn't mind individual being an option, because of my own frailties. Obviously things that affect health are more important than OCD.

Where am I going with this? Just thinking how many things are happening in the life of the church that St. Paul and Luther and probably even Walther would never have dreamed of. I wonder what kind of human idiosyncrasies affected the church in their days?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Look at It This Way

I'm kind of glad I have a good excuse not to run for public office. Being mentally ill is a huge negative factor that I don't think I could overcome. Not to mention I think the added stress would push me over the edge. So I wouldn't want to overcome it.

Of course, being unhappy with the current state of politics from every politician at just about every level, I feel like I ought to being doing something to represent my ideas. Maybe if my life ever settles down in other ways (yeah, I know) I might at least get involved with helping local politicians whom I support. Who knows?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Self Improvement

In conjunction with my previous post, I am on a quest to shake up my life a little. I get this way periodically. This time, it's because Mr. Evil Genius was ill for so long, and since then we have been going through a period of not much cash flow. Plus just when Mr. Evil Genius got a new job and things were looking up, we found that we have to move. That was a serious blow which took me a while to overcome.

I will also bring up here, that though my bipolar medicine has done a good job of taking out the bad parts, or the bottom of my moods, it also seems to have taken out the top part of my moods as well. Was the most active and productive part of me the manic part? Can I achieve without that high? Time will tell.

I'm starting to feel like I'm ready to tackle life head-on again, instead of just going through the motions. I hope it will last, even if where we end up moving is not ideal. I miss the old me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Awkward Me

I'd like to make more friends, especially friends nearby. While online friends are great, real-life friends are nice also. I went out to lunch a few weeks ago with an old friend. We attended college together, and later on we worked at the same place and even lived in the same apartment development. Unfortunately, we live a couple of hours apart, so getting together is not an easy task, especially since she works full-time. But it was so much fun, and so rejuvenating, that I think it would be good for me if I could get together with friends often.

The big problem is how to meet people. The easiest way seems to be to join organizations. The problem (and of course there always is one) is that I dislike organizations! Or maybe I have never been in one I enjoyed enough. I generally don't like outside influences on my time, like appointments or set meeting dates. I also don't work well in large group settings. Is it a matter of leaving my "comfort zone" or is this just the way I am? I think the large group thing absolutely relates to my introversion. I find it hard to put myself out there to get noticed. But if I found some group where I really enjoyed the activities and the people, my other issues might not be a big deal.

I'm going to at least try the Parent/Teacher's Association this year. Last year, we didn't even move into the area until just after the girls had started school, and we didn't know until the last minute where we would even be moving to. With all the unpacking and stress, I was not interested in joining anything. This year, we're moving again, which I never would have expected, but the girls are staying in the same schools, so that uncertainty is gone. Once the stress of having to leave this house, which I had really come to feel at home in, is better, perhaps I will have the interest and energy to find more places to meet people.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gifts

Do you ever feel that you have certain talents that you don't use? When I was in college, I loved studying foreign languages, German and Spanish in particular, and was fairly good at them. I also enjoyed the smattering of Hungarian I picked up from a Hungarian friend. I was sure I had been given these gifts for a purpose, to make use of them in my future. Unlike Miss Kate, I don't have the gifts necessary to make a good teacher, so I gave up on that idea, but I still felt somehow something would come out of my abilities.

Well, here I am twenty years later, and I use a small bit of German when I talk with a friend who originated from Bavaria. I've started to pick back up on the Spanish since the Musician started it this past school year. Of course, after three years of Latin, Spanish was fairly easy-peasy for her. She'll actually be in Honors Spanish at the high school this year.

Of course, my German was extremely valuable when I visited relatives during a ten-week college trip to Germany and Austria. I spent a few days around Christmas with my mother's first cousin, her husband, children and grandchildren. Only one of the grandchildren spoke much English, and I didn't bunk at his apartment.

My Spanish brightened someone's day at a food trailer during that same trip to Germany. I can only assume this guy was a migrant worker from Spain who had come to Germany for opportunity, and he was buying something at the trailer. I don't know how I picked up that the guy was from Spain, probably something the food trailer guy said. They seemed to know each other. So I spoke to him in Spanish, and the man seemed thrilled with this little touch of "home." I can still remember him exclaiming excitedly to the man behind the counter, "She speaks Spanish!"

And I had a fun time on that same trip when the future Mr. Evil Genius and I ate dinner one night at a Spanish restaurant. The menu was dual German/Spanish, and I ordered in Spanish. The waiter began his very own version of Germish, along the lines of, "Gracias, Fraulein." Poor Mr. Evil Genius was very lost.

Who knows what the future holds? I'd definitely have to brush up on my foreign languages if I was to make use of them again in the future. In the meantime, I sometimes wonder, "Why?"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Feelin' the Love

Staring at a blank screen is about as bad as staring at a blank sheet of paper. :) There is a lot going on, but not much of it is good. Oddly enough, though, when I think about all the things that are going wrong, I then somehow realize how much good is out there. Lots of prayers and support for friends who are facing illness and other difficulties. Economics forcing us to look at what is really important, both in our family life and in our church life. The ability to reach out to friends online, and have a dozen friends answer back with support within minutes. The ability to be aware easily of what's going on in the world that might effect us. As Red Green says, "We're all in this together." Or as my pastor says, "This is why we keep our eye on the goal, it soothes the pain of the present. St. Paul says: I consider the present sufferings not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Being Free

You know what's scary? When you realize your children are going to go their own way, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. Oh, you see signs that she is her own person even in babyhood. My daughters started showing some of their strong personal characteristics VERY early on. But when they are young, you can still coerce them into being polite, working on schoolwork, sitting quietly in church, (occasionally) cleaning their rooms. Eventually, though, you come to the Moment. Even as a mid-life crisis can hit you like a bolt from the blue, though you've known all along that eventually you will get old and die, so too can the thought that someday your kids will be on their own and can make some serious mistakes, be startling.

Of course, there are many things that can help influence a child's development. In this category are not only how you raise the child, but what examples you set. When looking at people whom I know personally who have made mistakes in their lives, I can see how seeds of negative behavior were sown by the actions of others who had significant influences in their lives at an early age.

In the end, though, everybody makes their own choices in life. Though it can be daunting to think of my daughters out on their own, in a way it is freeing to think that in the end they are responsible for decisions they make, even as I am responsible for what I have done, no matter the bad things I can point to in my past. It is freeing because none of us can be perfect as parents, or as significant people in a child's life. We should strive for the best, so that our children are not too burdened with a poor start. But our best influences fade before personal choice. The best we can do is pray for the young people in our lives to make positive decisions.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Day

Yesterday was my birthday! I'm honestly not fishing for birthday wishes, because I got enough yesterday on Facebook to turn anybody's head. But I wanted to mention that my new BTEG icon was a birthday gift from the Musician, as well as this picture:Wasn't that nice?

My younger sister (with whom I don't talk much) shares a birthday with me. It was kind of nice having this in common with my sister, but it also stunk not to have one's birthday to oneself, plus without the "specialness" of being a twin. It also made it more painful when my youngest sister started ignoring my birthday. It's not like she could forget it! However, that's years under the bridge, and I've learned that real family is the people who are there for you and who care for you, no matter whether there is a blood tie or not. Praise God for all of them!

Monday, July 12, 2010

House Hunting

The Musician has always been very sensitive to smells. For the longest time she couldn't even walk down the shampoo aisle or the laundry detergent aisle without getting ill, and of course she is very sensitive to what kind of shampoo and soap she uses, and what kind her sister uses since they share a bathroom. She once threw up when my sister with no sense of boundaries forced smelly hand lotion on her (one of the reasons I don't speak to my sister much.)

She must get it from me, because while house hunting I have been frustrated with how badly some of these houses smell to me because of some kind of air freshener or cleaner. As we were driving away from the last house we looked at, I remarked to Mr. BTEG how badly it smelled and he replied that he hadn't really noticed anything. So perhaps I am extra sensitive, but I would think a person would be careful about that sort of thing when trying to interest a prospective buyer or renter in a property. Easier said than done if you are not sensitive to it, I guess. Oh, and don't leave the dustpan on the stove. That squicked me out as well.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Given

First of all, the Equestrienne is now the Musician.

Secondly, the Musician just returned from a fantastic youth convention in Nashville, Tennessee, through a Lutheran group called Higher Things. The theme for this year was "Given." She not only had a great time with over a thousand other teenagers, but she worshiped, communed and learned more about what being Lutheran means. I'm so glad that she has this opportunity, and I wish something like it had been around when I was a teen. I'm also glad that my daughter takes her faith seriously and enjoys learning about it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mind's Eye

A commenter on my blog once noted that people are open about suffering from mental issues--when things are going well. It's true that it is difficult to share things with the outside world when one is in a chemical imbalance state of depression. Even without seeing pink elephants or purple spiders, you know when you are "off" and you don't want to scare people away. I have really been grappling with the issue of having to move, especially when we thought we were settled in where we were. The ground was pulled out from under our feet, and I spent a lot of time getting through the shock. Now I am putting a lot of energy into packing and finding a place to live that I would rather be putting into other areas, like relationships. Such is life, really. This too shall pass, and I hope we will come out better for it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Improvement

I have been very lethargic and sluggish recently. I was starting to worry about myself. Was it depression due to our housing situation? Was it a result of my meds/mental situation? Well, the temperature has dropped and all of a sudden I am full of win again. It seems likely it was just the hot and humid weather bringing me down. We have not been running our air conditioning because of our financial setbacks earlier this year. Which is good overall, but apparently not so good for my physical state. At least I am feeling better about my overall state.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Television and Real Life

I am very tired of seeing ads for the new television show on TV Land called "Hot in Cleveland." I suppose we are supposed to favor it since it is ostensibly based on our town. To be honest, I haven't watched it. I don't watch much television in any case. I've just seen one clip, where the hot chicks from out of town are shocked and thrilled when one of their male escorts for the evening remarks something along the lines of, "Just cheese fries? You're a light eater." Not sure if that is a supposed to be a positive or negative towards Cleveland, but there certainly are different approaches to life and eating across the country.

A couple of years ago we hosted some friends and their daughter at our place. They both had lived in California for a number of years, but the wife had lived there far longer. For dinner, we served a roast and vegetables that had been thrown in with the roast. The dinner was enjoyed by all, but the wife commented that in California, they'd have been given something more along the lines of a salad. Ah well. I take C.S. Lewis' attitude that different locales can each appreciate the things they like best, as long as they refrain from attacking others' choices.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Reading

"When I was your age, television was called books."

The Evil Genius family is a family of voracious readers. The Dancer is cruising her way through the Lemony Snickett series currently. The Equestrienne has been going back and reading old favorites, but she also has three assigned books for her freshman Honors English class that she has to read this summer: A Separate Peace, Night and A Raisin in the Sun. I need to buy them for her soon! I am glad to see she is reading more classic literature than she got in her 8th grade English class. I myself read the first two books for school as well. Night was assigned while we were studying in Germany, and I got to hear Elie Wiesel speak at Kent State University, although honestly I don't remember much of it! I remember I did evaluate the speech for the public speaking class I was taking that quarter.

Cheryl did a post a while ago which made me think back to all of the classics that I have read for fun or self-enrichment. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ivanhoe, All Quiet on the Western Front. I read translations of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera after seeing the musicals. I have a tendency to do this; I read The Princess Bride and even 101 Dalmatians out of interest from the movies. Read The Neverending Story but haven't seen the whole movie. I'm sure once I end this post I will remember more classics I have read on my own.

I will have to come up with a new name for the Equestrienne, as she has lost interest in riding, at least for now. Can't come up with a better name than the High Schooler. Maybe I'll ask her for input.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Think It Through

There is an organization at Values dot com that puts up billboards highlighting someone who has accomplished great things and encouraging others to do likewise with the words "Pass it on." The one I have seen most often around town is of a woman who fostered 100 children. Being a foster mom to needy kids is a great thing to do. However, the one I saw a couple times in Youngstown this weekend made me do a double take in my mind when I thought about it. It was a picture of Babe Ruth, with the phrase "From orphanage to Hall of Fame." Now, making the Baseball Hall of Fame is a special accomplishment. It puts you in the league of extraordinary athletes. However, was not Babe Ruth also a raging alcoholic and a womanizer? Is this another case of ignoring an athlete's troubled private life if he can perform on the field? Or is it a case where someone didn't think it through?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Consequences

I don't have any hard figures on eBay sales, but to my own scanning eye, it looks like a lot of things are not selling. I wonder if this is not due at least in part to higher postage costs. You can price your item at a garage sale price, but if it is fragile and/or big enough that it needs to go in a box, the price of shipping can be double or triple what is being asked as the selling price. Might as well haul the stuff down to Goodwill, I guess.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Changing Season

It feels like fall in northeast Ohio today. After some wonderfully warm and sunny days, there were a series of severe thunderstorms that passed through last night. Today, the sky is gray, the air cold, and the wind still strong. For me, a good day to stay inside and relax. For my family, a good day to go see Iron Man 2. Ah well. I wish there were more things we enjoyed doing as an entire family. Don't tell Laura, but I am not very big on movies! :O I am happy to have some quiet time, however.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sickies

There is a cold going through the Evil Genius family. I am the one who currently has it, and I am at that stage where I am incredibly bored but don't feel up to doing anything. I'm also hoping I will get a better night's sleep than I did last night. For being sick, you'd think I would have slept like a log, but I didn't. I think I will go have some ice cream to soothe my sore throat. :)

P.S. What does it say about me that my blog has a label for ice cream? :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Positive Notes

The first positive note is that Mr. BTEG has gotten a new job. I know it will take a while for things to settle out for us, but we are at least on the right path now.

The second positive thing was that we went geocaching on Sunday afternoon. It was a fun and free way to get out of the house, and we got some exercise to boot. The first cache we found is entitled "Gotta Go." It's in an interesting location; it looks like it was originally planned to be a street at one time. There is a level and graded area that is about street width, and the wooded lots on either side are about the size for a house. Each wooded side backs onto the houses on another residential street, so those houses have pretty nice back yards, at least unless they build there someday. One homeowner appears to have bought the back lot; it has no trees and is grassed over. Another homeowner may have purchased their back lot; there is a lot of brush cut down and they seem to burn it at times, judging by the rusty barrel in the middle of the back lot. But the most outstanding feature is the blue toilet sitting off to the side near the back. Thus the name of the cache.

We also saw six deer at the end of this "street," which ends in a large field. I guess the deer around here made it through the winter okay, judging by the amount I've seen.

The last puzzle we did was a puzzle cache, which started in a park right on Lake Erie, and ended across the street in another playground/park. We first took the chance to find a cache we had wanted to look for the previous time we were there, but there were too many people around. This time, we were able to not be so conspicuous. Part of the puzzle cache took us to the small old cemetery which is also right on the lake. The pictures I have are from the last time we were there.

Many of the stones are worn quite a bit by the weather, some to nothing but stubs. I hope the local historical society or someone else chronicled these grave stones before they became unreadable.



I thought this one was interesting, because the man died in 1816 at 82. That means he was born in 1734! Yes, I'm sure lots of people were. :) But it's still interesting to see an actual headstone from that time, and think of everything this person lived through.

The headstone included in the puzzle cache had a wife who died two days after her husband. That's how I want to go.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Cold Spell

Everything that the BTEG family has been through this year has affected me, and mostly not in very good ways. Still, I feel I have reasons, for example, to be more cynical. Things that I thought were there to help us were really just there to look at the bottom line. The world can be a very cold and unfriendly place, and I've seen a lot more of that lately than things in the world that are good. I've also learned more about some people's true characters. That's painful, but better in the long run than thinking someone cares about you when they don't. If it wasn't better for our daughters to be settled in a home and a school, I'd love to pull up stakes and strike out somewhere new. As it is, I'm going to have to adjust to how things have changed, both in how I relate to other people, and in myself. Perhaps some of this will change when I get back solidly on my meds and there is less stress in my life.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Might As Well

Since I haven't posted in quite a while, I might as well do a proud mom brag here as well as on Facebook. The Dancer's teacher called today to tell us how far the Dancer has come in school and that she is an excellent student. They also took a practice Ohio Achievement Test today and the Dancer did the best in the class. Of course, I'm also proud as her former teacher for five years too! I would like to do an "in your face" to my parents who didn't think I could homeschool. Since I can't do it in person, I'll just do it here, lol. And I didn't even accomplish as much as I wanted as a homeschool mom, since the girls really didn't enjoy it, not nearly as much as they like public school. I've said stuff like this before, but it's still wonderful to me how well they are doing fresh out of homeschool. In a few years, I'll probably just be bragging about them as students and not throw me into the mix as much. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Do They Do It?

Looking on etsy to get ideas of stuff to possibly make and sell, I have to wonder how knit dishcloths can be sold for as low as $2.00. Even if you are a lightning fast knitter, that barely covers your yarn, much less your time.

The amount of items on sale at etsy is overwhelming. The etsy people really seem to have found a good niche for themselves, and for crafters. I find it funny that having spent a *lot* of time in doctors' offices lately, and seeing a lot of elderly people in said offices, that I am the only person I have seen knitting. Unless these people have troubles with their sight and/or hands. I dread that happening to me because I enjoy various crafts so much. I would like to be able to continue to do them, well, for the rest of my life, basically. Selfish of me. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Untitled

the night falls without a sound, cold and alone are we.
the understanding for which you pray
flares once, then dies,
swept away by the abyss.
all hope must die.

your heart desires no more.
how could you not understand?
our dark thoughts surround us, crying,
we are fallen.

http://www.deadlounge.com/poetry/

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Timely Lyric

In this life
Things are much harder than in the after world.
This life--
You're on your own.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wonderland for the First Time


Due to the movie advertisements, the Dancer has actually begun reading the book, Alice in Wonderland. I'm glad she is reading this classic book, glad she reads for pleasure, glad that I put in all the work teaching her to read! I'm also happy in a special way that the book she is reading came from a book collection that we inherited from a dear friend. He was fond of our daughters and I think he would enjoy seeing her discover Wonderland for the first time.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Sure, it's important to make sure disability claims are substantiated, and that people are really eligible for free medicine before you go shipping it out. But dragging it out for what seems like an interminable period is frustrating. My husband's reputable doctor has been more than happy to verify my husband's medical problems, and our income and insurance issues are easy to prove if you know with whom to check. And yet here we are waiting... waiting... waiting to get disability payments started up again, and to receive the medication that we simply can't afford. It's all a matter of paperwork and paper-pushing, and I suppose there is more work out there than people to do it.

I don't *necessarily* begrudge pharmaceutical companies big bucks for medication. I have no idea how many scientists spent how much time doing research to create this drug, not to mention the amount of testing it had to undergo. And companies only have a set amount of time to make back their investment before the drug goes generic and the price sinks. But when a drug costs almost a third of your rent for a month's supply, it's impossible to get on your own without insurance and/or a *good* income. In the meantime, I think the issues involved with the extended release version are wearing off. I slept most of this past weekend, but my energy and alertness are slowly returning.

Fortunately, we will be at least be picking up today a temporary free supply of another medication, which we found much easier to prove that I qualified for. I also think my doctor and his staff have been a great help with all the companies we've had to deal with, both the disability company and the pharmaceutical ones. And of course this work has essentially been done for "free." They just get our continued patronage as patients.

I feel almost afraid talking about all of this because I do not want to become a poster child for any kind of "health care reform" nonsense. I have my own ideas of what problems our health care faces and what solutions I would like to see. Please don't use me to make your points.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Keeping On

Wow, it's been a while since I posted. And absolutely nothing new has happened on the home front. Well, except that I am temporarily on an extended release version of one of my bipolar meds, and I'm afraid this med change is what led to me being rather depressed on Saturday. Been a while since I have been depressed like that. Looking back at it, I can tell it is different from normal feeling down or blue. Of course, it's hard to explain if you have never gone through it. I guess you could say it takes over your whole life. You don't feel like doing anything but lying in bed and crying.

The med change was an unfortunate result of the fact that, due to issues with getting temporary disability from Mr. BTEG's employer, we have no health insurance, and one bipolar med in particular is rather expensive. My primary physician is helping me out until we hopefully get some free pills from the pharmaceutical company. Mr. BTEG has also had to skip one of his infusions to slow down his immune system, and it is showing. BTW, when I said in my previous post that things could be straightened out in a day, I meant that things could work out in *as little* as a day. As it is, I hope things will come together by the end of this week. Otherwise we will start having serious issues to deal with.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Everything and Nothing

Right now, Mr. BTEG is having problems with his health that are affecting his job. He's not dying or anything, but he's having fatigue problems that haven't yet been fully explained. In the meantime, everything is up in the air. It's hard for me to take an interest in much of anything else while these issues are going on. Things can, and hopefully will, improve in a day or so, but in the meantime, I feel like we're in limbo. It's hard to complain, because we have every sign that things will improve, but until they actually do, there's a feeling of emptiness.

Monday, February 08, 2010

On Being Me

Even before Mr. BTEG and I had kids, I had plans to be "the cool mom." I wanted to be the mom all the kids liked, and I wanted to have the home where all the kids wanted to hang out. This has its advantages. You not only have a much clearer picture of what your own children are doing when they are doing things in your home, but you don't have to worry as much about what your kid's friends' parents are like, and what sorts of things they allow in their homes. Plus, I want my children to be able to confide in me, not another mom who appears "cool" but who may have ideas with which I do not agree. I wasn't eager to necessarily be the mom that other kids besides my own came to for advice. I do see worrying tendencies in some of the Equestrienne's friends, but that is a whole other post, if I write it.

After the party we had for the Dancer this past Saturday, however, I have finally become convinced that I do not have the personality to be "the cool mom." I dislike a lot of noise and commotion, and hate sensing that things are out of control, or at least that they are not going the way I had planned. The Dancer had a very nice party. The house was adequately clean ahead of time, the games and favors were planned out and prepared, and the refreshments were acceptable. However, at one point I went into our pantry and shut the door and took a little "time-out" because I was overwhelmed by the noise and exuberance. (Mr. BTEG was still there to supervise.) I also felt incapable at times of being in charge of the group of girls. This same problem has occurred when I have tried to be a teacher, or a Girl Scout leader. I don't feel capable of what I feel is the necessary "command" and firmness when dealing with a group of kids. You can do your own psychoanalysis of me as to why this is so. ;)

However, "knowing is half the battle." I've spent a lot of time with a counselor in the past working on another part of the battle, learning not to think negatively or have distorted thought patterns about myself. So as I let go of being "the cool mom," I can still find ways that do suit me to support my children and their friendships. And make sure I always have back-up at parties!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Follow the Story

I don't know exactly why this unfolding story here in Cleveland strikes me as interesting, except that it shows first impressions are not always the right ones. A house exploded in a Cleveland neighborhood, damaging almost 60 homes. At first, fingers were pointed at the gas company which came out to the building that exploded to turn off the gas a day or two prior. But things have gotten intriguing now that police have revealed that a next-door neighbor who complained about the empty building was convicted twice of arson in another state, and plead guilty once for burning down his house for the insurance money! He is currently being charged with deliberately creating the explosion in this home.

I also wonder what society does with people like this. I hope at least that if this man and his wife had insurance on their current abode, that the insurance company did a background check and was charging an exorbitant fee, although somehow I don't see it. There's no consolation for the many people whose homes suffered damage because of this man's alleged reckless action. I'm wondering if he shouldn't get prison time for life if found guilty. Why trust him again?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Birthday Girl


Today is the Dancer's birthday! This picture is from the days when she was taking gymnastics. After she was found climbing the refrigerator, one foot on either side of the handles, and because she was constantly climbing the shelves to get to the top of the pantry, I knew she needed some outlet for her energy. Later on, she decided she preferred to dance, and she has been ever since.

I'm still convinced she was turning somersaults in the womb, which caused her to move from her head down position, to sideways, thus necessitating a C-section.

Happy birthday, my sweet Dancer!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I've Got the Vapors

Okay, so if it's against regulations to have a gun in an NBA locker room, then the suspension two players received for bringing a gun in was correct. But does that mean people need to be so sensitive to every bit of language that can be used to describe gun use? Even if guns are not allowed in the locker room, the NBA acted to discourage this particular behavior, but that does not mean guns should not be allowed anywhere, ever. So why should language like "not leaving anything in the chamber" be so upsetting? Oooh, even talk about a gun gives us the vapors. Perhaps, just perhaps, people should receive gun training in high school or something so guns are not so "big and scary."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And In the Stupid File...

If you're sending out a mass advertising campaign for your fancy little private school, perhaps you should proofread your material better. Just sayin'.

ETA: Welcome Joanne Jacobs readers!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Born to Rule

That's the title of the book I'm reading right now. It's about five women who had two things in common: they were all reigning consorts, and they were all granddaughters of Queen Victoria. The author explores their childhood relationships with their grandmother, which were generally positive, and their enduring love for England and things English, even if they also learned to love their new homelands.

One of the sad things the book covers is that even though four of these women especially did grow to truly love the land of their reign, they were seen by many in their adopted countries as alien and perhaps even a threat to the welfare of the country. The book brings up something I'd never thought of; not only did many royals marry foreign princes and princesses because of the aspect of royalty marrying royalty, but in those times there was competition among the aristocratic families, for power. Marrying into one specific noble house and giving that family extra influence in court was not a wise idea

Despite their wealth and position, you end up feeling sorry for all of these women. Three of them were cheated on, four saw their thrones lost, the Empress Alexandra and her immediate family were of course eventually assassinated, and all of them for their supposed power as queen/empress really lived very constricted lives. Do you see this as a trade-off for the privileges they did enjoy?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sad Realities

The Dancer has wanted a pet bunny for years. She has absolutely loved bunnies ever since she was a wee little thing. However, now that she is old enough to deal with the work having this pet would entail, she is torn. Having gone through the pain of losing two of our family pet cats and her sister's two hamsters, she is hesitant to get a beloved animal, only to lose it some years down the road. I feel sad that she has gone through the heartache of losing pets, even though it is part of the realities of life. I suppose someone who has never had a pet wouldn't understand, but it truly was hard looking at the lifeless form of a dear pet and realizing our time of companionship together was over. I still hope she makes the decision to bring another pet into her life to love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Getting Personal

Everyone has regrets. I think mine are mostly related to things that I said and did before I knew I was bipolar. Thank God that my most important relationships are strong, that I was diagnosed in time for me to be able to make improvements in my moods and stability.

I'm pretty sure my father is bipolar also, but he's in his seventies and I doubt would ever admit he needed help. Ironically, his current wife is a nurse. I think of all the bridges my father burned in his lifetime, including with me, and wonder if things could have been different if he had been diagnosed and agreed to take medication. It's amazing how once you have some information a lot of pieces seem to fit into place.

I really can't know for sure, but I think my father's father was bipolar also. I know he was an alcoholic which was a way of self-medication back then when help was not so readily available. Who knows how long the curse of mental illness has been dogging my family? I thank God for bringing me out of the depths and pray He preserves me and those I love.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Over My Head

The Evil Genius family picked up a few magazine subscriptions when the girls were selling them in the fall to raise money for their schools. I just got my first issue of Threads the other day, and boy, do I feel out of my league. Not that I thought I was a couture artist or anything, but it's something else to see it all laid out in a glossy magazine. Of course, for me there are not only the skills required to overcome, but the expense. I can't afford couture materials at this time any more than I have the skills to do couture sewing. Nor do I have a couture figure. :D One of the reasons I like sewing for dolls is that I can dress them much nicer than I do myself.

I also was reminded of a weird lack of faculty I have as a sewer. I can't picture sewing directions in my head. When I read that you need to do A, B and C, I have to sit down and carefully puzzle my way through them with the materials. I can't work it out in my mind.

I do wonder if I could take my sewing up to another level, just as I wonder whether I will ever have the knitting skills to sew an entire sweater, or even a pair of socks. I mean, just because you can master the basics, doesn't mean you can do advanced level things, right?? I know I'd be cheating myself if I didn't at least try to take on more advanced projects, if I really want to do them. But it can feel intimidating!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Loving to Learn

The Equestrienne starts high school next year. It will be a big milestone for our family! They are already doing class planning at the middle school for next year. I wish I had had as many class options as the Equestrienne does. I attended a small parochial high school and the classes were mostly very basic college prep. I was prepared for college courses, so my schooling was not inferior; we just didn't have nearly as many options as they do in this large suburban high school. I find myself wishing that I had attended public school. The public schools in the town I grew up in were and are very well thought of academically, and I know they had more to offer even back in my high school days.

I've always seen school as not only for creating a foundation of learning for life, but also as preparatory for earning a living. That's why I'm glad for more than one reason that the Equestrienne will be able to take classes such as photography or fashion. She can be exposed to a lot of different things that may lead to a career or just an activity to enjoy.

I'm also interested to see what honors classes, if any, the Equestrienne will be able to get into. Right now, college is a necessity for her career goals, so I'd like to see her get as many advantages in her high school years as possible.

I've sometimes thought I'd like to take classes, at the undergraduate level. That will have to wait, if it happens, until my girls are fairly launched on their own. Of course there are many ways to learn outside of a school, so I can still pursue my interests! Especially now that the girls are in school during the day.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Little Gripe

I'm tired. Physically. All I want to do is rest and sleep. Yesterday when I was preparing dinner, I dropped a glass and then a bottle of spaghetti sauce. The bottle was plastic, but the plastic lid cracked and the sauce made a big mess. At least the glass broke in fairly big pieces. I'm hoping the simple answer to my issues is that my cold is still wearing me down, despite being on antibiotics for a week. I still do have some symptoms, like coughing and laryngitis. It's a little scary that a cold could still be hanging in there, but we don't need anybody else with complicated sleep issues in the family. We have discovered that Mr. BTEG has moderate apnea, but that doesn't account for all his issues, so it's off to more doctors. We are a family of health problems, but I can always thank God that it is not worse.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Watching a Train Wreck

While I don't hide from bad news, I don't like to talk about it very much. I've never been a huge optimist, but neither do I want to dwell on the negative. However, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what changes to the tax code for increasing government run programs will mean, not only for me and my family, but for those who we help support financially. The first things to go would be our daughters' extra-curricular activities, dance and horseback riding. However, there's the sticky problem that while these activities are a nice bonus for us, for the women who teach these classes, it is their livelihood. Going one step further, if enough families could no longer afford such classes, not only would the dance teacher be out of a job, but the building she rents would be empty and no longer bringing in income for the landlord. If enough young people could not take horse riding lessons, not only would the family that lives on the property have a hard time paying the taxes, and possibly a mortgage, on it, but they'd have a stable full of horses that would be difficult to care for.

On the other side, for higher taxes for mandated health care, what is gained from it? Anecdotally, I've read tens of stories where doctors plan on getting out of their chosen profession if government-run health care comes to pass. Since this has happened in other places where government health care became the only option, I can well believe them. So what would our money, which is now helping to provide jobs and tax and rental income to the economy, provide? Not more jobs, if there are likely to be fewer doctors. Not much of any sort of contribution to the economy. Just more money for bureaucracy. How sad and scary that the government could have such control over all our lives.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Life in 2010

Yesterday the house was full as my in-laws came in from Youngstown. Fortunately, they brought all the food, including a pork roast, kielbasa and sauerkraut. I really wasn't prepared to do a lot of cooking. My sister-in-law covets my kitchen. I'm rather fond of it myself.


I've become rather attached to this house. It's ending up, though, that the main living of the house is being done down the basement, while I prefer to stay upstairs and soak up as much natural light as possible. I guess we'll still have to work things out. On the other hand, the treadmill is downstairs, and I used it today! Not for very long, but it's a good start. This treadmill seems odd, though. Like it was made for running. The very slowest setting is about the fastest I can keep up with it. Well, it's worth every penny we paid for it! :)