Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, a day that I not only sleep in, but also avoid any store like the plague. Who, in their right mind, is willing to work those crowds just to save a few bucks? And, I'm really a cheapskate, so this is saying something.

I think there are two kinds of cheapskates. There's the kind that like to participate in Black Friday and the kind that don't. The kind that like to participate in Black Friday are the people who love spending hours in thrift stores, clip every coupon (and remember to bring them to the store with them) and get some kind of thrill out of buying things at the lowest possible cost.

Then, there's my kind of cheapskate, the lazy cheapskate. I just do without. It's just not worth it to me. Shopping is like cleaning my kitchen floor. I'd just rather read a book. And, if I have to wait in line to purchase it, then it needs to be almost free. I always add at least $10 an hour to the actual cost of purchasing something because I figure my time must be worth at least that much. If that's the case, I never find a "steal".

So, while all across America my fellow citizens are enjoying their newly purchased flat screen televisions while lounging in their just-purchased recliner and sipping Coke out of brand new glasses, I'll be happily laying on my old couch, library book in hand, sipping water out of my "Steve Chabot for Congress" cup.

Life just doesn't get any better.

Monday, November 24, 2008

That's my girl -- on CNN!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Lazy Parents Guide to Rough Housing With Your Children

Rob and I were talking last night, and we decided that after over 12 years of parenting there had been some lessons we had learned and wanted to pass on to other parents in hopes of lightening their load.

First of all, all children love to rough house. In fact they need to rough house, especially in winter. So here are 3 games that we created that facilitate the much needed aerobic activity and relational attachment that comes from wrestling with your children.

1) The Mummy
This simple game is based on the old monster movies. You follow your kids around the house, arms outstretched, slowly moving one foot and then the other. The slow speed is necessary in order to really mimic a mummy (or Frankenstein's monster). You never actually catch a kid because you are moving incredibly slowly, and they are running around. But just like the people in the old monster movies, it doesn't occur to them that they can easily outrun "the mummy" and they have a blast while you don't break a sweat.

2) The Tickle Monster
This one was invented by Rob. You lay in one spot, say a couch, and the kids run up to you and you catch them and tickle them. Genius! You don't even have to sit up! Also, if you play this while listening to music, you can have the Tickle Monster "rest" for alternating songs. Of course, the kids don't realize that there's no "chase" to this game, because the "monster" is always relaxing. So, they just continue to run up and get tickled while, again, you don't break a sweat.

3) Hide and Seek
This classic has obvious applications to the parent who doesn't want to overexert themselves. You can offer to the be the counter.... 1,2,3,4,5....pick up a book.... or you can hide in a spot where they won't ever think to look. Again, take a book. Now, this one can back fire because little kids start to cry if they can't find you, and the older kids start to learn your tricks. But, still, you've probably got a good 5-6 year range where these techniques work quite well, and, sometimes, the older kids apply your tricks to the game as well because they're only playing to pacify their really cute little sister who asked them to join.

Here are some short cuts I've come up with:

1) The only real qualification for creating a "pair of socks" is that you have two socks. In fact, if the socks don't match it only adds color to the child's outfit.

2) Always have your kid dress themselves, that way you can just always tell people that they are dressed that way because they dressed themselves, not because you're behind on laundry.

3) Top sheets are useless for kids. They end up wadded up by the foot of the bed under their blanket. Then the child will always look at you with wide innocent eyes as to why the sheet is there and not spread nicely over the entire bed. Yes, you'll think of all the hygienic reasons a top sheet is good, but, my guess is, you'll finally realize it's a losing battle and easier without.

4) LOCK the bathroom door. You deserve the privacy, and they'll still shove notes to you under the door when it's locked.

5) In regards to both the neatness of the bedroom and their bathroom habits: if you can't see it, don't worry about it. Just make sure you teach them how to wash their hands. Then, let it go.

6) If it went through the dishwasher, it's clean (even if your oldest child disagrees), no matter how the dish looks. Honestly, what could possibly live through the temperatures in a dishwasher?

7) Wait to teach them to tell time. Of all the necessary life skills, this one is the best to hold back. Do you really want them to know what time bed time is? Is that really going to work in your favor? Also, once they know how to tell time, they can let you know how late you're running.

8) Teach your children that just because they're curious doesn't mean that you're curious. So, for instance, if they decided to life the dog's tail to see what anatomy is under it, they don't need to share with you exactly what it looks like under your dog's tail.

9) Teach your children to wash hands frequently (see scenario in number 8).

10) Good communication is a must. That way, if they, for instance, decide to burglar-proof your backyard by digging lots of holes in it and then covering the said holes up with sticks and grass, you know that information BEFORE you go out and mow the lawn.

And, now, this epistle must be cut short as I must go up and teach my children how to use the wet vac to clean up dog vomit on the carpet in someone's bedroom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nifty Book, If I Do Say So Myself

Dolores Mize and Angela Talentino have created a new book entitled: Embraced By Love. It's a great celebration of adoption, and just happens to have 3 of my 5 children on the cover. Cool.

Their first book, I Know I am Loved celebrates birth and is filled with incredibly beautiful pictures, even though none of them happen to be my kids.

This is worth checking out:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cruising with the Righteous

I was lying in bed this morning and the radio woke me up. Unfortunately, we have our alarm clock set for one of the national Christian radio stations. This is unfortunate, because I almost always wake up annoyed. I don't do this because I like to punish myself, but because if I put on public radio and something like Maurice Ravel's Reverie is played at alarm time, then I don't hear it and wake up. However, if I crank the volume on it, then I get shocked out of bed by pieces like the "1812 Overture". I get enough Warm 98 when I'm at the Y, and any other secular station risks me having to listen to something gross. Yes, even grosser than someone saying ,"Glory Bump". If I'm lucky I might actually hit the jackpot with Christian radio and wake up to some nice thoughtful worship music.

Not today!

Today I woke up to constant drivel about the "Cruise" -- the one where all the cool Christian's go. Of course, the first thing I wonder is: how many families go on this cruise that don't really have the money to pay for it? I dug around online and couldn't even get a price for renting a cabin on the ship! You can't actually price anything unless you register and want to book. I'm sure there's a good reason for that, a reason far beyond the gluttonous nature of the cruise line industry.

Is this good stewardship? I mean, I know we don't live in poverty, but is a follower of a HOMELESS man really going to even be able to take a "christian" cruise???

Can the people who organize this really see Jesus attending? Paying lots of money in order to go on a ship and eat too much food, mingle with the elites and then go home, having totally pulled himself from the real world?

Maybe a cruise is a way to reward the humble servants who have sacrificed for the cross -- oh wait, they can't afford to go!

Nothing like an elitist church. I guess Jesus welcomes everyone, but only some get to vacation with him. Makes me so proud to be an American Christian.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's Over!

Well, the election's finally over, so our phone has stopped ringing and I can blog once again. I've been unable to get much of anything done in the past few weeks because all I've been doing is answering phone calls from both the Republican and Democratic parties, both of whom really believed I was on their side.

I have to admit it's been an interesting few days. No matter what the outcome, I knew that I was going to be disappointed in the election results. Neither party was offering anything that I liked.

On the conservative side, I was convinced that Sarah Palin did not have the education or experience necessary to be an effective Vice President (which is really saying something when you consider the "work" a VP is actually expected to do...). Honestly, the Republicans put forward a women who considered her family vacations to Mexico and the fact that Alaska was geographically close to part of Russia as part of her foreign affairs resume! I was in shock for months over that choice. Then, I could never shake the feeling that McCain was probably going to get us all blown up within the first year of his presidency. On an international level, we don't need a maverick, we need a diplomat.

I don't know if it's just the travels we've done during the Bush administration that's enlightened me, but it just really strikes me that most Americans really don't understand how incredibly unpopular our country has become, nor do they understand the implications of that unpopularity. These are far reaching implications which can challenge things from international adoption to the global economy to establishing a stable peace, not to mention our influence in things such as humane working conditions, world hunger and infectious disease.

I'm not kidding when I say that over 4 years ago, while in Kazakhstan, we saw a homeless man that wandered the park outside the Museum of Music and Culture in Almaty and approached Americans all with the same greeting (in perfect English), " Leeeet me OFfer my condolences on the OUTcome of yourrr presideeental elections...." The sentiment of the population there, in a country that was improving it's economy through the oil industry and America, was one of distrust at best and unchecked anger and frustration at worst.

Even the difference in attitudes of the "average" Ukrainian towards Americans from our first adoption trip over 6 years ago to our last was noticeable. Our militaristic dominance with no regard to diplomacy has just blown the minds of so many (and quite literally in some parts of the world!) and is just unfathomable to me.

Yes, there is evil in the world, but it seems to me that we've been operating under an administration that only allowed itself to see the evil in its enemy and not in itself.

But, what really strikes me as odd is how so many evangelicals can breeze past the immoral aspects of the war and jump straight to the issue of abortion and stem cell research without regard to the lives of those that have been killed or injured in a war that they have never asked for. In addition to that, to breeze past the administration sanctioned torture at Guantanamo Bay, with nary a blink or wince simply astounds me. I'm not saying that there was not just cause for some military action after 9-11, but I'm sad that the church has not stood it's ground, choosing instead, in so many instances, to follow the entire party line and buy into the "Christianity" offered by the Bush administration.

What about McCain's health care plan -- one that I'm certain would have destroyed us financially-- and it's impact on the working class as well as families facing health problems? What company or organization is possibly going to insure our family when they can just have us use the $5000 tax rebate to purchase health insurance that I'm certain (from price shopping) would cost more like $8000 for our size family. And, $8,000 if we could find an insurance company stupid enough to insure our family!

But, before I have well meaning people attack me with acidic comments.... let me continue. I voted for George Bush for both his terms, and in this election I did, indeed, vote for McCain. I did so with a sick feeling in my stomach, and no peace leading up to the election or even after I had voted. In fact, I felt shame over voting for people I knew were simply not up to the task at hand. But I also know the other truth.

Of course, Obama is not the answer. His liberal politics and disregard for the most vulnerable
lives in our country are an absolute shame. His faith that a government can provide more for it's citizens than it needs, too, is naive and potentially harmful if not kept in check.

However, he's now going to be our President. And, since I believe that God is sovereign, I chose to find the good aspects about him, because, whether or not the standard JC Penny shopping Fox-news network watching Evangelical likes him or not, there are some great points to the man.

First of all, it's obvious he's a diplomat. We are so in need of a diplomat in office! Yes, the president is the Commander-in-Chief, but we have an immense and amazing military with enough advisers to more than make up for his lack of military expertise. Even Fox News has reported on the effects already felt world wide from his election.

And, while the press has loved to throw around the term "universal healthcare" what I've heard coming directly from his mouth is not health care ala Hillary Clinton, but a more economical and fiscally responsible plan than what is becoming a majorly encumbering medicaid system.

In addition to that, while I've heard the term "socialism" thrown around by so many Republicans, including the incredibly rash and immature Glenn Beck, I fail to see how someone left leaning is a socialist, and wealth redistribution is not what I've heard come from his mouth. Lest I remind people, our current tax system is based in the idea that the wealthier pay more in taxes than the rest, thus the tax brackets. I've not heard too many Republicans refer to that as "wealth redistribution". The problem is that it's the wealthiest people and corporations that find the loop holes that allow them to avoid paying the taxes they should consider themselves morally obligated to pay!

As the mother of an Asian child, I'm ecstatic at witnessing the first ever African American in the Oval Office! A barrier has been broken, not only for black children in America, but all children of racial diversity, not to mention children born of a parent who was not an American citizen. Once again, America is leading the way in something good. As my husband pointed out to me, Great Britain has a 30 or 40 year lead on us in abolishing slavery and working against the racism of the British Empire. Despite that we have yet to see a Black or Indian British Prime Minister (or Queen!).

For this to happen so quickly after the wake of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s shows that, indeed, God has been working and healing somethings in our culture, despite our many national flaws. It gives me hope that God truly is working here, despite the fact that it can be clouded by many cultural sins.

So, rather than focus on the things that I don't agree with or can't control , or jump to wild conclusions about us becoming a socialist state, I'm choosing to celebrate what is good from this election, and trust that God is at work. Barack Obama is not a saviour -- Russia's poking at him already and his election certainly didn't make the stock market rebound -- but he is a leader and God will use him to accomplish his purposes.