Category Archives: Political Thought

American politics, farming, charming visuals, and becoming recentered…

I think that one of my greatest frustrations with how the U.S. government works is that really awful riders can be attached to otherwise apparently-necessary bills, acts, laws, etc.  Earlier this week, when many folks were consumed (pro or con) by the conversation surrounding same-sex marriage being debated in the Supreme Court, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill was signed into law by President Obama.  In it was a rider that has been called “the Monsanto Protection Act” because it specifically protects that one giant chemical company — nearly single-handedly responsible for the chemicalization of American farming, and its resulting current and future destruction of environment and personal health — from litigation.  It passed the Senate and the House with many legislators not even knowing such a rider was included.  The way these giant bills frequently slip through the cracks is that a Senator might say, “Well, I agree with 80% of what is in this bill, so I will vote for it.”  Or, a Representative might have his or her own “attachment” that they’ve managed to slip into a detailed, hundreds-of-pages bill, and that one attachment is specifically important to the rep’s corner of their own state.  So, they say, “I can’t tell my people that I voted against this measure which is so vital to our state’s interests.”  So, even if they disagree with 98% of the bill, if there is a tiny corner of that bill which is of specific significance to that Representative, they may vote to pass it.

And, so the Agricultural Appropriations Bill with its enclosed “Monsanto Protection Act” passed this week.

Here’s where my thoughts have been going:

In a way — a small way — I’m kind of pleased.

Not about the “Monsanto Act” in particular, which I find horrid, gut-wrenching, and worrisome, but because my Facebook feed has been abuzz with, “HOW COULD OBAMA DO THIS???”

I’ll admit:  I’m a Republican.  However, since issues of the environment, food production, health, and farming are near and dear to my heart, there are a number of political websites I frequent which are, shall we say, not friendly to the general Republican cause.  I’m OK with that.  I don’t need to identify with the entire Republican platform.

Actually, I’ve felt for quite a while that there is no political “slot” into which I neatly fit.  Not the Republican Party, not the Democratic.  Not Libertarian.  Not Green.  Not the Tea Party.  No where, really, that I’ve been able to find.  I’m too liberal for the Republicans.  Too conservative for the Democrats.  Too convinced by the general goodness of the rule of law for the Libertarians.  I’m not angry enough — or Socialistic enough — for the Green Party.  Not fearful enough for the Tea Party.*

And, to an extent, I’m pragmatic like the Legislators I vilified above:  If I agree with, say, 60% of what the Republican Party generally stands for, I’ll often vote along with them…  I do see the irony.

Anyhow, in the more liberal edges of politics, to which I pay at least some attention, the consensus seems to be general, heart-broken disappointment with our President.

And, I’m OK with that.

From the very, very beginning of his campaign, back in 2008, the thing that bothered me most — more than any political stance, more than any stated goal, more than his “Democrat-ness” — is that he set himself on a pedestal as the HOPE for our nation.  It was his campaign slogan, for crying out loud!

Obama is not the hope of our nation.

Hope in a person routinely leads to disillusionment.

I’m OK with folks becoming disillusioned to the Obama administration.

I saw this, this morning in my Facebook feed:

Now, I’ll admit:  If you put a grassy field, a blue sky, and some freshly shorn sheep on a picture, I’ll probably like it, no matter what the words attached may be.

But the verse — John 10:11 — brought me back to the main and plain, the core of my existence:  My hope is in the Good Shepherd.  And He’s a good leader who does not disappoint.  He doesn’t do stuff that is 40% awful and heartbreaking and 60% good.  HE IS GOODNESS ITSELF.  And what’s more:  He’s a peaceful, but powerful and sacrificial leader.

He’s the one whom I follow.

There are some practicalities with being involved in the political system;  I’m not saying that I’m going to stick my head in the sand and never call my state Senator, never sign another petition (I favor real-life petitions, by the way), and quit voting.  I’m not even going to stop speaking out about issues that are important to me.

But, since a bit of doom and gloom and fear for the future of my country has weaseled its way into my mind and heart this week, I did need the reminder this morning of my Good Shepherd.  My GOOD Shepherd.

And may His peace, His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom be a comfort to you as well, my friends, as you contemplate your own future, and that of your own country.

——————–

*I’m sorry if this offends;  it’s my opinion and perspective of each party as it relates to my own beliefs and convictions.

Feminism, marketing, raising little girls, plus a bit of homeschooling

From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein.  But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:  Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library.  We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things.  In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses.  For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!

You think I exaggerate?  I do not, fair reader!  It starts even earlier than that!!!

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.

The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.

Another disturbing tidbit:

Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,

Beachhead:

1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.
2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.

I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children.  I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day.  (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short.  Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!!  But, I digress.)

Well, maybe I’m not digressing.  One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be.  They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.

So.  I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling.  But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!

ALL OF THAT SAID…  Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl.  I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!!  And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.

Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made.  Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance.  Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.

There’s a fine line there…  I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.

~sigh~

Fits, chocolate, the Dear Hubby, and composting

A couple of days ago, my hubby very greatly surprised me with an envelope inscribed in his all-caps, neat, architect-style printing:

FOR:  MY DEAREST
KAREN JOY
(OPEN WHEN I’M @ SMALL GROUP)

I was expecting a kind and encouraging note.  We seem to oftentimes communicate best through the written word.  The envelope, however, did not contain a note.

Mmmmm....

I will also mention that my receipt of this surprise came on the heels of me pitching a fit that he wanted a few squares of my horded (in the freezer) chocolate bar, to which I’d been treating myself THREE SAVORED SQUARES, nightly.  I should have just said, “Yes, Dear.”  In fact, I did say something like that, but it it required a Herculean effort to share, and I guess my body language reflected my internal dilemma — not really wanting to share, yet knowing that HE’S MY HUSBAND and he should be able to have any bit of “my” chocolate that he wants.

We ended up having an argument, and I really didn’t think he understood, that, at times, I find it difficult to deal with “all I have is yours”, especially since I have no stipend/allowance/spending/pocket money to spend as I’d like, and instead, have to carve a bit — in this case, $1.50, on sale — out of some section of our budget — in this case, groceries — in order to have a little something nice for myself.

I still don’t know where the right spot is on this topic.  God made humans with the innate desire to earn and own (which is why Communism doesn’t work).  However, the American culture takes that whole concept of earning and owning WAY TOO FAR over the top, to the point of materialism being the defining “god” of our country, and perhaps — Dear Lord, let it not be so! — that has permeated my heart.  I absolutely don’t want to be selfish — my husband and I do have everything in common, and I believe that is Biblical.  But, it would be lovely to have some discretionary funds, to purchase, willy-nilly (or carefully considered), things like chocolate or earrings or a pair of shoes I don’t really need or an additional long-sleeved shirt or two or on a fancy coffee or something decorative for our family room wall or a pretty little candle.  Or something.  Anything.  Without having to make a down-to-the-penny accounting for its necessity.

I don’t regret not being employed, which means, by default, that we have to be careful — very careful — with our funds.

All of this came to the fore, when it felt like I was required to share what I had hoped would be mine.

And, I guess that is a fit.

~sigh~

I didn’t handle it well.  I’m not even sure if I apologized, because, at the time, I felt justified.  NOT in not sharing — I was willing, though unwilling (if that makes sense) — to share.  I felt justified in feeling (and expressing) that it would be lovely to have some freedom to purchase something just because it made my own heart happy, and stymied, because that’s just not in the budget.

Like I said, I’m not sure I have an entirely Godly attitude about this.  I’m not sure what is the right and Godly attitude.  Give all of my chocolate away with no regrets, I guess, and never feel wistful for a cute and entirely impractical pair of shoes.

One way or another, even if I’m not walking in complete supernatural maturity on the issue of sharing, I just wanted my hubby to understand my heart, my thoughts, even my sadness.

In the end, though I felt like he completely did not understand where I was coming from, perhaps he did.

To my shock, inside the envelope was a hundred dollar bill.

I believe it’s from the money he unexpectedly earned for playing guitar at a friend’s wedding.  Every time he is asked to do music for a wedding, which is usually 3-4 times yearly, he assumes it’s for free, and that way, we’re pleasantly surprised if there’s payment involved.  Occasionally, he gives the money back.  He didn’t, this last time.

I remember, early in our marriage, when I was more prone to argue over just about everything, I’d cut into him up one side and down the other, and eventually, he’d capitulate.  I learned very early on that:

a.  This made for very hollow victories
b.  Getting “my way” really didn’t matter much if

  • I had a husband who was wounded, and
  • who didn’t trust me to be kind, and
  • there was no peace in our home.

So, I’m very careful now, over what I’ll argue.  My husband is, himself, so kind that, even if I’m wrong — either in what I’m saying, or how I’m saying it — he’ll cover me with his mercy, and choose to give me (or agree to, or whatever) that on which I was insisting.  That can be much more humbling than losing, lemme tell you.

I was not asking for money.  I was asking to be understood that I struggle with having to say, “Everything belongs to you.  I own nothing.”

I’m not sure if the gift in the envelope was him capitulating (which would be a rather unsatisfactory outcome), or if, upon thoughtful consideration and prayer, he thought maybe I should have some pocket money, every once in a while.  He’s humble like that, and willing to bend, when I am usually not.  ~sigh~  I do so have a lot to learn.

In any case, for the last two days, I’ve been carrying the envelope and its contents around in my pocket, dreamily considering how I might spend it.  His only stipulation was that I not spend it on anything for the kids.

I haven’t entirely decided, but it would fit in with another of my goals — to get my raised-bed garden to grow something other than weeds — if I spent some of the money on a composter.  Every time I send a carrot peeling or the heel of a stalk of celery into the trash, I regret not having a system for composting, and a flourishing garden into which I can put the compost.

I spent some time, this morning, looking into composters.  I’d really like a tumbling one.  But, the composters of any variety which I can afford are flimsy, and seem like a huge waste of fifty or a hundred bucks.  Even used, on Craigslist, most of the good ones are going for $150 and up.  Then, I discovered that the City of Phoenix has a program, in which they re-purpose damaged trash bins, turning them into compost bins — really, just trash bins with big holes drilled in the side.  The city sells them for $5.  I was worried, though, about being able to properly aerate the bin, and mix up its contents.  Then, I stumbled upon this contraption, called The Compost Crank, which, by all accounts is a very effective, nearly effortless way to turn over the compost pile.  I’m still looking for one locally.  I found one shop that normally carries them, but is currently out of stock.  I’ve found several online retailers, but with shipping (it’s an 8 lb, 45″ long, one-piece stainless steel tool), it would run me about $50.

So.  If I went this route, It would cost me $55, tops, to have an mega-environmentally-friendly composting system.  Not just because I’m composting, but because the bin is repurposed — not another piece of newly-minted plastic junk — and the Compost Crank is made from post-consumer recycled stainless steel.  Voila!

I feel very good about this.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do, but hasn’t been in the budget.  It’s for me, but it serves my family, as well.

Seems like a win-win.

(And, if I do some very careful shopping, I’ll still have money left for a cute pair of shoes, and a top, and some nice little trinket or two for our home!)

 

Growing up, breastfeeding, and Reagan. :)

  • Yesterday was my second son’s 11th birthday.  I am such a mother.  I seriously have thoughts like, “It was only yesterday when I had you!”  I can intimately recall details of his birth.  Wow.  ~sigh~  Time.  It’s fleeting.
  • In other growing-up news, I helped my oldest son create a Facebook account yesterday, as well.  I guess I’ll have to be careful what I say about him now!!  Just kidding.  I’m FB friends with a number of his friends already — have been for a while — and am well aware that news and topics that are appropriate to share about one’s toddler (like potty-training, et al), are completely off-limits for older children.
  • I have changed my mind about nipple shields.  I had heard all sorts of things about how they can sabotage nursing efforts, so I had avoided them like the plague.  But, I saw one in action and it amazingly and wonderfully HELPED nursing!  My sister’s newborn (who is now four days old) would latch on, and suck-suck twice, maybe three times.  Then, the nurse (who was a “breastfeeding resource” — that is, who had taken some additional classes on breastfeeding education, but not enough to be certified as a lactation consultant), a sweet mother of three name Mandy who was herself breastfeeding her 11 month old still, suggested one, and I held my tongue.  She popped it on my sister, and voila!  Teensy Sage Aileen latched on and stayed on for the first time.  The only bummer is that my sister kept having to prime the pump, so to speak, with some expressed colostrum… but she texted me tonight to let me know that Sage nursed for the first time without herself or her hubby having to compel Sage to the breast with extra milk, dribbled in the appropriate area, with a syringe.  There’s still a part of me that… I don’t know…  I just prefer ALL NATURAL, and all the silicone and syringes don’t sit well with a part of my brain and my emotions.  HOWEVER.  If those things are tools to help a baby keep nursing, I’m all for it.  I’m proud of my sister for keeping at it;  she’s shown more patience and persistence than I thought she had.  🙂
  • I don’t remember if I’ve linked here before, but I really like this blog:  Cloth Mother.  The author and I have very little in common, besides being mothers.  But, I really enjoy her honesty and subtle humor.  And, she has an interesting life.
  • I want this:

    What Would Reagan Do?

Micah, AZ SB 1070, Obama, and me

Recently, I felt like I should read the book of Micah.  I wasn’t sure why — I’m still not totally sure — but I figured that even if the Holy Spirit was not specifically directing me to, it’s still the Word of God, from which I may glean His truth and become better-acquainted with His voice and His way.

This morning, though, as I sat down to journal about the passages that had stuck out to me, I saw a bit of a pattern.

In chapter 3, verses 5-8, the nation of Israel was going astray, even her government and most of her prophets.  But, Micah says in verse 8,

“On the other hand, I am filled with power — with the Spirit of the Lord — and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel in his sin.”

I felt like God was saying to me that even when the government goes astray, true prophets can speak to the heart of the people.  In other words, even in times like these — ESPECIALLY in times like these — it’s important for the Church at large, and for those individuals who are seeking His heart,  to keep an ear out for what He’s saying.  A Godly government is important, but God will still make Himself know to His own, even when the people at large and the leadership — even some of the spiritual leadership — aren’t letting themselves be led by Him.

Indeed, in 4:5, it says,

“Though all the people walk each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”

That brought to my memory, being a child, and my mother telling me countless times, “I don’t care what so-and-so’s mother lets her do, you may not.”  At the time, it seemed logical that if the majority could (especially if the majority included my best friend, the pastor’s daughter*) it followed that I should be able to, as well.   But, the majority is not what governed my mother’s decisions for me (nor I, now, for my own children), and that’s not how God leads His own.

Here and elsewhere in Micah, God is repeatedly calling out to the remnant, to the minority, to set themselves apart fully unto Him, and to be gathered by Him, unto Him.

Micah 6:6-8 describes how the heart of God is not that we should apologize prolifically;  He’d rather we do right in the first place.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”  (emphasis mine)

Typically, in these days, Republicans are good at justice, and Democrats at mercy.  Our God has 100% of both.  He has the justice, in which He commands me to act.  He has the mercy, which He loves and calls me to love, too.  And in my justice and mercy, he calls me to walk humbly.

He is the anti-grandstanding, anti-polarization God.

My salvation does not come from my political party, nor from the governors of my state or country.  My God is my God, and He is my salvation — not just the salvation that translated me from death into life, but in my every minute, in my every need.

Micah 7:7-8 reads:

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;  I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.  Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.  Though I fall, I will rise;  though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.”

And, no, I don’t think God is calling me into detachment from the affairs of the world.  I think Godly men and women are vital to the process of American government at every level.  But, I find myself less willing to say, “Oh, yes!  I wholeheartedly support…” or, “I am completely disgusted by…” one political notion or another.

Do I support immigration reform, and specifically the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 which has brought the nation to an uproar, with my Facebook friends right and left joining one group or another, for or against, inviting me to do similarly??  I don’t know.  Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and the more I study American history, the more I’m struck with how greatly we have struggled — from at least the 1840s onward — with the “oldcomers” vs the “newcomers.”  It’s a scene that has played and replayed repeatedly throughout the course of our history, and seeing history now repeating itself for the umpteenth time, I find myself loathe to close the door on immigrants.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

I do think that this is what America should be about!!  And, I find myself unwilling to resent anyone who comes to America — even illegally — yearning for a better life.  Wouldn’t YOU struggle across a desert or row for miles in a tiny rowboat if you had even a slim chance at keeping your family from starvation and political persecution??  I would.

On the other hand, I know that there are a number of very sound, just arguments against illegal immigration.  (Although I am less swayed by the ones that are economically-based, as most immigrants are extremely hard-working and for the last couple of centuries have willingly thrown themselves into the grunt-work that we “oldcomers” are less willing to do, and generally GIVE into the economy much more than they extract.)

Yet, the law is the law, and once it is established, I also find myself unwilling to think unkindly towards sheriffs who do their darndest to get folks to obey the law!!  I’m not a giant fan of Sheriff Arpaio, and I sure hope he does not run for governor, because I think he would make an AWFUL governor.  However, I think he is profoundly effective as a sheriff, though his own grandstanding and publicity-seeking grates on me.

I think similarly towards our President.  I am not a fan.  However, I find myself challenging even my own criticisms of him, because, all cynicism aside, I do think he is doing what he thinks is right for our country at large, and for its individual citizens.  I think that perhaps he sees himself as a Teddy Roosevelt/savior-of-the-downtrodden type.  And, though I don’t agree with his methods, and I don’t agree with 98% of his apparent beliefs and theories, it’s hard for me to hate him, as I think his heart may truly be in the right place — or at least, he’s attempting for it to be there:  he’s trying to make things right for the overlooked.  Personally, I think that’s the job of the Church, not the government, but if the Church isn’t doing its job, but relegating it to the government with a huge sigh of relief… well, what’s a President to do????

~sigh~

————-

*How I love you, Lori!!

Grant’s “Newspaper” — it was news to me!

My 10yo son Grant decided to create a newspaper for his journal assignment this morning.  He was so pleased with himself, he ripped it out of his notebook and stuck it to the fridge.

However, I thought that his Obama article couldn’t possibly be true.  I asked him, “Where did you hear about that?”

“At Grandpa’s.  It was on his XM radio.”  (That was my husband’s Dad, who kept the older two boys overnight last weekend so my hubby and I could take a quick trip for our anniversary.)

Then, I Googled it.  Grant had heard right.  (Although it’s actually one man and one woman, not two men.)  I think that bit of “reaching out” is taking it WAY too far, like the three little pigs trying to make peace with the big bad wolf by opening their home to him…  Doesn’t Obama read Aesop?  Not that the three little pigs is an Aesop fable.  But, that plan just has foolishness written all over it, IMO, and unfortunately, I think it leaves the U.S. vulnerable to wind up as the moral of a tragic Aesop-style story.

(You can click the “newspaper” to bring up a larger copy of the scan.)

Fear, God, childhood, motherhood, etc.

The comments by Shellie & Christy on my last post have got me thinking some deep thoughts about the nature of God, fear itself, my childhood, and how all of that combined affects both my relationship with and understanding of God, and informs my parenting.

To sum up my thoughts regarding fear and God, I think it unbiblical to proclaim:  “Be afraid.”  However, anyone who says, “Have fear?  Turn to God” can have their words supported biblically.  Anyone who says, “Be prepared.  Be alert” may be speaking with biblical support, but it gets a little cloudy, depending on what preparedness or alertness looks like, and from what motivation it stems.

Lemme ‘splain where I’m coming from.  (This gets long…)

Read the rest of this entry

Anniversary & Dad’s visit

Last week was the 14th anniversary of my wedding to my dear husband, Martin.  We celebrated twice, but neither celebration was on the night of our actual anniversary, the 12th.  First, on the 11th, we got takeout from PF Chang’s, which is rather our go-to for special-occasion meals, largely because it’s good food that both Martin and I like, and they have a very reliable gluten-free menu, which (unlike the few restaurants that have g.f. menus) sees frequent updating, so I’m not stuck ordering the same dish over and over.

But, I digress.

It was a nice meal, after the kids were in bed, hubby and me, Chinese food, a bottle of inexpensive pinot noir…  and we had the best conversation we’ve had in weeks.  It was just what we needed.

Then, on Saturday, when we could actually get a babysitter, we tried out a new place.

Before I found out about celiac disease, we were very adventurous eaters, living for our next hole-in-the-wall, mom & pop ethnic gem.  Since celiac disease, we’ve become very predictable, eating out only where it’s safe.  “Safety” has become the operative word in eateries, instead of taste or even price.

But, starting a few years ago (literally), I keep reading good reviews for a teensy Ecuadorian restaurant that is reasonably close by to our house.

I knew it was in an old strip mall, but when we drove up, it was even older and strip-mallier and a wee bit scary.  We stayed in the truck for a bit, eyeing the restaurant.  My hubby said, “I don’t want this to be a ‘slap the burrito on the paper plate’ kind of place.  It’s our anniversary.”  But, I figured, since we were there, we might as well at least poke our heads inside.

We did, and we stayed.  Mi Cocina Mi Pais was fantastic, all you’d want in a hole-in-the-wall, mom & pop ethnic gem of a restaurant.  It wasn’t fancy, but they did have real tableware, and not a burrito in sight.  The mom was in the kitchen, the son was the waiter, and the dad was the busser.  Even though the whole place had maybe seven tables, I was worried that it was going to take a couple of hours to get our meal, since each table was full and there was a “kitchen help wanted” sign on the front door, but it wasn’t so.  Service was very friendly and reasonably paced.

We’ve eaten at more than our share of Mexican food places, so I thought South American wouldn’t be a very large leap, but about 80% of the menu offerings had to be explained to us by our waiter, Michael.  I’m sure it’s an effort he’s made thousands of times, but he was very helpful and patient.  I picked a few dishes that I thought sounded like they would be gluten-free, and explained my need to Michael.  He poked his head back in the kitchen to double-check with Mom regarding their makeup, and happily, the dish that I most wanted was free of any kind of flour or wheat.  There’s still always a risk, especially when those preparing/serving a meal really have no idea about celiac disease at all… but I suffered no gluten-induced symptoms.  Woo hoo!  🙂

And, Mi Cocina Mi Pais is fairly inexpensive, and had a “you can take the kids” ambience, so I’m sure we’ll be back.

We had Fiala with us.  She stayed asleep the whole time.  We finished our meal before 8:00, and though we had our babysitter until 9:30, if we stayed out that late, I would have to feed Fiala in the truck before we went anywhere else, like for coffee.  We just decided to go home.  Party poopers in our old age, I guess.  It wasn’t for lack of pleasantness;  we just had had a very nice time already, were full of good food and good conversation, and it felt like the night was a success and it was all right to call it a night, early.

Good thing we did, because my Dad arrived very shortly after we came home.  I think it would have been awkward for the babysitter if my Dad had been there, even though I told her that it was a possibility he’d arrive before we did.

So.  My Dad’s here.  He’ll be here until Friday.  Right now, though, he and my three boys are at the Titan Missile Museum, south of Tucson.  At least, I assume they are.  That’s where they were headed when they left home at about 9:00 this morning.

It’s been a nice visit with my Dad.  We have a mixed history, but for the last three years or so, all has been well between us.  He came to church with us on Sunday, and seemed to really enjoy it, which is good.  I feel a little badly because we’re all sports nuts, so we usually have on whatever game is playing, and he doesn’t care for sports…  I’m sure my Dad has watched more basketball and football in the past few days than he has in years.  We’ve also spent a good deal of time at the neighborhood park…  We went to a dentist appointment for the three boys yesterday.  Martin, my Dad and I had a great conversation last night that started with parenting issues mostly about Grant.  We had a tense evening… well, part of the evening, anyways, because of behavioral stuff from Grant.  Sometimes ALL THE TIME, it’s difficult to sort out from where his difficulties stem:  a) his immature 9yo boy-ness, b) his brainy, purposeful manipulations, and/or c) his learning disorder (he has an odd learning disorder called Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and some things about Grant are startlingly brilliant, and some things are frustrating to the extreme, “Why can’t he just get this???” and he just can’t — or at least, it’s very hard — because of the way his brain is wired).  The conversation morphed into dietary interventions that we’ve tried with Grant (and my Dad had a few new ideas that I’ll likely try), dietary issues with Wes & Audrey… then somehow turned the corner to the theological, and the way God speaks, and what God might be doing in the American Church and in our country right now…  My Dad and I have had theological disagreements in the past, and I can’t say I even agree with my husband 100% of the time on politics.  But the three of us agreed that God is not a God of fear.  He doesn’t want us to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the goings-on in Church and Country, but He’s still not a God of fear.  When He speaks, when He acts…  He doesn’t do things out of fear, or move in fear.  He’s sovereign, He’s good, He has His ways, He’s powerful, He’s not thwarted by whoever is or is not in power, and can use anything for His own purposes, including letting someone rise to power with whom we don’t agree.  My Dad likened it to America in the 70s when things were morally and politically bleak under Carter, but the climate rallied Christians to a deeper commitment to Him, and a greater involvement in politics, and my Dad believes that’s what led to Reagan being elected in 1980.  (All of us are fans of Reagan.)  It was a good conversation.

Yesterday, I started apologizing to my Dad about what was surely the most boring trip ever, but as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized (and he did say) that “boring” was exactly what he needed.  He’s on focus-burnout right now, due to the nature of his work, which is heading up a company that is inventing some new artificial intelligence hardware and software.  It’s funded by an investor, which makes things all the more tense, because there are lots of $$ waiting to be reimbursed when the technology becomes finally marketable.  It’s getting there, but the huge contracts that are continually in the offing remain just so.  And it doesn’t help that the main investor has made his money from oil and gas, and since prices are plummeting — which is great for 99.5% of us — that means the investor has less money available and is all the more antsy.

Welp.  I need to feed my baby, then do some cleaning.  Though I am at home with only my two girls today, it’s been a startlingly unproductive day.  Peaceful, though…

I have two stickers

i-voted-early4I applied online for a mail-in ballot, but I guess with the birth of Fiala and all, I didn’t get the thing filled out early enough to actually mail it in.  I know that you can leave things blank if you’re unsure about the candidates for the school board, or which superior court judge should stay and which should leave, or which proposition should get my yes vote.  But, I’m the kind who likes to vote for everything.  And, if I’m going to vote for it, I need to be educated about it.  And, in order to be educated, I need to read all I can that’s been published in print and online, both from neutral parties and those biased.  All of that takes time, which I haven’t had in spades, lately.

Thankfully, here in Arizona, once the “mail-in” ballot is completed, it can be turned in to any polling place.

My hubby and I completed our ballots last night, after the kids were in bed.  It took about 90 minutes.  I first went through the gigantic, two-sided thing and marked everyone/everything of whom/which I was well-informed (or highly-opinionated, one or the other).  Then, I pulled out all my election booklets and read through the appropriate sections for the people or issues of which I was unsure.  Then, I went online and did some more reading — interviews with candidates, organizations that gave their opinions, etc.

I filled everything out.

Could YOU vote for him??  Plus, he said, I have three children...  Both went on to college...  Hes either confused about his children, or about his grammar, neither of which is good for a governing school board member

Could YOU vote for him?? Plus, he said, "I have three children... Both went on to college..." He's either confused about his children, or about his grammar, neither of which is good for a governing school board member

The only thing that was an under-vote was for our local school board.  There were five candidates, of whom I could vote for three.  One guy, I knew for certain I was going to vote for.  Looking into the other four, of one woman I thought, “OK, she sounds like she’d do a good job, even though she has no experience and is trying to make the leap from stay-at-home mother to elected position overnight…”  The other guys…  Umm…  No.  One of them even said that home schooling was a “major challenge” that faced the public school system, listing it as a problem area that needed to be “addressed.”  Hm.  The other two guys, well, one of them was opposed to standardized testing and measurements in general, which… well, I think it’s important that one actually learns something before one is handed a diploma.  The other guy (and this was my most scientific evaluation) simply looked like a jerk.  I mean, I saw several photos of him, and he looks like a …  well, a jerk.  I couldn’t vote for him.  So, five candidates, three positions, and I voted for two.

Anyways.  With the mail-in ballot came a sticker that says “I Voted Early.”

At about 6:30 a.m. this morning, my husband took both our ballots to our polling place, not knowing for certain if he could turn in my ballot too, but we thought it was worth a try.  It worked.  He said, “There were a couple of hundred people there already, and I just walked right by them and turned in our ballots.”  After he did so, the election official gave him two stickers of “I Voted Today,” one for each of us.

So, now, I have two stickers.

I’m thinking about wearing them both, just to mess with people.

She said it better’n me

I am not a fan of the truly unfathomable $700 billion bailout.  It just seems wrong the for the government to step in and give basically free money to companies that are on the verge of going under due to mismanagement, and misuse of funds that should have been used to advance the cause of the company’s solidity, and of the investors, and the people paying their mortgages.  Didn’t anyone realize that the practice of execs to give themselves multimillion dollar pay packages, and multi-multi-multi-million dollar “golden parachute” exit packages was just not sound business practice??

I haven’t blogged about it (until now)… and, like most political things, I have found someone who has said something with which I fully agree, but says it a lot better than I ever could have.

Here’s an excerpt:

Essentially, the government (which should be safeguarding our economy) unlocked the doors to a candy store, invited everyone in, and is now acting appalled that people ate themselves sick.

Plus, as always, the Suburban Correspondent is far funnier and wittier than ever am.  And, I like her Truth-O-Meter widget, too…

Go check it out.

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