Friday, February 28, 2014

Checkout Encounter: Be Prepared to Make a Defense for the Hope That Is in You

Ok, ok, I must of course address the glaring fact that I've missed two days of my sacred commitment to write seven posts in seven days.  I've been working on my quilt, I promise!  I will be writing a reveal post before these seven days are up.  I didn't have to rush it quite so much because we are here awaiting the umpteeth Snowmageddon of the winter rather than driving back from a weekend traveling and visiting friends and family.  I did take a break and visited an antique mall with a dear friend here today.  Although we live in the same city it's been over a month since we've seen each other.  I have way too many friends like that.  I also had apple pie for breakfast.  Gotta get these things in before Lent starts!

What I want to write about tonight is what happened at checkout.  Sociologists take note: the checkout of doom exists in antique malls, too!  No, not really.  Sometimes Checkout Encounters are excellent.  Lisa and I are clearly Catholic nerds.  I bought salt and pepper shakers and a small statue of Our Lady holding Jesus.  Lisa got a long black mantilla and a sick call set.  If you don't know what a sick call set is, it's a crucifix that slides open to reveal a compartment with blessed beeswax candles and holy water, used when the priest visits an ill or dying person in the family.  I'm sure a priest would be prepared when making such a visit, but I like them in the home as an excellent momento mori.

The man ringing up Lisa's purchases was about sixty, balding but with a wisp of curly gray ponytail.  He wore cool black glasses and one diamond earring in his left ear.  He asked Lisa about the sick call set, saying he vaguely remembered seeing them as a child.  Then the mantilla.  I think he asked whether she planned to actually use it.  He remembered the nuns pulling out handkerchiefs and Kleenex for the girls if they didn't have a chapel veil.  He said, "None of us knew why but we just did it."

I finished uneventfully paying for my things, and joined Lisa in time for him to ask, "How do you two feel--I'm interested in young people's perspective--about women doing more in the liturgy?  Like female priests? Because my wife--she's about the same age as me--really gets mad that that hasn't happened yet."

I have to give tons of credit to Lisa, because she answered beautifully.  She explained how it wouldn't be possible for a woman to be a priest, because the priest is in the person of Christ, of God.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church His bride.  God is Father to His children.  A woman could not fill the role of husband and father because it is contrary to her feminine nature.  The Church will never "get with the times" because the times have completely confused what it means to be masculine or feminine.  Women have been given their own unique gifts to be Christ to others, but not ordained ministry.

She didn't say all this in one fell swoop, by the way, but she was prepared for sure.  She also got in a mention about how veiling is actually a way of honoring femininity.  The man listened and we would have talked more.  But the place was closing, so we thanked him and said goodnight.

This reminded me of something that happened when I was in kindergarten.  My memory of this incident is very clear.  The bishop came to visit our school.  After Mass there was a Q&A session with the bishop.  Students were asking his things like, "What's your favorite football team?" It was very informal and the general vibe was, "Gee, bishops are regular guys too."  At age five, I wasn't too interested in football.  Or age ever, really.  So I raised my hand and asked, "Why can't girls be priests?"  The bishop turned absolutely red in the face with anger.  That was the abrupt end of the cute little Q&A.  He believed that some adult had told me to ask that question and he was furious.

Now, I can see why he would have thought that.  Most kindergarteners aren't spontaneously asking such politically charged, deeply theological questions.  Most kindergarteners would ask what color vestments he likes best.  However, he wasted a golden opportunity.  Here was a wonderful chance to exercise his teaching authority as a Bishop of the Church.  He had hundreds of people ripe to hear the beautiful and inspiring truth Lisa gave to her audience of one, and he completely blew it.  Probably many people who witnessed that were ready to believe that the Church has no real reason for keeping women from Holy Orders.  Since the Bishop couldn't answer why not, well, why not?  Maybe the Church really was just misogynist, since they didn't hear any argument to convince them otherwise.

Same with those nuns that slapped Kleenex on embarrassed little girls' heads.  If only one sister had explained to them the beauty of what the veil, they would never fall into the trap that they're just a symbol of oppression.  I won't get into the veil now, because this post is already getting long, but read about it here when you get the time.  Much has been written lamenting the sad lack of cathechesis that essentially lost us the generation of Baby Boomers on down.  They didn't know their faith so they were easy pickings when the cultural revolution took hold.

The past is obviously past.  But it means that it's more important that ever to know your faith and "be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you" with "gentleness and reverence".  (1 Peter 3:15)  We have authority over our own children and of course the greatest responsibility to evangelize to them, but we are also our brothers' keepers.  You never know when those opportunities will appear!  The verse that often appears in contrast with 1 Peter 3:15 is Luke 12:12, that the Holy Spirit will give you the words.  Of course both are true.  If we have the Truth in our heads and the Holy Spirit in our hearts we are ready to go out and make disciples of all nations.  Or go shopping for antiques on a Friday night.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Farmer Boy Diet

I'm re-reading all the Little House books right now, in no particular order.  It started with The Long Winter, because it seemed appropriate what with all the polar vortexes this winter.  Everybody, stop complaining about the cold now.  You might be forced to listen to how Pa and Laura had to twist hay to burn so they could keep from freezing all huddled in the kitchen, and Pa had to take advantage of every day that wasn't blizzarding to haul more hay from the homestead through the treacherous slough where the horse would fall into the snow and need to be dug out, and they had to grind Almanzo's precious seed wheat in the coffee mill to keep from starvation...  Ok, shutting up now.

But now I'm reading Farmer Boy.  Oh my goodness, how the Wilder family did eat!  It's worse than reading The Pickwick Papers.  Here is what eight-year-old Almanzo ate on a typical winter day:

Breakfast:  Buckwheat pancakes, sausage and gravy, oatmeal with cream and maple sugar, fried potatoes, preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts, apple pie (of which Almanzo eats two big wedges)

Dinner:  Bread and butter, sausage, doughnuts, apples, apple turnover

Supper: Ham, baked beans, salt pork, boiled potatoes with gravy, bread and butter, mashed turnips, stewed pumpkin, cheese, plum preserves, strawberry jam, grape jelly, spiced watermelon-rind pickles, a large piece of pumpkin pie

Evening snack:  Popcorn with butter and salt, apples, apple cider

This was a weekday menu, not even Sunday.  Nowadays we would never cook that much food unless we had a lot of people for a holiday dinner.  And hardly anybody was obese then!  I suppose they burned all those calories doing their chores on the farm and walking to school and just keeping warm.  And Mrs. Wilder certainly burned it off cooking all of that food on a woodstove every day!

I also have a reprint of The White House Cookbook originally published in 1872.  The menus are quite similar to this one, although presumably the President and his family didn't do nearly as much physical labor as the Wilders!

I just can't wrap my brain around how people ate that much food.  Nowadays we're obviously much more sedentary, and processed food packs an unnatural amount of calories into a small amount of food.  But still, oh my gosh!  Maybe the portions were much much smaller.  A "big wedge" of pie could be our, "Oh just a little piece?"  But that doesn't make sense either.  Why would Mrs. Wilder cook up so many dishes to just give everyone a tiny bit of everything?  Why not just double the turnips, skip the pumpkin, and call it good?  Farm wives had plenty to do without cooking unnecessarily.  Make doughnuts or pie for breakfast, why both?  I just don't get it.  Maybe Mrs. Wilder just loved to cook and that was her "love language." I suppose the only solution to this conundrum is to move out to a farm and see whether I start cooking this way!

I wonder what they ate on Christmas.

7 Posts in 7 Days!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Snappy Comebacks on Family Size for the Rest of Us

Plenty has been written for mothers of large families on how to respond to such remarks as:  "My, you have your hand full!" and, "Don't you have a TV?"  But it's not only mothers of many fielding unsolicited comments on the size of their families.  Oh no--your reproductive choices are fair game for anyone to give their opinion, whether they be family members or complete strangers, even if your family appears to be boring and normal-sized, meaning fewer than four children in most places in this country.  And it's always, always at the grocery store.

Either there's a big sign over the entrance that I'm too distracted to actually see informing people to leave their mouth filters at the door or else I never go anywhere in public except the grocery store. Hmm... Ok, I could definitely get out more.  No, there's definitely something about the grocery store.  Never happens at the library or thrift stores or fabric stores.  People who are smart enough to go to those places are smart enough to mind their own business, I suppose.  Even in my former life as a checkout girl people could and did say anything to their captive audiences in line with them.  One man in particular would update me weekly on the progress of his divorce.  ("She still won't sign the papers, even though she's moved in with the Other Man now.")  Some sociology or psychology student ought to write her thesis about the checkout line.

But this is an opportunity, they say.  A moment for evangelization, not snap-back snark!  I don't hold the two as mutually exclusive, but usually, yes I agree.  At least the truth should be more important than the cleverness.  Cleverness only in service of the truth.  Usually these remarks are well-meant, sometimes even approving of your assumed choices. But you only get one shot to shake them up a bit. Kindly, of course. However, you can only do so much evangelization in a one-liner.  The most important thing is not to get offended, but be good-humored and unapologetic.  Your demeanor communicates more than your words.  But don't be afraid to tell it like it is.  If they are family or someone you care about, you can tell them the truth. In those cases you may have an opportunity for more than a one-liner.  Use your judgment.  For the grocery store people, the checkout line is a safe space!  Whatever happens at Kroger stays at Kroger!

So for those of us who are committed to being open to life but are deceptively bourgeoisie-looking for the time being, I've compiled the following list:


"So you're done?" "Oh no, we're just getting started!"  "And never have another baby to cuddle?"  "I can't imagine not wanting another."  "I'm too young to be done!"

"What's the big rush to have children?"  "Why should we put off meeting the people we will love the most?"

"So snip snip for your husband, then?"  This one actually happened.  Perhaps the stupid look I gave her spoke volumes, or perhaps I just looked stupid.  Who knows.  But what I wish I had said?  "Castration is for cattle, not men."  I'm breaking my "always be magnanimous" mantra on this one, but I just cannot come up with anything fitting, because the remark is just so unfitting.  Maybe you could do better.  But back to the list.

"With just one child, you can give him all your attention.  You couldn't do that with more."   "It always feels like, somebody's WATCHin' meeeeee!"  "I'm grateful for my siblings, and I hope my child has the same blessing."  OR "I always regretted not having brothers and sisters, myself."

"Isn't it nice having two?"  "If two are this great, I'm willing to bet three are even better!"

"Are you sure you want another one?"   "Too late!" "I'm sure I won't regret it when I'm eighty."

"You're smart to just have two.  It's too expensive to have more."  "No, we're open to having more.  We think people are more important than things."

"You're so busy with the child(ren) you already have!"  "If they already take up all my time, another child could hardly take up any more."

"Trying for a girl?"  "If we get another boy, do you want him?"

And the big win here is for Anthony:
"An adorable boy and a girl!" How nice you can be done already!"
Me:  Thank you. I think I would like a few more of these.
Anthony:  I need a brother. And another sister.  And another brother.  One, two, three, four, five, eighteen babies!


So there you have it, snappy comebacks for the wannabes among us.  Hopefully these will hold us over until that frabjous day we can answer, "Don't you know what causes that?" with a nonchalant, "Yeah, I'm kind of an expert."

Linking up with Jen for 7 Posts in 7 Days!  Am I crazy or what?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Religious Potential of the Child--Getting Ready

Less than two weeks until Lent begins!  If you're like me, that sentence induces a bit of mild panic, even though Lent is about as late as it's possible to be this year.  Ryan and I still have some Lenten planning to do.  Are we doing any extra prayers as a family?  Which ones?  Any particular sacrifice which we then translate to almsgiving with money saved as a result?  Service opportunities we want to pursue?  We usually do these things, but also during Lent I like to take on some additional spiritual reading or study.


This year I am leading a book study of The Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavaletti.  If  you're not familiar, the book fleshes out the principles behind Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is the religious education derived from Montessori education.  Now that I've made it seem extremely complicated, it really isn't.  Non-complicated explanation anon.  It's a book that's been coming up constantly, and I feel I really need to read this.  Anthony's principal encouraged me to read it months ago, and now that we are homeschooling next year it's an even higher priority.  Also my very favorite Auntie Leila featured it on her blog not that long ago, and it has lately come up in casual conversations with other women.  I'm taking those as signal graces!

I think it's especially timely because of Pope Francis's emphasis on creating a "culture of encounter."  THAT'S what Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is about.  Getting to know the Good Shepherd.  If you're a Baltimore Catechism kind of gal, you'll know God made us to know, love, and serve God in this life so we can be happy with Him forever in the next.  There's a reason "know, love, and serve" is listed in that order, as each flows from the one before.  Small children aren't mentally ready for memorizing questions and answers, but they certainly have the ability to know and love a person! Little Katie Rose loves to give kisses to Jesus and Mary.

 If we can plant the seeds for that relationship when they are very young, the rest of religious education will later all flow from the love already growing in their hearts.  It will not become, as so often is the case, an empty requirement to get a grade or to be a "good" child.  If any of it is to make a real difference in the lives of the children, the Good Shepherd must have taken root in the heart as well as the brain.  Attending Mass, and even praying a daily family Rosary, is not enough without there being a personal relationship with Christ to sustain the child.  Even Scarlett O'Hara recited the Rosary every day before her first marriage, and we all know how she turned out!

Extending the seed analogy, the other beautiful thing about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is that the catechist is not ultimately responsible for the child's response.  The adult is very conscious that she is only presenting the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit is the one actually doing the work in the child's soul.  We can provide the sun and water, but only God gives the life to make the seed bear fruit.  This requires a certain level of trust in God on the part of the adult!  In my own life, God is leading me to Him just through doing my duty as a mother.  If I'm bringing my children to Him, doesn't it make sense that I would have to walk toward Him too?

At least four women are coming to my house to study it together throughout Lent.  I've barely begun the book myself, so I'll just be staying ahead of the group!  Although I'm already itching to devour the whole thing.  The children's drawings in the appendix just make my heart melt.  My plan is to post here study questions ahead of time, and then a summary afterwards of the discussion with whatever insights we've come up with.  I know of a couple of people unable to join the real-life group because of distance or work schedules, so they can still join virtually!

If you would like to read along with us this Lent, you can get the book through Leila's post, which is very insightful as usual.  She gets a little kickback anytime someone buys something from Amazon through her blog.  Even if you don't see yourself homeschooling or sending your children to a Montessori school, it's inspiring (as well as incredibly useful for our vocation!) to understand how even the smallest children can encounter God, and maybe encountering Him yourself along the way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zig Zag Quilt: In Progress!

Just signing on quickly to show you what I'll be consumed with these next couple of weeks. It's for the silent auction at Anthony's school's spring gala. Must be finished by Feb. 27!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It Takes Real Lovers to Be Silly


Five years and one day ago at this very moment, we had just waved goodbye to all our family and friends gathered at our wedding reception.  We walked out into the city street, husband and wife hand in hand, so full of love and joy, laughing and waving at all the cars honking at the bride and groom.

About a block away from the reception, we run into Ryan's grandpa.  He turns around and walks the next two blocks to the hotel with us.  We make awkward chitchat while waiting for the elevator.  Two arrive at the same time.  Ryan and I get in one, and Jack decides to get in the other.

A moment later, we all three get out on the same floor, and have to cross each other to get to our respective rooms.

Thinking we were home free, Ryan opens the door to our hotel room and offers his hand with a flourish. I step daintily over the threshold to behold a man with a bad case of plumber's crack lighting candles in our room.

The poor man is just lighting the last candle.  He smiles sheepishly and drawls, "Well, have a good night!" as he hurries out the door.  We hold in our laughter until we have the door safely shut behind us.


One day ago at this very moment, our next door neighbor was having a smoke out on his back porch watching the snow fall.  Ryan and I broke that peaceful moment on this beautiful St. Valentine's evening by shooting off his BB gun several times.  He fired, I held the flashlight.

"What in the world are you two doing?"

I answer airly, "Oh, just enjoying a romantic evening shooting rats in a bucket."

Ryan continues, "Yeah, they've been getting in the chicken coop, so we put a bucket of water under the hole they jump out of then scared them out.  All three of them plopped right in the bucket!  One was able to jump out but I shot the other two dead!  Sorry it took a few shots to finish them."

Our neighbor is laughing by now.  He's used to our looniness, and very fortunately for us, finds it entertaining rather than obnoxious.  "Happy Valentine's Day, Matt!"  I head back to the house to get some gloves and plastic bags for Ryan to dispose of the corpses.  Ryan follows me inside. We hold in our laughter until we are safely in the kitchen.  Then he kisses me and goes to deal with those dead rats.


These don't sound like very romantic evenings, but his good humor is one of the best things I love about my husband.  He can see a joke, especially when we are the butt of it!  We will never run out of jokes on us!  We've had the gift of laughter in our marriage from the very beginning.  Going through our wedding photos, so many of them are of us or our families and friends just laughing together.  Here's to five years of love and laughter, and maybe fifty more!

*All photos were taken by Tim Willoughby.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sick day means craft day!

Once again this winter, every one is sick except Ryan.  Katie Rose and I are already feeling a little better, but Anthony was sent to bed at 6:45 with a temp of 102 and he went willingly! During the day though, we kept busy with some crafty things. We also read lots of books and indulged in some Thomas the Tank Engine, but we did crafts for hours today.

Pipe cleaners in the bowl from the salad spinner.  Katie Rose LOVED this.

Modeling her creation.

Everybody gets handmade Valentines this year.  After receiving a Valentine from Christine's son Sly, of course Anthony had to make Valentines, too!  So trying to keep things not too insane and yet satisfy his need to create, we stamped his name on paper doilies then cut out hearts to glue on the other side. 

I just noticed that one of these says, "ANTHOY."

Since Ryan doesn't read this blog, I feel safe to give you a peek at his Valentine from Katie Rose.  She glued on the pom-poms and scribbled on the heart anyway.  It's become a tradition to give Ryan at least one Valentine with some terrible pun.  Last year's was a picture of a train, from guess who, with, "I choo-choo-choose you!" written on it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Probably boring, but there's sort of a recipe hidden in it

We did our monthly budget review last night.  Although we were in the black, it was a whopping $6.60 saved.  There was a furnace repairman visit during the first polar vortex and a visit to the mechanic for the old car, but that didn't fully make up the difference from previous months by a long shot.  Everything is just getting more expensive.

The good news is that $6.60 isn't a complete picture, lest any family members reading this start to worry.  This is the budget for variable expenses, which is separate from planned savings, which come right out the paycheck and we essentially never see.  This is the "bonus" savings if you will, the cash we can access readily.  We are still paying down debt faster than the minimum, because that's all built into the budget as well.  Every penny is accounted for and every Goodwill purchase broken down into clothing, household, or my fabric addiction in Microsoft Excel.  We know exactly how we're spending it all.  What can I say, I married a data man.

So truly, we are doing okay.  However.  That variable expense sheet shows $59.83 on clothing, mostly for growing children at Goodwill, $8.53 on entertainment, $0.00 on hobbies.  Too much on eating out, for full disclosure, although we recently cut that budget amount and we blew the new budget but not the old one.  Growing up eating out multiple times per week, that's been a hard habit to completely break.  Blew the grocery budget, too.  I haven't changed my shopping habits, but again, rising costs.

The biggest money sucker is living in the city.  As much as I like living in our house, it's crazy expensive.  Taxes are more than 25% of our monthly mortgage payment.   That's money we'll never get back, even if most is going to principal/equity.  (Tangential lunatic fringe political rant: It gets higher every election, no matter how outrageous the levy, because most voters are not property owners!  Score one for the founders for restricting suffrage to debt-free property owners.  It just makes sense that those only those who have proven to be worthy stewards of their own money should be trusted with that of the commonwealth.  And yes, that would leave us out of the vote!)  It's one more excellent reason to get out to the country.  Le sigh.

I don't say all this to complain, truly.  This is just what it takes to be a one-income family in a two-income world.  This month we're just going to try again, pray the furnace is good through the winter, and double down on my kitchen efforts.  Probably a better use of my energy than longingly browsing! 

Last night we had a pretty delicious soup that I'm calling Golden Vichyssoise.  Doesn't that sound fancy?  It's a large leek, lots of Yukon Gold potatoes, and half of a languishing butternut squash simmered in chicken stock and pureed, seasoned with mustard, and with a little cream mixed in.  Garnish with bits of bacon if it's not Friday!  With crusty bread and salad it was a pretty filling meal.  Tonight is pizza night.

I should also mention that I'm taking care of a newborn baby three days a week starting in mid-March.  Right around the time the first car payment is due! That was a perfectly timed gift from God, because we really needed a better vehicle, but kept putting it off and putting it off because we wanted to keep paying down those debts as fast as possible.  Data Man said it made sense to continue paying down the student debt rather than save cash for a car, because the interest on those would be bigger than that on a car payment.  I been praying for God to make it happen, and then this job landed in my lap! It will fully cover the car payment and then a little extra for throwing at those student loans!  It's something I can do without sacrificing being truly at home for my family.  It probably won't be a long-term thing, but long enough that we can knock out another loan or two.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Adventure in the new Mommy Mobile and Garden Planning

We got a minivan yesterday!  It's a Honda Odyssey, blue as you can see.  All any women ever ask is, "What color is it?" so I'll spare you all the other specs.  The most important one:  The speedometer works!  So far I like it a lot, but it has a lot of features that will take some getting used to.

We had our first adventure in it this morning, doing the preschool run.  My friend's big white van was stuck good in the snow in their driveway, so long story short we were at full capacity with all her school kids, her toddler who I was planning on babysitting anyway, and my toddler.  The eighth grade boy got to ride shotgun and geek out over the fancy audio system, while everybody else was singing to the radio and dancing in the backseat.  Poor Anthony was already at school and missed all the fun, but just as well because he wouldn't have fit!  I wish I had taken a picture of everybody, because that really was a fun ride to school!  It was really nice to be able to help out in this way.  I have a feeling this was only the first of many rides given, but that's why we got this car.

I'm really loving this winter, despite the polar vortexes!  It's a real winter.  I'm always disappointed when there is very little snow.  Snow is lightly falling outside the window right now.  Although I am gazing out at the raised beds thinking it's high time to get the seed order in.

We aren't expanding the raised beds this year.  We could have made better use of the space we had already dug.  Not bothering with onions this year, but adding more cole crops.  The garden beds are almost planned out.  Just have to finalize whether or not Ryan can be persuaded to plow up the level part of the yard next to the driveway that has decent drainage so we can have a three sisters field.  You know: corn, beans, and squash!  It's one of the original companion planting schemes.  You plant the corn first, then climbing beans climb up the cornstalks.  The beans help put nitrogen into the ground to fertilize the corn and squash.  Squash vines on the ground smother the weeds. I'm tempted to swap out the corn for sunflowers, because I love them so much.  I think it would work just as well.  Maybe at least do a border of a few rows of sunflowers along the driveway, screening the cornstalks from view.

We're also planting blueberries and raspberries!  That and six more chicks should give us plenty to be getting on with in the backyard this spring!  Maybe I'll go settle my brain for a long winter's nap while I still have the chance!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Napless and Hello

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It's just after 8:00, and Castle Keane is silent. Well, not quite silent.  Both children are snoring, because they were doing this all day:

Those pictures are actually from last week, but that's what they were doing again today. They think that it's endlessly entertaining to assume that position around the train tracks, even if they don't have the battery-powered train running at the time. I wonder what Piaget would say about this one.

Nobody has napped for the last three days, so they've been really silly!  Anthony is especially tired, even though he's pretty much outgrown naps.  Last night was a Super Bowl party with friends of ours.  No way was Katie Rose going to make it.  As you remember she was napless for the second day in a row.  She was out for the night by 6:30.  So Anthony and Ryan went and didn't get home until 10:00!  SO TIRED this morning.  He didn't really start his day until 10:30 this morning.  But he had a blast at the party.   It's not like I really care about the Super Bowl.  In fact I still don't know who won!  I got a jump on the Monday clearing up from the weekend routine and watched Brigadoon so it was all good.  I love musicals but Ryan really can't stand them.  Every time he's away for work I binge on Hello Dolly and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

I was disappointed to miss catching up with that group of friends, though.  We used to see them at Bible study every week, but we had to stop going exactly because it was too late of a night out for Anthony and he was always exhausted the next day.  It's strange to think that we've lived here long enough that we have an entire group of friends here that we hadn't seen for nearly a year! How did that happen?!?  We actually have several little social pockets, from church, Bible studies, just around the neighborhood, now Anthony's school, Ryan's work, our own small Christian community group... And five years ago neither of us knew a soul in this city!  For transplants we have been super blessed.

All that is surely fascinating, but anybody reading this is sure to be wondering why was it fascinating enough to memorialize on the internet when I don't really blog.  At all.  I've decided to give it another try.  I read other people's blogs, people who I either know in real life and can't keep up with as well as I would like, or whom I would love to know in real life.  It's a little odd that I know all about them but I don't tell them anything about myself.  The internet is at least in theory a great way to connect, but that only works if there's two-way communication happening.  Plus family and friends might be interested to know that my children's blood is constantly rushing to their heads.  I'm not expecting anything grand out of blogging.  It's going to be just another personal blog among many. And that's fine.

This just in:  STINK BUGS.  Are they attracted to screens like toddlers are?  Three of them on the computer screen as I was typing this.  Yuck.

See what I mean about not expecting anything grand?