Friday, July 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Summer Edition

1.  Well, we still do not have our home phone hooked up (see last 7QT #5)...but not to worry, that is scheduled to be remedied this morning!  Hopefully all will go smoothly, but with the way my luck has been with this cable switchover I'm definitely not holding my breath.

2.  On the positive side of things, we had our favorite furniture / computer repairman here this week and he not only fixed our recliner that has been broken forever but also took our main computer to clean the virus off of it that we got around Christmas.  Yes, I just typed the word "Christmas", it's embarrassing how long we've been using the backup computer around here.  The incredibly slow backup computer.  When we get the other one back it's going to seem like we're surfing the German Autobahn highway!

Awful small to be holding
so much information!!
3.  When I said "clean the virus off" what I really meant was "reinstall the operating system".  So that means I've been spending a lot of time this week backing up photos and documents off the hard drive.  Seriously thinking of investing in an external memory source like this one.  It holds 1 TB of data.  That would be 1 terabyte, which is equal to 1,000 gigabytes!!  I hadn't even heard of that term until this week but if it will save me from having to backup all these files again I'm all for spending the $90.  It's either that or consider putting the data on some sort of cloud service like Evernote.  Or maybe both...any suggestions on which direction I should take on this?

4.  Sadly, one of Soccer Boy's gerbils died this week.  Of course, it was the one that was really hand tamed.  The other one is more skittish and tends to nip at you when being held.  Since gerbils are very social animals and don't do well solo I've been trying to get a hold of the dealer we bought them from to replace the one we lost.  Has anyone else out there noticed that gerbils are hard to come by these days?  You just don't see them in pet stores anymore.  Usually, you'll see an empty case with a sign saying "coming soon" but no actual live animals, ever.  In case you are wondering, no, I am not planning on getting a female gerbil for our remaining male gerbil and making lots of $$ off the obvious gerbil shortage in our area (much to my kids' disappointment).
R.I.P. little Croc
5.  Summer is half way over which means the next school year is just around the corner.  This is usually about the time I start to panic because I haven't ordered all our curriculum yet and I haven't totally gotten a school schedule in place for the new year.  From past experience I know that it is never a good thing to put this stuff off until the middle of August so I'm starting the panic stage now.  That way I'll be ready for full meltdown mode the new year by the third week of next month.

6.  We were at the local pool for approximately 10 minutes Thursday night when they closed it due to lightning in the area.  With the drought we've been experiencing I was hopeful that the lightning would mean possibly rain was heading our way.  Alas, it was not to be.  Do you know how long it takes to get 5 kids + 2 adults + 2 lifevests + 6 towels (toddler shares) + 1 swim diaper + unknown amount of water toys in the van and to the pool?!  Let's just say it doesn't = 10 minutes of actual swim time.  However, I wouldn't have minded one bit if we actually had gotten rain out of it.  Rain, rain, where are you?!

Old pic of Firstborn & Soccer Boy
We still have those lifevests!!
7.  All of the extra repair people in our home this week has helped to keep the main areas of our house picked up more than we normally do in the summer.  Which makes me think maybe I should invite actual company over more often so it would give our family extra incentive for cleaning the house.  The trick, I think, is to invite people who actually know and love you and do not really care if your home is eat off the floor clean.  That way if something happens (and for the record, it seems something always does happen in a home with many people) then you don't drive yourself crazy and decide to never, ever, ever open your house to company ever, ever again.  Now we just need to find incentive for the closets!

That's it for this week...go check out more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Conversion Story - Part 1

My beautiful home church
I still love visiting, lots of memories
I was raised in a conservative Presbyterian Church in the midwest US.  That church not too long ago celebrated it's 140th anniversary, so it is an old church (by US standards).  They were originally a stand alone church affiliated with the United Presbyterian denomination.  When I was a child the members of my church did not like the direction the UPC denomination was heading.*  Plus, there was a legal issue over property rights as the UPC denomination requested all the individual churches to sign over their church properties to them.  My home church members then voted to leave and become free standing again.  A long court battle with the UPC ensued over the church building itself, which the members eventually won.  Around the time I became a teenager the members voted to join another denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).  It was a difficult decision to make as most, if not all, of the members remembered the court battle with the last denomination the church had joined.  This meant we would have 12 sister churches in our local area (called a Presbytery), which would come to mean a lot more to me later since this is how I would meet my future husband.

All of this is just background info for those who know something about the history and theology of these different groups.  I recall the transition into the PCA, for our church, was not a incredibly smooth one.  The biggest problem seemed to be the ordination of women.  When we were stand alone and/or part of the UPC our church would elect women as deacons.  In the Presbyterian Church, you have the pastor or reverend or minister, and he is responsible for the spiritual care of the congregation.  You then have the elders, who are elected by the membership every so many years.  They meet once a month to discuss church matters, assist the pastor in his duties, help the congregation elect a new pastor if needed, etc...  Elders are very respected in the church and community.  Usually, once someone is elected an elder they are always considered an elder even if they are not currently serving on the board.  They are the backbone of the church.  You then have the deacons, who are also elected by the membership and serve for a term that lasts so many years, until the next election.  They are responsible for handling the financial issues of the church.  They work closely with the elders and handle more of the day to day dealings of the church.  Except for the pastor, these positions are not paid positions, they are volunteer lay men and women who sacrifice their time and talent for the good of the entire church.  All of the above people would be elected and then we would have a special Sunday morning service where there would be a laying on of hands and prayers, what is called an ordination (what Catholics might see as a consecration), of these people to their duties.  When our church joined the PCA, they had a rule against the ordination of women.  This created problems because our church did ordinate women, and it tended to be that women served as deacons.  My own mother had been ordained as a deacon at one point.  The PCA always had men serving as pastors, elders, and deacons and had a separate role for women as deaconesses, who were also elected but not ordained.  Many felt this regulated women to second class citizens in the church and felt like a slap in the face to the women who had faithfully served as deacons in the past and present and had done a wonderful job.  After much debating the church finally voted to join the PCA, which it is a member of to this day.  For those of you who grew up in more liturgical churches the idea of everything being put up for a vote can seem odd.  It means that the majority rules and the authority in the church rests with the membership and those that they elect.  This is how the Presbyterian church operates, and of course like all democracies the decisions made can be good or bad, depending on the will and goals of the people doing the voting.  All members are asked to be informed, seriously consider the issues and to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance before casting their vote.  In this way the congregation asks the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and protect the church from error.

When I was born my family did not regularly attend a church.  My mom had been raised in the above church (since it was right down the street from her home and she lived next door to the pastor and his family).  My dad had been raised a Southern Baptist, his uncle in fact was a preacher from the next small town over (he was also a coal miner, the church was small and couldn't afford his salary so he did both).  Mom and dad were married in the Presbyterian church by my dad's uncle (who would later marry me and my husband in that same church)!  The Presbyterian church practices infant baptisms but look at it more as a dedication and not something that is necessary for salvation.  The Baptist church does not practice infant baptisms but it is regarded much more seriously because they believe it is required for salvation.  My parents decided to not have me baptized as an infant and wait until I joined the church, as in the Baptist tradition.  The infant baptism issue is something that my husband and I continue to discuss and disagree on to this day.  I did a separate post about infant baptism here.

Mt. Tabor, the junior girls' cabin at church camp
As I grew closer to school age my parents (my mom in particular) decided to become more involved in church.  She wanted me to attend Sunday School to learn about God and how to be a good christian.  I have our next door neighbors to thank for my mom's decision to start attending the church of her youth.  My mom also became more involved, going to worship services and volunteering to teach Sunday School and help with Christmas pageants and Vacation Bible School.  My dad would attend with us but he never would join the membership of the church.  He maintained he was always going to be a Southern Baptist (my mom maintained that he didn't want to be elected to anything)!  I was a good Presbyterian kid who went to Sunday School and worship every Sunday morning.  I memorized bible verses, put offering in the plate, performed in Christmas pageants and other musical events the children's ministry put on.  I attended VBS and later on went to church camp for a week every summer with other kids from our larger Presbytery (how I first met my future husband's family, as he has a younger brother who is my age).  Most of my church camp summers were spent at the Methodist camp, Doug & I both have fond memories of attending that camp as kids.  In case you're wondering, I didn't attend a Methodist church (although Doug's mom was raised Methodist and his grandparents remained in the church their whole lives).  Our Presbytery would rent the Methodist camp for a week, we're a very ecumenical group!  In fact, in my small hometown all the churches would get together to run one summer VBS program.  The same is done for Easter sunrise services.  The churches would take turns hosting and it moved around every year.  As a child this was a really neat experience, to get to go to my friends' churches as a guest.  By the end of a week of VBS you felt very comfortable in that church.  It made all the area churches feel a bit like home.  As a Catholic, I get the same type of feeling when visiting another Catholic Church.  Although I may have never stepped foot in that particular church they still share so many things, they all have a tabernacle and an altar, they all celebrate the Eucharist, and they all use the exact same readings from the bible.  I know that the bible readings are going to be the same there as in the Catholic Church I attend at home, even if they're on another continent or in a different language!

When I was in grade school I went to stay with a friend in another town because they were having their annual festival and the carnival rides were there.  Her church also happened to be doing VBS that same week so I went along with her and had an experience there that would change my worldview.  More on that in my next entry...

Conversion Story - Part 2

* I am writing on things as I saw or remember as a child and young adult in the way I perceived them, I'm sure there was more going on than I remember or wrote about here on my blog.

Friday, July 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes - New Blog Edition

I'm so excited to be writing my first 7 Quick Takes!  I've been reading and enjoying 7QT for years and from it have found many blogs that I enjoy and check in on from time to time.  Thanks to Jen for hosting!

1.  This is an Apple IIC, which is the first computer my family owned (yes, that is a screen pic of pac-man, which I also played on our computer as a kid).  I learned to type on that thing and it went to college with me freshman year.  It was a wonderful glorified typewriter computer, I spent many a late night doing research papers on it (which beat walking to the computer lab).  Oh how far we have come!

2.  A recent picture of my kids at one of their favorite indoor playlands.  They're one of the reasons I started this blog, so I can remember more accurately this crazy busy and incredibly blessed time in my life and theirs.  I love you guys!!

3.  The first blogger I started following regularly was Sarah over at Snoring Scholar.  I actually got to meet her in real life at the Behold Conference in Peoria, IL this year!  (Wish I would have thought to take a picture,  I guess there's always next year).  She is just as cool to talk with in person as to read on her blog and she just so happens to be giving away an e-copy of her new yet to be released book A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary From Conception to Baptism.  All you need to do is to write a review on your blog.  What better reason to start a blog than to get a free advance copy of her book?!  Here's the link

4.  Since I'm plugging and dropping names I'll have to mention that author and blogger Brandon Vogt said that he thinks Blogger is one of the easiest interfaces to use to start blogging.  Well...the writing part is coming easy to me but the blog design part, not so much.  Did I mention I was an accountant in my former life and have absolutely NO creative art skills whatsoever?!  Since Brandon wrote the book on The Church and New Media (which I have on my kindle and highly recommend) I'll have to assume he has considerably more expertise in this blog design area.  I'll just keep praying hoping the design stuff will become easier as I gain more experience with it, we'll see...

5.  We are in cable company hell over here this week (well, we have been since before the 4th of July).  I actually started writing this post a few weeks ago but due to losing our internet over the holiday I am just now getting it posted.  We still do not have our home phone back.  Today has officially been "7 business days" so I'll have to call them (on my cell phone) and see what's going on.  Then I'll have to set up a date to sit here and wait for them to actually install the home phone.  This on top of the new trash company who took TWO WEEKS to deliver our new garbage cans.  They were delivered yesterday so today's project is getting all the trash and recycling out of our house.

6.  We're a good recycling bunch over here, so do you know how many cardboard boxes a family of seven can accumulate in two weeks!  Yeah, you know what I'll be doing today.

7.  I will admit that the forced internet fast over the July 4th holiday was interesting.  I had no idea how often we jumped on-line for just small stuff like looking up directions or a phone number.  Had to pull out the old phone book a few times!  I really didn't think I spent that much time on-line but I did have a lot more time to get stuff done around the house.  Also, my hubby and I spent more time together in the evenings, as opposed to one of us being on-line (hubby) and the other one reading a book (me).  We tended to talk more, even when just watching t.v. together.  So it seems the internet can suck away your brain cells...who knew?!  And with that I'm publishing and jumping off line for awhile.

Go to Conversion Diary to read more 7 Quick Takes from other more experienced bloggers!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Children the New Second Class Citizens?

First off, I want to say I empathize with all those people who become annoyed by other people's kids.  I understand how frustrating it can be when parents are off to the side texting while their kids are terrorizing everyone around them.  I get it, I truly do.  As a stay at home, homeschooling mom I spend a lot of time around own and others.  When my kids were in school I was a room parent, teacher volunteer, went on lots of field trips.  But this post isn't about those kids, this post is about the adults.

Frankly, I'm a bit tired of the attitude.  Here's the deal, if you want to swim laps in the pool that's great.  There are many people who like to swim laps, so many in fact that most (if not all) pools have designated lap swims.  This is the time when the pool is open to only those people who want to swim laps.  You can also choose to swim laps during the open swim times.  If you choose to swim laps during open pool times please be aware that a beach ball or stray noodle is going to accidentally enter your lane occasionally.  Most good parents are just trying to make sure their child is safe and not drowning (and not drowning another child).  Stray beach balls and noodles are not real high on our priority list during open swim time.

See empty seats in front?
Yeah, that would be our seats
Also, please be aware that there are usually children present at Disney movies.  Inconvient, I know, but that's just kind of the way it goes.  So I suggest if you want to watch a kids' movie without kids around it would be better to wait until it comes out on DVD.  Then you can just rent it and watch it in the privacy of your own home.  That way you don't have to be annoyed at the four year old who always, always must go to the bathroom in the middle of the film.  (No, it does not matter if she went right before the movie or if she didn't have anything to drink during said movie, she will still have to go).

Speaking of bathroom breaks, this same child cannot make it through the hour long Mass either.  As a general rule the back of the church is usually where families of little ones sit for this reason (and also to make a quick getaway to the cry room).  If you're one of those adults who are bothered by little ones and like to be able to hear the homily I would suggest sitting a little closer to the front.  Those seats always seem to be available.  If this bothers you just offer it up and say a little prayer for the families who are bringing their young ones to church.  You can specifically pray for their patience, endurance and peace during this joyful but hectic time in their life.  Rest assure, your Mass is probably going a bit easier than theirs!

One more thing, people with children have to go grocery shopping too (just like the rest of the world).  Sometimes they choose to bring their children with them.  Sometimes they don't have a choice and must bring their kids with them if they want to have something to make for dinner that evening.  Even when children are polite and staying next to the cart they can get annoyed looks from adult shoppers.  They have just as much right as you do to be in the store.  Walking into them when they are standing completely still is considered rude in this day and age.  There are "adults only" stores, but most of them probably do not sell groceries.

I sometimes wonder where all the responsible adults have gone?  Am I the only one who noticed that many adults do not enjoy the company of children?  I hear many people my age complain about how kids can be self centered and rude, that they're not acting their age and are too immature.  But I also see how the adults around them are not acting their age either.  What kind of example are we setting for them to follow?  When we go out and have too much to drink (and then worse, we drive ourselves home)?  When we play violent video games for hours on end?  When we make promises to them and then don't follow through?  When we treat other people like objects?  When we don't grow up, mature and become responsible adults what makes us think that they will?

Parenting is a hard enough job so cut them and their children some slack and maybe offer some encouragement from time to time.  Who knows, maybe that annoying kid at the pool will be the paramedic who rushes you to the hospital ten years from now.  Maybe he or she will be the police officer who keeps you from getting robbed at that grocery store.  They may be your child's husband or wife, the parents of your grandchildren.  More than likely they'll be adults in the not too distant future.  Adults who will hopefully look at children and not just see little people who are annoying and in the way.  They'll see the future and all the wonderful possibilities...

Friday, July 6, 2012


This posts is for my Mom & Dad, who don't have time to start their own blog because they're always out riding so I'll give them their little moment of fame on my site...

When my Dad went out and bought a motorcycle a few years ago my sister and I were stumped.  Was this some late mid-life crisis thing going on?  My Mom informed us that Dad had always wanted a motorcycle, even when we were little.  Shocking, I never recall my Dad saying anything about motorcycles or really paying that much attention to them.  Now that he is retired my Mom and him go on "roadtrips" all...the...time.  Which is fine, Doug and I joke that it must be nice to be able to do all this traveling (although, I prefer a nice car with AC).  Wait, did I mention my Dad's bike has AC?  Yes, you read that right, it has air conditioning.  It also has a nice radio and they have helmets that can plug into the radio and talk to each other at the same time.  I think there's even a way to hook my Mom's smartphone into the helmets.  Yeah, Mom has a smartphone too (you need it when taking roadtrips on motorcycles, in case you get lost or the weather gets bad and you need to check the radar).  I think they mostly use it to find a good restaurant.  My mom's custom seat in the back even has armrests and a cupholder, I think.  Not to fear, if I'm wrong about that I'm sure Dad will correct me in the comment section!

Dad has now owned a few different bikes, but his ride of choice is a trike.  Here's the one they had back in 2010..

Taken on Florida vacation (note palm trees in background)

Soccer Boy riding with Grandpa
(they wear helmets when not posing for picture)

That one is now sold.  Currently, my Dad has a new tricked out trike we call "The Black Stallion"...

Dad & Mom on "The Stallion"

For the record, Soccer Boy has stated that he would like to inherit The Stallion, which as his mom I have a few reservations.  Not the least of which is I am not ready for him to inherit anything!  I still need Mom and Dad around and I'm sure they have quite a few quality years left.  It is, however, quite a turn of events to be praying for your parents' trips and safe return when you know they're out riding in the mountains on highways with names like "Tail of the Dragon" that has 300+ turns in an eleven mile stretch.  What makes people want to go out and risk their safety like this?!  As I recall my folks never wanted me to ride motorcycles as a teenager, something about them being "dangerous" and all that.

Not to mention, their trips are highly inconvenient for me.  I mean, aren't they supposed to be available to watch their grandchildren at the drop of a hat?  I seem to recall spending lots of time at my grandparent's house as a child.  Just saying...

Ultimately, I am just happy that this new pastime of theirs gives them so much enjoyment.  I do like looking at their pictures and hearing the stories they have to tell of their adventures.  So if you see them out and about on The Black Stallion say "hi" to them for me!! Mom & Dad with love