Saturday, February 28, 2009

he's got the whole world in his hands...

This is the sort of photo you get when you allow a 9 year old access to a digital camera:

After I saw the wet spot down the front of Timmy's shirt it made me imagine he had been drinking from the Atlantic Ocean.

Downloading the pictures I found the kids had taken over 100 pictures in 2 days, mostly super-closeups of each other's faces. Mary and Will also figured out how to do video, some of which involved spinning the camera around so fast that watching made me feel like I was back on the teacup ride at the county fair.

Still waiting, but with contractions ranging from every 5 to 30 minutes since yesterday at lunchtime, it can't be long now...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

not so patiently waiting

It certainly was easier being pregnant with Will, even though he "cooked" the longest. When I nested, things stayed clean and tidy. When I packed my suitcase, it stayed packed. When I wanted to nap, rest, snack, or shop I was free do these things anytime I wished.

This time around, the logistical issues are overwhelming. I clean the house and before I finish one floor, it has toys (or rosary beads) strewn across it.
I have had to repack my bag 3 times now because my hairbrush keeps ending up in the kid's bathroom (Timmy and I routinely sing "Oh, where is my hairbrush?" from Veggie Tales as a really bad comedy act). The kids ask me every morning and evening, "Is Baby Sunshine coming today/tonight?" I don't have the opportunity to lie down for more than 5 minutes before someone is calling my name. I can't even shop because I'm trying not to spend money after my $200 stocking-up trip to the Commissary and I don't want to hear, "Can I have XYZ?" from anyone under the age of 11.

So here I gestate and wait, I read and then hurry to the library to stock up on more books so I don't get stuck at the hospital with nothing left in the stack.

I sew, but with no plan other than to stay busy making blocks.

At this rate, I'm going to have read the entire fiction department at the local library and enough blocks for a king sized quilt before I put my hand on my tummy and say, "It's time to go!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

fun but frightening

I found this Madame Zaritska's birth predictor. After answering the bizzare questions I found that:

The day you deliver, outside will be foggy. Your baby will arrive in the late night. After a labor lasting approximately 12 hours, your child, a girl, will be born. Your baby will weigh about 15 pounds, 2 ounces, and will be 18 inches long. This child will have dark hazel eyes and barely there brown hair.

I would rather jump off a bridge than deliver a 15 pound child. Luckily we have had a tie for biggest baby at 8lb 1oz. Wanna guess which ones?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

carnival of homeschooling

Consent of the Governed is hosting the Stimulus Edition of this week's homeschool carnival.

chipping away at the 2nd Amendment

new bill HR 45 introduced into the House, the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sale Act of 2009, which would make it illegal to own a firearm - any rifle with a clip or ANY pistol unless:

•It is registered
•You are fingerprinted
•You supply a current Driver's License
•You supply your Social Security #
You will submit to a physical & mental evaluation at any time of their choosing
•Each update - change or ownership through private or public sale must be reported and costs $25 - Failure to do so you automatically lose the right to own a firearm and are subject up to a year in jail.
•There is a child provision clause on page 16 section 305 stating a child-access provision. Gun must be locked and inaccessible to any child under 18.
They would have the right to come and inspect that you are storing your gun safely away from accessibility to children and fine is punishable for up to 5 yrs. in prison.

So, the Congress is again (voting this week to give a seat in the House of Representatives to Washington, DC) trying to stomp all over the Constitution by tampering with the 4th Amendment (unlawful search and seizure) in their campaign to restrict as much as possible the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms).

Tim took a pistol safety class earlier this month and decided to fill out the paperwork to obtain a license this weekend under the current law. Soon we will be the proud owners of a small pistol for target practice.

I'm clamoring for a double-barreled shotgun that I can prop up on the front porch next to my rocking chair, so when the revenuers come to steal my house, cow, and sheep to give to the undeserving poor, I can scare them, "Out of here, you varmints!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

it is so worth it

It is said that parenthood is a thankless job. That is true for the most part, since babies and toddlers never say, "Gee Mommy, I really appreciate you changing my nasty nappies, spooning rice mush into my mouth, teaching me the shapes and colors, taking me to the library every week, and reading to me every night for years and years....
But on Sunday morning, when I woke up at 9am (gasp!) after being up for 6 hours with mild contractions, I opened my eyes to this:

and inside was this:

I love and care about you too.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I should have been a statistics major

I love making charts, graphs, and trying to analyze data to see what it means for the future. However, I don't have any interesting data or much on my mind these days except wondering when Baby Sunshine is going to put in an appearance. For my OB appointment I brought in a chart of my progression of dilation/effacement with the last several pregnancies. Since I never got checked with the first 2 babies I don't have that info, but I showed up at L&D at 4cm with Will and 7cm with Mary, so it is likely I experienced early labor with them as well. At this stage with the last 3 babies I was already 3cm dilated and 50-75% effaced so I'm guessing with all these sleepless nights make it likely I am about the same now.

The other chart I made yesterday shows what date Baby Sunshine would appear compared to the other 5 babies. Since the earliest one was born at 37 weeks 2 days that would be today. Can you guess which child was born the earliest?

Friday, February 20, 2009

bye bye classic books

One of my favorite things to do has been collecting children's books, finding them at thrift stores, used book stores, and vendors such as Keller Books at homeschool conferences. We have 9 bookshelves of various sizes chock-full, so no child could ever say, "I don't have ANYTHING to read!"

However, the new CPSIA law which was rushed through Congress with no thought as to consequences (boy, does that sound familiar), outlaws the reselling (and possibly checking out from the library) children's books published prior to 1986 due to the possibility of lead in the print. I can tell you that my children read books, listen to books, and look at books, but they do not eat them. This is the most up-to-date statement from the agency:
Table C: Commonly Resold Children’s Products and Materials

Recalled Products
Illegal to sell ANY recalled product (for adults as well as children). Before taking into inventory or selling a product, check the CPSC Web site for dangerous recalled products including cribs, play yards, strollers, high chairs, toys with magnets, toys that are choking hazards, and other products.

Books – “ordinary” children’s titles e.g. paperbacks and hardbacks
OK to sell, if printed after 1985

Cheap children’s metal jewelry
Best to test, contact the manufacturer, or not sell

Unpainted/untreated wood toys
OK to sell

Painted wooden or metal toys
Best to test, contact the manufacturer, or not sell

Toys with soft plastic that are made for infants
Should be OK to sell if made for sale after February 10, 2009. If older (or if the date of manufacture is unknown) check with manufacturer or do not sell

Dyed or undyed children’s clothing made from natural, untreated cotton, silk, wool, hemp, flax, linen, and other untreated natural materials including coral, amber, feathers, fur and leather
OK to sell

Clothes with rhinestones, metal or vinyl snaps, zippers, closures or appliqu├ęs.
Best to test, contact the manufacturer, or not sell

Surgical steel; precious metals such as gold (at least 10 karat) and sterling silver (at least 925/1000); precious and semiprecious gemstones (excluding a list of stones that are associated in nature with lead); natural or cultured pearls
OK to sell

Toys that are easily breakable into small parts including dolls and stuffed toys that have eyes, noses or other small parts that are not securely fastened
Best not to sell (for children under 3); could present a choking hazard

Here are some of my favorites from our vast shelves that are now illegal to purchase:

It seems absurd in this age when we are supposedly trying to encourage children to read and get a good education to require that the only reasonably priced books for children must be thrown away because of some infinitesimal risk of a child licking the pages. Shame on our legislators for throwing out the baby with the bathwater in their efforts to "protect the children."

I just found this fantastic Dr. Seuss style story about the CPSIA, it might just make you laugh and cry.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

just in time...

I've been supplanted as the chief hugger and consoler. Timmy accidentally whacked his head on the dresser in his room right after I got him dressed, and of course burst into tears. "Come here baby Timmy," and while he did hug me for a moment, he started sobbing, "Willllllll!"

"Will, Get out of the bathroom, your brother wants YOU!"

He immediately stopped crying as soon as he was safe in his big brother's arms.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

carnival of homeschooling

Topsy Technie is hosting this week's carnival with a decided technical aspect. Our household is very low-tech as I told the Verizon rep yesterday when reporting a harassing phone call, "We don't have caller ID or any of that fancy stuff."


To get an OB appointment with likely the only pro-life Catholic military doc in DC (other than my dh), I had to agree to forgo schoolwork this morning and take all 5 little munchkins with me.

I hope they don't get run over, turn the place upside down, have a temper tantrum, swing from the rafters. Things to pack in the magic bag: storybooks, Cheerios, sippy cup, extra nappies, matchbox cars, and coloring supplies.

Wish me luck!

We managed to get to my appointment on time despite the traffic, driving around looking for a parking spot (we found the last one on base), and having to walk 1/2 mile to the hospital. Now we are home again and snug and cozy doing schoolwork and drinking mugs of hot cocoa/Ovaltine. The doctor agreed that I didn't need any more appointments, just to call L&D ahead of time, "I'm coming in and this is my 6th baby," so they will have a bed prepped with my name on it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

bored and waiting

As if I didn't have enough to do between homeschooling, ferrying children to lessons, and keeping the house clean, I have made it a habit to start some complicated project toward the end of pregnancy. We moved overseas when Will was 8 weeks old, giving me the opportunity to organize and pack and then repeat it on a smaller scale again when, pregnant with Mary, we moved on-base in Italy. Tim deployed for 9 months when I was only a few weeks out from Maggie's due date so of course I had to take on preschool and a TV interview to while away the time. I don't think I did much while waiting for Charlie except prepping for our yearly trip to Maine, which we did when he was four weeks old. I take that back, packing for 2-3 months in Maine with 4 small children is a big job. While expecting Timmy I began a children's writing course, which took 2 years to complete. Each time my boredom was supplanted by endless lists of chores, but they did give me something to other than twiddle my thumbs and wait for the big contractions.

This time around I bought a new sewing machine and quilting frame so I can eventually be a talented free-motion quilter and sell my creations on etsy or ebay. Tim assembled the 15' long table a few weeks ago and over the weekend I put the cloth leaders on the roller bars and pinned on a quilt sandwich so I can begin to practice. My errors have turned into a comedy; first I couldn't figure out how the rollers unlocked, making me think they were all on backwards before rerolling them all back the exact same way, Will had to rescue me when I hollered for help after I found that I couldn't lift the sewing machine onto the frame, and finally after we pinned it all on correctly I accidentally quilted the top to the cloth leaders underneath.
The book I bought with lots of great all-over quilting patterns says that it takes a year to become really proficient on a long-arm machine. I can't see me wanting to stand in my current state and practice much now, but I guess it will still be there after Baby Sunshine learns to take good naps.

Monday, February 16, 2009

liberals are trying to destroy the Church says Rabbi...

Left Wing of the Catholic Church Destroying the Faith Says Orthodox Rabbi
By Hilary White, Rome correspondentWednesday February 11, 2009

The dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last forty years has severely undermined the teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral teachings on life and family, a prominent US Orthodox rabbi told

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of 800 Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, also dismissed the accusations that the Holy See had not sufficiently distanced itself from the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on the Holocaust."I support this move" to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, "because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith."

Rabbi Levin said that he understands "perfectly" why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement. "I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church." This corruption, he said, "has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world."

During a visit to Rome at the end of January, Rabbi Levin told that he believes the media furore over the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X is a red herring. ...The most important issue," he said, is the work the Church is doing "to save babies from abortion, and save children’s minds, and young people’s minds, helping them to know right and wrong on the life and family issues."

Liberals in the Church, particularly in Europe, have bitterly opposed all overtures to the SSPX and other traditionalists, particularly the Pope’s recent permission to revive the traditional Latin Mass. The Vatican announced in early January that, as part of ongoing efforts to reconcile the breakaway group, the 1988 decree of excommunication against the Society had been rescinded. Later that month, a Swedish television station aired an interview, recorded in November 2008, in which Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four leaders of the Society, said that he did not believe that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps during World War II. At that time, the media erupted with protests and accusations that the Catholic Church, and especially Pope Benedict XVI, are anti-Semitic.

"Anyone who understands and follows Vatican history knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II, was Cardinal Ratzinger."...Whoever doesn’t understand this doesn’t realise that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti-Nazism and sympathy for the Jews."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

music critics

On our way home from the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet I started singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

"Stop! Stop!"

"Is Mommy's singing that bad?"


(the complainer? Baby Timmy)

Over the past 8 years all the children have given me similar reviews, so perhaps my singing really is terrible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

mystery solved

Did you know that if you leave your cell phone in a pocketbook and miss a call, it will beep every 15 minutes for the next 6 days? After Tim reminded me to take my phone this morning I got in the car only to hear a familiar noise, "Duh! "

Friday, February 13, 2009

military spouse deployment syndrome

Apparently the "something major goes wrong at home as soon as the spouse goes out of town syndrome" happens with all wives with traveling spouses, but it is inevitable for Navy wives, whose husbands are prone to 6 month deployments. Tim flew up to New England this week and will be arriving home in the next several hours, but as soon as he left on Monday our furnace died, complete with an odd smell and me worrying about a possible gas leak. Now it wasn't a crisis given that it hit 70F on Tuesday afternoon, but it is never good to not have heat in February. That situation was resolved within a few days. Simultaneously a mysterious beeping began, which we investigated as a bad battery in a smoke detector or something wrong with the alarm system. It has continued from some mysterious location in the finished basement every 15 minutes for 5 days now, leaving us all muttering under our breath while attempting to do school.

I didn't want to blog about the lack of heat since we had to leave the basement door unlocked and since I am already paranoid when Tim is away, staying up half the night waiting for burglars and child abductors to appear on the stairs. I certainly didn't want to put in out on the internet that 5 small children and a slow waddling mama were home alone.

The other thing I was worried about was going into labor while Tim was away, but obviously I'm still very round and now very tired. Likely I will start having contractions tonight, but if I do at least I won't have to be subjected to the walls beeping for several days!

where do they all go?

I bought a 5lb bag of Red Delicious apples at the commissary on Tuesday. I bought a 5 lb bag of Red Delicious apples at Giant Thursday afternoon. This is what the fuit bowl looks like at 11am on Friday.

If I hear one more time, "Mommy can I have an apple?" I'm going to scream. I know, I know, apples are good for you, they could be asking for cookies. Guess what is on my grocery list for this afternoon?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

trying to raise GEEKS

I have likely read every parenting book out there that expresses some common sense, you know, the ones that were actually written by parents, rather than childless "development experts." My favorite authors are John Rosemond and Ray Guardendi, but Marybeth Hicks has made some outstanding contributions to practical parenting in this wacky world in her new book, Bringing Up GEEKS (Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids): how to protect your kid's childhood in a grow-up-too-fast world. She has accomplished with her 4 children what most homeschoolers wish to with their children; raise children who are smart, sheltered, polite, team players, true friends, family oriented, and faithful to God.

While I think she does tend toward the simplistic side, "if you follow your own path rather than following the herd then your kids will automatically turn out great," she shows how the popular culture of childhood has turned out a generation of young adults who don't think, are not kind, don't believe in God, and are materialistic snobs. If we want better for our own children then we must be proactive and raise them differently. We must be counter-cultural.

We homeschoolers are the epitome of this theory, we are striving daily to guide our offspring to treasure those things that will bring us happiness in this world and the next. If you know of a new mom, I can't think of a more useful and generous gift than a copy of this book.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

carnival of homeschooling

Sprittibee, another pregnant homeschool mama, is hosting the carnival this week with a very appropriate theme: baby development.

red envelopes

This is floating around the internet, I wish I could credit the creative woman who came up with it. I found 50 count packages of red Christmas envelopes on clearance at Staples for $1.50.

"Dear Friends and Intercessors: This afternoon I was praying about a number of things, and my mind began to wander. I was deeply distressed at the symbolic actions that President Obama took as he began his presidency. Namely, that he signed executive orders releasing funds to pay for abortions, permission to fund human stem cell research, and federal funding for contraception. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for nearly 20 years, and it pained my heart to see a man and a political party committed to the shedding of innocent blood. This man, and this party lead our country, but they do not represent me or the 54% of Americans who believe that abortion is wrong and should no longer be legal.

As I was praying, I believe that God gave me an interesting idea. Out in the garage I have a box of red envelopes. Like the powerful image of the red LIFE tape, an empty red envelope will send a message to Barack Obama that there is moral outrage in this country over this issue. It will be quiet, but clear.

Here is what I would like you to do: Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores.

On the front, address it to:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

On the back, write the following message: This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.

Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this email to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president. "

Monday, February 09, 2009

hard job

I've never had to fire anyone before, but this morning I let one of the babysitters know that we would no longer need her services. I have enough emotional upheaval in my life and I don't need to get phone calls during evening storytime filled with excuses and college angst. I certainly don't need to pay someone for an hour's worth of work and only get 45-50 minutes of face time. I don't like that all Timmy wants to do is cuddle in Will's lap, resulting in Will taking twice as long to get his assignments completed. The big downside is that the little ones will be watching more Little Bear and Thomas the Tank Engine videos.

Hopefully now we will have a little more peace in our home, which ironically is the reason I decided to hire sitters in the first place.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thank you St. Anthony

While finding Quickfoot (the second alligator in the header) was due to Mary spotting a funny shade of green in the bushes while visiting the little girls next door, St. Anthony should not be forgotten. Likely, he nudged her to look down.

Now if I could find a child in my house with one ounce of common sense, one smidgen of thoughtfulness, one dash of quiet introspection I would be most grateful. They have all been so awful this week that I might be tempted to drop the whole crew off at the local orphanage if I knew where it was.

Now, where did I put that phone directory?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

watch out, I'm crabby!

Maybe it is being 8 months pregnant and hormonal, or maybe I have legitimate gripes, you decide:

1. I went to the library this morning by myself (a special treat) and handed the librarian Mary's card, "I need to find out if there is anything on this card overdue or due soon."

"This isn't your card. You can't get any information about this person's account."

"It is my child's card. She is 8 years old. I am responsible for her welfare and her fines. I need to know if she has any overdue items."

"Sorry, I can't tell you."

So... this afternoon we canceled both Will and Mary's cards and I found out and received a household card on which I can check out 100 books. We have cards at 3 libraries in Maine and not one gives me grief about the kid's cards. Apparently it is state law in Maryland that privacy concerns trump common sense.

2. We stop by the grocery store this afternoon and I pull into a spot in la-la-land so I don't have anyone next to me. I get back to the van after picking up milk and light bulbs and find a huge Chevy Suburban parked 12" away from the side doors. This is not the first time that this has happened- which is WHY I park in Timbucktu. Perhaps I got a little testy, but I'm thinking of plastering a sign on the passenger side of the van: UNLESS YOU WANT BIG DENTS IN YOUR CAR, DO NOT PARK HERE. 6 KIDS MUST GET IN/OUT OF THIS VAN.

I recall one trip to the library about 2 weeks ago. We were walking back to the van to find someone pulling in the spot next to us. Will very carefully held the doors open so everyone could get inside and then he and Mary strapped in all the little kids. While I was walking around to hoist myself in, I heard a big thump, thump. Both the driver and her preteen child opened their doors right into the side of my van. I was soooo angry I wanted to pull my van out and slam it into the back of her car a few times. But I didn't. That is against the 7th commandment.

I guess in today's world a tiny bit of sense is just too much to ask for.

boys serving at the altar leads to more priests

Even though Will has been serving at the TLM for 2 years, we signed him up for a class offered through our local Catholic homeschool support group. I can't emphasize enough how much more seriously boys take Mass when they are serving at the altar. While Will is much more likely to become an engineer than a priest, it really is the best recruiting opportunity for the priesthood.

From National Catholic Register:

The altar servers at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, Minn., are a sight to behold. In their white surplices and black cassocks — red for special feasts like Christmas and Pentecost — six carry candles, while others process in with the cross, Sacramentary and incense thurible and boat. Between 12 and 20 altar servers assist at every Mass, every Sunday. On special feasts, the head count jumps to more than 30.And the most astonishing facet of the scene: All of the altar servers are boys.

Holy Family Church is one of a number of parishes that, after deciding to go with an all-boy corps of altar servers, have seen a notable increase in the number of boys participating in the life of the parish. At Holy Family, the decision was made 10 years ago, when only a few boys were servers. The surge was on immediately. Today, more than 60 boys stand at the ready. What’s happened is: The younger boys can’t wait to get on the altar,” says parishioner Bob Spinharney. “And the older boys, to their great credit, stay on even beyond high school age. So the younger boys always have role models to look up to.”

“And, clearly, reverent worship of God the Father through Jesus Christ in the liturgy is a calling card for vocations,” adds Father Dufner. In fact, one of the two current seminarians from this parish — from which four men have been ordained in the last 10 years — was an altar server. Both seminarians come back often to help the youngsters on Sundays, as do server alumni like Spinharney’s college-age son Jordan. The alumni become mentors.“Boys 7 and 8 are glued to the Mass, watching their friends and brothers,” says Rode. “They can’t wait.”

Friday, February 06, 2009

piece of cake

When I was pregnant with Mary I was so stressed at how I was going to cope with two small children. How was I going to nurse the baby, especially in public places, while also managing a toddler who liked to run? How was I going to keep the house relatively tidy? Somehow I managed and learned how, even though at the time it seemed I was pushing a boulder uphill. Then Tim left for a long deployment when I was pregnant with Maggie and I fretted and worried how I was going to cope with 3 small children by myself. Again, I learned tricks and methods that allowed me to do just fine.

Somehow I morphed from a newbie mom to an (almost) expert handler of multiple children. Then Charlie was born and I made a novice mistake of forgetting to bring newborn clothes to the hospital, forcing me to rummage in the diaper bag and come up with an 18 month size pink onsie. (no, we didn't take any "going home from the hospital" photos that day)

Tim had his moments of newborn parenting amnesia too, forgetting to bring the car seat into the maternity ward this last go-around, causing a verbal lashing from some busy-body nurse on the way out of the hospital. Couldn't she figure out that if we already had 4 healthy, intact children, it was very likely that we already owned umpteen carseats and the poor guy had his hands full trying to dress and herd them all into the hospital to pick up his wife?

This time around I am not really fretting about how I will cope. I just will. But the insomnia of late pregnancy leads me to surf the net and lurk on the BabyCenter pregnancy boards. I laugh when I read of moms of 1-2 children asking each other, "How am I going to manage?" and rant about their clueless husbands, "Yes, the house is a wreck, but I have a 4 year old to take care of too..." I sympathize with the women who freak out every time their bellies twinge, "should I call the doctor?" I marvel at the technology that allows women to proudly show off photos of their thriving preemies, some of whom were only 2lbs when born. I am grateful that I have a supportive husband and helpful children who are anxious to hold and care for the new baby. But most of all, I am glad that I am not one of those new mothers anymore. I have the experience to roll with the punches and look forward to welcoming a new soul into the world.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

let the storm winds howl...

We are currently reading aloud The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This book in the Little House series is not particularly adventurous or entertaining, it is composed of many long chapters describing the endless blizzards of the winter of 1880-1881. The daily struggle of life with no contact with others, little food, no coal or wood for heat, and little entertainment was daunting to even this family used to many hardships. I reminded the children that the Ingalls family was luckier than most in that they were well educated and could entertain themselves with reading, reciting, and singing. Pa's fiddle music brought them much comfort when the howling winds threatened to drive them all mad.

I certainly can't compare living in DC in 2009 to surviving a 7 month winter with few supplies, but we have our own hardships to deal with. Tim must spend 2+ hours on the bus getting to and from work each day because he hasn't yet been issued a parking permit at his new command. This means that he leaves before we wake up and doesn't get home until 6pm, leaving enough time to eat, bathe the children, and read a story or two before it is time for prayers and bed. He is exhausted each day and the burden of all the household chores, errands, and activities on me leads to a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. The blessing we experienced last year of Gwen coming over every afternoon so I could go running has not been repeated this year. One babysitter calls regularly to say she is already late, cancelling for the day, or reducing her hours. Luckily the other girl (a homeschooler) is reliable, but only comes 2 hours on Fridays. Getting anywhere in DC means listening to the traffic report and groaning when the main road is blocked by an accident or finding out that a side road is blocked by storm damage. City living is not a good fit for our family and we long for the day when we move up to Maine for good and settle into a rural, more relaxed life.

However, the children have enjoyed riding the METRO. Yesterday Will drew a very elaborate train and road system on a roll of paper and all of them were playing happily (for the most part) for over an hour.

Hopefully, the years we will spend on our homestead will be filled with laughter, music, stories of our adventures in the big city, and an attitude that can triumph over the nastiest winter storm.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

newpapers battle over # of children British should have

A bit from "no more than 2":

Couples who have more than two children are being “irresponsible” by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government’s green adviser has warned.

Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population.

“I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,” Porritt said.
Times Online

a snippet from the "more is merrier" piece: was bunkum to suggest that it costs as much as the price of a family house to raise each child. By sharing bedrooms, baths and toys, he could see that each additional child in a large family worked out cheaper to raise than a child in a small family.

Nor did he feel it was fair to calculate that each child adds an additional 750 tons of carbon dioxide to the environment. "What about economies of scale?" he thought.

"A four-person household uses half as much electricity, per capita, as a home for one. The people who are messing up the planet are the single people living alone in swanky apartments."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Don't want to pay your taxes?

I actually called Olympia Snowe's Maine office yesterday and asked if I could the same deals that nominees to Obama's Cabinet were receiving. (she voted in committee to confirm Geithner) After all, I have 5 children to feed and clothe and don't have 2 nannies or a driver. But no, that deal seems to be available only for Democrats who want average Americans to be "patriotic" and pay MORE taxes.

On the other hand, perhaps we could flush out all the tax dodgers in Washington, DC by looking closely at the rest of Obama's nominees.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nancy Killefer, who failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes on household help, has withdrawn her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government, the White House said Tuesday.

When her selection was announced by Obama on Jan. 7, The Associated Press disclosed that in 2005 the District of Columbia government had filed a $946.69
tax lien on her home for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.

Obama's first choice for commerce secretary, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, took his name out of consideration when his confirmation appeared headed toward complications because of a grand jury investigation over how state contracts were issued to political donors.

More recently, Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary despite belatedly paying $34,000 in income taxes, and Tom Daschle is still waiting to see if his late payment of more than $128,000 in income taxes will harm his nomination to be health and human services secretary.

Killefer and her husband, an economics professor, had a teenage son and daughter, but she had two nannies and a personal assistant to run her life when she was on the road, she told Harvard business students back then.

carnival of homeschooling

Dewey's Treehouse is hosting the carnival this week with a Identity theme. Do you know what kind of homeschooler you are?

It isn't just FOCA

This is the first I have heard about this bill:

By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2009 ( - American Life League's (ALL) Judie Brown last week urged pro-lifers to actively oppose the Prevention First Act (PFA), legislation currently under review in Congress. The Act, if passed, would hand over millions to "family planning" methods, strike a blow to health providers' conscience rights, and financially pave the way for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

The Prevention First Act, which was introduced in the first day of the new Congress, is currently under review by a congressional committee.

"It's a one-two punch: FOCA to strip away all the restrictions and then PFA to pour millions, if not billions, in the abortion industry," Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's (ALL) STOPP International and an expert on Planned Parenthood, told "The Prevention First Act ... opens the floodgates for Planned Parenthood and all kinds of birth control, contraception, [and] family planning money."

In addition to supplying abortion and contraception with more taxpayer funding, Sedlak pointed out coercive elements in the bill, including a title requiring all hospitals that do not provide emergency contraception for rape victims to surrender all federal funding.

"That provision would also result presumably in Catholic hospitals having to shut down if they refuse to provide contraception," said Sedlak, noting that such hospitals would lose Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

PFA would require Medicaid to cover contraceptives in the same format as had been proposed, then removed, in Obama's economic stimulus package. In addition, all health insurance programs that cover prescriptions would be required to cover the abortifacient morning-after pill.

Monday, February 02, 2009

stay of "execution" for crafters

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously (2-0) to issue a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products, including products intended for children 12 years old and younger.

Significant to makers of children’s products, the vote by the Commission provides limited relief from the testing and certification requirements which go into effect on February 10, 2009 for new total lead content limits (600 ppm), phthalates limits for certain products (1000 ppm), and mandatory toy standards, among other things.

The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

The stay of enforcement on testing and certification does not address thrift and second hand stores and small retailers because they are not required to test and certify products under the CPSIA.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History has been closed for 2 years and just reopened in late November. With a free Saturday appearing on the calender I decided to take the big kids after breakfast and hop back on the field trip train. It had been a month since our last outing and boy, I noticed a big difference in my stamina. I can't imagine trying to go to work while 7-8 months pregnant since 5 hours walking around and riding the METRO wore me right out.

Both Will and Mary have been studying colonial history the past few months so we concentrated on looking at the Revolutionary War and life in colonial America exhibits, though we did hit a few of the other galleries.

George Washington's surveyor's equipment that he used to survey and resurvey Mt. Vernon and the box used to hold the papers from one of the Continental Congresses

Washington's camp stool and mess kit from the Revolutionary War

Washington's sword that he gave up at the end of the war

At dinner I asked each child what they liked the best about the museum. Will chose the C3PO costume from Return of the Jedi and the steam locomotive in the huge transportation exhibit. Mary picked the computerized world map that let her pinpoint where she, her parents, and grandparents were born. Maggie of course, chose the enormous dollhouse that makes our's look like a shack.

I finally pulled the children out the door after complaining that I couldn't walk another step, but promised another trip sometime soon. I recommend going as early in the morning as possible, as the afternoon wore on there were long lines for everything from the lockers to store coats to the very informational Star Spangled Banner exhibit. I want to add on a trip to Fort McHenry for the children to better understand the War of 1812.

May God bless America and help us teach our children much more of our nation's glorious history.