Monday, December 31, 2007


New Year's Resolutions aren't really my style. I sorta tend to live life in a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mode. I think that's a combination of cliches there, but it just proves my point. The holes in the backside of my jeans prove my point as well.

Planning ahead has always been somewhat of a challenge for me, mostly because it's boring. I'd rather run around like a chicken with my head cut off, and make a list so I can cross things off AFTER the fact, than sit down and map out a route for how to get things accomplished. On the rare occasion that I do actually have a list prior to starting something, if I manage to fit in other chores not listed, I make sure I add them, so I can cross them off. I'm pretty sure this is a diagnosable mental disorder for which I could probably get drugs. Sometimes I even rewrite the lists more legibly, so I can feel good about being neat.

Yes, I'm aware I have a disease. But most of the fun of being partially insane is the raised eyebrows and quizzical looks other people feel free to toss my way. (not to mention the way the kids shrink in mortified terror when I open my mouth)

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

Returning to my original train of thought, however -
I do have a list of things I'd like to try to accomplish this year.

1. Plant a garden with more than tomatoes and zucchini.

2. Start and FINISH making our bedroom look like a bedroom, and not a catch-all.

3. Help raise significant funds for Gabe's school to build a new

4. Have a ton of fun celebrating Preston's 16th birthday.

5. Find a new(er) van that has 2 doors on the driver's side!! (long teenage legs...)

6. Help Ron Paul win big.

7. Help Savannah improve her sewing skills.

8. Spend a long weekend away with Tom. (Florida???)

9. Locate some indoor skateparks for Bucky.

10. Adopt a child. (We're approved, licensed, and ready, ya know!)

11. Finish paying off Bucky's braces, the bike, and various small bills.

12. While we're at it, paying off the house would be a HUGE answer to prayer. I
dream big!

13. Follow God in dealing with a particular family situation and find peace.

14. Be a Godly influence to my children's friends.

15. Send Christmas cards!

16. Have family pictures taken!

Granted, this is not all-inclusive, and while some things may be fluff, others are serious. Check back in a year and see how I did!

Friday, December 28, 2007

If Life is a Game, Why am I Driving a Mini-van?

It has come to my attention that some people make mountains out of molehills. Over-exaggerate. Blow things out of proportion. You know the type...can’t see the forest for the trees. Take me, for example. I can’t tolerate topos. I mean tipos. Hippoes! TYPOS!!! So when I see one, I go BOlistic. Which is the real way that should be spelled, because you really can’t combine ball and istic. Of course, I don’t have my dictionary turned on right now, but I’m positive I’m correct on this.

Some people are also eager to jump the gun, join the bandwagon and put the horse in front of the cartwheel. Be careful, though...haste makes waste, and in some countries, if you happen to jump a broomstick instead of a gun, you just might find yourself with a new wife you weren’t expecting, in which case you might wish the term “till death do us part” was a clause Santa would help you enforce. Especially when you consider that by rearranging the words “mother in law” you reveal “woman hitler”.

Caller ID has taken the fun out of prank phone calls. But should you find you’ve been victimized, don’t waste your time dialing and demanding “Who called this number??!?” Honestly! Do you expect me to admit that I was inquiring as to the identity of your father? Or if your kitchen appliances are in working order?

Church signs reveal such useful, intelligent, cogent, coherent, logical, forceful, rational, convincing, strong, sound advice - we could do well in adhering to such knowledge. A few of my personal favorites are: “Have you downloaded Jesus to your heart-drive?” ... “Download your worries - Get online with God” ... I supposed to download good files and delete bad files, or delete good files and download bad files, or delete bad bile and keep good bile...oh wait, I can’t do anything with bile, I have no gall bladder!

Speaking of medical issues, recently I read somewhere that if you’re 30 pounds overweight, you’re considered obese. What category does that put me in? The morbid department, probably. How many axe handles does it take to measure that woman’s width??

Why do they put sugar in toothpaste? Does anyone ever use the white crayon? Does water have a taste? How are you supposed to use Bounce if the box states “Not to come in direct contact with clothing?” Why do people tell you to store batteries in the freezer? How do you get your ears clean if q-tips aren’t for inserting? Why do babies poop the minute your change their diaper? Why are sequels never as funny as the original? Where DOES your lap go when you stand up? Why can’t Carol Burnett come back to TV?

I’m Deanna, and I prove this message.
(paid for by keepherlockedupshesapublictothethreat)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Garden of Life

Some of you know that we have a child with special needs. Few people understand what that means to a family. Our son was born with Angelman Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that causes global development delay and seizures, and will always require 24-hour care. As I write this, he is home from school today because he had 2 grand mal seizures last night. He also has a metabolic disorder that requires a special diet. The list of challenges he has faced is long and complicated. He’s well known at our local hospital as the happy, always-smiling non-verbal patient. He’s taught us much about love, patience, and endurance; he’s shown us that you don’t have to be wealthy or healthy to be happy; he’s played a large part in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus; he’s given us a very big “WHY” for fighting for freedom.

My husband has faithfully worked at his place of employment for 16 years. The income isn’t fantastic, but the health insurance has been a blessing to us. Our son’s medical expenses paid by insurance, to date, are over $250,000. His monthly medications are $2000, of which insurance pays 90 percent. Despite the fact that my husband works multiple jobs (some of which the family is able to help him with) our son has, for years, qualified financially for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Medically, he has qualified for a waiver program that helps pay for expenses not covered by insurance, including a home health personal care provider who assists him with getting ready for school, feeding, bed, etc. This has been a HUGE help for me, as I was severely injured in a car accident 3 years ago and can not lift.

Today, I received a phone call from the local SSI office to complete an annual review to make sure he still qualifies. 2 minutes into the phone conversation, I was asked for “verbal permission” to allow access to our financial records. When I asked why this was necessary, and that I had always complied with their requests for copies of our bank statements, I was informed that this permission would allow them to access our records on their own. When I reiterated that I had always complied, I was told that unless I gave verbal permission, our son would lose his benefits. I was told this was “something new”. I asked if it was a law, and if so, could I please have a copy of this law. Yes, it’s law, and yes, they would send me a copy. In searching the SSI website, what I’ve found appears to be from 2005
but I haven’t delved too far into more information yet.

Of interest: even though I said I would not grant permission for access to our financial records (which was acknowledged) and I was informed that he would lose his benefits, the conversation continued on her part with questions about the other family members. My statement that the conversation didn’t need to continue if my son’s benefits were being denied was acknowledged and after stating that she would send me a notice in the mail, the interviewer did offer a polite goodbye and hang up.

Am I surprised? No! Am I disgusted? You bet! Am I willing to sacrifice? Without a doubt!

We don’t live extravagantly, as the world views that word, at our home. Our children are happy, well-fed, and warm in the winter; they have lots of friends, are not immune to wearing hand-me-downs, and don’t get name-brand clothes very often; I drive a 13 year old mini-van with better than 200K miles and my husband drives a 14 year old Festiva with more than 225K miles racked up - it gets 40+ miles to the gallon. Occasionally we have a date. Sometimes our bills are paid late because we simply don’t have the full $200 dollars to pay Toledo Edison! We’ve counted change to put money in the gas tank more than once. Sometimes we have a little extra and we can take the kids out to dinner and a movie.

We had been thinking recently about the increased intrusion of our personal lives and were debating the pros and cons of having government money come into our home. We’ve been explaining to our kids that we’re trying to get our freedom back. We realize that in order to make our country better, it will take effort on everyone’s part. It might even mean we say ‘NO’ to the carrot being dangled in the front of us. That carrot right now is a few hundred dollars every month. That carrot isn’t looking so good anymore. We want the whole garden, and the government isn’t going to be the one offering it! We have to plant it ourselves. We’ll fertilize it with a Ron Paul Presidency, and we’ll share the harvest with our fellow Americans.

We’ll say “NO” to any more people who think we will willingly give permission to tread on our home, trample our freedom, and trash our country. Our family’s needs will be met. We trust God to supply what we need. He promised He would do just that - why did we ever doubt it?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Speaking My Mind, part 2

Last week, Teresa and I took our kids to see The Christmas Carol. It was a nicely performed production. After leaving the Stranahan, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at McDonalds. "Two items off the $1 menu for everybody, and get water to drink"...our standard menu when hauling a van load of teenagers (give or take a year here and there) around the countryside.

When I ordered for Teresa and I - "Two hamburgers, two fries, and two cups of water" - I was informed "We don't have cups for water anymore, but we do have Dasani bottled water for 50 cents, would you like some?" Imagine my surprise! Especially when I peered around the young man's shoulder and noticed myriad choices of cups sitting on the counter top behind him. I quizzically looked at him and said, "No, thank you - I want a CUP of water" and was simply ignored at that point. I peered a little more noticeably at the cheerful array of neatly stacked cups in various colors. This young man must obviously be blind. Apparently deaf, also, I could only assume, as he continued to ignore my request for water.

I held my tongue - no easy feat. (Never make a person angry when he's holding the spatula that flips your burger, and you haven't been served yet. You might just wind up with some seasonings you weren't aware were on the menu.) I can understand a fast food chain's policy of not giving cups of water to non-customers; I can even sometimes tolerate the practice of charging a dime for water, although I rarely will pay for water, unless I'm parched and have only potato chips to eat. But simply not making water available to paying customers because there are no "water cups"?

Remind me to never eat ice cream with a fork, or cut steak with a butter knife, or wipe my mouth with a kleenex! (For that matter, I would have been happy to go to the van and get the empty Burger King cup and ask for a refill!)

I walked out with raised eyebrows, not simply at the rude treatment of a customer, but more so at the preposterous realization that people truly can't think outside the box!

And we stopped at Rite Aid and paid several dollars for drinks for all! Principles don't die easy for me!

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Christmas WHAT?

So I get this email from my little sister and she says "Insert your own answers and post it on your blog." I figured, she's done enough things I've told her to do, in the past, so I might as well amuse her this time. It'll make her feel important. Hey, Tam, I sure could use some Kleenex and Oreos right now. Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Both. I wrap until I'm tired (always late on Christmas Eve, which this year might be a problem, as we have a 10:30pm church service) then I finish with gift bags. I'm a procrastinator extraordinaire!

Real tree or artificial?

Artificial. I love the smell of real, but hate the gouge marks I get from continually removing the psychotic cats from their sleeping positions on the lower branches.

When do you put up the tree?

We usually try to set it up right after Thanksgiving. We couldn't this year, because we had an after-parade chili supper for our fellow Ron Paul supporters. This year, it was up, and safely secured to the wall so Gabe won't knock it over, on December 5th.

When do you take the tree down?

I like to have the remnants of Christmas Past removed by January 2nd. However, as described here, that sometimes doesn't happen.

Favorite holiday theme?

Hmmmmmm...whatever trips my trigger at the time.

Favorite gift received as a child?

Probably the Holly Hobby pillow that my oldest sister made and embroidered for me when I was about 8. I slept with it every night, took it to college, and still have it, packed away in a box. It's threadbare now.

Do you have a nativity scene?

Yep, I bought one before I got married, and looked forward to being able to use it with my family. It was just the figurines, so for about 13 years, poor Jesus was REALLY exposed to the elements. I finally broke down and bought him a stable about 3 years ago. Then He smiled at rum pa pum pum...

Hardest person to buy for?

Usually, Gabe. He has Angelman Syndrome
and a list of other medical diagnoses, and we have to be quite selective in what we let him play with, since he likes to chew everything. We buy him a lot of his favorite snacks for gifts.

Easiest person to buy for?

Without a doubt, my Savannah. She prepares a list weeks in advance, and includes an array of choices, in an array of price ranges. She's also quite content if I pick things on my own for her. I have pretty good taste. (After all, I married Tom!)

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

I don't recall any really bad ones, but I DID have a sort-of high school boyfriend give me a ring (not for Christmas) that...Ok, try and picture this - it looked like a bubble gum machine ring, the kind that aren't connected so that fat fingers can still wear the treasured bauble...only the bauble in question was...well, it appeared to upholstery button from the back of a plaid was the strangest thing I've ever seen in the jewelry of life. I'm laughing my head off just thinking about it! Ah, Duane....How ARE you, anyway? Let's just say, I would have been fine without having to "Meet the Robinsons".

Mail or email cards?


Favorite Christmas movie?

I have been in love with Jimmy Stewart for decades. Ronald Reagan knew him. Need I say more?

When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Sometimes the day after Christmas. Sometimes two weeks before. It depends on our budget.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? least to Goodwill.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Buckeyes. Buckeyes. Buckeyes. And sometimes, hard cinnamon candy.

White lights or colored on the tree?

Usually white. It depends on how I decorate the tree. We currently have a pre-lit (in white) tree. Try it, you'll looooooove it!

Favorite Christmas song?

I will listen to just about anything Christmas. I take that back. If it's a currently popular, typically stupid, secular artist wailing about Lost Love at Christmas, I puke. And go look for my Osmond records. Donny and THERE's some Christmas music! "It never snows in LA, so Santa don't bring me a sleigh, I'll leave a key by the door, cause there's no chimney anymore...." Ok, Tam, join in here...(and please correct my misunderstood words...I don't have the lyrics in front of me, you know)

Travel for Christmas or stay at home?

I like both. I lean toward staying home, though.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?

I'm a little leary of a reindeer who prances. And Comet is a toxic substance.

Angel on the tree top or a star?

A blue angel, right now.

Open the presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Christmas Morning.

Most annoying thing about this time of year?

How stressed people get over the spending they feel obliged to do; people who act like Christmas is a chore they have to get accomplished

What I love most about Christmas?

This year, Tom is taking 10 days off work. I like that. I like to sit in the dark with Tom and stare at the lights on the tree and.....(censored)....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


People say we 4 girls all look alike. At times, I'd agree. Other times, not so much. Like here. Sure, Tam and I bear a remarkable resemblance, as do Deb and Teresa, but Tam and I don't look so much like Deb and Teresa. People really should be careful that the glasses they use have been thoroughly cleaned. Cameras, too!

Who Says Ya Can't Be Cool Past 70?

When I was a kid, my Dad had a blue pin striped suit he wore to church many Sundays. (One time he went to church wearing his house shoes - we were walking up the long sidewalk at Hilltop Chapel, located next to The Pony Bar, in Concord, Michigan, when he glanced down and realized he had his brown vinyl-bottomed Kmart slippers on - but that has nothing to do with this blog, I just wanted to insert that tidbit here cause I know he reads my stuff!) Back to the original thought pattern. This blue suit was the typical late 70's polyester fabric that all the men in our church donned to look their Sunday best.

Not being prone to reminiscing about my father's clothing too often, I had not thought about that particular item until about 6 months ago, when my 14 year old son wanted me to take him to Goodwill. He wanted some "old man pants" to wear. (Sorry, Dad - those were Bucky's words, not mine! Do I still get a Christmas present??) Wouldn't you know, one of the pairs of slacks this fashion-conscious child of mine chose during this shopping excursion was identical to my Dad's blue pin striped pants! Bucky loved them. Later, he decided that they would be cooler (that's probably "kuhler" in current language) if they were chopped off at the knees, so the last time I checked, his old man pants were jagged, no-hemmed, mom-isn't-sure-what-this-style-is-supposed-to-say shorts that aren't overly attractive, but which scream "Bucky!!" loud and clear. They make him happy.

I can't imagine wearing something my grandmother would have worn. The mere pondering of the drapery-inspired gabardine red and black flowered skirts combined with the double-knit red and white-speckled zippered, high-collared pullover tunic causes me to shudder with horror. It also makes me pause and remember the time that my mom, sister, aunt, and cousins, along with Granny and I, went to Albion to a park for a picnic. We kids were swinging and playing on the slide. Mom and Aunt Joyce decided to join in the fun. Not to be outdone (another family issue my sisters and I often laugh about), Granny strutted up the steps to the top of the slide, took her seat on the shiny metal, and proceeded to slide in a downward motion, which is as it should be. However, Granny forgot how to land gracefully. Granny flew off the end of the shiny metal and promptly found herself sitting, rather forcefully, in a pile of dust. After being certain that Granny's tailbone wasn't broken, helping her re-insert her eyeballs and close her mouth, and assisting her to an upright, if slightly painful, position, Mom and Aunt Joyce commenced to laugh - dare I say, cackle - their not-very-kindhearted-to-their-humbled-mother heads off, while we kids gingerly checked on Granny's well-being (and then joined in the laughter).

It's funny what you remember at the oddest moments, for the oddest reasons. I wonder what my kids will talk about, what their kids will be telling their kids about me someday. Will I have left a good heritage for them, rich in funny stories and loving memories? Will they be able to say I showed them by my actions how to love God with all their heart? Will they do what's right, even if no one else does, because they saw me do what was right? Will the things that I think are important for my children to know right now make a difference in their future generations?

Our family is spread out across several states, and we rarely are able to be together. We're all unique, like families everywhere, in our choices of how we raise our children, family rules, church denominations, schooling methods, financial situations - the list goes on. However, there is one thing we are united on and that is who we want for President of the United States of America. Our choice for President is Congressman Ron Paul. We might have varying reasons WHY he's our choice, but it's a nearly unanimous decision that he IS the choice.

In the past 6 months, my kids have learned much about government, loyalty, corruption, the Constitution, Mom's "tenacity" (as I was recently credited with by a friend), meetup groups, campaign donations, laws, elections, primaries, Democrats, Republicans, freedom of speech, health care, spying, and all other things political. I've learned with them. My dad has learned with us. This election spans generations, political parties, financial status, religions, countries.

I love America. I love our ability, our freedom, to be different. I want that freedom to be strong for my family years from now. That's why I'm not going to stop the "tenacity". I want what I leave for my family to remember to be worth their time. I want to spend my time doing things that will still be making an impact long after I'm gone. Being tenacious for Ron Paul is worth my time. Teaching my kids to follow the rules and demand that leaders do the same is worth my time. Working together with my family for a common cause is worth my time.

I will be tenacious for a man who:
*has never voted to raise taxes.
*has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
*has never voted to raise congressional pay.
*has never taken a government-paid junket.
*wants to let me keep more of my money.
*wants to end the IRS.
*wants to protect my privacy.
*wants to bring our troops home and keep our own borders safe.
*wants to end the Patriot Act.
*wants to end forced vaccinations.
*believes parents know what is best for their children in ALL aspects.
*is a strong home-school advocate.
*relies on God for wisdom, but doesn't use his "faith" to win an election.
*believes life begins at conception and as an OB/GYN, delivered over 4,000 babies.
*has been married to one woman for over 50 years.
*upholds the Constitution and votes "NO" on items contrary to it.

When I'm no longer here, I hope my family remembers that I was a little crazy, that I refused to throw away any Ohio State Buckeyes sweatshirts, that I wasn't afraid to make a fool of myself to get my point across.....and that I didn't regret, for one second of my life, having tenacity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Skipping Christmas

Of slight interest: My Aunt Millie is related to my sister's Aunt Myrtle and this post is actually intended for our church newsletter, so if you're a church friend reading this, sorry about the repeat! (grin)

Would you believe I never put the Christmas decorations away last year? I intended to return them to their appropriately festive red and green plastic tubs in the basement, but time has a tendency to skip merrily along, so there sit the ribbons and gold angels, in a laundry basket on top of the refrigerator. Occasionally, they call my name - usually when I’m reaching in the fridge for a spoonful of the chocolate frosting that I’ve hidden on the bottom shelf (behind the science project growing in a sandwich bag). I don’t mean to ignore them, but time has a tendency to skip merrily along. The angels’ identity could have been better preserved if I had remembered to follow through on my idea of covering the basket with a towel to prevent a dust colony from taking up residence. I thought I would get to that eventually, but time has a tendency to skip merrily along.

Christmas lists formerly requesting gifts inspired by Blue’s Clues step aside for gift suggestions inspired by Blue Man Group. Lego's and toy soldiers lie forgotten in the attic, while PlayStation and XBox endlessly amuse. Matchbox cars give way to car keys. Barbie, replaced by mascara and eye shadow, is relegated to a storage room. Clothing was rarely a cherished gift; gift certificates for American Eagle are now perfectly acceptable, because time has a tendency to skip merrily along.

The problem with the whole time-skipping thing is that it just keeps doing it, with no regard to how I feel! It seems like just yesterday the kids were waking us at 5:00 am to tell us Santa had brought presents. Now they’re all old enough to be content with opening presents at a respectable hour, after eating breakfast. Before long, they’ll be calling us to find out what time Christmas dinner is being served.

Maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as “time-skipping”. Maybe a better phrase is “time-saving”. Not taking a short cut, but rather a remembrance of time - a mental scrapbook, so to speak. I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets so involved in daily routine that I forget to enjoy the daily routine. The little things. The “remember when...” The rituals and traditions, especially holiday traditions. One of our family traditions is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” while we’re decorating our Christmas tree. This tradition causes the ritual eye-rolling to commence, and someday will offer the “remember when” conversations. This is an opportunity to time-save.

This Christmas, what can you do to time-save? What is important in your life? Are there things that you can eliminate to help you better appreciate the real reason we have Christmas? Have you considered the idea of slowing down? Do you really need to attend 74 family functions in 2 days? Will Great-Great Aunt Millie really have that breakdown she’s been promising if you don’t let her spend the holidays at your home? Maybe you like your mother-in-law’s fruitcake - tell her! What about starting a new tradition, like inviting a lonely co-worker to Christmas dinner? or temporarily, for the holidays, adopting a family less fortunate than you? or taking a family vacation instead of buying gifts that don’t fit, require too many batteries, won’t start, are ugly colors, and/or aren’t worth remembering two days later? or just taking a few days off work to relax? It’s ok to do that, really!

Have a blessed holiday season, and remember that Jesus came to give you life abundant, so enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ron Paul, Please Come to Ohio and Watch the Buckeyes with Us

A sign that perhaps my kids actually do hear me when they’re pretending to ignore me: the other night, Tom was watching the Ohio State game.
Ok, before I go any further, I must tell you about HOW Tom watches the game.

We recently decided that paying for satellite TV is not only not in the budget, but that it offers so many choices, most of them meaningless, of shows to watch that we would do away with it altogether. (Perhaps a temporary decision, but that remains to be seen.) Regardless of the permanency of the viewing options, football remains a sport that we all love to watch, particularly when it comes to the Buckeyes. With the exception of Preston, who adamantly remains a loyal Wolverines fan, our entire family is quite supportive of OSU football.
Ok, again before I go any further: Mom is a little more than supportive - Mom is sometimes a raging fanatic who screams at the television to the point of embarrassing the kids when there isn’t even any one not related to us in the house. “Mom, give it a rest, would you?!?” But I digress...

Anyway, after borrowing a ladder from the nice neighbors, Tom and the boys disassembled the necessary components and returned them to the service provider. We were all a little sad to see the TV screen go to static, but as soon as I had the cords properly reconnected between the DVD/VCR players and the back of the television, we at least had a wonderful shade of blue nothingness to look at when Lightning McQueen finished the final round of the race by pushing The King across the finish line to the roar of the sold-out stadium.

So now, we were left to our own devices (the church I grew up in would probably consider it a vice, as opposed to a device, but again I digress so I’ll save that post for another day) when it came time to figuring out how we would survive without cheering on our favorite team, led by gray-haired Jim Tressel who reminds me of my own red-haired Uncle Jim. Tom attempted to repair the outside antenna, but considering his disability in scaling buildings sans Spiderman-like capabilities, combined with his dislike of ladders at heights greater than his own height, he was quite limited in what he could actually accomplish from ground level.

To compensate, my ingenious husband did the following: placed the 9 inch TV on a kitchen chair near a window; connected a cable to the TV and pushed the other end of this cable through a small opening by the window frame; attached the outdoor end of the cable to indoor rabbit ears located on the porch; climbed on a step ladder perched on the wheelchair lift and hoisted the rabbit ears into the eave spout; taped the rabbit ears firmly in place; yelled for Mom to watch the screen, relay information to Bucky, Bucky to stand by the door and yell the relayed information to Dad; yelled “better?” dozens of times as he fidgeted with the rabbit ears until Mom relayed to Bucky to yell to Dad that it was good; strolled back inside with a satisfied grin on his face and promptly sat down to enjoy a stirring, if slightly fuzzy but victorious, sporting event.

But as for the idea that my kids ingest and retain information I freely spout, again I say this may be a reality. My reasoning behind this theory is this: while Tom was watching the football game last weekend, Savannah and I were sitting on the couch with him. During a commercial break, one of the advertisements that aired was a political ad for Steve Buehrer, who is campaigning to become the next U.S. Representative for the 5th Congressional District of Ohio. The statements being made were about lowering taxes, but no names had been mentioned. Savannah pipes up and says "Ron Paul!"

Maybe next week she’ll be toting signs around town with the words "Hope for America, Hope for My Generation" emblazoned in bright blue and red.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

So Much More Than Pro-Life

I lived in Cincinnati when the first election in which I exercised my right to vote occurred. (For whatever reason, I had apparently not been politically-minded enough to show up for the first Presidential election I could have participated in 2 years earlier. My shoes and purse probably didn't match, or something.) It was 1990, and Ohio was, among other things, electing a governor (Voinovich won), deciding if it wanted a casino (Ohio didn't), choosing whether or not to amend the state constitution to allow the government to provide housing assistance through private lenders (yes, but not by a wide margin). Having not been provided quality education in government class, and having not been inclined to study on my own, I was severely un-informed about how the whole system worked. I knew that my family spouted Republican mantras, (though I was completely unaware if anyone in my family actually voted), and that Republicans were supposedly "pro-life". I was "pro-life". Hmmmmmm...

(Maybe I should mention here that up to this point in life, the only political experience to which I could personally attest was introducing Geraldine Ferraro, portrayed by a fellow student for whom I wasn't fond, at our school's mock election in 1984. Hmmmmmmm...)

That first Tuesday in November of 1990 dawned, and feeling a bit excited, I reported for duty at the over-sized church down the street from my apartment. After checking in with the little old ladies manning the frontlines, I received instructions and cast my first official ballot.

I must admit, I did waver when I got to the choice of Secretary of State, but let me explain why. Earlier that spring, near the beginning of April, I had the opportunity to walk in the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day Parade, which was a fun, albeit unseasonably chilly, experience in itself. I was actually allowed this privilege because my then-current employer was herself an employee of Sherrod Brown, who was running for Secretary of State - on the Democratic ticket. This presented a minor dilemma since I actually KNEW the man - sort of - after all, I had smiled, waved, and probably passed out candy and tablets of writing paper in support of Mr. Brown, while he sat like a king on the back of a convertible, riding through the streets of downtown Cincinnati. (Would this qualify as another personally-attested-to political experience?) But in the end, once I stood behind the curtain at the voting booth, common sense and tradition won out. My family and I were "pro-life". My family, and therefore I, were Republican. So, straight down the ticket, wherever it said "Republican", I said "Count on me". Besides, I no longer worked for that lady, so I figured my loyalty couldn't be called into question. Exiting from the church with my "I Voted Today" sticker on my shoulder, (I always envied my elementary teacher, Miss Beal, when she arrived at school wearing hers), I sensed patriotism exuding from my very being. (I've been waiting for an opportunity to use the word exude for decades!)

Two years later, when the next Presidential election rolled around, I was prepared. By that time, I was married, had one baby, and another one on the way. I really CARED this time! I cared so much, I even dragged my baby, in the pouring rain, to the Toledo Airport, so I could SEE and HEAR incumbent Republican President Bush stand on the steps of Air Force One and pledge everything but the kitchen sink to us. I was an American. I was a Republican. President Bush was "pro-life"! My heart sank, and I was sure America would fall apart when Bill Clinton won the election. But then four years later, he won again! Although America hadn't yet fallen apart, surely it would during this four years of Democratic nonsense. By this time, I had realized that not only were Republicans "pro-life", they were also "pro-gun", which the Democrats hated. My dad and brother were hunters when I was growing up, so I certainly couldn't be anti-guns! Charleton Heston was Moses! Moses was in the Bible! The Bible is PRO-LIFE!!

Year 2000 - I had 4 children now. I had slightly more knowledge about how to vote, but that knowledge was, for the most part, related to local school levies, and state representatives' stand on issues (were they "pro-life", mostly, but also school choice positions and homeschool friendliness - I was testing the waters). I had some reservations about the Republican party, but the Republicans were a whole lot better than Al Gore! Who knew what road HE might lead America down! He was a Global Warming freak anyway! My defense for the lack of more thoughtful voting was that I had so many other fires to fight with having a special needs child that I couldn't be expected to know EVERYthing. It wasn't a false statement. I do have a special needs child who requires a lot of non-typical care. My ballot reflected the usual choices and I breathed a giant sigh of relief when the last hanging, dimpled, illegal CHAD was counted and the result was a Republican Presidency.

2004 and I am having major issues with some of the Republicans issues. I have no interest in the Democratic Botox King, but even as I cast my standard vote, I am questioning why I'm doing this. I am doubting my choices, yet figuring they can't be as bad as the others.

As I stood in the voting booth in November of 2006, it took me much longer to put the final decision on paper. I, for the first time, deliberately did NOT vote on some lines, because there was no good choice. Does the end justify the means? Is it OK to hunt down Saddam? I thought 9/11 was to be blamed on the Taliban.?? Oh come on! Everyone knows he had WMD somewhere! I waffled between being happy he's gone (he was a bad guy, you know!) and a sadness at the loss of a life God created. Why is my library record any one's business but my own? Why does Washington need to know what I'm researching on the Internet? When did my right and responsibility to make Godly decisions regarding my children's health become the government's business? How long before my local government decides they need my back yard for some greater good? Who sent the Census Bureau worker to my front door to ask how many toilets our home has and what time we go to work? Why did he persist, to the point of having to be forcibly escorted off our porch by my husband, when we refused to tell him anything more than how many people we have in our home? Should I hand him the dictionary with "enumerator" highlighted? Are my pockets supposed to be open to the public for funding expensive new facilities for a failing school system? Why is my family required to participate in paying for education practices that directly contradict our own beliefs? Will I be able to legally exercise Biblical principles in disciplining and training my children and grandchildren in the years to come? Am I SURE that "pro-life" really means "pro-life"? EVERYwhere? Why is the American public content to accept what it is told, as truth, when that "truth" is completely made-up hogwash? Are there still any true conservatives?

I can complain about circumstances until I'm out of breath. I can point at corrupt politicians until my fingers fall off. I can mutter about apathy until I'm old enough to wear a red hat. I can sing till the cows come home. What that will get me is cracked ribs from CPR, a visit to a prosthetic specialist, snickered at by my sisters, and a neighborhood BBQ in my backyard. While the BBQ might be a good idea, I don't much relish anything else on that list. (The red hat thing should also get me a trip to a psychiatrist, but that's another post.)

What I want is answers to my questions. Now it's much more important to me that I understand WHAT I'm voting for, rather than only WHO. One of the things I enjoy the most about homeschooling my kids is that as I'm teaching them, I'm learning or re-learning right along with them. In researching Presidential candidates over the last several months, I've realized that too many people and organizations have the flawed idea, as I did, that you vote for someone that you think can win, or think can beat Hillary. I've been trying to teach my kids for years to do the right thing no matter what everybody else does, but was I living that principle?

I still am pro-life. I still think having guns is a pretty good thing. I still detest having to pay for the new public school being built two blocks from my home. I still like Moses, and I still say I'll never (?) wear a red hat.

And yes, Virginia, there are still CONSERVATIVES. Here's one!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Flights of not-so Fancy

Let me begin by stating a disclaimer, perhaps two or three: 1. I love my husband. 2. I’m not prone to panic attacks in the least. C. I’m not afraid to board or fly on a jet.

Tom has had his private pilot’s license since well before we met. Over the past 16 years, he has asked me to go flying with him, and I’ve always managed to skillfully avoid doing so. Twice he has managed to convince me to ride with him at the local 4th of July fly-in, both of us as passengers in a cramped 4-seat aircraft. These adventures into the sky were nerve-wracking and I was grateful when they ended, but they were manageable.

Flying is costly, and having not yet achieved “independently wealthy” status, along with having a family to support, (side note: refer to “oxymoron” in Webster’s Dictionary to define preceding portion of sentence) Tom has not had opportunity to pursue his interest nearly as much as he would like. His dreams and goals require that he attains a minimum number of hours in flight, and he has been working toward that.

One of the many advantages to building flight time is that Tom can take passengers with him. The kids have flown with him, and loved it. Friends have flown with him, and loved it. I, as mentioned, have remained firmly planted on the ground, and loved it. I’ve heard, however, that all good things must come to an end.

Over the past few weeks, I had been pondering the idea of telling Tom that I would like to fly the friendly skies with him. Not so much because I had a burning desire to watch the buildings below me reach smaller and smaller proportions, but rather because I knew it would mean a lot to Tom if I showed more interest in his interests. I’ve been reading several books on making marriages stronger, and wouldn’t you know it, they all say that couples should spend more time together pursuing common recreational activities. (No, not THAT activity, although that's not a bad idea, either!) Figuring I probably wouldn’t be successful at convincing him that sewing, baking, or yakking on the phone are all wonderful ways to enrich our lives together, I swallowed my fears and rode to the airport with Tom and Savannah recently. It didn’t take too long for that fear to be regurgitated several times over.

Tom has told me many times that he is very cautious when flying, and exerts extra effort in performing pre-flight inspection, etc. I do not doubt that one bit. I watched him go through his routine with precision, both outside and in the cabin. He made sure the doors were secured, seat belts were in position, and all the equipment was in proper working order. He started the engine. I swallowed. He finished checking the panel, and began taxiing out to the runway. I readjusted my shirt, blew out a deep breath, and swallowed. He radioed his activity. (I’m sure there’s a technical name for that!) He got the plane in position on the runway, and we were off.

Lamaze class was in full operation at this point! It’s difficult to deep breathe, pray, squeeze your eyes tight shut...and swallow...all at the same time. I seem to recall during Lamaze class that we were taught to have a Focal Point. I seem to recall that requires keeping the eyes open. I was actually thinking all these things as I felt the plane lift off. “Oh my gosh. Oh geez. Oh my gosh.” I stopped short, by a mere millimeter, of an actual plea for help. I was cognizant of Savannah’s presence in the back seat, and didn’t want to seem like a complete idiot to someone who was flying for the second time! She was doing well, and I wished to avoid transplanting any portion of my current anxiety issues to her malleable mind.

We had been airborne for about a minute when I opened my eyes for the first time. I thought it would help me realize the difference in flying and roller coasters, which I absolutely hate! That long climb up the rickety, clanking track, knowing the inevitable lift-your-backside-off-the-seat force is waiting for you, not to mention fearing your heart is literally going to explode out your ears on the down drop....I hate roller coasters. Looking down at the fields, I reassured myself we weren’t at Cedar Point, and I could DO this!

Opening my eyes encouraged panic, and closing my eyes encouraged dizziness...and possibly other problems I didn’t care to deal with. I really wasn’t interested in exiting this plane covered in a second helping of my lunch - it wasn’t my favorite the first time around. At some point, I ceased the deep breathing exercises, as they weren't tremendously helpful. Besides, the last time I used the practice, I at least got to cuddle with the fruit of my labor after the last "hee hee hee ha"...I resorted to the last technique for maintaining my dignity...

“I want to go back, now.”

Tom immediately obliged and began the descent. I’m fairly certain I didn’t make this statement forcefully, so it must have been my current skin tone (green face, white knuckles) that convinced him that my flying career needed to be put on hold. The landing was uneventful (and unseen by writer). 6 minutes of flight time can now be added to my “I Think I Can, I Thought I Could” list.

I tried to avoid telling this story to anyone while my kids were in earshot, but alas, my boys overheard Tom tell someone that we were only 300 feet in the air when I requested re-entry. Suffice to say, it's a good thing I don't embarrass easily! I also found out that the reason it seemed to take so long to land is that Tom had to climb another 500 feet to be able to get into the landing pattern. Had I known that, I might have just taken my chances with the secured door, and prayed for a trampoline to miraculously appear!

I have flown on jets many times, and other than an initial adrenaline rush during take-off, it’s always been a pleasant experience. I can’t explain this by saying I’m afraid to fly. I am afraid of heights to a degree, but this phobia isn’t incapacitating in any way. I simply avoid ladders and edges of tall buildings! I’ve been riding with Tom on the ground for 16 years without incident. I know he’s more conscientious about his flying habits than he is about driving, and neither situation has ever been called into question. The problem lies with me. It’s an opportunity to hire a Flight Therapist! However, a temporary solution to this problem will have to be implemented.

I suggest that Tom help me bake brownies.

Roger that!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rules are Made to Be Broken

This has served me well for a couple of years now. Some people appreciate my sense of humor and ask for a copy of the list for their own use. Others aren't quite so amused. (ouch???...)

To Family, Friends, Bill Collectors, Salesmen, and other nefarious do-gooders: (especially those of the salesmen category)

School has begun!! Woo Hoo!!

In the best interest of my sanity, and therefore everyone around me, I do hereby establish some ground rules for homeschooling efficiency:

1. If I don’t answer the phone, it’s probably because we are knee-deep in a complicated pre-algebra problem. Use the answering machine, please.

2. Don’t expect your call to be returned promptly, unless you’re legitimately screaming “9-1-1” - NOTE: If it’s legitimate, you shouldn’t be calling me anyway: Call the real “9-1-1”!!

3. Unless your name is Ed McMahon, (is he still alive?) please don’t just “drop by for a spot of tea”. It will be a detriment to our routine and extend our school day, which will not make for a happy evening at our home. Besides, I don’t drink tea.

4. If there is a “Do Not Disturb” billboard in our front yard, (or a small sign on our front door) please don’t take it too personally. I KNOW you need to show me your latest hair color, but chances are good that it won’t fade before we get through this darn grammar lesson, so hold your horses. Oh, the above-mentioned Bill Collectors CAN take the billboard personally - go away.

5. Kids play outside during the day. That does not mean our school day is over.

6. We are busy learning. This takes precedence over phone conversations, laundry, mopping the kitchen, doughnuts, and even Wal-mart! (Believe it or not!!!)

7. These rules are not written in stone, but it’s some pretty sturdy half-set cement that will take a lot of water to dissolve, so don’t expect much to change.

8. These rules apply to EVERYONE.

9. These rules apply Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 3 PM.

---See Tom with questions!

The Pepper Mill

Note to self:

1. When they say “wear gloves” if you’re messing with Hob-n-Arrow peppers, do it!
2. If you forget to follow this advice, prepare to spend the next 8 hours with your hands wrapped around ice cubes and dunked in freezing water.
3. Vow to always, always, always! refill the ice tray as soon as you empty it.
4. Plan to figure out a way to sleep comfortably with your hands in the water bowl (and remember to pray that the ol’ “dip a sleeping person’s fingers in water and see if the person wets the bed” trick is just a myth).
5. Forget the suggested methods of milk, vegetable oil, and vinegar baths for curing the burning sensation.
6. Imagine that your entire body was suffering from this burning sensation and once again thank God for sending his Son to save you from eternal damnation!
7. Blame the imagination mentioned in number 6 on the Rex Bullock and Wayne Friday revival services you were dragged to each fall, with said revival services always coinciding with the Hillsdale County fair
8. Remind your kids that you aren’t as strict as they think you are, because you actually let them go to their own local county fair, seeing as how you don’t think it’s a particularly sinful activity.
9. Toss into this conversation how you weren’t allowed to wear pants, cut your hair, wear jewelry (although you were permitted to accept a pretty gold watch from a boyfriend because it was “useful”), say the word “butt”, OR watch TV (except when you snuck over to your Granny’s friend, Opal’s, apartment to watch “Dynasty” with your sister, who would never tell because she idolized Linda Evans).
10. Leave out the part about how you liked Jackie Collins while wondering if Linda Evans is still married to Yani (or was it Kenny G?).
11. Laugh hysterically at the memory of you and your sister figuring out that you could LISTEN to Dynasty on the radio if you cranked it up really loud, while you WATCHED Dynasty from your dining room window through the neighbor’s living room window, and how mad you got if Mom had a Friday night off work.
12. Don’t explain to the kids why you’re laughing hysterically. They might doubt their current hopeful misconception that you’re actually sane, and will have nothing in later life to justify the expense of 4 therapists.
13. Avoid the whole process by saying “Thanks, but no thanks” if your niece, who eats green peppers like apples, offers you anything hotter than a warm day in January!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Botulism, Anyone?

This week, I accomplished something I have planned to do for years - I actually SUCCESSFULLY canned something! Well, I use "successfully" with the term "right to recall the witness" attached, since the true test of success will be some months down the road, after we have popped the seal, partaken of the jar's contents...and remained alive.
When I was little, Mom canned with a pressure cooker. "You kids stay out of here, this thing could blow up!" I think everyone I've ever mentioned that to nodded their heads in agreement. And we kids get yelled at for running with scissors?? At least if we fall, it's only ourselves we hurt - we don't demolish an entire neighborhood block in the name of storing food for winter - harumph!
Anyway, I now have several jars of salsa and tomatoes for chili sitting on my stove, waiting to find a home on a shelf somewhere. Aren't you supposed to put these things in a root cellar, or something? I'd store them in my basement, but I have bats down there. (Some people have bats in their belfry, but I find they work much better if I keep them where I can see them.)

I'm going to cross something off my Life's Goal checklist - red pen, please.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Speaking My Mind

Sometimes it isn't always a good idea to say what you're thinking. Honesty is the best policy, I always say...but then again -

Recently, when I walked into the post office, I was nearly thrown into a gagging fit at the putrid smell that permeated the air. The confined building reeked of dog droppings - BIG dog droppings. So much so, that I actually walked around the corner looking for the offending pile, which I didn't find. As I was considering peering into the trash can to see if some brainless citizen thought it permissible to dispose of animal refuse in a public facility, the employee door opened and the (generally non-friendly) post-mistress appeared in the small hallway where I was collecting my magazines, solicitations, and as-usual ill-timed bills from our 3x5 mailbox. I asked her what the smell was, and she informed me that popcorn had been popped earlier in the day, to which I replied that it didn't smell like popcorn. When she asked me what it smelled like, I told her - dog poop. Of course, she blessed me with a funny look, which became even funnier (aka annoyed) when I questioned, "Did you actually EAT that popcorn?!?" She wasn't amused, but then again, neither was I.

It's hardly professional to be tossing noxious fumes masquerading as edible nutrition at innocent people attempting to retrieve the latest credit card offers, but that's our tax dollars at work.

Maybe they should offer a course to postal workers - "How Not to Burn Popcorn at Work 101" - sandwich that right in between "Cramming Too Much into the Mailboxes For Which We Charge Too Much 303" and "Fund Our Retirement by Over-Inflating the Price of a Stamp 505"

Around this same time, I saw an ice-cream truck man driving around our town, playing the usual irritate-the-heck-outta-the-parents music to attract the kids to his truck and charge them 3 times too much for a popsicle. This man was smoking. The man smoking did not sit well with me. A day or two later, he was on his merry way down our street, music blaring, cigarette in hand. I grabbed the hand sanitizer bottle and ran outside to get his attention. Once he stopped his vehicle, (assuming, most likely, he had a sure sale close by) I proceeded to offer him the bottle of GermX, with the stern, motherly, slightly bossy tone of voice telling him I would not permit my children to buy ice cream from a person who had a cigarette hanging from his mouth. It was gross, and he was setting a very poor example for his customers. He did not comprehend why I would not want his products. "Even though it's wrapped in plastic??" Ummmmmm......NO thank you. He wasn't amused, but then again, neither was I.

Maybe it's me...maybe I need to increase the dosage on my "don't bite other people's heads off" medication...maybe I should take a vacation...but by golly, use the intelligence quota God gave you SOMEtime before you die!! Those things don't roll-over to your next life, you know!