Archive for September, 2008

Obama in Reno

I dragged the girls out of the house at 6 am to go stand in line to see Obama in Reno this morning. The man does not disappoint. The energy there was amazing. We were fairly close – only about 100 feet away from the podium – which considering there were estimates of 12,000 in attendance, is pretty close.

Here are a few pictures of our morning – which included 3 tired girls, lots of people, a walk uphill back to the truck and ended with a lunch at McDonald’s (which was the requested menu by above-mentioned girls who were very patient).

Here are M and S sitting on the curb waiting for the gates to open.

B and S waiting for gate to open.

The backdrop for the speech.

The man himself. (Excuse my cheap $100 camera pictures!)

Obama again.

I am glad I went. I’m exhausted, we are having my parents and a friend over for dinner tonight, and I haven’t started work yet. I see lots of coffee in my future!

Apple Hill

Yesterday we took a trip to Apple Hill. It’s a small community of orchards and vineyards where you can pick your own fruit. We had a good time. One of the farms is run by a former teacher who has opened up his land for educational tours. Did you know that just about any grape that you will find in the stores are given some sort of growth hormones to make them as plump and big as they are? Even the organic ones – they are just given a “made by nature” growth hormone. We bought grapes from him that he picked off his vines that morning. Absolutely delicious!

Here is B holding one variety of pumpkin that is white. Don’t remember what this one is called though because I had a sleeping 2yo on my hands which made listening very difficult for me!

Here’s M holding the same pumpkin.

The farmer’s son also raises chickens for the eggs and sells them for profit to get his college fund going. This was one of the baby chickens that S thought was “the cutest thing”. They reminded me a group of puppies. They were very curious and would come over to the fence and then one of them would get startled and they would all run away tripping over each other. Makes me want to have a couple of chickens for the fresh eggs.

Here’s S holding the same white pumpkin as M and B.

Here’s the rooster. S really like him. He wasn’t shy, but I guess as the lone rooster of the farm he rules the roost! (Ha! Roost! I make myself laugh).

We picked apples and brought a bunch home. Not sure what I’m going to do with all of them. I’m thinking something easy like applesauce. I did buy a fresh, homemade dutch apple pie. I figured I’d invite some friends and family over to help me eat it. I kid you not, it’s almost 6 inches deep at the center of pie. I can’t wait!!

Twelve Minutes

Here is a 12-minute presentation that ends with why Sarah Palin is the least experienced VP and why that could be a very bad thing.

Found here.

Cuteness

This evening S was looking for her PJ’s. But not any PJs her princess PJs. What did she ask me? “Mommy, where are my jamas?”

And not 2 minutes later she was involved in taking apart a puzzle M was working on….while she was working on it.

It’s good she’s cute.

Yummy Chocolate Cake

Grabbed this link from a friend who found it how?

Tried it. Verdict from kids? Yummy, can I have more?

Religion & Politics

Okay, this is going to be long. I’ll be amazed if anyone makes it to the end! I don’t even know how to concisely convey what I want to, so it won’t be short and sweet – bear with me. It’s religion and politics in my life. It’s no less complicated because it’s my life. If anything there is more gray rather than less. I just need to put all of this out there. Make of it what you will.

Being raised Catholic we went to church every Sunday. Our family never missed unless we were on vacation. From early on I noticed that my dad never received communion, but he was always there with us. When I was about 8, shortly after I received my first communion, I remember asking my dad why he didn’t receive communion. He was raised in a large Catholic family and attended Catholic schools through graduation. It didn’t make sense to me why he was always going yet never fully “participated”. His reply was something to the effect of it being a conversation for when I was older. My brother and I continued on in CCD (religious education) through our childhood and adolescent years until we made our Confirmation in 10th grade. After confirmation, I continued to accompany my mom to church most weekends. When I went away to college a couple of years later I wasn’t going at all. Around Easter I felt the desire to go to mass in the college town. To put it mildly, I wasn’t the perfect fit in that small town, and I never felt it more acutely than attending mass that Sunday morning. It was like I was a stranger, an outsider.

It was a long time before I went back to mass – aside from when I was home for major holidays. I first went back to mass after my oldest was born. I went for Ash Wednesday. At that point I had decided that I wanted her to be baptized. I couldn’t really explain why I wanted this, but I did. I started attending mass alone with B. Tim wasn’t raised with religion, and I didn’t want to push Catholicism on him.

Tim was active duty at the time, and one of the post’s priests was very “old school”. When we went to the pre-baptism class, he lectured us. This priest essentially said that if you came from a broken home, there was no hope for your own marriage. We left feeling sick. This was not the church I had fond memories of attending with my family. We stopped going at this point. We even went to Christmas mass at the local parish – where the priest essentially said that you weren’t welcome in church unless you came every week. I was floored and angry all over again.

Then a new priest transferred to our post. He was younger; he didn’t decide to go to seminary until he was in his late 20s. He did a lot as a young adult that gave him a certain amount of understanding and acceptance towards the military parish. He made me feel content and safe. I enjoyed hearing his sermons. I can’t remember any of them, but I felt he understood who he was preaching to. He actually married us into the church. It was a nice little ceremony. Our good friends were there along with some of the guys in Tim’s unit. It was our friends’ actual anniversary, so we went out to lunch together afterwards to celebrate.
When we moved after Tim got out of active duty, we started to attend the local church in our town. It was a nice parish. It was a few months before we heard the cry of fundraising for the school. The part I had trouble with was what they were doing. They were planning a road trip to Jackpot, NV to go gamble and drink – all in the name of raising money for the Catholic elementary school. This concept boggled my mind, and I had a hard time committing to attending this church. We went to mass probably once a month. We baptized our 2 younger girls in that church, but that parish never felt right.

When we moved home 2 years ago, (I can’t believe it’s been 2 years!) we started attending the same church I grew up in. It was comfortable to me. I enrolled B in CCD for her kindergarten year. Partly because she needed to get out since we were doing school at home. We have been attending fairly regularly over the past 2 years. B will make her first communion next spring. I’m excited about this as is she.

Now here is where the politics get involved. I don’t subscribe to a lot of the doctrines that Catholicism teaches, i.e. anti-choice, anti-gay, women not allowed to be priests. Those kinds of things I can’t agree on; I think some of these things is why my dad stopped participating and ultimately stopped going. My dad went to be a united front for us kids. I admire him for that. I want my kids to be exposed to CCD and the teachings that are taught there. The basics: be kind to those around you, those less fortunate than you, try to do good things. You know, follow “The Golden Rule”. That was the premise of the church I was raised in.

So with the election this year and how fiercely I am against the right-wing “Christians” taking over the GOP and wanting to limit the rights of the citizens of our country all in the name of being a good “Christian”, I was trying to come to terms with my attendance in church and my ill-defined faith in God.

Last Sunday the gospel was a reading from Matthew (20:1-16 to be exact). I’ve never felt a “connection” in my heart about what was said during sermons. I would listen and take it in, but I never felt that I heard my own voice…until Sunday. This reading is a story about a landowner who goes into town in the morning looking for workers to tend his vineyards. He finds some men, they agree on payment for a day’s work, and takes them back to his vineyard to work. The landowner goes out again and again throughout the day and finds more men who want to work. They don’t discuss how much payment will be, but landowner says come and work; and they go. So at the end of the day the landowner calls forth the men who worked in order from least amount of time to most. He pays the men he picked up last the same wage he agreed to pay the men he picked up first thing in the morning. When the landowner gets to the men who worked the whole day, the landowner pays them exactly what he paid everyone else. These men argued that it wasn’t fair because they did more work so they should get more than the person who worked for a short period of time. Here are verses 13-16:

“But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14’Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15’Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16″So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

I had heard this story before, but the priest goes on to equate this to our world in the realm of social justice. Taking care of everyone. He said, “these men deserved a ‘liveable wage’ too.” Then he spoke of immigration and how that even though people who have come to America “late”, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be treated with respect. We need to treat others with respect because we can’t walk in their shoes and know where they have been in order to judge them.

I actually teared up at this point. My church, “my” priest was telling me that my feelings and concerns were valid within the church’s eyes. Maybe not all Catholic churches, but my church. For the first time I actually felt like I belonged in this church that I have attended over the past 20 years.

Last Saturday I read an article written by Fr. Andrew Greeley entitled “Why I’m Still A Catholic”. It is not the most succinct article, but it sums up why he believes people “hang on to” Catholicism even when they don’t agree with the doctrine that has come out of the Vatican or how it is implemented in different parishes. This introductory paragraph sums it up for me.

I am still a Catholic because of the beauty of Catholicism, beauty being truth in its most attractive form. It is the beauty of the images and stories of Catholicism which keep me in the Church, not the wisdom or intelligence or the virtue of the Church leadership. Beauty, truth in its most attractive form, is not weaker than prosaic truth but stronger.

I’ve never felt myself to be a very religious person. I don’t know my bible. I never took a bible study course. I have always almost wanted to hide it. I never wanted to push my faith on someone else. It was like politics in my house growing up, religion wasn’t really discussed. But as you can tell my faith was never really defined. I didn’t know if I fit in Catholicism or maybe another denomination would be a better fit. This one day helped heal my heart in a way.

But back to politics, my faith coincides with my politics. My faith is between myself and God. I don’t preach to people.

If anyone has noticed yet, my posts don’t have a natural ending to them. My thoughts just sort of end and I leave it at that. I don’t have the insight and wisdom to wrap it all up in a pretty package, but it is what it is.

The Passage of Time

Okay, so I’m supposed to be working, but every report I do I type today’s date. I can’t fathom that it is almost October already. I am planning my oldest daughter’s 8th birthday party. Holy crap! That is almost as hard to accept as the fact that my baby is going to be 3 in December. Mind boggling, especially because I swear I’m not a day over 25.

As I was just working something dawned on me. When you are a kid, you have the obligations of life – school and age-appropriate household responsibilities – everything else is gravy. You look forward to the fun stuff – hanging out with friends, playing, summer time, etc. I remember always looking forward towards the next weekend or the next vacation or when I would turn 10 (or 16 or 18). I just realized that once you “grow up” you can’t live life like that. Many people do. But as an adult (especially if you are a parent) there is so much to do every day just to keep your head above water, that if you don’t find some joy in your every day activities and responsibilities then you will be miserable.

When I was 8, my best friend and I used to climb the crab apple trees in our yards and imagine all sorts of different things. One thing I specifically remember was us “deciding” that were going to be inventors when we grew up so we could make a tree house that looked like your normal everyday tree, but if you knew the secret (not sure if we ever defined this) you would be able to enter and it would have all the amenities of a normal house – BUT no one would know it was there! How cool would that be? We lived in the moment and played and had fun and were kids. We rode our bikes and played with our Cabbage Patch Kids and made forts and had sleepovers, but we were escaping the present. I guess you could say that we were being kids and using our imagination and how wonderful is that, but we were trying to escape the boredom of everyday life.

My family went camping almost every summer until I was 12. We would pitch the tent at various National Parks and hike and swim and wander through nature. It was really nice. I enjoyed spending time with my family. It’s what we did (in between my brother and I annoying the hell out of each other and ultimately our mom). But then it was over and we went back to the same old “boring” life.

I’m 32 years old, and I just realized that no matter how much I’d love to be sitting my butt on the couch watching bad TV, I’m instead lucky enough to be sitting at my computer in MY house with my sleeping kids down the hall doing something that I actually like doing. I complain about it. Some days I wish I didn’t have to do it (like when the hubby is out of town and I don’t start until late). But I don’t want a job that takes me away from my family. I don’t want a job where I have to deal with obnoxious customers (been there, done that). I have a job that I enjoy, that can actually make life easier/better for people, and I get to be home.

I also never wanted to move back “home”. But tonight, for instance, because of the flexibility of my job and the kids’ school I was able to take my girls to the lake to have dinner with their grandparents, great aunt and uncle who are in town, and their cousin. I didn’t have to worry about getting home late and them having to wake up early. If they want to sleep in a little because they are tired, I can let them! I can also – because they were all tired on the 40-minute drive home – have conversations with them about stuff. We have the time to talk. We talked about why we can’t send astronauts to the former planet Pluto, what satellites are and how they work (I’m a generalist, I gave the simple version). Even though a couple of posts down I wasn’t, I am happy with my life and I’m thankful for the mundane and boring parts of our life. What if I had decided not to do dinner and just stay home “because I’m tired”? I would have missed this conversation. I know it wouldn’t have happened sitting at home.

I have another post about my faith that I will get to later this week. I think that a couple of things that have happened in the last week have helped me be content at this moment. It’s not a huge epiphany – just a couple of things that made me feel not so alone in my faith and the church we attend.

So, if that keeps you in suspense, so be it. If not, you’ll get to read it anyway!

Now, back to work I go!