Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Christmas

Katie J.

Steve and the newest J, Lucianna (Luci Lu)

Christmas at Mom's


Amelia has a pretty good vocabulary, and has been saying oatmeal perfectly for some time. For some reason, she has decided that oatmeal is now to be called "impo" and won't ask for oatmeal anymore. When you ask her what she wants for breakfast, it's "impo". No matter what you say, it's still impo.

"Mommy, dere's man here!"

Amelia came at me in the kitchen this morning, running full speed ahead, shouting. It took me a minute to realize what she was saying. She was hopping up and down and pointing to one of the bedrooms.

"Mia, is there a man here?"
"uh huh"
"DERE!! RIGHT DERE!" and she points to the bedroom and tugs me along to follow her.
"SEE MOMMY! Man in dere HIDING!"

She was pointing to my dad, who was asleep on his side in the bedroom. He is a big guy, so on his side he looks enormous when covered with a blanket to a two year old!

"That's just Grandpa, honey, sleeping."
"Oh. Ok." And then she just ran off to play :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

She looks so darn cute in snow!

Ooops I did something wrong and added the wrong pictures. But the library is closing in 5 minutes so I'll have to fix it another day. I have so many pics to post from my trip, it will take a while to catch up.

Enjoying the Snow

Let me tell you, it was FREEZING outside. She loved every second of it and wanted to help Mommy shovel the sidewalk. So of course, I put her to work!

Getting Ready for a COLD, SNOWY Day

We're in Missouri now... can you tell by the weather? Miss Mia loves it.

Look Daddy, I can color!

Bugland Play Area

Seeing Santa with Dylan

Amelia loves her cousin, Dylan!

My sister-in-law Tammi and her son Dylan invited us to see Santa with them. She had a blast, right up until she sat on Santa's lap. She's fascinated with Christmas trees, no matter how small... or how big.

Amelia supervising Christmas lights

"Yep, I picked out my own clothes"
"You're doing great, Bamma. Keep it up"

I have connectivity!

Sort of. I'm at the library in Kearney, Mo. Not sure why I can get on some places and not others, but I thought I'd post a few pics while I can.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What do you feed 9 kids and one adult?

Very early this morning I took Amelia to a local clinic in a hospital to be checked for strep throat.  Luckily she doesn't have it, but everyone in this house is sick and the two of us have it the worst right now.  Amelia is miserable and every day she comes to me and says, "go home, mommy, go home".   I think she's having a tough time in such a busy household after just the two of us in our little, quiet home.  Today she came up to me with my car keys and told me "jacket, mommy"  (she wants me to get my jacket so we can go).  But she is also having a good time with the kids, it's just a little harder for her to share mommy.  

When we came home, all of my nieces and nephews had conspired to make a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and sausages.  The dining table was set and they were waiting for us to get home to eat.  It was so cute!  Recipe books were everywhere and the pancakes had a heavy hand with the baking powder, but made delicious with love!  Here are some other things we've made this week:

Italian Sausage Lasagne
Hamburgers (eli made those)
Home made Pizza with home made Pizza Sauce 
Hamburger Helper
Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
Red Thai Curry Chicken with Brown Rice
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
Ice Cream Cones

Christmas Cards for Wounded Military

My mom sent me the following information, and I thought it was a great idea so I am posting it here for anyone who would like to do it.  If anything ever happened to Rafe, I know I would feel so grateful for those who sent cards.

When doing your Christmas cards this year, take
one card and send it to this address. If we pass this on
and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these
wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would

When you are making out your Christmas card list
this year, please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whew! I'm tired.

My brother in law is on a business trip this week.  Since I was headed to Texas anyway, he asked me to come a week early so he could invite my sister to go with him.  So for 8 days, I'm watching 9 kids, ranging in age from  10 months old to 16 years old.   Her oldest (18) came home this weekend to give a hand with the running around and dropping kids off at events.

I'm on Day 6!  Two more days to go.  6 baths (f0r the ones who can't bathe alone or bathe themselves), 30 meals, 2 dishwasher loads and 1 trash run DAILY.  And I'm barely covering the stuff my sister normally does.  I don't know how she does it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I think Amelia can spell!

Tonight I went to the grocery store and we parked the van and all my nieces got out except for Amelia.  I was unbuckling Amelia and she started talking, gazing out the van door, saying numbers and letters slowly.  I thought it was kind of odd - she said the number 7, then R, then O, then W.  

I looked up to gather the girls... We had parked next to a sign that said ROW 7.  

I had no idea she was actually spelling something purposefully until I looked up and saw the sign!

Someone with a 2 year old will have to tell me if that's normal or not.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bon Voyage!

Tomorrow we're off on a trip for the holidays and won't be back until the end of December. We're traveling to Dallas, Denton, Kansas City, the Ozarks and Colorado before coming back home. I'll be checking email about once a week and my voicemail goes straight to my email while I'm gone, so I can still receive messages.

Happy Holidays!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

Amelia gets extraordinarily excited at seeing the moon and stars; but especially the moon. She will squeal with delight every time she sees it, and looks for it in the daytime too (which she often finds it hanging in the sky this time of year). Every time she will yell, "MOON, Mommy! Da MOON!!" and giggle and laugh.

Every time she does this, she reminds me of Rafe, who loves the moon and the stars and the sky. I can so see the two of them outside at night someday looking up at the sky with a telescope and chatting about the moon and stars. He was the first one to show her the stars. When Rafe came home the first time after she was born, he took her around the back yard and went to everything he saw and pointed it out to her and let her touch it. Trees, leaves, grass, you name it, they did it. I can hardly wait until he is home with us again full time.

I really want to move on

but I can't seem to get over the fact that Americans had a chance to elect the equivalent of a well balanced, nutritious gourmet meal and instead they settled for fast food. Temporarily satisfying, but terrible for you in the long run and doesn't meet your real needs.

I'm especially sick of hearing how excited the world is and how it proves we're a democracy. As if it would prove we weren't if we elected a president you wouldn't approve of? Give me a break. Leaders are rarely popular. They are respected. Iraqis are thrilled Obama is president, as they told my husband. They were quite excited about it right up until the moment he told them it meant the Americans were all leaving the country. We aren't leading the world, we're leading the US.

Oh wait. Unless... you want someone to lead the world. One world leader....

I heard Vicente Fox on the radio talking about how interested he is in the commitments the US will make to Mexico, and that will determine how good Obama is as president (paraphrase). You've GOT to be kidding me. Yes, he said that with all seriousness. Vincente Fox needs to commit to his own country and create a place that no one wants to leave. It's not up to us to bail out Mexico.

Ack. I'm so sick of people talking about Obama like he's the savior of the world. Oh wait... Unless... you want someone to lead the world. One world leader....

As an FYI, Barack in Arabic means "winged horse". There's significance in that, for those who care to find out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Text of McCain's Speech - a true leader

transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.

My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.
A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.
But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.
America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.
Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.
Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.
We fought — we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.
MCCAIN: I am so...
MCCAIN: I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.
MCCAIN: The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.
I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother ... my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.
I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.
You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.
All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.
I am also — I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen ... one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength ... her husband Todd and their five beautiful children ... for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.
We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.
To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.
I don't know — I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.
This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.
Please. Please.
I would not — I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.
Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
MCCAIN: Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama — whether they supported me or Senator Obama.
I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender.
We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

Already making excuses

"American People... we may not get there in one year or one term... but I've never been more hopeful... than I am tonight" -President Elect No Security Clearance Obama

An example of the quality of people voting for Obama

"Are you happy that Obama won the election?
If not, you need to get your ignorant, naive, racist head our of your A-S-S. Did you really think McCain had a chance after picking such an idiot of a VP. Imagine if McCain had won and died tommorrow. Palin would be our next president. Do you have stronger word for UNDER-QUALIFIED. Besides that do you really think McCain couldve brought the change this country needed? Atleast my faith in Americas democracy is restored knowing that the BETTER candidate has won. CONGRATS OBAMA/BIDEN"
(From a very enthusiastic Obama supporter on Yahoo)

My response to the writer:
First of all, no, I am not happy Obama won.

Second of all, if you are an indication of what we're in for with an Obama presidency, then I can say with all certainty that we're in big trouble. Your first sentence, accusing anyone who voted against Obama of racism is about as ridiculous as me assuming you're black because you voted for Obama. Just because someone doesn't agree with someone else does NOT make them a racist. It makes them human beings with different view points.

I didn't vote for Obama because I felt he didn't have enough experience. I remember what it felt like to be 20, 30, 40... and the older I got, the wiser I became. He has FOUR YEARS EXPERIENCE for the most important job in the United States. That isn't comforting to me. I would much rather have an unqualified Vice President with no experience than an unqualified President with no experience. Where's your logic in that argument?

McCain will lead the largest military in the world, and I have long advocated a president who actually served this country and his children served. He kept campaign promises concerning funding where Obama didn't (can you say INTEGRITY VIOLATOR?). Obama can't get a security clearance yet he's going to have access to the most important documents in the world. He openly campaigned for Odinga, then refuted it (never mind the video documentation). He supports live birth abortions. He wants to share the wealth, instead of having people save their money and take care of themselves.

If you don't think McCain could bring about change, then you haven't done your homework. You haven't watched his record the past 20 years of reaching across party lines and voting his conscience, even when it went against his own party. You haven't noticed that he warned about, and introduced legislation to help protect against, the current economic crisis years ago. You haven't connected the dots backwards enough to realize that it was the Democratic party who legislated the policies that created the current economic crisis.

Your faith in American democracy apparently rests ONLY IN THE FACT THAT THE CANDIDATE YOU LIKED WON. Apparently it had nothing to do with the long lines - peaceful - at the polls. Without harassment, gunfire, and bloody bodies as in other countries that attempt democracy. Nothing to do with the fact that even though the rank and file of the military do not want Obama as their president, they will not attempt a coup, but instead follow the law. Nothing to do with the fact that although Obama didn't care enough to try and get overseas military votes counted because of a glitch in Virginia and McCain did, the military still followed the chain of command set up in a democracy and didn't rise up?

You are the ignorant one, and I mean that in the most uneducated sense of the word. I pity you, and I hope you finally know as much in 20 years as you think you know now.

So Sad

I will admit I cried this morning, listening to McCain's gracious concession speech online. While I was bracing myself for Obama to win; I was unprepared for how shocked and disappointed I felt when he did.

We lost a great opportunity by turning down the chance to have President McCain in the White House. Other countries are celebrating tonight; and many Americans will take that as a good sign. I don't.

Leadership, true leadership, has never been a popularity contest, especially by those who aren't willing to themselves lead in the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Military outrage - Obama silent

Rafe called today and we were able to talk for quite some time about everything. Normal things... like the playdate we had today at our house and how we ended it with praying for our country and our future president (whomever it may be) and God's will, the kids cooking class I did yesterday, making pizza when he comes home, and voting, among other things. It's one of the things I miss most. We are both passionate about the same things, and as much as our temperments are different, the way we think is very similar. He's a lot better at expressing himself than I am, especially in written form.

At the time he called, there was a ruling that Virginia wasn't going to count military votes that were from overseas. McCain's campaign had requested a change and to hold and count ballots up until November 14th. Rafe was really and truly outraged and disgusted that the country wouldn't support the very military that was created to protect them enough to even count their votes. Virginia has a large military presence, so the votes could be significant in the outcome of the presidential race. By the way, he's also outraged that Obama can't get a security clearance but might run the country. As an Intel guy, he knows that you can do some pretty crazy things and still get clearance. You don't have to be perfect. So he's pretty sure that the security investigation uncovered some major violations for him to not get a clearance.

My question is - If Obama wins, what do they tell the military personnel who are denied clearance for far less grievous offenses? "Sorry, there's one standard for the Commander in Chief and another one for you. He doesn't have security clearance but he will be allowed access to the most important documents in the United States, and we're hoping you don't notice the whole ethics and integrity violation thing. And don't even bother asking us about that whole leadership thing they teach you in boot camp. ITS THE CHANGE YOU VOTED FOR - double standards!"

I would bet that if it becomes the deciding factor (as in Obama wins now, but the extra votes give it to McCain) we will never hear the end of conspiracy theories, charges of racism and vote rigging. Sometimes I feel sorry for McCain, even if he wins he will face a lot of opposition from people who just want to be contrary to prove their candidate should have won.

That's ok. He's faced worse and lived to do bigger and better things.
But where is obama? Isn't Michelle Obama's supposed "cause" the military family and spouse? Why aren't they helping these ballots get counted?

What? You don't see them?

That's because they aren't doing anything. That's because most military families are voting McCain. So out of SELF PRESERVATION, they are quiet on this issue.


But now, I have good news for him... at least they are delaying that decision to give enough time to review it.
"Breaking right now is a decision from a federal judge in Virginia that absentee military ballots in the Old Dominion must be preserved until a court hearing on the ballots' legitimacy can be held on November 10th. The campaign of Sen. John McCain filed suit in federal district court in Virginia yesterday seeking to compel county boards of election across the state to count absentee ballots from military members serving overseas. At least one Virginia county, Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, has been refusing to count military absentee ballots, claiming that the ballots required an address of a witness to be considered valid.

But the ballots in question are federally mandated ballots provided for by the Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Rights Act of 1986. The federal ballot does not require a witness address on the form. A separate Virginia statute requires residents of the state to provide a witness address when using a federal absentee ballot form.

The judge's ruling could throw the whole election into doubt, if the results tonight are close. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama have been battling hard to win Virginia, and the state could come down to a few thousand votes on either side. Virginia's large military population makes those absentee military ballots potentially significant. In the event that the election outcome turns on a single state, the results may not be known until the hearing in federal court next week.

Update: The McCain campaign issued the following statement in the wake of the court's ruling.
"We are pleased that the judge has ruled to preserve the ballots cast by our men and women in uniform currently serving overseas. This will help to ensure that local election officials do not destroy or dispose of these ballots before the court has had an opportunity to rule on our complaint. The McCain-Palin campaign strongly believes that no military ballot should be discarded as a result of a failure on the part of several counties and independent cities to mail ballots to service members in a timely manner. We believe without exception that the servicemen and women on the front lines protecting our freedoms deserve every opportunity to make sure their vote counts."

Monday, November 3, 2008

My favorite gourmet

Me: Did you like your yams?
Mia: Lishus, Mommy!

Me: What are you doing?
Mia: 'tirring (she was stirring black beans and corn together)
Me: Why are you doing that?
Mia: Bedder, Mommy!

Mia: What do-in, Mommy?
Me: I'm making pizza.
Mia: I HEP! I HEP! (as she's dragging a short stepladder over to the counter)

In Two Days, It will All be Over

But in the meantime....

A Democrat's argument against Obama (video)

Obama refuses to answer questions from now until AFTER the election. (I guess he doesn't want to accidentally say something truthful)

I wish I had seen this a LONG time ago

I would have sent it to everyone I know. It's slow starting, but about 2:35 you will find yourself cheering. It gets better and better. I hope this guy runs for office someday; I'd vote for him.

Everything I wished I was smart enough to think of saying first

darnit, I can't get the correct link. As soon as I find it, I'll post it.

***FIXED IT! Check it out and tell me what you think.

The Ten Cannots

In 1916, a minister and outspoken advocate for liberty, William J. H. Boetcker, published a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots .

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.”

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wondering what to do about Christmas?

Consider giving clean water.

The Advent ConspiracyLink

President McCain!!!

I'm just practicing for Wednesday. :)

When Rafe was stationed in Pensacola, we went to the military air museum on Pensacola Air Station. In the back, sort of tucked away, was a remarkable exhibit. McCain had donated items from his personal experiences with the War. It was not the first time I'd heard of Senator McCain, but it was the first I'd ever seen of his time in Vietnam. The story was all laid out by the curators of what he went through, with video footage from that era showing on the screen. I was impressed by the fact that it was the first I'd heard of it - he did not use his experience for political reasons to beat his opponents at the time. Ever since that time, I've followed his career and become even more impressed by his willingness to cross party lines to get things done and to go against his own party if the right answer wasn't with them. In general, as you look back at all his concerns and decisions, they have proved to be the right path we did or should have taken. That's why I voted for him. No one man is perfect and everyone will make mistakes. But his mistakes have been far fewer and far less devastating than most. And when he realizes there is a better option, after he's been educated he will usually change his mind and not worry about opinion polls.

I loved this guys argument for McCain. Something in particular struck me and I'll highlight it below.

Sen. McCain is a true American hero. In a time when the meaning of words like courage, sacrifice, honor, and heroism are being defined downward, John McCain exemplifies the true nature of each. Everybody knows by now that McCain spent over five years as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese prison camp; during which time he was brutally tortured, leaving him severely physically limited to this day. But fewer realize that almost none of it was necessary and all of it was practically voluntary. After nearly being killed in a devastating fire aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal, during which McCain displayed great heroism in rescuing another pilot pinned down by the flames, McCain turned down a chance for rest and recovery and volunteered to fly missions from another undermanned ship. Not long afterward, he was shot down on a bombing run over Hanoi, one of the most dangerous sorties flown in the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese soon learned that McCain was the son of a high-level U.S. admiral, and they offered him early release. It would have been a propaganda coup for the North as well as a blow to the morale of the remaining P.O.W.s. McCain, badly injured in the crash and nearly dead from maltreatment at the hands of his captors, refused. He chose to adhere to the honor code that said the first captured would be the first released. It was after McCain snubbed the North Vietnamese that his torture became much, much worse. It was a display of physical and mental courage, dedication to duty, and commitment to a personal code of honor that is rarely seen. And despite protests from some on the left, it is absolutely a qualification for president.

If someone were to ever ask me how I think my own husband would react in a similar situation, I would say exactly as McCain did. I have seen him already make those decisions to a lesser degree and I know in a more difficult and painful circumstance, he would do the same. I know what kind of man my husband is, warts and all, and I respect him more than anyone I know. And if John McCain is even 1/10th the man my husband is, then we would be better off with him leading the country.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Every once in a while, Rafe will call and start saying something to me that I can't understand, and at first I always think it's static on the line and his words are garbled. Then I realize he's speaking Arabic. Apparently he's saying some pretty romantic things in Arabic (or at least that's what HE says! haha). Today he told me... Hiyati, Gulbi, Ahaybech, I know I left a word or two out... It was fun this time because I recognized some words he was saying from when I took a class in arabic in college. I briefly learned to read and write some limited arabic and understand a bit of it (none of which I remember now except how to write my name and a few terms of endearment)

Now if I could just get him to say, "أنا أريد أن يغسل أطباق ونظّفت منزل [فروم نوو ون"

أنت تجلس ويسترخي, أنا سيطبخ عشاء

Either one of those would find me fainting dead away with joy and excitement!
Hee hee hee hee....

(I will do dishes and clean house from now on)
(You sit there and relax, I will cook dinner)

Neighborhood Mujahadeen

I was getting the front porch ready for Halloween tonight and I heard some beautiful music coming from next door, kind of cool and kind of eery at the same time. It sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it and thought it was a movie score.

Right up until the moment I heard someone gruffly yelling, "WHO DARES ENTER THE CAMP OF THE MUJAHADEEN!!!!!", some kids squealing and running, then... "COME CLOSER SO I CAN SEE YOU!"

It was my neighbor. I peek around the corner of the house, and he's set up a tent in his backyard with a brazier. Not a "camping in the woods with your kids" kind of tent; but the "living in Afghanistan your whole life" kind of tent. He had it staked with torches and to his motorcycle, prayer rugs on the ground, his dog next to him, fire going and tea cooking over the fire, along with his dinner. He was dressed in traditional robes and head scarf, with dark sunglasses on, face barely showing. He was eating chicken with a knife and telling kids to come back tomorrow for dog dinner. Amelia and I went over to take pictures and talk to him, and he gave her a chunk of apple while she sat on his rug. He had scimitars (authentic) and it looked like a few other daggers, but I couldn't tell for sure. I realized the music was Afghani, and he told me that the setup was authentic. He should know, as he just came back from a deployment from there not too long ago.

He was asking the kids who came by to join him in his war against the Soviets. He was actually re-enacting a history lesson while he was speaking, but the kids didn't know it. He told me kids are more afraid of him when he dresses like ordinary people (one year it was a monk with robes, a bible and Franciscan chants). There's something ironic about ghouls, goblins and vampires being scared by a monk! ;)

The funniest kicker to all of this, besides the fact that you probably couldn't get away with this anywhere but here??

My neighbor is the head chaplain for the whole base. :)

Living On Parris Island

I love living here. I am so very grateful we were able to get base housing instead of housing "out in town". When we first married, I used to grin every time I heard the words "out in town" because it seemed so funny to me, like the people who lived on base lived in an entirely different world.

Well, it turns out they do in many ways. At this particular base, I hear more jets than cars. I hear more birds than cars. I hear more boats than cars. And I hear more kids playing soccer than cars. Heck, I hear more kids in general than I hear cars. It's partially because of where we're located - close to the water and away from the main thoroughfare of the base. Partially because it's a much smaller base with a much smaller (but no less important) main mission.

I see stars, and lots of them. I saw a few more before all the houses on this street were finished and the old streetlights were turned back on, but thankfully it's the soft yellow lighting. I love the old street lamps they salvaged, lining the streets. I love the beautiful old historic homes still here. I love the particular language of Marine bases - "Quarters One" refers to the CG's house, always, no matter who the CG of the base is. Which, by the way, used to be two old barns they pushed together and have made into a house, according to one of the current occupants at a recent tour.

I love that I can walk to my friend's houses for dinner, to talk, to get support, to get emergency help, to have a play date... all of which I have done at one time or another. Of course, I didn't walk much when it was super hot out but that's besides the point :).

I love it that when Rafe wasn't here, I had emergency surgery and the sirens alerted the entire neighborhood to the situation - which caused a neighbor who didn't know us that well to turn back around and check to make sure Amelia was taken care of when he was on his way to work at 5 in the morning, and caused the CG (Commanding General) to send representatives to find out what happened and to stay posted on how I was doing and if I needed any help whatsoever. I love it that the CO's (Commanding Officer) and FRO's (Family Readiness Officer)at two units worked together to make sure that I had help, that my family could use the commissary, that Amelia was taken care of. I love it that the CDC (Child Development Center) is 3 blocks away. I love it that the soccer games are playing in my back yard (a huge field) and Mia and I can watch them out the window when we are eating dinner. I love the sounds of 3 year olds playing soccer.

I love that I can see the water from my front windows. I love that the porches are so wide and shady that it creates a whole outdoor playroom - with enough room for a home made sand table (out of tubs), an easel (from a garage sale), chairs and other miscellaneous toys for kids to come over and play with. There's an outlet there, so I moved a fan to the porch also and it's quite fun.

I love seeing the new recruits, running into each other like puppies when they try to line up the first few days, arms outstretched once they stop and try to get in the right order. I like to listen to them sing cadence as they run, and to see the incredible tenacity of the drill instructors. It's quite funny a lot of the time. As one of my neighbors said, the drill instructors scare her. If they say hello, she feels like saluting and saying, "Yes SIR!" automatically. The Drill Instructors are definitely a breed within a breed of the Marine Corps. The first few months I lived here, I couldn't drive past the recruits on graduation day without tearing up. They looked so proud in their uniforms and so young. Their families were proudly walking along beside of them, and when you saw their families you could see how much they had changed in the months they had been earing the title of MARINE. I love going to the graduations.

I love the ceremonies, listening to Taps play, to the trumpet/bugle wake up calls in the morning and the last notes at night. I love that when a hurricane threatened, they had a mandatory town hall meeting (I'm such a geek) to give us the update, along with insurance information from Tri-Command. With Rafe being gone, it felt much safer to be here than to be anywhere else in this area. I love that my house is basically on stilts and situated so there is a lot of light streaming in the windows.

There's a lot in life to be grateful for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2.5 HOURS!

That's how long it took to vote today. Voting early. Can you imagine how long it will take on election day? PLEASE VOTE EARLY! I hate to imagine all the people who will get discouraged or who will not have allowed enough time to wait in their schedule - who will then turn away and not vote.

People just don't get it

All day long, I've been listening to people on the radio talk about how excited they are for the opportunity to vote for a black president - they thought they'd never see it in their lifetime. I think it's pretty amazing myself, and shows how far the country has come in seeing race as less of an issue. Unfortunately, people still aren't thinking about who is the MOST QUALIFIED... they aren't thinking about Rev. Wright, Obama's pastor for 20 years; not thinking about his lack of experience; not thinking about the experience he DOES have - which puts him on record as the. most. liberal. presidential. candidate. ever. ON RECORD. He says he's pro-life, yet voted against the live birth abortion bill (remember the flap over babies being born and left to die on hospital shelves a few years ago?). He says he's a Christian, but he's also says there's room enough for everyone's Gods... which, by definition, means you aren't a Christian. And it's ok not to be, just not ok to lie about it to get votes. I could go on and on, but I'm not nearly as qualified as everyone else out there to talk about it. I hope Obama isn't elected president at this point, but if he is, I will look for the bright side.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (Oct. 30) - Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin accused the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday of protecting Barack Obama by withholding a videotape of the Democrat attending a 2003 party for a Palestinian-American professor and critic of Israel. The paper said it had written about the event in April and would not release the tape because of a promise to the source who provided it.
McCain and Palin called Rashid Khalidi a former spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, a characterization Khalidi has denied in the past. Both candidates said guests at the party made critical comments about Israel...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wake Up, Mommy!

I'm exhausted. But it's worth it!

I often have trouble sleeping at night with Rafe gone, and last night was no exception. I had finally started to drift off around 2 am, when I heard Amelia crying in her room. I went to go check on her, and she was completely awake. And very happy to see me. The conversation went something like this:

Mia: "MOMMMMMMEEEEEE!!" with a happy voice and a big smile
Me: Mia, are you ok? What's wrong?
Mia: "tories, mama." (She wants me to read her stories)
Me: It's in the middle of the night, we can't read stories. You need to go to sleep"
Mia: (in her perkiest, happiest voice) "Mommy bed?" (she wants to sleep in my bed)
Me: Ok (Yeah, I'm a real hold out. It didn't take much. I love to snuggle with her)

So I bring her to my bed and we get snuggled in, and she is laying there yapping away. She tells me to "koze er ice" (close your eyes) and then leans in reaaaaaaaaaaaaaly close and kisses my nose, then starts giggling, which makes me laugh. Pretty soon she's delighted with this turn of events and starts patting her little fingers on my face, hugging me and kissing me and laughing hysterically. Before long, we're both laughing and playing and by the time we're finally settled down again in the covers (to which she says, "cozy, mama!") it's almost 3 am.

For a brief moment, I considered stopping the play and bringing her back to her own room. But I loved that time out of space feeling, where all worries and chores and expectations were suspended. It was night time, it was funny, and there was nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. It was pure sweetness to feel her warm little body next to mine, snuggled into me and breathing softly as she went to sleep.

Best of all, I was woken up this morning to an extremely cheerful, hyperactively happy child giving me kisses and hugs and saying, "Wake up, Mommy!" The only thing that would top that would be Rafe being here with us.... so he could get up with her and let me sleep in!! :)

Improvised Play

I'm not a big fan of television for kids and I'm especially not a fan of advertising aimed at children. Most of my friends know that I was absolutely against all the branded clothing and toys when Amelia was born, preferring to let her imagination take over and leave some of the materialism behind as much as possible. I've had some feedback occasionally that our stance was extreme, but I have to share this story as it explains quite well some of the reasons we chose to do what we did. I also believe it has as much to do with television itself as the type of toys kids play with - Rafe has a great theory on that I'll share sometime. I've noticed that with the toys we do have that are more structured, she plays with them much less than she plays with the things she creates out of bits and pieces around the house - an empty plastic tub in our kitchen alone has been a baby bed, a wagon, a tent, a boat, a car...

Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills

(the link to the full article; an excerpt below)

Clearly the way that children spend their time has changed. Here's the issue: A growing number of psychologists believe that these changes in what children do has also changed kids' cognitive and emotional development.

It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.

We know that children's capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5 and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn't stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning says, the results were very different.

"Today's 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today's 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago," Bodrova explains. "So the results were very sad."

Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, "Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Isn't this cool? What a great alternative to all the concerns about toxins in plastics that hold our food these days. I was recently sent some information about that by one of Rafe's aunts and it kind of blew me away. I was quite happy to run across this information tonight.

Clemson University develops EarthBottle

EarthBottle Bottles made almost entirely from plants will soon be showing up on store shelves filled with nutraceutical products. They will be followed by pharmaceutical, functional foods and body-care products.

The compounded resin formula behind the EarthBottle is the brainchild of Danny Roberts, assistant vice president of Public Service and Agriculture, and David Gangemi, director of the Institute for Nutraceutical Research at Clemson. These natural polymer-fiber bottles are recyclable, biodegradable, petroleum-free and stronger, lighter than glass and more durable than most other bottles.

The materials have the potential to replace plastic for automotive parts, agricultural and industrial fabrics and biomedical parts. And the EarthBottle protects contents from spoilage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Price of Disorganization



That's a VERY conservative estimate for me in actual dollars lost over the years due to disorganization.

That money comes from overdue or late fines, missed bills, missed deadlines (and the resulting fees), misplaced drivers license and resulting tickets, missed check refunds that went past their expiration date. It comes from the lawyer's fees sometimes incurred when trying to rectify above situations, and a few times bail bond fees and once, a plane ticket fee to go back to the town I had left because otherwise I would have missed yet another court date because I forgot about it.

It comes from not maintaining property (cars, etc) in a timely fashion and then having to spend a lot more when things broke down.

Buying things that didn't work and then never returning them, even though I "meant" to. Buying things more than once because I couldn't find the ones I bought previously.

It comes from working so many hours that instead of cleaning and doing laundry, I went and bought new clothes because that was all I had time for. I didn't even have time to try them on; I just bought a few choices and took them home, wearing the ones that fit. Meaning to return the ones that didn't, but never doing so. Not shopping for bargains, but going to stores and walking in, grabbing something and leaving in about 10 minutes. I used to buy new underwear and socks ALL the time when I was working as an Exec. Chef on my way home - I'd zip into Walmart for groceries and pick up a few more socks.

That figure could easily be doubled or tripled when you take into account that I never organized my future or retirement and instead of saving for that, often gave large chunks of money away randomly (by large, I mean between $300 and up to $1000) on an impulsive moment and a misguided attempt to do the one right thing that would turn someone's life around forever. I actually still have the impulse to give all my money away, but I don't do it anymore. I think about it all the time, though. I think it helps that it's not really "my" money anymore, but Rafe's. I stopped that when we married. What's really crazy is that I helped almost complete strangers to me but not my family, and I have no idea why. The impulse would happen and BOOM, a check would be written. I did that even when I didn't have money to pay my own bills, but I didn't worry because I wasn't organized enough to see what a mess I was in. I never worried about money or my future. I haphazardly invested in retirement.

Disorganization has cost me a lot in relationships also. I think about my friends and people I love all the time. All the time. I am one of those people who would be much happier living on a big compound with all my family in houses scattered close by, big Sunday meals with everyone together. But for some reason I can't seem to reach out when I'm not in physical proximity. I lose addresses and phone numbers over and over again. Until this year, I had to call my mom or my sister every time I wanted to talk to one of my brothers because I lost their phone numbers on the scraps of paper I had written them in. I bought organizer after organizer and would lose them, or not use them consistently. I've lost touch with dear friends and became too embarrassed at not contacting them or missing important dates (once even a wedding). I failed a friend who ended up in jail and asked me to pay his bills for him. He gave me a $400 check to do so - in 1998 - and I just found it two weeks ago. I also found the list of addresses of people he had asked me to mail and tell of his predicament.

It kept Rafe from feeling comfortable about inviting people to our home when we first married. It kept him from feeling peace in our home because of the psychic noise that clutter and disorganization creates. It kept us from going out and enjoying ourselves sight seeing new places we lived because we stayed home on weekends cleaning and going through things, again and again. I turned down invitations to go places and do things because of clutter and disorganization. People who are organized don't feel comfortable in unorganized spaces. I'm sure that before I married, I probably lost a date or two with that as a factor.

I was/am late to things regularly looking for stuff. I lose my keys all the time because I can't focus on where I put them. I get distracted so easily that I can go into one room to clean something or get something and forget why I walked into the room by the time I get there. I make lists upon lists and often read them, only to realize that by the time I got to the bottom of writing the list, I had written something again that I wrote at the top of the list... totally forgetting I had just written it! When I'm stressed out, this happens more often.

My clothes don't match much of the time because I could never find what I was looking for in the overcrowded closet. I just grabbed and went.

Sometimes it is extremely hard for me to focus from one moment to the next. Ideas jumble around in my head and I start projects all the time but never finish them. Ironically, what I can focus for long periods on are things that both interest me AND require intense concentration at the same time. My daughter, my husband, reading, cooking. Sometimes the problem I have is with too much focus - I zero in on one thought and simply lose all other thoughts, no matter how important. I'm usually reminded of the previous thoughts when a crisis happens and I have to deal with what I forgot about before.

Why am I writing this today? I wanted to be honest out loud. This is the area of huge struggle in my life. It causes me stress and anxiety, yet sometimes I feel like I'm swallowed up by the enormity of organizing. It's probably really hard for someone who is organized to relate to. But I also want to talk about progress. I stopped spending money like crazy a few years before I met Rafe. But I couldn't seem to stop collecting paper clutter. There is probably so much more that disorganization has affected that I haven't written about here. I am determined to change, and have been changing for the past few months. I worked on this once before, when we lived in Jacksonville. But the outside stress on our lives there made it slow going, and once I had started to get a handle on it, we moved again and it threw me into a tizzy. It is not something that comes naturally to me.

My goal is that our house is peaceful, comfortable, and a sanctuary for my family. To me, that means less clutter (MUCH less clutter), simple living. We really don't need much. Rafe has been my biggest motivation in this endeavor. I have changed so much for the better since I met him. It's one of the first things my family noticed about me after dating Rafe... just that I was more human, more down to earth, more grounded.

Something to share

From time to time, I read a blog called "Conversion Diary, Musings of a Former Athiest", and it never stops blowing me away with the depth and beauty of the writing, no matter the subject. Today I just read one of the best summaries I have ever seen on what it FEELS like to have God transform you in ways you never thought possible. I can testify from personal experience that God can do things that the human flesh cannot, and surrendering to the will of God is the hardest thing and the greatest blessing that has happened in my life. Do I surrender daily? Or perfectly? Absolutely not... for me it's definitely still a journey. Someday I'll share my conversion experience, but for now I'm content to share writings like this.

"On Being Tired"

I love this blog; and I really wanted to share this entry

"When I heard the Catholic notion that each of us has a vocation, and that it's not about what you'll do but whom you'll serve, it sounded outrageous. Insane, even. In this worldview, living for yourself is not a valid option -- regularly taking time for yourself, yes; but structuring your life around selfish pursuits, no. It went against everything I believed. It seemed to even go against common sense.

But, as I've also said many times before, when I tried it, the proof was in the pudding. The way years of underlying angst melted away, how all areas of my life suddenly had so much more order and clarity, that feeling of peace I'd always yearned for but had never experienced (and wasn't even sure it was possible to experience) -- there was no doubt in my mind that Christianity had a lock on the answer to the meaning of life. Through a life centered around agape, self-giving love, I found He who is Agape itself; I found what every human who's ever lived desires most, whether they know it or not: God."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Funny Girl Play by Play

I was typing an email to Rafe this morning and ended up giving him a play by play of what she was doing while I was typing.

She says, "Food you!" when I tell her to get into her car seat and she won't do it, but she insists it is her turn to climb in. I say that I will count to 3 and if she is not in, then it will be my turn (which I hate the whole count to 3 concept yet I do find myself doing it sometimes). So she scrambles in to the seat and then yells out, FOOD YOU! (As in "I fooled you!")

Sometimes out of the blue, she will yell at the top of her lungs, "DON' DO DAT!!", with the emphasis on the word "DAT!!", and then say, "Noah push". It makes me laugh because she's obviously reliving the time when Noah was at our house and he pushed her and we were teaching her to stand up for herself. When he was here, she could only say it in a teeny tiny little girl voice, like she was unsure she should say it. She's been working on her delivery!! haha. I can hardly wait until she sees Noah again to see if she can pull it off. She sounds determined when she's yelling it in the car, which oddly enough, is the only place she remembers about it.

Right this very second as I am typing to you, she is wiping her baby's bottom with a diaper wipe and then putting their diapers back on. She has 2 babies that she made me put diapers on this morning, now she is taking them off and taking their clothes off and wiping their bottoms. She yells out "DID IT!" when she gets some part of it done properly (to her standards). She is sitting here in her jammies looking very serious while she's doing it. It's Saturday, and I let her wear her jammies all day if she wants to on Saturdays. When she wants help she says, "hope peeze!" and now she just asked me for help getting the baby dressed again.

"wan it!" means "don't want it" when it's accompanied by a negative shake of the head (as I tried to give her 2 wipes when she only asked for one to wipe the babies) Ok, now she's undiapering them again. I am giving you a play by play.

"oh babeese hepping dem, DID IT! I DID IT!" (she is saying she is helping the babies) "Yes, you did do it, Amelia" "Uh huh. Oh babeese dry. mommy, med-sin babeese. Mia chanchin diper. Mia potty. Mia bow moo-ment" (she was giving diaper rash medicine to the babies)

oh rafe, this is cracking me up. She just put the littlest baby in the microwave and I asked her why she did it and she said "baby bath". She's holding the baby by her legs upside down for a few moments, then says, "baby done!" Now she's trying to squeeze the baby back in the microwave again. 'baby - boo ice" (baby has blue eyes) Now she's trying to put the big brown baby in the microwave. The baby is hanging upside down in the toy microwave. I am telling her we don't cook babies, that's not nice. So she hugs the big baby and I tell her she's a good mommy to her babies.

Funny Girl

Sometimes when I read books to Amelia, I have her tell me what the pictures are instead of me telling her first. So tonight, she was telling me pictures of the animals when she came to guinea pigs. Apparently, they struck her as really funny. "Gimmee pigs".... so every animal after that was a "gimmee pig", to which I'd exclaim 'nooooooooo! that's not a guinea pig! It's xxx" and she would laugh hysterically. I could tell she was saying the wrong animal on purpose. It was even funnier when she was labeling the animals "Purple" consistently, and then giggle and look up at me to see if I got the joke. She was laughing at herself so hard she gave herself hiccups! So was I by the end.

Thrift Store Bargains

It's getting chillier here, and Amelia is growing like a weed. Her little belly is showing (which I think is cute, but it's not very warm) on her long sleeved shirts. So I zipped into the thrift store the other day to look for some "new" clothes for her.

I spent a whopping $4.00 and picked up 16 items - all the children's clothes were 25 cents! Amazing! I found some good play clothes, nothing fancy, and some shoes in sizes 2T to 4T. I would say about 6 items she can wear now over the winter (shirts, a playjacket, 1 pair of play shoes) and the rest over the next year or two. But the other sizes were in such good condition that for a quarter I couldn't pass them up.

I love thrift stores, especially the ones that have a mission (like hospice, or CAPA, etc). I don't go in them very often, but I have picked up some needed things for Amelia at bargain prices. I have even found toys with a few pieces missing, or loved on, or something small broken, and picked them up. Mostly because with kids, they suffer wear and tear anyway. Although Amelia is actually really good with her toys and hasn't messed up anything yet; it is usually the other kids that come to play here that I have to worry about. One time I bought one of those play xylophones that was missing its "drumstick" that attaches to it on a string. It just had a poor lonely string. I bought it for $2 and went home and gave her some of her old baby spoons with the soft rubber coating to use as drumsticks. It worked great and she loved it! I've found puzzles and books that same way. I figure, if she was the 4th kid, she'd be getting hand me downs and torn toys anyway, so no reason to spend top dollar every time to get a perfect toy. Not to say that I have anything against perfect toys, but at this age....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


And if you're a Democrat, vote often and then write a thank you note to ACORN. ;0

Today I went to the polls to make sure that I can vote on election day and that all my stuff is in order. Turns out that even though I have a registration card, my ID needs to be either a SC Driver's License OR I need to bring a recent bill with me that day that has my name and current address. Good to know. I can also vote early, which I think I am going to do this week.

Why would I vote early? Well, considering the amount of people I saw in line today who are voting early, I can only imagine how long the lines are going to be, and how confusing it is going to be, to vote on Election day. Literally, it's 12 days until the election and the place was packed and the line was snaking outside the door, with more people driving up as I left.

So, if you don't have all day to wait around to vote, I suggest you plan ahead and vote early if you can. You won't regret it. Unless, of course, you vote for Obama.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is everyone blind?

Excellent post about a Harvard class turning into an Obama-thon

It seems to me that everyone who is FOR Obama is not only ready to elect him President, but to crown him King and perhaps even a minor deity, if not a major one. Obamites are practically frothing at the mouth in their haste to say laudatory things about him. I bet if they are crossing the road, they don't look both ways either... Just straight ahead. ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

From Politico

There may be a reason other than security that the campaign doesn't want Signator talking to the press.

During Obama's 2004 Senate race, in the weeks after Obama's convention speech had marked him as a rising star, Signator accompanied Obama to an African-American parade in Chicago. According to an Obama biography by Chicago Tribune veteran David Mendell, the crowd chanted "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" and gave the young candidate such a passionate reception that Signator, identified by Mendell as Obama's "driver and bodyguard," joked that he "thought Barack was going to rise up over the people and start saying, 'My children, my children, I have come to free you"

Hi Hubby!

I miss you! Your baby misses you! She snuggles with the daddy doll every night and won't go to bed without it. She says "safe...daddy... safe". I think she means to say that she's safe with you there by her side, because I always tell her daddy is keeping us safe.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ok, after this I'll stop...for tonight

In Obama's book "Dreams from my Father", Obama confesses that he harbors the same negative racial stereotypes as Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his mentor for 20 years. On pages 198 to 204, Obama says that Black Nationalism, a steady attack on the White race would be justified if it could deliver. On page 100, Obama says he went out of his way to choose Marxist professors as his friends. Obama wrote: "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully, the more politically active black students, the foreign students, the Chicanos, the Marxist professors and punk rock performance poets."

Now during his National NAACP speech earlier this year, Sen. Obama discussed economic justice. "I've been working my entire adult life to help build an America where economic justice is being served," he said at the group's 99th annual convention in Cincinnati.

What most people do not understand about economic justice (since the Presidential race is all about the economy) it is simply a term that means punishing the successful and redistributing their wealth by government fiat. It's a euphemism for socialism. In his latest memoir he shares that he'd like to "recast" the welfare net that FDR and LBJ cast while rolling back what he derisively calls the "winner-take-all" market economy that Ronald Reagan reignited (with record gains in living standards for all). Obama also talks about "restoring fairness to the economy," code for soaking the "rich" — a segment of society he fails to understand that includes mom-and-pop businesses filing individual tax returns.

- Akindele Akinyemi

It gets scarier and scarier....

"A retired military officer in Pacific Grove alerted me to the Obama-Odinga connection, and Obama's active campaigning and support of Odinga in 2006.

Others were able to confirm that Obama did support Odinga, and that that Odinga incited racial violence that led to the deaths of over 1,500 and the displacement of 500,000 more.

Obama did "campaign" for Odinga by any reasonable take, and Obama's trip to Kenya was paid for by the US taxpayers. Past that, your own mileage.

Specifically, during his 2006 Kenyan tour Obama gave a speech in Kenya ripping on the existing government and then toured with Odinga, during which tour he "starred" at several Odinga rallies. It's pretty tough to find a way to rationalize that away from stumping FOR Odinga, given Obama's "star" status in Kenya during the trip. Before Obama went to Kenya on that trip, Odinga visited him in Washington several times over two years, and he sent his foreign policy aide as an advance man."

- Tully

Is Obama a Marxist?

It's funny, but three times in two days have I heard the word "Marxist" associated with Obama. One I can't remember, but the second was hearing a conversation that reminded me that "spreading the wealth around" (which Obama thinks is a good thing and Joe the Plumber doesn't) is a Marxist philosophy, and now this. Check out the entry for October 14th.

By the way, I agree with Joe the Plumber. I think that even Bill Gates shouldn't spread his wealth around if he doesn't want to. He owes no one. He made the money and it's his right to do whatever he wants with it. The biggest problem I have with the whole spread the wealth theory is that far too often people without money aren't poor because it's impossible for them to MAKE money, it's because they can't HANDLE money. They have poor money habits and throwing more money at them isn't going to solve the problem. I can say this because I had poor money habits and lots of people I know do or did, and until those habits change, all the money in the world won't help. The only thing it will do is to help keep them from taking responsibility or feeling the consequences of their actions.

That's not to say that I don't believe in giving, or in charity. I choose much more carefully these days where my charitable contributions go. Just like every other investment, I want a return on my money and I'm not interested in sending it to a giant black hole where nothing ever changes. When I lived in KC, I remember helping a lot of my employees or friends or even strangers out who were in "emergency situations", often with hundreds of dollars. I did it because I truly believed that this one act of kindness was exactly what they needed to get over the hump and make it through so they could start living a better life. Not one single person's life was ever changed for the better, and looking back I was quite often snookered and didn't realize it. I went with my own bills unpaid, helping others with children, feeling sorry for them because my life was just a smidge better than theirs.

In the times since, I've come to realize that people only change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing; and throwing money at the situation often made it bearable when it should have become unbearable and forced people down a different path. I've also greatly regretted a lot of the choices I made concerning money in the past. Amelia's Granny J gave us a great book for teaching kids about handling finances, and you can be sure that will be greatly used in this house. I don't want her to be as foolish as I have been and wasted as many opportunities as I did. I hope to ingrain Biblical stewardship so that the process is automatic for her. It will be the second greatest freedom she will ever have - the first being the freedom found in Christ Jesus if she becomes saved.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama couldn't get FBI Security Clearance...

but he can be President?

Check this link out

It's something interesting to think about. When even an overdraft on our bank could affect Rafe's security clearance, it makes me wonder about Obama's clearance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heads Up, Marines!

If you want to read something that will make you laugh out loud if you're in the MC family somehow, and at least smile if you are not and don't know any Marines... check out this link.

It's one of my favorite websites - because it's hysterically funny; it's hysterically funny because it's all true and I remember those days.

Helping others (and myself) ... by organizing!

I'm clearing up clutter in the house and organizing. I've been donating most of my items to CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Association). They have a local thrift store here called "CAPA's Closet" and they will come and pick up items FREE. All the proceeds go to help their programs.

WHEEEE!! It feels so good to have some of this stuff sorted and finally let go of some of it. Letting go is the hardest part. Lots of items have memories and I loved everything I had. But lots of it no longer suits me, or I have to admit I will never get around to "that project" after having passed it up so many times before. I've begun to take pictures of things that have meaning for me, but no longer have a place in my life for some reason or another. Now, instead of keeping the object I wasn't using and was boxed away, I can keep the picture and have a lot less clutter! The whole house is beginning to run more smoothly. I took a picture of all I'm donating today.

Our accountant gave me this great FREE website for listing what we donate. It adds everything up for you and stores it for 2 years, so you have it handy when it comes time to do taxes in one easy printout.

I also found a neat literacy project for donating old magazines. I just donated 178 (4 bags full) to CAPA, but I think I will try it the next time. I still have 19 boxes of magazines to go through. It's so hard to part with some of them - they're great reference. But I think as the house becomes less and less cluttered, I'll find it harder and harder to keep them as they will be messing with the whole "zen" feeling I'm trying to achieve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Newsletter from Iraq

From Rafe's CO -

15 October 2008
Hello MTT 0110 families,
I hope this letter finds you all in good health and spirits. The team has performed magnificently since my last letter and we have been extraordinarily busy here in Baquba. Over the past seven weeks we have completely reorganized the team, supported the Iraqis through very demanding counterinsurgency operations, and watched every 1st Division MTT, spare us, complete their deployments.

Operationally, we have put over a thousand miles on our vehicles in the past month. It is clear that our brigade has made a significant impact. The area we operate within was one of the most contested areas for Iraq. Since the brigade has started working here, however, the landscape has changed. Schools are opening, roads are being cleared, displaced families are returning to their homes, and locals have created their own "Sons of Iraq" group (young men who support Iraqi Security Forces with information and local security). It is a great pleasure to be a part of it all.

The most significant news for those back home is that the team has changed significantly. The 1st Battalion MTT is now merged into our team. Unfortunately, out of this combined group, I could only retain 21 Marines and Sailors. From the old MTT0110, we will lose GySgt XX, SSgt XX, and SSgt XX. These three Marines will be reassigned to a new team with a completely different mission. I expect within a week or two they will be able to contact their wives and provide a new contact for family readiness although all three families are absolutely welcome to remain in contact and involved in our KV network. We are currently coordinating a new mailing address for the three Marines that are being reassigned and I would recommend holding off on mailing anything to these three until their situation has stabilized -- probably within a couple weeks. I have asked all three to call home and answer any questions their wives may have. Additionally, we will add five Marines and one Sailor from the old 1st Battalion MTT. I am coordinating the new names with XX XX so you can all welcome them to the MTT0110 family. We are holding a farewell barbeque today complete with steaks, coleslaw, and non-alcoholic beer.

Yesterday, we remained on our small camp and conducted our first team shooting competition. The events included one-on-one soda can shooting races, discriminating fire courses (shoot bad guy vice good guy pictures), and team board cutting where we divided into two teams with the winner being the first team to shoot their board so thoroughly in one spot that it cut in half. The whole day was a good break from the daily routine and there were plenty of laughs and some impressive shooting. In the finals of the soda can competition, Captain XX defeated SSgt XX -- but only within seconds. Lance Corporal XX, Sergeant XX, and Captain XX all shot very well.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to XX XX and those of you who have participated in the "get togethers." As our team gains some of the former MTT0110 members, I believe these get togethers will help create some additional relationships.

As I always, I sincerely appreciate all the support you provide us. We have passed the three month hurdle -- 33% complete and counting!
Semper Fidelis,
MTT 0110

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

His Family

When I was first dating Rafe, it was a while before I actually met his family. We'd met briefly in 2001 when we were both dating someone else, then again in early 2002. We were friends first, and then eventually began dating each other. When I first found out that he had a large and close-knit family, I was pretty excited. I love big families and the hustle and bustle that involves big get-togethers and informal visits, and I was especially impressed with how close he was to his cousins, aunts and uncles.

The first time I met his Nana, it was at a Thanksgiving Dinner at Sherlene's house, and I was scared to death to go inside. I can't remember why, but Rafe wasn't able to be there at the same time I was, and I had to go and meet every single person for the first time by myself with the exception of his mom and sister. (Now that I look back, I think, what kind of person would let their brand new girlfriend walk into a lion's den alone?!?! and I cant' believe he did that). What I remember most about that first visit was seeing Rocky outside and he waved me on into the house, being welcomed inside by Sherlene, and immediately hearing Nana yell, "You must be Rafe's girlfriend! Come on back here so I can talk to you!" She was sitting at the round table in the back of Sherlene's kitchen, and most everyone else was in the livingroom or on the front porch. Frank was sitting in his chair by the door, with a big smile on his face and a friendly hello. Believe it or not, I felt much better after that. I liked that she was direct and bold and she was asking me all kinds of questions. She always seemed very interesting to me, and I enjoyed our conversations on the phone when we were able to talk occasionally. I feel very lucky that I was able to meet his Nana and Papa before they passed away.

Braden was just a baby when I met him that day. I think he was actually in the crib by the front door, up against the wall. If I remember correctly, Julie and Nathan were on the couch and I think football was on the TV. When I first met his girl cousins, I was stunned at how gorgeous they were. All three of them could be models. Not only that, but they were really down to earth and very nice. One of the best things was watching them with their parents - it's one of the most loving and closest families I've seen. They genuinely enjoy each other's company and it's a delight to be around them. They are all very intelligent, talented women.

I not usually a person who is too star struck; partially I think because over the years so many famous people have come into the places I've cooked for or stayed at hotels I've worked at. But I have to say it's a bit different when it is someone in your own, albeit extended, family. I personally think it's really cool to have someone I'm related to be so talented as to make it to the Dallas Cheerleading Finals. If you're from Texas, you will realize what a big deal this is; and if you're not, then I'd just like to say that Football is like a second religion to most Texans. Rafe's aunt sent me a video of one of his cousins during a tryout. What's really amazing about this woman is that she doesn't even do this full time!! She has a full time, intense job and is just that talented that she made it this far!!

Anyway, because I feel like helping Rafe's aunt brag and I think it's so cool, here is the link to the video - Britt is the last dancer, and you can see her also in the very beginning of the link.

Missing the Meat!

Amelia doesn't eat much meat. Not chicken, beef or pork. Not even chicken nuggets. She will occasionally eat some hamburger if you sneak it in pasta or wrap it in cheese, but often she will just nibble around it and spit it out.

It's difficult cooking fabulous meals for one; I've gotten out of the habit of cooking anything that takes more than 10 minutes to throw together for Pasta Girl. Lately I've been craving meat. I have always loved vegetarian meals, but it's not cutting it for me anymore. The past few days I've been on a small cooking binge and let me tell you, it's YUMMY!

Everything in this house just feels homier with the smells that have been wafting through here. It seems less lonely, somehow. Tonight I imagined Rafe was going to be coming through the door soon, and what he would think when he smelled the ribs slow roasting in the oven. I made on of my favorite dishes, my mom's ribs & sauerkraut, but a little differently. I rubbed the ribs with fresh chopped garlic, caraway and fresh ground black pepper, then slow roasted them in the oven for about 2 hours. In the meantime, I mixed onions, cabbage, sauerkraut, more caraway, brown sugar and beer in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven (love those things!! I got mine on a closeout sale - never buy full price!) and threw it in the oven to slow cook also.

Amelia actually helped me with throwing things into the pot and she had a blast. I took pics, to be posted later.

Now that the ribs are nice and crusty, I put them into the Dutch Oven and threw it back into the oven to cook for another hour or two. I'm loosely following a recipe I found over the weekend. I'm a big fan of caraway. The house smells incredible - buttery, meaty, like it's cold outside and there's a fire going. Never mind that people are still wearing shorts and tank tops here and it's humid and hot outside. I've got my AC going full blast.

I also roasted some chicken and made Arroz con Gandules for a side dish (just followed the recipe on the side of the can; however if I make it again I'm going to add more chicken stock and salt). It was easy and fabulous. What is really funny is that was for a potluck dinner I went to last night - where the host had also made the same rice dish!! And neither one of us had ever seen anyone else ever make it!! Great minds think alike.

I was able to buy the ribs on sale for a little over a $1 a pound at the commissary; so I cut them in half and slow roasted the other half with bbq spices. I accidentally left them in the oven for 6 hours - but the oven was at 200 degrees so it worked out perfectly. Literally falling off the bone and so tender they melt in my mouth. I think that will be the way I do it from now on. I've served Rafe some terrible ribs in the past. I know now that I just didn't cook them long enough or that I cooked them at too high of a heat. I just poured bbq sauce over them when they were done and chowed down. I did not miss that PB&J that Mia was having AT ALL!

Tomorrow I'm going to make ham and bean soup with some ham scraps I had in the freezer and can of beans that have been calling my name. Serve them with some crustry French Bread... maybe Amelia won't notice that there's ham in there if I chop it up finely enough.