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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Could It Be?

I have been beyond frustrated lately with my fitness routine. I used to do Kendo and as a result actually had to eat tons extra to keep weight on(I know, what a terrible dilemma!) Seriously though, all I did for exercise was Yoga daily, and Kendo 2-3 times a week and no matter what I did the weight kept falling off. At my lowest I was 102lbs and a size 2. Much smaller than I'd like to be. 110-115 seems to be a healthy weight for me, and a size 5 for clothing. I am 5' 3"(almost)

Well, once our grandson came to live with us and as our finances weren't doing the greatest, I had to quit Kendo. I miss it something terrible. For those not familiar with what Kendo is here is a sample:

This is the actual sparring, the end result of hours of practice and warm-ups. Here is just a small taste of a warm-up drill.

It is a very high energy workout! An excellent way to stay fit, a great way to relieve stress, and TONS of fun!

It has been about a year since I quit. The weight slowly started creeping on. At first I wasn't too upset as I needed to gain some. But as the year has gone on, I gained extra. Yikes!

I still practice Yoga daily, and for the past couple of months I have added in Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home videos. Here is a sample of one of those.

It is an okay workout and just interesting enough to not get too boring, but it's NOT Kendo! Not only is it not Kendo, but after Kendo a workout like this is hardly enough to get my heart rate up but alone have any weight loss benefits. Actually I have gained another four pounds since starting! I have lost an inch on my hips and half an inch on my waist, but I have a long ways to go and have not seen any progress in awhile!

I don't understand how I can workout two hours a day, five to six days a week(between yoga and these videos) and not be making any more progress. Frustrating to say the least!

Well, today on a new Leslie Sansone video I was doing, I think I found my answer. She was saying how if you're active or in shape, you need to change up your program as if you keep doing the same thing you will not reap any benefits.

I think to go from the high intensity of Kendo, to the moderate(if that) intensity of these videos, is clearly not enough. I need something far more intense.

I just ordered this from Amazon and am hoping it is more intense(sounds like it is!) and hopefully I will get some weight loss benefit.

Meanwhile I am open to recommendations if any of you have any!

I want to give you just one more sample of my beloved Kendo. Here is the beautiful form Bon Gook Kum Bop. I spent over two years trying to learn this one, and finally had it almost down before I left. Probably couldn't do it now if my life depended on it, but here it is:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I've Been Experimenting....

With new Yoga videos that is! I seem to have been stuck in a rut of doing the same old videos and routines over and over. After trying the Ali McGraw one I recently posted about, I got motivated to try some others.

Weeks ago I ordered Shiva Rea's Yoga Shakti and have been anxiously awaiting it as it has such great reviews over on Amazon, but alas, I am STILL waiting, quite impatiently at that!

I have never had an order from Amazon take quite so long, they have yet to even ship it. Now in fairness to Amazon they do state that it takes 1-3 weeks to ship, but still...okay, I admit, I am very impatient when it comes to such things. I will be sure to share my thoughts when it does arrive though.

Another that got great reviews was Yoga For Stress Relief. I am very glad I checked this one out from the library rather than buying sight unseen. I have mixed reviews of this one.

I will start by saying that I did like very much the idea that there are so many options to choose from. It is set up that you can choose from several routines. Each routine is designed for a number of problems/issues ranging from stomach troubles to back or neck aches. That is a really nice feature!

The talk by the Dali Lama and interview with the instructor were both interesting, but not enough alone to justify the pricey cost of the tape($24.99 OUCH!)

My few complaints, may actually be something that appeals to others, so I can't really say this is a negative review at all, just not my cup of tea!

I felt like the routines were dis-jointed. Just poses without any real flow or sequence. That just doesn't appeal to me at all. There seemed to be such long periods of time getting into each pose and in between poses. I am aware that Yoga is not a fast moving sport by any means(or even a "sport" for that matter!) but it was just too slow to me. I should admit I usually lean towards Power Yoga routines. So while this was a negative for me, it could be a plus for others.

The reviews said this was not a tape for beginners. I disagree. Like any routine, some stretches may be harder to achieve for a beginner, but that can be remedied by props or modifications. I personally felt with the long explanations, time to get into poses, etc..this would be well suited for a beginner.

I should admit, I only tried two of the routines, and had no desire to try anymore, so my review is based on just that. Maybe I missed the really great parts, although I did fast forward and skim alot, to try and get the jest of it.

Personally, I would recommend checking this out from the library before buying. You may find it is just perfect for you, obviously plenty of others on Amazon thought it was great! I am just thankful my library has a great inter-library loan program and I saved myself $24.99!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thou Shall Not Murder

Sorry, just can't think of any other word for it after reading and seeing this:

Just got this in an email from C28(NOTW T-shirts)

Did you know 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and that was horrible? Did you know 48 million babies have been killed by abortion and no one says much about it?

A picture began circulating in November. It should be "The Picture of the Year," or perhaps, "Picture of the Decade." It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the U.S. paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it.

The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure.

Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr. Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. Dr. Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope." The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life."

Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person" Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful. Now see the actual picture, and it is awesome...incredible....and hey, pass it on! The world needs to see this one!

They(C28) are offering the T-Shirt below in both men's and women's designs with a portion of the money going to pro-life organizations that will help support adoption or women choosing to have a baby. A fine t-shirt for a fine cause if you ask me!



Grocery Shopping....on Amazon??

Who hasn't shopped on Amazon for books or maybe even a DVD? I don't think there are many out there who haven't. They have great deals, and even better if you are a Prime Member as you get free shipping and other nice perks. But how many of you have grocery shopped on Amazon?? Anyone??

I don't do all of my weekly shopping on there, but I have found that they carry many items I buy regularly that are either hard to find in the local store, or they offer a much better price if bought in bulk.

Just a few examples; My favorite quick and easy lunch fix; Thai Noodle Cart

I have the most difficult time finding these in the store and when I do, they are three or more dollars! At Amazon, in bulk I can get them for less than two dollars each! As a prime member I get free shipping!

My favorite tea, Yogi Tea bought at the store is close to five dollars.

At Amazon, not only by buying in bulk but by signing up for their autoship program I save even more! It comes to less than three dollars a box! Free shipping too!

One more item we get automatically shipped to us is our Agave Nectar

This stuff is just plain expensive, but by buying in bulk and signing up for autoship with free shipping, it makes it much more affordable. If you haven't tried this stuff, you must! It makes GREAT pancake syrup and is much healthier than the yucky corn syrup stuff you buy in the store and much tastier than pure maple!

I am surprised at how many people aren't aware that you can buy so much more than just books at Amazon. I had one person who was actually convinced I was mistaken or confused when I told them I buy my Agave nectar through them!

So, if you're looking to save a buck or two and have items you buy often, you may want to check out Amazon and see if they carry your item and how much you might be able to save!

You may be surprised to learn you can buy toys, clothing and so much more as well! It is worth taking a look! I rarely buy anything anymore without checking to see if Amazon carries it first. As often as I buy from them, I have had very few if any mishaps with shipping or mixed up orders. I HIGHLY recommend them!

Happy Shopping!

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Would You Do With $20.00?

If someone gifted you with $20.00 what would you buy? A Starbucks treat maybe? A new lipstick? Let's face it $20.00 doesn't go far these days, and if we do get a "gift" of such a small amount we usually use it for a small splurge for ourselves right?

Well, today I got another letter from Betty, one of the children I sponsor through Compassion.

It was a sweet letter as usual, full of updates on little Betty's life, but mostly a thanks of a small cash Christmas Gift sent and details of what she did with it.

What did little Betty do with that small gift? Let's see, she bought a dress, pair of shoes, 1 loaf of bread, some rice and sugar. Oh, and she also gave an offering at church! If you recall, Betty is but five years old. She is turning six next month.

She again thanked me for the Birthday Gift of the same amount in which she used most of it to buy some pigs for the family to raise, which she updated are both doing fine!

She shared her memory verse for the week(John 1:12) as well as her favorite song(Jesus Carried Me on His Back) and most exciting shared that she "now knows that she is a child of God."

Letters like these sure make me re-think how I will spend my own money, and how what seems like so little to me, can be so much to someone else...Letters like these make me think alot about life in general...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Children, A Blessing or a Curse??

The past couple of days I have been seeing this great quote all over the Internet and on some of my favorite blogs:

“The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing. But our culture applies for curses and rejects blessings.” ~ Doug Phillips

Then today my 17 year old son found this one:

"I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby," Obama said

Punished? With a baby? Oh my! I really hope president Obama didn't mean it the way it sounds. I have searched the Internet and tried to find it within it's original context, and from best I can make out, he indeed did mean it that way.

Funny, these two quotes would end up in my lap the same time this same thing has been so heavy on my heart and mind. I really feel this is the way many people are feeling these days. More concerning is I don't think anybody really sees anything wrong with it.

So many parents I know, rarely see their children for more than an hour or two a day between schooling, after school activities, TV time, video game time, etc... I read somewhere recently that by the time you deduct all of the above activities and sleeping hours it is realistically closer to 20 minutes a day!

Yet, after spending a whopping 20 minutes a day with their children during the week, many parents are anxious on the weekends to send them off to yet more activities away from home.

I know it sounds harsh, but I wonder why some even bother having children? I am not talking about single working moms or dads here who have no other choices but spend time away while they make ends meet. I am talking about married couples who keep themselves and their children so busy that they avoid spending any family time together at all.

These are the same parents that groan when there is an extra school holiday or snow day as heaven forbid, they HAVE to have their precious darlings home with them all day.

These same families think I'm odd because I actually LIKE being with my kids! I homeschool so therefore am with them pretty much 24/7 and wouldn't have it any other way! Sure there are days I get stressed and our days are anything but pleasant, but overall I truly like my kids and like being around them. After spending our weekdays together when the weekend comes and we head off to activities we intentionally seek out activities we can do as a family. I was blessed with these children, why would I want to send them off all day and night? Yet I am considered the odd one for feeling this way.

It makes me think of an old Staples commercial. I even have to admit it is funny and kind of cute, but the reality is that this is how many parents feel, and I find it sad.

Also sad is the increasingly shrinking families. Although I guess if you're not going to spend time with them, why have them, so maybe it's for the best. I have four at home and by most peoples standards that's alot and we get alot of comments about it. I have friends that have five, six and nine children! I think it's great, yet when I share the great news with others the responses are anything but friendly or kind. "Why would they do that, better them than me,th must be expensive." Now, I don't fault or judge those who make such comments, it's just the way society is programmed to think today, but I do find it incredibly sad. As the quote I opened with said, these people will go apply for more debt(curses) and think nothing of it, yet they will gladly reject any further blessings(children).

These people would rather have a second or third car or hundred dollar sneakers or a bigger five bedroom house for their 1.5 children then to have to worry about the expense of another child. I don't know about that logic, my children are less expensive to maintain that that extra car I do without or a bigger house with a bigger mortgage. I guess it really has to do more with what we value than the true expense.

Herbert Hoover said: “Children are our most valuable natural resource." I believe this to be true, but it is becoming apparent that most of the world doesn't agree.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Simple Act of Kindness

Each day I become more and more convinced that foster parents are today's unsung hero's. Nobody writes songs about them, there aren't great memorials lifted to them, they rarely even make the news or papers. But to me they are hero's worthy or our recognition.

As I have shared in the past(quite often, I'm afraid!) my granddaughter is in a foster home while her future is being determined. I am thankful that someone is willing to take care of her during this time. To me that is enough, that she is in a loving home being well provided for during these uncertain times. That alone, makes this foster mom and many like her, my own personal hero.

This incredible lady didn't stop there though. She could have. She's done and is doing what is required of her. She takes excellent care of my granddaughter, shows up for visitation, and follows all the guidelines. No, she didn't stop there. She regularly has been driving my daughter to her appointments following visitation. She has been very kind to my daughter, while others in her shoes may judge her harshly as it was her own actions that caused her child to be removed. She has shown nothing but genuine kindness.

What she did yesterday blew me away though. It seems like such a simple little thing, but the impact was pretty huge!

She first gave my daughter some new pictures of my grandchild all dressed up and cute. Then she made a bouquet of Valentines flowers and addressed them to my daughter from my granddaughter! How sweet and thoughtful is that? Here this lady has taken on the task of the day to day care of a near newborn infant. She feeds, bathes, gets up for those mid-night feedings, all that goes along with an infant. Then she has the additional concerns of showing up for visits which I am sure affects her own schedule. All of this with probably not even a thank you. Sure she receives money for being a foster mom, but I can assure you it barely covers the expenses, if it even does.

This simple act of kindness made a huge impact on my daughter(which can be hard to do!) She was so humbled by it and thankful at the same time. Even my daughter realized what a special thing that was to do. Not only that, but it made her feel special and made her day. By the time I heard about it several hours later, my daughter was still on cloud nine over it!

I am so thankful for this woman who is taking such great care of my granddaughter, and showing such kindness to my daughter. I sure hope someone thinks to send this wonderful person a special bouquet today for Valentines Day, she surely deserves AT LEAST that!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adding To My Collection

The other day as I went to pull out one of my favorite yoga DVD's, it cracked right in half!! I was not happy!

Well, when I went to Amazon to replace it I was tickled to find out it was now only $7.99! At that price I figured I could get a second one as well. After hearing such great reviews I decided to give THIS ONE a try.

I have to admit, I watched it before actually trying it, and at first I wasn't impressed. I actually at that point planned on trading it on DVD Swap.

I had promised some friends I'd give my thoughts on it and I thought it only fair I actually DO the workout before I comment. Boy and I glad I did! I ended up enjoying it. The instructor has the most soothing voice, much like Rodney Yee, maybe even better! His verbal cues are even better than Baron Baptiste! He is like a combo of the best of the two of them(my two favorite instructors!)

Alot of people love the scenery, while beautiful, I could have taken it or left it as my focus in more inward than on the TV screen as I practice. I LOVED the music! I would love to find some similar for when I am practicing on my own. Rather than the more Asian inspired music that I am accustomed to and love, this is more Indian inspired and just beautiful and motivating.

The sequences individually all flowed rather nice, but as a whole it could have flowed a bit better, but it's rare to find a whole routine that flows smoothly.

I will definitely be using this one at least once a week along with my other favorites. I am looking forward to another I have heard great things about and Amazon only has great reviews of. I will come back and give my thoughts once I receive it and try it.
Edited to add: I just felt I should come back to share that many people ask for a good beginning Yoga video, and I think this one because of the instructors excellent verbal cues and guidance makes a wonderful beginning Yoga program. But, that said, it is still a deep good stretch with interesting enough sequences that I feel the intermediate and possibly even the more advanced practitioner would still find this a good workout.
This, in my opinion is one of the few good ones out there that meets the needs of both the beginner and more seasoned practitioner, a hard bill to fill, but well done with this video!

Hymns For A Kid's Heart

There is just something about the older, traditional hymns. I don't know what it is, but they hold the test of time. There are all sorts of nice, newer, contemporary songs that come out, and while I really like a lot of them, there is just something about those hymns!

They have the ability to help take me from an irritable, cranky mood to a much better state of mind rather quickly. I can find comfort in them when needed. It seems the right tune always comes to mind just when I need it most.

As a pastor I once met put it; there is just something about knowing you're singing the same songs that have been sung for generations and generations.

I want to be sure I pass on my love of the hymns to my children. My traditional church sings mostly hymns, so I take comfort in knowing they are learning and singing many of them every Sunday morning, but I know many churches aren't singing them at all any more. These songs have been with us as far back as the 1500's at least! These are the ones that have stood the test of time!

Now there is a wonderful new resource to help parents, and grandparents pass on these wonderful songs to the next generation!
Hymns For a Kid's Heart is a wonderful resource for all families whether homeschooling or not, but it adds alot of options for use within the homeschool!

There are several volumes and each includes a beautifully done, high quality CD recording of children singing the hymns. Each hymn has a story about the writer, a devotion, and Bible verses to meditate on, as well as the words and music for each song!

They have a website with lots of extras and tips and ideas on how to use this wonderful program!

It is wonderful to be used just as is, but we stretch it a bit further by using the hymn for our copywork assignments for the week/month that we are studying that hymn.

I HIGHLY recommend this resource, I myself am enjoying learning about the great writers of many of these hymns. I only have the volume I linked to, but plan on getting them all as finances allow!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Good Enough For Church?

Are any of us?? Hmmm....

There are a couple of angles to look at this question from. One is from the person seeking a church. I have heard many a person say they would go to church once they got their act together. I guess they thought the walls would cave in and crumble down if they went in the miserable sinner they are.

Some people are also so afraid that they'll be rejected by the church and people in it. This is what I find most sad, and even more sad is the fact that there may be good reason for them to feel this way!

Some churches just don't seem prepared, equipped or even willing to accept with open arms those who may be different than they. I find this most common in more traditional denominations. I couldn't figure out why this would be so. Alot of more contemporary churches and non-denominational's seem to not only welcome, but embrace those who are coming from the school of hard knocks. Some of these churches even actively seek out those lost and hurting.

So, what is the difference in these churches? I can't be sure, but I think I may have figured out at least a small part of it. Many in the more traditional churches are born and raised in the faith. It is just part of who they are, they know nothing different. Whereas it seems many in the more contemporary churches come to the faith later in life, often times after living a less than desirable lifestyle.

I don't think one group of these two types of believers is any better than the other, but I do think that those who have been saved from a life of gangs, addiction issues, promiscuity, etc, are that much more grateful for the grace bestowed upon them, as they've been saved from the pits of hell, perhaps literally. It's kind of like being born into money versus coming into it later in life. While there is nothing wrong with being born into money, I think those who come into it later appreciate it a bit more, as they know what it is like to be without, and really appreciate it when they get it. Those who come into money later in life, not always, but often will be more generous with it, as they know what is like to not have it and can be more sympathetic to those who don't have it and want to share what they've been blessed with. Those born into it aren't necessarily selfish, they just don't have any idea of what it is like not to have it and may not be able to relate as well to those who don't have it.

I don't know if that analogy makes much sense or not. It's just that I find often those who come into faith later after experiencing a difficult life, are usually the ones out there trying to share it with everyone else, as they are so excited, they don't want to keep the secret to themselves! Those born into it, have a sincere and true faith, but often it seems they lean towards keeping it to themselves. Sometimes at the cost of rejecting seekers.

A comment was made the other day in a discussion that this person didn't know how to handle someone wanting to be part of the church who is perhaps a prostitute, homosexual or addict. I was left wondering, how is this person to get to know God if they aren't welcome in His house? I pointed out that if these people knew me 20 something years ago, I am sure with that mind-set I wouldn't have been welcome in their churches doors. I could have been rightfully called one or more of the above things back then. Boy, am I glad the churches I was seeking at had a different attitude or I may have not continued seeking after such rejection!

There's an old saying that "a church is a hospital for sinners." We are all sinners, even the most upstanding church member sins, daily. If he or she says otherwise, than they are also guilty of the sin of lying! Some of our sins are visible on the outside, maybe the single young girl with a swollen pregnant belly, or the addict with track marks on her arm, other sins aren't' so visible, lust, greed, pride, but that makes them no less a sin in His eyes! A sin is a sin and just because yours isn't visible for us all to see, it makes you no better than the rest of us!

It makes me think of THIS video by Casting Crowns. It wont let me post it here, but please go check it out. It is a very good picture of just what I am talking about.

So friends, next time that scantly dressed girl comes through your churches doors or that fellow with tattoos all up and down his arms, instead of staring and pointing while whispering to your friends, smile, make room and invite him or her to sit with you and your family! Who knows, maybe that one simple act of kindness is enough to make that seeker come back!

Did Jesus dine with the priests of His day? No, he hung out with the tax collectors and prostitutes. He didn't come to save those who were already perfect(which NONE of us are this side of heaven!) He came for those of us who needed Him most, luckily He was just a little more welcoming and understanding than many of us who call ourselves His followers!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

There and Back Again

Well, after my previous post when I had all but made up my mind that we probably wouldn't be taking in my granddaughter we had a phone conference with CPS and other involved agencies and they strongly suggested we at least go through with the home-study and background checks so that if it is decided down the road that it would be best for her to come here everything is done and ready so it can happen quickly at that point. This is the same advice my wise sister-in-law gave me the night before the conference, so that is the plan for now.

This whole thing is like a roller coaster or yo-yo or something with all the back and forth in decision making not only on our end but with the whole legal process. It is a weighty decision as many lives are affected.

For the first time in my life I can honesty say I've turned it all over. Many people, myself included say they turn things over to God, yet they still try to control the situation themselves. Or they say they turn it over out of desperation, when there seems nothing else to do. This is different. I do have a certain amount of control over this if I want it, and I do know in my heart what I really want to happen, but I also know there is One who loves my granddaughter even more than I do, and He knows what is best. So, in faith and trust I truly turn it over. It's not all so easy as it sounds, as I am a bit of a control freak and to just completely let go, is very hard for me. It really is.

To some, it may seem that I am using my faith as a crutch or cop-out, or the easy way out of decision making. But as I've said, this is actually harder for me than to keep control of the situation myself. Although when I finally did let go, there was an unexplainable peace that I haven't ever quite experienced before.

I heard this song last night, now my new favorite, as it so well tells how I am feeling.

It's from the movie Fireproof. While the movie was GREAT, this video is quite boring, but it has all the lyrics for this awesome song!

Lyrics to While I'm Waiting :
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Thursday, February 5, 2009


What is a Bunkle you ask? It seems that my three sons are each a "Bunkle."

Today I told my grandson, "tell your brothers good morning." And they were quick to point out. "we're his UNCLES." While they live and love like brothers they are each so proud to hold the title 'Uncle" at such a young age, they really don't want that taken from them.

So, my clever nine year old came up with the term "Bunkle" this morning.

That's how they feel I guess, not just an uncle, but also a Bunkle it is...for now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Who Will Teach Them?

I see a growing trend that leaves me quite concerned. It is men who can't do the most simple of repairs or basic maintenance on their cars or homes. We're not talking rocket science here, just an oil change or installing some new brakes. I am blessed as my husband is a true Mr. Fix-it. He can fix anything, and I do mean anything! He can build things from scratch. In nearly 20 years of marriage the only thing I've ever HAD to call a professional out to do is pump the septic(I wouldn't be surprised if he had some genius way to do that too, but I'd rather not find out!) Now, I will be honest and say I have called professionals out to do things that he took too long to do to please me...

Just as alarming is the amount of young ladies who can't cook a simple meal from scratch! I couldn't help but chuckle on day when I was out shopping and I heard a mother tell her daughter as she was holding a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip and Dressing Mix; "We're going to make homemade dressing." She had such a proud tone to her voice. I will admit I LOVE that stuff myself and have been known to whip it up from time to time, but to call it homemade is a bit of a stretch!

These young ladies also lack other very basic homemaking skills. I happen to be one of them. While I consider myself a rather good cook and master baker, I couldn't sew anything if my life depended on it. I am clueless on how to get those fitted sheets to fold nicely, and many other domestic duties.

Why? There are a couple of reasons from what I can tell. First, until my generation schools offered Home-Ec for the ladies and classes like Auto Shop and Woodworking for the guys. Young men and ladies graduated high school with a basic idea on how to perform these seemingly simple tasks. They also had men in their lives, usually a father who showed them how to do simple home and car maintenance, and mothers who stood by their side as they learned to bake a cake(no, not from a Betty Crocker box!)

Young children helped mom and dad in basic household duties. They had chores that increased in responsibility as they aged and matured and proved themselves in the smaller tasks.

Today, most if not all schools no longer offer these classes, not even as electives. As much as I balked at taking Home-Ec and Family Economics in my small rural high school, I now appreciate it. By the way, I also took drafting and welding!

Not only are schools no longer offering these courses, but many homes don't have a father or strong male role model, and many more have mom who has to work all day, so there is no one home to teach these important skills. Mom is far too tired after working all day and pulls out the convenient boxed food(otherwise known as "fake food" in this household!) or stops by Jack in the Box or Micky Dee's, who can blame her? She's exhausted! I don't blame or judge her, but the fact is we have a generation or two of young men and ladies that don't know how to plan a simple meal or repair their own homes.

If you have the money I suppose it is no big deal to pick up the phone and order take-out or call a plumber or mechanic, but with today's economy, we all may find ourselves having to learn to be a bit more self-sufficient. Even if you do have money to spare, think of the money you'd get to keep simply by preparing food at home or changing your own brakes or oil? That's money you could donate to a worthy cause or help others. That is money you could save in the bank for a true emergency, or take a nice family vacation, or buy that wide screen without credit, imagine that!

Money aside, the feeling of being able to know you can depend on yourself is a big enough reason to learn to do these things. And by the way.....I see no reason at all a young man shouldn't learn how to cook a meal and do laundry without turning it all pink, or a lady to not learn to change her own tires or oil!

There's only one thing stopping them....Who will teach them? Many mothers and fathers these days can't perform these tasks themselves but alone pass them on.... Here is where our Grandma's and Grandpa's could really teach us a thing or two, if only we'd take the time to listen! We need more older mentors in our lives and in our childrens lives, and to be willing to learn from them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hard Choices

I originally wasn't going to post something so personal here, for all the world to see(or at least the few of you who actually visit here!) but first I thought it would be easy to have all of our thought processes here in one place for all of our friends and family to see rather than to repeat it dozens of times via phone conversations and such. This way there is time to digest the information before discussion. Also, I decided to share here as I hope it helps someone who may find themselves in a similar situation either a grandparent contemplating taking in their grandchild or the adult child unable to care for their child and asking grandma or grandpa to help out.

These things aren't always as easy to figure out as they first seem. And one answer isn't going to be the right one for every family or even each situation. For example when we were asked to take in our grandson, while we had to think it through and pray about it and weigh the pros and cons for everyone involved, it was a pretty easy decision. We took him in, and haven't regretted it one bit, even though there have been great sacrifices for all involved. For me it was giving up my new found freedom of having older kids and being able to come and go alot more freely, it was giving up a martial art I loved(and still do!) dearly, and the day to day care of taking on an infant, and still raising children and teens of my own! For my husband it was the additional financial burden, and also giving up a martial art that had become a big part of his life. For my oldest son, he literally gave up the possibility of training for the Olympics! We had tried the crazy traveling and training schedules with our infant grandson for the first few months and just couldn't keep up! For our younger children the sacrifices may not seem as great, though in their minds, I am sure they are! Things such as giving up so many extra-curricular activities, sharing an already cramped bedroom, sharing toys, moms affection and so on.

Do we miss those things? Sure we do! I long to hold a sword more often than I ever admit to! My son occasionally will ask "what if..?" in regards to the Olympic dream he once held. Do we ever regret our decision to take in our grandson? NEVER! The blessings he has brought to our lives FAR outweigh any sacrifice we ever made for him. People tell us he is lucky we took him in, maybe, but WE are far luckier as the hugs and kisses and love he gives us make us the lucky ones! I can't imagine my life without him now! I wouldn't trade him for a million bucks!

So, now here we are just two months shy of two years of having our grandson and we find ourselves having to make a similar decision with our granddaughter. At first it seemed a no-brainer! Of course we'd take her, who am I to turn down another blessing!

But then reality starts to set in as this process is being so slow to get her here. On the practical side; how will we manage weekly trips to Arizona every week for court ordered visitation? Finances aside(which those are a pretty big concern!) what about packing the baby up, plus the four boys that are already here, each and every week to drive a 16 hour or so round trip? At first I thought it would be no biggie, but after making that trip just once, without kids for court, I can't imagine doing this weekly! It took me near a full week to recover! So, just as we are recovering, it will be time to pack it up and do it again! What about our schooling during this time of traveling and tiredness? I have one who is graduating this year, and due to all the travel we've done this past couple of years with related issues we are already behind and this child may not graduate on time, what will this do?

If we knew for a fact we were talking just a few short months until either the baby is returned to our daughter or we are able to adopt, that would be one thing, but after talking with several others who have been down this road before, it could be years!! I can't imagine what this would do to our schooling, work, family life for years, not to mention the emotional wear and tear you already go through just being in this situation.

Then on the emotional and parenting side, there is even more to consider. My daughter just the other day accused me again of taking her son from her. I was accused of lying on court documents in order to get him. This just isn't true, if anything, knowing she'd be reading those documents, I was far kinder than I could have been! In this same conversation she is asking me to take her daughter. I told her then, I had serious concerns and misgivings about taking the baby. I don't want to be sitting here in two years having this same conversation again on how I not only "stole" her son, but now her daughter as well.

It seems clear that my daughter just hasn't taken responsibility for any of this yet. In her sons case, I basically stole him from her, then lied to keep him. In her daughters case, again it isn't her fault, it was her mental health programs fault for not helping her with her meds. I fear if I take this baby she will have me to blame and wont take any responsibility for losing either child, and will just repeat this pattern with more and more children! I feel that maybe if she doesn't have me not only to blame, but to not use as a crutch any longer, maybe, just maybe she will own up to the situations she has put not only herself in, but her children and those who care about her! If I am not here to "rescue" her, maybe she will think twice before having another child.

This decision may be removed from our hands altogether as they still have yet to begin our home study and meanwhile the alleged father is stepping forward and agreeing to the paternity test. If that's the case not only is the decision removed from us, it is a situation we are comfortable with. If the test doesn't come out as it is expected to be then, well we are back to the drawing board!

While I would love nothing more than to have a little girl in the house, if I take a piece of paper and write out all of the pros and all of the cons, I have to be honest and say the con side for ALL involved is much larger! While no decisions have been made just yet, if I were forced to make one today, I would have to be honest and say that I think my answer would be no. Is it easy to say that? NO!! Far from it!
This seems to be a situation where there are no "right" answers, just perhaps "better" ones. It's not as simple as do I mind having another baby, if it was then I wouldn't be having such a struggle, there is just so much more to consider for all involved.

I really wish that everyone that becomes a parent just instantly became what they need to be to parent, as situations like the one I find myself in isn't only so not fair, but heart wrenching as well! It leaves so many with lives that will forever be affected. It seems to be harder to adopt a pet from the Humane Society than to birth a child, somethings just not right! Not that I am for any sort of governing of any sort when it comes to family planning, but still.....there has to be some sort of remedy for this, as I am far from the only person going through this!