Monday, September 10, 2012

In All Different Directions!

As usual, our family is going 90 mph in all different directions these days.  Here's what we've been up to for the last 3 weeks...


Alyssa has added more days to her work schedule at Milk + Honey. She's really enjoying her weekly Apprentice program - learning a lot and making a good impression.  This week, she has models coming in to get various styles, so she can be "checked off." When she completes all of this - probably in 3-4 months -  she anticipates being "given a chair" at the salon. Very exciting!!
We all had a lot of fun fishing and sailing at the end of last month at Lake Texoma - see more at A Long Line of Lake Lovers. And, then, a couple of weeks later, Alyssa had a wonderful trip to the beach with Josh's family. She LOVES the beach, so 4 days at a lovely condo in Corpus Christi was perfect! They caught quite a few fish, saw a few dolphins and maybe even a shark. It sounds like September, when the crowds have died down, is THE time to do a beach trip!
Alyssa's "Wedding Update" is that she found The Dress. Next stop...Invitations.
On a side note... Alyssa's fiancĂ©, Josh, turned 21 since I last reported in.  After our fishing trip, we decided to get him a bow fishing kit.  With all the carp at the dock, I think he'll love using it there. He's already being practicing and is becoming quite good with the bow! He loves "outdoor stuff" so I'm glad we found something for him on his "Big Day."


Katie finished her summer work at Cinemark. Luckily, she's been accumulating free passes (one of the perks of working there!) so I anticipate more movie watching for all of us!
We've been busy shopping for "L.A. Clothes" - since most of her NYC wardrobe is for much colder weather than she'll see in southern California. She is not sad to leave that New York weather!
She's been having a lot of fun with Zumba classes at the local 24 Hour Fitness.
We're working together on a cookbook, so she'll be able to make various dishes that she grew up enjoying.  She probably won't be home for Thanksgiving this year, so she wants to learn how to make all of our family specialties! :::sniff, sniff:::
Katie's been a huge help to me with getting Grandma to her multitude of dental appointments lately. (See below)
And... I just realized that the next time I "report in," I will probably be back from taking her to California. I'm going to miss her!!


Michael has been busy trekking across Nicaragua. He teaches in the eastern side of the country, but is often called back to Corazo area for Peace Corps training classes and workshops. It doesn't hurt that his girlfriend lives in La Paz and her family kindly allows him to stay there with them.  Considering his pay is about $100/month, and his food options are pretty bad where he lives, I'm happy that he has a family who feeds him whenever he's there!
Michael has had very little communication lately because his computer crashed. This is not an easy fix in a 3rd World country. Kathya thinks she knows someone that can fix it, but we'll see. In the meantime, she loaned him a computer from her family to take back to his house in Muelle de Los Bueyes (south central Nicaragua). Only problem was, he confused the 2 power cords and took the wrong one back. Considering mail is completely unreliable, he has to wait a couple of weeks to get back over there to get the right cord. All of these computer issues are troubling him because he and Kathya are trying to work on her Visa to come back to the USA with him for Alyssa's wedding next April.  Only about 10% of Nicaraguans who apply for visas are granted one, so we're a little worried. Cross your fingers!
On Wednesday, Michael experienced a 7.6 earthquake which occurred off the coast of Costa Rica but shook Nicaragua as well. He felt the tremor and said it lasted longer than any he remembered in Alaska or California. All day long, Nicaraguans anticipated a tsunami from the quake, but by the end of the day, the warning was lifted without any tsunami. He called to tell me about it, before I could hear about it from the computer or the news.  I'm glad because I would have been worried sick if I couldn't find out about him.

I found a different video and shared it at my earlier blogpost, "Mom! It's an Earthquake!" 
But here's CNN's report on this earthquake, with experts, maps and explanations:


After a couple of months of exercise (including weekly with Michelle, the trainer) and wishy washy dieting, I stuck with the Fuhrman Diet. And lost 7 lbs. in 2 weeks! For some reason, I fell off the wagon and ate all kinds of unhealthy stuff. So now I'm back on board. The diet is primarily plant-based. Crazy, seemingly excessive, amounts of leafy greens as well as 1 lb. of cooked veggies and 1 lb. of raw veggies, at least 4 fruit, and 1 cup of beans. That's the minimum! Really makes for a messy kitchen though. Oh well.
I offered to help my longtime friend, Linda Dobson, with her publication Parent at the Helm. The books she wrote really helped me tremendously when we first started homeschooling, so I am happy to help her out with PATH. I've written a few pieces and now I'm learning Wordpress, behind the scenes. I really like it so much better than Blogger, but I'm not sure about moving everything to a different blog. We'll see. If I can figure out the Wordpress "themes" down the road, I might do it.
And speaking of road... I'm looking forward to Katie and my road trip to California at the end of the month! Driving there, flying back.


Ron is still ordering parts and working on the motorcycle. Luckily, we have Grandma's Toyota Camry for him to drive to work.  He's had a couple of really great sailing weekends. He's doing different things with the sails, so he can control the speed and the ways the sails catch the wind. And, he bought the decal for the boat name change... O Susie Q.  We'll take a picture the next time we go up there (or he might go up while we're gone to California.)
I've never had a boat named after me! Kinda cool!


I was sitting at my dining room table when my mom came up to me.
"Look at this," she said casually and placed a whitish almost plastic looking thing in my hand.
"What is it?" I asked.
"My tooth!"
Why this grossed me out, I have no idea. My kids have put far worse into my hands in years past. But this really bothered me.  Oh well.  I got over it.  Grandma's "chipped" tooth turned into 6 visits to the dentist and oral surgeon!  She needed a root canal, a crown lengthening, a post being added, a temporary tooth, and still a permanent one to go in there! Wow!
She's really enjoying all the activities that her apartment complex sets up. So, in spite of her forgetfulness and real need for a lot of help, I'd like her to stay there as long as possible. We're talking about how the next step is to move in with us - and she isn't resisting that. But, just like with the car, why resist until it actually comes to pass? Then, we'll see how she is with resistance. Hopefully, that's a little ways off.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gays, Rights, and the Bible

I am saddened that many people feel that homosexuality is a sin. But people have the right to believe whatever they want.  What they don't have the right to do, however, is create a law that imposes their religious beliefs legally on another American citizen. As Ron's dad's used to say, "Believe whatever you want, just don't put it on me."  

When it comes to legal rights, we have to get out of the pre-Civil Rights days, and get up to speed here.

So consider me just another voice urging for us to be fair.

I've collected a few media-related ways to convey some of these thoughts. I'll probably add a few more as time goes on. It's my hope that everyone will consider some of these points, although I know that's unlikely. Still, just like I've always taught my kids, you have to stand up for what's right - regardless of what the fallout might be.

First is this video from starting with:
"You're against gay marriage because of your religion? No you're not."

Often, I've heard the argument - within my own family even - that marriage is a biblical covenant. But that's not really true. Marriage is a legal state, that we simply cannot ascribe to some Americans and not others.  Because if you want to think of it as more of a biblical state, and if you didn't watch the video, here are a few problems with this argument:

But this poster above only pertains to the Old Testament. And those who oppose Gay Marriage often cite Paul's letters in the New Testament as to why homosexuality is a sin.

So I went and did some digging around. I found a really well documented piece, What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality,  from the Westar Institute, a non-profit research and educational institute dedicated to the advancement of religious literacy. This piece addresses some of the issues that have arisen because of translations as well as context. I'd really recommend reading the entire article, but one of their conclusions is this:
Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and we simply have no way of determining what his attitude toward it might have been. Moreover, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Book of Acts, in Hebrews, in Revelation, or in the letters attributed to James, Peter, John, and Jude. Further, homosexuality is not mentioned in ten of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul. It is only in Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:8–11 that there may be references to homosexuality.2 The paucity of references to homosexuality in the New Testament suggests that it was not a matter of major concern either for Jesus or for the early Christian movement.
While I typically do not quote so much from anyone else's work, I would like this information to be available here. The Westar Institute goes on to conclude that the New Testament is only referring to certain types of homosexuality:
  •  If homosexuality is exploitive, then it is wrong
  • If homosexuality is rooted in idolatry, then it is wrong 
  • If homosexuality represents a denial of one’s own true nature, then it is wrong
  • If homosexuality is an expression of insatiable lust, then it is wrong
But we could say exactly the same thing about heterosexuality, couldn’t we? 
        If homosexuality is not necessarily any of these things, however, then it would appear that the New Testament has nothing to say about it in any direct sense. Speaking specifically of the Pauline letters but in words that are applicable to the New Testament as a whole, the Pauline scholar Victor Paul Furnish puts it as follows: 
"[Paul’s] letters . . . cannot yield any specific answers to the questions being faced in the modern church. Shall practicing homosexuals be admitted to church membership? Shall they be accorded responsibilities within a congregation? Shall they be commissioned to the church’s ministry? The Apostle never asks or answers these questions. . . . On these points there are no proof texts available one way or the other. It is mistaken to invoke Paul’s name in support of any specific position on these matters "
In short, there is nothing in the New Testament that tells us directly whether homosexuality per se is a good thing or a bad thing or simply a fact of life.  
        To be sure, when we consider its overall message, the New Testament may provide some indirect guidance regarding homosexuality. Indeed, it may well be the case that a twenty-first century “Paul” would revise Galatians 3:27–28 to read as follows:
" For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, there is neither homosexual nor heterosexual; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. "

Back to me again... thanks for reading.

And some of my similar blogposts:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Me and the Mormons

This morning, I got up to walk Lake Pflugerville. My trainer wants me to do a 5K next month with her, so I have to keep pushing! As I pulled up, I noticed that the parking lots were full of cars. Last week, when I went, it was full of dove season hunters. So I turned to the dogs to see if they knew what was going on. Nope.  Just dog drool on the windows - no response.

The wind was really strong and temps were lovely - about 72! We got out of the car, untangled our leashes and started on the trail.

Going over the first hill, I could see tons of yellow vests.  Little kids, teens, adults, all over the place. Some were in the water with rakes, others were pulling up boards from the worn out docks. Teens were painting the wooden trash containers.  I couldn't really tell who all those people were. It reminded me of our years in Wichita Falls. For several years, we participated in Teens Make A Difference Day - sometimes with Girl Scout troops, sometimes with our 4H group. With 4H, we often got the heavy duty jobs, clearing brush or some other such thing. As Girl Scouts, we were often given painting jobs or landscaping work.  It was fun, and like this, there were hundreds of groups of teens all over the city in matching shirts. Each year, a different color.

But unlike our Teens Make A Difference Days, these weren't just teens. It seemed like families with all ages. Little kids were running up and down the trails, moms pushing strollers, dads in the water hacking at all of the overgrown marsh.  Kids of all ages were picking up trash. And EVERYONE wore these yellow vests.

Finally, I got up close enough to see.


My only experience with Mormons was when we lived in Alaska. It seemed there were lots of Mormons stationed at Elmendorf AFB.  The Mormon women down the street invited me to participate in their monthly craft extravaganza at their church and even taught me to quilt.  They were all about doing things together, very family oriented, so that was nice. I did get roped into a couple of Amway nights with them - that was uncomfortable. But I survived.

We even toured a huge Mormon Church in Anchorage, before it was "consecrated," or whatever they call it. It was a really interesting tour, hearing about how they baptize their deceased family members, seeing the room where their weddings take place, looking at their artwork and listening to their history. And more gold and ornate fixtures than I've ever seen! A Mormon woman who lived down the street from us joined us on the tour. She able to share even more information. It was all fascinating, really.

But...back to my Mormon Invasion at Lake Pflugerville.
I'm not exaggerating when I say there were hundreds of Mormons participating in this clean up of our 3 mile lake. I'll have to look in the paper to see if anyone covers it. It was impressive.

And it was really wonderful seeing that community service is alive and well.  I like seeing a church group shouldering the workload, instead of showing us their position by eating at Chick-Fil-A.   The workers were all friendly and eager to pet the dogs.  I thanked a few of them for coming out to work on the lake, as they drug their shovels and started heading back to their cars. They seemed a little taken aback that I did. Not sure what that was about...

The dogs and I ended our little walk with Gracie swimming at The Beach, and Buddy running along the edge. I sat there on the rock, while they frolicked and the yellow vests dotted the shoreline.  I'd been worried about all the overgrowth that you could see in the water and along the edge. But now, thanks to the Mormons, Lake Pflugerville was going to be in great shape!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Mom! It's an Earthquake!"

Michael called at 9 a.m. to ask if I had been watching the news. I hadn't. I had barely poured my cup of coffee! He went on to tell me that he'd just felt an earthquake in Nicaragua and wanted to know what I could find out about it.  He said that reports were that it was 7.9 but some were coming in as only 7.6. He didn't have much more information than that. The strange thing, to him, was how long it lasted. How it just rolled and rolled. He said it was very odd to feel the earth move underfoot like that.  My friend Pam had just been telling me about a recent earthquake in southern California that actually made her nauseous. This was a new feeling for her too, and she's certainly felt her share of quakes. Michael said that no one near him, had been hurt. He was staying at Kathya's family's house in Carazo, on the Pacific side of Nicaragua. They were all acting fairly calm, but curious as to what information Michael could find out from me. I immediately began to comb the internet.

The earthquake was actually off the northern coast of Costa Rica, 87 miles west of their capital, San Jose. It was centered more than 282 miles deep. But you can see the close proximity between Carazo and Costa Rica! No wonder they felt it!

Tsunami warnings (meaning they are imminent) were in effect for the day. Michael was on higher ground - should I be reassured that he was on a side of a volcano?  Anyway, the tsunami warnings were eventually dropped with no occurrence striking any of the Central American coastline.

That night, my friend Lisa called to see if I had heard from Michael. She reminded me of the the earthquake that hit Nicaragua in the 1990's - 116 people killed, 68 missing, and 1350 homeless. I had forgotten! Luckily, this one wasn't nearly as devastating.

September 2, 1992 Masachapa Nicaragua earthquake
Considering the region is full of active and sleeping volcanoes, we'll see if this earthquake does anything to stir them up!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Morning Poetry

My Haiku 

September morning 
Taking the dogs to the lake
Hope it's not too hot.

A Lune (3-5-3)

Dove season
Truck filled parking lots
Shots fired

But, naturally, I cannot say it all in a 17 syllable Haiku or its shortened Lune version. 
So... here's the rest of it.      

Morning Bustle at the Lake

Dogs excited for "A Walk!"
Gravel crunching beneath my feet
The sun glistens brightly on the water.

A hot air balloon glides by overhead
Swimmers lap across the lake
Fisherman chat between their boats

Women with strollers
Men with headphones
All jogging for health.

Unleashed dogs splash happily at the shoreline
A lone heron perches on the rock.

Birds flutter in the marsh
Dove hunters fire in the distance.

The humidity rises with the sun
Low clouds roll across the sky

Waves lap against the rocks
And around the final bend,
A gentle breeze, at last.

Ron's camera phone doesn't really do any of these justice. It was quite pretty out this morning.