Monday, November 26, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - Vol. 3

Saturday: French dip, fries

Sunday: The anniversary of my First Communion/Confirmation -  I made my favorite dinner (both to cook and to eat) to celebrate - braised beef shanks and baguette

Monday: Pork chops, spinach, couscous, bread

Tuesday: Crock Pot beef tacos (Recipe from Pinterest)

Wednesday: Italian Chicken bake (recipe from Pinterest -- big success when I tried it a few weeks ago)

Thursday: Crock Pot chicken teriyaki, brown rice

Friday: TBD (I was feeling uninspired and forgot to plan when I left for the store in a baby-is-napping Saturday morning frenzy. I'll probably throw some chicken and stuff together and call it a night.)

This week is generally going to be a busy one, with holiday stuff and family stuff and Charles' school stuff, so everything is easy, prep-ahead stuff that will come together without a lot of fuss, but still be tasty.

Friday, November 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 2)

--- 1 ---
I seriously spent all morning procrastinating on this, because I was too lazy to grab the post template from Jennifer's blog and too OCD to just post a list. Obviously the template won.

--- 2 ---
I am sooo proud of C. He works so hard to live his dream, and do God's will for his professional (and family-providing-for) life. He's studies hard. Constantly. But when I saw he had his study stuff with him to drive to Turkey Day festivities, I have to admit that I put on my best whine. "You're stuuuuuuudying? On Thanksgiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiving?" I won, but admit that I feel a little bit guilty, because our drive didn't involve profound conversation or anything. It was nice to have actual company while driving, though, because the sleeping/screaming infant I usually drive with isn't big on conversation.

--- 3 ---
I am excited that the Christmas music season is upon us. I'm certainly not a stickler for the whole
let-Advent-be-Advent thing, though I do love me some Advent. But I love Christmas music. Good holy Christmas music and terrible cheezy Christmas music alike. Like singing (very badly) to "O Holy Night" one minute and "Last Christmas (I Gave You My Heart)" the next.

--- 4 ---

I finally got my first Red Cup last week. Happy girl to enjoy Christmas in a Cup. Did I mention how ridiculously happy Christmas makes me?!? Thanks, Andria! :) Before such information could be regularly found online, I used to totally offer Brownie Points to the first person to alert me to Christmas at Starbucks. Yes, I have issues.

--- 5 ---
Twisted new family tradition: driving by the Best By around the corner from our place to see how long the line is on Thanksgiving night. Definitely one of those judgey people who doesn't get what is so exciting at Best Buy/Walmart/Wherever that it is worth waiting in camping chairs with massive Thirst Busters instead of enjoying Thanksgiving night. Even if that means putting the baby to bed and watching random TV. Not that C and I did that when we got home last night or anything.

--- 6 ---
Little and I both have stuffy noses this morning afternoon. Blegh. Even if it is 80 degrees outside, I think it qualifies for a stay home and drink tea kind of day.

--- 7 ---
 Daddy Daughter (Bath) Time!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

What I Wore to Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving! Black Friday! Day After Thanksgiving! Why yes, I am undrafting while nursing in the middle of the night. Thank Little.

Today, I'm combining my obnoxious Baby Turkey post with Camp Patton's What I wore to Thanksgiving Dinner link-up.

What I wore for my first Thanksgiving (in 1981):

2 months

When I made Little relive the experience of being a Turkey:

Yesterday - doesn't seem traumatized

When I was a Pilgrim:

1st Grade - my Gramps' shoulder in the corner

(I don't plan to make Little relive that one. Unless I find the Pilgrim costume. Then all bets are off.)

What we wore when we left the house today:

Getting a decent pic is harder than it looks

On me:
  Jeans - via Ross
  Tank - Target
  Cardi - Gap outlet
  Boots - via Famous Footwear

On Little:
  Onesie - Gymboree (It has her name-ish "Little Pumpkin")
  Jeans - Old Navy

I admit, I voyaged across town with an extra cardi for me, a shirt for C, and 3 onesies and a pair of pants for Little. Amazingly, we actually wore this to eat, but quickly tore through the clothes during a shockingly robust game of LCR. Our day was actually more fun than that description makes it sound.

Check out Grace and other cuter looks over at Camp Patton, probably with 100% less Pilgrim. Probably Definately a good thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Counting my Blessings

My littlest, loudest blessing

Several years ago, I was going through a rough patch. On Thanksgiving morning, I sat down with my trusty journal, determined to make a list of 50 things that I was thankful for. I knew that I was blessed beyond belief, but was having a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. So, I decided to count the trees. I got past 50 things, maybe even to 100. I admit that some of them were silly. Some were repetitive. But they are all ways -- big and small -- that I have been blessed.

That journal is packed away somewhere, so I won't bore you with it, but I do want to give a shout out to my annual attempt at daily thankfulness via Facebook. Usually, I fail miserably by getting behind on, like November 4, but this year, with the help of some epic catch-up work, I think I've managed to do it, and I wanted to compile it as a list.

Drumroll . . . with blog-happy redactions and edited for consistency . . .

Today, I am thankful . . .

Day 1: for my beautiful, healthy baby girl.

Day 2: that she is sleeping better at night, so I can be a better, more rested Mama!

Day 3: for my wonderful, sweet, hard-working, playful and all-around amazing husband. He is also an amazing father, and I am beyond blessed to have him in my life!

Day 4: I give abundant thanks to God. "For 'In him we live and move and have our being,'" (Acts 17:28) -- without Him, I would have nothing and be nothing. Thus, to Him goes all the glory.

Day 5: for shelter. I have always had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet. I have a place to snuggle under a blanket when it's cold and find relief from the heat.

Day 6: to be an American. I was blessed to be born in a country where we have the right to vote in real elections, where there has always been peaceful transition of power, and where we do not have to fear voicing our political opinions. Go vote.

Day 7: for my family and friends. They have been my rocks through tough times and have rejoiced with me through the best of times. I love them all and would not be who I am without them.

Day 8: for food security. I have never gone hungry or wondered where my next meal would come from. When I am "starving," I know that, really, I'm nowhere near it.

Day 9: for beautiful fall weather. It has taken awhile to get here, but I'm thrilled that it has finally arrived! :)

Day 10: for education. I am blessed to have had the experiences I have had, encountered the people I have met along the way, and have come out of it with so much knowledge and more importantly, critical thinking skills. I hope a love of learning is something I pass on to Miss Clare.

Day 11: for the men and women who have fought (and died) so that I might enjoy the blessings of liberty.

Day 12: for modern medicine. In particular, I'm thankful for the vaccines that will keep my baby girl from getting terrible diseases in this life. A night of fussiness is worth it to keep them far, far away.

Day 13: I am thankful for God's beautiful gift of marriage -- Happy Anniversary to my sister, and now-brother! We scored a couple of great guys!!

Day 14: for having a washing machine at home. I can't imagine living with my Spit-Up Princess without it.

Day 15: for living where I don't have to worry about the day-to-day safety of my family.

Day 16: for great conversations with my loved ones.

Day 17: for my ability to find silver linings. It helps keep things in perspective.

Day 18: for the gift of Faith. Praise God!

Day 19:  for having *too* many ways to spend the holidays. I am truly blessed.

Day 20: for laughter. It is the best medicine. Especially baby laughter.

Day 21: for community: family, friends, real, virtual, old, new, surprise, patchwork. They are the ones who lift you up and wrap you in warmth and joy.            

Day 22: for days spent tickling, dancing and playing with my Little girl

Thanksgiving went easy on me this year by falling on the 22nd -- so early in the month!  (Sadly, I first typed "falls on a Thursday" which is self-evident, being that we're talking about Thanksgiving. Sadly, I actually informed several 9th graders last year that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. See: Day 10.) The truth is that I am blessed beyond belief. I can stand here counting for days, as I marvel at the world in which I live and the blessings I have been given.

Mostly, though, I am thankful for the people in my life, and I am thankful for a life free of needs.  At the end of the day, those are the things that truly matter. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 1 a la Groundhog Day

You know the movie Groundgog Day where Bill Murray relives Feb. 2 1 million times before he ends up in lurrrrrrve with Andi McDowell? What? Your husband doesn't watch it every.single.time it comes on TV?

Anyway, I've come to realize that we do that every 4 weeks before C starts a new rotation. We relive the same two days. Things might be slightly different, but really, it's the same.

It's the first day of school. At a new school. In the middle of the year.

On Sunday, there's the haircut (er buzz),  the ironing, the picking out the perfect outfit, the getting lunch and coffee ready for the morning, the laying his stuff to pack, the cleaning out his backpack, the early bedtime. Then there's the worries: fitting in with a new, established routine; learning a new set of procedures; figuring out what's expected; figuring out a new schedule; getting to know everyone; wondering what his teacher preceptor will be like; and will he like him/her? Of course there's always the social dilemma of all new situations: where will I eat lunch?

Then, Monday, he's up and out bright and early. Everything works out just fine. And he comes home to his mom wife asking one million questions.

Inevitably, the four weeks fly by, and we go through it all over again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meal Plan Monday (Vol. 2)

This was the original plan:

Saturday: ummm . . . need to figure this out

Sunday: Crock Pot pot roast, bread

Monday: C's First Day of his Family Practice Rotation - Lemon chicken, couscous, green beans (making his favorite for the first day -- sort of like the first day of school!)

Tuesday: Honey garlic pork chops, sweet potatoes, peas

Wednesday: Baked Ziti


Friday: Soup (even if I'm not making the turkey, I have to have the soup!), wheat bread
This is where we are already:

We spent Saturday with my in-laws and I was wiped when we got home. Then, due to a series of unfortunate, spit-up events, C ended up going to the store on Sunday while I picked up my dad at the airport. My plan got all topsy turvy!

Saturday: ummm . . . need to figure this out Baja Fresh

Sunday: Crock Pot pot roast, bread Lemon chicken, couscous, green beans (make his favorite to get ready to start the rotation!)

Monday: C's First Day of his Family Practice Rotation - Lemon chicken, couscous, green beans (making his favorite for the first day -- sort of like the first day of school!) Crock Pot pot roast, bread No, last minute trip to the doctor to get medicine for Little's wicked sad diaper rash honey garlic pork chops, sweet potatoes, rice (because I remembered how yummy the sauce is over rice)

Tuesday: Honey garlic pork chops, sweet potatoes, peas  Crock Pot pot roast, bread (the roast is defrosted and in the fridge now, so I have to get it eaten tomorrow!)

Wednesday: Baked Ziti


Friday: Soup (even if I'm not making the turkey, I have to have the soup!), wheat bread

We'll see how the rest of the week goes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sometimes it's hard being the Mommy

Like I mentioned yesterday, Little had her 4-month doctor's appointment the other day. She's doing well overall and got her 4-month round of shots. She doesn't have disastrous reactions to vaccines (and I'm definitely pro-vaccine), but she does get sleepy and cranky. The last couple of days made me think about the times that being the Mommy is hard.

Like when I let the nurse jab her with two needles back-to-back.

Like when those needle jabs leave red welts on the leg.

Like when she's exhausted from making her immune system kick into high gear.

Like when I burp her when all she wants to do is anything else.

Like when I have to get her to take a nap.

Like all the million times in the future that I'm going to have to be the bad guy for her own good.

She's feeling better today, and even when she's not at her best, she always greets me with a smile. It's hard to be the person that makes her not smile (even when she doesn't realize yet that it's "my fault").

Love, Not So Happy Today Mama

Love this kid

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Laundry and I have always had a sort of uneasy relationship.

Growing up, laundry day meant everything in the house getting dumped into a big pile in the living room that eventually turned into a big pile of ironing that would slowly work its way back into our closets.

When I went to college, I did everything I could to avoid doing laundry in the dorms or apartment laundry rooms. That meant huge piles to do at home, and small loads of underwear and jeans to wash when things got really desperate. 

For 7 or 8 years now, I had a washing machine at my home or apartment, but I still did things in big batches at, more or less, the end of the clean clothes.

Having Little has finally gotten me into a more manageable laundry habit. First, thanks to her prodigious and proficient spit-up techniques, I am change clothes a lot frequently constantly. That means I need to keep up with the laundry more effectively, because it multiplies more quickly. I actually do my own laundry about once a week. Jeans more often. Little's laundry basket fills quickly, even with tiny baby clothes, so I run it every few days. It certainly keeps the burp clothes stocked.

This morning, though, the washing machine and I had a moment.

My poor little Little is feeling poorly because of her 4-month shots yesterday. Nothing she won't bounce back from by this afternoon or tomorrow morning. It did, however, mean spitting up all over a blanket on the floor sometime early this morning -- it was promptly tossed on the washing machine for today. By the time she was ready for breakfast this morning, there was a soaked-through diaper. Jammies, sheet and mattress pad were promptly stripped and thrown in the laundry with the blanket. I said a prayer of gratitude for the ease of doing it right here at home, for the blessing of plenty -- that the worst thing I have to deal with most days is a soiled sheet.

I'll never be a great lover of laundry, but I do have a new appreciation for the gift of a washing machine. It's one who's harvest I expect I'm just beginning to reap.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meal Plan Monday (Vol. 1)

In actuality, I usually do my weekly meal planning on Saturday. I try to get to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon. That way, I’m treating Sunday more like the day of rest it should be. Plus, while still busy, the store is less crowded with people doing the same thing as I am: stuffing their carts full of stuff to get through the week.  Regardless, I go to the store while C (or someone else) is watching Little. First, she hates it – I once banned her from the grocery store until she was 16, though it has been lifted for quick trips. Second, she isn’t sitting up in the cart yet, so the carrier makes a big shop that much trickier.

I only plan a week at a time, Saturday to Friday – it works better for us. I only plan dinners. Breakfast is pretty much cereal, oatmeal, and bagels.  Lunch is leftovers and sandwiches. Not much to plan. I also always shop the same grocery store – it is super-close and has good prices and reasonably good produce. I prefer non- or less-processed foods, but am by no means perfect. There are certainly some convenience foods I use frequently. I have made a list template, so I can move straight down the list as I shop the store.

Some things I consider as I plan: What do we have going on this week? What meals will facilitate an easier week?( Keeping real plans in mind helps us avoid unplanned meals out.) Can I incorporate a variety of proteins? A vegetarian meal? A variety of veggies/sides? New recipes? Since Little is still on a liquid diet, she is not yet a consideration.  

For this week we have:

Saturday: Crock Pot pulled pork sandwiches, oven fries

Sunday: Crock Pot chicken & dumplings (recipe from Pinterest) (Sundays I try to make something nice/comfort food, very “Sunday Dinner”) -- Note, the healthy dumpling recipe was not great. I gave it a C. C gave it a D-.

Monday: CMA (C has a Catholic Medical Association meeting, which is code for get take-out individually)

Tuesday: Little – 4 month well-child visit (I want something easy in case she is fussy or whatever after vaccinations) Chicken pesto pasta, garlic bread

Wednesday: Butternut squash soup, wheat rolls

Thursday: Stuffed zucchini, bread

Friday: C – Pediatrics Shelf Exam (I try to make one of his favorites before exams, make something celebratory after) Tostadas and Spanish rice

In addition, I'm finally getting myself back into the veggie-adding habit of picking up some bagged salad mix and a cucumber to make quick, individual salads several nights a week. I put greens in a bowl, add stuff on hand (onion & cucumber or crasins & nuts, mostly), dressing on the table. Easy-peasy. The key is lazy bagged salads. I know just getting lettuce is cheaper, but then salads stop happening.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy 4 Month Birthday, Little!

Getting Bigger


What she actually looks like day-to-day

I'm not quite sure where the last 4 months went. I can't believe how big and strong she's getting and what a little personality she has! I love this little Little!

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes Vol. 1

So this is officially my first link-up attempt, being new to the actually keeping up my blog scene and all. But I'm a 7 Quick Takes addict, so I figured that if you can't beat 'em, you should join 'em.

--- 1 ---

The weather is supposed to finally take a turn toward the fall this weekend. Last night was glorious -- cool, not cold, sprinkling, smelling heavenly. I am really hoping tomorrow's promised temps in the 60s pan out. It takes a real desert rat to love rain as much as I do. And it takes a real Arizonan to think of temps in the 60s as "cold."

--- 2 ---

Mostly, I'm excited to wear sweaters. And maybe scarves and boots. I'm very sick of my limited collection of tops that fit right post-baby. I get that every woman goes through the whole post-baby body thing, but I also have to wear my summer shirts, like, year 'round. I get sick of them. I love sweaters, though. I wish I could wear them year 'round instead. I am 100% confident I would be singing a different tune if I lived somewhere where things were the opposite.

--- 3 ---

Apropos of nothing, I am officially determined that I am really an 80 year old based on my firm belief that babies need to wear socks. Even in Phoenix. In July. I found this picture of Little the other day when I was reminiscing about how big and grown-up she's getting ('cause clearly 4 months = almost out the door). First thought: awww, she was so tiny. Second thought: where are her socks? I will not be making that mistake again.

No Socks :( She seems to be okay with it, though.

--- 4 ---

^^ See that sharp heel crossed over her leg? When Little was still in utero, that that thing was jabbing out and cruising all over my belly as little limbs are prone to do. Seriously, amid my new-mom awe at my little daughter, I looked down at her foot and gasped at how pronounced her heel was and how that is what was poking me all along! It's pointy, prominent roundness had had us baffled.

--- 5 ---

Last night, I had a terrible case of mom-insomnia. You know, where you're trying to grab a couple of hours of sleep before the inevitable waking to screams indicating that you baby is going to die of starvation/loneliness/dirty-diapery-ness/some other such malady if you don't save them right.this.minute, but instead, your mind is reeling with 1 million other thoughts including, exactly how many minutes there are before the next expected waking. I got up and did the only thing that cures my mind-reeling insomnia, which is writing down all of my thoughts so I can stop focusing on remembering them. Just as I was easing into bed, I heard the scream -- hours earlier than expected. I nursed and put Little back to bed. I finally fell asleep bracing for a long night. Blissfully, she then slept for like 8 hours, which she almost never does. Strange, but I'll take it!

--- 6 ---

We've reached the stage where Little actually cares about things. In fact, there are three things that pretty much make her world: a taggy blanket my aunt made for her, her Sophie the Giraffe (aka The Sophster, 'cause we're cool 5 years ago like that) (Seriously, though, why do kids love the dumb giraffe so much, and why are they so expensive? Ours, for the record, was a gift, because we "had to have it."), and her yummy, plastic keys. This is pretty much standard around here these days:

The keys on the arm simultaneously remind me of a walking Granny with her stretchy key chain and give me fearful flash-forwards to when she can drive (which is about the same time she can date: 35).

--- 7 ---
Daddy Daughter Time!!
How sweet are they?

From July: The first of, I expect, many pictures I'll be able to title "Exhausted Daddy Holding Little."


For more interesting  Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Planning My Life

What? What's that you say? I can't  plan my life.

I feel like I just did.

See, C is a 3rd year medical student. That means, in some perverse way, it is time to start planning the next 4-? (depending upon "what kind of doctor you want to be") years of your life. It's time to start scheduling things, thinking about long lists of programs to consider applying to for residency. Next year is yet another super craptastic arduous fun round of the application game. Then we move (or not) to wherever we end up. There's a lot of garbage work moments to grow in holiness that goes into it along the way. Either way, we'll know what the next step of our lives (residency) will bring us in March, 2014.

I may end up talking about it at length. I may barely touch on it again. We'll see how the mood swings as we move forward.

Today, he got home from his not-so-grueling morning on the peds wards (doctor speak for at the hospital seeing pediatrics patients), had lunch, wanted to talk residency "for a minute." 5 hours later, my life was figured out.Only not really. At all.

[/LiveJournal rambling]

Does LiveJournal even exist anymore?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Finding a Rhythm

Little will be 4 months old on Saturday and we seem to finally finally!! be finding a rhythm. I'm a schedule kind of girl, so that was the first thing being a Mama taught me about letting go of myself. Blessedly, I seem to be getting a little predictability back.

I was the crazy-sleep-deprived first time mom who found herself Googling things like "how to get babies on a schedule" and "1 week old sleep schedule" with a nursing newborn at 2 a.m. Of course, I couldn't find what I wanted: all I could find was reality: babies this little don't really have schedules; follow their cues; a schedule will come. Darn it. I didn't want to wait 6 or 16 weeks. That was an eternity! I wanted it my terms!

Well, fine. Whatevs. Then at least tell me how to get my kid to fall asleep, 'cause what I'm doing ain't working! (My anger gets grammatically incorrect in the wee hours of the morning.) But none of those things seemed to be working for us either.

Finally, I read something that actually made sense, and I found it in a real-live book my mother-in-law had given me, Your Labor of Love: A Spiritual Companion for Expectant Mothers.
[A]lthough you may not have time to sit and meditate, you can at least offer your work each day, your discomfort, your tiredness, to Our Lord. (pg 104)
Somehow, those words made it all click. Not just my own discontent at not being able to predict  my baby's wakings and feedings. Not just my shock at how hard postpartum recover really was, despite the number of people who "told me what no one else will." Not just feeling inadequate in this new walk of life. Not just the overwhelming joy and love I felt toward my baby daughter.

All of these vague, spiritual notions about sacrifice, about offering my sufferings as prayers, about doing "little things with great love," (thanks Therese),  about service in the home came to light. I can't articulate the fullness of spiritual awakening, so insert your own thoughts/experiences/whatevers here. However, it helped me focus on serving my family, the way they are, right now.

So, I (mostly) put Google aside, started offering up my suffering -- often for those who long for motherhood and are deprived for whatever reason -- and started focusing on what works now for me and my family. Sometimes, the "right" answer worked, sometimes it needed tweaking, sometimes, we needed to do things our way, or the doctor's way, or Little's way.

For example, the sleep thing: Little rarely likes to be put to sleep, especially since we've moved her out of the swing (yep, the swing -- I embraced survival in those early weeks) and into her crib. At 3.5 months, we learned (well, I accepted) that usually, 5 minutes of crying (the horror! at less than 6 months no less! but always with a full belly and clean diaper!) results in much better sleep than the hours of singing and rocking and snuggling and walking and overtired crying and mounting frustration that weren't working. Is that right for every baby or every family? No. It probably won't even be right for the next baby when (s)he comes along, but for us, it changed our days and our nights. It was the first step on the road to a rhythm to carry us through the day.

Suddenly, 17 weeks have passed, and my day feels like it has a rhythm to it. Maybe not a to-the-minute schedule, but enough predictability to keep me sane.

I'm not so naive as to think that my life is suddenly perfect. I know that tomorrow, or next week or next month, something will happen and my happily-somewhat-predictable day will go terribly wrong. I do, however, think I'm better equipped to weather that storm, offer up some self-sacrifice, and find my new rhythm.

Because you I can never have too much sleeping Little

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day - Part II

Almost 4-month-old Little in patriotic Election Day clothes

No, I haven't voted yet. I'm biding my time, waiting for C to get home from the hospital, so that we can vote as a family.

I think that voting as a family as often as possible is good for kids. Taking them to the polls is, too. It models for them responsible citizenship. 

I remember my parents sitting up at night with as much election material as they could gather -- before the internet made research that much easier -- to figure out how to vote their always-complicated-in-Arizona ballots. Then, on Election Day, we would all trudge to the Mountain Club Clubhouse, Mom and Dad would vote, and we would head home to watch the results.

My parents' polling place for many years
Photo found here.

Watching this taught me to be an informed voter, to always vote, and to engage in the political process from start to finish. They never told me any of this. They simply showed me. I was excited to turn 18, not to "do what I want," but to register to vote. I cast my first ballot that fall in a municipal election to the cheers of the poll workers who didn't believe I was old enough to vote until my name was, indeed, on the register.

Totally off-topic, but I wrote two patriotic poems of note in elementary school. I can only remember a couple of lines from 5th grade's "Election Day:"
Election Day
Election Day
So many things to vote for
Election Day
Election Day
But I remember every word of my equally free verse (but admittedly shorter) 3rd grade offering, in part because I recited it for the school board during our patriotic program for them (where I was also introduced to "God Bless the USA" -- blame my teachers).
Americans are prouder than the proud
Freer than the free
And happier than the happy
Are you an American?
If you are show it
Be a proud American
 I mean it when I say Little was lucky blessed beyond belief hit the jackpot when she wasn't born on July 4.

Edited because I moved a sentence using cut/paste instead of copy/paste. No one needs to read the same sentence twice. Not even one as riveting as mine.

Election Day

Patriotic Newborn Little -- dressed up for the Olympics

Today on Facebook, I wrote, as my daily thankfulness post (More on that later, like 'round the big thankfulness holiday, so don't be waiting on pins and needles for the next couple of weeks.)

Day 6: I am thankful to be an American. I was blessed to be born in a country where we have the right to vote in real elections, where there has always been peaceful transition of power, and where we do not have to fear voicing our political opinions. Go vote.
For me, that sentiment is not election-day bluster. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am patriotic to the core. My favorite song in 3rd grade was Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." I sang that song with off-pitch gusto (read: spastic, passionate head movements). When there was an admittedly slim chance Little would arrive on the 4th of July, I assured people that God loved her too much to make her birthday coincide with her mother's love of Independence Day ("Patriotic birthday party, again, Mama? Can't I have a normal birthday for once?").

I'm not always fond of the direction in which the country is moving. I generally disagree with both political parties on enough issues that I am a registered Independent. This year, I have serious concerns about both political candidates, but my concerns with one outweigh my concerns with the other. I hate how divisive the political conversation has become.

But here's the thing. It's still political conversation. We fight. We say mean, nasty, ugly things on Facebook. We call each other names in the com box. Letters to the Editor point fingers in every direction. We can do that! We have free speech. Men have died to protect it. I can still say what I want about the government. I can express my opinion. I can rally (peaceably assemble). I can sign petitions (petition the government for a redress of grievances). I can read a newspaper or watch a news report that investigates flaws in the government: corruption, lies, what-have-you (unabridged press). I can pray for divine assistance anywhere I choose (no establishment of religion; free exercise of religion -- two parts to protect the fullness of our religious liberty).

Praise God for the First Amendment. (And thank you, Jerry Ellsworth, for making me memorize it; may you rest in God's peace.) Praise God that this country takes it seriously. Pray to God that this is always the case, as it is essential to protecting our freedom.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
You might love your choices (or, more likely, you might love one of your choices). You might hate your choices. But you get to vote in a real election. Not a sham election (where there is only one candidate or party) or fixed elections (it doesn't matter who you vote for -- the guy in office isn't leaving) or not get to vote at all.

Heck, the right to vote is taken for granted to the extent that a disgusting and disastrous number of qualified voters don't even bother to go exercise what should be their most prized right.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument that the military would prefer that Mitt Romney wins today. If he doesn't, Barack Obama will stay in office. People will be mad. People will pout. People will begin ramping up campaign efforts for 2014 and 2016. We take for granted what will not happen: the military will not take over and put Mitt Romney (or, more likely, a military figure) in power. Tanks will not roll on Washington, D.C. There will not be widespread riots. There will not be Civil War. Similarly, if Romney wins, Barack Obama will leave office. None of the above listed terrors will occur. There will simply be a peaceful transition of power.

That's a lot to be thankful for, because in most of the world, that's not the case.

So, today, on Election Day, God Bless the USA! (Thanks, Mr. Greenwood. I still love you.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Halloween (a little late)

This actually gives me a moment of concern. See, I'm not really much of a Halloween person. I enjoy it for a day, then I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things (read: Thanksgiving and Christmas). The fact that I enjoyed torturing dressing Little up so much makes me wonder what I'm going to be like as we approach those holidays I like for more than 24 hours.

First, there were pumpkins:

Amazing hat brought to you by Andria

Then, there was a Lil' Ladybug:

Adorable costume brought to you by Grandma

We celebrated at my cousin's annual dinner and trick-or-treat fiesta, but minused the trick-or-treat. Keeping up with bedtime was deemed more important, sine Little, obviously, had no clue what was going on. I know that once she realizes there is candy, that gig is up!

I'm telling you, this Mama is turning has turned into a crazy holiday lady. Stay tuned.