Friday, June 30, 2006

Politics and a Milkshake with Two Straws


Last night we went to a GOP dinner with Kevin’s law firm. It was good to meet some of his co-workers and their spouses. I had a great time, really.

Right now I feel like I have a decent handle on California politics – I know who (most) all of the state representatives are, what party they belong to, exactly how liberal, conservative, or moderate they are, and oftentimes what their “key issues” are – Senator Cedillo, for instance, wants to see illegal aliens be able to get driver’s licenses. Assemblyman Leno wants gay marriage. Senator Runner wants convicted sex offenders to have to wear GPS tracking devices for the rest of their lives.

When it comes to Indiana politics, I know absolutely nothing. Oh, except who the governor is and that he’s a Republican. But, if he were in the same room as me, I wouldn’t recognize him. So, that probably doesn’t count.

I also know that everyone complains about the Congresswoman and how bad she is, can’t make a public speech to save her life, has no original ideas, etc., etc.

That about sums up my knowledge of Indiana politics – I have a lot of learning to do.

After the dinner we stopped by Steak and Shake and got a double chocolate peanut butter milkshake with two straws. (Kevin let me order.) Mmmm … mmm … MMM.

It was a good end to a nice evening.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Are flip-flops damaging your career?

More than 31 percent of women said flip-flops were the single "must have" item for work this summer. But many companies disagree.

For an interesting look on the current footwear trend: Are flip-flops damaging your career?

Welcome Home!


Flag Family


Waiting Anxiously


Aunt Megan!


Here is Meredith with Uncle Colin, whom she consistently calls “Ah-tah.” We have no idea how she took the name “Colin” and got “Ah-tah” out of it. But, in any event, we’re glad that Ah-tah is such a good sport.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Preparations

The place is abuzz because tonight Megan returns from her year-long stint in China. Last time we saw her Meredith was a newborn!

The house is being scrubbed and organized – so she has a place to stay and store her stuff. The phone has been ringing with people asking when they should arrive at the airport – a group of us will be there to welcome her back. [Now that I think about it, we should make a big banner and wave American flags. That would be fun! I’ll have to suggest that …]

After we meet Megan at the airport, we’ll all go straight to Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurant. This was her request. I hear that China is not the best destination for fine Mexican cuisine. (Neither is North Dakota, by the way.)

In order to be ready for the Big Night, Grandma Cazzell wanted her hair trimmed.

I guess, because Kevin has been my customer for the past four years, I’m a sought-after amateur hairstylist. [Funny, though, I always thought my next customer would be Meredith, not grandma.]

So, responding to the call, a short while ago I found myself standing in grandma’s kitchen, her hair sopping wet, and me with scissors in my hands.

“Blunt cut, no layers,” said grandma. “I don’t like it when the lady at the salon gives me layers.”

“Do you want a quarter inch off? A half inch? Or what?” I asked.

“I don’t know about them inches stuff, I just want a blunt cut. And make sure it’s shorter by my ears. And just cut off what you think is frizzy and needs it.”

With that crystal-clear information, I began snipping away.

I hope she liked it. But, in any event, I’m sure Megan will think she’s beautiful at the airport. That’s what matters, right?

Friday, June 23, 2006

At the Park

As we pulled into the local park today, to take the baby for some playtime, we saw a banner welcoming the Miss Indiana competition. Suddenly young, attractive women wearing glittery crowns appeared from nowhere.

As a part of the gala, snow cones were offered for $1. After a hard day’s play at the park, I figured Meredith and I deserved a snow cone. It’s a good thing we bought one when we did because shortly after I purchased it they changed the price to $2.

We enjoyed our trip to the park – me as much as Meredith. They don’t have as many parks in Indiana as they do in California, so we have to drive to it instead of walk to it. But, then again, people in Indiana actually have backyards! It’s a trade-off, I suppose.

The Vacuum Chaser

When I was pregnant with Meredith we read a statistic about how, when unborn babies are exposed to sounds like dogs barking and vacuums roaring, they usually aren’t afraid of dogs or vacuums after they’re born. The converse is also true – when unborn babies never hear loud noises, like dogs or vacuums, they typically are more afraid of these things later on.

Based on that information and since I, like, never vacuum, we figured that Meredith would be terrified of it.

Not so.

It appears that we have a little Vacuum Chaser on our hands. Rather than being scared of it and running away, she immediately turns her little body towards it and begins to chase after it, supposedly for the purposes of fighting and conquering it.

Right now, in fact, Laura is vacuuming the stairs and Meredith is squatting at the top of the stairs pondering the vacuum, obviously trying to figure out how she can get down there and play with it.

Outing

Last night the three of us hit the bowling alley for fun times shared by all. Seriously, the evening was full of smiles and laughter.

Meredith sat contentedly in her stroller, occasionally pointing out to this “ball” or that “ball,” munching on snacks, and giving free smiles to strangers passing by.

After starting our first game, I looked up and noticed that the players in the lane next to us were “Love” and “Wild Child.” Then I looked at our score board and saw that we were simply “Kevin” and “Amy.”

“Kevin,” I said. “We are boring. Why don’t we have fancy names? Next game you’re going to be Bad Daddy, okay?”

It turns out that the lady behind the desk reset our second game and we couldn’t change our names. Oh well. Kevin said he’d be my Bad Daddy anyway. :)

About ten minutes into the evening, when I was doing really horribly, Kevin suggested that I have Meredith give my ball a “good luck pat” before taking my turn.

Surprisingly, it worked!

Then, of course, each of us had to pause before taking a turn to have Meredith pat our ball. It gave us, and quite a few other people in the bowling alley, a reason to chuckle.

Kevin won the first game by a wide margin and we started another.

Let me put this bluntly – I kicked his little behind. In the span of one game, I got five strikes and one spare. I don’t think I’ve ever bowled that well. (Part of the credit, of course, goes to Meredith for her good luck pats.)

Kevin was incredulous, with eyebrows raised, the entire game.

“I never dreamed I would lose to you,” he said.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to take that. But, anyway, it was fun to get out, do something different, beat Kevin at a game (for a change), and enjoy the company of my two favorite people.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Feminist Says Child Rearing not Worthy of Time and Talents of Intelligent Humans

Today I read an interesting article about statements by Linda Hirshman on feminism and child-rearing. Take a moment to read it if you have time!

This is why I’m appalled by extreme feminism – it’s not about what is good for women, or what women want, it’s about an extremist agenda to “reconstruct” the family. Most mothers, in my experience – even the ones who are in the work force – would rather stay home with their children.

As the article says – “Some of the women [Ms. Hirshman] interviewed confirmed her worst fears: they liked being mothers.”

Also, it’s interesting to think about the flaws in Hirshman’s reasoning – if all “intelligent” people are supposed to be in the work force, that means that Ms. Hirshman is suggesting that the next generation should be raised by stupid people.

This is an odd opinion since, modernly, at least in California, there is a huge push for preschool workers to have higher education.

So, I guess that babies and toddlers should be raised by stupid people for the first several years and then, when they are three or four-years-old, they should be suddenly thrown into an environment with the really smart ones!

.....

Love is shown in many ways. One major way it is shown is by investing time.

Looking back at my childhood – where my mother was there for me everyday, making me meals and snacks, working near me when I played, comforting me when I was hurt or upset – I wouldn’t trade that childhood for anything.

I want to give Meredith, and any other children that should come, the gift of my time. I want to give my children the same experience I had growing up – a mother who is there for them every day.

I have a law degree – I don’t tell many people this but I ranked first in my graduating class, I passed the California bar exam on my first attempt. I don’t think I’m the brightest person but don’t think I’m totally stupid either.

At the same time, I willingly gave up my career, working with really smart people in the field of public policy, to stay home and pour my life into my child. I stay home because I want to - not because I have to.

Someday maybe I’ll pick up a full-time career again – after my children are successfully raised – but, for the time being, my job is to teach, guide, cherish, and laugh with my baby while she’s young. ‘Cuz I know she’ll only be young for a short time.

Several years ago I worked temporarily in the legal department of a utilities company. There was one young woman, a mother and an attorney, who always seemed particularly stressed out. She had pictures on her desk of very young, cute, adorable children. She always came in to the office early and left later than me. I always wondered who was with her kids all day. She never seemed very happy. I wondered if working that many hours was really what she wanted for her life or if she felt like she was pressured into it.

“Wow, you’ve had a remarkable career,” is something, yes, that would be nice to hear at the end of my life. But, if I had to choose, I would much rather chuck the career and know that I’d spent countless hours loving on my kids.

In the end, I think that will make the most difference in this world anyway.

No one can raise my child as well as I can because no one loves her like I do.

I am not replaceable in Meredith’s life. Please don’t insult me, Ms. Hirshman, by telling me that any daycare worker (or even a grandmother, and both of Meredith’s grandmothers are wonderful people) can replace me as her primary caretaker.

I am her Mother. God gave me a tremendous responsibility to raise her. And I am willing to take on that responsibility – and all the day-to-day nitty gritty involved in that responsibility – no matter what the sacrifices.

Honda Requiem

I didn’t think it possible but Kevin’s car has died. Aren’t Hondas supposed to live forever?

“I can’t believe I paid for all that extra gas to tow my Honda from California, and now it has died,” said Kevin, ruefully.

It may seem silly but, aside from the practical reasons to be sad about the death of Kevin’s car, we are sad for sentimental reasons as well.

I can’t help but think about all the memories …

We’ve experienced a lot of life – a lot of good times – alongside that little car. It’s the car Kevin had in his bachelor days, when we met. It’s the car we took on our first date. Our honeymoon. All of our early-married travels (Maine to San Francisco). Our contemplative move to California. It’s the car we brought Meredith home from the hospital in.

It’s been a good car for us. Like the mechanic said – “I think you’ve got your money’s worth out of this car.”

The hard part for me right now is I won’t even get to say goodbye. (Doesn’t that sound stupid – it’s not a person, just a car.) It will be towed to the junk yard today and will be gone forever.

Yes, I am sad.

Ubiquitous Flowers

Meredith’s favorite new word (next to “gam-pa”) is flower, which she pronounces as “fow-wa.”

Suddenly flowers are appearing everywhere!

She sees them on wall hangings, decorative pillows, clothing, in pots outside, in her picture books. And she always enjoys pointing them out to us.

This morning I could hear her little voice in the other room saying “fow-wa.”

“Yes, Meredith, that’s a flower.”

“OooOOoo … fow-wa.”

“No, Meredith, actually, that’s a strawberry.”

“Fow-wa.”

We’re enjoying being constantly reminded of the beautiful flowers all around …

Monday, June 19, 2006

What do you do?

Kevin worked until the wee hours on Saturday morning helping to monitor a ballot recount in some Podunk county two hours south of Indianapolis. An incumbent judge won the primary election by only 20 votes. Kevin came home with interesting stories of small-town politics and all the characters involved. Apparently he enjoyed this opportunity to dabble in election law.

Then he spent the rest of his weekend working to finish his law review note. I decided to have a low-key weekend myself. What do you do when your spouse is working all weekend? I felt guilty to play while he worked. And I also felt like I should stick around and be a moral support of sorts. I did, however, venture out of the house to get a library card. Woo hoo!

Oh, and … today Meredith, Colin, Laura, and I sat outside and watched a storm come in from the west. I can honestly say that, until this point in my life, I’d never sat and watched a storm come in. It was interesting because it affected so many senses - it was something to watch, feel, hear, etc.

It was also interesting because it happened so fast. In about ten minutes it went from sunny to dark clouds, lightning, and pouring rain.

Anyway, I'll have to plan on watching more of these types of things in the future because I thought it was rather cool. It was an experience that could have been easily missed had I not purposed to make time for it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Our Church

Here is a picture of our fledgling congregation. We really love our church!

Proof

I bring you proof of the “E.T. phone home” craze.



And here’s my baby, sitting on one of the toys I found last Saturday at a garage sale.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rated PG for ... what?

Here's something incredible I heard on talk radio the other day but didn't have time to research it until just now ...

FROM CITIZEN LINK:

Why should parents be forewarned about a Christian film with no sex, violence or raw language?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has placed a PG rating on a forthcoming film because it has a Christian message.

Randy Sharp, director of special projects at the American Family Association, said the rating that reviewers gave Facing the Giants was for "thematic elements."

Not only was the rating unwarranted, Sharp said the reasoning behind the rating was just as offensive.

"The MPAA gives a warning to parents about content that may be found offensive," Sharp told CitizenLink. "Usually, a PG rating would include violence or sexual content or profanity. There is none of that during this movie, so the MPAA has basically said, 'We're going to warn parents that it has a Christian theme — and it may be offensive.' "

Sharp said the MPAA has equated Christianity and the Christian message with sex, violence and profanity.

Bob Waliszewski, Focus on the Family's top media reviewer, said the sticking point for the MPAA does appear to have been the film's mention of the Gospel.

"There really isn't anything in this movie that would warrant a PG rating the way we're used to seeing it," he said. "There's nothing. Apparently, it's just because of the conversations about Christ that the coach has."

On a practical level, Waliszewski said he is "kind of glad" the PG rating was placed on this movie — it is one that deserves to be seen and might not get the audience it deserves with a G rating.

"That's because a G rating, for a lot of teenagers, is the kiss of death — 'Oh, I can't go see that!' " he said. "Having a PG rating, although unfair, may actually be a blessing in disguise."

Da Vinci Discussion


Last night a group from our church went to see the Da Vinci Code for the purpose of discussing it afterwards.

We talked about why it is a story that is so appealing to a vast number of individuals. It’s a plot that allures the rebel in people who like to go against the establishment. It’s a plot that entices conspiracy theorists. And it’s a plot that attracts people who are looking for a way to appease their consciences by jiving Jesus with unencumbered sexuality and extreme feminism.

It was also pointed out last night how there were efforts by Dan Brown to intentionally mislead people – showing he is committed more to his agenda than to uncovering truth. For instance, Brown used a quote by Da Vinci to infer that large groups of people are being led astray and are fools for believing in the incarnation. In reality, the Da Vinci quote was concerning the subject of alchemy.

We talked about how unbelievable the movie is. You would think that, unless you’re very na├»ve and believe every whim you hear, or you’re already looking for a reason to not believe in Christ’s claims, it would be unfathomable to take the Da Vinci Code as anything more than a fantasy.

I was particularly bothered by how Christianity – especially when you compare it to other world religions – was portrayed as anti-woman when the Bible specifically equates men and women as joint-heirs with God.

Honestly, I really didn’t enjoy the movie at all. As is the general consensus, the acting was bad and the plot was hokey. There wasn’t even any redeeming value as far as sheer entertainment is concerned.

The most significant reason I wasn’t able to enjoy it, however, was because my spirit was troubled the entire time I watched it. It was a feeling akin to the times when I’ve seen a movie with spiritism or ouija boards, etc. Things like that bother me more than anything else because they’re dark and satanic.

The Da Vinci Code was specifically designed to mock and discount the most important Truth ever known to mankind. My spirit was affected by that last night. It was something I couldn’t escape.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Highlights

Ooooops. Guess who’s been a delinquent blogger lately? I must confess that I did try sometime mid-last week but blogger was down. :-/

Here are some of the highlights of our life this past week.

- I got a free Starbucks’ coffee because I’m related to Colin. (I just knew living in Indiana would have its benefits!) When I pulled up to the drive-thru to pay, Colin playfully popped his head out from behind the patio in front of the store where he was studying. I was surprised to see him and laughed out loud. When the cashier raised her eyebrows I told her that Colin is my brother-in-law. She said, “Oh, well, if you’re related to him, it’s on the house.” I’m sure I won’t be able to abuse this privilege. But, needless to say, it made my day!

- Meredith learned how to say “E.T.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one of my daughter’s first words would be E.T. And I blame it entirely on Kevin. Every time Meredith randomly points her finger into the air (which is frequently), he takes his finger and touches hers and says, “E.T. phone home.” Now she points her finger, smiles, and says, “E.T.” Sheesh.

- Our pastor’s wife gave me a very lovely welcome-to-the-church Tea Party, comprised of scones and authentic British tea. She’s lived in Scotland for the past few years – so, she knows how to do it right.

- I spent a fun afternoon with Alaina, helping to organize her nursery – they’re leaving for Kazakhstan soon to adopt two children. We're so glad we can be a part of this exciting time in their life!

- Kevin has started studying already! I don’t think I’m ready yet to be the wife of a student … but I’d better hurry and get ready! He’s participating in a write-in competition to be on law review and the deadline is Monday. He’s been complaining how stupid he thinks the question is and how the cases and statues he was given don’t even support what he’s supposed to write about. So (need I say it?) there are motivation issues.

- I went major garage sale shopping on Saturday. You know you’re a “serious” garage saler when you don’t even get a shower before leaving the house and your pockets are filled with quarters and one dollar bills.

- On Saturday we also went to a Home-A-Rama. I had never been to one of these before and it was awesome! I love interior design so I spent the entire time in awe. The homes were amazing. It was fun to see what the new trends are. One of the homes had a half-court basketball gym in the basement! Now, wouldn’t that be cool? It’s fun to dream!

- We went out twice for house hunting purposes (not counting the Home-A-Rama, of course). We’re making progress but haven’t yet decided exactly what we’re going to do. The house we’re leaning toward purchasing most likely has a flooring issue (i.e, the floor is not completely level). Kevin’s dad is a civil engineer and he is optimistic we can fix it. We’ll see …

Monday, June 05, 2006

Newspaper ink on my hands …

Kevin’s family takes the daily newspaper. Every morning at breakfast the paper gets divvied up and spread across the table so various family members can read various sections. Often I’ll come downstairs and find still-sleepy-eyed family members, in their pajamas, munching on toast and reading the paper.

In the past I’ve never thought it worthwhile to pay for the newspaper to be delivered when you can get it for free online. But I think I’m starting to change my mind about that. There’s something quite nice about sitting comfortably at your breakfast table and reading the local news from a medium that doesn’t beam light into your eyes.

Reading the paper simultaneously with other people is also kind of fun. It’s truly a bonding experience. Especially when Laura exclaims, “Look at this!” Or Colin announces that some company’s stocks are doing well. Or Shannon starts a crossword puzzle and everyone else decides to join-in too.

This past week there was a particularly interesting local news story – a tragic case of mistaken identity at the coroner’s office. Check it out if you have time.

Summer Company

On Friday evening nearly 30 people came to dinner. I was the official “chopper” of the party, I think. I’ve never chopped so many onions and peppers in all my life. The food was good, so it was worth it in the end – although it took nearly a full day for my hand and wrist to recover.

Then, when company came on Saturday night to help us eat leftovers, I was very amused by Kevin’s juggling capabilities. He never told me he could juggle so well! I watched him entertain some little kids by tossing balls in the air and then tossing them under his legs. It was quite impressive.

The weather has been beautiful here lately so we’ve been getting lots of good use and enjoyment out of the deck and backyard. Hopefully these pleasant evenings will continue …

I still haven’t spotted any fireflies (a.k.a. lightning bugs) yet. But I’m optimistic that I’ll be seeing one any day now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Adjusting

Several friends have asked me if I’ve adjusted to living in a new community yet. I think my answer to that is yes and no. I feel comfortable in my new routine but I know that we’re still in transition. Until we have our own place, it’s hard to really feel settled. But for the fact that Kevin goes to work every day, and but for the days when I’m steeped in laundry and ironing, in many ways it seems like we’re still on vacation!

We were hoping to look at some houses this weekend but the realtor we contacted won’t be available until Monday. So, until then, I’m doing a lot of looking online. It’s kinda fun to buy a house, actually. (Whereas, selling a house is a royal pain.) This is the second time for us. As long as you don’t let yourself look at all the houses you can’t afford, it’s kinda fun to look at the ones you think might be possibilities ... imagining what you can do to make it your own place … where your furniture will go … etc. I’m especially enjoying the price tags I see on all these homes here in the mid-west. Coming from California, it’s a breath of fresh air.

In the meantime, I’m starting to think about Meredith’s first birthday. I think I’m going to make her a Hello Kitty cake. Fun, fun, fun!