Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To Everything There is a Season

 Hello Friends!

     We're all familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1 - To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.  I figure God knows this already, but I'm thinking I must be in the middle of my "I can't remember anything" season.  Right in the time of my life when I have so much to remember, I sometimes forget to get something out of the freezer for dinner.  Right at this very moment, I have a gazillion doctor appointments yet to be scheduled, swimming around in my head.  Blood work at the lab (x 3 kids), dental cleanings (x 3 kids), pediatrician (for one), neurology (x 3), rheumatology (for one), hematology is coming up in October (but I just remembered that we're going to be out of town for at least half of October... oops - gotta re-schedule that) and I'm definitely not remembering some of them even with that list.  But it is so strange to me, when I have so many things to remember - that is exactly the time that I forget... well, all of it.

   I make lists to help me remember all of the things on my to-do list.  I generally lose the list and have to add "find the list" to the sketchy list in my head.  So, to that end, the following outline of conversation took place on at least 6 occasions on Sunday.  We're getting ready to take the 'tweens to camp this weekend and there are a few details swimming around in my head...

Me: Yeah!  So we're doing that on Thursday...
Friend:  What are you doing for a craft?
Me: (Seeing someone else I need to talk to walk by)  D'OH!
Friend:  You forgot to do something, didn't you?
Me:  Uh.... yep.

 When I get bogged down with details and overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that have to be done, I often think of this season of my life as being the "busy" season or "crazy" season.   I don't think there is any way I can logically think of a way to not call it crazy, not label it as overwhelmingly busy, but I do try very hard to keep our life simple.  Not easy, mind you, but simple.  We do have a significant amount of technology here on the (Funny) Farm, but none of the technology replaces human interaction.  The television in the living room is virtually always set to Fox News, so there is news going on in the background of whatever we're doing.  The boys play the Wii in that room as well, but when time's up... time's up.   The laptops are set up wherever we go, but are put aside for kids, animals, outside activities, chores, cooking, going fishing, board games... whatever.  Keeping our life relatively simple and clutter free is important to me.  When we moved out to the (Funny) Farm, simplicity was high on my list of things that were important to me.  There is nothing easy about doing things the way we do them, but at the same time, there is nothing better than the simplicity of going out to your own garden, picking food that you've nurtured and had a hand in growing.  The simplicity of having dinner outside, surrounded by beautiful flowers and the same fragrant herbs that you used to prepare the meal.  The simple joy of having friends over, sharing a meal and laughs, sitting around a campfire, watching the kids roast marshmallows - these are the sweetest things.

    Indeed, I'm in my "Forgetful" Season.  Also, the "Busy" Season... and don't forget the "Crazy" Season.  But most importantly, I need to remember that I am most definitely in the midst of a very, very Blessed Season.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reviving the Campaign?

Hello Friends!

  So, I hit a bump in the road for campaigning... Things are getting back to normal-ish and I'm ready to get back to pounding the pavement on my presidential bid.  So right now, with the budget stuff... I figured that I could probably take a shot (eeek - am I allowed to say "take a shot?"  is that taboo?) at cutting spending.  There are a whole lot of people who keep saying stupid things like cutting spending is just not that simple.   Uhhhh.... Really?  It IS that simple and the president is being unreasonable in his refusal to take a look at proposals being presented by conservatives.  I don't think we should raise the debt ceiling. Period.  Giving out of control spenders permission to spend more is irresponsible (and, theme of the evening - stupid)  The act of refusing to cut spending is unreasonable (and stupid).  ANY congress person refusing to cast a vote for ANY compromise is stupid.  Liberal, conservative, tea party - whatever the affiliation or party affiliation - not being open to a compromise is ridiculous (and stupid).
   So...I've found some examples of wasteful spending that I'd cut - Not sure why there would be any question to this type of thing - make the cuts.  So, the following items come from the Heritage Foundation, a gov't waste blog (Barb's Blog), and The Economic Collapse Blog websites.  So, just a sampling of things that I'd cut and prevent from happening follows.  There is a complete lack of proper management at most levels of government and I would be willing to make tough choices with dismissing employees who can't quite seem to make good choices or be responsible for their actions.  And, sorry - but if you're dismissed for corruption, mismanagement of government funds or being stupid, you don't get unemployment and you don't get a good recommendation either! (neener neener neener)  So - uh... stuff to be cut in my administration, along with examples of mismanagement that just wouldn't occur....

  • U.S. spends $2.6 MILLION on training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job (uhhhhhhh.....uhhhhhhh.....why do I care?)
  • A Government Accountability Office audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper. (including internet dating fees, mortgage payments, jewelry, liquor, lingerie, gambling, etc)
  • Security and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 MILLION to rearrange desks and offices in their Washington D.C. headquarters. (hmmmm... maybe everyone could spend 20 minutes and move their desk... grab a buddy - Go TEAM)
  • Another GAO audit revealed that 95 Pentagon Weapons Systems had a $295 BILLION cost overrun. (I'm guessing this is a computer glitch?  Let's pay a few really smart guys $1 Million each - I betcha it won't happen again and we save hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars.)
  • Government Workers' refusal to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 MILLION every year. (YAY - an easy one! You're fired.  All of you.  Or pay the upgrade out of pocket? Common Sense!)
  • Congress gave $500,000 to Alaska Airlines to paint a Chinook Salmon on the side of a plane. (just no...)
  • Washington has spent $3 BILLION re-sanding beaches.  (The new sand keeps washing out to the ocean, just like the original stuff did - darndest thing! STUPID!)
  • The Dept of Defense wasted $100 MILLION by not getting refunds for unused refundable airline tickets.  (::Headdesk::)
  • Congress has ignored efficiency recommendations from the Dept of Health and Human Services that would save $9 BILLION per year.
  • The National Institutes of Health spend $1.3 MILLION per month on a lab that it can't use.
  • Congress spent $2.4 BILLION on 10 planes that the Pentagon insists it doesn't need and can't use.
  • Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers $2 BILLION per year to farmers to not farm their land.
  • NIH spent $442,340 to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.
  • $1.8 MILLION to a museum of Neon Signs in Las Vegas.
  • $35 MILLION paid by Medicare to fake Medical Clinics
  • U.S. Census Bureau paid $2.5 MILLION for a commercial that aired during Super Bowl.  That commercial was so poorly produced that virtually none of the viewers understood the meaning of it.
  • NIH was given $800,000 in 'stimulus funds' to study the "impact of a 'genital-washing program' on men in South Africa".
  • Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn identified more than $3 BILLION of mismanaged funds by the National Science Foundation - including almost $560,000 to test the metabolism of sick shrimp.
So, just a small sampling of waste that can be completely cut out of a government's budget.  I don't think any of us really care or would find any of this to count as necessary expenditures.   Common Sense needs to be brought to the forefront and be used liberally.  There is not nearly enough common sense being used in any level of government.  I think there is plenty of money to go around if we start cutting out things that are unnecessary. 
   Now, it should be said clearly that it is probably pretty well known that I am not a Committee kind of a gal.  If you elect me to be your Leader, you're going to have to assume that I'm going to call people out on stupidity.  People are going to be called on their actions and accountability of individuals will be a vital part of getting this country on track.  I'm not going to be giving money to other countries for no reason.  If it doesn't make sense, it doesn't happen.  This country will have a strong defense, but I am not going to allow continued U.S.-centric policing of other countries.  I will not put our servicemen and women in harm's way for any longer... for wars that are questionable at best. 
  So, count this as my vote for Cut, Cap, Balance.    I guess I'm just not part of the 80% of Americans who "agree" with Obama's actions.  I have friends who are on the liberal side, and to them, I say this: I am not bashing liberals.  I think everyone is allowed to have their opinions.  Goodness knows I have mine.  The bottom line is this:  What he's doing is not working. Period.  To keep things fair - I'm not a fan of W either.  I don't think this country is being served well by having a system that allows only the wealthy to run for office.  There are a lot of folks who don't have the hefty bank accounts to finance a presidential run, or even a run for congress... but I do think that we'd be infinitely better represented by a group of people who get the concept of living on a budget and living within one's means.
   So, that's that.  CUT EXPENSES. Period.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Kitties

New Kitties, Indeed!  We brought Mama inside because it is so hot out.  So far three kitties.  I can feel at least one more in there!  They're super cute.  My cousin has the grey one claimed already - any other takers for some cute orange tabbies? 

  On a side note - I told you it was hot  outside! The boys and Papa went out to swim and the water was actually too hot to get into! EEK!

I'm Melting.... melting!

Hello Friends!

  It is hot, hot, hot out there!  I managed to get out of the house today for a little bit - dropped my dad (Papa) off fishing and ran to the pharmacy to pick up the boys' meds for the month.  Got a few things from Walgreen's - 2 deodorants, 3 dish detergents and a bottle of shampoo for $6.  ($10 under retail - just sayin')  We're working on stocking up on items - with the recent news that  groceries are going to be going up again, I'm re-dedicating my efforts toward getting food put up.

   In the past few weeks, we've managed to stock up on paper towel (which will last a long time because I use re-usable when I can, but there are some messes I just don't want to clean up twice!), toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, fabric softener, deodorant and body wash.  All on sale, coupled with coupons and often times with either additional store coupons or rebates.  Overall, we saved over 70% by watching those sales and combining sales with coupon savings. I've got a few more coupons I need to use before the end of the month, will be about 20 bars of soap for free.  That should last a while! :)

  Anyway... back to the heat!  When I was coming home from town this morning, the temperature was 102*.  That was before noon.  In the shade.  Without heat index figured in. (I'm mellllllting!)  So, we are inside, on Mom-imposed, heat - induced house arrest.  And yes, I did already get a round of  "But YOU got to go out today... YOU got to go to the store. YOU didn't take us with you."... in surround sound.  There are endless games of Wii baseball happening, along with Mario Kart (weeeeeeee).  So far, the arguing has been minimal.  We're changing things up every so often... cartoons, board games, lunch, wii..... ugh.  I'm really needing the heat to just go away.  I figure I'm allowed to complain... I mean, we're in northern Illinois... If I live in the deep South, I'm not allowed to complain about heat.  If I live in the North Woods, I can't complain about snow... If I live in California, I can't complain about mudslides or earthquakes... I live in IL... other than not having mudslides and only the occasional, minor earth rumble... we kind of get everything... so I can complain... right?  Not doing too much complaining, though... Its been a mild Summer so far, been hot, but not too hot (until now... just sayin').   Soon, the heat will pass and we'll be begging for warm weather. 

 Right now, however, I just got word that new life has arrived on the (Funny) Farm.  Pictures to come, I'm sure... Going to go out to check if reports are correct.  Report is that Alice has given birth to kittens.  Alice arrived at the (Funny) Farm a few months back, we think she was dumped along the road because we'd never seen her before... anyhow... here I go to check and make sure Mama Kitty has water.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Return To Normal-ish-ness

Hello Friends.

I apologize for my extended absence.  Many of you know that my sister passed away somewhat unexpectedly at the beginning of June.  Her death was a shock to the system, but not so much a surprise, as we knew, at some point, we would get that call.   I struggle right now to even really know what to say or how to explain the situation, I even struggle in coming to grips with the reality and enormity of having lost my only sibling.  I feel like anything I say in pure honesty is also muddy-ing her name.  I don't want to do this in any way, so I have found myself not really saying much of anything except to those who knew her and the situation and those I'm closest to. 

In trying to process all of the emotions that go with this territory, I find myself crying at times when everyone else is laughing, laughing at times when everyone around me is crying and having no visceral emotion during times that I should be raw with feeling.   I had the admittedly ego-centric realization last week that the God I praise loves my sister and others with addictions, mental illness and other painful conditions and diseases every last bit as much as He loves those who are living for Him.  (ouch!)  There is, of course, benefit and joy in living how we try to live here on the (Funny) Farm, but in the past several weeks, it has become painfully obvious to me that our works are for us.  Yes, God cares about what we do, but our "stuff" - the gardens, the animals, the homeschooling, the gentle parenting... I think they all Glorify God and are Good, but our thoughts being mindful that He loves EVERYONE is what has brought comfort in the difficult times since Sarah's death.  Her life mattered.  She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, and a friend.  The words that I heard from others at her memorial service were heart-warming reminders that she was good.  She hurt those who were closest to her because we were the safe ones to do that to.  She was helpful and overwhelmingly kind to others around her.  In the early days after her death, this was not much of a consolation to me.  Because, in true sister fashion, I can admit loudly that she was rotten to me almost all of the time, but I love her still to the core of my soul.  Now, after almost 7 weeks since she died, I can say that I'm so grateful to have heard these positive stories.  I'm glad that people remember her kindly.  I don't want others to remember my sister with the memories that I have from the past 15 years or so since mental illness took over her personality and life.  The truth is that as much as I can say right at this moment that I miss my sister, I could have just as easily said "I miss my sister." at any point in the past 15 years.

  So... in the past week, life has been getting back to normal-ish around here.  A friend pointed out that "normal" was probably the wrong word choice... she's probably right.  Last week, we went back home and visited a friend, went camping, had friends over for dinner and had family over for a visit.  Talk about jumping right back into normal-ish! 

 A major change here at the (Funny) Farm, I made the decision to sell the goats.  I felt the major need to simplify and was feeling tied down by having to milk twice a day... I hoped it wasn't too rash a decision - I do tend to make emotional decisions that are not the best choices in times of turmoil... but it turns out that  I think it was a good choice.  The very short haircut, however.... well, I've been wanting to start dreadlocks for quite some time now, and I thought that the short haircut might have been a wiser emotional choice that dreading my hair.  Not that I'm not still considering doing so, but that is not a choice to be made when upset.  Not that I should even let anyone touch my hair....

  So, emotional decisions, back to normal-ish, normal grief stuff, heat - it is so unholy hot outside right now - we're confined to the house - not fun- feeling the stir crazies already!  Life moves ahead.  I'm thankful for life moving ahead.  I'm thankful for my family, my church family, my friends.   

  If it isn't too strange to say, I'm trying to find the good in this sad time.  I was deeply in the web of addiction and mental illness and codependency with my sister.  I was an enabler.  I did realize this well before she died and made enormous strides in breaking away from that unhealthy relationship.  I succeeded in doing so about a year and a half before her death.  I know that doing so has helped me get through this in a much healthier manner than if I had still been in the codependent relationship.  I am seeing the end of drama in my life.  The end of all things revolving around a very unhealthy family member, the end of drama just for drama's sake.  This has been a positive for me and my grieving process.  I am at a place now where I can say that I hate what Sarah did to me, but I love my sister so deeply that it hurts.   I miss you, Boo.  We all love you so very much.  I know you are healthy and whole now.  I know your body is healed in a way that it never was here.  Your physical pain is gone.  Your emotional scars are healed.  You have a deep peace that you could never quite achieve here.  You are so loved and so missed.

 In Loving Memory Of 
Sarah Melissa Hansen
June 24, 1977 - June 2, 2011