Thursday, June 28, 2012

The REAL Problem...

The REAL problem with healthcare, for the average, working class family has little or nothing to with the "Affordable Healthcare Act." In fact, many (if not all) of us in the category stated above have seen their healthcare premiums rise in the last two years, with the warning that those premiums will continue to rise.

We pay nearly $400 a month for health insurance. We're a healthy family. Our $400 a month premium will cover nothing until our deductible is reached. Said deductible is several thousand dollars--an amount we must reach every year in order for our health insurance to pay for healthcare. So, let's be generous and say that my family needs to spend at a minimum, $10,000 a year in order for health insurance to actually be worth the money spent on it.

Of course, if we had chronic illnesses, a rare disease, or a catastrophic event that required expensive treatment, this would be quite necessary, but for the "average working class family," this cost holds us back significantly. While we "only" pay $400 a month, I know of many families who pay closer to $700 a month, and even some that pay $1000 or more a month.

And now, with the ruling this morning, with the government in the pockets of insurance companies, the government expanding medicare and medicaid coverage, "average working class families" will be responsible for picking up the tab. With food prices increasing yearly, gas prices debilitating the economy, and now healthcare costs choking families, it is no wonder that the economy is unable to grow. No one has anything left to spend! People are scared to spend; the next year will bring only higher premiums and deductibles, and knowing that regardless of how much they spend on their monthly premiums, a preventive hearing test for a child, or a blood test, will easily put them back an additional $500.

Civil disobedience is sure to follow the ruling this morning. Many religious institutions have already filed suit, and now, many more organizations will follow, unwilling to cover the services now required by the law. This is the REAL problem.

(At the midterm elections, our State Representative was voted out of office after 35 years in service. He voted for this bill, betrayed his constituents, and paid the price with his seat in the house. I think we'll be seeing some more of that in November.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big(ger) Boy!

Today my oldest baby turns six years old!

Didn't I just write his fifth birthday post? It feels like it.

This summer has been a turning point for our boy who has been quickly growing out of five. He's not really little anymore, but he can't quite keep up with the big kids yet. He's transitioning, and the transformation has been a gift to witness. This young man, still confined to his childish body, is a problem-solver, an adventure-taker, a boy determined to be like his dad, but still clings to Mommy at the end of the day when all the toughness has worn off.

When he was born, I had a hard time those first few weeks. He was the same then that he is now--unable to be satisfied with anything except for the new and exciting. As a newborn, he was never content to sit or sleep or eat or look. At only a few days old, I already knew that my firstborn was anything but typical, and quickly learned to adapt his environment to be creative, stimulating, and educational.

But still, it was very hard. That first year with an especially demanding infant was a breaking-in of the selflessness that would be required later on. "You jiggle and sway me through the apartment all day now, Mom," the baby Luke said to me with his demands, "But when I'm two and need to do jigsaw puzzles all day, or when I'm five and need to play outside for hours on end to satisfy my curiosity, you won't think it's so bad, you'll just be used to it. You'll do what you need to do."

And so, year after year we've done this dance of me trying to keep a step ahead of this precocious boy. Each year I've loved him a bit more for who is, understood him better, and have been ever more thankful for the blessing he is and the God-given gifts he has been given. I'm not sure what his future holds for Luke, but I can be sure it is something exciting.

Happy 6th Birthday, Luke. We couldn't be happier or more thankful for our son. You keep us high on our toes, and our hearts warm with your love and affection. Even if we dreamed it, we couldn't come up with a better version of YOU. You've changed our lives for the forever better, and we love you more everyday.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gifts and Talents.

I've joked to friends how in our little neighborhood that we've hit the "neighbor jackpot," but really, it's not a joke. To all of my friends (myself included) who have had less than ideal neighborhoods which involve dangerous children, calls to the police, sketchy renters, and up-all-night antics, we definitely realize the importance of a harmonious neighborhood.

Shortly after we moved into our new house in January, we received homemade bread and baked good from several of our neighbors.Now, when we walk down the road, we are always met with friendly smiles and greetings from neighbors driving by. Feeling safe, with delightful children nearby as playmates, we are incredibly blessed.

One set of neighbors hasn't stopped the hospitality. Hot-Crossed Buns during Lent was met with St. Patrick's Day Shamrock cookies a few weeks later. No sooner had we finished those when Easter cookies came, then Spring cupcakes, cupcakes to celebrate the Feast of St. Mathias, and on, and on, and on! I don't think we've had more than two weeks go by since we've moved where we haven't been gifted something by our generous neighbors!
This is a small sampling of the type of baked goods we've received from our perpetual gifters. If you look closely, they are butterfly cupcakes, with a black head, green body, and pretzel wings. Impressive!

 Last week, the lovely couple brought over one Monarch caterpillar, and one cocooned Monarch.  The caterpillar, after only a day was found in a cocoon at the top of our jar before I had a chance to catch a photograph, but still, it is amazing for both the boys and me to witness.

This one is almost ready to emerge from the cocoon! 

This guy was a black and orange caterpillar when we got him. It only took a day for him to attach himself to the lid of this jar. 

Each time we've received one of these gifts, it has been a learning experience for our whole family. Included with our baked goods are often scripture verses relevant to the Feast we're celebrating, and in the case of the butterflies, we're learning just by witnessing a metamorphosis.

For me, with so much to do and keep up with, it's difficult for me to think of a stage in life where I can take so much time to bring others around me joy. It's a good lesson, and one that I hope sticks with our family and children, to use our gifts and talents to bless those around us, whether or talent be cupcakes or caterpillars.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bizarro World

Have you ever read or learned anything about Hasidic Jews? If you're into interesting topics, Hasidism is pretty fascinating. And I admit that on occasion I probably dress like a Hasidic Jew (except the wigs ;-) ), but no, in general, getting mistaken for a Jew in Northern Minnesota is rare thing.

Well, last night I had a dream that I was strolling through an outdoor market, and it was clear that I this was a Jewish market. And then, a woman came up to me, started speaking Hebrew, and then assumed that I was a Hasidic Jew. By some miracle I spoke Hebrew in my dream, and could pronounce that hard "H" perfectly, but I still explained that no, I was not a Hasidic Jew.

This is an odd blog post, I realize, but Jewish people in general are fascinating to me. As a Catholic, our Liturgy and traditions are so deep and meaningful--and that comes from the Jewish tradition. We pray for Jews often during Mass, and there is a deep connection with them. Jewish home and family are of extreme importance--it is an extension of their temple. This rings true also of those of us at home in our Ecclesia Domestica, our Domestic Church.

Interesting facts about Hasidism:
~Married woman always have their head covered or wear wigs. Even at home, in case someone stops over.
~Men and women never, ever interact. At parties and weddings a curtain is up with women on one side, and men on the other. Their Temple services are segregated as well.
~Men don't cut the hair from the five corners of their head.
~Marriages are often arranged by a matchmaker.
~Women dress very modestly in skirts and dresses that cover most of their bodies. Hasidic Jews wear muted colors, and are never flashy or brightly dressed.
~In the United States, Hasidic Jews live primarily in New York City.

So, I didn't become a Jew or anything during my hiatus, I'm just baiting you all out there to see if anyone else has a culture to share something about, a book about an interesting lifestyle, or the like. I've been digging around for a good book about Hasidism (historical fiction?) with no luck (that and the Amish--groups not known for being literary prolific).
Hoping my fellow Hesistant Homemakers are having better luck with their summer reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here we go...again (but not in the moving or job sense, Thank God!!)

We've been so blessed since moving into our new home in January. Everyone was flourishing and happy, and we have had so much to be thankful for. In addition to adjusting to our new home, we were all adjusting to the different seasons that Mark's new job would bring. Shortly after the new year, a busy schedule turned into a crazy busy schedule in preparation for a trial.

We all rolled with it, and did what was necessary to keep our family going. This often meant dinner in shifts, so the little guys could eat earlier. The family dinner was turned into Mark eating leftovers, while the kids chased each other around the table with their jammies on.

And then, because the trial location was over two hours away, and because frequent depositions are required before trial, Mark ended up needing to be gone often during the week. Again, we took it in stride.

It was during one of these trips away that I realized I was pregnant.


I know, I know, crazy, right? I mean, I'm going to have a baby right after Thanksgiving, right before Christmas, and my 3rd and 4th children are only going to be about 20 months apart. But...It is good. Life, children, family; another eternal soul is always good. We needed to fill up that last seat in our minivan anyway.

Since the time I found out I was expecting, a week hasn't gone by in the first trimester where I have had an entire week with my husband home. Fortunately, I have sweet children and a toddler who takes two naps a day. Without that saving grace, many more tears over exhaustion would have been shed.

But this time around, knowing my limits, I have little to no guilt about popping in a movie for the kids at 10am while the baby naps and I shut my burning eyes for the few minutes I can get away with it. If they want leftover chicken for breakfast, or insist that strawberries are all they want for lunch, I just let them.

I mean, when you are in your first trimester, it's sink or swim. To stay afloat, I just have to let some things go. You know, like vacuuming, and oral hygiene. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

So, this summer brings a few challenges, but a lot of joy, not to mention a heck of a lot of dill pickles, tomatoes, potatoes and bananas. I don't expect the brown sugar craze to start for awhile...

Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where, Oh Where!

Where, Oh where do I begin after such a long absence?!

I sit and type from my computer desk for the first time in a long time, and wow, am I thankful. It's strange being without a computer and trying to accomplish everything you once did on a computer to your smart phone. Managing Amazon Subscribe and Save shipments, and trying to scroll through pages of Google Images to see whether if the green caterpillar is a lunar moth or not, have proven quite tedious.

There is so, so much going on here, and the strange thing about not blogging about it, is that for the first several weeks away from the blog, I would register the "bloggable moment" in my head, only to realize that I wouldn't be blogging about said moment. Now, I'm a little stuck, being rusty and all from my absence. Hopefully the creative juices will soon be flowing, along with the small inspirations from life that make up most of this blog.

So, here's a quick recap of what we've been up to.

1) Luke will be six soon, and this is the first summer where I've been able to enroll him in activities that keep us all busy. T-ball, swimming lessons, and piano will be keeping our unairconditioned van nice and toasty these summer months. I wished that I could have enrolled Paul in activities right along with his brother, but he is still too young. He doesn't mind though. The playground at T-ball, and the empty ice rink at swimming lessons are giving him ample room to run free. It's a good arrangement.

2) My children are so very, very overtired. When they aren't swimming, playing T-ball, or running around the playground, they are running around outside. ALL DAY LONG. I keep them inside for as long as I can in the morning, but once they are out, it's the best I can do to feed and water them on the go. Up too early, and  running all day, and it's a recipe for hyperactivity that is a tell-tale sign of exhaustion around here. To remedy,  Mean Mommy is making the children rest all afternoon. Quiet time on beautiful June days sounds brutal, but it's a sanity saver.

3) A couple weeks ago I was able to attend the Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference. There was so much there, and so much that I wanted to do that I just had to resign myself to look forward to next years' conference so that I could prepare myself for all that I wanted to see and attend. It was such a "safe" place, and I remarked to a friend that I was in a crowd that I felt so incredibly normal in. I think schools are a great place, but there is something wonderful about being able to share about your children without having someone answer how attending school is the be-all and end-all solution to every problem. Saying, "My child is a wiggle worm," or "My child is a little bit of a cry-baby," or "My child is pretty gifted in this area," is met with actual, tangible solutions instead of the defensive response, "You know, school would really help that."

There is more I will share soon, even some big news. But, now that I am back at blogging, I can stretch things out a bit, right?