Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Well, Uncle Alex did it again. A second tooth has been lost. Sam's smile now has a perfect square in it. So there was some more blood, some more tears and lots of courage. (He asked that Ethan and I leave the room, so that only the 'men' remained.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Financial Goals

I'm not big on new year's resolutions, but the new year is as good a time as any to set goals for the future. Husband and I have decided that now's the time to get our finances in order, pay some things off and save & invest. We've set a strict budget so that we can pay off debt quickly (next 8 months) and save for trips and other purchases we'd like to make in cash.

A girlfriend of mine who has worked for an investing company and is finishing her Masters in Business this year has recommended the book, Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. I'm wondering if any of you have read it. I'm only in chapter 2, but I love it already. It states immediately that you don't have to be rich to save and invest money. The author tells a sweet story about how his grandmother managed to die a millionaire working on a minimum wage income her whole life.

I have always shied away from financial stuff, but my goal is to educate myself and not let husband take the burden of doing/managing it all. The book lists reasons why we as women should not leave the responsibility to the man/men in your life. My husband is incredibly resposible with our money, but if anything should happen to him I need to know where our money is, if anything is saved, and how to access it all.

Anyway, I thought I'd keep you updated on our success/failure with the new budget. Satellite cable tv didn't fit in our financial plan, so (sadly) I'm going to have it disconnected this week. I'm willing to give it up if it means that I can still go snowboarding!!!

I stumbled on this blog (or did we talk about it here?) a while ago and I really like it. The Budgeting Babe

Friday, January 26, 2007

Baby Shower Newbie

I am throwing/hosting a baby shower for my dear friend in March and I've never done this before!!! I have sweet invitations picked out and will send them out soon, but I need some suggestions on how and what to do with all those girls when they get here!! I've been to a few showers and played a few silly games, but I don't like games* and I don't want her party to be boring just b/c I don't have any good ideas! Girls, unite and help! What did you like/not like about baby showers that were thrown for you? Have any of you thrown/attended a successful shower? What are your secrets? Party planning is definitely not one of my gifts...

(*Just becuase I don't like games doesn't mean that I'm not willing to initiate a few games and have prizes.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cuaron:missing the point.

Allow me to add a quote about Children of Men--it's actually the last paragraph of the review I linked to in my last post...

...Even though I very much enjoyed the film, I think this paragraph puts it nicely:

Indeed, in a film from which all Christian referents have been systematically erased, the title itself, The Children of Men — a direct quotation from Psalm 90, a prayer in the burial service for the dead — is stripped of all symbolic resonance. It means nothing more than what it says. Yet, in the book, the recovery of the meaning of childbirth is inseparable from the discomfiting symbol of the cross. Cuaron’s thesis about our declining ability to read and interpret symbols is sadly confirmed in his own failure to come to terms with a book whose complex symbolism escapes the limits of his own imagination — an imagination deformed by Hollywood’s apolitical correctness.

Movie Time with WG

I saw Volver on Tuesday night and I really enjoyed it. Penélope Cruz is amazing and the story is funny and sad and light and heavy and thought-provoking all at the same time. It's in Spanish and that makes me happy, too. It gets four out of five wedding bouquets.

It's hard to explain the plot in a way that seems interesting and without ruining the movie, but here is the synopsis from the website:

Three generations of women survive the east wind, fire, insanity, superstition and even death by means of goodness, lies and boundless vitality.

They are Raimunda (Pénelope Cruz), who is married to an unemployed labourer and has a teenage daughter (Yohana Cobo); Sole (Lola Dueñas), her sister, who makes a living as a hairdresser; and the mother of both (Carmen Maura), who died in a fire along with her husband. This character appears first to her sister (Chus Lampreave) and then to Sole, although the people with whom she has some unresolved matters are Raimunda and her neighbour in the village, Agustina (Blanca Portillo).

Volver is not a surrealistic comedy although it may seem so at times. The living and the dead coexist without any discord, causing situations that are either hilarious or filled with a deep, genuine emotion. It's a film about the culture of death in La Mancha. The people there practice it with an admirable naturalness. The way in which the dead continue to be present in their lives, the richness and humanity of their rites mean that the dead never die.

Movie Time with Lizard

Last Saturday night we went to see the much talked about Pan's Labyrinth. It surprised me in many ways, but I was was most taken aback by its violence. This movie is not for the squeamish! I spent a good deal of the movie with my face in Andrew's shoulder. I was expecting to be in the 'labyrinth' most of the movie, but in fact this magical world is shown less than half the time. Maybe I was expecting Bowie's classic Labyrinth??

The basic plot is that Ofelia and her mother are taken out to the countryside to live in an old mill with her new Step-father who is a Nazi Captain fighting the local guerrillas in the surrounding woods. You learn very quickly of his cruelty and to be afraid, be very afraid. Behind the mill is an old Labyrinth where Ofelia is eventually led as she tries to survive her new environment and step-father.

The movie is two narratives woven together and yet they really never meet. I kept wanting one of the creatures to 'get' the captain, but that doesn't happen. (sigh)

If you have seen the trailers then you have seen most, but not all, of the 'labyrinth' scenes. By the way, the scene with the guy with eyes in his hands was truly frightening. This creature comes right out of a child's nightmare!

The soundtrack is haunting and beautiful and it is very well acted.

So out of 5 Lizards, I give it 4 1/2 Lizards. It is amazing, but I could have done with more magic and less brutality.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Children of Men.

Recently Michael and I saw the movie, Children of Men. The film is based on the dystopian novel by P.D. James, who happens to be one of my favorite crime novelists. Children of Men is no murder mystery, however; the story is set just a few decades in the future, a future when all of mankind has mysteriously become infertile. Despite playing in only one theatre here in our city, the film stars major actors Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine.

We were told by friends to see the movie before we read the book--if we read the book first, we were bound to be disappointed by the movie's failure to address key philosophical and spiritual themes present in the novel. (P.D. James is an Anglican Christian.)

We loved the movie--it's truly amazing visually. The world in the movie felt believable; at times, the cinematography left me with my mouth hanging open. The story is engaging on many levels--though perhaps politically heavyhanded at times. I definitely recommend it.

So, onto the book. Can't wait to read it. Here is a well-written review of the book--comparisons/critique of the movie are included (sorry, I can't make hyperlink work for me today):


Monday, January 22, 2007

In memoriam.

Today is the March for Life in Washington.

I am thinking of millions of little lives that never had a chance to continue outside the womb. And I am thinking of women who live every day with guilt and pain. I pray that God would comfort them.

China baby....

I've finally remembered to add Lizard's adoption blog onto the sidebar--where her old adoption blog used to be. Sorry about that, Lizard. Check it out--it's a great blog. Plus, it's pink.

I Love My Job...

Eric, the photographer I work with and work for, just booked our first destination wedding in the Caribbean!!! His wife and my husband will be joining us on Nevis Island to make a week-long vacation out of it the first week in November. I've never been to the Caribbean. We're VERY excited.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How you know your 6 year-old son has spent too much time with your 22-year old brother.

Last Saturday Sam decided that he wanted his training wheels off. We realized Sam's seat was too high so Andrew knelt down to adjust it with Sam and I watching on. All of a sudden Sam says, "Daddy, do you think we could pimp my bike out?"

We both sat very still trying not to react. (I tried to contain my giggles.) Finally I said "Sure Sam. We could get some things for your bike."

The moment passed and Sam's bike is now 'pimped out' with a bright orange flag. (Pimp and safe.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baby Honor has arrived....

though a couple of days late, because of the crazy ice storm Austin just had!!! Kellsey's c-section was delayed, but her sweet daughter is finally here. Some pictures......

I've decided that 2007 will be the year of historical fiction and first up is John Williams' Augustus. I have found it beautiful and engrossing.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for me??

The Walmart Issue.

Last summer, when we were at L'Abri for a few weeks, a discussion of capitalism came up, and inevitably, so did WalMart. I am no fan of the big blue box myself--I'm certainly no expert in economics, but I've read enough and heard enough from even conservative business people like my dad, to know that WalMart bullies its suppliers and underpays its employees. Some Walmarts have welfare reps onsite, ready to assist its full-time employees in applying for government assistance. Yuck.

As we talked, someone rightly brought up the reality that, despite these problems, actually probably because of them!, WM does offer low prices, which for many is a blessing, an opportunity to stretch their dollars as far as they can go. (Am I really going to tell some old lady in the projects that she should be buying organic at Whole Foods?) During our talk, one of the L'abri workers, Dick Keyes, made the great point that, in complex cases like these, one must look at the aggregate good a company is doing.....so, yes, WM offers low-prices for people without money, and this is obviously good, but when weighed against the other issues, does WM have a positive or negative aggregate impact on society? Um, I know what I think.

But it's hard, you know? When it gets down to it, we shop at Whole Foods as much as we can, but my little family of M. and me live on 1.5 of a teacher's salary, and admittedly, we end up at WM occasionally, where we laugh at the impressive amount of groceries we can buy for 50 bucks.

What do you think? Any websites you would recommend addressing the issue in a balanced way? My question is, at what point do successful capitalists need to draw a line for themselves?---okay, maybe we won't make as many billions if we pay our employees a living wage, but maybe that's not the most important thing here.

For your viewing pleasure:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePEUjX6mcAM&eurl=

Monday, January 15, 2007

Teatime on a freezing day.

Won't you pop in
for a spot of tea?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Prayer Request

My dad's step-father died this morning. He'd been in a nursing home and very sick. Please pray for my grandmother and my father as it's been a tough 8 months since my dad's father died in May. This may change the living situation for my grandmother. My parents will be with her this week to help sort out the details...

Friday, January 12, 2007

At the school where my husband now teaches, and where I used to teach, Beatrix Potter is a well-loved part of the elementary curriculum. While teaching there I grew to appreciate her stories more than I did before--I think many of us did. Heck, one of our former teachers even named her daughter Beatrix....how cute is that? Beatrix Potter, Charlotte Mason, England, Lake District, nature study,etc...I associate all these things with my old school. So, I am VERY excited about the movie! I can't wait to see it--it opens tonight in our city....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My discovery...

You guys have to check out a blog I found. Homesick Texan
is a tribute to all things TexMex. It makes this Homesick Texan very happy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

1 Lost Tooth and 2 Little Stories

Well, it happened. My baby lost his first tooth. After dinner I heard my brother prepping Sam in the kitchen telling him that he was about to pull it out. I waited for Alex to call me in and there on the table was a little tooth. Sam looked at me as his mouth was filling with blood and his little face crumpled into tears. It took awhile for us to talk him into the idea that he was a very big boy now and that rewards awaited him such as ice cream and a visit from the tooth fairy. He soon calmed down enough to take this picture. The rest of the evening he kept telling me that he could feel wind going through mouth. So cute.

1. We had lunch with a man Andrew used to work with named Fr. George. (He is a Priest) At one point during the meal Sam leaned over and told me he wanted to speak to 'George Lucas'.

2.There is an X-rated video/book store near our house. The windows are covered with large images of women. On the way home from the store the other night Ethan said, "Mommy, have you ever been to that beautiful store?" I replied, "No, Ethan I haven't."
I then became curious about what he thought the store contained. So I asked "What do you think is in that store, Ethan?"
Ethan replied, "Golden stuff."

Saying good-bye.....

This past weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Ft.Worth to say good-bye to my Grandmother who died last Tuesday. On New Years Eve Day she suffered a massive stroke and was not found for 12 hours. The neurologist told my family that she had no brain activity in 2/3 of her brain and there was no chance for recovery. So last Tuesday they made the decision to pull out her breathing tube and she passed away 4 hous later.

My brother and I flew in on Thursday and spent 3 hard but sweet days with my family. Upon hearing the news I felt strongly that I needed to give the eulogy, which I did. It was very hard, but I managed through it.

My grandmothers name was Velma Helen Miers and she was 81 years old. She loved quiltmaking, crossword puzzles and the Cowboys football team. But most of all she loved Jesus and her family.

You can view her obituary here.

Where's the snow?

Weather in the northeast has been super MILD which is great when I think about the hassle of digging my car out of the snow, but lately I've been in vacation/snowboarding mode and I miss the snow. So, when we heard that Maine got 5 inches of the white stuff on monday my brother and I decided to make the drive up there (3 hours) and enjoy the goodness. It was a gorgeous drive and a beautiful day!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lizard's New Blog

I would like to invite everyone to view our new blog Bringing Mei Home. Both my husband and I will be contributing to it and it will hopefully serve as a way for all of you to follow our journey to China.

I have included some links on adoption which I will be adding to. (I've included Blessing of Grace, because I am a regular closet viewer this blog. )

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Holiday Family Fun

This Christmas husband and I hosted my parents in Boston instead of flying home to Texas. Mom and Dad were here for a week and we all had a blast! I took Mom to my hair stylist for a new do, we enjoyed the sights in Boston (including a new experience with the sanitized & heated city toilets), saw the Boston Ballet Nutcracker and went skiing in New Hampshire. It was fun to see my hard-working parents having such a good time.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hangin' out on the holiday.

With Sweetpea's permission....

I rediscovered this 'gem' last night in our picture archives. It was taken in October of 2000. I don't remember exactly what we were going for, but the image was entitled 'Ugly'. I think we nailed it. It is only to fair to show a much nicer image. It is taken after an afternoon at the zoo so we are tired, but it is a vast improvement.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Christ Child.

I think I mentioned previously that the pope's Christmas Eve homily this year really moved me. M. and I are blessed to know many adopted children, and have dear friends, like Lizard--who look forward to a little person joining their families thru adoption. My husband and I have mulled over adoption for sometime now....lately it's been on my mind much more than usual....thinking about all the children in the world who need families. So I really loved the way the pope framed the gospel on Christmas Eve....It reminds me of gospel truth, and makes me remember all those children......Here is an excerpt from his homily:

God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child........
He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn. Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us. Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life.

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