July 2005 Archives

Joy Times Two!

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baptism.jpg
Happy Baptismal Day!
Donovan Charles Cosmas
Davis Anthony Damian
We love you, baby boys! And we welcome you into the household of God!
Your Godparents,
MamaT and PapaC

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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Appetizer
Name 3 people whom you admire for their intelligence.

Soup
What's the last food you tried that you really didn't care for.

Salad
If you could rename the street that you live on, what would you want it to be called?

Main Course
When was the last time you were genuinely surprised?

Dessert
Share a household tip.

I'll answer in the comment boxes with you!

....Most of which, I must admit, go right over my head, I think it's fun to look at the search strings that brought people to our site.

We can certainly sympathize with those who came looking for Chili's Lettuce Wrap Points, but we don't eat them. If I eat at Chili's, it's SW Eggrolls for me, and Smock won't eat anything green. Sorry, no help there.

Two people came looking for Call Girl Barbie. Look over yonder. She's next to the Alternative Lifestyle Barbie.

One person came via the single search word Coolmoe. Must be someone who knows the Smock.

For those of you who came looking for Mature Mamas, well, I like you a little more than those who came looking for Adult Old Mamas. Hey! I prefer to think of myself as ripened to perfection. Humph!

But my favorite search string this month--and maybe even of ALL TIME:

Gregory Peck Hotties

Oh yeah, baby! I LIKE IT!

After the joys of San Francisco, we headed to Napa Valley to enjoy a day in the wine country. Oh, if you've never done that, you really must! Of all the places we went in California, it was the place that we all thought would be the greatest to live (not that we're moving, you understand!).

We went on the tour of the Mondavi vineyard--I know, I know, it's very corporate. But they do a good 2 hour tour, from grapevine to bottle. It's a good way to see the process for those of us who know nothing. We tasted three wines at the end, but we didn't buy anything there.

From there, we just cruised the little towns and stopped in where it looked interesting. We bought a case of wine at the Sattui Winery in St. Helena and had it shipped home. 6 bottles of their Sauvignon Blanc, 3 bottles of their Pinot Noir and 3 bottles of their Muscat--a sweet dessert wine that to me is like drinking cake. Cold, tinkly cake. YUM.

We also bought a bottle of Port from the Cuvaison winery. We could have filled the trunk with wine, but then where would we put it?? Or where would we have put our suitcases??? Ah, the questions....

And the other excitement for this day???? In and Out Burger. What a trip! A hamburger joint with 4 things on the menu, and speedy, speedy service (at least at THAT location). I want one here! (We did eat at one later in Los Angeles that wasn't nearly as good.)

What a yummy day.

The next day we went first to Muir Woods to see the coastal redwoods. It was a spectacular place--so cool and green. We hiked the whole circuit trail, and it was refreshing.

Then from the sublime to the commercial! When we left Muir Woods to drive to Yosemite, we passed an Ikea store in Emeryville. Zteen and I started chanting, "We want to see Ikea. We want to see Ikea!" PapaC thought we were joking at first, but he obliged us. We spent nearly THREE HOURS in Ikea, just looking at stuff. Especially the display of the "House for Four in 500 sq feet." What an interesting place. They are opening one about an hour from us in August. It'll be interesting to see if the concept goes over in the land of McMansions that is North Dallas and beyond. And what quality is the stuff? It seemed so inexpensive. Does it last?

We ended up, after a beautiful drive, in Oakhurst, near the south entrance of Yosemite. And there I'll leave you 'til later.

So then, after a whopping four hours of sleep, we got up for our first day in beautiful San Francisco. And the Fourth of July at that.

After discussing where the BART station might be (so we wouldn't have to drive our car into SF on a holiday!), we rapidly decided that if we EVER owned a hotel we would make our employees take a class in "where stuff is that tourists might want to see and how to get there." Let's just say the guy was not very knowledgeable.

We found our own way to BART and took the subway/train into San Francisco, with exactly NO other people on the train with us. Apparently everyone with any sense is actually SLEEPING IN on the 4th of July.

Not us! We made it into downtown, but then had to walk about a zillion miles (remember--we're from Texas--we drive to the end of the block!) down to the place where Blue and Gold starts the bus tours. Due to factors beyond our control, and some that were in our control--like driving in the pitch dark for 5 hours through a wilderness--we missed our tour! And I'm thinking, "I could be sleeping right now!!!!" No refunds, and we even gave them the sad tourist faces and our song and dance story. I don't blame them. I'm sure they hear the same story every single day.

Being the good ex-accountant I am, though, we started looking at other options for tours. I mean sunk costs are sunk costs and shouldn't be part of your next decision. They can't be helped. So, we ended up at the Grayline tour desk a block or so down from Blue and Gold. Sent PapaC in to see what they did. He told them the sad story, and was prepared to buy 3 new tickets for their tour.

Then a wonderful thing happened. They are a subcontractor for Blue and Gold and do work with them. "We'll take your tickets! You'll still lose a little, 'cause our tour is a little shorter and $10 cheaper, but we'll argue with them about reimbursement. Not only that, but if you'll hurry, we'll hold the bus that's just about to leave for you."

Now that was nice. I've written a very complimentary letter to the company, thanking them for their exceptional treatment of 3 tired Texans that busy, busy day.

So, we spent the morning getting the three hour tour (yes, you can hum the theme of Gilligan's Island if you want) of San Francisco. It seemed appropriate, since we had so little time there, to spend some of it seeing what we might want to see more of the next day. And the guide was good and funny. Thoroughly enjoyable, even if totally touristy. Saw all the major sights, even if quickly: Golden Gate Bridge, Nob Hill, Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf (where we started out), the Presidio, Chinatown, Japantown, etc, etc, etc.

After that, we ate lunch (yum!) at the Franciscan on Fisherman's Wharf, watching the birds, boats and folks out of the big windows.

Then we did the next totally touristy thing. We took the boat out to Alcatraz. It was great. I am a total nerd junky for audio tours of stuff. And Alcatraz has a great one, with voices of guards, prisoners, sound effects, etc. Award winning it said. But who gives awards for audio tours???? And is there a red carpet ceremony somewhere? It makes me laugh to think.

Anyway, all three of us were fascinated by the whole thing. And for me, who'd rather be hot than cold any old day, it was eye-opening to think how cold and dank the cells were. And they were nasty tiny, too. From there, back to shore for supper.

Walked up to the Italian section of town to get Italian food for supper. Ate at some really garlicky tourist trap restaurant. I had 40 clove chicken, which was OK, and garlic mashed potatoes, which were EXCELLENT. I'm such a one for mashed potatoes. The guys had vegetarian lasagna of some sort. They said it was just OK. Walked off the pasta by going BACK down to the Wharf for the next adventure.

Then that night, we went on a boat out on the Bay to watch fireworks. It was awesomely great--they do them double, so it's like fireworks in stereo! Plus we went out early enough that we saw fireworks from surrounding towns as well. The only problem? I was freezing!!! With jeans, socks and tennies, long sleeved shirt and jacket on! We knew about the weather, but dang! It was cold on that water.

Made our way back to the hotel and dropped in to bed and slept like there was no waking. But there was!

Day Two was spent just walking, walking, walking. Looking at amazing things. Chinatown was Zack's favorite. He was astounded with a place that you could live and never have to speak English. We got off the main drag some and spent a lot of time googling at dead chickens and ducks in store windows, live fish swimming in giant tanks until their number was up, dried mushrooms and stuff in baskets, and getting out of the way of little old Chinese ladies who were spitting on the sidewalks. It was GREAT! We ate at a random restaurant there for lunch. Good food. Can't remember the name.

Rode the cable cars, of course. Went to the cathedral, pretty new, too modern for my tastes, but not as bad as it looked from the outside. And why, oh why, did they make the inside of the ceiling look like Star Wars fighter plane wings? Just because they could?

Went to St. Dominic's--because a priest friend of ours asked us to. And because Dominic is Zteen's confirmation name. Met some nice Dominicans. Saw a sacristy that made me drool. Cool flying butresses that were added after the '89 earthquake.

Walked through Japantown and marvelled at the plastic food in the restaurant windows. You don't have to know how to read, just point! And the kid meals were a scream. Who knew you could make noodles look like an airplane? Looked at the bonsai in one of the shops. Amazing. And I could kill it in 5 minutes if I took it home. Needless to say, we didn't take it home!

Window shopped in Union Square, laughing at some of the high dollar clothes, and lusting after some of the high dollar jewelry. Ah, well, I don't have the life style for it anyway!

To Ghiradelli Square for chocolates to ship home to my parents and some friends. Ambled back to the touristy part of the wharf, so Zteen could buy his San Francisco hat (he has a baseball hat collection) and to eat seafood one more time.

GREAT time. Loved the city. One of the best places we've been!

That Elisabeth Elliot is so smart!

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Most of us would like to do something special in life, something to distinguish us. We suppose that we desire it for God's sake, but more likely we are discontent with ordinary life and crave special privileges. When Israel asked if they should offer some spectacular sacrifice--thousands of rams, ten thousand "rivers of oil," a firstborn child--the answer was, "He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Mi 6:8 RSV).

There is nothing conspicuous about those requirements. It is not a "special" service for which one would be likely to be decorated or even particularly remembered. But it is worth more to God than any sacrifice.

Lord, deliver me from the delusion of imagining that my desire is to serve You, when my real desire is the distinction of serving in some way which others admire.

From her book The Shadow of the Almighty.

And now, an apology...

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....to Mr. Keilholtz. We didn't get a chance to call him while we were in San Francisco, and that was a real bummer. We were only there two days, and we kept thinking, "We'll call as soon as we get back to the hotel." Only we never got back at a reasonable time to call. So we all three were bummed that we didn't get to meet him, his lovely wife and the precocious Amalia. And we so wanted to play Toddler Iron Chef!

Even Zteen was sad that we didn't get to meet my "friend from the blogs."

(And, in the interest of complete honesty, I am always a little nervous about meeting someone in real life that I've known from the internet. I'm never afraid they will disappoint ME--that's never been the case. I'm always afraid that I will disappoint THEM! What if Erik thought I was a dork in real life?????)

I won't really say much about the first day and half of vaction. Friday night and all day Saturday were just driving, driving, driving and more driving. We drove all the way to Kingman AZ by stopping time Saturday night.

Sunday morning we got up and went to mass at St. Mary's--just so it would seem like home, I guess. Nice enough parish.

Sunday after mass, we decided that instead of taking our originally plotted route from Kingman to San Francisco, we would drive through Death Valley. Zteen really wanted to see it, and it really was awesome. If you like deserts. And 122 degree heat. And salt. Lots of salt. Here's a picture:

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Driving out of the Valley, we had to turn our air conditioner off! It was really hot, too. There's every kind of desert landscape in the Park--from the salt flats, to old abandoned borax mines, to scrubby desert, to sand dunes. It really is a remarkable place. I'd like to see it again, just not in JULY!

There should be a giant sign at the edge of Death Valley that says: Going to San Francisco? YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE!. OK, so not really, but we made a serious mistake in our planning somewhere!

Originally, before the Death Valley side trip reared its head, we were going to scoot across California on I-40, then head north on I-5. Instead, we found ourselves heading north on 395. If we had been smart, we would have just driven all the way north to Reno, then gone south to San Francisco. Way out of the way? Yes. But it would have taken no longer than the adventure we ended up with!

We went up to Bishop, and had a really nice Mexican food dinner at a little cafe there, which was pretty much the last nice part of the evening. We were going to hit a little road north of Yosemite--108 or something. But we missed it. By the time we figured out we had missed it, we decided to mush on to the next teeny red squiggle on the map--Hwy 89, which goes through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness area. Well, I'll say it was wilderness. In the dark we drove more than 60 miles going NO FASTER EVER than 25 mph, and substantial parts of the time more slowly than that. It was getting really creepy. We saw no other cars. It was pitch dark. No towns (wilderness area--duh!), no nothing. I began to feel panic, as every horror movie I had ever seen ran through my head.

Finally, about 3 hours into the drive, PapaC says he has to stop--he's held the iced tea from Bishop as long as he can. We get out into the freezing night. Look up at the most beautiful stars you've ever seen, and see everything, because there's not a shred of light from anywhere else. After gazing in wonder for several minutes, PapaC excuses himself and turns around to relieve himself....

And a car drives past. After 3 HOURS of no other cars, all we had to do was let PapaC pee on the side of the road to get another car to come by! We all three broke into almost hysterical laughter--and laughed so hard that tears ran down our cheeks. Oh my, oh my.

Anyway, we finally make it over the mountains and through the woods and get to South San Francisco (where our hotel room is) at 2:30 a.m. (And we got up at 7:00 a.m. to make it to early mass that morning.) We dropped exhausted into our beds, because we have to get up the next morning (the Fourth of July) to be on a bus tour of San Francisco at 8:45 a.m.!!!!!!! Without Death Valley, piece of cake. With Death Valley, it looks like the Bataan Death March. What a way to start a vacation......

Books, books and more books!

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Finished a bunch of books lately, some on CD during vacation, some in "real" book-form. Here's a quickie disclosure in the interest of making the online log complete:

#27: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde. Funny, cute, the perfect book on CD for a literate group traveling long distances by car! Time traveling detective Thursday Next works for the literary police, keeping order in literature. Up against the evil Goliath Corp, which is in the process of turning itself into a religion, she tries to get her husband back. Oh yeah, he was eradicated from the time stream. Oh, and she's being stalked by an assasin: The Windowmaker. Yeah, she should have been called the Widowmaker, but her business cards were printed incorrectly! And Thursday is still looking for the escaped Minotaur, and waiting to hear what will happen to her for changing the ending to Jane Eyre...... Absurd, funny, worth the time!

#28: Higher by Neal Bascomb. Nonfiction. Account of the race to build the tallest skyscraper in New York in the late 1920's. A wonderful picture of the era. You know the crash is coming, but the race goes on. How Walter Chrysler (of the Chrysler Building) and young financier George Ohrstrom (of the Manhatten Bank Building) competed to be tallest--only to be overshadowed, in the end, by Al Smith and the Empire State Building.

#29: Close to Home by Peter Robinson. An Inspector Banks murder mystery. Bones from a 1965 murder are found--one of Banks' childhood pals. Reopening the mystery takes him back to those days--and he finds things he never dreamed existed at the time. At the same time he is investigating the death of another teenager in current time. And juggling feelings toward 2 women police officers. OK, but not great. And way too explicit.

#30: Code to Zero by Ken Follett. 1958. Space Race. Cold War. A man wakes up dirty and hungover in a bathroom in Union Station. Amnesia. How he finds out who he is and foils a plot by the KGB to sabotage the American space program is the gist of the book. Pretty decent evocation of the 40's and 50's. Not Follett's best, but good enough.

#31: Bellwether by Connie Willis. Sandra Foster studies trends, and is intrigued by Dr. Bennett O'Reilly--a chaos theorist who is the least trendy person she's ever met. The plot involves stupid corporate moves, a flock of sheep, and an assistant named Flip--the ultimate incompetent worker and chaos maker. Very sweet and funny love story.

#32: Sister of My Heart by Chitra Divakaruni. My book group's reading selection for this month. A wonderful book. The story of two girl cousins born on the same day, in the same house to widowed mothers. Their closeness, their loves, their disappointments, their attempts to break free of the societal expectations for high caste Indian girls. Though their bond is strained after their marriages (both arranged), they are bound so closely together that they save each other. Through losses big and small, it is the sisterly love that bridges the gaps.

#33: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This book has been on my shelf literally for YEARS, but I had never read it. I was impressed. This is Bradbury's fantasy about the colonization of Mars. Reads like any conquest of a "foreign land" with disregard for the existing civilization, mass extermination of the indigenous population by something harmless to the colonists (in this case chicken pox). Earth sends lots of people over time, but most return to Earth for the final devastating war that ends life on Earth as we know it. It ends with the recolonization of Mars by the few who escaped the conflagration--beginning again.....

nothing but the breast

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i'll tell you what, nursing two wee ones in public is not an easy task, but it sure comes in handy if you want a private room in a doctor's office.

we've practiced attachment parenting to one degree or another with all of our previous children. co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, and wearing babies has been very important to the smockdaddy and to me. that said, it ain't so easy with twins. despite well intentioned advice from other AP parents who think it's a good idea to wear both at the same time, well, my back just isn't cut out for it no matter how well worn.

we got the king size bed to help with co-sleeping and the extra room has been wonderful, but as one daughter said, "momma, you're always breasting the babies!" and she doesn't know that half of it because she doesn't witness all of the nighttime feedings.

AP parenting for singletons is a sacrifice. AP parenting with twins is knockin' off serious purgatory time.

Tourism in general

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Just a few general observations from traveling, apropos of nothing.

1. Boy, a hotel's idea of what a free continental breakfast is sure does vary from place to place! We went from a cold bagel and a cup of juice (in Kingman AZ) to a full breakfast buffet with bacon, biscuits and gravy (in Pecos TX).

2. We were swarmed with foreign tourists everywhere we went. I guess the dollar is good against most other currencies, making it cheaper for them to travel here than it has been in past years. HORDES of German tourists. Absolute hordes every where we went. And lots of Chinese and Japanese tourists. It was funny to be at the San Diego zoo and hear a montage of languages while going through the panda exhibit.

3. Oriental women under the age of forty would obviously never be caught dead wearing sneakers of any sort. While we were walking out on the salt flat of Death Valley, they were walking out there in flip-flops. I was afraid they would melt onto the desert floor, never to move again. It became a game for us. All through the vacation, we were looking at Asian women's feet. In all those miles, we saw exactly ONE woman with sneakers on. She was at least 50.

4. If you see a woman tourist in a dress, there is a 99% chance she will be foreign. It's one of those logic things. Not all foreign women tourists wear dresses, but all the women tourists we saw wearing dresses were foreigners. Not that they were modest dresses, in all cases, mind you. But I was surprised by the number of young Europeans wearing dresses. NO, absolutely NO, American women tourists wearing dresses.

5. Books on CD make the drive to and from SO MUCH nicer. Really. But you have to be careful. You can't skip over stuff much, and anything off color (that I would normally just skip over) becomes embarrassing when you have to listen to it. Don't ask me how I know. I'll tell you later.....

6. Nothing like making expensive Texas gas look cheap. Gas is at least 40-50 cents per gallon cheaper here. We felt put upon before we left. Now we feel grateful.

7. It is a lucky woman who can spend 17 days traveling with her family and be completely sorry that it's all over. I am that woman.

i hate mosquitos

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especially southern mosquitos cuz they're so blasted big, avoiding them is like playing extreme dodgeball, but for blood!

just remember that once you're over the hill you tend to pick up speed!

She's back!!!!

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5,267 miles, 4 books on CD, 1 book in real life, 1 and 1/3 afghans crocheted, and 16 1/2 days later, I'm BACK!!!

And boy, do I have lots to say.

But I've also got lots of bills to pay, lots of clothes to wash. Groceries to buy (our cupboards have dust bunnies in them), dogs to bathe (eeeeuw--2 weeks on the screen porch, and they stink!), errands to run.

But I'll start the travel saga soon! I'm bursting to tell!

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took the wee ones to see charlie and the chocolate factory today. there's something to be said about watching this visual feast from the first row of the theatre. i suppose it's as close as we'll come to seeing it in IMAX vision -- we cannot take the children to see IMAX films because the sound is always too loud (read, frightening for the younger ones).

in my humble smockopinion, this is a more mature version of the roald dahl classic and, if memory serves, much closer to dahl's vision. still, this film is indisputable burton; and although it is more mature with a burtonesque soundtrack (read, more eerie than the willy wonka soundtrack) and a creepier version of verucaís punishment via the trained squirrels ("don't touch that squirrel's nuts!"), i think burton took great pains to keep the movie family friendly. there is mild language, but it's said quickly [a la' the curse word in the wizard of oz that most people miss]. in fact, there is a distinctly pro-family message that is amazingly touching. i blame it on the postpartum hormones, but yes, during one scene i almost cried. as we were leaving the theatre, glynnis said, "poor willy wonka didn't have a family of his own. but, it's good that he found charlie and his family." she got the message and that's well worth the price of admission.

i made the mistake of reading a few reviewers who dogged depp's wonka, but i just didn't see their point. i thought depp did a great job. perhaps they disliked his subtlety. i thought he gave a fine performance. apparently even gene wilder has bemoaned the remake as a marketing ploy for nestle -- which is pretty hypocritical considering the original movie was a huge marketing ploy for quaker oats. i chalk it up to sour grapes.

iíve already been asked which is my favorite. i cannot answer that. and as a self-proclaimed purist, iím truly torn. all i can offer is that one is gothic where the other is psychedelic. and, i do like that we see wonka as a child and learn more about the why's of his eccentricity in burton's version. since this version has as many delicious and quotable lines as the first, it makes it all the more difficult to decide on a preference.

bottom line: we already have willy wonka in our movie collection. assuming a holiday release of the DVD, i imagine that by thanksgiving, charlie will be sitting next willy on the shelf.

amazing reruns

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am i still allowed to contend that i don't do reality tv and that i'm not an amazing race junkie if i've started watching it in reruns?

in the words of our first president, "i cannot tell a lie, paw." i must admit that i'm a reality late bloomer. you see, i wasn't snookered into reality tv and the amazing race craze until mamaT started writing posts about the show on this here blog. the tempatation was just too great, so i started watching at the end of season six. for those who have actually been able to abstain from the craziness, there are seven seasons thus far. anyway, gsn cable network is now airing the amazing race from the very beginning - monday launched the first season; and so help me, i'm tivo-ing every cotton pickin' season! and, so help you, i'm going to chronicle my favorite quotes. here goes:

amazing race: season one, episode one
"gaw, there are a lot of bugs out in the jungle! go figure." ~ kim

amazing race: season one, episode two
"is there a chicken village? or a chicken museum? does that count for anything?" ~amie

amazing race: season one, episode three
"the only time i feel my age is when i look in a mirror. . .and then it almost does me in." ~ margaretta

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i heard from mamaT. she and her clan are having a wonderful time in sunny CA. they were on their way to hollywood when we spoke. i also received a postcard from her via the muir woods national monument.

it ain't just in Texas, folks

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tell America you want secured borders, visit grassfire.org

any hints, advice, or tips you care to share about nursing two infants would be greatly appreciated. feel free to leave comments here or email me at smockmommaATaol.com. thanks!

gabby (2 yrs.), on the phone to pawpaw bill who told her that he would be coming for a visit: "but, my house isn't clean."

duncan (9yrs.) to smockdaddy, who was explaining FICA: "i don't think i like taxes very much. do you?"

grace (5 yrs.), after eating a large lunch: "that was so good! i think i need to throw up."

glynnis (7 yrs.) to smockmomma, who was holding donovan (1 mo.) in her arms at the time: "is he resting or just breasting?"

better late than never

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donovan and davis being babies.

the latest from the american family association...

"Homosexual activists are working to get other corporations to follow the lead of Nike. Many corporations are already donating large sums to homosexual organizations to support their agenda.

Sending a message to Nike will send a message to those corporations poised to support homosexual unions. Your email letter will be sent to Nike President Bill Perez and three other corporate executives."

click HERE to send an email.

especially when you're Catholic. have you ever noticed just how anti-catholic, hence anti-family, your medical insurance coverage is?

we've been insurance shopping for the better part of a month and basically there is no such thing as maternity coverage when you're looking for individual plans and crappy offerings (i think that's the technical term) when you're looking at health savings accounts. there is only one company that offers a rider for maternity coverage (for people who cannot get group insurance) and that is only available for up to, not to exceed $4,000 -- and i don't know about you, but that won't even open the hospital door for someone, like me, who has to have c-sections.

oh! but they ALL cover birth control pills.

We're Outta Here!

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Suitcases packed, we're ready to hit the road! It's been more than 3 years since we have taken a vacation. McKid's birth, PapaC's heart attack and three surgeries have kept us at home. But we're breaking out, figuring this may be the last big family vacation. When we come back, Zteen must get a job and start his "real life" (as he calls it). College, jobs, girlfriends.....all that will make it hard for us to do a big time trip again. Maybe we'll be lucky, but we're grabbing the opportunity now.

Please pray for us, and for our safe travel. I remember you all in my morning prayers. Please also pray for the McKid and her mama as they travel to a wedding in a completely different direction.

Keep Smock company--she's still so tired from the birth of the boys. She'll post if she can.

If she doesn't, new content will start on Monday July 18th--with a blow by blow travelogue.

Bless you all. Thank you for being our readers and our friends.

See you soon!

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Packin' for vacation.....

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.....and doin' the TSO thing, trying to decide what books to take.

We packed our suitcases last night, trying to keep what we're taking down to the minimum of what we need. It's always a challenge. I ended up with 3 pairs of shoes--and Zteen piped in, "THREE PAIRS?! Why do you need THREE PAIRS?!"

Ha! Wait 'til he gets married! I told him that he doesn't know very many women who could leave for 17 days with only 3 pairs of shoes. Many years ago I couldn't do it either, but I've gotten better as I've gotten less vain.

We'll do laundry somewhere along the way, so I got everything in ONE suitcase. OK, one suitcase and my crochet bag (which has my shoes in the bottom of it!). Can't do a long car trip without the crochet bag. I'd probably go into gibbering withdrawal.

We also travel with books on tape to listen to as we go along. We've got several days of straight driving ahead (and at the end of the trip). Books on tape (well, I guess actually Books on CD) make the time fly. Something about that narrative flow helps the time flow, too. And it beats arguing over the radio: country vs. oldies, hard rock vs. sports talk, you get the picture. We've got a wide variety of books on cd--everything from Jane Eyre to the latest murder mystery. We take more than we will ever listen to, so that if something is not striking our fancy, we can turn it off and go on to the next thing. And yes, I'm counting the ones we hear in my reading list for the year.

To actually read? I culled it to 3 books, none of which I will probably finish. Connie Willis' Bellwether, Iain Pears' Scipio's Dream and Angela Thirkell's Pomfret Towers. I'm taking Magnificat for daily prayers; you couldn't pay me to lug the Book of Divine Worship in my suitcase.

So see? I'm being minimalist in books as well as clothes!!! PapaC laughs at my "minimalism" but he oughta think back to the trips we made when we were first married. Then he'd kiss my feet. And my measly 3 pairs of shoes.

Book #26 of 2005 finished!

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Amidst the washing and drying, folding and putting away. (How do three people have this much laundry? Oh, yeah. I put it off!!!!!)

Summer Half by Angela Thirkell. I cannot tell you the debt I owe Steven Riddle for telling me about these books. They are completely escapist literature, with ironic humor and sly winks added in. This one is the story of Colin Keith, who decides that he really ought to be doing something gainful regarding employment instead of reading law and "sponging" off his father. He decides to take a job as a junior classics master for the summer term at the nearby boys school. People fall in love, fall out of love, swim, boat on the river, flood the dormitory, lose a chameleon, ride in fast cars, and all that. The right man gets the right woman, and everything ends happily. Just what I need when the temperature is over 100 and my air conditioning is just not keeping up!

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