Saturday, September 20, 2014

Crucifix Shopping

Shhh: don't tell the computer or Big Brother.  I have figured out how to get NICE ads in the sidebar of my computer.  If you go shopping for a few hours on eShakti, they start sending you gazillions of ads.  If you keep clicking on them, pretty soon the ads go away that want you to [ahem] meet singles or buy Bounty or subscribe to some liberal magazine.

Tonight I spent a couple of hours looking for crucifixes.  On ebay.  On Amazon.  On various Catholic church-supply sites.  And now I have crosses and pretty dresses popping up as ads.  Nice!

While shopping, I discovered how
few people knew what a crucifix is.  There were plenty of empty crosses listed under "crucifix."  There were also the kind that some of our kids received as baptism gifts from the congregation -- the kind with a kneeling child in the center.

"I don't like that cross, Mom!  I don't want to die on a cross!"

Uh, yeah, that was when those crosses went away.

I also discovered somebody's crafts: turquoise and yellow beads, strung together like we used to make at summer camp to be key chains or lanyards.  In a cross-shape.  Turquoise and yellow.  Ugly as could be.  Mixed in with the crucifixes.  Good grief.  It takes a lot of sifting to shop for something online.

PS: If you need an introductory coupon for eShakti (which also offers free customizing on first-time orders), let me know.  You'll get $25-35 off your first try, and I'll get a $10 referral coupon.

Friday, September 19, 2014


When a brain aneurysm ruptures, blood mixes with the cerebrospinal fluid.  Your brain doesn't like that.  Neither do your nerves.  That nice, clean fluid is supposed to protect your nervous system, and blood pollutes it.  This can bring on arachnoiditis.

After my little aneurysm problem, I had debilitating pain in my lower back and my legs.  Once the doctors figured out the cause of my pain, they knew that the best solution was for the blood to be re-absorbed by the body so that it would be away from the nerves.  That meant my getting up to sit and even walk.  It also meant lots of pain meds to make it possible for me to sit or stand. 

Thinking about how arnica gel had helped so much in healing my bruises (where blood leaked and has to be re-absorbed) I asked my family to bring arnica to the hospital.  I can't say for sure that it helped.  But I sure felt better when I used it on the sore spots.  Of course, the improvement may have been caused by the doctors' treatments, or time, or a combination of many things. 

With some recent flare-ups, I'm trying arnica again.  I doubt it will help.  It doesn't seem reasonable to try, as pain now is residual nerve pain, and not pain from blood currently polluting my CSF.  But what would it hurt?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is the Ancient Definition of Marriage Bigoted?

"Same-Sex Marriage and Interracial Marriage" was a recent topic on Issues Etc.  [Excuse me: why isn't anybody putting quote-marks around that word anymore?  A year or two ago, it was same-sex "marriage."]

Two points stuck out.  First -- never, in all the world's history, in any culture, was a same-sex union considered to be marriage.  Even in cultures that accepted homosexuality as just another option, nobody considered that relationship to be marriage.

Second -- what about the charge that those who oppose same-sex unions are just like the bigots who opposed interracial marriage?  The speaker pointed out that that kind of bigotry was never about the essence or definition of marriage.  It was always about racial "purity" and guarding whiteness.  It was about the hatred that wanted to prevent mixing races.  But the argument then was never about what marriage IS.  The arguments today are not about who can and can't get married (although some say that it is); the argument today is about what marriage is. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Music Appreciation

Oh, the grand plans that homeschool moms come up with!  And how hard to execute all those lesson plans!

I was intrigued by the program used by our congregation's school.  The Brummitt-Taylor Music Listening Program includes 131 music selections.  The concept reminds me of the Five-in-a-Row curriculum for little kids:  choose something good [be it kiddy-lit or a piece of classical music] and repeat it daily for a week.  I've been wanting to develop my own list of music to be used in a similar way:
just a few minutes a day
just listening -- no projects or study
repeated exposure

This is what I've come up with.  Our plan at this point is to use each piece for half a month, and not necessarily in the order listed here.  I'm including you-tube links, but there are multiple places to find the pieces, online or through purchased CD's.  We will not have the script offered with the B-T program, nor their comprehensive list, but I'm telling myself that familiarizing ourselves with some classical pieces is better than nothing.  At the rate of 2-3 pieces per month, I've got two years worth of plans here.

Rossini:  Barber of Seville -- Figaro's Aria

Britten:  Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (2-minute intro)
(full version)

Vivaldi: Four Seasons -- Summer
Vivaldi: Four Seasons -- Autumn
Vivaldi: Four Seasons -- Winter
Vivaldi: Four Seasons -- Spring

BachAir on the G string

Handel:  Xerxes -- Largo

PurcellTrumpet Tune and Air

Charpentier: Prelude in D-major to "Te Deum"

Handel:  Water Music Suite #1 -- Air
Handel:  Water Music Suite #2 -- Hornpipe 

Chopin:  Minute Waltz

Rossini:  William Tell Overture -- Finale

MozartEine Kleine Nachtmusik, Serenade #13 for strings in G minor

Bizet:  Carmen -- Overture

BachJesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Clarke: Trumpet Voluntary

Copland: Rodeo -- Hoe-down (beef commercial)

Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Tchaikovsky1812 Overture

BeethovenFur Elise

Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody
Tom & Jerry's Hungarian Rhapsody

BachWake, Awake

Mendelssohn: Wedding March
Wagner: Wedding Chorus  (Here Comes the Bride)

Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries

Gershwin: I Got Rhythm

Mouret: Fanfare Rondeau  (Masterpiece Theater theme)

Brahms: Lullaby
LevineFanfare for the Common Man

GriegPeer Gynt (from Mountain King)
GriegIn the Hall of the Mountain King  (another version)

Offenbach: Can Can Music

BachBouree from Lute Suite -- BWV 996

DebussyClaire de lune

SchumannThe Merry Peasant

Delibes:  Sylvia -- Pizzicato

ShastakovichThe Second Waltz

AlbinoniAdagio in G minor

Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Ballet
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite -- March
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite -- Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite -- Waltz of the Flowers

Handel:  The Messiah -- For Unto Us a Child Is Born
Handel:  The Messiah -- He Shall Feed His Flock
Handel:  The Messiah -- He Was Despised
Handel:  The Messiah -- I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
Handel:  The Messiah -- Hallelujah Chorus

Vivaldi: Double Concerto in D minor for two oboes

Mozart: Symphony #40 in G minor K 550

MozartPiano Concerto 21 -- Andante

Pachelbel: Canon in D Major

Mozart: The Magic Flute -- The Bird-Catcher

Beethoven9th Symphony, 4th movement

ProkofievPeter and the Wolf March

Ravel:  Bolero

Mendelssohn: Song Without Words

DvorakNew World Symphony, part 1, 4th movement
Khan Academy on Dvorak's New World Symphony

Beethoven5th Symphony
Khan Academy on Beethoven's 5th Symphony, part 1
Khan Academy on Beethoven's 5th Symphony, part 2
Khan Academy on Beethoven's 5th Symphony, part 3

Haydn: Symphony no. 6, movement 1
Listening guide to Haydn's Symphony #6

Stravinsky: Firebird Suite Finale
Khan Academy on the Firebird Suite

Glenda steered me in the direction of Harmony Fine Arts that could be used to supplement and deepen the simplistic list I've gathered.
Cheryl offered some ideas, as well as pointing out "52 Most Important Classical Works of All Time" which may expand your own list of pieces to include as you learn more about music.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Women Soldiers?

Today's Bible story in chapel was the beginning of Numbers, where God told Moses to take a census of the Israelites.  Who was to be counted?  Not everyone.  Only the males over age 20. 

Why?  They would be the soldiers, the army.

Pastor asked the kids, "But why only the males?" 

After a few answers that were partly true, but not quite to the point, Pastor led them to the key point.  "It's about Jesus, folks."

Men protect and guard women.  The husband lays down his life for his bride.  Real men sacrifice for their families instead of thinking first of themselves.  This is what Jesus did for His bride the Church.  And pointing to this truth about Jesus, God instructed that the Israelite army would be the men.

Mind-Boggling Costs

Maybe I should quit reading this book

Once upon a time, the insurance salesman was pressing upon Gary and me the importance of planning ahead for the children's college educations.  We had to put money aside.  College is expensive and getting more expensive.  We have to prepare when they're little. 

We told him that our financial situation didn't allow it.  He still pushed.  We said we could put money aside for their college, but that would mean not feeding the munchkins.  Don't feed a kid for 16-18 years, and ... you know what?  You wouldn't have to pay for college because the kid would've starved to death by then.

Seriously, some financial planners don't seem to understand the financial situation some regular folks are in.  (Or maybe we weren't regular folks.  Maybe we were really very poor ... and merely passing as middle-class.)

So this book I'm reading talks about making a life-plan for your special-needs child.  The author makes some great points.  But some parts leave me scratching my head.  For example: job-coaching.  If your kid needs a job-coach, it may cost $1000-2000 for an evaluation and initial help.  Then it would probably run you $50/hour.  And the job-coach should be alongside the person the whole time he's working for the first several weeks, then weaning off contact slowly over the course of a few months.  Do the math:  we're talking about an $8000-10,000 pricetag for someone to help a young adult learn job skills at a half-time fast-food job that pays minimum wage.  Hey, I think it would be great to provide that opportunity.  But who's got that kind of money?

Similarly, the author talks about the importance of living independently.  (Now, his version of "living independently" might be in a group-home, or in an apartment with a full-time care-giver.  It's just important, says he, that the special-needs person NOT live with parents.)  Here too, he makes some good points -- particularly when he says that a child may outlive the parents and will then have to face independent living during a time of mourning and other upheaval.  But the price-tag here too is eye-popping.  He's talking about $35,000--50,000 per year for room and board.  For one person! 

Several chapters into the book, I cut to the last page.  In the conclusion, the author admits, "It is not easy, and for some, limited by economic circumstances and insolvable constraints, their hopes and dreams for their child may not be possible." 


So do I keep reading, in hopes of finding a few helpful tidbits? 

Also, I had to laugh at the section where he's talking about how to choose a good financial planner. It's really important that we find someone who can give a good estimate of investment returns because, oh, y'know, regular folks like us can't figure that out very well. 

Far as I can see, over the last 10-15 years, no financial planner has done a very good job finding high-returning investments.  Loads of people were assured returns of 10%, or even 15-25% annually, and are now getting returns of 1-4%. 

So if we can't provide for ourselves, much less continue to provide for our children after our deaths, I guess maybe, just maybe, we'll be reduced [gasp!] to praying, "Give us this day our daily bread."  In our home, we haven't gone hungry yet, and objectively there's no way we should still be afloat financially.  God has provided.  Remember when the Lord Jesus took those five loaves and two fish and fed thousands?  Yeah, He still does stuff like that.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Toward the End of Summer

Now, THIS is the way to do schoolwork!  (Although her chair was in the shade, mine was in the sunshine.)

But, ... but, ... but ... hostas and sedum aren't supposed to be blooming anywhere close to the same time.  They should bloom two months apart.  This is SOME weird weather.

PS: In case anyone cares [Cheryl] this is blogpost #4000. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Defined by Your Job?

A job is a significant part of our lives.  It is where we spend most of our waking hours.  It is a place where we meet people and form cooperative relationships.  It is a place where we can be part of a team, working with others for a common purpose.  It is a place where we form friendships and social networks.  It is an opportunity, hopefully, to identify with a respected organization and its contribution to the community.  Many of us define ourselves by our careers.  A job or career is a source of self-esteem, extrinsic and intrinsic reward, and independence.  A job is the most visible and definitive way one take his or her rightful place in the community.
The Complete Guide to Creating 
a Special Needs Life Plan, p 109
by Hal Wright

So much of this assertion is true.

And yet, I find it disturbing that JOB (not family and not what happens at church) is taken for granted as what defines us.  No wonder stay-at-home moms have "no worth" in the eyes of American society.