Monday, November 23, 2009

When I was eight years old, my family traded houses with another family. The houses were maybe a 1/4 of a mile apart, so it was not a difficult move in those terms. However, it was this new house that I associate most of my childhood memories with. Of course, I remember our old house. I remember the winter when our refrigerator broke and my parents could not afford another one. I remember the window ledge where we stored all the perishable food items. They were behind a thick plastic covering were a window normally would be. I remember sharing a room with my sister, and my two brothers being right across the hall.

Our new house saw a lot more "life" than the previous one. It saw the death of my father; my mother's remarriage; the birth of two baby boys. It also saw six children enter the crazy stage called puberty and emerge without too much damage. Both my brother and myself were married in the church walking distance from this house. My best friend and I would tan on the roof above my room on the rare hot Alaskan summer days. We made forts in the attic crawl space, sneaking applesauce from the pantry because we had to climb up the shelves to enter our fort.

Basically, this was my house. My families house. I say "was" because about five months ago, my youngest brother graduated high school and shortly after that, moved out of the house. This left my parents in a huge house with no children. A couple years earlier, my step-fathers job had been transferred to a town about five hours away. He had made the sacrifice to commute back home for the weekends, but now with no children requesting not to leave the high school that his previous five siblings had graduated from, they decided to rent out our house and move to Homer.

Prior to the move my parents made some much needed repairs to the house. They tore out the old carpet and replaced some with wood floors and some with new carpet. They painted all the walls. They removed bookshelves screwed into the walls. They completely redid both bathrooms.

And then, about one month ago, my mother and step-father packed up the home we had lived in for 23 years.

I am slowly realizing that this transition is harder on me then I thought. I don't like talking to my mom on the phone and not being able to picture which room she is standing in based on sound alone. I don't like that another family is living in my house. I don't like that my childhood phone number, the ONLY one I remember, no longer reaches anybody I know.

I still have reasons to visit Eagle River. My brother and his family still live across the street from our old home. But the next time I visit my parents, it will be in a new town, in a new house, going to a new church. This will take some getting used to.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Veteran's Day Activity

A member of our neighbor's church has a family member stationed in Afghanistan. There are 90 members of their unit, and that person set up and organized a care package making party for each soldier in that unit. We all meet up on Veteran's Day to assemble the care packages and to meet a real soldier. Levi and our neighbors are very much into playing Army, so they totally were into this. Only one thing was requested of the children, that they donate some of their extra Halloween candy to the soldiers in Afghanistan, since it is hard to get American candy there. Surprisingly, my children were extremely generous and actually gave away some of the best Halloween candy they got! I was so proud of their unselfishness.

Here they are sorting out their candy before we left:

We got to the church and the kids got to meet a soldier in the Air Force. Although it was a great talk and he answered a lot of thoughtful questions from the kids, you could tell that the older ones were unimpressed that he had never flown a plane. It takes all kind of people though!

Here are the tables before the kids got to them. It was such a well organized event! The children were split into similar age groups and then they got to put one of everything (toothbrush, toothpaste, gum, chap stick, candy, granola bars, floss, Kleenex, etc) into each bag. If there was left overs, they got to add more to each bag.

Claire and her buddy, Owen.

Here they are, loading up their care packages.

After they made all 90 care packages, each kid wrote a card. Claire's age group just scribbled and drew pictures, but the older kids were very creative. They drew pictures and said "Thank You."

Here is our neighbor, Gavin. He wrote "thank you for serving us."
On the front of Levi's he wrote "Dear Army." Here is the inside of his card.
Here are Gavin and Levi with their finished products.

And now they get boxed up and mailed to Afghanistan.

This was a great way to spend Veteran's Day. Levi was super excited to send care packages to the Army and he and Gavin still talk about it. Even if politically we disagree with the wars, I still feel it is important to support the men and women who put their lives on the line daily.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween 2009

Yes, it is the middle of November and I am just now posting pictures of Halloween. Oh well.

This year Claire decided to be Luke Skywalker. I put together her costume for about $7.00 mostly from items found at Goodwill. I also made her a Jedi cloak, but she hated it and refused to wear it. She also refused to wear a light saber. This is one of the few photos that she allowed it to be on her belt.

Levi was much more indecisive about his Halloween costume. He could not decide between Darth Vader and Indiana Jones. I let out a huge sigh of relief when he finally decided to be Dr. Jones. Much easier costume to make! The hat belonged to our neighbor, and the outfit we got at Burlington Coat. Luckily it doubles as a nice church outfit! I made his whip out of a jump rope.

Our neighbors two eldest boys. Owen, Claire's buddy, was Batman.

I was super lame and never got around to getting pumpkins, so here our our neighbor highly creative carvings.
I did, however, manage to make a satchel for Levi. It turned out to be enormous. Like down touching the floor enormous. More room for candy, I say.
Here are a few of the houses we trick or treated at.

It did not take long to get the concept down!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hurrah for Catholic Bishops!

Listening to NPR's coverage this morning about the medical insurance bill that passed the House on Saturday night, I was surprised to learn about a group of supporters for health care reform. Catholic Bishops.

Catholic or not, I think most people are aware of the scandals that have been parading their parish's. But this reporting on NPR made me very proud of the stance that the Catholic Bishops have had toward the debate on health care.

Basically, The Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) has been a staunch supporter of health care reform. And not just recently, but for decades. NPR stated that they are one of the strongest supporters. The CBC has stated that universal access to health care is "a basic human right." They have been working diligently to get this bill moved forward and enacted.

However, there is something that the Catholic church is vehemently against. Abortion. There is an amendment called the Hyde Amendment that came about in response to Roe v. Wade. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortions. So what did the Catholic Bishops do? They stated that they would not support any health care reform bill unless it specifically upheld the Hyde Amendment. Not only that, but they took it a step farther. In the House Bill that was passed on Saturday, not only public insurance plans, but private insurance plans cannot get funding for abortions if they receive government subsidies.

So a democratically elected Congress passed a health care bill that bans federal funding for abortions. All because the Catholic Bishops are brave enough to do two things. One, publicly declare that heath care is a right; and two, continue to stand against abortion. I wish that more Christian denominations were doing what the Catholic Bishops Conference is doing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009