Friday, December 31, 2010

Traveling While Angry...

...is apparently now illegal. And it's why Southwest remains the ONLY airline I will ever fly again. EVER.  Until the end of time.  Because it's too exhausting to re-hash the entire experience of flying AirTran over Christmas, I'll post an edited version of the letter of complaint that I sent to the company:

I am writing to register an official complaint against and to call for the firing of an AirTran ticketing agent at the Indianapolis International Airport. This agent made a VEILED THREAT TO CALL THE POLICE AND REPORT ME AS A SECURITY RISK. In these times, when airport security is front-page news and a delicate matter, making a rash threat against a passenger like this is not only unprofessional, but is dangerous and is certainly grounds for legal action on my part.

I will detail the exchange below:

At approximately 6pm on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010, I approached the AirTran ticketing counter with my 4 year old son and my mother (only my son and I were flying). The agent, clearly not in a good mood already, asked me who was flying and where we were flying to. 
He then proceeded to tell us that we owe $20 for a second checked bag. However, my mother assured him that she paid $40 for 2 checked bags upon online check-in. He argued that that wasn’t the case and she finally handed him a $20 bill, still skeptical, to cover the second bag.

He then proceeded to weigh my larger bag, which came out to 45 lbs. (I made sure before I left the house that it did not weigh more than 50 lbs, knowing that over 50 lbs would incur a $50 fee). The agent then proceeded to measure my bag --- something I have never seen done before. He told me that my bag was oversized and that I owed $50 for an oversize bag fee.

This completely took me by surprise since I was able to complete the first leg of my trip with the SAME bag, WITHOUT an oversize bag fee. I was shocked and told him that on the first leg of my trip I did not have to pay that fee.

He shrugged, as though he could care less, and said, “I don’t know. I’m not in Baltimore.”

Shocked at his flippant response, I replied, “No, but you are AirTran and you should have the same standards no matter what city you’re in.”

He replied coldly, “I agree,” but refused to accommodate me in any way.

I was beginning to get upset, not just at the fact that I had to pay a fee, but at his unaccommodating and rude attitude.

I then said, “Well I’m not paying this fee! If I don’t have to pay it one way, I’m not going to pay it on the way back.”

He replied, without even looking up from his computer, “If you don’t pay it your bag isn’t getting on the flight.”

I continued to tell him I didn’t think it was fair and that it was not right that I was being treated like this, with an out-of-the-blue $50 fee that wasn’t charged to me the previous way (with a bag I’ve flown with dozens of times).

Finally, because he apparently didn’t care about keeping AirTran customers happy (or keeping them as customers at all), I got my credit card out and dropped it on the counter. I paid the fee and asked for his name, with the intention of reporting his bad attitude to AirTran Customer Relations.

He replied, with the first smile he’d given me during the entire conversation.

I said, “Great, thanks,” and walked away.

My mother stayed behind to tell him not to worry about the situation, that I was just upset. And he responded to her, “I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE ON HER. SHE’S A SECURITY RISK AT THIS POINT.”

Visibly upset by his response, my mother relayed it to me. This was the last straw and I immediately dialed AirTran Customer Relations, before I even went through the security gate, worried that if I approached security, they would stop me and hold me for questioning, etc….all because I was upset about a baggage fee!!! And I was traveling with my 4 year old!

I spoke with a Customer Relations Agent around 6:35pm. She assured me that it was nothing more than a veiled threat because he was afraid of getting a complaint filed against him and that he didn’t have the authority to call the police on me. She said that if he truly intended to call the police he wouldn’t have been able to let me leave the ticket counter and he would have had the police approach me there.

This particular agent was more than helpful, she checked with her supervisor, assured me that I would get through security without a problem (which I did), and refunded the inappropriate $50 baggage fee, since she could see on her records that I didn’t pay it on the way out. She apologized profusely, assured me that AirTran agents are not trained to act in an unprofessional manner, and lodged an official complaint to the ticketing agent's supervisor.

However, in re-hashing the event with my husband, who is an attorney at a large law firm, I believe a threat of that magnitude deserves more than an “official complaint.” I am calling for this agent to be FIRED immediately. Airport security is no laughing matter. And threatening one of your customers (traveling with a small child!) with calling the police and reporting them as a security risk in an airport because of a mere, but non-frivolous disagreement over a baggage fee is beyond unprofessional – it’s dangerous and a serious breach of professional ethics deserving severe punishment, including termination of employment.

This agent's behavior is certainly worthy of legal action on my part - the intentional infliction of emotional distress - as clearly that is all he intended. Based on my conversation with the Customer Relations agent, it is obvious he never really intended to call security, but he was certainly abusing his authority in an attempt to bully, intimidate, and scare my mother and me. This cannot be allowed in the tense security climate existing in our airports, or even from a basic customer service standpoint.

But I prefer not to have to take the legal route. I do, however, believe that he should lose his job and never work near an airport again.

Until this is resolved, you can be certain that I, and anyone I know or am related to, will not be flying AirTran Airways again. I am also tempted to contact the media, but will first give you the opportunity to respond.

I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

So that was my experience.  Am I overreacting?  I don't think so. And my husband, who usually has the "don't worry about it, it will blow over" approach to nearly any confrontational situation you can conjure up, really urged me to call for this guy's firing.  I mean...we're talking airport security here.  And flat-out bullying on his part.  Security threats are something you just toss around to scare people...especially in the current climate. 

So, all this to say that I will only ever be flying Southwest Airlines ever again.  No baggage fees, friendly, helpful staff, not many perks, but more importantly, not many fees either.

Hope you all had a better holiday traveling experience than I did!  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! It's been a few months, but I thought I'd pop on to wish everyone a very blessed holiday. Safe travels if you're going out of town! Please enjoy this video...a little take on how the Nativity might play out in 2010! :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I HEART HUNGRY GIRL!!

I encourage you to subscribe to her blog & emails. I just love her!

Potato Chip Crunch for 1 Calorie?

I'm definitely skeptical about this, but am willing to try anything that gets me closer to eating potato chips while simultaneously losing weight!

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Spiritual" but not Religious?

This is the best refute to that silly claim that I've read so far. I especially love this paragraph:

But why bother to be “spiritual” at all? Why not be at least agnostic? Being “spiritual” is a kind of natural default position. “Spiritual but not religious” provides a comfortable compromise between the two sides of our natures, our desire for God and our desire to be God ourselves.
Doesn't common sense dictate that you can't be spiritual without a spirit? The problem, for the "something for nothings" in our society, is that when you look to a spirit for guidance, he/she/it is telling you how to live & what to do...and then you can't live the way you want! Problem: you can't have it both ways.

Then this:
Being “spiritual” does not do us any good. As I recently wrote elsewhere, it works fairly well when you are healthy and have enough money to enjoy life, and just want from your spirituality the feeling that all is well with the universe, particularly your corner of it. But it doesn’t help you much when things go from good to bad.

The man wasting away from pancreatic cancer will get no help nor comfort from the “spiritual,” which will seem a lot less friendly and comforting when he feels pain morphine won’t suppress. He has no one to beg for help, no one to ask for comfort, no one to be with him, no one to meet when he crosses from this world to the next. He wants what religion promises.

And he is right to do so. The dying man is the true man, in the sense of being the one who reveals to us what we essentially are. We are on our death bed from the day we are born. To paraphrase Pascal, dying men want not the God of spirituality, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Friday, May 21, 2010

A Win-Win

I can't think of a lot of words to describe this piece by The Anchoress. I just pray that I'd have the courage to trust in God in a situation like this. I also pray for many of the commenters who don't seem to grasp the concept of faith. Their references to "the 'real, existing' human" are troubling, yet conspicuously define our culture.

It's ALIIIIIIIVE!!!

And that's a good thing! I have such a black thumb, I never thought I could ever have a successful garden. Well, I don't want to speak too soon, but the fact that I've already gotten some sprouts from seeds is far more successful than I've ever been before!! I attribute my husband's beautiful garden boxes he built for me and the soil that we put in them. Planting directly into our soil is a nightmare. It's full of clay, rock, and sand. It's miserable. And I can't believe how quickly they sprouted! Again...trying not to get my hopes up too much, but so far, so good!

Unfortunately I had to put the chicken wire around it because of our dog, "Princess Samantha". She thinks everything we do around here is for her enjoyment and she already dug up a few of my pepper sprouts. She's so lucky to be alive.

I'm going to do another post on the making of the garden boxes, but for now here is what's happening:

The first box with "poultry netting" (as the package called it!)

Sprouts!!

Li'l cucumbers

And even SWEET CORN!! I'm most excited about this. Hearkens back to the good ol' days growing up in Indiana!

And this is the "garden section" of our yard. Note the beautiful new fence in the background!

Batting 1000

Jack's first t-ball at-bat!


video

Walking for Life at the Beach

I spoke at a rally for the Walk for Life in Lewes, DE a couple of weeks ago. What a great event! I'm so thrilled that the passionate folks in Southern DE have been inspired to put an event like this together. I see it only getting bigger and bigger every year.

Just starting out

Save the humans!

And not a bad location either!

Big things for the Boilers

As good a coach as he was, this is what Gene Keady always struggled with - recruiting. I don't know why...I'm not an analyst. But it already seems like Matt Painter has a gift for getting the top players from his own state. And it's a big pond! Indiana high school basketball is a motherload of talent. Just watch Hoosiers and you'll know what the hype is all about!

How education SHOULD work

Check out this amazingly inspirational story from a network of Catholic (private) schools across the country. Not only is this some positive news coming out of a Church that is suffering from scandal and criticism right now, but it's also an example of how an educational system can work effectively without all the government bureaucracy interference. When you combine real education like science, reading and math with real-life lessons like hard work and determination, you get 100% graduation and college attendance rates.

And most of the kids who go to these schools are from poor minority households - kids who would have gotten lost in the public school system and left behind. Plus, the schools aren't plucking the best, smartest, highest-achieving kids from the public school system. They deliberately choose the kids in the middle of the pack. It's just such a wonderfully positive story. I wish we could see more of this around the country.

AZ Gettin' Tough!

I LOVE this story! For the record, I completely support AZ's immigration law. I don't believe it will result in racial profiling...the law prohibits it. I do believe it simply reiterates the federal laws that are on the books. All you have to do to is carry your driver's license around - you have to do that anyway!! Unfortunately the Feds aren't doing their jobs, despite Jan Brewer's pleas for help. Arizonans are getting hurt and killed by illegal immigrants and states have a right and duty to protect their citizens.

Unfortunately many people, institutions, and cities who aren't on the illegal immigration front lines as Arizona is, think they know better than Arizona. One such city is Los Angeles, which has threatened to boycott some of Arizona's industries. Too bad for LA that Arizona supplies 25% of the city's electricity!! Gary Pierce, AZ Corporation Commissioner has written a letter to the mayor of LA threatening a "boycott" of his own - he'll cut power to LA if they follow through with the economic boycott! I love it when people get tough!

BEST political ad ever!

I still think my dad should make one of these:




Argh! I don't know why it cuts off the right hand side. If you can't see it, click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Asking for guidance

I had a meeting yesterday at which one topic of discussion got confrontational. I was pretty sure this topic was going to come up. And I was angry about it. I had spoken to the other party a few days before regarding the situation and got the feeling (s)he wasn't happy. I felt (s)he took some of my comments out of context and far too personally, and therefore, before yesterday's meeting even began, I had feelings towards him/her. I felt (s)he was being irrational.

So we began the meeting with a prayer. At the end of the group prayer, I considered saying a quick, silent prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance should the topic come up. But in my vain anger, I brushed the prayer aside.

A few minutes into the meeting, the group's discussion was interrupted by the other party to confront me about this previous topic. In my flustered state of mind, I couldn't form a coherent response, and stumbled over words and sentences. I simply couldn't explain myself.

I think I eventually got my point across, but since the meeting, I've been stewing over "what I should have said." There were so many different examples I could have pointed to that proved my point, and that I think would have quelled any irrationality right off the bat. "WHY didn't I think of that during the meeting?!?" I keep asking myself.

Until I realized this: I had brushed off my prayer to the Holy Spirit because I was angry. Wow. Point taken. Had I put aside my pride and gone through with the prayer for help and guidance, I'm certain the things I'm thinking of now would have been stated clearly and concisely during the meeting.

Lesson learned. It's been 24 hours since the meeting and I can't get out of my head what I should have said. I keep wondering if I should call the other party and politely state myself in a clear manner, just in case (s)he wasn't able to decipher my code yesterday. Or should I just let it go and pray that the Holy Spirit conveys my message for me?

Probably the latter. Either way, I think it's time I get back to saying this on a regular basis.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"We" Fit!!

So puuuuumped! We finally got our Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board today and I've spent far too much time on it this afternoon. I mean, I had to set it up, right? Well, more than being excited about getting it was finding out my Wii Fit age! It's...drum roll please...30!! And that's 2 years younger than my real age! Woot woot! The reason I'm so ridiculously excited about it is because my Wii Sports age was 63. Yes. I know. Seriously, what?? To make matters worse, my husband's was like 18. Which is a real crock b/c his joints & back are totally broken! Eh well, who's laughin' now?!?

And speaking of 18, my 4-year-old set up his profile and that was also his Wii Fit age! Ha. I don't think they should give kids under, say, 8 Wii Fit ages. They don't understand the balance tests and other measurements. Oh well...I'm not too concerned. He's a very active boy...he's gonna be fine!

Where have I been??

Short answer: busy. But I have a lot to write about from the past couple weeks so hopefully I can work on a lot of that today and tomorrow.

Just a quick thought for today. My trainer has me on a rockin' arm program because my cousin is getting married in June and I told her I want buff arms. :) It will be nearly a high school reunion, so...you know. Anyway, today's workout was called the "Killer Kombo." I'm hating my trainer right now. (A friend of mine used to have a saying, "Hate me now, love me later." We'll see.) It's a combo of body weight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and jump rope. The first week I did 30 reps of each, with 2 min. jump rope. This was my second week...FORTY reps of each! IN A ROW!! So that's 40 squats, 40 push-ups, 40 pull-ups, then 2 min. of jump rope. It's appropriately named.

Anyway, my point is, that because I have a short attention span I was having a tough time mentally getting through 2 solid minutes of jump rope. (I know 2 minutes doesn't seem like a long time. Try it.) So I needed something to take my mind off of it. So I started a Hail Mary. Turns out I can say just about a decade in 2 minutes! So that's what I'm going to do: start saying my rosary during my "Killer Kombo!" (Appropriate?) I can say the intermittent prayers during my squats, etc. And I do 4 sets so I can do the last decade either during warm up or cool down. Just thought I'd pass along my fun fact for the day!

Happy & Holy fitness!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Meaning of Life

It's actually pretty simple! And Jen at Conversion Diary has a great post about it here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hilarious Contradiction

I was driving down a major suburban highway last week and I saw a car filled with bumper stickers. My curiosity always gets the best of me when I see such a car, so luckily we stopped at a red light so I could read a few. Most of the stickers had to do with animal rights stuff, like, "Love animals? Don't eat them" and other such nonsense. There were so many I didn't get to read them all, but fortunately, just before the light turned green, my eye caught one at the very bottom. It said, "Five Guys Burgers and Fries." Now, if you're not from the east coast, you may not know about Five Guys. Not the point. Obviously it's a burger joint! Wait...didn't you just tell me I shouldn't eat meat?? I'm left wondering if the driver was trying to play a satirical joke on all of us or simply just didn't get the contradiction!!

The power of advertising

I was shopping with my little guy the other day and since he was such a good boy at the store, I promised we could get a big soft pretzel. As we're walking to the pretzel store, Jack yells, "Look, mom, that's the place that puts your business on the map!" I didn't really understand what he said so I stopped, turned, and asked him to repeat it. He points to a sign in the Verizon store window and says, "The place that puts your business on the map!"

Ok. Seriously. He doesn't even watch any shows that have commercials!! So the only way he could have possibly knows that Verizon "puts your business on the map" is from watching sporting events with us. I swear! But man, if you think your kids aren't paying attention to what's going on around them - think again! They absorb everything!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who says celebrities are out of touch?

Or just plain stupid? Check out this brilliant little ditty from Whoopie Goldberg.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birthday PAAAARRRRGHty!

Though he's not officially 4 until tomorrow, we had the official celebration this past Saturday at a local pizza joint. Clearly, it was a swashbucklin' good time!

I found an adorable pirate cake on Family Fun Magazine's website, and took a stab at it. The recipe calls for 2 9-in rounds, cut in half and all four pieces "glued" together with icing. I first used Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate cake mix. For some reason they fell apart right out of the pan. Then I went back to the store and bought what I thought was the same thing (because I thought one of them might work and wanted them to match). But I got home and realized I had instead purchased Chocolate Fudge flavor. For some other odd reason, these two worked just fine and stayed together nicely! So I froze them overnight so they'd be easier to cut in the morning.

I got up very early on Saturday and put all the pieces together, iced them, and decorated them. It actually turned out pretty darn cute. Which is quite an amazing feat for me because my performance around the kitchen has never gotten me mistaken for Sandra Lee...


...which was soon evidenced by the time the party started. My joyous jubilation at my birthday cake triumph was short-lived. Evidently, this cake was not meant to be transported (though I missed the fine print about that in the recipe). As soon as we got in the car, not 3 minutes down the road, my mother-in-law, who is holding the cake in her lap, yells, "Oh my gosh!"

In complete denial, I ignored the declaration and chose to assume she was referring to the conversation we were having. But when no more said in reference, I finally had to come to grips with reality and look to my right. Slowly and sheepishly, I turned my head, wanting to transcend space and time, and instead of seeing a crumbling cake in her lap, envision that I had built not a pirate ship, but a Taj Mahal of birthday cakes. But alas, I was driving so drifting off to Neverland wasn't really an option. And there it was. My creation was taking on cannon fire.

And it only got worse. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, not only had we taken on cannon fire, but we had run aground and been set ablaze. And trying to piece it back together only made it worse! Yikes.

Epic fail. However, as disappointing as it was, it wasn't a complete disaster. The kids actually thought it was fun to dig for the "buried treasure." Yeah. That's what I meant to do! It was like a treasure hunt. You're welcome, kids!

Eh, well. Four-year-olds are easy to please. As you can see, I still had one happy Pirate on deck!

If I won the lottery...

The first thing I would buy is a boat exactly like this for me...ahem...my pirate-enthusiast 4-year-old son. Yeah, my son. That's right. Him, not me. He's the one who's into pirates!

Did I mention I love the name?!? So clever!

What if this happened to a polar bear?

It's ironic how, say, seagulls who get entangled in plastic soda can rings out in the middle of the Pacific, or polar bears who are trapped on a melting iceberg on the North Pole get so much more sympathy than a baby such as this boy. This is such a horrific story that I was barely able to read it.

"Italian police are investigating the case for "homicide" because infanticide is illegal in Italy.

"The law means that doctors have had an obligation to try to preserve the life of the child once he had survived the abortion."

Wow. How noble - keeping infanticide illegal. However, if that boy had died just 2 days earlier like he was supposed to, his death would have been perfectly legal, wouldn't have made any headlines, and no one but the mother and doctor would have ever known he existed. What a glaring hypocrisy. Pray for the soul of this boy, his mother, and for the conversion of the "doctors" that aided in his death.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More weight loss tips for the cheapskate!

So...the economy stinks right now. So what's a girl (or guy) to do if you're trying to begin a diet and weight-loss regimen but you just can't afford a gym membership (or even don't have time for the gym). Take it from me, you can lose weight on a budget. Yes, I have a gym membership and yes, for some people it's "easier" to lose weight with one. But I still do my own workouts in and around my home to keep things interesting. And honestly, some people just can't get motivated to go to the gym. Or if you're unfamiliar with the equipment, it can be downright intimidating. Luckily you live in 2010. There are SO MANY options out there...you just have to do a little research!

First, and probably most obviously, there are workout DVDs. They come in all shapes and sizes! (Well, all DVD's are the same size of course, just work with me here.) You can get cardio routines in just about any format you want...step aerobics, kickboxing, dancing, etc. There's yoga, strength training in a million different forms, core routines, you get the picture. And the best part is, they're so cheap, you can get several different ones and never get bored!

Now for some at-home equipment, because any workout is better if you have a little equipment. first and foremost - resistance tubes. They're the bomb. They're super cheap and just one provides SO many uses. They usually come with some tips and instructions. For a little more powerful lift, light to medium hand weights are a must. You can get them almost anywhere. And when they're on sale at a sporting goods store, you can often get them at a dollar a pound. Finally, the last "must" is a stability ball. Again, inexpensive yet infinite usage.

If you want to expand your home gym a little bit more, or just expand gradually as you get the hang of it, some other ideas are Bosu balls, kettlebells, medicine balls, step benches, weight benches, and free weight bars. Some are more expensive than others, but keep in mind, these are one-time expenses unlike a monthly gym membership.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, there are countless apps you can download, even for free, that give you multitudes of ideas for workouts and strength training exercises.

Run out of ideas and tired of your DVDs? Just Google "home workouts" and you'll find a plethora ("Plethora? Yes, plethora"...name that movie) of workouts you can do at home. And I also highly recommend subscribing to a health/fitness-related magazine. Many of them have great and information-packed websites too, that you don't have to pay to subscribe to. My personal favorite: Fitness Magazine!

So good luck and don't be scared to begin your journey! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Pro-Life Youth

I can't wait to post about my experience at GAP over the last 2 days, but it's going to take some time for me to formulate all of my thoughts and get them down in writing. Suffice it to say, it was an AMAZING experience. I completely underestimated the effect it would have on me personally. So I can't wait to share it with you.

But for now, I'll just link to this article about pro-life youth. What I think is so laughable is how the pro-aborts just can't figure out why so many young people are pro-life! IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE KILLING YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE!!! Pro-lifers actually reproduce pro-lifers!! Ding!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Food Journaling

As I noted in my last weight-loss post, I've been on Weight Watchers for a couple of years now. It has been awesome. Granted, I go on streaks where I'm better for periods of time than others at keeping track of my food intake. But I've lost 27 pounds and it at least keeps me accountable.

If you've been trying to lose weight for awhile but just can't figure it out, my first tip towards starting on the journey is to keep a food journal. Writing down what you eat and seeing it on paper will at first probably make you gasp! Weight Watchers has been awesome and easy for me. I do it online only (don't attend meetings) which is cheaper, but it's still a monthly expenditure. I know the economy is down right now, so if you're interested in something similar online, there are many good sites where you can create a free account, enter your food and activity for the day and they'll tally up your calories, fat, fiber, carbs, etc. and tell you where you need to be for your weight & age.

A bunch of them also have a vast array of online tools like recipes, workouts, cardio ideas, and more. Here are a few: FitDay, SparkPeople, My Calorie Counter, My Fitness Pal, The Daily Plate, NutriDiary, or just Google "free online food journal" and you'll get tons of results. Check them out and sign up for one. Speaking from Weight Watchers experience, the journal is the key to success!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Genocide

The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) is coming to the University of Delaware this week (April 21/22 on the UD Green. If you're around, stop by!). GAP is a traveling display of large photos of aborted children, that travels to college campuses around the country. The goal is to get the public - namely students - to think differently about abortion and all circumstances surrounding it. You can see photos from different campuses here. WARNING: they are graphic.


An example of the display.

An organization with which I'm involved is a co-sponsor. I attended an amazing pro-life apologetics seminar yesterday, held for all those who plan to volunteer at the display. Some of it was a refresher for me. But a lot of it was completely new. The facts weren't new - they never change. But the way of thinking and arguing the abortion issue was new. And amazing.

I'm going to post more on the content of the apologetics in a series of future posts. But for now, I want to address abortion as genocide. GAP, obviously, defines abortion as a genocide, comparing it to other genocides like the ones in Rwanda and Darfur, the Holocaust, slavery, and Cambodia. Many people are uncomfortable with this analogy.

"Genocide" is defined as: "The deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, religious, political, cultural, ethnic, or other group defined by exterminators as undesirable."

Abortion is certainly deliberate. Not many women "accidentally" kill their wanted unborn child. If they do that, ironically, it's a homicide. But that's another post.

Abortion is systematic. We have killing centers that we call abortion clinics. It is funded and approved by the government. We have lobbying groups that exist solely to keep the practice legal.

Abortion is the destruction of a group - the unborn - deemed undesirable by the exterminators. An "unwanted pregnancy" is undesirable by the pregnant mother.

Take, for example, the slavery and the civil rights movement. During slavery, blacks were considered less than human. 2/3 of a person, in fact. Whites deemed black undesirable and were therefore allowed to own, trade, beat, and kill them when they didn't perform.

Take, for instance, the Holocaust. Jews were deemed undesirable by the Nazis and were therefore starved, gassed and forced into concentration camps.

Today, it is obvious that most of us in America believe that both of these circumstances were heinous and morally wrong. Why, then, do we allow, justify, and fight for the right to do the same thing to the unborn?

My husband sent me a comment to an article that he read today. It said:

"I prefer that someone aborts a baby that they don’t want than have it and treat the baby/child as though they are sorry they had it. While it’s obviously sad to kill any baby for any reason, someone having a baby they don’t want will ultimately only hurt the child more in the end."

Unfortunately I've heard that before. In fact, in a conversation with a friend, she basically made that argument about some of the poor kids at the school where she teaches. She was making that same case for abortion, that it's better that people who can't afford or take care of kids have an abortion. I replied, "those are definitely sad situations but do you really think to yourself 'they'd be better off if they were dead?'" I anticipated a reaction to the effect of, "Of course not! I never thought of it that way!" But instead she just shrugged. That was enlightening.

The best prolife argument to that is to ask the person if they think born children who are abused and don't have the "perfect" life everyone else has should be killed too? If they say no, ask, "Then what's the difference?" I should have asked my friend if she believed that we should have the right to kill those kids now that they're already here.

In this back & forth with my husband on this topic, he responded, "The real question is: what if it was you?"

Exactly. Jen at Conversion Diary has a post about becoming pro-life. One of the turning points for her was when her husband realized that everyone is pro-their OWN life! So who are we to decide who gets to live? Unfortunately, again, some will argue that they'd rather be dead than live in certain situations. Whether that's true or not who knows, but its an argument some ppl make.

And that argument quickly falls apart, because at the beginning of life they wouldn't "rather anything." Someone else is lucky enough to decide for them, whether they like it or not. They only have the power to even believe they'd rather be dead because at someone else's hand, they were allowed to live in the first place. It always boils down to the same thing. We first have to get them to admit that we're dealing with humans...not blobs of flesh. Now that that has been scientifically proven (even though some won't admit it, it's an easy argument to win), we're dealing with the more philosophical argument of who should be the deciding party of who lives and who dies. When people begin arguing that some people should be able to kill born people for one reason or another, then we're dealing with genocide accomplices. And the arguer always somehow vainly assumes they'll be in the deciding party, not thevictim party. Ironic.

Such is the way with genocide. What happens when you are deemed one of the undesirables?

Friday, April 16, 2010

And the asteroid gets closer...

...as my husband likes to say. It seems that now the National Day of Prayer violates the Constitution, according to one liberal leftie judge who was nominated by Jimma Carter. Which is, of course, ridiculous. Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that prayer is disallowed, even the encouragement of prayer - to anything or anyone - by the federal government. See for yourself. Here is the First Amendment. Read it. It's short and simple. In fact, I'll post it for you right here:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Then go back and read the rest of the sections here. It's broken down nicely. Print it. READ IT. KNOW IT. We could all use a refresher, I'm certain.

This whole "separation of church & state" fiasco has been seized by the Left as a way to abolish Christianity entirely. They believe Christians have too much "power" in the U.S. (ironically, they don't understand that Christians don't believe true power comes from the government), and the ideals and morals that we try to advance interfere with their way of life. For example, they want to keep abortion legal, legalize gay marriage, fund embryonic stem cell research, etc. All of which are at odds with Christian moral principle.

We need to remember that the phrase "separation of church and state" is NOT in the Constitution at all. It came from a letter written by one man - Thomas Jefferson - in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, addressing some of their concerns over religious freedom. In fact, the purpose of his letter was to assure the Baptists that their religious freedoms would not be impeded by the government...not that they weren't allowed to practice religion because of the government! Which is ironic because the Left always uses that quote to try to inhibit prayer and religion, not the other way around.

You can see the full text of Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists here. As you can easily see, it exhibits a "separation of church and state" as a means to afford individuals a right to freely express their religion. It is an assurance of freedom...not a threat that prayer is a violation of it.

Until the government begins imposing Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Obamism, or any other "religion" upon us (think 1984), and forbids the practice of any other "non-sanctioned" religion, I believe the Founding Fathers would deem the National Day of Prayer worthy of our time and attention.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Mailbox Surround

As it gets warmer, I've been doing some projects outside around the house. I thought the mailbox could use some sprucing up. So I did this:

I think it's kind of cute. The little border was pre-fabricated and I got 2 of them at around $7/piece. And they're malleable so I was able to curve it around the space! And yes, I realize there's only one little tiny bush in the area. That's because I had planned to transplant some of the I-don't-know-exactly-what-they-are from my backyard to the mailbox. Well...long story short, that didn't work. So now I want to go back to Lowe's or Home Depot and get a couple of more small bushes. Something hardy to cold weather, low maintenance, and easy to plant. Any suggestions? Perhaps a couple of low, flowering bushes? This one is supposed to get about 3x3 ft, so something that complements that and won't overgrow it. I'm game for advice!

Thanks in advance!
-M&TS

Some swaps that have saved me on my weight-loss journey!

Since I started Weight Watchers back in January of '08, I have found several things that have saved my life as far as satisfying cravings when I'd otherwise eat crap. Here are a few of those things:
  • 100% whole-grain anything. Switch to whole grain bread, cereal, english muffins, pitas, and tortillas...whatever. You can barely tell the difference and there's tons more fiber.
  • Fat free/sugar free Jell-O pudding. Chocolate's the best. Put on some fat free whipped cream and it feels like you're being really bad!
  • Quaker chewy granola bars. Eat one when you really want to have a candy bar!
  • Ground turkey. SOOOO much better for you than ground beef. Or just switch to the extra-lean ground beef. But you really can't tell a difference when it's in chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos, etc.
  • Veggie burgers. I know, I know. It seems like they're only for tree-hugging hippie vegans, but they really satisfy your craving for a burger when you NEED one and it's not your "cheat day."
  • Fat free American cheese. This stuff really is good! And it melts really oozy-ish so it's great on burgers and grilled cheese!
  • Egg whites. Not quite as good as real eggs, but tons less cholesteral and fat. And if you put in a bunch of veggies, lean deli meat, and fat free cheese, it's pretty much as good as a regular omelette! And you can buy egg whites already separated for you from Egg Beaters. Hello, easy!
  • Popcorn. Second. Best. Food. Ever. 'Nuff said. Eat all you want.
  • Turkey bacon. The alternative to the BEST. FOOD. EVER. Not nearly as good, but again, will do in a pinch. And really is way healthier.
  • On that note, turkey or fat free hot dogs. Oohh...I recently had a fat free one with turkey chili and fat free cheese. A healthy chili-cheese dog! What?!? Seriously.
  • And on that note, turkey or vegetarian chili. The turkey stuff really is pretty good!
  • Water. Water, water, water. If you can't stand drinking water, add a Crystal Light packet. "Can" the pop. Water is the ticket. If you must drink pop, choose diet. Zero cals.
  • I almost forgot these! They're huge! I don't know where I'd be without 100 calorie packs. They come in almost any brand/flavor/species possible. I love the Chex, Cheez-It snack mixes, and some of the chocolate cookie kinds.
  • Baked! potato chips like Lays & Scoops. Life savers.
  • Weight Watchers 1 POINTS bars, Weight Watchers ice cream treats
  • Skinny Cow. Skinny Cow and more Skinny Cow.

Besides all these ideas, a cookbook that has saved me is Hungry Girl. She has awesome swap ideas for popular crap-foods. And it's not just for girls - the author calls herself Hungry Girl.

As far as exercise, spinning, BodyStep, BodyPump, and kickboxing are my go-to's. Especially spinning. You burn like 500 cals in 30 minutes! It's insane and it's usually only a 45 minute class. Check it out at your gym or school rec-center.

Lastly, one thing you should probably avoid by all means necessary, with every fiber of your being is the Craz-E Burger. Just a thought.

UPDATE: I just remembered - light bread! The slices are small and pretty paper-thin, but it's great for a light lunch sandwich. Check it. I'll also probably think of a bunch more things later, but I'll just keep updating.

Exposing the LIES

When will our mainstream culture figure this out? This is the mode of operation at almost every Planned Parenthood across the country. But somehow, they still have credibility in the mainstream media and receive billions of tax dollars from the government...even more now, thanks to the stealthscare law. Why is it that small, caring pregnancy centers are victim to these kinds of ordinances such as the fraudulent Baltimore City Council ordinance requiring such centers to post signs stating they do not provide contraception or abortions. Ironically, a PP of Maryland spokesperson said such law is "just responsible policy." Is the video below responsible, PP spokesperson??? Thank God for Lila Rose and her undercover operations at PP "clinics" across the country. She's an amazing young woman. If you don't know her, please check out her organization, LiveAction. And please pass this video around - people need to know the TRUTH!!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Semantics Debate

I've long argued that the pro-abortion lobby has won - not in its argument for dismembering children in the womb...that's impossible to defend - but in the war of semantics. By calling abortion (murder) a "choice", they have successfully dehumanized unborn children. The have succeeded in making the public forget about what the act of abortion really is and does to a child, and instead shifted its idea of abortion to the woman. This is why I think it's so important for those of us in the pro-life movement to cease using the term coined by our opponents - "pro-choice" - and use the term that truly highlights what they really are - pro-abortion.

It has become clear in recent months, and even the last couple of years, that the abortion lobby is not by any means pro-choice. They despise the idea of a woman choosing life for her baby. Never was this more clear than in the "Tebow Super Bowl Ad" debate. Luckily it was such a benign ad that it made the pro-aborts look even more ridiculous.

I came across this post today that I think sums up the fraudulent argument of pro-"choice"ers. I like how the author points out that because "scientifically, medically, constitutionally, morally and ethically, the case for abortion rights is so intellectually bankrupt," the abortion lobby has to succumb to moronic, baseless arguments like "choice" to keep people's attention. I especially like this paragraph:

"Nevertheless, I must also admit to finding great satisfaction in finally being able to lay to rest one of the most offensive, hollow, and illogical arguments of the pro-abortion lobby. The euphemistic label of not being pro-abortion, but rather "pro-choice" has plagued this debate for decades. Intellectually speaking, this argument has always been beyond silly. To say that you're pro-choice is absolutely meaningless unless you acknowledge what act you believe people should have a choice in doing. The question has always been, 'choice to do what?'"

Exactly. Calling abortion simply a "choice" completely voids what is actually being chosen. I use this argument any time someone asks me, shocked, "So you don't believe in a woman's right to choose?" [Gasp!] I ask them back, "To choose what?" This puts them in the position of having to defend their position of believing it's OK to kill a human being. There are a LOT of things I believe women have the right to choose: who to date, who to vote for, what doctor to go to, what college to go to, what to eat for breakfast, what shoes to wear to their best friend's wedding...you get the picture. In fact, "choice" is not a Constitutional right. There are a lot of things people aren't allowed to choose to do. Beat their wives. Beat their children. Drive drunk. Rape. Do you see how using the word "choice" doesn't even begin to address the issue of abortion?

I'm not trying to trivialize the situation, but I am trying to point out how the abortion lobby attempts to trivialize the act of abortion by spinning the semantics of the issue.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My black thumb

I'm SO excited! Hubby is building me two raised flower beds!! I tried to garden for the first time EVER last year and let's just say things didn't "grow" too well! I dug out my own little plot of land and tried tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. I think I harvested two tiny peppers and a couple of tinier tomatoes. The broccoli pretty much died on impact. It was pathetic. People always ask me, "But didn't you grow up on a farm?" Yes. Yes I did. I grew up on a FARM...not a GARDEN. We had big, huge machines that planted, fertilized, and harvested. And I myself wasn't a big part of that process. So no...I don't know how to grow things. My dad, yes. If society ever collapsed, we'd move back to Indiana and survive just fine. But if we stayed here in Maryland, we'd be toast. And quick.

But THIS YEAR I'm optimistic! We plotted some land in the yard that gets the most sun and roped off the area. I think the biggest difference is going to be the soil. The natural soil in our yard is nasty, rocky, and clay-ey. I think that's a big part of my failure last year. So with a raised bed, we're going to dig out about 6 inches of dirt, lay some gravel, then Weed Free, compost, peet moss, then top soil and then start a-plantin! The boxes will be 3 ft. wide by 8 ft. long. I have TONS of seeds of all varieties. I'll keep you posted on how planting/growing progresses. Please keep your fingers crossed for me! In the meantime, I'll diary the building of the boxes.





La Casa de Ave

Ok, so I'm showing off a little Spanish. Actually, my Spanish is SO rusty that I had to use an online translator for the word "bird." There. Now you know. I cannot tell a lie.

My husband and son built this amazing birdhouse today. So it may not look amazing to certain professional carpenters, but it was their first woodworking project and I thought it was fantastic! However, tt wasn't as easy as it might look. My husband used some old, moldy wood from the basement that had no other use but to be otherwise taken to the dump and it split down the middle during assembly. But with a little wood glue and caulk, it turned out pretty nice! I should have taken a photo of it, but the side swings open to remove old nests. I also should have taken a picture of the self-portrait Jack drew of himself so the birdies would have something lovely to look at. Now they'll never be bored. It will be like AvianTV. Birds today are SO 2010.




The Black Hole

I NEED HELP!!! I have a landscaping black hole along the sidewalk leading up to our front door. The area has been sitting bare (well, it does have ancient, rotting mulch inside) since we moved in. I set out this baker's rack as a temporary fix last season. It does look really cute when I have flowers planted in the small pots, and in large pots arranged on the ground surrounding it. But as you can see, compared to the area, it looks really small and doesn't cover enough space. And I'd like to put something more permanent in there. A landscaper friend suggested using a bunch of various-sized pots and using it as a potted garden. But I would like something planted in the ground. Here's the catch: I don't know if that's possible because the area gets very little sunlight and is covered by an overhang, which means very little water as well. So...I'm at a loss. Several people have suggested hostas, but I'd like some variety. I was also thinking that planting shrubbery & plants that grow in dry, shaded areas would be good, but I have a black thumb and don't know anything about it. Maybe some climbers that could grow up the wall there?? Ugh...I don't know! Any suggestions?? HELP!!! (Please ignore the prehistoric round shrubs and azaleas. That's a topic for another post.)




The Naming Craze

Jack has been on a "naming" kick lately. Most recently he got a dragon in his McDonald's Happy Meal. He told me in the car that he wanted to name the dragon. I said, "Ok, what would you like to name it?" "Trrooonnn...dafe." "Trondafe?" "Yeah, Trondafe." Oookaaayyy. So while I was cracking up while driving, trying to stay between the lines, he informs me that he doesn't like "Trondafe" anymore and wants to change the dragon's name. "Ok, what do you want to change it to?" "Dave." But of course!

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Easter follow up

Just had to post one with the whole get-up! Forgive the major cheeze-ness. The husband got much better ones with his professional camera. This is the best I could get out of him!


Zhe Zoo!

This week is spring break! I wanted to do something special this week so I called up a friend and we went to the Philadelphia Zoo. I've lived in the area for 5 years (!) now and had NEVER been there before! It was a lot of fun. I'd been debating on getting a membership and I think I will, especially after I found out they're also good for the Wilmington and Baltimore zoos as well! Here is some photo evidence of our fun little trip!

My Li'l Monkey

Have YOU hugged a leopard today?

Those are LEGO penguins! Amazing!

Just...too cute for words! :)