It's a poll!  Please vote in the poll above.

It is a super-duper important vote.  Make your voice heard!

And remember, if you don't vote, you lose the right to complain.  Er, something like that ;).


Monday Mumbles

Tooje mumbles on Mondays too!

1.  I think I mentioned I got to meet Michelle in person last weekend?  Well, here are pictures to prove it!
Michelle - it was so great to finally meet you IRL.  Thank-you so so much for planning your trip through Morgantown, I can't tell you what it means to me.  And your kiddos?  They are awesome!  Michelle has more pictures in her mumbles today too.

2.  And because you all oooohed and aaaahed over the one picture, here are some more:
How can you not love those feet?  That face?  The spotted belly?

Further proof that we are indeed a *happy* 2-dog family.

'Moooooooom, she's touching me!'  (As captioned by Kim.)

3.  And now that you have seen more of the little one, can I just once again gush over how well things are going?  As I type this, Mei Mei is launching herself at Kali and biting her on the side, and all Kali does is walk away.  Oh, but now Mei Mei is eating a paper towel - where in the heck did she get that?   She's definitely The Man's dog!

4.  So many of your comments on my Just Cause post were so encouraging and kind.  I'm still a little unsettled by the fact that it centered so much on money/expenses related to children.  Would a follow-up just bore you or would you be interested in reading the rest of the story, so to speak?

5.  Sorry to go back to the dogs, but if you were a 7 pound, 11 inch tall creature, would you attempt to take a chew out of the mouth of a 50 pound, 30 inch tall creature?  Yea, me either.  Yet, that is just what Mei Mei does.  Even more amazing?  Kali lets her do it.

6.  How am I possibly at #6 before I talk about WVU football?  Yeesh, I'm disappointed in myself!  Anyway, not only do we look super-awesome in our Nike Pro-Combat Uniforms, but we also kicked the SH!T out of Pitt!!!!!  For the first time all season, I had something GOOD to say about every aspect of our game!  Because, yes, my opinion is extremely important.  Seriously though it was awesome!  It was like our team finally woke up and showed up to play 60 minutes of football on both defense AND offense.  Friday truly was a great day to be a Mountaineer!

7.  Ohio State dominated Michigan.  One step closer to Rich Rodriguez's pink slip.  One step closer to me returning to my blissful ambivalence towards both Ohio State and Michigan.

8.  I like the changing of seasons.  I like rain and snow.  I like sunshine and more sunshine.  But, this year, I'm hoping for at least one fabulous snow storm in which I get to use the 4-wheel drive in my new car.  Just once.

9.  Do you watch The Good Wife?  If you don't, you should.  Just a suggestion.

10.  TCU became a member of The Big East today.  That means that starting in 2012 or 2013, WVU will play football in Fort Worth every other year; and basketball there too.  My brother lives in Dallas.  As in Dallas-Fort Worth.  Yea, I might have to change my stance on not going to away-games.  I can say one thing, I know of at least one Texas resident who won't be rooting for the Horned Frogs.


Backyard Brawl in Combat Style

The mood of the day after Thanksgiving in Mountaineer Nation always marks a stark contrast to the thanks-filled day of love thy neighbor that is Thanksgiving.  (Sometimes, it even changes ON Thanksgiving.)

I've been somewhat quiet here regarding WVU Football this year.  Not because I haven't been watching and riding the emotional roller coaster that comes with being a WVU fan, but because I have 1) not had too much unique to say and 2) been writing over at HailWV weekly.  Today is the annual Backyard Brawl between WVU and Pitt.  As with most rivalry games whether this annual battle means everything or nothing as it relates to post season play, it means everything.  Period.  If WVU only wins one game in a season, it better be against Pitt.

Today's Brawl will be no different than those of recent years.  There is a lot on the line for both teams.  With a win, either team remains in the hunt for a Big East Championship and an automatic BCS (Bowl Championship Series) Bowl Spot.  With a loss, well, not so much.

But, today's Brawl will be different.  If in nothing else, but appearance.  Both WVU and Pitt were selected by Nike to wear the next generation in football uniforms this season (other schools such as Boise State and Virginia Tech were also selected).  Nike has dubbed these uniforms the 'Pro Combat' series and included elements in the uniform unique to the school and state of the team that will be wearing them.  As WVU is the away team today, our uniforms are white, but the gold and blue is there.

The Nike people did their homework, and created WVU's uniform to not only honor West Virginia University, but also the 29 miners that lost their lives this year at the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.  The black smudges on the uniform symbolize the coal dust, and the gold stripe on the helmet symbolizes the miner's hat light that leads them safely.  Oh, and those bright gold shoes?  They symbolize the canaries that were used years ago to alert miners to the presence of toxic gases. 

When the uniforms were debuted, WVU Basketball Coach Bob Huggins introduced WVU's uniform and explained the specific details.

Pitt will also be wearing their Pro Combat Uniforms.  As part of the deal with Nike, when a school was selected to debut the Pro Combat Uniforms, they could not wear the uniform prior to the scheduled game when both teams would be wearing them; after that game, a school can wear the uniform as they choose.

I am proud that WVU was chosen to wear these uniforms.  I am proud that our state's mining history is being honored.  I will be most proud when we Beat Pitt!


Pictures (Just a couple)

Because I promised them...

Introducing Mei Mei...

Kali (the black dog on the left) named Mei Mei (the brown/white dog on the right).  Mei Mei means 'little sister' in Chinese.  Kali is a Chinese Shar Pei mix, so we think she did a pretty good job on the name.  We think Mei Mei is about 10 weeks old and looks to be a beagle/terrier mix of some sort.

And a brief note to the pups:
Kali, I'm so proud of you.  I thought we'd have had at least one issue (per hour) of teeth gnashing and snarling by now.  As of this writing, we've had none.  N-O-N-E.  None.  If I'd known how much you'd love a new puppy, I'd have got you one years ago.

Mei Mei, thank-you.  First for loving The Man more than me.  I don't think he'd have been happy if I'd stolen 2 dogs from him.  Second, for loving Kali.  I've said more times than I can count that all I want is for Kali to be able to play with other dogs.  You play together.

And the new car...

It's a Jeep Liberty.  Yes, I know we went to the Ford Dealership.  And yes, I know I've said many times I would love an Explorer, but at this time, the pre-owned Jeep was much closer to our price range.  So far, so great!

There will be many more puppy pictures to come I'm sure.  As for the car, well, it is what it is.

Oh, and Harry Potter?  A.Maz.Ing.  That is all.


Friday Fragments

I apologize in advance that these will be without pictures (you'll want to see pictures, I promise, and I also promise I'll post some this weekend).

1.  On Monday, I had one of my scheduled days off and went to the West Virginia School for the Deaf and spent the morning working with kids and the afternoon training teachers.  It.  was.  fabulous.

2.  My oldest (length of, not age of) and bestest friend is pregnant and as I'm writing this is home!  She spent the week in the hospital getting fluids to help her little jellybean stay put for at least 2 more weeks.  Now, she is home, on bed rest with orders to drink lots of water.  Sara, are you drinking lots of water?  Please say a prayer for Sara, her jellybean, and her boys (husband and son) that the next couple of weeks of bed rest go well and that jellybean continues to be healthy!
3.  We've been a one-car family for a few months now.  By choice, in an effort to save money for a bigger, 4-wheel drive car.  I wrote about our one car breaking down 2 weeks ago, and since then we've been borrowing cars from my parents and my in-laws.  Well, on Tuesday, we found out that it was more than just a timing belt, but also bent valves which can also mean cracked heads.  Which all I really know about any of that is, that on a VW, it's gonna be a lot of money to fix.  We have to fix it though because we still owe on the car, more than the car is actually worth at that.  Yea, I mightta drank some a lot of wine on Tuesday.

4.  Also on Tuesday, we had an appointment at a Ford Dealership here in town.  We were thinking that as soon as the timing belt was fixed, we would trade the VW, roll the extra $1000 that we owe into the new payment and just be done with it.  We found out about the extent of the VW's issues about 4 hours before going to our appointment.  Ultimately, we decided that we just needed to suck it up, get a car and deal with the VW separately.  So we did.  Yep, just less than a year post-bankruptcy we were approved for a car loan.  I am extremely grateful to Wes, Hope, and Brian in the Special Financing department.  It was clear that their mission wasn't to sell a car, but rather to get us into a car that we were happy with and could afford.  See, I told you that you'd want to see pictures.

5.  Last weekend, one of my college roommates was coming over to visit, but got delayed because they found two puppies at her parents' house and she went to see the puppies.  The Man and I have been considering becoming a two-dog family for a while now and a free puppy that needs a good home is definitely right up our alley.  After seeing those 2 sweet pups pictures on Facebook, we decided that this was a perfect opportunity to help one of them and add to our pack.  She is very cute.  Next up to is to see what Kali thinks.  (I already know what Max will think - I had to hide his suitcase - ha!)  See, I told you that you'd want to see pictures.

6.  We are going to see Harry Potter tonight at 11pm on the IMax!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We don't go to movies often.  In fact we only go if it's worth an hour and a half drive to Pittsburgh to watch it on IMax.

7.  In the spirit of Harry Potter I leave you with some laughs...

Have a great weekend!  And be sure to not only visit Jen for more Quick Takes but also say a prayer she is feeling better soon!


Just Cause

I've considered writing a post on this topic for a while now.  Each time deciding that it was just not the right time; or that it is such a personal topic I won't dare open myself up; or giving into the fear that I won't ever express myself adequately.  I also feel horribly guilty writing about my just cause for postponing pregnancy, when there are so many of you who want nothing more than to be pregnant.  And then I was given the opportunity to express my thoughts/feelings in a somewhat incognito way by just commenting on Rae's post.  At first, nothing really came of my comment, and I was secretly happy because I still wasn't sure that I wanted to go here.  But (there's always a 'but' isn't there?), a few days ago, Rae emailed to apologize for a comment that was left in response to mine; to let me know that she had deleted it and was sorry if I read it before she got to it.  Being that I am the cat that curiosity will kill someday, I told her I'd like to see the comment.  I'm glad I did.  It gave me the push I needed to write on the subject of just cause as it pertains to postponing pregnancy.  So, Rae, thank-you for being willing to share the comment with me.  And Moe, thank-you for your comment.  In fact, I started to reply in another comment and realized I just had to much to say.

Because this is in response to a comment, I've included the comment below.  My reply is in bold type, Moe's comment is in italics.  (I do not have an address to a blog of Moe's or I would link to it.)

First, I want to thank you for your comment.  Many of the questions you've posed are questions we've considered in discerning whether to work to avoid pregnancy each month.  It is not something we take lightly (anymore).  I want to respond in pieces, because there is more than just one issue.  So, here goes.  

Dear Rebecca, How good you are to follow the church's teachings and refrain from artificial means of contraception! Good job!

This sounds a bit condescending to me.  Whether your intent was to be condescending or not, I assure you, this path of following NFP didn't come easily to us, in fact it came after 12 years of being on birth control, the last 5 of which The Man and I were married and contracepting.  So, instead of taking exception, I will say thank-you for the encouragement because I sure hope that is what was intended.

If you work with special needs children then how great it is that you are prepared to take care of a special needs child if God sends you one. Many of us dont have that experience and just have to trust that God gives us what He knows in His infinite wisdom we can handle.

Yes, I do feel very grateful for the knowledge I have of special needs children.  And child development in general.  It saddens me to see how much frustration arises because of unrealistic expectations of parents for their children.  Will any of this make me a good mother?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Regardless, I will be grateful for the knowledge I have if I have children some day.  Should this be a reason for me to abandon any other reason I have for avoiding pregnancy, I don't think so.

I'm a little confused though, about your comment on the expense of a child. Do you think they are expensive? Seriously, they arent really very expensive, not in this country anyway and certainly not to the extent that one can't have enough money in the bank. We live in the land of plenty!! I know many a happy family with 4+ children who live quite happily with an under 100k/yr salary....i guess it boils down to priorities that you and your hubby have set...which is ultimately between you and The Big Guy. 

Do I think children are expensive?  Absolutely.  An under $100K/yr salary?  I'd love to classify us in that range, even close to it.  Maybe if we each took on an additional full-time job we'd get close. And until recently we had no health insurance.  None.  Oh, and thanks to the whole gross instead of net system of determining 'need', we also don't qualify for any social services.  So, yes, we have set priorities, but please don't assume that we are making almost $100K/year.  Yes, we live in the land of plenty - for the few.  The rest of us struggle day to day because we don't make enough money to be 'wealthy' and we make too much money to be 'poor'.  So, yes income plays a factor into our decision, but it's certainly not the only factor.

God has given you the free will and obviously a well functioning reproductive system (if nfp is working for you-unless of course you are infertile and dont know it yet) to choose to be a mom so it really isn't up to Him to decide for you, right? so, when you say it is up to Him then are you implying that you will then be giving up the NFP and trusting in Him? I'm just a little confused by that last statement regarding it being His decision. Our society, sadly, is scaring peolpe to death about having children..."too expensive", "possible birth defects", "not enough me time", ......what has happened to the spirit of HOPE....how many times are we told in "The Book" "Be Not Afraid" , "Fear Not", "Trust in Me"...?  

It's interesting that you equate our not having children with our not leaving it up to God.  The Man and I pray about this every month.  In fact, every day when we are in our fertile days.  And to date, we've come to the same conclusion every month.  It is not God's will for us to have children at this time.  It's also interesting that you assume that I am afraid.  Sure, I have fears (big ones) related to having children, I dare say every woman does.  But those fears are not what I base my decision on.  I base my decision on my trust in God.  My trust that His will for my life will be clear to me and for the fortitude to remain faithful to it.  It's not easy to remain abstinent on our fertile days.  I want to say that again:  It is NOT easy to remain abstinent on our fertile days.  I think that is a piece that gets lost sometimes.  If we didn't feel we had just cause to avoid pregnancy at this time, we certainly wouldn't choose to be abstinate on the days that we most desire each other.

Rebecca, please find some good women who love motherhood so that they may show you how beautiful it is!!! And then pray very hard that you dont make the same mistake that many women do and think they are fertile forever because then it may be too late and you may not have the choice any longer.

I frequently say a very similar thing:  that as far as I know I have a well-functioning reproductive immune system, but that it won't last forever.  And I've even written about the guilt that I feel that I don't want children.  I have plenty of friends who love being moms and I love being around them and their children, they are what give me hope for the future.  And I have given much thought to the consideration of what will happen if I 'wait too long' and it is 'too late' for me to biologically have children and every time I think about it the same conclusion stares me in the face - adoption.  There are more than enough children in this world who need loving homes.  And guess what, many of them have a disability.  What if this is what I'm called to?  One thing I can tell you is that right now, we cannot afford adoption.  It is expensive.  I'm very aware that I will not be fertile forever, and I accept it.  I also accept that I may never be able to afford adoption.  What I don't accept is that because of those two facts, I must work to achieve pregnancy now.

Coming to this conclusion, discerning that it is not time for us to have children, is as God-centered and directed as any other decision we make in our life; even more so than most.  Is this the case for all couples?  Probably not.  And that is my point in taking the time to respond to your comments.  That maybe there is someone reading this who feels that the Catholic Church teaches that married couples must have many children.  No, it does not.  It teaches that we must be open to life and that we must discern when it is responsible to bring a child (or another child) into the world.  And maybe, there is a person reading this who is using NFP with a contraceptive mentality because they think that is what the Catholic Church teachers.  Again, that's not it either.  What the Catholic Church does teach is that we must be open to life and must be responsible parents.  For us, to date, being responsible parents means not attempting to achieve pregnancy.


Can of Worms

Faith-Based Arguments*

What is a Can of Worms post?

*Clarification for this post:  I do not use the term argument defined as an oral argument, but rather I use argument defined as a statement, reason, or fact for or against a point.  As in you can make an argument without having an argument.  Got it?  I at least hope it's clearer than mud.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
~1 Corinthians 2:14

As I read these words, my first thought was 'ah-ha!  I'm not crazy and why did I not ever just put this into words myself?'

And then I thought, careful now Rebecca, you don't know what verses 13 and 15 say and they could completely change what you are thinking you are reading in verse 14.

So, I finally took the time to look up not only verses 13 and 15, but all verses 10 - 16.  (And because sometimes I get stuck on the big words in a grown-up Bible, I also turned to the New Century Version (previously known as the children's Bible) to help me make sure I was understanding it correctly).  (Emphasis mine.)

But God has shown us these things through the Spirit.  The Spirit searches out all things, even the deep secrets of God.  Who knows the thoughts that another person has?  Only a person's spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts.  It is the same with God.  No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.  And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom but with words taught us by the Spirit.  And so we explain spiritual truths to spiritual people.  A person who does not have have the Spirit does not accept the truths that come from the Spirit of God.  That person thinks they are foolish and cannot understand them, because they can only be judged to be true by the Spirit.  The spiritual person is able to judge all things, but no one can judge him.  The Scripture says:  "Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Who has been able to teach him? (Isaiah 40:13)  But we have the mind of Christ. 
~1 Corinthians 2:10 - 16


So often those of us who have the mind of Christ and and his Spirit try to defend, explain, rationalize our views to those who do not.  I've frequently thought, we can't argue from a Catholic (or any religious/faith-based) point of view to people who do not share our opinion.  Yes, we can educate others about our opinion and we can seek to enlighten others, but if they have not been touched by the Spirit (or open to being touched by the Spirit) our words will fall on deaf ears.  (Hmmm, 'He makes the deaf to hear and the blind to speak'...)

Where does this leave us though?  For so many of us, our point of view is due to our faith and it is how we know to get our point across.  But how many people are we missing by taking this approach.  What if, instead of forming our opinions and arguments from only a faith-based point of view, we also found a secular point of view that agreed?  We (humans) will never all agree, but what about those people who might have like-thinking, but are put-off by the Faith-basedness of it all?  Yes, we are called to evangelize.  But what if it instead of bring souls into the fold, we are actually alienating them?  What if, by hearing their secular argument and responding to it with secular argument we might in fact change minds that would never be changed by a faith-based response?

Yes, there are some things that require a Faith-based argument:  the mystery of the Holy Trinity; the Resurrection; the birth of Jesus to a virgin; etc., etc., etc.  But, there are some things that I feel can, and should be, argued from not only a Faith-based point of view, but a secular one as well.  Capital punishment, human rights, abortion, and health-care to name a few.  Yes, there are strong Faith reasons for feeling one way or another on these issues, but are there not also strong secular reasons as well?

 To some degree, I feel it's like having an argument where one person is speaking English and the other Chinese.  Agreement is impossible when you are speaking two different languages.  So, why not try to say the same thing, in the other person's language?  They just might agree.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
~1 Corinthians 2:14

This Can of Worms has been opened.  What do you think?

(Note about comments:  Please comment on the topic at hand - ways to argue your point of view and not on specific topics and why you feel only a faith-based, only a secular-based, or a mixed approach is best.  Citing a brief example is welcome, but I would prefer this not become an argument about specific topics.  Because I do work during the day, if I feel this is becoming an issue, I may turn on comment moderation to ensure that I can keep up with it all.)


The Long Way Home

On Friday, I left work with my overnight bag packed and headed toward Huntington, WV.  I was on my way to a conference about working with Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) children and I was so excited.  It was the first conference in almost three years that I had been to and I couldn't wait.

About 30 minutes south of Morgantown, the trip got a little bit longer.  Our car had been making this noise and The Man and I had disagreed over whether it was serious or not.  Being that our car was The Man's car, maintenance is mainly his responsibility, so I didn't force the issue and just went about driving around town.  Turns out The Man should've paid more attention and I should have been more insistent about getting it checked.  Anyway, long story short, there was something wrong and 30 minutes into my trip I found myself sitting alongside the road calling The Man to say "there's something really wrong with the car now."

An hour later I was in a tow truck heading back to Morgantown to meet The Man and to borrow my mom's car to head to Hunttington.  Again.  I headed out of town just about the time I would've been arriving had I made it the first time.  Sigh.

If I doubted for a second it was all worth it (I didn't), I was proved wrong on Saturday.  The training was great; seeing old friends was great; and I was reminded that working with children with hearing loss IS what I am called to do.  Sitting in that cool room, 3 1/2 hours from my house, shifting in my seat to get comfortable, I finally felt at home.  Despite knowing that there are expensive car repairs in my future, my soul was at peace.  Yes, there was stress about wondering just what might happen next, but it took a back seat to the feeling of ease wafting over me.

My body has been physically home for two years in a town I love close to family and friends I missed more than words can say.  Shortly after that we returned home to our Catholic Faith.  A month ago, The Man and I moved into a house that immediately has turned into a physical home.  And on Saturday, the rest of me caught up and I can finally say I am home.  Yes, there are new challenges ahead and a lot of fear over making this work financially.  But, I am taking a phrase from my Party.Lite days and I'm going to "Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway".

I've said it before, it's not the path we planned, but I sure am glad that I took the long way home.


Wedding Pictures

A few weeks ago, I wished I had pictures.  Well, now I do!  Technically, I always had the pictures, I just couldn't get to them.
My brother's wedding was a beautiful day, here is the proof:
Me, The Man, and My Mom before the ceremony.  Mom's shirt is the color of the groomsmen's ties.

Me and my Dad.

Me and the groom (my brother!).

I love this picture of them laughing.  There is a picture of The Man and me laughing on our wedding day too, it is one of my favorites.  These pictures of wedding day laughter remind us that it is the laughter that will get us through the hard times.

Their theme was 'Music', so they borrowed a toddler piano to hold their cake.  The cake that was chocolate with peanut butter icing.  I enjoyed looking at the cake, but did not eat any (I'm just not a fan of chocolate cake).

First Dance.  Notice the Groom's shoes - yep, he put on some sneakers as soon as the ceremony was over! 
It truly was a beautiful day.  I still can't believe how much I cried, but I promise you, they were all tears of joy.

And the greatest of these is love...
1 Corinthians 13:13 


Second Chances

I'm a strong believer in second chances in almost all circumstances.  I believe especially that when we are young or pushed to our limits we are very likely going to make bad decisions and may need a second chance.

I work in an industry where you typically do not get a second chance, and I completely understand and agree with this in most cases.  It's true, I do not have children, but if I did I think it's safe to say that I wouldn't want someone untrustworthy or with a history of bad decisions caring for my child.  Before anyone is hired to work in childcare they must undergo 2 background checks to verify that they have not been convicted of a crime or of maltreatment of the young or elderly.  I think that's a good thing as a general rule.  In addition, anyone who works in childcare who is charged with a crime or maltreatment must report that charge to their supervisor within 24 hours and a new background check must be done.  I also think that's a good thing as a general rule.

Where I start to struggle is in the cases where a person has made a mistake or is fighting the claims made against them.  A couple of months ago, I was forced to release a caregiver from her position due to a background check coming back with instances of maltreatment.  This caregiver had made us aware of the charges and was fighting them.  She did not have money for an attorney and was trying to fight them on their own.  Unfortunately, she did not win.  She did, however, do what was required and keep us informed and fill out the information on the new background check.  When it was returned was when I was forced to release her.  It was one of the hardest things I've had to do as a supervisor.  (There are some instances in which we can apply for a waiver for someone, this was not one of them.)

If I thought it was hard to do at the time, I was recently reminded as another caregiver came across some of this lady's things - materials she was working on both to turn into me and for her class.  I thought I knew it at the time, but this confirmed to me that this lady was dedicated to her job and her children.  She was working very hard to improve her life and the 'rules' we've (society/the state) have created pushed her back down instead of helping her up.  In these materials were goals written to improve herself as a caregiver/teacher and a person.  In these materials were activities to do with her class many months in the future.  In these materials was a reminder that sometimes people really do just keep getting knocked down.

I know the rules are written for a reason.  I wish that only trustworthy, honest people applied for jobs working with children.  I wish this lady had been able to have a second chance.  Will you pray for her and her family.  That wherever life has taken them in the past few months, that it has taken them up.  That she has found a second chance and is doing well.