Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Laura gave me these beauties for my birthday. 
I'm still loving them every day.

Righto, Mr. President.

"You know, there's a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit -- the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us -- the child who's hungry, the steelworker who's been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this -- when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers -- it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help."

- Barack Obama

Monday, March 29, 2010

Freedoms I Enjoy

I'm responding to a comment on a different blog.  Believe it or not, I've been biting my tongue for the past couple weeks. But this is a point I feel very strongly is worth making:  I, as an American citizen, am enjoying an enormous amount of freedoms.  Here is my short list:

1.  I get to worship where I choose.  Whenever I choose to.  So does my neighbor.
2.  I can go out in my neighborhood without the fear of being injured.
3.  I can send my children to school, so they can receive an education.
4.  I can choose to teach my children from home, if I choose to.
5.  I can have my own money.
6.  I can own my own property.
7.  My equal rights as a woman are protected and I can work as hard or as little as I choose.
8.  I can read and write whatever I want. 
9.  I can have as many or as few children as I choose.
10. I can express my opinions out loud, without fear of repercussion.

Additionally, I benefit from these government (socialist) programs on a daily basis:

1.  The FDIC: protects my money.
2.  The FDA: makes sure that medicines are safe for my use.
3.  Public Schools: my children get to go to school.
4.  Public Safety: My streets are safe thanks to the police officers and firefighters that protect me.
5.  Public Works: I can get from here to almost anywhere in the Twin Cities in less than half an hour, thanks to both national, state, and local public works departments.
6.  Public Recreation: My children can play T-Ball and take the Red Cross Babysitting course through our local communities.
7. OSHA, etc: My husband stays safe on the job due to state and federal safety standards. 
8. Department of Transporation: Safe traveling across the country, thanks to signs, traffic lights, bridges, crosswalks, etc.
9. Public Libraries: I get to check out books at my local library.
10. The Military and Dept of Homeland Security: No explanation necessary.

I challenge you to add to my list!

Friday, March 26, 2010


I had a neuroma (basically an enflamed nerve between my third and fourth toe) in both feet the past year. Long story short, I had them both removed. One in November and one today. Amazing how dependent we are on our feet, right!? Nothing to take for granted. Cory's home for four days and I'm going to sit here. And blog, perhaps!  Or catch up on Ellen...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care Reform: The Final Post

The healthcare bill passed both the house and the senate and the president signed it into law this week.  In it, insurance companies can no longer discriminate nor charge more for people with pre-existing conditions.  You cannot be dropped if you get sick.  You can stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26.  In 2014, you'll have to buy insurance, but if the you cannot afford it, the government will help you subsidize it.  At that time, there will also be exchanges where small businesses can pool together and purchase later group plans for their employees, thereby getting better rates and better coverage.

These are a few of the positives in this bill.  I really wanted to see a public option (no surprise), so that the insurance companies would have some real competition and be forced to keep their rates reasonable. 

The backlash against this bill has been overwhelming.  Do you know that if you write in all caps it's the virtual equivalent of yelling?  Perhaps you meant to, but man, my ears hurt.

Here are the things I've really been wanting to say.  (Disclaimer: When I use "you," it's not directed at anyone in particular.  And it's not directed at all the opposers of the bill.  I have many intelligent, informed friends with legitimate arguments against health care reform.  I have had a few very civil conversations with those friends this week that helped me understand parts of the other side of the argument.  This is directed at those who are angry, but haven't read the bill.  Who are angry, but are misinformed.  I am sorry if I offend anyone.  My intention is to get it out of my head.  And to finalize the many posts I've had this year about this subject.)

1.  I get it, you're upset.  You don't agree philosophically with this bill, and you're angry about it passing.  I even know all of your arguments (too much government, how will our health care system support all these new patients, costs too much money, health care insurance isn't a right, it's a privilege, etc.).  Then get involved.  I spent a lot of time this past year learning, and listening, and acting.  I am a little bit in love with democracy, because we really do get to make our voice heard.  Don't just complain; DO something. 

2.  It passed.  Do not say, "Shame on you, government, for not listening to the people."  My government listened to me.  And to millions of other Americans who were ready for health care reform.  Millions of Americans voted for Obama, and he campaigned largely on this platform.  We knew when we voted that he was going to work for this change.  I think it's unfair to say that the government didn't work for the people. There are millions of Americans who are going to be healthier because of this bill.  Many Americans will now be able to avoid financial ruin because of this bill.  Their government listened to them.

3.  I do not understand the "government takeover" argument.  I don't.  We don't have a single-payer system.  There isn't even a public option.  There is some regulation of the government over an industry that could care less about the welfare of human beings.  In my humble opinion, it's the government's job to protect us from sharks, and for this regulation I am thankful.

4.  I do NOT understand the violence.  I read this op-ed earlier this week and I wanted to throw up.  The amount of fear and anger I've been surrounded by this week is overwhelming.  For people to scream at a man with Parkinson's disease at a Tea Party rally last weekend, and protestors screaming slurs at US Congresspeople as they went to vote.  As of today, ten Democrats have reported threats and violence at their offices.  Broken windows, threatening messages.  Out. of. control. 

You don't need me to reiterate how I feel about violence of this sort.  I've done enough posts on fear and how it affects us (and I've now labeled all my posts, so if you want to know how I feel about it, it's easy to find).

I'm going to be done talking about it now.  It started as a hypothetical and went through the process.  It was a serious debate, and there was a vote.  It's the law now.  I am hoping that as things settle down and all of the details become available, people will be more comfortable.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirst and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25:35-40

Peace and love.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


(I am going to comment on the passed health care reform bill.  But not yet.  I gotta let some of it die down and process my response to it all.  There is a lot to comment on.  And since this blog is, in addition to my random public thoughts, a record of my life that I'll have forever, I want to get it right.)

It's officially Spring here.  These photos prove it.  And if you need further proof, you can call me or stop over and listen to me sneeze and sneeze.  My sinuses are already upset.)

That puffy stuff is that tree budding.  He's an early riser.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Reform, The Finish Line

Sounds like there'll be a vote on the health care reform bill this Sunday.  I, for one, am ready.  My viewpoint has not wavered from the very beginning of this discussion, well over a year ago.  Philosophically, I know that passing this bill (while it's far from the reform I was hoping for) is the right thing to do.  I am not proud of the fact that we call ourselves the greatest nation in the world, and we let our citizens suffer and die.  Yeah, I know.  A lot of you don't agree.  And at this point, I'm just going to have to be okay with that.

This morning, I stumbled across this list of biblical references about helping others.  I have no other argument at this time. 

I have called my representatives.  I have emailed them.  I have talked (and talked and talked) to my friends about it.  I really love democracy.  When we have an issue, or an opinion, we can get involved.  For that, I am grateful. 

Whatever happens from here, I made my voice heard.

Daily Life

"Mom!  That cat is sassy!
I wike that mouse better."
- Jack

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This story kind of embarrassing. 

I LOVE scalloped potatoes and ham.  It was one of my favorite meals as a kid.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I craved them something fierce.  But I never made them. 

My mom has one of those old metal potato graters/slicers (she still uses it for pasties).  I don't know what they're called, but it has a hand crank.  Anyway, she could slice a lot of potatoes with that sucker.  And that's how she made scalloped potatoes.  Since I had neither that nor a food processor, I was sure I couldn't make them.  My sister Amy has suggested I make them several times, but I keep telling her I can't because I don't have anyway to slice them.

Uh, how about a knife?!  Doy.

Today, I had all the ingredients for them, and for nothing else.  So it was a no-brainer.  Using my awesome, sharp pampered-chef bread knife, I sliced up seven potatoes in five minutes or so.

Then I promptly called Amy and made her promise that if I make such a stupid argument in the future, would she please correct me?!  I feel like such a fool.  Especially since all of my boys (including Cole, who is notoriously anti-potato) gobbled it up.  I'll be making it again soon.  With or without a food processor.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

2 lbs potatoes (about 6 medium)
3 T butter
3 T flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 c milk
1 sm onion, finely chopped
2 - 4 c ham, cubed

Peel and slice potatoes.* Heat butter in saucepan over low heat until melted.  Blend in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook over low heat, until moisture is smooth and bubbly.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir one minute.  Mix potato slices, ham, and white sauce in 2 qt casserole.**  Dot top of casserole with butter, if desired.

Cover and cook at 350 for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for 60 - 70 minutes longer.  Let stand 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

*Oh, I don't care how you slice 'em, just do it.
**I layered it, like my mom used to:  1/3 of the potato slices, ham, then pour half of the sauce, 1/3 potato slices, ham, 1/3 potato slices, then the rest of the sauce.  Because some things are traditional.  And I like tradition!

(Recipe courtesy of my Aunt Lisa via the Torola Family Cookbook (page 174)).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Blue Lotus

I love the blue lotus.  Every day, but especially on Mondays.  *happy sigh*

Monday, March 15, 2010


I went to the reviewal for my cousins' grandpa tonight.  He was a bomber in WWII.  Facinating.  I'm not going to have exact details from memory, but as I looked at the memorabilia there, I learned that he was part of the 100th Squadron; they called themselves the Bloody 100s because of the number of people they lost.  He kept a journal of his days in the service.  He hand-wrote the journal, of course, but my aunt typed it up and put it into a spiral binder.  Bound and typed (with many pages of news clippings and photographs), it's probably 300 pages.  I want to read the entire thing (although that was, admittedly, not the time nor place).  One quote I loved (and I'm paraphrasing from memory):  I went to confession and communion before today's mission.  (I always do.  You never know which mission is going to be your last).  There are no athesists among the pilots.  That's one good thing about war, I guess.

In high school, history was such a chore.  Now, I can't get enough.  Thanks to those brave people for freeing so many and for preserving our freedom.  Rest in Peace, Robert, you served your missions well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Check Yo'self.

I have been wrestling with myself the past couple weeks.  Like, a lot.  And I appreciate this exercise, because I know I'm going to learn something, but man, it's so painful!  Nothing worse than looking at the insides of your own character flaw.

Here's the thing: do I have to share every thought, every concern with the entire world?  Are my thoughts and viewpoints so important that it's worth hurting someone's feelings? 

I lost a facebook friend.  Sometime between January 2009 and March 2010.  She's not someone I have a lot of contact with now, so I didn't notice when she deleted me.  But we used to be good friends.  She is hilarious and kind and I loved her then.  And I'm 99.5% sure I know why she deleted me; she doesn't see the world the same way I see it (ie she's conservative; I'm liberal).  And you know what?  That was the right thing to do...delete me.  If I don't make you happy, or add something to your life, there is no purpose being my friend.  Absolutely.  But it still stung, because I know that I offended her. 

I'm not delusional.   I'd be willing to bet that a large percentage of my Facebook friends have me hidden in their newsfeed.  And I have no problem with that...I have a few hidden as well.  We wouldn't sit around in real life and listen to the opinions of others who are opposite of ours, and there's no reason to do it virtually, either.  C'est la vie.

On a discussion on another friend's wall this week, I told someone to "check themselves."  And it made me think that this might be a good time to check *myself.*  So I spent a few days really exploring it.  Talking to a couple people that I really trust, and spending time praying about it.  My prayer always consists of, "Let me do Your work."  I want to make sure that I'm only spending time on things that really matter, things that matter to humanity.  I want to make sure that my ego doesn't get in the way.  So that when I lose a friend (it'll happen again!), I'll know that it didn't happen because I stopped respecting other opinions or that my pride got in the way.

I sent a text to a mutual friend once I realized she had deleted me.  I said to her that "maybe I should keep my bloody mouth shut once in awhile".  She said, "Well either stop talking about things you find important and just agree with everyone all the time or keep putting urself out there, yes youll get knocked around but at least ur you!"  Thank you, sweet friend.  I really needed that. 

It's complicated, exposing ourselves.  For what reason do I find the need to share everything?  I hope the answer is: because it helps more people than it hurts.  And when it doesn't, I pray that I have the grace to shut my bloody mouth. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our New Library

The Plymouth branch of the Hennepin County Library re-opened after almost two years today.  What a lovely, bright place.  We'll be spending lots of time there!

I know I didn't focus on the right image, but I love this shot anyway.

Nate's Barber Shop

We have this great neighborhood barber shop.  Nate said I could take a few photos when I brought the boys there yesterday.  (Yes.  I bring my camera almost everwhere.)

The old barber shop pole.

And the new barber shop pole:  wi fi

The new barbershop:  Matty playing Xbox.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


When Matthew was born, I was working full time.  He was born four weeks early, so I didn't have childcare finalized.  I held that baby in my arms, calling complete strangers to ask if they'd care for my brand-new (and very longed-for) child.  It was heartwrenching.  I explained to Cory that I really really wanted the first five years.  And that I'd settle for three.  I had heard somewhere that 70% of a child's character is developed in the first three years of their lives.

God bless Cory.  He trusted me, against his fears, and with the knowledge that he was going to have to work his ass off to make ends meet.  And things worked out.  For the past five years, Cory has been working at an incredible pace to support us.  I am also thankful for my career, which has allowed me to be there...developing the boys' characters.

Tonight, I took Matty to his kindergarten open house.  This afternoon, my Facebook status said:  "Leanne is going to register Matty for kindergarten this evening.  I will not cry."  Leslie, one of my neighbors mentioned that she was going to be doing registration, and would bring Kleenex.  And she wasn't kidding around.  When I walked in the door, she handed me the box.  She actually grabbed her own box and brought it with her.  Such is a good friend.

And I needed those Kleenex.  The whole night.  We sat in the orientation, and they played a slide show of the current kindergartners doing their thing.  Matty could not stop smiling.  He kept hugging me and kissing me and jumping up and down.  And I was reminded how important this time is for him.  And I was weepy.  In the dark, watching that slide show.

Then, in the last 15 minutes, one of the teachers read the kids a book called "The Night Before Kindergarten."  In it, the kids are very excited to go to school, but the parents are crying.  It was horrible.  I think I might have been the only parent that emotional, but I hardly held it together.

And here's why:

Those years I wanted?  I got them (Thank you, Jesus.).  And they're nearly over.  And I am overwhelmed with grief for the loss of them.  It's not that I'm unexcited about the future.  I can't wait to go through the next chapter of his life with him.  How much he still has to learn!  How amazing his mind is.  He's so smart and funny and sweet.  I love him so much. 

I'm just going to take a few minutes to miss his two's and his three's and his four's.  And then I'm going to keep on watching him grow up into the person God wants him to be, through his five's and his six's, and his seven's.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St. Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly
   where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities
   that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received,
   and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones,
   and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.


A friend posted this on facebook this morning,
and I have read and re-read it all day. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Spiritual Series: Part V

Fear and Hatred

How does it play into your life and your value system?

I have been really really struggling with this issue the past few months, and I need to get some of it out.  I hope you'll bear with me through my thoughts and then I welcome yours as well.  I genuinely mean no offense, I just want to discuss this. 

Everyone knows I'm a progressive.  I listen to progressive and liberal talk show hosts.  I believe their set of opinions are not the only valid ones, but I maintain that they more loving.  There are so many talk show hosts in this country who speak of hatred.  And fear.  Who are vile and angry, and who, in my opinion, incite actual violence. 

I was going to post the quotes here, but I can't.  I urge you to read them for yourselves.  And then, I ask you, how do your political values and whether or not you agree with these viewpoints align with your spirituality and/or religion?

Rush Limbaugh

Glenn Beck

I found them because they are the most widely-listened to talk show hosts.  They have millions of followers who believe everything they say.  Oh, but the fear!   

Are we not called upon to be unafraid?  To love everyone? 

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

I Peter 3: 8-16

I guess this is my lesson.  This is what I have to remind myself of: I can't convince anyone else, and I have to learn that it's okay if I don't.  I need to learn to keep praying for those who don't have peace.  I must love them too...

I am an idealist*, and I like to envision a world without hatred.  What would that look like?  Heaven, I assume!  Some days I get lost in that daydream.  And sometimes, I just try to make sense of the world we have...

*another post for another day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And then, there it was.

As I've told you before, I'm a scheduler.  I really really love living by a schedule.  And as a parent, that has been magnified.

We get up between 6:00 and 7:00. 
We eat breakfast around 8:00.
Lunch is between 11:30 and noon.
Dinner is between 5:00 and 5:30.
Baths fall around 6:00.
The boys go to bed around 7:30.
I go to bed around 11:00.

Nearly every day.

And I live by those times completely.  I love that my kids are predictable when they're on a schedule.  I don't like the consequences of a late night (ie crabby children, most frequently followed by a crabby momma.). 

But, at times, there have also been consequences to my schedule.  My kids miss anything socially that happens outside of our house after 6:30 p.m.  I have packed up and left with tired children from many an event.  I was always looking forward to the day when their little bodies could handle a little more flexibility.

I have been feeling my life getting easier with every passing month.  With Jack nearing his third birthday, I have far more independence.  He can do a lot of things on his own, I have no one to carry, he understands more complex instructions.  But this weekend, I realized:  I have entered the next chapter. 

Saturday night, we spent a night at a hotel, one night: a micro-vacation.  The kids played amazingly well together - including Cole.  They were cooperative and excited (oh, that excitement...watching them brought me right back to the emotions I felt as a child with something so exciting as a night in a hotel...with a pool!).  They slept well.  They are, truly, big kids. 

I never want to wish the years away.  Right now, I can fix all of their problems with either a kiss, a snuggle, or a band aid.  My mom's wise words:  The days are long, but the years are short.  But I hope, with all my heart, that I appreciate each stage of their lives wholly.  Whatever the challenges, I hope I learn from them - become a better parent.  Whatever the joys, I hope I soak them up completely.  Those boys, they give me so. much. JOY. 

This, I believe, will be a very fun chapter!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I know Spring is coming...

...simply by the toys emerging from under the (melting) piles of snow.

When did they bring balls outside??

And this poor helicopter.

And of course, by the puddles.  Bring it, Spring.  We have our mud boots and we are ready!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dr. Seuss

It was Dr. Seuss' birthday yesterday.  He was brilliant.  I love so many of his quotes, this one, particularly:

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

How great is that visual?  All Mighty B on trouble's butt. 

Hope your troubles are few!