Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because laughter truly is the best medicine...



Why do cows have bells?


Because their horns don't work!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some thoughts about money and the government from Ayn Rand in honor of Tax Day

  • The money will go into channels that will carry it, not to the most productive, but to the most corrupt. By the standards of our time, the man who has the least to offer is the man who wins. 
  • Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free. 
  • If people are in need, we've got to seize the things first and talk about it afterwards. 
  • You want me to provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs to provide.
  • Money is made--before it can me looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced. 
  • …the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
  • Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not be rich long.
  • Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they have passed a law to disarm them.
  • Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.
  • There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for me to live without breaking laws…But, just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of lawbreakers--and then you cash in on guilt.
  • The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes--by refusing to buy my product…Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters--and I recognize it as such.
  • When robbery is done in open daylight by sanction of the law, as it is done today, then any act of honor or restitution has to be hidden underground.
  • After all, it doesn't make any difference to the poor whether their livelihood is at the mercy of an industrialist or a bureaucrat.
  • Who are you to stand against the government? Who are you, you miserable little office rat, to judge national policies and hold opinions of your own? Do you think the country has time to bother about your opinions, your wishes or your precious little conscience?
  • Our modern laws are elastic and open to interpretation according to…circumstances.
  • There's no surer way to destroy a man than to force him into a spot where he has to aim at not doing his best, where he has to struggle to do a bad job, day after day. That will finish him quicker than drink or idleness or pulling stick-ups for a living.
  • …money inside a man's pocket had the power to turn into confidence inside his mind.
  • Are you thinking that death and taxes are our only certainty, Mr. Readen? Well, there's nothing I can do about the first, but if I lift the burden of the second, men might learn to see the connection between the two and what a longer, happier life they have the power to achieve. They might learn to hold, not death and taxes, but life and production as their two absolutes and as the base of their moral code. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finished Project

Some of these are very similar to other pictures I've posted, but I wanted to show the whole finished project together in one place. The tour will take you from the front, all the way around the house, moving around to the left.

front walk

front walk, from the "parking lot"

stone work

lower patio



upper patio

grill area

upper patio, from the other direction


the "beach"

bed on the kid's side

less glamorous but very important slab for future well house

after dark

all lit up

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And, the winner is...

After SEVEN hard-fought games (three yesterday and four today, played back-to-back and partially in the rain), the Marble Falls Athletics came out as the tournament champs! There is one little boy in this household who will be beaming all week, and a couple of parents who couldn't be prouder! Way to go A's!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baseball Mom (and her soapbox rant)

I did not choose to become a "baseball mom." To tell you the truth, I don't even like baseball. (Apologies to all the family members and Americans I just offended!) What I do like are two boys named Max and Weston, and what they like (right now) is baseball. So, I took on the role of "baseball mom" willingly, if not whole-heartedly--I admit, I did not order t-shirts from the MLB teams, which my boys' teams are named after, to wear to all the games, and I have not had any desire to create a cute accessory out of an actual baseball. But, I have been to every game (save one, when I had to work, and one, when they were playing at the exact same time, and Dad and I had to divide and conquer), including FOUR games just today. And, I am washing uniforms at this very (late) moment, so we can do it all again tomorrow. And, I do get my voice a little out of whack yelling for my boys. For my boys. Not at them. Not at the umpire. Not at the other team. Not even at the guy in the parking lot who accidentally left his lights on, shining in the face of the batter. I will be the first to admit that I have my flaws, but I do constantly try to check what is coming out of my mouth at games (especially given my own competitive nature), and I would like to encourage all the other Little League parents out there to attempt to do the same (regardless of the sport). This game, this tournament, this season isn't going to make or break your child's future, in the rare event that he (or she) even has a future in this sport. And, it isn't going to redeem your past, as much as you might like it to. They are just little boys (and girls). Let them play and have fun. Let them learn a little about the game and about teamwork. These are valuable lessons. But, don't be overly critical. Or obnoxious. Or competitive. Or act like something really important is on the line. It isn't. To be fair, most of the parents are very supportive and encouraging, which I certainly appreciate. But, there are a few who could use a slight adjustment in their minds (and mouths) about how important this is in the grand scheme of things. [End of rant.]

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Product Love

In my last favorites' list*, I mentioned Almond Milk.
This is kind of like the HNL of that. 

This camera is small enough to slip in my pocket or carry in my purse
but takes pictures like one of the big boys, even from quite a distance. I love it!

The seemingly endless winter this year has forced me to wear sweaters on a very regular basis.
This rack is perfect for drying lots of things at once and even has a place for shoes.
Plus, it folds almost flat, making it super easy to store.

My old Kindle was getting pretty worn,
so when I saw the Kindle Fire deeply discounted one day, I took the plunge.
(And, I also treated myself to the fun hot pink case!) So far, I'm very happy with my decision. 
The fact that these flip-flops are super comfy, slightly scented like vanilla and dishwasher safe
are just a few of the reasons I love them. I'm pretty sure I'll be living in these all summer.

These palapas have added just the right ambiance to our "beach."
(All we're missing is the ocean!)

We love granola around our house, and this is some of the best we've tried.

After some issues with my previous watch turning my skin black,
I did some research and decided to try a Skagen watch.
I love the femininity of this watch (and the fact that it hasn't caused any discoloration)! 

For everything from cooking to moisturizing, this is our go-to oil.

The Warthog sharpener has helped us get the epidemic of dull knives in our house under control.
I love that it's small enough to store in the knife drawer and easy enough for Ruth to use (with supervision).

Jeff has been urging me to read this for years, and I have finally gotten around to it.
It's definitely going on my list of all-time favorites!
(I think I will have to buy Jeff a new copy, since I sort of went crazy marking
meaningful passages in the copy I borrowed from him!)

We love our Keurig and all the flavors of coffee we can choose from.
This is one of our current favorites. We are also loving Creme Brulee and Houston Blend.

*You can see more of our favorites by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday. All. Day. Long.

  • Clay, who has been consistently visiting our room between 2:30 and 3:30 every morning for the last few weeks, was still sleeping in my bed at the time I usually make it, because I was just too tired to take him back to his room during the middle of the night. I should have known I wouldn't make it back in there to make the bed and therefore should have just crawled back under the covers. If I accomplish nothing else during the day, I can usually say I at least made my bed. Not today.
  • I had a customer service issue to deal with first thing this morning. That's really a lovely way to start any day.
  • While I was on hold with that company, Ruth's piano teacher called to remind me that Ruth had a make-up lesson today, which I had forgotten to put on my calendar. Not a big deal, but just kind of rattled my plan for the day. 
  • Immediately after hanging up with the customer service rep, my phone began to ring. It was the secretary from the church where we meet for CC. A pipe broke over the weekend, and we were going to need to cancel our CC day for tomorrow. 
  • Quickly, a fellow director and I made a plan about a make-up day, which will push our semester back yet another week. (We have already had several make-up days this semester, due to ice.)
  • I then had to call, email and otherwise connect with the entire campus to let them know what the situation was. 
  • The three big kids are in various stages of head colds. There has been a constant chorus of coughing, nose-blowing and requesting pain medication around here today.
  • We received a helpful reminder about what is provided and what is not provided at the condo we will be staying at in NC next month. Linens are not provided, which I had completely forgotten. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just take a bag of our Campmeeting linens." But after searching the garage, attic, storage closet, and any other place I could think of (multiple times), I finally surmised that I have either inadvertently donated or thrown all those linens away. They are nowhere, and I am sad. (By the way, this is a major disadvantage of storing important things in large black trash bags.)
  • I ran into a friend at the grocery store and found out her family will be moving soon. This is good for them, and I'm happy for them, but I selfishly wish they were staying.
  • We got everything set up for dinner on the patio, which required hauling the large plastic table and matching folding chairs out from the garage (since we are without patio furniture at the moment, even though we have a nice, new patio) and a multitude of serving dishes for all the fixin's for soft tacos. We took exactly two bites of our food before the heavens opened and began spilling its contents upon our picnic. It started out as rain, but quickly turned into hail.
  • While rushing to get everything in the house, a bowl was dropped and shattered, and what I thought was the last of the salsa was ruined. (Thankfully, we found another jar in the pantry!)
  • While making a note about something on my calendar after dinner, I realized, with a bit of a shock, that the due date for the mortgage payments had come and gone. 
  • So, yeah, it's been Monday here. We're looking forward to Tuesday. How about you?!