Monday, May 30, 2011

A year later and we're almost done with the Ugly Yellow Trailer!

We bought another house and it cost even less than the trailer did. Of course, it will cost us more by the time we move it onto our place, but right now it's at about $1.15 a square foot. Yes, that's a decimal there. That's one dollar and fifteen cents for those of you who skim.

Soon we will be tripling our square footage. This is a cause for rejoicing not merely for the fact that we will be able to take a step in any given direction without having to say "excuse me" first, but mainly because we will have room for more children. We've been wanting to foster another baby since our youngest was weaned, but couldn't until we had more space. There's regulations about that. Wise ones.

In case you are curious, my husband and I would love for our family to be larger and are taking these steps to make it possible. We've always been open to more children by the usual means: by birth, by fostering, and adoption. I've always wanted nine children. He's set his heart on 12. We'll have to see how that all works out. Even the thought of more children is making my heartbeat quicken! I can hardly wait to get started!

We are excited and will be filling you in on the big move. Even though the house is moving and not the household this time, I'll still have to pack. We don't have enough room on our narrow acre to keep the trailer and put the new house on it in any logical manner. And since my camera got experimented on by a curious five-year-old (my fault) I have to share these less than stellar pictures from the auction website where we bought the house. Here it is...

The house is L shaped and over 2,000 square feet, too big to move in one chunk. Each section of the L will be loaded onto a truck and shipped down the road separately. The move will be towards the end of summer.

 By the time we get done with it, it will look a lot less like this. One of the first things we'll do is stucco the sides and put on a metal roof. Since we moved from our little town of Washburn last year, we live in the middle of a lot of prairie. Stucco and metal do not catch fire as easily as wood and shingle (and grassland), so it'll have a different exterior. We'll also be digging a big hidey hole off one of these porches. Since we've moved to Texas I've heard two tornadoes go by while crouching in a shelter with my family. One churned directly overhead, having hit just outside my husband's workplace before going aloft to skip over our town before it touched down again in a field. One skimmed the fields just outside of town and we heard it approach and move past. Like a non-combustible exterior, shelters are worth every penny even if you never have to use them.

This blur is the kitchen. You can't see the breakfast nook to the left or the pantry or the place where we will move the washer and dryer out to make a "goat milk" section of the kitchen to deal with all the goat milk, cheese, and related clutter (right now it's stuffed into the broken wall-oven and in a shed outside). That counter right in front of you is perfect kneading height, in case you were wondering why it's short.

Even though you can't see everything in the new kitchen, even what's on the picture is more than what we have in the trailer--shown here before we moved in, before we painted and before the wall oven broke...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Population Control - The Kenyan (and Zimbabwean) Perspective

Most American citizens don't have the opportunity to chat with citizens from African nations very often, so you might not know that a lot of the general population of Africa think Americans hate and despise children. When I first met my friend Peter Ndamba, an African born minister on one of his trips from Zimbabwe, I was very surprised to learn this. He shared with me a perspective on America totally at odds with my own. We only want dead African children or none at all is the message that we send to the mother holding her dying son. The doctor could hand over a lifetime supply of condoms for the baby from the shelves in the hospital, but not bleach for cleaning the water, not the shot of Penicillin that would save him, not even clean sheets for the hospital bed he will spend his last moments on. We send boatloads of contraceptives to people whose children die in their arms. Is it any wonder they wonder at us?

About a year after this conversation at a small get together to celebrate Peter coming to the States again, Peter insisted on having these pictures taken to show his congregation proof that some Americans love children. "Some," he said. I don't think I did a fair job convincing him otherwise.

The Hands Family and Peter

The Ohmes Family and Peter


The Martin Family and Peter


Population Control - The Kenyan Perspective(click title to jump to original article)

The first birth control clinic was opened in Nairobi, the Kenyan Capital, 44 years ago. The second one opened a year later in 1956 at the Port Town of Mombasa. These two amalgamated into the Family a Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK). In 1963, FPAK was affiliated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, thus becoming the first association in Africa south of the Sahara to join this monster which has nearly destroyed our society. Our nightmare just began.

Following publication of a report on the demographic trends by the Population Council (New York; 1968), which partly talked of still unproven adverse effects of rapid population growth on socio-economic development, the Government of Kenya was coerced to become overtly involved in birth control. Thus a young nation then bustling with enthusiasm, hope and ambition for its people who had endured the yoke of colonialism suddenly offered itself to imperialism like it had never seen before, as we will soon discover.
We were then only 7.9 million people in a vast empty country rich in resources but no people to exploit them. Believe it, we were said to be overpopulated—34 years from then we are only 23 million—in this vast still empty land.

The United States of America has used vast amounts of money over time to destroy the people of Kenya. USAID and other Non-Governmental Organizations funded mainly by the U.S. Government have targeted our people with a ruthlessness that makes one shudder. The International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council (a subsidiary of the Rockfeller group), Population Action International, and the United Nations through its agencies like WHO and UNFPDA have targeted Kenya for depopulation at the expense of the integral development of its people. Some examples of the stark realities living side by side with the millions of dollars for population control include:
  • Our health sector is collapsed. Thousands of the Kenyan people will die of Malaria whose treatment costs a few cents, in health facilities whose stores are stalked to the roof with millions of dollars worth of pills, IUDS, Norplant, Depo-provera, most of which are supplied with American money.
  • Some of these contraceptives like Depo-provera cause terrible side-effects to the poor people in Kenya, who do not even have competent medical check-ups before injection. Many are maimed for life. The hypertension, blood clots, heart failure, liver pathology and menstrual disorders cannot be treated due to the poor health services. The American Government seems to want to solve the problem of poverty by reducing the number of the poor.
  • Special operation theatres fully serviced and not lacking in instruments are opened in hospitals for sterilization of women and some men. In the same hospitals, emergency surgery cannot be done for lack of basic operating instruments and supplies. Most of the women are sterilized without even knowing it is final. Some with only one child. Some are induced with financial assistance to accept sterilization. Horrified sterilized women now trot from hospital to hospital looking for reversal of the Tubal Ligation. This is breaking marriages especially when the single child or two succumb to the myriad tropical diseases—with easy treatment that is not available.
  • Millions of dollars are used daily to deceive, manipulate and misinform the people through the media about the perceived good of a small family—while the infant mortality rate skyrockets. Some of this money is not used to educated people on basic hygiene, proper diet or good farming methods that would be useful development, but it appears that the aim of population controllers is to decimate the Kenyan people.
  • I am a practicing gynecologist in Kenya and I would like to share with you facts about some of the patients I see daily:
A mother brought a child to me with pneumonia, but I had not penicillin to give the child. What I have in the stores are cases of contraceptives.

Malaria is epidemic in Kenya. Mothers die from this disease every day because there is no chloroquine, when instead we have huge stockpiles of contraceptives. These mothers come to me and I am helpless.

I see women coming to my clinic daily with swollen legs — the cannot climb stairs. They have been injured by Depo-provera

America has been a blessed country. This nation saved the world three times. During the first World War, the second World War and the Cold War. The American people can still save many in the world from preventable diseases. I do not believe that Americans want their taxes used to hurt other people. Why do you not stop this money being used for contraceptives and use it instead to provide clean water, good prenatal and postnatal care, good farming methods and rural electrification. Do the American people know that the millions of dollars spent for population control are used in the ways I have described? Why does your government not deal directly with our government but instead uses a third party like IPPF, which has no respect for the values of our people and our laws?

It is therefore clear, that contrary to what one is led to believe, American Aid to Kenya is not a reasonable attempt to bring about integral development, rather it is a comprehensive and highly organized campaign to kill off as many of our people as are necessary so that the U.S. and other developed countries can continue exploiting our national resources.

Therefor, for the first world to dominate the third world through contraceptive imperialism under the big stick of withholding development assistance for non-compliance makes us conclude that, not only the so-called Population Assistance to third world countries but even the "development assistance" has been tailored first to serve the interests of the richest of the rich of this world.

USAID is the single biggest supporter and promoter of population control in Kenya. The programs it funds are implemented with an aggressive and elitist ruthlessness. In Kenya the target are always the poor and the illiterate who are pressured and tricked into using dangerous drugs which are often banned in the west, or who are sterilized during childbirth without either their knowledge or consent.

You in the media, those in the White House and many in the United States Congress continue to deny these facts. We in Kenya are a people like you who are entitled to the same human rights and dignity as yourselves, but our right to live a normal human existence is ignored by globalist decision makers. If the funds you use to kill, maim, subjugate, dominate and break us to nothingness were used to cultivate our extraordinary resources, Kenya alone could feed more than half the African continent. Dear Americans, you cannot build your own security on the insecurity and degradation of others. You cannot build your own wealth on the poverty and destitution of people in the least developed nations.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pondering my ponderings...

I blog about momming and teaching and fostering and wifing and cooking and goating with my particular Catholic and ex-unrepentant heathen flavor because these are the things that I do. I hope I don't come across as a self-proclaimed expert because I am certainly not one. My main point, in most of my posts is to think out loud, share what has worked for me and what has not, smile at my shortcomings, and hope for the best. That's it, really.

I feel that I am pretty okay at mothering. I have my good days. I know I was a pretty decent school teacher because I had these yearly evaluations that told me so. I make a poor excuse for a wife, I'll admit. I know I wouldn't want to be married to me, so I give credit where credit is due for any success there: the Sacrament, my husband's forgiving nature, and a whole lot of reading up on the real experts. Most of my wifely posts are me preaching at me reminding myself to get doing what I know I am supposed to be doing.

I thought somebody out there might have enough in common to laugh with me or even enough common sense to laugh at me at times, but I knew I enjoyed the company of others' thoughts on the ethernet and thought I might be able to contribute a thought or two, too. It's all a little awkward though, this blogging thing. I can see how easily it might degenerate into a roadblock to family time, a popularity contest, a vanity feeder, or an idea narrower. I really don't need any help finding new ways to fall short, so I do try to keep the pitfalls in mind. At best I guess, blogging is a bit like writing magazine articles, but it has a more intimate appeal to it somehow. When I read a good blog regularly, I feel the stirrings of something very like friendship with the blogger.

If this were the 1950s, I'd have you over for coffee and tea in the afternoon and we could laugh over the mountains and molehills of the daily grind together. But this is the Post-Modern Era. We are so neatly modern that I sit here in my home and type, you sit there in yours and read, and we share a moment displaced. It's much less entertaining this way. Much less civilized. All this social networking and blog reading feels cozy and homey, but is it enough to battle a certain modern loneliness we all have?

I don't know. What I do know is that I've been privileged to share some of my inner workings here. I feel very grateful and sometimes apologetic towards the people who have read what I've written. I hope you all, like my husband, find me just entertaining enough you can forgive me my shortcomings and, like real friends, point them out when they show, so I can tuck them back in again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting the 7 Quick Takes Friday 

Whenever I get irritated that my non-Catholic friends hold up The Church to a higher standard than any other institution on the planet, I take heart in the fact that instinctively, they are on the right track. I'll just leave that at that.

It's really hard to imagine that it's been a week since my last 7 Quick Takes. This week sped by. Maybe it is because I had my computer again and time got sucked into the vortex that is the Internet (even though the dog is trying to help with that). I really should spend less time on-line.

A very good reason to live in Amarillo, besides the neighborly bonding that seasonal droughts, tornadoes, and fires engenders, is living close enough to one of the major cross-country thoroughfares that people who are driving from point A to point B occasionally stop by your place for a meal. I was privileged to have such guests this week, Laura and her dad Quintin. I fed them tacos, beans, Spanish rice, and homemade guacamole (it needed salt). Laura bravely milked a goat, loudly chatted over the clamor of children, and vigorously leaned into the wind. I think she liked it here. Next time I'll take her to the Memorial Tree Museum and Shrine so she'll see that trees do indeed grow in the Panhandle.

The computer issues continued this week with the dog eating the cable connecting our computer to the satellite (we're too far off the grid for cable lines). It was readily remedied by a handy, dandy husband, thus negating any warranty work and/or guarantees of timely responses from the Internet Service Providers, yet saving us a service call, a week or so wait, and $100.

My dad came out yesterday to deliver a package I'd had delivered to his house because the dog has been chewing up deliveries here. (Labs are awful teethers, if you hadn't gathered that.) He came in the middle of a Very Bad Morning. Everything that could go wrong did. It was very nice to see him and know that there was a world outside my little house and all its little issues. It's also nice to have a witness to the pure and unadulterated fact that some days I simply get it all wrong. Keeps me humble that way.

I expect my upcoming week to be a considerable improvement on the last several weeks due to the simple and joyous fact that my Mystic Monk Coffee order has finally arrived. After swilling instant in the interim, I'm remembering how much I do, indeed, like coffee.

The rose I transplanted has a bloom. It is just as shockingly beautiful as any rose bloom, more so because it was so hoped for. When we moved from the old house to the Ugly Yellow Trailer the only thing I missed was that rose. While we waited for a buyer, I determined that I was going to transplant it. It was in a cramped location anyway and had no room for roots and I decided to risk the move. Life is good, no?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here's a thought!

Raise your hand if the thought had crossed your mind at least once this month!

Oh and in case it hasn't, here's a reminder for you as to why it has crossed mine...
You've seen this Venn before and you shall see it again!
Rumor has it Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.,  has invited the instigator inventor guy with the billboard campaign causing of all this hoopla out for coffee Sunday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ponders the "science"...

...that asserts that  artificial hormone therapy causes cancer but the same hormones in The Pill decreases cancer, yet somehow the uptick in breast cancer rates in the Third World after we've "modernized them" is due to the use of deodorant. Isn't the media fun?

(Just FYI:  NFP works [that's a link to the Science Daily with research from Europe's leading reproductive health journal] and it won't kill the fish either.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Story Worth Sharing

I had to share this one. (Link to the article.)

The “Joke” That Nearly Destroyed Six Lives

May 16th, 2011 by Patti Maguire Armstrong 

My son Luke once wrote for his high school newspaper. Last week, one of my daughters brought home the latest issue and showed it to me. “Luke has a story in it,” she announced. Since Luke is soon to be 26 years old and is working in Guatemala as the  director of the God’s Child Project, this surprised me.

I learned that it was a letter he sent to a former English teacher, who read it to her students. One of the students is the editor of the school newspaper so she ran it for the whole school to read.  It’s definitely a story to share, so I’m offering it to you.

Dear Mrs. Dietz,

I tried to address this letter “Dear Nancy,” but it just did not look right to me. Even though you have given me permission to call you Nancy, I’m afraid you will always be Mrs. Dietz to me.
As you start your spring, we south of the border are gearing up for another five months of rain. Hopefully, I will be making a trip to Bismarck in the next few months. Preferably this will be soon enough for there to still be a bit of spring in the air. Summer is nice, but I’ve had four continuous years of it and could use some variety.

…I am going to share a story with you so that you can share it with your students. It is a story that I wish I had heard back in my rabble-rousing high school days.

Two years ago one of our social workers discovered six siblings living in a garbage dump outside of a village called Ciudad Vieja. This garbage dump was as close to hell on Earth as any place can be. Looming above it was an active volcano. A fine layer of ash fell like snow from its frequent eruptions.

In the garbage dump, the volcano was not the only thing that burned. Decades of garbage lay in enormous mountains. Trapped gasses ignited underground fires, which caused a thick, chemical smoke to hang heavy in the air.

Amongst the waste, carcasses of household pets decayed and emitted putrid smells while flies swarmed and swarmed and swarmed. In the torrent of this oppressive environment, there were also people. Little boys and girls climbed the mountains of burning garbage looking for food. They spent twelve hours every day scouring these mounds of waste in search of a way to stay alive.

As is our mission, we worked to get six siblings out of that environment. After putting the right pieces in place, we managed to find them a place to live and enrolled them in classes at one of our schools. Each student was given new clothes to wear and school supplies.

For two weeks, it seemed as though we had succeeded. But then, all six stopped showing up to school. We could not find them in their new homes. We went back to the garbage dump and sure enough, there they were.

It leads one to ask the question, “Why would any sane person choose a life in hell over a dignified house, and the chance for a good education?” We soon found out the answer.

In the hustle and bustle of getting these kids out of the dump and into new clothes, one of the girls slipped through the cracks and did not receive a new pair of shoes. Her name was Carmen. Carmen wore a pair of ragged shoes that she had found in the garbage dump. During her second week of school another girl noticed these shoes and made fun of her. She laughed at her for having such shabby shoes. Others joined in and made fun of her shoes.

Carmen had lived her whole life in a garbage dump. The social pressure of being made fun of for her shoes was new and completely dislodging for her. It was too much for her to take. She decided to leave school and return to the dump. At least in the dump no one made fun of her. She was the eldest sibling, and her brothers and sisters decided that if she was going to return to the garbage dump, then they were all going to return together.

This story does have a happy ending. In the end we were able to convince the children to return to school where they remain today. As I write this letter, they are studying in a classroom 100 feet away.

I tell you this story and ask you to share it with your students for this reason. Six people’s lives were almost destroyed because of one unkind comment. All the girl who made the comment did was make fun of another girl’s shoes. Surely all of us have done worse. I know I have. If asked why she did it, I’m sure she would say something we hear all too often: “It was just a joke.” The girl likely could never have imagined how far the negative consequences of that “joke” could have reached. But that joke almost brought destroyed the life of six children. Children in garbage dumps don’t survive long. If their health does not give out by the time they reach adolescents, exploiters or human traffickers prey on them.

Though we will never fully no how far our unkind and kind acts will reach, I believe that both reach further than any of us could ever imagine. Every day we are presented with a thousand opportunities to choose kindness or unkindness.

I no longer believe in trivial acts. Everything we do carries enormous weight. Everything we do has repercussions that will last long after we have left this Earth. If we look at the world like this, I think it becomes nearly impossible to choose unkindness over kindness.

Even though others irritate us sometimes, and almost invite nastiness, none of us know what another is going through. What we can be sure of is that everyone deserves our kindness. And we can all be thankful that life gives us limitless opportunities to give it.

So, if T.S. Eliot insists that April is the cruelest month of the year, well, maybe he just needed a hug.

Happy Spring,
Luke Armstrong
After setting off hitch-hiking post college from Chile to Alaska, Luke Maguire Armstrong made it as far as Guatemala. There he is the Director of The GOD´S CHILD Project´s Guatemala Social Service programs, which work to break the chains of poverty through education and formation. He is the author of iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About and  co-authored Amazing Grace for Survivors and The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World.

Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of ten children including two Kenyan AIDS orphans. She is a speaker and the author of Catholic Truths for Our Children: A Parent's Guide (Scepter) Stories for the Homeschool Heart and also the children's book, Dear God, I Don't Get It!" (Bezalel). She was  the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's Amazing Gracebook series. Her website is

click here for the link to the original story

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The movie Courageous (in theaters 9/30/11) is from the same people who made Fireproof and Facing the Giants. It is a story about fatherhood. It looks like another great story. In fact, if it is like their other work, the stories are so strong you can almost forget you are watching a movie. Just imagine if Hollywood, with their professional actors and producers would produce stories like these?
                ...Wait, I just did. It's better this way.


Friday, May 13, 2011

7 Quick Takes--The Griping Edition


How many entire days it takes to reload all the kids' software and educational malarkey onto a new computer.


The number of days it takes for Blogger to get it's act together, too. I was actually back on-line yesterday, but Blogger is run by the same software gremlins that I use, apparently.


The number of new cats we have. My children and my husband love cats. I see cats and think "kitty litter." It was just in the last 12 months that I stopped having 3 children in diapers. I guess the family thought I was needing a bit more excrement in my life. Yes, indeedy.


Just in case anyone is counting, that is the number of animals residing in the ugly yellow trailer.


Cats want to purr on me. They want to lay on me. They generally want to be around and adore me. I guess they appreciate not having to clean up after themselves. There is that.


This would be the number of people in the home that the cats are relatively indifferent towards. This is merely by comparison, you understand.


This is the number of people we have sharing space with the one dog and the three cats. The children chase the cats. The dog whimpers and cowers in the vicinity of the cats. The cats explode in the vicinity of the dog. My slashed toes bear witness to the fact that "vicinity" in 800 square feet means pretty much "everywhere."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Dell Dinosaur finally became extinct...

It died a long, slow and agonizing death with gasps and wheezes and occasional rallies that lured me into not saving up for the next computer very aggressively. So...

I'll be back on line by the end of the week. I hope.