Sunday, October 31, 2010

Election Prep 101

The more experiences I have in life, the more grateful I am for the tremendous blessing of living in this great country. The privilege of voting to influence the leadership and policies of our nation is something most of the world can only dream of. I can understand the cynicism that causes some people to abstain from voting, when they see yahoos doing dumb things in office and they feel that their vote really doesn't make much difference. But I would be ashamed of myself to join that "silent majority" of good men who stand by and do nothing while evil takes root. I can't change the world, but I can do something. This week that little something is to vote.

But I have often been frustrated as I try to be an informed voter and do a good job of researching the candidates. It doesn't always feel like I can find unbiased, truthful information. I have spoken recently with a couple people who expressed these same feelings, so I want to share a few websites that I found really helpful. If you are still working on solidifying your opinions about candidates I encourage you to take a look at some of these. This website has a bunch of great info, but my favorite was an awesome tool called Vote Easy. It allows you to answer questions on twelve basic topics, and then it shows you which of your local candidates' views are similar or different from yours. Snazzy! It also did a really good job of giving a breakdown of those confusing ballot measures, what they mean in plain English, along with some argument statements for and against each one. This one is more national and not specific to Idaho, but it had a Truth-o-meter which was really fun to read. It researches comments by leading politicians and measures them with the truth-o-meter, giving lots of them a "pants on fire" rating. It also has a running campaign promises kept/broken list. Kind of fun. This one gives nice general info if you need to figure out your voting district, etc. And it also has links to the official website for each candidate. I don't find these as helpful because anyone can make themselves look great on their own website, but is is nice to be able to read their own platform statements.

Best one of all! They do a local voter guide which allows you to compare the candidates side-by-side as they answer questions on all the pertinent issues. You can then create your own personal ballot, marking your preferences for each office. I print this out and take it with me sometimes.

If you subscribe to the paper, there are ongoing articles about issues, debates, candidates, and stuff. It is hard to find the time to pour over everything, though, and that's why I like the websites that condense it for me and lay them out apples to apples. I normally ignore the Opinions page and try to focus on facts.

Can you believe I made it through all that without telling you who to vote for?! I hope everyone will take the election seriously, research the candidates, and get out there and vote. And if you happen to be interested in my opinion, just ask - you know I'll tell you.*smile*

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carter's New Hobby - Dumpster Diving

Here is my handsome husband in his slightly rumpled church suit. Kind of a funny story... Jayden is thankful it has a happy ending.

Getting ready for our big Disneyland trip our family held a garage sale to earn some extra money. We were able to sell most of the stuff, but there are always the odds and ends left over which need to be packaged up and sent to D.I. The kids and I took on that job one afternoon. As we were bagging and boxing, Jayden came across Carter's good suitcoat mixed in with D.I. clothes. I said, "Whoa! What's that doing out here? Take it into the house right away!"

Now fast forward a couple days... We were getting dressed for my nephew's baby blessing and Carter asked me, "Have you seen my suitcoat? I can't find it." I gasped. All the blood ran out of Jayden's face and he looked like he'd seen a ghost. I said, "Jayden, please tell me you brought that coat back into the house and didn't bag it up." His response, "Ummmm." Ironically, that very morning we had delivered the donation to D.I. When I called over to explain what happened and ask if there was some way to retrieve the suit, the guy just chuckled and said, "I guess you could look in the clothes bin, if you want to..." His tone clearly indicated that there was no chance. Well, after the blessing Carter booked it over to D.I. He said they showed him where the clothes go, and he proceeded to climb down into a gigantic dumpster as big as our bedroom and waist-deep with clothes. When he emerged waving his suitcoat, the employees came running and cheering. They never expected him to find it. He claims, "Where there's a will, there's a way." I claim he lives under a lucky star. He catches planes he should have missed, he finds things he should have lost, and he NEVER gets the speeding ticket. Ah, well. As for the suitcoat, it was due for a dry cleaning anyway.

Shaylie's Birthday

Shaylie turned five this summer and we celebrated by taking her and her cute cousin Hailey for a family adventure at PoJo's. We all had so much fun and I found lots of great photo opps, so I decided to make a slideshow. We love you Shaylie!

My New Washing Machine

This spring my good ol' washing machine finally croaked. We had been expecting this for a while so we had budgeted a chunk of money to buy a new one. I did a lot of research on prices, features, brands, stores, etc. Then one day I happened to notice something for sale on Craigslist that I had been wanting for a long time...something that we couldn't afford. A swimming pool. So I made a plan. I continued to look around on Craigslist and found a used washing machine for half the price we had set aside. Then I used the remainder which was just enough to buy the pool. Sometimes you have to get creative. But I was so excited. I can just picture years of summertime memories and fun centered around this pool. I have to admit that it required a lot of work and some more expense to get the silly thing all set up. We only had two weeks of hot weather left to enjoy the pool this year, but that's okay. We are already dreaming about next summer. And just look at the happy faces on my family. That's better than a fancy washing machine any day!

New Cousins!

We love our cousins!!!

My kids are lucky to have a whole bunch of the best cousins in the world, from both sides of the family. And in the last year they have been joined by three new cuties.

This summer we were so happy to get to spend a few days with Camille and get to know her new baby. They were visiting from Dubai. This is little Evelyn.

She is such a sweet, adorable little girl.

Brennan couldn't get enough of her, and asked to hold her every chance he got. Evelyn seemed entertained by the craziness of all the kids all around her, and she was a good sport. We look forward to their next visit.

Next came little Logan. These are newborn pictures - he's already a whole bunch bigger than this now, and so cute!

And my sister Amy had her fourth baby (first boy) last month. Last week they drove up to Idaho to bless him. We were thankful to be able to be a part of it! This is Aiden.

I love that little half-smile. And below are Amy and Grandma, too.