Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book List for 2012

Hello!  Remember me?  I know, it's been so long.  Well, here I am.  I've been thinking about books.  I read this post from the Money Saving Mom today about her reading schedule and it kind of inspired me.  Not that it takes much, anyone with a plan is encouraging for me.  I lack direction, can you tell?

2011 was kind of rough on me.  I had our fourth baby and my reading has suffered!  At book club a couple of months ago I realized that I had read maybe one of the assigned books!  ONE!  How pathetic!!!  I did do other reading, like I read all of The Hunger Games, and a bunch of homeschooling books, but of all the fantastic books my club chose I'm pretty sure I only read one of them!  Well, not so with 2012!  I'm reading all of them, by golly!

And then I thought to myself that I'm also going to shoot for one non-fiction book a month along with my book club book.  All of this in addition to the reading the girls and I will be doing for school.

I'm on a break right now from school.  It was much needed but it occurred to me today after reading the above linked post that I should schedule out our school reading like I do my own reading.  So, I'm going to follow the reading list for Ambleside Online and actually schedule out the chapters.  Oh, I'm so ambitious.  I'm sure I'll settle somewhere in mediocrity... Skeptical, aren't I?

I'm afraid that reading is the most important thing in our lives right now.  Keeping Reagan progressing in reading, teaching Mati to read and then my own development through reading.  I spend way too much time on my iPhone (Damn you, Words with Friends!).  I'm definitely going to work on that.

Right now I'm reading this book from Charlotte Mason's Educational Series Volume 5: Formation of Character.  It's 800 pages long.  It is interesting but I kind of need it to move along or I need to be a better reader cause I am fading fast with this one.

I'm also reading the January book of the month The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Fiction will always win over non-fiction, I'm afraid.

So, I'm already covering my personal goal, one non-fiction along with my book of the month from book club.

There is also this really cool contest on this site I just discovered, Reading with Tequila.  What a fun idea!  To read as many books as possible and score medals!  I love prizes, even if they are only bragging rights.  I'm considering joining it but it could be too much.  What do you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekly Menu: 10/23-10/29

Since we just got home from a cruise, I desperately need to set a menu down so that with all the other stuff to catch up on, at least I'll be ready for the meals!  So, this is my menu plan for the week.  If you look carefully, it's just like MoneySavingMom's... :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Word of the Day: Flesh Out

I was looking for something to post about and I decided to go to my old stand-by: The Word of the Day.  The site has a list of 10 commonly mistaken words used.  Words like prosecute and persecute and compliment and complement.  Well, the number one was Flesh Out and Flush Out.

I just had to post on this one!  Flesh out is to provide layers of a plan.  The Merriam-Webster geniuses suggest thinking of it like a skeleton.  You add meat to a skeleton to make a more complete picture.  This is what flesh out means, putting flesh on something.

For instance, let's flesh out this idea of raising taxes on the millionaires for so-called job creation.  So, the government raises the taxes on the millionaires by 5%.  The millionaires then cut back on spending, saving, and their own businesses.  Yep, that sounds like a brilliant idea.

Have you heard about the lunatics in the Occupy Wall St. movement?  A group of unions have gotten together to protest capitalism at the business center of the world and around the country at other business districts.  The movement is comprised up of mostly unions like the AFL-CIO, SEIU, United Auto Workers, and also some political organizations like Working Families Party and other socialists.  They believe that capitalism is a great evil and that America really needs to be helping each other.  I guess the companies that EMPLOY those union employees don't really need the jobs, huh?  So, why then have a union?  Why not just quit the jobs and let the rest of America take care of you since you sure that's the American way?  No?  Oh, you mean you want to FORCE people to take care of you?  Yeah, that sounds American.


Well, apparently, the weather has turned cold.  And the occupiers are there on the streets without sleeping bags.  They have a dilemia: Should they buy their sleeping bags?  The movement is Anti-Capitalism, mind you.  To go into a store and buy a sleeping bag would be hypocritical.  The item is here in the minutes from their Monday meeting:  

The first point: Comfort budget….

Jeff: I work with comfort. We have some major concerned about people sleeping here. Mainly we need sleeping bags. Sleeping bags cost money and no one is donating sleeping bags. With that in mind we have a proposal to use some of the donated money to buy sleeping bags. We would like to request about 2000 dollars from the fund for sleeping bags.  We think if we buy 100 $20 sleeping bags, that would be enough for the time being.

Let me get this straight, the Occupy Wall St. movement is not experiencing an outpouring of generosity.  The mission is "that the American way is to help one another succeed."  But that's not what they're experiencing, is it?

I don't know how these people are so dumb.  Really.

I'm thinking they should have fleshed out their plan.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Which I Try to Expand our Palates

Doesn't this just sound like a terrific ambition? I am trying to do two things with my weekly menus. 1. I'm trying to incorporate a meatless meal into every week. And 2. I'm trying to expose the family to new tastes and seasonings.

I went to my new favorite Chef, Lucinda Scala Quinn, for inspiration. She wrote this cookbook, Mad Hungry, that I received for Christmas last year. It's a great cookbook. I love her tips for making meals go further. She would know. She has three sons and she and her husband have raised them in New York City, no less. That cookbook has taught me new recipes as well as techniques for cooking the perfect rice (she's right) and also how to cook a whole chicken effortlessly (by far the most economical cut of chicken).

Anyways, back to meatless meals. I saw on the first page of her website Monday morning this recipe: Pumpkin Vegetable Curry Stew with Cornmeal Fritters.

I thought, "Hey, we don't hate pumpkin or curry. I'll give this one a shot." I put the ingredients on the shopping list and plowed ahead.

I liked it. Mati liked it. That was about it. During our pre-dinner prayer, Erik thanked God for my trying to open us up to new things, because if he was in charge "we'd be having hot dogs every night." Love him.

Erik is not crazy about stews without beef and it was too spicy for Reagan. Next time (if there is a next time) I may decrease the amount of curry. Thank goodness I didn't add any of the chilis! I was going to take a picture of how much stew was left in Erik's bowl, but I think one photo was about all I could manage.

So, it was good. I love that I instantly was able to blow my nose. Is that gross? I love clearing my sinuses with the aid of food. I mean, it's delicious and it serves a purpose. Yes!

I served the stew and the fritters separately, but then I ate the stew with the fritters, putting a little stew on the fritter and then taking a bite. That toned down the stew and also lent some flavor to the fritters.

Overall, I'm really glad I made this. It was way outside of our comfort zone. And to reward Erik's sense of adventure, I'm making his favorite meal tomorrow: Hamburgers with french fries.

I made the following substitutions.

1.) I substituted butternut squash for pumpkin. The pumpkins haven't quite arrived.
2.) I added no chilis. I had thought I would add some cayenne pepper rather than the Scotch Bonnet pepper. But I changed my mind with hand poised over the pot. I'm glad I did. However, I read that the Scotch Bonnet has a fruity taste, which may have added flavor in addition to heat. Might be worth a shot if you have no fear of heat. You can read about Scotch Bonnet peppers here.
3.) The Fritters: I halved the amount of onions. I wish I hadn't. The fried onions would have broken up the cornmeal better.
4.) I did use Coconut Milk. First time I've used this. I think you can substitute water if you don't want to make a special purchase.
5.) I used regular Idaho potatoes rather than try to find a green banana or an Irish potato. So, for the stew there were two potatoes.

I may try and make this once a year, just to keep things interesting around here. It can be so boring...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My New Favorite Salad

I do love salad, but I find myself getting into a funk with them. I've got to switch them up every so often, you know?

Anyways, last night's dinner was a home run! I made this Asian BBQ Chicken (one of my favorites and a new staple) and threw it together with a salad and white rice.

Let me go into the salad a little deeper, cause this was the part that I LOVED.

The dressing is from Betty Crocker. I know! Sometimes the best is the original, right?

Here's the recipe:

Sweet-Sour Dressing
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola.)
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls cider vinager (could use white, I used Apple Cider. I may try Rice Vinager next time.)
1 tbls parsley (I used dried.)
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
Dash of red pepper sauce

Combine and refrigerate.

The salad was red leaf lettuce, red bell peppers, shaved carrots, green onion and almonds. I had a package of Chicken Ramen, so I melted some butter in a pan and then sprinkled the Chicken seasoning packet over that. Then I broke the noodles and sauted them quickly in the butter.

What I did on my own plate we combine the chicken, the salad and the rice. It was delicious! All the textures with that dressing, truly good eats. And I couldn't wait to have the leftovers today. Everything was great again! My new favorite salad!

In Awe

I must share this with you. My friend, Chandra, hiked the Grand Canyon, rim to rim, in one day. Read and see her pictures here.

Amazing. I'm inspired to at least think about doing this someday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Submission & Women Running for President

A week ago some ladies I know were appalled at Michele Bachamann saying that she submitted to her husband when he advised her to go to law school. Then they spouted off the "no woman should submit to her husband" rhetoric followed by "I don't think we can elect someone who will be taking orders from her husband." I was offended. Please understand, I do not bring this up to rant against them personally.

I was offended by of their ignorance of the Scriptures.

I know that submission has been used very wrongly in the world by men who do not love their wives as Christ loves the Church. This is very sad because it has distorted the principle of love, selfless, generous love. This is the kind of love involved in submission.

I am not afraid of submission. I was blessed with a great home life and married a very non-controlling man, so I have my background going for me in this area. However, I do have pride, and I am controlling. So while I may not be daily challenged in this area, I do struggle with submitting to Erik in certain situations.

For example, I'm a bit of an over-committed type. I like to try and fit as much as possible into one time frame. When we leave on vacation, I like to run last minute errands, like the post office and the library and perhaps the store for supplies we'll need on our trip and maybe try and squeeze in a play date. This stresses Erik out to no end. I'm an optimist when it comes to time, what can I say? Well, after 10 years of marriage I still think there's nothing wrong with this cram-session and Erik hates it. So, in submission I've learned to say no to get-togethers on the departure day, and run my errands earlier in the week. Of course I'm still working on it.

I know this example is insignificant when compared with the potential Presidential decision to bomb Iran. However, I think the heart is the same.

Submission is all about trust. Can we trust God to do what He wants when our flesh screams out to do it our way? Can we trust that God is doing something in every situation? When we choose His way (what submission is!) we honor Him. Can we do that in all situations?

I, for one, applaud Bachmann's decision to trust her husband with her future. She came out better for it.

Furthermore, I don't see Mr. Bachmann as the interfering type. So when it comes to national security matters I don't think he'll be pulling the strings, exercising his own agenda. If they are in a Godly marriage then he will be praying for his wife, advising her on matters of the home, helping her in whatever capacity she needs. Because you see, the same Bible verse that says a woman should submit to her husband also says "Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church."

Okay, I don't have much time to go back over this and edit. Kids are screaming and I've ignored them long enough today! Let me know what you think. Do you think I'm scripturally off base?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The BEST Taquitos EVER!

Do you love Taquitos? I do. They're perfect. A little tortilla filled with meat. They are great for dipping, great for kids. Crunchy. Yummy. Delicious.

But I've never made them before. I typically buy them from Costco or at restaurants. However, a friend of mine (Erin L.) suggested this recipe from Our Best Bites.


Even the wonderful and palate-discerning Erik liked them, despite the presence of the hated-cilantro. This was a big deal. Cilantro is like a big no-no in the Wilhelmsen house. In fact I never cook with it because he dislikes it so much. Reagan yesterday, while I was chopping it said, "What is that disgusting smell?" So, yeah, the kids are not used to that beautiful aroma. Yet.

Anyways, back to the dinner. Delicious. Too spicy for the kids, though. Next time I'll tone down the chili powder and instead of pepper jack cheese I'll just use cheddar or, for an even better taste, Monterrey jack. Last night I used half-and-half pepper jack and cheddar and it was too spicy for the kids. Also I decreased the cilantro by more than half; I just wanted the hint without overpowering Erik's taste buds.

Erik and I practically inhaled them they were that good. And Erik even took the leftovers for lunch, which is huge because he NEVER takes leftovers.

Don't miss the final step, though. Sprinkle kosher salt on the tops after spraying with cooking spray. It gave the taquitos that I've-got-to-have-just-one-more taste. I love that taste.

So, here's the recipe. I can't recommend it enough. Our Best Bites just might be my new go-to for weeknight meals! And no, I didn't take pictures. I don't do that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

I read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua recently. And I can't wait to talk about it!

Ever want to know why Asian kids are so disciplined? How do the Asian parents inspire their kids to be such high achievers?

If you're looking for a how-to manual, this may be it. If you're looking for an interesting and enjoyable memoir on parenting through the younger years, this is definitely it. If you're looking for a cushy, "I LOVE MY KIDS!" kind of book, STAY AWAY.

I really admire most of the Asian parenting techniques. I think American parents, Westerners, are on the whole too easy going about challenging their children. I know that is a generality. I know there are exceptions. However, isn't it kind of true? Doesn't society as a whole say, "Oh, that's too hard. Don't worry about trying to achieve that."?

Chua states that American parents just don't love their kids enough to push them to a higher level of academics or performance. At least that is what the Asians think.

I don't want to agree with that. However, I can't help but think about what the Bible says about parenting and discipline. After all, it comes down to discipline, doesn't it? Asian parents are harsher disciplinarians than Western parents. Asian kids are afraid of disappointing their parents because there are harsh consequences if they do.

A few scriptures about discipline for us to contemplate: Psalm 94:12 "Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law." And Provers 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

I liked this book because Chua's techniques, while admittedly harsh, seemed to make sense to me. Her biggest disappointment in her life was the disappointment of her father in her for some mediocre grade she once got. She was trying to impart the same values into her daughters. It kind of worked.

Her first daughter, true to first-born fashion, didn't really rebel against her mother. Sure they got into fights, but the first daughter was mostly submissive. And she turned out very accomplished. I think she went onto Yale, is a concert pianist, etc.

However, the second daughter was rebellious, in an Asian way. For instance, she would practice her violin, but she would purposefully play it badly.

I do not like a lot of how Chua treated her daughters: she yelled at her daughters, called them names, etc. All things I abhor. She made them practice their instruments on family vacations. She forced them into the student orchestras. When the girls were infants, she hired a Chinese nanny and made them speak Mandarin at home. She sacrificed time as a family for the pursuit of excellence in these areas by traveling to New York City for practice sessions with masters, every weekend. She and her husband had a lot of fights because they disagreed a lot about how she was raising the children.

But she also saw her children with incredible potential. And she wasn't going to let up until they believed it about themselves. And she also wasn't going to give into their fleeting and childish wants. I mean, what child actually knows how hard to work at something to be good? If we left it to children to be a good reader, only one in ten would actually motivate themselves. Instead, we have to practice with our children daily. We have to be there to help with the words. We have to make them sit down and read for 10-15 minutes, at least, every day. We have to limit their distractions so they choose a book rather than the television.

I think this is what Chua was doing for her girls with practicing the violin and piano. As an adult we have the benefit of perspective that children do not have. We know how beneficial it is to be good at something, whether that be as basic as reading or as advanced as violin. We know, either from our own experience of excellence or failure, whether we could have put more effort into something.

The current parenting philosophy says children need to be happy to have a good childhood. I couldn't disagree more. I think happiness is entirely a matter of chance (as Charlotte says about marriage in "Pride & Prejudice") and decision on the part of the individual. As a mother, I consider it my higher calling that the children learn to see past their own situations to the bigger picture of being in God's will. The means of getting there include practice, discipline and most importantly, grace when we fail.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Chua has missed out on the best gift she could have given her children. Yes she demonstrated hard work and sacrifice, but it's futile without a purpose or calling from God. And since of course they would fail, there was disappointment without the comfort of grace. As followers of Jesus we can pursue excellence in life for His glory and know that when we fail, we fall into His loving, caring arms. That's what I hope my kids learn from me.

Mrs. Chua did learn a lot from her experience with her second daughter. After becoming quite accomplished at the violin, she wanted to give it up. It was after a death in the family that Chua relented and allowed her daughter absolute freedom to choose an activity. She chose tennis. She was terrible. At first. And then she wanted to get better. And since she knew what it took to get good at something (time, practice, repetition, drive, discipline) she got good. She even won tournaments.

I love this! I think it was so important that her daughter know what hard work looks like. So that when given the freedom to choose an area, she would pursue excellence. She would know HOW to pursue excellence.

Mrs. Chua was humbled by her daughters, and I get the feeling that she is a tad bit remorseful about how she treated them in the early years.

But I don't think she regrets it entirely.

Menu 8/28-9/3

Can you believe I just published my weekly menu!?!? In case you need help motivating yourself to menu plan. Here's mine.

Friday, August 5, 2011


When the media says "Revenue Increases" you should hear "Tax Increases".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Budget Deficits: 2008 vs. 2011

In 2008 the country was running a deficit of a shade under $500 Billion.

That was too high. Bush allowed Congress to pass through a lot of subsidies and entitlements, which when combined with TARP, a monetary bailout for a car company, and the collapse of the housing market due to poor Congressional oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, grew the federal budget deficit from $167 Billion all the way up to about $480 Billion.

Not good. I spoke out against all of those things at the time in posts like this one, and this one, I'm sure there's more but I don't have time to reread my blog. (Man, I should be tagging stuff!) This kind of spending, on the Right or the Left, amounts to horrible domestic policy.

As you may know, the Congress just agreed to raise the debt limit to, get ready, $14.5 TRILLION. That is three TIMES the WORST budget deficit we had under Bush.

So, you tell me. Who is being irresponsible here? I know Bush's domestic policy had it's faults. But certainly nothing compares to this kind of waste and mismanagement under the helm of Obama.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inflation, Anyone?

This week's topic is about the current inflation rate in the United States and how the reported inflation rate does not give an accurate picture of what is going on in households.

Inflation is the overall general upward price movement of goods and services in an economy (often caused by a increase in the supply of money), usually as measured by the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. Over time, as the cost of goods and services increase, the value of a dollar is going to fall because a person won't be able to purchase as much with that dollar as he/she previously could. While the annual rate of inflation has fluctuated greatly over the last half century, ranging from nearly zero inflation to 23% inflation, the Fed actively tries to maintain a specific rate of inflation, which is usually 2-3% but can vary depending on circumstances. The opposite of deflation.
Our current rate of inflation is 3.56%. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is what the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate the inflation rate. The CPI rates everything from fuel, to food, to medical expenses.

I have linked the BLS's CPI report for the month of June 2011. Interestingly, they release a CPI monthly. I find this interesting because I don't think it's an especially useful tool monthly. It's more useful as a yearly indicator of what has occurred in an economy.

However, let's look at the CPI for energy and food. Let's look at food. The BLS reports that although the index for food dropped a tad from May to June, overall, "The index for food at home has risen 4.7 percent over the last 12 months, with all the major groups increasing 3.2 percent or more." Oh, we're feeling that one, aren't we? It sounds so non-threatening in a report like that doesn't it? But let that sink in.

Food has gone up in price by nearly 5% in 12 months. We are paying about 5% MORE this June for the same things we bought last June.

On to energy. The energy index fell in June 4.4% from May, the largest drop since December of 2008. But keep in mind that gasoline prices have fallen partly because the Strategic Oil Reserves are being used to keep our prices artificially low. (I say artificially because it's not a true indicator of a reduction in prices because we have a temporary alternative supply. The Strategic Oil Reserves can't supply forever.)

Here's the money quote:

Despite the recent declines, the gasoline index has increased 35.6 percent over the past 12 months. The index for household energy also decreased in June, falling 1.2 percent after rising 0.5 percent in May. The index for natural gas rose 0.4 percent, but the electricity index declined 1.6 percent and the index for fuel oil fell 2.2 percent. The household energy index has risen 2.8 percent over the last 12 months, with the fuel oil index up 37.3 percent and the electricity index up 1.5 percent but the index for natural gas down 0.8 percent.

So, there it is. In ONE YEAR we are paying 37.3% MORE for gasoline.

This makes me so mad I could spit. And here we are sitting upon some of the richest oil sources in the entire world and President Obama remains unmoved! He hasn't lifted the moratorium on drilling for oil. And we are drying up financially because of it.

Anyways, this post was about inflation. We have a relatively low inflation rate across all goods and services, but where it counts, in food and fuel, we are being killed.

15 more months...15 more months...15 more months...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why the Debt Ceiling Doesn't Concern Me

Have you been hearing the talks about the debt ceiling? About how bad it's going to be if the government actually defaults on their debt come August 2?

Well, that's been the latest topic/argument coming from Washington. We are scheduled to exceed the debt limit that Congress has already raised twice this year, on August 1. Basically, under Obama's leadership and the Democratic Congress that brought us two "bailouts", Obama-care, and the takeover of two auto-makers (GM & Chrysler), we will exceed the limit of 14.3 trillion dollars. What will happen,theoretically, is that the US would not be able to borrow any more money to make the payments on the existing entitlements. (Entitlements are Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, etc.)

A lot of this argument is hyped up to scare Americans. "Oh no! Social Security payments won't go out if they don't raise the debt ceiling!" This is not accurate. The federal government takes in taxes monthly to pay for the Medicare and Social Security. The government will take in enough money to make the minimum payments on the debt.

The real issue is that without raising the debt-ceiling our credit rating will go down, making it more of a risk to loan to the US.

Well, hello. It is a risk to lend to the US. We are spending the money of my children's children's children. We are in debt to like four generations, people. Should we be considered a safe loan? Shouldn't it be more difficult to borrow money for the US?

I love to think about this in terms of a family budget. Let's say Erik has a job and makes $50,000. And our expenses are running about $43,000 a year. So we're saving $7,000 a year. And then, oops, we're having another baby. Our expenses are about to jump to $52,000 a year. But Erik's only bringing in $50,000. What to do? We have two options: 1) Borrow and pay our expenses on credit or 2) reduce the expenditures to within $50,000.

We will quickly go through our savings. And then we'll need to make the hard decisions. So, we decide to use credit. I mean, who wants to say no to themselves? And you know, Erik will probably get a raise this year. So, we can start paying it back.

But then the interest payments start catching up with us. Oh no! Now our expenses have gone up to $58,000 a year. And then, bummer, we can't really pay the interest, so we take out another loan to pay that one. And then another... Now our expenses are out of control. Not to mention that at this point I've enrolled the girls in ballet, tap & jazz, Erik and I both have new cars every two years, and I'm constantly shopping. Those are needs, right?

The bank eventually cuts us off. We are no longer allowed to take any more credit. We are such a credit risk that our credit score has tanked, thereby alerting any other would-be creditors that we probably can't be trusted with credit.

What should we do? Start trimming the expenses. The credit has to be paid. It's all stuff we've already bought. The only way out of that one is bankruptcy (i.e. Greece-this is what's going on over there! Our future if we don't change!). The only real solution is to cut down on all the "entitlements", like cable, dance classes, sell the cars and buy cheaper ones, decide if we really need a home phone and cell phones, etc. It's the responsible way.

I think it's high-time that the government start acting like everyone else in this country. Stop spending. My goodness. JUST.STOP.

And yes, it hurts to cut yourself off from things that you love. But you have to start and keep in mind that financial health goes MILES towards mental peace.

Although the scenario above is hypothetical, I'm not the perfect picture of financial health. But I can recognize an addiction when I see one and the Federal Government is addicted to spending.

The reason the debt ceiling breach doesn't bother me is because it bothers me more that Congress is actually thinking about raising it again. For the third time. This year.

What should bother us is that we apparently need this money to keep paying Social Security and Medicare. We are giving out money that we don't even have. How irresponsible is that?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Smart Girl Talks Corporate Taxes

I was at Bunco last week when my friend the Queen called me smart. This occurred because one of our friends was surprised that I didn't like Barrack Obama.

After the Queen's compliment, I basically biffed the rest of the conversation. I was horribly inarticulate about why Barrack Obama is a terrible President. And I was even less convincing about my single most passionate issue: the beauty of free-markets! I hung my head in shame. I only have a few moments like those to attempt to convince someone of the truth.

But do I? Don't I have a blog? Why, if free market economic principles are so interesting and important, don't I talk about them more often?

I think I should commemorate this tongue-tied occurrence with a weekly post about capitalism, free-markets and how it relates to current events. I'm going to call it, "Capitalizing on Tuesday" or "Capitalism Tuesday", or "Free-Market Tuesday". Do you have a suggestion? I'm terrible with names.

So, today's topic is about how awesome it would be if Arizona slashed it's Corporate Tax Rate. Currently, we have one of larger corporate tax rates. According to the Tax Foundation, Arizona's corporate tax rate is 6.9% on all moneys earned. Whether you earn $1 or $1,000,000, you have to pay the state 6.9%.

I'm bringing this up because couple of weeks ago, California enacted the California Internet Sales Tax. All online purchases, irregardless of if the vendor has a brick-and-mortar store, is now subject to sales tax in the state of California. This is a hit for online merchants based in California. The article ended with an interview, "One affiliate, Ken Rockwell of San Diego, the owner of a 12-year-old photography website, said he planned to move out of state.

"Will it be Las Vegas or Scottsdale or Ensenada?" he said. "It's a question of where, not if."

Dear State of Arizona, I have a few suggestions.

1. Start recruiting businesses from California. They want to move! Arizona is the perfect place for businesses to start over. We have very few natural disasters and shipping interruptions. We are very accessible internationally. Yes, it's a tad hot for a few months. So what? Instead of paying higher taxes, you can afford to take vacations!

2. Slash the corporate tax rate to below 5% . This will entice the businesses. They will bring their existing customers, their employees, and hopefully, they will start hiring new people once their business grows.

3. Watch businesses grow! Arizona's unemployment rate is, preliminary, at 9.1%. (Expect that to be adjusted upwards. That rate has been adjusted upwards for the past 2 years.) The real unemployment is probably at 9.5%. Well, the easy fix for this is bring in more businesses for our people to work in. More jobs available means more people working and lower unemployment.

Anyways, if you know your state reps, I would pass along this information. Encourage them to try and find a way to lower the corporate tax rate. Capitalize on California's idiocy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What I'm Thinking About Right Now

I was sitting down on a Friday night, not to curl up with my honey because he's out on a 36-hour Nazi Zombie marathon with his guy friends as a birthday present from me to him, but instead I decided to blog about Casey Anthony and my thoughts on her acquittal.

Except, that's not what I'm doing. I'm watching 17 Again with the adorable Zac Effron, and checking my Netflix queue. And that's a weird word: Queue. Say it with me: Queue. And I totally spelled it correctly the first time. Yes! I've still got mad spelling-grammar skillz! So, the movie is cute. But so is Zac. And if you tell my kids I will call you a liar.

So, Casey Anthony is not cute. And she is a liar. However, bald-face lying does not a murderer make. But it sure does make one wonder why she would lie if she had nothing to do with Caylee's death.

I think why I'm so upset about the thing is because my soul cries out for justice. I want to see someone punished in my lifetime for something so tragic. I believe we all have a need for justice. The only way to reconcile this heinous action and the coinciding acquittal of Casey is that I know that nothing is secret from God. There is nowhere that His light does not shine. Things done in the cover of darkness are not hid from him. I also take comfort that God will exact His revenge.

So, I've made peace with the death of Caylee Anthony.

Of course, there's a legal aspect to this that I want to discuss. I am becoming concerned that cases built on circumstantial evidence do not convict. I mean, the woman lied to police over and over. And then what's with the whole Dad issue? Daddy issues are not a license to kill! I'm not a lawyer, so I have no idea how a defendant can use Daddy-issues for a defense. I just know that most women have Daddy issues, and yet still are accountable for their actions. Right?

Well, I'm back to Zac and 17 Again.


Friday, June 24, 2011


I think this song may be appropriate right now. Lots of changes going on at the Wilhelmsen household.

I have decided to home school the girls. I have been convicted about several things. For one, I'm not making seeking the Lord a priority in our daily lives, and I'm not doing a very good job in teaching the girls the importance of such a priority.

Secondly, I am frustrated that I do not know how to motivate Reagan. I feel, essentially, that I barely know her. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we are apart for 8 hours a day, and the remaining hours of her day I want her to play, do chores, and generally get to be a kid. I have long felt that school robs the kids of their free time; now I feel empowered to do something about that.

And thirdly, I have discovered that I am jealous for my kids' time and attention. I'm wondering if this is how God feels about us. The Bible talks about God being a jealous God; I think I'm beginning to understand. In some ways, jealousy can be a good thing. Not jealousy in the sense that I feel bitter or angry at some perceived injustice, but jealous for the short time together while they are home. Jealous because I realize that I will not get to see their faces when they discover something, and jealous that their closest connections are with people I may not want in their everyday lives, instead of with their family and the people that I think are good influences on them.

I am convinced that home school is our solution.

I am unsure about how it will work in our household! I will probably be stressed out, frazzled, and then hopefully, so glad we did it. Erik and I are in agreement, which has been huge. He's been a bit hesitant whenever I've brought it up in the past; but now he sees a lot of potential and he's willing to go for it. I love that about him!

I am busy trying to figure out what curricula to use and how much our budget should be. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself and the kids for August (when we'll start).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Alive...Barely

A few of you have expressed some desire for updates and pictures. And a few of you want to know what I think about what's going on in the world.

So, I'm going to try and do both in one post because who knows when I'll sit down to do it again, right?

Declan is 12 weeks old. He's sleeping 9 hours straight at night which is BEAUTIFUL.

Jack is 19 months and I have put him back on milk under the advise of my doctor. She was concerned about his lack of growth; he's off the charts on the low side. I mentioned that it's quite difficult to feed him since he's allergic to everything. She asked, "What's the reaction to milk?" I told her he gets constipated. She said, "I'd rather treat the constipation and you give him milk." Seems so simple and yet, it was such a relief! No more keeping butter out of things, no more skipping cheese. She told me to give him two Pediasures a day to start with. Then when Erik and I were talking about it, we decided we would just put him on milk and Pediasure. Wouldn't you know it, but his appetite has increased ten-fold. It was like the poor kid wasn't getting enough calories so his body just adjusted down. I feel terrible writing this, but I honestly was doing what the specialist had told us to do. We are very pleased with how Jack is doing. And so far, no constipation! It's wonderful!

Mati and Reagan are doing great considering the huge changes going on in their lives. Two babies in two years has certainly thrown all us, not the least the girls. We are working through lack of focus, highly emotional outbursts, and general disobedience. I know those are all things we would be working through anyways, but they seem a bit more pronounced. And Reagan's teacher mentioned the emotional outbursts, so those are happening all over... :) Over all, they LOVE their little brothers and I'm so blessed by how much love the girls have.

Furthermore, I know it's taken a while, but I'm so happy that God gave me the boys so close together. I'm so glad that He knows me better than I do. Now if I can just get better at the response to people who say, "Wow, you have your hands full!" Something about that comment makes me feel a little guilty, a little irresponsible. I know we didn't purposefully try for Declan, but God brought him around according to His timing. How great that I didn't have to make that decision! How wonderful to be in a place of total trust in Him!

On to other news:
1. Osama Bin Laden is dead! Wow. We are told not to rejoice in the downfall of our enemies, so I'm going with that. There is no joy in the eternal damnation of a soul. But God will have justice, and that's what I can take delight in. God is Just. And it's humbling to be shown that God will exact His revenge on His enemies in His time.

2. Not raising the debt ceiling of the federal government will not mean disaster for the U.S. And we should not raise the ceiling anyways. How about we don't spend money we don't have? I know that's a difficult concept because of what it means for social programs, but we have got to be willing to make serious changes to the status quo.

3. I am getting so excited about the election next year. Does it seem like Obama's been in office forever? This has been the longest two years of my life! And it's only gotten harder. Here's to $4 a gallon gasoline and grocery prices going up, up, up. And why is NO ONE riding Obama like the MSM did with Bush before the 2008 election? I'll tell you why, the liberals rejoice with these kind of fuel prices. It means less travel, less freedom, more debt cause everything else is more expensive. Debt is a form of slavery, you know.

4. Back to the upcoming election: I'm paying special attention to Herman Cain (successful business man), Tim Pawlenty, and my dark horse because I don't think he's running, Bobby Jindal. Bobby Jindal just released his birth certificate so that makes me think he may be considering a run. He's my favorite and I hope he runs.

Are you excited too?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Please Welcome Declan James!

Declan James was born on 2/15 at 8:04 am. He was 8 pounds 6.9 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. I have no idea how a baby that size fit inside me, and I'm so grateful that I got to deliver via c-sections!

Anyways, the birth was smooth and I was home two days later. I'm so grateful to be a fast healer; God surely knows what I need and that is to bounce back as quick as possible.

Dex is now three weeks old so these pictures are already out of date. He's growing very well, already passed his birth weight. I am breastfeeding, but I do not know for how long. I'm longing to get back into shape and lose a lot of weight. And since that doesn't happen for me until after I'm done breastfeeding, well, I'm anxious to get there.

Thank you so much for your prayers. God hears his children.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Word of the Day: Disideratum

The word of the day is desideratum which means something desired or considered necessary.

I have several desiderata (oh yeah! It's a two-for-one post! Desiderata is the plural of desideratum.) right now. First, I can't wait to be able to wear my wedding ring. I have missed it. I haven't been able to wear it comfortably since summer.

I am desiring having my body to myself. I realize that is a completely selfish and self-centered desideratum, but I just can't get over it. The weight gain I hate. The feeling of Declan moving inside is cool, but as this is my fourth, I'm kind of over it. And he kicks at my gall bladder which REALLY hurts. Also, I am a horrible snorer while pregnant, so I'm sure that the oh-so-accommodating Erik is desiring this baby out of me.

Another desideratum I have is to get moving on this adventure of being a mom of four. I'm nervous and the only remedy for that is to just get moving! Well, really the only remedy is to pray for God to take away my anxiety and preoccupation. But I'm also praying that he will move this week along...

My c-section is scheduled for 2/15. Would you please pray for me and the baby? Your prayers are another desideratum!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: Prince Caspian Part II

The second part of “Prince Caspian” that I loved was when Aslan first appears, but only Lucy, the youngest can see him. After telling her brothers and sister that Aslan wants them to follow a different path than the one they were on, Lucy decides to listen to the "wisdom" of her older siblings and go along with her older brothers and sister and go in the opposite direction than the one Aslan has pointed out to her.

Well, this path leads them wrong. The group followed a path that looked more direct but got progressively harder and then finally lead them practically into the camp of the enemy. It was when the arrows started firing on them that they realized that they need to go all the way back. They sheepishly apologized to Lucy and turned back the way they came. The path Aslan pointed out did not appear to go in the right direction, in fact the path seemed to go away from where the group knew the battle would be. But as they followed the Aslan path, they had easy going of it. And once they were on the right path, one by one, each member of the group began to, at first hear, and then see, Aslan.

While the group slept that night, Lucy was awakened by a voice, "The voice she loved best." So she went to it. When she met up with Aslan, they had this exchange. I'm quoting it at length.

"Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan," sobbed Lucy. "At last."...

"Welcome, child," he said.

"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."

"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.

"Not because you are?"

"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

For a time she was so happy that she did not want to speak. But Aslan spoke.

"Lucy," he said, "we must not lie here for long. You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today."

"Yes, wasn't it a shame?" said Lucy. "I saw you all right. They wouldn't believe me. They're all so-"

From somewhere deep inside Aslan's body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.

"I'm sorry," said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. "I didn't mean to start slamming the others. But it wasn't my fault anyways, was it?"

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

"Oh Aslan," said Lucy. "You don't mean it was? How could I-I couldn't have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don't look at me like that...oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn't have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?"

Aslan said nothing.

"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out all right-somehow? But how? Please Aslan! Am I not to know?"

"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."

He goes on to tell her to go back to the others, wake them up, and tell them what Aslan has told her. And if they won't believe her, she is to go alone with Aslan.

This exchange is chock-full! But among them is the reminder that it's in our best interest to follow Jesus, no matter who believes us or agrees with us. And yes, things will probably work out just fine, but if we follow Christ first, we could have a better time of things!

In any case, it was a good book and I highly recommend it. Now on to "Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: The Horse & His Boy and Prince Caspian Part I

I have been reading my way through the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis a little bit at a time. I've had a little bit more time over the winter break to read; I think I've read about three books in three weeks. Two of the books I read were "The Horse and His Boy" and "Prince Caspian", books 3 and 4 respectively.

"The Horse" was good. The main characters are two talking horses who are longing to go back to Narnia, the land of the talking animals, and where they are truly home, and two youngsters, Shasta (a boy) and Aravis (a girl) from their original land of Calormen, which is south of Narnia. The humans are running away from Calormen; Shasta to escape from the cruelty of his father and Aravis from her impending marriage to a much older man. They join up and escape to the land of Narnia. Their journey takes them across a dessert and up through mountains into Narnia, while escaping marching armies and chasing lions.

My favorite part of the book was where Aslan reveals himself as a traveling companion to Shasta. Aslan has actually been the lion that has chased them throughout the story. It seems that without a chasing lion, maybe the characters would not have moved so quickly into the safety of the promised land or perhaps they would have given up and turned around and tried to make do in the "comfort" of what they knew in Calormen.

That doesn't sound identifiable at all, does it? :)

But my favorite line is what Aslan says to Shasta when Shasta asks Aslan why he wounded Aravis, "But what for?"

"Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."

This line has really made me think about what is my business, and what is not. I'm naturally curious, alright nosy, about what God is doing in the lives of those around me. Sometimes I would like to know why God is allowing someone to go through something. Or why it seems that some people can't seem to learn a lesson and be released. But the truth is that it's NONE of my business and Christ reveals to the individual what that person needs to learn. Not to me. Never to me, unless that person comes to me directly.

The next book was "Prince Caspian" which you probably know from the recent movie. I enjoyed reading the book and thought that the film did a good job with the content.

"Prince Caspian" opens with the four Pevensies being taken back into Narnia from their current world of London. We find out later that they were summoned by Prince Caspian through Susan's horn because the Narnians needed help to win the war against a Telmarine king who had taken over Narnia as his own. (If you have neither seen the movie or read the book, I know you're confused. But I really don't want to go into the whole story. Read the books. They are very short.)

Anyways, what I loved about this book was again the encounter with Aslan and how with the coming of Aslan, nature is put right again. You see, all Creation is supposed to live in harmony with each other. In Isaiah 11 we can get a glimpse of what the world will be like when Christ returns. Starting in verse 6,

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

That’s how I picture Narnia with Aslan present. In “Prince Caspian”, Aslan has been away for a while and some beasts have turned back to their primitive ways; they have stopped talking and have turned vicious. Furthermore, the trees aren’t talking as they once were. It was when Aslan reappeared that the trees and beasts awakened to what they were really supposed to be, living in harmony with all of God’s creation.

Won’t that be beautiful? To live in such harmony with all of creation that not even snakes or scorpions will scare us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

Yesterday I watched "Alice in Wonderland" with my daughter Matilyn. Initially I really wanted to see it, but then I heard a few bad reviews and it was moved to the back of the list.

Forgive me, but I actually liked it. I do not consider myself to be an Alice purist which may be why I could stand to watch it. I think that for a remake, it was interestingly done.

Now, I love the original Disney "Alice". It was wonderful hand-drawn animation, beautiful original score, and followed the book pretty well.

The new "Alice", in my opinion, should not be compared with the original. I think the newest "Alice" movie should be seen more as a continuation of the story by Carrol. Now, I have not read "Through the Looking Glass" and the movie did deal more with the Jabberwocky so I may be speaking out of turn. However, I found that this more grown-up Alice was kind of charming and endearing while she dealt with questions of identity and calling. I really liked how the absurdity and irony of the "Real" people juxtaposed with Alice's seeming-weirdness. I liked how she escapes one absurd world into another, but this other world has more purpose, it seems.

Artistically I found it amazing, yet typical Tim Burton. Isn't it something that the talents and vision of Burton have become somewhat routine? He's pretty amazing, and yet, predictable. Anyways, I thought the costumes and makeup were great.

So, on the whole, I think this film was okay. I did have concerns with seeing it with my almost-five year old, but she was okay. And she did lose interest by the time the Jabberwocky showed up.

I probably could have lived my entire life without seeing this film, but I was glad that I did all the same. What did you think of it? If you haven't seen it, why have you avoided it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Weekend We Could Have Been Shot

This past weekend we were in Tucson celebrating the love that has endured and grown in 10 short years between Erik and me.

We stayed at a nice Hilton off of Oracle and Ina. A great location, really. It's newer Tucson and my sister-in-law is from there so we're pretty familiar with that area. We got to Tucson on Friday and had a wonderful dinner at Wildflower, which is a Fox Restaurant Concept (the creator of Culinary Dropout, Blanco, Sauce, etc is a UofA graduate, and Wildflower was his first restaurant concept.) Anyways, we loved our meal at Wildflower. I had the fish special, which was Lane Snapper and it was DIVINE. On a side note, I usually get the fish special at good restaurants. For one, I don't make fish all that often and when I do it's pretty typical (sauteed in garlic or fried...) Getting the fish special allows me to try something that I would never think of doing with fish. Secondly, when I'm at a good restaurant, usually the chefs are great with fish. I have never regretted getting the fish, fyi.

Anyways, dinner was fabulous. Erik had the NY Strip and then to finish off we had Creme Brulee with coffee. Yum-yum.

The next day we woke up late and decided to go see the 11 o'clock showing of "The King's Speech". It was about 9:30 when we decided this and of course I need to eat, so we drove to the Einstein's on Ina and Oracle. We're talking, loving that we can talk without our children around, and I see a couple of cop cars whiz by, and then about 4 ambulances start passing. Erik points to the opposite corner of where we're headed and says, "Kevin said that 'Beyond Bread' restaurant is really good for breakfast." And I suggest that we check it out the next morning before we head up to Phoenix. And the as we're pulling into the parking lot of Einstein's, three helicopters are landing in the parking lot across the street.

We figured it was either a bomb threat, a bank hold-up, or a shooting.

Anyways, we get our bagels and coffee, eat, wonder what is going on outside, and then we leave. I mean, Colin Firth was waiting. Hello. By the time we left the entire intersection was blocked off and we went around the block to head to the theater.

The movie was great. I highly recommend it.

As we were leaving the theater, Erik checks Facebook on his phone only to discover what had happened. I was sick. How could you hear about this and not be sick? What kind of sicko does this?

So, happy anniversary to us. We could have been shot. And we may never go to Tucson again... Okay, most of that is facetious. Obviously we'll go to Tucson again. I hope you will continue to pray for the family's of the victims and the continued recovery of the ones still in the hospital.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This month's book club selection is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". I picked it. I really wanted something to escape with because I have a bit of a reality problem in that it seems like I have a lot of reality going on right now. So, it seemed perfect to escape to Sweden for a nice mystery.

There is a lot of talk going around about this book. The author Stieg Larsson died very suddenly in 2004 and his books were published posthumously. He was, apparently, the second best selling author in the world in 2008 behind Khaled Hosseini.

Initially I didn't really want to read this series; they seemed like a hyped up series, you know, like the Twilight series. And I just don't like to read a lot of things that are mainstream. I'm a snob. You can say it. I'm not offended. But this book intrigued me because several people that I like have read it and they really liked it. I decided to give it a shot.

I bought it on my Nook. And it was so great to read it that way, but that is an aside.

I tore through that book in one week, maybe less. It was great. I have heard that it may take a while to get into because there is some backstory. The main characters don't even meet until half-way through the story.

The story follows two people, one a magazine publisher and writer who is convicted of libel, and the other is a woman who has serious emotional issues and is a brilliant private investigator. He is hired to write a family chronicle for a wealthy old man, solve a mystery of a missing/murdered woman. She is hired by him to help solve the mystery.

Now, I want to warn you: this book contains some very violent situations that won't soon leave my mind.

However, the book is really good. Although the beginning does tend to get weighed down by a bunch of names and characters, once you get into the meat of the story, the introduction of a bunch of random Swedes doesn't really matter and can be forgotten. Probably this means that the author should have edited it down. I couldn't identify with the characters, they were involved in things that I couldn't even imagine doing, and they were in a country that I can not even picture. All things that made it the perfect escape book!

There was one political point in the book that I found absolutely fascinating. The girl in the story was a ward of the state. At an early age she was declared mentally unstable, but functioned enough in society that she was able to have a guardian. This guardian was responsible for the girl's finances, and had weekly meetings to determine how life was going. I just found the whole thing interesting. Socialist yes, but interesting nevertheless.

I can't wait to read the next book in the Millennium series, "The Girl Who Played with Fire". If you can stomach it, I recommend this book!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello 2011!

2011 is a BIG YEAR for us here in the Wilhelmsen camp.

First and foremost, the wonderful Erik and I will celebrate 10 years married on Thursday! We are going away for the weekend to the beautiful city of Tucson where we will sleep, go to at least two movies, and eat out. No Kids allowed! So glorious. The only thing that would be better is if I wasn't a million months pregnant for the second time in two years... I really want to see the new Harry Potter film and The King's Speech.

Secondly, I'm all set to have our fourth and final (Lord willing) child and also to tie up my tubes. The only resolution I'm making this year is that I'm resolved to not having any more children. Bud-dum-bum! (Or however you spell that onomatopoeia.) Honestly, if it weren't for the probability that I need the hormones, I would love to just take out the whole shebang...

Third, I have a new love and his name is Nook. I know, I know. How could it be? He's the complete antithesis to the debonair Erik... He's short. He's fits in the palm of my hand. But what he lacks in the physical he totally redeems himself in portability, convenience and sleekness. But to be more accurate, I should say that Nook has come between me and books, not me and Erik. E-books rule. I never thought I would say it, but I'm not sure I'm going to miss physical books. For one, the Nook doesn't have bookmarks that my crumb-crunchers can take out and lose my place. And for those of you who love the smell of books, which admittedly I do, the smell of my leather carrying case for the Nook makes up for that. I'm looking forward to reading a lot in 2011.

And that's about it. Reading and raising children...my goals for 2011!