29 March 2016

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter!

Miracle of miracles, I actually managed to get a picture of my family on Easter Sunday for possibly the first time ever.

And, mostly by accident, we were coordinated in our dress.

(I'm not happy about my hair -- I was putting on Keira's shoes for picture-taking and she grabbed the top of my head for balance and I thought I fixed it -- or my makeup. Because we can't have everything.)

Also, I'm just not sure when Keira got so darn tall. Her legs are so long all of a sudden! I guess I knew that, as I've been buying her size 5 pants, she's a bit leggier than your typical three-year-old, but it took me by surprise on Easter.

I hope you had a beautiful day, too.

{I'm reprieving you on the post about Trump vs. Hillary and why I'm despondent until Eastertide is over.}

21 March 2016

Hey, guess what!

Less than a month ago, I wrote about how night training Keira was going badly.

Kids love to make a liar out of you, huh?

Since that day, girlfriend night trained herself. I made 0% effort. I was perfectly happy to wait a while before we took the diapers away overnight, but then she woke up every morning for over a week with a perfectly dry diaper on. And she had no accidents while napping. It took us two nights to talk her into giving up her diaper overnight (maybe I was a little too vocally pessimistic about this? ...oops), but she's been totally, 100%, completely-and-utterly diaper free for a week now.

I am so proud of my big girl.

16 March 2016

On the Morality of Debt

This isn't a post on whether it's moral to have debt. I commend people who are able to Dave Ramsey their lives, but I think most people have debt, and it's not always harmful. Buuuuuut I just saw something that made me feel a little bit ill: a write-up of a video by a former hedge fund manager, advocating that people ought to just not pay their credit card debt. The reasoning is that your credit score is easy to fix, and anyway credit card companies expect that some people will default, and his own experience having a low credit rating wasn't catastrophic.

There are so many problems with this, I'm not sure where to start.

Oh! I know, let's start with the title of this post: morality.


Deciding to default on your credit card debt is stealing.

We are commanded by God -- maybe you've heard of Him? -- not to steal. But running up debt, and then choosing to walk away from it is not strategic, it's immoral. Every time you make a purchase on a credit card and sign that slip, you're promising to pay the credit card company for that purchase.

{Before I go on, let me just include a disclaimer: I understand that catastrophes happen, and good people sometimes have no choice but to default on debt that they had every intention of repaying. I am not addressing people in dire straits.}

The same goes for your mortgage, student debt and car loan. If you signed on a dotted line saying that in return for a sum of money upfront, you would make payments with interest, you have a moral obligation to make those payments.

My husband and I have been making payments for over four years on the mortgage for a condo we sold in early 2012. The mortgage crisis of 2008 hit us hard. HARD. We could have defaulted on the mortgage and gotten on with the business of rebuilding our credit, but instead we scraped together the funds from our savings, healthy at the time, and from our retirement accounts to buy it out. It's meant that we haven't been able to build our savings back up, basically at all, for the last four years; we've been paying the equivalent of the mortgage on the condo I owned when we married, just in loan-repayment, on top of our other bills. It has kept us from buying a home of our own, and we have instead been paying the outlandish rents in Northern Virginia. But we strongly felt we had a moral obligation to pay the loan if we could -- and by the grace of God, we could -- and that was the right thing to do. I've hated it, but I would do it again.

I'm not trying to hold us up as paragons of fiscal virtue, but I feel strongly enough about this to have moved four times in seven years from rental to rental, including leaving each home I brought my babies home from the hospital to, until this burden is paid off (at the end of this year, finally!) and we can move forward.

The next point that I want to make is that this man wonders: if everyone followed this advice, would it collapse the banking industry? I'm starting to see why he's a former hedge fund manager: he wasn't very good at his job. The mortgage collapse of 2008 happened because of bad legislation that allowed under-qualified people to purchase mortgages they couldn't afford; when they walked away en masse it almost took the entire country down. The banking industry functions on trust, to a large extent, and maintaining your credit score is really the only way to prove you're trustworthy.

Finally, where is the wisdom in taking advice from a money manager who admits that he couldn't maintain his own credit rating? Red flag, much?

Please, don't follow this terrible advice. Don't let your children follow this terrible advice. It wouldn't be good for their souls, and it wouldn't be good for our economy.

03 March 2016

Donald Trump: Front-Runner

I started to write a whole post about screen time and how we handle it, but then I realized that a) it was boring, b) we don't do anything revolutionary (basically we're too loose about it until we realize everyone's miserable, and then we clamp down), and c) what I really needed to get off my chest was Trump.

Actually I'd like to get his giant, lying, wannabe-dictatorial, buffoon butt off American's chest.

In case you need that translated for you: I'm not a fan.

In fact, his entire candidacy is one of those phenomena where I get to wondering if there are a bunch of mentally ill people running around. That sounds overly harsh, I know, but do you know what I mean? Sometimes you look at a set of facts, and come to what seems to you to be an unassailable conclusion; and then you talk to someone who's looked at the exact same set of facts and come to the opposite conclusion, and you can't even understand them. This isn't a common turn of events for me; I usually can see both sides of an argument, even if I think the people on the other side are wrong. There are issues on which intelligent people can disagree, obviously.

Take, for instance, abortion. I am unequivocally 100% against it. Nonetheless, I understand that there exist such justifications that people can support abortion rights and still think they're doing God's work -- people who can't bring themselves to "condemn" some poor girl to a life of parenting before she's ready, and adoption is so hard, or maybe the baby has a profound disability and so abortion is sometimes the least-bad option. They're wrong, of course. This is false compassion which leads to tragic outcomes. But I understand how someone could come to that wrong conclusion.

But I genuinely cannot see how anyone who calls himself a conservative can look at Donald Trump and think, "He's the one!"

He's a lifelong Democrat (which wouldn't be disqualifying, necessarily, if he had a plausible conversion story -- he doesn't beyond "donating tons of money to Democrats was good for business"), a serial adulterer, a misogynist, a thin-skinned bully. He brags that he would sleep with his daughter if she weren't his daughter, which is by any measure gross. He has stated that he would appoint his radically pro-abortion sister to the Supreme Court.

The main thing I can see to commend him to the electorate is his claim that he's a brilliant businessman. But he inherited his money from his father (again, not disqualifying, but it flies in the face of his implication that he's a self-made man), and went on to bankrupt his businesses over and over again through shady and irresponsible borrowing practices. You know the old adage about gambling, "The house always wins"? Well, not if the house is run by Donald Trump. He is lying for no good reason about self-funding his campaign, which he is not.

He waffled on distancing himself from David Duke and the KKK. He makes fun of the disabled.

I could go on (and on and on and on). These are literally only the objections that presented themselves to me off the top of my head. I'm sure if I thought for ten minutes more, I could write the longest blog post in the world about all the reasons that Donald Trump is unfit to be the dogcatcher in a small town, let alone the President of the United States of America.

A lot of people seem to dislike Ted Cruz for reasons I can't quite fathom. He doesn't seem like the type of guy you'd necessarily like to go drinking with, but is that what we need in a president? A lot of other people object to Marco Rubio as "too establishment" -- whatever that means -- and unreliable on immigration. But the truth is I would crawl over broken glass to vote for either man over The Donald, to say nothing of Hillary or Bernie.

If Trump gets the nomination, I will sit this one out. I have never skipped an election before, even when I wasn't happy about my options, but there is no lever I could pull on that day that wouldn't leave me feeling filthy. I won't do it.

At this point, it's looking unlikely that anyone can beat him. All we can do is pray. Please, please pray for the faithful of America, those who haven't yet had a chance to vote, to stand up and do what's right. (I did see something hopeful on that score -- "Regular, weekly church attendance...predicted a statistically significant and substantive opposition to Trump" -- but it's clearly not enough yet.)

Pray on your knees.