Saturday, October 22, 2011

Daycare Finale

My life took such a dramatic turn in August/September 2011 with my father’s sudden illness and death that I overlooked a major milestone in our marriage.

An event that we've eagerly looked forward to for years.

It was a date of significant importance that comes once in a lifetime for working parents everywhere.

We are finished with paying for long-term daycare!

It's over. The end.

Oh glory hallelujah!

For nine years we have paid for daycare.

$100 dollars a week, per child-not-in-school, for nine years.

Although I don’t have an exact dollar amount, my best guess is that we’ve paid $60,000 in child care expenses for our two daughters over the last nine years.

What does $60 grand mean to us?

Half of what we paid for our first house.

Three times what we paid for my car.

15 week-long Caribbean cruises.

25 week-long trips to Disneyland.

150 3-day weekends at the Blue Boar Inn B & B.

600 dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

1200 pairs of shoes (just kidding…I’m a bargain shopper, so probably more like 1500 pairs of shoes).

So now that we’re daycare free, can we go crazy with the spending?

Nope. Now we get to pay for braces. And piano lessons. And singing classes. And Girl Scout uniforms.

And shoes…not for me, but for two pairs of feet that are growing way too fast.

Oh, the joys and expenses of parenthood. It's the most expensive and best job in the world!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hiking In Utah's National Parks

Utah has five national parks (only Alaska has more), and our family visited all of them in 2011. Ryan, the girls and I hiked in every national park in Utah between April and October.

Pretty cool, eh? Below is proof in photos...

Arches National Park, April 2011.
Photo taken at Delicate Arch.

Canyonlands National Park, April 2011.
Photo taken at Mesa Arch.

Zion National Park, July 2011.
Photo taken at Weeping Rock.

Bryce Canyon National Park (October 2011).
Photo taken on Navajo Loop Trail at Two Bridges.

Capitol Reef National Park (October 2011).
Photo taken at Hickman Bridge.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: Pope Joan

Based on a book club recommendation, I put Pope Joan on reserve at the library in July. The long waiting list meant that it didn't become available until September. I was not disappointed.

Pope Joan is not an easy read. In fact, it's quite complex with names, beliefs and customs that are more than a thousand years old. The book is historical fiction based on a ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man to make a better life for herself.

In the 800s, girls and women were not educated. It was considered unnatural for them to learn to read or write. Females were considered inferior in every measure of society. The descriptions of abuse and neglect towards women are disturbing.

Joan defies the odds, and through a series unusual events learns to read and write in Latin and Greek. She is incredibly bright and gifted. To continue her education, she disguises herself as a man...taking on her dead brother's identity after he is killed in battle. Joan (now John) becomes a monk, studies for years as a monastery, expands her knowledge to the field of medicine and is ordained a priest. All the while, she is disillusioned by the corruption she witnesses in the church.

She makes the pilgrimage to Rome, and it short time becomes the personal physician of the Pope. Joan witnesses corruption and scandal in the church, yet remains. She quickly rises up the ranks of the church, despite attempts by power-hungry men to destroy her.

One person knows her true identity as a woman...a man who has been her only love-interest since her youth. They plan to run away from Rome together so they can be become husband and wife. Everything changes when she is unexpectedly elected the new pope, and he becomes her chief protector. She reigns for two years...her trued identity never discovered until her death.

According to the author, Donna Woolfolk Cross, Pope Joan is not a fictional character. Cross's seven years of research on the subject all point to the validity of Joan's rise to the throne of St. Peter. Modern Catholicism does not acknowledge her existence in any realm of the church.

This is a stop-and-make-you-think type of book. The conditions that the poor lived in during the dark ages were deplorable. Women and girls were treated as property, without any rights...or hope that they could make a better life for themselves. Joan's courage is admirable. Not only did she ignore the widely-held belief that women were inferior to men, but she also fought against corruption and ignorance.

I like to think Pope Joan is more than a myth. I want to believe she is a legend.