Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping through Salvation History

We have had this kid's Bible Study for...well, lets just say more than a year.... and just recently took it down to start working on it.

The Great Adventure Kids
I was very excited about it when we got it, but then life sped on know how that goes. So we had about a week between our last saint chapter book and our Lenten read aloud for our evening family time. We decided it was just enough time to walk run through Salvation History and introduce the time periods. My plan was to build a time line on the wall, then I got a brilliant idea...okay, maybe not brilliant, but I think it is a pretty good idea!

The way this bible study works is that Salvation History is split into periods that are color coded and contain certain figures and events. It is a way of organizing all those people and stories you already know (and some you don't) from hearing them in the readings at Mass and seeing the progression of God's work within His family from Creation up to the present period of The Church. A great tool for adults as well as children.

Now, back to my is actually kinda brilliant when you know how UN-crafty I am, and that I am a novice postulant sewer (I can just barely recall how to turn it on and thread it when I sit down to sew). First, the kit above comes with a card game which contains cards for each of the major events organized by period. I wanted a way for them to lay those cards out and use them to recall the order of events.

So, I made a felt version of the timeline:

with two pieces of felt for each colored time period...

sewn together...

and then rolled out in a long line.

There it is! They have rolled it out several times and placed all the cards in the right place and now we have a way to add events, figures, etc to our time line. We can also put it away quite easily.

What do you think?

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure I was a fellow student with the timeline's creator, Jeff Cavins, at Franciscan University of Steubenville and had the great pleasure of being his oldest daughter's catechist when she came into the Church. His wife Emily co-authored the kid's version of the timeline. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feelin' A Little Dodgy Today--Lessons In Universal Healthcare

We lived in the UK for almost five years and we used the National Health System (NHS) while there. It was easy, convenient, and, for the basics, it was good quality health care. When I went to the local clinic I never had a copay, nor did I pay for kid's prescriptions, eye care...anything. For the most part this was how British citizens handle their health. In fact, one of Jim's UK coworkers was fond of saying things like...
(NOTE: to get the full effect, read this quote with an English accent) 
"I'm feeling a little dodgy today. Think I'll go to the local surgery (healthcare clinic) and see the doctor." 
This was usually followed by a day off of work. That is the way the system works. It's free, it's easy, people use it that way.

One way our friends Mitt Romney and Barrack Obama have sold their health mandates is that it will cut healthcare costs. If you can find someone willing to show you the numbers, you'll see that RomneyCare has proven that to be false. Not only is federal tax money used to fund this plan in the first place, but it has cost the taxpayer far more than expected. The CATO institute has an interesting article on the fate of RomneyCare in Massachusetts. It explains that the two goals of this universal healthcare plan...all residents covered and costs of healthcare reduced... were in fact NOT achieved. After going through the numbers of those uninsured before the mandate, and then those insured as a result of the mandate, the author says this:
...between half and two-thirds of those uninsured before the plan was implemented remain so. That’s a far cry from universal coverage...The much ballyhooed mandate itself appears to have had almost no impact.
Apparently whatever progress that was made toward reducing the number of uninsured was almost completely due to subsidies. Most of the uninsured who became insured were those who qualified for some sort of subsidized healthcare (paid by the tax payer). And the result was...
...the plan was projected to cost $1.8 billion ... Now it is expected to exceed those estimates by $150 million.  
But, in my opinion, the most telling line of the whole article was almost an aside. While talking about the number of uninsured who signed up for subsidized programs, the author says in passing:
The bigger the subsidy, the faster people are signing up.
THAT'S IT! There is one simple reason that universal healthcare will not result in lower healthcare costs.

We like free things. 

If you never have to open your pocketbook at the doctor's office, then you are much more likely to use that doctor unnecessarily.

If it feels free (I say feels because we pay for it in taxes) then we take advantage of it. It is part of our fallen human can hardly blame us. But we are just as UNLIKELY to take the doctor's advice to lose weight, quit smoking, eat better, and relax a little. You could also say that we are just as likely to avoid the doctor when we suspect something serious because we fear what we might hear.

Being able to go to the doctor freely does not translate into healthier lifestyles. Where are all the uber-healthy Cubans? Are UK residents living longer these days? The only way to ensure that happens is to outlaw unhealthy behavior. And we all know where that is leading us...Michelle Obama, A.K.A. The Sugar Sheriff or The Cholesterol Constable.

These days we have the cheapest healthcare plan we can get through Jim's work, with the highest deductibles. We pay when we go to the doctor. I recently paid well over $100 for a small bottle of ear drops. Outrageous. But, I stood there and quickly assessed---do we need this right now? My answer was yes, so I paid.

There are two interesting points about those ear drops: even with that incredible price tag, it is cheaper for us to pay the low monthly premium and pay out of pocket until something is covered AND if health care was part of the free market, those ear drops would not be $100.

What if you budgeted for healthcare like you did nutrition care (groceries, etc). And you bought an insurance policy (much like your car insurance) that was meant to cover you in case something horrible happens (major accident or illness)?

How would you react to a doctor's advice to change your diet to avoid heart disease? You might take it more to heart (pun intended). You also might asses your own reaction to minor illness (i.e.: "I worry too much and would rather have a doctor's input"; or "I think we rely too much on medical advice and most things can be handled at home") and then budget accordingly.

One of the greatest things that we have found to help us budget health expenses is our Flexible Spending Account (sometimes called Health Savings Accounts) which is a set amount of pretax dollars used for uncovered expenses. We have used ours to cover eye care, dental care, private speech therapy, among other things. By the way, Rick Santorum was a major sponsor of the bill that made these more available, and it was an alternative to Hillarycare, the Evil Stepmother of Romneycare and Obamacare.

The way healthcare in this country works, pre-Obamacare, is that we have come to depend on our employers, or the government, to provide us with a "healthcare plan". This means that we are part of a plan that covers a huge group of people with a wide variety of needs and wants and we pay for both those needs, and the wants. Premiums continue to go through the roof because they are no longer dictated by the market, but are determined more by federal regulations and the size and diversity of the pool of participants. American's are used to, even addicted to HMO style healthcare (Thank you Ted Kennedy!).

Obamacare is HMO's on steroids. While we all "pitch in" via taxes so that everyone has "free" healthcare, those costs go through the roof. The government then has more incentive to legislate healthy behavior and to decide whose health is the best investment.

And we give up more and more freedom.

Ironic isn't it. Our love of free things comes at a cost: our freedom.

My Thankful Five... I posted it on Facebook:
1. Plans to go to the Home and Garden Show today (even though we have no money to do anything to our home or our garden...we just love walking around and dreaming--and the kids love the freebies).
2. two kids making their own breakfasts (and helping their little sister with hers)
3. Husband who reads the big, long, book I gave him about teaching kids self discipline and gets right on board with it!
4.Three cute kids having a tea party (even the brother!---who just said that Arthur Guiness was invited---yes, that is the beer guy.)
5. A friday shopping trip alone with a great seven year old boy, in which he actively shops for his sister's birthday presents.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hey Girl...

Here is the version of the "Hey Girl" pictures that popped into my mind while thinking about the freedoms this administration is gleefully taking from each of us.
If you haven't seen the "Hey Girl" meme, here are some examples
(just a note-I understand some of the pictures have gotten to be a little racey. I didn't notice this on the two sites I linked to, but, then again, I didn't read every post either)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Which A Brit is Like Scott Hahn

I remember discovering for myself the truth of the saying that converts often express the Catholic faith better and more compellingly (is that even a word?) than cradle Catholics. It was the first time I heard Scott Hahn speak. My father gave me a cassette tape (it was so long ago I don't even think you could get a cd!) of Dr. Hahn's conversion to the Catholic Faith and I listened on my WalkMan (yah, there goes that age thing again). It lighted a fire in heart to know my Faith on a completely different level.

Today, though, I realized that the same can be true of foreigners speaking of the United States. Of course the more direct comparison would be with immigrants speaking of the U.S. But Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South East England, is not an immigrant. He is proud and patriotic British citizen. Now, listen to him talk about the U.S.:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Obamacare: Care or Control?

[So...yesterday I was reading my post from last year (which I linked to below) and talking to myself (I do that a lot more these days it seems). Here is the first part of my previous post followed by what I said to myself.]

"The Church ought to have a healthy fear of big government (especially when it comes to medical issues) because of its ability to force immoral actions on people (abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia, etc). 
The principal of subsidiarity seems to be lost on even the highest of Church officials (trying not to name names here).  
Even if Bart Stupak could have gotten anti abortion language in the bill, it would have eventually been taken out. Once government takes over health care, federal funding for abortion is inevitable (show me a country with government health care that does not have abortion?)."
It took awhile, but here we are. It may be, however, that Obama has awakened a sleeping giant. A year ago when I wrote that post, it appeared that the U.S. Bishops had been lulled into supporting his health care bill by those misleading words: “health” (who can argue with healthiness, lack of sickness!) and “care” (we all care, don’t we? we must care!). 
But Obamacare has little to do with healthiness (especially not for the unborn), nor is it really about caring. 
At it’s core, the law is about CONTROL. And the latest power grab by the HHS is proof. No longer are Churches free to live by their moral beliefs. Instead they must be forced to pay for procedures and drugs that they find morally abhorrent! Forget freedom of religion, forget separation of Church and State. The Government can now decide that the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, sterilization and contraception are not that important---Obama knows best, you know---really. 
“Most Catholics don’t agree with the teaching anyway, right? So, you bishops and priests, and you know, the Pope too, may as well just change that pesky teaching. We’ll give you a year. Sound fair? Good. Done, then.”

More of my discussion with myself to follow...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You, Me, Kevin Bacon and Contraception

In light of the contraception discussion in the news these days I thought some of my past posts are relevant again:
and here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Morning Quarterback

I was going to call this "Monday Morning Catch up", but after a late night of football watching...and buffalo wing eating and wine drinking and more eating.... I thought the football theme appropriate.

So...don't you think the Super Bowl was a nice break from all the intensity and violence of the season? You know the Republican Primary Season? I get a little too worked up over those debates...with elections or caucuses every week. My blood pressure can't take too much of that. I needed a rousing game of American football with all its head smashing, bodies flying, kicking, tackling, blitzing. Now, I may be just relaxed enough to watch tomorrow's election returns.


In the spirit of second guessing the decisions of yesterday (i.e. Monday Morning Quarterbacking), I am firming up my opinion that we have math education all wrong in this day and age. I read this article earlier today. I have read references to this study before and it made sense to me. But seeing it all spelled out confirmed it. There is no need for more than half the population to be math-phobic. We practically force kids to hate math these days. I think I will take the proposed math curriculum in Part II and use it on myself. Maybe I can undo my mathallergic mindset!