Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rice University, Meet Smut

So Rice University has joined a number of other schools in the dubious honor of having a university-sponsored s*x magazine. Started by a staff of mostly women, it contains pictures, articles and stories - all s*x-related. The editor, in her opening editorial, describes the problem she hopes the magazine will solve is that "the culture of Rice is not as welcoming to s*x as it could be." I'm not a Rice alum, and I can't say I spend much time on its campus, but I really can't imagine any place on Earth needs more discussion about s*x. Especially a college campus of any kind.

Why does each generation think they've invented s*x? Why do young people all think that no one but them does it, talks about it, thinks about it? Why do they asssume that anyone more than 5 years older than them is s*xless and repressed? After a certain point this attitude irritates me. It also makes me doubt their ability to reason and observe. Have they watched TV lately, been on the Internet, gone to the movies? S*x saturates our culture, but somehow these young idiots think we need more of it. My my, the future is secure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


One has been fencing at a local academy since he was 6 1/2. For the first 8 months he did the club once a week. Then he was asked to fence in a salle tournament; he won 2 of 5 bouts and was asked to join the team (all his opponents were team members, although they didn't tell him that until it was all over). He now fences 3 days a week, 2 hours at a time, 12 months a year. It takes its toll on dinner time, at least on Monday nights, but so far the positives far outweigh the negatives.

This summer will mean 2 intensive camps: 5 days, 6 hours a day, and 6 days, 7 hours a day. The latter will be with the French national team as well as US fencers. He will go to both camps - he is thrilled he was asked, and can't wait to watch and learn from the older fencers, as well from the additional coaches who will attend.

However, as much as he practices, we are pulling back on competition until he is older. He goes to the Y8 meets his team hosts, but he does not travel, fence Y10, etc. We - including his coaches - do NOT want to push the competitive part of fencing on him. We want to wait to see what develops inside him - to see how much this means to him and how competitive he wants to be about it. Right now he LOVES fencing; his friends are there, the salle feels like a second home (it's run by a family, and they work at that atmosphere), and he is learning and improving.

I am thrilled that he has consistently chosen this activity over others - we've presented him with a choice several times (i.e, "soccer or fencing but not both") and he always votes for fencing. He is making this his own, and I love that. I also love the discipline it teaches him, and the (healthy) pride he gets from working hard and seeing results.

A Minute of Beauty

I'm trying to take the advice of our pastor and spend time each day looking for things of beauty. Not great works of art or the perfect sunset, but everyday beauty of the kind Shauna Niequist calls us to find.

Today, my beauty find is the carpool line. Nope, not joking. The kids sit on wooden benches in the shade of beautiful trees, and they are so animated and happy. They aren't waiting dully for pickup; instead this is another integral part of their day. It's a chance to play final games, compare notes about the day, giggle and tell stories. I almost hate it when I pull up to get One; he's having so much fun with his 2 best friends on their bench I don't like to break it up.

I love to get a glimpse of the life he has without me hovering - the life he's making for himself. I love to see when his choices are good ones, when he's overcome with happiness because of the goodness of his friends, when he handles conflict or disappointment with grace and maturity. My happiest moment each day is still when they are both in the car and we are headed home to be together, but I am so glad that One has these chances to learn who God created him to be all on his own.

Purity and Peer Pressure

This a great discussion: (thanks to Instapundit, who finds all things good).

I am a long way off from having to deal with kids in college, but that doesn't mean I don't think about it even though doing so is pretty much a waste of time at this point. I would love for my boys to remain "pure" until marriage, but not because of peer pressure, or a desire to please me, or anything else except their own desire to follow what God puts in their hearts. That doesn't mean that I'm going to refrain from telling them what I think, nor does it mean I won't tell them where to look to find out what God has to say on the subject. But the ends don't justify the means all the time - and frequently the means we use to get our children to "obey God" drives them further from us and from Him (hi Mom!). The same thing goes for peer pressure. I would much rather have my boys believe wholeheartedly that physical intimacy belongs only in marriage, and then see them fall short of meeting that goal and feel true repentance about it. That would be infinitely better then for them to "follow the rules" without a true understanding of why it's important and without the desire to put Christ first in their lives.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Party Time

Here are some of the kids at the most fantastic birthday party for one of One's friends. This is the friend from church who lost his brother a few weeks ago. The funeral and burial were the week of his actual birthday, so friends from church waited a while and then decided to give him and his family something to celebrate. I was the minimalist participant: I brought drinks. Everyone else went to town. We had a 4' tall cake with 2 soccer fields and a soccer ball on top, we had a jumpy house/castle/water slide, we had a slushy machine, we had a Houston Dynamos team member come and play soccer with the birthday boy, and finally, once it was dark, we had a Sponge Bob pinata that was at least 3' x 3'. One put SB's eye out: that's my boy!

On the drive home One pronounced it "the best birthday party I've ever been to." The kids all played well together, lots of pizza was eaten, and lots of chattering, laughing and singing in both Spanish and English. Two was moved to such generosity by the event that he gave all his pinata candy away to the moms who stayed inside to clean up during the pinata-whacking. I enjoyed the whole thing almost as much as the boys; I made some new friends of my own, and really enjoyed talking and helping alongside some amazing moms (hi Susan, Liz, Lisa, J, Kathy and Beth!).

I know that 3 hours doesn't do much to erase what's happened to this family. But to watch loving people gather together to help create good memories among the bad was a beautiful, Godly thing. I love my church - I love these people - because they try to capture what is loving and good in this world and then give it away to others. It is the best way of expressing Christian faith that I've found, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

Cold Tangerines

I've been reading like a madwoman lately - 4 great books in a row. Two of them were colors, and the one that brought me the most joy - sheer, pure joy - is Cold Tangerines.

Shauna Niequist writes in this book about the ordinariness and delight of everyday life. Her writing is so gifted, she pulls me into her own thoughts and fears in a way that makes me say, sometimes, "Stop! We're not supposed to tell everyone about that!" I felt such a kinship with her as I read this - as a mom, a woman, a Christian; frequently, as I read, sleepy in bed, I got confused about whether she was telling about what was going on in her head or in mine.

Ultimately, when you put this book down at the end you feel called to treasure your life even more than you already do. Auntie Mame was famous for saying "Life is a banquet and most poor beggars are starving to death!" I think that statement goes along with what's in this book. Life is meant to be lived - to be struggled with and celebrated and relished. We should cry about it, laugh about it, and dance through it, all the time realizing what an amazing gift it is to have this day. I need to hear that more often, to keep me from staring at my feet as I trudge along through a day that feels suspiciously like the last one.

If you want to read a chapter or 3, here is her website: Personally, I recommend dropping what you're doing and going out right now to buy the book. Because life is too short not to be enjoyed, and reading a good book is one of its great pleasures.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backing it up with Scripture

Meg has written an amazing post on the power of gossip and the Biblical imperative of using our mouths for praise and not for slander or complaining. Here it is.

I read it, went upstairs to get One from the shower, and he immediately said to me "Do you know why I don't like Logan at fencing?" I grabbed his Bible and read him Ephesians 4:29-32; Meg's post hit me at exactly the right time!

I need to get better at backing up my parenting with Scripture. I've always been good about explaining to the boys that the rules we expect them to follow come from God: they aren't mom and dad making up things to torture them, they are instead God-given wisdom on how to follow His will for our lives. But I'm lousy at really instructing them on chapter and verse - reading to them the actual passages that show them without a doubt that God is speaking to them.

I'm resolving to change all that. I want to pray for the opportunity to sit down with the boys when they sin and take the extra time to explain why it was wrong. I also need to put away my sense of self-importance about what I'm working on when their misbehavior interrupts me - I need to remember that these moments of instruction are much more important than anything else I think is so great and necessary. Will you pray with me?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mac and Cheese from Heaven

This is the mac and cheese that Two will actually eat, and it is spectacular. It's 1/2 from the Seinfeld cookbook and 1/2 from my own head. I love using Annie's mac and cheese - it's quick and has good ingredients. I think the whole wheat pasta complements the squash really well.

1 box Annie's whole wheat mac and cheese
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pureed butternut squash
1/2 cup milk (whole or lowfat - doesn't matter)

Prepare the macaroni according to the package. Add the cheese powder from the box to the other ingredients and cook over low heat until well-combined (a whisk makes this fast). Add the drained macaroni and let cook on low for a minute or 3. It will thicken some more if you let it sit covered for a few more minutes off the heat - that's up to you and how hungry you are.

Day Four

I promised myself I would wait a full week before blathering on again about Two and his eating habits, but ...

Four days in a row! He has eaten 4-5 fruits/veg for 4 days in a row! Tonight he moaned about his califlower, but he traded the 1 piece of zucchini I'd put in there just for this purpose for eating all of the califlower, even though he didn't like the taste. He's been begging me for mac and cheese, too, which sounds normal, but not for Two. He's never been big on mixed textures, so mac and cheese has never been something he'd eat. I actually think adding the butternut squash to it has made it more palatable, not less, because super creamy foods tend to wig him out the most (he still couldn't drink a glass of milk by itself for all the chocolate cake in the world). The squash makes it lighter, and of course sweeter, which means he cleans his plate. I have to say - it's the best mac and cheese I've ever tasted. I'll post the recipe in a bit.

One has been very encouraging, which is sweet to see. He knows when I hide veggies, and he has been very responsible about not spilling the beans (or broccoli, avocado, what have you).

I'm just praying this continues. We'll all eat better if it does.


I've lately learned about the "Quiverful" movement, based on the passage in Psalms that says

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-4).”

As I understand it (and I've not read any books on the subject so if I'm misinterpreting, please excuse me) this line of thought encourages couples to eschew birth control altogether and instead have God determine the size of their family and the spacing of children.

This line of reasoning has bothered me greatly since I discovered it, and I've prayed and thought about it for some time. Having been committed to a smaller family for many years, it made me pause and think about whether that was something that God was desirous of for me after all. I thought it was, and the Quiverful arguments bothered me.

My main problem with the logic of the Quiverful proposition was this: if we refuse birth control as a way of trusting God, then why do we accept other forms of regulating family size? Why do we use pre-natal care, deliver babies under the care of a doctor or trained midwife, vaccinate them and take them to the pediatrician when they are sick? If God truly needs us to throw up our hands and do nothing in order for Him to be in control, then why don't we do it? I doubt seriously that Quiverful families fail to do all of the other things I list above, and that lack of consistency bothers me. If you're willing to let God control when and if you add a child to your family, then why aren't you willing to let Him take as many of your children as He wishes after conception or birth?

Today I found an article that made me feel much less alone on the subject:

This piece articulates much of my discomfort, and points to passages in Scripture that support the idea that since we don’t give up on the common sense and other tools that God gives us to make other decisions, family size and children shouldn’t be any different.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Battle for School, Part 1

We've had a chequered history with schooling the boys. Our first thought, now known to be not the best one we've ever had, was to set them up at the private school affiliated to our then-current church. The academics seemed fine, the thorny problem of public middle school was solved, and everything ticked along nicely for a while. One started when he was 3 1/2 and seemed to adjust fairly well - after a rocky first week or two. Preschool blew by and Kindergarten arrived. This was One's magical year. He was blessed with 2 creative and individualistic teachers and it showed. He read like a madman, developed a surprising love of math, and generally jumped into the car every day with "guess what we did today?!" on his lips. Meanwhile, Two was in the school's itty-bitty 3 day preschool program, doing okay but not really getting the point. He didn't like circle-sitting, or lining up, or waking up early, but we perservered. After all, everyone else we knew (at the time) was doing it, so it must work just fine, right?

Then first grade arrived for One, and the 2nd year of preschool for Two. Disaster would probably be the best word for it, for both of them. One learned nothing; all the academics were a repeat of K. Worse yet, he was trapped in a desk most of the day between 2 girls - just at the time he was developing a 6 year old boy's dislike of them. He sassed the teacher when the boredom became overwhelming; we met with the principal and were told he (a) had been a behavioral problem since preschool and (b) was not as bright as we thought. Meanwhile, Two was getting worse. His classroom was maybe 10'x14', with 14 children and 2 teachers crammed in. It was noisy, everyone was at his shoulder, in his face, and he started acting out. More conferences, a sneering principal, but no help at all.

As the fall dwindled, I was done with One and that school. One of our neighbors had planted the home schooling seed in my heart the prior Spring, and I was ready by that point to give it a try. I convinced Husband, and we withdrew One from school at the beginning of November. I'd love to say home schooling was an unmitigated joy, but it was as normal as anything else in parenting. We had great days, we had lousy days, but he learned. His spark came on again, and we grew closer every day - maybe replacing some of the time we'd lost when I worked full time the first few years of his life, I don't know. At any rate, it worked, we both matured through it, and I'll never forget a moment of it.

Poor Two was left in school after we pulled One out. He tried, and it was horrible. After Christmas they adopted a "zero tolerance of Two" policy, and any infraction landed him in the office, waiting for me to come take him home. They suspended him on his 4th birthday, first accusing me of causing the entire problem by home schooling One, then screaming at me in the hall that "he is not allowed back into class until we have had a meeting." - all while his friends and their mothers watched and waited for us to join them for Two's birthday party. We went out to eat with his friends and Two "disposed of" his school jacket - we searched, the restaurant staff searched, but no one could unearth that jacket with the big school logo on the front. As usual, Two was sending messages to us. He doesn't always need words to do it - this was a great reminder of that fact.

After that, he had less than a month in school. When everyone returned after Spring Break, I merely kept him home. We never officially withdrew him; instead, I just kept him where he should have been all along. It was a very hard lesson to learn, but at least for us, the last place on earth a 3 year old child needed to be was school.

This past fall they both went back to school - new schools for both of them, found after much thought and prayer. We closed our ears to our children and our God long enough; now, finally, the boys are where they belong. God gave us the great gift of being able to afford private school for our children and we squandered it. Now we're more mindful of what a great gift that is, and we're listening and learning how best to use it. Like all gifts, we - at least I - needed to travel down the road we did to get to the place we are today. I am so grateful that our God forgives us when we open our ears 1/2 way though what He's trying to tell us, and then gently repeats it for us so we can dig out of the hole we've made by going it alone.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

And then God created ... Lambchop?

This is Lambchop. Unlike Oscar, she does not have a moving testimony. Her most frequent nicknames are "minion" and "handmaiden" - both as in "of Satan". Also porkchop, lamb stew, lammie sue - anything silly and demeaning. She is, for lack of a better word, a menace.

A lovable menace, but definitely a menace. Her favorite hobbies include barking endlessly while outside, bringing fleas into my bed, biting Oscar in a hopeless effort to get him to play with her, being too scared to walk out the front door, and blending seamlessly into the white kitchen floor, so that when you turn around with hot food in your hands, over you go.

Can I have my money back?


If this site doesn't inspire you, strengthen your faith and make you count your endless blessings all at the same time, go up to someone you love and ask them to slap you. Not hard enough to make a mark, but just enough to knock some sense into you. I'm only partially kidding.

And if you're not already an organ donor but are perhaps moved to be one after reading Nate's site, here's where you can go to sign up.

Blessings and hope.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This whole week has been a stand-off with Two about food. He's never been good about food, at least not since we switched to solid food from his super-nutritious homemade baby food. Every step has been a battle, and we've taken them one small step at a time. First, he wouldn't drink milk, so how to get him enough calcium? Then, he hated meat, so we worked on other proteins, and finally he gave in and ate meat too. Fiber was a fun little fight at some point as well. Our last big hurdle has been fruits and vegetables.

Despite the title of this post, I'm not entirely ready to land on the flight deck and claim victory, but we went into this week with him on something close to hunger strike, and today he ate 4 servings of fruits and vegetables. Praise God! I think he finally understands that healthy foods are his only choices, but that he does have choices, and if he wants to be the only 5 year old who doesn't like raw baby carrots, so be it. Today he ate apples with unsweetened peanut butter as a snack, then a full serving each of broccoli and cauliflower for dinner. Dessert was pure sneakiness on my part - chocolate pudding made with avocados (so good you'd never believe it). But so what? We got to 4!

Real victory will be when he eats 4-5 servings of fruit and veg a day for at least a week. I'm not done praying about this, and I'm sure he'll have his sugar-high-induced backslides now and again, but we're on the path, finally.

PS As you can tell, I've been doing most of my thinking online today. I have more serious things to post, but it's been a sunny spring day, so I thought some fluff was in order. Besides, it's about all I have the brain for right now - I'm feeling a little Pooh-ish.


Tonight is the season finale of my second-favorite TV show, Torchwood. I'm not a sci fi fan by inclination, but the most-recent versions of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica have drawn me in - BSG in particular because of its quality writing and spectacular acting. Doctor Who is cotton-candy fun, and Torchwood is a spin-off (and an anagram) of Doctor Who. A little darker and a lot sexier than Doctor Who (although can you resist David Tennant when he smiles? I can't.), Torchwood doesn't have the storyline or the acting of BSG, but still draws you in and makes you want more at the end of each episode.

As I said, I'm not a sci fi geek naturally. These shows are watchable (and more so) because they transcend their genre and provide entertainment that goes beyond your standard network fare. Think about it: in the 1930's, everyone read (and wrote) detective novels. It was the genre of the age, and there are a number of social-history-thesis type reasons why. But honestly, the best writing of the decade, when the years have washed away the dross, was done by detective novelists: Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and so on. To a much lesser degree, the same is true right now of TV writing - these 3 shows are fresh and original, while most everything else is emphatically not.

So as soon as the boys are in bed I will be sitting down with my TiVo'd Torchwood. Waiting to find out who dies, who sleeps with an alien, and who has the hottest black outfit this week - it's all good.

"Painless Learning" is Truly Painless

These are just about the greatest home learning tool ever:

We have 2 flags, 2 maps, constellations, and planets - the boys love them. One focuses on flags and maps and Two is my space man. When Two's school had a Children of the World fair, One was able to name 30 or more flags in minutes - "oh look, there's Yemen, Nicaragua, Thailand, India, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Norway..." and on and on and on. Two surprised his teachers lately with his recitation of the planets, in order and including the asteriod belt. They've taken to using one and reading another at the same time, so I'm glad I bought 6.

These mats don't last forever, but they are wonderful, and they are so inexpensive you can always buy a second set. Enjoy.


I am probably the last person in the world to figure this out, but plastic is dangerous for you!

No seriously ...

A good source for information on what plastics are safe for food:

We use these for lunches: They're expensive but the boys love them. They also help (me) with portion control, and the right number of things to send for lunch.

Remember, never heat anything in plastic. If it comes in plastic, take it out, put it in glass, and heat/cook it that way. Yes, even the Stouffer's mac and cheese. Defrost meat out of the package on a plate (I'm guilty of this).

Several sources have suggested that the lining of food cans and also Reynolds Wrap is unsafe, so consider avoiding canned foods and, if you use aluminum wrap, don't let it touch the food it's protecting.

Another thought, avoid buying food - meat in particular - that is wrapped in plastic. Instead, spend the extra time and wait at the butcher's counter for paper-wrapped instead. Cheese? I'm not sure what to do about cheese. It's always wrapped in plastic. I'll try to find out.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go search my kitchen for everything I'm not supposed to be using.

PS Sorry it's been a week without a post. I have several things I'm working on, so hopefully those will be up in the next few days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Super-Charged Saturday Pancakes

As you know, I've been trying out the Jessica Seinfeld "hide your veggies" cookbook. Here is my uber-healthy version of her sweet potato pancakes. It's less "hide your veggies" and more "eat your grains". One gobbled up 2 of these, Two ate 1 with a few comments, but it's gone at least.

Warning: this recipe only makes 8 pancakes, but 1 or 2 is more than enough for 1 person!

1 cup whole wheat flour (I use Arrowhead Mills Organic Stoneground Whole Wheat)
1/4 cup oat flour (Arrowhead)
1/8 cup raw wheat germ (this and next 2 are Bob's Red Mill)
1/8 cup whole ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup almond meal/flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk (or lowfat milk - your choice)
4 T vegetable oil
1 tsp Agave Nectar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

I mixed the dry and wet ingredients separately and then combined them. In a non-stick pan they didn't stick, although I used some non-stick spray for the first few just to be sure.

I'd love to come up with a way to lower the fat from the almond meal, eggs, oil and milk, but I do love all that (egg and milk) protein. The almond flour also adds 6 grams of protein to the entire batch. And the pancakes are still low in saturated fat, so I guess that's a good thing too.

Best of all, they taste delicious, so enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Tonight I attended a funeral of a church friend's 17 year old son. We sat in candlelit twilight, sang hymns in English and Spanish (for benefit of family visiting from out of the country), listened and watched as our pastor's voice cracked and he held back tears, and mourned with a family that will never be the same again.

The young man, taken from them far too soon, was a Jr. ROTC member, a self-admitted "mama's boy", a loving boyfriend, and, if HPD is to be trusted, a gang member. The bad choice he made, out of so many good ones, took him from his family and friends. It was a choice that couldn't be taken back. You and I have made stupid choices in our lives - larger and smaller than this one - and we have been granted the grace or good fortune to be able to "do over" - or at least the time to dig ourselves out of the hole we created. He didn't have time for any of those things. The violence that this broken world of ours doles out far too frequently found him before he had a chance for any of that.

The local paper published a short article today on the arrest of his killers. Immediately the comments section was full of gleeful hatred, racism, and incitements to further violence. The brokeness of this world finds it way into every corner of our lives; seemingly ordinary people can celebrate the death of someone they have never met, only because the word "gang" has been uttered. Let loose that word and someone's child, someone's brother, becomes a non-person. Incapable of love or understanding, these people did their best to violate the memory of someone that others love and mourn. It turned my stomach.

I want to be clear; I am not justifying the bad choices any of us make. But if Christ can still see us as people, as lovable, despite these choices, what gives us the right to take away someone's humanity because of them? Those closest to us - and us ourselves - suffer far more than anyone else ever will from the bad decisions we make.

The last thing I saw before I left was his youngest brother, standing by the open coffin, saying goodbye. This young boy is One's age and his friend; One was too upset to come with me to the funeral, and has prayed for his friend for over a week. The sight of an eight year old boy, looking down at the shell of his oldest brother, split me in two.

When I walked outside, it was still light. I was shocked that the sun was still up. I can't imagine how the family watches the world going by as usual, and copes with that. And will, for the rest of their lives.

This is a broken world we live in, and it is never so clear than at moments like these. This world is not our home. All we have in the end is the promise that there is Christ, who will make all things whole, bring unbroken peace, and lead us to where we belong.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Plans for the Future

Ideas - they're showing up at stoplights, in the shower - I know I'm in surfer-mode tonight, but dude, I feel like a real writer or something, you know? Okay, enough of that; I sound like an idiot. But here's what should be coming soon:

A "review" of A Peaceable Kingdom by Jan de Hartog - once I've finished processing it - it was phenomenal and it's still sinking in. I keep having thoughts about it and going back to re-read one passage or another.

A series of posts on Once Upon A Time, a Long, Long Time Ago - stories about my very favorite subject (hint: you're reading her now ...). I was listening to an old Bonnie Raitt CD in the car the other day and started thinking about how long I'd owned it, and all sorts of memories starting popping up. So I'm writing one out now and I'm sure there will be more to follow. They don't all relate to the CD; that was just the jumping off point. Some of them may be, as Mrs. Pollifax once said, like a boil being lanced, but others will be less important and therefore infinitely more cheerful.

There now, aren't you excited?

Reading Colors

Right now I am reading Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. On deck is Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. So far, Blue Like Jazz isn't sucking me in, but then again I'm only on page 21. The most profound thing Miller has said so far was his reference to Houstonians walking around in October "with a certain energy, as if they are going to be elected president the next day, as if they are going to get married." I'm sure it will get better as I go on, or perhaps my profound-meter is just broken this week. I'll post again when I'm done with it and let you know more.

I have higher hopes for Tangerines; Shauna Niequist spoke at church a while ago and it felt like my mirror had woken up and was talking to me. Not that I could talk in so organized a fashion for so long, or anything like that, but she, like, spoke to me, man. I'm adopted and I have that long-lost twin thing that I think all adopted people have; for a moment when she was talking I wanted to stand up and ask her where she was born. When I'm done with Tangerines (which may be July if I keep falling asleep reading) I'll post my thoughts on that one as well.

Hiding Vegetables from Myself

I ran out and bought this book last night; a neighbor mentioned it while we were unloading recycling at the curb and something came over me (you know what it was? an urge to shop, that's what it was).

After reading through the recipes last night, I'm definitely going to use it. Not just on my kids, but on me. Yes, I need to hide vegetables from myself. If I don't, I rarely eat them. Of course, when I cook a full-blown meal, out come the vegetables and I dutifully partake, but on a leftovers or "fend-for-yourself" night, forget it. So from now on I will be fooling myself by adding spinach puree to my brownies, squash puree to my mac & cheese, and carrot puree to my quesadillas. My kids may not be fooled - and let me tell you, Two can smell and feel veggies at 50 feet - but I will be.

Oh, I'm going to be so healthy!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Immunizations for Kids

Great article on the unbelievable benefits of immunizing children:

I am appalled at the current "fad" of refusing vaccinations. How someone can read a description of these horrible diseases we are now miraculously free from, look at their helpless, almost immune-system-free infant, and say "no thanks" is beyond me. Even something that sounds innocuous to us now - measles (Spots? Hey, what's wrong with spots?) - killed over 750,00 people worldwide in 2000; an aggressive vaccination program since then has reduced the yearly number to less than 250,000*. Most of the lives saved have been in Africa.

There has been no peer-reviewed, well-done medical study that has conclusively proven a link between vaccinations and any serious medical condition. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved over the past 100 years from vaccination programs.

Here is a good analysis of the current state of thimerasol in vaccines (everyone's favorite whipping boy, which isn't even in the majority of vaccines anymore), and details about studies that have been done related to thimerasol's effects.

And another good link - this one shows the effects vaccination programs have had on death rates in the US - old data, but you can see how deadly these diseases were and how powerless they are now thanks to immunizations:

Fads are fads - when it's your lifestyle or even your health, it's entirely your choice. But God has entrusted our children to us; it's our job as parents to look beyond junk science and trends and do what's best for them.

*Just as a comparison, the American Cancer Society estimates that 465,000 women die each year from breast cancer. If we could cut that by close to 70% and spend $470 million over 5 years, can you imagine the press reports?!

Great Tax Deduction

"Fees paid to a sitter to enable a mother to get out of the house and do volunteer work for a charity are deductible as charitable contributions, according to the Tax Court, even though the money didn't go directly to the charity."

Ask your accountant, but this sounds great! Thanks Kate!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ryan's Faith

This is wonderful and funny and sweet:

I love "the holiest coffee table in town."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

College Question

If you could make your college choice over again, where would you go?

A co-worker of mine has a 17 year old daughter who is deciding where to go, so this question has been in my mind a lot lately.

Both Husband and I would not repeat Colgate, even though we met each other there, which is proof that God guides us even when we're ignoring Him.

If I could be 17 again, I would go to Columbia. The only way I'd live in NYC is either as a student or as a very wealthy person; I'll never be the latter, so why not hop in a time machine and go back and be an undergrad there?

The Best of All Possible Snark

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Top Ten Things About This Old House

Meg has a great idea: I don't mean to imply that this is her only great idea - she has many, especially when it comes to what dessert to make for Wednesday night Bible study. :) Anyway. here are the Top Ten Things You Should Know About This Old House:

1. If there was a special PBS This Old House just for Houston, we could be on it. This place was built in 1940, which makes it absolutely ancient by Houston standards.

2. We are the third owners of this house - the first stayed only 3 years and the second stayed 61.

3. There is a 3" differential between the front door and the left far corner of the living room, and the walls still haven't cracked.

4. Our dining room table has no chairs. We borrow from all over the house if we have lots of people to feed.

5. We eat so much we have to have 2 refrigerators.

6. The boys call the dining room "mommy's office."

7. We have a secret stairway

8. We have 9 bookshelves and they're all full (6 of them are 7' tall).

9. The house smells like dog, and slightly like smelly drains (yuck!).

10. The man we bought the house from carved his initials in the garage wall as a teenager; they're still there, and he's in his late 60's now.

Tell me your top ten!


Query: Is it right for a Christ-follower to admire Christopher Hitchens’ arguments and writing, when we all know he’s a Godless atheist?

Argument: Yes, for the following reasons:

1. Hitchens’ logic and superior writing belie his atheism. I believe his gifts come from God, and when he is at his best (and his book God is not Great, was, as many reviewiers said, not in that category – especially when it came to logic) he not only educates and amuses us, he provides us with creativity and beauty, two things we should always seek after.

2. We as Christ-followers can’t get away from the culture in which we live. We aren’t meant to hide in the woods of Idaho, trying like crazy to not be “contaminated.” Would you stop admiring MLK for his courage and eloquence just because he was a skirt-chaser? Would you never watch the delightful The Importance of Being Earnest because Oscar Wilde was gay? (If you wouldn’t: FYI, the AD Players disagree with you). Humans are just that; human, and prone to mistakes both big and small. But they are also given by God the ability to, as mentioned above, create beauty, and we can and should find beauty in many things, be they sacred or secular.

3. Even if you disagree with the past 2 arguments, why does it matter what his beliefs are? Politics is a pagan pastime; if you want to observe it or, Heaven help us, participate in it, you have to remember it is not some God-given system. Not even in this country, where politicians wrap themselves in the Bible as often as the flag. This is something Mike Huckabee forgot, and thank God he lost; pagan systems are not meant to run on God’s rules. We are designed to, but that’s a different subject altogether.

The Christopher Hitchens Fan Club - Charter Member

Christopher Hitchens on Hillary and genocide in Bosnia:

"Sen. Clinton now has the obscene urge to claim the raped and slaughtered people of Bosnia as if their misery and death were somehow to be credited to her account! Words begin to fail one at this point. Is there no such thing as shame? Is there no decency at last? Let the memory of the truth, and the exposure of the lie, at least make us resolve that no Clinton ever sees the inside of the White House again."

Read the whole thing, as Instapundit would say.

I love Hitchens, most of all because he's an equal-opportunity truth-teller: if you're lying, he'll write about it. If you have a great idea, he'll write about it. It doesn't matter that the man is a communist; he attacks and commends individuals on both ends of the political spectrum using reason, logic and common sense (and some of the most luscious, scathing put-downs you'll ever read). We are blessed to have him to read.

In case you're wondering about my political leanings, never fear: I'll have plenty to say about Mr. Last-in-my-class-at-Annapolis once the conventions are over. :)


"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she has something in common with legendary film boxer Rocky Balboa — she's not a quitter."

Really? I thought it was a physical resemblance ...