Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two in One Bed

For the past 2 weeks Two has been sleeping in One's bed with him. It started with a nightmare, fueled by the boy's recent obsession with Jonny Quest episodes. Then another night passed, and another, and they looked so cute snuggled in one bed together we just kept throwing Two in there. One has been very patient, and to be honest, Two is good as gold - he just passes out as soon as the lights go off.

I never thought I'd see 2 boys - brothers - sleep together like that and be happy. This is what comes of being an only child, I guess. I want so much for them to remain that close. I know that fairly soon they won't fit into one twin bed together, but if they can stay that close in their hearts, I will feel such a great sense of pride and peace.

Aaaaah, brothers.

I'm Screaming Inside

If I opened my mouth you could hear me in Pearland.

I mean, really - even the name makes me ill: Nutrish? Can't you just hear Rachael Ray saying this word? [Shudder]

No dog of mine is eating the stuff. I'd feed them Alpo first.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sports and Children

I am thinking hard about my boys' sports involvement for the fall, and wondering if it's time to make some changes. What I'm wrestling with is fencing. One has been fencing for 2 years and really enjoys it. He's not great or anything, but he likes it and it's worked well for him. But it's expensive, it's even more expensive to think of Two joining him (which he can very soon), and the practice times are during dinner 3 nights a week.

We've never been an "everyone at the dinner table" kind of family. We've pretty much made things up as we've gone along, and it's been much more common for no one to be in this house from 6 to 8 at night than for people to be here. Husband has worked late, One has had practice and games in a myriad of sports - there's just been a lot going on.

But now that Husband is at his new job, we're home every night for dinner. He's not travelling, he comes home before the kids go to bed, and we all sit down and eat together. I like it. A lot. And I'm dreading fencing starting up in the fall and taking that away. In addition, I'm going back to work 40 hours a week in August, so the only time I will be able to see the boys is from, you guessed it, 6 to 8.

Husband has a very valid point: One has quit lacrosse, baseball, soccer, tae kwon do, and basketball so far, and he's only 8. Now we could add fencing to that list, and what does that teach him? I don't like it either. I want him to get with something and stick to it. But then again, I skated for 7 years as a child and haven't touched a pair of skates since my early 20's. Husband swam competitively from the age of 4 until 18 and hasn't swum a lap in 20 years.

What is our goal in enrolling kids in sports? Is it a pleasant diversion + exercise that also fits into the current family schedule? A way to teach discipline and single-minded devotion to one sport? Or an introduction to a hobby that we hope they will have for the rest of their lives? It can be all of those things, some of them, or something else all together.

Right now I'm leaning for diversion, exercise and hopes for a future hobby. Towards those goals, I'm thinking about keeping them in swim lessons and adding tae kwon do at a different gym (One hated the old gym). And, of course, dropping fencing. The boys can do both TKD and swimming together at the same time between school dismissal and my arrival home. And it will cost the same to have 2 in TKD as it will to have 1 in fencing.

But I'm still thinking and praying about this. It's a harder decision than I want it to be.

Chapter 7

The Bennigan's and Steak and Ale bankruptcy is a liquidation - wow.

Twiittering While Blitzed

Lileks went to the dentist yesterday hopped up on happy pills:

http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/08/0708/073008.html [NOTE: LINK UPDATED]

Excuse me while I wipe the Diet Coke from my computer screen ... okay, all clear.

He Twittered from the dentist's chair; here are some excerpts, with translations:

"Three pilso [This is a reference to the three pills I’d taken.]

O [That was the extent of message number two]

Yggdr [I think that’s a reference to the ancient Norse God of being high as a balloonist’s toupee.]

Thtre pilldlsbv and I csvzzzz [Three pills and I can’t? Three pills and I (cartoon sound of sawing logs?)]

In the cchio [In the chair, I think.]

The final cryptic message from Major Tom:
Meati tobbtsirv I mr-tobsatmn iysbnivrbnjnlvbbnb. Okay A moo [Okay a moo, indeed.]"

Read the whole thing. It gets even better when he gets home and tries to eat. Just the laugh you need on a Wednesday.

Mommy Blogging

Kate writes an excellent article on women in blogging, and why, perhaps, some women aren't taken as seriously as they'd like to be.

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/sisters-the-path-to-punditry-isnt-paved-with-baby-powder/

"It’s not because you’re a female. It’s because you bore them."

Kate, you rock.

Would You Like Some Chlorine with That?

Well, if this doesn't make me want to stick to vegetables grown in my backyard and nothing else, nothing will:

http://www.slate.com/id/2196197/

Now I know lots of people jump on the use of chlorine - even in water - in instances where it does much more good than harm. But this just doesn't sound appetizing, or healthy for that matter:

"After birds are killed, defeathered, and eviscerated, the carcasses are chilled in massive bathtubs to prevent bacterial buildup. Chemical disinfectants—in about 80 percent of cases, that's chlorine—are added to the water to reduce cross-contamination and stem further bacterial growth. ... The USDA has a strict cap on the amount of chlorine that can be used in these chiller baths: no more than 50 parts per million, or 50 ounces for every 7,800 gallons of water. As a point of comparison, the federal limit on chlorine used in drinking water is 4 ppm, and swimming pools usually contain 1 to 3 ppm." [emphasis added]

Tofu, anyone?

What Your Children Don't Know About You

Here is an amusing blog post about what you wouldn't (or would) allow your children to see you doing.

"It was as I was hiding a fully lit cigarette in my mouth last night, as Dora asked me a very complicated question about Doctor Who, that I thought: what else wouldn't I let my kids see me doing?"

Somehow I think my list is a little different from hers. Especially when it comes to the "not minding your children seeing you [cough] with your husband" part. Never mind what that would do to my husband; it's also not something I ever want them to have a mental picture of. Think about it - do you want to have that picture of your parents stuck in your head for the rest of your life? I doubt it.

What else would I add to my list? I like having them see me work - it's good for them to see that I like it and hate it all in one day. That way they'll have the right expectations when they're grown up. I don't want them to see me blow up at others - howl at the driver who cuts us off, be rude to a completely clueless waitress - that sort of thing. While I wouldn't mind them seeing me drink (if I was drinking these days), I wouldn't let them see me drunk. As an adult you always think that sort of thing is so funny at the time, but it's usually either scary or embarrassing for the child.

Anything else you can think of?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's a Little Late

To hear what I just heard above my head: the thud of a book hitting the floor. What does that mean? One just quit reading The Dawn Treader for the night and has decided to fall asleep.

Someone is going to be just so sweet first thing tomorrow morning.

Oliver's Travels

If you've never watched this BBC miniseries (now, don't stop reading just because I said "BBC miniseries", okay?) you really need to remedy that failure as soon as possible. Five episodes in total, this tracks the journey of Oliver, an out-of-work professor, and his "predestined companion" from Wales to The Orkneys. Crime, jazz, crosswords, love, anagrams, Beethoven, Restoration playwrights - they're all mixed in here to create a delightful stew. We first watched it in law school on PBS; it came out on DVD, finally, just a few years ago.

Oliver says "I have never expected the world to make sense. But suddenly it was making so little sense --- it almost made sense."

How can you resist that?

This Makes Me Happy

At least momentarily...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lullabies

What do you sing to your children at bedtime? Here are my favorites:

You Can Close Your Eyes and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

If You Want to Sing Out by Cat Stevens

Our House by Crosby, Stills & Nash

Mind you, I can't sing to save my life, but they don't know that yet.

Shhhh. They're asleep.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Conversation of the Week, Part II

Two with his "dukes up", ready to attack his Dad:

Two: "Hey Dad, my arms look strong like this because I'm going to beat you up."

Dad: "Actually, your arms look like the Olsen twins, but that's beside the point."

More Birthday Music



Birthday song for my husband. I love you.

Yes I know one thing for certain ... you'll be there ...

Birthday Song

Husband would like to share this with y'all on his birthday - he's in a happy, soulful mood today.

Adirondack Golf

I am not a golfer (too many lawyers golf; I don't need to add myself to their ranks) but if you do, this is a great article on the beautiful old courses in the Adirondacks:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121702715795685953.html

Not much for stuffiness, golf in the Adirondacks can be quirky and fun:

"... [they] do all seem part of a more innocent golf era. At Cobble Hill, I saw two boys leaving the course on skateboards, with their golf bags slung over their shoulders. That's the spirit of golf I was looking for up in the mountains."

If you live in the Northeast, hop on I-87 north and get yourself some north-woods style summer relaxation, pronto.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my amazing husband and many, many happy returns of the day!


(Picture from 2006, but still a good one.)

I love you, angel!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ragin Cajun

Tell me you don't want to eat here right away:

http://wordlessdays.blogspot.com/2008/07/blog-post_25.html

Amazing Children's Books

The New York Review has a set of children's books - appropriately named The New York Review Children's Collection - that is a collection of classic children's books from long ago.

Authors include:

James Thurber
The d'Aulaires
John Masefield, Poet Laureate of England
Munro Leaf
Edith Nesbit
Eilis Dillon
Eric Linklater
Philip Pullman

These are children's books; not scary stories that happen to contain children and keep the average 10 year old up half the night for weeks with nightmares. Read aloud and enjoy.

How I Met my Husband

Let's make this a meme - JMom, will you be it?

Husband and I met on January 26, 1990 at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. I lived with 3 girlfriends in a campus-owned apartment - in a little village of 1970's 4-plexes. One of the 2 upstairs units in our building "belonged" to a fraternity, and 4 new guys from that frat were moving in for 2nd semester. We knew 3 of them, like 2 of the 3, and the 4th was Mystery Man. We scoped out his picture on the wall at the Beta house and all decided we had never seen him before in our entire lives. Hrumph. Who did he think he was?

So, on January 26th - a Friday - I was reading in my room and I heard socializing going on in the living room. The 2 nice neighbors had come to call and they'd brought Mystery Man with them. I came out to visit, hampered by the fact that I had a whacking great case of trench foot from spending 3 weeks of Christmas break in the Guatemalan jungle. Mystery Man was very cute in person: a little pouty with big green eyes. He asked me what was wrong with my foot and I refused to tell him (how do you tell a cute boy you have trench foot? Well, you just don't. It isn't possible). He kept asking and I kept telling him to mind his own business, hinting that it was too disgusting for words. All of a sudden he leaped off the couch, grabbed my foot and dragged it up behind me for a good look. Saying "you're right, that's absolutely disgusting" he dropped my foot and sat back down. I glared at him and hissed that he must be the new roommate. He said "yes, and you must be Tari" in an equally nasty voice.

Thus love was born! We went out to dinner together a week or so later, and always considered January 26th as our dating "anniversary". So much so that, when we decided to elope, Husband deliberately picked Friday January 26, 1996 as our wedding day. See, I told you it was all an act - he's a romantic sweetie after all!

Conversation of the Week

One lost his "boom box" for a while because he broke the tape player. I told him the other day he could have it back if he went up to the study to get it. He came back down several minutes later:

One: "I got it but it doesn't work."

Me: "Did you get the cord and plug it in?"

One: "Oh. .... No. ... I'll be right back."

Pause for 8 year old to run upstairs and back down again.

One: "Now it works."

Sigh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fleas

Tony Woodlief is fighting the battle of the snake, but I am hunting smaller game: Lamb is covered with fleas. Mind you, I'm sure Oscar has almost as many, but he's brown and black. She's white. Every time I touch her I find one. Or three. And that's so disgusting, because I know for every one I find, there are a dozen more hidden somewhere else on her body or in the carpet.

Did you ever wonder why God made fleas?

Did you ever read Corrie Ten Boom?

Well, then you already know why.

"They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting night might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voice chany by Eastern Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around up would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed.

At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. These were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb. I would think of Haarlem, each substantial church set behind its wrought-iron fence and its barrier of doctrine. And I would know again that in darkness God's truth shines most clear."

And what kept the guards away so these women could worship together? Their barracks were so infested with fleas no one but the prisoners would enter.

I try to keep this in mind as I pick the vermin from Lambie.

Rain

The rain today was so beautiful. This morning it was soft and steady, and it's been so long since we had any rain I even found myself enjoying the soft gray of the sky and the slower pace of the traffic.

The rain today reminded me of two memories. One of being a child and swimming in a summer rainstorm. My mom would watch from the back porch for signs of lightning, and we would throw ourselves from the diving board, swim to the ladder, and then back out in the rain and around to the board again. It was cold - usually barely 70 - when it rained like that, and our pool temperature never rose much above 72 or so - but we loved to swim in the rain. It probably happened no more than once a summer, but it is a memory I can see and smell and hear still.

I also thought of San Miguel, and of how, when it rains, the cobblestone streets turn to streams, and people hold hands and jump across the flying water. You try to find a spot to hide against the buildings where a rain spout won't surprise you. Water pours from the spouts, turning every few feet into a fountain. The cobblestone sidewalks are slick and shiny, and everyone hurries slowly and carefully to get inside.

Aaah, rain.

Husband's Bookshelf

Lest you think that the boys and I are the only ones doing all the reading around here, allow me to take you on a short tour of Husband's booklist. He keeps piles of books by the bed - his favorite spot to read. Unlike One and I, he is not a fan of the read-and-eat method of sustaining oneself.

Anything by P.J. O'Rourke. My love for PJ is eclipsed by Husband's, who can tell you which piece appears in which book without pausing for thought. And he's always right.

The Bible in 90 Days. He's reading this now.

Mark Twain's non-fiction, including The Bible According to Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living, Life on the Mississippi and Following the Equator.

Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series.

Dumas, but especially The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Nasty Bits and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

Jorge Luis Borges' Collected Fictions and Selected Poems.

He's also a fan of Tolstoy, Poe, Reginald Hill, Graham Greene, P.G. Wodehouse, Tolkien, Orwell, and Peter Mayle's early Provence non-fiction (before his move-to-the-Hamptons nonsense).

UPDATE: Husband tells me he has never read one word by Reginald Hill - I am so surprised; I would have sworn in court he'd read all the Daziel and Pascoe novels. But he did read Ngaio Marsh - that much I have confirmed.

Blech

Linked from Ann Althouse:

"The current edition of Germany's most serious news weekly, Der Spiegel, features Obama on its cover with the only vaguely ironic headline "Germany Meets the Superstar" -- a play on the title of the German version of the TV show "American Idol.""

Ewwwwww - is he going to sing when he's there, too? Maybe he should have brought along David Hassselhoff - I hear he's another American popular in Germany.

Note to Obama: you are not JFK. You are not Ronald Reagan. You are not the President of the United States.

Read here for the whole DW-World.de story that has the Der Spiegel quote.

Juno III

My third post on Juno. Can you tell I have it saved on TiVo, taking up way to much disk space than it should? I'd like to watch it again now; rainy days are perfect movie weather.

Tony Woodlief has this to say about the movie, to which I can only say "hear hear":

"The characters don't all find Jesus in the end. In fact, they never mention Jesus at all, except in vain. But one gets the impression that these are precisely the kinds of people in whom Jesus takes an interest. Perhaps that means that the rest of us ought not look at them, when we encounter such people in real life, as something that must be scraped off our shoes. We could all stand to be reminded from time to time that sinners are humans too, and further, that the open sin can more easily be healed than that which lurks in the dour hearts of the ostensibly sinless."

Read the whole thing, as Glenn Reynolds would say.

What is your reaction when you see the pregnant teenager at Babies-R-Us? When I went to register for One's arrival, there was only one other woman +20 - everyone else was there with their mom, not their husband or boyfriend. The other woman - 30-something with a shirt that said "baby" and an arrow down to a map of China (such an awesome shirt) - and I exchanged rolled eyes and tsks as we looked around the room.

I am ashamed of that now. Given my own experience, I have to say I wish these girls were thinking seriously about giving their child up for adoption rather than ooo-ing and aaah-ing over layette items. But at least they were there with their family - someone was there to help them. These moms had gotten over the shock they must have felt when their daughter came to them with this news, knowing full-well that a lot of the care for this coming child was going to fall on them, not their daughter - and they were still there.

Abortion isolates women from all that. You can see that played out in Juno: she's alone when she goes to the hideous clinic, but once she tells her parents, they stick to her like glue. The message of pro-abortion advocates is "this is your decision, this is your body". Instead of empowering women, that message leaves them to deal with the entire experience alone. Carrying a child to delivery - whether to keep or to give up for adoption - involves a whole host of people - and the redemptive power of the support and love those people can pour out on the mom and her child is truly great.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rain Dance

Okay, I took down the snarky post I wrote earlier; I don't know why I wrote something nasty at that particular moment, as it's been a spectacular day.

First, I went to what was (hopefully) a great series of interviews for a job I would absolutely love to have. I think I did my best, and it seems that it was well-received. Prayer prayer prayer!

Second, there's one piece of chocolate cake in the kitchen and it has my name on it.

Third, the boys went out in the rain tonight and ran like wildmen. I shampooed their hair on the porch and sent them back out for more. Easily the most fun bathtime we have ever had. Whatever tiredness I had from the day just disappeared as I watched them race around in circles - and yes, true to form, they were in their underwear.

UPDATE: and did I mention I had a perfect hair day? That's enough to blog about right there.

Cheeeeeeeeeeeeese!

I love cheese. At times I think it's one of my main reasons for living. Certainly when it comes to food it's up there very close to the top. And as much as I loved the sight (and taste) of the enormous cheese trays when Husband and I visited France years ago, at home I am pretty American and plain in my cheese tastes.

So here is my WFMW cheese fondue/cheese sauce recipe. It started out life as my Aunt Terri's cheese fondue (and it lives on that way) but one day I discovered it was the perfect thing to hide veggies under for the boys. So now we eat it at dinner on our veggies, and then break out the French bread for a late night snack with the leftovers. Enjoy!

Aunt Terri's Cheese Fondue

2 cups freshly shredded cheese - sharp white cheddar and monterey jack are my favorites
1 cup mayo (not low fat)
3/4 cup milk (doesn't have to be whole, but stay away from skim)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
generous dash Worcestershire sauce
sprinkle of white pepper

Combine and cook over low heat - a whisk works to get things together, and then you can let it cook slowly. Turn off the heat a few minutes before serving and it will thicken nicely.

To reheat: you can use the microwave to reheat but only if you promise to cook at 50% power. Otherwise it will separate and get all oily and nasty. Stir frequently as you're heating.

Serve over any steamed veggies - cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus - or as fondue with crusty bread. Silly fondue pot and miniature forks optional.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Over-Billing and Ethics, or How to Make it Stop

McAfee is suing its former counsel for over-billing its files - to the tune of $12 million:

""[WilmerHale] intentionally overworked and churned the representation of Goyal; shamelessly employing over 100 WilmerHale timekeepers in the feeding frenzy," McAfee alleged in a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Texas earlier this year. "Defendant's bills reflect at least 16 partners, 34 associate attorneys, 10 legal assistants and 49 staff personnel -- how else could they amass this enormous trove of cash?" the complaint read."

When you bill that many hours, with that many people - all at rates of $300, $400, even $800 an hour - you're bound to make clients angry. I have no idea if Wilmer Hale is guilty in this case, but I do know that "churning the file" is SOP at many large firms. "I don't care how you do it, just bill 2,000 hours a year" has been told to far too many associates for this not to be the case.

Large law firms are the dinosaurs of the legal world; if only there was an asteroid with their names on it coming down the pike! But as long as large clients pay the bills, there won't be any such thing - just business as usual, with partners doing everything they can to maximize their own profits at the expense of the legal profession's reputation.

On a personal level, an attorney at one of these firms might ask - what does this rotten system have to do with me? I'm just doing my job. I hope things change, but until then, I have work to do, a family to provide for, and I can't do anything about it. I would say, in response to that, once you let that worm of greed, of uncaring, into your soul, you will never be the same again. You lose your principles, your perspective, your very life.

As for not being able to do anything about this? Here is a quote from Jan de Hartog's The Peaceable Kingdom - it's a fictionalized history of the founding of the Quakers. Margaret Best (one of the original Quakers) is talking to her husband, Tom (a judge), about the deplorable fact that children are in prison, and how she is going to go into prison to care for those children:

"In a last effort to save her from herself he went toward her, took her by the shoulders and said, 'Look, dear heart, of course thou art right. I too am deeply distressed that the law imposes such an inhuman penalty on children... I am yearning for the day when this will no longer be necessary' ... 'Tom, love, doesn't thou see, that time is now ... the moment thy conscience tells thee something is wrong, that is the time to stop it.'"

If you don't participate in a broken and greed-fueled system, it will stop existing. If you do nothing, then nothing will change.

Add a Quote

A commenter on the aforementioned PJM editorial had this relevant and wonderful C.S. Lewis quote:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Amen.

Photographing Children

This editorial is an interesting take on attitudes towards publicly photographing (even one's own) children in the UK. Think of it in comparison to what we do here in the US - we even post photos of our children on the Web!

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/will-paranoid-parents-criminalize-photographing-children/

"As a father, probably the ban that I hate the most is the growing tendency to prohibit parents from taking photos of their children during school plays, concerts, and sporting activities. Six years ago, when Edinburgh’s director of education called for a ban on photographic or video recordings of nativity plays and school concerts, there was a huge outcry from parents. Since this incident, the outcry has died down and such bans are routinely adopted by schools and sports centers throughout Britain. Some schools do not even allow the photographer of the local paper to take a picture of their pupils playing sports. When a friend decided to take a photo of his son during a Saturday soccer match, he was accused of gross irresponsibility. How long before we insist that children play football behind closed doors or — better still — ban the sport all together?" [emphasis added]

Seems like a completely parallel universe, doesn't it?

How do we stop this from happening here? Is it unique to Britain, which long has had a robust "nanny state"? Does this blithe acceptance that the state (and even other parents) know better than you do what's best for your children - what will keep them safe - come from decades of docilely swallowing whatever restrictions on personal liberty show up on your doorstep?

Hopefully Americans are too stubbornly independent to be duped into such a mentality. Although, when it comes to overprotecting out children, we as a culture have a shot at the gold medal (if such an Olympic event existed). Let's not let that overprotectiveness smother the enjoyment of parenting - and of childhood.

As an aside, I'd love to know the attitude of Swedes, et al on this topic. Has their "cradle to grave" nanny state also led them down the same silly path the British have taken? If I find anything of interest, I'll let you know.

News?

This was on the front page of Section A of The Wall Street Journal today:

"A New Big Play for Alex Rodriguez, By Matthew Futterman

A-Rod is going Hollywood.

Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees star who has a shot at becoming the greatest offensive player in Major League Baseball history if he avoids injury, has signed on with the William Morris Agency."

Point A: Can anyone smell Madonna?
Point B: All together now - mourn the devolution of the WSJ at the hands of Rupert Mudoch. Sigh.

A Servant's Heart

Our older dog, Oscar, has 2 crippled back legs. It started out slowly with him losing some feeling in them and staggering a lot, and has now progressed to the point that he cannot walk at all.

So every morning and every night, Husband carries Oscar in his arms out to the backyard for his potty break. He scoops him up in his arms like a baby, and Oscar sits up proudly, ears up, and enjoys the ride.

For years Oscar has served us faithfully, and now my husband serves Oscar just as well. In Matthew 25:40, it says

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

I think of these words every time Husband scoops up our old puppy and carries him to the back door. I am so glad I walk alongside a man who serves "the least of these" in this beautiful way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meme About Me

JMom at Lots of Scotts posted one of these, so I decided, hey, it's easy to write about ME!

Missy, you're it.

What were you doing 10 years ago?: Taking THE TEXAS BAR EXAM. Right about this time, I think. Husband and I moved back here from Austin that summer and I studied for the Bar while he job-hunted. Right after I finished we packed up and drove to St. Louis to spend a few days with my (then recently-divorced) brother-in-law. We met his future wife (and mother of his 3 awesome children) on that trip but I'm not so sure if they were dating then or not at that point. We liked her anyway. :)

Favorite Snacks: Chocolate cake with a large glass of milk, Smart Food cheese popcorn and a Diet Coke, cheese and good bread.

To Do List: Lately since I'm not working much I don't have one. I'm trying to do what I want to do while I can! When I first had One I would write things down on my list like "shower", "eat", "feed baby". Lists can make me really anxious, so unless I have something that, if I don't do it I'll be in tons of trouble, I don't write it down.

Jobs I Have Had: Lifeguard, waitress, store management trainee at Foley's, assistant buyer, attorney (current one).

Places I Have Lived: New York and Texas.

Bad Habits: Talking too much, not paying attention to the reaction people have to me (especially when I'm busy talking), spending too much money.

5 Random Things People May Not Know (1) I, too, had a belly ring - had to take it out when I was 5 months pregnant with One (ouch!). (2) My dad was a prison guard my entire childhood - he used to tell me I could have any job in the world but his (I love you, Dad). (3) I named my first dog Shag because he reminded me of our new shag carpeting. (4) My husband was really rude to me when we first met and, since I was 19 at the time, I thought that was just so cute. He stopped that really quickly - it was all an act. :) (5) I really wanted to be an archaeologist for a long time - through college, even.

CDs I would want if stranded on an island: Exodus by Bob Marley, RSB's Give Yourself Away (just so I could play New Day over and over), a large collection of Jimmy Buffett (for 12-Volt Man, of course), and U2 The Joshua Tree.

What I'd Do if I Were a Billionaire: Start a charity to give the money away, re-model this house, add a new master bedroom, and put in a pool, and take a very, very long vacation to lots and lots of places.

Wow, that was lots of fun!

Missing Information

There was a lot of stuff I didn't know before I had children. Even with pregnancy, there were a few unwelcome surprises (the words "mucus plug" come to mind ...).

But I certainly never thought I'd have to watch a naked 5 year old and an underwear-wearing 8 year old clean up their playroom and their bedrooms, all the while listening to the 5 year old singing "we're naked we're naked we're naked!"

Why?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Next Project

I think this is what the British call a "box room". We call it the safe room, because it has an ancient safe in the corner. We don't use the safe, because we're too afraid of the combination - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Anyway, all of that stuff needs to go in the closets on the right-hand side of the room. And some of it needs to go to Goodwill. And some of it is probably trash. If I knew what was in there, it wouldn't be in a pile now, would it?

Oh, and this is where we hide Lamb when we have visitors. She's just not fit for company.

My House

I'm back in love with my house. For a long time I wanted to sell it. It's far from work, far from school, and we could make some money on the sale. So I looked and I looked, but there was nothing that really struck me. I found one house I really wanted; not because it was lovelier than this one, but because it worked better. It had the same number of bedrooms and baths we currently have and it did away with the almost-useless formal living room and replaced it with a large game room upstairs. Here is my current "guest room". Can you see possibly why I might like a game room, hmmm?


The other house also had a pool, which to me was the perfect solution to bored boys who can't figure out anything else to do but fight. It was 5 minutes from school, closer to my work and to husband's new job, but in the end it wasn't to be.


Now that I'm back in the "we're keeping this house" mentality, I am so in love with it again. The house and I are having a second honeymoon - hence all the over-the-top activity yesterday. It's old, it's unremodeled, but there is so much here to love. It feels great to be content again.

Books

Here is why I talk about books so much:




New Balance

When Husband saw this he laughed so hard he cried. Me, not as much. So share it with your significant other, and he'll be happy.

Children and Healthcare


Study: Most Children Strongly Opposed To Children�s Healthcare

I haven't visited The Onion in a while, and what a loss!

My Life

I was so productive on Saturday, I have to share my OCD-inspired successes with you:

1. touched up all the walls in the house with fresh paint
2. organized the paint in the garage into small plastic (labelled) containers
3. vacuumed out all the upholstered furniture
4. cleaned under One's bed (ugh!) and the guest bed - they're both trundles and huge dust-magnets
5. cleaned all the floors
6. re-hung things in the playroom and repaired the kids' hanging dinosaur
7. organized books (we have +2,000 so this is a big project)
8. helped cook dinner and clean up

There's a show on John Gotti right now (Husband is surfing) - did I ever tell y'all I had a roommate in college who worked on his defense team (for Bruce Cutler)? Creeeeeepy. Gotti sent her flowers when he was acquitted. Even creeeepier.

Oh, and can somebody tell me why Graham Norton has all those Barbie dolls on his set?

Finally, I have a job interview on Wednesday (insert little dance here), and my MIL has asked me 3 times already if I need a haircut. I had one last week. So no. But thanks.

That's all for now. Maybe I'll do the ironing on Sunday. And stop all the doors from squeaking with WD40, and and and and ...

Good night.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Canada's Version of Sanity

"One would think that Canada’s HRCs would be too busy to deal with a drunken, juvenile encounter at a late night comedy club."

Thiiiiiiiiink again ...........

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/canada-charges-comedian-with-not-being-funny/

Happy Campers

What did you think of summer camp as a child? What does it say about you as an adult? Here's an article that tries to work it all out for us: http://www.slate.com/id/2195292/. It divides the camping world into different categories:

"People (like myself) who didn't enjoy camp tend to have a problem engaging in organized activities of all kinds. Later in life we often become criminals or sociopaths."

"Some people hated camp so much that they made their parents bring them home...The come-and-get-me set grow up to be neurotic and needy."

"Some people enjoy camp. These people grow up to be normal."

"Some people really, really enjoy camp. These are the people for whom childhood represented the zenith of human existence and everything that followed an anticlimax."

"The final category is people who really, really, really enjoy camp. These are the camp cultists. Camp cultists grow up to be chief executive officers of major corporations, name partners in Wall Street banking firms, Cabinet secretaries, governors, and presidents of prestigious foundations."

Where do you fall? I'm, uh, going to keep my, uh, own camp experiences to myself, thanks. But please, go ahead and share --- are you normal?

Friday, July 18, 2008

PETA and Sex Ed

Have you seen this?

http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/video.asp?video=abc_the_talk_psa&Player=wm

The best thing about it? They first ran it in Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears' hometown. YES!

The Adirondacks

I can't recommend enough this program from PBS on my "home park", the Adirondacks. It's aired once on our local PBS station, and I'm hoping they will re-broadcast it; keep your eyes peeled.

I grew up in the Adirondack Park, the largest state park in the nation - larger, in fact, than several famous national parks put together. Within the Park, approximately 1/2 the land is owned by New York State and the other 1/2 is privately held. The balance that needs to be maintained between those 2 interests - public and private - is the most difficult question that faces people concerned with (and/or living in) the Park, and it is one of the main subjects of this documentary. Despite the presence of Bill McKibben, this program is a fair representation of the current state of the Park and the efforts of many people to grapple with how to meet the needs of the residents and those of the environment, both now and in the future.

The Adirondacks is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Some of the Park's beauty is best experienced by getting far out into the backcountry, but much of it can be seen within driving (or even walking) distance of its many small, beautiful towns. That fact - that you can experience nature in a fairly isolated and wild setting and still stay in a small town with "all the comforts of home" - is so unique; it's really what makes the Park so special. That and its people - fiercely independent, the most "Western" Northeasterners I've ever met - they are proud of their home and the fact that they can "make it" in such an unforgiving place.

Take a look - even just read the program notes on the PBS site - you'll find that the Adirondacks are a place worth knowing about. Enjoy.

Women in Science

I love this post from Robbin at My Level of Awareness about why she chose the science career she did. Great quote:

"I may be accused of being a dilettante, but I only get one pass at this life, and I want the whole enchilada, not just a narrow slice. I am not saying that the pursuit of science does not enhance the quality of life. I think it can be argued that it has benefited millions, if not billions, of people, reduced suffering and saved lives. But intellectualism is not the entire font of human contentment and scientific accomplishment is not the full measure of a life well-lived."

I think this "human element" is something that too few people take into consideration when looking at why women are where they are in certain careers, and why there may be fewer of them in some careers than in others. I think Robbin's point is very valid for all careers, not just the sciences. If there are fewer women equity partners in large law firms than men, if more women physicians choose radiology over neuroscience - it's not because we can't do it. It's because we want something else. That sounds like a simple point, but it's one that is overlooked far too often.

$2 a Day

This is a great article about MIT professors and students working in developing countries to make life better for people with simple and effective technologies:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/upgrade/4273680.html

One of their projects: teaching people to make charcoal out of locally available materials. Why?

"...800 million people worldwide ... use raw biomass—agricultural waste, dung, straw—for fuel. Globally, smoke from indoor fires makes respiratory infections the leading cause of death for children under the age of 5, claiming more than a million young lives a year. Charcoal burns much more cleanly."

Simple = good, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Funny

It's turning into a laugh-a-minute late night here at the Grass Widow's house:

“You're getting $600 - what can you do with that?” Mrs. Obama said in Pontiac, Michigan last week. “Not to be ungrateful or anything, but maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn't pay down every bill every month. The short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good, and it may even feel good that first month when you get that check, and then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings."

--- Michelle Obama

http://townhall.com/columnists/AmandaCarpenter/2008/07/15/michelle_obamas_$600_earrings

I bought a pair of earrings yesterday for $30 - do you think Michelle will trade with me?

A Funny

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2008/07/14/daily44.html?ana=from_rss

Okay, all together now:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Nurse's Song (Innocence)

When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And every thing else is still

Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Come come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies

No no let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all cover'd with sheep

Well well go & play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed
The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh'd
And all the hills ecchoed

--- Wiliam Blake

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cruisin' the Mall


Just trying to hide from the heat.

Liberty's Kids

Two has a new obsession: http://www.libertyskids.com/

Yes, he's left Ms. Frizzle for another - he's in love with this history cartoon that features 3 young people working alongside Benjamin Franklin at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Our TiVo shows 7 upcoming episodes on the History Channel in the next 8 days - they seem to be giving it quite a showing. The show's creators recommend an 8-14 year old audience, but One is much less interested than Two, so I'd say it's good for 5 and up.

Give it a try.

Ode to Mike Rowe

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir in saying this, but I love this man. The boys, being the dirt-mongers that they are, think Mike Rowe is the king. If allowed they would spend days in front of the TV watching every episode of Dirty Jobs. I am constantly attacked for not TiVo'ing the show - my only defense is, there's so darn many episodes, it fills up the entire server and knocks everything else off!

I grew up in a world where men got their hands dirty. My dad built the house I was raised in, and he kept it up in the most perfect condition the entire time he lived there. My grandfather was a forest ranger, bobsledder, quite a number of things - and he too knew how to roll up his sleeves and get filthy when something needed to get done (you can't fight a forest fire and stay clean, you know). Husband knows how to work hard outside - witness the ongoing fight between us and the backyard - but both of us have day jobs that involve air conditioning (and, in Husband's case, suits, ties, blue blazers and the rest).

So I love that Mike Rowe has devoted so much time, energy and sweat to showing all of us - and especially our kids - what it's like to get dirty for a living. None of us get to enjoy the air conditioning, the restaurants, the cars, the roads, the plumbing - none of it - without the people he features. I want my boys to have well-educated, erudite heroes, but I also want them to have sweaty, dirty ones, too.

The End of Days

I'm linking to Maureen Dowd - the world must be coming to an end.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, she did write a funny piece on Obama's (complete absence of a) sense of humor, so it seems worth it somehow.

Final quote:

Bring it on, Ozone Democrats! Because if Obama gets elected and there is nothing funny about him, it won’t be the economy that’s depressed. It will be the rest of us.


Hey, she quotes Steven Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart - read it already.

My Sick One

One is having a rough week. Monday he came home from camp with heat exhaustion - a horrible headache and throwing up all over the place. I put him in a tepid bath, made him drink water (until he started throwing up, that is) and finally resorted to anti-nausea meds. He passed out after that, wet-haired and exhausted. Just like a little kid, he wouldn't sleep until I curled up on the edge of his bed to watch him, "just in case I feel worse, mom." Fortunately he woke up after 2 hours a new boy, ate dinner and bounced around until bedtime. He slept 11+ hours and we gave camp a pass on Tuesday.

I thought everything was well, but Tuesday dinnertime he announced that the ear that had been bothering him since Sunday (and that I'd been ignoring, because he can make a paper cut sound like it needs 30 stitches) was HORRIBLE, and he needed to go to the doctor RIGHT NOW! The nurse at after-hours care told us to get there in 5 minutes, which we practically did, and yup, there was a lovely middle ear infection. So once more we did the crying in bed, taking the Tylenol, "please stay in here for another minute, mom" - and again the little imp passed out cold in minutes.

Now I'm waiting for them to wake up, to see if we're camp-bound or spending another day as homebodies. I hate hate hate it when they're sick, but on some level - this is one of the only times at this point where One will act like a little guy again. He's so ... eight ... and that can be really big most of the time. It's not that I want him sick, but when he's sick he reminds me of the little one he was. I guess I'm just feeling a little bit nostalgic, that's all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Makeshift Double Boiler

I concocted this the other night while trying to bake cupcakes and cook dinner at the same time. I finished steaming veggies and needed to melt chocolate and my brain went ping! - so here you go, a homemade double boiler:

Boys are Scary Sometimes



Do you think I can prevent this with a used car and 2 season passes to Schlitterbahn?

Link thanks to Tony Woodlief and Rachel Balducci.

Vaccine Denial

A good article on vaccinations and the dangers caused by free-riding, by Glenn Reynolds:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health_medicine/4273262.html

More Neighbors

The owls are back in our big palm tree. We're turning into a bird sanctuary.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I Killed the Air Conditioner

Yes, I did. How, you ask? I cooked dinner. That's right. One pork roast, some steamed veggies, and poof! there went the downstairs AC. It is 80 downstairs right now, and closer to 90 in the kitchen. We're eating sandwiches and salad for dinner until October; I am not going through this again.

Some days I really, really want to move to Alaska.

BFF

Lambie has a new best friend - Lucy the puppy from next door. Lucy just arrived, and Lamb is all over it. If they were human girls I'd be bombarded with requests for sleepovers already. Seriously, boxers can be bad at relating to other breeds; we've had more than our fair share of "meet and greets" turn sour when one our dogs gave the ritualistic boxer "friendship paw to the face". But Lamb is in love with Lucy. She spends long periods of time staring out the glass door that faces the neighbor's house, waiting to see if they've let Lucy out for a stroll.

It's so cute. My socially inept barking loser of a dog finally has a friend!

Forgiveness

This is incredibly powerful:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91964687

Thanks to Amanda Witt for the link.

Clearing out Debris

This weekend Husband and I did a lot of yard work. Not at all pleasant in this heat, but since our backyard looks more like a jungle than residential property, it's very necessary. This is our pile so far, but we still have lots more work to do. Despite the heat, the sweat, the headaches, and the huge stinking spines on just about every plant we encounter, the work is satisfying. I dug up by the roots some ugly plants I've been staring at since we moved in - I never liked them, and it felt so good to jump on the shovel and root them out. Thwack! they went into the pile! It sounded like music!

I wish I was as good as rooting out and pruning back the things in my life I don't need. I can see what they are most of the time - the things I'd like to get rid of - but like the backyard, it's hard to know where to start and even harder to keep at it. Bad habits, negative attitudes, even [gasp] sin - they need to go, just like this pile of weeds and brush. But they stick, as clinging as the vines on my back fence, and I'm seeking the motivation to get to work.

Gross but Good News

This is great news if you love to travel to Mexico:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=90204&pf=3&page=1

Husband claims to never be afflicted by such a complaint, but some other members of this family would benefit greatly from this vaccine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Well-Trained Mind


This book by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer changed my life, although I didn't set out for that to happen at all. Here's the whole story:

I bought this when we were looking at putting One into pre-school, and I was busy planning ahead. I never thought to buy a home schooling book (I guess I missed the subtitle: A Guide to Classical Education at Home). I meant to buy something like Bill Bennett's The Educated Child: A Parents Guide From Preschool Through Eighth Grade, to tell me what my child should learn at each age. Then again, I bought that book and it was a disaster. It was lists. And I don't react well to laundry lists of things my child should be learning. Half the time I don't understand the edu-speak in there, and then I get confused. When I'm confused I ask my husband - for instance "what does it mean when it says he should have an understanding of integers? What are integers?" And then Husband laughs at me. A nice laugh, but he laughs. So I have to retaliate. And so on. And so forth. And the book is left downstairs and we go elsewhere. Together (but without the children).

Now, what was I saying?

Oh, yes: So I read The Well-Trained Mind, and it changed the way I thought about how my children learned. In short, the book divides up learning into 3 phases: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Which meant, for me, that stuffing my small boys' heads full of facts was a good idea. Their school didn't seem to agree with me, and we wound up home schooling One for first grade, using this book as a guide. Using this book as a resource not only led us to a great year home schooling, it has continued to influence how we educate our children now that they are back at school. Because no matter how good their school is, it doesn't do it all - learning still takes place at home, and I'm better off if I have an idea as to how that should happen. This book provides that - it has lists of resources you can use, timelines to follow, and how to make the best use of all those things, whether your child is in school or at home for school.

For example - for a child in school - if your child is struggling with his handwriting, you can look up what the book suggests for writing in a home school curriculum, and use all or part of that suggestion to supplement what your child is doing at school. Or if you have a history fanatic like I do, you can use the exhaustive lists of reading materials in the book to keep your future historian entertained - and use some of the complementary activities (drawing pictures or writing about what was read, for instance) to reinforce the reading material.

The Well-Trained Mind is the best resource I've found on how I can help my boys obtain the rigorous and comprehensive education we want them to have. It has empowered me by showing me how much a part of that process I can be - how much I have to contribute to their education. It's priceless, as the commercials say.

And don't come 'round here asking to borrow my copy, sister! You have to buy your own!

Venerable Bede

"...when on a winter's night you sit feasting ... --- and a simple sparrow should fly into the hall, and coming in at one door, instantly fly out through another. In that time in which it is indoors it is indeed not touched by the fury of the winter; but yet, this smallest space of calmness being passed almost in a flash, from winter going into winter again, it is lost to our eyes. Somewhat like this appears the life of man --- but of what follows or what went before, we are utterly ignorant."

--- The Venerable Bede, via Oliver's Travels.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Long Flowing Locks

Two says the other day, "Mom, some men have ponytails, right?" "Yes, dear."

He's getting there.

Black Canyon Hideout

Two and I spent the morning building this.

New Layout

Do we like it or do we hate it? All 3 of you who read here regularly, please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks.

I'm Happy

to find out that Michele Catalano is still blogging, as well as taking fabulous pictures and writing for PJM occasionally. I've always liked her blog better than most.

http://abigvictory.blogspot.com/

Try it out.

History Books for Boys


We've never had trouble getting One to read history books or listen to them being read. In fact, we fought him for a while on fiction, because he couldn't be bothered with something that "wasn't real". Here is a list of boy-friendly history books, just right for the 6-10 year old crew:

The grandaddy of them all: The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. We read a page of this a day the year we home schooled; now it hangs around the house for reference. One has actually read up to the Great Depression on his own. Yes, I'm kind of frightened by that - funny you asked.

The You Wouldn't Want to be a ... series is great. One read them all in first grade and occasionally reads them aloud to Two, who loves the pictures.
Another great series are the National Geographic biographies. We have Galileo, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alexander the Great and Saladin. These are read-alouds for younger boys and read-alones for One - for at least a year now. I had to con One into reading Eleanor, but once he did he loved her. That's because he's used to steely-eyed tough chicks as role models - I'm his mom, after all.
More great biographies are in the Biographies from Ancient Civilizations series. We have a stack, and One has been reading them himself since 1st grade.
Jean Fritz has written a number of good short books on early American history. One has read some of the Revolutionary War titles, including Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?
One's newest biography obsession are the Sterling Point books. He's read Alexander the Great (a favorite hero of One's), Lawrence of Arabia, and has John Paul Jones, Admiral Byrd, Teddy Roosevelt and Ben Franklin waiting on his shelf.
The last 2 read-alones I can really recommend are The Emperor's Silent Army (read and re-read a dozen times) and The World Made New. The former has wonderful pictures of the clay statues, and the latter is a nice 50 page summary of the Age of Exploration.
For read-alouds, you can't go wrong with Rosemary Sutcliff's interpretations of the Iliad and the Odyssey: Black Ships before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus. I have a feeling One will pick these up himself someday soon - he was spellbound when his dad read them to him a year or more ago. And if you're into mythology after reading those, don't forget the D'Aulaire's wonderful books, Greek Myths and Norse Myths. Definitely things boys can sink their teeth into. Best to read aloud the first time through, to get all the names right if nothing else.
Finally, a little dry but great for covering a lot of ground in a relatively short time, are re-prints of some older books by Yesterday's Classics: Famous Men of Greece, Famous Men of Rome, and Famous Men of the Middle Ages. A chapter for each historical figure, they help to round out something like Kingfisher and get boys acquainted with some of the famous names they will study in more depth later on.
The goal of all this history - besides satisfying One's great love of the subject - is that spelled out in The Well-Trained Mind: the acquisition of facts. This task is central to the "grammar" or first stage of a classical education. And frankly, it works. Just think of all the boys you know who can name every member of a baseball or football team and even give you stats on the players. Why not translate that desire to collect facts into something a little more useful?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wordless Days

I've started a photo blog - just pictures of life around town and at home. I can't claim to be anything more than a basic photographer, but check it out anyway!

http://wordlessdays.blogspot.com/

Hope you enjoy it.

A Well-Earned Rest

After a hard day of playing, the boys rest on the grass outside.

$47,500

That's how much this new playground equipment in our local park cost. Last time I checked you could build a pool for that much.

Funny Only If It Doesn't Happen to You

This post by Missy is too funny not to see:

It's Almost Naptime!!: Unfathonable Public Humiliation for your entertainment#links

Thank you to Walker for letting us laugh at your expense!

Pathetic

So this morning I'm driving down the toll road at a high rate of speed, barefoot with Robert Earl Keen's The Road Goes on Forever (and the Party Never Ends) at 11, volume-wise, and thoroughly enjoying myself. And then it hits me. I drive a minivan. With booster seats. And school stickers on the back. And that means I am old. Old, old old. And you know what makes me older? The fact that, as I drove along, this thought flashed through my head: oh, is One going to be jealous of me - he loves this song, especially Rich Brotherton's guitar solos. I am so old I am wanting to share my loud music road odyssey with my 8 year old.

Oh, pathetic, thy name is Tari!

On My Bookshelf

We've been hitting the Alabama bookstore and Amazon so much lately I think we need some kind of 12-step recovery process to stop. Here is what is lined up waiting for me to read. It may be Christmas before I get through these.

Dorothy Sayers The Whimsical Christian - thanks to Tony Woodlief's recommendation
My Life in France by Julia Child - I've been picking this up and putting it down all summer. It's easy to take it to swim practice and then go a week without it. A good read, but nothing earth-shattering.
C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves. This was a Christmas present from Husband, so I need to get on it.
A View of the Ocean by Jan deHartog. I love deHartog's writing and hate that so much of it is out of print. God bless Amazon!
The Picture of Dorian Gray - never tried to read any Wilde except for Earnest. We'll see.
Flannery O'Connor's Everything that Rises Must Converge. I am excited to read her as an adult with a more Christian perspective. I think the last time I read any of her stories was in high school; not much was absorbed. That would have been a personal problem.
Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. I loved The Kite Runner, and I've been waiting to buy this one for a while.
The Duke of Deception by Geoffrey Wolfe. I've read his brother Toby Wolfe's growing-up memoir, and I'm eager to see what life was like with the other parent.
Books 2 and 3 in Frank Schaeffer's Calvin Becker trilogy, Saving Grandma and Zermatt. The first in the series, Portofino, was laugh-out-loud-until-Husband-kicks-me-under-the-covers funny.

Well, that's all. Just a little light summer reading. I'm going to put down my Agatha Christie paperback re-reads and get started any minute now, I promise.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Hate Rachel Ray

Isn't that a mean thing to say? I think this in my head when she simpers at me from the Triscuit box in the snack food aisle, but actually writing it up there was a little bold, if I do say so myself.

Why do I hate the woman?

I can't stand self-promotion. I know I'm supposed to be admiring of a little ole' upstate New York girl who made herself into an entire enterprise, but I just can't jump on that bandwagon. It's not just her - she's just my favorite dislike in this category. I don't like Oprah, Martha - any of them. Hey, I don't even like the feeble internet version, Pioneer Woman.

I don't want you to market yourself to me. Just be yourself. Be a person, not a product. If you have something interesting to contribute to the world, get on with it, and stop making me look at you every time I turn on the television. When you franchise yourself like that you sell yourself, turning yourself into a doll-shaped version of who you really are. And it irritates me. Women are bought and sold metaphorically all the time in our culture (just look at fashion magazines) and they're bought and sold for real in too many parts of the world; why would you do it to yourself?

Oh, and Rachel is a lousy cook - I'm with Tony Bourdain on that one.

Braggin' About my Man

As I've mentioned over and over, Husband is now at his new job (and having a wonderful time). But he is missed at the old home place; one "tribute" I'd like to share with you is what his secretary wrote to me about him. I wrote her, thanking her for helping him keep his sanity the past few years and for taking such good care of him. She wrote back with this:

"And, yes, I will miss him greatly too! Coming to the office will never be the same again. I have so enjoyed working for and with him. [He] is one of a kind - his intellect and humor is without parallel - not to mention his integrity - which can be in short supply in law firms I have found out over the years. Best to you all - and start enjoying some vacation time! It was in short supply I know. Love, G"
He read this over my shoulder the other day and turned 4 shades of red. Blushing, oh Lord!

Which reminds me: both G and I are fond of saying "oh Lord" to which Husband has always replied "won't you buy meeeeeeee, a Mercedes Benz." Can you believe the 2 of us put up with him all this time?

In all seriousness: what a wonderful man I married!

Wiffle Ball War

This story in the NYT is amazing, but not unexpected. What else happens in a place so expensive the local day schools provide housing to teachers, who would otherwise have to live 1+ hours away from school and therefore not be available for tutoring and after-school events? The place has become too expensive for words, and it looks like the residents value that a lot more than simpler things that are in reality a lot more important.

What these kids are doing - building a whiffle ball field, for Heaven's sake - is great. It's American. It's 10 times better than anything else they could be doing. Seriously. They came up with the idea themselves, did all the hard labor themselves, and now play a game they like without having to be in a fancy league with rules, screaming parents, or expensive uniforms. Kids entertaining themselves - at something completely clean and harmless - WHAT A GREAT IDEA!

The article ends with this quote:

"All kids deserve a Huck Finn summer. We perhaps have lost our collective minds about our overscheduled, overstressed young. But, in the end, maybe there was a reason that Kevin Costner built that Field of Dreams in Iowa and not in Greenwich."
Yes, there is a reason he picked Iowa: apparently there's a lot fewer a**-backward whackos in the Midwest.

Link from Ann Althouse and Instapundit.

Slacker Moms Unite!

I've been participating in Works for me Wednesday via Rocks in my Dryer, and I've also been looking around for other blog carnivals to be in. Sort of hard, since this blog doesn't fall firmly into one particular category. Yes it's mostly a mommy blog, but I can't help snark about politics now and then, and I like to write about other random things when the mood strikes me.

The carnival I can't find, but one I'd love to join, is The Carnival of Slacker Moms. We could share pictures of unfolded laundry, tips on how to not let anyone guess it's been 4 days since you bathed the children, and lessons on how to teach your children to work the TiVo by themselves.

The one problem? We'd never get around to it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So Inspiring


Just look at this picture, read this post, and if you don't get goose bumps, cry, something, I don't know what I'll do. This is such a moving and inspiring story.

I pray God continues to bless these women with peace and grace.






Thanks to JMom at Lots of Scotts for the link.

Quotes of the Day

Husband to One: "I want you to eat the food that's in your lap before you get up."

Two to me: "Hey, Dude Mom."

Read Alone Books for Boys

One, my 8 year old, is an uber-reader. Sometimes he goes in fits and starts, but most of the time it's one of his favorite activities. Here is a list of what has kept him busy in the past few months:

The Hardy Boys - he's on #5 and loves them - he's constantly trying to explain the plots to me. Now I know how my mother felt when I read Nancy Drew as a child.
The Spiderwick Chronicles. I can't say much about these, as One reads them at school, where his classroom has an entire set. He loves them, and loves discussing them with his friends.
Bunnicula - ditto on this one - it's a classroom favorite.
The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence. One is a history fanatic so these are great for him.
Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfield. So sad there are only 2!
How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. This is also great for read-aloud for younger boys. We read it on vacation 2 summers ago and almost fell off the bed laughing each night.
Exiled: Memories of a Camel, by Kathleen Karr.
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan - based on a true story of heroic Norwegian children in WWII.
The Good Dog by Avi.

And on his bookshelf waiting to be read:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Seven Day Magic and The Well-Wishers by Edward Eager
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mossflower - a prequel to Redwall

My advice to keep them reading: they should always have a "book going", even if they skip a day or two reading. Expect reading alone from them the way you expect them to take their vitamins every day - it will become as necessary to them as it is to you if you treat it that way.

Reading to Boys Part 2


We've been blasting through books this summer, so I wanted to share a few more read-aloud favorites with you.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald - yes, One agreed to a book with the word "princess" in the title. And loved it. Well, there was one kiss, and he squirmed and hid his head under the covers, but otherwise it was a fairly adventurous tale. As you probably know, MacDonald was one of C.S. Lewis' mentors and friends - a much better recommendation than my own, I dare say.

The Wind in the Willows - an obvious choice but a good one. Probably good to wait for a while on this - One and I tried it when he was 6 and it was too long-winded. Sort of Henry James for kids. But we're trying again now and so far it's working out.

Others on our bookshelf for the summer are:

2 Edith Nesbits: The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet. If you've read Five Children and It these 2 are a must.
The Oregon Trail, by Francis Parkman. This is a wait and see. I'll let you know how it goes.

When One gets his dad back (once Two is reading on his own and we switch bedtime-partners) they will dig into:

The Swiss Family Robinson (I had no interest in this one, so One agreed to wait for dad)
White Fang - One tried this on his own after he read The Call of the Wild, but this was a little over his head. He did Call on his own, though, and loved it.

All of these are older read-alouds - nothing Two (at age 5) is really interested in yet. He is, however, so into Narnia he's taken to calling himself Reepicheep. He and Husband have finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and have moved onto Prince Caspian. Two is completely addicted. When our visits to Narnia are complete, Two has Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett, and Kipling's Just So Stories in the bullpen. One enjoyed them both at 5 or 6, and I know Two will as well.

I will post on read-alones later on today, and maybe also on what's sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read. We've been bookstore pigs lately and have a lot in our troughs to devour.