09 10

31 December 2008

Blunt Words from a Prophet

“Much is being said,” said the prophet, “in the press and in the pulpit concerning abortion. This Church of Jesus Christ opposes abortion and counsels all members not to submit to nor participate in any abortion, in any way, for convenience or to hide sins.

“Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day. … To interfere with any of the processes in the procreation of offspring is to violate one of the most sacred of God’s commandments.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Ye Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975, p. 7.)

My Year in Cities

This looked like such a fun idea that I ran across on Pretty Jane's. (She's also having a button giveaway.) I don't have as many interesting foreign places, but we did go a few places this year!

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Afton, Wyoming

Kaysville, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Orangeville, Utah

Nashville, Tennessee

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Niagara Falls, Canada

It was a good year for trips!

29 December 2008

The Role of Government: Origin of Rights

The Proper Role of Government, by Ezra Taft Benson
-- read the full text.
My commentary as I study his article:
Part I (Foundational Principles, Origin of Rights)
Part II (Separation of Church and State)
Part III (Source of Governmental Power)
Part IV (Powers of a Proper Government)
Part V (Government = Force)
Part VI (The US Constitution)
Part VII (Local Government)
Part VIII (Legalized Plunder)

by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson
Former Secretary of Agriculture
[The Eisenhower Administration – ed.]
Published in 1968

Men in the public spotlight constantly are asked to express an opinion on a myriad of government proposals and projects. “What do you think of TVA?” “What is your opinion of Medicare?” How do you feel about Urban Renewal?” The list is endless. All too often, answers to these questions seem to be based, not upon any solid principle, but upon the popularity of the specific government program in question. Seldom are men willing to oppose a popular program if they, themselves, wish to be popular – especially if they seek public office.

Summary: High profile folks talk about "the issues." In many ways it's a popularity contest, and politicians' jobs depend on winning the contest. This makes it very difficult to make a principled stand.

Commentary: What a sad state of affairs. I hadn't really thought about it before. But it really explains a lot about how we've moved so far away from the Constitution that it's not even really a part of the discussion any more. How many times this election season have you heard about the Constitution? Of those, (and I'll be it's not many) how many were, "Is your program Constitutional?" I don't think I heard that at all. How much do your candidates know? At least 1 of mine doesn't know much at all: "I have to admit, I'm not a Constitutional expert." That's what she told me, just about verbatim, though I'll admit that I'm not great at remembering things word for word. Those "issues" have drowned out the larger principles almost entirely.

Such an approach to vital political questions of the day can only lead to public confusion and legislative chaos.

Exhibit One: The 2008 presidential election.
Exhibit Two: Any recent session of Congress.

Such an approach to vital political questions of the day can only lead to public confusion and legislative chaos. Decisions of this nature should be based upon and measured against certain basic principles regarding the proper role of government. If principles are correct, then they can be applied to any specific proposal with confidence.

“Are there not, in reality, underlying, universal principles with reference to which all issues must be resolved whether the society be simple or complex in its mechanical organization? It seems to me we could relieve ourselves of most of the bewilderment which so unsettles and distracts us by subjecting each situation to the simple test of right and wrong. Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complicated. There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires our solution.” (Albert E. Bowen, Prophets, Principles and National Survival, P. 21-22)

Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.

Summary: Governmental decisions need to be based on the principles of right and wrong and upon principles guiding the proper role of government.

Commentary: I long for a government that behaves in this way!

I should like to outline in clear, concise, and straight-forward terms the political principles to which I subscribe. These are the guidelines which determine, now and in the future, my attitudes and actions toward all domestic proposals and projects of government. These are the principles which, in my opinion, proclaim the proper role of government in the domestic affairs of the nation.

"(I) believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society."

"(I) believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life…"

Commentary: Look at all the things that are NOT listed here: education, health care, auto bail-outs, a whole myriad of things that our government does, usually in violation of our Constitution.

"(I) believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society."

"(I) believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life…"

"(I) believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, which protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience." (D&C 134: 1-2,5)

It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. But, what are those rights? And what is their source? Until these questions are answered there is little likelihood that we can correctly determine how government can best secure them. Thomas Paine, back in the days of the American Revolution, explained that:

"Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another… It is impossible t discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man." (P.P.N.S., p. 134)

Summary: Rights don't come from one person to another, they originate with existence and thus are universal among all men.

The great Thomas Jefferson asked:

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?" (Works 8:404; P.P.N.S., p.141)

Summary: Rights come from God and can only be secure when people acknowledge that fact.

Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (The Law, p.6)

Summary: The rights to life, liberty, & property come from God. Laws are created to protect these rights. If these rights were to come from the government, then it would also be true that the government could take them away if it wanted to.

There is lots more to come on this: President Benson had a lot to say on the matter. But I can only digest it in small chunks, so I'll post part two another day, and likely continue with more parts after that! The full text of his paper is available here.

Go to Part II: Separation of Church and State.

28 December 2008

Candy Cane Bread

By popular demand: Candy Cane Bread. Not that it's got any candy canes in it. Though it could, if you felt like it. But that's one flavor that I've never tried. This recipe is a family tradition from my parents' house. Two of my sisters asked me about the recipe this year. Actually, Mom did too. For some reason the book that the original recipe was in seems to have "few da coop." So my sad little copy of the recipe needs to be duplicated many times so it can never be lost again. It's missing a bunch of ingredients (like the yeast) but it always seems to turn out anyway. Here's what I really do, not what my recipe says. It's not hard to make. Here's what you do:

For the bread:

2 c sour cream
3/4 c warm water (yeast is really happy at about 100F - skin temp)
1/2 T yeast
1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 t salt
2 eggs
abt 6 cups flour

Heat sour cream over low heat till lukewarm. You want to be able to put your finger in it. Don't let it get hot or it will kill your yeast. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in warmed sour cream, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour till springy and easy to handle. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth. I tried the french bread kneading style I learned from Julia Child's sidekick, and it seemed to like it, though it's a good deal sticker than the french bread dough. Being slammed onto the counter seemed to agree with it. Regular kneading has also worked well in the past. Knead it until it's smooth and nice. I end up taking my time in this step, so although my recipe says 10 minutes, it nearly always takes me longer than that. The slamming kind of kneading wears my arm out a bit, and I probably took 15-20 minutes.

Turn the bread dough around in a greased bowl to coat on all sides, let rise until generously double in size. Punch down. Let rise again till about double again. Divide into 3 balls of dough. Turn on the oven to 350F. Roll one of your dough balls into a rectangle. I like a bit of a skinny rectangle. The one in my pictures was a little wide and harder to work with when I was braiding it. It was still delicious. Or so I'm told: I gave this one away. This recipe is one that you share with friends or take to a nice big party.

Once you have your rectangle, take your kitchen scissors and snip a fringe, about 2 inches deep around the edges. If you haven't got scissors a sharp knife will work. I like to leave sort of a biggish piece at the top to start the braid off with, but don't get carried away. (I remembered that after I did this loaf. Sorry, these pictures don't illustrate that.) Spread fill the center. (Suggestions to follow.)

Take and "braid" your fringes. Fold the top center one straight down, then overlap the others, pulling from alternating sides & covering up the ends of the previous fringe. This will create a braided look as you work. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet. I often have to have help with this step as 4 hands just seems to work better. The bread will be a little floppy at this point and kind of heavy and unstable because of all the snipping and filling. If I don't have anyone to help me move it I'll use a pancake turner on one side and my long angled frosting spreader to help support it as I move it. As you place it on the cookie sheet, carefully nudge it into a candy cane shape. This will be easier if you've kept your rectangle a bit on the skinny side. The rectangle pictured here needed a little bit of nudging and some gentle tugging on the outside of the curve of the hook to get it to take shape.

Bake at 350F for about 15-20 minutes. Brush with melted butter as soon as you take it out of the oven. Let cool completely; drizzle with a thin icing and decorate with red and green M&Ms.

Suggestions for fillings:
*Blackberry jam. I use freezer jam from Bithell Farms. Always a fan favorite.
*Chocolate chips. I painted them with a little melted butter to smooth them out as they melted. It turned out just a little rich for my taste, but also got great reviews.
*Apple pie filling. I sliced & then diced my apples (using my cool corer-peeler-slicer gizmo that I still absolutely love) and put a few pats of butter on them. Then I sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. This was yummy, but eat it quickly as it got soggy after a couple of days.

For the glaze:
Mix a little bit of milk into a small bowl of powdered sugar to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over the bread.

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
-Isaiah 9:6

22 December 2008

99 Things

Harmony Art Mom had this meme on her blog, it looked like fun, so I swiped it. Here goes! Things I have done are in yellow.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (french horn)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Tokyo
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (I did have a little help.)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (didn't have time, but we saw the Constitution)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (I'm short a few books in the middle of the Old Testament & due to try again soon)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury (last time I was summoned I was living out of state)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

20 December 2008

Playing Piano

Fed Calls Upon Counterfiters For Help

Very funny. In a scary sort of way.

“Treasury's printing presses are running 24/7 at 120% capacity,” said Kasha Cummin, Director of Treasury's Currency Production Office. “We’re still not able to meet the demand for more currency -- not with all this bailout activity and added Congressional spending. We can’t afford to wait for more presses to be built -- we need help from the pros who are already out there.” ...

The Fed and the Treasury are asking all skilled counterfeiters to join in the effort to create as much cash as possible in the next 12 months. Presidential pardons for past and selected future crimes will be issued to qualified participants, a Bush Administration spokesman said. Qualified counterfeiters are asked to bring their goods to a local Federal Reserve Bank, where they will be given 80 cents on the dollar as credit in tax-free electronic accounts that they can use almost anywhere -- Amazon, iTunes, Congress, etc.

“America appreciates the skilled help of those who have been augmenting the work of the Federal Reserve Bank for years. Now we ask you to step it up in this time of national emergency,” President Bush said.


17 December 2008

Darling Monsters!

You have GOT to go check out these monsters made from recycled clothing! They are just CUTE. And ANGRY. And CUDDLY. I think I need to make some & give them away. (I certainly don't need many more monsters around the house!) This blog is giving one away.

Nature Study

I need to get some sort of snow pants because I'm a wuss about being cold, but Monkey needs to be able to go outside in the winter half of the year! Today we stayed out after shoveling the walks & looked around the backyard at the cool new look the snow gave it.

We have a colony of rabits that live under our deck. We keep talking about fixing up the lattice so it's not so cozy, but we haven't done it yet so there are lots of rabbit tracks. I showed him how bunnies leave some big prints and some little prints because they have both little feet & big feet.

After that he got to work following (and obliterating) the trail.

The bunny tracks lead us to a beautiful evergreen tree on the edge of our yard.

I've been meaning to have a good look at it and figure out what kind of tree it is. My guess is blue spruce, but I took some pictures to try to confirm that guess.

The bark is pretty cool; not too much snow stuck to it down low. There was a little stuck to it up higher where the branches haven't been cut away by the neighbor. But the snow wasn't really the sticking kind. It's loose and powdery and great for tossing up to watch it sparkle in the sun. Monkey particularly loved it when I did that and it floated over him, silly boy.

After I was done looking at the branches & bark I noticed a pine cone so I scooped it up to show Monkey. He thought it was pretty cool. I told him the pine cone is how these trees make seeds and that if the seeds are planted it will grow a new tree. Monkey then threw the pine cone on the ground and pounded it out of sight under the snow with his shovel.

After that he returned to his shoveling, this time experimenting with rubbing his shovel over the snow.

Amazingly, although the photo looks like an evening picture with the dim light and the long shadows, it was just before noon when these pictures were taken. We are nearly to the solstice and it shows in the length of our days! Happily, we'll start to have longer days again next week. I don't know that I'd do very well too much further north than we already are!

Oh, and it turns out it's a white spruce. I used this website and Peterson First Guide to Trees to figure it out.

16 December 2008


I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 4 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!

I'm pondering it still. It would be fun, I think. I'm thinking 4 months because I just don't buy that much clothing but in 4 months I'd probably want to do something. I've been following the blog for a while, and they've got some cool ideas. There's cute (if too short) skirts, a fix for a too-big sweater, kids sweater dresses, a fun bag, and one of those cool scarves with an attached hood. (That project used this tutorial.) They also have some things that are.... interesting. Red shoes. Pink dishtowel applique. Oh. My.

14 December 2008

Singing Sisters

Been trying to post this since the middle of November. It's nice to finally get it up!

Spelling Wiz

Mom: How do you spell "neighbor?"

Monkey: D-I-D. Neighbor.

Sunday Scripture

Some thoughts on faith today, from the preparations I made for my Sunday School class:

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

Ether 12:6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

In the Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith talked about how it is the "assurance" of things hoped for.

And now as I said concerning faith - faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

Alma 32:21

Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not know. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness. If everything has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to be certified, then there is no need for faith, indeed, there is no room for it. ... (see Alma 32:17-18, 21) ... There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn, that spring will come, that growth will take place. It is the kind of faith that relates us with confidence to that which is scheduled to happen... There is another kind of faith. Rare indeed. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worth and prepared and unyielding. And it calls forth things that otherwise would not be. It is the kind of faith that moves people. It is the kind of faith that sometimes moves things. Few men posses it. It comes by gradual growth. It is a marvelous, even a transcendent power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity. Directed and channeled, it has great effect.
-Boyd K. Packer, "What is Faith" in Faith p 42-43

Faith is to hope for things which are not see, which are true and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing hte testimony of those who have faith. Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith.
Bible Dictionary: Faith

"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. Those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith."
-Joseph Smith

Have you posted a Sunday Scripture?
Sign Mr. Linky so others can see the verse(s) you chose!

13 December 2008

Fascinating Stuff

I've been browsing through scriptures.byu.edu looking at what the Brethren have to say about the Tower of Babel in preparation for my Sunday School lesson, and I happened upon this from Elder Orson Hyde:

A thorough knowledge of our own mother tongue is an important key to that wide field of usefulness which in this day more especially invites the energies and enterprise of the rising generation than at any former period in the history of the world. By some, the inspiration of God is considered to supersede the necessity of this and every other science. On this erroneous principle some of you may act, and require me to impart to you a knowledge of our language without any mental labor on your part. This I would not do, if I could; for I do not want this class dishonored with one drone in the hive. I intend to do my duty, and shall expect you to do yours. Although I thus speak, I do not believe that anyone of you entertains any such opinion. Persons of this faith will not come here for the object that has called you out. It is true that God generally calls upon the illiterate or unlearned to bear his name and testimony to the world. In this, the policy of our Heavenly Father differs materially from that of the world. Under his policy, none can say that the important truths which the servant of God is required to declare are the result of his great or superior learning. But the question with me is, Must the servant of God always remain an unpolished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty? I answer, No. The Spirit of God directs improvement in everything that is good and useful. If any doubt this, consider what our leading men were when called, and then consider what they now are!


Can I just take a minute & say what an amazing resource this website is?! It's the first place I go look for further explanation of passages in the scriptures when I want further clarification.

The Joy of Gloves

Yeah, that's his jammies that he's wearing gloves with. But it made him so happy & seemed like a pretty harmless amusement. He didn't actually wear them to bed though: they got in the way when he wanted to do something and he took them off.

11 December 2008

Career Goals

Monkey (bringing his shoes): Monkey shoes.

Mom: You want your shoes on?

Monkey: Yeah. Monkey shoes. Go a work.

Mom: Shoes are good for going to work.

Monkey: Go a work. Play piano.

Monkey: Bye bye Daddy. Go a work. White car. Wear boots.

10 December 2008

Bit of a Blizzard

We had a bit of a blizzard.

It drove Monkey crazy to stay inside while Daddy was outside shoveling.

Monkey wanted to help.

And how can you argue with that?

So we let him help.

08 December 2008

Good Times

Meet Anya. She's making the transition to our place nicely. She must be glad to be out of the tiny little cage she was in at the pet store, and she's all sorts of excited about getting out of the music room! (We keep putting her back, cuz Rena's not quite ready, but it's getting closer.) Rena is adjusting nicely and things are looking good for the two of them getting along. Our vet recommended this website as a reliable source of information on cats, so we're following its advice about introducing a new cat to the family. It looks like it's going to go a bit quicker than the site indicates.

She loves my Monkey. When we went to the pet store we stayed and played with kitties for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, looking for one that was interested in spending time with Monkey. Two of them didn't mind playing with Monkey - Anya and her sister - but only Anya nuzzled him. So Anya was the one that we brought home. We visit her frequently in the music room. Monkey loves to play with her, though he hasn't quite got the hang of snuggling with her yet. Anya is a much more social kitty than Rena, and Monkey just doesn't know how to react when she nuzzles him and asks for pets & lovin's!

I've been doing scrapbooking the past couple of days. I seem to do that most when I'm sick, and I've been getting trounced by a nasty nasty cold. When I cut and glue, Monkey wants to do it too, so he spent some time playing with my square punch. Then we used some empty TP tubes to make binoculars and decorated them with markers. Then I showed him the wonders of glue. He took right to it.

Monkey also had some good fun with a ball of yarn that got separated from the shawl that I've been making. I've been learning to knit, and it's going well. The knitting part of the shawl is actually done, I just need to finish up the tassels. Monkey often plays with my string, but this was a better mess than usual.

Behind him, you can see our calendar. It's going pretty well. We started that in mid-October, and he's still interested, still wanting to do it. We keep it simple: put up today, sing a "Days of the Week" song, do something with letters & their sounds, then play at the map. All together it takes about 5 minutes. We didn't keep it up this weekend because I've been pretty sick & my voice has been sort of in and out. But we'll probably catch it up this evening before bed.

07 December 2008

Sunday Scripture

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

-Doctrine & Covenants 6:36

I've heard this message beautifully put to music, but I don't know who did it. Anybody heard this song before?

"Look unto the Lord
In every thought,
With all your heart.
Doubt not, fear not,
For He is there to see you through;
He is watching over you!
Look unto the Lord
In every thought,
With all your heart."

06 December 2008

A New Friend

She's so new that we haven't decided on a name yet. And she hasn't ventured out of the carrier very much. Which is fine. The new kitty is almost entirely black, but she's got a tiny spot of white on her belly. She's about 6-7 months old, and playful. She seems friendly too: even nuzzled Monkey a bit when we were playing with her before we decided which cat to bring home.

So far Rena is doing OK with the new cat. But they're segregated: the new kitty is closed into the music room, with plenty of warm blankets, food, water, and her own potty. Since it's tons bigger than the little cage she had at Petsmart or the one she would have been in at the Humane Society before that, I don't even feel badly about putting her in a little room for a few weeks so we can slowly introduce them. Rena is definitely aware that something fishy, worrisome even, is going on in that room though! She keeps sniffing around the door and mewing. The vet says it may take a month or more to slowly introduce them so that they get along nicely.

05 December 2008

Crazy Eights

Keeley tagged me for a meme!

1. Post rules on your Blog.
2. Answer the six "8" items.
3. Tag 8 other people.

1. The Book of Mormon & the Bible
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
3. Jamberry by Bruce Degan
4. Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type by uhhhh... I think Monkey ran off with the book, so I can't find it to find out who wrote it.
5. Understanding Isaiah by Donald W Parry, Jay A Parry & Tina M. Peterson
6. The Allegory of the Olive Tree edited by Stephen D. Ricks & John W. Welch
7. A Glorious Standard by Chris Bentley
8. The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

1. Blew my nose.
2. Blew Monkey's nose.
3. Took a nap.
4. Posted a few pictures on my blog.
5. Skipped lunch: the smell made me queezy.
6. Tried to read a book. Was even moderately successful.
7. Took a very long hot shower & used up the hot water.
8. Went to bed and was woken up three times.

1. Getting pregnant again
2. Being debt free
3. Having the right gear to be warm when I take Monkey outside to play
4. Picking up a new kitty for Monkey tomorrow
5. Seeing the Savior
6. Learning how to keep my house clean!
7. Weighing about 25lbs less than I do now
8. Going places with Andy

1. Heisei in Lafayette, IN. It compares nicely with the Japanese food we had in Japan.
2. Taste of Thai
3. Panda Express
4. Famous Daves
6. Pizza Hut
7. Errr... this is getting harder. Arbys.
8. Uhh... Applebees

1. More Time in my Day!!
2. Food Storage
3. A baby.
4. Another baby.
5. The LDS Mother's Educational Course outline for 2009.
6. The books on the LDS Mom's Ed list so I can participate more.
7. A really hot husband. Oh. Wait. Already got that. Nevermind. =)
8. Self-control. And a clean house. Those two most definitely go together.

1. Most of the papers on my desk.
2. The bowl from last night's M&Ms.
3. Yarn for the socks I want to knit but I need to do something else to learn to purl.
4. Used hot chocolate mug.
5. Last week's comic books.
6. My tag punch. That needs to go in my scrapbook stuff.
7. My camera.
8. A new foot for my sewing machine... that didn't fit.

Folks I'm tagging:

03 December 2008

What a Fun Book!

It's snowy and blustery outside and Monkey has a nasty cold that's put him down for his nap early. Hopefully he'll stay in his nap late. He could use a little extra sleep. He had a really hard time staying inside while his Daddy shoveled the walk all by himself. Monkey wanted to shovel too.

But not everything is dreary and cold today! We spent quite a bit of time cuddled up in a blanket (the best blanket ever, that my brother gave me for Christmas last year) reading some library books. My favorite from this batch is this one: Bebop Express by H.L. Pahani. It's jazz. No really! It's jazz! The text just rolls off the tongue, it's lyrical and fun. And it's got trains, which Monkey loves.

"The whistle's a-blowin', the engine's a-pumpin'--
conductors are dancin' and passengers jumpin'!
Quick! Climb aboard the Bebop Express.
It's the jazziest train from the east to the west.
Chug-a chug-a chug-a chug-a Choo! Choo!
Chug-a chug-a chug-a chug-a Choo! Choo!"

02 December 2008

A Response

I browsed across this video on a blog I visit. The woman who posted it seemed to be looking for a response. This is what I said. Perhaps some others would like to comment for her as well? She's very far to the Left, but she's polite & informative. And she's also got some great birth stories and information!


As I am assuming that your posting of Olbermann’s video means that you share his questions, so I'm going to try to answer them.

I think that Mr. Olbermann’s assertion that it's about love is childishly simplistic. His display of emotion about an issue that he so carefully distances himself from strikes me as contrived and manipulative.

Love has very little to do with what's happening here. This is about freedom and about society's ability to continue as a functional civilization. There is a much more at stake here than who can be married.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let me briefly sketch for you the doctrinal foundation that I work with. Although I know that you will likely reject these ideas, I think that a reasonable dialog needs to be based on understanding of where the other person is coming from. In my case there is a dual interest in the issue. My private feelings on the matter are faith-based. My public concerns with homosexual marriage are concerns for the preservation of freedom. However, humans are messy creatures and it is often hard to completely pull the two sides of the coin apart.

In 1995 the Church issued a statement of our beliefs about the family, gender roles, and other related issues. This statement expresses very well what I believe. In our view, marriage and the family are holy institutions which continue in the next life. Gender and gender roles are Divinely determined prior to our birth. God makes no mistakes in creating His children as male or female.

The Church has also posted information about our faith's stand on homosexuality on our website. I quote from that article:

This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic.” In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach. (emphasis added)

I don't know if you've seen the mobs of GLBTs and their supporters that have formed and marched on the Church's most holy places, but the ones who most loudly demand that all tolerate their whims and excesses are the least tolerant when they don't get their way. Look at the signs they carry. They openly announce that they want to strip the freedoms of those who oppose them. "Ban Mormons" (Freedom of religion?) "End tax exempt status for bigoted Mormon church. They preach hate and buy votes" (The Church does no such thing, but they'd like to punish us for it anyway. So far as I am aware, the Church's official efforts involved a letter, and possibly some flights for leaders to get together with other pro-Prop 8 leaders. The money and man hours came from individual decisions to donate time and money.) "Go back to Utah" (Restrictions on where Americans can live?)

Orson Scott Card (novelist and member of the Church) wrote a great piece about why homosexual marriage is a bad idea. He's writing following the Massachusetts court decision, so some of his comments are a bit dated, but the vast majority are still applicable. One of the things that Mr. Card does very well is talk about the effects of the changing of the definition of family on children, and thus on the society they create. The word "family" has, for time immemorial, meant "Mom, Dad, and kids." It usually includes extended family as well: Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, ect. This creates stability for the children and also teaches them a myriad of things ranging from self-esteem to gender roles. Mr. Card talks at length about the societal benefits of monogamous traditional marriage. I'll give you a sampling:

But society has a vital stake in child-rearing; and children have a vital stake in society.

Monogamous marriage is by far the most effective foundation for a civilization. It provides most males an opportunity to mate (polygamous systems always result in surplus males that have no reproductive stake in society); it provides most females an opportunity to have a mate who is exclusively devoted to her. Those who are successful in mating are the ones who will have the strongest loyalty to the social order; so the system that provides reproductive success to the largest number is the system that will be most likely to keep a civilization alive.

Monogamy depends on the vast majority of society both openly and privately obeying the rules. Since the natural reproductive strategy for males is to mate with every likely female at every opportunity, males who are not restrained by social pressure and expectations will soon devolve into a sort of Clintonesque chaos, where every man takes what he can get. ...

Civilization requires the suppression of natural impulses that would break down the social order. Civilization thrives only when most members can be persuaded to behave unnaturally, and when those who don't follow the rules are censured in a meaningful way. ...

Civilizations that enforce rules of marriage that give most males and most females a chance to have children that live to reproduce in their turn are the civilizations that last the longest. It's such an obvious principle that few civilizations have even attempted to flout it. ...

Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn't bothered them. That's what tolerance looks like.

But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

So if my friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

So what about if Prop 8 had passed? What if homosexual marriage was allowed? Would that have been the end of it and the GLBT movement will now leave the rest of us alone to get on with our lives? To think so is as childish as Mr. Olbermann’s original question. Having accomplished their goal of redefining what a marraige is, they'd continue to squash "discrimination" by insisting that everyone, regardless of their own beliefs, act in accordance with this vocal minority's beliefs. We would all need to teach our children not only that homosexuality is an option, but that it's as good or better than any other option. Mr. Card addressed this eventuality as well:

Once this is regarded as settled law, anyone who tries to teach children to aspire to create a child-centered family with a father and a mother will be labeled as a bigot and accused of hate speech.

Can you doubt that the textbooks will be far behind? Any depictions of "families" in schoolbooks will have to include a certain proportion of homosexual "marriages" as positive role models.

Television programs will start to show homosexual "marriages" as wonderful and happy (even as they continue to show heterosexual marriages as oppressive and conflict-ridden).

Can there be any doubt what a short trip it will be from this situation to outlawing the preaching in churches that denounces homosexuality?

Had I been in California (or the other states that had similar measures on the ballot) I would have been actively supporting Prop 8. My sister does live in CA, and did do some work to help it pass. I'm sure that eventually I will get my turn.

It's a very long answer to Mr. Olbermann’s short question. Love has very little to do with it. It's got to do with what is right and wrong, and what is best for the society as a whole. I believe that the movement for homosexual marriage will not be satisfied with "simply" redefining the word marriage, but that they will continue to seek to silence any that say anything whatsoever against their choices. I believe that my freedoms are threatened by their radical agenda. (I think their own freedoms are threatened by their actions and that they are too short-sighted to see what they are doing to harm themselves in their zeal to have what they want right now.) I have nothing against people who choose a homosexual lifestyle. I prefer that ALL people around me leave me in the dark about their sexual practices, regardless of what they are.

I believe that homosexual behavior is a choice and a wrong choice. I don't know that this alone would motivate me to oppose Prop 8. However.

I believe homosexual marriage is very bad for society. Therefore I oppose it.

01 December 2008

Learned a New Word

Discalceate: from the title of this blog, written by a member of the LDS Mother's Educational Course yahoo group that I'm a member of. It's an interesting word.

   /dɪsˈkælst/ [dis-kalst] –adjective
(chiefly of members of certain religious orders) without shoes; unshod; barefoot.

29 November 2008

Monkey Loves Construction

Installing a driveway - double time.

German steamroller

Add for a steamroller. Narration's not great, but I learned from it so it was interesting anyway.

28 November 2008

Sleeping Gear

Monkey likes to take things to bed with him. Usually it's pretty normal stuff. Books, stuffed bears. A water bottle. Last night he wanted to sleep with his head in his laundry basket. We took it out of bed after I took the picture.

This afternoon, he's been helping Dad fix things. They worked on both of our toilets. Monkey loves the socket wrench. Amazingly, "socket" and "chocolate" are very hard to tell apart when he says them. But, when Daddy couldn't come and put him down for his nap, the socket wrench was an acceptable consolation prize.

At the Temple

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. -Genesis 2:24

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -Matthew 16:19

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. -1 Corinthians 11:11

Thou shalt live together in love... -Doctrine and Covenants 42:45

Swiped Another Meme

A-Attached or Single: Attached (very)
B-Best Friend: Andy
C-Cake or Pie: ice cream
D-Day of Choice: day with family
E-Essential Item: internet
F-Favorite Color: blue
G-Greatest Accomplishment: work in progress
H-Hometown: where my family is
I-Indulgences: dark chocolate
J-January or July: January
K-Kids: Monkey
L-Life is incomplete without: family
M-Marriage: happy
N-Number of Siblings: 7
O-Oranges or Apples: apples
P-Phobias or fears: bees
Q-Quotes:“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” - Thomas Jefferson
R-Reason to Smile: innumerable
S-Season: spring
T-Tag Friends: anyone that wants to be tagged
U-Unknown facts about me:
V-Very favorite store(s): Barnes and Noble
W-Worst habit: putting off cleaning my bathrooms; bossiness
X-X-ray or Ultra Sound: ultra sound
Y-Your favorite food: ice cream
Z-Zodiac: Aquarius

27 November 2008

"Separation of Church and State"

I just read a great article about this. I learned a number of things:

1. Separation of Church and State is a phrase from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote. It's not in the Constitution at all. I should have known this; I just read the Constitution recently, but I hadn't picked up on it and I'm glad that the article's author spelled it out.

2. The First Amendment, like so much of the Constitution, is about balance. Here's the text of the amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

They call the first part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" the establishment clause, and the second part, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" the free exercise clause. They're supposed to balance and complement each other. Congress doesn't get to choose our religion. They don't even get to pick a favorite religion and give them special status. That's the establishment clause. Congress also doesn't get to make it difficult for us to practice our religion. Say, by telling us when and where to pray. Or not to pray, in the case of prayer in school. (That's also a violation of freedom of speech.)

3. There was a bunch of other interesting stuff too: a Supreme Court Justice that was also a member of the KKK, and the founder of the ACLU was a member of the Communist Party of America. Oh, and also what Jefferson was really talking about when he wrote about the separation of church and state. He certainly wasn't saying that churches should be barred from the political process! I highly recommend the article!

23 November 2008

Wisdom from John Adams

"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives."

—John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756

Someone posted this quote to a homeschool list that I'm on, and I just love it! "If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives." How true!

This afternoon in Relief Society we talked about the importance of learning "by study and by faith" and visited one of my favorite scriptures:

"Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."

If these things are important for us as parents to remember, to make sure that we are continually learning ourselves, how much more so that we remember to teach them to our children, to teach them to value learning! Joseph said, "Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness."

Our lesson today was about gaining knowledge of eternal truths, specifically about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but there is a great deal of truth out there to be had! Brigham Young talked about that:

"A fact is a fact, all truth issues forth from the Fountain of truth, and the sciences are facts as far as men have proved them. ... There is not truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss..." Discourses of Brigham Young pg 3

In addition to the vitally important study of Gospel truths, the Lord commanded Joseph to study all sorts of things: "obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion."

20 November 2008

Big Party Noodle Salad

Mom asked me to bring noodle salad to Kate's open house, and when I asked around (we don't typically eat noodle salad at my house) I got this recipe that was used at a recent Women's Conference. It's a bit of an expensive salad at this time of year, but in the summer when grapes are in season it would be considerably better. Monkey was awfully happy to see those grapes though! He's been asking and asking for them!

Big Party Noodle Salad
4 c (32oz) cooked chicken, diced
12 oz box (6 c cooked) bowtie pasta
1 1/2 c green grapes, cut
1 1/2 c red grapes, cut
10 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 c thinly sliced celery
1/2 c scallions/green onions
2 c cashews
2 c craisins

16 oz (1 bottle) Hidden Valley coldslaw dressing
1 c mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients except cashews & crasins. Whip together dressing. (Original recipe called for 1/2 c mayonnaise and 1/2 cup miracle whip, but we substituted.) Pour over salad; marinate 12-24 hours. Add cashews and craisins just before serving.

Serves 20-ish

17 November 2008

Temple Protests

From "Temple Protests Go Too Far" by Bob Lonsberry:

In the name of tolerance, great intolerance is shown. The biggest bigots in our society are the ones who routinely accuse others of bigotry. ...

Those who favor abortion rights do not protest outside the parishes and cathedrals of Catholicism. Those who denounce militant Islam do not march around American mosques. Supporters of Palestinian rights do not shout through loudspeakers outside synagogues.

If they did, we would be offended as a society, and see the impropriety of their deeds.

But thousands can hatefully mill outside the gates of the sacred buildings of Mormonism and do so with impunity, knowing that their actions and motives will go unchallenged, that the evening news will bring them nothing but the publicity they seek. ...

Which is why this is taking place. In an act of bigotry against houses of worship, supporters of the homosexual agenda are sending a shot across the bow of every church, mosque, synagogue and temple in the country.

Either keep your mouth shut, or get what the Mormons are getting.

Here’s hoping that that warning will be ignored, and that people of conscience will have the courage of their convictions – that people of all faiths will stand their ground. Contention must be avoided, but not at the cost of capitulation.

Americans do not lose their civil rights because they believe in God or worship with their fellow believers. People of faith are as free to vote and speak their mind as anyone else.

What this episode teaches is that people of faith had better stand together in the defense of their rights, or they will be picked off one by one.


16 November 2008

High School Meme

I swiped this meme from my cousin.

1. Did you date someone from your school? Nope, but still I actually got engaged to a boy from church at 16. It was a bad idea.

2. What kind of car did you drive? I sometimes drove my folks' 12 passenger van, and I did some time in an old car that had a bit of a leak in the gas tank. Don't fill it more than about 1/2 way. There was also the car with the oil light. If the "check oil" light got too persistent you pulled over & added more oil & it went away. I didn't get to take the Metro much, Dad needed it.

3. What was the most embarrassing moment of HS? I don't know. The whole thing was pretty bad. Might have been coming in last in the mile (again) and then being unable to breathe for hours after. Might have been when they did the scoliosis testing... and I had it. Nope, sorry, that was junior high.

4. Were you a party animal? I wasn't terribly interested.

5. Were you considered a flirt? Not that I know of.

6. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Yes (french horn), no, yes.

7. Were you a nerd? Hmmm. If nerd=good grades & socially awkward, then yes, I guess I was a bit of a nerd. But I didn't use a pocket protector or anything like that.

8. Were you on any varsity teams? Does lettering in band count?

9. Did you get suspended/expelled? Are you kidding? My death would have quickly followed - my parents would have killed me!

10. Can you still sing the fight song? Do people do that? It was on the wall in the one school's gym, but I never figured out why.

11. Who were your favorite teachers? Maestro. He was the Spanish teacher at my 2nd high school. Also taught signed Spanish. I'd just finished studying American Sign Language with an interpreter at the old school, and it was a huge advantage. He was great: immersion from day 1. Sadly, we didn't stay at that school long.

12. Where did you sit during lunch? With a book.

13. School mascot? Panthers, can't remember, and Penguins.

14. Did you go to homecoming, and with who? No. I was never asked. And I'm not sure I'd've gone anyway: I just didn't get the whole homecoming Thing.

15. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Are you kidding??? NO.

16. What do you remember most about graduation? It was pretty boring. Lots of hype. Bad music (the band wasn't very good at all). Probably was a waste of time.

17. Where did you go senior skip day? Didn't have one.

18. Were you in any clubs? School 1: Debate, newspaper, yearbook. School 2 & 3: I got a job instead.

19. Have you gained some weight since then? Sadly, yes.

20. Who was your prom date? Didn't go.

21. Are you planning on going to your next year reunion? Doubtful. Either they didn't have a 10 year, or I didn't get the memo. I got along better with the next younger class anyway.

22. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself? Don't sweat it: it's gonna be over and then it Just Doesn't Matter. At least, not after you get your ACT score & start college. Also, work harder on that midwifery apprenticeship. That was cool & you'll regret not doing more.

If you swipe the meme, leave me a link, eh? I'd like to read yours!

I Should Buy Some of This Music

First Time Obedience

I first ran into the idea of "first time obedience" in the Bluedorn's book, Teaching the Trivium. It's an intriguing idea, one that I spent quite a bit of time thinking about when I first ran across it. But, like so many things, it's sort of taken a backseat to living life, and I hadn't pondered that for a while. Nor had I really kept up with teaching it to my Monkey.

I ran across this idea again this afternoon. Kendra, over at Preschoolers and Peace (which I discovered when browsing the Homeschool Blog Awards. It's voting time!) Has some interesting things to say about this topic. One of them is that it's a line upon line, precept upon precept sort of thing. What a lovely thought. I think it's a thought that applies to parents as well as children. Learn a bit, apply the bit, the Lord teaches us another bit, which we are then able to teach to our children.

Another thing that she had was a game where she specifically teaches her children, as babies, to come to her. I've been feeling the need to do this with Monkey. I want him to be in the habit of coming to me at home, on a regular basis, when he's called, so that when we're out in public if I for some reason need him NOW all I need to do is ask him. There are so many situations where that would make him safer, particularly in public. And her game looks like fun. I think I'll be playing it with him over the next little while.

Kendra also links to a site that looks interesting: Raising Godly Tomatoes.


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