09 10

28 September 2008

Sunday Scripture

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

2 Nephi 25:26

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27 September 2008

Wanna Have a Party?

Looking at this birthday party makes me want to have a party for little kids. Just because it would be fun.

Of course, the birthday princess had a crown. Mom did one for the Prince a while before, they're both pretty cute. The princess post includes a tutorial for the crown. I should make one of these and borrow one of those capes... the I'd have myself a little King!

The reason that the party makes me want to host one (not that I have time to do so; it would just be tons of fun!) is it was a MONSTER party. What's not to love!?! Juicy Bits shows how she got ready for the party: favors, pre-made ice cream sundays, Monster games with Monster prizes, the works. It just looks like so much fun! She's even got little monsters to give away.

Then she did a post about how the actual party went and it looks like they all had a blast.

26 September 2008

Photo Hunt: View

My family used to live Out West. My folks grew up in Utah, and we've still got tons of extended family out there so every vacation I can remember was always to visit the distant relatives.

Out West they have these odd things on the roads - cattle guards. The cows apparently find them to be very scary, so they won't cross. Even though there's really nothing there to keep them from going across they won't do it. So the fences go to the road, then there's a cattle guard, then more fence on the other side. And it works. Mom says cows are dumb. I'm inclined to believe her. She says that sheep are dumber. I have a hard time imagining. But she grew up on a farm Out West, so I guess she should know.

Anyway. When you drive over a cattle guard, you're supposed to pick up your feet, lest you become an Old Maid. Very silly, but it's what we did when I was little. Then we moved Far Away to a Land With No Cattle Guards. Kate and I began lifting our feet up when we crossed railroads, because the sound is very similar and the Land Without Cattle Guards happened to be a Land Flowing With Rails and Ties. This game eventually mutated, as all good games do over time. Now, when one travels over a railroad, one must pick up the feet lest they be removed. But should they happen to be removed one can always just leave them down the next time one crosses because then they will be reattached. Did I mention that we do silly fairly well in my family?

The tragedy is that when we moved Far Away the younger kids never got to familiar with a cattle guard, so when we went to Wyoming this summer (there's more family up there) and we went up Grover Canyon, upon seeing a cattle guard we stopped to view it up close and personal. And this is the view we had:

These folks are my youngest siblings, checking things out.

You can check out another of my brothers in this post.
You can have a look at some more photo hunt photos here.

25 September 2008

Tasty Scones

I went to a baby shower this evening; they asked us to bring a dessert. I have some blackberries in my freezer that I've been meaning to use, so I decided to make some scones. They were delicious! And they were no more difficult than biscuits or cookies! In the process of finding a recipe for the scones, I discovered this wonderful site, The Joy of Baking, which in addition to having a whole mess of yummy-looking scone recipes, had some general tips on making scones, along with a whole lot of yummy-looking pictures. So they turned out delicious on the first try, which is always nice. Turns out that scones need similar treatment to pie crust: don't over mix; don't over handle. But that's not too hard to do. We did skirt disaster when I forgot to put the butter in. Fortunately, although I put in the berries and chocolate, I hadn't put in the wet ingredients yet, so I just fished out the berries and most of the chocolate, did the butter, and continued on my merry way. The scones were just fine. My scones were based on the Raspberry Chocolate Scones, but of course I can't make it according to the recipe like to be creative, so I'll post what I actually did:

Lemon Chocolate Blackberry Scones
2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

2 ounces plain dark chocolate chunks (about 1/2 cup) (This is a little less than the 3.5 ounce bars I found. Don't worry: I took care of the "extra" chocolate.)

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries

1/2 cup yoplait original lemon yogurt

1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract

1 small slosh lemon extract. (Sorry, that's what I did. It wasn't very much. It should have been more, because they didn't come out very lemony.)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Egg mixture for brushing tops of scones:

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs 2% milk

If you're using frozen blackberries, put them in a single layer on a plate, sandwiched between two layers of paper towel to thaw on the counter for a bit before you actually start cooking. The towels will help absorb any extra liquid as they thaw. When I do this I always end up with berries as beautiful as they were before they were frozen. Unfortunately my photo didn't turn out at all.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pull out your pizza stone and enjoy the fact that it requires no special preparations. Or, if you don't have one, the original recipe called for a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These things did stick a bit, even on a pizza stone, so don't skip the paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chunks (chips) and raspberries. In a small measuring cup whisk together the yogurt, vanilla extract, and egg. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times. (My dough wasn't even fully mixed when I moved to this step because it wasn't wanting to come together in the bowl, but it did nicely on the counter, without mashing my berries too much.) Pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round (a little bigger than my hand with the fingers somewhat stretched out) and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut the dough into eight triangles, like the wedges of a pie. Place the scones on the baking sheet. Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.

Bake for about 16 to 18 minutes (this is less than the original recipe, but they looked almost too brown anyway) or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and then turn your broiler on high. Sprinkle confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar over the tops of the scones and place them under the broiler. Don't let it get too thick, dab it out with a finger to break up any clumps and spread it out a bit. Broil for just a few seconds, turning the pan as necessary, until the sugar has melted and turns golden brown. Make sure to watch the scones carefully as the sugar will burn very quickly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

You remember the part where I said that I couldn't follow a recipe like to be creative? Well, the other half of my scones were a bit different, though mostly the same:

Chocolate Mint Blackberry Scones
2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

2 ounces dark chocolate Mintchunks (about 1/2 cup) (I took care of the "extra" chocolate here too. It was yummy!!)

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blackberries

1/2 cup yoplait original vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Egg mixture for brushing tops of scones:

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs 2% milk

Make the same way you would the first recipe.

24 September 2008

1000 Good Books

John Senior said that students ought to read 1000 good books before they read the hundred great books. That it will help buffer them against being swept away from a more sure foundation by intellectual inquiry and pride onto much more sandy shores. I think it's a good concept.

The members of the Classical Christian Homeschool Support Loop kindly compiled a list of 1000 good books. Here's what they said about how they decided what to include:

This 1000 Good Books List is by no means exhaustive. It is a listing of the books that 25 homeschooling mothers have come up with over the course of a year’s time through discussions of criteria to use in choosing a good book, ... The criteria we used to judge inclusion are: Does the book have literary value? Does the book re-emphasize a Biblical worldview or the Judeo-Christian heritage in some way? Does the book teach, through whatever means, what is moral or just or true? Does the book encourage to love and good works? Does the book exemplify warmth, tenderness, courage, humor, and other values and characteristics that we desire our children to be exposed to? Does the book nourish the intellect and fire the imagination? Does the book cross age barriers to be enjoyed by all?


The idea of 1000 good books before a smaller number of truely great - not only in literature, but great in foundational ideas to western civilization - is one that appeals to me. The idea that the 1000 good books listed by the kind women of the support loop are the only ones you should read (which is an idea that I have heard) is, to my mind, just silly. Susan Wise Bauer talks about the perils of list making in The Well Trained Mind, but I've loaned out my copy & can't post the exact quote. Essentially, she says that no matter how much thought and effort you put into a list you'll always miss something that's really good and always someone will think that something you did include should not have been. And she's right: lists can only be a starting place. But I like the 1000 good books list those ladies came up with. The books that I know seem to be mostly pretty good. (Though I've never figured out why it is that Moby Dick keeps turning up on these lists. I tried that one and hated it. But there you have it. Just like Bauer said.) So I'm taking the list and turning it into a google document to track what both Monkey and I have read. It's a big project, but one of the charms of this list is that it includes about 200 picture books. No need to wait for Monkey to "start school." I just love that.

And because no list is perfect, I'm adding a section: Extra Favorites. If you peek at my document, the extra titles are off to the left a bit. There's not many there yet, but the list is young yet. Give it time.

23 September 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window: It is cool and dark; the first full day of fall has come to a close.

I Am Thinking: I should hurry and scrapbook the lost pictures that I found this evening, before I loose them again.

From the Learning Rooms: Monkey has been cutting with scissors. He loves to reduce colored paper to so many tiny pieces.

I Am Thankful For: Andy at home; leisure time and spending money; Monkey-boy!

From the Kitchen: An embarrassing mess.

I Am Wearing: Jeans; brown t-shirt "Life is one big scrapbooking moment;" bare feet; no jewelry; hair in low ponytail; glasses.

I Am Reading: "Where's My Cow" "Literacy is Not Enough" "Beat and Wire Art Jewelry"

I Am Hoping: To loose some weight and have another baby added to our family.

I Am Hearing: Indian Flute musica dn the click of Andy's keyboard.

Around The House: piles of books; scattered toys that still need to be picked up.

One Of My Favorite Things: Sent several someones some mailbox love today.

A Few Plan For The Rest Of The Week: Missionary Zone Conference tomorrow - I'm in charge of lunch. (It's just Little Ceasar's Pizza & some fruit & desserts that the ladies are bringing in. No big deal.) I need to look at that strip quilting book & get that done here pretty soon. Saturday there's family coming to re-celebrate Monkey's 2nd birthday by taking him to the zoo.

Monkey was so little! He's grown a lot in the past 2 years. He was 3 weeks in this picture.

More Daybook entries here.

21 September 2008

Bridal Shower: Dad's-eye View

My Dad has a great post about that bridal shower that we threw for Kate a while back. It's a good read. Leave him a nice comment, will ya? I think it'd tickle him.

Helping Kids Focus in Church

Smockety Frocks has a great post on Children in Church. I think that she's onto something here:

Back in my younger parenting days when I only had 2 or 3 children, I would load up a bag with crayons, coloring books, little puzzles, snacks, and lots of stuff that I thought would keep them busy during worship. Then I started to realize that I was only encouraging them to think of it as a playtime, and a boring one at that. I wanted them, instead, to think of it as a time to actually worship and listen to the words being read from the Bible.

I'm going to have to ponder the things that are going into my "diaper bag." He mostly looks at his Book of Mormon during Sacrament Meeting anyway, which works for me. But we've still been taking the other stuff, and I'm thinking that maybe it's not so necessary.

Gotta Make That Dress!!

Now that my sister is finished making the necklaces that she's been working on. Secretly. And she wouldn't even show me the beads. (Not that I'm bitter or anything. ;) She posted pictures of the finished products on her blog yesterday. I need to make my dress so I have something to wear with such a cool necklace! My brother makes the beads. Isn't he talented? We're working on starting an Etsy shop so that he can sell them to raise money for his mission. Stay tuned, I'll let you know when we have our "grand opening."

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23

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20 September 2008

Gas, Grammar, and Good Content

Keeley is in an area of Tennessee that's having gas shortages. She wrote about it here. She also asked me what I thought of this article's grammar & content, so I thought I'd give it a good work-over.

Panic Grips Area During Gas Shortage

from Nashville's WSMV.com

Many communities gripped by a gas shortage were in panic mode over the weekend, and bad news from AAA did not help to calm them.

AAA said Saturday that supplies may not return to normal until late next week, but until then, they said everyone needs to deal with the crisis in a reasonable manner.

The latest updated comes the day after Gov. Phil Bredesen stated that the colonial pipeline that provides much of the area's supply was at 100 percent capacity.

AAA stated that the pipeline is still experiencing interruptions due to power problems caused by Hurricane Ike.

They said they do not expect normal service to be restored until next Friday.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said that supplies are running as normal, but do to the higher demand, reserve tanks were drained.

TEMA referred to the short supply as a temporary pinch point.

This should all be a single paragraph. Any 4th grade English teacher worth their salt would be getting crazy with the red pen right about now.

Ike caused power problems, which interrupted gas distribution to parts of Tennessee. Predictably enough, folks disagree on who is at fault and how long the problem will last. The Governor (who probably doesn't even do his own gas shopping) says there is not a problem. AAA has been to the pump and seen the lines.

Many rumors surfaced during the shortage about gas trucks being held up at the border and shut downs occurring at stations. None of the rumors has any truth to it.

Officials said rumors can cause panic in an already tense environment and can cause more problems in the long run.

Officials said they wanted to stress to the communities that no one should be hording gasoline, cars should only be refilled when they are close to empty and drivers should not top off tanks when they are half full or more.

The usual government line when there's trouble: Don't Panic. As far as I'm concerned, any time They feel the need to say that there's Something Seriously Wrong. Not that panic is productive at any point.

Channel Fours' Cynthia Williams spent Saturday traveling from different Tennessee communities.

Williams reported that in the Music City, chaos broke out close to midnight at a Pilot station on Trinity Lane.

Many at the station had to push their cars to the pump, adding another annoyance to a stressful day.

Franklin had a similar situation, Williams reported.

Police were called for gasoline deliveries, as drivers crammed the station looking for fuel.

People are panicking. Please tell me you're not surprised.

In parts of Franklin only one or two gas stations had fuel.

In some cases, people were given limits on how much gas they could pump.

The manager at one "Daily" gas station said that her bosses sent out a companywide e-mail promising that trucks were on the way with gas and would arrive either Saturday or Sunday. She said she later heard that there were more issues with a pipeline, which she knew meant more long lines.

One man waiting at a gas station stood in line and filled up a gas can, saying that his vehicle was stuck at "E" in his driveway.

Nobody has any gas. Gee. This is a very reassuring article. I'm sure that after reading it I'll be sure to act normal. No panic here. Nope. None.

Officials said a barge arrived Friday with more than 1 million gallons of unleaded fuel and 3 million gallons of diesel.

They said, however, that demand will suck that up faster than the next delivery will arrive.

We have gas. But not enough. So you probably won't get what you need. But don't worry, your government is On the Job.

Actually, other than it needs to be re-paragraphed (Is that a word? Is there a technical term for that?), this article is lots better than the one I did on Obama. For all that I poke at them for the "don't panic" stuff, there is some cause for alarm if you are not prepared. And the fact of the matter is, while I'd be fine for a while, maybe even longer than most since I don't drive much, I haven't got a bike (yet), and my husband's job isn't one that you could ride a bike to anyway. We'd be in serious trouble if gas shortages came to our neck of the woods and I really don't know how you'd go about preparing for it!

18 September 2008

Flower Power

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Photography Exercise

About two weeks ago I discovered Me Ra Koh Photography Blog. I just love her pictures. I decided that since I am in need of a photography teacher, and Me Ra posts tips and exercises, she's going to be my new teacher. One of these days I'll buy her DVD. In the mean time, I tried some of her stuff yesterday while we were outside doing our Outdoor Hour nature study/play on the SWING stuff. Oh baby oh baby, did it ever turn out well!!

This is bark on the tree in our front yard. It's a maple. Up close and very personal. I just love the narrow depth of field, which is exactly what the settings were supposed to be for.

This little squirrel was so incredibly cooperative. I've got several other shots of him that didn't turn out as well. Monkey stood right next to me and told me about the squirrel and his eyes. All animals have eyes. Monkey announces that pretty regularly these days. I couldn't believe how close he let us get. I don't have that big of a lens; just the regular stuff that a nice camera come with. I was right under him.

Ma Ra Koh said what settings to put your camera on:

All the above images were shot with my Sony 350 and 35mm lens. The 350 is a great DSLR that is super easy to travel with and has fantastic color! I was at a 1.6 aperture for extreme blur in the background. My shutter speed was 1/500 or 500th of a second. When I was outside shooting the blue steps and molding, I could be at a 100 ISO. But when I came in the house, I lost light and needed to bump up to a 400 ISO.

So that's where I started. And a whole bunch of my pictures didn't turn out. But the ones that did. Let me just tell you how happy I am with these two pictures! The last 4 pictures of my Outdoor Hour post are using her directions, then playing with the shutter speed to make the picture look like it'd have enough light. I have never felt so competent using my manual settings! This stuff is exactly why I've been wanting to take a photography class. Only this is more fun: I get to choose what I'm shooting! I'm not sure that this will be directly useful in doing Kate's wedding pictures, but it's definitely making me a better photographer and that can't possibly hurt!

Outdoor Hour 1: take 2

16 September 2008

Examining the News

The Headmistress had a great idea:

Take an essay, an editorial, the transcript of a political speech, a news article. Copy and paste the article in question to a word processing document or a blog. Then read it slowly, very slowly. As you read each paragraph, try to sum up the point of that paragraph, exactly what was that paragraph saying? Type out your summing up of that paragraph, either in a bolder font above it or below it, putting that paragraph in parentheses.

I thought I'd try it out. My article is the first political thing I ran across over at Fox. (I wasn't in the mood to fool around with MSN's page.) So I have

Obama Fine-Tunes ‘Change’ Message, as Race Tightens

The presidential debate has turned from which candidate can deliver change to which candidate has the best change to deliver.

Here's my first impression after just glancing at the first little bit of this article. I haven't even read anything yet and I'm wondering: Since when does paragraph = one sentence?

And in the new messaging landscape, Barack Obama is fine-tuning the most basic element of his campaign.

This should go with the sentence above. The next three sentences should as well. That would be a paragraph. Connected thoughts on a single topic: the change in Obama's propaganda.

Obama, whose slogan has long been “Change We Can Believe In,” has since the end of the Democratic National Convention in late August altered his rallying cry — and not because it ends in a preposition.

Obama now speaks at a podium that bears the words “Change We Need.”

He advertises upcoming “Change We Need” rallies on his Web site. And he incorporates the modified phrase into his stump speeches.

Obama tweaked his call for change.

It may seem like a small tweak, but in the carefully calibrated Obama campaign nothing is incidental.

Obama et. all do nothing by accident.

“There’s a real distinction between more of the same John McCain would bring to this country and the change we need,” Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, when asked about the slogan shift.

“It’s not that we’re moving away from (the theme of change). We are incorporating the seriousness of the issues this country is facing with the commitment to change we have been talking about for 20 months.”

McCain's dangerous; we (Obama & friends) are responsible.

The sudden focus on change-iness, as Stephen Colbert might put it, comes after John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin began to market themselves as the true reformers. McCain declared “change is coming” in his GOP nomination acceptance speech, and the duo has since played up its maverick roots in television ads and on the campaign trail.

The poaching of Obama’s campaign theme coincides with an uptick in the polls for McCain, who has been leading in the Gallup daily tracking poll since just after the close of his party’s convention Sept. 4.

McCain stole Obama's thunder, and it's working. People like to hear about change.

The enthusiasm surrounding the GOP ticket has been attributed in large part to his history-making selection of Palin as his vice presidential nominee, but McCain’s themes also fly in the face of the Democratic Party’s attempts to cast his candidacy as a third Bush term.

“(Obama) needs a sharper, more focused, tighter, more immediate message,” Democratic pollster Doug Schoen said, casting the 2008 race as still a “simple” choice between Bush policies and real change. “The slogan is a baby step but it’s only that.”

He said the slogan adjustment is a recognition that, “we’re past the point where we need to believe in things. We need results.”

McCain's not as important as his VP, and his proposed change isn't genuine.

Obama himself has taken public exception to McCain’s use of the change theme.

As he does so, he draws the “distinction” Psaki referenced in the type of change he would deliver — change we need — versus McCain.

Obama is irritated that McCain is stealing his thunder and Obama further says his change is more desirable than McCain's.

“That’s the change the American people need,” Obama said in Golden, Colo., Tuesday. “While Senator McCain likes to talk about change these days, his economic program offers nothing but more of the same. The American people need more than change as a slogan — we need change that makes a real difference in your life.”

Like the Headmistress's commenter said: Yadda yadda yadda.

And Saturday in New Hampshire Obama said: “If we are going to bring about the change that we need, we have to understand what change is. We can’t be fooled because John McCain — I’ve been talking about change since we started this campaign.”

Yadda yadda yadda. He didn't even finish saying whatever it was he was going to say about McCain.

The Democratic presidential nominee used the “change we need” phrase several times in his nomination acceptance address in Denver. But the new rhetorical tack is still being incorporated into the campaign set.

Obama supporters Saturday in New Hampshire waved new “Change We Need” signs as the candidate spoke. But as recently as Sunday, Hillary Clinton stumped for Obama in Ohio at a podium decorated with a banner that displayed the old slogan.

Monday in Michigan, running mate Joe Biden was equipped with a “Change We Need” podium. Obama’s set on Tuesday said the same.

Hillary is outdated and somewhat on the fringes of the campaign.

The push-pull over change is similar to the rhetorical chess-play that emerged after the January Iowa caucuses in the Democratic primary, when the race between Obama and Hillary Clinton was widely viewed as a contest of change versus experience.

Bill and Hillary Clinton attempted to differentiate between the type of change being proffered in the primary campaigns, saying the former first lady would bring “change you can count on.”

Everyone talks about change this election. It's how they're playing the game this time.

The Obama campaign, though, has in the past few days attempted to use the financial turmoil on Wall Street to turn the campaign back to issues, and buttress their argument that McCain only talks about change.

Obama wants to talk about issues; Obama says McCain is just full of hot air.

McCain took heat Monday for saying the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

But the Arizona senator on Tuesday likewise applied his reform message to the financial meltdown.

“We’re going to start where the need for reform is greatest,” McCain said in Tampa, Fla. “In short order we’re going to put an end to the reckless conduct and unbridled greed that have caused the crisis on Wall Street. We’re gonna put a stop to it.”

However, McCain later returned to his years in Washington in an ad addressing the economy that pointed to “experience and leadership in a time of crisis.”

McCain says he's going to fix the economy... with more of the same.

Isn't "Senator" usually capitalized? I wonder if that's an actual typo or a subtle hit on McCain. Not that anything else in this article indicates that it should be given that much credit. This is not great writing. It's not even particularly good.

Leonard Steinhorn, professor of politics and media at American University, said the new Obama message seems to be an attempt to “create a partnership of change between Obama and the voters.”

He said the new rhetoric stresses the voters over himself, as he tries to blunt McCain’s use of his campaign theme.

“It’s not about the candidate. It’s about the type of society that we want, that we need to be different from the past eight years,” Steinhorn said. “There’s a subtle difference between the two, but the message is clear.”

Obama puts the voters before himself.

This is very interesting. I've been reading Literacy is Not Enough, and I think that Valentine Cunningham hit the nail on the head when she said this on page 10:

But there is, of course, reading and reading. And mere reading, base reading, simple, instrumental reading, does not raise you much above Jo's beast like level.
[Jo is an illiterate street urchin in Dickens' Bleak House.] And what is most striking about the changing nature of modern reading material is how it moves us insistently back to a more and more simplistic, merely instrumental, reading position. We, and it, are progressively dumbed and dumbed-down. We are treated more and more as nearly-Jos, forced increasingly to inhabit a sort of glorified Reader's Digest kind of world, the zone of the hand-out, the precis, the ad-man's slogan, the politician's catch-phrase, the government department's brochure, the headline. Public words get progressively baby-like. The lettering up in neon is gargantuan easy reading stuff. The tabloids' mastheads come in massive print, as if for nursery readers. We're surrounded by baby-words writ large, and simple sentences for the learner reader. Public discourse is made up of little words, short phrases, small paragraphs [!], brief texts.

It is one of the great ironies of our time that as the means of modern writing production get more and more sophisticated, modern reading-content gets more and more playschool.

Case in point. Neither Obama nor Fox's Berger and Kapp, authors of the article, manage to use any complex sentences or vocabulary. Paragraphs are too short to communicate a complete idea. The single quote from McCain (The article is noticeably one-sided, in favor of Obama, who was complaining about Fox not endorsing him last I heard.) is more of the same.

Though I do think that Ms. Cunningham is not giving children's literature enough credit. It's better than this particular example of "public words."

15 September 2008

This Year's Feast

From Simply Charlotte Mason:

Picture a banquet, a feast, lavishly spread on a long table. Now, keep that picture in your mind, for that is how Charlotte Mason described the abundance of ideas that we should make available to our children in their school work. ... You wouldn’t call a plate of bread and a pitcher of water a feast. No, a feast involves lots of food! So have you planned to present your child with an abundance of knowledge? ...

Read more

This is one of Ms. Mason's ideas that I just love. Feasts are fancy food. They're food that you put some effort into. Think of all the planning and work that goes into a Thanksgiving feast. And not just the feast itself, but into the presentation. It seems to taste better when it's arranged nicely, when it tempts not only the stomach, but also is visually tempting and the smells... One knows that it's nearly time for dinner when the smells become heavenly. This is Charlotte Mason's metaphor for teaching, for tempting our children to the lovely world of learning.

More Listening

I like to listen to something while I address these invitations I'm doing for my sister. Found some good stuff today. Only I can't find a permalink to the the actual mp3, so here's a transcription.

Finding Your Sweetheart
While this talk was given to a BYU audience of mostly singles, there are some gems for advice to married folk.

This talk, Agency and Love in Marriage, is similar, but has enough different to be interesting. It's from the October 2000 Ensign.

14 September 2008

Trying Something New

I browsed across Christine at Crafling's Crafting, and she is having the mother of all scrapbook/cardmaking giveaways! It's an interesting giveaway. She's on a crusade to rid the blog-o-sphere of those squiggly letter pictures, which I learned are called "captcha." It's a technospeak acronym for "Cool ways to tell humans from computers." She hates 'em. Says they slow her down, keep people from leaving comments. And that they don't work. She's got a link from Sydney's Morning Herald about how they've been cracked by the spammers. Gotta admit, I'd been wondering how long that would take. I poked around the internet and it seems that Wikipedia thinks the jurry's still out on if they will continue to be effective or not, but it does seem clear that they're not 100% effective. Which is not surprising. Most of the other stuff that I found in my search looked too technical to worry about to satisfy a passing curiosity.

While I'm not entirely sold on her position, I am removing my word verification for a little while at least. Couple of reasons for this:

1. I get extra entries in her giveaway. And it's a cool giveaway.

2. I still get what I think of as "small-time spam" from time to time. It doesn't happen very often, and thus far it's not been offensive, but it is a pain to remove. And if it was on an older post I would probably not notice.

3. Comment moderation will notify me of all comments, so I'll be able to respond to stuff that folks leave on older posts.

Reasons Why I'm Not Entirely Sold

1. Comment moderation may be a pain. I haven't tried it yet. So we'll see. It's easier for me to use the word-verification.

2. I like to see my comments right away. Make sure they actually appear. It's somewhat like listening for the "sploosh" when you drop a rock in the well. Comment moderation takes that away and I miss it. Not that I let this keep me from commenting.

So we shall see what, if anything, comes of this. I think I'm going to also do up a poll, so make sure to vote, even if you don't comment!

Inspirational Clips From YouTube

The Book of Mormon reveals truth about today's problems:

LDS Church Leaders preparing us for the 2nd Coming of Christ:

Principles of Freedom inspired by our Founding Fathers

Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James 4:3

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

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

12 September 2008

Looks Like Fun

Hey, Pioneer Woman decided to post a bunch of homeschooling stuff. I'm thinking there's going to be some fun stories in this archive!

Retaking NPR's Candidate Quiz

Keeley recently retook the Candidate Quiz, which matches you up with the Presidential Candidate that you agree with the most. And she got matched with a guy name Bob Barr & wondered, "Who's that?" Then I took the quiz and wondered the same thing.

Here are my most recent scores:

Bob Barr: 15
John McCain: 10
Barak Obama: 2
Ralph Nader: 1

Nader's score surprised me. I didn't think there was anyone that would be a bigger problem than Obama. But, like Keeley, I've never heard of this Bob Barr guy either. So I'm checking him out.

Bob Barr's official website.

He's certainly got a better resume than Obama.

Let's see. He's been involved with some groups that I know a bit about:
*The US House of Representatives,
*the National Rifle Association,
*CNN, and
*Ronald Regan's administration.

His bio also mentions some groups I don't know:
*American Conservative Union
From their website:
The American Conservative Union is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization. ACU's purpose is to communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization. ACU's Statement of Principles expresses our commitment to a market economy, the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, traditional moral values, and a strong national defense.

*The Constitution Project’s Initiative on Liberty and Security
From their website:
Our Liberty and Security Initiative, created in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, addresses the importance of preserving civil liberties, even as we battle new forms of terrorism.

Privacy International
From their website:
Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, England, and has an office in Washington, D.C. We have campaigned across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right. We believe that privacy forms part of the bedrock of freedoms, and our goal has always been to use every means to preserve it.

I'm not sold yet, but it's looking interesting. One thing that I like is that you can see in Mr. Barr's associations that he cares about the Constitution, and more particularly about the original intent of the framers. I'm off to check out the Constitution party guy that I ran across the other day.

11 September 2008

Color Bombs

I got Mudpies to Magnets from the library again. I also picked up More Mudpies to Magnets. Then I started flipping through them. This color bombs thing caught my eye, it's in More Mudpies on page 31. They call it "Floating Rainbows," but I think that color bombs is more descriptive of what's actually going on in this experiment. It was pretty interesting! As with last time, I was surprised by how things went. And, like last time, Monkey was interested in what was going on. We got a new word out of the activity: float. It took almost 4 minutes to get the first "bomb" and, interestingly, the colors didn't all "explode" at the same rate.

And, the food coloring cleaned up off the counter much better than the last time I made a food coloring mess. No lingering colors at all!

More Blog Things!

Your Extroversion Profile:

Activity Level: Very High

Cheerfulness: Very High

Sociability: High

Assertiveness: Medium

Friendliness: Low

Excitement Seeking: Very Low

You Are 12% Slacker

You are anything but a slacker. You're truly a go getter.

You never let laziness get in the way of living your life - and you can't stand to see it in others.

You Need Some Green in Your Life

Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced.

And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony.

If you want stability, you've got to get a little green in your life!

For extra punch: Combine green with blue or purple

The downside of green: It can promote jealousy in yourself or others

The consequences of more green in your life:

You will be drawn to a new life path

You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange

You will be released from the demands and concerns of others

07 September 2008

Waited Long Enough

We had some great vacations this summer and I've barely posted any of the pictures. So I think that I've waited long enough and I'm going to post a few from Salt Lake City tonight.

06 September 2008

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea when his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Helaman 5:12

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

Time For Some Campaignin'!

05 September 2008

Article: Nature Jorunals

From Donna's Journey, an article on Nautre Journals:

Simple things like learning to draw and keeping nature notebooks can increase abilities to observe, increases the ability to pay attention to detail, sharpens the memory, and builds character. Drawing develops character by teaching steady application. Learning to draw and keeping a nature notebook is a record of growth. Viewing the change and the increase in skill can be personally gratifying. Drawing is a skill and can be learned by anyone who can write their name. I feel that if people can give themselves the permission to fail while they are learning, instead of think that if they cannot do it perfectly they cannot do it, I feel we would all learn more.

Monkey's Book Picks

I've noticed that Monkey's been choosing the same books lately, so here is his recommended reading list from this morning:

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carl (library book)
Counting Cows by Woody Jackson
Whales by Jeuness, Delafosse, Fihr, and Sautai
Carl's Afternoon in the Park by Alexandra Day
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carl
I Know Opposites by Joshua Morris? (it's really hard to tell on some board books!)
Dragon's Wagon by Carin Greenberg
Mommy Loves Me by Dawn Sirett
Jamberry by Bruce Degen (this is Grandpa's favorite)

We also spent a fair amount of time playing with an abacus, including counting the beads. I was pleasantly surprised by how much he knows about numbers!

We still have to work on the verses that we're memorizing, and then "school" for the day will be done, unless I get out Mudpies to Magnets again. But it's not looking good for that today. Probably that fun stuff will have to wait until Monday.

I Found a Teacher!

I am so terribly excited!

I ambled on over to Life in a Shoe this evening. (I should have been sleeping, but I'm still not: I'm blogging.) I happened to notice they had a photography give-away. With Kate's wedding coming right up & me wanting to brush up on my Skills since she wants me to be one of the Official Photographers, this peaked my interest. The give-away said I had to check out this site. I did, and I checked out her portfolio, but I never got past her wedding photography. This woman can use a camera! I'm so going to be staring at her pictures trying to figure out what it is about them that I love so much. But it gets better. She's got a blog. On her blog she's got a whole section of tips for Moms. With exercises. Oh yes, I am so there. Look out camera, here I come!

My Beef With McCain

In a word: the Constitution.

More than any other consideration, I want a candidate that loves the Constitution. A President (and Congress, and Judiciary!) that will function within the limits that it places on their power.

I'm not convinced that McCain values the Constitution much at all. Consider the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform bill." It places limits on free speech. But not just any free speech, it limits who can say what about politicians during elections, just when people need to be the freest to say what they think about who ever happens to be running!

Consider this from Reason Online:

Item—In June, the FEC ruled that the Bill of Rights Educational Foundation, an Arizona nonprofit corporation headed by a conservative activist named David Hardy, could not advertise Hardy's pro-gun documentary (The Rights of the People) on television and radio during the pre-election season...

Item—On September 9, the FEC ruled that a conservative group called Citizens United was not a "media organization" and therefore could not use unrestricted money to broadcast ads marketing a book and film critical of Democratic presidential candidate...

Item—Also on September 9, the FEC ruled that the Ripon Society, a Republican group, could run TV ads touting the anti-terrorism efforts of "Republicans in Congress" because no political candidate was referred to in the ads...

Item—That day, the FEC also ruled that a Wisconsin car dealership, called the Russ Darrow Group, could continue using its own name in its car ads during the election season. ... [The] dealership's ads were not "electioneering" because they did not feature the candidate himself. ...

McCain didn't just sponsor this law (passed in 2002 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003), it's got his name on it. This says a lot to me. I don't want a man in the highest office in the land that doesn't mind tearing apart the Bill of Rights.

Reason Online continues:

Worries about free speech, however, have proved all too well founded. "We're heading into a new era," says Smith. "You get less protection talking about your congressman than for Internet pornography sites or burning a cross outside a church or topless dancing."
Astonishingly, the Supreme Court, which many in Congress had counted on to overturn the Wellstone amendment, instead ringingly ratified it. And so the law of the land now sharply circumscribes what is arguably the most important of all civil rights in a democracy: citizens groups' right to criticize politicians. "What the Supreme Court has done," says David O'Steen, the executive director of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, "is make it possible for these guys to set limits on how and when they're criticized."

Read the whole article here.

I like McCain a whole lot better than I like Obama. And I'd be a whole lot more tempted by the Republican ticket if Palin was going for the Presidency rather than the Vice-Presidency. I like what I've seen of her. But with McCain at the top of the ticket I'm still in the market for a candidate that I can support.

03 September 2008

Doing Some Listening

I've got a lot of crafty stuff going on right now, what with assembling 100 of my sister's wedding invitations and doing 9 quilt squares for an exchange, I've got a half-made shirt in the kitchen waiting patiently for its turn and I keep casting longing glances at my stack of pictures that I'd like to get scrapbooked. And right now I'm not actually doing any of them even though the Monkey is asleep because he's very sad in his sleep tonight and although I can't seem to figure out the reason why he keeps crying when I put him down in his bed. He's asleep. But he cries like his little heart will break. So I'm cuddling him. And it helps.

In any case, either cuddling or crafting, I've been listening to some good stuff:

John Bytheway (is that name for real??) talks about the "war chapters" in the Book of Mormon here. Great stuff.

And there's this one about Why America is So Great.

Henry B. Eyring talks about the importance of the family & how to have a happy marriage & family.

These first bunch were recommended by You've Gotta Hear This. Now I'm just prowling around, looking to see what I can find in the unexplored territory that is podcasts. I found a couple of things on Palin:

The Clueless Class
The Palin Pile-on
Palin Shoot Down a Tired Agenda

Out Loud Opinion has some other stuff too:

The Political Virtues of Mitt Romney's Shamelessness

There Goes the Sun

This one is great. It's Henry B. Eyring talking about using music in gospel teaching, particularly in the home and family.

Here we have some further discussion of the "war chapters", and as much as I enjoyed Brother Bytheway's talk, I think this one is even better.

01 September 2008

Crazy Bread

I stepped out for an hour while the bread was rising and this is what I came back to:

Mmmmmm.... turned out tasty though. There's nothing quite like hot bread with a little butter and honey. Unless it's hot bread with dark chocolate. But I don't have any of that tonight. Bad planning I guess.

Labor Day!

Found this meme for Labor day & Moms, and I love a good birth story, so I'm playing along:

How long were you in labor?
About 6 hours of active labor, around 30 minutes of pushing.

How did you know you were in labor?
I was having more contractions when I went in for my appointment 2 days before my due date. I'd had tons of contractions for the past week or two and even been in to the hospital once, thought the contractions stopped as soon as we got there. They were nice habit forming contractions every couple of evenings that would get as close together as 2 minutes for 3-4 hours, then they'd peeter off and stop. I really wasn't in the mood for doing that again, and the Doctor asked me if I wanted my water broken, so I took him up on it since I was already having contractions. He broke my water about 11am. Of course they quit. So I got dressed again and took a walk around the maternaty ward. The nurses wanted to know if I needed directions, help, what was I doing. I told them I was having a baby. I ate some lunch. I went to my room once the contractions started again and while they were little Andy and I played Pocket Tanks for a while. It's really the only time that I've ever done well at that game. Sometime between 1 and 2 I couldn't concentrate on the game anymore. Not long after that I got in the shower. I threw up my lunch. (Oddly enough, I'm still glad that I ate it.) After a while I headed down to the hot tub and I stayed there until it was time to deliver. The hot tub wasn't really set up for doing water births, so I went back to my room, even though I really liked the water and wanted to stay. Monkey was born at 7:42pm, I think. I'd have to check the minutes to be absolutely sure and I'm not at home right now

Where did you deliver?
In a hospital. It was nice.

Nope. I used Hypnobirthing. It worked beautifully. It wasn't so bad. I'd rather give birth than, say, get a cavitiy filled. Any day of the week!

Nope. Completely uncomplicated birth.

Who delivered?
The doctor did. Although he almost missed the big moment. The nurses were getting pretty excited for a while there: the doctor on call was down the hall delivering another baby and my doctor wasn't there yet and I wouldn't stop pushing. I didn't want to stop pushing. I was having a BABY, and if they couldn't find a doctor to stand down there that wasn't my problem at that point.

**If you want to play along with this meme, just cut and paste the questions into your own blog, then head on over to Rocks in my Dryer to link up.



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