Saturday, August 30, 2008

My morning reading

I found a few tidbits this morning as I bounced around the web. First, Thomas Sowell. I love Sowell. An excerpt:

"Barack Obama's "change" is a recycling of the kinds of policies and rhetoric of the New Deal that prolonged the Great Depression of the 1930s far beyond the duration of any depression before or since. These are the same kinds of liberal policies that led to double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates and rising unemployment during the Carter administration. "

After hearing Bill Clinton and Joe Biden speak at the Dem convention, and observing both of them and many others over the years, this article isn't surprising.

Free speech? Apparently the Obama campaign thinks it doesn't apply to those who dare question his associates and activities.

There's a tremendous amount out there today about Sarah Palin. Predictably, the Democrat activists think she was a bad choice. Of course they do. She energized a good segment of the snoozing Republican base. I heard a news report this morning that the McCain campaign raised $4 million in one day yesterday.

Things just got interesting.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Giveaway winner

Yoooo-whoooo, Marie.

You've won the signed first edition of Sweetsmoke. Email me with your full name and address and I'll send it off to the author's representative.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I'm home after what seemed like a really long trip and am trying to get caught up.

I had a long list of half (or less) finished projects around the house that I was planning to attend to this week. I need to get ready for the government class that I'm teaching. I need to get somewhat organized. So far none of that has happened.

Instead of been working at church--again with delays caused by the malfunctioning copier--driving all over town on various errands, and making business calls. (AndI've also been visiting with my friend and her baby who made an early appearance and is spending some time in the NICU.)

I went to my convention for answers. I knew that I needed to decide if I was going to continue with my business or not. This wasn't because of pressure that anyone else was putting on me, but just because, after over five years with the company, the last four not really working, I knew that for my peace of mind I needed to either do it or not. My status as a customer was not in doubt, just whether I was going to work.

I got my answers. They came from an announcement about a significant research breakthrough that I have to share with the people I care about. They came from Glenn Beck's inspiring words about knowing who you are. They came from seeing fourteen families burn their mortgages, and hearing countless stories of lives improved. How can I not share that?

So, most of my projects are waiting. I'll get ready for the class. I have to do some laundry. I'll get to the rest.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a trip!

Bethany and I are in the airport in Denver. I had every intention of blogging while I was at the convention, but every minute was jammed full.

I am exhausted, and will be even more so by the time we get off the plane at 5:00 a.m., but I am also energized and inspired. You'll all be hearing more about that in the days to come.

It has also been wonderful to spend the past four days with Bethany. It is such a blessing to be able to count my adult daughter among my closest friends.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Running in circles

I am practically a blur right now.

Bethany and I head to Salt Lake City on Wednesday. She's already at my mom's, where I will join her tomorrow night. (Mom lives an hour and 15minutes closer to the airport, which is a big thing when you have an early flight!)

I have spent the last three years barely dabbling in my business. I've just begun to get serious about reviving it at the same time that I am trying to pack, get my nails done, and get the house in shape. Everything has to be done before my manicure tomorrow afternoon. After that there is no physical work.

Back to the house. I am leaving on Tuesday. The boys are leaving Friday. What do you think the house will look like when I come back Sunday? Are you betting on Patrick leaving it in good shape? Or will Andrew and chaos win the day? And what will the cats have done? Stand by....

My trusty Pinky is coming with me, so there will be reports from the road.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

At what point does a baby get human rights?

There was no way I was going to watch Rick Warren talk to the presidential candidates last night instead of the Olympics. I have my priorities. Besides, one of the gifts of the internet is that you can always find a YouTube video.

I've seen several videos, and a few news reports, and haven't seen anything surprising. I'm still not enthusiastic, but my friend RPW has a video on her blog that shows why I'll likely vote for McCain.

(I love it when Obama says that question is above his pay grade. We certainly wouldn't want to promote him then!)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Exciting Update: Giving it away

I have an exciting bit of news about my giveaway and a change in how it's going to work.

A few days ago I posted my review of Sweetsmoke. I had decided to pass along my advance copy. (And then buy a copy when it is released, because it is a keeper!) Instead,
the winner is going to get a first edition signed especially for them by David Fuller!

So here are the updated rules. You comment here and tell me you would like to have the book. Make sure that I have a way to contact you. If you have a blog, post on your blog pointing to this post. If you don't have a blog email your friends and tell them about it.

On Wednesday, August 27th I will draw one name from those who comment here and they will get Sweetsmoke, straight from the publisher.

Shopping success

Since I have shared frutrations, woes, and angst in the past, I thought I'd share some shopping success.

I have more clothes from Chico's in my closet than any woman should have from one store. But the thing is, they fit me. So I shop there. A lot. I was trying to spend less money so I spent lots of time trying on dozens of pieces of clothing at a number of stores. All I did managed to do was waste a couple of days and get really worn out and frustrated.

So Thursday I went to Chicos. I tried on seven things and bought five of them. I also bought two more tops like one that I tried on. I found a black jacket and pants that are very flattering and will be the core of my fall and winter wardrobe. We also hit a fantastic sale at Von Maur and I found the lightweight white cardigan I'd been searching for all summer.

I think I'm pretty much set for this year. I resisted the temptation to branch into browns, because my wardrobe is pretty good because I've built it on black, khaki, and white, with some color thrown in. Adding in browns would mean adding shoes, too, and I don't want to get into that. I would still like to find a dress. I have skirts, but I'd love a pretty dress for winter.

You can be sure that when I go look, I'll tell you about it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beef, etc.

We picked up 156 lbs of grassfed beef from a local farmer today. We purchased pork from him last year and were really impressed. We've also enjoyed his chickens. There's something so satisfying about seeing the freezer fill up. At the end of the month Colin and the boys will bring fish from Canada and it can join the beef, pork, chickens and blueberries in the freezer. By there will probably be some chopped frozen green peppers, too, because we're getting a bunch all at once.

More zucchini for dinner tonight along with fresh tomatoes an pork side. Last night I made unstuffed green peppers over rice and it was wonderful. I need to write down what I did.

I'm planting some things for fall harvest now: more lettuce and spinach, turnips, beets, leeks, and kale. Next year I want to plant potatoes for fall harvest. Our tomatoes are not producing as well this year as we had hoped, so I probably won't have a lot to freeze. It looks like the biggest bunch of them will ripen next week while I'm gone.

One of the best things about the garden and buying our food in bulk and really stocking up when things like pasta, rice, bread, and beans are on sale is that our grocery expenditures are down. What a bonus when we're eating healthier, better tasting food!

Safe and legal, yes. Rare? Not so much

There's been some talk that the Democrats are becoming more inclusive on the abortion issue. At Get Religion Terry Mattingly addresses some articles that see the changes in the Democrat platform as an outreach to pro-lifers who lean in the liberal direction. A number of other stories call attention to the strengthening of the "abortion rights plank."

A piece at First Things points to a Slate magazine piece that celebrates the dropping of the "safe, legal, and rare" formulation that was formerly part of the plank. Instead it now says,
“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
The writer at Slate welcomes this change. She says it will allow pro-abortion advocates to reclaim "the morality of abortion." (Anyone else see an oxymoron there?) And, I have to say, I'm not seeing an appeal to pro-life people in that language.

Apparently this new section was crafted to appeal to pro-life voters.
"The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."
Does that do it for you? That doesn't sound like anything to me except more potential government spending to do things that religious people have been doing for years on a low to no cost basis.

Democrats for Life suggested a restoration of a conscience clause as part of the section on abortion. It read:
"We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our Party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues."
It was rejected.

The Democrats have invited Bob Casey to speak at the convention. This is seen by some as another olive branch to pro-life voters. Some of you may remember that his father was not allowed to speak in 1992 because of his pro-life convictions.

So does all of this make you as a pro-life person feel more comfortable with a vote for Obama? What about those readers I have who are pro-choice? What do you think of these changes?

I don't buy it. From the reading I've done, and from the liberal commentators I've seen on TV, I don't think anything has changed except that the Dems are recognizing that America has become more pro-life--as was admitted in the Slate article--and they are trying to grab a few of the votes of people for whom life is a drop-dead issue. Of course, this is politics, so that's what we expect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great political video

Speaking of Dana, she has a good post about politics up with a really funny video.

So honored

Someone thinks I'm brillante. Cool. Especially since it's Meg, who is one smart cookie.

So now I need to pass this on to seven other bloggers. The only other rule is that I need to link back to the one who gave it to me.

This is going to be really, really hard. I have way more than seven that come to mind, so I'm going to pick the seven of those who I think are the most likely to actually do this themselves, and are not currently on vacation. This is probably going to be heavy on people who write well about theology, because that's my writing weakness, and they leave me in awe.

1. Susan's Pendulum Homeschool mom and my unschooling role model. I badgered Susan to start a blog for years. She did, and it's one of my favorites. Interesting. Often reflective. Eclectic. Smart. And yes, she writes well about theology.

2. Rebellious Pastor's Wife She is younger than me and has younger kids, but I often find myself looking up to her, because she's so darn wise. And yes, she writes well about theology.

3. Concordian Sisters These ladies are one of the newer additions to my blog addiction. They are proof that being mothers at home with young children doesn't mean they can't think. And when they write about theology, it's good.

4. Elephant's Child So young. So smart. So original.

5. thinking-out-loud Pastor Rick Stuckwisch is not only a top-notch theologian, but also a devoted husband and father of a lovely family. His blog is the most likely to make me cry.

6. A Round Unvarnish'd Tale Cheryl is another smart, talented homeschool mom who always has something interesting to say.

7. Principled Discovery My one blog from outside the Lutheran blogosphere. Dana's has become my favorite homeschooling blog. She gets it.

So there you have it. Brilliant bloggers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Come to the carnival

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up. Looks interesting this week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Explaining learning

This is a post that I wrote last year for my other blog. Amazingly, I had a conversation this weekend that brought it to mind again.

People understand school. They understand "education." They understand teaching. But what I've come to realize is that very few people understand learning.

They have a hard time grasping the absorption and growth of knowledge and understanding absent coercion or the assistance of an outside expert.

I was trying to explain to someone yesterday that, yes, my kids have learned to spell from reading. My daughter--who is an excellent writer--learned that craft by reading excellent writers.

We don't go "back to school" and that confuses people. I try to explain that they never stop learning, but that seems to confuse people, too.

When people find out that I was an education major, but changed my major after my practicum because I realized I would hate classroom teaching, they always suggest that it's ironic that I am a teacher now. But I'm not. I'm a parent. I actively teach my children very little. What I do do is provide them with opportunities and resources. I surround them with books and maps and music and art. I take them to parks and museums and antique stores and church and zoos and Target and beaches and coffee shops and soccer games and grandmas house. I let them weed the garden and wash the clothes and help me cook.

And we talk. All the time. We talk about the news, the book they're reading, and what the lyrics to our favorite Rush songs mean. We talk about why things are the way they are and what we can or can't do something about. We talk about moving to the country and the animals we'd have and what we would name our dogs. We talk about what we could possibly do with all of our tomatoes and why Amish chickens taste so good and why lightening does what it does when it strikes different structures.

I don't think I could keep them from learning, except maybe by sending them to school.

Book review

I have been getting LibraryThing Early Reviewer books for several months and just got the first one that made me think, "Wow, I'm glad I got that book!"

Sweetsmoke is an evocative title. It draws in the senses and sets a mood. The novel does the same. It draws us into the life of Cassius, a slave on the Sweetsmoke plantation during the Civil War, and gives us a sense of the sights, sounds, and smells of that life. Even more importantly, though, it imparts, more effectively than any book that I've read, what it means to be a slave, what it means to be an intelligent adult treated as a child or property.

I love historical fiction and this book has all of the elements of great historical fiction. The main character is compelling and many of the others are multi-dimensional. There is a clear sense of place and a wonderful integration of the historical events taking place at that time. David Fuller spent years researching this book, and it shows. The historical details are right .

The writing is skillful and descriptive. Several times while I was reading the book I had the thought that it would make a wonderful movie, and I think that that was due--at least in part--to the fact that Fuller brought his skills as a screenwriter to the writing of this book.
Highly recommended.

Summer food

We had some incredibly good sweet corn on Saturday. It was the best I've had in years. I'm going to run to the farm that it came from today and see if I can get some more to freeze.

I also discovered a new way to eat it. When the Aussies were here we rubbed our sweet corn with lime and cayenne pepper. it was good, but I missed the butter flavor. On Saturday I made chipotle lime butter for the corn. Oh. The smoky chipotle with the tart lime, creamy butter, and sweet corn was out of this world.

I had forgotten how excited little kids can get over a big piece of watermelon. And how sticky they get!

More zucchini. We've had it in cookies and bread. Numerous skillets of it sauteed, either on its own or with onions, or cheese, or garlic, or fresh basil, or some combination thereof. Zucchini cakes. On pasta. I haven't decided how we're eating it tonight. Probably sauteed again, because we love it that way and it's soooo easy.

We had our first plate of sliced tomatoes from our garden this weekend. We're about to be rich in tomatoes. So good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One of my favorite Olympic moments ever

When I was in high school a coach at a cross-town rival told the newspaper that their team was going to "beat us to death" in the sectional. It made our triple-overtime victory that much sweeter.

A similar situation happened tonight with our American swimmers. The Frenchies were going to "smash the Americans," or so they told the press. Instead the Americans smashed the world record, and Jason Lezak swam the fastest relay split in history.

Addition: On a gorgeous summer evening, sitting here with the windows open, we could hear a number of neighbors screaming when the team won, too. Then the dogs got going. It was quite the celebration.

Not the usual Bunco night

We had a bit of an unusual Bunco night tonight. We had a small crowd because of vacations and things were pretty laid back. We played Bunco for about 1/2 hour and then we decided to stop pretending and just watch the Olympics. Our conversation was wide-ranging, although we did spend quite a bit of time talking about the age of the Chinese gymnasts.

We are enjoying the Olympics, especially when we can watch at home with our DVR and fast-forward through the annoying Bob Costas commentaries and the multitude of commercials.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Shopping angst

I have always enjoyed shopping, especially when I get to shop with Bethany, my mom, or my sister-in-law Kim. But more and more shopping feels like a chore. Yesterday Bethany and I went shopping with things we needed to buy and money with which to buy them, but we left nearly empty-handed.

We just didn't see much we liked. We saw the same colors in every store. We saw lots of cuts that would be only marginally flattering on a tall, thin, broad shouldered model, never mind on a normal person. You know that when Bethany has a hard time finding things that look cute on her there's a major problem!

I did find a really nice pair of classic trouser-cut black pants at Gap. I may look like I'm wearing a uniform this fall if I don't find any new tops to supplement my three white and one pink Banana Republic blouses! (But at least I have those!)

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Yesterday morning was a rare treat. I spent the morning in the genealogy department at the library surrounded by family history books and my trusty Pinky.

I'm working on gathering my documentation for my DAR application, and did find some more specific place names and times yesterday that should help with that process. Of course, I kept heading off on rabbit trails. It's almost impossible for me not to! I love history, and my favorite part about family history is the way that you can see the larger historical events play out in a family or community.

As I worked on my Harrod history yesterday--my great-grandmother was Alta Jane Harrod Ruhl (in the picture with my great-grandfather)--I kept getting pulled into peripheral lines reading about soldiers and pioneers. It's so cool when disparate family lines criss-cross and I find that my fifth great-grandfather on my father's side, Levi Harrod, who fought in the revolution, and his brothers knew my first cousin nine times removed on my mom's side, Daniel Boone.

I found my husband's grandmothers maiden name, Garriott, intermingled with some Harrods in southern Indiana and several other names that are significant in my research, giving me more rabbit trails to follow.

Bethany and I are going to Salt Lake City at the end of the month for a convention, but I am hoping to be able to squeeze out a little bit of time to visit the Family History Library, although I don't have any illusions that I'll actually have time to get any research done.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Reading challenge again

My reading challenge list is coming along nicely. I don't think I'll be making any more changes to the lists themselves, because I still want to read those books this year. I have been a bit sidetracked by the rush of summer fiction. I have also gotten a few Early Reviewer books that I have needed to read, and those weren't originally on my list.

So, even though I've changed my lists a bit, I still like having the list of books that I intend to read. It has helped keep me on track.

Monday, August 04, 2008

For inquiring minds

--Bethany's cat is fine. She's apparently just cranky and old.
--I haven't tried the bread yet. I'm procuring a peel tomorrow.
--The boys are all going to Mackinac with my mom and my sweet Wicked.
--No, I haven't lost any more weight.

And what ABOUT socialization?

Every homeschool parent who has been at it for a while gets the "socialization question." Songs, magazine articles, and piles of blog posts have been written about how to answer. Some parents obsess about finding other children of the exact same age for their kids to hang out with, trying to recreate the socialization model of institutional schooling. Others worry that they aren't doing enough.

I've always been dubious about the value of the socialization model embraced by those who ask the question. Do I really want my 12 year old son learning his social skills from other 12 year old boys? Nah, didn't think so.

Instead, we've exposed our kids to people of all ages. They've had friends and hung out with kids who are older and younger than them, but their main influence has been us. We sometimes hear the story about the homeschooled teen who can't fit in when inserted into a group of his peers, as if this is proof that there is something lacking in his social training. Well, I'll take that anecdote and raise it one.

(An aside--as pointed out by my very wise 18 year old son--you don't take a kid from the nerd table in the local high school lunchroom and throw him in with the jocks. Or vice versa.)

Last week my middle son, Jonathan, went to a music camp in another state. He only knew one other person at the camp, a female, three years older than him. The first day he was a bit put off--groups of teen boys just aren't very civilized--but he managed to get along and by the end of the week was looking forward to going back. (And won an award that will partially pay for him to do so!)

The friend who invited him to go was also a homeschooler. We have known Mary since she and Patrick were in the same Kindergarten class. They followed us into homeschooling. Mary is an only child, and more than any other homeschooled young adult that I know, has mainly hung around with adults. When she was around her peers it was mostly because of her music activities, not because of any contrived opportunities for social interaction. Mary is a lovely, poised, well-spoken young woman, and apparently we adults aren't the only ones who think so. When kids would ask Jonathan why he came so far to go to camp he told them that he was Mary's friend, and all would be clear. Everyone knew Mary!

Last year Mary won two awards at the camp that spoke to her high skills and the impression she had made on the adults. This year Mary won the Leadership Award, because she was also highly regarded by her peers.

So take heart homeschool moms. It isn't necessary to drive all of the gas out of your tank to get to group events. You don't have to make sure that your child has a large crowd of age appropriate buddies. Of course, this doesn't mean you want to lock them in the basement, either. But there is much to be said for teaching our children how to behave and to respect other people.


As I catch up with all of the blog posts I missed this past week, I may be moved to post. If you want to know what a Bunco night with the Redeemer ladies is like, here's a look.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Home again

We're home, having dealt with almost every kind of road work delay that the states of Illinois and Wisconsin can dish out. The weather was perfect for travel. Yesterday was lovely and the boys and I spent the last two hours of the trip with the windows down and the CDs cranked as we watched the gorgeous sunset behind us.

Have several blog posts swirling around in my head, but they will have to wait until after church and our annual church council picnic this afternoon.