July 16, 2009

The God Divide

I read a hilariously touching book in one sitting this weekend and knocked out another book on my Summer Reading Challenge list. (I have been reading quite a few books in one sitting lately. I guess that is what happens when your husband travels to another continent for two weeks.) I am afraid, however, that I will find it much more difficult to write about than it was to read. Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University challenged me.

The Unlikely Disciple is the story of Brown University student and Quaker Kevin and the semester he spent at Liberty, Jerry Falwell's shining University on the hill. I have to admit that I read this book with a "but for the grace of God go I" attitude. Years ago - twenty-two to be exact - I came under enormous pressure from leaders in my church and friends of my parents to attend Liberty. I didn't go, but it was interesting to see what my life would have been like if I had.

I've been a Christian for most of my life, and yet my Christianity has run the gamut of belief from hard-core evangelical to someone who believes that Jesus might just be a Democrat. I am not going to use this post as a place to enumerate my views, but I think your views will define how you see this book.

Some of you will think Kevin is an unsaved heathen. Hopefully more of you will see him as many of us really are, a good person struggling to find what he believes. I think that is what I loved about this book ... he was a reporter writing a story, but he really became part of the story.

Here are some of the great reviews I found:

Roose went to Liberty as an undercover writer, not as a seeker, though much of his book’s considerable charm comes from the fact that he liked a lot of what he found...[a] vivid, sunny and skeptical portrait of life among the saved.
— New York Times

The Unlikely Disciple serves as a refreshing cease-fire in the wearying culture wars, likely holding surprises for anyone — theist, atheist, or somewhere in between — who gives it a chance.
— The Onion A/V Club

Kevin Roose is a delightful writer, and this is a humane book. Read it and I predict you’ll have less paranoia, more exposure to ‘the other,’ and a larger dose of Roose’s generous and hopeful faith.
— Brian McLaren
Christian activist and author of A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and Everything Must Change

And yes, before I forget, Kevin Roose is a very good writer. I look forward to more from him.

July 15, 2009

Word of the Week

fet⋅ter  [fet-er]

–noun

1. a chain or shackle placed on the feet.
2. Usually, fetters. anything that confines or restrains: Boredom puts fetters upon the imagination.

–verb (used with object)

3. to put fetters upon.
4. to confine; restrain.

Origin:
bef. 900; ME, OE feter; c. OHG fezzera, ON fjǫturr; akin to foot


Related forms:
fet⋅ter⋅er, noun
fet⋅ter⋅less, adjective


fetter. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fetter

July 11, 2009

Buzz Aldrin's Fatal Flaw

We went to the Musuem of Fine Arts, Houston last night for a talk and book signing by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. You know, he is the guy who was SECOND to walk on the moon.

My boys were excited. They watched From the Earth to the Moon
the night before. They gathered up all of their space books to read on the way down to the Museum. During a quick stop at the library to pick up some books on hold, they checked out more books on Apollo 11. They told the waiter in the restaurant that they wanted to ask Mr. Aldrin if he still likes to fly ... they love to fly. They were prepared.

They didn't complain that they had to wait in line for an hour to see Mr. Aldrin. It didn't matter to them that the microphone was malfunctioning. They didn't care that they had to wait another hour to get their book signed. This was one of their heroes.

Mr. Aldrin's assistant/bodyguard was rude. She was ugly. She snapped J's book shut and told him Mr. Aldrin would not sign his book. She interrupted a conversation I was having with my son.

Mr. Aldrin didn't even look up from the books. He didn't interact with the people. He wouldn't shake my sons's hand. He didn't even smile.

How sorry I feel for Mr. Aldrin. He is not one of their heroes anymore.

On the way home, J said he knows what Mr. Aldrin's fatal flaws are. As a matter of fact, J thinks Mr. Aldrin has two. (1) He thinks he is better than anyone else. (2) He is so obsessed with fame that he can't see anything else. He wants more and more and more.

"Dosen't he know, mom," said J. "Being famous doesn't make you a hero."

Oh, what words of wisdom. How right you are my son.

Mr. Aldin is working on his legacy. That is plain to see. He wants to explain away the years of alcoholism and mistakes and missteps. He wants everyone to see how important he is. He has met Presidents after all. He has met kings. He has walked on the moon.

When you are gone Mr. Aldrin, there will be a few people left who will care. Your vision is just that, a vision. And a vision is defined as "an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present." Don't you know, Mr. Aldrin that in the end, the only ones who will carry on your legacy are the children. Just not my children.

I feel sorry for you, Mr. Aldrin. You think you are a hero. However, last night you missed a chance to meet some real heroes. I know, I live with them every day.

July 10, 2009

A to Z and Love

I finished reading, in about an hour last weekend, CS Richardson's beautiful and elegant The End of the Alphabet. It is a story of travel and memories; however, as The Washington Post says, "Above all else this is a story about love, something longer than the alphabet and wider than geography." The writing is ethereal ... transcending the narrative to explain the relationship. And it is wonderful.

I have always had a list like Ambrose's. If I had a short time to live, I know where I would like to go. My list did not cover every letter of the alphabet from A to Z, but I have always known where I want to go before I die. After reading this, I decided to expand my list and include a place for every letter.

Here is my list:

Athens (on my original list)

Bhutan

Cairo (on my original list)

Denali National Park

Edinburgh

Fez (C for Casablanca and M for Morocco were already taken, so this part of the world gets F)

Galapagos Islands

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Istanbul (on my original list)

Jerusalem (on my original list)

Kenya (I would love to take one of these safaris)

Lisbon

Machu Pichu

Northwest Passage

Oregon Coast

Plymouth Rock (I have stood in the church where the men, women and children worshipped before leaving for a new world on the Mayflower, but I have never stood where they landed. I would like to complete that journey.)

Queensland

Rome (on my original list)

Seattle

Taj Mahal

Ushuaia

Venice

Warsaw

Xian

Yellowstone National Park

Zion National park

You might wonder why some rather obvious locations are missing from this list. Where, for instance, is The Great Wall of China or Bangkok. I have been lucky enough to live on 4 continents and have travelled extensively. A place that would have otherwise made my list - such as Paris - has already been checked off. That is also why there are a number of National Parks on my list. I have travelled the world, but I have not seen as much of my own country as I would like to.

I think my list looks like fun. However, as I was working on this post and dreaming of adventure I realized something. If I only had a month to live, I don't think I would really want to travel. I would probably spend most of my time planning for my boys life after me. I would write them letters and buy them presents for future events. I would spend every moment with them, and I wouldn't want to spend those moment stuck on an airplane. Boy-Oneder and Sonshine are my greatest adventure.

Now if there was a year ... I would stick to my original list. I would visit the centers of the great ancient cultures: Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Cairo. I would take the boys with me and take a million photos.

Where would you go ... from A to Z? Post on your own blog and let me know or post in the comments.

July 9, 2009

Books for Boys

I have read a number of articles lately about the dearth of books for boys, like this one in Education Week.

Authors Share Tips on How to Hook Boys on Books

Sorry, but I think these articles are missing the point.

There are some wonderful books for boys out there. Books with wonderful male main characters. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Nick McIver to name a few. We just finished The Call of The Wild and are quickly moving through Robinson Crusoe. The books for boys are out there. I will admit they are not as numerous as books for girls, but part of me says, "Thank goodness." I don't need a boy's version of Twilight or How to Be Popular or The Summer I Turned Pretty.

In my opinion the problem is not that the books aren't out there. I think the problem is that we expect less of the boys and they meet those expectations. I will never forget the day my son came home with a choice from the library, selected just for him by the librarian ... Captain Underpants. This for a boy who had already finished The Chronicles of Narnia (in their original order he likes to say). I personally returned that book to the library and suggested if the librarian needed help in the library during my son's library time, I would be more than happy to come and volunteer (she never did call).

Why aren't we reading to our boys like we read to our girls? Why can't we send our boys off with adventure classics and show them that classic does not mean boring? Why don't we have mother/son book clubs just like we have mother/daughter book clubs? Why don't you take your son to a book signing?

I don't think the problem is a lack of books for boys. (But go ahead and bring them on ... if they are good we will read them.) I think the problem is that we read less with our boys and expect less of them. Let's be honest, the problem starts at home.

Are you in need of some great "Books for Boys" resources? Check out the side bar with some of my choices from Library Thing or follow these links ...

Boys Rule Boys Read!
Guys Read
Book Club 4 Boys

July 8, 2009

Vincent

Today I want to share something REALLY COOL that I learned. Did you know that Don McClean wrote a song about Vincent Van Gogh? Hello, it is named Vincent. I have heard it a million times, but I guess I never heard the name and never really listened to it.



We were crying at the end of the slide show, but felt better when we realized that today people pay millions of dollars for a Van Gogh.

We studied Van Gogh through a new art curriculum I am using this summer called Meet the Masters. I like that the program combines art history, technique, and activity. I usually have the boys in a summer program at the Glassell Junior School at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (which had traditionally focused on technique), but this summer I decided to try something different. We will eventually cover 35 artists including Monet, Picasso, Mondrian and O'Keefe. We have had an introduction and one lesson and if this quality keeps up I will be ecstatic.

There are different levels in each lesson for different ages ... something even for the parents. Our project today was fun ... and educational. Shouldn't everything be?

Here is the painting we studied:



Here is our work:



Discover more about Starry Night at the Van Gogh Gallery.

2009 National Book Festival


The 2009 National Book Festival authors have been announced and one of our favorites, Rick Riordan, will be there. Talk about a "rock star" lineup ... Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry, Judy Blume, Jeff Kinney, John Irving and Ken Burns just to name a few. This year, the festival is September 26 on the National Mall.

I want to go.

July 7, 2009

Are you Wearing Yellow?

Are you as obsessed with Le Tour de France as I am?

Are you ambivalent about Lance's return to professional cycling? Doesn't some part of you say, "Let someone else have the glory you media hound," while the other part says, "Wow, you rock!"

Do your kids say, "Why do we have to watch cycling again?"

Does Bob Roll make you laugh?

July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day



You can't see it very well, but this is what it says.

The Declaration of Independence

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:


For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

How long has it been since you have read the whole document?

July 1, 2009

Word of the Week

The Word of the Week is back after a short vacation hiatus.

mis⋅o⋅pe⋅di⋅a  [mis-oh-pee-dee-uh, mahy-soh-]

–noun

hatred of children, esp. one's own.

Also, mis⋅o⋅pae⋅di⋅a.

Origin:
< NL misopaedia; see miso-, ped- 1 , -ia


Related forms:
mis⋅o⋅pe⋅dist, noun


misopedia. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misopedia

If summer were any longer, I would become a misopedist. (just kidding!!)

June 29, 2009

Nothing I didn't already believe

I read (really, skimmed, is a better word) Real Educationby Charles Murray this weekend. His "four simple truths for bringing America's schools back to reality" seem so common sense to me that it scares me a little that the book needed to be published. However, it did need to be published. Walking through the halls of many schools and talking to many of my teacher friends I have seen the great need for this book.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has become the opposite ... don't move any child ahead for fear someone will feel bad about themselves. Unfortunately, my slogan doesn't have a great abbreviation (DMACAFFSWFBAT). I see students struggling to meet basic standards that they are not capable of meeting. These kids aren't dumb or stupid, they just don't have the mind that grasps the concepts. One kid I know who has failed multiple math TAKS tests is a gifted writer. On girl can out-math me but struggles with reading. Can't we give these kids some real help? Can't we embrace the differences in our kids and teach to them, not to the test?

I wish I had the answers.

Some memorable quotes from the book:

For a society of immigrants such as ours, the core knowledge is our shared identity that makes us Americans together rather than hyphenated Americans.

Even the best schools will inevitably have students who do not perform at grade level.

If academically gifted children come to the end of middle school reading enthusiastically and enjoying the challenge of intellectual tasts, their test scores are irrelevant. (emphasis mine) Let gifted children go as fast as they can

Choices to not attend college or to drop out of college and go to work need our understanding and--this is imperative--our respect.

June 25, 2009

104 degrees

I don't really need to say much more.

It was a Houston record for the hottest day ever recorded in June.

Do you remember where I was?

Day Camp. In Houston. In June.

I love my kids.

June 23, 2009

One Week to Go

I think I will sleep in every day next week and watch t.v. and eat bon-bons and read and write.

This week is Cub Scout day camp in Houston's 100 degree heat.

Pray for me.

June 19, 2009

Relaxing?

Isn't summer supposed to be relaxing?

For three months, I looked forward to this summer. The boys and I would relax, swim, and do a few activities.

Wrong.

Before school even let out for the summer we were on our way to DisneyWorld. We returned. Utterly. Completely. Exhausted.

Then we started golf.

Next week is Cub Scout Day Camp (and yes, I am going, I am the leader.)

We have doctor's appointments.

Boy-oneder got braces yesterday.

Then we have golf (again).

And art camp.

Isn't summer supposed to be relaxing?

June 17, 2009

(Always) A Runner

If you recall, I joined a Summer Reading Challenge. I thought I would take a minute every so often and update you on our progress.

I finished Once a Runner: A Novel by John L. Parker, Jr.

I haven't written about it here, but I am a runner. It is a part of my life that is mine. The only person who really cares about my running is me ... and that is the way I like it. So much in my life is a group effort. I raise the boys with my husband, I run the Cub Scout Pack with many dedicated volunteers, and I help out at the school with some brilliant teachers.

I run by myself and for myself. I don't run with anyone. It is a solitary activity. Yet, though solitary, it is never lonely. I listen to music, I pray, and I think. It is the time during my day that I can be whatever I want to be. It is time to dream. It is where I can be in the world but not of the world. It is where I know myself best.

He sought to conquer the physical limitation placed upon him by a three-dimensional world (and if Time is the fourth dimension, that too was his province). If he could conquer the weakness, the cowardice in himself, he would not worry about the rest: it would come. Training was a rite of purification; from it came speed, strength. Racing was a rite of death; from it came knowledge.


I don't pretend to be a competitive runner. I am not that fast. I do understand this book, however.

He ran because it grounded him in basics. There was both life and death in it; it was unadulterated by media, hype, trivial cares, political meddling. He suspected it kept him from that most real variety of schizophrenia ...

Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.


I guess that is why I will always be a runner. Running makes me free.

Should you read this book?
Are you a runner? Then "yes," unequivocally "yes."
You aren't a runner, you say. You might not understand.

June 16, 2009

Happy Bloomsday!

The 16th of June 1904 is one of the most celebrated dates in literature as it is the day on which most of the action of Jame Joyce's famous novel Ulysses takes place.

From The James Joyce Center

I have begun Ulysses a hundred times. Most recently, I made it through Chapter 4.

I will finish Ulysses.

I will finish Ulysses.

I will finish Ulysses.

June 3, 2009

Word of the Week

va⋅ca⋅tion  [vey-key-shuhn, vuh-]

–noun

1. a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday: Schoolchildren are on vacation now.
2. a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
3. freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
4. an act or instance of vacating.

–verb (used without object)

5. to take or have a vacation: to vacation in the Caribbean.

Origin:
1350–1400; <>

I'm going to Disneyworld. I'm taking a vacation. See you later!

May 29, 2009

Summer Reading Lists

The Wall Street Journal has a great list of promising summer reads - for adults. Check it out here.

May 28, 2009

Life in the Words

I have been bored by my books lately. Bored. Tired. Turned-off. I haven't found anything to peak my interest or excite my mind in a few months. Friends have suggested books. Blogs have suggested choices. Nothing.

Until this weekend.

Whoever you are out there in the "blogosphere" that recommended my Memorial Day reads ... thank you, thank you, thank you. First, allow me to apologize for my bad habit. I write down the books that people recommend, but I don't write down who recommended them. Often I click straight from one website directly to my library page and put the book on hold. I can't thank the person who suggested these books and I am sorry.

I loved them.

I was entranced.

I was inspired.

I was happy reading again.

These books each deserve their own post, but I read them back to back and they are intertwined in my mind so I will write about them both here. They are about the same thing, but so very different. Each book is about one person's life in books and life with words.

The first book I read was Lynne Sharon Schwartz's Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books. She starts with the same questions that have been plaguing me for months,
What is it all about? What am I doing it for? And the classic addict's question, What is it doing for me?

Her answers challenged me to face my reading demons. What is it about reading that I love and need? I am past trying to prove something to other people. I don't really care what they read. I don't care if they know what I read or that I read.
It started -- my reading, that is-- innocently enough, and then it infiltrated. It didn't replace living; it infused it, till the two became inextricable, like molecules of hydrogen and oxygen in a bead of water.

Exactly. Reading is as much a part of my life as eating or sleeping. I realized that I have been searching much too hard. There is no reason for reading in my life. It is just a part of my life and always has been. Reading is not my life, but it is necessary to it.
How are we to spend our lives, anyway? That is the real question. We read to seek the answer, and the search itself -- the task of a lifetime -- becomes the answer.

Like the bodies of dancers or athletes, the minds of readers are genuinely happy and self-possessed only when cavorting around, doing their stretches and leaps and jumps to the tune of words.


And really, why do I care so much about books? Why do I care that, above all else in school, my children learn to read.
For in the end, even if all my books were to vanish, I would still have them somewhere, if I had read them attentively enough. Maybe the words on the page are not even the true book, in the end, only a gateway to the book that recreates itself in the mind and lasts as long as we do.

I am glad I read Schwatrz's book first this weekend. It freed me from the need to know why I was reading a book and allowed me to throughly enjoy the next slim volume I picked up, Donald Hall's Unpacking the Boxes.

I put down my note taking pencil and put away my mini-sticky notes. I read. I immersed myself in Hall's life and lived along with this former Poet Laureate of the United States as he found and followed his passion. I laughed and I cried and I vowed to read every single book he has ever written. I wish I could pick out passages for you from his memoir. I wish I could share the words here, but I can't. I think this book should be taken as a whole. His father's dreams for him can not be separated from his life at Harvard or his friends and family. They are who he is. And, WOW, what a life.

I have included these book in the same post, but many will say they are nothing alike. That may be true; but the first allowed me to enjoy the second, and the second allowed me to appreciate the first.

Read these books.

May 27, 2009

Word of the Week

widg⋅et  [wij-it]

–noun

1. a small mechanical device, as a knob or switch, esp. one whose name is not known or cannot be recalled; gadget: a row of widgets on the instrument panel.
2. something considered typical or representative, as of a manufacturer's products: the widgets coming off the assembly line.

Origin:
1925–30; perh. alter. of gadget

May 26, 2009

More from Rick Riordan


Mr. Riordan is posting all week at Letter Blocks, Barnes & Noble's blog for bookish parents. He is kicking off their summer reading program ... check it out.

May 21, 2009

Hard Work and Imagination Were Partners

A few weeks ago, I finished listening to Walter Issacson's biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe and throughly enjoyed it. Here is the story of a genius who combined hard work and imagination to achieve great things. His story is compelling and the book is very well-written. I enjoyed learning about Einstein's life, but the biggest lessons I pulled from the book relate to the state of education today. Einstein and I have the same opinions ... you know what they say, "Great minds ..."

As we move to the end of the school year, I will write here what I would like to send to the teachers my boys will have next year. The words are Einstein's:

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Remember this when Boy-oneder wants to tell you about a book he read and how he would have changed the ending to make it better. Remember this when Sonshine writes about his imaginary friend in his journal.
Critical comments by students should be taken in a friendly spirit.

No offense is meant, but he does know more about Greek mythology and animals than you do. Those are his passions. You are a generalist and he is a specialist.
Accumulation of material should not stifle the student's independence. A society's competitive advantage will come not from how well the schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.

No one will care in 15 or 20 years that these kids passed the TAKS test. They will care that they can write a coherent sentence and use their imaginations to solve real-world problems. My kids can read a textbook on their own ... bring creativity into their classrooms. We would not be fixing the Hubble telescope if someone hadn't dreamed we could get to the moon.
An appreciation for the methods of science is a useful asset for a responsible citizenry.

I take my kids to church so that they can develop a deeper understanding of the Bible and God's amazing creation. If you tell my 4th grade student that Darwin was wrong, he will ask you to prove your theory. He understands the scientific process. So do I. Leave matters of Faith to me.

May 20, 2009

Word of the Week

in⋅quire  [in-kwahyuhr]

–verb (used without object)

1. to seek information by questioning; ask: to inquire about a person.
2. to make investigation (usually fol. by into): to inquire into the incident.

–verb (used with object)

3. to seek to learn by asking: to inquire a person's name.
4. Obsolete. to seek.
5. Obsolete. to question (a person).

—Verb phrase

6. inquire after, to ask about the state of health or condition of: Friends have been calling all morning to inquire after you.

Origin:
1250–1300; ME < L inquīrere to seek for (see in- 2 , query ); r. ME enqueren < OF enquerre < L, as above

Related forms:
in⋅quir⋅a⋅ble, adjective
in⋅quir⋅er, noun

Synonyms:
1–3. investigate, examine, query. Inquire, ask, question imply that a person addresses another to obtain information. Ask is the general word: to ask what time it is. Inquire is more formal and implies asking about something specific: to inquire about a rumor. To question implies repetition and persistence in asking; it often applies to legal examination or investigation: to question the survivor of an accident. Sometimes it implies doubt: to question a figure, an account.


Inquirer

One who inquires or examines; questioner; investigator. --Locke.


inquire. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary1.classic.reference.com/browse/inquire

May 19, 2009

Read to Your Kids

and have them read aloud to you.

This New York Times piece extolls the virtue of using everyting - your very breath - to read. It is a whole new experience.
You can easily make the argument that reading silently is an economic artifact, a sign of a new prosperity beginning in the early 19th century and a new cheapness in books. The same argument applies to listening to books on your iPhone. But what I would suggest is that our idea of reading is incomplete, impoverished, unless we are also taking the time to read aloud.
I agree.

May 18, 2009

Ten Hymns

I am participating in Semicolon's Hymn Project. The rules said any song suitable for singing in church, but I kept my list to the old standbys because they are the ones that touch me most deeply. There is something to be said for standing the test of time. Each of these has.

Here are my choices.

1. How Great Thou Art Carl Boberg

This hymn, most famously linked to George Shea and the Billy Graham Crusades, brings to me visions of God’s abundance. My family has been lucky enough to travel the world. I have trekked through the jungles of northern Thailand, traveled the coast of southern Chile, and stood on the Normandy coast of France. Yet, when I think of this song, I remember standing on the Oregon coast with the waves of the Pacific crashing below me and the giant redwood trees protecting my back. At that moment this song had meaning for me. “When I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy hands have made. How Great Thou Art.” Alleluia. Amen.

Here is Carrie Underwood singing this hymn at the Grand Ole Opry.

2. Jesus Loves Me Anna B. Warner

I love that this simple statement of faith is the first song many children learn. So simple, yet so true and powerful. In most moments of our lives, we should need no more than the words of this song. “Jesus love me, this I know.” Why? “For the Bible tells me so.”

How beautiful to hear children sing this song.

3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Charles Wesley

Call it doctrinal, call it whatever you want. I would not like to attend a church that does not include this hymn in its Christmas services. I love how this hymn relates directly to one of my favorite Bible verses, Luke 2:10. “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”

It pains me how often this message is forgotten … that the joy of a baby is for “All people.”

There is nothing better than this song in a great cathedral.

4. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today Charles Wesley

Again, for me, it wouldn’t be Easter without this song. It isn’t a secret, I can’t sing well. I have a pretty bad singing voice. I used to pray for God to change that. I just wanted to sing for him. I know my song sounds beautiful to him, but I have always wanted to serve him in song. On Easter Sunday, I am never shy about doing just that. I sing with my heart to my God. “Where, O death is now thy sting? Where thy victory, O grave?”

And now the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

5. It is Well With My Soul Horatio Spafford

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.” On the days that I miss him, I sing this song. I remember a man who lost his five children yet he did not lose his faith. Oh, God! Grant me his faith.

The great David Phelps sings only to the Lord.

6. Just As I Am Charlotte Elliot

I had a hard time deciding between this one and Amazing Grace for my list. They both speak to the grace that saves us; yet, while Amazing Grace may be one of the best known hymns in the world, this one touches me more personally. The third verse speaks to me so plainly, “Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” And he takes me like I am, faults and failures. Because he doesn’t see them. He sees my redeemed self.

Here is a beautiful a cappella version.

7. There is Power in the Blood Lewis E. Jones

How did he redeem us? Why does Christ see my redeemed self? This song pretty much sums it up. “There is power in the blood of the lamb.”

This is how this song should be sung!

8. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name Edward Perronet

As I get to the end of the list I struggle with my choices. There are so many beautiful hymns to choose from. The first five were easily chosen. The next two required a little more thought. These last three choices were difficult. I have hymns of grace and forgiveness. I have hymns of love. I had to add a hymn of power. For he is powerful. If faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains, what can the faith of a church or a nation accomplish.

I’ll admit it, I am no fan of our current President. (I wasn’t a huge fan of our last President either, but I liked him better.) I see our country rushing headlong away from the Christian values our ancestors brought with them. I have stood in the Dutch church they left to avoid the persecution of an oppressive society. I imagine them singing this song to bolster their faith on their journey. I wonder, if all people of Faith would sing this daily and call upon the power of the Lord, what great things we could accomplish.

I love this version.

(My other choices here were Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty, Crown Him with Many Crowns, and A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.)

9. The Star-Spangled Banner Francis Scott Key

Yes, this is a hymn. “Phillipians 3:20 - For our Citizenship is in Heaven.” Did you know the besides being an attorney, Francis Scott Key was an evangelical Christian who taught Bible studies and witnessed constantly. Of course, “By the Dawn’s Early Light,” seeing the flag still flying he would praise his Lord. The last stanza, which we never sing, follows:

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must when our cause is just.
And this be our motto : “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


There is no video to this, but the music is amazing. Sandi Patty is superb.

10. Nearer, My God, to Thee Sarah Adams

This is the hymn I would like them to sing at my funeral. It is a simple statement of where I will be … “Nearer my God to Thee.”

And this is how I would like it sung.

11. I Can Only Imagine Mercy Me

I know the rules said ten; but I had to add an extra. It is one of the few modern praise songs that I enjoy. I have come to love the words..

Surrounded by your glory, What will my heart feel.
Will I dance for you Jesus, Or in awe of you be still.
Will I stand in your presence, To my knees will I fall.
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all.
I can only imagine.


What will you do at that moment. I don’t know, but I believe I will shout and sing to the Lord in a beautiful voice. Luke 19:40 - “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” How could I not sing in worship to the Lord.

When I was young I did not understand the overwhelming desire of so many of my fellow church members to get to heaven. They yearned for a closeness with their God that I did not understand. I feel at great peace here. I feel close to my God in prayer. We all have struggles on this earth, but it is God’s creation and we should enjoy what he has given us for this time. Knowing that in the next time we will be with Him.

After the death of my someone very close to me and then my mentor/pastor, I began to understand a little better this yearning for heaven. I still want to live fully on earth …

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well preserved body,
But rather to skid in sideways,
body thoroughly used up,
totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO what a ride!"

However, when I get to Heaven I know that standing next to Jesus will be my son. I believe Jesus will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” My son will say, “I love you mom.” I can’t wait for that day.



The video is a tribute to Team Hoyt. I encourage you to read more about them. They are some of my personal heroes.

One of the greatest resources for information on hymns comes from this book. It was a gift to my husband.

May 14, 2009

Spelling List Wordzzle

Boy-oneder had to write a story using his spelling words.  The assingment reminded me of Views From Raven's Nest weekly wordzzle challenge (which we have participated in exactly once).  Here it is.  The underlined words are his spelling words.

                                      MY TRIP TO THE SHOPPING MALL 

One peaceful night we looked in the pantry and realized we didn’t have any tuna for dinner. We all looked at each other, and then I got a idea. I happily said, “Let’s go to the grocery store.” We hopped in the car and drove off.  Usually we go to a grocery store 19 miles away, but there’s a new one 5 miles away. When we got there we met some homeless people and gave them some quarters. Other people were thoughtless and just passed them by. A beautiful store worker told us exactly where the tuna was. We were a little forceful while we were rummaging through the fish. We found the tuna and went to check it out when I realized my brother was missing. Dad stayed at the door in case he came back. We were clueless about where he was hiding.  We found him by the balloon man. He was lightly picking up a balloon that the balloon man dropped. We thought he was just being careless. We looked at Michael seriously and told him to come home with us. We easily bought the tuna. When we got home, Michael yelled, “Hey, the tuna is in the refrigerator!” We looked at each other, then we burst out laughing. For the next few weeks tuna was plentiful in our house.  That is the true story of how my brother became a balloon man’s assistant. 

May 13, 2009

Word of the Week

o⋅di⋅um  [oh-dee-uhm]

–noun

1. intense hatred or dislike, esp. toward a person or thing regarded as contemptible, despicable, or repugnant.
2. the reproach, discredit, or opprobrium attaching to something hated or repugnant: He had to bear the odium of neglecting his family.
3. the state or quality of being hated.

Origin:
1595–1605; < L: hatred, equiv. to od(isse) to hate + -ium -ium

Synonyms:
1. detestation, abhorrence, antipathy. 2. obloquy.

Antonyms:
1. love.


odium. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary1.classic.reference.com/browse/odium

May 11, 2009

Our First Encounter with the Bard of Avon

started out as a disaster.

I guess I should begin with my good intentions. After years of reading in one of my daily go-to blogs (Mental-multivitamin) about the joy of sharing Shakespeare with kids, I decided to take the first step. Houston's wonderful Miller Outdoor Theatre and Houston Grand Opera's Opera To Go program were presenting an adapted version of Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. School in May after TAKS tests are out of the way is a joke ... I knew this would be a better opportunity to learn than being in the classroom. Besides it was a beautiful day. We would sleep in, drive downtown to see the show, eat lunch at the zoo and make our way home.

Except J doesn't sleep in and was very grouchy in the morning. M didn't want to miss PE that day. My lovely husband kept asking (over and over) why I thought this was more important than school. And I was out of all breakfast making material.

By 8:30 everyone was in a bad mood. Especially me. I tend to get a little testy when the reality doesn't meet my expectation. After 14 years of marriage and 2 boys, one would think I might have gotten over that. I haven't. We were all a little tired from a VERY busy week and we were all hungry. I finally gave up on getting anyone in any of the clothes I would have liked them to wear and decided a nice leisurely breakfast at Starbucks with a steaming chai was out of the question.

M had on his favorite green and orange plaid pants and his best red, white, and blue striped shirt while J sported the jean shorts and moldy T-shirt look. We went through the What-A-Burger drive through. I put the audio version of The Last Olympian on my iPod, hooked it up to the radio, and drove to the theater in peace and quiet.

Thankfully, the reality got a lot closer to my vision as the day went on. I had prepared well for this excursion. J had an abridged version of Romeo and Juliet to read and M had a Romeo and Juliet word search to work on while we waited. The production was fun and lighthearted and only 45-minutes. We all enjoyed the performance and J said he would like to see the whole thing, even if it is three hours long.

I don't think my boys developed a life-long love of Shakespeare from the day, but at least they know who he is.

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day



Thank you for giving me a life full of happy memories.


May 7, 2009

The Last Olympian

Rick Riordan's final book in the Percy Jackson series does not disappoint. The Last Olympianis a tour de force of battles, intrigue, love and ???

Don't worry, no spoilers here.

As he has done in his other books in the series, Mr. Riordan combines his knowledge of Greek mythology with a fine understanding of young people to create a book that will draw you in, hold your attention to the last and leave you begging for more.

Percy again battles the forces of the ancient Lord Kronos along with his friends from past adventures. For a time, enemies become allies; and, just like in any "mortal" family, everyone must work together to bring the story to its satisfying conclusion.

J's favorite character is Tyson. M's favorite is Mrs. O'Leary. As always, I am drawn to Annabeth. However, all of the characters are so well drawn as to seem real in the moment. Riordan's writing makes them jump off the page straight into our imaginations. He made me laugh out loud. He made us cheer. And the best part is: There's more to come!

Go buy this book. Buy lots of them and give them to every kid you know. That recommendation that says this is for ages 10 and up ... phooey. Give them to everyone. Read them with your kids. Give them to libraries. Read them with other peoples' kids. ENJOY!



Until you grace us with your writing again, Mr. Riordan. Thank you!

May 6, 2009

An Open Letter to Rick Riordan

Dear Mr. Riordan,

I just wanted to take a moment to say "Thank you." "Thank you," for signing our books. But "Thank you" for so much more.

Thank you for taking the time last year, even though we were 241st in line, to ask my two boys which god they wanted to be, which book they liked the best, and which part of that book they liked best. I care that your signature is in my 1st edition of The Lightening Thief, but they could care less. They cared that you took the time to talk about them. Because of that meeting, my 6 year-old Kindergarten student decided that he wants to be an author when he grows up "just like Rick Riordan." He sometimes has to explain to adults who Rick Riordan is and he often has to explain to his classmates what an author is, but he KNOWS what he wants to be. My 9 year-old, by the way, wants to be a National Park Ranger (at Camp Half-Blood if he could be) or the President of the United States.

Thank you for the conversation I overheard between my 9 year-old and his best friend about which god they would most like to have as a father. Thank you for the ability my kids have to chase the monsters out from under their beds with a ball-point pen. Thank you for the blue cake I served at a birthday party last year. Thank you for making a "real" girl a heroine.

Thank you for making Greek mythology fun. Thank you for helping them learn. Thank you for helping them see that a classroom is so much more than four walls.

But most of all, "Thank you" for the time you have given me with my boys. They grow up so fast, but thank you for the hours and hours we have sat and read your books together. Thank you for the minutes we have taken out of our busy life to sit in the car and listen to Jesse Bernstein read just a few more minutes of your books on tape. I thank you for that from the bottom of my heat.

Sincerely,
Me

This is a copy of the letter I wrote in a fit of insomnia last night. I intend to give it to Mr. Riordan when we see him today. If you haven't read his books, they are about much more then a few Greek gods. They are about spending time with your kids.

Word of the Week

in⋅cu⋅nab⋅u⋅la [in-kyoo-nab-yuh-luh, ing-] 

plural noun, singular -lum  [-luhm].

1. extant copies of books produced in the earliest stages (before 1501) of printing from movable type.
2. the earliest stages or first traces of anything.

Origin:
1815–25; < L: straps holding a baby in a cradle, earliest home, birthplace, prob. equiv. to *incūnā(re) to place in a cradle (in- in- 2 + *-cūnāre, v. deriv. of cūnae cradle) + -bula, pl. of -bulum suffix of instrument; def. 1 as trans. of G Wiegendrucke

Related forms:
in⋅cu⋅nab⋅u⋅lar, adjective

incunabulum. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/incunabulum.

Another Poem

I know national Poetry month is over. I never get tired of really great works, however, and this poem made me smile.

Ode on Dictionaries
by Barbara Hamby

A-bomb is how it begins with a big bang on page 
     one, a calculator of sorts whose centrifuge 
begets bedouin, bamboozle, breakdance, and berserk
     one of my mother's favorite words, hard knock 
clerk of clichés that she is, at the moment going ape 
     the current rave in the fundamentalist landscape 
disguised as her brain, a rococo lexicon 
     of Deuteronomy, Job, gossip, spritz, and neocon 
ephemera all wrapped up in a pop burrito 
     of movie star shenanigans, like a stray Cheeto 
found in your pocket the day after you finish the bag, 
     tastier than any oyster and champagne fueled fugue 
gastronomique
 you have been pursuing in France 
     for the past four months. This 82-year-old's rants 
have taken their place with the dictionary I bought 
     in the fourth grade, with so many gorgeous words I thought 
I'd never plumb its depths. Right the first time, little girl, 
     yet here I am still at it, trolling for pearls, 
Japanese words vying with Bantu in a goulash 
     I eat daily, sometimes gagging, sometimes with relish, 
kleptomaniac in the candy store of language, 
     slipping words in my pockets like a non-smudge 
lipstick that smears with the first kiss. I'm the demented 
     lady with sixteen cats. Sure, the house stinks, but those damned 
mice have skedaddled, though I kind of miss them, their cute 
     little faces, the whiskers, those adorable gray suits. 
No, all beasts are welcome in my menagerie, ark 
     of inconsolable barks and meows, sharp-toothed shark, 
OED of the deep ocean, sweet compendium 
     of candy bars—Butterfingers, Mounds, and M&Ms— 
packed next to the tripe and gizzards, trim and tackle 
     of butchers and bakers, the painter's brush and spackle, 
quarks and black holes of physicists' theory. I'm building 
     my own book as a mason makes a wall or a gelding 
runs round the track—brick by brick, step by step, word by word, 
     jonquil by gerrymander, syllabub by greensward
swordplay by snapdragon, a never-ending parade 
     with clowns and funambulists in my own mouth, homemade 
treasure chest of tongue and teeth, the brain's roustabout, rough 
     unfurler of tents and trapezes, off-the-cuff 
unruly troublemaker in the high church museum 
     of the world. O mouth—boondoggle, auditorium, 
viper, gulag, gumbo pot on a steamy August 
     afternoon—what have you not given me? How I must 
wear on you, my Samuel Johnson in a frock coat, 
     lexicographer of silly thoughts, billy goat, 
X-rated pornographic smut factory, scarfer 
     of snacks, prissy smirker, late-night barfly, 
you are the megaphone by which I bewitch the world 
     or don't as the case may be. O chittering squirrel, 
ziplock sandwich bag, sound off, shut up, gather your words 
     into bouquets, folios, flocks of black and flaming birds.

May 1, 2009

Percy, Again

Rick Riordan and Percy Jackson were in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Rick Riordan

Mount Olympus for Kids

Read an except from The Last Olympian.

or

Visit Rick Riordan's website.

Previous posts:  here and here.

April 30, 2009

Great Books of Poetry

Pick one of these up at the library or your local bookstore. Read. Read. Read. Better yet, memorize one (Story from the NYT).











The End of Poetry Month

The End
A. A. Milne

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

April 29, 2009

Sorry, old man

but I don't believe you.

Sen. Specter, I just don't believe you when you say the Republican party is too far gone to the right for you.

What I do believe is that you are an old man who is unwilling to let go of a lucrative Senate seat. You are afraid of losing.

Did you ever think of working from the inside to change things? of standing up as a voice of reason instead of abandoning your party?

Is there no loyalty left?

I am a moderate, but I am still a Republican.

I am personally pro-life, but I vote pro-choice. And I am still a Republican.

I think it would be just fine for the two men down the street who have been together longer than my husband and I to get married. And I am still a Republican.

Sorry, old man but I don't believe you.

Word of the Week

per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious [pur-spi-key-shuh s]

adjective
1. having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment.
2. Archaic. having keen vision.
Origin:
1610–20; perspicaci(ty) + -ous

Related forms:
per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious⋅ly, adverb
per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious⋅ness, noun


Synonyms:
1. perceptive, acute, shrewd, penetrating.

Antonyms:
1. dull, stupid.

perspicacious. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perspicacious

Poetry can be Fun

There was a wonderful story on yesterday's Morning Edition (NPR) that I encourage you to listen to.  In honor of National Poetry Month, Renee Montagne interviewed Kathy Jo Shapiro who has come up with another way to make poetry fun for kids.  She takes famous poems and parodies them by rewriting them for kids.  

All of us were laughing at Ms. Shapiro's take on Poe's Annabelle Lee ... turning it into Macaroni and Cheese.  The boys have heard Annabel Lee and liked it. They loved Macaroni and Cheese.  They asked if I would please, please buy the book.  Well, it will soon be an addition to our library ... if my boys beg me for a poetry book, you can bet I will get it for them.  


My Letter from the World
Kathy Jo Shapiro
With apologies to Emily Dickinson
("This is My Letter to the World")


This is my letter from the world
That once it wrote to me:
"Dear Friend," it spelled, in purple buds
Upon a lilac tree.

"Come look around." the letter said
on mountains topped by snow.
“For if you search for a hundred years
There’d still be more to know.

“Please play with me,” it wrote in waves
Beneath a bright blue sky,
Then signed itself, “Sincerely, World,”
Upon a butterfly.

Here is the original.

This is My Letter to the World
Emily Dickinson

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.

Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

April 25, 2009

I Got Carried Away

Have I mentioned how much I love the Texas Bluebonnet Book program? Oh yes, here and here. I think last year's books were better than this year's choices, and one of the standouts was This is Just to Say. My favorite poem from the book follows:

to Kyle
I Got Carried Away

Rueben

Kyle, I'm sorry
for hitting you so hard in dodge ball.
I really just get carried away
in situations like that.
Kids screaming and ducking,
Coach bellowing,
all those red rubber balls
thumping like heartbeats
against the walls and ceiling,
blinking back and forth
like stop lights
(that really mean

go,

Go,

GO!)

See,
I even got
carried away
in this poem.

April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Will

April 23, 1564
William Shakespeare born

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare's date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

But did he really write those plays and sonnets? A Supreme Court Justice has his doubts.

From Saturday's Wall Street Journal:

Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays
It Wasn't the Bard of Avon, He Says; 'Evidence Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt'

The Atlantic has a take on this as well:

The Case For Oxford

April 22, 2009

Word of the Week

hu⋅mor [hyoo-mer or, often, yoo-]

noun
1. a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement: the humor of a situation.
2. the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical: He is completely without humor.
3. an instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing; something humorous: The humor in his joke eluded the audience.
4. the faculty of expressing the amusing or comical: The author's humor came across better in the book than in the movie.
5. comical writing or talk in general; comical books, skits, plays, etc.
6. humors, peculiar features; oddities; quirks: humors of life.
7. mental disposition or temperament.
8. a temporary mood or frame of mind: The boss is in a bad humor today.
9. a capricious or freakish inclination; whim or caprice; odd trait.
10. (in medieval physiology) one of the four elemental fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, regarded as determining, by their relative proportions, a person's physical and mental constitution.
11. any animal or plant fluid, whether natural or morbid, as the blood or lymph.

–verb (used with object)
12. to comply with the humor or mood of in order to soothe or make content or more agreeable: to humor a child.
13. to adapt or accommodate oneself to.

Idiom
14. out of humor, displeased; dissatisfied; cross: The chef is feeling out of humor again and will have to be treated carefully.

Also, especially British, humour.

Origin:
1300–50; ME (h)umour < style="font-style:italic;">Related forms:
hu⋅mor⋅ful, adjective
hu⋅mor⋅less, adjective
hu⋅mor⋅less⋅ly, adverb
hu⋅mor⋅less⋅ness, noun

Synonyms:
4. Humor, wit refer to an ability to perceive and express a sense of the clever or amusing. Humor consists principally in the recognition and expression of incongruities or peculiarities present in a situation or character. It is frequently used to illustrate some fundamental absurdity in human nature or conduct, and is generally thought of as more kindly than wit: a genial and mellow type of humor; his biting wit. Wit is a purely intellectual manifestation of cleverness and quickness of apprehension in discovering analogies between things really unlike, and expressing them in brief, diverting, and often sharp observations or remarks. 9. fancy, vagary. 12. Humor, gratify, indulge imply attempting to satisfy the wishes or whims of (oneself or others). To humor is to comply with a mood, fancy, or caprice, as in order to satisfy, soothe, or manage: to humor an invalid. To gratify is to please by satisfying the likings or desires: to gratify someone by praising him. Indulge suggests a yielding to wishes that perhaps should not be given in to: to indulge an unreasonable demand; to indulge an irresponsible son.

Antonyms:
12. discipline, restrain.

humor. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humor

MY SENTENCE: Based on the comments I did not publish, some people failed to see the humor in my writing.

April 18, 2009

Why I don't watch the news

Everybody Tells Me Everything
Ogden Nash

I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

April 17, 2009

Apollo 13

Today in History - April 17, 1970
Apollo 13 returns to Earth

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth.
Here are some movie favorites.










And some great books for kids.


Team Moon was one of our favorite books from