March 31, 2010

I Can't

I can't read. I can't think. I wanted to punch the rude lady at the Starbucks this morning. Can someone just be nice to me today.

March 29, 2010

I live here in my dreams

I am still day-dreaming of this place.

This is my place.

I would happily and easily give up my comfortable life for the peace of the aspens and the pines.

My husband could be a bartender. I could be a waitress (or a ski instructor).

The kids don't need new clothes.

March 26, 2010


In an earlier post I described how much I missed the boys and how we were taking a mental health day. Well, I just shooed those same boys (who I enjoyed a wonderful day with) out the door with their dad. They are off on a weekend camping trip and I am home with the dog until noon Sunday.

Tonight I will watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Tomorrow I will go to the art fair, do some shopping and have dinner with my girl-friends. Sunday, I will read the New York Times from cover to cover while drinking a quiet cup of coffee.

I will not watch Phineas and Ferb or ESPN Outdoors.

Forget the mental health day with the boys. I am going to get off the computer and start my mental health weekend.

Oh, how I will miss those boys.

Cast-Iron Belief

A post on one of my favorite blogs sent me to an article by John Polkinghorne. I have been pondering some of the questions - and many deeper ones - in my heart lately.

Well, I don’t think it’s possible to prove the existence of God. There are many things I don’t think you can prove in an absolutely cast-iron, logical way. You can prove that two plus two equals four; you can’t prove the foolishness or falseness of ridiculous assumptions. I could maintain that the whole world came into existence five minutes ago and that our memories of the past were created at that moment. I don’t think you could defeat me in logical argument about that, though we all know that would be an absurd thing to say. So proof, cast-iron proof, is pretty limited and not actually a very interesting category of things. I believe in quarks and gluons and electrons. I believe that’s the most intelligible, economic, persuasive interpretation of a whole swath of physical phenomena, but I don’t think I’ve proved their existence in the two plus two equals four sense — just as I can’t prove the existence of God. What we need, I think, is beliefs that are sufficiently well-motivated for us to feel that we can commit our lives to them, knowing that they may be false, but believing that they are the best explanation. I’m very sold on motivated belief but I am not sold on knowledge through proofs either in science or religion, or anything in between.

Mental multivitamin: John Polkinghorne: "I call myself a bottom-up thinker."

Save your Child's Life

Save your own.

Watch Jamie Oliver tonight on ABC ... 8 ET/7 CT.

March 25, 2010

Random Thoughts

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind. When your anger is aroused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune shipwreck.

Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence.

Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him … A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the sea. This is the moment to awaken Christ and let him remind you of these words: “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”

- Augustine of Hippo, Sermons on Mark

March 22, 2010

Did You Watch?

How funny that the one show on TV last night that was really about "health care" in America was cut short for a special report on the health care? vote. Shame on you ABC ... what Jamie Oliver is trying to do can make a bigger change in our country than anything else.

Watch Jamie Oliver.

March 18, 2010

What Being on the Winning Side Gets You

I recently wrote a post on how J. learned a huge lesson by losing. I think I failed to mention that the organizers of the competition gave out trophies to the teams who came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. In other words, they only gave out trophies to the winners. One of J.'s teammates was upset by this. She thought everyone should get some sort of recognition. "My mom says we are all winners just because we tried."

Except that they weren't winners. They lost. They came in second to last. They did a bad job. There was no teamwork. They were losers. You are a participant because you try. You are a winner when you come in 1st. Yes, they give out three medals at the Olympics, but only one of them is gold. As my husband has been known to say, "Second place is really first loser."

It sounds kind of harsh today to hear it phrased that way, but it is true. Second place really is first loser.

Yes, the kids tried. Yes, they worked hard. Yes, they put in a lot of effort. But does my 7 year-old son need a trophy every single baseball season. He has a shelf full of them, but they mean nothing to him. He doesn't care if they fall and get broken. If you ask him what they are for he will tell you, "Those are just baseball trophies." Then he will walk you over to his dresser and point to his Pinewood Derby trophy. "This is my favorite," he will say. "I won this when the car that my dad and I built got second place." It has a place of honor. It has some meaning.

The Atlantic has tied the sense of entitlement these "Trophy Kids" we are raising have to the trouble they are having finding jobs in the recession.

Many of today's young adults seem temperamentally unprepared for the circumstances in which they now find themselves....people who graduated from high school in the 2000s dislike the idea of work for work's sake, and expect jobs and career to be tailored to their interests and lifestyle. Yet they also have much higher material expectations than the previous generations, and believe financial success is extremely important.... "It's a generation in which every kid has been told,'You can be anything you want. You're special."'

(Jean) Twenge attributes the shift to broad changes in parenting styles and teaching methods, in response to the growing belief that children should always feel good about themselves, no matter what. As the years have passed, efforts to boost self-esteem-and to decouple it from performance-have become widespread.

When did we stop telling our kids it is O.K. to lose? Do you even believe it yourself any more? (I think it was about when we stopped teaching cursive in elementary school) But you know what? It is O.K. to lose. As long as you put in your best effort and as long as you tried, it is o.k. to lose. It is a lot of fun to be recognized to for something you did, but it means so much more to be recognized for more than participation. Ask M. He'll show you how it feels to be recognized for winning. Ask Bode Miller. Ask Evan Lysacek. Ask the Saints.

She (Twenge) worries that many young people might be inclined to simply give up in this job market.... There's an element of entitlement-they expect people to figure things out for them.

Ron Alsop says a combination of entitlement and highly structured childhood has resulted in a lack of independence and entrepreneurialism in many 20-somethings.

Perhaps most worrisome, though, is the fatalism and lack of agency that both Twenge and Alsop discern in today's young adults. Trained throughout childhood to disconnect performance from reward, and told repeatedly that they are destined for great things, many are quick to place blame elsewhere when something goes wrong.

Be gracious in both winning and losing. Be a good sport. Try harder next time. Know that it is perfectly fine to lose. Teach your children this, because being on the winning side might get you more than you bargained for.

March 15, 2010

March 12, 2010

The Thunder of a Shout

I copied this paragraph in a post on this date last year to describe my (then) 6 year old.
I love you the reddest! I love you the color of the sky before it blazes into night. I love you the color of a leopard's eyes when it prowls through the jungle, and the color of a campfire at the edge of the flame. A wide open hug. The swirl of a magic cape. The thunder of a shout.

That is what he is ... the thunder of a shout.

For such a little kid - smaller then average - he takes up so much space.

His head is big ... really, really big. He is only 7 but he wears adult hats. He has since he was 4. He had to have an ultrasound on his head when he was 6 months old because the doctors thought the extreme growth rate of his head was due to a tumor. When the doctor asked if anyone in my family had large heads I asked, "Literally or figuratively. 'Cause we have both." I made a joke because I was scared. He was fine.

His head is big - literally and figuratively.

His laugh is big and contagious.

His thoughts are big.

His writing is big.

This kid takes up "space."

He takes up space in the life of everyone he meets. Very few people who meet M. leave without commenting on "what a ___ kid he is." Fill in the blank with whatever you want ... he is it.

What a FUNNY kid he is.
What a NICE kid he is.
What a CUTE kid he is.
What a GRUMPY kid he is.
What an AMAZING kid he is.
What a SMART kid he is.
What a SOCIAL kid he is.

What can I say to best describe him, besides the "thunder of a shout?' Just this.


March 10, 2010

Word of the Week

ca·nard   [kuh-nahrd]


1. a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor.

2. Cookery. a duck intended or used for food.

3. Aeronautics.
a. an airplane that has its horizontal stabilizer and elevators located forward of the wing.
b. Also called canard wing. one of two small lifting wings located in front of the main wings.
c. an early airplane having a pusher engine with the rudder and elevator assembly in front of the wings.

Origin: 1840–50; < F: lit., duck; OF quanart drake, orig. cackler, equiv. to can(er) to cackle (of expressive orig.) + -art -art, as in mallart drake; see mallard

canard. Unabridged. Random House, Inc.

March 9, 2010

I Have A Secret

I am not a "creative" person. Really.

(Well, maybe it isn't a huge secret.)

I am analytical. I like clear-cut steps. I like rules.

Even my creative undertakings usually involve steps. Cooking is a great example. I love to cook. I am quite a good cook. I am not a chef. I do not come up with dishes on my own. I follow recipes.

I scared myself a little yesterday when I bought this ...

and this ...

I don't know if it will make me creative, but I am going to have fun finding out.

I have been looking for a challenge.

And the most important part of this purchase is that it is the first thing I have bought and paid for myself since my husband's wedding present. I worked and got paid. I saved and spent. I bought this on my own!

I used Ken Rockwell's site and this information to help me choose. There is a wealth of useful information on this page.

Random Thoughts

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Pablo Picasso

March 6, 2010

People Magazine and Captain Underpants

I don't read People Magazine. There, I said it.

I don't read it. I don't even pick it up in the doctor's office when I have finished my own reading material. I don't like the magazine. I don't care if Brad is with Jen or Angelina. I don't care who went into or came out of rehab. I think People Magazine is a colossal waste of my time.

I read The Atlantic. I read the Wall Street Journal. I read to engage my mind. Sometimes I read to drown out the world around me. People Magazine doesn't do either of those things for me. When I want something a little lighter, I read Bon Appetit or Backpacker.

If you want to read People Magazine, by all means, go ahead and enjoy it. You are not me. You might not care who Brad is with either, but you might enjoy the temporary break in you day. You might care about who Brad is with. Good for you. I won't judge you. I will just understand that we have different tastes.

I eat sushi and my husband doesn't. Different tastes. He likes his steak well-done and I prefer mine medium. Different tastes.

My kids don't read Captain Underpants or Junie B Jones. I think they are awful. As a matter of fact there are a few books other popular books that I would prefer my boys not pick up. I am not a fan of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. M. enjoys it, but J. thinks it is little to young for him. We own it, but we are not fans.

We are a reading family, and my two boys are avid readers. They will take any book you give them and give it a chance. I would say I am lucky to have kids who love to read, but I raised them to be that way. We have always read and we are always reading.

We love Percy Jackson. We are actually a bit obsessed. We can't wait for the next book by Ted Bell to be released. I rediscovered Call of the Wild in the fall when J. and I read it together. Such a beautiful book.

Now you tell me. If your child would read Call of the Wild, wouldn't you give that to him instead of Captain Underpants?

I made a decision a long time ago, even before I had kids, that I would surround them with good books. I thought that if the only choices in the house were classics then they would learn to love them. I was right. They do love the classics; but more importantly, they just love to read. They enjoy being taken away to different worlds and different times. They enjoy telling me about what they learned. I love to hear about it.

Stop with the, "You are a dictator" speech even before it gets our of your mouth. I do let them choose what to read. We take turns. The boys choose a book and I choose a book. (They have never chosen Captain Underpants by the way.)

They are also only required to read 50 pages of each book I choose for them. They have to give every book a try. The smartest man I ever knew once told me that there were too many good books out there to waste time on the ones you don't like. I have taught my kids that as well. When they are reading for pleasure and not for a school assignment, they can quit if they don't like the book. They just have to give it a chance.

Look, I won't judge you if you and your child love Captain Underpants. I get that some kids don't like to read, and I agree that a child who is reading is better than a child who isn't.

We have different issues and different tastes.

March 5, 2010

Word of the Week

I came across this weeks word in this L.A. Times magazine blog article. And while we are discussing "Black Hagiography Month" lets prepare for Irish-American History Month and Women's History Month. Both are in March.

hag·i·og·ra·phy   [hag-ee-og-ruh-fee, hey-jee-]


the writing and critical study of the lives of the saints; hagiology.

1805–15; hagio- + -graphy

—Related forms
hag·i·o·graph·ic  [hag-ee-uh-graf-ik, hey-jee-] Show IPA, hag·i·o·graph·i·cal, adjective

hagiography. Unabridged. Random House, Inc.

March 4, 2010

About Face

Diane Ravitch, former member of President Bush's Education Department and former defender of No Child Left Behind, has changed her mind. From a recent New York Times article:

Among the topics on which Dr. Ravitch has reversed her views is the main federal law on public schools, No Child Left Behind, which is up for a rewrite in coming weeks in Congress. She once supported it, but now says its requirements for testing in math and reading have squeezed vital subjects like history and art out of classrooms.

March 2, 2010

Sometimes My Kids Teach Me

For books that Geisel wrote and others illustrated, he used the pen name "Theo. LeSieg" (Geisel spelled backwards).

I did not know this ... J. pointed it out this morning.

Happy 106th Birthday Dr. Seuss

My favorite article on my favorite writer is in an old issue of Mental Floss Magazine.

On this day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children's books as "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother's maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books--including some for adults--that have sold well over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.


We will be eating green eggs this morning ... with bacon. I am fresh out of ham. How will you celebrate?

How we celebrated in 2009.

March 1, 2010

(Scary) Random Thoughts

I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.
We've got to start teaching our kids about food in schools. Period.

I'll be watching his new show ... Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

This book agrees ... Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber.

Socks on the Floor

My husband suggests you not buy a 2-story house. After this morning, I tend to agree. If I had a 1-story house, I would know where the socks are hiding.

I only go upstairs at night when it is time to tuck the boys in bed and say good-night. It is dark when they go to bed. The lights are off.

I went upstairs today to pull my ski gear out of the closet in preparation of our twice-postponed ski trip. I could see them. The socks on the floor.

Who cares right? Some socks on the floor. Well I do. I care. I can clean up just about anything. I don't even mind cleaning up the backyard. I hate picking dirty socks off the floor. From the back seat of my car. In the bathroom. On the kitchen table. Off the kitchen counter. On the computer table. On the coffee table. Dirty socks everywhere.

Help me. They can put the rest of their dirty clothes in their rooms. Not always in the hamper, but at least in their rooms. Socks never make it there.

The other day I quietly asked them to take all of their dirty socks upstairs. The socks disappeared.

Soon after that I asked them to put their clean clothes away, "Yes ma'am," came the quick reply.

I found all the socks today. And the clean clothes. The socks were all in a pile next to the Wii. The clean clothes were still in the hampers ... yep, next to the dirty socks and the Wii.

Well, the Wii is gone. Put away until June (I am such a mean mom). Their Nintendos seem to be gone as well (those only until we leave for our two day driving trip to Colorado). There will be no play-dates until next week. They will do their homework, go to baseball practice, read, and write me nice notes about how sorry they are that they can't pick up their socks!!!!