August 12, 2011

Temporary Move

I decided to move to a new blog while I am in Canada ...
Come join me at

O Canada, Y'all - the story of one Texas family living in Canada

July 26, 2011

Welcome to Calgary

I had a great day. I got to visit the office of the company that transported my car, the customs office (for the second time in a week), and the Calgary Police District Office after I was rear ended by an Aussie. And I thought the Canadians were the bad drivers. At least I was still driving the rental and not my still almost brand new Subaru.

July 25, 2011

We Made It

We made it and have moved in and are unpacked. Three days to put everything away. That is a record for me.

The dog made it. M's new Betta fish made it. J's did not. I killed it within an hour. Not enough water conditioner.

I can see the Rocky Mountains from my kids bedrooms. I see them every time I go to the grocery store or walk to the park. I wonder how long it will take before I start taking the views for granted.

It is cold here. I know I should not be complaining since it is 105 in Houston. But I need a jacket every day and it is July.

We saw Stampede. We saw a baseball game. It is like Houston - except for that weather part. Oh, and those mountains.

June 15, 2011

It Keeps me From Reading

A new "friend" on another blog asked "What keeps you from reading?" And writing. And posting.

For me lately, it has been the move. I am not sure the reason. We are not going as far this time. I wonder if it is the kids. Or the stuff (this is our first move with cars and furniture). Is it the five years between moves? Our longest stint in a house ever.

I'm not quite sure, but I am tired and sick of the process. And this is a corporate relo ... imagine if I actually had to do any of the work?

I'm also sad. Very sad. A beautiful sorority sister of mine died today from complications related to surgery. She should not have died. She was too young. She was too beautiful and talented. RIP Brigitte.

May 2, 2011

I am Buying this Shirt

and I am going to wear it on the plane when we move our family to CALGARY!

Yes. This Texas family is moving to Calgary. We have a little apprehension, but we are truly excited.

We have been in this house 5 years. Before that we moved 14 times. In 11 years.

This ain't my first rodeo (or my first move). This ain't even my first international move.

The new job will be tough but a career builder for my husband.

The company will pay for private school.

I'll be close to Lake Louise (skiing is my all time favorite sport).

Anyone have any winter coats for sale?

May 1, 2011


As we decide on our future "country" of residence, I am forced to keep all of the swirling anxiety in perspective. I am well. I have my husband (at my feet this moment playing with the dog) home and alive. My children are strong and here (in the next room playing in a fort of chairs and blankets). They are tough kids who we have raised to weather change (they didn't even blink when we told them we might be moving).

I am lucky. I am blessed. When (if) we move, I will take the most important parts of my life with me.

April 29, 2011

Are we Moving?

Stay tuned...

But I am not unhappy about recent developments in our lives. I think I just might be ready for a change.

April 27, 2011

The Ugly American

Now we don't even have to travel for the rest of the world to think we are crass and vulgar ...

What the World See in America

April 19, 2011

Too Soon Gone

Grete Waitz died yesterday. She inspired me.

My grandmother also died yesterday. She prayed for me.

I suddenly feel very lonely.

The only reason I was able to get out of bed this morning is my belief I will see her again.

April 15, 2011

Read this Article

How to Get a Real Education

I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?

He gets it. Also why I am against 100% education. You don't need a college degree to be a electrician. Or a plumber. Or a car mechanic. Or a bank teller. Or a cop.

If you want a college degree, by all means get one. But don't ask me to pay for it.

This is a great article too ... but I wonder how much we had to pay someone for this "knowledge."

A small but growing body of literature suggests that exercising outside can help kids concentrate, learn and build important skills, says Rich, of Children's Hospital Boston.

Anyone who ever was or knows a boy in scouting could have told you this.

April 14, 2011

COOK'S ILLUSTRATED offers Extra Special Deal ONLY for their BEST Customers

I have been a subscriber of Cook's Illustrated for a few years now. I love the magazine and have always felt it was worth the cost. It tends to be a bit more expensive than other cooking magazines, but it is also higher quality and ad free.

So I was excited today when I received this e-mail ...

With this letter attached from editor Christopher Kimball ...

Dear Loyal Subscriber,

At Cook's Illustrated, offering recipes that work and call-it-like-we-see-it cookware and ingredient ratings to our loyal subscribers is our passion and singular purpose. I like to think that we're pretty successful at it, and hope you agree. I really do go over our records and note our "repeat customers" like you. It's a great way to measure our success.

This dedication to keeping our readers satisfied takes a lot of hard work — and a huge grocery bill — to overcook steaks, under-bake cheesecakes, and create thousands more cooking mistakes along the way to our foolproof recipes. And because we are 100% ADVERTISING FREE, our loyalty is to you, the subscriber, so you can always trust our objective ratings and reviews.

Obviously I'd like to keep you in the Cook's Illustrated family, so I'm extending this one-time opportunity to lock in tremendous savings with our early-renewal offer.

Thank you again for your support. I look forward to providing you with many more years of foolproof cooking.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Kimball, Founder and Editor

P.S. This is the one and only time you will be offered this early renewal deal. It's a time-limited offer as well, so just click below and lock in your savings!

Needless to say, I want to take advantage of this special offer. I want to lock in savings reserved only for their very BEST customers.

Current Offer:
1 Year (6 issues) for $28.95 — Save 19%

But I don't want to pay more for being a loyal subscriber. I want to pay less. So I thought I would check out what the non-loyal subscribers are paying ...

Yes! Please send me a one-year subscription (6 issues) to Cook's Illustrated. I'll pay just $24.95 — saving 30% off the newsstand price of $35.70.

In this case there is a price for loyalty. It is $4.00.

April 13, 2011

My Favorite Poem

This has long been one of my favorite poems ...

The Things
by Donald Hall

When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
—de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore—
that I've cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial—a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother's rocker,
a dead dog's toy—valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother's souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.

It was featured as poem of the day on

April 8, 2011

Do You Take Jesse Jackson Seriously?

Does anyone take him seriously anymore?

On Thursday’s “Martin Bashir” on MSNBC, Jackson, the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said the budget battle on the Republican side represents an effort to make the federal government “dysfunctional.”

I don't know about that ... I think it already is.

“You have those who believe in states’ rights and those who believe in a more perfect union,” he said. “States’ right are anti-civil rights, anti-workers’ right to bargain, anti-social justice, pro-rich and significantly insensitive to poor people — that was the great divide 150 years ago and it’s the great divide today in the ideological sense.”

Mr. Jackson, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but they are also constitutional.

Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Which way do you want it Mr. Jackson? Was the Civil War about slavery (as my 5th grader was recently taught) or was it about states' rights? Cause you can make a whole group of people feel bad about the first. But I don't think they will feel bad about the second.

Read more:

April 7, 2011

My Dream House

That is it. From House Beautiful. But I don't want it near a beach. I want it smack in the middle of a large tract of land in West Texas. A high fence and a gate code would be nice so no one could bother me. But that is a different post about my growing misanthropic tendencies.

I love the mid-century modern aesthetic of the house. I love the simple clean lines. I love the big windows and the porches. I love that I think you could easily drive a tractor right up to it. A green John Deere.

Mid-century modern with a touch of John Deere. My family. And some chickens. And a pool. And no one for miles. Doesn't that just about sound perfect.

And since it is Texas ... maybe a cow.

April 6, 2011

The Lost Fairy Tale

My kids have never seen Shrek. In the first place, I honestly just didn't care for the movie. In the second, I want a real fairy tale. I want the princess to be beautiful.

My friend, Dr. Louis Markos, wrote, "To most modern viewers, the transformation of Fiona into an ogre is 'no big deal.' Many would even hail it as teaching children the 'valuable' egalitarian lesson that external beauty is unimportant, an elitist, 'bourgeois' hang-up that needlessly divides and engenders low self-esteem in girls who can't make the grade."

But the Ugly Duckling doesn't stay ugly. He turns into a swan. The Beast turns into a Prince, and Cinderella beats out the ugly sisters for the love of hers. That is how I like my fairy tales.

Dr. Markos continues, "More and more, we are doing the same for ugliness: enshrining it at the heart of our culture, while beauty is left to atrophy and decay."

I've been thinking about this lately because of a 2nd grade project my younger son must complete. He has to recreate a fairy tale character out of craft supplies and return it to school. The most popular character this year ... Shrek. I kept my mouth shut during the discussion (I am learning), but I was just sad.

M will be recreating Prince Charming. And not the Prince Charming of Shrek or Into the Woods. He will be recreating the Prince Charming of Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. He will be the hero who rescues the damsel in distress. He will be dashing and defeat the dragon. He will be faithful. He will not be an ogre.

April 5, 2011

For Poetry Month and for My Son

When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

April 1, 2011

March Revisited

March was a tough month. I don't really want to relive it, or revisit it. I was going to share my troubles, but I am not sure I have the mindset right now to allow me to view what has gone on with any sort of calm demeanor. Let me just say that I did not have to deal with the kind of crap my older son is dealing with until much, much later than 5th grade. Does he bring some of the trouble on himself? Well, yes, if being educated and outspoken causes trouble. I guess he does.

Let me just discuss history for a moment. It happened. It doesn't make it right. But it doesn't disappear from the history books because you don't like that it happened.


Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems - Folger Shakespeare Library
No Fear Shakespeare - Sonnets - Spark Notes
Poetry. I didn't keep this up in March. Just didn't have the desire.

The Testament - John Grisham
Fiction. This was on the bookshelf at the home we visited over Spring Break. Typical Grisham fare. Not good. Not bad. Nice for the beach.

Moonwalking with Einstein - Joshua Foer
Non-fiction. Very disappointing. I expected something more like Word Freak by Fastis, which I absolutely loved. I am getting a little tired of these young reporters thinking that their lives are ALL THAT. There is Foer. Then there was the guy who read the encyclopedia and tried to live like the Bible. The guy who attended Liberty University. That was somewhat interesting. Maybe I just need to move on.

Crazy U - Andrew Ferguson
Non-fiction. See notes on Moonwalking. Enough already!

Decision Points - George Bush
Non-fiction. I'll just say it. I like the former President. Many, many moons ago, I worked for his dad. I like the whole family. I still don't agree with every decision 43 made, but I better understand why he made some of them.


Legend of the Guardians - Home
The boys liked it. I couldn't sit through it.

Chariots of Fire - Home
The only thing I remembered correctly from watching this movie years ago was the music. It was pretty boring and not that entertaining. I think I had it confused with the story of Roger Bannister. I can be excused. They are both about running very fast. Four Minutes/The Four Minute Mile. One of them was a much better movie.

Up In The Air - Home
About the middle of this, I had great hopes. By the end, I was just sad and depressed.


Planned all summer activities. This includes Scout camp for both boys, the EAA fly-in in Osh-Kosh, Wisconsin, Mount Rushmore, and Paris (without the kids). Gotta love those tag-a-long business trips.

Began 2011 Photo Book. I really did it. I did not procrastinate. I got the first three months of photos into the book and saved.

April is always better. One can only hope. I hope to finish some of the books I started (J and I are now reading Tom Sawyer together while he tackle 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on his own). I'm making another go at Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses. I made the mistake of trying Mrs. Dalloway on the Kindle. The Kindle seems to work best for me for books I don't need to think about while reading. If the book requires much thought or even a pencil for making notes, I need the paper version.

March 2, 2011

Amalgamation #6

Why Your Flight is Late - Really

Dooce - I don't read her or Pioneer Woman. And this is why I will never make $50,000 of my blog ... I will not use my kids or my family for fame. This is my life and I only want you (well most of you) in a part of it.

February Revisited


Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems - Folger Shakespeare Library
No Fear Shakespeare - Sonnets - Spark Notes
Poetry. I continued my almost daily reading of the sonnets. I am through #50.

Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff
Non-Fiction. Most of the reviews I read claimed that this book was more like a novel than a work of non-fiction. I'll have to disagree. While I am glad I read it for the perspective it has given me on current affairs, I wish I had not used my Christmas gift card on it. I should have waited for it to arrive at the library or in paperback.

Room - Emma Donoghue
Fiction. I am not usually a partaker of current popular fiction. I shun it. I usually don't like it. Last year's The Help would be a perfect example of a book everyone else (well, almost everyone else) loved but I couldn't stand. I couldn't even make 50 pages. But a fellow blogger, Girl Detective, said she liked it and I trust her opinion. So I downloaded it to my brand new Kindle (actually my husband's, but he hates it so I have adopted it.)

I liked it well enough. It was a perfect read for the Kindle as it is not a book I would necessarily keep in my permanent collection. I read it and then proceeded to archive it. If you read Girl Detective's review referenced above, you will get a good idea how I felt about it. With all the depth and detail the author put into the first half of the novel, I thought she could have paid more attention to the second half. It seemed to fall a little flat at the end.


The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
Fiction. My mother-in-law thought I would like this book about a young family told from the perspective of the family dog. It was cute and painless, but it is definitely not a work of enduring genius. I would never have purchased it for myself and I would only recommend it if you need a distraction on a long car ride and you have finished everything else.

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Fiction. Classic. This was one of the twelve classics with a big "C" that I wanted to read this year. I can't believe that I have never read it before. I understand that it is no longer in fashion to teach and read this because of the stereotypes that it perpetuates. However, I think we cannot ignore it's historical value as a powerful tool of the abolitionist movement. Or its equally damning look at both the prejudices and evils of Northerners as well as Southerners.

Our Horses in Egypt - Rosalind Belben
Fiction. I tried. That is about all I can say. I tried to read this book. I tried to like this book. I tried to understand this book. I am still trying. I am half-way through and am still not sure I understand all of the connections and characters.

Like last month's Bread Givers, this was a choice of The Wolves. That is 2 for 2 I didn't really like. Maybe I will skip March?

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein
Fiction. This was my favorite of the month. My 11 year old son and I read it together. We would read a chapter and discuss it, then read another. I liked this for the connection with him as well as the story. I was especially drawn to the distinction between good and evil, and I am always a sucker for a good "journey" story.


Black Beauty - Home
We were sitting around one cold and dark evening. No one wanted to leave the cozy living room. So J chose the movie and we all laughed and cried.

Friday Night Lights - Home
Please don't think that this is some kind of hyped up caricature of Texas football. It is spot on. And let me tell you, this kind of behavior starts with the parents of second grade students. I think they are crazy and I find the behavior shameful and dangerous.

Did You Hear About The Morgans - Home
About A Boy - Home
An Education - Home
My husband took the boys camping so I indulged in a chick flick fest all by myself. It was a wonderful weekend with Hugh Grant et. al. These were all nice movies. Nothing spectacular, but what I needed at the time.

The Great Waldo Pepper - Home
We love all things flying and aviation around here, so most of us loved this movie. I'll watch any movie with Robert Redford in his prime. J did not like it. He suffers from a deathly fear of fire.

Secretariat - Home
This was a good movie, but an incredible story. Of course, I always love the underdog.

The Social Network - Home
Not my choice for an Oscar. I find little value in Facebook and just a little more in the movie. Interesting .. I saw an interview with the actor who plays Mark Zuckerberg ... he is not on Facebook and does not own a TV.

Super Size Me - Home
I will never eat at McDonald's again. And It will be a while before I will be able to eat at any fast food restaurant. I want the boys to see this (with a little creative fast-forwarding).


Graduated Six Boys from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts
You have no idea how happy I was to see these boys move on after five years. And sad.

That is 13 books and 18 movies so far this year. I'm disappointed there are more movies than books, but I'll chalk that up to miserable (for Texas) cold weather, a new subscription to Netflix and a lack of books that even seem interesting. Up next ... Mrs. Dalloway and maybe something light to go with it.

February 20, 2011

The Presidents

I saw a great idea over at Scheiss Weekly and I decided to copy it with my own favorites ... a quote from each of the Presidents. Whether we agree with their politics or not, everyone has something worthy of listening to.

George Washington
If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

John Adams
In politics the middle way is none at all.

Thomas Jefferson
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

James Madison
A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.

James Monroe
The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.

John Quincy Adams
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

Andrew Jackson
One man with courage makes a majority.

Martin Van Buren
It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't.

William Harrison
To Englishmen, life is a topic, not an activity.

John Tyler
Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.

James Polk
The passion for office among members of Congress is very great, if not absolutely disreputable, and greatly embarrasses the operations of the Government. They create offices by their own votes and then seek to fill them themselves.

Zachary Taylor
It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe.

Millard Fillmore
May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not.

Franklin Pierce
Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.

James Buchanan
What is right and what is practicable are two different things.

Abraham Lincoln
If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

Andrew Johnson
The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.

Ulysses S. Grant
Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.

Rutherford Hayes
He serves his party best who serves his country best.

James Garfield
Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.

Chester A. Arthur
I may be president of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damned business.

Grover Cleveland
Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.

Benjamin Harrison
The bud of victory is always in the truth.

William McKinley
I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently that I would someday be made president.

Theodore Roosevelt
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

William Taft
Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood.

Woodrow Wilson
We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this.

Warren Harding
America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration.

Calvin Coolidge
Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.

Herbert Hoover
Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Harry Truman
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

John F. Kennedy
All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.

Lyndon Johnson
You aren't learning anything when you're talking.

Richard Nixon
Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.

Gerald Ford
Truth is the glue that holds government together.

Jimmy Carter
If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.

Ronald Reagan
Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face.

George H.W. Bush
The anchor in our world today is freedom, holding us steady in times of change, a symbol of hope to all the world.

Bill Clinton
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

George Bush
To those of you who received honours, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States.

Barack Obama
If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.

February 19, 2011

Way to Go

J is participating in our local Destination Imagination tournament today. GO TEAM!

UPDATE: They got third!!

February 18, 2011

Amalgamation #5

DePaul University no longer requires test scores for admission.

Football is dangerous.

Wisconsin. So I am going to editorialize for a minute. I don't like unions. Never have. I support Governor Walker.

Texas. More editorials. I love Texas. I love living here. I love the food. I love the music. I love the freedom. I really love Barbara Bush. I don't like Governor Perry. Never have. Never will.

February 17, 2011

Letting Go

It has been the most trying of times in our household. Sickness, death, arguments.

The realization that your kids will grow up and move away is more difficult for one of us to process than the other. It has caused some tension. How far do you let them go? When do you let them go? Who do you let them go with? When do you trust that what you have been teaching them is going to carry them through?

I have been reading Louis Markos' Restoring Beauty: The Good, The True and The Beautiful in the Writings of C.S. Lewis. I love the works of both C.S. Lewis and Dr. Markos (who is a personal friend of mine). A few of the passages that I keep going back to give me strength to believe that I am doing the right thing and to keep moving in the same direction.

Indeed, I cannot read through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader without a verse from 1 Corinthians popping into my head several times: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (10:13). Along with The Horse and His Boy, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader presents its audience with a picture of the the world that is not far removed from that of The Divine Comedy, Pilgrim's Progress, or Canterbury Tales. In an age when children (and their parents) are continually commanded to live in the now (not in the eschatological now of the kingdom, but the selfish, ephemeral now of immediate gratification), it is good that we be reminded that we are all pilgrims and sojourners in the land. We must be reminded (vis-a-vis the verse quoted above) that what we most need is daily grace to oercome the trials and temptations set before us on the road.

I have filled J's spiritual/moral bank account. I have read him the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. He has learned to love the story of Ulysses. We have read Shakespeare.

I have NOT allowed the public school system (which I am a strong advocate for, by the way) to reduce art and religions to mere feelings and nature and man to mere things (to paraphrase Dr. Markos). I have not allowed imagination to die in my home. I have taught them that there is a right and a wrong. I have shown the boys how to use a moral compass as a guide. I have told them it o.k. to be different and to not be afraid to be smart. We have discussed virtue and vice.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22.

I have prepared them to go. I have taught them to try. I am not ready for J to leave forever. He is not ready to leave forever. But he is ready to try a few new things on his own. He is a good kid. Let him show you.

February 10, 2011

Amalgamation #4

Today I offer two sad stories from the literary world, both from the New York Times.

Brian Jacques dies

Powell's forced to lay off workers

February 1, 2011

Amalgamation #3

People With Small Vocabularies Also Have Small....Brains

Megan McArdle has the best description for Michelle Bachmann I have come across yet ... "what do you get when you cross a motivational speaker with an eighth grade social studies teacher? I'll tell you what you don't get: any serious proposals to fix our budget woes."

And more from The Atlantic on the future of writing and reading.

January Revisited


Wolf: The Lives of Jack London - James L. Haley
Non-fiction. Easy and immensely readable bio of a great autodidact. Proof that passion and a good book can take you anywhere and can save you.

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
Fiction. Classic. I enjoyed the translation, but I did not like her. At. All. Maybe in my great happiness with my marriage and life, I find it to difficult to imagine forsaking my children. Maybe Madame is just a little too much like some of the "ladies who lunch" in my neighborhood.

Blindness - Jose Saramago
Fiction. This is the best book I have ever read. Ever.

Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems - Folger Shakespeare Library
No Fear Shakespeare - Sonnets - Spark Notes
Poetry. A year ago, I decided to expand my horizons with The Sonnets and try one a day. I finally had time to start. So far I have made it through number 25. One of my favorites has to be number 2.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use
If thou couldst answer, "This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,"
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
or, from No Fear Shakespeare
"The effort I spent raising this beautiful child explains the sorry old state I'm in."

The New Testament - NIV
This is my husband's pet project, but I got drafted as well and it has turned into a family project. We will read one chapter of the New Testament every weekday. The goal is to finish in a year ... so far we have made it through Matthew 21.

Apologetics for the 21st Century - Dr. Louis Markos
Non-fiction. Apologetic. Dr. Markos brings together some of the great apologists of the last century and distills their basic arguments into an accessible overview. I have attended Dr. Markos' lectures on C.S. Lewis for 5 years now and I am excited to say that he is as great a writer as he is a speaker. I feel extremely blessed to count him as a friend.

Have A New Kid by Friday - Dr. Kevin Leman
Non-fiction. Our Sunday-school class is watching Dr. Leman's series on Value Packed Parenting, and my husband and I are enjoying it. Dr. Leman has a great sense of humor; so, when someone handed me this book, I took it and read it in about 2 hours. We have had the end vision of what we want our kids to be in mind since they were born. The book didn't offer me much as we tend to agree with Dr. Leman on quite a bit (no TV in bedrooms, 11 year old boys don't need cell phones, controls on the internet), but did give me a few great ideas. My favorite - unless there is blood, let them work it out on their own. So when the boys were fighting this morning, they went into a room on their own with the door closed. They figured it out and I didn't have to mediate ... or hear it.

Bread Givers - Anzia Yezierska


The King's Speech - Theatre
I had no idea what this movie was about, but friends invited me and I needed a night away from the liars and stupid people who have been populating my life lately. Who knew a movie about the King's speech impediment would be so pleasurable. But then again, Colin Firth never disappoints.

Yogi Bear - Theatre
The only good thing about this movie was that it ended. But not soon enough.

The September Issue - Home
Well done documentary about putting together the September issue of Vogue. Anna Wintour did not seem as scary as I thought she would. I liked her creative director. And her daughter. Girl Detective, thanks for the recommendation.

UP - Home
This was a gem. Emotionally and visually satisfying. I did not expect this from animation.

Julie & Julia - Home
I felt like this was two movies. The movie with Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci was worth 4★.
The one with Amy Adams and Chris Messina was worth about 2★.
By the end, I was fast-forwarding through the parts about the modern Julie to get to the parts about Julia. I read the Julie book a few years ago and didn't much like it either. I think I'll put Julia Child's My Life in France on my someday list.

Expelled - Home
Issues are meant to be wrestled with.
By the way. I am a Christian and that does affect my beliefs. Right now, I believe that there is some truth in Creationism. I believe that there is some truth in Darwinism. I believe that there is some truth in Intelligent Design. I believe the whole truth rests in the person of God and will only be revealed at the end of the world ... whenever that is. I DO NOT believe that the population of our planet was seeded by aliens. It truly surprises me that Dr. Dawkins would think that is any more a viable answer than that there is a God.

In the interest of fairness, here is a link to Scientific American's rebuttal.

Singin' In The Rain - Home
Ahhh. This is how movies were meant to be. All the boys in the house said it was a "chick flick," but the next day my younger son came down the stairs singing, "Good Morning. Good Morning to you."

Toy Story 3 - Home
The best of the trilogy. Why is it that the best movies I have seen this month were animated? Or older than me?

Meet Me In St. Louis - Home
Our new subscription to Netflix has allowed us to watch a few of the classics recommended in The Best Old Movies for Families by Ty Burr. No one was singing songs from this movie the next morning, but the husband and I enjoyed it.


Christmas Put Away - You laugh, but this is a bigger project than you think. I love Christmas and all the trimmings. Maybe next year I will buy a pre-lit fake tree. No. Maybe next year I will scale back on the decorations. Not likely. Maybe I won't host that tea for my friends. Come on. As long as there is one person who BELIEVES in this house, we will DO Christmas.

J's 5th Grade Bottle Bio Project - I know. Parents aren't supposed to do homework for their kids. It is a learning process. But when someone tells me the value of making a person out of a 2-litre bottle, I will stop "helping out" quite so much. The research paper complete with a "real" bibliography. That made sense and he did that entirely on his own.

DH's birthday present - I made him a Blurb photo book of our 2010 adventures. The books chronicles our lives last year and encompassed 92 pages of photographs. We were blessed with travel opportunities last year and visited Colorado, Glacier National Park, and The Field of Dreams. I am starting now on 2011 and I also want to start going backwards in time. 2009 included a week in Disney World. 2008 had us in Reno for the National Championship Air Races. If I eventually make it back far enough the books will include our trips to Beijing, Chile and Normandy.

Planned WEBELOS Arrow of Light ceremony and Pack Pinewood Derby - This is one of the activities I am in the process of shedding. I have been with these boys for five years. I have watched them grow up and they are a part of my life. And while I will miss them, running a Cubs Scout den and pack are huge time sinks and I will not be sorry to see the responsibilities go. I will still be minimally involved as M's den leader, but that will be a joy.

Finished the *@# Drivers Course

January 27, 2011

Statistics You Need if You Have Kids

Less than one year ago, Katie Granju who blogs at Mamapundit lost her 18 year old son to a drug overdose. I have followed her journey since then and read as she has struggled and survived. Hers is a moving story. But go read her blog for yourself. Not only will you cry, but you will laugh. She is a great writer with an amazing life.

A week or so ago, she posted a link that has really made me think. The CDC released a report on drug-induced deaths for 2007.

38,371 drug-induced deaths occurred in the United States in 2007
Rates for males exceeded those for females.
In 2002, rates for whites surpassed those for blacks.

This change occurred as prescription drugs, especially prescription opioid painkillers and psychotherapeutic drugs, were prescribed more widely by physicians.

I couldn't find the statistics, but Katie says that drug overdose now kills more people than gun violence, alcohol or auto accidents.

When my kids spend time with their friends at our home, I am often asked to make sure they wear their seatbelt. Because my husband is a hunter, I am also always asked where the guns are. Are they locked up? No one has ever asked me if I keep my prescription medication locked up. Ever.

January 25, 2011

Amalgamation #2

Very interesting article on Chief Justice John Roberts in Fortune. More so than any President or House Speaker, he has the power to shape our nation's future.

On the flip side of the court system ... Judges who stay to long.

Oscar nominees have been announced. Of the best picture nominees, I have seen ONE. The Kings Speech. But I intend to see Toy Story 3, The Social Network and True Grit. When they are available on Netflix.

I have been a Republican as long as I can remember. Granted, a moderate Republican. I do not like Sarah Palin. Apparently that makes me a member of the educated, wine drinking, intellectual elite. How badly do I want a Republican in the White House? Not enough to vote for Mrs. Palin. Perhaps that is something the Republican Party should also take under consideration this year.

January 20, 2011

Huge Change for Our Family

Until a few weeks ago, we had a television set that looked like this:

Yes. We. Did.

Don't see too many of those around anymore. I am not even sure you can buy one. I am thinking about donating it to a museum.

It was a great t.v.

There was nothing wrong with it.

Except that we got one of these:

For free.

Well, with points from AMEX. Yes, my husband travels a lot.

Now, we haven't historically watched a lot of t.v. There really isn't that much on. Most of it is mind numbing carp.

But once you have the t.v., you might as well get the HD cable receiver.

You know, so you can appreciate the one or two PBS documentaries you manage to catch.

And since they have a special, you might as will upgrade to the receiver with the DVR.

Because really, who likes the commercials anyway.

And since you are upgrading so much technology, you might as well add a wireless router to your home. (Yes, we also were a completely wired family up until a few days ago.)

Well. Your son's 6th grade, school issued laptop will need a wireless connection so he can turn in homework.

And as long as you are at the Apple store to purchase the wireless router, why not pick up an Apple TV?

Cause you do love all things Apple.

And hey, Netflix offers a one month free trial. So, since your husband is out of the country (earning more points so we can upgrade to surround sound next Christmas ... it totally trumps the dishwasher) why don't you try it.

Well, I have the answer. You don't do these things because you turn into a t.v. watching lump who never leaves her house. That is why.

I almost called in sick today - to my VOLUNTEER position.

For God's sake people. Don't you know I have 29 shows to watch in my instant queue. I cannot be bothered to stuff envelopes. I don't care how good your cause is.

And I know that I have attended your benefit every year for the past 6 years. But I have to get caught up on my English history and watch The Tudors.

And I found The September Issue. Who recommended that one? It was pretty good.

Pinewood Derby. Sorry. I have to watch the entire first season of Friday Night Lights.

Stop me. Somebody. Tell me the magic of my new t.v. will wear off. Promise me I will tire of Henry VIII. Assure me that the new technology will enhance our lives.

Cause I am addicted to the carp right now.

January 14, 2011

Amalgamation #1

You know how some words always stick with you? For one reason or another you just like them. Amalgamation is one of those words for me. I like the word. And since an amalgamation is "a process in which things are combined" it seems to fit what I want to do here. I want a place to store links I might want to go back to. I want a place where I can just list things that interest me without really commenting on them or by just minimally commenting on them. Maybe you want to click through and read the stories that also interest me. Maybe you don't. We are all different. That is what makes the world such a beautiful amalgam. Enjoy.

The New York TImes wrote an excellent piece on the new AP courses/curriculum. Interesting since we begin the AP journey next Fall when my 6th grader will be taking all pre-AP courses.

My Dream House

A friend of mine has written a screenplay for a movie about the life of C.S. Lewis. Huge fan. Of both. Watch this space for more info.

Christina Green. My college roommate was best friends with her father.

January 12, 2011

A Comment on Media and Society

For whatever reason, our world is populated by a small but significant number of psychopaths and sociopaths....Since Freud, our society has suffered from a sort of mental and moral amnesia. We really have come to believe that normalcy no longer exists and that everyone has a phobia or a neurosis. It is not so.

Apologetics for the 21st Century by Dr. Louis Markos

My interpretation. There are more good people out there than we think. The media just focuses on the bad people.

January 11, 2011


Blindness by Jose Saramago is the best book I have ever read.

I feel very strange making that statement. My best friend and bull-shit detector called me on the statement when I said it to him.

"That's like saying the best drink ever, or the best sex ever, or the best ice-cream ever."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

This is the best book I have ever read. Ever.

It may be the best book I will ever read in my life.

It has changed how I view all the books that have come before this one and I am afraid that it will impact my reading for years to come.

It is the first book that I have ever finished and then immediately begun reading again from page one.

This is the first time I have EVER read the ending of a book before I got to the end. I had to. I had to know if what I was going through while reading this book was going to be worth it. I had to know if the emotional highs and lows I was experiencing had an ending I could deal with. And knowing the ending did not change the experience of the book at all.

I said to the same friend that "knowing the ending of War and Peace and what happens to Prince Andre would have changed the experience of that book for me." Knowing the ending of Blindness only allowed me to go on.

What is Blindness? Simply, it is a story of individuals and collective society losing their sight. More deeply, it is a story of people and collective society losing their vision.

The Boston Globe said this book is "A shattering work by a literary master."

Shattering is the word I was searching for as I read this novel.

It is brilliant. It is dazzling. It is staggering. It is shattering.

This is the first time, at least that I can remember, that I felt a physical reaction to written words on a page. I felt pain. I cried. I was emotionally drained. While I was reading, I had people stop me and ask if everything was o.k. They could see the terror and agony and heartbreak on my face. I was shattered.

I must explain that this was not a horror movie terror. This was a visceral terror. A vision of our society at its worst.

Yet, I could find - and it is what kept me going - a shimmer of hope and a crumb of humanity. For this is also a vision of people at their best.

But I don't know if you should read Blindness. There are very few people I would recommend this book too. I know few people who could handle the emotions I endured. Or better said ... there are few people I know who would want to handle the emotions I endured for a book.

Read Blindness only if you are willing to admit what you cannot see.

Many, many thanks to Myla Goldberg and NPR for introducing me to this book through their series "You Must Read This."

January 2, 2011


I wake up. I make coffee. I bring a cup to the office and sit at my computer (a Mac) and check my mail and my top sites.

Every morning.

I love my Mac for so many reasons but my favorite feature is in Safari. I can click a square in the top left corner and my 12 favorite sites are graphically displayed. Those with new posts have a lovely blue star in the top right corner. I always know what is new.

What is always on this screen?

Amazon and Scouttrack are there for ease of navigation.

Next are Mental multivitamin, Girl Detective, and 11D. These hve been there the longest. Mental multivitamin has been a steady read for at least 4 years.

Next are Joanne Jacobs and Mamapundit. Katie Granju of Mamapundit became a regular in April or May when she lost her son to a drug overdose. Her story, well-written, has moved me and made me appreciate how I have been blessed.

A recent bookish site addition is Nonsuch Book. She is a little intimidating, but in a challenging way. And she buys more books than anyone I have come across on the web.

Food blogs I read include The Homesick Texan and Gluten-free Girl. Texan is a new find that helps a "yankee" like me cook like I have lived in Texas my whole life. And while I do not have celiac or gluten intolerance, Gluten-free Girl is a wonderful story and has great recipes for anyone.

Rounding out the top 12 are The Ivory Hut and Copy Cat Chic. These are new finds. Copy Cat Chic was added when I thought I wanted to redecorate 4 rooms in my house. It is growing tiresome and will probably be replaced. Ivory Hut is filler right now, but it has potential.

I have a few other sites I really enjoy, but I only check those about once a week.

I can be done in 10-15 minutes. It fits with my live more simply rule for 2011.

Get off the computer. Read (books) more.