Friday, October 31, 2008

Costumes and Donuts

First, costumes:

Triss is Titania the Fairy Queen, and Mariel is Hermia the Lovelorn. Doesn't she look terribly sad?

Cornflower is a princess or fairy every day, so she decided to be something different for a change. She is Kevin the Football Player!

Triss explaining how earthquakes work while waiting for donuts to fry. (There was an earthquake in Texas last night, how about that?) She also expressed thanks to the Lord for her nervous system, which informed her rather quickly that she had touched the hot slotted spatula.

Mmm, donuts. When they cooled enough, we shook them in a bag with powdered sugar.

Tonight we are going to eat pizza and watch a movie and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. The kids have never passed out candy before and are looking forward to oohing and ahhing over all the little kids' costumes!

A Legend of Arthur

This is the Lady Guinevere looking out of her window at the young King Arthur, who has removed his disguise and is resting at the fountain in her garden.

(Scene set by Mariel.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lost Another Tooth

My Friend Mandy


Yes, Vice-Presidential Candidate Potter is indeed My Friend Mandy. She was my doll when I was a kid and now the girls get to play with her.

Mock Election: Photos

Some "press coverage" of our mock election:


The candidates on their platforms.


The party of Fleming and Lincoln (Fleming is on the left, Lincoln is on the right)


The party of Kermit and Temple (Temple is behind Kermit, and I think that is Polly Pocket, their press secretary, in the background)


The Green Party (Green is at the podium and I forget the name of her running made. Potter is in the background)


The campaign managers pose with their candidates.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mock Election: Square Peg in a Round Hole?

In our previous free speech debate, I added this comment to the bottom of the post:

"It is hard for us to look at this question from a civil government perspective rather than a parent/child/siblings perspective. For instance, as a citizen I know that I don't want to limit free speech any more than absolutely necessary, but as a mother, I do not want my kids saying certain things, or using derogatory tones of voice, and I am willing to forbid it."

I asked a good friend to provide some comments for us to consider, and she obliged by email, reminding me that family government is not civil government and ought not to be so, that it is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

I tried to circumvent this problem in the beginning by letting the kids know all of this was theoretical, and they realized quickly that we are not a democracy, nor a constitutional republic:

"This election is theoretical only. Any Presidential position an inanimate object has in this house is purely ceremonial and imaginary."

"The kids realized rather quickly that our household form of government differs from the American form. We seem to be a constitutional monarchy with a very weak Parliament."

Nevertheless, our friend's points do cause me to wonder if we are trying too hard to learn about democracy through benevolent dictatorship. She said it was like trying to "understand ornithology using examples from horticulture."

It's a good question.

So I am going to consider her words and then regroup and decide what to do next.

Negative Liberties

Triss and I have been researching different types of government, and came across this interesting definition and commentary on democracy:

There are two major modes of democracy. 1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people. 2. Government by popular representation; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed; a constitutional representative government.

The latter form is that which exists in the UK. The reason I have included democracy as a form of social engineering is because democracy does not limit its power. It is possible (though unlikely) to achieve the same results as a vicious nazi state through democracy. The problems with democracy deserve separate discussion here are that a majority can 'vote away' the freedom of a minority. To use an extreme example imagine that you live in a village of 100 people and 99 of them vote to take your house. Despite the 'landslide' democratic victory there is no change in the morality of the theft they vote for. To a lesser extent this is what happens when one person votes for tax raises. The whim of a majority is no more moral than the whim of a dictator, just less likely to result in an extreme atrocity. The other problem is that it pits one interest group against another. Where the government decides to use one persons' private property to pursue a goal with which he/she does not agree, the two parties oppose. Democracy can rapidly decline to a series of adversarial groups seeking to have the government favour them, at the necessary expense of another. Thus we have young v old, healthy v ill, employed v unemployed, road user v non-road user, county v county, race v race and so forth. where the government serves only as a policeman there can be no such adversariality.

(He defines other forms of government also.)

We were struck by this: "The whim of a majority is no more moral than the whim of a dictator..."

And it helped us to see more forcefully how wise the founding fathers were to form the U.S. government with its three branches, with its checks and balances. How clever they were to write the Constitution as a list of negative liberties-- what the federal government can't do to you, what the state government can't do to you.

This is something to remember as we head to the voting booth. "That limitation of powers is what has unlocked in America the vast human potential available in any population." It is a strength, not a weakness, of our federal government. It is one reason the American Revolution succeeded and the French Revolution failed. Because the majority really can tyrannize, and the rights of the individual really are precious.

h/t Deputy Headmistress

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Know Whom I Have Believed

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me
Of weary ways or golden days
Before His face I see

But "I know whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I've committed
Unto Him against that day."*

--Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901)

*2 Timothy 1:12

Monday, October 27, 2008

Math Brain

Mariel and I hit math kind of hard today, and tonight she is experiencing 'math brain'-- you know, when you are going innocently about your business, and smack!!-- math hits you between the eyes.

I first found out about it as we started the van to go pick up Cornflower's prescriptions. The van's digital clock read, "7:28".

"Seven, twenty-eight. That's a fact family," Mariel murmured.


She gave a little yelp, like she had been stung. "Mom, I'm seeing math all around me. Argh! I just saw a prime number!"

It continued as we drove down the highway to the nearest Walmart. Another little shriek, a grimace, and-- "There's another one! Wait-- Mom, is thirty-one a prime number?"

"I believe so."

And so it went. "Look at all the numbers! I can't escape! Mom, what's the difference between two for four dollars and a dollar ninety-eight each? It's just two dollars, right?"

As we drove back home, every so often she jumped a little.

"Another one?"


She. Is. So. Funny. I love this girl. And I think we've finally got her on the math. After all, this afternoon when I had to tell her that one is not prime, she argued with me. She even referenced one of the Murderous Maths books. I had to pull out the Usborne Math Dictionary, the answer key to her math text, and get Triss to back me up in order to convince her. She finally acquiesced after hearing Triss' answer, a quote from the I Hate Mathematics book: "You may wonder why one is not a prime number. Well, it just isn't. Mathematicians are so picky sometimes."

Triss thinks we should buy her Math Curse for a present.

Mock Election: Free Speech Debate

(Please see the 'Mock Election' link in the sidebar for more info on our mock Presidential election!)

The original issue placed before the candidates was: "Do you think speech should be limited? If so, what limits should the government place on it? If not, why not?"

The debate--

Mod: Miss Fleming, you have stated that you want to abolish the words, "dumb,' "nuts", "crazy", "mean", "little one", and "s-word". Will you please explain why you think it is right to forbid people to say these words?

Miss Fleming: The reason I want to abolish those words is because they are mean. Out of all the words in the english language-- there are millions-- why use the ones that offend people? the words we have already abolished in the house are good to be abolished, but I believe the citizens have been given a little too much freedom of speech. Including myself.

Mod: Okay. Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Hypothetical means something that might happen but hasn't happened yet. Let's say these words were abolished and one day someone in the house was grumpy and another person said something that upset that first person. Before the aforementioned were abolished, the offended person might have called that other person 'dumb' or one of the other words. Now this person knows she will have a punishment for saying that word, so what do you think she will do?

Miss Fleming: We would have to know what the second person said. Suppose the person said, "Hey you mr. grumpy gills!" and the person really fried up about that. If I were in that position I would say, "Oh, just go away! I don't want to blow up at you!"

Mod: Miss Green, same question. Why do you think it is right to abolish those words?

Miss Green: After thought I have realized, we don't even need to abolish these words. After all, the words themselves are not what is messing up the situation. It's the way the other person received those words.

Mod: Okay. So you are saying that if the person being called a name would just not be so sensitive, there wouldn't be an issue?

Miss Green: I'm saying that instead of abolishing these words-- after all, we are going to be bumping up against them in regular life anyway-- we ought to teach citizens how to respond to these sort of words without blowing up, saying something rude back, or even having to leave the room. We ought to teach them the proper response to these words so any time these words come up, they can avoid losing their temper. I'm still saying I think you shouldn't say them, but I don't want to go so far as abolishing them.

Mod: Mr. Kermit, do you think it is right to abolish these words?

Mr. Kermit: Well, I agree with Miss Green. She is right by saying that we shouldn't abolish so many words. But I still think that we should abolish 's-word'.

Miss Green: I agree.

Mod: Miss Fleming, do you think 's-word' ought to be abolished.

Miss Fleming: Yes. And I want to say that not all of us can take it like water off a duck's back. We need to do what's best for everyone and not just for a few people.

Mod: Okay. I have another question. Miss Fleming, it seems to me that the more words we abolish, the more creative people will get when they feel the urge to call someone a name. How do you propose to get around this?

Miss Fleming: What do you mean?

Mod: Well, right now there are a very few words in this household nation that are forbidden to say. The people of this nation are very good to stay away from those words. One such word is 'stupid'. Now, citizens never say this word. However, they think it is okay to say 's-word'. That means the same thing as 'stupid'. So if we abolish this new list of words, what is to stop citizens from coming up with other codes to get their name-calling points across?

Miss Fleming: Not all of us say 's-word.' I have nothing else to say.

Miss Green: I agree with what she said about how some citizens can't take it like water off a duck's back. That is why we need to teach them to do so. After all, they can't blow up at people of other nations.

Mod: That's a good point. I think teaching restraint is wise. But what about the name-caller?

Miss Green: I've read of a family who had a jar, and every time someone did something-- in our nation it would be whenever someone said a restricted words-- they had to drop in a dime. Whenever the jar was filled up, they would take all the money out, explain why you don't call names, and then use the money to go out for a treat.

Miss Fleming: Anyone in the family? Including the government?

Miss Green: Yes.

Mod: As the chief bureaucrat of this government, I see some problems with the administration of this plan. Please tell me how you propose to implement the consequence if the government is not in the room when the word is said. For instance, if it is one person's word against another's.

Miss Green: Nobody ever says a bad word to themselves. I would bring a witness along, but also, if all the citizens are trustworthy, then when the word is said, the other person will remind the first person that she said a word, and the person will go put a dime in the jar.

Miss Fleming: I saw a flaw in your plan. It'll make the people want to say bad words because they'll know there will be a reward at the end.

Miss Green: If they want to put dimes in the jar, they can do it any time.

Mod: Miss Green, you said 'if all the citizens are trustworthy.' I beg leave to point out that if all the citizens were trustworthy, and this was just bad habit, we wouldn't need this law.

Miss Green: Well, I know that for some of us, it's a bad habit, and this would be a way to break the bad habit.

Mod: Okay. I have to say, as a member of the government, that I really see this as a heart issue as well as a bad habit. I think a jar with dimes is a little premature and we have some heart work to do first. How would you combat the heart issue behind the bad habit?

Miss Green: I would have, in addition to the 10-cent fee, you have to do a heart journal.

Miss Fleming: Ooh, I like that idea.

Mod: Okay, I have another question. What if, instead of saying one of the verboten (that's 'forbidden' in German) words, the person who is upset says, "Aw, you're just an old peanut-butter sandwich." But she means it in a really hurtful way.

Miss Green: It doesn't matter. It's the thought that counts, the intent!

Miss Fleming: But the words still need to be forbidden because they are awful!

Miss Green: But so is 'peanut-butter sandwich' if it is said the same way!

Mod: Well, how do we teach people to be loving even when they don't feel like it? Isn't that the root of the issue?

Miss Green: Why not charts?

Mod: As the government, I am a little resistant to charts. I have charts for school schedule, for Girl Scouts, for chores, for school assignments, for science fair, etc., etc. I do not need another chart to look after.

Miss Green: The citizens could do it.

Mod: Are you saying that every citizen would have to submit to keeping a chart?

Miss Green: I'm saying that every citizen should find something like this that will work best for them, and keep track of how many times we say words like this. I'm sure there are other ways besides charts.

Mod: My question is, would each citizen be required to do this?

Miss Green: Yes.

Miss Fleming: I don't like charts. Charts are awful.

Mr. Kermit: I agree with Miss Green.

Mod: Miss Fleming, do you have any other ideas, or any other thoughts to share with us?

Miss Fleming: I don't think there should be any charts. I like the jar suggestion, except I think that whenever we *stop* ourselves from saying a bad word, we should put a coin in the jar. Bigger than a dime.

Mod: So you are saying that you think putting money in when you say a bad word is a form of reward and not punishment.

Miss Fleming: Yes. And then when we fill up the jar, we get to take it and do something fun.

Mod: Okay, we didn't reach consensus on this one. 'Consensus' is when a group as a whole comes to a position about something. Our time is up, so let's continue discussing this later.

We eagerly welcome questions and comments, and would especially appreciate help on this one. It is hard for us to look at this question from a civil government perspective rather than a parent/child/siblings perspective. For instance, as a citizen I know that I don't want to limit free speech any more than absolutely necessary, but as a mother, I do not want my kids saying certain things, or using derogatory tones of voice, and I am willing to forbid it.


ca trip 088

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

--Carl Sandburg

ca trip 104

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dinner Plans (10/26-11/05)

(SD stands for the Saving Dinner cookbook, and the frozen items are leftovers from previous meals that I saved in the freezer. The meals are a little heavy on green beans, because I bought a case of canned green beans on sale at Albertson's the other day.)

M (10/27) frozen vegetable soup with Tex-Mex quick fix-- , homemade tortillas (have one of the kids make them), salad

Tu (10/28) Crock Beef Sandwiches-- SD p. 17, carrot sticks (use sandwich bread if we don't have rolls)

W (10/29) frozen hamburger stew with biscuits

Th (10/30) Asian Honey Chicken-- SD p. 34 (marinate chicken thighs all day), brown rice, green beans

F (10/31) cheese omelettes, biscuits, fruit smoothies (save 3/4 cup of cheddar for shepherd's skillet recipe)

Sa (11/01) beans and cornbread, corn, green beans

Su (11/02) Shepherd's Skillet-- SD p. 58, green beans

M (11/03) mixed bean chili,

Tu (11/04) meat loaf patties, mashed potatoes, green beans

W (11/5) frozen bean soup with biscuits

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Javamom:

Okay, I read it!

(I liked it.)

And now I am recommending it to my eight twelve readers.

And I will try not to angst as much. Because I know the ending, too. ;o)

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

This is an enlightening article about the motives of the powers-that-be in the media.

I have to admit, I am more disturbed by the actions of the press than by anything else about this whole election.

h/t Anchoress

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Life of a Pumpkin

field of sunflowers I

Once upon a time in the fall, a field of pumpkins lay waiting.

pumpkin blossom

Pumpkin blossoms,

baby pumpkin II

Tiny promises of pumpkins just starting out--

a perfect little pumpkin

Look at this sweetie-pie!


The sunflowers stood sentinel,


And the bugs provided quality-control inspections.

the horse barn

Soon, a family arrived. They took their time looking at horses--

watching the ducks

feeding the ducks and chickens,

Farm rabbit

and communicating with rabbits.

Cornflower field

The family came to the field where the pumpkins lay in sunshine and shade, patiently waiting.

Cornflower and her pumpkin

And claimed their own.

Mariel and her pumpkin

One, two, then three pumpkins were loaded and hauled up to the barn, and then taken home.


The three pumpkins spent the afternoon relaxing on the front porch

Cornflower and Cousin

while the children went to the park--

We made it to the top!

and climbed to the top of the hill.

Pumpkin carving

As night fell, the children fetched their pumpkins inside

Mr. Honey with a knife

and creative hilarity ensued.

creative hilarity

Silly Mariel-- that's the jack-o-lantern's hat!

Artsy pumpkin top

Triss' pumpkinlid had a bit of flair.

punkin interior

So that's what they look like inside!

Headless Mariel

Mariel went in for a closer look.

Bunny bumpkin

Soon the patient pumpkins found out about their faces.

Triss' pumpkin

They glowed in the delight of becoming... a rabbit--

Mariel's pumpkin

a Jack-o-Lantern--

Cornflower's pumpkin

and Bob the Pumpkin.


...of words from The New World:




Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Personal Finance Mini-Update

We prepaid Mariel's orthodontic work in full this week. We received around 15% off-- part of that was for paying cash, and the rest was an adjustment the insurance company made for some reason I don't really understand.

Just to say, ask for a discount when you pay cash up-front for something that expensive. I was a little embarrassed to ask, but now I am glad I did. Our savings amounted to over $250.

Also, the girls and I got free hot drinks at Barnes and Noble Cafe tonight. h/t Money-Saving Mom, thanks! (Follow the links to a coupon for a freebie.)

Why Shouldn't People Be Angry?

One of the most aggravating things I had to deal with as a child was the knowing glances and partially hidden smiles of grown-ups who thought my indignation over some slight was the result of being tired. I am seeing the same smirks on the faces of reporters as they attempt to brush off the 'anger' of American people frustrated with the MSM's seeming inability to report in a fair manner.

Many times, my parents and other loved adults were correct in their assessment of my anger-- I was simply being a petulant kid. But American voters are not ignorant little children to be pacified and sent to bed by the elite. It is not simply anger, people. It is indignation-- "strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger". Call it what it is, please.

Being angry is not always wrong.

Understanding References

Here are some terms I had to look up in order to learn or refresh my memory on what exactly people are talking about in some of these news articles (I mean, I knew the New Deal was put forth by FDR during the Great Depression, and that it was immediately helpful to a lot of people who were struggling-- but what exactly was it?):

The Beltway

The New Deal

Johnson's Great Society

The Panic of 1907

History, history, history. It's so important.

(Yes, I know. They are all Wikipedia articles. Lazy woman, shame. But I have to go balance my checkbook, make breakfast and start the kids on schoolwork. I don't have time to search more than one site right now.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mock Election: Savings Debate

The candidates had their first debate of sorts this evening. You can see how it went below. The debate topic was drawn out of a hat containing all the debate topics. No one, including the moderator, knew ahead of time which one would be chosen, so both questions and answers were extemporaneous. The plan was for each candidate to receive two minutes to answer the question, followed by five minutes of open discussion. The candidates only conversed with the moderator, who granted turns to the candidates based on her judgment. Here is the debate transcript:

Debate Topic: Incentives for Short-Term Savings

Moderator: Miss Fleming, in your position statement on this issue, you stated that "when we are saving for things we want, the item itself is the reward." Would you elaborate on that?

Miss Fleming: I think that the item itself is the reward because the citizen has had the long and hard time saving up the money, penny by penny, dollar by dollar, to get the item. If it is an item like a doll that is ten bucks, the government should not lend it money and the person say that they will lend it later. And the person should not seek help from the other citizens. One citizen went to another citizen and asked for $4 to complete the saving of the money for a doll. She consented and she thought that the $4 was never paid back, but she found out in the last several weeks that it was, and her head is greatly relieved from that. If you borrow money, you have to pay it back, and the government has gotten into a big mess concerning that, and it's awful. As Dave Ramsey says, we'll be eating beans and rice, rice and beans, though occasionally there is a steak dinner. So that is why I believe that we should not borrow money, but if we do borrow money-- if it's offered to us and we accept, as soon as we buy the object of our desire, we must work to pay it back. If we cannot pay it back, we must tell the citizen that lent us money that we cannot pay it back and they may have something that belongs to you that is worth the amount of money."

Mod: Miss Green, you expressed a similar viewpoint when you said, "Saving for an item provides a sense of accomplishment in itself." Will you please elaborate on your statement?

Miss Green: Well, as Miss Fleming has said, saving for an item is a reward in itself, and the value of the reward depends on the value of the item. For example, saving up for a doll that costs ten dollars is not at all like saving for a package of gum that costs a dollar. The reward is perhaps ten times larger, and probably, the item is worth at least ten times as much. Of course, this doesn't excuse us from making sure we get the best deals possible. Another reason I said that is because I think that when a person has a reward for something good they've done, they think, Wow, that kind of works! I think I'll try that again." This is a good way for them to realize that immediate gratification is not such a good thing, because, after all, if they spend their money on the aforementioned pack of gum. they are that much farther away from getting their real goal. I don't believe I disagree with Miss Fleming.

Mod: Mr. Kermit, you have heard your two opponents' views concerning citizens saving for things they want. What do you think about it?

Mr. Kermit: I agree with everything.

Mod: Since everybody seems to agree, I'll go to the next question without having any discussion.

Miss Green, in your position statement, you mentioned a campaign to encourage saving. Will you tell us about your plan for that?

Miss Green: Every citizen likes to spend time with the leaders of our government, and so not only would this be a good citizen/government relationship time, it would also encourage short-term savings. I suggest that the government should sit down with each citizen and discuss why it is good to save for something. They might go online together to find good things to save for. Then, whenever temptation comes in view, the government can quietly remind the person, "Remember, you're saving for this!" Although this may not be enough to deter the citizen, it will serve as a warning so they will stop and think before continuing their actions.

Mod: Miss Fleming, what do you think of Miss Green's plan? Do you have your own plan? If so, what is it?

Miss Fleming: I approve of Miss Green's plan because it is a perfect idea. A good example is a citzen had enough money for something and they are going to the store, but then they see something else they would like to buy before they go to the store where their desired object is. They would like to buy the other item, but the government should say, "I thought you were going to get this instead of that," and if the citizen does not pay attention to the government, the citizen will have to suffer by having to save up again.

Mod: Mr. Kermit, same questions.

Mr. Kermit: Yes, I approve it. No, I don't have a plan.

Mod: It sounds to me like you all would like the moral support of the government, without actually having laws and consequences in place. Is this right?

All: Yes.

Miss Fleming: It's their own fault if they don't get their desired object, and the government should not inflict other consequences. We're overloading Mommy. Poor government.

Miss Green: And after all, it is the citizen's own money. They are the ones who saved up and they shouldn't be dictated to about it.

Mod: Miss Green, that brings up another question-- a bit off-topic, but I'm going to ask it anyway since all of you seem to agree on the other issue. What do you think about the government prohibiting the purchase of certain items?

Miss Green: I'd like the moderator to define 'certain items'.

Mod: Okay. Items the government deems not in the best interest of the citizen.

Miss Green: I think that this really would not be an issue, since the government has pretty much instilled some common sense into the citizens' heads. The citizens already know enough not to purchase items detrimental to their health, mental or physical.

Mod: Miss Fleming, what is your position on that question?

Miss Fleming: Same as Miss Green. You know, if we keep going on like this, we will end up not having any debates!

Mod: Mr. Kermit, what do you think about the government prohibiting the purchase of certain items?

Mr. Kermit: We all agree.

Mod: Okay. Well, I think we can pretty much put this one to bed. Everyone already agrees. No need to vote on this issue. That makes it a non-issue.

Miss Fleming: Let's vote on Triss' cell phone!

Mod: We'll leave that for another day.

Mock Election: Candidate Biographies

Find earlier mock election posts here.

The mock presidential candidates turned in their biographies today. I have pictures but am having trouble uploading them, so I will do that later.

Mr. Kermit Lincoln

Mr. Kermit declined to submit a biography. His campaign manager is too young to write one. The government offered to help write it, but he said, "No, thank you."

Miss Nikki Fleming

Miss Fleming is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kermit and Ella Lincoln. Miss Fleming's first name is Nikki, and she was born on a small ranch in Colorado. I regret to say that Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln are foster parents. There was a dust storm in which she was the only survivor in her town. She was then taken to the city and worked there until she was found by Mr. Lincoln, who brought her home to his wife. Mrs. Lincoln said that Miss Fleming would be one of their children. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln are grandparents, parents and great-grandparents, and they are inspiring her in her career in politics. In Miss Flemings' own words at a family reunion a few days ago, "I'm not going to be President for the power. I would like to be President for the nation. A President is not supposed to be a dictator. He is a public servant."

Miss Ashley Isabel Green

(Miss Green's campaign manager has asked that Miss Green's biography be removed temporarily, as it is undergoing rewrites. We apologize for the delay.)

Scary, Indeed

"You know, when you can't ask a question of your leaders anymore, that gets scary."

--Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher

Freedom of speech? Yes, but only if you are willing to have your life dragged through the mud. That doesn't sound like a whole lot of liberty to me.

I am sure many other private citizens who receive the opportunity to speak with the candidates are rethinking their own tough questions. Shame on the media.

More here and here.

h/t DHM

Also, an enlightening open letter written by a small business owner who employs 100 people and actually does bring in an income of $250,000 per year. One thing I realized I hadn't been taking into account where these companies are concerned is that $250,000 per year is how much the company takes in ("income", duh, right?), not profits, and they have to pay their expenses out of that-- and keep some margin for slow-paying customers, etc. Be sure to read the comments also-- lots of other small businesspeople in the same boat chime in with how Obama's tax change would affect their businesses.

Also, did anyone else fail to realize that the Bush tax cuts are expiring in the next few months and Obama has no plans to continue them? It's my understanding that taxes will rise for everyone down to those in the 10% tax bracket.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grace Under Fire

Javamom has links up to the video of the hilarious speeches Senator McCain and Senator Obama gave at the Al Smith dinner this last week. It was a bit of a relief to see everyone loosen up a little.

(Okay, she actually has links to links that have the video posted. Mrs. Happy Housewife and Donna-Jean. But I wanted Javamom to get the credit too. Thanks, Javamom!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mock Election: Candidates' Platforms

We worked hard putting together our mock Presidential candidates' positions on issues yesterday and today, and have them for you below. The citizens of our household nation, which for the purposes of the blog we will call Bookshire, have decided to invite blog readers to comment and vote in the comments sections of each mock election post. They are interested in feedback. So please feel free to examine the positions of the candidates and offer your opinion in the comments!

(Also, a caveat: the kids realized rather quickly that our household form of government differs from the American form. We seem to be a constitutional monarchy with a very weak Parliament. Also, the constitution isn't exactly written. So we have some limitations that we are filling with imagination, and we will continue to bump up against those as we go through the election process.)

Without further ado, here are the positions of the candidates:

1. What is your plan regarding the crossing of the black cat onto our property?

Mr. Kermit: I think we should scare it off with a broom whenever it comes.

Miss Fleming: We must remember the people living around us, so we shouldn't spray the cat with a hose. We should thrash our arms around wildly to scare it away.

Miss Green: Sometimes the cat needs to cross our fence to get back to her property, so even though she must be driven away, we mustn't hurt her. I propose that we wave our arms or make frightening gestures.

2. How do you feel about providing incentives for saving money short-term? If you agree, what incentives do you propose? If you don't agree, why not?

Mr. Kermit: Yes, the reward should be a dollar from the government. It should be given when the person is finished saving, before she spends the money on the special item she has been saving up for.

Miss Fleming: Everyone should save money in three categories-- church money, saving money and spending money. Incentives are a good idea. But when we are saving for things we want, the item itself is the reward. I am against other incentives.

Miss Green: Saving for the item provides a sense of accomplishment in itself. We need to encourage everyone to save toward a goal, like the purchase of something they want. I think the government should help citizens find something to save for and help them stick to that goal. The government should sit down with each citizen and help them decide on something to save for, and later when the citizen wants to spend money on something else, the government should remind them that they are saving for something else. I don't think there should be a consequence for not saving because it is the person's own money. I think the government ought to make the citizens aware of the benefits of saving. I want to educate the citizens so they can make wise decisions for themselves.

3. Tell me your ideas on improving our infrastructure.

Mr. Kermit: I want to paint everything. I don't know what color. Some citizens have very bad allergies, and I want them to feel better so we should have wood flooring. Plus, shoes make a nice tapping sound on a floor when it is wood.

Miss Fleming: We should paint because it will be a job for everyone and it's fun and I've never gotten to paint before. We shouldn't use wallpaper because people might have two kinds of wallpaper they want and we can't have both, but we can have more than one color paint. Chores: We like variety. We should switch every month-- living room to kitchen to laundry room.

Miss Green: We should put up new wallpaper over the old scraps in the bathroom. I prefer paint, but it is difficult to remove the old wallpaper and if we use wallpaper, we won't have to remove the old. As for chore assignments, having the same chore for a long period of time helps a person learn to do the job quickly and efficiently. But some people are not satisfied with their jobs. If someone wants to trade, and finds another person who is willing to trade with them, they should be allowed to trade. But no one should be forced to give up a job if they don't want to trade.

4. Do you think speech should be limited? If so, what limits should the government place on it? If not, why not?

Mr. Kermit: Sometimes I do. Citizens shouldn't say bad words and mainly if they say 's-word' to someone they should get hot sauce or soap. Or if they say it they should have to write down how the other person might have felt when they said that to them, and also write down all the nice things about that person.

Miss Fleming: I believe there should be a few limits on free speech. The government has put limits on cursing, swearing and other strong language that is in the world. The words I would like to abolish are "dumb", "nuts", "crazy", "mean", "little one", and "s-word". If I am elected, the first month I will put up a sign that says, "Put a watch over your mouth. Do not say dumb, nuts, etc." If a person says one of the words, he or she will lose a point or two. The words will no long be regarded as 'minor' bad words, but as regular bad words.

Miss Green: I agree that there are several words that should be abolished and should no longer be regarded as minor bad words. After all, if the thought is what counts, they are no better than horrible words when applied to a person in a derogatory manner. The point system works very well and ought to be continued.

5. Do you think Triss ought to have her own cell phone?

Mr. Kermit: Yes. And it should be respected and not thrown around. Then citizens wouldn't have to use the government's phone if they go on bike rides. Triss could use her own phone. And she could call her friends. Everyone could chip in to pay for the minutes.

Miss Fleming: If I am elected, Triss will get a phone. Citizens in other countries have cell phones and the other citizens of our country will benefit from Triss having it. The other citizens ought to help pay for it because they will benefit.

Miss Green: If Triss had a cell phone, she would need to buy minutes. Getting a cell phone for Triss is not a good idea unless she has help paying for it. It would be useful when the nation needs to do two errands at the same time. The Queen Mother and Triss could communicate via cell phone while both are out at different places. If the other citizens did not mind helping to pay for an item they cannot use but would benefit from, it is a good idea. We need a special referendum on the ballot to decide whether the citizens of our nation ought to be taxed to pay for a cell phone for Triss. They would benefit from it even though they couldn't use it.

6. Do you think the government ought to enforce time limits on the computers? If so, how do you think they should be enforced? If not, why not?

Mr. Kermit: Yes, because citizens need to not get their brains all rattied up and have big, bad headaches. I think it should be an hour per day, including schoolwork. The punishment should be not having the computer the next day. The government could use a chart to keep track of it.

Miss Fleming: I believe that citizens should have seven hours per week, not including schoolwork, and use them in any amount. But citizens should not be able to store up hours for use he next week. The consequence should be only four hours the next week. A chart is a very good idea. My idea is to make a chart for the week and have seven slots and when you use an hour, you put an x in one of the slots. If I become President, it will be my duty to design the chart myself.

Miss Green: My idea is that citizens should have a certain amount of hours per day and if they go over the hours one day, then however many hours they went over will be taken off the next day. Miss Fleming suggests that if hours are not used, they should not be carried over to the next week. I disagree. If citizens happen to be doing different things, then all their time for the week is completely lost. With my system, even if they happen to not use all the hours, they will still have rollover hours or minutes. The consequence for going over should be losing the same amount of minutes the next day. I agree with the idea of a chart, but since everybody's is going to be a little different, timers should be kept by the computers and also a piece of paper on which is written the total number of hours, and citizens should add and subtract minutes as needed, with the government's assistance as necessary.

7. Do you think individual study time with mom should be increased? Why or why not?

Mr. Kermit: Some citizens do not need as much time because they are younger and do not have as much schoolwork. Some kids might need it and some kids might not. I haven't decided on this issue.

Miss Fleming: The reason I believe citizens should have more school time with the Queen Mother is because many times they have come out feeling that they needed more time with her, that their time was collapsed and taken away. If I am elected, I shall make sure the one hour time span is increased to two hours, or at least an hour and thirty minutes, because I feel that children need more time with their mothers. If I am elected President, I believe we should have more time so we can learn more things that we need to learn. In doing this, we can create a relationship, and relationships are important-- as important as education.

Miss Green: I have seen the Queen Mother's schedule and these times bump right against each other. Lengthening the segments would create an even longer school day and would cause the Queen Mother to have less time to do other things she needs to do. All the citizens that I have seen do their work with the Queen Mother seem to come out right on time. I don't think more time is needed. If there are special needs-- if there isn't enough time for reading and discussion or someone needs help on math-- the Queen Mother should have a separate time block at the end of the school day to help any child who needs extra time. This would prevent another citizen from having to wait even longer for her first turn.

Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to comment on any of the issues that are important to you! (This is an educational activity for the kids and the more feedback they get, the better the lesson will be.)

Also, if you feel so moved, will you link to this post on your blog to let others know about it? There is something strange going on with Bloglines and none of my posts are hitting the feeds. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three Months: One Credit Card Paid Off!

Time for a financial update at the end of our third month of gazelle-like intensity.

This month we went on a weekend trip, a vacation, had company, paid off a credit card and finished saving up for Mariel's braces-- all in the same month the economy spiralled, or whatever they are calling what the economy did.

The two trips, one of which was to a town a couple hours from our house, were paid for by God's provision. (It's all God's provision, I know, but this was special provision not earned by our hands.) We did spend some money out of the gas and food envelopes (money we did not need to spend at home because we were out of town). The trip to California, which was a mixture of joy and sorrow, seemed to be a time of confirming the Lord's love and care for us, and I am so glad we got to go. The weekend trip was for my great-aunt Lois' funeral. She was every inch a lady, and a wonderful woman too-- one of her grandson's epitomized her character by saying, "She taught us to help others, to be generous with our time and money-- but never pay too much for peaches." Exactly. What a blessing to have known her. She was 93 and had outlived almost all of her friends, as well as all of her siblings but one-- my granddad. She is part of the reason I habitually bought my little girls white shoes at Easter to wear through spring and summer, and black shoes at Labor Day, to wear through fall and winter. The custom is classy and I do admire class. Aunt Lois had oodles of class.

Mr. Honey's dad came to town for a few days after we got back from California, and we had a lovely time showing him our neck of the woods (or is it our neck of the prairie? I don't know). Using a (rare) expense check that arrived at a great time, we got to take a guided tour of the Stockyards in Fort Worth, and also visited a local nature preserve and museum. We were able to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a year-long family membership to the nature preserve rather than just day tickets. It was only a little more, and I used money from the Education Bucket to cover the additional cost. It really is nice not to be spending everything up. Having the "buckets"-- categories in short-term savings-- is a paradigm shift for me. Using Excel makes it easy to track how much is in each category.

In other financial news, we received the refund from the old mortgage escrow account and used it to pay off the smallest Visa bill, fill up the "bucket" for Mariel's braces, and make an additional payment on the second Visa bill. (We had three Visas. The hazards of credit-card-surfing. Hey, now we have two. Yay!)

We experienced one hiccup in the form of a $25 overdraft due to faulty arithmetic on my part. I was able to clear it up quickly, though. And of course, I wasn't happy to be paying for the speeding ticket I got at the beginning of September. But we were able to pay for it and I am taking a defensive driving course so our insurance doesn't go up. It will actually go down because our company gives a discount for people who take such courses, whether or not taking the course is the consequence of a speeding ticket.

Going forward, we should be able to start pouring at least twice as much as the minimums on the remaining two credit cards. Mr. Honey and I had a serious talk about his industry and the economy, and he seems to think his commissions will stay constant for the time being. He is watching for certain negative indications in his bigger accounts, and if he starts seeing those, we will have to switch from paying off as much debt as we can to saving as much cash as we can, just in case. For now, though, I am glad to be getting rid of debt as fast as we can. I want us to be a cash operation. :O)

Now that we have the cash to pay up-front for Mariel's orthodontic work, I am going to ask the dentist if he will give us a 15% discount. I don't know if he will, but it doesn't hurt to ask. We have the full amount saved just in case he says no.

Because of the nature of Mr. Honey's job, and the way things are so spread out in Texas, gasoline is a huge expenditure for us-- around 18% of our total budget, can you believe it? We are enjoying the lower gas prices. I filled up the minivan for under $52 the other day. I can't remember the last time I did that.

For reference, Dave's book recommends 10-15% of the income go toward transportation total-- our total transportation costs are over 25%. Way off, I know, but what can we do? It would be even higher if not for Mr. Honey's company car. His company provides a stipend for business expenses, but it is not even half of what Mr. Honey spends on gas on a monthly basis. We are so glad to see gas prices go down, even temporarily.

Our credit card debt, which was around $17,000 three months ago, is down to around $14,400. We also have the car note and the mortgage. When we refinanced, the mortage debt went up by a few thousand, too, so I think we just moved things around a little the past couple of months. But now we can really get after it, Lord willing.

Memory Work from Sizzle Bop

I enjoy reading all the "things to try" that come to my in-box via Sizzle Bop. I recently received a link to the new page of ditties for memory work. There are several that are immediately useful for us at our house, and Carol has a pleasant speaking and singing voice, too!

Mock Election

I mentioned to the kids this morning that Carol's children are participating in a mock election at their house. (She is the mom behind SizzleBop! I subscribe to emails from her website.) The girls immediately pounced on the idea and persisted in asking questions until I consented to help them have an election at our house. They each have a doll or stuffy running for President and Vice-President. Here are the ground rules:

1. This election is theoretical only. Any Presidential position an inanimate object has in this house is purely ceremonial and imaginary.

2. Positions are limited by the Constitution of the United States (but our household 'nation' will be thought of as nation, state and city, all three). As in real life, the Constitution is open to interpretation.

3. The election will take place by secret ballot on November 4th. Each real person living in our house will have one vote. In the event of a tie, there will be a run-off election one day later.

4. There will be a time for speeches, debates and question-and-answer sessions prior to the election (date and time TBA). Each candidate will also be given equal cyber-time on Mom's blog.

5. The winning candidates will be given the title of Mr./Miss/Mrs. President and Mr./Miss/Mrs. Vice-President and will have a ceremonial (non-voting) seat at family councils. (We hold family councils very infrequently, so I don't know how much of an honor this will be. Still.)

6. Mom's help will be freely given to each candidate who asks.

Here are the issues (the kids thought of these themselves-- I helped with categories):

1. How to deal with the black cat (he comes into our yard and scares Thumper), snakes, mice, and other critters in the neighborhood (foreign relations)

2. Incentives for having short-term saving (the economy)

3. Keeping the house clean, chore assignments, gardening and landscaping, redoing the walls in the girl's bathroom (infrastructure)

4. Name-calling, put downs, personal remarks (hate speech limits on free speech).

5. Telecommunication-- should Triss have her own cell phone? (infrastructure)

6. Regulating time per day on computer (health)

7. Individual school time with mom-- should it be increased? (education)

I can already see a couple of issues that could possibly interfere with personal liberties. This should be interesting.

In true girl-fashion, Cornflower and Mariel began by making sure their candidates' wardrobes were sufficiently presidential, and then decorated physical platforms (boxes) for them to stand on. (Triss got right down to building her party's platform of ideas and nailing down positions on issues.)

I'm so glad I received this idea from Carol at SizzleBop! This looks like welcome diversion from the actual Presidential election. We are ready for that one to be over.

Some links:

Republican democracy

What is a party platform?

Holding a mock Presidential election

U.S. Constitution

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sad News

We received word yesterday that a dear friend and cousin passed away this weekend. We just saw her three weeks ago. She is probably the first friend/relative to pass away that my children knew well enough to truly cherish, and she was pretty young-- just around sixty, I believe. It has been hard on them-- on all of us, really. And I am so sad for her husband, who knew what a treasure he had.

I look at her death, and at the miraculous blessing our family received in my grandmother's recovery last week, and the question seems to be, "Why there and not here, Lord?" But I know that is not the right question to ask.

The Lord does not deliver us from every heartbreaking event. We do not know why He does in some cases and not others, but that is how He works, and His ways are not our ways. The real question is why he does spare us in some cases.

He loves us. Sometimes he loves us by shielding us from sorrow, and other times he does it through sorrow. Last night I read this in Spurgeon's _Morning and Evening_:

He delights to give the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Trust thou in Him, and He will surely comfort thee till the house of mourning is closed for ever, and the marriage feast has begun.

It is hard to explain to the children the comfort and assurance I feel in spite of sorrow. What they are experiencing right now is that people you love sometimes die, and sometimes it happens suddenly. This is overshadowing other, more comforting truths. I know there will be hard questions to answer in our home for awhile. (Okay. They are always asking hard questions. What I mean is, more than usual.) Please pray for us, that Mr. Honey and I will find the right words to say, and that the Holy Comforter will bless their hearts with peace. And please pray for my extended family too.

Blog Test

For some reason, I am not seeing any of my new posts pop up on my Bloglines feed. If you are reading this on Bloglines, will you please take the time to comment and let me know? I want to see if it is just my feed, or if it is a problem with the blog. Thanks.

Progress Report: Mariel (Year 5)

You can find the first two progress report posts here.

Mariel has decided that finishing her school year by June is a good goal to have, and I saw an increase in her diligence the first five weeks of school. (She has enjoyed our recent break immensely, too!) Here is what she has accomplished so far:

*Citizenship: She explored Ben's Guide to Government online just as a free activity. We have also had discussions on government, politics and the election process. Her current opinion on that subject is: "Presidential election? Debates? Bah, humbug!"

*Geography: Mariel has read and narrated the first nine chapters of Halliburton's Book of Marvels (The Occident), which includes famous sites in California: Yosemite National Park, the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. Mariel made sure that we drove across both bridges during our recent trip to CA. (We went to Yosemite a few years ago and just couldn't make it that far inland this trip.)

ca trip 090

(The fambly eating a picnic lunch next to the Golden Gate Bridge.)

She also read and narrated chapters on the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Boulder Dam, Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Fort Jefferson. For mapwork she has traced a map of the United States and pinpointed the location of each site, as well as the locations of our loved ones' homes and the Colorado, Columbia, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. I also had her trace another map of the U.S. and chart the journey of Lewis and Clark, since we are reading Of Courage Undaunted for history this year. And she did a busyworksheet of questions on the Louisiana Purchase.

I had intended to have the kids color in maps I printed off the Internet, but we didn't have printer ink for the longest time, and as a result I had them trace maps instead, and they did such a good job. I don't think my expectations of them were high enough. I had thought it would take too long to do it that way, but she and Triss can trace maps fairly quickly, and they look nice!

*History: Her history spine for the year is Abraham Lincoln's World, with This Country of Ours as dedicated American history. Important events covered thus far include: the war of 1812, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the campaigns of Napoleon, and the fight for independence in Venezuela. It has been slow going in these two books, partly because she is doing a written narration for each reading. She has also updated her book of time with the events and people she has come in contact with in her readings and artist/composer study.

In addition to the two main books, she is reading and narrating (aloud) Of Courage Undaunted, a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition.

*Language Arts: Mariel is working through the Winston Basic Grammar book and enjoying it. She especially likes setting the cards in order before she writes the symbols above the sentences in the workbook. She has gone through articles, nouns and pronouns so far, and is doing very well. She does copywork two days per week and works in her cursive italic penmanship book two days per week. She has studied dictation once per week, which helps her with spelling, and I also have her use CM method to visualize and memorize the spellings of words she misspells in other work. I don't do this on all of her work. For instance, her written narrations are typed on the computer using spell-check. It's only if I happen to notice she has spelled something wrong that I toss that word in next time we are doing dictation. We use Spelling Wisdom for studied dictation, so I know that eventually she will study all 6,000 most frequently used words.

She did a writing assignment for me in September-- she wrote some limericks a la Edward Lear. She is going to turn in a mini-report on our trip to California at the end of this month as well. She and I are working on the dreaded elementary school report also, which will be due at the end of February. She chose her topic already--the Library of Alexandria.

Foreign Language: I had her do a few more word roots from Grammar Songs at the beginning of the school year, but what I really want to do is re-purchase English from the Roots Up and have her work on that for the rest of the year. Or maybe Rummy Roots would be better. I plan for her and Cornflower to begin a regular Latin program next fall, when Cornflower has another year under her belt. Then I will be able to teach them both at the same time.

I haven't taken the time to set our computer up to work with the new Spanish program offered for free through our library's website, so Mariel hasn't done any Spanish yet this year. (Javamom is doing a dedicated Spanish I program with Triss on the days I teach her son piano, so Mariel and Cornflower will only get the Spanish that *I* provide this year.)

*Literature: Triss, Mariel and I are reading through Love's Labours Lost this term. We haven't started any Plutarch, and I think we might be doing Shakespeare then Plutarch this year. I just can't fit both in, I don't think. Mariel hasn't ever done any Plutarch, so it will be an adventure. Love's Labours Lost is a short play, so we might even get to start Plutarch before the end of the term.

We are reading through King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle together, and greatly enjoying it. This is a free reading, no narration. She is reading and doing a list-type narration for Age of Fable this year-- reading the section, then heading the narration with the name of the myth and giving bullet points for each piece of literature Bulfinch references for the myth. This is still kind of tricky for her, so sometimes I assist.

*Math: She has drilled and drilled (and drilled) her 7-times and 4-times tables these first few weeks, and I think she's got them. She also studied time ("Lou gets up at 6:45 AM. School starts at 8:15 AM. How many minutes is it until school begins?"), the calendar ("Jimmy Carter's birthday is Oct. 1. James Polk's birthday is 32 days later."), measurement and division. She is working through the Scott Foresman Exploring Mathematics fourth grade text.

*Memory Work/Poetry: She has been working on memorizing a Rudyard Kipling poem, as well as the ten major US wars (Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War) and their dates. I just realized the War on Terrorism is not in the list. I'll have to add that in. She also reviewed the countries of Western Europe the first two weeks of the term. I really need to make the girls each their own memory binder a la Simply Charlotte Mason. That is one of my goals for term 2.

*Music: She is still taking violin, and has been studying a piece that seems to be a jump in difficulty for her. The goal is to play it in the November recital. She is also working on piano-- I got her a book of etudes to work through this year, and the first book of the Festival Collection (I found this set of books this summer and really like it because it has real pieces by real composers in the four major eras of music). She is also working through a new theory book.

Science: She is reading, narrating and copying the diagrams out of Christian Liberty Nature Reader 5. So far she has learned about blood, the stomach, breathing, the brain and nerves, the teeth, the eye and the ear. She is also reading Wild Animals I Have Known and has finished the story of the wolf (Lobo). We are reading through Fairyland of Science together. So far we have learned about the size of the sun (and how bright, how hot and how far away it is) and the earth, and a little about the scientific errors of the Victorian era and the truth about how light travels. (Although the book is a little dated, I find the way we are invited to enjoy and be fascinated by science invaluable. Mariel is not a science-oriented child, and the introduction in this book has finally convinced her that there really is something wonderful about science. I read ahead in order not to confuse Mariel with the dated bits.) Mariel is reading Physics Lab in a Housewares Store also, and doing the experiments. And we are working through Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day (she and Cornflower studied some basics of oceanography at first, and are currently learning about whales). And I am teaching her to keep a lab notebook.

This is a lot of science! I am trying to figure out what to let go of, or at least to treat as free reading. So far, Mariel doesn't seem to object, though, except to the notebook part, which is not negotiable. :O)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Unexpected Support

When my uncle picked my dad and I and the girls up from the airport a week ago Tuesday, he let us know that my grandmother, who is in her mid-eighties, was in the hospital. She and Granddad had just been out to Texas for the funeral of Granddad's last living sibling, and had flown home the day before us. And promptly gone to the hospital, evidently. Grandmommy had uncontrolled bleeding. When we got there, they still hadn't determined exactly what was going on, but within a day or two they figured it out-- diverticulosis, for those of you who know what that is.

The illness was made worse by the fact that Grandmommy has been taking a blood-thinning medication, which is supposed to reduce her risk of stroke. The doctors decided to take her off the medication and put her on a different yet similar medication. Because she would still be on a blood-thinner, they decided surgery would be necessary to prevent the recurrence of the diverticulosis. Grandmommy is not a good candidate for surgery.

As you can imagine, this had all of us shaking our heads, but We Are Not The Doctors. What could we do?

The next morning, my dad talked on the phone with a minister friend of his that lives in Southern California. They only talked briefly before being disconnected. Then he called his friend's cell number and got connected to someone, but not his friend, although he didn't realize it at once. This person asked Dad about his mom, and listened to Dad's detailed account of her condition. The man on the phone asked Dad why the doctors didn't have Grandmommy on aspirin to lower her risk of stroke. Dad explained that aspirin upset her stomach, and the man said that if she took 81 mg on a full stomach, she would not be nauseated. Dad was very interested in what this man was saying, although by now he realized it was not his friend Joe. Finally, the person on the phone asked if there was anything he could do, Dad asked him to pray, and the man said he would, and said for Dad to call if he needed to talk.

A bit later Dad and my granddad went to the hospital, where Dad proceeded to talk to Grandmommy's primary doctor about aspirin. And talk. And recommended that the primary talk to the other doctors about it. Finally the primary doc did just that. The doctors put their heads together and decided that the aspirin solution would do fine. And surgery would not be necessary.

Later, my dad called the number again. The man he had been talking to was a doctor-- an internal medicine doc in Southern California.

I think he was doing the work of an angel.

My grandmother was in church with us this past weekend. Isn't that a beautiful miracle?

Thoughtful Articles

All That Darned Conservatism by Randall Hoven

Why Obama's Communist Connections Are Not In The Headlines by Paul Kengor

Camille Paglia on the strength of pioneer women (you'll have to scroll to "the Sarah Palin effect"). I know homeschooling moms who are this strong. They amaze me. In my opinion, Paglia nails the reasons why Palin has so many feminists flummoxed and so many conservatives energized.

Credit Based Vs. The Gold Standard at the Common Room (on the current financial crisis).

The DHM also pointed out the logic bingo game Cindy and her family played during the last Presidential debate. Triss and I think this will be a handy tool to keep us awake and thinking during the last one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Promise of Glory

a promising sunflower

I'm back. We went to the Bay Area to see my grandparents and Mr. Honey's family and attend a church meeting. I am full of happenings and stories but cannot share just yet. For now, here is my favorite nature photo from the trip, and a quote from The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, which I have been a little consumed with for the last week or so:

When I attempted, a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light. What we feel then has been well described by Keats as "the journey homeward to habitual self." You know what I mean. For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. Now we wak to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance. We may go when we please, we may stay if we can: "Nobody marks us." A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment. We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.


We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.