Quote of the Day


art institute reject

I found this over at my niece's blog. It's a brain test (your kind of gizmo Kate) to help one decide if they should apply to Art Institute. I should not apply.



trouble with IE & ID

It seems the ID (IntenseDebate) and IE (Internet Explorer) don't mix. This is the only drawback I have found with ID, but it is a dealbreaker if they can't help me resolve it right soon.

In the meantime, if you are burning to say something, I invite you to give FireFox a whirl.


Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum is a real treat. The book opens in 1951 with the conception of the Rose Lennox, narrated by Rose herself (from an insider's perspective, of course). The wee little one-celled, oopps, two-celled person, oopps, four-celled now, has all the vocabulary and literary references of a grown-up. It is a quirky and highly engaging narrative voice and I loved it.

Interspersed with Rose's voice are footnotes that tell the backstories of the extended family. Boys go off to war, girls get pregnant, families squabble, people die, small children too. There is sadness and relief, amusement, mystery, and ordinary detail of ordinary people. The pleasure of the book is Atkinson's entertaining voice and her ability to recall and relate what it was to be small. She nailed me with this passage:

I am sent to bed first and have to negotiate this trecherous journey entirely on my own. This is manifestly wrong. I have adopted certain strategies to help us in this ordeal. It's important, for example, that I keep my hand on the banister rail at all times when climbing the stairs (the other one is being clutched by Teddy). That way, nothing can hurtle unexpectedly down the stairs and knock us flying into the Outer Darkness. And we must never look back. Never, not even when we can feel the hot breath of the wolves on the backs of our necks, not when we can hear their long, uncut claws scrabbling on the wood at either edge of the stair-carpet and the growls bubbling deep in their throats.

I felt the same way as a child, though I was much less eloquent about it. I'll be adding Kate Atkinson's other books to my To Read pile.


P.S. I heard about this book on someone else's blog, in the comments. Does anyone remember who or where? I'd like to give credit for the recommendation.



My nice sister took me to the doctor where I promptly fainted. It was decided that I have a virus (the headaches and high fever) with a secondary ear infection (ear ache, sore throat, golfball-sized lumps in my throat), so I got some lovely antibiotics and am expected to live.



As much as I love all things LUSH, this is taking things too far.


Friday Poetry: I Saw My Youth Today by Richard Shindell

The lyrics from this song keep nudging me, so I'm going to count them as poetry and share them.

I saw my youth today
He passed me on the street
As he walked by I stood frozen
On my dreaming feet

He had a kinder face
The kind I've learned to hide
Behind these cold unyielding stones
That used to be my eyes

A moment please, my boy
Don't you know my name?
Do you remember when
We used to play a hundred games?

And is your mother well?
Kiss her once for me
And if she should ask you why
Why you could say just for no reason

Remember that old troll
Who lived inside the tree?
He was never dangerous
That's just the way it seemed

The day you climbed the tree
And ran to show me how
The troll was never seen again
So where could he be now?

A moment please, my boy
Don't you know this face?
Do you remember when
I used to let you win the races?

Please don't run away
I did not mean to scare you
I'm the one who told you
You should never talk to strangers

And is your mother well?
Kiss her once for me
And if she should ask you why
Why you could say just for no reason

I saw my youth today
He passed me on the street
As he walked by I stood frozen
On my dreaming feet.


Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by Charlotte's Library.



happy birthday to me

Yup, it's my birthday. I'm 45, and yes, this is pretty much what I look like.

To celebrate, I'm going out to lunch with my mom, sis, and nieces, and then home for dinner and games with my honey and kids. Would it be okay to ask you, dear reader, in honor of my agedness, to click on the magic wand in the footer line and then leave a comment wherever it is that you end up?


Change of plans. My Mom, sis, and nieces went to lunch. I stayed home under 7 blankets and alternately shivered and sweated. My best friend brought over a beautiful from scratch chocolate cake and I am too sick to even be tempted. Poor me: I have a birthday flu.



I finally did it! Last week I added a print icon to the footer of individual posts and today I figured out how to make it NOT print the headers, sidebars, and footers and to print just the blog post, full page width. Yipee.

Not that I imagine that everyone in blogland is printing my posts and sleeping with them under their pillows, but it is possible that a few people want to print the recipes.

Anyway, I'm right pleased with myself. If you do happen to print something, please let me know how it worked for you.

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson

Successful homeschooling,

after all, is a kind of educational self-sufficiency,
a farm that produces precisely what it needs without drawing on public funds. Such self-sufficiency should be promoted rather than mistrusted;
It should be recognized as a legitimate and reasonable alternative to other educational possibilities.

If you read Snow Falling on Cedars, you may recall how fun Guterson is to read. His prose is quirky, though not ever clumsy. In this non-fiction book, he informs, educates, inspires, and entertains. You need to know that he is awkwardly placed as a public school high-school English teacher who home-schools his own kids in the Pacific Northwest, so he has a rather unique view on the complexities of the home-school vs public school discussion.

Guterson opens Chapter One: Teacher, Parent, with these words: "We schoolteachers constantly complain -- into a steady, implacable wind -- that with much smaller classes and more one-to-one contact we might make better academic headway" (p. 11), which leads nicely into his observations about the parent as the teacher, pointing out that -- in a homeschool environment, the teacher student ratio can't be beat.

In Chapter Two: What About Democracy, Guterson addresses the concerns that home-schooling somehow undermines democracy, pointing out that "your average classroom is more like a little Kremlin than a little congress [ . . . ] more like totalitarianism than democracy. There are bells and PA systems and student cards and hall passes and classrooms where you listen day in and day out to authoritarian voices" (p. 42).

Chapter Three: Homeschoolers Among Others capably addresses the concern about socialization -- that homeschooled won't get socialized properly if they are not with their peers. Guterson points out that "Schoolchildren may be openly and consciously obsessed with their peers, but their unconscious desperation for meaningful relationships with adults can be plainly seen in their eye" (p 65). In addition, a child not tied to the school clock has the opportunity to live "as an integral part of a community, among the elderly, store clerks, gardeners, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, and electricians in their world, [ . . . ] are apt to develop a sensitive social understanding and a sophisticated feeling for the lives of others as they are lived on a daily basis" (p. 64).

I sure see this in my children's lives. They do errands with me and see the mechanic at his work, the flourmiller and his mill, the grandfather and his care-giver; every week they get to practice their manners and their social conventions, carry groceries to the car for the old lady, go with me as we help a neighbor. I have many concerns, but lack of socialization is not one of them.

Chapter Four: My Father Comes to Class, cleverly presents the legal aspects (via Guterson's attorney-father), as well as provides a polite primer on regulations, statues, court decisions, and constitutional interpretation. Regulations are set by state agencies, but are ultimately held up or overturned by state statues. Of course, state statues are interpreted and these interpretations are rendered into court decisions which are (we hope) in alignment with the state constitution. And of course, the state constitution has to be consistent with the federal Constitution. Why does this matter? Because regulatory agencies across the country vary in their restrictions on home-schooling. Though these agencies may be the most visible aspect of the law to the home-schooling family, "the real questions -- for home-schooling families is what the federal Constitution says about what they're doing" (p 82).

And what does the federal Constitution say? Nothing. Why not? " [ . . . ] the Constitution doesn't mention homeschooling in part because its writers didn't have the word in their vocabulary. Learning outside of schools, back then, was pretty common. [ . . . ] In the past, governments didn't take it upon themselves to see to education. They didn't think of it as their proper role as governments do today." So in 200 years we've gone from one end of the spectrum (families are responsible for educating their off-spring) to the other (families can barely be trusted to educate their young, and even then must be supervised by a state employee and submit reports and show results lest they lose their grudgingly-granted privilege). Indeed, "Every child is entitled to a public education," as Texas Governor Rick Perry asserts, then adds, "but public education is not entitled to every child."

Chapter Five: School, Home and History, presents a very succinct overview of the history of schooling, at home and in institutions.

Chapter Six: Abiding Questions, asks and responds to the essential question, "what is education?" and laments the fact that very few educators bother themselves with reading or discussing educational theorists. Remember, Guterson is a high-school teacher. He remarks that, "in fact, I know of very few teachers who have, for example, read Plato, not to mention Dewey or Rousseau" (p. 119).

In Chapter Seven: The Matter of Money, Guterson addresses the economic concerns of home-schooling, acknowledging the very real economic impact of staying home to educate the kids rather than sending them off to school and using that time to earn money. Yet, Guterson points out, "This state of affairs seems particularly ironic in an age widely characterized as postindustrial [ . . . ] at no time in the past one hundred years has working at home been as feasible as it is today, when many Americans hold the kids of jobs that do not really require a daily commute to a central place of business. [ . . . ] Whereas the industrial age meant adults left home to work in the plants and factories, the information age might well mean that many are free, should they so desire, to work at home again" (p. 135-136). In addition, Guterson points out, schools used to have an advantage over a family home, in that it had the educational stuff (maps etc.) that were not readily available to an ordinary family. Not so in these times, "Home is no longer necessarily the kind of information vacuum that once made school seem mandatory" (p. 136).

Chapter Eight: Before Schools, takes a closer look at life before schools, admonishing us to not naively over-simplify the 'native' education (a heads-up to the un-schooling movement), and clarifying that in earlier societies "To be rich was to have a life in the web of one's people; to be poor was to have few children or to rarely see them or to work apart from those one loved. [ . . . ] With industrialism, as Robert LeVine and Merry White suggest in Human Conditions: The Cultural Basis of Educational Development parents began to provide for their children as opposed to working, teaching, and living with them" (p. 166). Huge difference.

Chapter Nine: What We've Learned About How We Learn, presents a very readable overview of Learning Theory. Anyone going to a teaching college should read this chapter just to get their bearings before starting their coursework.

Chapter Ten: Schools and Families: A Proposal, discusses the relationships between schools and families, advocating that "Families rightly should look to schools to assist them in meeting their educational needs, and schools should take seriously their constitutional mandates to provide for the education of every child -- even the children of families who want to guide that education themselves" (p 185). Guterson then shares several examples of excellent school/family cooperation. He also acknowledges (and laments) the current trend towards "espous[ing] schools as full-service institutions designed to do what families once did: Schools, [some reformers] assert, should be open dawn to dusk in every season fo the year, providing day care, m,meals, advice about birth control, counseling for teenage alcoholics, sex education, AIDS education, late-afternoon volleyball, basketball, and badminton, and finally Home and Family Life course in which children learn about -- what else? -- the home and family life they have left behind" (p 184).

Guterson argues that "a school district should encourage more families to homeschool privately, without recourse to district resources -- if the families can do so with good results -- since this frees the district to devote greater energy to those families truly in need of what it offers. Successful homeschooling, after all, is a kind of educational self-sufficiency, a farm that produces precisely what it needs without drawing on public funds. Such self-sufficiency should be promoted rather than mistrusted; It should be recognized as a legitimate and reasonable alternative to other educational possibilities" (p. 198).

Chapter Eleven: A Life's Work, wraps it all up, but not before articulating an aspect of our society that I have never been comfortable with. "In should be easy to understand how friendly conversation in America -- where probing into the particulars of other lives is considered courtesy ("Always ask about their lives" is the advice we get as teenagers about making polite talk)-- [ . . . ]" Guterson goes on to make his point but I stopped right there. He said "probing", didn't he? I hate asking people for details as it seems so snoopy, so rude, yet I recognize that I fail the polite conversation test at nearly every opportunity. So if you know me face-to-face and have wondered why I am so rude and never ask you a lot of questions, just know that even though I acknowledge that I should, in my heart it feels like probing, and I am tickled pink to get even the littlest hint from Guterson that I may not be the only one. If you are still reading this very long post, and have any wisdom to share on this, please do so.

I can't tell you what else Guterson discussed in Chapter Eleven, as I was completely derailed by the aforementioned probing.

All in all, I was found the book informative and the writing very enjoyable; Guterson has a droll sense of humor that had me chuckling throughout.

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Book Roast

Laurel's book is coming out today. Drop by and cheer with with her.


Dutch Babies

On one of the cousinly visits earlier this summer, my cousin's eldest child shared this recipe with us, which we have made numerous times since. Dandy is especially pleased to be able to make it.

Dutch Babies

Turn your over on to 400 and put in it a cast iron pot.

Into the pot, put:
2 T butter

In your blender, combine:
3 eggs
3/4 C milk
3/4 C flour
dash salt

When the butter is melted and butter, pour the batter in and set the timer for 20 minutes. Serve with powdered sugar and jam.


saute some vegies and pour the batter over them.


saute some vegies and after taking the Dutch Baby from the pot, it will fall in the center. Pour the sauteed vegies into the well and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

To learn more about Dutch Babies, visit the wikipedia entry.

~SuzanneTo print this page, visit the little printer icon in the footer line. Don't see it? Click on either the post title above or the permalink icon below to get to the individual page for this post. Voila! The -- recently tweaked and operating nicely -- printer options awaits you.



blog tweaks, widgets, gadgets, and customization

I got to spend some time this evening with a niece who is crafting her first blog. Of course we ran out of time as I was trying to distill two years worth of bloggy-wisdom into an evening full of people to see, cake to serve, and children to mind. I'll post here what I would have shared, in case it is helpful to anyone else.

1. Go right now to IntenseDebates and install their comment widget. It allows for threaded comments, and that is worth the install alone, though it does offer other nice features (like the recent comments widget). It's an easy install.
2. Go sign up at StatCounter, cause it is fun to see where your visitors are from.
3. Ditto with ClusterMaps

Other then that, all my blog toy sources are in the Credits Tabwidget in the lower right corner.

Happy tweaking!


edited to add Library Thing, which I almost included in the original post but got distracted by a little muffin who had a tummy ache. Anyway, just go to LibraryThing, sign up, add some books, and then look on the far right of your personal Library Thing home page for the 'blog widgets' tab and from there it is pretty self-explanatory.

One of the things I like the most about LibraryThing is that after I loaded up a lot of my favorite books, I started to get book recommendations that were actually reliable.

edited to add this great post on how the blogger html template actually works.


pics from Russia database

Have I shown you this before? This was Chickadee's photo from her listing on the Russian Federal Database. It is the only picture we have of her prior to our meeting her in April of 2006. In this shot, she is about 3 years old (July 2004) and about 18 pounds.

Why so small? She explains it well. Here is a conversation we had in February of 2007:

She sings all the time. This morning's song:

I love my mama.
Yes I do.
I love my mama.
Yes I do.

My Ruskie mama.
No I eat.
My Ruskie mama.
No I eat.

I love my mama.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
I love my mama.
Eat. Eat. Eat.

My mama loves me.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
My mama loves me.
Eat. Eat. Eat.

My Ruskie mama . . .

The song stops. A small voice asks, "Mama, did Ruskie Mama love me?"
"Why no I eat?"

And here is Dandy's database picture. We are less sure of when it was taken.



summer goals check-in

cloudscome, over at a wrung sponge, reminds me that it is time for the summer goals check-in.

1. go geocaching with the kids - nope, too hard to do without a GPS thingamagummy.
2. take children strawberry and blueberry picking - did some blueberry picking, will do more this week, along with the blackberries in our 100 acre wood
3. go swimming very often - yes. We get an A+ in swimming
4. grow and eat lots of home-grown heirloom tomatoes - still awaiting these
5. have my fall classes fully prepped by the end of June - ha ha ha, aren't I amusing.
6. make progress on manuscript - don't even know where it is
7. make lots of jam - done, strawberry and raspberry
8. install pavers into south flower garden - nope
9. stay home a lot - not recently
10. get children to at least one week of VBS - two weeks, actually
11. declutter basement - nope
12. move mill end pile out of driveway - yup. I don't remember what he did to earn this, but Dandy moved all of it (approximately 2 cords) over a weekend.
13. continue to make own bread and yogurt - off-and-on
14. reconquer the north and front flower gardens - nope
15. go to Darrington Bluegrass festival - nope

But I still have month left as we go back to school Sept 22 (that is, our homeschool co-op starts up and I start teaching at the community college).

How did you do with your goals?



how to add little pictures to your comments

Want a cute little picture of yourself that shows up when you leave comments?

  1. Go over to face your manga and make an avatar (little pic) of yourself. When it is just right, save it and check your email box. Your manga avatar will arrive in your inbox from which you will save it to your desktop or somewhere else where you can easily locate it again.
  2. Go over to gravatar.com and follow directions. You will enter your email address and upload your avatar so that any place where you use an email address on the web (in a comment submission, for example), your little pic will show up.
  3. Come back here and leave a comment so we can admire your new avatar.
  4. If you want to know if avatars show up on your comments, leave me a comment and I'll come say something on your blog and we can see if your comment server is avatar-enabled.


Daily Strength for Daily Needs

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. ~ROM. xv. 1.

The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. ~ISAIAH 1.4

If there be some weaker one,
Give me strength to help him on;
If a blinder soul there be,
Let me guide him nearer Thee.

Opportunities of doing a kindness are often lost from mere want of thought. [ . . .] Ask "What should I like myself, if I were hard-worked, or sick, or lonely?" Cultivate the habit of sympathy.

Ask Him to increase your powers of sympathy: to give you more quickness and depth of sympathy, in little things as well as great. Opportunities of doing a kindness are often lost from mere want of thought. Half a dozen lines of kindness may bring sunshine into the whole day of some sick person. Think of the pleasure you might give to some one who is much shut up, and who has fewer pleasures than you have, by sharing with her some little comfort or enjoyment that you have learnt to look upon as a necessary of life,--the pleasant drive, the new book, flowers from the country, etc. Try to put yourself in another's place. Ask "What should I like myself, if I were hard-worked, or sick, or lonely?" Cultivate the habit of sympathy.
~Jean Nicolas Grou in Daily Strength for Daily Needs edited by Mary W. Tileston

:: reposted from last year because I just like it.



a question for attachment-savvy parents

Okay, so, here is the situation.

1. Dandy wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and Chickadee and I, well, we are very fond of lazy restful mornings.
2. Dandy wakes up starving.
3. Dandy loves to cook.

From an attachment point of view, I'm supposed to be the great food-dispenser, the goddess of all things yummy. From a practical point of view, he is the obvious choice for breakfast cook.

Am I doing him a disservice by letting him provide breakfast?


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vacation pictures

Last Thursday we snuck off to a wedding in California where the children got to charm and be charmed by many new relatives, some as remote as their dad's brother's mother-in-law's daughter-in-law, but our kids don't care; they just savor their riches: an endless supply of relatives.

We spent our first day there in our little rented cabin and the nearby pool and our first evening at the big shindig hosted by the groom's family, whereat Chickadee met two brand new (to her) first-cousins-once-removed (children of her first cousins).

And Dandy and Chickadee were very silly.

The next day we went to Sly Park on Jenkinson Lake which I thought was very beautiful although My Gift was sad to see the lake so low. Apparently all the rocky shore "isn't supposed to be there".

After an afternoon of splashing in the water and napping in the shade, we prettied ourselves up to go to the wedding.

Here is Dandy, in a rare moment of stillness and contemplation before the wedding began.
The maternal Grandmother of the bride looks splendid.

And finally the bride and her papa arrive.

Vows are exchanged,

as is a very thorough kiss.

Chickadee and the beautiful bride.

The bride and my father-in-law. Don't you think he looks like Doyle Lawson?

My lovely mother-in-law and her lovely sister.

My Gift with his big brother.

Dandy and the very fluffy new cousins.

Our nephew and his daughter.

We danced and sipped champagne and chatted well into the night and navigated the next day in a drowsy haze.

Monday we went to Lake Tahoe where we buried the children alive,

but they got out, so we fed them lunch and headed home.

On the way we dropped by the their Uncle's firehall for a tour.

Then we packed up and came home.