Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some Movies

This week we watched Christmas with the Kranks. Now, you don't need to tell me that it's not exactly the right season to be watching a Christmas movie. I'm fully aware of that. But I have this husband-dude who found a Tim Allen movie that looked funny, sitting there on the library shelf, pleading, "Take me home and watch me. I promise to make you laugh." So he did.

It was funny. Not entirely devoid of foul language, but nearly. (Okay, Mom?) I found it amusing to see the peer pressure and societal reactions toward the family who decided not to "do" Christmas. For societal misfits like us, it was enjoyable. Another thing neat to see was how the neighborhood could all come together with love and graciousness toward the misfits when they needed the help, due to a change in plans. Just a real nice, fun, wholesome movie. Even if it's not Christmas. I had to laugh, though, at the way the techies arranged the fake-snow piles on the lawns. The techies never lived where they had to shovel much snow or observe drifts or watch piles melt!

Last night, I was teaching Gary how to fill out a 1040. He wanted to watch Invincible, a story about Vince Papale who joined a losing football team during open try-outs and brought back some spirit and life to the team and to Philadelphia. Whenever I had to run to the computer to download another set of tax forms+instructions, he'd grab another 10 minutes of the movie. So I didn't see the whole first half, but I did watch all the second half. It appears to be a new movie: the date on the DVD says 2006. But it's got an "old" feel to the coloring and the way it's done. The true story the movie was based on was from the mid-70s. It was fun to see people in a movie need a phone booth to make a call, or crank up the car window with the handle. (We just recently gave up on our rotary-dial phone, and we still have a car with non-electric windows.) Somebody said this was a formulaic movie. I suppose it is. But it's decent enough for kids to see, and it's a feel-good movie with a sports theme. We really liked it.

Tonight, we will be working on the state tax forms -- another lesson for the guy who never does those sort of accounting things. Maggie turned on Ice Princess. When we watched this once-upon-a-time, I loved it because it was about a mathematician. The girl in the story decided to do a science project on the physics of ice-skating. She studied the math and science behind it, and then proceeded to learn to skate, using the physics. The movie was good in showing the pettiness of some of the competitors. It had a nice "homeschool" touch (even though it was set in a school) in that the main character didn't start skating at a ridiculously young age, but waited until later and then learned much more quickly than the others had. Another nice decent happy feel-good movie. We batted 1000 for our choices during our Too Much TV Week.

Eggplant in Lasagna

Julee had mentioned a long time ago about using eggplant slices instead of noodles in lasagna. I tried it a couple of weeks ago, and it worked really well. The lasagna is free of refined white-flour noodles. And it's much quicker and easier to slice the squash than it is to boil the noodles. And best of all, it tasted just the same.

I tried it again on Friday, and it didn't work as well. The difference was that this time I sliced the eggplant lengthwise. It seemed to change the texture of the finished lasagna: it was stringier, and hard to cut with the fork. I noticed too that it was harder to slice the eggplant very very thin, as skinny as noodles, when I was slicing the long way. This left us with some bites of lasagna that were noticeably eggplanty, instead of being nearly identical to regular lasagna.

The only problem with slicing crosswise is that you have to piece together more round slices than if you use the bigger lengthwise slices. But I think we can handle that small inconvenience.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Elvet Banks

When I saw that the new hymnal had an alternative tune to To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord (LSB 407) and May God Bestow on Us His Grace (LSB 824), I wasn't happy. After all, those texts have been attached to their old tunes for quite a while now. Why neglect a perfectly decent 500-year old melody and go off in our own direction? There's something just plain nice about singing the same words (albeit in a different language) to the same tune that other Christians have been using for centuries and centuries! So I was all set to dislike the melody "Elvet Banks" which is brand spankin' new.

Dang it. I like it in spite of myself.

I hear that it's supposedly an easier tune than the originals for those two Luther hymns. I'm skeptical. I don't think it's any easier. But neither is it harder.

I must confess, though, that there is one small glitch to the tune when it's used for the Baptism song. The tune just seems altogether too chipper for the sixth stanza: "But woe to those who cast aside this grace so freely given...." The incongruity between the tune and the text gets even stronger at the end of the stanza. But other than that, I'm afraid I really like this particular tune.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Jenny may consider this to be sick, but I thought the picture was a hoot!

Global Warming

On You Tube, there's a video called The Great Global Warming Swindle. Thanks to Lu and Julee for pointing it out. It's 75 minutes, so I haven't found time to watch the whole thing yet, but it certainly is a start on "equal time" in opposition to the prevailing politically-correct beliefs about global warming.


A week or so after our dental appointments last fall, the corner of one of my molars broke off while we were attending a homeschool outing. I intended to call the dentist when we got home, but it was too late in the day by the time we returned home. I didn't get around to calling the next day. By the third day, I was beginning to realize that it seemed kind of silly to call the dentist when there was no pain. I figured I'd just wait until the next regular check-up.

The dentist tells me I need a crown. I don't know whether to believe him. Our dentist back in St Louis had mentioned once that my husband had a cavity, but it was small enough not to need a filling. The dentist said it would probably heal itself. Heal itself??? We'd never heard of such a thing. But it did. Our current dentist told my husband several visits ago that he had a small cavity that needed to be filled. Gary has put it off, and it too appears to have healed itself. Web-surfing, I found an article from Prevention Magazine on teeth healing on their own from cavities. Another article (relying heavily on Weston Price Foundation information) advocates scrupulous attention to nutrition as a way to achieve dental health, even healing cavities.

When asked why I need this expensive crown that would be painful, the dentist's response is that I might get a cavity in the broken tooth, and it might get deep enough to cause a toothache prior to my next dental visit. I've never had a toothache, and I've heard they're worse than I can imagine. So I don't know that I want to risk decay in a place where the nerves are already so close to the surface of the tooth.

This website discusses alternatives to crowns. And this one mentions some problems that arise, including the possibility of an abcess, the likelihood that the crown will need to be replaced about once a decade, and the likelihood that the tooth will end up needing a root canal.

I'm not sure what to think. I fear that the dentist wants to just "follow standard procedure" whether that is the best or not. I fear that his motivation is more about income for his dental practice than concern for my dental health. But what if he's right and I end up with a misery-inducing toothache? And yet, it seems pretty drastic to grind most of my tooth into oblivion now because I might later get a cavity that turns into a toothache at an inconvenient time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I was interested in Pastor Cwirla's blog post from early last week on "avatars." (Whatever they are! Something to do with internet communication. Try telling that to an inept techno-dunderhead like me.) The part of his article that interested me most was about being with people in the real world as opposed to interacting in cyberspace. One paragraph begins, In my opinion, it isn’t terribly healthy for human beings who are made by God for communion to spend inordinate amounts of time engaging in compulsive, raw communication in a virtual world. In some cases, it can be psychologically debilitating.

This fits with my opinions about television. Addicted to it though I may be, my reasonable brain says television is not a good thing, as discussed in Marie Winn's book The Plug-In Drug. We've struggled back and forth with tv, banning it, allowing it, banning it again, trying to control it, then back to admitting our failures and attempting (with varying degrees of success) to harness our addiction to achieve a little bit of something good.

The computer games seem even more addictive. So are email lists and forums and blogging and a variety of other ways to spend time on the Internet. So we pendulum back and forth, trying to find a comfortable middle spot of allowing such things without being consumed by our lack of self-control over them.

So tonight, as we're talking in the half-hour between "American Idol" and "Lost" [TV shows, doncha know?], I realize that five people are sitting in the living room with THREE computers lined up in the space of a few feet. And munchkin is using a cell phone to call the kitchen, a whopping 10 feet away. I probably should cry, but instead it just made me laugh!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

4 Hours = 1 Day

Several years back, I discovered that any project that takes four hours is an "all day" project. Now you may have learned in your elementary-school math classes that there are 24 hours in a day. And you may think that 24 hours is significantly more than 4 hours. If you think that, you would be wrong. Or uninformed. OR you would be invited to use your free time to come clean floors and do errands for me. Because for a frugal homeschooling mom of several children, a 4-hour project definitely sucks up the whole day!

(Do you know that there are people who think there's nothing to do at home all day? I hear tell that there are women who think they'd be bored and have nothing to do if they stayed home with their children instead of going to a place where they are paid to work. Those are clueless women. If they need a clue, they could come play Cinderella at my house for a week or so. No, wait. I take that back. If I told such a person to go scrub a floor or bake some bread or stew a chicken or mend a sweater, that person would make such a mess of the job that it would take me longer to fix it than to have done it right in the first place myself.)

Last week I had a board meeting for the state homeschool group and was gone for 11 hours that day. An 11-hour project counts as nearly 3 days. Another day last week I was away for 11 hours, mostly working on editing projects. That's another 3 days. Wednesday was my job and church, which kept me gone for most of the day. But because I was in and out, with the chance to cook and change a load of laundry and tell children to pick up their stuff, Wednesday only counted as 1 day. Friday was dentist appointments. Two hours there equals another half-day. And then we were gone for the weekend. Because I was already so behind, and because I was leaving competent adults at home to fend for themselves, the two days did NOT count as six days out of commission (like I would normally expect), but only as three -- a half-day to prep, two days gone, and a half-day to get back to Operating Mode. So in the space of six days, I used up "eleven days" of time. No wonder I'm so out of sync.

I remember my mom telling me, back when I was a mom of toddlers, that Mom could only have one thing per day on the calendar, preferably less than that. But at that point my grandma could have only one thing per week on her calendar without getting overwhelmed. I'm beginning to learn that lesson. I'm beginning to realize that I have to watch what goes onto the calendar, realizing that two 11-hour days is going to take all my free time for a whole week. It makes me feel old. I'm beginning to learn to control what I schedule for our week. What really messes me up, though, is when other people schedule things for me (dentist appts, cardiology appts, my boss needing something done right away, etc). Next job is going to be learning to say no to the boss or to the medical receptionist.

This explains why we don't have any pictures yet from Katie and Nathan's wedding last summer. That job will take nearly a week when I get to it.

This explains why the taxes are not done yet. Although I've already done a lot of the work, it'll take nearly a week (several 4-hour stints).

This explains why I hate to let the insurance salesman come by for "just an hour." It's never just an hour, but 2 or 3. Which gets to taking nigh onto the "whole day."

This explains why fieldtrips with the homeschool group are so tremendously time-consuming. An outing that takes from 9:00 to 4:00 consumes two days, not half of one.

I'm tired.

A House Someday

There was discussion about the housing market at the dinner table. Daddy makes a comment that there is no way Mommy & Daddy will ever be able to afford a house, should disability shove us into retirement rather than "dying with our boots on." Daddy mentions Mrs Benke from his first congregation. She and the siblings all went together to buy Mom & Dad a home after Dad retired and moved out of the parsonage. When the home was no longer needed, the kids sold it. Daddy mentions that our kids will have to buy us a house if we should ever need one.

Twelve-yr-old responds, "WHAT??? I can't buy you a house! I'm saving my money for a radio."

Laughter ensues.

"I mean, a good one. A radio that plays CDs and tapes. I can't buy you a house!"

And so goes the communication around this place.....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bad Moods

It amazes me sometimes how such little things can make me so whiny. Ever since the pipes broke at church a few weeks ago, I'm just at the end of my rope. Little things seem so big. Three times in the space of a week I was in the middle of a recipe and found that someone had finished off a key ingredient without writing it on the grocery list. I broke two glasses. We had the worst blizzard we had since we've lived here, in addition to two other hefty snowfalls in the same week. Discovered that Bible class on Sunday was canceled for a voters meeting. Stuff like that -- certainly nothing to become distraught over.

Things always seem out of whack when we're gone from home too much. With being gone all day last Tuesday and Thursday, as well as being gone most of the day (in and out) on Wednesday, things like keeping up with the housework just got lost in the shuffle. That puts me in a bad mood when I get too far behind on basic housekeeping.

It also crossed my mind today that things can be hard around "anniversaries" after a loved one dies. It's been enough years now (four) that it doesn't seem like I'm hurting over that. But maybe there's some cosmic subconscious clock that puts us into bad moods over such memories.

Happily, though, we had a very nice visit with friends in Indiana this weekend. And the robins are back, the days have been sunny and warm, and we sat outside while we read schoolwork this afternoon. Tomorrow should be another nice chance to get outdoors and soak up some rays.