Saturday, October 24, 2009

History or Current Events?

Andrew and I sat down to listen to our current tape in the US at War series. We're studying the time leading up to the Revolutionary War. It seems that the Sugar Act (an attempt by Britain to increase taxes collected from the colonies) was imposed at a time when the colonies were already experiencing recession/depression. And guess what? When they increased taxes during a depression, it destroyed the economy that was left, knocking some businesses out of business, which then had ripple effects on other businesses.

Now, who would ever have guessed that increasing taxes during hard economic times would do that???

Do you suppose the governor and the president and the leaders of congress would like to gather round my kitchen table and listen to some of our history tapes??

PS: We also had to laugh at the colonists' insistence that they shouldn't have to pay "involuntary taxes." Now, think about that phrase: involuntary taxes. Is that not a redundancy?

Today's Laugh

An Arab diplomat visiting the U.S. for the first time was being wined and dined by the State Department. The Grand Emir was unused to the salt in American foods (french fries, cheeses, salami, anchovies, etc) and was constantly sending his manservant Abdul to fetch him a glass of water. Time and again, Abdul would scamper off and return with a glass of water, but then came the time when he returned empty-handed.

"Abdul, you son of an ugly camel, where is my water?" demanded the Grand Emir.

"A thousand pardons, O Illustrious One," stammered the wretched Abdul, "infidel sit on well."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Static Electricity for Experiments

If you're a homeschool mom like me, you may not have balloons in the house when you need them for science experiments. "What do you mean -- you thought it was okay to play with the balloons like they were toys? Don't you realize that I need them on rare occasion and don't want to have to make a trip to the store? Playing with toys? What will you children think of next???"

When Dr Wile tells your kid to make static electricity for a science project and there is no balloon to be found, see if there's styrofoam in the house. If you take a styrofoam plate and rub it vigorously against your hair (as you would do with a balloon to build up a charge), it works. The styrofoam doesn't have as much oomph as a balloon; you can't use the static charge to hang the plate on the ceiling. But it works well enough to pull the electrons in a piece of foil or a very thin trickle of water.

Today's Laugh

On a transatlantic flight, a plane passes through a severe storm. The turbulence is awful, and things go from bad to worse when one wing is struck by lightning. One woman in particular loses it.

Screaming, she stands up in the front of the plane. "I'm too young to die," she wails.

Then she yells, "Well, if I'm going to die, I want my last minutes on earth to be memorable! Is there anyone on this plane who can make me feel like a WOMAN?"

For a moment there is silence. Everyone has forgotten their own peril. They all stare, riveted, at the desperate woman in the front of the plane.

Then a cowboy from Montana stands up in the rear of the plane. He is handsome: tall, well built, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He starts to walk slowly up the aisle, unbuttoning his shirt ...

one button at a time ...

No one moves...

He removes his shirt...

Muscles ripple across his chest...

She gasps...

He whispers, "Iron this. Then get me a beer."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today's Laugh

In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear confrontations, the Montana Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and be alert for bears while in the field:

"We advise that outdoorsmen wear small bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren’t expecting them, and to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter....

"It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in it and smell like pepper."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caramel Dip for Apples

This isn't as runny as the caramel dips you find in the produce section or at the apple orchard, but it's healthier. The taste isn't quite the same, but it's just as good.

Cream together equal parts of:
brown sugar
cream cheese
peanut butter.

A bowlful of this with a plate of Honeycrisp slices makes a mighty yummy lunch!

Today's Laugh

France -- the only country with reverse gear and backup lights on their tanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Oh boy!
My sister and her husband are having a baby next spring!!!!!


A few weeks ago, a friend commented on her daughter's behavior after an afternoon at a homeschool co-op with all the other kids. I told her how our kids had had the ugly habit of misbehaving after time with friends. So often they would elbow each other in the car on the way home from play-days. Or they would tattle and whine. The day after an all-day homeschool event was torturous for the mom as the kids were impossibly cranky and impatient with each other. So many times I said, "You know what you're teaching me, don't you? 'If you take us to see our friends, we will be nasty at home afterwards.' So obviously the lesson I will learn is not to take my children to see their friends." In time, they learned to bite their tongues and keep their elbows to themselves after a day with friends. In time, they learned that they'd better feign niceness-to-siblings if they ever wanted to see anybody outside the family.

It is well known among homeschoolers that there is a "re-entry time" for the family after some or all of the family members have been away. People who send their kids to school and say, "I could never homeschool," often feel that way because they go through the re-entry time nearly every day. That re-entry time is nasty, whether it happens a couple of times a year or every day. It takes real work for kids to stifle the impulses to snap at siblings after they've been with their buddies. A sustained period of time away from buddies usually makes for a more pleasant home life.

Different subject:
Pastor talks about how we are made in the image of the God who loved sacrificially and gave of Himself. He talks about how we chase after happiness and satisfaction, never to find fulfillment in what we thought we wanted. He talks about how joy and peace and fulfillment actually can come only as we pour out ourselves for the neighbor. Even though it hurts us to sacrifice ourselves for another, it is paradoxically the only place happiness and satisfaction can be found.

Different subject:
I remember Barbara writing a blogpost quite a while ago about how she spent so much time with her children and found a great deal of pleasure in their company. She wrote about the moms who are not with their children so much, or who see homeschooling as a duty to be endured, and who then do not enjoy their children. I wish I could find that article; she said it so much better than my poor summary here.

Putting all three of those together:
I sense that there is less delight for homeschooling mommies than there was a decade or more ago. Because there are more homeschoolers than 15-20 years ago, it's easier to find like-minded homeschoolers. Because homeschooling is more mainstream, it's easier to find others who share our lifestyle and interests. It is therefore easier for moms to find support groups, attend co-ops, and spend time online with other moms. I'm wondering if mommies develop the same kind of peer dependency that kids sometimes do. If we mommies are with our friends more, does that make us cranky when we go back to spending time with our families?

I'm not saying that moms shouldn't associate with other moms online, at retreats, for play-days, and at other times. But I find, for myself, that I'm more cheerful and content working with the kids when I reduce the time spent with my peers.

Today's Laugh

I went to my doctor and said "Doc, I can't remember ever being this sick before! Can you help me?"

He said, "Sure!" and wrote me a prescription for ginkgo biloba.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Site Meter

We all cracked up over the xkcd comic strip about people ignoring the very-real prize advertised on the site to the 100-millionth visitor. You should really go read the comic.

At 8:36 this evening, I had my 100,000th visitor to my blog. And I don't know who it was -- someone from an unknown continent, unknown country, unknown latitude and longitude, unknown ISP. All I know is that the person was using Firefox on a WinXP machine and came directly to my blog instead of being referred from another URL. It's odd; usually I can make a good guess as to who a visitor is, or at least know what kind of information they were googling when they found my site.

I don't have a prize. Instead, I only have a picture of the tree that has brightened our days. Literally brightened. But, oh, the picture's not even flashing as prizes are supposed to....

Last year, the tree across the street, that I can see out our bedroom window, was utterly gorgeous. I figured it had to do with the weather. But this year it is just as beautiful. It is SO vivid and bright that, on all those deeply cloudy & dark days we've been having, you almost get a sense that the sun is shining on that tree. In the midst of the gloom, it feels like the sun has broken through the clouds if we look out that one particular window.
(The picture doesn't do it justice...)

Today's Laugh

Did you hear the one about the paranoid dyslexic?
He always thought he was following someone...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How "Narrow" Is the Cross?

The other day in Bible class, a wise woman brought up some questions about the "knowledge of God." An interesting discussion ensued, with cross-references to many passages besides the Hosea one which instigated the topic. She had good things to say; Pastor had helpful points to add. But there was one little thing that bothered me: we were discussing whether it's too narrow to define the 'knowledge of God' as the cross of Jesus and His blood-bought forgiveness.

No, it's not too narrow. That's the right definition. To know God is to know and trust and rely upon that atonement.

But ... "narrow"?

I kept wondering whether the cross of Jesus can in any way be considered a narrow definition of anything. It is everything. The cross of Jesus is why Pharaoh's armies were drowned in the Red Sea. The cross of Jesus is why all those thousands (millions?) of lambs were sacrificed in the tabernacle and temple for centuries upon centuries. The cross of Jesus is why the universe holds together and the earth continues to produce fruit (Col 1:14-21). The cross of Jesus is our justification and our sanctification, our wisdom, our life and salvation.

Do you know what the TARDIS is? Doctor Who's home/spaceship looks like a telephone booth on the outside, but it's humongous on the inside.

Or think of the Weasleys' tent when they went camping at the World Quidditch Cup. It was bigger on the inside than on the outside. Hermione's bag in Deathly Hallows was the same way.

How much equipment is in that narrow police box known as the TARDIS? How much clothing and books and stuff could Hermione carry around in her bag? How many rooms and how much furniture fit into the Weasleys' tiny little tent?

Isn't Jesus' cross like that? Only more so? And real!

Today's Laugh

A friend and I were sitting at Starbucks when a noisy car alarm interrupted our conversation.

"What good are car alarms when no one pays any attention to them?" I wondered aloud.

"Some are quite effective," my friend corrected me. "Last summer, my teenager spent a lot of time at the neighbors'. Whenever I wanted him home, I'd go out to the driveway and kick his car."