Thursday, September 30, 2010

You need to watch this video from Ellen DeGeneres

She has a message for Americans in the wake of multiple teen suicides as a result of bullying, much of it homophobic.

Watch it. I love Ellen. This is an important message indeed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What if...John Lennon had lived?

David Kamp fantasizes what life would be like for John Lennon, if he had survived the shooting by Mark David Chapman. He would be turning 70 a few days after I turn 46; his birthday is October 9.

Read this absolutely clever and entertaining essay...I love it! Although, voting for Ronald Reagan???

David (my Beatles-loving brother-in-law) and Dave (our friend who plays Beatles songs on the piano with his nose), this one's for you!

This blog post has four "David"s in it! I think that's a record.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I can see Kieran doing something like this someday...

Lately he's been into picking up garbage wherever we go...whether it's on the beach, or walking back to our car after going to the farmers market...there is NO shortage of garbage. I will have to find a way to get him to this exhibit of art made from beach trash:

The Washed Ashore project takes beach trash and turns it into beautiful pieces of art. It's exhibiting in Newport until the end of January, and then moving to Coos Bay for a few months.

Here's a blog by a Californian woman who has created a 365-day project to collect beach trash: The Daily Ocean.

Those of you who are older than 40, do you remember this commercial from the 1970s, with the crying Native American man? I was trained to never litter. Who are these people who throw their garbage on the ground, or on the beach? Have they no shame?

What's your religion IQ?

According to a recent study,  most Americans are illiterate about religion...even in some cases, their own! Atheists and agnostics scored the highest on the 32-question, multiple-choice quiz, followed by Jews and Mormons. Many Catholics, Jews, and protestants didn't know the basics of their own religions (for example, the principle of transubstantiation or who Martin Luther was). I'll bet that no self-respecting Lutheran (or Catholic member of a Lutheran-Catholic community) would get the Martin Luther question wrong, though!

Take a sample of the quiz and see how you do. I scored 93%--14 out of 15--and was feeling proud of myself, until I posted it on Facebook and two of my friends scored 100%! Oh well--it's a good thing I'm not competitive. :)

It's banned books week...

over at Marie's book garden. Come and see! How many of these banned classics have you read?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Women priest movement growing?

In case you haven't been following the Catholic news, you might not have heard about all the attention the women priest movement has been receiving.

Jennifer Sleeman
An 80-year-old Catholic woman in Ireland, Jennifer Sleeman (the mother of a monk) called on Catholic women around the world to boycott mass yesterday, September 26, in protest of the Catholic church's treatment of women.

Hundreds of Portland-area Catholics gathered in the downtown park blocks yesterday in protest, in the rain.

This popped up in my news this morning, from Time Magazine:
"The Push to Ordain Women Priests Gains Ground." The article concludes: "There are a lot of Catholic priests who are helping the women priests. You'd be surprised."

This afternoon when I checked my Yahoo e-mail, I saw "women priests" as one of the 10 "Trending Now" topics (topics most searched on Yahoo).

Could it be that a quiet revolution is beginning? Will it be effectively crushed, or will it grow?

I suspect that the topic of women priests could be similar to gay rights--overall, the younger generations are more embracing of inclusion than the older generations. However, I suspect that we will see married priests in the Catholic church before we see women priests. And over certain aging Catholics' dead bodies (such as the current pope and his cronies).

But think back 10 years. Who would have ever guessed that we would have an African-American president? I guess miracles are possible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New book blog: Marie's book garden

A few weeks ago I asked you, dear readers, how you felt about the prospect of me starting a new blog. I received mixed reactions, so I've decided on a compromise.

I did start a new blog, but I will summarize my reviews monthly in this blog...to make it easier on those of you who like to read the book reviews here. This way, you won't have to go onto another blog if you prefer to stick with this one. Please let me know how that works out!

Please check out my new book blog...you can subscribe to it at the bottom, just as you can subscribe to this one.

I'm excited to have a place to focus solely on books!

Raising boys who read

At the middle school back-to-school night the other night, Mike overheard a conversation between a middle school boy and his mom:

Mom: Did you hear what the teacher said? If you don't start reading by 7th grade, you will never become a reader.

Boy: But I hate to read!
According to this excellent article, "How to Raise Boys that Read (as Much as Girls Do): Not with Gross-out Books and Videogame Bribes...," boys score way below girls on reading proficiency tests. Boys do not read well because they do not read enough. Publishing houses and authors are trying to appeal more to boys by publishing books on gross and disgusting topics. Both Chris and Kieran went through the Captain Underpants phase...but moved on. Personally, I thought it was pretty harmless, but I might have minded more if he hadn't been reading higher-quality books as well.

I think in our case, family genes must have had some effect. Can you imagine being the child of two English major/writers and not liking to read? He or she would be the opposite of Matilda (in the Roald Dahl novel by that name), who adored reading but all her family wanted to do was watch TV. Since they were tiny tots, our boys have always loved stories. We indoctrinated them early.


One observation I did make when reading the article was that Chris reads less now that he has an iPod Touch. Fortunately, the iPod has kept him from watching as much wrestling (blech!), but his eyes seem to be drawn to the screen more easily than to the printed word. We've instituted a new rule in our house: no iPod Touch until he's done all of his homework (he's tried to convince us he can watch videos on his iPod while doing homework), practiced his drumming, and read for at least 30 minutes--and then he has 1 hour max per school day (he will be lucky if he has that much time left!). Yes, in a sense, we are rewarding him for reading by handing him his iPod. But he truly does like reading. In my mind, we are simply taking away a distraction.

Kieran's in that great age where we simply cannot read enough to him. His reading tastes are far beyond his abilities, though, so the area we need to improve with him is to have him read to us more often. If it were up to him, all of our reading time would be spent with us reading the Lemony Snicket series out loud (the latest craze for him)...and not reading easy readers!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Still talking on the phone when you drive?

New statistics are out today. Auto deaths caused by cell phones and texting while driving rose 28 percent in 3 years.

I assume that if you are smart enough to read this fantastic blog (!), you would never even think of TEXTING while you drive, so I won't even address that.

And if you think you are practicing safe habits by using a hand-held device, think again. It's still dangerous.
"Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


"Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)"
No phone call is as important as your life.

Seventy-five percent of Americans will be overweight or obese in 2020?

That's what a new study conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development claims. Citizens of developed countries are becoming larger and larger, and the United States is in the lead. They cite several reasons for this continuing trend:
  • Food is cheaper.
  • People are not getting enough exercise or activity.
  • With less time to prepare foods, people eat out in restaurants more...and we all know that restaurant food is less healthy and more fattening than most food made at home.
Of course, with more obesity, our health care costs will continue to balloon. It's an alarming epidemic, and it doesn't look likely that anything will be able to stop this trend. I'm glad to see the baby steps being taken, such as healthier food in the schools (although our middle school still has a pop machine in the cafeteria) and nutritional information posted in restaurants.

Mike informed me that the younger kids love to go along to Chris' orthodontist's office because the waiting room has juice and soda pop. WTF??? That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I didn't have any cavities until I was 15--because I had braces. Are they trying to give kids cavities?

Although I am not worried about my kids being overweight, I do worry about their teeth (and about consuming high-fructose corn syrup). We never buy pop at home. I think we are rare that way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cousin love: weekend in Puyallup

We intended to go camping last weekend--we had made reservations online for a campground halfway between Portland and Puyallup--but no one wanted to camp in the rain. So unfortunately we forfeited our $48 per family (too late to get a partial refund) and decided to hang out instead (inside)!

Kieran and Daniel were determined to have a yard sale. Kieran had brought up a box of things to sell, although we cautioned both kids that there would be NO sale if it rained. What do you know? Clear skies and sunny from about 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.! We threw together a very quick "kids yard sale," with clearly kid-drawn signs and even a hasty ad on craigslist. We did not expect them to earn any money. I started the sale off by buying a $1 DVD for Nicholas (Thomas the Tank Engine), because I figured then they would at least have a dollar. The kids had decided to pool all their money and split it--you can tell how much they love each other!

Setting up
Want to buy some kids? (Yard Kid Sale)
We were completely amazed when they made $44! One sweet woman came by and bought most of the DVDs for her (future) grandchildren. She was a special-ed teacher and was searching out Iron Man paraphernalia for one of her students. Although my nephews own Iron Man toys, they were not for sale. After donating $4 to charity, they each came away with $10 each.

At one point, Mike and David took the boys on a bike ride while Nadine and I watched the sale. Unfortunately, poor Daniel got stung by a yellow jacket--while he was innocently stopped on his bike, not bothering anyone! That marked the fourth yellow jacket sting this summer--Garrett got stung during our trip to Vancouver BC, and Mike was stung there and one time at home. They are extremely aggressive this summer.

Nadine and I were able to get away in the afternoon to take a walk around Bradley Lake a couple of times. The kids played, played, and played more.

Stop! Police, fire, and Buzz Lightyear!
Speed Racer--Daniel wants to be a race car driver when he grows up
(Dream on, Daniel! your parents, not to mention your auntie, will never let you in a race car!)
Saturday evening we invited our wonderful friends Nancie and Dave over for dinner. I've known Nancie for 10 years now--we used to be on the same management team at work. When we first met, we hit it off immediately. We were born exactly 10 years apart and share a birthday (October 6). They are Nicholas' godparents, and Nadine and David and Nancie and Dave have NEVER met, before Saturday night. They got along like a house on fire. We had the best time!
The kids watching a video while the grown-ups have a fancy dinner in the dining room
Two of my closest friends, real sister Nadine and birthday sister Nancie!
Kieran lost another tooth Saturday night
Our kids all adore Nancie and Dave too
Late at night after too much wine and laughter!
The kids played together extraordinary well, as always. It never ceases to amaze me to see how well they all get along. They are best buddies.
Ryan and Nick playing Batman
And even though Chris is the elder statesman of the group--and is often off by himself reading or using his iPod Touch--today he told me how much he missed his cousins, too. (Nick is the one who expresses this thought the most.)

Honoring Cacey and Diana: Domestic Violence Month

Coworker Cacey
Sunday night I heard the tragic news that a coworker in Virginia--a graphic designer--was killed by her husband. I did not know Cacey well, but she had worked at my company for over 30 years and she was loved and highly regarded by everyone who knew her. This has been a terrible blow to many of my coworkers. Today I heard that our CEO flew to the office in Reston, Virginia, to comfort her coworkers, and he cried with them.

This week I cannot get Diana out of my mind. Cacey is the second person I've known who was killed by her husband. Diana Logan was my sister's dear friend and housemate while she did her residency at Providence Hospital in Portland. She was an incredibly bright, quirky, and playful soul. I remember that she loved to play with puzzles and toys. My sister was doing her residency when Chris was born, so Diana was a prominent part of his life in his early years. She was at his baptism, spent the day at the zoo with us on his first birthday, attended birthday parties, etc. She read at my sister's wedding and was a faithful friend.

She married a man she met at a fast food restaurant, and opposites attracted. Diana had been raised in an affluent, educated east coast family, while Kayne came from a blue collar background. I remember the day before her wedding, he got drunk and they fought. She expressed some misgivings to my sister. Our entire family attended their wedding.

After they'd been together for less than two years, things began deterioriating. Diana was a private person and she didn't talk about her marital troubles. According to this news article, Kayne had assaulted her before and had been told he had to enter a domestic violence treatment program. I wouldn't be surprised if Diana kept this information from all of her friends...she was reserved, and she evidently believed she could save her marriage. Everyone who knew her wish that they had known what was going on and that they could have done something to help, just as my coworkers and friends feel about Cacey.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In light of the tragic events this past weekend that took Cacey's life, please get involved and spread the word. If you know of anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or if you yourself are a victim...GET HELP. Cacey and Diana were beautiful, warm, caring, gentle women who were loved by all who knew them. Their lives ended much too violently and much too soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why real books rule over e-books

This weekend the Oregonian featured a clever list of "25 ways e-readers can't beat books."

I must admit that when my friend Kristin showed me her new Kindle a few months ago, I found it fascinating.

When Mike and I ducked into the San Francisco Barnes & Noble in June, an earnest salesman tried to convince us to buy a "Nook." As is typical for us, I soon wandered away to browse the stacks. My polite, patient husband listened to the sales spiel and asked questions. Finally, he explained that if he were to buy one, he should do so in Oregon where we have no sales tax. The salesman tried to convince him to buy it in California and try it out, and return it in Oregon and then buy another one! Interesting tactic, but it didn't work. For a few weeks, Mike expressed interest in acquiring an e-reader.

E-readers have their advantages. I've been reading The Secret Garden to Kieran on car journeys--through an iBook application on my iPhone. I love the fact that I can get the great classics on my iPhone. The iPhone has a much smaller screen than a Kindle, however, and it doesn't have great battery life.

But here's why I'm not ready to go the e-reader route:
  • I am cheap. I get most of my books out of the library, at book sales, or via paperbackswap.com. I rarely pay more than $3-5 for a book unless it's a gift. I realize the library has some downloadable versions of books, but they don't have e-versions of all the books I want.
  • I look at a screen all day long. My eyes need a break from screen time.
  • Many people ask me how I read so much. First of all, my house is a mess! Second, I read every chance I get: while I'm getting ready for work in the morning, on my (very rare nowadays) forays to the gym (on the cardio equipment), while walking (yes--I know--stupid!). With my luck, I'd probably get the e-reader wet--or drop it--and ruin it!
  • I love the smell of books...the feel of printed pages beneath my fingers...the satisfaction of reaching the halfway point or the end...the 50-page rule (if I am not enjoying a book by 50 pages, I ask myself whether I should continue).
  • I want to support the publishing industry and independent bookstores....even though I do so in a frugal way!
  • It's good modeling for my children--I want to raise a family of book lovers, not e-reader lovers.
With all that said, I am not against e-readers, and I can understand the appeal. I could change my mind someday. But for now, I prefer books.

Missing you...

Last night I had a steering team meeting at church, so I saw the kids for only about 1/2 hour between getting home, eating dinner, and leaving again. This morning, very early, when Mike deposited Nicholas in our bed for an early morning cuddle and fall back to sleep, he said "Mama! I've been missing you!"

My little ice cream (and mama) lover

This morning when he woke up and I gave him another snuggle, he had an enormous smile on his face and he told me he loved me. These kinds of moments are what make parenting worthwhile!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First day of school, #3

Today Nicholas finally got to start school! He's started in a new preschool this year, where Kieran attended. Hard-core parent cooperative types apparently call this school "coop light," because although parent involvement is required, it's not nearly as intensive as at some cooperative preschools. We loved the full-scale parent coop experience with Christopher, but we had only one child at the time. We made wonderful, lasting connections with families in the area; however, it was A LOT of work. Although we planned to return there, our plans changed when we discovered Nicholas was on his way. 

I love it when our sons can benefit from the same great teachers as their brothers could. Nicholas has the same amazing preschool teachers as Kieran (just as Kieran has Chris' wonderful second-grade teacher!), which is also fun for us.

Last year, Nicholas attended preschool for "2-1/2-year-olds" (since he didn't turn 3 until after the cut-off), and he had only 5 or 6 kids in his class. This year he has 18 kids, although the adult-child ratio is still very low with four adults in the classroom. Oddly enough, last year's preschool was a bit more academically focused (?), with much more focus on the children learning their letters and numbers. In fact, the mom of Nick's friend decided to keep her child in that preschool instead of moving to this one (where her older son attended) because she wanted that academic focus. Mike and I, however, believe in learning concepts through play at this age.

After having one child who learned to read at a very early age (Chris), and one child who was slower in learning (Kieran), I know that they all learn to read at a different time...and it doesn't really matter. This preschool will better prepare Nicholas for kindergarten. It has a larger class, more experienced teachers, and more cool things to do! And a library in the same building!

I got to be a parent-helper today. They split up the kids the first week, so only nine kids attended today, with four adults in the classroom. Amazingly, not one child cried about being away from parents. The kids are so cute...I can't wait to see their progress throughout the next two years. Clearly, they have a lot to learn about being in school...but they all seem like very sweet kids.

Best thing about preschool for Nick? Painting and art projects!

Another thing I like about this school--every day they have several different creative activities for the kids. Today it was making a joint class painting with kitchen gadgets!
I was supervising the painting area, and I found it fascinating to watch how differently most of the little boys and girls approached their painting. The girls--in general--were far more deliberate and careful, while the boys threw themselves into their painting and used much broader strokes. Testosterone at work?

During snack time, a little girl at our table made the "shh" sign to Nicholas because he was talking so loudly!

And Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads...of which I do not have to keep track of all the parts!!!
 Nick had a great day. At just over age 4, he's one of the tallest and oldest in his class...but in some ways he seems younger than Kieran did when he started there at age 3-1/2. As Mike pointed out to me the other day, Kieran often wants to be older, while Nick wants to stay the baby (he still indulges in baby talk, for example). He's a true youngest child.

I feel fortunate that I got to glimpse his first day at school, and I hope I made the transition to a new school a little easier on him. I know he will have a fun year!

New science magazine for kids

I remember those days when Chris would try out "cook projects" (full of all sorts of awful ingredients mixed together) and try to get us to sample his creations--even though he wouldn't dare try them! He took part in a Mad Science class at his elementary school...and loved it; however, in recent years he's had less-than-stellar experiences with science (not-great teachers). We're excited that so far he really likes his eighth-grade science teacher. A great teacher can play such a role in what a student gains from a subject!

Now Kieran is also at that age where he loves science. He loves rocks, the ocean, the forest, exploring, and mixing things together. He loves nothing better than tromping around in the backyard, creating things from scratch. A few years ago, he was constructing brooms out of pine needles, and recently he made a bow-and-arrow for Nick out of a bent stick and string. He's curious about how things work.

I know he is going to enjoy this new magazine, Know: The Science Magazine for Cool Kids. It looks colorful and accessible, with clear, understandable language and topics that are interesting to grade school kids. The same company also produces a science magazine for middle-schoolers, Yes! Both magazines are published in Canada, and you know pro-Canadian I am. Best of all, the magazine will be able to explain how things work and happen way better than I can!

You can download a sample issue here or check out ordering details here.

*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Mad Science and received the products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lunch with the boys

Now that the older boys are back in school, Mike, Nicholas, and I have reinstated our lunch dates. Today they came to my office and we went to the Wednesday farmer's market. It's much more relaxed (and smaller) than the Saturday one. Mike and I had chicken shwarma plates, but Nicholas refused to eat much beyond a few bites of chicken. Usually, he loves hummus, but over the weekend I made it from scratch with sesame oil, and he turned up his nose at it. I'm wondering whether I've turned him off all hummus now! He's our terribly picky eater.

On the way to market we passed the Oregonian building, which had this huge photo of Nick's favorite elephant (Samudra) on the wall!

Look at these absolutely GORGEOUS golden raspberries I bought. I'm not sure what we'll do with them--freeze them? Cook with them? Or just look at them? They attracted a lot of attention as I was carrying them around!
At the market, with all sorts of lovely fruits and veggies, Nick wouldn't sample any peaches, melons, or other goodies they were offering. But that didn't stop us from sampling! We bought a sweet little yellow melon--can't remember the name--I love discovering new varieties.

We decided to stop at one of Nick's fave lunch spots, Steamers, to get him some dumplings. He devoured them and wanted more. Next time we will go to Steamers first, before the market!
Mike and Nick getting ready to go home (outside of my office). Nick is holding his rubber goldfish, which is in a little cup of water. He acquired said goldfish at the dentist's office yesterday...and has named him "Muff Potter." It's a good thing the kids don't have a dog or a cat--I can only imagine what they would name it!! (Kieran's female goldfish is named "Gavroche"!)
The weather has been positively balmy today. After the walk back to the office, carrying the raspberries and veggies, we were both hot and sweaty! Nice to have a break before the rain invades...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The legacy of Hillary

Here's an excellent and highly insightful interview at More.com about the effect Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign had on the country and American politics. Rebecca Traister, the author of Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women, comments that we need to start talking about sexism the way that Obama's candidacy prompted us to start talking more about racism.

And an interesting point: "if Hillary had been the nominee, there wouldn't have been Palin." Just imagine what the world would be like now, if Palin had stayed in Alaska...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Neauveau comfort food

One of my favorite comfort foods (beyond tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches) is zucchini patties. Of course, this is the best season for them!

Here's my mom's classic recipe:

Zucchini Patties
3 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs
1 cup cracker crumbs (saltines were the only savory crackers we had when I was a kid!)
grated onion
salt and pepper

Fry like pancakes.

This afternoon Kieran and I headed to the store to buy a new broom. We spent all weekend cleaning and conscripted our household broom to the garage...so we needed to buy a new broom for inside the house. Mike also suggested that I pick up something for dinner.

I knew we had some grated zucchini in the fridge from making zucchini patties last weekend so I told Kieran I was thinking about making them again. He informed me that he liked them, but not as much as "crabby patties." (Thank you, SpongeBob!) So we decided that we would try to merge the zucchini patty idea with crab cakes. We bought fresh crab.

I change the classic recipe, because Mike doesn't eat wheat and I try to avoid it when I can. So this is the APPROXIMATE recipe I used. I (stupidly) neglected to look at Mom's recipe beforehand, so I probably was off on my quantities some so had to resort to eyeballing the consistency.

Crab-zucchini patties
4 cups zucchini
4 eggs
6 oz. crab
3 crusts from Dave's Killer Spelt Bread, ground up in the food processor
About 3/4 cup (???) sesame rice crackers
Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pancake mix, thrown in until it looked right
No-salt seasoning
Fresh basil

How's that for vague? I didn't really measure my ingredients but was aiming for a pancakey consistency. Still, they are tricky to fry. You must use lots of nonstick spray and try not to flip them until they are brown and crisp on one side...otherwise, they will get mushy and break up. This might have been prevented if I had used more pancake mix. I suspect that the saltines soak up the batter better than the rice crackers/bread crumb mixture.


Here's the batter:

When we were at the beach I threw together a sauce of sorts from our ingredients on hand, and it was a hit...so I recreated it at Kieran's request. It's very simple...just light mayonnaise and Trader Joe's Thai Yellow Curry sauce.


Fry until golden on one side...but as I said, you must flip them at the right time or they'll be failures.


Waiting for dinner--playing outside in our lovely Indian Summer day today:



Perfectly fried! (That's homemade hummus in the background there--which I made because Nicholas was asking for hummus before dinner. However, he didn't like my homemade version...must have been the sesame oil.)

Finished product:


Yum!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Recommendation: When You Least Expect It

When You Least Expect It: A NovelWhen You Least Expect It by Whitney Gaskell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Young professionals India and Jeremy are struggling with infertility. After several IVF and other infertility treatments, they have finally given up their hopes of having their own natural-born child. They begin to consider adoption as a viable alternative.

Enter Lainey, a shallow, selfish, and damaged 20-year-old who is the daughter of an alcoholic mom and runaway father. She gets pregnant by her dumb jock boyfriend and decides to give her baby up for adoption so she can land a fortune to fund her trip to Los Angeles (to star in a reality show).

Being a generous, magnanimous soul, India invites Lainey to move into their guest house because Lainey doesn't have a place to live. (Her boyfriend has kicked her out.) This awkward, unconventional arrangement inevitably has its hiccups, but India and Lainey form a tenuous friendship of sorts.

My favorite scene was when Jeremy's clueless, insensitive brother and his wife--who are pregnant--come for dinner. Stacey (and Jeremy's mother) represent all the completely self-obsessed pregnant women I have ever known. She not only blathers on about being pregnant, but she also constantly pokes digs at the fact that India could not possibly understand what it is to be pregnant and makes insensitive comments such as "I wish I could pay someone else to be pregnant for me." And it gave me great satisfaction when they got their comeuppance!


This scene called to mind an event I attended soon after I experienced my first miscarriage. Two of my friends--pregnant--proceeded to go on and on about their pregnancies, without any care for the fact that I was grieving. I ended up retreating into the bathroom to cry. When I finally mustered the courage to tell them how upset I had been (a few years later), I think they perceived me as being overly sensitive.

After experiencing the deep grief of the NICU, infertility, and high-risk pregnancy, I have absolutely zero tolerance for pregnant women complaining about minor aches and pains. The way I see it, a healthy pregnancy is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

It also reminded me of those clueless sorts who make comments about wishing that their babies would arrive early so they wouldn't have to be pregnant any longer...or saying to someone who's grieving that it was "meant to be." We all know clueless people like that.

One thing I have learned over the years--after experiencing infertility and infant loss myself--is to never, ever ask people if (1) they have children, or (2) if they are planning to have children. Never. It's a minefield and potentially hurtful.

Gaskell sensitively portrayed the desperation of infertility and the hopelessness of being young, single, and pregnant, combined with the special agony of giving up your child for adoption. She treats each of her characters with great respect and gives them depth and character. I enjoyed this book.

View all my reviews

Dear readers, I need your input!

I am thinking about starting another blog just for my book reviews.

Generally, the "experts" advise bloggers to choose a narrow topic for their blogs. I have done just the opposite with mine--as you know, I post about parenting, raising boys, politics, music, travel, books, movies, you name it...all the things that I find interesting.

Now I'm wondering whether I should create a new blog just for my book reviews...and link it to Every Day Is a Miracle...or keep posting the reviews onto this blog. What do you think? If I don't hear from anyone urging me to keep them all on this blog, I will begin a book blog.

Do you read my book reviews? Do you like to have them as part of this blog, or would you rather be able to go to another blog just for book reviews (or not)? I'm often asked for book recommendations, and one advantage for me would be to just send someone to a (new) book blog where they are all in one place. But what to do with the reviews I've already written here?

I haven't had a lot of luck asking questions and getting responses on my blog in the past, so I'm not sure I will this time. But I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jon Stewart on "Christian" Pastor Terry Jones

A great way to show how God
is working in your life
is to stop telling others
how God should be working in theirs.
--John Shore

So far I've refrained from blogging about crazy pastor Terry Jones from Florida. Now he is offering a ransom--he won't burn the Quran if they stop the building of the Islamic Center in New York. What a bargain! And in the meantime, he will continue to get all sorts of media attention for free because he is a fringe lunatic.

In this spot-on clip, Jon Stewart points out the insanity of various news outlets comparing the media firestorm around the event to that of the proposed "Ground Zero Mosque." Because after all, "a Christian is an extremist for burning the Quran, and a Muslim is an extremist for reading from it."
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Weekend at Burnies
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school--2010!

Back to school today! Kieran started second grade, and Chris started eighth! Nicholas will not start preschool (at a new school) until next week. I think both boys had a bit of first-day jitters before leaving home.


Kieran seemed to relax a lot once he arrived at school. He is extremely fortunate this year to have the same AMAZING teacher Chris had for second grade. We are so happy about that!! And now Chris is taller than her! Take a look at these photos--from May 2005 and today.


Kieran's heard us rave about her, and he reported this afternoon that he had a great day. He couldn't even report to us what he did, because he was enjoying himself so much!

The poor little boy next to Kieran was not quite so happy to be at school.


I always loved the first day of school--full of promise and possibilities!

More birthday celebrations

We give our kids a choice of where they would like to go out to dinner to celebrate their birthdays...and Nicholas' choice was simple: good old Burgerville! Mom and Dad joined us before taking off this week on their trip to Nova Scotia.








Beach bums

Our fun weekend at the beach was full of lots of reading, garage saling (see previous posts), blackberry picking, bike riding (we finally used our bike rack, which we bought a couple of years ago!), beach combing, a trip to Flamingo Jim's (a "veritable temple of kitsch" and a perfect place for Kieran to buy rocks), playing pirates and Toy Story, and playing Guitar Hero and Beatles Rock Band:

We also celebrated Nick's birthday on Saturday--here he is modeling his new firefighter raincoat from his aunt and uncle in England:


His request for a birthday dessert was vanilla and chocolate ice cream, with whipped cream and sprinkles. No cake! He's an ice cream boy all the way, like his daddy.


Nick helping me make the blackberry pie:


On the beach:




This is the famous jetty in Nedonna Beach--it juts out into the ocean, with Nehalem Bay on the other side. Our family has been either (1) walking to and from, or (2) climbing on the jetty since I was a kid. I remember being on the jetty as a college student with my younger brother in the middle of a storm--beautiful and exciting!!



It offers wonderful views, often of seals (and also of boaters, etc.), not to mention the ocean.



Of course, Kieran was climbing the jetty barefooted!



Nick enjoyed this little teepee, before his older brother deconstructed it...


Wading in the water...


inevitably turns to swimming and getting soaked...

We ran into a family friend, Bruce, who was harvesting mussels off the jetty. Bruce and his wife Sue have had a house a few blocks from my parents for years. Before my parents built their house, we would rent Bruce and Sue's house--for family weekends, church youth group retreats, etc. It's always nice to run into them in Nedonna Beach.

Final day on the beach...burying Kieran in the sand!
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