30 November 2006

Reading Roundup

I haven't done a roundup in quite some time, and I think I now have a good little assortment here in my clippings file.

  1. Keith Ellison wants to swear into Congress by laying his hand on the Koran. In case anyone is unfamiliar with Ellison, he was elected in November--the first Muslim ever elected to the United States Congress. I sometimes find myself baffled by the practice of Sharia law in Canada and Great Britain, and now I'm stunned that Congress would allow him to swear in on any book other than The Book we have used for our entire history. The fact that he has announced that he will shun an American tradition reveals to me that he is most likely only beginning to usurp what is left of this tattered culture.


  2. This is an older story, but I've been saving it. Apparently, there were 21 deaths in Panama due to using cough syrup. One of the reasons I clipped this article was because whenever my children have colds, I feel pressured by older adults to give them something. Really, it doesn't seem to matter what it is. The automatic question if I say my child is sick is, "Well, what have you given them for it?" FYI, herbal tea with honey doesn't seem to count. There is an assumption in our culture that medicines are safe and sicknesses are dangerous. Typical illness is more inconvenient than anything else. It isn't truly dangerous in the sense of being a threat to life. Medicine, on the other hand, is full of chemicals. Everything from artificial flavors and colors, to preservatives made from petroleum is in some of the most basic children's OTC medicines. In the case of this article, it was, in reality, much safer for folks to live with the cough {since they died of the cough "remedy"}. I am not completely anti-medicine. I think there are occasions when it is necessary. But I also think it is naivety to believe that medicine is the first line of defense against illness.


  3. In other news, there was a lawyer here in the US {Lynne Stewart} that was recently found guilty of giving aid to terrorists. George Soros, being the patriot that he is, donated $20,000 to help with Stewart's defense.


  4. Back when Gore was running for President, WorldNetDaily.com published a series of articles "exposing Gore's corruption in Tennessee." Apparently, Gore still isn't over losing the election {or the electoral votes from Tennessee}, because he and his associates are now suing the online newssource for $165 million dollars, setting a new record and, some say, attempting to put the lid on freedom of the press.


  5. And maybe it really is time to start cooking pretty much everything from scratch. More and more food is looking like a bunch of fakery. Just ask the woman suing Kraft Foods because their "guacamole" is less than 2% avocado. What makes it green? Food coloring, of course! And it's loaded with delicacies like modified food starch and soybean oil. Yum.

The Perfect Gift

I'm not a huge gift person. At least, I am not a gift person in the way that other people I know seem to be gift people. In fact, I've been known to tell people that I would rather them come visit me than buy me a gift, or I'd rather go out for coffee and spend way too much money on a mocha than be given a trinket. Maybe that makes me more of a quality time person.

Regardless, I like the gifts I give to show, as much as possible, that I am paying attention. This is part of my frustration at having Si's family live so far away. I find it impossible to buy the perfect gift because I need to have more of an every-day-life sort of interaction with them to gain some inspiration.

Over the years, I have learned to let go of expecting every gift to be the perfect gift. Though I refuse to buy trinkets and novelties {What was that Lewis said? "...gaudy and useless gadgets, “novelties” because no one was ever fool enough to make their like before}, sometimes I have to give up trying to find that gift perfectly suited to its recipient. Especially this year, with the whole labor-and-delivery-thing weighing on me.

But I did strike gold a couple times this season, and that is always delightful. Some of my extended family reads this blog, so I can't go into all the details, but there are others I can mention. Take E., for instance. He just asked the other day if we would explain what pirates really are {he only has a vague notion right now}. I gave him a short answer because he is receiving a copy of Treasure Island that I promise to read to him. It will answer all his questions and introduce him to all the original pirate lore, such as Long John Silver and the Jolly Roger. He also informed us he needs a weapon. And I had already used my $10 coupon at Vision Forum to buy him the Texas Three Shooter!

Si's grandma is another great story. Grandmas are so difficult to buy for. They are so content and rarely mention their own needs. But last year we gave her Grandmother's Memories To Her Grandchild. She filled it out over the course of the year and sent it back to us a few weeks ago. Buried in all the details of her life was the fact that her favorite books as a child were the Elsie Dinsmore books. She was poor, so she had never owned them, but rather borrowed them from a woman at her church. We bought her her very own copy of the original Elsie Dinsmore book that started it all. We are hoping she will love it for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else. It had that perfect feeling.

Anyone else find someone special that perfect gift?

29 November 2006

Layers of Meaning

Any readers who glance at the sidebar will know that we are currently reading through The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a family. The writing style is much more simplistic than I expected, and the grade level and which I expect my son to be able to read it on his own is lower than I had anticipated when I bought the book. Not that it's a bad book. It is a great book {much better than the movie}, and it has cultural significance here in the U.S.

My father sent me an email where an investor used the Wizard of Oz to expound on the value of the dollar. He sent it because he knew we were reading the book. When I read the email, I thought for sure the author was making it all up. The editor of the copy we have certainly didn't give Baum credit for being capable of deep symbolism.

And really: Dorothy representing traditional American values? The Scarecrow as the American farmer? The Tin Man as the workers? And the Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan? And don't forget that Toto is really the Prohibitionists, the Wicked Witch of the West is President McKinley and the Wizard is Mark Hanna.

I thought it was a joke, until I looked it up on Wikipedia. If it's on Wikipedia, it must be true, right? Well, not necessarily, but I googled it and that lended a bit more credence to the idea. Wikipedia is convenient, if nothing else.

I was going to try to excerpt a bit of the Wikipedia article, but there is so much there that I think I will simply provide a link. It is titled "Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". It really is fascinating, especially if one has read the real story and knows that the ruby slippers are actually silver, which is significant if one understands that it was written during a period of debate over bimetallism.

Okay, I will give one excerpt here at the end:
The book opens not in an imaginary place but in real life Kansas, which in the 1890s was well-known for the hardships of rural life, and for destructive tornadoes. The Panic of 1893 caused widespread distress in rural America. Dorothy is swept away to a colorful land of unlimited resources that nevertheless has serious political problems. This utopia is ruled in part by people designated as Wicked. Dorothy and her cyclone kill the Wicked Witch of the East. The Witch had previously controlled the all-powerful silver slippers {which were changed to ruby in the 1939 film}. The Wicked Witch of the West tries to seize the silver slippers, but cannot because they are already on Dorothy's feet. The slippers will in the end liberate Dorothy but first she must traverse the golden yellow brick road. Following the road of gold leads eventually only to the Emerald City, which may symbolize the fraudulent world of greenback paper money that only pretends to have value.
Now I have changed my mind. Though my kids might be able to read this book at age seven, they will be reading it again as teens, while researching the debate that rocked the country at the turn of the century.

28 November 2006

Family Traditions: The Little Christmas Tree

We buy a real tree, and it is small. It is usually between three and four feet. Our first two Christmasses, we had a very small fake tree that I had used in my dorm room in college. It was convenient to have a fake tree since we had to travel a lot in the month of December and weren't home to water.

Once we had children, I desired a real tree. I loved the light scent of pine wafting through the house. I loved the complete absence of plastic. I loved that we could because no on in our family has allergies, and that is a rarity that deserves to be celebrated. But real trees can be costly, especially considering that it is a recurrent cost.

Buying a small tree costs about 20% of what it costs to buy a big one, but it also has other financial benefits. We don't own a lot of ornaments. Our little tree is perfectly full, but a big tree would be quite bare. I am the type that is quite content with a full little tree, but a big, bare tree would make me itch to buy ornaments. And yet I like the idea of collecting ornaments over time so that they have sentimental value to our family.

Our little tree stands proudly atop a card table covered with a beautiful tree skirt that I bought on a super-clearance sale after Christmas one year. I think it cost around ten dollars, and yet it is a beautiful, richly embroidered skirt, definitely worth every dollar.

When one has toddlers around, one understands the benefit of a tree that is up on a table. Toddlers may be able to grasp an ornament or two while standing on the ground, but they need a chair or stool to splash in the water or topple the tree, which gives the parent more time to catch them in the act compared to a tree at ground level. I also find that they pay less attention to it because it isn't at eye level, beckoning to them throughout the day.

I look forward to a day when we buy a big, full tree and have enough ornaments to fill it. But for now, a little tree works just fine for us.

I think this is just another area of my life where I have been learning that a little can still mean a lot, and that the extravagances I see in the homes of others don't have to be in mine in order to be content.

26 November 2006

News Lens With Commentary: Premature Rotting

I know I usually just share a quote or two, and then link to a story. But I can't bear to withhold the commentary on this one, so please humor me. The article in question is from My Way News: 10 Is the New 15 As Kids Grow Up Faster by Martha Irvine.

The key to the entire article is this statement: "But child development experts say that physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of teenagers decades ago are now common among "tweens" - kids ages 8 to 12." If one is to really dig into the assumptions in this article, it is important to link the title of the article with this statement and notice that behavior that used to be "typical of teenagers decades ago" is how the author defines the idea of growing up faster. Let me restate: the author reveals a belief that if a 10-year-old displays behaviors commonly associated with teens, that child is "growing up."

What does it mean to grow up? This is the real question the author should be asking. Can acting like a 15-year-old at 10 really be indicative of growing up? Or is it actually revealing something sinister, like early loss of innocence, or increase of rebelliousness toward God and parents? Growing up seems like such a positive term. There is a reason why I used the phrase "premature rotting" in my title.

Let me delineate the "grown up" behaviors these children are reported in the article to display:
  1. want an iPod
  2. go on "dates"
  3. talk on their own cell phones
  4. listen to sexually charged pop music
  5. play mature-rated video games
  6. spend time gossiping on MySpace
  7. girls wear makeup and clothing that some consider beyond their years
  8. are annoyed by their parents
None of these behaviors indicates any character quality that can rightly be called "adult," and so how can the author say they are signs of "growing up?" Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines "adult" as the state of being fully grown, and admits that this could apply to a civilian as young as 14 years of age. And a fully-grown 14-year-old that has been brought to maturity {that has truly grown up} is not a threat to himself or society.

Mr. Webster also defined "mature" in a way that would delight a parent rather than frighten them. As a noun, the word means "ripe; perfected by time or natural growth" or "completed; prepared; ready." As a verb, it means "to ripen or advance toward ripeness," or "to advance toward perfection."

In Ephesians 4:13, mature manhood is contrasted with being tossed about on the waves and winds of doctrine. There is a certain knowledge and conviction of the truth implied. Hebrews 5:14 links maturity with discerning between good and evil. Luke 8:14, appearing in the midst of the parable of the soils, explains that the seed that is sown among thorns is choked by the cares of this world, making maturity impossible.

In looking at the article, I would say that what is being observed is not growth, but decay. It is not a sign of fruit maturing early, but rather of fruit rotting before the time that society accepts. This society has become accustomed to watching teens careen toward corruption and degeneration to the point that, though it may not be explicitly embraced, is passively accepted as some sort of "stage" that one hopes they grow out of. What is disturbing is seeing a baby-faced 10-year-old act this way. The experts cry, "Too soon!" when they should be telling parents that it never has to be this way, and never should be accepted.

Toward the end of the article, a parent is quoted as saying, "Beyonce singing about bouncing her butt all over the place is a little much - at least for an 8-year-old." This is what I am talking about. The notion that at some point singing about such things might be appropriate.

One must be very cautious, for the days certainly are evil. In fact, they are so evil that evil is called by other names: "grown up," "for the mature," etc. But while evil is cultivated in the soul, there is no chance for true maturity.

25 November 2006

Frugal Moment: Baby Announcements

Baby announcements are a cost that seems to be embedded in having a child. Society expects parents to send them out, and parents expect them to be nice--sometimes, too nice, considering the effect of the cost on the family budget. Let me start out by saying that if a family doesn't really have the money, they should probably consider either not sending an announcement, or designing a very nice email that is of a high enough quality that grandparents are able to print it out as a keepsake.

With that said, unless one is content with a very simple, fill-in-the-blank format for announcements, it is often much cheaper to make the announcements oneself. In fact, I have been able to make them so cheap in the past that they were cheaper than a lot of the fill-in-the-blank sets I've seen at Target.

Let me share what I have done for our previous children, and what I have in the works for this new little one.

Baby Number One
Overall, this is when we had the least amount of funds available. So, we printed out postcards instead of cards that would be placed in envelopes. The biggest cost for birth announcements is the postage. Using postcards cuts the postage significantly, especially if a family is like ours and sending out between 80 and 90 announcements.

Even though there is limited space on a postcard, I wanted them to be as nice as possible. At that time, Si was working at an ad agency and had access to a lot of fancy design programs {this was before Apple made design software accessible to the average person}. We took our best newborn photo and scanned it {obviously, this was also before the proliferation of digital photography}. Si made it look nice, and added our son's name in an attractive font. This served as the front of the postcard.

The back of the postcard had a space for the address on the right, and the wording for a typical announcement on the left, with enough space saved at the bottom for us to inscribe a personal note if we wished.

We did not have a quality color printer at this time, but we wanted the photo to be in color, and my old workplace gave us a great deal on printing. Because many of our friends were still in school, we were able to deliver some of the announcements postage-free by driving them to the campus and placing them in the campus mailboxes. As long as one isn't using too much gas, hand-delivery can help avoid postage cost. If hand-delivery is a necessity, I would suggest delivering them in bulk whenever possible {i.e., taking a huge stack to church, rather than taking them door-to-door to individual friends and family from church}. This saves time and money. Time is precious with a newborn.

Baby Number Two
Money wasn't as much of an issue when we had A., but I like really pretty and unique announcements, and those are costly. Too costly for us. This time around, we had a home office, so scanners, printers, and software were all close at hand. I purchased some card paper at an office supply store {on sale, by the way}. I ordered my stamps online, because the $1.00 delivery fee is less than it costs me in gas to get to the "local" post office. Lastly, I purchased some simple foam craft products from our local craft shop.

This announcement was fun to make, and Grace even drove up to help me assemble them. {By the way, announcements can be designed before Baby's birth, with only the unknown information left to be plugged in to the template after the Big Day. Also, envelopes can be addressed beforehand. All of this will save time when one is sleep-deprived and very busy.} First, the cards were printed in black-and-white. I didn't want to pay to print in color, and thought the foam accents would add enough color. The front had a beautiful photo of our daughter, and the inside had the traditional announcement portion. We used Poor Richard font for the majority, but I added a beautiful script for our daughter's name to give it some flare. I found that font online for free.

Grace and I cut a sheet of foam into skinny strips to glue as a frame around the photo on the front, and then added foamy flower stickers in the corners of the frame. They came out very cute, if I do say so myself.

Baby Number Three
I designed this third announcement this week. I used the Common Room's what do I have in my hand principle. I have a printer and software. I have ink. My husband has been looking for a job, so I have plenty of cardstock that he has been using for resumes. I have a fancy cutting tool for my scrapbooking hobby.

I, again, ordered my postage online, for the same reasons I already listed. This year, since Baby Q. is being born so close to the end of the year, we wanted to add in an annual letter. We always love receiving annual letters from others, and we have never sent one ourselves. This was a great opportunity to combine the postage. Of course, the shape and size of cards I used for Number Two would not work with an annual letter. So, I designed announcements that use two-thirds a sheet of cardstock, and use my fancy cutting tools to slice off that last third, making the card an attractive tall and skinny shape that will fit perfectly in a standard business-sized envelope. Standard envelopes are cheap, which is an added bonus.

I am printing a bit of color this time, but only a bit so that I don't use too much expensive color ink. I love newborn photos, so we will have one on the front again this time, along with a verse that happened to fit the meaning of our daughter's name perfectly. The inside announcement portion is formatted remarkably like last time because I like the fonts so much. So far, it looks like all I will need to purchase are the stamps and envelopes since we have all the other supplies on hand here at home.

20 November 2006

The CRA and Assessing My Relationship With Myself

First off, I must state that it is best for one to read the first post and then the second post and then the third post if one cannot recall what the CRA is or why it concerns me. Secondly, I must explain that the Relationship with Self section is the section that is {mostly} available for viewing in the sample assessment. Therefore, I will be able to make direct quotes without violating intellectual property rights, as the Center for Relationship Enrichment has already made the questions available in the public domain. I will have to be more vague for the other sections, but I still think this is a good approach to use when I am able.

What I have decided to do is to quote a question--not all of them because there are too many--and then try to offer a contrast, such as a Bible verse or a quote from a Christian thinker. My goal is to show first that the approach of the CRA is not entirely Biblical {if it is at all Biblical}, and secondly that the Bible does have something to say about these issues.

I feel the need to remind all readers that the assessment claims to "help you assess your relationship with the Lord, yourself, and others. Most importantly this assessment will help you better understand what difference Christ is making in your life and relationships." The second a survey asserts that it can guage one's relationship with Christ, one must assume that there is a certain theology embedded in the survey. If the theology is false, the survey is invalid.

Let's go to the questions. I will list the number and quote them entirely, in the manner in which they appear in the sample assessment. I will bold them so that one is easily able to separate the question from the commentary beneath it. My personal comments are italicized, so that they are easily distinguished from the quotes from Scripture.

  • 40. I can put into words what I want or need.
    And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. {Luke 9:23 & 24}


  • 41. I am able to do things as well as most other people.
    Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. {II Corinthians 10:12}

    For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. {II Corinthians 10:18}


  • 42. I sometimes blame others for how I feel.
    The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. {I Peter 4:7}

    My point here, by the way, is that though this question addresses blame-shifting, I think it is approaching the situation incorrectly. A person who is sitting around obsessing over how they feel and whose fault that might be isn't living with the sense of urgency and Christian should have. I find it more concerning that this test assumes that one should be so hyper-aware of how everything effects one's emotions, when the Christian life is a life lived soberly and sacrificially.


  • 43. At times, I tell myself that I shouldn't be feeling a certain way.
    It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart...{Philippians 1:7}

    This question is really too vague. Maybe this person shouldn't feel a certain way. Maybe they should. It really depends on whether or not they are being unreasonable, and whether or not the situation really merits such feelings. If one feels good about sinning, one is wrong. I do not see how this question could possibly offer assistance or insight into one's Christian life.


  • 44. I often find myself engaged in heated arguments with the people who are close to me.
    But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. {Matthew 5:22}

    This is one of the better questions. Obviously, since Christians are called peacemakers, this sort of behavior would reveal an area where one is not submitting to the Spirit of Christ.


  • 47. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
    The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. {I Timothy 1:15}

    Paul would have failed this portion of the test, I think. But then again, he had an unconventional way of looking at life:

    For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." {I Corinthians 1:26-29}


  • 50. Sometimes I have been so angry that I have wanted to hit someone or something, or break things.
    And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. {Matthew 21:12}

    Sorry...I couldn't resist.


  • 53. I take a positive attitude toward myself.
    For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. {Romans 12:3}

    The Bible does not encourage one to have a positive attitude about oneself. Rather, one is to think soberly and realistically about oneself.


  • 57. I understand how my feelings influence my thoughts and actions.
    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. {Romans 12:2}

    I don't want to rush past this one, because I think this is very important. Embedded in the test is the assumption that feelings dictate thoughts and actions. The question above implies that perhaps, if one is aware enough of one's feelings and their impact, this can be controlled. But the Bible says nothing of the sort. Though the Bible does not deny the existence of feelings, it is very clear that transformed lives are born of renewed minds. This is another instance where I believe the test to be focused on the wrong issue.


  • 73. When I experience a positive emotion, I know how to make it last.
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. {Philippians 2:5-7}

    Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." ...Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." ... So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. {Matthew 26:38-44}

    Jesus had the ability to make his "positive emotions" last, but he chose instead to "make Himself nothing." He likewise had the ability to avoid the excruciating pain of his death, and pled with His Father for another way, but submitted when His Father said no. Christians are called to be like Christ. The question is not whether one can make a positive emotion last, but whether one can deny oneself when it is required. Humans in their natural state are very good at grasping at pleasure. Christian maturity means a willingness to experience temporary pain for a greater cause.


  • 78. When I am faced with obstacles, I remind myself of times I faced similar obstacles and overcame them.
    Let me break this one down a bit. Who does this question credit with previous success? Myself. Who is responsible for a future success? Me again. Where is Christ in this question? Uninvited. It's not that I don't believe in personal responsibility. It's just that I don't agree with leaving a sovereign God out of the equation when one addresses facing obstacles. Si thought these verses reveal a good balance between personal responsibility and also God's sovereign actions:

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. {Philippians 2:12-13}

    But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. {I Corinthians 15:10}

Okay, I am getting tired of sifting through questions that promote self-absorption and focus primarily on how I feel about everything. I am a pregnant woman, and I can cry at touching radio commercials with the best of them, but it is really all too gooey for me, so I think I'm done.

Purgatorio's first posting ever was on syncretism. The focus was on American Christians combining religion with American nationalism. I wish the author would do a similar posting concerning the attempt of the mainstream Christian church to combine Christian theology with secular psychology.

As I have waded through the muck of feelings and concern about me and my little, shallow life (for there is no true depth in a life focused on self), I feel the urge to leave off with a couple quotes from one of my all-time favorite authors, David Wells, from my latest favorite book, Losing Our Virtue {all added emphasis is mine}:
Luther saw, as we should today, that the moral law was not given by God for human beings to become self-satisified with their moral attainments. On the contrary, the purpose of the law is to induce self-knowledge and self-despair, which come from seeing that the best human effort always results in failure before God. Such an understanding is the precondition for receiving Christ. {p. 29}
It is the biblical truth about the need and nature of conversion that is normative, not the emotional experience accompanying it, and yet it is hard to escape the prospect that if God's indictment of sin is heard, if the Cross is understood, the sinner will have at least some sense of being overcome, of being stricken, in the presence of God. This may not produce the deep foreboding of Luther, the terror of Bunyan, the lostness of Augustine, but in some fashion the doom from which the Gospel is the delivery must have registered.{p. 38}
At the heart of this new reading of the parable is a rather different understanding of the self from what prevails in classical, Protestant spirituality. There, the self is not to be treated as innocent, nor is it to be indulged. Indeed, sin is defined in terms of self-love, self-centeredness, self-delusion. But here, in this stream of modern spirituality, the self is understood in terms of psychology. The self is unhappy, not so much because of sin, as a lack of realization, or an inability to adjust to the social environment. So conversion in these sermons was presented as incorporating God into the self so that the self could have more meaningful relations with others. {p.50}
Here is what Scripture has to say about the subject:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. {Galatians 1:6-9}

18 November 2006

Third Time's a Charm?

The regularly scheduled programming around here has been pushed back a bit due to my overwhelming desire to prepare for the coming of Baby Q. It all really started when Grace and Kristie gave me some money to buy a scrapbook as a late birthday gift {thank you so much!}. I started working away, and as I was sorting all the photos of A.'s birth {yes, I am 20 months behind}, I started thinking about how we are going to be doing this all over again...perhaps as soon as three weeks from now.

For my readers who are unaware or have forgotten, both E. and A. were born by C-section. E. was a 28-hour labor that went from bad to worse. A. was a scheduled C-section because I was frightened by my first doctor into thinking that the same thing would happen again. Si and I both wish I had tried a VBAC with A., but we didn't know then what we know now.

The doctor I have now is willing to let us do a "gentle trial of labor" and attempt a VBAC. We have decided that this is a good chance for me to avoid a third surgery and a long recovery. I was in bed for almost eight weeks after A. was born. I do not recover well, and hope to be able to go the more natural route this time around.

VBACs, however, have their accompanying risks. Then again, surgery is always risky, so there really is no safe way out of this situation. Here is how I am preparing for the VBAC, if anyone is interested.

  • Liquid Calcium: Experienced mothers are great resources, and I recently read some writings of one mother who swears by liquid calcium as a help for contractions and afterpains. As I have done more reading, I have learned it can also assist with the leg cramps that many women experience in the third trimester. Calcium helps with proper muscle contraction and waste management within the body, two issues that can effect labor and delivery. After reading a lot written by midwives and mothers, I plan on taking 1 tablespoon of liquid calcium on days where I am having difficult with calf muscle crampings {common to pregnancy}, and then 1 tablespoon every 4-6 hours once labor has started, continuing this until the afterpains have subsided. Many midwives believe that the hard work involved in laboring uses up a lot of the calcium in the body, so it is important to be replacing it as labor progresses.

  • Red Rasberry Leaf Tea: One of the risks that is often mentioned by doctors when discussing a VBAC is uterine hemmorrage or rupture. Red rasberry is known to tone the uterus and help prevent postpartum hemorrhage from an atonic uterus. It helps reduce uterine pain and helps the uterus work more effectively during labor and delivery. I will be drinking 2 cups of this tea per day until the day of delivery, and I will drink the leftovers {if there are any} because red rasberry also assists in the production of mother's milk.

  • The Pink Kit: I bought the Pink Kit and had it shipped all the way from Australia. That is how determined we are to try our best to be successful. The Pink Kit is probably unnecessary for lots of moms because their babies come out. However, E. was completely stuck in my pelvis bones when he turned into the occiput posterior position. Lamaze class was entirely unable to prepare me to deal with this, and my doctor's only solution was that I should try walking {again}. The Pink Kit teaches many techniques for assisting a posterior baby to descend. Since this baby has appeared to be posterior also, we want to work on getting her through the pelvis. Kimbrah also pointed me recently to a website on turning posterior babies that I will be studying.

  • Staying Hydrated: This should sould obvious considering the hard work involved in labor, and yet many hospitals deny a laboring mother almost any kind of nutrition or hydration because they fear a C-section, and surgeries are best performed on fasting patients. I know a C-section is a definite possibility considering my history, but I also need to make sure I am behaving in a way that promotes a successful birth rather than a successful C-section. I will be drinking a wonderful hydrating solution throughout labor {whether the hospital staff approves or not!} called Innergize for Kids, which tastes better than the adult product {in my opinion}, and also contains some added calcium.

I like to think that this is my complete plan of action, but I will probably add new things I learn in the coming weeks. If you think of me, please pray for a safe and healthy VBAC delivery for Baby Q. and I. Even though this is my third child, I have never actually delivered, so I will admit that I am completely frightened of the unknown! Also, I have experienced extreme difficulties with milk production in the past. Please join us in praying for a miracle in that area also, that I will be able to be the sole source of nutrition for Baby Q.

16 November 2006

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Tonight, I pulled this recipe out of the piles of paper in my pantry and made our first pot of cauliflower soup of the season. I usually cook this soup once or twice a month throughout the cold months {yes, we have cold months here, November or December to February or March}. It is healthy enough for heart patients {though one may want to use only Kerrygold butter or another brand that is high in Vitamin K2}, and very soothing if someone is suffering the winter sniffles. By the way, a loaf of garlicky sourdough bread is the perfect mate for this if one is serving it as a main dish.

I got this recipe out of the book Fit for Life, but modified it to match what I actually cook. It is full of great healthy recipes, especially if there is a necessity for non-dairy cooking in the home.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced {we like garlic and use 4-6 cloves here}
2 stalks celery, chopped {we use 3 or 4}
2 medium cauliflower heads, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. real salt
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried savory or marjoram {I think ground marjoram is best for this recipe}
6 cups chicken broth {or beef bone broth, if you have it--I usually have chicken on hand more often}

Directions
In heavy soup kettle, melt butter. Add oil. Add onion, scallions, and garlic. Cook until onion has softened a bit. Add celery and cauliflower. Mix well and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for several minutes, stirring frequently. Add water and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Remove cover and cool slightly. Puree in small increments in blender until smooth and creamy. Reheat {if necessary} and serve.

13 November 2006

Understanding a Bit of Maslow

I intend to critique the Church Relationships Assessment section by section if possible, but I feel that a bit of introductory material is necessary before I can do that. It is my belief that to truly be able to discuss the "Relationship With Self" section of the survey, one must have at least a cursory knowledge of Abraham Maslow. My parents, strangely enough, taught me a good deal about this man when I was a preteen, which is why I was able to make this connection in the first place.

Abraham Maslow is the father of the concept of the hierarchy of human needs. The hierarchy starts with real needs, such as food and water, and moves upward: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization. In 1970, Maslow revised his pyramid, adding two extra levels: cognitive and aesthetic.

I mentioned yesterday that the survey seemed to reveal an underlying belief that understanding one's feelings or properly handling one's feelings is the key to assessing one's relationship with oneself. As I was perusing the questions, I couldn't get away from the idea that the implied definition of a healthy relationship with oneself was Maslow's self-actualized man. The best example of this appears on the sample survey I linked to yesterday: "When I experience a positive emotion, I know how to make it last." I think that there is good reason to question the idea that affirming this statement is an evidence of spiritual maturity, and I will talk about that more in my next installment.

For now, I think it is important to note that in 1968, Maslow published the book Toward a Psychology of Being. In this work, he redefined self-actualization as being episodic. He writes:
Such states or episodes can, in theory, come at any time in life to any person. What seems to distinguish those individuals I have called self-actualizing people, is that in them these episodes seem to come far more frequently, and intensely and perfectly than in average people. This makes self-actualization a matter of degree and of frequency rather than an all-or-none affair, and thereby makes it more amenable to available research procedures. We need no longer be limited to searching for those rare subjects who may be said to be fulfilling themselves most of the time. In theory at least we may also search any life history for episodes of self-actualization, especially those of artists, intellectuals and other especially creative people, of profoundly religious people, and of people experiencing great insights in psychotherapy, or in other important growth experiences.
I added a bit of emphasis for effect. My point is that though Jesus never specifically taught His disciples how to prolong a positive emotion or experience, Maslow {father of modern-day humanism, please remember} certainly admired this ability.

The survey claims to have the ability to reveal the impact that Christ has had on the various relationships in one's life, and yet I see more evidence of the influence of Maslow in the bent of the survey than I do of Jesus. It is my belief that if a Christian is to properly assess his spiritual maturity and growth, he need look no further than the Bible to find the appropriate criteria. Namely, Jesus, as the ultimate and perfect man {in contrast to Maslow's self-actualized man}, should be the model after which a Christian is being molded.

12 November 2006

The CRA's Internal Inconsistency

Before I dive headlong into assessing the Church Relationships Assessment that I mentioned last week, I wanted to touch on one issue that is a bit separate from the Major Issue at Hand {which, if one recalls, is the question of how one can Biblically assess the "difference Christ is making" in one's relationships}. This more minor issue is one of internal inconsistency.

Please forgive me if this entire series is a bit vague. I am trying to assess the assessment {I just love writing "assess" over and over} without too many direct quotations because I am unsure about laws concerning intellectual property, and figure that it is better to play it safe in this instance. Here is a link to the CRA Sample Assessment that John Brown University's Center for Relationship Enrichment has on their website. It should give one an idea of the format of the survey. Please note that the sample page that appears as page two falls within the "relationship with self" section.

Now, I have attempted to quantify what I am talking about when I say that the test is "internally inconsistent" by using percentages. There are various sections in the survey: realtionship with self, with others, with spouse, with children at home, with God, and then an overall personal attitude section.

  1. Relationship with self
    In this section, 65% of the questions refer to feelings, emotions, or anger/temper. My general impression was that this reveals an underlying belief that understanding one's feelings or properly handling one's feelings is the key to assessing one's relationship with oneself.
  2. Relationship with others
    In this section, 38% refer either to one's own feelings or the feelings of the other person and another 8% deal with forgiveness. The remainder deal primarily with conflict management or how one believes one is perceived by others. Again, the emphasis was on feelings, with little to no mention of behavior.
  3. Relationship with spouse
    This section is harder to quantify. About 47% of the questions deal with levels of satisfaction, frequency of disagreement, regrets, and other more subjective issues. Another 32% deal with levels of happiness and feelings about the relationship overall. 21% ask about the frequency of "spiritual" activities {i.e., praying together}.
  4. Relationship with children at home
    In this section, 64% of the questions ask about levels of satisfaction with different areas of the relationship. The remaining 36% asks about the frequency of spiritual activities in a similar manner to the previous section concerning the relationship with one's spouse.
  5. Relationship with God
    This section is quite different from all of those listed above. 77% deal with frequency of spiritual activities or practice of spiritual disciplines, while the remaining 33% are subjective assessments of growth and feelings of intimacy.
  6. Personal attitudes
    This question is quite different, which I am sure is obvious from the title. It deals with attitudes toward others and sins we often perceive as small, such as jealousy {which, incidentally, are never referred to as "sin" in the survey, but rather as attitudes}.
Regardless of whether one believes that feelings are the best judge of the impact of Christ on a relationship, or that behaviors are the best judge, the test is internally inconsistent. If the best way to judge one's relationship with God is to look at my spiritual disciplines, why is there not a similar way to, say, judge my relationship with my spouse? And yet the survey attempts to judge one's relationship with God based primarily on behavior while judging all other relationships primarily through feelings and emotions. To some extent, a relationship is a relationship. Perhaps the Center for Relationship Enrichment should seek to discern a more comprehensive theory of relationships before releasing such a survey.

08 November 2006

Frugal Moment: Alternative to Furniture

I am sure that there are many alternatives to buying furniture out there. This is ours. This is solving a dilemma for us. Up until now, anything of A.'s that needs to be on a shelf has been neatly tucked into a basket stored in the changing table. But that changing table will be moving to my room soon in preparation for Baby Q. Which leaves A. with a couple piles of supplies with no where to go.

A. doesn't have a lot, but the little she does have belongs somewhere other than on the floor. Most of her clothes hang just fine in the closet, and buying an expensive chest at this point seems wasteful of both space and money. With so little in the way of things, she would much rather use the space to play with her cradle and dolls.

So this closet organizer is perfect. Not only did it cost very little when compared to buying a chest or shelving, it meets the need. The bottom shelves are now doing a great job at holding shoes, winter pajamas, a basket of socks, a stack of onesies {for layering!}, and there are even little side pockets that perfectly contain her winter hat and gloves {which we should need for all of three or four weeks}.

What I learned from this is that furniture is only one of many options when one considers how to store one's things. Getting creative can save space and money, and still more than meet the pressing need.

07 November 2006

Upcoming

In the coming weeks, I will be doing a bit of housekeeping around here. The Birth Control as an Idea Series has been getting extra hits lately, and so I discovered that some of the links are broken. I will be doing a bit of editing and clarification, and, most importantly, fixing those links. This shouldn't effect the main page, but any readers who subscribe to the site feed may find these old posts popping back up.

And speaking of broken links, I think the sidebar has a few as well, so I will be fixing those and making any necessary deletions and additions. By the way, if you are my friend in real life and want to be linked to my "Friends" list, let me know. I never add anyone to that section without permission, for I know that some of my friends keep their blogs extra private.

Lastly, I am working on an in-depth critique of a survey I recently encountered coming out of John Brown University's Center for Relationship Enrichment. The survey is titled "Church Relationships Assessment," and I will warn you in advance that I don't believe this survey to be assessing anything of the sort.

Before I begin the critique, I'd like to hear from readers. The assessment claims to "help you assess your relationship with the Lord, yourself, and others. Most importantly this assessment will help you better understand what difference Christ is making in your life and relationships." I would love some comments referencing Scriptures that explain how a Christian might assess these areas of life. Consider this a bit of research on my part. I am a tired pregnant lady now. I need all the help I can get.

06 November 2006

The Worst Artist in the World

I don't generally believe it to be a good idea to put the weaknesses of those I love on display. However, the weakness I am revealing this morning is one I believe to be conquerable now that we have discovered the root cause. This post is sort of a combination of attempting to help someone else in a similar situation {please say I'm not alone in this}, and also giving readers an opportunity to offer me any creative advice for this situation. But let's start at the beginning.

My son is a terrible artist. We are working our way very slowly through a drawing curriculum, and we chose to do this because not only was our son displaying a definite weakness in the area of artistry, but he was also expressing a lot of frustration over it.

Though I have seen marked improvements in his abilities, it is still such a struggle for him. In his math workbook last week, a lot of drawing was required, and I had to label everything he drew because there was no way that anyone, including him, would be able to identify the objects later. The level of drawing in this instance was probably comparable to a two-and-a-half year old.

If there is one thing I have learned from Drawing with Children, it is that as long as the child's brain is functioning normally, the issue is usually based on how the child is seeing the world, specifically how they look at an object when they attempt to draw it.

E., I soon learned, looks at objects as if they are under a microscope. He does not see the outside shape and lines, but rather all the tiny details. For instance, he was trying to draw a baby hat. I know how I would draw a baby hat. I would draw a straight line at the bottom with a dome on top to represent the shape. And then I might fill it in with a few little details, if I were so inclined, such as a pattern in the fabric or some of the stiching. E. started with the stitching and the designs in the fabric, and then became so frustrated that he declared he "cannot draw a baby hat." The picture looks like nothing but circles and lines.

But I learned so much about him in that instance. I didn't want to push him too much, but he really wanted to finish his math {the drawings were of light objects and heavy objects}. So I let him try, and simply observed. That day, he spoke aloud as he drew. A baseball he drew was labelled "Official" on its side. E.'s rendering of it is what he could see from his vantage point: a large "OFF" with stitching all around it in a very baseball-like swirl. This is the microscope world I mentioned. The baseball was followed by a basket of books {he drew a detailed version of the handle} and the Vision Forum catalog {he drew the little boy standing on the front, not the shape of the magazine itself}.

I informed Si what I had learned about our son that evening. We spent time discussing what this pecularity could mean about him and how he sees the world. I was quick to notice E. studying a card shuffling machine as we played Uno with his great-grandma on Friday night. I could tell he had "zoomed in" on the little levers that pushed the cards, and I wondered if he knew what the machine as a whole looked like when he walked away.

Si tells me he is going to work with E. at the white board and teach him some basic shapes. And I will keep plugging away. It helps that I now know how to coach his vision as we observe the world together.

Any suggestions?

03 November 2006

The Darndest Things {11/06}

29 November 2006: Her First Real Apology
This morning, I was in the other room while A. was quietly digging through the drawer where I keep all my plastic baggies. She loves, if she has the time alone, to get all of them out of the box and scatter them on the floor and stomp on them. E. caught her in the act and called to me, "A. is in the cabinet! A. is in the cabinet!" He is a very persistent snitch. One of my best spies. Anyhow, she isn't smart enough to stop when she hears him telling on her, so I got the chance to see her in action. When our eyes met, she promptly pulled her hand out of the drawer and closed it. She lowered her eyes in that perfect pout that I am tempted to let manipulate me every time. And then it happened. She looked back up and and very earnestly said, "Sowwy. Sowwy." I took her little chin in my hand so as to help her look me in the eye and thanked her for apologizing. I reminded her she is not to touch the cabinets. She said, "Okay."


28 November 2006: 14 Days in His Week
For a while now I have been aware that E. doesn't seem to have the concepts of today, tomorrow, and yesterday straight. I've been looking for the root cause of the confusion ever since, and now I think I have found it. In E.'s week, there are 14 days. Since he still takes a nap in the middle of the day, it is effecting his sense of time passage. So, when he wakes after a nap, he truly believes it is a new day, and so much so that last night he was shocked that my bed was made. Apparently, though he saw me make it in the morning, since after-the-nap is a new day, he had expected to see me make it again! I am trying to correct this by using "before nap" and "after nap" in the way most of us would say a.m./p.m. to see if it helps solidify the idea that it really is one complete day. Until then, E. has 14 days in his week.


24 November 2006: Vocabulary Expansion
Everyone is learning new words around here. A. added a few this week, some of them more delightful than others. "No" has been the cause of much laughter. Si ran through the alphabet with her to see if the little parrot could say all the letters or not. Later, I practiced the hardest with her, W. "Can you say double?" "Bobble." "Yooo?" "No!" It has been great fun. Besides "no," she also added "Papa" and "apple" {pronounced bapple}.

We're getting a kick out of E.'s new words, too. His reading this week introduced him to "passengers," and now he's been trying out that word whenever it seems to fit. On Wednesday, E. asked me why an automatic faucet at a restaurant we were at could not be turned on "manually." And tonight, a story was told to us with great relish using the word "dashed." Apparently, E. dashed into one room, and then dashed back into another. It was great.

Recently, someone told me that by listening to E. talk, they could tell that he was exposed to "real" books.


20 November 2006: Moral Lessons
Today, E. lied to me. I believe it was a failed attempt to tease me, as he has yet to grasp context and when it is {or is not} appropriate to tease. He took me very seriously since our church is studying the Ten Commandments, and Sunday's focus was, as he interprets it, "Do not ever ever lie." I stood him in front of me, a solemn look on both our faces, and told him that his first answer must always be the truth. And then we had one of those moments, where Parent thinks that some great wisdom has been imparted into Child's soul, only to be greatly dismayed by Child's response and accompanying Innocent Look.

E.: So my last answer should be not true?

Sigh.


19 November 2006: The Long Lasting Influence of Dr. Suess
My mom and I took the kids out to Mexican food tonight since our husbands had left town together to attend Chuck Colson's big birthday bash in OC. The ballroom at the restaurant had been rented out for a 30th birthday party. The music was loud, the lights were flashing. E. was very excited about this. The waiter for the party had a giant afro hairstyle. When he walked past us, E. asked my mom why that man had fluffy hair. I don't remember her answer, but I do remember him replying quietly, "He looks like a Fiffer Feffer Feff."


16 November 2006: Never Say Never
Something I never want to hear again: "Mom! A. is drinking the honey!"

Something I never want to see again: Toddler literally chugging the honey. There is no other word for it; "chugging" is just the right one. Her brother wasn't kidding.


14 November 2006: The Boy Who Judges
It has been my fear that E. would eventually, in his immaturity, judge others. For instance, I feared that if he knew he didn't watch TV at all, and only movies at a time really special {like when he was too sick for much else}, that he would tell other children they were wrong for watching TV. He isn't exactly in that rhetoric stage where he can debate his friends over the virtues of doing or not doing something.

Tonight, my fears were realized. As we were at a small gathering of homeschooling families, I heard my son tell another little boy, "We don't celebrate Halloween because it's sinful." This is, of course, right after the other little boy had explained that he went trick-or-treating. In our defense, I clearly remember hearing Si tell E. that some people celebrate Halloween and some don't, and we choose to do other things, like go get ice cream sundaes and visit family.

I find myself anticipating him telling the other kids in Sunday School that Santa isn't real. I have tried to emphasize that Saint Nick was a real person, sharing with him some of the traditional legends, hoping to avoid such an incident. But after the "Halloween is sinful" episode of this evening, I can feel the Santa Buster creeping up on us.


13 November 2006: The Band
I like to joke that I know my in-laws hate me when they give the kids really noisy toys to torture me after they leave. But I know they just like to see these kids happy. My father-in-law gave E. a recorder {E. calls it his "flute"} for his birthday. It took time for him to learn to make a noise, but somehow it all clicked for him in the last week, and he has been tooting it happily ever since, usually while marching around the house.

Enter my mother. Last night during a visit she took a little kazoo and taught A. how to work it. Now we have a two-man band in our midst. This morning was spent with little pajama-clad musicians marching around the house making "music." I'm sure eventually it'll give me a headache, but today it is just really, really cute.


6 November 2006: Underwear Tales
If you are a little boy who likes to throw your underwear way high up in the air when you are alone in the bathroom, it would be wise to consider putting the toilet lid in the down position before doing so. Otherwise, you will find yourself forced by your terribly mean parents to put your hands {which you value being clean because you hate to wash them} in said toilet to retrieve and then wring out those undies, which will be followed by the dreaded 60-second timer-monitored hand scrubbing ceremony. Trust me. A little forethought in the form of closing the lid will be of great benefit to you.


3 November 2006: She Pooped!
For the record, I hate it that having children gives people the perceived permission to discuss bodily functions. Sometimes, I wish that certain subjects remained private. I can tell you my birth stories without the gory details {but Si can't because he got to see my uterus and lived to tell about it}, and I can discuss potty training in theory without telling you icky facts about fecal matter.

But the one thing I can't resist is celebrating the first official trip to the bathroom. A. has been very interested in the toilet for the last three weeks or so, and we let her sit on it sometimes, but nothing happened. Honestly, I thought the whole process was something she wasn't ready for. Until today. Today she pooped all by herself.

I promise not to make a habit of talking about such things. But I must say that on the whole potty training is something I like much better than changing messy, smelly diapers.


1 November 2006: Quit Tattling on Yourself
Dear E.,

I catch you in the act throughout the day. I see your dirty looks. I know you licked that toy when we told you to stop putting things in your mouth. I hear your grumbles and witness your bad attitudes. And I discipline myself into disciplining you, because, honestly, such diligence doesn't come easy. Yours is sometimes a hard soul to watch over.

So why do you tell on yourself? Why must I also learn every dark and secret thought. Why must I be informed from your own mouth that there are evil deeds imagined in your head and evil intentions in your heart? Why must you daily come to me or your father and say, "Can I be honest? I am thinking about doing x." Why must you inform me {your own words!} that, "There is sin in my heart, Mommy, and I want to do x." Why do you insist on informing me of the small sins that occur during your moments alone in the bathroom or playroom or while falling asleep in your bed?

I beg you to stop telling on yourself. I catch you doing enough wrong as it is.

02 November 2006

100% Chance of Showers

Today, the women of my family gathered to celebrate my pregnancy and the coming birth of Baby Q. I felt strange when they first asked to throw a shower, even if it was a small one, because I've already had showers for my first two children, and it seemed a bit...I don't know. I just know that Southerners would frown on such things as excessive showering.

And then they not only wanted to throw a shower, they wanted me to register. Another faux pas! But it is true that our needs at this point are very specific, and no one knows them but us, and a registry is the easiest way to organize a needs list. I bowed to that request as well.

The luncheon today was so lovely. We had a simple, yummy lunch {I love lunch!}, and received more presents than I expected. We are most definitely ready for Baby Q. now, though we hope she waits a few more weeks before arriving.

I cannot explain how encouraging this is. Not everyone in our life was thrilled when we announced this pregnancy. There are many folks out there that frown on large families. I don't consider three children to be "many children," but there are people who do, and it has been hard for me to see people I thought would be happy and excited frown at us and inform us that we shouldn't have any more babies. In fact, they seem to like to tell me that three is a lot and I will be overwhelmed.

And I will be. I was overwhelmed the first time I brought a baby home. And then I was overwhelmed by trying to learn to handle two. And I'm sure three will be hard in its own way also. But we are excited, and we love this baby, and it always amazes me how hard things become quite normal with time, determination, and practice.

It was so nice to learn that our family here loves this baby, too. They didn't have to give a single present. Just knowing that they love her already is enough for me.

01 November 2006

Frugal Moment: The Baldwin Project

The Baldwin Project has gotten us through a couple obstacles around here, and almost completely free of charge at that. Our first issue was a lack of traditional children's stories out in the common market. Unless one desires their children to know the Disney versions of such beautiful tales as Jack and the Bean Stalk or Cinderella, one is hardpressed to find an alternative and more accurate telling of such stories. The commercialized versions pale in comparison to tradition, and stories such as these were near to my heart as a child. I wish them to be good friends of my childrens' as well.

Another issue has been finding primers and readers that contained decent tales. We love Bob Books around here, but they are a bit silly and one would never accuse them of being literature. They are great tools to teach reading from, especially when using the Distar method {which I think I am most of the time, but that is another post for another day}.

However, I cannot bear for my children to read the primers and readers that we have received as gifts thus far. They are painful to a mother's ears. Take, for instance, the readers, printed by Scholastic, that were inspired by the cartoon Scooby Doo. I simply will not have my child learn the long-i sound by reading the character Shaggy's constant and inappropriate use of the word "like."

Even if their mother does use that word constantly and inappropriately. But I digress.

All of this little diatribe brings me to The Baldwin Project, which proclaims itself to be "bringing yesterday's classics to today's children." Music to my ears, that phrase is! If one follows the link, one will find numerous traditional children's stories that one can print for personal use for only the cost of ink in one's printer. So far, E. has enjoyed The Boy and His Goat, Chicken Little, and The Little Red Hen. I have also printed and prepared to teach him to read Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Cat and the Mouse. And this is actually a small sampling of what I consider to be a more than adequate selection of stories at both the primer and kindergarten reader levels.

The Baldwin Project is definitely an affordable option for families with early readers who need a bit of depth added to their steady diet of silly but lovable Bob Books.