If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Taking over territory

I was watching TLC last night, kicked back on the bed, crocheting. Relaxed. Comfy. "Million Dollar Agent" went to commercial, and then I heard Spanish.


Century 21 is doing commercials in Spanish!

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem at all with people from other countries coming to America. I have no problem with people making a living as a translator for said immigrants. After all, it doesn't matter where you come from; you have to live somewhere.

When we were in Italy we really tried to learn Italian. I did learn some phrases, but my accent was so awful that most of the time I could have been speaking Swahili. However, we would have improved faster if we hadn't had such easy access to English speaking friends. We didn't HAVE to learn Italian. I'm grateful for the times when we had people around who could speak English, like when the fuel pump in the car died and Eric was in Rome for a class. However, had we not had that access, we probably would have taken a class or something. As it was, we learned enough that we could get around by train and conduct simple transactions in Italian. (Don't ask me to do it now; I've been back almost a year!)

That year gave me a new insight and a new empathy for people whose first language is not English. However, advertising in Spanish is a crutch. I know that English is not the 'official' language of the whole U.S., but it's the most commonly spoken. For pity's sake, if you want to live here, at least learn a few key phrases!

I can't help but think back in our history to the westward expansion. White men moved in without so much as a howdy do and displaced the people who were living on the land. I can't help but wonder how long it will be before the tables are turned, and white people are displaced?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Duh huh...

I'm up past my bedtime because, like an idiot, I decided to make brioche this evening. Not only did I decide to execute a time-consuming (but yummy) recipe, I also decided to make a double batch.

Yeah, I know. Brilliant. I have, oh, at least 15 more minutes before I can start baking. I'm in the home stretch, but it's still late. Luckily I don't have to be up too early, and I'll have fresh brioche for breakfast!

I haven't done this in a while because the questions have been rather lame, but this week's aren't bad, so here's your Friday Feast. (On Friday! Shock and amazement!)

What kind of car do you drive? If you could make an even trade for any other car, what would you want to drive?

Usually a Venture minivan. It drives like a car, actually, and I like having the extra space. If I could drive anything, though, it would be a toss-up between a Minicooper or a Mazda Miata. I'm a sucker for little and cute! (She says as she gets in the van...) Someday a car that size will be practical for me.

Take your phone number and add each number together separately (example: 8+6+7+5+3+0+9=38) - what's the total?


When were you last outside, and what were you doing?

Moving the sprinkler so the sod doesn't die. Again.

Main Course
What is your favorite restaurant, and what do you usually order there?

Hmm. I don't really have a favorite; it usually depends on what I'm in the mood for. I have never had a bad meal at Olive Garden, though; maybe because if it has cheese and pasta, I'm there!

Name 3 things in which you occasionally indulge.

Really good chocolate
Jack and Coke
A long, hard cry

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The redesign was done in record time! Let me know what you think.

If you're bored with your blog, these gals are the best!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I got this in an e-mail from our homeschooling group. Dave Arnold got it published on the NEA website and I couldn't help but laugh! As near as I can tell, his research included one website. One. I Googled 'homeschooling' and got 1,670,000 hits. That's like judging all homeschoolers after talking to one homeschooling parent.

For the sake of argument, I looked at the site and found several things he had taken out of context. For example, Mr. Arnold says, "If this Web site encouraged home-schooled children to join after-school clubs at the local school, or participate in sports or other community activities, then I might feel different."

The website says, "The whole point is to carefully choose your child's social interaction. Socialization does indeed affect your children. Choose wisely those influences you want in their lives. The truth is, your children will get plenty of socialization from the neighborhood kids, church groups, and other outside activities." It seems to me that sports and community activities could fit into that. Oh, yeah, and Mr. Arnold, I believe it should be “I might feel differently.” I might be wrong. I went to public school.

I would challenge Mr. Arnold to go to any science museum of his choosing during the week when school groups are touring, just for research purposes. He could probably take the cost of the ticket off his taxes for work expenses. Let’s see what public school socialization looks like. I’ll tell you what I’ve seen: kids shouting and running, pushing each other to get the best view, crying because they were pushed down or had their toes stepped on, screaming questions to teachers and frazzled museum employees.

I’ve been on homeschool field trips, and I can assure you that none of the children, even the preschoolers, behaved in an inappropriate manner. Why? The kids in our group were taught how to behave in public. It was part of school. They were also taught to respect and obey adults. Almost all of the moms accompanied the group, so there were lots of eyes. It was understood that if a child was getting into mischief, either the mom got a gentle nudge and took care of the problem, or the child was spoken to by another mom and the behavior stopped. Most of the time it was a matter of saying the child’s name and a quick shake of the head. There were never discipline problems, crying spells were only babies or toddlers being kept from their naps, and no mom ever took offense when someone reprimanded her child. Then again, the moms didn’t scream at or belittle their kids.

Socialization is a common misconception among those who feel homeschoolers are damaging their kids. The reality is that most homeschooled kids are better socialized than public schooled kids. Their schedules are more flexible, thus allowing them opportunities for outside art/dance/music/religious education, Scouts, public service projects, and so on. Homeschooled kids are exposed to people of all ages, not just thirty kids the same age and an occasional adult. Let's face it, do you work every day with people the same age as you?

He goes on to criticize the site for having an on-line bookstore, his point being that they are scamming gullible parents and that a book can't teach you what you need to know about teaching your kids everything they need to know. So they don’t use books in teacher school? He's partly right; you can't get it all from books. Like socialization, that can't be taught; it has to come from experience. Homeschooling allows the teacher and the students to focus not only on academics but also on life skills that are sorely lacking in public schools. I didn't get any home ec until 7th grade. Why would anyone think that kids are incapable of baking a cake before they're 12? Attitudes like that are the reason my neighbors marvel about my kids doing their own laundry.

I could go on for days, tearing Mr. Arnold’s article to shreds. I could cite statistics and show where he is wrong. However, what his article did accomplish is to uphold what the NEA thinks is education. I have to give him credit for knowing his audience. He also knows better than to bite the hand that feeds him. Mr. Arnold is the head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois. Kids being withdrawn from public schools result in less tax money going to each school, which may eventually lead to restructuring and lay-offs.

I’m not a militant homeschooler. I haven’t written off public schools. In fact, Alex will be going to high school up the road next month, leaving me at home with Vicky. I will probably drive Alex’s teachers crazy because I have grown up enough in the last several years that I’m not afraid to ask someone about their methods. Education is not an exact science. It can’t be because each child is different. Some kids need to be in school, and some kids need to be at home, and that’s just the way it is. The trick is to figure out what each kid needs and to be willing to see that they get it.


I'm working with Design-a-Blog to give the blog a new look. If you use Blogger and Blogspot, these gals are awesome to work with, and I challenge you to find anyone who can beat their prices. I gave them some ideas and they've just taken off. In fact, I've had a flurry of e-mails this afternoon about my preferences on a few dozen details. I'm excited to see what the finished product will look like. I'm hopeless when it comes to anything more than point and click. My version of coding is telling the washing machine which cycle to use.

In other tech news, we bought the new hard drive for what will be our server. The kids and I are going on vacation the end of next week, so Eric will build the server and hopefully install some software for me. As soon as I get back I'll start the Dragonsroost redesign, hopefully tying in some of the elements from the new blog!

Stand by!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ooh, BIG surprise

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?

I snagged this from Tambo. Oh, yeah, I'm really surprised! I'm sure all my friends are, too.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Educated, not unusual

I was chatting with neighbors the other evening. One of the kids wiped bubble solution on Alex's sleeve, and I made a smart remark about how sad it was that his shirt was dirty since he'd just done his laundry earlier in the day.

My neighbor's jaw hit the driveway. "He does his own laundry?"

I couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, they both do. It's one of the things I taught them for school a couple years ago. We do home ec."

She shook her head. "That's amazing. I can't get my kids to do anything except pick up their rooms."

I get this a lot, actually. I decided when my kids were toddlers that I would not send them into the world unable to do basic domestic stuff. As soon as they were tall enough to see the top of the washer, I taught them how to sort clothes. I let them help me load them. Of course, by then they were big enough to take clothes out of the drier if a basket was directly in front of it. Folding wasn't far behind.

As soon as I was sure they wouldn't burn themselves, I started cooking and baking lessons. That led naturally to kitchen safety and clean-up.

I'm not bragging. I've just noticed over the years that adults underestimate what kids can do. My kids don't do things perfectly, but I've never expected perfection. When they volunteer to make dinner, I let them. We've had some less than perfect meals, but how else are they going to learn? They've never made anything that wasn't edible. That's more than I can say about some adults, which was the whole point.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Last Girl Dancing

We made the trek to Borders yesterday for the next installment in the Harry Potter series. (Alex was inexplicably not feeling well enough to go to church this morning, and I just made that connection. Hmm.)

We had until close of business today to pick up our reserved 40% off copy. I, of course, had ulterior motives in addition to saving a significant bit of cash on HP6.

Somehow, Borders forgot to let me know when my reserved copy of Last Girl Dancing came in. We were moving, so it's understandable. When I called about it, they were sold out, but I was assured that they would have copies this weekend. I had to search for it, but it was SO worth the trouble and the wait.

If you haven't read this book yet, RUN, don't walk to your nearest book retailer. The author is Holly Lisle, author of twenty or so books, mostly science fiction, more recently paranormal romantic suspense. You'll find this book in the romance section, but don't let that stop you. THIS romance has a plot, a whole bunch of twists, and just enough grit that you'll be checking your drawers for sand. The characters don't just speak; they sing. These are not the typical romance characters, all frill and fluff and cow eyes. Oh, no, these have spunk!

For you guys, there are strippers. Lots of them. Better than what you've seen probably, but I wouldn't know personally. The best part is that you get to see them on stage and off. You get a glimpse of the women inside the quick-release costumes and fake boobs.

You can read the first chapter here.

Why are you still here? GO get the book!

I'm going to go make gelato now. Yum!