7/29/2008

Oi!

Here's the intro:
Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.
Here's the article.

Here's a quote to get you started:
History, a record of things left behind by past generations, started in 1815.
Read it and weep.
Or laugh.
Or both.

HT: HSK at WorldMagBlog

7/25/2008

Across the Pond

Nobody--and I mean, nobody--does satire like our allies across the pond. From Jonathan Swift onward, the legacy remains.

Belated Pictures

A couple weeks ago, I froze a 20-pound box of blueberries, washed and bagged in 3-cup increments. Ever wonder what 20 pounds of blueberries looks like? It netted 18 3-cup bags.



Me, at 35 weeks, plus a couple days



Our new sink and faucet fixtures! They're not actually installed as of now--Kevin put them up to make sure the rough-in valve and support studs were appropriately placed, then took them down so the drywall can be finished. Nevertheless, here's a glimpse.

Give Me Wood

For those of you concerned (not to mention any who may be obsessive, and I know you're out there) about the retention of bacteria on cutting boards, this article may be of interest.

It claims, through scientific testing, that wooden cutting boards are actually more sanitary than plastic or rubber surfaces, even for cutting meat, and especially when both are cleaned by hand.

I typically use plastic boards, as it seems they are generally considered safer. I am happy for a reason to invest in more hardwood cutting boards, however, and may just try to replace my plastics.

7/18/2008

On Discipline

I've been slowly reading My Life for Yours: A Walk Through the Christian Home, by Douglas Wilson. A couple things in the chapter on discipline are noteworthy.

First, Wilson lists the basic principles of fair discipline, or as he says, of "biblical jurisprudence." They are:
1. "Two or three witnesses give us the requirement of independent confirmation. (2 Cor. 13:1)"
2. "If a child tattles to get a brother or sister in trouble, and the report turns out to be false, you shall do to him as he thought to do to his sibling. (Deut. 19:19)"
3. "Parents must take trouble to sort out conflicting stories, (Deut 19:18) however great the temptation to spank them all and let God sort it out (Prov. 18:13)."
4. "A full opportunity must always be given for the defense even if the defense promises to be pretty thin. (Prove 18:17)"
5. "And discipline, when meted out, should be sharp, painful and over. (Heb. 12:11)"
Also, on spanking:
"The liturgy of spanking often teaches as much as the spanking itself does. A child when grown will no doubt have forgotten all the various offenses he "caught it" for. But he will remember, and fairly clearly, how the process usually went. Even if he doesn't remember that process consciously, all he needs to do is wait until he begins disciplining his own children, and it will all come flooding back. Here is a suggested liturgy: First, the child has the offense explained to him. It's very important that this be calm and judicial and not done in anger. Then, the spanking is administered, with the swats varying according to the offense. Next, the child is held until he stops crying, the child is assured that everything is completely forgiven, and the world is a new place. Finally, parent and child pray together, thanking God for the forgiveness."

7/16/2008

On Autism. . .or not

Thomas Sowell has a provocative article at National Review about the growing frequency of autism diagnoses for children who do not fit the average development patterns. He seems to imply that recently touted successful therapies for children diagnoses very early in life may be the simple result of wrong diagnoses: "If a child is not autistic to begin with, almost anything will “cure” him with the passage of time."

Autism is one of the scarier (in my opinion) developmental disability diagnoses out there, because we don't understand it. We don't know what causes autism, how exactly to screen for it, or how to overcome it. Compared to something like Down's Syndrome, it's the unknown. Still, over-eagerness to diagnose could clearly cause unnecessary emotional trauma for families.

Our society is so anxious to label anyone who doesn't fit the mold with some sort of condition or disease. When a little boy in 1st grade can't sit still through the 15 minute reading lesson, we helpfully label him ADD or ADHD, give him Ritalin, and merrily continue on our way--when all the while, the only problem may just be that he's a little boy (which, incidentally, is not a problem at all).

I'm not suggesting that there are no developmental disabilities or challenges. I'm not even suggesting that we avoid looking at them as possible reasons for behavior. I'm just saying that we should tread carefully. . .we already have the highest rates of medicated developmentally challenged children in the industrialized world. The solution, if there is one, has to involve individual doctors and parents who are willing to give their children space to be different. Hopefully, that can be done without compromising the possibility of successful early intervention.

7/15/2008

Remodeling In Progress

In the remodeling realm, progress has been made. The baby's room has a complete floor--no more holes into the basement, not even a trap door--and complete walls. The "hall" and bathroom have walls, with the exception of the area in the bathroom where the plumbing has yet to be completed. We've purchased a ceiling light for the bathroom, a wall sconce for the hall, a ceiling fan and light for the baby's room, and 2 wall sconces for our still-unlit living room. Sink, faucet, towel ring, etc. are on order for the bathroom, and the plumbing will be completed to exact specifications upon their arrival.

What's next? The walls need one more coat of mud, then they can be sanded, primed, and painted. Then the bathroom and hall wood floors need to be sanded and finished and the bedroom floor will get carpet. Lights, fixtures, and doors need to be installed, though the doors still need to be stripped of their lead paint.

I'll try to take pictures soon--though it's not nearly so impressive looking if you haven't witnessed the progression from utter destruction onward.

7/12/2008

Tip of the Day

Per the wash instructions on a package of newborn socks. . .
Do not iron.
. . .and I was so looking forward to carefully steam pressing every little bootie.

7/11/2008

Now Open: Mosquito Buffet

I am sincerely hoping that my newfound appeal to the mosquitoes of the world is based solely upon the increase in blood volume and hormones in my body. . .and not upon the particular affinities of the local tribe of bloodsuckers. In the past 45 minutes, I've gotten no less than 11 bites. . .and I've been inside the entire time. It's become the norm. Who wants to wear bug spray every day? Is that even healthy???

7/09/2008

The Second Video

Aha! Success! Now you get another one. . .

If you've never seen sheep (try to) run across a field, it's about the funniest thing you can imagine. Unfortunately, they wouldn't demonstrate for the camera. But they did baaaa obligingly.
video

The First Video

Kevin tested the new camcorder this weekend. . .so here is something I'm sure you all want to see.

The living history farm had an early model automatic ice cream maker. It was quite the setup, as you'll witness.
video

7/08/2008

Enjoying Food

Although there has been a marked increase of late, we have always spent more of our budget than is strictly necessary on food, whether it's buying a slightly better brand from the grocery store shelf, getting as much produce as possible at the Farmer's Market, or enjoying a $4 12-ounce gourmet latte. Lately, between rising food costs and the new justification of "I'm pregnant; good food is important," our expenditures, especially related to produce, have risen.

I don't feel guilty about this.

When there is extra money, people spend it on what is important to them. It might be entertainment, expensive restaurants, vacations, or fashion. Eating well is important to me--not just eating healthily, but eating well. Enjoying the bounty we are provided with on a daily, on-going basis.

Could we survive with "lesser" purchases? Sure. Drinking store brand tea instead of Lipton would not be a hardship. But Kevin prefers Lipton. Buying regular skim milk (let alone store brand) instead of the most expensive organic brand would not kill me. But I am really grateful for the expensive organic brand that I can drink without forcing myself. I could prepare less expensive meals, even if they might be slightly less interesting or less colorful. But I enjoy cooking an aesthetically pleasing and tempting repast for our table.

Could we spend that extra money elsewhere? Sure. We could always increase our monthly principal deduction on the house payment. Or the car payment. We could put more in savings. We could go out to eat more often or plan weekend get-aways as often as we like.

It's a matter of priority. Recently, Douglas Wilson has been blogging about a redeemed approach to food, from gratefully receiving what you have to refraining from pharisaical rules about what should and should not be eaten. Below is a quote regarding spending on foodstuffs that I appreciated, along with the link to that particular post, followed by the link to the series of posts on the topic

Fourth, recognize that striving to improve in this way cannot be separated from the economic realities. Money is one of the factors in the trade-offs. If you choose to buy the best produce, for example, you are going to pay more for it. If you are paying top dollar for such things, then don't pretend you are doing something else. Recognize that you are comparatively rich, and that you are using your disposable income on luxuries. One of saddest features (or funniest, depending) of contemporary food snobbery is the notion that rich people are getting in touch with the rythyms of the earth when they shop at the Whole Foods market. Paying three times as much for a really good apple is a fine thing to do, so long as you know that you are doing it. But if you think that you are a humble creature of the soil because you are whooping it up on luxuries is one of the oddest things that I have ever seen in my life. I understand, to return to an earlier example, why people would come to the point where they would be willing to drop five bucks on a cup of coffee. Okay, I think. It's a free country and you obviously have a lot of money. And if you don't have a lot of money, or you haven't bought into the aesthetic coffee imperative, I understand staying with the older drop coffee. Great. Still a free country. But what I don't get is the idea of someone spending five dollars on a cup of coffee as a way of expressing solidarity with peasants the world over. Look, you're rich. Come to terms with it.


from Infinite at the Top post, part of the Creation and Food topical archives

7/07/2008

Valley Forge

On our way home Sunday, we stopped at Valley Forge.

A replica hut--simulating what the soldiers built in which to pass the winter.




Apparently, the whole valley was wooded before Washington's troops settled there. The 4,000 men, their livestock, etc., caused a large area to be cleared. It is still surrounded by woodlands, though.



The memorial arch



The original house rented by Washington for the use of himself, his wife, and his closest aides.

The Delaware

On Saturday, we visited the spot of Washington's crossing of the Delaware and a living history farm nearby.

The Crossing



The Farm






Philly

We spent the 4th of July in the place where it all started--Philadelphia. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and quite a whole district of historic architecture.

Independence Hall





The best part? A fundraiser for a leukemia foundation. . .$5 to enter and eat all the ice cream you want. Mmmmmm. A bit of Heaven on Earth for the pregnant woman.

On Wifely Submission

I realize not everyone who reads this blog shares the same perspective on the roles and duties of husbands and wives. But for those who are of the more conservative bent--that is, for those wives among you who strive to serve and follow your husband in accordance with a traditional understanding of God's intent for the marriage relationship--here is a blog post worth reading. Even if you don't categorize your marriage as the type she specifically identifies as her intended audience, there are good reminders for all of us.