Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 Raspberry Awards And the Raspberry goes to ...
Virginians may enjoy reading this little recap of local officials' shenanigans. Even if you're not from VA, you may find some amusing.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I'm a bit slow getting back into the swing of things after Christmas. We arrived home yesterday from my parents' and now I have mounds of laundry to do and piles of presents to find places for. The holiday was enjoyable for the most part; marred only by a few members of my extended family getting a stomach bug. Thankfully, hubby and I and the girls were spared. There are few things I hate more than throwing up. It did put a bit of a damper on festivities. My sister-in-law from Brazil was particularly upset, as she had never thrown up before in her life. Apparently they don't have that sort of thing in Brazil (?).

Sophie was really into the Santa and presents thing this year. I tried to get her mostly semi-educational toys that will hopefully keep her busy for a long time. Kate was just interested in the wrapping paper.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Design That's Anti-Faith

In a WaPo op-ed, Eugene Robinson offers some good insights on the intelligent design v. evolution controversy. He proposes that intelligent design, in addition to not being a science, seeks to take away faith. If you can prove God exists, then you have no need of faith.

One of the best definitions of Christian faith is attributed to St. Paul, who called it "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." At every Mass, Roman Catholics around the world "proclaim the mystery of faith." There is no need to have faith in something that can be touched, measured, quantified, predicted; no need for faith in something that can be seen if only we build a big enough telescope or a sensitive enough electron microscope.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Church on Christmas Sunday

I hear that a number of churches - mostly large, evangelical types - are not holding any services on Christmas Sunday, the main reason given that families can spend time together. So, using that logic, why should there be any church meetings on any other Sunday of the year? After all, family time is important all year round.

I find this decision sad (fortunately my church is still meeting). If there were ever a day were one ought to make a little effort to get dressed and go worship the Lord in a formal-church-sort-of-way, then Christmas would be it! Basically, I guess people just don't want to tear themselves away from the presents for any amount of time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Media Bias Is Real

Thanks to Bookworm for this UCLA article on a study concluding that the media does indeed lean to the left.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ratings Climb

You gotta love this headline from the Washington Post, “Bush’s Support Jumps After a Long Decline”. I find it a little pathetic that they felt the need to remind us for the umpteenth time of the “long decline.” But I suppose conservatives should be grateful that there was even a major headline on the topic.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Afghan killed for teaching girls

I hardly know what to say. Liberal Hollywood spends much energy and some money protesting many things which are not half so terrible as this. Where's the outrage? Is it just too far away for us to care about? Read the small article.

Reaction to Iraq Election

The election in Iraq went well.  There was little violence and voter turnout.  I noticed the morning news shows didn’t seem to mention this major positive news event, although they had plenty of pessimism to spread around before the election.  So I turned to the Washington Post to see what they had to say, if anything.  There is a large headline on the subject, but not surprisingly, they managed to put the most negative spin on the good news that they could.

For President Bush, the strong turnout for Iraq's election yesterday may represent the best day since the fall of Baghdad 32 months ago because all major factions participated in the political process, according to U.S. and Middle East analysts. But the sobering reality, they added, is that the vote by itself did not resolve Iraq's lingering political disputes.

Really?  What a shocker.  We vote here all the time, and yet we still have “lingering” political disputes.  

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Lately I have been frequently asked by friends, acquaintances, and her pediatrician if I am sending my three year old to preschool.  The answer is no, since I am a stay-at-home mom, and have an education degree.  I feel as though I can provide her with all of the academic preparation she needs for school.  I’m a little biased, as my mother only sent one of us ten kids to preschool, and we all did well in school.  But when people start asking, I start to wonder if I am making the right choice.  The implication is often there (particularly from the pediatrician), that her social skills will be lacking if I don’t.  Many of my friends who also stay home send their kids to preschool.  I am making an effort to have her play with other kids, so that she doesn’t have social problems.  Will that be enough?  This “mommy peer pressure” is quite insidious in this area, as well as in many others.  I find myself replying half-truthfully that I may send her in a year or two, especially since she is an October baby, and can’t start school in Virginia until she is almost six.  But really, I just don’t care for the idea of sending a two or three year old to preschool.  They ought to be learning at home in a loving, safe, familiar environment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bells are ringing in my ears.

What’s up with all the Salvation Army bell-ringers out in force so early in the season?  I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, as I really do love Christmas, and believe in giving to charity.  However, I have bell-ringing fatigue.  Immediately after Thanksgiving, the ringers are out in front of about every major store you go to.  I think it’s overkill.  If only they would wait until one week before Christmas.  Surely everyone goes shopping at least once during that last week, so the S.A. shouldn’t lose much by waiting.  Actually, I bet they would get increased revenue, as it would seem a lot more special to donate then.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


The last time I vacuumed, I accidentally sucked up Mrs. Potato Head’s tongue.  My three year old witnessed this, and seemed a bit taken aback, but not too upset.  I made a big deal out of how she needed to pick up her toys in the future.  We are working on this skill, but she will only occasionally join in when I sing the “cleanup” song.  Well, today I was vacuuming the family room, when all of sudden she ran in and scurried around picking up toys.  She demonstrated speed and urgency like I had never seen before!  I am so pleased.  And one of these days when I’m feeling kind, I will take apart the carpet attachment and try to extract Mrs. Potato Head’s tongue.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The 40 Most Obnoxious Quotes For 2005

Some of these quotes are rather amazing. I especially like "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for . . ." -- Howard Dean.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Post-election Surprise

To my surprise, there is an article in the WaPost detailing Governor-Elect Kaine's plan to have universal preschool in Virginia by the time his four year term is up. This should not be a surprise. Back before the election, I spent a lot of time and thought on my vote. Not content just to listen to the TV commercials, I researched each candidate carefully, or so I thought. But somehow, I missed this little bit of massive spending for which Kaine is already working on the plans. I'm somewhat aggravated by this. Why is it so hard to get the facts ahead of time? I doubt he deliberately concealed this plan - after all, it is bound to be popular with many people - it's my fault for not picking up on it, I guess. However, something this significant should have been discussed more openly. I didn't vote for Kaine anyway, so it's not like this changes anything, but it does illustrate problems with voter information. If someone like me, who actually went out of her way to study the candidates' platforms, feels a bit broadsided, where does that leave so many other citizens?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Inalienable Right to a Remote

I can hardly believe it. Only yesterday my husband and I were discussing whether we should get a new TV or not, since we had to get a converter box just to hook up our DVD player. We decided not to bother for now. No, we're not living under the poverty line. We just don't care that much about having the latest technology. Well, guess what? Congress is coming to our rescue! It has just passed a measure that will provide us with money to make our set digitally capable. What kind of insane society do we live in? Check out George Will's op-ed - it's a good read.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Mommy Brain by Katherine Ellison

How Motherhood Makes us Smarter

I usually save my book posts for my reading blog, but since this one relates to my blog title, I thought I would post on it here also.  The main premise of the book is summarized in the subtitle, obviously.  I always assumed that motherhood was a learning experience, and thus would make you smarter, even if not in a PhD sort of way, but apparently a lot of women feel that being a mom is a mental liability.  Ellison is not a scientist, but presents much interesting research from real scientists to refute this misconception.  One bit I liked,
Women . . .  gather more data from their environment and construct more intricate relationships between the information.  By contrast, men tend to compartmentalize – to get rid of ancillary data and focus only on what they regard as important.  Mark George, the Medical University of Southern Carolina brain-scanner, suspects that, in practical terms, the difference may help account for how a guy can stay glued to the television through the ninth inning while his progeny are loudly murdering each other in the next room. (p. 75)
However, there is a lot more to this book than sometimes obvious observations about motherhood.  The author is a journalist, and writes from the point of view of a very career-oriented working mother.  This is not really a book designed for the stay-at-home mom, or even the lower-income working mom.  The book is jammed packed with mothers who have prestigious careers as editors, professors, scientists, etc.  
. . . Mayer, the Colorado Permanente doctor, who fits parenting in between working forty hours a week away from home and ten to twenty hours more in her home office. (p. 72)
Fits parenting in?  Those poor children.  
There are a few token references to grocery store clerks, but that’s it.  Only one stay-at-home mom that I can recall.  Ellison clearly cannot identify with this rather large group of American women.  She calls the working versus stay-at-home debate “passé”.  To those women who have not decided yet what to do, it is hardly passé.
However, most annoying, was that halfway through the book, her focus switched from brain research to the socialist propaganda that the government needs to provide top-notch child care for everyone, along with much longer maternity leaves.  Basically, we should be like the liberal Shangri-La, Sweden.  She also threw in a bit of environmentalism, and anti-Republican political commentary.  Off-topic!
So I can give you two reasons to read this book.  One, if you want to learn a smattering of science about what happens to your brain when you become a mother, read the first half.  Two, if you have a serious career, you can read this book to reassure yourself that having kids will not ruin your career, and can even help you a little (there is little discussion on how this affects the children).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Iraqi Police Targeted

As so many Iraqi police have been killed by terrorists, I find it interesting that Iraqis are still willing to join such a targeted group. Just today, there were 43 deaths at a Baghdad police academy at the hands of two suicide bombers. To me, this indicates how seriously Iraqis take their freedom, and how badly they want their country to move forward toward a democracy of some sort. If they were all as angry at America as the MSM would have us believe, I don't think there would be so many police recruits. Essentially, to join the Iraqi police force is to cooperate with the U.S. Despite the very real danger of death, many have joined anyway. I'd be interested in actual recruitment numbers, if anyone has them.

Monday, December 05, 2005


We have our first snow of the season.  So far there’s about three inches on the ground, with a few more in the forecast.  As usual, my fellow Virginians are all in a tizzy about it. To listen to the news, you’d think this is the first time that winter has ever come.  It’s embarrassing how quickly everything shuts down.  Schools let out before snow started sticking to the roads.  True, we don’t have the snowplow equipment to keep our roads clear that northern states do, but still . . . .

Sophie and I went out and made a snowman.  This was the first year that she really got into the whole thing.  I thought her stamina was pretty good for a three year old.  Even after she fell down the steps and landed on her face on the asphalt, she wouldn’t go in.  After an hour, I finally forced her inside, since I knew Kate would be waking up from her nap. So it was a milestone day for me as a mother – I have a child old enough to enjoy playing in the snow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Gender Bias in Education

Michael Gurian writes an excellent article on the problem of boys and men in education today. This is no secret to anyone that has taught school in recent years, but to others who only heard about how girls are shortchanged and underchallenged, this may be news.

Basically, boys are doing poorly in school, starting in elementary school and continuing into college. Standardized test scores show it. Report cards show it. The lack of college-educated men in the dating pool shows it. Ask any teacher, and she'll tell you. When award assemblies come around, we teachers would have a hard time trying to make sure that some boys got academic awards.

In a short article, Gurian does a great job of outlining many of the causes of this gender gap: teaching styles, lack of emphasis on education in the home, fatherless boys, and more. I encourage you to read the whole article.

Some may say that it can't be that bad - after all, look at the gender make-up of the Supreme Court, and other institutions of power. I say that that is still the result of the past - those are all older men, educated years ago. But ask any twenty-something college educated woman how hard it is to find someone on her intellectual level to date or marry. For this generation, and future ones, it is a big problem that needs to be addressed.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

No strings attached

Unlike many women my age, I had extensive experience caring for children long before I had my own two little ones. As the oldest of ten, I had plenty of opportunity to learn. So sometimes I find myself referring to "how it was done back in the day," even though I am really not that old. But somewhere between helping with my siblings in the 80s and having my own in the early 2000s, things have changed. Now we care about child safety! Those crazy parents of yesteryear had no common sense! Didn't they know about all of the dangers out there? Didn't they love their children? There are many examples of this, but for now I will focus on one of my pet peeves: strings.

Back when my mother was raising us, there were some simple devices for keeping children warm - drawstrings. Children's jacket hoods had them. Just try and find a baby or toddler jacket with one now. I haven't seen any in stores. Now you can't keep your child's head warm, as those hoods will not stay on.

Little baby nightgowns had drawstrings in the bottom. How I loved cinching those little baby feet in all snug and warm. You could completely close the bottom, but yet so easily open it for diaper changes. Now manufacturers just put a lame elastic in the bottom, which does nothing! I would like to know what three week old baby is going to pull out the string and strangle themselves with it. We have become a society full of irrational fears.

Lastly, in the old days, a child's mittens were joined by a long piece of yarn or string. That string ran through the sleeves and back of the coat, and the mittens hung out the ends of the sleeves. No more lost mittens. A kid could take them on and off without losing them. They were always where they needed to be. This one, I admit, is slightly more hazardous than the others. But, by golly, I bought my daughter some new pink mittens today, and I am going to get some yarn and string them together! So there!

So in order to protect our kids from a neglible danger, we have made it harder to keep them warm. What ever happened to common sense?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why didn't I think of that?

A Chinese company is fighting for the right to pitch plots of land on the moon for sale after authorities shut the scheme down on charges of profiteering and lunacy.

Notice the pun? I normally hate puns, but I thought that one was pretty good. My husband will be so proud of me.

Yet another public official with poor judgement

School Board chair admits Web post

THe Richmond School Board chair was caught with his shirt off on an explicit online dating sight. I just can't understand how people think they can get away with not getting found out online - especially if you post your photo! It amazes me when I see blogs where the authors spill their guts at the expense of the people around them. I wonder if they have a plan for damage control when someone close to them finds out.