Friday, March 24, 2006

The Allure of Buttons

I keep a small box of buttons on our bookcase. The box is one of those decorative types, with a picture of an apple on it, that a student gave me once upon a time. It is where I stash all of those extra buttons that clothing manufacturers so kindly give you. I'm not sure why I bother to keep them, because I never actually sew a button on if I can help it. Perhaps it's the nice rattly sound the box makes when you shake it. This morning S. looks up, and requests the box. I, being no fool, tell her no, that it's not for little girls. She, thinking to help her cause, explains what she is going to do with the buttons: eat them!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Stupid Fashion Buyers

What is up with the clothing purchasers for retail stores? Don't they know that lots of children grow unexpectedly in the middle or end of the winter? My little one has grown recently. It is still cold outside. Actually it is kind of cold in the house too, due to my unwillingness to pay $300 a month for natural gas. So I want to buy her a few long-sleeved shirts to tide her over til warm weather comes. No can do. All of the lousy stores in my area have switched to summer fashions. I even went to Penney's Saturday hoping for some winter leftovers on the clearance rack. Absolutely nothing. Apparently other parents already beat me to it. So she only has like two shirts that fit her, which makes the laundry situation difficult to say the least.

My other pet peeve has to do with toddler pajamas. She has also outgrown those. Of course, there are no more winter pjs left either, but I think I can keep jamming her in her current ones for a while, as long as she sucks in her tummy when I zip her up (once I zipped a smidge of belly skin - she screamed - I felt terrible). But I did want to get her some pjs that are made of a normal material (not the ever-popular fleece) for when the weather warms a little. The stores are full of spring/summer pjs. Tons of choice, and they all looks so fetching. Problem is that they all have short sleeves. Come on, people! You cannot get a 17 month old to keep her arms covered at night. Plus in the summer, we use the A/C, and I suspect many other Americans do. So the little tikes need long sleeve pajamas made out of a thin material. So I think to myself: I could just put her in a long-sleeved shirt for bed. No one will care if it's a shirt and not really pajamas. Oh, wait! She doesn't have enough long-sleeved shirts that fit! Arrgghh.

Word to the wise: Buy toddlers nightgowns at your own risk. They look so deliciously adorable, but they make it awfully easy for the little urchin to get her diaper off. You know what happens next.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Last week we had one of those false spring episodes when the weather suddenly warms, you pull out your short sleeves and sandals, and you get the garden going. Now, of course, we're back in the midst of blustery cold weather, but the garden is still planted with the early spring crops, and some have sprouted. So far I can see carrots, lettuce (a ten-variety mix!), spinach, and onions. We also put in some peas, and for the first time, leeks. I'm not sure how well they will do - apparently they take about 5 months to grow. For anyone not familiar with them, go buy a few at the store, and make some potato/leek soup (poireaux et pommes de terre). It's a French favorite, and delicious.

No fuss recipe:
Wash leeks very carefully. You have to partially slit them open to get out the dirt.
Chop leeks. Chop potatoes.
Put in pot and cover with water.
Simmer until potatoes are as soft as you like.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add a little cream or milk to taste.


They are not terribly cheap at the store, and I like to use them often, and in other recipes, so I'm hoping to have a good crop. They can be pulled whenever you need them, so I shouldn't be faced with 47 leeks all at once.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Where have all the flags gone?

Remember after 9/11 when nearly everyone had those magnetic U. S. flags on their cars? Gradually, they disappeared. I was reminded of that brief period of fervent patriotism today when I saw an elderly lady driving by with one afixed to her vehicle. Other than rare exceptions like that, the rest have gone. I am curious as to what went through each individual's mind as he took the flag off of his car. Did some people make a conscious decision that they did not feel patriotic enough to display the flag? I realize that the national mood has changed greatly for some since those post 9/11 days when patriotism was cool, but I know many who are still proud to be American. Or did we just feel that the period of national mourning had gone on long enough? Or did some people simply remove them because they did not want to be the only person on the block with one left on? I ask, because, I am embarrassed to say, that I had never bought one (extremely tight budget at the time), and so never made the decision to remove one or keep one on my car.

Friday, March 03, 2006

First Amendment Ignorance

I've obviously taken a break from blogging lately, but these disturbing survey results have dragged me back to the keyboard. Only one person out of a thousand surveyed could identify all of the rights that are included in the first amendment. How sad that we are such an ignorant group of people!

Some will be quick to blame schools and teachers. If teachers are indeed to blame, I would be one of the guilty party, for I majored in history, and taught government/civics to eighth graders one year. I remember spending a lot of time on the Constitution and the all of the Amendments. Rather than just make the kids memorize the list, I worked to teach them what they all meant. If you had given my students the survey within one week of that unit, I am confident that many of them would have answered correctly, even though I had extremely unmotivated and disruptive students. Now, several years later, I honestly wonder how many of them have retained that knowledge. I can picture a few faces of kids that probably have, but the rest probably haven't. Why not? As I already stated they were extremely unmotivated and disruptive. Is that my fault? Many people would say yes. When I was in college, full of idealism, I would also have blamed myself. Now, I answer firmly, no. I know that I tried my best to teach effectively, and my "best" was indeed good.

Until we, as a nation, change our culture and values to truly appreciate learning and education, we will continue to see these sort of dismal survey results.