Tuesday, June 30, 2009
You will want to make one full recipe per child who wants to play.
(I usually double the recipe to make two batches at once, using a large Dutch-oven sized soup pot.)
Combine in large saucepan:
1 C. water
1/2 C. salt
1 C. flour
1 T. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a solid ball. (This happens quickly, after only about a minute.)
Dump out to cool on waxed paper. Be careful - it will be very hot at first, but it cools quickly. Give it to them while it is still warm, though; this is the best part!
Store in airtight container for repeated use.
You may knead food coloring into the dough when cool, if colors are desired. My kids always prefer the natural color, though, as they are usually pretending in the play kitchen to bake bread, cookies, pizza dough, doughnuts, etc. (Note: playing this way when young easily segues into really baking when one is older!)
Simply put, NHERI and Dr. Ray specialize in homeschool research.
So it is with great interest that I read Dr. Ray's rebuttal to a misleading article about homeschooling that recently appeared in USA Today. Entitled Profound shift in kind of families who are homeschooling their children, it purports to objectively present information regarding trends in home education through analysis of a new U.S. Department of Education report.
But as anyone who has ever taken a course in statistics knows, it is possible to alter how you analyze or present certain numbers in order to suggest or imply whatever you want to.
Don't believe me? Well, as a silly example, note that if one were to analyze the "data" in my household (a small number of homeschoolers relative to the overall number, mind you, but that didn't seem to matter to the U.S. Department of Education), one could conclude that "over the past four years, the average age of homeschooling parents rose sharply, with the vast majority of the parents (100%!) now in their forties instead of their thirties." One could also find an expert (in my case, perhaps, a liberal, disgruntled neighbor) and quote him as saying that "...this is clearly indicative of a shift in the type of person who is homeschooling her children." (Such an "expert" would certainly choose to use the current trendy, intellectually-elitist practice of referring to the indefinite singular pronoun in the feminine.) One might read (in that fantasy world of statistics-twisting) that, "Clearly, the trendy young thirty-something parents who were dabbling with the homeschool idea in the past have wised up and put their kids back in school. It is now just the old-fashioned crusty forty-somethings who are keeping their kids home and away from the normalizing influence of a peer group. It seems clear from this data that the homeschooling trend is on its way out." ("Experts" can be quoted saying anything they want to, remember.)
So, anyway, back to the real world and the real USDE report and the real article written by USA Today. Dr. Brian Ray has taken the time to accurately analyze the data in the USDE report, and has come to some startlingly different conclusions.
So, are homeschoolers now "profoundly" more white and rich than they were just four years ago, as the article claims? It would seem, actually, that the opposite is true. Accurate analysis of the US government's data and statistics indicates that an "increasing percentage of the homeschool population is ethnic minorities, the income of homeschool families is below the national median of households with school-age children, and homeschool parents are somewhat above average in terms of their formal education attainment."
This conclusion is notably different from that presented by USA Today. I guess the next question we should ask ourselves is "why?"
Friday, June 26, 2009
I love being up in the wee morning hours, for lots of reasons.
This morning, I'm pondering my son's words about morning, written in an as-yet-unfinished piece of prose...
"The most delightful time of day, as I'm sure my audience will agree, is the early hours before sunrise. This is the time before most of the world is awake. There is a fresh taste to the air, the dew lies on the grass, and there is a certain quiet atmosphere lying over the world that calms us and assures us that, no matter what happens during the day, life will be okay in the end."
Amen to that!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
He is, as always, bold and direct:
... I suspect that Mark and I would not agree on the degree to which the average pastor needs to be movie-savvy in order to be relevant, and the degree to which we should expose ourselves to the world’s entertainment.
I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: Prick him and he bleeds movies.
If you want to be relevant, say, for prostitutes, don’t watch a movie with a lot of tumbles in a brothel. Immerse yourself in the gospel, which is tailor-made for prostitutes; then watch Jesus deal with them in the Bible; then go find a prostitute and talk to her. Listen to her, not the movie. Being entertained by sin does not increase compassion for sinners.
There are, perhaps, a few extraordinary men who can watch action-packed, suspenseful, sexually-explicit films and come away more godly. But there are not many. And I am certainly not one of them.
I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.
I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).
Brothers, that is serious. Really serious. Jesus is violent about this. What we do with our eyes can damn us. One reason is that it is virtually impossible to transition from being entertained by nudity to an act of “beholding the glory of the Lord.” But this means the entire Christian life is threatened by the deadening effects of sexual titillation.
All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.
But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.
One more smaller concern with TV (besides its addictive tendencies, trivialization of life, and deadening effects): It takes time. I have so many things I want to accomplish in this one short life. "Don’t waste your life" is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.TV consumes more and more time for those who get used to watching it. You start to feel like it belongs. You wonder how you could get along without it. I am jealous for my evenings. There are so many things in life I want to accomplish. I simply could not do what I do if I watched television...
Although we do love a good movie (especially as a springboard for great follow-up conversation, which is the way I like to do it), we also avoid the kinds of sexual content he refers to... and we haven't watched television for ten or fifteen years now.
I can't remember exactly when we stopped, but it was somewhere around the time that we realized (1) we were rather irresponsibly addicted (we would pass on invitations and miss opportunities for fellowship in order to stay home and watch the shows), (2) it was taking an awful lot of our time - one night turned to two, as Thursday night's line-up got split onto Tuesday as well... if you're as old as I am, you likely remember the shows... Mad About You, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, ER... (3) we started having kids, and really needed the sleep, (4) sitcoms went from fun, isolated, individual shows-you-could-take-or-leave on a given week, and took on all the drama and obsessive nature of daytime soap operas (which I'd had the sense to avoid like the plague since I'd realized their addictive power over me when I was in high school and my first year of college... but here I was again, spending way too much time wondering about things like whether Ross and Rachel would ever "get together"), (5) the cute, fun shows we were filling our brains with every week were turning more and more perverse as time went on (illicit sex, crass and crude humor, attempts to normalize homosexuality with likeable homosexual characters and "loving homosexual marriages"...)
I could go on, but you get the picture. I'm sure I would die at what is on television these days, if I ever actually watched it. Occasionally someone will be staying at our home, or we will be staying somewhere else, and those other folks will have made a choice to turn on some television show. It is always shocking and appalling to me what parades across the screen... obviously people have become de-sensitized to what filth is present in just about every single television show they choose to watch.
We know this makes us rather freakish in most peoples' eyes... most people watch a lot of television...
And no, we don't have a hard time staying "culturally-relevant" by knowing "what's out there," because most of the time, that's a major part of what people want to talk about... I've learned all about peoples' obsession with particular shows over the years second-hand, by overhearing about them in conversations. (This is how I found out about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire... Survivor... Lost... American Idol... Sex in the City... 24... Desperate Housewives... and the "cleaner and more wholesome" shows -not always, mind you - which folks watch, too, like What Not to Wear, or Jon and Kate Plus 8, or American Idol.)
Just the other night, my own mother spent about fifteen minutes at our dinner table discussing - in front of my daughter - the "hilarious" show she had watched the night before. I had never heard of it (of course), but she described in blow-by-blow detail the go-out-and-get-laid antics of some group of four nerdy guys... from one's going back into the house to take off his cartoon underwear in case he "got lucky" to a description of one's waking up in the arms of some fat stranger he'd just casually slept with... I sat silently and uncomfortably until, mercifully, my father called my daughter into the other room, and I was able to excuse myself to clear dishes. No disrespect meant to my mother, but she is a prime example of how desensitized we have become... I am grieved by what most folks are regularly filling their minds with.
And I happen to believe it is part of the grand political agenda... shaping public thought through nightly television shows... Hollywood films... pop culture... public education...
How about you?
Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm finding it especially challenging to make a clean dive into this week; it is difficult to land nicely when you hit the ground running!
Althought I'm still musing about the "too busy" question I contemplated last week, I think I'll wait until we are unpacked and the laundry is caught up and there is some food in the house before I settle into an any major conclusions...
I have also begun reading an important book: The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
I'm not going to let these next weeks go by without a prayerful analysis of my life and what activities are in it, and which should be, and which shouldn't...
* Karon, Jan. At Home in Mitford. (New York, Penguin Books USA Inc., 1994).
Friday, June 19, 2009
I remember saying the words often
my young brain forming small thoughts
and the world
In that same nightly chant where I hollowed His name
(Who ever heard of hallowing?)
I asked Him (or at least someone)
to forgive my debts
(Do six-year-olds have debts?)
or sometimes it was ‘trespasses’
(Who but criminals went trespassing?)
I asked whomever to “forgive me
as I forgave others”
but certainly not ‘in the same manner as’
for my charmed six-year-old life
and my sweet six-year-old heart
weren’t offended yet
And I had not yet been told how offensive I was
Fast-forward a few decades
to the hard here and now
where the tender young trust
lies buried under a brittle shell
(at least I hope so)
like the old bread crusts that even my songbirds did not want
dotting my yard
and my mind
with whispers of what I’d hoped
but which wasn’t
Now I know better
with my mind
(theologically astute and all that)
But the young girl that trusted
was the young woman that loved
the child’s friend’s mother
Now seething with hurt
and hard with bitter thoughts
which some would call hatred
but I know to be
the slow, secret murder of self-righteous indignation
that pretends right back that she doesn't exist
In this one part of my otherwise glowing life
I live the law of the scornful
as I return evil for evil
at least in my mind
“Reject as you have been rejected”
but only in the farce that is my own understanding
“Forgive as you have been forgiven”
She didn’t forgive.
She didn’t forbear.
She didn’t love me.
But I did
“as you have been forgiven”
And so I take captive
the smug, superior masks
of the frightened young mother
and hand them over again
© 2009 Laurie Sitterding
Thursday, June 18, 2009
This question was posed to me recently by one of my students, and I have been giving a little bit of thought as to what I think is a fitting reply.
My earlier thoughts on this, although still valid, are a little bit incomplete, since my blog is no longer "secret" and "private," as it was then, and I've gotten over the initial self-consciousness that accompanies writing for an audience.
For now, for me, I would have to say that blogging is "scrapbooking for the rest of us."
I don't scrapbook. I love the beautiful products that my Creative Memories-type friends create, but I don't have a lick of that gene in me.
So, although I have no aspirations of ever being read by more than a small audience of family and friends, it is fun to post things in a way that looks and seems "polished."
And it is nice to actually get around to doing it at all.
We have photo albums chronicling my entire pregnancy with my first child, week by week. Slight changes in my burgeoning belly are captured on film and played out relentlessly over page after page. Who on earth thought this was worth capturing in this detail? I often ask myself as I trudge through page after page of photos. (The main merit at this point is a good laugh over my hair styles and the silly maternity clothes I was wearing.)
My first child has a baby book. And there's stuff in it. Lots of stuff in it.
My second child has a baby book. There's some stuff in it.
My third child has a baby box, which is the box the still-relatively-empty baby book originally came in, together with a newspaper from the day she was born, a handful of congratulatory cards, and a copy of her birth announcement.
My fourth child has an empty baby book, purchased by her grandmother but filled in by no one. Our family Christmas card doubled as her birth announcement that year. There are fewer pictures of her as a baby than there were of my belly in that original pregnancy photo album.
So, while I don't post photo after photo of every detail of our lives, sometimes I do, and so some of them are captured. And though I don't capture every deep (or not-so-deep) musing that runs through my head, I do find a quick moment to grab some of them and share. And so they are captured, too.
I guess that's the best answer I can give to why I blog. Because life is worth capturing. And worth sharing.
"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know 'til he takes up the pen (or, in this case, grabs the keyboard) and writes," William Makepeace Thackery.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We're eleven of us, sharing close quarters (and bathrooms) in a beach house this week, and it is pretty nice not to have to smell each others' "elimination odors."
So, if you'd like to change your "fecal fragrance" (my husband's term) with something besides the constant striking of matches [my old standby, often eliciting frantic cries of, "Something's burning!" from other housemates, followed by my sheepish, "Um, er, well, um, I just... well..."], then pick up some good old "Just A Drop."
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
It always provides me with time...
and deep thoughts...
And one of the chief things I am coming away with this time is the question: a week away from what?
What is my normal life...
my usual routine...
my "daily grind"...
that keeps me from these very important things when I'm living it?
Am I just too busy? Is the pace too frantic?
I've been contemplating these things this week, and I have come to discover that apparently I'm not the only one...
This post on the Rebelution Blog this week asks the same question. "What is the difference between 'doing hard things' and just 'doing to much'?" they ask. Good question.
They point us to a series of Blog articles by C.J. Mahaney that begins with the following challenge:
Lazy? Not me. I’m busy. Up early, up late. My schedule is filled from beginning to end. I love what I do and I love getting stuff done. I attack a daily to-do list with the same intensity I play basketball. Me lazy? I don’t think so!
Or at least I didn’t think so. That is, until I read about the difference between busyness and fruitfulness, and realized just how often my busyness was an expression of laziness, not diligence.
I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a life-altering and work-altering insight. What I learned is that:
- Busyness does not mean I am diligent
- Busyness does not mean I am faithful
- Busyness does not mean I am fruitful
Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition to include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The sluggard can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking out a to-do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.I am still chewing on these ideas, but I think a week away every once in a while - away from the busyness - to ponder the busyness - is a good thing.
Friday, June 12, 2009
This is in sharp contrast to the words spoken by President Obama at an April 6 press conference with Turkey’s president, claiming that secularism is what makes America great:
“That’s something that’s very important to me,” Obama said. “And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is – although, as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population - we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
You can read more from the source of the aforementioned Presidential quote, posted here.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
If a dog were the teacher you would learn stuff like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
The picture at the top of this post is the picture of Pippin that they took while he was at the pound. Although he looks like he's missing his right eyeball, he is not. We are still struck daily by how different he is from Little, whom we still miss very much, by the way.
Even as I type this, Pip is sitting on the floor next to me just quietly staring up at me. I never know if he's happy or not. Little was very "jolly" and waggy and pant-y and excited most of the time. Pip is mellow and calm. He likes to be where we are in the house. He often wags his little stump of a cropped tail. He brings a ball and drops it at my feet to play fetch. He runs to the door and wants to go along if anyone is leaving to go somewhere. But he's just generally less expressive than Little was, so he doesn't seem as thrilled about life as Little did.
I hope he likes it here.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
(Go figure... I assume that raw is the only way they would get them "in the wild," if there ever was such a thing for most domestic breeds of dogs. But I digress...)
SO, just to set the record straight (assuming the dozen or so websites I checked are correct), cooked eggs are a safe and tasty treat for your canine friend. Just don't give them to him raw.
By the way, I did learn some new things that my dog shouldn't eat. I had already known that he shouldn't eat chocolate or have bones from chicken (unless they've been boiled into a hearty stock for 24 hours and can be easily crushed - see here for directions), but I hadn't realized that the following are also bad for dogs to eat: macademia nuts, fat or bones from beef, grapes or raisins, processed baby food, onions or garlic, alcoholic beverages, avacados, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Milk and dairy products, it says, will cause diarrhea in the 50% of dogs who are lactose-intolerant. (Oh, please! So no more cheese?)
Anyway, the list above is far from exhaustive, and you may click on any of those links to see more thorough lists. One thing's for sure: it is enough to convince you that you should probably stick to dog food and dog treats, for the most part, and skip giving him the leftover eggs even if they're not toxic when cooked.
That and the fact that he might throw them up anyway. (Just ask PT, who cleaned up Pippin's pile of puke even as I typed this.)
I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.
Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.
Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.
That’s my general disposition toward media.
Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”
To which I respond:
The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.
So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.
I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.
By his grace and for his glory,
And so I am reminded again that the Lord is about the business of redemption, and that moving into things with deliberateness and purpose, for His glory, is possible. But it isn't easy. And it isn't common.
Here's to being uncommon...