Monday, September 29, 2008

My Political Summary

Alright, so Lindsay called me out on this... I promise I was going to do a follow up to my political question, but there have been a few other things going on this week! (like a baby and my husband being out of town for 4 days)
If you haven't already, I highly recommend that you go back and read my first post. And the comments! It was so interesting to see the almost 50/50 split.

Also recommended: this website that lists where McCain and Obama stand on the issues side by side. Most of their stances are taken directly from their own campaign websites and speeches. It's pretty comprehensive!

Now, when it comes right down to it... I'm pretty sure I'll be voting for McCain. My reasons are these:

I don't think Obama has enough experience. I think McCain has a lot of experience and I believe he tries his best to work with both parties.

I don't trust Obama on foreign policy. But neither do I entirely trust McCain. This one is kind of up in the air for me (see below).

I don't like how Obama wants centralized healthcare and more government programs. In this I'm pretty die-hard Republican. In general I don't think more government is the answer. Beauracracy never solves anything! (just look at our schools)

And finally, while I don't believe you can legislate morality, I don't agree with Obama on a lot of moral issues. This leads me to believe that he won't put in place other policies that I would agree with.

I think my biggest "for" for McCain is his history of being moderate. I think this is what we need today and Obama for all his "working people" speech is extremely liberal. Even more so than Hilary. I can only hope that the rest of the world doesn't decide to quit their dealings with the US if McCain is elected simply because he's a Republican and they think he'll be like Bush.

Now, if you feel the need - the rest of this post might be what you would call my own campaign stances, if I were to be running for any public office!

On foreign policy: The US thinks we are the king of the world. We don't play fair and we think our system is best. For us, maybe, but that's like telling someone their way of cooking dinner is wrong simply because they're Indian and like different food. We don't allow for cultural differences in other countries. Simply put, I don't think democracy is the answer for every country. Obviously I don't think evil dictators are good, but....

guess what! The US has helped put in power evil dictators all over the world. I started learning about this in college and it totally shocked me. We've managed to gloss over it pretty easily... but our corporations have basically looted and pillaged other countries natural resourses at their people's expense. We have supported regimes (Chile? Nicauragua?) that systematically brutalize their population.

Personally I think the US needs to deal more with our own issues at home (hi, have we got issues) and leave other countries to deal with themselves. At the very least we need to quit going it alone and get the support of other nations. We do not have the "moral authority" in these other countries when they look at the havoc we have already wreaked on them. We need to treat them with respect before we go running all over their national sovreignity.

At home...

On education: Here's my soapbox! I am a teacher. My husband is a teacher. My mother is a teacher. Between us we have various experiences in public and private schools.

The amount of standardized testing we have today is KILLING our schools. It is not a good thing AT ALL. The teachers have to spend so much time preparing their students for these tests that other things get left out (like art for one). Whatever happened to preparing well rounded citizens? Do most of you take tests at least once a year to make sure you are competent to do your job? No? I didn't think so. Our school system as a whole definitely needs some revamping.
Also, if you work in an industry... when was the last time you had to pay for your continuing training? I'm not talking about training to get a better job (like management or something) I'm talking about training to keep the job you already have. Doesn't your company usually pay for that?
Well, guess what... teachers have to pay for their continuing training, their re-certification, their extra classes they have to take.

And... guess what again! The teachers are not wholly responsible for the things that students learn. They are there to impart the information and help, but it is also the student's reponsibility as well as... wait for it... the parents!

I recently heard of an instance where someone said to a parent, "well, when your child goes to school they are not your responsibility anymore". NOTHING could be farther from the truth! Speaking strictly as a teacher, we know exactly which kids are going to succeed (with about 99% accuracy) by which parents show up at conferences and open houses (or contact us in some way if they can't make a certain week night). These kids whose parents are involved will most of the time be the top students, or at least trying hard, even if they're not the brightest kid in the class.

Parents have the responsibility to make sure their child is doing well in school. That doesn't necessarily mean they must be a straight A student. But they should be a continual behavior problem, nor should they never turn in their homework. And if something isn't going right? FIRST STOP - talk to the teacher!!! Be involved. We love it when you are involved with your child's education. You know your child well (but don't discount that they may be somewhat different at school and we may have some insights as well) and we'd love to hear from you!

I think teachers should be paid more. Maybe not much more, but more. Perhaps this is the trade off for the summer "vacation" they get, but when you realize that teaching is not a 9-5 job... it's more like an 80 hour a week job... and the fact that the future of our country rests in their hands? I think you'd have better teachers and less burnout/turnover if they were paid more.
In fact I think this would probably go 50% of the way towards helping our schools improve. The other 50% being smaller class sizes (so we can actually do more individualized teaching) and just plain not expecting every student to be the same. Not every student will go on to college, and I think that's okay. We need more trade schools so that students who aren't "students" will still have a skill to get them through life.

Obviously I could go on about this subject, but I'll leave that for another day...

On healthcare: I think we need something. I'm not entirely sure what, but I don't think a universal healthy care system run by the government is a good idea. Do they ever manage anything well? I'd rather be able to choose my own doctor and see them tomorrow if need be than have to wait 3 months.
I do think we need to put a limit on frivolous lawsuits, which would in turn lower doctor's insurance and they wouldn't have to charge as much. However, to counteract that perhaps we need stronger ethics boards. Doctors are human too. Yes, they make mistakes. Yes, that sometimes hurts people.


Would you rather not have a doctor at all? There needs to be a balance and right now I think it's swung too far into the area of holding doctors responsible for every last little thing that happens to go wrong.

I also think the health insurance industry needs to be reined in. They should be non-profit. From where I'm standing they dis-allow more charges than anything and then will only pay doctors a set rate (usually at least 25% less than the billed charges). The doctors are not allowed to charge you the difference so they end up eating it.
Also another reason why doctors can't afford to have small hometown practices. Since they're not getting paid as much and still having to pay exorbitant insurance themselves they can't have their own practice as the overhead would be too high.

However, if a doctor makes a bad ethical decision, ie is inebriated in the OR, or disregards patients wishes, or simply does something that most people would look at and call him a bad person then there needs to be a strong ethics board that can either discipline with teeth or strip licenses all together and quickly.

And to pay for all this...

On taxes: I think we should have a flat tax. There should be an exemption for anyone below the poverty line and then a sliding scale (perhaps up to where we are? we don't make a lot - one income and it's a teacher - but we can afford to pay some taxes) and after that you get your personal exemptions for family members and that's it. No "loopholes" that the wealthy can find by hiring a personal accountant. I might make one exception and that being if your business assets aren't separate from your personal then you would have to allow for those, but that's not going to affect the big guys who take advantage of the system already.

Finally, I do have a problem with abortion and gay marriage. I'm sure this will get me some flamage. The biggest problem I have with abortion is that it's the taking of a life for someone's irresponsible decision. I actually wrote a post about this awhile ago, but never posted it because I figured it was too inflammatory.
Basically in our country I think we've decided that the "me" life is more important than anything else. We don't want to be responsible for our actions. Now, don't go yelling at me about rape and abuse. That accounts for a pretty small percentage of abortions. And there are other options, how many couples are on waiting lists to adopt a child to love because they can't have their own?

My other problem with abortion is almost philosophical. The same people who are for abortion are usually for welfare and more government programs. They're all about supporting the people who are down and out. No problem with that... but aren't the unborn the ones who need the most protection and support? On the other hand, most pro-life people don't give a second thought to what happens to these "unwanted" babies when they are born. Obviously not okay either. (maybe the two camps should get together and try supporting all life?)

And well, thirdly, there's a problem my brain has with the idea of killing babies. When do you draw the line and say that one life is worth preserving and another is not? How do you not slide right down into euthenasia and other forms of "mercy" killing?

As far as gay rights go, I'm all for them. As long as the exact same rights are given to every single other person. There should be no preferential treatment here. If gay people want to have the same priveledges as heterosexual couples then I think they should be allowed to have civil unions. As long as any two people are allowed to have a civil union for whatever reason. The one thing I'm not okay with is gay marriage. Marriage is a God sanctioned ceremony. God flatly calls the homosexual lifestyle sin. No matter what our culture, or even some churches want to say, I don't think two homosexuals getting married are doing it in God's sight.
Please hear me out on this. I have nothing against gay people. What I have a problem with is their trying to force their sinful lifestyle on me and my family. Especially when the gay lifestyle can be taught at school, but Christianity can't. ;)

Now, if I could find a candidate who feels the same way I do about these issues...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

And Baby Makes 4!

No, not for us, for my best friend Becca!

Her little guy, Tobiah, was born at 2 this afternoon. This makes baby number 4 for them!

He weighed in at about 7 pounds and I didn't catch the length. He was born at home, but breach so he has a big nasty bruise on one hip that they hope doesn't contribute to jaundice.

Otherwise Mom and baby are doing fine!

This is the second baby born this week to friends of mine! And I know one more friend and one cousin of Brian's that are due here shortly! It's a baby boom!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book: When The Soul Mends

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

When The Soul Mends

WaterBrook Press (September 16, 2008)


Cindy Woodsmall


Cindy Woodsmall is a veteran homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

Her first novel, When The Heart Cries, released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a Christian Book Association best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her last book, When the Morning Comes, hit the New York Times best-sellers extended list and the Christian Book Association best-sellers list.

Cindy’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and daughter-in-law reside in Georgia. Her husband is a registered land surveyor and a vice president at an engineering firm. Their oldest son has a bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine and works at a local hospital. Their second son and his wife are both students at the University of Georgia. Their teen-aged son keeps the household energized with his love of music, books, and writing.


Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?


This is the third and final book in the series. I knew I wanted to read the first two so I got them from the library... which is to say I had all three books in my possession at the same time. And once I got started I read them all in under 24 hours. Let's just say, this is the latest I've EVER stayed up reading!

I wasn't sure I was going to like the ending of the series, but Cindy works it out so that finally I agreed with Hannah's choice (no, I'm not going to tell you and spoil it!)

If this is an accurate portrayal of the Old Order Amish then it was slightly unsettling for me. The sense of males having total dominion over their household, even when they are so out of line as to cause lasting pain to their family. I guess that's true in many non-Amish households as well, but it seems like this was acceptable in this Christian community.

At any rate, I HIGHLY recommend these books, I couldn't put them down!

If you would like to read the first chapter of When The Soul Mends, go HERE

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Book: Faking Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Faking Grace

Multnomah Books (August 19, 2008)


Tamara Leigh


After Tamara Leigh earned a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she and her husband decided to start a family, with plans for Tamara to continue in her career once she became a mother.

When the blessing of children proved elusive, Tamara became convicted to find a way to work out of her home in order to raise the children she and her husband longed to have. She turned to writing, at which she had only ever dreamed of being successful, and began attending church. Shortly thereafter, her agent called with news of Bantam Books’ offer of a four-book contract. That same day, Tamara’s pregnancy was confirmed. Within the next year, she gave up her speech pathology career, committed her life to Christ, her first child was born, and her first historical romance novel was released.

As Tamara continued to write for the secular market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester, she infused her growing Christian beliefs into her writing. But it was not enough, and though her novels earned awards and were national bestsellers, she knew her stories were lacking. After struggling with the certainty that her writing was not honoring God as it should, she made the decision to write books that not only reveal Christianity to non-believers, but serve as an inspiration for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Her inspirational romances are peopled with characters in varying stages of Christian faith, from mature believers to new believers to non-believers on the threshold of awakening.

Tamara Leigh enjoys time with her family, volunteer work, faux painting, and reading. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, David, and two sons, Skyler and Maxen.

Two of her latest books are Splitting Harriet and Perfecting Kate.


All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.

A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith–a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, buying Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing British hottie wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate–and expose–any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues–and Jack–will show her grace.


I really enjoyed this book for the simple reminder that we, as Christians, aren't perfect. Only God is perfect and when we expect ourselves and other Christians to be perfect we're only going to get hurt or worse, hurt others.

And, when people do get hurt, forgiveness is the only solution. To ask for and to give forgiveness. Straight out of The Dumb Blond's Guide to Christianity!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Faking Grace, go HERE

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yellowstone Part 4: Home Sweet Home

Did you think I meant that we were home? Sucka! We're only halfway through our trip! (Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

This is the day we went to visit my "home away from home" for 2 summers. Canyon Village! Now before I wax poetic about this place let me tell you that it was far from the most comfortable or convenient place to live. And the food sucked!

But I made some cool friends and I lived a short hike (or drive) from this...

(this year's Christmas picture, Mom and Dad?)

This is the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
At 308 feet tall it's higher than Niagra Falls

This is the view from Artist's Point

And you can tell how Yellowstone got it's name - from the rocks along the edges of the Canyon where the Yellowstone River flows.

This is the Upper Falls (named because they are up-river) and it's only about 115 feet tall and not as spectacular since there's no viewpoint where you get the panoramic view like you do for the Lower Falls.

Joel and Allison

Looking down from the brink of Upper Falls

You can get to the brink of each falls, but you can't really get to the bottom. You can take Uncle Tom's Trail, which is some 800+ stairs that takes you about halfway down the side of the Lower Falls. I did it... once!

There are always rainbows in the mist off the falls. It's prettier in person since they are forever shifting.

These are my friends Deana and Chock.
They're the postmasters at Canyon Village. They have been coming there every summer for something like 14 years. In the winter they live in Texas. They're super friendly and know all the employees and even hand out freezer pops on days when you don't get any mail!
They know when you don't get mail because most of the employees get their mail... general delivery! This is the only place in my life I've gotten mail general delivery and it's kind of fun!

This is my friend Dan (no, not the one I never connected with, obviously)

He and I did a lot of fun stuff together like hiking to the Natural Bridge and taking the Lake tour on the Scenicruiser. We both were "newbies" to the park in 2000. We then took a summer off and both went back in 2002. He has since come back every summer (working in housekeeping) and in the winter he works in Death Valley. He worked one or two winters in the beginning in the Everglades, but prefers the dry heat of Death Valley. I guess winter's better than summer to work there!

And this is a rabbit we caught (on camera) outside the dorms. We frequently had rabbits, ground squirrels (pika), crows, and a few moose, bison, and even bears around our dorms. When in Yellowstone you never open a door and go out without looking first!

The only downside to this day was that my car didn't get to stop at the Norris Geyser Basin. I had a certain time to meet my friends for lunch and since we got a late start we didn't have time to stop. There are some really neat geysers there and you can see the ground boiling.

Next time...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book: The Bride Bargain

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bride Bargain

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)


Kelly Eileen Hake


Life doesn't wait, and neither does Kelly Eileen Hake. In her short twenty-three years of life, she's achieved much. Her secret? Embracing opportunities and multitasking. Kelly received her first writing contract at the tender age of seventeen and arranged to wait three months until she was able to legally sign it. Since that first contract five years ago, she's reached several life goals. Aside from fulfilling fourteen contracts ranging from short stories to novels, she's also attained her BA in English Literature and Composition and earned her credential to teach English in secondary schools. If that weren't enough, she's taken positions as a college preparation tutor, bookstore clerk, and in-classroom learning assistant to pay for the education she values so highly. Currently, she is working toward her MA in Writing Popular Fiction. No matter what goal she pursues, Kelly knows what it means to work for it!

Kelly's dual careers as English teacher and author give her the opportunity explore and share her love of the written word. A CBA bestselling author and dedicated member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kelly is a reader favorite of Barbour's Heartsong Presents program, where she's been privileged to earn numerous Heartsong Presents Reader's Choice Awards; including Favorite New Author 2005, Top 5 Favorite Historical Novel 2005, and Top Five Favorite Author Overall 2006 in addition to winning the Second Favorite Historical Novel 2006!

Her Prairie Promises trilogy, set in the 1850s Nebraska Territory, features her special style of witty, heartwarming historical romance.


Set down upon the wild American plains during the 1850's, Clara is desperate for a home and a future for herself and her aunt. When Clara Fields and her aunt are kicked off their wagon train, a store owner in Buttonwood offers a chance at redemption. If Clara is able to wed his grandson off to any of the local girls within a month, he'll sign over his two-story house.

Desperate to provide for the woman who raised her, Clara agrees to find a bride for the man's son--a stalwart bachelor. How hard can it be to find a bride for one handsome Doctor? Apparently more difficult than she imagined when Saul Reed seems determined to remain single.

Will Clara's faith and wits help her wrangle a resolution to The Bride Bargain. Striking a bargain with a lonely trader to fool a head-strong doctor could lead Clara to an unexpected avenue of romance.


This is one of those books that you know from the beginning (at least I do) how it's going to end up. But it still makes for a quick fun read.

I was impressed when I got to the end to discover that the author is only 23, but has already written multiple novels.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bride Bargain, go HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Political Post on My Non-Political Blog

Okay, so today I spent the majority of my day painting. And...

I'm done!

Well, according to my parents anyway! According to me I'm 99.9% done since there are a few places that I think should be touched up...

But in the middle of the day (since I was painting on the south side of the house) I took a break and ended up watching some political news. This is interesting to me since we don't have a TV. You do get a bit of a different perspective hearing and seeing things live.

However, this also reminds me why I HATE TV. You have to get it on their schedule and while you're waiting (hours) for the one thing you're interested in you have to watch 10 million lame commercials. Ugh.

And then the one thing I was waiting for - "the facts" on where each candidate stood on health care, they never ended up talking about. Double ugh!

All this to say: I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for yet. I find that I agree and disagree strongly with each candidate (and their running mates) on major issues.

So what I would like to know from you is: If you've decided or are leaning towards one candidate, why? Tell me what is going to make you vote for one ticket over the other.

Note: I do NOT want to hear why you will NOT vote for the other guy.

You may comment anonymously, I don't care. Please be respectful. I will delete comments that are disrespectful or ragging on either candidate.

Thank you!

Maybe next week I'll let you know what I think...


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Many Faces of Amber

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Doing some editing of past pictures so they can be uploaded to Shutterfly, saved, and deleted from my computer. (Computer has less than 10% of free space on hard drive due to thousands of pictures and this is making it run REALLY REALLY slow!)

Came across this series from 2 summers ago at my hubby's high school reunion. His best friend's wife Amber was showing just how versatile her face can be when telling a story...


Jason's talking about something
Amber begins...


Ah, bliss

or not.

A closer look at that face

She cracks herself up

And that, is the wonderful world of Amber!

This post submitted to Photo Story Friday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book: In The Shadow of Lions

My review of this fantastic book is at the bottom!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In The Shadow Of Lions

David C. Cook; 1 edition (September 2008)


Ginger Garrett


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

Her newest release is Beauty Secrets of the Bible, (September 11, Thomas Nelson) based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book ... a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the Bible, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew. Fans of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury will love Ginger's intriguing combination of rich character development, artful settings, and inspiring historical insights.


Wow, this book came plenty early so for once I had time to read it at my leisure. And I definitely needed it.

I didn't really know the story of Anne Boylyn other than vaguely remembering that she was a wife of Henry VIII and that she lost her head for some reason.

This is a fictionalized account of how she came to be the queen and how it cost her her life. But what was fascinating to me was all the history happening during this time period. There is so much drama revolving around the Hutchins book. Whether or not to let the common people read it - if they could even read. Sir Thomas More and the church thought it was heretical and were torturing people and burning them to death over it.

In the middle of this, Anne goes to court and has the book with her. She has influence over Henry and thus sets up a power struggle between him and the church - not to mention the brou-ha-ha over the fact that he's already married to Catherine and Anne refuses to marry him while he's still married (this alone should tell you that she wasn't scheming and conniving!)

I always have a hard time remembering that their world is not like ours. They didn't have the Bible and had to depend upon what the (corrupt) church said. They were living in fear. We are so blessed to be able to have a Bible(s?) in our home and read it whenever we want without fear of death. It's too bad we(I) take it for granted so often when people died to bring about this change.

This book is fantastically written (oh, the one I'm reviewing is too!) and I highly recommend it. It's the first in a series about women in history... and did I mention it's written from the perspective of a "scribe" telling the story to a modern day woman? Good stuff! Can't wait for the next one!

If you would like to read an excerpt from In The Shadow Of Lions, go HERE

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Kid's Classic!

This is where I tell you about my Cory's favorite board book. Which is of course a book that I remember from when I was little!

Jamberry by Bruce Degan

I found this book while browsing at the OSU bookstore last Christmas and decided I MUST HAVE IT! (on a related note, this college bookstore has the best selection of children's books I've ever seen and I am for sure buying one new book every time we go visit the in-laws there!)

Jamberry is the rhyming story of the bear and the boy and how they find all kinds of berries. The pictures are adorable and the story is just fun to read. I never get tired of it and this is one of very few books that my 17 month old son will currently sit all the way through!

This is a book that we will enjoy for years!

This post is part of the Children's Classics carnival at

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Welcome to the house of sick. Both Cory and I caught some horrible nasty cold. Since I have been totally out of it for the last two days I will leave you with a few cute things my son has done this week.

First, while I was doing something in the kitchen this week I started hearing "baa, baa" coming from the living room. I looked over to see Cory sitting with a flap book in his lap. He had found the flap with the mountain goat under it and was pointing at it saying "baa, baa". Very adorable.

This is the book that our friend Holly sent us since her son Carter loves flap books, too! (Yes, I know he's sitting in the middle of a pile of toys - that's the way he likes it!)

Cory also loves to play peek-a-boo. Behind any object. And he has finally figured out that you put your hands over your eyes, not at the side of your face (although that was pretty cute while it lasted!).

Friday we were at my parents doing some more painting - still not done yet - and on a side note: if you buy some paint with an additive and then buy the same color without the additive? They won't be the same color. The garage door panels all have to be repainted now since we touched up with the paint without an additive. Ugh.

During dinner Cory was walking around (he already ate) and the puppy was barking outside. My mom said, "be quiet, Cayenne" and pretty soon Cory's walking around the corner to the sliding glass door and we hear "quiet" from Cory!

He did that a couple times and then on one return trip he stopped in front of the refrigerator and without even hesitating pushed the lever for the water dispenser... and got a face full of water. I happened to see it and he was so scared he was upset, but it was just too funny. We were all laughing hard and mom was trying to comfort him while laughing. Then she got out a cup and showed him how to get water in it. He thought that was fantastic, especially the ice part because it makes a lot of noise. (he has gotten himself with the water before... I wonder how many times it will take him to learn!)


My son has learned how to climb. I'm thankful that he waited much longer than my brother (9 months!) and is just now climbing at 17 months. He can now climb up on the rocking chair and thinks it's great fun to rock himself. I have to make sure he stays sitting down though since he already fell off once trying to climb from the chair to the loveseat.

Grandma bought Cory these shoes the other day. See, Grandpa H, they have cars on them! Cory is thrilled to have shoes! with cars!

In other climbing news, I was stuffing the diapers yesterday and had the dryer open. Cory loved the dryer already, but when he figured out he could climb in himself...

1st one foot...

Then the other

What a fantastic seat!

And the proper dismount - head first!

Don't worry Grandpa, I can't open the door myself and Mommy keeps it closed unless she's right there with me! ;)

Also last night I laid him down for a nap and he wasn't wanting to sleep. (The sick is making both of us cranky and off our sleep schedules) After a little while I hear this "thump" and then the "I'm hurt" cry. I go running in there (it's dark) and the crying is not coming from the crib, but from the floor next to it.

He managed to climb up high enough that he somehow fell out of his crib! I'm so glad he wasn't hurt! We figured out that he used the guide system on the drop down rail to get a toe hold. Since we never use that feature we just turned the crib around so that side's facing the wall and voile, no more toeholds!

We also had to put a latch on the top drawer of his dresser since he can reach it from his crib and was taking everything out (diaper supplies) and sometimes also pinching his fingers.

My life just got a little more crazy!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yellowstone Part 3: A Day in the Park

(To get caught up, read Part 1 and Part 2)

Monday: This was our first real day in the park. Me, being the tour guide, had decided that since we were staying in the north end of the park it would be smart to see the north end first.

See that brown thing sticking up that all the people are walking towards? That's a petrified tree. I know, you're speechless...

This is pretty much what the north end of the park looks like. Some nice vistas... and a lot of dead trees from the fires of 1998.

Tower Falls

There was a really cool hike to the bottom of the falls (and I was hoping to get some good pictures this time since last time (on my old manual camera) I didn't have the settings right and overexposed them all) but the trail was washed out. Bummer.

But we did hike down at least to the Yellowstone River that this falls/creek dumps into. The river really is that gorgeous green color!

Lunch time took us to another overlook where Cory found lots of dirt to play in...

If you can, notice the expressions on both Brian's and Cory's faces match in each of these pictures.
And yes, we do have our son on a leash. You would too if you were going to a place with huge drop offs and boiling ground!

Mama went across the street to take pictures of the fields of yellow daisies...

This is from the hillside of daisies, you can see the cars parked in our lunch spot and if you click on the picture and look below the arrow you will see a flat topped mountain (squint really hard ;). That is called Avalanche Peak. It's on the eastern edge of the park and has a gorgeous view out over Lake Yellowstone. It's also a 2 mile hike almost straight up to get there. I did it... once!

This parking area is also a really great spot to watch a sunrise!

And in case you were wondering, yes, it was very windy.

This photo is looking north and you can see all the burned dead trees behind me.

Yellowstone River at the Calcite Springs overlook. That hillside to the left of the river is steaming with vents letting out sulfurous fumes!

Three bumps on a log? Kidding!

The very crazy rock formations just across the river canyon. Those are full grown trees so you can tell how tall that rock wall thing is. (it looks better if you click on the picture to see it big)

Last "stop" was a drive out the northeast part to see what wildlife could be found. There is a herd of bison in this picture (trust me, there is!). They were all just kind of chillin' out in the field.

This was the sum total of wildlife we saw on day 1. Well, other than the lone antelope in the morning and the antelope that the other car saw just after the bison. We missed it somehow and then couldn't find a turn around to go back and see it.

On the ride back to Mammoth, Brian had given Cory a long piece of grass with the fuzzy bit on the end that looks like wheat. He was trying to get him to tickle Grandpa's ear from the back seat. Instead Cory ended up tickling Grandma's nose and at her reaction laughing and giggling hysterically. Tickle nose, watch for reaction, laugh. Repeat. For about 10 minutes! At least he's happy giddy when he's tired and it made all the rest of us laugh, too!

After dinner we had a short time to walk around the terraces at Mammoth. This is where the Mammoth Hot Springs are. The hot water forms these terraces by leaving the minerals in the water behind. I believe it's mostly forms of calcium.

This white terrace is because there is no more water running over this part. If there were water it would be colored (like the picture 2 below). Interestingly enough the terraces were really pretty colorless. I was surprised at how much they had changed since I had been there 6 years ago. Back then there was a LOT more color everywhere.
Just goes to show how the park is always changing. One water system gets plugged up and the water comes out somewhere else and forms a new terrace (one part of the path was closed from overflow that hadn't been there before either).
Every day there are hundreds of tiny earthquakes in the park - it is the caldera and slopes of a giant volcano, which is where all the thermal features come from. These earthquakes are always moving things around so you really never know where the next hole in the ground will be!

Moon over a "dead" terrace

Here's what the terraces look like with water flowing over them. The water is HOT and microbacteria live in it. They are colored and that is what makes the colors on the rock. When the water is gone the bacteria die (or flow with the water) so then the terraces are white.

Thus ended our first day in the park. Some people were thinking we had done too much and weren't really thrilled about seeing more "scenery". They didn't realize there was a lot more interesting stuff in the rest of the park, inside the actual caldera (crater) of the volcano!