My Saturday Night
Jun 20th, 2009 by Sonja

Well … LightGirl and LightHusband are off at a wedding.  We were all invited as guests, but the bride & groom are trying to save some money (who isn’t these days?) and very politely inquired as to LightHusband’s availability for wedding photography.  He loves to do that, and LightGirl wanted to help him with her blooming photography skills.  So they are off.  My ever present introvert raised it’s head and I decided to stay home; I’d only know two other people there and with my extroverts taking pictures, I’d be lost.

So … LightBoy and I stayed home.  He invited his bestest bestie to spend the night; they’ve known each other and been besties since they could each grab a truck and roar at the other.  LaughingSon arrived just at supper time.  The big treat of the evening was Chik-Fil-A with shakes for dinner.  I was treated to a car ride and dinner with two pre-adolescent boys.

Allow me to recount some of the conversation for you.

LightBoy – “Wanna Turkish breath mint?”
LaughingSon – “What’s that?”
LightBoy – “It’s where I drop my pants and fart in your face”
Me – “OMG [exclaimed in full voice and laughing cause I couldn’t help it] where did you hear THAT?!?!” thinking perhaps a hockey locker room or something
LightBoy – “YouTube”
LaughingSon – [muttering] “oh man … I’m glad I asked”
Me … sputter sputter … no more YouTube for you young man EVER.  You’re grounded for LIFE! then we all burst into laughter.

Laughing giggling silly conversation ensues from the back seat for a few more minutes about nothing that is memorable and then:

Me – “Hey guys, you know that shakes are on for tonight, right?”
Them – “YAY” more laughing and general mayhem
LaughingSon – “Yeah, I’m too skinny … you can see my ribs without even sucking in.” (and he is pretty skinny) “See you can feel my ribs.”
LightBoy – “You can feel my ribs too.” pause “Well … you can if you kinda dig for them.”

bahahahaha … how, you might ask, did I keep the car on the road?  Yeah.  I dunno.

When I asked them what they wanted for dinner in the car, I accused them of sounding like Patrick Starfish and I was promptly corrected. No, I was told, Patrick sounds like this and we sounded like that.  Oh.  Well.  That’s much better and oh so much different and privately rolled my eyes.

On our way back into the house I had to lay some ground rules for the evening.  “There will be no Barbies blown up, maimed, dismembered or exploded on these premises this evening or in the next 24 hours.”  Mostly because LightGirl is not home to give her permission to have her old dolls tinkered with.

They are out playing with some boys in the neighborhood now and have plans for movie watching, Wii playing, X-boxing, etc til who-knows-when.

So.  My Saturday night may be quiet but it sure is interesting.

Kinda Big Day
Feb 22nd, 2009 by Sonja

LightGirl In Goal

UPDATE – Sunday morning … still in Richmond.  The girls won yesterday.  They played so hard and well.  LightGirl had a shutout … she didn’t let one shot past her.   This morning we play the championship game at 9:10.  This time we’re playing a team we’ve beaten three times this season.  And we’re the only team to have beaten them.  So it will be interesting to see how this game goes.

We’re hitting the road around noon today.   It’s kind of a big day here at the LightHouse and in several other homes of friends.

LightGirl’s hockey team is headed for the playoffs in her league.  This is LightGirl’s third season as a hockey player and her first in net.  It’s also her first season that has ended with a spot in playoffs for her team.

So we’re hoping and praying for a good game.  A game in which all of our girls play their best.  Would we like to win?  You betcha.  But after knowing most of these girls for three years now, I think it’s not really important.  What’s important is that they win the game that’s in their minds.  The one that tells them they aren’t quite good enough when the going gets rough.  So my hope and prayer on this day is that they will play their best game and leave the rink with that sure knowledge of having given it their all.  And it was enough.  The numbers on the score board won’t matter then.  The gleam in their eyes will tell the tale.  The bounce in their step will say, “I gave my best game for myself and my team.  And I’m proud of that.”

If you happen to think of LightGirl and her teammates today between 3:30 and 6 Eastern time, it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer or think good thoughts about them and their best game and their self-confidence.  That they would remember who they are and what they know; warrior princesses of the ice battling over a bit of hard rubber.  :)  We’ll have fun, do well and leave happy.

The Cost of Things
Feb 2nd, 2009 by Sonja

Like war and high finance and other fancy stuff.

The president and Congress are wrangling about a new spending bill.  It’s called a Stimulus package and it’s rumoured to cost about $850Billion in funds we do not have.

It’s okay though.  We didn’t have $700Billion Congress gave to Wall Street.

We didn’t/don’t have the $1 trillion or more that the war in Iraq is going to cost.

Everyone is busily pointing fingers and shouting about how beleagured their side is and the rightness of their cause.

Here’s an idea.  Let’s total all the figures up.  I was in the advanced math program when I was in high school.  So let’s see how I do with this.

$850,000,000,000 + $700,000,000 = $1,550,000,000,000 (that’s domestic spending)

The war of choice in Iraq $1,500,000,000,000 (that’s an extremely conservative estimate that I used just to make a nice round number).  A more responsible estimate from Joseph Siglitz (see the link above) is $2.4 trillion dollars.  This may change as our withdrawal plans are telescoped under President Obama … oh wait, that would mean we’d spend less money we don’t have at the hands of a Democrat.  But under Republicans, we were committed to spending more.  Despite my enrollment in advanced math, this is complicated.

Nice.  $3,000,000,000 … $3 TRILLION dollars in debt.  Hmmm and only $850,000,000,000 of it from Democrats.  So who are the tax and spend monsters here, exactly?  I just can’t keep it straight anymore.

What do I think would be a really good idea?  Only spend money we actually have.

If we don’t have money to keep troops in Iraq, then I guess they need to come home.

If we don’t have money to give to corporate baboons … I mean bankers … then I guess they’ll have to figure out other ways to fund their multimillion dollar retreats, private jets and end-of-year bonuses.  But I’m damn tired of paying for it.

The only thing I think we should be spending money on right now?

Creating jobs … programs such as the CCC during the 1930’s.  The Civilian Conservation Corps kept millions of men and women off the public dole and off the streets.  It built our interstate highway system and created our national and state park system.  Bring it back … put our people to work in meaningful jobs rebuilding our country.  Bring our industry back home.  I’m sick and tired of buying fabric and clothing manufactured overseas by slave labor and in inhumane working conditions.  I want to know that men & women here have a job OR conversely that the men and women overseas (not children) who manufactured my stuff are not dying to work.  Either way, I am tired of crap at crap prices just to make a few people rich.

Education … real education, not force fed trivia in the name of passing tests.  Let’s teach our children how to enjoy life long learning, not the drudgery of how to pass a test.  There’s nothing intrinsically beneficial to the child or the country in that.  Being able to pass tests is a skill, being able to develop technology is a gift.  We need to put our money and resources  into developing our children’s gifts and talents, their skills will naturally follow along.

Healthcare … our healthcare system is broken by greed.  What kind of system is it where my husband cannot get coverage for 10 $600 sugar shots to provide relief for his chronic debilitating back pain.  It is non-invasive and 90% effective.  He can get coverage for surgery which would be more than ten times more expensive and the chances that it would be effective are less than 50%.  Not even a gambling addict would take those odds.  Worse, a single mother with 6 children under the age of 7 can get covered for fertility treatments that cause her to bear 8 children, but I cannot get covered for birth control … because my “plan” will not cover it.   We have seniors and children literally rotting from lack of preventative health care that would cost pennies, but it will make insurance companies and drug companies millions for them to get really sick.  Drug companies are allowed to push vaccines that are not really necessary through fear and intimidation (have you seen the ads for bacterial meningitis?  ask yourself how many cases there really are a year and do the research).  It’s sickening.

Food … yes, food.  Our agri-industry is killing us.  It is walking hand in glove with the healthcare industry.  Twinkies are inexpensive.  When you’re living on a fixed, substandard income it’s a lot easier to eat mac ‘n cheese and chips than it is to eat fruits & vegetables.  But it’s the fruits & veggies that will keep you well and chronic illness away from your door.  As it turns out, an apple a day really will keep the doctor away.  But only if you wash it really carefully.  Read Michael Pollan.  Then read him again.  Then write to Congress and the President.  If you want your tax dollars spent on something real, get them to stimulate CSA’s and community gardens.

Well … come to think of it.  That looks remarkably like a household budget, doesn’t it?  I think Congress (on both sides of the aisle) needs to get rid of their household help and begin to live like regular folk once again.  Remember that they are first and foremost, civil servants.  They are in office to serve us, rather than the reverse, which currently appears to be the case.


P.S.  Please do not use comments to tell me how you think I’m all wet behind the ears or stoopid or something because, “of course money has to be spent on defense, and this or that or the other thing.”    I’m using my space here to talk about what I think the top priorities are.   And you’re probably not going to change my mind about those things.  I’ve spent a long time thinking about them and coming to these conclusions.  If you want to disagree with me, that’s fine, but please use the comments to write in a positive manner, in ways that are constructive and will move the conversation forward.  If you can’t or won’t, you’ll prob’ly find your comment deleted without explanation.

The Spatula Is Down
Jan 1st, 2009 by Sonja

The gloves are off.  Brother Maynard issued a pancake challenge.  Complete with photos.

Never one to shrink away from such things, I’m stepping forward with a recipe of my own.

Now … I do not make cute bears.  Or things like that.  I have been known to experiment with initials branded in mine.  But my kids are devout fans of my blueberry pancakes.  So is anyone else who has ever had them.   This is a result of the first blueberry pancakes I ever had in Machias, Maine.  They were blueberries … held together with pancake … and a taste of heaven that I have been attempting to recreate ever since that moment of serendipity in August of 1977.

This recipe is an amalgam of other recipes and ideas.  I first thought about making my own pancakes from scratch when I encountered the ideas of a writer by the name of Amy Dacyczyn.  She used to write a monthly newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette which had tips for money saving and living more simply.  In one issue she noted that food manufacturers were able to charge exhorbitant prices for the cheapest ingredients in pancakes, notably flour, sugar, baking powder and salt by combining them and calling them pancake mix.

I find that offensive.  So I make my own.  Most of the time.

I begin with oats … because they’re good for you and because they make the pancakes stick your ribs.  A trick my mom learned when I was little and she’d make pancakes for lunch.

Scald 1/2 c. skim milk in the microwave and pour it over
2/3 c. rolled oats

Stir to thoroughly combine in a small bowl and set aside so that oats can absorb the milk.

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 c. flour (I often split this and use 1 c. white and 1/2 c. whole wheat or 1/2 c. cornmeal)
3 Tbls. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Whisk all dry ingredients together and make sure there are no lumps.

Wet ingredients –

1 egg + 1 egg white
3 Tbls. oil (or melted butter)
1-1/2 c. buttermilk

Whisk together eggs and oil til light and frothy.  Add milk and combine thoroughly.  Add oat mixture and combine thoroughly once again.

Make a well in the dry mixture and add wet ingredients to dry.  Combine wet with dry in several quick strokes.  DO NOT over beat.  Stir just enough to dampen dry ingredients.  Use a light hand when mixing.

Me, I use the Fanny Farmer cookbook for my culinary wisdom.  Mine is so worn that the binding has been replaced with duct tape.  My all time favorite griddle is my mother’s.  And it’s at camp in Vermont.  I believe it’s cast aluminum.  I have never found anything that can cook pancakes better than that griddle.  Good cast iron is a passable second.  Here are the cooking directions from Fanny:

Lightly butter or grease a griddle or frying pan and set over moderate heat until a few drops of cold water sprinkled on the pan form rapidly moving globules.  (Aside – my favorite part of the process)  Measure out about 1/4 c. pancake batter per cake onto the pan.  (I use my large cooking spoon to ladle it out)  Bake on the griddle until the cakes are full of bubbles on the top and the undersides are lightly browned.  Turn with a spatula and brown the other sides.  Place finished griddlecakes on a warm plate in a 200F (95C) oven until you have enough to begin serving.  (Aside – BroM makes a great point here … never turn a pancake more than once or you’ll have shoeleather).

When I add blueberries I use the following method:  If they’re fresh, I rinse and pick them over for leaves and twigs.  If frozen I keep them frozen til the last possible moment.  In either case, I use about 2 c. of blueberries and toss with flour til all berries have a fine coating of flour on them.  Then I stir in with the dry ingredients prior to adding wet ingredients.  Everything else is as usual.

There … now you have two pancake options for 2009.  It’s an inexpensive treat that really brings the family and friends together.  Enjoy!

Blog Action Day – Poverty
Oct 15th, 2008 by Sonja

Blog Action Day graphic

Here it is … the end of the day.

I thought I had nothing.  Several bloggers I know had made me aware of this event and I’ve been thinking about it, but nothing came to mind.  And … I’ve been busier than a blue bottle fly as my grammy used to say.  So it just wasn’t happenin’ … no big deal.  I could let it pass without participating.  I’ve done that before.

But then I read two things.  This fact over at

“Americans spend 450 Billion dollars a year in Christmas. It is estimated that it would cost 10 billion dollars to SOLVE the clean water shortage around the planet that causes a majority of diseases in the third world.” and Crystal credits Troy Kennedy, who in turn quotes The Advent Conspiracy for the source of that information.

A short time later I read an article in the BBC that today is also World Handwashing Day sponsored by the United Nations.

The UN says it wants to get over the message that this simple routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing killer diseases.

Nearly half the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation.

The main concern seems to be cleaning one’s hands after using the bathroom and before food preparation and consumption.  That’s reasonable.  And it’s what we teach our children, for good reason.

It seems like a great idea.  But then I remember these stories from Jimmy Carter’s latest book (these quotes come from pages at the Carter Center website):

Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is a disease affecting 18 million people in 37 countries worldwide. River blindness is transmitted by black flies, which deposit the larvae of the Onchocerca volvulus worm into the body. Over the course of a year, these larvae mature within the human host at which point the adult worms mate and the female worms release their embryonic microfilariae. These microfilariae cause debilitating itching and inflammation, and may eventually infiltrate the eye where they cause damage and diminished eyesight.  If left untreated, the infected person can become permanently blind.

The ancient Guinea worm parasite, while not usually fatal to its human hosts, can grow up to three feet long inside the body before emerging slowly through a blister on the flesh. The disease is contracted by drinking water that contains the microscopic Cyclops flea, which eats and carries parasitic Guinea worm larvae. In the host’s stomach, the flea is broken down, leaving the male and female worm larvae free to cruise undetected through the body until they find one another and mate. The male dies, while the impregnated female grows not fat but long before emerging blindly into the African sunshine some nine months to a year later, typically on the lower limbs. The emergence of “the fiery serpent” causes a painful burning sensation, often sending victims to the nearest water source to soak the sore, which begins the cycle anew: when it hits the water, the worm releases thousands of new larvae. 

I read that book a couple of years ago and the mental visages stuck with me.  It seemed as though washing one’s hands in water that might be infested like this would be spitting into the wind.  We think of washing our hands and the picture we get is of running water, clean sinks, drains and a clean town with which to dry our hands when we’re done.  But what if we only have pest infested water, or fetid rain water caught in a rusty barrel sitting around brooding mosquitos to wash our hands in?  Or to drink?

The numbers are huge and staggering.  So big that we cannot comprehend them.  The numbers of people dying, living blind, living poor, living hungry.  The amount of money it would take to change that is huge too.

It would take 2% of a Christmas.

About 1% of a financial crisis.

Would we wipe out poverty?  No.  But at least people would have clean water.  Then maybe they could start taking care of the rest of it themselves.    What if we put something besides small change aside?

But those numbers, those numbers are so damn big.  I can’t get my head around them.  There’s not a collection plate in the world that’s big enough.  Everyone is working on it, talking about it, moaning about it.  But at heart, we’re all still essentially selfish. We don’t want to give up our Christmases and our Wall Streets.

Until that changes, nothing else really will.

A Mission From God
Sep 17th, 2008 by Sonja

Sometime during the last week or so, LightBoy came to me with a request for his Halloween costume this year.”I want to be a Blues Brother, Mom.”

It kinda took me by surprise.  I had no idea where he came by that idea.  I last saw that movie when it was in theaters and I think I was in high school, or maybe in college.  Shortly after that there was a conversation dripping in disdain between he and LightGirl concerning the relative importance of the Blues Brothers.  It ended with LightBoy reporting confidently, “Well, of course, they’re important!  They INVENTED the blues.”  I struggled mightily to keep from bursting into laughter at this and decided that it was time for my kids to be initiated into the comedic genius of John Belushi.

So it was that we watched “The Blues Brothers” for Friday’s family movie night.  It turned out that in the intervening 25-ish years I’d forgotten quite a bit.  No surprise there.  It’s still a really funny movie.  There’s quite a bit of, um, language in it.  But since I was a naive 18 year old when I saw it the first time, I had no idea how many jazz and blues greats had been assembled to make that movie.  Or how many blues tunes were in it.  It was really amazing from that perspective as well.

Of course, the plot was very, very thin.  Jake (John Belushi) gets released from prison.  Jake & Elwood (Dan Ackroyd) go to visit the orphanage they were raised in.  It is about to be auctioned off for delinquent taxes and is run by nuns, with an aged caretaker (Cab Calloway).  Jake & Elwood decide to gather together their band and raise the back taxes.  There are plot twists, etc.  At every obstacle, Elwood responds, “We’re on a mission from God.”  It’s his assurance that they will overcome every hurdle no matter how broad or high.  It keeps them focused and on task.  Ultimately and hilariously they do prevail, just in front of the police, the US Army, the “American Nazi Party,” and who knows else.  The taxes are paid, the orphanage saved, but Jake & Elwood are triumphantly lead away in handcuffs.

I’ve been thinking about the movie quite a bit in the days since we watched it.  It was funny, no doubt about it.  Elwood’s signature line has been often repeated around our house with great glee and laughter.  “We’re on a mission from God.”  and it would lead him to some fairly nefarious behavior; behavior that inevitably involved fast cars or other silliness.

I’ve been thinking though, about how often we do that.  We all do it.  We think we’re on a mission from God; we’ve got righteousness on our side and so we can act with aplomb.  Because our ends are right, we will somehow escape the consequences of our behavior.  Or it may be that we won’t escape the consequences of our behavior, but those consequences will be worth it, just as they were for Jake & Elwood.

I’ve been wondering though about the detritus that we leave in our wake.  If you watch that video (which is sped up and is really a montage), you see what happens when Jake and Elwood become so hyper-focused on getting the tax money to the office on time.  The analogy has limits, I’ll admit, but then again, maybe it doesn’t .  How many times do we do the same thing?  How often do we think that we have to do something, that we cannot entrust a task to someone else and the cars pile up in our wake?  All because, “we’re on a mission from God.”

How many times do we think that getting to an end point involves skirting the edges of the law or ethical behavior, maybe even falling over the edge, and that’s alright because, “we’re on a mission from God?”  But the cars pile up in our wake.

So the question I’m posing today is this:  does being on a “mission from God” excuse one’s behavior?  Does being “right” or “correct” trump the commands given by Jesus in Matthew 22?  Or is there something in there that will help us do both, that is be correct and be loving at the same time … without having the cars pile up behind us?

Dear Sarah
Sep 8th, 2008 by Sonja

Unbelievable.  I scarcely know where to begin.  I should be glad, you see, that a woman is running for Vice President.  I want to support you.  You are, after all, a woman.  You are my age.  You have children the age of my children.  We even share the same moniker … Hockey Mom.  We are both Hockey Moms.  I’ll bet you even managed your kid’s team, the way I do.  Well, then again, maybe not the way I do, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s the deal.  I can’t support you.  You don’t even know me, so this won’t matter at all to you.  But that’s okay.  I’m just using this letter format as a cute form within which to express my ideas.

There was very little chance that I would have ever voted for your ticket in the first place because of your running mate’s slavish adherence to the disastrous war in Iraq.  But I was hoping that Senator McCain would choose someone with experience, strength, wisdom and stability to bring to the ticket that I could give serious consideration to.  Instead, we are presented with … um … well … you.  You represent none of those things.  You may have that facade, but you  are like the movie set of a fictitious western Gold Rush town … all fizz and no bang.

Your candidacy is offensive to me and many other women.  It is patently obvious that it is an attempt to manipulate us into voting for someone we may not otherwise vote for, simply because you have breasts and ovaries.  I did not vote for Hillary Clinton on that basis and I won’t vote for you on that basis either.  I don’t know who is making the decisions in the Republican party, but it is insulting and offensive that they think so little of women voters.  Most of us would rather see a person in office who is carrying out decisions that we are interested in, than someone who looks like us.  As a woman, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a historian.  You seem to have no sense of the office or of your place in history.  Several months ago you candidly admitted you do not know what the Vice President does.  Yet, here you are putting your family on the line and in the spotlight for what can only be seen as personal gain, if you have no understanding of the office.  The office of president and vice president should never be sought for personal gain … read what George Washington had to say on this matter.  Or John Adams.  Or Abraham Lincoln.  Or John Kennedy.  Or even Ronald Reagan.  I would suggest, dear Sarah, that you take some time to study the difference between being smart and being wise.  It takes very little to be smart, most anyone can do it; especially if one has a good speech writer and the chutzpah to deliver as you seem to.  But it takes some time and study and dedication to become wise.  This is what we need in the Vice Presidency, wisdom.  You are smart, and you proved at the convention that you can be a smartass, but you are not wise.  As a historian, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a citizen and as a political watchwoman.  From looking at your history in government, you seem to have little sense that the primary role of a mayor, or a governor or a Vice President is to be a civil servant; with emphasis on the word servant.  This hearkens back to your lack of understanding of history, Sarah.  My guess is that you eschewed history classes as an undergraduate and just partied.  Here is a very short course.  What seems ubiquitous and unremarkable in 2008, was radical and unorthodox in 1776.  It was this … that the nature of government is to serve the needs of the people rather than the reverse.  It was this unlikely sentiment that got Thomas Paine, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and all of our other founding fathers into such hot water with England.  You seem to have forgotten that ideal and believe that being in government is to serve the needs of those in government.  Hence, you left your tiny town of Wasilla in state of outlandish debt, you clearly have no idea how to run the state of Alaska (evidenced by the line item vetos which make little sense) and I shudder to think what would happen if you were given the keys to office of the Vice Presidency.  As a citizen, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a Christian.   You understand so little of what our government is intended to be that I scarcely know where to begin.  But I’ll begin with scripture, Sarah.  With the Gospel of John and your acceptance speech.  In the Gospel of John chapter 13, we find Jesus saying this, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  My dear Sarah, as a Christian and disciple of Jesus Christ, would you please point me to the place in Scripture where Jesus is shown making fun of people for their choice of citizen action?  Where He makes jests at the expense of another person for any reason?  I’ve studied the Scriptures fairly intently and I can’t find it anywhere.  But I will acknowledge that I may have missed something.  I would also like to bring the following to your attention:  the two Great Commandments as Jesus spoke of them in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 22 ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  In what fashion may it be considered loving of your neighbor, to call him a racial epithet?  How is it loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your  mind, to stand before a convention hall filled people and lead them chants the way you did the other night?  In many ways that you might not have forseen you have become an icon for the Christian way in this country.  You must bear that mantle with wisdom and respect.  Or we will see more articles written like this:

Democrats are not the enemy of course, but even if they are, I saw no expressions of Christian love for them.  I saw plenty of sarcasm, put-downs, mocking, and bitterness.  Palin mocked Obama’s decision to serve others as a community organizer.  Giuliani, a very wealthy and cosmopolitan man himself, made fun of Democratic elites.  I heard misleading statements and flat-out lies.  Palin falsely suggested that Obama wants to read a captured Bin Laden his rights–of course, this is preposterous and Obama has never said this, but it didn’t stop Palin from spreading misinformation.  On a more mundane level, she also suggested she had sold an expensive government plane on eBay–it didn’t actually sell on eBay, but McCain is now falsely claiming that it did sell on eBay–at a profit (also not true).  Of course, McCain is no stickler when it comes to the facts–he falsely claimed in his own speech that Obama will raise your taxes, leaving out the important caveat that 95% of Americans get tax cuts under Obama’s plan.  Mike Huckabee fired off a zinger about Palin winning more votes in her mayoral election than Biden garnered as a presidential candidate.  Sounds great–unfortunately, it’s a lie.  I am no theologian, but I vaguely remember there being a commandment inveighing against this kind of thing.

With follow on comments such as this:

 Try to make a list of 5 great things that religion has done to significantly increase the happiness and well-being of humanity. Now make a list of 10 terrible atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion. Which list was easier to make? The Republicans suddenly make a lot more sense if you stop assuming Christianity has anything to do with love. Christianity is nothing more than the sum of the actions of all Christians. (emphasis mine)

Dear Sarah, remember that little bit I dragged out of the gospel of John … they will know us by our love.  I don’t care what you want, or what you think, or what you love.  You are vastly unimportant to me, because I do not know you at all.  Except for this.  I do know that for millions of people now, you represent Jesus.  What kind of Jesus will you be?   Getting laughs, applause, and/or votes by telling lies (no matter how small), and belittling others is unacceptable for those who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   Thus far, as a Christian, I am offended.

So, we come to the end of this small exercise.  To say I am disappointed in your selection as the Republican vice presidential candidate would be a gross understatement.  I am offended by the misogyny and manipulation that the Republican National Committee is attempting with your selection.  I am terrified by the betrayal of our historic national values that is at stake.   We are indeed at a turning point in the history of our country; I wonder how many people really understand this.  How many will look back and say, “I wish I had …?”

Respectfully yours, Sonja

Personally Speaking
Sep 4th, 2008 by Sonja

I haven’t written in a while and I apologize.  Things have have been bubbling here in the LightHouse, some good, some … eh.  So I’ll fill in the gaps for you.

Back in July LightGirl was visiting a friend and they went walking in the woods chattering away as girls are wont to do.  A few days later, she found a tick in her bellybutton (of all places).  She had a rash and some other odd symptoms so I took her to the doctor … who chastised her for not wearing insect repellent and did some blood work.  And off we went on our trip to Vermont.  Some days later I received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that the test for Lyme Disease was positive and they were calling in a script for antibiotics.  Okay.  She didn’t do well on those particular antibiotics, so we changed to a type called Ceftin.

She finished that round last Thursday (a week ago today).  But she wasn’t doing well.  She was lethargic and achy.  Her head hurt and she didn’t have a very good appetite.  I had to beg her to go to hockey practice (which is very unlike her).  So we went back to the doctor, who put her on another round of antibiotics and got us an appointment with an infectious disease specialist if she did not improve by the end of this round (mid-September).  By Tuesday morning, something was seriously wrong with my girl.  She couldn’t stand up longer than a minute or two and was complaining that her knees hurt.  She would not go up or down the stairs more than once a day.  So I called the doctor to get in to see the infectious doctor earlier.  It took two days, but we finally got an appointment to see a specialist in Charlottesville today.  Our doctor faxed her records to him.  Imagine my surprise, when he called yesterday afternoon to tell us that her Lyme blood test results from July were NEGATIVE!  They had never been positive at all.

LightHusband looked up her antibiotic on the internet and it seems that the symptoms we had attributed to Lyme Disease are also less common side effects of the Ceftin.  She has not taken any of the antibiotic since that phone call (she’s missed two doses) and she is steadily improving.  She has no joint pain and her soul is back there in her eyes.  She’s laughing with us and eating normally again.  She has a lot of her sass back … which I may regret, but I will enjoy.

So there have been quite a few ups and downs over the past few days.  I’ve been reading the political news fairly avidly and will probably be sharing some of my thoughts on that soon.  I have a few more book reviews to post in the next couple of weeks.   I’ve been trying to get school organized and begun … but of course, with LightGirl sick, no school has happened.  However, LightBoy has begun making SockMonsters from all of our singletons this week.  He is also using LightHusband’s old ties as accoutrements.  He is busy dreaming up an internet kingdom selling these recycled toys.  So, this is an education of a different sort.

Sigh … onward and upward.

UPDATE:  And now the rest of the story …

We had an appointment with our primary care physician this afternoon and an education at the same time.  So … it turns out that there are “strict constructionist” doctors, just as there are strict constructionist judges.  Who knew?  When testing for Lyme Disease there are these things called bands.  I have no idea what those are … but they … um … are.  In any case, there are five of them.  For a strict constructionist doctor, you must have five of five positives to get a diagnosis of Lyme Disease.  Now, our primary care doc, saw LightGirl … saw that she was presenting with a tick bite and a rash AND three out of five positive bands and decided to be conservative.  She does this all the time.  She said that only one of her Lyme Disease cases presented with all five bands positive this summer.  It’s a gray area, as she freely admitted.

LightGirl is doing better and better the longer she is off the meds so all is well and we are all breathing a little easier now.

Taking Suggestions
Aug 27th, 2008 by Sonja

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I homeschool the LightChildren.  Well, a more appropriate description is … they engage in home learning and I throw books at their heads.  No.  That’s not right either.  But something happens around here and occasionally something like an education seems to sprout.

Well, we fell behind in history.  This is sorta bad since I’m just a hair shy of being a certified social studies teacher.  Three hairs shy of having a masters in secondary education with a focus in … history and social studies.  So you’d think that we’d just fly right through history.  Well, yes.  And, um, no … not so much.  You see, I have all these hang ups and pre-conceived ideas about how history has to be.  So we fell behind.  We’re scooting through the modern period this summer and starting over again with the ancients this fall.  It will be fun because now I’m finally teaching a teenager and all.

In very exciting news, LightGirl has decided that she’s going to work on her own theory of everything.  The books are spread out all over the sofa.  First, though, she needs to get over Lyme Disease.  It all began yesterday when she and LightBoy watched a documentary on the History Channel on the island of Atlantis.  They came up from the playroom and recounted the whole thing to me.  Silly mom … I thought they’d been watching cartoons and was plotting revenge.  In any case, as she watched the documentary, LightGirl began to notice that many of the stories from Atlantis bore a striking resemblance to all the myth stories she read when we studied the ancients several years ago.  Later in the day, she asked to go to the library so she can get some books on myths and Atlantis.  She is quite determined to find this “missing link” as it were.  She didn’t even realize that we’re getting ready to tackle the ancients again this year in history.  It was a pleasant surprise.  Her eyes were sparkling.  She’s busy plotting the next book she wants to write.

In the meantime, we’re just flying through modern history, giving it a lick and a promise.  The girl who lives in my heart and studied international relations twenty-five years ago is weeping with shame at the utter horror of raising children with so little knowledge of modern history and its importance to where we are now.  (Okay, weeping may be overstating it just a little … but … you get the picture.)  So, here’s the thing.  We have a family movie night tradition.  We love to watch movies together.  LightHusband makes delicious popcorn, we have a light dinner before hand, turn down the lights and snuggle in together.  It can be any night … but we watch the movie together and then talk about it for some time afterwards.  So I thought it would be a good idea to get some movies with historical content to watch for modern history.  But I’m running out of ideas.  I’m going to post my list below.  Please add yours in the comments.  I’m looking for any reasonable movies about history anywhere in the world from 1875 to the present.  Please remember the ages of my children are 11 and 14.  They’re used to some violence (we’ve watched BraveHeart together without the final death scene, and LightBoy has watched Saving Private Ryan) as long as it has purpose and context.  We try to stay away from sexual content … but well the Viv@ Vi@gra ads and KY ads on television these days leave little the imagination, so really … who cares.

Here are the movies I found:

Grapes of Wrath
We Were Soldiers
To Kill A Mockingbird
Judgment At Nuremberg

Girls’ Got Game
Jun 15th, 2008 by Sonja

Happy Father’s Day.

It’s one that will surely survive in our collective memory as a family.

It began early; as in 5:30 a.m. One last early rink time for the season. We all went. LightBoy’s game was on one sheet at 7:20; LightGirl’s on the other at 7:30. I ran through the golden arches for a delicious, nutritious breakfast. Yum. LightBoy lost. LightGirl tied. But none of that is memorable.

LightGirl has had a crush on a teammate for a while now. About a week ago she got some intel which suggested that he was more LightBoy’s age. This was completely embarassing. Humiliating. Horrifying. In her words, she felt like a pedophile. Ewweth. This morning before the game I discovered she had bad intel. Her crush was her age. I passed this information along after the game.

So what do you think she did? Well, what would you do? Given that you definitely wouldn’t be seeing the guy again til September and maybe not very much even then.

Has she ever been on a date? No.

Has she ever had a boyfriend? No.

Has she ever been in any kind of relationship of any sort other than friends with a boy? No.

Has she ever spoken more than say fifteen words in a row to this kid? Uhhh … no.

So, of course, it goes without saying … ask him out. Ask him, where? Just … you know … out. On a date. Sometimes the mom is stoo-pid.

It’s helpful too, to have a friend by your side who will act as your voice when you and the guy stand there staring at each other. So, her friend did the actual, you know, asking. She said, “So … LightGirl wants to know if you’d go to the movies or something?” He said, “Sure.” and they both stood there and looked at each other … stunned. So GirlFriend spoke up again and said, “Now it would be good if you exchanged phone numbers.” So they did that too.

Then she came flying around the corner to tell me all about it. Grinning from ear to ear.

She spent the next half an hour texting him. Now she is firmly, giddily ensconced on the phone and computer with her peeps giggling and reliving the event. Imagining what will come next. And ad finitum. It is quintessential adolescence.

And just like that LightHusband and I have crossed a rubicon. It came upon us and we were across it before we even realized that it was there. I never even heard the echo of my feet on wood as the footsteps bounced back from water.

We are lucky, I suppose. She’s very confident. The young man in question is kind, upright, and a decent hockey player. We now have decisions of heavy consequence to make. Where should they go? What should they do? Now that the question has been asked and answered, will the “date” actually even take place?

On another hand, our fortunes run much deeper than that. Our definition of what is quintessentially adolescent is light and air. It involves words like, “giddy” and “peeps.” She will (Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise) complete her secondary education and go on to get a college level education of some sort. There are many, many parents in the 2/3’s world who never even begin to think these words, never mind associate them with children in their family. Yet most families in our world … our 1/3 world, that is the industrialized, civilized, mechanized, and importantly educated, world do have the opportunity to associate words like, “giddy” and “adolescence” and “grin” and “date” and “secondary education” and “college education” with our daughters. Not only do we have that opportunity, we make the assumption that it is the right and natural course of things.

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsAccording to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs being secure in our bodily needs allows us to become more secure with our friendships, family and relational intimacy. This in turn builds self-esteem, confidence, etc. It makes sense in a way. One cannot build relational intimacy, when one is deeply hungry for days and months on end. Or living in a place where the water is not reliable. It is simply not feasible. So most Westerner’s (we of the 1/3’s world) would tend to think of education as necessary yet expendable. After all, an education will not build security. It will not fill stomachs or healthily hydrate starving bodies. It will not keep peace among warring neighbors.

Or … will it?

What we are coming to find now is that the key to world peace might just be …

… our daughters. Our collective daughters. The brown ones, and tan ones and yellow ones and pink ones. It’s not that they need to rule the world. Far from it. They just need an education. It is having an education that gives them self-esteem and self-esteem begets relational intimacy which then allows for safety and security and then they can help their families fill their stomachs and hydrate their bodies. It seems that Maslow works for us, but it may just be upside down in other parts of the world.

Give these girls some time … time to be giddy and grow up. Time to learn. Time to be girls, then time to be women. Time to read. Time to calculate. Time to have a date or maybe two. Time to giggle. Time to achieve. Time to gain confidence in their righteous state as children of the Creator. Time to earn respect. Time to bestow respect. They need our time, so that they may have a little more time. And in so doing it is our collective daughters who may just change the world … one village at a time.

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