Wednesday, January 24, 2007


A few days ago, I recommended I Don't Know How She Does it. I had read it a few years ago, and although I did warn my readers that there might be some vulgar language, I feel like I need to issue a little stronger warning. I got it from the library again soon after I posted that list and have been reading it. The language is quite vulgar in places; read it according to your own sensitivities & convictions!

That being said, I am struck once again by the thoughtfulness of the main character as she reflects on her children, her marriage and her job. As I read, I wish she would change her life to reflect this thoughtfulness but at the same time, there are valuable reflections on the nature of motherhood. Even though I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools, I can still identify with feeling like I have to keep up with other moms and I can also identify with the pride that says I have to do things a certain way or I can't be a good mom. And the pride that judges other moms if they don't do things quite the way I think they should be done.

I'm still recommending the book but with an even stronger warning about language. Perhaps if you own the book, you could do what the Deputy Headmistress tells us about in this post - whiteout is a wonderful invention!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Seen in a Store today...

A sand pail and beach ball.

In January in northern Alberta.

I know the weather has been balmy (a whopping high of 3 degrees C today) for Alberta but it's hardly beach weather.

And you know, when I want to buy a bucket & ball in June, will the stores have them?

Not likely.



Grumpy in northern Alberta

Media Responsibility

My Canadian readers are doubtlessly aware of the Robert Pickton trial beginning in Vancouver. If you are not aware of this case, suffice it to say it's a gruesome story of many murders.

The media have already been reporting on the case as it has come to trial. As it continues, there will be more and more coverage and most of it unsuitable for children's eyes and ears, let alone adults.

This morning in the National Post, where the Pickton trial was on the front page, Douglas Kelly, the Editor-in-chief, wrote a "Note to Readers" wherein he explained some of the rationale behind their reporting about the trial. He encourages readers to write to their editorial staff (see the story for details) to express their opinions about how the National Post and other media should report about this trial.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that Robert Pickton should come to trial and I hope that he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But I question whether the average Canadian (and American - apparently the international media is picking up on this story) needs to know more than the fact the trial is going on, the basic outline of the case and the eventual outcome. The Post did a series last week on the victims in this case; it was heartbreaking but it wasn't inappropriate. Reading or hearing details of how they died and were buried is inappropriate, especially when it is presented in a setting where the reader or hearer has no choice but to read or hear it, short of closing the paper or turning off the radio or TV. We do not need to wallow in salacious details!

If you read the Post even occasionally or if you read other newspapers, I would encourage you to express your opinion about the way the media covers stories like this. When we are in the car, we often turn off the news on the radio as many of the stories are unfit for our children to hear. It's not that they don't know that murders and other crimes take place in the world. They are very aware of it. But we don't feel it's healthy to dwell on all the details, especially at a tender age, and probably not at any age.

We also don't feel that removing the newspaper from our home is an answer. I am pleased that my older children like to read the paper and I encourage them to do so. But it's hard to avoid some of the gratuitous details, even on a quick scan of the headlines.

Mr. Kelly states that

Material that we think is not suitable for publication in the newspaper
will appear in full on our Web site, The rationale is that
reading on the web involves a conscious decision to read the story because of
the need to first click on the headline.

I fully agree with the option of having the material published on the web. I think that this is a sensitive and appropriate way to handle this dilemma.

As conservatives, we often complain about the way that the mainstream media reports the news. But I think we often don't communicate to the media exactly why it is inappropriate. This is an opportunity to do so, if you feel strongly about the subject.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Hymn: Grace Greater than All Our Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.


Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quiz: Are you a Lifer, Mandarin or Talent?

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 51%
Lifer: 44%
Mandarin: 54%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

A Fantasy Book Meme

I got this from the Deputy Headmistress, who in turn got it from someone else, who ...

Mark the selections you have read in bold. If you liked it, add a star [*] in front of the title, if you didn't, give it a minus [-]. Then, put the total number of books you've read in the subject line.

The Chronicles of Prydain - Alexander, Lloyd
Carrie's War - Bawden, Nina
Death of a Ghost - Butler, Charles
Ender's Game - Card, Orson Scott I'm actually just finishing this today- I haven't decided yet if I like it
Summerland - Chabon, Michael
King of Shadows - Cooper, Susan
- The Dark is Rising sequence - Cooper, Susan - (I didn't like any of these books.) Stonestruck - Cresswell, Helen
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl, Roald (I can't actually say when I read this but I'm sure I must have in elementary school. I remember reading James & the Giant Peach so I suspect I read this one too)
Matilda - Dahl, Roald
Ingo - Dunmore, Helen
The Sea of Trolls - Farmer, Nancy
Madame Doubtfire - Fine, Anne
Corbenic - Fisher, Catherine
***Inkheart - Funke, Cornelia (Funke is a wonderful writer. We really enjoyed the sequel to this, and another one as well - Dragon Rider.)
*The Thief Lord - Funke, Cornelia
The Owl Service - Garner, Alan
Happy Kid! - Gauthier, Gail
Stormbreaker - Horowitz, Anthony
Whale Rider - Ihimaera, Witi
Finn Family Moomintroll - Jansson, Tove
Fire and Hemlock - Jones, Diana Wynne (I have read another one by Jones and plan to start working through the series.)
* The Phantom Tollbooth - Juster, Norton
* The Sheep Pig - King Smith, Dick
Stig of the Dump - King, Clive
-A Wizard of Earthsea - Le Guin, Ursula (Again, read it in highschool, remember not liking it and haven't picked up a title by her since)
**The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Lewis, C S (And the whole Narnia series. I think Prince Caspian is my favourite)
The House at Norham Gardens - Lively, Penelope
Goodnight Mister Tom - Magorian, Michelle
The Changeover - Mahy, Margaret
The Stones are Hatching - McCaughrean, Geraldine
The White Darkness - McCaughrean, Geraldine
*Beauty - McKinley, Robin (again, a great writer. I really like her other series as well - The Blue Sword? is the title, I think)
Sabriel - Nix, Garth
* The Borrowers - Norton, Mary
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - O'Brien, Robert
Z for Zachariah - O'Brien, Robert
A Dog So Small - Pearce, Philippa
Life As We Knew It - Pfeffer, Susan Beth
A Hat Full of Sky - Pratchett, Terry
His Dark Materials sequence - Pullman, Philip (haven't read them but have heard enough negatives about them to have no desire to start)
How I Live Now - Rosoff, Meg
*Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling, J K (and the rest of the series!)
* Holes - Sachar, Louis
The Foreshadowing - Sedgwick, Marcus
Marianne Dreams - Storr, Catherine
When the Siren Wailed - Streatfield, Noel
The Bartimaeus Trilogy - Stroud, Jonathan (this series is a little darker than others. I would recommend it but with a few caveats)
* The Hobbit - Tolkien, J R R (which serves as an introduction to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I prefer to The Hobbit).
* Charlotte's Web - White, E B

The nice thing about this list is not what I have already read but what I haven't read. My kids are always on the lookout for new fantasy and this gives us a place to start.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Last week, I read a book that I really enjoyed, even though the title is somewhat unfortunate. It is To Hell with All That by Caitlin Flanagan. I'll review it in a moment but humour me with a little sidetrack.

Rebecca was asking for some booklists last week. As I was reading the Flanagan book, it made me think of other books about women's issues, most of them written from a non-Christian perspective, that critique what we now see to be the results of the feminist movement. I decided to make a list of these books I've read. I hope that some of my readers will enjoy this list.

The first one is the Flanagan book. I enjoyed reading this. It struck me as more of a collection of essays than a cohesive book. Because she is a journalist, I wondered if perhaps she had written the essays for magazines and then put them together into a book. The final essay does draw them all together.

Because it is more of a series of essays, it is somewhat difficult to tell what her perspective is. There were some seeming contradictions. She seems to advocate being a stay-at-home mom, but had a nanny for the first 3 years of her twins' lives. She recognizes the dangers of our children running our lives through their constant activities but still puts her own children in many different activities. Perhaps the subtitle of the book says it all: "Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife".

Flanagan has a gift for just the right word or phrase. I laughed out loud many times throughout the book and appreciate her wit. I would recommend this book as a way to discuss the issues that do face many women today. In fact, I think I might even recommend it for our local library book club - it should certainly lead to some interesting discussion!

Danielle Crittenden is one of my favourite authors. I wish she would write more books! Amanda brightathome (use the @ sign for "at" if you are looking it up) (2003) is a novel about a woman who ends up making some different choices about her life and is a commentary on how feminism has failed our society. What was most interesting, and sad, about the book, is how the main character reflects on what her mother knew and didn't teach her.

What Our Mothers didn't Tell Us: why Happiness Eludes the modern woman (1999) is the non-fiction version of Amanda bright@home. I thought that Crittenden identified very accurately the problems with feminism and what the feminist movement has led to. Considering that she is a non-Christian writer (as far as I know), she is devastatingly accurate about both the problems and comes close to the solution, albeit without the Christian perspective. I wish that more Christian women would read books like this and recognize how they have fallen into the world's trap.

I Don't Know How She Does it is another novel about the dilemma of the working mother. As with many of these books, there is still an uncertainty about what the outcome of choosing something different for a wife and mother will be. This one, from what I remember, is more edgy and may contain language that not everyone will be comfortable with.

Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit was a provocative read. It's interesting to me that when I just entered the word "modesty" in the library catalogue search, there were only 6 entries that would contain that word. I'm not sure if it means anything but I think it's interesting that it's not even a word used very often in book titles. I seem to recall that Shalit is a Jewish writer and she examines the pressure put on young women not only to be immodest but to behave in ways that are definitely not modest. She considers the "3rd Wave" of feminism and how it is impacting the young women of this generation, especially those at colleges and universities.

Real Sex: the Naked Truth about Chastity by Lauren Winner is in a slightly different category but I think is worthwhile reading for Christian women (and men) who want to consider different perspectives about sexual matters. Although this book is not blatantly Christian, (I believe there is some reference to Christianity), it is a call to thinking through what sex should really mean and reasons to say no.

I think there were others I have read over the years but I'll have to look back over my very sketchy book journal and see if I can find some other titles. Readers are welcome to comment!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Winter Photos

We went cross-country skiing today for the first time this year. We had one short, somewhat disastrous outing in December and since then the snow hasn't been that great.

But we've had snow all week so the trails were beautiful today. I hope to get out again tomorrow or Monday.

Here are a few pictures from today. I wish I had taken more but I think I'll take the camera again another time.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's Strange...

how different life can be without internet.

We had cable, both for tv and internet installed a week and a bit ago. On Wednesday, we needed the cable guy to come and flip a switch to switch some things around for us. Apparently, he did something while doing that so our internet was out from Wednesday afternoon until this afternoon when the second cable guy came and did something (he's not even sure what, other than unplugging it and plugging it in again) in order for us to have internet again.

I can make it for a day or so. I did check email at the library on Wednesday and downloaded my email from the church yesterday. But by today, I was starting to feel the pain a little more. I kept thinking of things I wanted to look up, only to realize that I couldn't check them. I do rely on the internet for a lot of things.

On the other hand, I did get a lot accomplished. Once I wasn't able to check email or blogs "just for a few minutes", I wasn't tempted to sit down at the computer and waste time. So that was good. It's a good reminder of how easy it is to let this machine take over my life.

But now I am happy that we have our internet back and that whenever I think of something to look up, I can do it anytime.

Off to check the freezer for something to eat for supper....

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Name that.... Kitchen Utensil?

The kitchen utensil most likely to be lost in your kitchen, that is.

Mine is my vegetable peeler. It is blue (see picture) so you would think that it would be somewhat visible. I know it's not that large (fits in the palm of my hand) so maybe that's part of the problem. Considering too that it depends on the person putting dishes away as to where it might end up, I guess that's the reason that over 50% of the time that I want to use it, I have to track it down!

What is your "most wanted" kitchen utensil?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Hymn - 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me’
Neath the healing, cleansing flood!


Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.


I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Leaving all your concerns

I was reading in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening this morning. The January 6 entry ends in this way:

"...leave all your concerns in the hand of a gracious God."

It got me thinking again about how often I want to hug my concerns to myself. My mind easily gets on the hamster wheel of worry and I go around and around and around on that issue, instead of leaving it in God's hands.

And I find that the more I worry about something, the worse my attitude becomes towards my family. I get tired and grouchy, instead of resting in God's providence. But when I do give it to Him and let it go, I am able to not only have peace about it but accept graciously whatever outcome He leads me to.

The entire January 6 entry can be found here.

Things that Don't Stay where they belong

As I was looking for the scissors yesterday, it occurred to me that a list of things that don't stay where they belong would be appropriate, especially in January when we're all in the organizational mood. Perhaps it will help inspire some to find permanent homes for these items and inspire others to put them back after they are used!

  • scissors

  • tape

  • books, especially that one that you need Right Now

  • cds (I would still like to know where my Messiah cds are)

  • matches

  • pens and/or pencils. We regularly go couch-diving around here and I'm always amazed, although I should be used to it, how many are down in the cushions.

  • stapler

Anything else?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Another List but this one needs Your Help

My question is

What do you do with old Christmas cards? I hate throwing them out but I have a whole stack here that need to have something done with them.

Post your answers in the comments and I'll keep updating this list.

  1. Leave them in a pile by your computer until you get tired of looking at them.
  2. Bonnie says: Hey Juanita, I haven't done it for the past few years (those ones I still have all in a pile packed away with my Christmas stuff) but for the first few years of our marriage I would cut the picture part into strips and used them to make a paper chain that I use to decorate with at Christmas time.
  3. and Rebecca suggests:

When my kids were younger they used to have a lot of fun making gift tags out
of the previous year's cards. They cut the pictures on the cards into shapes
with pinking sheers or scissors and used a hole punch to make a hole for
string or ribbon. Sometimes they'd use glitter to decorate around the edges
or make the stars or tree decorations, etc. sparkly.

4. Amanda wrote with three great suggestions:

1. Make a Christmas Card Star. I saw this first at "Mrs. Happy Housewife's" flickr page:

but the pattern is here:

2. When I was little, I used them to make Christmas tree ornaments. Cut to fit the inside of a plastic lid (like a pringles lid), attach with glue and then add glitter, and punch a hole near the top and use yarn to hang from tree.

3. I read this online and don't remember where, but use the fronts as postcards for "thank you" cards after Christmas.

5. And Kim from Hiraeth says, "I use the fronts of them for gift labels the next year."

6. Deputy Headmistress gives some good suggestions:

I pack them away with the Christmas decorations. Then the next year we use them to make different crafts. My favorite is tiny packages or gift boxes, tied with shiny ribbon and hung from the tree, but there are others. We listed some here:

Small tots like this one:

This link is to another blog and they make a pretty ball using photographs and a brad. We made several of these using old Christmas cards, and they were really very pretty:

Want another hint? Print out your post, complete with URL and keep it with the old Christmas cards when you pack them up with the Christmas decorations (or sometimes Thanksgiving decorations so you can get a head start on Christmas crafting)!

Thanks for the idea about putting all these suggestions with the Christmas cards! Now there's a good way to keep me organized.

BTW, I didn't mean to imply in my earlier update that only ladies could comment. I would take suggestions from any men who happen to read this.

I'll take any other suggestions too but thanks to those who already commented - it helped to encourage me to find a spot for them where we can do something with them next year. I tend to pack them away and then not know where they are.

January Tidying

aka "January Lists" (for Rebecca)
aka What Has Been Keeping Me Busy for the Past Four Days

  1. I've been importing all our cds to itunes since we got a bigger (20g) ipod before Christmas. It takes a while to import them all. Does anyone happen to know if you can make a playlist under another playlist (subcategories)? I'd like to put all our Christmas cds under one playlist but it would be easiest to keep them separate if I could do separate folders for each one.
  2. We moved all our books (well, almost all) back downstairs to where they are supposed to live. They tend to migrate upstairs and into bedrooms and don't get put back on the shelf. Add to that little girls who must have been playing library one day and it was quite a mess. But they are now back where they should be and hopefully will stay there. Oldest son, who works as a page at the library, took charge to make sure they were all done properly. :-)
  3. I'm trying to get a grip on school planning for the next few months. Which means that I'm studying geometry. Oldest son is just starting Harold Jacob's Geometry text. I found with Algebra I that it helped a lot for me to work through the text before he did. That way when he came to a problem, I had already worked through it, instead of spending 15-20 minutes thinking through it. It's been a long time since highschool math so I need the review. The good thing about it is that I'm hoping for the next three children that I will be able to work through it with them without having to do it all again.
  4. I've also been planning our writing schedule and need to spend some significant time on it again today. I started using "The Lost Tools of Writing" in the fall but I need to work through it more on my own, making my own lesson plans, since the ones in the book are a little sketchy.
  5. We're having our annual open house on Sunday for our church family. The good thing about it is that the house gets completely cleaned. The bad thing is that the house gets completely cleaned. However, we are on track and once the Christmas tree is out of the living room, we should be able to finish up in time.

I think five is enough to start, don't you?

Movie Review - Night at the Museum

We took our kids to see Night at the Museum the other night. We wondered about taking the younger ones (7 &5) but decided they could go.

We all enjoyed it. It's a fun movie. There's not a lot thoughtful about it, although there is some, and as my husband says, you could drive a truck through some of the holes, but overall, it was fun. It was quite clean - the "occasional rude humour" was really only one incident and it wasn't that bad.

The message of the movie itself centers around the main character learning to stick to a job, even when it is tough. He learns that he can be a leader even when he doesn't feel like a leader. There was even some history - Teddy Roosevelt is one of the main personages in the museum and we learn something about his life through their interaction.

Movie Mistake? My husband spotted an overhead boom microphone in one scene. I missed it. We'll have to check and see what else we missed.