Saturday, April 30, 2011

The White Rabbit... in Pink!

I'm having a difficult time getting decent photos of these bunnies

but, nevertheless.. they are in

Friday, April 29, 2011

Inside Job...

If you see this film, then you know that de-regulation is one of the main causes of our current economic crisis. I only wish that were true, but it's complete bunk.

Government was not only complicit in this whole deal, but caused much of it by law and regulation. I was enraged as I watched the film makers interview Barney Frank and treat him as a complete innocent, "Barney Frank's talking points notwithstanding, mortgage lenders didn't wake up one fine day deciding to junk long-held standards of creditworthiness in order to make ill-advised loans to unqualified borrowers. It would be closer to the truth to say they woke up to find the government twisting their arms and demanding that they do so - or else." The Boston Globe

In addition, all this began back in the 90's when Herb Moses, a gay activist and Barney Frank's lover took an influential job at Fannie Mae. Herb Moses, "who was Fannie’s assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie." Fox News

Then Fannie Mae started giving generous campaign contributions to Mr. Frank... but I'm going too long on this. It is important to understand the Frank/Dodd portion of the travesty because it shows that deregulation was not the culprit here. It doesn't decrease the sludge, it just makes it higher and thicker.

Then, the film holds up George Soros as some kind of a saint who warned, but wasn't listened to... complete garbage. I won't go in to George's machinations.. it would take far too long.

The film makes some leftist claims like tax cuts have killed the middle class and kept people out of college. I was laughing at the graph that showed how the price of college tuition had gone up, but it didn't show that wages have gone up also. In addition to that, when America wisely passed the G.I. Bill and granted those who have served a college education, they didn't attend in fancy buildings with air conditioning and plush seats. State Universities have, like everyone else, spent far beyond their means and the expense has been passed on to the end consumer.

Then, comes the worst part of all. In Utah there is no excuse because we are encouraged to be financially responsible, to purchase modest homes etc... and yet the bankruptcy rate in Utah is appalling. Our lack of personal financial responsibility and our greed is every bit as dishonest and irresponsible as the Wall Street bankers... it's just a matter of degrees because when we are financially irresponsible, other people pay. My brilliant friend Marilyn Kline Ackerman had this to say, "If people are "spending" then the economy is healthy, right?............... But, what people were spending was the EQUITY in their HOMES. Or, they were simply speculating on a housing market they thought couldn't possibly ever fail them. Housing prices just go up, right? Wrong." It was a bubble like so many we've seen, only this time it was a big one. And, what makes me really sad about it... The rest of the world is so dependent on our economy and in this the film was right on.. When the economy collapses, it is the poorest who suffer most. In this, our greed has crippled the world.

The scary part... The film ends on a high note. Things are getting better, it's a bummer that Timmy Geithner and company are still in power, but hey... We can regulate, regulate, regulate next time around. Wrong again. The TARP was all that money meant to clear the bad paper off the books, yeah.. well it was never used for that. It was spent on everything else in the world including frogs. All that bad paper is still there. Banks don't know the values on their balance sheets and at some point the piper will have to be paid.

Worse still, as Marilyn puts it, "What we are seeing now is that fewer and fewer entities (countries, mainly) are refusing to absorb our debt. We have had to buy it ourselves. How? Issuing bonds and buying them. How does that happen? The treasury just prints up money (out of thin air, with nothing backing it up) to BUY the treasury bonds that the government "issues". In essence, we create debt, then we print money up (out of nowhere - thin air) and buy our own debt - because no one else wants it anymore (not the Chinese, not nobody). We're toast, as they say. So when we can't pay our national debt - it is because we are defaulting on a ourselves."

This, my dear friends, is why I don't sleep well at night. I don't see how there are not rough times ahead. Got food storage?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turning a Corner...

This morning when I asked my little one to please eat her cereal at the table (she wanted to eat cereal and watch "buzz")... she turned around put cereal and spoon on the table and pulled herself back up into the kitchen chair. And, when I shouted, "Hooray!" she gave me her cute little smile.

She didn't scream, hold both hands out and yell "stop! Stop!" just to make sure that I know she is opposed to rules or any kind of discipline. She didn't squint her eyes and scream, "you! you!" in an accusing way or have a complete fit on the floor.

She obeyed and smiled and everything here is peaceful and quiet. Have we turned a corner? That would be lovely.

I wish all rules were fair and right and made sense. I wish they were consistently enforced... always within reason. It's civilizing to eat at the table .. right!?!

Who knows. I often feel like I'm making this stuff up as I go. I wish parents were kind and thoughtful and never exasperated or just wishing for QUIET and always knew what they were doing! Then kids would be sure to know that their mom & dad just love them and want desperately for them to grow up right and feel the responsibilities for their success and happiness always.

But, before I get too carried away. Deep breath! One triumph on a Thursday is pretty good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bless My Ears & Whiskers...!

"I'm late!" We say that around here far too often.

The White Rabbit should be in

very soon,

unless his tardiness persists...

My Easter Basket...

When I was 30, my mom asked if I would feel badly if I didn't get an Easter Basket anymore... I said, "YES! :( " So a few years later.. I still get an Easter Basket. OK my mom was smart, the stuffies and "most" of the treats are for the kids, but the basket is for me. It's beautiful. So pretty this picture doesn't do it justice and I LOVE it. Thanks Mom! I love you!

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

This little book took a while to tug at my heart strings, which I think reflects poorly on me. I felt there were so many troubles that the character of Billie Jo Kelby was more of a caricature that a character. Then, near the end, after her mother and brother's tragic deaths and Billie's determination to face the war of land and sky against the human population... Billie Jo finds that she has a crack in her heart where their might be a place for a step mother. It was in that crack that I learned to appreciate Billie Jo and her toughness and her ability not just to survive, but to live. She accepts Louise when she realizes that Louise won't replace her mother... "...she knows how to come into a home and not step on the toes of a ghost." And Billie Jo really matures when she learns:

The way I see it, hard times aren't only about money, or drought, or dust. Hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up." — Karen Hesse Out of the Dust

If you ever questioned the courage and every sort of toughness Americans are made of... Read this book.

Monday, April 25, 2011

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger

When Leif Enger wrote Peace Like a River, he wrote a modern American classic. It's a novel so beautiful that I read it four times and was deeply affected by the Christian allegory and the beauty of the language. In my opinion Peace Like a River is the grown up The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. It is a book that is so very rich.
Mr. Enger's book is loved by many and it means something to a lot of people. Imagine then the task of writing something new. Harper Lee never published a sophomore book. To Kill A Mockingbird is her only published novel, but it's a jewel.
So Brave, Young and Handsome is not Peace Like a River a book that I believe should live in the American literary canon forever, but it is a great book.
The characters have depth, they are engaging. The writing is sublime. It's ironically, the story of a writer who wrote one great book and has terrible expectations on his shoulders for the next... but after writing seven starts, puts it all away to help a neighbor find repentance on a wild goose chase across the west. I was sorry to finish the final page and say goodbye to people that I'd come to understand and enjoy and like so very much.

These cowboys didn't mind a lone horseman traveling through and confirmed
for Glendon that the river he followed was in fact the Rienda. Yes, it went all the way to the ocean. Yes, a region of citrus orchards awaited him downriver. No doubt the cowboys sense in this veteran horseman a lush deposit of stories, for they asked him to stay for an evening of music and fiery drink, but Glendon said no, he was too
near the end of his own tale now. He nudged Sparrow and they continued on, keeping the river on their left. ~Leif Enger So Brave, Young and Handsome

Easter Sabbath...

Our mother always makes holidays so beautiful. Love you mom.

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;

Death is strong, but Life is stronger;

Stronger than the dark, the light;

Stronger than the wrong, the right.

Faith & Hope triumphant say,

Christ will rise on Easter-Day.

~Phillips Brooks

The Queen of Fun!

Meet the Queen of Fun!
Wherever she is, there's a crowd of happy people.

Including this little one on her first egg hunt!

She found FIVE eggs! And then, she found a slippery slide!

After she went down holding mom's hand about 20 times, she got brave and went down all by herself! Hooray! What a fun day!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Summers

When I was attending university, I wrote a paper about the different communication styles of men and women using for the basis of my arguments the research of Deborah Tannen who wrote You Just Don't Understand; Talk Between the Sexes-Women and Men in Conversation.

It was an enlightening experience. The class for some reason, had only women in it, and they attacked. They all believed that there was absolutely no difference between the way men and women communicate. They didn't just disagree with me, they were angry at what I believed and they were angry with the paper.

But, I grew up in a home with a masculine father and a feminine mother and brothers and sisters and I had seen different communication styles at work. To say that the sexes were the same in the way they thought and communicated flew in the face of common sense in my mind.

Then after I graduated, I worked for a time in the counseling office of a local high school. I again saw different communication styles between boys and girls. And, I saw other things. I saw how a greater number of boys than girls had a difficult time in school. In later years I have seen boys adopting feminine hair styles and wearing girls jeans and wondered... What is going on here?

Christina Hoff Sommers book explains a lot. It explains why my university class mates hated my paper. It explains why boys need different parenting and educational styles and why our society is ignoring the needs of boys and why boys are becoming feminized.

The book challenges the teaching of fuzzy concepts like "self-esteem" being taught in school and advocates for clear expectations that include civility and ethics that are backed up by discipline. The author makes the claim that shallow self-esteem belongs to every sociopath and the real self-esteem comes only through achievement. Sommers argues for the Aristotelian model that works toward excellence through study and habit. Aristotle said, "The moral virtues... are engendered in us neither by nor contrary to nature; we are constituted by nature to receive them, but their full development is due to habit.... So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age-- it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world."

If you have a son, work with boys in scouts, or have daughters and hope they will one day marry men... You ought to read this book.

(Thomas Sowell's book Economic Facts and Fallacies includes research that supports many of Sommers conclusions...)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Giving Blood...

I am squeamish about needles. You'd think after having 2 children, all my immunizations including flu shots every fall and allergy shots every week as a teen that I would be over it. I'm not, I'm a wimp.

My husband is not. He thinks it's pretty dumb not to be a blood donor. "It's so simple and you can save a life." He has faithfully donated blood about 4 times a year, but sometimes he's done it more often. He has kind of a rare blood type and so ARUP will call him personally and ask. He always runs in to the donation center in SLC. Once they called him and said that they had twins who were going in for surgery and could he come. We were on vacation. Had they not been able to find another donor, he was prepared to leave our vacation and drive a 12 hour round trip in order to help those twins. I know I'm blessed. This is just one of the million ways that C is a quiet hero.

Last night I decided it was time to stop being a wimp. There was no excuse. I had a good friend who was in a terrible accident at Christmas. It was time to step up. I hated it. They ask you all these questions that are icky to think about. For example, "Have you traded sex for drugs recently." No. I'm more of a pharmacy patron. I hated the needle. My kids were with me and when the little one saw a whole room of white coats.. she freaked out. There was screaming. It was embarrassing and little c had to take her out. It feels weird to be sitting there while your blood drains from your arm. When I got up, I felt woozy and nauseous basically until I went to sleep.

Who cares!!!

When I woke up this morning I felt wonderful!

Am I going to do it again. Yes. Am I going to hate every minute of it. Yes.

C said, "Just concentrate on the color blue.. It's very calming." He was wearing a blue shirt. I love you C.

Benefits of donating blood:

It reduces your risk of cancer.

Male blood donors are 17 times less likely to suffer a heart attack.

Donating blood helps you look and feel younger. (HERE)

Your body burns about 600-650 calories in its efforts to replace the blood you gave.

... and ....


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ken Burns Lewis & Clark...

We missed part of this when it originally aired on PBS. It's beautifully done. (Craig told me that he would love to follow the Lewis and Clark trail to the ocean someday. I told him that he and his new wife would surely have a great time. Has he not noticed that I'm "indoorsy"...) anyway... It's beautiful. I loved Stephen Ambrose's book Lewis & Clark: Voyage of Discovery. I read it some time back, but it was amazing to see some of the sights they enjoyed in their travels. Ken Burns has sure made a fantastic career for himself. Fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Great Food Storage Tips...

My friend Denise recommended this powdered milk for our food storage when I asked for her advice. It is available at Bowman's and has quite a long shelf life. My dad found THIS blog post where a taste comparison was done. There are a few cheaper alternatives and the recommendation is to have a few of those on hand for bread making etc... but for drinking/price per gallon and nutrition... This is the winner. If you are interested in the price break down. Let me know and I will email you a list.

Then, if you are working on your storage. THIS food storage calculator is so helpful. I still have quite a few things to do.

Also learned this week: Bugs won't touch your sugar according to two sources. My parents have had sugar stored in just the paper store bags they come in and nothing has touched it. I bought 10 pound bags (best sale ever at Bowman's this week.. cheaper than the case lot sale) and tied them in grocery sacks just to prevent spillage and put them in a large plastic bin, but apparently that is more than you need to do.

Despicable Me...

Very, very cute. Worth it just for the part where Gru reads the kitten story. Laugh out loud in a few parts and fun in the rest. Great show.

Megamind... no mind at all.

They hired Will Ferrell. They hired Brad Pitt. They hired Tina Fey. They forgot to hire a writer. All the best bits are in the 20 second commercial. Pure torture. .. not as bad as Wall-E, but close.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities International Studio Cast Recording...

I can't get over this music. It has completely taken over my heart. My favorite book in music that I love... a gift from heaven!

Available HERE...

War & Peace...

The sad thing is that I've never read this very famous book. I should have, but... Anyway, there were so many holes in this three-and-a-half-hour-long-epic that I had a difficult time following the story. Still Audrey is worth it. She is so beautiful and the costumes and sets are stunning. But, it took me three days to watch it. Henry Fonda is very good in it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir...

It's worth it to see this film for Rex Harrison's performance... and I truly love the ending and the cottage is so beautiful. I understand there was a later re-make of this film. I will have to check that out. Gene Tierney is so graceful and elegant, she's fun to watch.

I love how the proper Mrs. Muir publishes a book called "Blood and Swash" the memoirs of the ghost. Cute.

Morning Glory...

I thought this was darling. It's too bad that Hollywood had to besmirch it with foul language and other stuff. But, the story is really sweet. Harrison Ford's character was brilliant. I loved the added touch of the crazy socks.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Wonder of Wonders Miracle of Miracles...

I loved Elder Bednar's message about personal revelation in General Conference this past Sunday, “As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’ Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding, and direct and protect you and your family.”

I find some of that delicate personal revelation in the beauty of the natural world. I love this forsythia bush. It fills my heart with joy every spring. Its great beauty whispers to my heart how much our Heavenly Father loves his children and of the bounty He has provided and will provide for us. The majesty of the mountains in every season, the painterly vision of the sunsets, the miracles of a single blade of grass testify that He is here. He tends his garden with great care. His heart is truly aware of everyone and everything in it... a miracle and a wonder indeed.

It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the find the place where all the beauty came from. ~C.S. Lewis

Monday, April 04, 2011

Get Low...

Felix Bush is a man who has done something so horrible, so unthinkable, and so unforgivable that he builds himself a prison and stays there for 40 years. ... "The first 38 are the hardest."

In an effort to find some kind of peace, he comes out of his recluse to host his own "funeral party".

Even though the script is spare and quiet, there is humor and great heart delivered with care by some of the finest actors of our time.

The Tea Rose...

Jennifer Donnelly knows how to write a page turner. That's for sure. You'll keep turning the pages just to find out what happened. But, in the end I was disappointed. It was a little gimmicky... too many teasers and too romance novelly. Even though I think Donnelly has a lot of talent, she's a little dark for me and while her books are entertaining, they lack light and truth... without which there cannot be greatness. In addition, the sex and language is gratuitous and she can't pull her ending together in this one. Despite the recommendations from Simon Winchester and Frank McCourt, Donnelly's books are more entertainment than literature, think John Grisham/Stephenie Meyer. This is a trilogy, but I'm going to leave it here.

I would recommend Donnelly's Revolution, but while it's written for young adults... I think 16 and up.

Holly Christmas Bear...

Merry Christmas!

Christmas House...

Safe & warm surrounded by love...