Kids Book Corner

  • Goose Girl
  • Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH
  • Peter and The Shadow Thieves
  • Peter and The Star Catchers
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
  • Stella Brite and The Dark Matter Myster
  • The Island of The Blue Dolphins
  • The Phantom Toll Booth
  • The School Library Journal
  • The Sisters Grimm
  • Tuck Everlasting


Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Reviews and Miscellanous Happenings...

Book Reviews:

Ehrman presents the New Testament gospels with a very practicle assessment, "...authors of the New Testament were very much like the scribes who would later transmit those authors' writings. The authors too were human beings with needs, beliefs, worldviews, opinions, loves, hates, longings, desires, stuations, problems-and surely all those things affected what they wrote." (p.211) The Gospels present Jesus from different perspectives. Ehrman says people want to make the Gospels say the same things when, in fact, they don't. Anytime you try to make one gospel meld into another and encompass everything you are creating your own gospel. The canonized scriptures have gone through a whinnowing process with some seen as heretical during one generation to become the orthodoxy of another. When you pick up your Bible try to read vertically and take the stories at their face value to see what the author was trying to convey without trying to meld them into one.

The gals at my book group did not even get a smidge interested in my most recent read. The Lives of Ants by Laurent Keller and Elisabeth Gordon. I did not let that deter me in my enthusiasm to learn about ants. This book did not dissappoint. To preface my comments I was the kid who was forever fascinated by ants in their various forms and also quite happy to mow them over with the lawn mower.

To pull the lawn mower stunt, do the following:

1. Wear long pants (light colors are best)
2. white socks (the better to see, flick, fling and squish)
3. Tennis shoes (they love to sting the webbing of your toes)
4. make sure the bagger attachment is off
5. zoom over them...feel free to giggle manically...and make sure you don't step in the very angry swarm of ants.

I used to grab my brother, Denny's, cool Matchbox cars (the ones that the doors opened and the trunk) and would create people out of juniper berries or ants. Apparently the ants I used were not fire ants or Solenopsis Invicta, because they were larger and didn't sting me.
Once,my brother was attacked by fire ants, and being autistic, didn't know what to do. Luckily my mom thought quickly and tore off his tube socks (rockin' 70's coolness) and put them on her hands to create gloves and slap them off. Poor Denny spent awhile in the tub as mom lanced the venom sites and gave him Benadryl for the antihistamine.
I used to feed the ants whole Ritz crackers just to watch what they would do with it. (This can create a good hour of fun for kids you just don't know what else to do with). My grandmother would get the small black ants in her kitchen in Phenix City, Alabama. She called them "Piss Ants", but my mother says that is not the correct term, nor is it polite. I think it pretty muched summed up how Mama Doris felt when they got into her kitchen.
At Girls' Camp, one year, we feed peanut M&Ms to the ants to change them colors. It was so cool to see a bunch of yellow ants walk by, then the next day to turn them green. This history should give you a little insight into why I'm fascinated by ants.

Back to the book, ants are in every part of the world and invasive species have hit in a big way with no turning back. Thanks to the trade we get to live with fire ants in the South. I've heard that Texas officials are using Crazy Ants to combat Fire Ants, but I don't know if anyone wins in the long term with that approach. The writers of the book would love to see the genome decoded for the fire ant since it is the most studied. They hope to learn about the disparity of aging among the queen, workers and males. Humans may benefit by learning how to live longer. We may learn how to use some of the chemicals that ants use as fungicides among other helpful uses.
This book explains that ants evolved from solitary wasps. They have an advanced chemical communication system. Some can produce sexually, asexually and some can clone themselves. There are monogynous and polygynous colonies. There are even supercolonies. Scientists have used computer modeling based on ants to help with traffic patters, telephone networks, and identifying defaulters for bank loans. There is so much to learn and so much we don't know. This book is well written and presents some amazing information about the ever present ant.

*Eve stated incredulously, "Why would someone blog about ants? That is weird!"

:::::::::::::New Vehicle:::::::

Well I am happy to say that I'm driving a manual transmission again! It is funny that Americans have such a disdain for stick shifts. I do have to keep readjusting the seat because Michael loves to drive it too. We got a 2009 Subaru Forester. The kids love the moon roof and the reclining back seats. Did I say I get to shift the car when I went. (Control Freak...NOT). Bonus, it is green. Michael asked the salesman if it came with an optional bumper sticker package that had a "Love Your Mother" and "Coexist". He wondered if there was a "no shaving your legs" clause. This dealership did not, apparently, participate in such programs. In fact, I had shaved my legs that very day and they let me drive off the lot with the car.

Our other vehicle was donated to WABE, a public radio station, and we are waiting to see if they get anything for it. Any funds will be tax deductible. We remembered to take the cotton candy machine out of the back for the guy came to pick it up. Can't be without that thingy.

:::::::::School Stuff:::::::

I'm back to being "The Yearbook Lady", volunteering in the Media Center and being Eve's Room Mom. One of the biggest struggles is making sure everyone has clean socks. It is one of the few things I can control to some degree.

::::::::::Nursery Stuff:::::

The nursery was split this Sunday. As overwhelming as it is with the sheer numbers of kids I still miss the little ones. The sisters in the younger nursery are awesome ladies. The young woman who help are behind amazing. I was running back and forth to get the new nursery their snacks, extra toys and books. The new nursery got a locking cabinet, so we will get everything set up by Sunday.
One of our little girls is having a hard time readjusting after summer vacation. The young woman I mentioned brought in a couple of Barbies which helped a lot. About an hour into the day our little one sat next to me when I invited her to play with blocks with another girl and she said, "I'm sorry." I said what are you sorry about? Crying?" She said yes. Then I asked her if she wanted a hug, but that it was okay if she didn't want one. She said, "No." I told her that was cool and I was glad she was feeling better. Michael was listening to this exchange and trying not to laugh at loud at how serious she was when say this. I told her mom and her mom said she is in a "Sorry" phase. Never a dull moment, people!
We have a new nursery chorister and she is so enthusiastic. Michael helped her husband change a flat tire on Sunday. I'm so thankful that Michael is a Jack of All Trades, so he can help people. He didnt' even get his tie, or white shirt dirty...sweet!

:::::::::::Busy Night:::::

Michael took Eve to gymnastics so I could attend a PTA Board Meeting. More good hubby and dad points for him.

:::::::::::Cake Final::::

This cake was for my Wilton Art Class III final. Eve loved eating the green leaves. The girls requested the Easter Lily, so I piped 33 of them. A few are left in the shoe box. It is a white cake with buttercream icing and covered in vanilla fondant. Michael and I are collaborating on a cool cake that is a surprise for someone and I hope it turns out they way we envision it.

Well, that hateful laundry calls. I usually subscribe anthropromorphic traits to my laundry. It makes me feel better somehow.

Later, gators!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ribbon Cake

Ribbon Cake:

Here is the cake I made for homework in my Wilton Art Class III:

::::::::::::Book Review::::::::

I found this a fascinating book. Bart Ehrman does a great job presenting the New Testament using the historical critical method. He explains with example after example that the Bible is a compilation of books written by individual authors who had different views. They didn't know at the time that their writings would be combined with others and made into a work called The Holy Bible. The books that we read that are considered the 4 Gospels are attributed to specific people, but no author was originally listed. The accounts come years after the events and the oral tellings written down. The works have been changed accidentally and own purpose over time. People who try to force the various views to create a unified doctrine actually create their own gospel as opposed to the ones actually written. Ehrman wishes that people that read the Bible would let each author's words taken for what the actually said couched in the time period it was written and in the historical and political context. Ehrman called the Bible a theological narrative, which I thought was a good description. He makes the point that many people would say you can't pick and choose what to follow from reading the scriptures, but people do just that all the time. My favorite example is the verse in 1 Timothy which insists that women remain, silent and submissive. I have always thought to my self (when not uttering out loud to anyone around). Ehrman argues this was a letter forged under Paul's name to use his clout to get church members to listen to their point of view.
The historical critical method takes the information and displays it vertically, or side by side and takes all the accounts at once. Using independent sources that verify events within the time period written about true statements can be gleaned. If you read here and there the information does not often seem to contradict, but reading it vertically you see it very clearly.
I don't come from a world view that believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, so I wasn't shocked by the information from Ehrman's book. I really enjoyed the scholarship and the candid nature of the author. I think seeing things for what they are is much more comforting to me. There were people with a message and I want to know what they had to say.
I look forward to reading some of this authors other books too.


Eve has just finished her second week in gymnastics and she is still all smiles. Yeah for Eveybug.


Noah says greedily, "I am not immune to the delicious flavor of peanut butter cookies!"

Smiles, all!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sprite Has Dimples and Coke has Pimples!

This is one of the things we learned at Dialog in the Dark. Even our guide said he didn't know that one. Michael, Aaron, Rachel and I found the experience amazing. We explored a park, a grocery store, took a boat ride, crossed the street, went to a cafe and sat down for a Q and A...all in pitch black rooms. We were provided with walking sticks. All our belongings, including eye glasses, went into a locker. I found the sounds from tapping things were the most helpful due to the different timbre of various objects. If you get the exhibit in your town give it a whirl.

::::::::::::The Grim Reaper Philosophy::::::

Michael was talking with Rachel and me about how time speeds up when you get older and closer to death. Rachel's response was immediate, and classic, "Sounds like somebody needs a Happy Meal!"

:::::::::::Digital Layouts from Scout Camp:::::::

:::::::::::::A Walk::::::::

I took a walk today and watched what happens when humidity doesn't let the sweat do anything but pool up on your arm. I looked like a white, freckly, wet tarp. Yeah, me!

I did get to listen to some great podcasts from Brian Dunning's Skeptoid site. I was really impressed by the one about Sarah Palin and others. The title is "Sarah Palin is Not Stupid". He talks about avoiding ad hominem attacks when people don't agree with your view, instead be polite and present your evidence. Otherwise, you just come off looking like a petty jerk. Really thoughtful piece.

:::::::::::::Cake Art numero Tres:::

I'm looking forward to my class tomorrow.

Later, gators!

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Michael, Rachel and I watched the movie 9 to 5, today. They had never seen it, but it is one of my favorite movies. One of my all time favorite movie lines is, "You're a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot!" The dream scenes of how to kill Mr. Hart are so bizarre. My favorite character is played by Dolly Parton.

::::::::::Back to School Shopping:::::
We are mostly done shopping. The boys were, surprisingly, easy to shop for. The girls are in transitional sizes. Inbetweeners, so to speak. Rachel is being pumped with estrogen and her hips are making fittings hard. She is petite and should fit regular size, but she gets pants high-centered on her hip bones. We decided to skip jeans until the fall.

:::::::::::Sleep Overs and Scout Projects:::::

Aaron had two friends over last night and first thing this morning he had a clean up day at the Scout Hut. He kept falling asleep. After the clean up finished he took a very long nap at granny and grampa's house.

::::::::::Another Layout from the Gulfshores Trip:::

::::::::::Book Review:::::::::

This was a very enlightening book. I found it interesting to know what happens to our bodies after death and the choices available to you for what happens to your body. The author uses spots of humor to alleviate the awkwardness most of us feel when talking about death. I tend to laugh at inappropriate times simply because I'm uncomfortable with the situation. I laugh more when the feelings become more intense, so the tone of this book worked for me.

Mrs. Roach gave information on organ donation, body donation for scientfic research, plastination for display and education, cremation, freeze drying to become organic compost and bodies used for folk medicines. One injury analyst who works with the FAA on some cases gave some interesting information on where it might be safest to sit on a plane. "He says it's mostly common sense. Sit near an emergency exit. Get down low, below the heat and smoke. Hold your breath as long as you can, so you don't cook your lungs and inhale poisonous fumes. ...Prefers window seats because people seated on the aisle are more likely to get beaned with the suitcases that can come crashing through the overhead bin doors in even a fairly mild impact." (p.127)
Men tend to survive because they are stronger and can push others out of the way and make it to the exit doors. The analyst stated that he preferred to fly in First Class whenever he flew.

The author shared the point of view that you should state your wishes to your family, but if they find it too abhorrent, or hard to deal with emotional to let them know they can change your burial plans. They are alive and have to deal with the emotions, but you are not. I'm rather ambivalent. I think I like the organic compost idea. I find that when our pets have passed away we bury them under our favorite tree. It is nice and shady and the kids can play and climb on the other side. I would like to be parted out, if there is any usable stuff, first. I'm all for the idea that if I'm not going to be using it it might help someone else.

I thought this book was well written and add just the right bit of levity to something that will affect all of us at some time.


I have been volunteered for a project that is coming up the first week in October. To try to be ready for this event, Michael drove me to Cake Art so I could sign up for Cake Art III. I will be learning to use fondant. I will also be learning how to make tiered cakes. The class starts in 2 days. The same instructor for my first 2 class will be doing this one. She is pretty cool. I'm looking forward to learning some new techniques.

:::::::::::::::Fundraiser for Scleroderma Research::::::

I was very excited that I got to fill in for my mom at the fundraiser in memory of Kathleen Basile. I sat with Jim's family, the Towheys. They are such a hoot. Kathleen's family put together an amazing evening of entertainment, food and prizes. I participated in the Silent Auction and won tickets for "Dialogue in the Dark".Dialogue in the Dark. Here is a blurb from the site, "DIALOG IN THE DARK’S visually impaired guides lead visitors on a journey through a series of darkened galleries created to replicate everyday experiences. Without familiar sight clues, visitors learn to “see” in a completely new way with their non-visual senses." Michael, Aaron, Rachel and I are going.
The Basiles have decided to make this fundraiser into an annual event. There will be options for people to golf at Chateau Elan, purchase dinner tickets, raffle tickets and participate in the Silent Auction. Keep your radars onfor this one.