Meat Dough


The other day I made play dough, but I didn't put enough food coloring in it, so it ended up sort of flesh-colored and sickly-looking.

It's sitting on the counter in plastic bags now, and every time I look over at it I think it's some kind of pale, disgusting raw meat. Ew!

4

A moral tale

Last year when I went to the store to get new shoes I ran into a dilemma. There were several pairs that were cute but not too comfortable and a few pairs that were comfortable but not very cute. (The age-old problem, eh?)

I walked around in all the different shoes. There was one pair that was my favorite. They were not TOO uncomfortable. But a little. "These look nice . . . hmmm . . . but will I enjoy wearing them?" I said to myself. Then---sensibly---"Not much use in having new shoes if you never want to wear them because they're too uncomfortable."

There was also one pair in particular that felt better than the others. They were sensible-looking. Not UGLY . . . but . . . a bit matronly, perhaps. "Quite appropriate for someone with three children," I told myself. "And a woman your age shouldn't be attempting to follow every trend anyway."

Practicality won out. I got them.

I have worn them, dutifully, for several months now.

They aren't even that comfortable.

When I got some birthday money from my mother-in-law, I returned to the shoe store. My favorites were still there! (Now on clearance!) There was one pair in my size. I bought them immediately.

I love them. They are adorable. They don't hurt my feet. (Much.) I feel cute in them.

The end.

MORAL: Just get the cute ones!

These are also the cute ones, not the old ones (don't want you to embarrass yourself by saying, "Ooh, those ARE bad!)
9

Random thoughts

Sometimes the main obstacle to writing for me is that I don't have enough related ideas to string together and make a coherent point. Thus, I find it liberating occasionally to imitate one of my favorite writers and simply present some random thoughts:

Sebby glares (see above) when he is concentrating, or playing a role. (A store owner, for example.)
*Glare* "Would you yike to buy some of this spinach?"
"Yes, please."
*Glare* "Okay, that will be fwee dollars."


Do you ever have a really, really bad dream---so bad that no matter what kind of day you're waking up to, you're just relieved to be awake? I had that kind of dream the other night. Horrible. And why, even when you know it was a dream, does the horror of it stay with you for so long?

If you had told me before I got married, that often the way I'd know Sam was home from work was because I'd hear him in the garage belting out an aria from "Pagliacci" (complete with made-up Italian words), I would have been surprised. But it doesn't surprise me now. (Delight me? yes.)

Why do I have the feeling that a certain phrase I heard ad nauseum for the past eight years---"dissent is the highest form of patriotism"---will suddenly vanish from the public lexicon?

My dad is in the hospital getting various things worked on, and when I called to ask him how it was going, he said, "It's kind of hard to just sit around all day . . . but of course, that's the same thing I'd be doing at home anyway." I felt like I should politely disagree, but . . . honestly . . . that IS all he does at home anyway.

Isn't there some line in that song "New York New York" about how it's so good they named it twice? That's how I feel about Sam. So good I married him twice. How did I get so lucky?

Sometimes I inadvertantly mirror people's faces when they are talking to me. One time a mean-looking guide lady in London asked me, "What are you glaring about?" I wasn't meaning to, but it was because SHE was glaring!

Seb was walking around with his backpack full of monkeys saying, "I'm all ready!" I asked him, "Where are you going?" and he answered, "You never know where I'm going to go." Which, frankly, is quite true.

My parents had a Latin proverb up on their wall which they quoted to us all the time: "De gustibus non est disputandum." Meaning something like, "You can't argue about matters of taste." This scripture in Romans (14:3-5) reminds me of that proverb: "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not despise him that eateth: for God hath received him. . . . One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." To me, this means: Everyone feels like they are justified in what they're doing. So we shouldn't be so quick to say, "What an idiot---why would anyone do such a thing?!" We all generally do what, in our own minds, we feel is what we should do---or what we must do---at the time. (And yes, we are often wrong. But that doesn't make us crazy, or even stupid, necessarily. We are acting rationally on what we feel.)

People often ask when they see Abe and Seb, "Wow, do you cut their hair yourself?" Which I think is a nice way of saying, "Wow, those are obviously not professional haircuts." And they aren't! Oh, they aren't. I realize that if they at all cared what they looked like, I would no longer be able to get away with it.


My mom disapproves of me letting Seb brush his teeth unassisted. "I don't think they really do a good job until age 5 or 6, so I like to just help them with it." By not helping him, am I (as I like to think), fostering valuable independence and self-sufficiency---or am I just much lazier than she was?

Do you ever wonder if there will really, truly, ever be an end to wiping runny noses? That seems like merely a utopian dream to me.
6

In which we enter the world of real estate

On Saturday we amused ourselves by pretending we were realtors and we had to make fliers advertising houses for sale. (Don't mind the stuffed elephant. Sam got him for me before we were married [his name is Bendigo] and somehow he often ends up figuring prominently in various schemes. I don't know why. Are you struck by how round and ball-y he is? Me too.)

Sam assigned me to a do a flier (or is it flyer?) with pictures from Burger King. (I felt weird taking a bunch of pictures inside Burger King, and not buying anything. I tried to be all furtive about it, but it probably made me look even weirder.)



I assigned Sam to do the Visitor's Center at Temple Square.

It was quite entertaining. (My favorite part of Sam's is "Potential breakfast nook!" Or maybe the staircases that "literally" go on forever.)

In related news, the house next door to us is now for sale. Anyone interested?

6

National Pie Day


Just a reminder to celebrate National Pie Day today. It's Friday night, what else do you have to do? :) Perhaps you could make this (also here)? Or this? Or one of these? Or Sam's favorite, this: (I don't have a picture now, but I'll make it soon and then post one)

Lemon Meringue Pie

Filling:

1 9" baked pie shell (if using crust recipe from here, just bake the crust alone at 450 for 8-10 min. first)

1/4 c. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1 ½ c. water
1 tsp. grated lemon rind (optional)
1 T. margarine or butter
Meringue:
3 egg whites
6 T. sugar

Combine cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice in saucepan. Add beaten egg yolks. Add water. Bring mixture just to boiling over medium heat and simmer for 5 min, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add margarine and grated lemon rind, stir until thoroughly blended. Pour into baked pie shell. Then, in metal bowl with beaters, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar. Continue to beat on high speed to form stiff, glossy peaks. Spread meringue over lemon filling, carefully sealing entire edge of crust to prevent shrinking. Bake at 400 for about 5 min. or until meringue is golden.

Happy pie-ing! Let me know if you find any other good recipes!
2

Prayers and things

Do you kneel down with your kids for their prayers at night? My friend was telling me that she often does (although her oldest is now 14) and it surprised me. I did for awhile, I guess, but now I usually just leave them to it. But I still often hear their prayers through the doors. And here are some things I've heard:

"Please bless the missionaries so they can go into the doors and walk around in the world . . ."

"I'm thankful that I got Brownie [his monkey] in heaven a long, long time ago from Heavenly Father before I was born . . . "


[After our Family Home Evening lesson about telling Heavenly Father things you are sorry for in your prayers]
Seb: "And I'm sorry that Abey hit me today . . . "
Abe: [hissing at him] "NO, Sebby, you're not supposed to say things I'M sorry for!!"


And while I'm thinking about it, here are a few other funny things the boys have said lately:

Seb: "I'm going to show Abey this roller coaster." [The roller coaster was himself.] "But don't hold its hand, Mommy. Because . . . it doesn't have a hand."

Abe, to me: "I guess you could just pump some milk for Ky to drink."
Seb: "Yeah, or you could just spray some out your belly-bean for him."

Seb: "What if traffic lights changed their minds instead of their colors?"


Abe: "Mommy, why does that sign say 'Worms for sale?' I can't think of a single reason why you'd want to buy worms."

Seb: [looking at his toenails]: "What are these? Not foot-nails . . . "

Seb: "Wrecking balls don't knock down cars; no, no!"
Me: "That's right, they only knock down buildings."
Abe: "Or sometimes they knock down houses, but they have to ask first."


Seb: [singing] "Monkey doesn't have hair . . . hmm-hmm-mm-hmm . . . he only has a head . . . huh-uh-uh-huh-huh . . ."
7

Effort-less

I remember many happy hours spent making fun of the principal, Mr. Gentry, at my Junior High because he had said something like this: "Here at our school, any effort is a success."

I still think that's kind of a dumb thing to have as your "school slogan" (I mean come on, can't we set our expectations just sliiiightly higher?), but then again, I'm sort of warming up to the idea as a personal aspiration.

Is it hard for anyone else to want to do anything these cold, dreary days? If I'm out of pajama pants by lunchtime, it really seems like quite an accomplishment. Sometimes I look back over my "schedule" and realize I haven't been out of the house---literally not set foot out of the door---for 2 or 3 days at a time. I mean really, what's out there for me? Cold wind? Brown piles of snow in parking lots? (Bunnies, okay,
yesterday there were bunnies and that got me out.) "Winter sales"?? Nope. And here at home I'm not much more motivated. Menu plans? Groceries? Did I really used to involve myself with such things? Anyway, needless to say, I don't get an awful lot accomplished from day to day.

Therefore, anytime I DO make the slightest bit of effort to do, well, anything, I should just tell myself, "Bob Gentry would be so proud." Wouldn't he.
6

A snuggle of bunnies

Today we did something good. There is a bunny farm (a "rabbitry," they call it---but the lady didn't call them rabbits, she called them bunnies, like me) near where we live, so yesterday I called up the lady and asked her if we could come visit the bunnies. She said we could. So today, we did.

It was SO fun. There were probably 200 bunnies there. They were all different kids: huge giant lop-eared ones and fluffy little long-haired ones and tiny furry ones and medium-sized hoppy ones. There were several litters of babies, too: some only born last night (they looked like tiny bald mice) and some born a couple weeks ago. These were the cutest:

They were SO small, but their eyes were open and they were wiggling around and trying out tiny little hops. The white one peeked out and looked at me when I took his picture.
This one was relaxing in her hammock. They love sleeping in hammocks, apparently.
I love the way they just pile themselves indiscriminately on top of each other, like it doesn't really matter where one bunny ends and the next one begins. Mounds of bunnies. So cute.

The boys loved them. But who do you think loved them the most? :)

When we got home, we had a special lunch to celebrate. Can you tell what it is?


Macaroni and cheese, with bunny-shaped noodles. So I guess I should call it "Bunnies and cheese." Yum!
It's hard to choose, because I love the white ones, and the black ones, and the spotted ones, and the grey ones, and the brown ones---but I think this was my favorite bunny. I love the ones that have this kind of short, velvety-soft fur, and he had such a pretty reddish-gold color!
7

More pie pageantry

For entry to the Pie Pageant, pie charts were (naturally) required. Much informative data was thus encapsulated. Here are two of the 15 or so we prepared:


And here are the recipes we used. I don't cook with meat a whole lot, but when I have ground beef to use up, this is one that everyone likes:
Cheeseburger Pie

1 pie crust (uncooked) (see below for a crust recipe)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped gr. pepper (opt.)
1 t. salt
½ t. oregano
1/4 t. pepper
½ c. dry bread crumbs
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

Cheese topping
:
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
Beat together, then stir in:
½ t. each salt, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare pie crust. Brown the ground beef and onions (and green pepper, if using.) Stir in the bread crumbs, seasonings, and tomato sauce. Spread into unbaked pie crust. Top with cheese topping. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Serve with additional tomato sauce on top, if desired.

My favorite Pie Crust
1 c. flour, sifted
1/3 c. plus 1 T. shortening
½ t. salt
2-4 T. cold water
Cut shortening into dry ingredients, then add water until dough forms a ball. Roll crust out between pieces of waxed paper. Put in pie plate and flute edges.

And for dessert: (not a very good picture, but it is a really yummy pie--and easy)

Cream Puff Pie

½ c. butter or margarine
1 c. water
Combine in saucepan; bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Add 1 c. flour, stir till it forms a ball
Add 4 eggs, one at a time (keep stirring, it will stop being slimy eventually)


Spread into bottom and up sides of large pie pan. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Cool completely. (It will puff up like a cream puff. Just spread the toppings on top.)

Fill with anything yummy. My favorite combination is:
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese, softened and mixed with 1 c. whipping cream (reserve a little cream for the top first) and powdered sugar to taste
  • chocolate pudding (I like the cook-and-serve kind for this)
  • vanilla pudding

Layer cream cheese mixture, chocolate pudding, then vanilla pudding in crust. Top with reserved whipped cream (1 dollop) and dust baking cocoa on top.

2

To the sky!

Do you know my friend Rachael? Or is it Rachel? Or Racheal? Or Rachelle? (No one really knows the answer---it's part of her charm!)

Just look at her! She is delightful.

She is a Who.

She is a proficient angklung-ist. (Above you see her brother. But she is even better.)

She can Riverdance like Nobody's Business.

Her personal hygiene is impeccable!

She is currently trying to populate the earth with boys. If she did not live clear up in the dang Arctic Circle, you could meet her in person. But fortunately, she has a lovely blog. It is here: boysandwich.blogspot.com. [Warning: Do not go there looking for sandwich recipes. She doesn't have ANY.]
3

Pied Beauty (Pageant)

Glory be to God for dappled things! But sorry, you'll have to find the poem elsewhere. (One of my favorites, though---and one of my favorite poets.)

I'm talking about something quite different---the 2009 Pan-American Pie Pageant, to be precise. (Pan-Pacific would have been better, but inaccurate.) In anticipation of National Pie Day (Jan 23rd), we held the aforementioned Pageant last weekend. Everyone dressed up as a pie or a pie ingredient in hopes of being crowned "Mr. Pie." Here are our entrants:

Mr. Raspberry Pie (he made his own costume. Do you like it?)


Mr. Banana Pie. That is one happy monkey.


Mr. Cutie Pie. It's not really fair to the other contestants, is it?


Of course, we celebrated with actual pie as well, for both dinner and dessert. Yum!
2

One heart and one mind, part 2

I've been thinking about Beth's comment on the previous post, and Sam and I were talking about it last night, and I think that we came to kind of the same conclusion, i.e., that the key to achieving unity must start with finding what we have in common (for example, that we are all trying in our own ways to follow God) and focusing on that. It seems like President Hinckley was always saying that.

And the way we feel towards others is an important part of it, even more than what we think of their viewpoints, maybe. In other words, if I can feel empathy and love towards someone I think has weird ideas ("What she's saying/doing doesn't seem right to me---but then again, think how many times I've been wrong about something I was sure of, and also how many times I've done the wrong thing even when I knew what the right thing was---so she is probably just trying to make sense of things just like I am. I know how that feels.") then I am less likely to set myself apart as "better" than others. I think one of the most harmful attitudes to have is this one (which I find myself falling into all the time): "Sure, I'm not perfect, and I have my problems, but at least I don't do _____!" (Or, "at least I'm not as bad as _____ is!") I think the whole point of all the scriptures on charity and love for your fellow-men, is to emphasize that we all are in exactly the same boat: no matter HOW good we are, NOBODY is "good enough" without Christ, and we all need His atonement equally. I think I used to have the idea that we all needed the atonement, but some people sort of needed it less than others. Now I think that's wrong. I think we're all (really, all, even people like Joseph Smith or President Monson) equally lost without the mercy of God.

So, back to unity, I'm starting to think that simply being able to say to several different viewpoints: "Yes, that's a good point; that's a good point too; yes, I can see your point too" is not really enough to strive for. I mean, that's fine, and it might help you get in fewer arguments, but maybe the main thing is to find love or understanding or sympathy towards the person themself. And worry less about if you disagree with their politics or their views on polygamy or whatever. (And so does that mean that you just avoid any touchy subject? Only talk about things you DO agree on? Maybe so, at least sometimes. I was thinking maybe that wasn't truly being "of one heart and one mind," but maybe if it makes you feel more charitable, it's a good start.)

The other thing I think is involved is that just like in a marriage, how both partners have to give 100% for it to work---for true unity, probably everyone has to be making the effort, and if everyone isn't, it may not work quite as perfectly. But I assume that if even half of the people, or 20% of the people, in the church tried harder, things would be noticeably better. [And I think I am talking mostly about unity in the church, here. I'm taking for granted that we need to be able to get along with other faiths and people who don't believe in God, and we need to make our voices heard on public policy so we don't support things we think are morally wrong, etc etc etc.---but what got me started on this whole thing was just thinking that even within our own church, it seems impossible to achieve unity. But it must be possible, because we're supposed to try for it. Right?]

I've been trying to think of people I know who seem to have this kind of benevolent attitude towards other people with different views (my teacher Leslie Norris comes to mind, as does President Hinckley, and some people in the ward I grew up in) and many of them were older when I knew them, and maybe they had just had more life experiences that taught them this very thing: that everyone has their struggles, and you can't really feel superior to anyone because you are just as foolish and vulnerable and dependent on God as the next guy. I feel like maybe when I have fewer of my own insecurities (or have learned to deal with them better), I won't feel so defensive and so anxious for other people to agree with me. (Because a lot of times we say we just want other people to "respect our views," but I think often, we really want them to do more than that---we want them to actually agree; to think we are right.) And maybe as we get older and wiser and see more of life, we will be content to look at other people, and even if we don't feel totally in unity with what they think or what they do, we will feel unified in that we are all flawed and human and we all need love and we all need God.

Can we do anything to hasten ourselves towards that attitude, I wonder? I think I'm closer to it than I was ten years ago, but I still wish I was much better. I guess we can just work on getting into those thought patterns, of generosity towards others---giving them the benefit of the doubt---remembering your own mistakes and flaws---etc.
4

One heart and one mind (part 1)

There's a lot in the scriptures about unity. Evidently, as joint-followers of Christ, we are expected to achieve it, and as a church, we cannot be accepted of God without it.

But the trouble is, I don't see how we're ever going to get there. I just don't. Of course there are the small disunities, the differences of personality and opinion. I read a blog post (and a few hundred concurring comments) about how one mother can't go 2 minutes without wanting to check on her sleeping child, and I thought, "Wow, I close my bedroom door on purpose so I won't have to hear the boys if they groan in the night." Well, fine. We're different, but we can "all get along," we can "stop judging others," we can "allow everyone the right to their own opinion." Some people can't do that much, but most of us can. Mutual respect, making allowance. Sure.

The real problem is much deeper, it seems. The defensiveness, the entitlement, the deep-down conviction that really, truly, our way is right. And of course we think so! That's why we chose that way of thinking in the first place! How could we carry on if we didn't feel that? Sure, I understand that some people disagree with me---I even see why they might disagree---I may even respect that they come honestly and earnestly to their viewpoints---but fundamentally, I still think they're wrong! So, yes, I can avoid the subject to avoid argument. I can pretend to agree. I can say, "We agree to disagree!" But am I truly, then, UNIFIED with that person? Unified, as those in Zion were, "of one heart and one mind"? I am afraid not.

Everyone sees themself as a "moderate," a "centrist," a "reasonable person." No one views themself as "on the fringe." Yet we classify others as such all the time! And in so doing, our very language invalidates their opinions. I can't tell you how often I hear someone say, "Of course everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I respect that, BUT . . . " Well? What is the 'but'? It is unity if there's a 'but'? And sure, I include myself in this group. It drives me crazy when someone assumes my beliefs are come by easily, flippantly, or by default. Or when they arrogantly see themselves as the lone iconoclast, courageously "daring to be different" while everyone else is obviously just following the flow. Disagree with me, fine, but at least do me the courtesy of believing that I am just as thoughtful and careful and well-read when I form my opinions as you are when forming yours! But wait---by allowing myself to be driven crazy by that behavior, I too am categorizing and stereotyping those "dare-to-be-different"ers---and perhaps unfairly. Agree to disagree, an uneasy peace. Okay. But unity? Hardly.

It seems like we all like to think we are unusually tolerant. We say we just want others to be as tolerant of us as we are of them! But again, deep down, we are usually scornful of some groups or some views. Maybe it's "those who aren't tolerant!" But isn't that just as bad?

As you can see, my thoughts on the subject are not fully developed---and thus maybe not that helpful---but this is interesting for me, and I have more to say. But this post is getting long, so I'll end here, and resume later. Your thoughts and ideas are welcome, in the meantime!
4

Monkey

Here is a cute monkey that Sebby drew the other day. That thing on the ground next to him is a banana tree.

I like the knobs for his knees and elbows. And his ears, of course his ears.
1

Dignity amidst indignity

I read a book today (I believe it was called Warriors Don't Cry) by one of the girls in the "Little Rock Nine," the first black students to attend the integrated high school in Arkansas in 1957. It was amazing to read details about her year at that school. Naturally I had seen the pictures of the Army escorting the black students in, to protect them from the angry mobs outside, but I had always wondered what happened to them after that.

It was horrible. I started the book feeling fairly detached, mainly just interested in the history of it, but it ended up making me cry. I couldn't believe the treatment this girl (her name was Melba) had to endure---and she could never do anything remotely construable as "retaliation" since the school board was looking for any excuse to get rid of them. The first day they were brought to school, people---mothers!---kept breaking through the guards trying to attack them. Melba was knocked down, punched, kicked, etc. by adults who were determined to get the black kids out of "their kids'" school. The Arkansas police had no motivation to do any actual protection, so later that day the mob got control and stormed the school. Melba heard the school officials saying "We're going to have to give them one of the kids to appease them, let them have their hanging, so we can get the others out of here!" The nine of them were finally rushed out of the school by a back exit, just in time to save their lives.

Can you believe it? It seems completely unreal to me. I mean, people willing to kill over it? To hang a high school kid? (Of course, it's not like I'd never heard about this stuff before, but somehow reading it from her point of view was a lot more personal.) And the rest of the year was no better. Melba had acid thrown in her eyes (damaging them permanently), she was locked in a bathroom stall and girls threw burning papers over the edge at her, she had death threats, she was beaten up nearly every day, and she just had to endure it. For part of the year she had a soldier escort, but he wasn't allowed to intervene unless there was actual danger to her life. And when the soldiers weren't there, no other adult would intervene either.

Much of the persecution from other students was coordinated, evidently. They had meetings where they would plan how to attack the black students, and they had psychologists advising them on the best ways to torment them and encourage a "reaction" out of the black kids (which in turn could justify getting the black kids expelled). I just can't get over that there were groups of mothers---normal, nice-seeming mothers most of the time, I'm sure---who were screaming and rioting and yelling death threats. I suppose it's a testament to the power of a "mob mentality" (I think I wrote a paper on that once).

Another thing I didn't know was that the next year, the Arkansas governer CLOSED ALL THE HIGH SCHOOLS in the district rather than integrate. The whole school year was cancelled. The white kids went to private schools or drove far away to other schools, and Melba and her friends were sent away to sympathetic families in other states, to finish their high school education.

After I finished the book I just kept wondering how high school students could be so cruel to other high school students. Well, of course they learned it from their parents. And the social pressure at the time was unimaginable, I'm sure, so maybe it is expecting too much to think a high school kid, still insecure about his or her own self-image, and still unsure of his or her own place in life, could stand up to that. But still, kids that age do have minds of their own. Some, though not many, dared to be nicer to the black kids. So it was possible. I guess many of the kids really thought that black people were like animals, without real feelings. Even then, though. They could SEE they weren't animals; they were attending the same classes, eating in the same lunchroom, etc. So how did they justify it to themselves? I know kids can be mean. But I never saw any, in my high school anyway, be THAT mean. In addition to all the (terrible) physical abuse Melba endured, there was the constant emotional strain of it. To have everyone hate you like that! Really hate you, want you dead! I can't even imagine it. She said she just had to believe that God would protect her, and I'm sure He did, but I think she must have wondered often if she'd make it through alive. Of course she was a hero to many people, and she received many awards for bravery, etc. later. But I can't imagine that any of that was much comfort to her at the time!

I don't know if I really came to any conclusions about all this yet. I've just been mulling it over in my mind. I guess I'm glad not to have seen that level of hate in people. (Although I'm sure it still exists.) I'm glad that although many people's high school experience is difficult---emotionally scarring, even---it is usually endurable. I'm glad this girl, Melba, grew up to have a good life, with people all over that love her and respect her. I hope those kids who went to school with her eventually figured out how to be nicer and braver and more humble. And mostly, I hope I can teach my kids to hold their own opinions while still being open to the fact that they might be wrong, and while still being nice to those that disagree with them. Can I help them show that kind of character? And could they be strong enough to act that way even in an environment where everyone else, even the adults, refused to show the same kind of respect back to them? (I wonder if they will ever face such a situation?) I don't know. I'm sure it would be hard. But I hope so.
2

Resolute

I don't like (my mom would be horrified to hear me say this) New Year's Resolutions. I have been trying to figure out why (laziness? cynicism? general misanthropy?) but it has required too much effort, so instead I decided to try the simple remedy of not making any and see if that helps.

It does.

I seem to be able to accept everyone else's resolutions with complete equanimity. So resolve away, friends. I remain blissfully unimproved.

Stagnantly yours,
Marilyn
4

Puzzled

Here's what we (and by "we" I suppose I mean, "Sam, Abe, and Seb") gave our families for Christmas this year. We had Abe and Seb draw characters from our favorite children's books, as well as trees and mountains and flowers and other general scenery, and then Sam put all the pictures together and colored them and made them into one composition. Then, we sent the final picture in to some online store and they made it into a puzzle for us.

Here is the key (which parts of the picture are from which books, and who drew what). Click to enlarge. And if you aren't familiar with any of these books, you should try to find them--they are all ones that are fun to read over and over. All of us really like them.

It turned out really well, I think. And it's a fun puzzle, too. Sam tried to make all the colors and textures different enough that it wouldn't be too hard, and it turned out just right.

Is it kind of a weird present? I know some of the pictures are kind of strange. But I find it charming. One of our grandmas was really baffled by it, and even after 20 minutes of explanation she was kind of like, "But . . . why??" I think my Dad may have felt like that too. But, anyway, it was lots of fun for the boys to make (and for me to watch being made). :)
4
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