29 May 2008

Penguins win!

There is a very happy little boy in my house tonight.

28 May 2008

The Mums Are Taking Over

It seems that those potted mums have taken over cemeteries at Memorial Day. You know the ones I mean, with different colors of foil that are sold in sets of three in all the grocery stores.

I'm ready for something new. Sure, the mums are easy, but they're really pretty awful. I'd probably like them better in the summer or fall when mums are in season, but in the spring, can't we had some peonies or lilacs or roses or tulips or any of the other spring flowers? A friend of mine who understands why I don't like the mums said she might put "No mums please" on her tombstone. Sounds perfect. :)

You don't have to buy expensive flowers, or even lots of flowers. For the same price as 3 pots of mums, you could buy three bunches of mixed flowers that could be put on a large number of graves. Or cut flowers from your garden. Or put stones on the graves. But I'm about ready to start an anti-mum movement.

27 May 2008

Memorial Day

We've had a perfectly lovely weekend visiting cemeteries. The boys were happy even though we drove about 700 miles and visited 13 cemeteries. Some were old favorites, others were new for our family. We played frisbee and football, found new stones almost immediately even if there wasn't a directory, and ate tasty food in the car. The weekend couldn't have gone any better.

From north to south, we visited Downey, Swanlake, Preston, and Franklin, Idaho; and Logan, Hyrum, Willard, Ogden, Bountiful, Salt Lake, Sigurd, Richfield, and Monroe, Utah. I rather liked the Willard and Sigurd cemeteries.

16 May 2008

Current Events

I'm late, as is usual these days, with this, but still.

Edward Luttwak's "President Apostate" op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday was so far-fetched it's almost amusing. Muslim security guards not being religiously allowed to protect a potential President Obama because he's an apostate? Quite a stretch. If Obama becomes president, it's likely he will have better relations with the Muslim world not because his father may or may not have been Muslim, but for other, more important reasons, like his worldview. Of course, any of the potentials would be hard-pressed to botch things more internationally with any group than President Bush has.

I have to admit I was glad to hear that the recent large earthquake was in China (although I'd be much happier not to hear of any at all). But China is significantly better able to handle a natural disaster than almost any other country in the world, especially countries prone to natural disasters. Myanmar provides an all-too-obvious contrast, but even the difference between what China has been able to do compared with Iran in 2003 and Pakistan in 2005 is striking.

And I'm glad the early comparisons of these disasters to Katrina has stopped. Despite the sorry handling of that hurricane, a disaster like the one in Myanmar couldn't happen here just from one hurricane or cyclone. 1800 deaths in Katrina is awful, but tiny.

As someone once referred to it, the flavor of the week on my homeschooling message board is food storage. I think it's come up maybe a handful of times in the previous 5 years, but it's quite the thing right now. We tend to store food, but then eat it up and have to get more. That works better when you move a lot.

And my goodness, Obama is an appeaser? No, we can't possibly talk to anyone who doesn't agree with us. Unless, of course, they have oil. (Yes, I oversimplified the argument. But so did President Bush.)

15 May 2008

Blog About Palestine Day

Depending on your point of view, yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, or today is the day to remember the Nakba, the catastrophe that forced many, many thousands of Palestinians from their homes and livelihoods. Many of those Palestinians and many more of their descendants still live in refugee camps created nearly 60 years ago.Blog About Palestine Day
It's been more than 10 years since I've been in Palestine and I don't follow Palestinian politics as closely as I used to then. My interests have shifted toward Central Asia, and honestly, it was a lot easier to be optimistic about Palestinian prospects in the 90s than it is now.

But Palestine will always be important to me. It's where I was first lived in a Muslim area (I lived in East Jerusalem), where I learned to communicate in Arabic, where I met my husband, someone who shares my interest and love for the Islamic world. I only spent 9 months there, but it was a life-changing nine months (sort of like a pregnancy, no?).

But the primary reason I love Palestine is because of the people I met there and the friends we still have from there. People travelling to Palestine talk about the hospitality, and that's true, but Palestinians are more than hospitality (and there are plenty of other hospitable people in the world). Maybe the reason tourists talk so much about hospitality is that they often can't speak the language and smiles and food are all they can share.

What I loved was talking to Palestinians to hear their stories, whether they were wealthy and lived in large homes in the West Bank, or if they were students in Nablus, or if they were living in a refugee camp in Gaza. We heard about politics mostly, and more politics, but we also heard about children, about Islam, about prayer, about architecture, about cooking, about ghosts, about djinn, and then some more about politics.

There's so much more I could say here, but I'll just leave it with this. Even though I love Central Asia and that's where we're focusing our efforts, we'll always love Palestine. And we'll pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the welfare of the Palestinians.

14 May 2008


Am I the only who gets excited for what you're cooking for dinner? I just can't wait sometimes. I've got to get some new recipes posted sometime.

07 May 2008


A friend of ours introduced us to this new (to me) Korean dish a few weeks ago and it was so good that we've had it lots of times since. Bibimbap is basically rice with vegetables and red pepper paste, and often a fried egg and some meat. Since there are lots of options, you just need to have some vegetables around and gochujang sauce on hand for a quick meal that can be put together in the time it takes to cook rice. I like to put some carrot salad on top too instead of cooking the carrots. Yum.

Princess Academy

Princess AcademyI read this book by Shannon Hale last week since Melissa's always writing about Shannon Hale and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Was that post of Melissa's really two years ago though?) Miri is a likeable gal and the story isn't at all overwrought or too princessy. Recommended.

05 May 2008

We're well into our longest break of the school year and I'm ordering what we'll need for next year. (Next year is very likely to start the first week the temperature hits 90.)

I've had to get more serious with school each year; I'm so glad I've always homeschooled and didn't jump into this now. It's probably also good for oldest son too since he'd rather spend all his time listening to audiobooks and building things (it is nice that the things he'd like to do are pretty worthwhile though, especially since he'll listen to anything). I remind him that even if we spend 4 hours on school a day next year, it'll still be a lot less than the 8-9 hours he'd have with public school and homework.

Sometimes I feel like there is so much I want them to learn but there isn't time for all of it.

Book Club Selection

Have you just been dying to know what book I chose for our reading group? Yes? It's Reading Lolita in Tehran. None of the other women had read it, and I think there's potential for a lot of great discussion in there, from Iranian politics to Daisy Miller to reading fiction and so much more. And we'll eat Persian food while we chat. I'm deciding what we'll have.

Someone and Someone Else

Someone in this family has signed our children up for lots of things. Unfortunately that person has also been extremely busy at work which means that someone else in the family has to get the children to all of those activities (although the signer-upper does get middle son to his hockey class).

This is just reinforcing in my mind that one of my favorite reasons for homeschooling is that I get to be in control of our schedule. And I will be back in control of it in 6 weeks.

Of course a lot of families do way more outside activities than we do.