Wednesday, November 21, 2007

my baby!

those who know me well know how much i love my car. the darn thing is 4 years old and has 76,000 miles on it, and i love it like i just got it yesterday. we are in the car a LOT since we live far from anything, and having my nissan quest makes every trip comfortable and enjoyable. really!

y'all know it's deer season, and the normally insane amount of deer is at a fever pitch right about now. it's not uncommon to spot 13 different GROUPS of deer on any given night on your way home. just 2 days ago, a little deer in the neighborhood walked out in front of my car (now at a full stop since i saw him coming) and almost bonked his head on the bumper!

anyhow, i had just taken the kids to get some takeout indian food (a whole other blog post... this woman does it weekly from her kitchen) and was on my way home, nibbling pakoras along the way when... WHOOSH! from out of the trees bolted a graceful deer from the passenger side. i didn't have much time to brake, and i hit the deer on the driver's side.


my baby is all smashed up. luckily, we were only a mile from home and everything was working properly. i drove home, and savored chicken korma, beet raita, and potato bhaji while i filed a claim with the insurance. this morning i ran over to the autobody place to get an estimate. the damage was $3600! good thing the deductible is only $50. yay for auto insurance.

i must brine the turkey now, but i'll leave you with the parting shots of my squished baby.

happy thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

what do we think?

i just read this article and am so disheartened! as an avid reaer, i am attemting to raise two readers, and find that a life of reading has increased my awareness of language, social and cultural issues, history... the list goes on and on! i think we'd be a better educated society if everyone read just a few more books. and not the "goosip girl" books.

NEW YORK — The latest National Endowment for the Arts report draws on a variety of sources, public and private, and essentially reaches one conclusion: Americans are reading less.

The 99-page study, "To Read or Not to Read," is being released Monday as a follow-up to a 2004 NEA survey, "Reading at Risk," that found an increasing number of adult Americans were not even reading one book a year.

"To Read or Not to Read" gathers an array of government, academic and foundation data on everything from how many 9-year-olds read every day for "fun" (54 percent) to the percentage of high school graduates deemed by employers as "deficient" in writing in English (72 percent).

"I've done a lot of work in statistics in my career, and I've never seen a situation where so much data was pulled from so many places and absolutely everything is so consistent," NEA chairman Dana Gioia said.

Among the findings:

• In 2002, only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992.

• Money spent on books, adjusted for inflation, dropped 14 percent from 1985 to 2005 and has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s.

• The number of adults with bachelor's degrees and "proficient in reading prose" dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.

Some news is good, notably among 9-year-olds, whose reading comprehension scores have soared since the early 1990s.

But at the same time, the number of 17-year-olds who "never or hardly ever" read for pleasure has doubled, to 19 percent, and their comprehension scores have fallen.

"I think there's been an enormous investment in teaching kids to read in elementary school," Gioia said. "Kids are doing better at 9, and at 11. At 13, they're doing no worse, but then you see this catastrophic falloff. ... If kids are put into this electronic culture without any counterbalancing efforts, they will stop reading."

Publishers and booksellers have noted that teen fiction is a rapidly expanding category in an otherwise flat market, but the NEA's director of research, Sunil Iyengar, wondered how much of that growth has been caused by the "Harry Potter" books, the last of which came out in July.

"It's great that millions of kids are reading these long, intricate novels, but reading one such book every 18 months doesn't make up for daily reading," Gioia said.

Doug Whiteman, president of the Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA), said sales of teen books were the strongest part of his business. But he added that a couple of factors could explain why scores were dropping: Adults are also buying the "Potter" books, thus making the teen market seem bigger on paper, and some sales are for non-English language books.

"There are so many nuances," Whiteman said. "Reading scores don't necessarily have any relevance to today's sales."

The head of Simon & Schuster's children's publishing division, Rick Richter, saw another reason why sales could rise even as scores go down: A growing gap between those who read and those who don't. Richter considers it "very possible" that the market is driven by a relatively small number of young people who buy large numbers of books. Test scores, meanwhile, are lowered by the larger population of teens who don't read.

"A divide like that is really a cause for concern," Richter said.

The report emphasizes the social benefits of reading: "Literary readers" are more likely to exercise, visit art museums, keep up with current events, vote in presidential elections and perform volunteer work.

"This should explode the notion that reading is somehow a passive activity," Gioia said. "Reading creates people who are more active by any measure. ... People who don't read, who spend more of their time watching TV or on the Internet, playing video games, seem to be significantly more passive."

Gioia called the decline in reading "perhaps the most important socio-economic issue in the United States," and called for changes "in the way we're educating kids, especially in high school and college. We need to reconnect reading with pleasure and enlightenment."

"'To Read or Not to Read' suggests we are losing the majority of the new generation," Gioia said. "The majority of young Americans will not realize their individual, economic or social potential."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

turkey trot

last night i reminded h that today is the school's annual "turkey trot." it's a race for all the students, and you win a turkey if you're the fastest in your age bracket.

"turkey trot is the worst!" he whined. "you have to run, like, 12 miles, and all you get is a dead turkey."

better motivation needed?

Monday, November 05, 2007

that's mah boy!

the whole cub-scouts-weekend-camping trip is not my story to tell, but from what i hear it went better than expected. it was 32 degrees that night, so they really braved the cold!

i just love these 2 photos of the trip. they just look so wholesome and all-american. so... norman rockwell.

h and jane gone fishin'...

a boy and his dog on a hayride.

and here's a little something i pulled out of his bookbag after school that made me laugh.

that's mah boy!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

will i get a shower today??

at 7:30 this morning i opened my eyes, looked at the clock and realized something.

i was supposed to take coffee to the girl scouts' yard and bake sale by 7:45.

crap! i jumped up, put the first pot of coffee on, got dressed, and got the borrowed carafes out of my van.

brewed the pot of decaf, piled everything in the car, and thanked my LUCKY STARS that the sale was taking place in my neighborhood. i got there by 8, not TOO late, but the earlybirds were circling and would probably have bought a cup or two by now. the girls were red-nosed and freezing, begging me to bring them a pot of hot cocoa.

when i got home, t and h were in a tizzy preparing for their very first cub scout camping trip. the ceremonies started at 11:30, so they had loads of work to get done in time to leave. i was helping them get organized and packed when the phone rang. in only a half an hour they were out of coffee at the sale!

back to the brew center went i, and since i was feeling solicitous toward the girls, i made them a pot of cocoa. then back to the yard sale. the cocoa sold out while i stood there, so i went home, made ANOTHER pot and went back. the girls drank that pot so i made ANOTHER pot and went back.

of course, in between, i was packing for the camping trip, feeding children, dosing children with appropriate cough & cold meds, etc.

finally, the boys left. they even took the DOG! it was just me & my sick girly who was sad to miss the girl scouts' sale. she has a nasty virus that's left her unable to talk. it's WEIRD. also, her throat hurts, she has a croupy cough, and is wheezing when she breathes. i guess it's going around the 1st grade.

i got one more call to bring coffee & cocoa. no problem. i had taken photos of the kids, but had no way to share them. that's when i got the brilliant idea of starting a private blog for our troop. i got to work on that & got it all set up. i think it'll end up being a valuable resource for the troop.

now i'm stuck cleaning coffee pots, carafes and pitchers! it's 1:33 pm... will i ever get to shower?!

Friday, November 02, 2007

i'm such a schmoozer!

thanks to lotus for the honor of this schmooze award. this award is for bloggers who...“effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

what an honor!

i would like to give this award to 3 bloggers:
green mountain country mama
family adventure
j of thinking about

Thursday, November 01, 2007

we went a-haunting...

ok, a bland post content-wise, but heavy on photos.

a girly leopard...

a boyish doctor who...
a piratical husband...
a daunting duo...

a spooky family...
and a really fun night.

good thing the girly leopard waited until AFTER the best night of the year to burn with fever and start a raspy cough and wheezy breathing. she's home from school today.