Monthly Archives: August 2012

Parenting Through the Election

Syndicated on

A version of this post was syndicated by BlogHer on October 9, 2012.

Engaging your children in the electoral process can be filled with teachable moments.

yankee doodle

yankee doodle

This week I let my son stay up and watch some of the Republican National Convention speeches with me. To balance things out, we’ll watch some of the Democratic National Convention speeches next week.

We tried watching on the networks and PBS, but my son quickly tired of the commentators.

“Who is that and why do they keep talking?” he said. Good question.

Are we not able to discern the themes and validity of the speeches for ourselves?

We clicked over to C-SPAN where the coverage ran uninterrupted except for a ticker line of tweets across the bottom of the screen. A much better fit for us. We got to see all of the speeches and videos of the convention, not just the parts the media decided we should see. And without the commentary.

Media literacy is practiced in our house. 

We don’t sit there and take whatever the media gives us; we talk back to the TV, radio, and internet. We control the feed. We turn it off if these “guests” overstep their bounds.

Admittedly, my house leans conservative though I remain independent of party affiliation. I lost count of how many times during the course of the speeches by Chris Christie, Condoleezza Rice, Clint Eastwood, and Mitt Romney my child heard me speak to the screen.


“Bless your heart.”

“God bless you.”

“That’s right.”

Next week, he’ll hear me speak, too.

I anticipate a lot of questioning and disagreeing. But I’ll take care to be measured in my responses. To explain to my son as best I can why some citizens see things differently than his parents do and to reiterate our beliefs. To stress to him how imperative it is we respect all our countrymen and the office of the President, even if we disagree.

Children think in all-or-nothing terms sometimes.

I corrected my son quickly when last night he said, “I hate Obama.”

“No,” I said. “We don’t hate Obama; we just disagree with him. And we respect him as a person and as the President.”

“But I hope Mitt Romney wins, Mom,” he said.

At the end of this process, someone will win, and someone will lose. And there will be more lessons to be taught. How to win and lose gracefully. How to stick with your values and beliefs regardless of the outcome.

The presidential election offers a chance for us to explain to our children what we believe and why. We get to show them the ropes of how we choose our elected officials. We have the chance to demonstrate to them wisdom and discernment. We’re responsible for developing their citizenship.

It’s up to us to plant the seeds of engagement that will influence the future of our country and culture long after we’re gone.

And so, my children, listen to me,
for all who follow my ways are joyful.
Listen to my instruction and be wise.
Don’t ignore it. Proverbs 32-33 NLT

Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Do you engage your children in the election? How?



Filed under America, family & friends

Field Trip to Visit a Baseball Blogger

Jeff White, Cardinals Blogger

Jeff White

My friend Jeff White asked me if I’d guest post about baseball to help celebrate the first birthday of his St. Louis Cardinals blog Born Bleeding.

Wasn’t sure how that would go.

I enjoy baseball, however I’m not a diehard fan like Jeff. He writes his passion for baseball, and I’m proud of him for it. Plus his wife is the dearest person on earth and one of my favorite friends. I was honored to accept the challenge.

Well, I wrote the post and I loved it! It may be one of my favorites.

Please visit Jeff to wish him a happy blog birthday, share your baseball memories, and read my post:

Baseball America

baseball close up

Click to go to Born Bleeding and read Baseball America.


Filed under America, blogging, family & friends

Lincoln’s Dream

With the Republican National Convention underway, a quote from a famous Republican is apropos for Wednesday Words to Remember.

Abraham Lincoln quote: last best hope

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln was speaking of the freedoms and privileges we enjoy in America that many in the world still do not.

Liberty to vote for our leaders. To transfer power without war. To worship as we choose. To bear arms. To own property, pursue education, and start businesses.

When Lincoln was alive, liberty had not been fully realized by all Americans. Was he thinking of the great trial of his presidency, the Civil War?

Did he believe that preserving the Union meant the freedom of all Americans would be one day be realized and spread to other countries? It would appear that was the hope of his dream.

There’s another possibility.

A Hope that transcends personal and political freedom. I wonder if this Hope was also what Lincoln dreamed for America and for the world.

Why did Abraham Lincoln say this? Can America be the “last best hope of the earth” again?

wednesday words to remember

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Filed under America, words to remember

Hope Blooms

What’s this growing in my backyard?

sunflower bud

Sea creature. Filigree.

sunflower filigree

Spiky crown.

sunflower crown


sunflower burst

Yesterday it bloomed. Look closely.

sunflower bloom close up

Now tell me there is no Creator. Are you sure? Look again.

sunflower white spider close up

Now tell me there is no God.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

Thank you, thank you, that after the long night, You are Sunrise

Where do you see God working in the smallest details of your life?


Filed under faith

Where’s the Beef? New 2012 School Menus are Lean on Meat

Syndicated on

This post was syndicated by BlogHer on October 12, 2012.

where's the beef

where’s the beef


As the school year begins, public school menus across America have been adjusted to align with new federal standards from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

President and Mrs. Obama advocated for the passage of this act. It’s federal policy. To be reimbursed by the National School Lunch Program, schools must adhere to these rules.

The new federal standards are designed to promote healthier eating and reduce childhood obesity with choices based on food components rather than nutrients.

Translation: lots of fruits and veggies, not so much meat.

My friend Katie blogged about the new federal standards and why they don’t work for her family. Other women began blogging about the standards, too. They started a Facebook page called Sensible School Lunches to dialogue.

I pay taxes that support public schools and these programs. So do you. We pay regardless of whether or not we have children enrolled. The well-being of the children in a community is important to the community as a whole.

That makes us all stakeholders in this.

The new federal standards recommend children in kindergarten through fifth grade receive more than six cups of fruits and vegetables for lunch per week, but only eight to 10 ounces of meat or meat alternative for lunch per week.

You read that right. Per week.

That’s roughly two ounces of meat per lunch.

Two ounces of meat per lunch didn’t sound like much to me, but I wasn’t really sure. My son and I headed to our local market to find out.

Two ounces (.125 pounds) of raw ground beef is about one meatball. Enough for a small hamburger or a portion of spaghetti sauce. Not bad.

2 ounce meatball on scale

2 ounce meatball on scale

Consider the chicken leg. It’s overweight at .31 pounds (4.96 ounces).

chicken leg on scale

chicken leg weighs more than 2 ounces

Two slices of bacon is fine, but a two-slice limit wouldn’t go well at my house.

2 ounces of bacon

2 ounces = 2 slices of bacon

At another store, we determined one hotdog would pass.

ballpark beef franks

ballpark beef franks, 1 hotdog = 2 ounces

So would a package of lunch meat like this.

oscar meyer chicken

2 ounces of oscar mayer chicken

My son enjoyed our investigative reporting. But as I snapped photos of Oscar Mayer, I wondered what the menu changes meant in real life.

I consulted the USDA’s sample menus.

Will children really eat 1/4 cup of jicama and 1/4 of pepper strips as suggested for the Monday menu, assuming they know what jicama is? How about Tuesday’s suggested 1/2 cup of broccoli and 1/2 cup of cauliflower?

Who are these kids? We try at our dinner table. We really do, but it’s a win if the child ingests more than one green bean.

please do not climb on cow

please do not climb on cow

By the time Friday rolls around, the weekly allowance of meat on the sample menu has been depleted. Cheese pizza is the suggested fare. Why not front-load the week with this deficit and participate in Meatless Mondays?

I jest, but there are American ranchers who are not amused.

The new federal standards also prohibit whole milk or flavored milk, a fact highlighted in Joslyn Gray’s post Seriously? 15 Things Schools Have Banned So Far in 2012. By 2014, the only grains allowed will be whole grains.

Let’s say a child eats his veggie-rich lunch of jicama and peppers with two ounces of turkey and one cup of fat-free milk, but is still not hunger-free. How will that child perform in class?

What if that child’s only meal for the entire day is school lunch?

Sadly, this is the case for many students. The 2010 Hunger in Our Schools study concluded hunger remains a problem in the classroom with a large proportion of students relying on school meals. It’s the main reason some kids come to school.

cow statue at airport in vermont

cow statue at airport in vermont

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act updates public school menus for the first time in 15 years. It’s a commendable start.

The emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat milk is terrific. Still there are questions that need to be addressed for these standards to succeed in real life.

Giving local schools more say in what works best in their communities with their students makes the most sense.

Local schools are also better equipped than the federal government to network with area farmers and ranchers to supply foods, another goal of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

There’s work to be done. Please contact your elected officials. Visit Sensible School Lunches to learn more and to dialogue. Bloggers, consider writing your story about this topic and sharing it there.

He always does what He says—
He defends the wronged,
He feeds the hungry. Psalm 146:7 The Message

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. A link to the Wendy’s commercial that inspired this post’s title: Where’s the Beef?

What’s your take on the new menus?


Filed under family & friends, food & farm

It’s Friday, but Sunday is Coming

No matter how bad things get or how recklessly people twist the Truth, the Gospel holds like an anchor in the storm.

it's Friday but Sunday is coming

Do you know the story of this phrase? Read parallel accounts in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Do you know why it happened? While the entire Bible answers that, Paul’s brutal and beautiful letter to the Romans gives an in-depth summary. Start with the first eight chapters.

Do you know what happens next? Check out chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.

Spoiler alert: God wins.

There’s much more, but these are good places to begin.

What does this story mean to you today?
What Bible verses help you own it?

Sunday by Tree63 sets this phrase to music, presented here in a quirky video by Darryl Swart and Brent Lathrop. Love me some Nashville.

wednesday words to remember


Filed under faith, words to remember

A Land Without Squirrels

X-Files David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, image from wikipedia

David Duchovny as Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files, image from wikipedia

Month eight in Wichita. We’ve yet to see a squirrel in our yard. Time to call Fox Mulder.

We’ve seen robins, turtles, rabbits, toads, barn swallows, cardinals, deer, muskrats, herons, and a turkey who crossed the road, but no squirrels.

This wouldn’t be a big deal except we have a dog whose favorite pastime is hunting squirrels. Flamboyant St. Louis squirrels.

Cairn terriers are bred to hunt vermin. Ella was only a few months old when once during a walk back in St. Louis, a squirrel fell out of his tree and landed on me. I screamed. The squirrel ran. My cute, innocent, downy-headed puppy sprang into action transformed. Ella didn’t catch the squirrel, but she treed him and wouldn’t move.

St. Louis Cardinals Rally Squirrel

rally squirrel

Long before Rally Squirrel gained World Series fame, the squirrels of St. Louis infested the attics of our old houses. They chewed through electrical wires. They picked our young, blushing tomatoes, eating a single bite before leaving them ruined and discarded on fence posts. With ardor, they hollowed out our Halloween pumpkins.

Our neighbor Bob got fed up with them one spring. We’d see the barrel of his pellet gun poking out his second-story window.

The lone gunman shot more than 80 squirrels that year, but didn’t make a dent in the population.

Another neighbor Larry owned an exceptional golden retriever. Yankee was as perfect as a dog can be in both temperament and stature. When Yankee died, Larry posted a eulogy on a tree in the park: “For Yankee, fine dog and companion, who caught 16 squirrels here. You will be missed.

Our dog Ella never caught a squirrel, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Now she doesn’t have a chance.

I thought of this one night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s the little things like squirrels, forgotten toys, and expired cake mixes that get to me.

In the dark, I could see the outline of Ella’s tiny body curled up on her bed beside mine. How sad she hasn’t chased a squirrel since we left St. Louis. Poor little dog, been through so much.

How much more her owners.

We humans navigate the changes of life, flying and leaping and scuttling through as best we can. We try not to fall, but often we do anyway.

We run for recovery in the next city, job, or relationship. We race away from the sadness only to find it has cornered us and will not let us go without a fight.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV

Counting Crows are a favorite. So is their cover of Start AgainEven though it’s complicated, we got time to start again…

What “squirrels” keep you up at night?
How do you put them to rest?


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Filed under life