Monday, September 8, 2008

The Next Food Network Star

On the weekends I generally like to cook breakfast one morning. Now I don;t like eggs so that means generally I make pancakes or waffles. I like french toast but I never remember to buy bread. Anyway this Saturday I told Reese I was going to make pancakes.

She loves to help in the kitchen so she promptly walked over to wear the aprons are and asked for hers. We pulled a chair up to the counter and I got out the Bisquick, milk, and eggs. I showed her the recipe and asked what number was in front of the Bisquick. She said "2" so I gave her the cup measure and told her to fill it up 2 times. I helped a little with leveling it out and then she dumped it into the bowl. Next we poured the milk into the cup measure and she carefully poured it in. Finally I gave her a separate bowl and let her crack the eggs. This is something she's been doing for awhile now. She loves to crack eggs, and actually does it very well. The first one was perfect. A little tap on the bowl and then she pulled it open with her hands. The second one was kinda more of a squishing with her hands, but still no shell fell in so I was proud. We added the eggs to the bowl and she grabbed the whisk to start mixing.

I'm not gonna lie I was a little fearful at this point. usually I mix at little so there isn't dry Bisquick that can fly everywhere still in the bowl. However this was her breakfast so I decided to let her go for it. She slowly stirred everything together and kept almost everything in the bowl. Prob only a tablespoon of batter kinda flung out onto the counter accidentally.

After mixing I pulled out the griddle and Reese was going to watch me cook the pancakes. I poured the first 2 on and then she asked please if she could pour the first. I decided to let her try. Let's just say it wasn't a circle, but it was all on the griddle :-) Next we watched for bubbles on the top so we could flip them. I helped Reese flip her pancake (almost missed the griddle) and she was so happy. I decided she was having so much fun that I would let her make special Reese pancakes that were small for her. These she poured all by herself and again I helped flip but not very much.

Then we stuck the rest of the batter in the fridge till Grammy and Dad-Dad came down so we could make their pancakes fresh. As soon as they came down Reese was back on her chair pouring and flipping the pancakes. They were so proud of her.

Reese was an excellent cook and was very cautious of putting her hands near the griddle. It was very cute and we had no major messes and even better, no injuries :-) With her personality and love of talking to people I think she could make on the Food Network someday :-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Awesome Article

Usually people post links to an article at this point. but I will save you a click and copy and paste it here. It's Howard Kutz of the Washington Post. WARNING: apparently the Washington Post is a Democratic Newspaper which makes nothing it writes actually true or newsworthy.

Really I think that statement is crap but some other people think it's true so I thought I'd throw it out there ;-)

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008; 7:42 AM

ST. PAUL, Sept. 5--In the end, John McCain took us back to Vietnam.
It didn't work for Bob Dole in '96. It didn't work for John Kerry in '04. But it provided an emotional climax to McCain's address on the last night of the Republican convention.
John McCain is no Sarah Palin, but for a man who famously doesn't get along with teleprompters, he managed a pretty strong delivery. The first two-thirds of the speech, though, were strikingly conventional. He reeled off reliable Republican bromides--lower taxes, strong defense, judges who don't legislate from the bench--without much in the way of detail. Perhaps he didn't need to, for he didn't face the where's-the-beef challenge that Barack Obama tried to overcome last week. McCain seemed most exercised about resuming offshore drilling, a position he opposed until a few weeks ago.
The only crossover pitch, domestically speaking, was a paen to school choice, despite the fact that McCain rarely talks about education.
He tried to reclaim the maverick mantle, declaring: "I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you."
McCain repeated lines I've heard him say dozens of times, arguing that the Republican Party had lost its way: "We let Washington change us. We lost their trust." A veiled shot at President Bush, whose name he briefly mentioned just once?
When he turned to the POW narrative, the crowd seemed hushed, rather than electrified, as it had been by his running mate. McCain's ordeal, and his bravery, are quite familiar by now, but the story still has power when he tells it. He coupled the tale with a declaration of how much he hates war, trying to tie his captivity into a personal transformation that launched him on a larger mission of keeping America safe.
But that meant the speech looked backward, and in politics, the voters want to know what you're going to do for them tomorrow.
McCain and Obama could not be more different, but there are similarities. Neither was the choice of his party's establishment, and each man is, beyond programs and policies, selling himself.
NYT: "The nominee's friend described him as a 'restless reformer who will clean up Washington.' His defeated rival described him going to the capital to 'drain that swamp.' His running mate described their mission as 'change, the goal we share.' And that was at the incumbent party's convention.
"After watching two political conclaves the last two weeks, it would be easy to be confused about which was really the gathering of the opposition. As Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president, he and his supporters sounded the call of insurgents seeking to topple the establishment, even though their party heads the establishment."
The insider who's really an outsider. Hmm.
Politico's Roger Simon strikes a similar note:
"If you didn't know that John McCain was a Republican, you might think he was running against the Republicans . . . John McCain is a maverick who has now done what mavericks almost never do: win. And now he must lead a party while maintaining his independence from it."
The National Review crowd is underwhelmed. Rich Lowry:
"Don't focus on the oratory. If Mark Salter wanted to, he could have written prose for the ages, but it wouldn't have seemed true to McCain. Don't focus on the delivery. The election isn't going to be decided on speech-making ability. Focus on the theme--a populist fighter for you. This is exactly where McCain needs to be.
"Just as Obama needed to ground his politics of hope last week, McCain needed to ground his politics of honor. And he did. At least thematically. What's still lacking is the substance. He needs three simple, stark policy proposals to protect and ease the way of life of average Americans, and I think he already has two (on energy and health care) and can get another (a middle-class tax cut). Then, he needs to master them and talk about them wherever he goes . . .
"So I wasn't bowled over by it, but I'm still encouraged."
That's a rave compared to Jonah Goldberg:
"Ehhhhh . . . maybe I'm missing some grand strategy or tactics, but I think it was a missed opportunity. Good that he did some policy. I liked that he championed free trade -- something he didn't have to do. I liked the fight, fight, fight stuff. Good that he was specific. I can come up with specific compliments about this or that. But it was flat, forced and basically a free pass for Obama.
"Again, maybe strategically that was the plan and maybe there was a good reason. Maybe Palin will be the pitbull and he'll be the statesman for the general election. And maybe that will work. But politically and substantively I think there should have been more oomph, more fun, more energy and more contrast. Civics value: B. Political value: Gentlemen's C."
Andrew Sullivan, an Obama fan, was not moved:
"Quite a deflation after the drama of last night with the sportscaster-governor. It made me realize how much I am still fond of this guy. And also clearer about why this is not his moment. The specifics were very vague, and the entire presentation based on biography, nostalgia and a kind of strained, exhausted mildness. His performance at Saddleback was much, much better. He seemed very tired to me."
Jonathan Cohn wondered where was the economic beef?
"If this was McCain's answer to voter anxiety about the economy, it wasn't too impressive.
"As you've been reading--or, perhaps, as you've noticed on your own--economic policy has not been a big theme this week in Minneapolis. The Republicans have been campaigning heavily on McCain's character and supposed leadership skills. To the extent they recognzied the high anxiety over employment, wages, or health care costs, they have spent most of their time criticizing Barack Obama's plans for relief rather than offering their own. Only when they have made the case for more oil drilling--or that old Republican standby of cutting taxes--have they talked substance. And even that's been pretty thin gruel."
Jacob Heilbrunn:
"For all the hullabaloo about whether John McCain would match Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention, it wasn't even close. Where was the tropic thunder? McCain may have ended his speech with a Knute Rockne-like cry for Americans to fight and fight some more -- for what he never really said -- but most of his speech was a snooze, delivered in the tone of a kindly old uncle reminiscing about World War II before fretting about how those pesky Russians are stirring up trouble again."
The big buzz, really, is still all about Sarah. Michelle Cottle says the guv is deceptively effective:
"Nothing in the substance of Palin's speech struck me as particularly noteworthy. It put a high-powered spin on her exceedingly thin resume and then dished out large chunks of red meat to the faithful. Immediately afterward, the commentators I was listening too were surprised by how harsh Palin had been on Obama. But a VP candidate is supposed to be an attack dog. What, they assumed that because she resembles a grown-up Gidget that she couldn't throw a punch? Talk about a misguided sterotype. If anything, being an attractive woman means that she can be far, far more vicious than her male counterparts without coming across as brutish--and, just as importantly, without having to worry so much about getting slapped back.
"A lot of Dems will go to bed nervous. They should. Palin is still a political lightweight who is in no way qualified to be second in line for the presidency. But she is a charming lightweight. And if George W. Bush taught us anything, it is exactly how far that can take you in American politics."
Hanna Rosin explores a question I've wondered about: how no one talks about teenage irresponsibility any more--referring, of course, to the pregnancy of Bristol Palin:
"What's missing from the conservative reaction is still remarkable. Just 15 years ago, a different Republican vice president was ripping into the creators of Murphy Brown for flaunting a working woman who chose to become a single mother. This time around, there's no stigma, no shame, no sin attached to what Dan Quayle would once have mockingly called Bristol Palin's 'lifestyle' choices. In fact, so cavalier are conservatives about Sarah Palin's wreck of a home life that they make the rest of us look stuffy and slow-witted by comparison. 'I think a hard-working, well-organized C.E.O. type can handle it very well,' said Phyllis Schlafly, of the Eagle Forum.
"Suddenly it's the Obamas, with their oh-so-perfect marriage and their Dick Van Dyke in the evenings and their two boringly innocent young girls, who seem like the fuddy-duddies.
"What happened? How did the culture war get flipped on its head?"
Jack Shafer looks at the McCain camp slamming the media (an effort that now includes a Sarah Palin fundraising letter bemoaning her unfair treatment):
"A politician can't launch an effective anti-press campaign until he attracts the sort of coverage that he's able to frame as unfair or inaccurate. Sarah Palin was doubly blessed in the last week, as the press asked questions about Bristol Palin's pregnancy and completed the vetting that the McCain never really started . . .
"If Palin had a prayer of winning the blessings of such conservatives as Charles Krauthammer and David Frum, let alone political reporters, she'd be slathering them with flattery. Because she doesn't, she's turning the negatives reported in the press (lack of experience, mediocre sumé, beneficiary of tokenism) into her positives. [The] press is only attacking me, she grins, because they're partners with the elitists who fear that John McCain and I are coming to Washington to tear their playhouse down."
Turning to Steve Schmidt's complaint to me about the alleged viciousness of the Palin coverage: "At the same time the McCain campaign was protesting the press corps' overinterest in the Palin family, it was arranging for a future member of the clan--Levi Johnston--to attend the convention. He's Bristol's fiance and the father of the child she's carrying. For the benefit of the network cameras, the campaign seated Johnston in a row with the Palin family and Cindy McCain, where the newborn Trig Palin was passed up and down the line like the campaign prop he's become.
"Palin's mixed message says: Please respect the privacy of my family--as I exploit them. Respect my family's privacy, but let me wrap myself in baby Trig to prove my anti-abortion stand. Question for the Commission on Presidential Debates: If you let Palin nurse Trig as she debates Joe Biden on Oct. 2 at Washington University, will you level the field by letting Biden bottle-feed one of his grandchildren?"
Palin, says Shafer, will "play the role of Spiro Agnew to McCain's Nixon, dismissing reporters' tough questions as effete, impudent, sacrilegious, snobby, intrusive, unpatriotic, hostile, disrespectful, chauvinistic, 'East Coast,' unfair, unbalanced, liberal, biased, trivial, hypothetical, elitist, and as partisan attempts to lasso her with a 'gotcha.' "
And finally, I worked the convention's radio row for reaction to Palin. Hint: The right loves her.
Just when I finally figured out how to drive from Minneapolis to St. Paul, it's time for me to head home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reese's Education

Mat and I have started talking about where we will by a house after we are married. Like all responsible parents we are looking at the schools in the areas to make sure there will be a good school for Reese. Unfortunately since we won't have much saved up we prob won't be able to afford a house in the "good school" neighborhood. But it will be fine if McCain is elected. His education plan says I can send Reese to whatever school I want to. If I think the school by my house isn't good enough I can choose to move her to a better school. Hooray :-)

Except now Reese's school is not in our neighborhood. How is she going to get to school? The buses aren't going to drive all over Catonsville going to all the schools. Families with only one working parents or parents with flexible schedules will be fine. Their kids can go to the better school b/c they can drive and pick them up. Kids whose parents can't? I guess they are stuck at the bad school.

And what happens when 100 kids try to move to the better school? Now it's over crowded and therefore it's performance is going to decline. So we'll just cap the number of kids who can transfer. The firs 50 parents to complain get to give their kids a better education.

McCain isn't going to actually improve schools, for that he would need money, and to get money he'd have to raise taxes. No instead students and teachers will simply move to better schools and the bad schools will be stuck w/ less money, bad teachers, and the kids whose parents didn't sign up fast enough or can't drive their kids to the better school.

But it's ok b/c Reese is young and early education doesn't matter. Kids don't need to be educated until they are at least 5, and even in kindergarten we shouldn't teach to much. Are we seriously kidding ourselves?? So many studies that show how much easier it is for a child to pick up a language at a young age. Is it fair to assume they can't learn other things as well? Basic math (adding and subtracting), science (how the body works, how plants grows, learning about animals), engineering and mechanics (building things and working with springs or pulleys), and computers (using a mouse, playing a game). America is ranked way to low in the above areas. Why shouldn't we start early and show kids how these topics are fun. To many people preach "Let kids be kids" so we should just let them run around and play with out making them learn anything except what they learn from life. But really what they learn and what we are saying is enjoy your life until you have to go to school b/c that is no fun. Not the message I want to pass on to Reese.

I am glad to see Obama's zero-five plan that will help improve preschools and daycares to help children start learning at an early age. I love Reese's school. She learns Spanish, music and rhythms, math, science, and so many other things. I wish more children could have that experience but unfortunately $800-$1000 a month is too much to pay. Luckily new tax cuts for child care may help more families afford quality daycare. And if not, Obama will improve schools by recruiting teachers and creating incentives for them. I listen to my sister talk all about how No Child Left Behind is not working. We are both excited for how Obama is going to improve this program.