Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake

This is a recipe from my mom. It was always a favorite when we were all kids and it remains a favorite when we all get together.

1/2 C Shortening (or oil)
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 C Flour
1 t Salt
3 T Cocoa
1 t Baking Soda
2 C Applesauce
1/2 T Cinnamon
6 oz Chocolate Chips

1 C milk
1 C powdered sugar

  • Mix shortening, sugar and eggs.
  • Add flour, salt, cocoa, baking soda.
  • Add applesauce and cinnamon.
  • Pour into a greased/floured 8x10 pan.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips over cake.
  • Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
  • Pour glaze over cake while still hot.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eden Do Do Flag

Eden says in this first video, "Eden do'd the flag" and then she says "Eden do do do it." What she means is that she does the flag for FHE and then at the end she says, "do do do do" as she rolls the flag back up - as seen in the second video.

My most recent creation

I made this out of a placemat and a dishtowel. Total cost for all materials: approx. $6.

I have to say that I love the green, purple, yellow combo. I totally want to redo my kitchen in these colors but Phil says we can't redo any rooms until we've done all the other rooms and since we've already painted the kitchen, I guess it will stay sea foam mist or whatever until I get the bedrooms and family room painted. But then...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pay it Forward

My friend and former mission companion posted this and I thought it sounded like fun (and I wanted to WIN!). So, because I'm greedy, you all get a chance to be greedy too! Isn't life good?


1. Be one of the first THREE bloggers to leave a comment on this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me. (it will be a surprise but I promise to make it something fun)

2. Winners, you must post this challenge on your blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift for the first THREE bloggers who leave a comment on YOUR post about this giveaway!

3. The gift that you send to your Three Friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember: It’s the Spirit and the Thought That Count!

4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate Linky Love! (cheeky) If you are not one of the Top Three Commenter's on this post, you can still play along. Please take the button and post it on your blog; start your own Pay It Forward chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same!

Naked Baby's Got Mail

We've had a fun day. Eden hasn't felt great - just kind of grumpy for some reason. I always suspect teeth but who knows...

The weather has been beautiful and so we went out back and picked up the sticks that fell during the storm last week. As I was putting a bunch of sticks in the wheelbarrow Eden said, "good girl, Mommy." She is so affirming of me. She knows that I'm lazy and need all the encouragement I can get.

Here are some adorable pictures of our kiddo. Isn't her hair getting long? Eden saw these pictures and said, "naked baby!" Indeed.

We went on a walk around the neighborhood and had a great time. Eden didn't want it to end until we opened the mailbox and there were TWO packages for her in it! She got some stickers from Punka and this fun Elmo shirt from G&G K. She was SO excited about her "peasants."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Food Friday - Who Needs Manwich?

This is a recipe for Sloppy Joes. It is nearly as easy as buying Manwich, better tasting, and much cheaper.

1 can Tomato Soup
1/4 C Yellow Onion (diced)
1/4 C Green Bell Pepper (diced)
1 lb Ground Beef
1 T Mustard
1 T White Vinegar
1 T BBQ Sauce
1/4 C Brown Sugar

Brown the meat in a medium pan.
Add onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is clear.
Add tomato soup (no water), mustard, white vinegar, BBQ sauce (ketchup can be substituted), and brown sugar.
Cook until the sauce thickens (cooks down) to the desired consistency.

Serve over hamburger buns.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heidi, I try to do'd it

Just now I was in my bathroom curling my hair (cuz it is like 2:30 and it just seemed like time to do that). Eden had just gotten up from her nap and was in the other room. Then I heard this:

"Heidi, Heidi, Heidi!"

I hollered so that she would know where to find me. In she walked and said,

"Heidi, potty. Heidi, I try to do'd it."

And so she sat on the potty. She watched the poo poo go away and said, "bye-bye poo."

An exciting day!

The fine print is this: she had already poo'd in her diaper and I just emptied the contents into the toilet after she sat on the pot for a minute. She did flush it and wave goodbye to the poo. As I was putting a new diaper on her she said, "I do'd it again, more." I think we are just that much closer to the real experience.

I'm not sure why she called me "Heidi" she does that once in a while...

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner).

I must say that I really enjoy his writing and storytelling style. It is so interesting to learn more about Afghanistan (although I realize it is fiction). Phil asked me if I would recommend this book. I had to think about that. Here is my answer:

If you are looking for a happy story ... don't read this book. The ending does not compensate for the sorrow and horror that must be a reality for far too many people in that area of the world.

If you are willing to face some pretty harsh realities and experience some of the sorrow, you might appreciate this book. It is well written.

So yeah, I would recommend it but with some serious qualifications.

I have realized that the books I like best are the ones that champion the human spirit. I love stories about people doing hard things. I appreciate fiction that is plausible (even if it is "fantasy" - if the author can make me think it is plausible, they get big points). I like to read books about other cultures (either in place or time) than my own. I want a book to inspire me and make me think.

Here are some that I've enjoyed:

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
Oh Pioneers by Willa Cather
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

With that as a background, any suggestions for my reading list?

A nickel ... or not

"Nickel-sized hail possible."

That is what the weather alert told us.

They were wrong.

Since Phil was not home for the hail storm, he asked me to put some in the freezer so he could see it. These two were randomly selected from among the hundreds on our deck. (Basically they were the easiest for me to pick up while standing in the doorway.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weather Event

We have been on Tornado Warning since about 2:30 this afternoon. Exciting. At about 4:00 it began to rain HARD.

Then it began to lightening and thunder.

Then it began to hail.


Our deck is covered.


Eden and I are watching Tarzan and eating cookies. Phil is stuck in the hallway with his class. I made the mistake of taking Eden on to the deck when things cleared a bit. She likes the ice. Now we are having more alerts/warnings so we have to stay inside. She is not happy.

Come on, Tarzan is so cute, work with me Eden.


Before the weather event really hit we went to Hobby Lobby (or "obby lobby" as Eden says). Eden insisted on taking along her For the Strength of Youth book. She showed the ladies there the temple and the picture of Jesus. She cracks me up. She was talking to the woman behind us in line. This is how her "conversation" went:

Woman: "Is that your kitty?"
Eden: "Kitty, meow. Book."
Woman: "Yes, you are smart, that is a book."
Eden: "Head. Eyes, blue."
Woman: "Yes, very pretty blue eyes."

and on it went. It is true, most everyone in these parts seems to comment on her bright blues. I guess she just anticipated the comment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black Female Education after the Civil War

Black females are unlike any other group involved in the various social and political movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Black females represent two segments of society traditionally oppressed. Despite this extreme oppression, black females have found education as a means of elevating themselves and their race.

The first American college to admit a woman did so in 1833. Just fifty-nine years later, there were 198 women's colleges and 207 coeducation colleges. Women of all races were admitted into both the female and male courses. In 1887, thirty black women had earned their Bachelor of Arts degrees.

At the end of the nineteenth century, black education had reached some impressive statistics. By 1893, 25,530 colored schools existed in the United States with 1,353,352 male and female pupils. At this same time there were 22,956 black teachers. As impressive as those numbers appeared, educator, Lucy Laney, realized the work ahead when she stated "but, oh, large as this number seems, it is small when we think of the many hundreds to whom scarcely a ray of light has yet come!"


Just as the black community progressed, organizations formed to prohibit black equality. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard to prevent the education of blacks. Caroline Smith appeared before a Congressional investigation against the Klan. She testified:

They would not let us have schools. They went to a colored man there, whose son had been teaching school, and they took every book they had and threw them into the fire; and they said they would dare any other nigger to have a book in his house. We allowed last fall that we would have a schoolhouse in every district . . . But the Ku-Klux said they would whip every man who sent a scholar there. There is a school-house there, but not scholars.

The Ku Klux Klan was not the only device for limiting the progress of blacks. Jim Crow laws also threatened the future work of black female educators. Individuals attempting to subjugate blacks enacted laws to restrict voing, segregate schools, deny blacks entrance into theaters and restaurants, and force blacks to sit in the back of buses.

Heart and Hand
The Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws were meant to denigrate blacks. Women such as Mary McLeod Bethune (pictured here with Eleanor Roosevelt), however; found that such blatant racism was a catalyst for change. Bethune was perhaps the most influential black woman in the early twentieth century. Strong influenced by Lucy Laney, Bethune continued the work of educating blacks. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Bethune founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute. She found that black religious leaders were eager to assist her. Beginning with five students in 1904, enrollment increased to over three hundred by 1922.

The methods used by Bethune set a standard for black education. She believed in a "heart and hand" education. The "heart" included moral and religious education. It also involved teaching civic understanding and social skills. The "hand" aspect focused on vocational skills such as sewing and food handling. Bethune and her associates believed in a balanced education that also enabled students to successfully contribute to society.

The evolution of black equality may have seemed slow at times, but it was always progressive. From the time of emancipation, black women have worked to bring greater freedom to their people. In a speech given in 1933, Mary McLeod Bethune praised the work of her black sisters:

The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood. As the years have gone on the Negro woman has touched the most vital fields in the civilization of today. Wherever she had contributed she has left the mark of a strong character. The education institutions she has established and directed have met the needs of her young people; her cultural development has concentrated itself into artistic presentation accepted and acclaimed by meritorious critics . . . she recognizes the importance of uplifting her people through social, civic and religious activities . . . she has made and is making history.

Black women do have a rich history. It is time for their powerful history of hope in the midst of struggle, of power during prejudice and of love in the face of hate to be recognized more widely. Education has been a pivotal strategy toward true equality for blacks. It must continue to be so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

African-American Folklore in Film (Part 2)

Gone with the Wind
During the tumultuous time known as the Great Depression, many people longed for a bygone era when life seemed more romantic and simple. During this period Margaret Mitchell wrote her story of the Civil War, Gone with the Wind.

Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, the movie version took the United States by a storm. It won the Academy awards for best picture and best actress. Its use of music and color surprised and delighted audiences and critics. It is still considered one of the greatest movies of all time (#4 on the AFI top 100 list).

Although Gone with the Wind did not deal directly with black subjects, it did introduce several black characters. Each of these black characters represented a black stereotype perpetuated by whites at the time.

"Mammy" represented the household servant who submissively ran the house. She did not attempt to change her position but dutifully watched over those in her care, primarily Scarlett. She often became the voice of reason, piety, and morality. Although absolutely necessary to the running of the family, she never posed any threat to them.

"Prissy" was the perfect example of why blacks needed whites to protect them. One of the strongest proslavery arguments was paternalism. Prissy was emotional, unintelligent, and helpless. Even after emancipation, she needed the security of "belonging" to whites. She also posed no threat to whites.

Other black characters such as Jonas, Big Sam, and Pork portrayed blacks who were content with their work, never mind their lack of freedom. They worked a full, honest day with smiles on their faces. As slaves, they were grateful for the protection of their masters, they would never harm them.

The black characters in Gone with the Wind were not threatening but they also weren't accurate depictions of black in antebellum America. They were much more a representation of what depression-era whites wanted to believe and remember about a bygone time of history.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

African-American Folklore in Film (Part 1)

I took a class on Folklore and Film. It was one of those classes that one is just thrilled to find will work toward needed credits. Once a week I got to watch interesting films and then discuss them (the class just met once a week). My homework was to watch movies of my choice. The only real assignment was to select a topic and explore films dealing with that topic and then write a paper about it. Don't you love college!?

And so I present to you some excerpts from my paper:

African-American folklore has been portrayed in many films. Often the way this folklore has been represented reflects the sentiment of the public at the time the film was made. As films were first made in America, segregation was the law of the land, black codes ruled the south, lynchings were frequent, and white supremacist groups terrorized blacks without much restriction. With the progress of civil rights came a change in public opinion. As public opinion regarding blacks changed, so did Hollywood's treatment of black subjects.

Birth of a Nation
In 1915 the film industry was in its infancy. Sound and color were still years away. The craft of film making had just been born. During this time, segregation was not only legal in the southern states, but it was also spreading to both the North and the West. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill legally segregating the armed forces. The Ku Klux Klan was at its height in the years from 1915 to 1925. Treatment of blacks was at its worst point since emancipation.

In the midst of this terrible era of racism and violence, director D.W. Griffith created The Birth of a Nation. Representative of the deep racism, hatred, and fear of blacks that existed at the time, The Birth of a Nation treated blacks with complete disdain and horror. Its message was that the Civil War was an unnecessary war brought about by northern radicals. In the film the freed slaves became either helpless or manipulative. The KKK became "the organization that saved the South from anarchy." Blacks were animals to be feared and tamed. Black men were portrayed as vile and a threat to the virtue of all white women and indeed, the entire white race.

After seeing a screening of this movie, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that he found it interesting and entertaining. In spite of its obvious bias, The Birth of Nation is still heralded as an exceptional movie. Griffith's use of camera angles, shots, and scenes, were unique and very effective. He assembled a large cast with hundreds of extras. The story flows smoothly. The use of pantomime and written narrative work well together. In 1998 it was listed as #44 in the AFI list of the Top 100 Movies of all time. It not only reflected the extreme racism that existed in the early 20th Century, it embraced and perpetuated it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Food Friday - Banana Bread

I adjusted my mom's banana bread recipe (which is so good!) so that it is a little more healthy. It tastes great!

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C honey
2 eggs
2 medium (ripe) bananas
1/4 C oil
1/2 C fat free sour cream
1 t almond extract
1 t vanilla
1 C flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Cream sugar, honey, oil, eggs, bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract.
Add flours and soda and salt.
Mix well.
Pour into greased/floured bread pans.

Bake at 350
50-60 minutes for standard loaf pan
25-30 minutes for mini-loaf pans

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

News Flash: She's not PERFECT

Although you wouldn't know it from reading this blog, she really ISN'T perfect. Here is some proof:

But you've got to admit that she is pretty adorable even when she is having a temper tantrum. (I had taken her blanket and put it in her crib, I missed the laying-on-the-floor-kicking part of the tantrum because as soon as it started I had to run for the camera, as any good mother would do!)

Last night was girls' night/craft night and we made tutus. Isn't she cute in hers? If you want to make one let me know and I'll point you in the right direction. Next month's craft project: hair clips, so if you have any great instructions, ideas, patterns, or the like, send them my way.

Black Women Abolitionists/Educators (part 3)

These reformers recognized that prejudice was difficult to overcome. Lacy Laney felt racism was a result of the blacks' ignorance. She believed if black society became educated, whites would accept them. Not all abolitionists agreed with Laney. As an example; Sarah Douglass proclaimed, "in proportion as we become intellectual and respectable, so in proportion does their disgust and prejudice increase." It was her opinion that whites felt threatened by intelligent blacks. Peter Paul Simons spoke before the African Clarkson Association of New York City in April 1839. In his speech,, Simons denied education as a useful tactic to fight injustice. According to Simons, whites proclaimed education would elevate blacks, when in reality white society denied intelligent blacks high positions and forced blacks to settle for menial jobs. As a result of this view, abolitionists began to shift towards more forceful, energetic, and aggressive tactics. However, Frances Harper warned that reformers should not overlook an effective strategy:

"To teach our people how to build up a character for themselves–a character that will challenge respect in spite of opposition and prejudice; to develop their own souls, intellect and genius, and thus verify their credentials, is some of the best anit-slavery work that can be done in this country."

After the war, Frances Harper found great ambition among the freedmen. She wrote of former slaves who had prospered to the point of purchasing the estates of their former masters. The desire for education among the freedmen was overwhelming. Every city Harper visited required more teachers than were available.

Ann Plato cited Aristotle as claiming "knowledge was equal to power." Power therefore also depended on education. The National Convention of Black Leaders delcared that education would "elevate us from our present situation." It also proclaimed, "If we ever expect to see the influence of prejudice decrease, and ourselves respected, it must be by the blessings of an enlightened education." Frances Harper entreated young black women to consecrate their lives to the elevation of their race. Education was the primary tactic for the elevation of the black race. Black leaders realized the value of education in gaining respect, equality, and prosperity. The large nummber of freedmen schools indicated that other blacks agreed.

Lucy Laney saw a future for women as professors of higher education, not merely elementary teachers. She encouraged women to speak out, to give advice, and to share their knowledge. Black female abolitionists believed that an enlightened people were an elevated and free people. By 1893, 25,530 colored schools* existed in the United States. These schools served 1,353,352 pupils and 22,956 black teachers.

As impressive as those numbers appeared, Lucy Laney realized the work ahead when she stated, "but, oh, large as this number seems, it is small when we think of the many hundreds to whom scarecely a ray of light has yet come!"

Finally, these words by Charlotte Forten Grimke** show the amount of hope the freedmen exhibited in the years following emancipation:

"Let us take courage; never ceasing to work–hoping and believing that if not for us, for another generation there is a better, brighter day in store–when slavery and prejudice shall vanish before the glorious light of Liberty and Truth; when the rights of every colored man shall everywhere be acknowledged and respected, and he shall be treated as a man and a brother."

* Schools were primarily segregated until after 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

** Charlotte Forten Grimke was born free in Philadelphia. Her grandfather was a free man who established a thriving business as a sail maker. As a young woman, she journeyed to the south immediately after the Civil War in order to establish schools. She kept a detailed journal. She later married one of the freed slaves (Frances Grimke). Charlotte and Frances became best friends to Anna Julia Cooper (who is my favorite little-known person in history).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black Women Abolitionists/Educators (part 2)

Another way abolitionists used education to combat the slave institution and gain sympathy for the antislavery cause was the press. Literacy made freedom of the press available to black females such as Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

Maria Stewart was active in the abolitionist movement in the 1830's. Her essays and articles frequently appeared in abolitionist papers including The Liberator. She also published a spiritual tract entitled, Meditations. After leaving Boston in the 1830's, Stewart became a member of one of New York's two literary socieities. Her speeches were recorded and published by various antislavery papers.

Frances Harper was well known as a poetess and author. She wrote hundreds of poems, many denouncing slavery and racism. Harper authored at least eight works of fiction, most dealing with slavery and racism. Her writings earned her tremendous respect. One chronicler of the time stated that "she is one of the colored women of whom white women may be proud and to whom the abolitionists can point and declare that a race which could show such women never ought to have been held in bondage."

Mary Ann Shadd Cary received her education at a Quaker boarding school. She became an educator and taught in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania. When the Fugitive Slave Act became law in 1850, she relocated to Windsor, Canada. In Canada, she edited The Provincial Freeman, a black newspaper. Cary was the first known black female editor in the world. As a writer and editor, Cary was able to use her education to promote and elevate her race. Frederick Douglass commented that regarding Cary's contributions to antislavery newspapers, he did "not know her equal among the colored ladies of the United States."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Women Abolitionists/Educators (part 1)

In the South, both free blacks and slaves used secular education as a strategy to undermine the slave system. An example is Milla Granson who learned to read and write from her owner's children. She used her education to open a "midnight school." Her school continued to operate because legislation declared that while it was illegal for whites to teach slaves, there was no law against slaves teaching other slaves. According to her own account, Milla graduated hundreds of slaves who could read and write.

Literacy aided in the escape of many slaves. Susie King Taylor* explained that the laws of Georgia required all blacks, free and slave, to carry passes to be permitted on the city streets. She spoke of frequently forging passes for her grandmother, a free woman. Milla Granson mentioned that of her graduates, many wrote passes for themselves and escaped to Canada.

Among the many proslavery arguments, perhaps the most degrading was the one that claimed that blacks were non-intellectual beings. Many abolitionists used education to combat this notion. One such woman was Frances J. Coppin. Coppin was born a slave in the District of Columbia and was aware of the argument that Negroes were incapable of learning. When she gained her freedom (her aunt purchased her freedom), Coppin determined "to get an education and teach [her] people." When Coppin heard that John C. Calhoun**, had stated that if a Negro could learn to conjugate verbs in Greek, he would abandon his belief in the inferiority of blacks, she decided to take his challenge. Coppin did learn to speak Greek to the point of conjugating verbs.

While Frances Coppin was teaching at the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, a writer called on her and explained that he had a manuscript proving the subintellect of Negroes. Coppin asked Jesse Glasgow, a black child at the school, to answer any questions the author desired. After Jesse correctly answered all the questions posed, the writer decided his theories were wrong and never published the book.

* Susie King Taylor was a slave who ran away with the Union army during the Civil War. She spent the remainder of the war traveling with the troops and serving as a cook and laundress for them. She also wrote a memoir of the period entitled, "Reminiscences of My Life in Camp."

** John C. Calhoun had been a Senator from South Carolina and was the Vice President under JQ Adams and Jackson. He was an outspoken supporter of States' Rights and also furthered many of the racist proslavery arguments. Many streets and counties in the south still bare his name. It was nearly a deal-breaker on my marriage when we bought a house in one of those areas. I may dislike him more than anyone else I've studied.

A New Calling????

One of the blogs I sometimes read had a great post about how to approach a new calling (or even one you've had for a while, if you ask me). It is based on a talk given in Sacrament meeting by the High Councilor. I am only including part of it here. To read the whole post, go here (it has some YW-specific advice too).

So here is my excerpt:

When you get a new calling (any new calling):

Step one: repent. Because it's good for you. Because it's time. Because that's the necessary spiritual preparation for any new calling. Because you need to (we all need to).

Step two: re-read Lehi's dream and see in it a pattern for when you have been given a new calling. You're in the dark and dreary waste, you're wandering in the dark. However, you have spiritual guidance standing by if you pray for help and mercy - note how in verse 9 Lehi finds that he's standing in a large and spacious field. Aha! (Maybe... he was there all along...)

Step three: pace yourself. Most callings are marathons, not sprints. Especially when you're stepping into an existing YW program, in which some people are already serving, it's best not to go in with both guns blazing. Don't try to do everything at once.

Step four: be open to what the Lord wants you to learn from this calling. Most callings are answers to prayers, and the prayer that's being answered here may not be yours.

Step five: "magnifying" a calling can mean finding the tool that allows you to read the fine print. If you think your new calling is insignificant, small, unimportant, or meaningless, then you haven't found the fine print yet. He (the High Councilman) said he's been called as Sunday School president 4 times. The first two times, he thought it meant he was on paid administrative leave, and that the only part of himself he needed to give to the calling was his index finger to press the bell 5 minutes before the end of the second hour. Round about the 4th time, he finally GOT that the calling was about teaching the ward how to teach the gospel in their homes. He found the fine print.

If, however, the calling seems too big, and you feel you can't do it, you're absolutely right. You can't do anything without the Lord, nothing of your own strength - but you can give your heart and time to it and your work - imperfect though it always is - can be consecrated by the Lord for the benefit of the girls and leaders in your stewardship.

My Big Girl

Yesterday, I had to stay home from church to play infusion nurse for Phil. My friend called and asked if Eden wanted to go to church. Eden emphatically replied, "YES!" and so she went to church without her mom or dad. (I was able to get there by YWs and then bring her home.) Everyone reported to me that she was such a good girl. I can't believe how grown up she is getting.

The other night, I forgot to say prayers with her at bedtime. She very quickly reminded me. She isn't always very patient or reverent when we say blessings at meal time but she truly loves nighttime prayers. I still speak the words but she often will tell me what she is grateful for: daddy, mommy, grandma, grandpa, kitty, doggy, happy trees, etc.

Yesterday as I pulled up to the church the nursery kids were out for a walk (yeah it was nearly 70 - so much for our cold spell) and it was so cute to see her (she didn't see me) walking around with her class, being such a big girl. She and Trey held hands most of the time. So very, very cute!

She loves prophets right now. She loves to look through her scripture story books and point out all the prophets. She also is very intrigued with Moses. She tells us about baby Moses and then points to the tablets and says, "Moses book ... Moses, prophet." Her new favorite song is "Follow the Prophet." I'm just amazed at her ability to grasp concepts.

Being a mom is pretty humbling.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Speaking of words...

Here are some of my (current) favorite phrases spoken (often) by my Eden:

"Bless you!" (after every sneeze within earshot, including her own)

"Yeah, sure." (when she is enthusiastically agreeing to something, such as in response to the question, "do you want a cookie?")

"I do'd (dude) it" (giving evidence that she is indeed nearly two)

"I help you" (this really means: I don't want you to help me, more evidence of her age)

"love you mommy" (need I say more?)

Food Friday - Slime

This is a simple recipe for slime (kind of like playdough, sort of). It is great fun for kids (and big kids).

Mixture 1

  • 8 oz White Glue (Elmers or whatever)
  • 3/4 C Warm Water
  • 2 drops of Food Coloring (I used 2 blue and 2 red to make Eden's favorite color)
Mixture 2
  • 4 t Borax Laundry Booster
  • 1 1/3 C Warm Water
In a separate bowl, mix the borax with the water. Pour mixture 1 into mixture 2. Do not stir. Wait one minute. Knead mixtures together (pour of excess water) and play!

Store your slime in a ziplock or plastic container (with a lid) in the refrigerator. Slime can get moldy so store it properly and throw out after a few uses.

Here is Eden playing with her slime. She told me she had made a necklace. Obviously...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This headline caught my attention

Roommate Deemed Too Incompetent To Clean Bathroom

Today as I was not wanting to clean the bathrooms (that happens every week) I decided to google "I don't want to clean the bathroom" and see what came up. I found the above article and it just made me laugh. I wish someone would deem me too incompetent to clean the bathroom!

(I only stalled about 10 minutes today and then cleaned the bathrooms, I'm kinda proud of myself)

Slave Clothing: Interwoven Cultures (part 2)

In addition to preferred patterns, the slaves exhibited a partiality for bright colors. Slaves especially preferred red in their attire. After emancipation, red shirts were given to some newly freedmen as a way to gain their votes for candidates. One of these freedmen explained, "it never would have dont to have a black shirt, no sir; I's sure of dat. Dat would have had not 'peal to our color." (see Slave Narratives: South Carolina Narratives). An African American folk story illustrates how enticing the color red seemed to be:

In Africa they had very few pretty things, and . . . they had no red colors in cloth . . . Some strangers with pale faces come one day and draped a small piece of red flannel down on the ground. All the black folks grabbed for it. Then a larger piece was draped a little further on, and on until the river was reached . . . They was led on, each one trying to git a piece as it was draped. Finally, when the ship was reached, they draped large pieces on the plank and up into the ship till they got as many blacks on board as they wanted.

The slaves showed ingenuity in creating the colors they desired. They learned to make dyes out of the vegetation around them. Combinations of walnut, elm, cherry, and red oak created various red dyes. Cedar moss was used for yellow dye and straight walnut was used for brown. It was common, even necessary, for the slaves to use local natural resources to create their handcrafted items.

In addition to patterns and colors, slaves also viewed hairstyles as a way to assert individuality and the unique qualities of their culture. The most prevalent hair ornament was the head kerchief. Although the head kerchief has become associated with the slave mammies, almost all slave women wore them. The head kerchiefs were worn both during work and at times of celebration and festivals. In a world of forced conformity, hairstyles allowed slaves to assert individuality from other slaves as well as white society.

Sundays were the one day most slaves did not have to work for the master. Therefore, on Sundays, they took even greater care to dress and style themselves. One slave went barefooted throughout the week but wore shoes on Sundays. When asked why, he explained that he could wear out his feet during the week because they belonged to his master but he took great care with his shoes because those belonged to him.

Certainly, slavery was a confining, degrading experience for those enslaved. The actual opportunities for cultural or social interaction were limited. It must not be forgotten that first and foremost, slaves worked. After the hours of working as chattel, many slaves returned to their own quarters to work for themselves (many had gardens and they had to cook and care for their own families). That they were willing to spend their own time and the little money* they had on clothing seems to indicate that it was a way for them to show pride and artistic expression. Certainly the aesthetic, skills, and traditions that formed during the slave period continue to impact American culture today.

*One historian claims that slaves spent 80% of their money on fabric and clothing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Slave Clothing: Interwoven Cultures (part 1)

The culture the slaves created was not an imitation of the Euro-American culture of their masters and mistresses. Nor was it merely a transplanted African culture. Rather, it was a hybrid culture which included white, African, and Indian influences. This hybrid culture was expressed poignantly through the clothing slaves wore and made for themselves.

Both the types of clothing and the materials used for slave clothing were largely determined by the slave owners. Thus, they were derived from the Euro-American traditions. This does not mean however, that the slaves had no say in their clothing. Indeed, they imposed their own styles and aesthetics upon the clothing they made and wore.

Unlike the symmetrical preferences of Europe and America, Africans tended to prefer spontaneity in design and color. This aesthetic appears to have its origins in the folk beliefs of African cultures. Folk customs indicate that jumbled patterns were thought to keep bad spirits away because evil only traveled in straight lines.

Unable to create exact replicas of their African (Mande) textiles, American slaves preferred calico to checked prints. Another option slaves had was to spin their own fabrics. Many slave women were trained as spinsters. They were able to use this skill for their own clothing as well as clothing to be sold by their masters. A final option was to use the issued fabric and make strips similar to those used in strip quilts. These strips were assembled to create the staggered patterns desired.

For more information on this topic see also:

John Michael Vlach, By the Work of Their Hands: Studies in Afro-American Folklives (Ann Arbor: University of Michican Research Press, 1991).

Roderick A. McDonald, The Economy and Material Culture of Slaves: Goods and Chattels on the Sugar Plantations of Jamaica and Louisiana (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993).

Betty Wood, Women's Work, Men's Work: The Informal Slave Economies of Lowcountry Georgia (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1995).

B.A. Botkin, ed., Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1945).

Cold is as cold does... or does not

I went to the store the other night and NO ONE else was there. I couldn't figure out why until I realized the temperature was in the 30s. People stay home here when it is that cold. Yesterday, was a beautiful day. Sunshine, blue skies, and again in the 30s. It was the kind of February day that would bring great rejoicing and even some shorts in Logan, Utah but in 'bama it was a "stay-inside" day. Not for our little girl though. She was quite determined to play outside. We bundled her up and went into our yard.

We also made "slime" for the first time. At first she wasn't sure what to do with it. She kept saying, "boogers, boogers." Eventually, she decided it was quite fun.
On Saturday night we had the Thorntons and Baugards (the other members of the branch presidency) over for a night of family bonding. I love the look on Eden's face in this picture.
Someday this will be a good blackmail picture to show Eden and Trey how infatuated they were with each other. Look how they are gazing into each other's eyes.
This picture is for Charlotte. Not to make you jealous but to make you happy. When the inversion gets too crazy, just pretend this is outside your window.
Phil and his brothers are having a contest (of sorts) to see what fun movie characters they can each create out of a Mr. Potato Head. This is Phil's submission, the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. Yeah, my man is cool, creative, and clever.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Emmett Till

Emmett Louis Till was born in Chicago on July 25, 1941. In Chicago, blacks were relatively free from the horrors of lynchings and the threats of the Klan. It was certainly not devoid of racism, but nothing in Chicago prepared Emmett for the summer of 1955 in Mississippi.

At 14, Emmett must have been excited to spend the summer with his cousin, Curtis Jones at Jones' grandfather, Mose Wright's home in Mississippi. As a northern black, Emmett instantly gained near celebrity status. Imagine his thrill as the black youth gathered around Emmett, anxious to hear his stories of the North. I imagine their dialogue drifting into Emmett's boasting of his flirtations with girls, even white girls. The other boys then dared him to go into Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market and talk to the white clerk. Mrs. Carolyn Bryant was working that day and claimed that Emmett came into the store, proud and haughty and that as he left he said, "bye, baby" and "wolf whistled."

During the next four days, Emmett reveled in his success. No one would doubt his stories now. He knew that even in Chicago his actions would have been unacceptable, but what he didn't know was that in Mississippi, his actions would cost him his life.

On the evening of August 28, 1955, Carolyn's husband, Roy and his half brother, J.W. Milam, took young Emmett from Mose Wright's home. They beat him extensively. They shot him in the head, then tied his disfigured, swollen, limp body to a heavy cotton gin and threw him in a river. Three days later, Emmett's mangled body was found.

Mamie Till, Emmett's mother, made a courageous decision. She wanted the world to see the realities of lynchings. She hoped that they would be horrified enough to demand change. She, therefore, decided to have an open casket and to invite the press.

I have seen the television footage. It is horrifying. The image that will always remain with me is of his face; battered, bruised, swollen. I had to strain to see anything human in his features. His eyes, once wide, chocolate brown, and innocent, were swollen completely shut. One eye was missing entirely. His head was swollen from the beatings and days in the river water. Even through his dark complexion, I saw deep bruises all over his body. A shiver ran throughout my body as tears filled my eyes. That shiver returns now.

I try to imagine what he felt, what he thought. Did he beg forgiveness? Did he scream with pain? Or, did he remain defiantly flippant to the end? No one will ever know. Emmett was silenced and his killers only laughed and bragged about their accomplishment. Although many heard them admit to the lynching, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were acquitted on September 23, 1955. They later admitted to the murder in a national magazine but could not be prosecuted again. They died free men.

The acquittal and the footage of Emmett's funeral so enraged blacks and whites, that many were moved to action. Emmett became a martyr for the cause. Although still in its infancy, the civil rights movement received many new volunteers and supporters because of the pictures of Emmett Till. Many of the college students who later began SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) were close to Emmett's age. They remembered. They swore never to forget.

Below is a picture of Emmett before and after his death. It is graphic.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In order to celebrate...

Happy February!

In America, February is Black History Month.

Before I was Eden's mommy, I had a mostly-enjoyable career in Higher Ed Administration. Before that I was a student. I did both my senior (undergrad) thesis and my masters work studying the history of black America. Most of my research focused on the role of education/literacy in the lives of slaves. Much of my work focused on women.

To celebrate Black History Month, I will be posting an essay here and there throughout the month. I will still be posting my regular array of "Eden did the cutest thing..." and "Here are my thoughts about this..." etc. so if you just don't have any interest in history, don't tune out completely.

Happy February!