Monday, February 28, 2011

The Present

We don’t normally do much for Valentine’s Day. I usually cook something a little special, and Paul brings home a beautiful flowering plant for me to neglect take care of. Maybe there’s a tasty dessert involved. That’s usually about the extent of it.

This year Paul decided we needed some chocolates, and believe me, I have no objection to chocolates. He picked up a box of assorted chocolates at Trader Joe’s on his way home from work on the 14th, and we set it on the counter to pick at later.

 

Cheesecake

Because I had made a cheesecake for dessert, we didn’t get around to eating the chocolate that night. When we went to bed, they were still wrapped up in the heart-covered wrapping paper which had led Veronica to label them a “present” earlier in the evening.

Fast forward to the next morning. It was Tuesday, so I got to sleep in a bit while Paul went off to work. It must have been about 7:30 when I heard the patter of little feet coming into the room and over to the bedside.

“Mommy, mommy! I know what’s in the present!”

Uh, oh.

“It’s chocolate!”

 

Chocolate Present

I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen where, sure enough, the box of chocolates was missing. Without stopping I went straight into Veronica’s room to see ripped up wrapping paper on her bed. At this point, between the destruction on her bed and the chocolate on her face, I just knew she had eaten the whole box. I was doomed to dealing with chocolate-induced tummy issues throughout the day.

But when I finally made it over to her bed to assess the damage, there was only a single chocolate missing from the box. Most of which had been spat back out. Apparently Veronica does not like nuts as much as her parents do.

But that is the last time I ever leave anything even remotely attractive to Veronica out on the counter over night.

Until the next time, anyway.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CSFF: The God Hater, Day 3

The God Hater

**Warning: There are SPOILERS in this post**

It’s the final day of the blog tour featuring The God Hater by Bill Myers. Since the book came with discussion questions at the end, I wanted to tackle a couple of those today. I’m not following the numbering as in the book, just keeping them separated clearly here.

1. In his preface, Bill says that allegories are slippery and can never fully capture the truth of a situation. What truths does the story successfully capture? What truths slip away?

The story certainly captured the need of our world for a savior. Our fallen nature didn’t allow us simply to follow the law as God gave us in the Old Testament. So Jesus offered his life on the cross for our salvation. In the same way, the artificial people in Travis’ world aren’t able to simply follow the law of Programmer, especially after the introduction of the virus. They also need a savior, a role which Nicholas must ultimately fill.

Which brings us to one point where this particular allegory breaks down. In the book, the savior is a digital “copy” of Nicholas who eventually develops his own patterns of thought and action, separate from those of real-world Nicholas because ultimately he is another being. Obviously that is not the case with Jesus, the Son of God who is one with the Father, and both human and Divine. When Jesus came to Earth, there wasn’t a different Jesus in heaven watching the life of Earth-Jesus unfold. I’m not going to go too deep into the theology of it all but I could see in this particular story it would have been difficult to hit closer to the mark.

2. With that in mind, what area of The God Hater helped you more fully appreciate an aspect of the original story?

When digital Nicholas is on the Grid, wracked with unbearable pain, he lives through each and every digital person’s sins over and over again. It’s something that I guess I had never really considered that closely before, though on some level I knew it. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and He knows each and every one of them. How likely am I to continue doing something I know is wrong if I imagine the agony that it caused Jesus? That was a great addition to the book.

3. What emotional force drives Mackenzie to make many of his decisions in the story?

That is a good question. I think there are many – sometimes conflicting – emotions that shape Nicholas’ decisions, but the one that stood out to me the most was guilt. He obviously feels tremendous guilt over what happened to his son, and though I may be reading too much into his character, I definitely get the impression that guilt is what makes him turn on God. He can’t forgive himself for what happened, even if it was just an accident, and so convinces himself that God isn’t real and those who believe in Him are not only wrong, but also stupid. Additionally, it’s obvious that the love he still feels for his son plus the guilt over his death ultimately lead him to the decision to help Travis. Alpha 11 is modeled on his son, and he just can’t bear to let him be destroyed.

There are more questions in the back of the book, and indeed many more points that could be discussed about the story, but I think I’ll leave it there. A great book on so many levels, and one I would highly recommend.

Don’t forget to visit the rest of the tour:

Noah Arsenault - Red Bissell - Thomas Clayton Booher - Keanan Brand - Kathy Brasby - Rachel Briard - Beckie Burnham - Morgan L. Busse - Carol Bruce Collett - Valerie Comer - Karri Compton - CSFF Blog Tour - April Erwin - Amber French - Andrea Graham - Tori Greene - Katie Hart - Ryan Heart - Joleen Howell - Bruce Hennigan - Becky Jesse - Cris Jesse - Becca Johnson - Jason Joyner - Carol Keen - Emily LaVigne - Shannon McDermott - Matt Mikalatos - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Mirtika MollyBuuklvr81 - John W. Otte - Sarah Sawyer - Chawna Schroeder - Andrea Schultz - Tammy Shelnut - Kathleen Smith - James Somers - Donna Swanson - Jessica Thomas - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Dona Watson - Nicole White - Dave Wilson

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CSFF: The God Hater, Day 2

The God Hater

**Warning: There are SPOILERS in this post**

I was intrigued by the premise of The God Hater from the start. An atheist involved in a large-scale artificial intelligence project comes to the inescapable conclusion that the virtual world he has helped to influence needs not only a law introduced from it’s creators, but eventually a savior as well. The only other option is total destruction of the artificial world at the hands of it’s own inhabitants. An obvious allegory, but with some new and exciting twists.

The book begins with Dr. Nicholas Mackenzie, a vocally atheist philosophy professor, involved in his favorite past-time – tearing down religion. The opening chapters give a good picture of just how much Nicholas disdains God and religion both, though it doesn’t stop him from being friends with co-worker Annie – professor of microbiology and believer – and her young son. Though some have said they felt Nicholas was too stereotypical, the arguments he makes and the attitude he presents are certainly ones that I’ve seen time and again in modern society and certainly represent the position well.

The idea of corporate espionage threatening the project added an element of danger that kept the story moving along nicely. The action begins right away, as Nicholas is kidnapped and threatened by shady characters looking for his brother, Travis. And no sooner does said brother enter the scene than the story is complicated by high-speed chases, hidden high-tech labs and deadly battles.

One small complaint I have is that the virtual world of Alpha 11 and his fellows doesn’t always feel real to me. Which seems like a funny thing to say, but the point of it was to accurately represent how a population might react in the real world. But the characters aren’t always very convincing to me. There is also the claim by Travis that this is their “last chance” to get it right. Maybe I misunderstood, but haven’t they run the program many times already? And can’t they essentially “fast-forward” to play out the entire world in very small real-world time? So I guess I don’t understand exactly why they couldn’t just start over again and introduce the law of Programmer from the beginning. Maybe someone smarter could clarify. It’s a minor quibble and I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as the introduction of the virus meant the world needed a savior regardless.

Overall, I really enjoyed The God Hater. I found it to be engaging on not only an intellectual and imaginative level, but an emotional one as well. In fact, the last few words of the book had me in tears. Which some might argue is not hard to do for this emotional mother of two, but there you have it.

Look for another post tomorrow, where I plan to tackle some of the discussion questions in the back of the book!

And don’t forget the rest of the tour:

Noah Arsenault - Red Bissell - Thomas Clayton Booher - Keanan Brand - Kathy Brasby - Rachel Briard - Beckie Burnham - Morgan L. Busse - Carol Bruce Collett - Valerie Comer - Karri Compton - CSFF Blog Tour - April Erwin - Amber French - Andrea Graham - Tori Greene - Katie Hart - Ryan Heart - Joleen Howell - Bruce Hennigan - Becky Jesse - Cris Jesse - Becca Johnson - Jason Joyner - Carol Keen - Emily LaVigne - Shannon McDermott - Matt Mikalatos - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Mirtika MollyBuuklvr81 - John W. Otte - Sarah Sawyer - Chawna Schroeder - Andrea Schultz - Tammy Shelnut - Kathleen Smith - James Somers - Donna Swanson - Jessica Thomas - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Dona Watson - Nicole White - Dave Wilson

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 21, 2011

CSFF: The God Hater, Day 1

The God Hater

I’m jumping back into the blog tour this month with a great book by Bill Myers, The God Hater. No, no, no.  Bill Myers is not a God-hater. That’s the name of the book.

In fact, after reading a bit about him on his website, I’d say that Bill Myers is exactly the opposite. It must have taken a great amount of love, not to mention trust, for him to completely change his career path in order to follow God’s call. But he did, and the world of Christian media is the better for it.

Who else remembers watching McGee and Me as a kid? And I spent many a morning carpool listening to Adventures in Odyssey, in which he was also involved. Classic.

Read more about Bill Myers and his work on his website and blog, and check out his Facebook page, too.

And now, the book! A philosophy professor who is also an extremely vocal atheist is commissioned to help keep a computer-generated world from dissolving into anarchy. But the philosophical models he introduces to the population ultimately fail, and he is forced to admit that a system of law given from the outside is the only solution. Complicated by corporate espionage, a damaging virus and a legal system gone awry, this artificial world needs a savior, and the professor may be the only one who can fill that role. Stay tuned over the next couple of days for more on The God Hater.

And don’t forget to visit the rest of the tour:

Noah Arsenault - Red Bissell - Thomas Clayton Booher - Keanan Brand - Kathy Brasby - Rachel Briard - Beckie Burnham - Morgan L. Busse - Carol Bruce Collett - Valerie Comer - Karri Compton - CSFF Blog Tour - April Erwin - Amber French - Andrea Graham - Tori Greene - Katie Hart - Ryan Heart - Joleen Howell - Bruce Hennigan - Becky Jesse - Cris Jesse - Becca Johnson - Jason Joyner - Carol Keen - Emily LaVigne - Shannon McDermott - Matt Mikalatos - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Mirtika MollyBuuklvr81 - John W. Otte - Sarah Sawyer - Chawna Schroeder - Andrea Schultz - Tammy Shelnut - Kathleen Smith - James Somers - Donna Swanson - Jessica Thomas - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Dona Watson - Nicole White - Dave Wilson

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweetness

On our way to a Super Bowl gathering with family and friends (Go Packers!) Veronica fell asleep in the car. This is not unusual, especially in the afternoon. Jacinta, however, was not tired. At one point during the drive, I peeked in the rear view mirror to see Jacinta reaching for her sleepy older sister.

 

Bow 1

Awww, how sweet, right? She just wanted to reach out and touch her sister in a show of solidarity, of affection, of sweetness.

At least, that’s what I wanted to believe.

 

Bow 3

It didn’t take long for her real objective to surface.

I’m happy to say that despite brutal assault, the bow managed to escape capture.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Sundae Story

We’ve been working on potty training with Veronica. We started a couple of months ago because we were (and still are) having ammonia issues with our cloth diapers and she kept getting these awful rashes. Keeping her in underwear helped it to clear up, and it sparked an interest in the potty for her. It was kind of a slow start with lots of accidents, but once she figured out what it felt like to have to go pee, she got the hang of it. We still have the occasional accident, but as long as we keep reminding her to pay attention she does most of her pee on the potty. Woo!

She would, however, avoid doing number two on the toilet at all costs. She would just wait until we put a diaper on her for bedtime or to go out. Then she would do her business.

Finally last week we had a breakthrough. We timed a trip to the bathroom just right, and Veronica did her number two on the potty! To celebrate, she got a special treat.

 

Sundae 1

A tasty sundae a la Paul. Do you think she looks excited?

 

Sundae 3

I can’t imagine why.

The green ice cream is pistachio by the way. She picked that out at the grocery store one day.

“I want the green one!”

Definitely my daughter.

 

Sundae 5

Jacinta thought she deserved a sundae, too.

 

Sundae 6

Sorry, sweetie. You are very cute, but you do not get to partake of that particular treat just yet.

 

Sundae 4

So we are still working on consistency, but I feel like potty training has finally crossed into the land of possibility. And probability. And eventuality.

Which is better than fantasy-land.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pineapple Meringue Pie

Pie

I saw this recipe last week on Tasty Kitchen, and just had to make it. It took a few days before I had enough time, and during those days my taste buds were in an agony of anticipation. It looked so good!

Finally on Tuesday I was able to put it together. I had some pie crust dough frozen in the oven which saved some time. (Oven??? Of course I meant freezer. Oy.) Instead of crushed pineapple, I used some fresh pineapple that I had on hand and just pulsed it through the food processor to get it to the right consistency. And even though I had never made a meringue pie before, the instructions – and my Kitchen-Aid – made it very easy.

You have to try this pie! It is simply delicious.

Here’s the step-by-step tutorial on Tasty Kitchen.

And the recipe, Grandma Inez’s Pineapple Pie, courtesy of Perry’s Plate. Whose pie pictures are much prettier than mine.

Go. Eat. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sleep, Revisited

You may remember a post from a while back about Veronica’s sleeping habits. Whether bedtime or naptime, we have found her in a variety of strange places and positions, and now almost a year later…nothing has changed.

 

Sleep 17

Around when Veronica turned two, we moved her from the crib into a bed. She had learned how to consistently climb out of the crib, and aside from the fact that it enabled her to continually come out of her room if she didn’t feel like sleeping, it also presented the opportunity for falling accidents. So – goodbye, Crib!

 

Sleep 16

Of course, with the bed came all new occasions for Paul and I to chuckle as we peeked in on Veronica every night before bed. It’s bigger than the crib, so there’s more room for animals to cuddle with – or fall asleep on – as the need arises.

But perhaps the best new ability gained by sleeping in a bed is the opportunity to fall asleep outside of it.

 

Sleep 10

So close.

 

Sleep 6

Not so close.

 

Sleep 7

Not close at all. In fact, another foot to the left and she would have been out of the room all together.

 

Sleep 8

Like this, a sight that greeted us early one morning. The morning, in fact, when Paul and I decided we had to start leaving our door open at night. The better to hear you, little girl.

Though Veronica has managed some interesting bedtime antics, the strangest sleeping places of all come not at bed time, but during the day when Veronica just can’t escape fatigue any longer.

 

Sleep 15

Like with Daddy on the couch.

 

Sleep 13

Or the floor.

 

Sleep 14

Whilst reading.

 

Sleep 12

Or watching a favorite movie.

 

Sleep 11

I don’t even know how this happens. But this is not the only time it has. Or the only kitchen.

And you know the old adage about how we hurt the ones we love the most? Adage, or song. One of those.

 

Sleep 1

Well, it’s true. Sorry, Dora.

 

Sleep 2

“¡Ay├║dame!”

 

Sleep 4

“No, seriously.”

 

Sleep 5

“Help me.”