Friday, March 30, 2007

Quick, Get the Candles

My blog is three years old this month.

Who'd a thunk I'd be at this blogging thing for three years?

I told two people recently about how much my blogging has changed in these three years. So much so, that I sometimes wish I could go back and delete a lot of old posts that were, well, stupid. I suppose I could do this, but that doesn't seem right. It's the real me and, while I'd like to pretend that the real me doesn't say stupid things, that wouldn't be very honest.

So, the posts stay up.

While the stupidity factor here at Rattling Around could be discussed at length, there have been a few brighter spots over these three years, and I thought maybe I'd highlight some of them:

In the three years I have been blogging:

  • Blogger changed to a new interface.
  • Blogger changed to the NEW Blogger.
  • I installed haloscan coments
  • I uninstalled haloscan comments
  • I met a few bloggy friends
  • I gained a new bloggy friend and a pen pal too!
  • This post about tadpoles, this one about my wedding cake, and this random post have all tied for the most unsolicited comments (since the removal of haloscan.) What does this say about me?
  • I have changed blog design twice, if you can call the first two "designs." Heather set me up with the current look.
  • I have, like, seven readers now.
  • I installed statcounter so that I could obsess over the number of hits my blog receives.
  • I surpassed 37,000 hits this month. This may sound impressive to the non-blogger, but it really isn't, I assure you - especially given the fact that 25,000 of those hits were ME reading my own blog, and the other 12,000 came from the link at Boomama's just this past Wednesday.
Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading. All seven of you. When it comes to finding motivation to keep at this blogging thing, y'all are the sine qua non.

Thank you, thank you very much...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cognitively Speaking

When I was teaching Chem II at my last place of employment, I had one of my "teacher moments" as I was walking my students through a particular lab analysis. It was a titration in which they had to determine the amount of vitamin C in several different kinds of juice.

I wish I could describe this particular class to you. I am not kidding when I say that almost every lesson was directed by their questions. I'd give an assignment, they'd do it - or at least attempt it - then they'd come in the next day and ask questions about whatever they didn't understand. The ability to identify what you do not understand and to formulate the appropriate question is, in my opinion, a mark of intelligence. It might be fair to say that a handful of the twenty students were asking most of the questions, but in simply addressing their questions, the entire group always seemed to stumble upon an understanding of the larger concepts. The big picture. I found that I loved this kind of student-driven learning because it seemed so much more effective than delivering a lecture that addressed what I thought was important.

They were at it again on this particular day of lab analysis. As part of their lab assignment, I asked them to make a simple statement about how the volume of the titrant was related to the amount of vitamin C in the sample. This kind of terminology was familiar to them. We'd spent considerable time the previous year studying the "relatedness" of pressure, temperature, and volume in a gas (the gas laws.)

They easily determined from their data that the titrant and vitamin C concentration were directly related. (In other words, the more titrant they had to use, the more vitamin C was in the sample.)

Then I asked them to write the mathematical formula that described the relationship between the two variables.


"I've never heard of a formula for that?"

"Where do we find that formula?"

"No, no, no!" said I. "This formula doesn't exist. You need to figure one out!"

Jaws dropping. Brows furrowing. Eyes widening.

"How do we do that?"

"Well, how are they related?"


"Then write a formula for two variables that are directly related."


"Think about it. Have you ever heard of other variables that were directly related?"

"Yeah. What was that gas law? Was it pressure divided by temperature, or was it pressure multiplied by temperature?"

"I can't remember a formula from that long ago!"

"Then don't. Why don't you just try something and SEE IF IT ACTUALLY DESCRIBES YOUR DATA."

So they tried one. It didn't work. Then they switched it around and - IT WORKED.

"So we can just MAKE UP a formula?"

"Well, no. You can't just make one up out of thin air. But did you find one that describes your data?"


"Then that's your formula."

This is where I launched into a mini lecture about how every mathematical formula in the history of mankind didn't exist until someone MADE IT UP. And why did they make it up? Because it WORKED to describe their data.

It was like little lightbulbs going off all over the room. "OOOhhh!"
I love this story because it was one of few times where I think I witnessed some kids "getting it." What I hate about this story is that they were juniors and seniors in high school and they were only just coming to this realization: math is a tool.

Someone invented algebra. And trigonometry. And calculus. And differential equations. They invented them because they needed a way to describe the things they were observing in the natural world: People made up math because it helped them describe something.

Math is never solving the quadratic equation 20 times just to see what the answer is. NO! The answer has meaning. Without meaning, there is no reason to do the math in the first place. Teaching math without meaning is one of my biggest complaints about education today. Math in most schools is taught in isolation. The answers have no meaning. This kind of approach to math education results in kids who don't know how to use math. They don't realize they are the master of it. They think the math tells THEM what to do, when in fact real math is the exact opposite!

Most schools are turning out kids who can solve the quadratic equation when you tell them: Solve this problem using the quadratic equation. What is the point of this? (Just out of curiosity, does anyone know someone who sits around solving quadratic equation problems just to see what the answer is? No one does this! The idea is preposterous!) The problem with this is that the natural world never tells you what math to use. It's content to sit around and do its thing. The job of describing the "thing" falls on us, and it requires that we know how to use the tool of math to make accurate description.

My desire is to approach math education a little bit more wholistically. Ms. Boo is currently working through a part of her math curriculum that covers measurement. Part of her lessons the last two days has been to identify the instrument that would be used to measure certain things. (She can chose from ruler, thermometer, measuring cup, or scale.)

So, it bugged me a bit when the book showed her a picture of a bag of flour and gave a scale and a measuring cup as choices. Another example showed a pitcher of water and gave measuring cup and ruler as options. (The implication is that only one of the choices is "correct.")

Is it totally inconceivable that someone would want to measure the weight of flour? People often do this in their own kitchens because it is more accurate than using a measuring cup. Is it unheard of to measure the height of water? Uh, rain guage, anyone?

This kind of "detached" math, where you don't have a reason for answering the question is just another example of teaching math in isolation. Instead of asking "what do I need to know about the flour to solve this problem" we are simply making an exercise of it.

Here is where I will stop, because I have no pretty ending to this rant. Ms. Boo's lessons have brought these thoughts right back to the forefront of my mind. The difference is that now I am in a position where I can do something about it.

Labels: , , , ,

Okay, I'm Just Going to Say it...

Avatars creep me out.

Is anyone else with me on this?

Monday, March 26, 2007

What Do You Get When You Cross...

Three kids with:

one bowl, a bunch of grapes, and a garlic press?

Why, grape juice, of course!


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Because I Think It's Cute

Last Monday, I suggested that Ms. Boo draw a picture or write a letter for someone. She decided my mom would be the lucky recipient. She drew this picture:

When I suggested that she try to write a short letter to her grandmother to accompany the picture, she said she wanted to write a poem. I told her to go for it.

"What do I write?" she asked me.

I told her she could write whatever she wanted, but she insisted that I make up a poem for her to write. I did. And she wrote. I helped her with her sight words. The other stuff she figured out without much help from me. Here is what she came up with:


Saturday, March 24, 2007


Luisa was none too happy with me for leading everyone on with a recent post entitled "A Great Recipe for Fudge." Turned out the title was a reference to my fudging the seams on a quilt. Luisa was hoping for an *actual* fudge recipe.

I don't often post recipes (and you are about to find out why) but I though maybe I'd do it this time, you know, for Luisa. Before I post this recipe for fudge, however, let me tell you something: I hate sweet, grainy fudge. I like fudge rich, dense, and smooth as butter. What follows is the recipe for the best fudge I've ever eaten.

Melt one bag of semisweet morsels in microwave or double boiler.

Heat one can of sweetened, condensed milk in the microwave until warm.

Mix them together. Pour the mixture in a buttered, square baking dish. Cool.

If you want to go crazy, add some nuts, marshmallows, or peanut butter chips.

Now, you know why I don't post recipes on my blog: because you can just as easily get them out of the coupon section of the Sunday paper.

Happy eating.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

In Which I Profess My Love for Leslie

Let me just start out with a few admissions:

Admission number one: I'm not up on the whole global warming thing. Haven't really "studied" the issue since college.

Admission number two: I think part of the reason that I am not up on this is because people are always quoting some scientific study. This would be great were it not for the fact that their study directly contradicts the equally scientific study that the people on the other side of the fence are quoting.

Admission number three: It pains me to hear people taking sides on this (or any other) issue when it is abundantly clear that they have not really weighed the evidence for themselves; instead they are listening to explanations offered by others who have already made up their minds (i.e.; they are not presenting both sides of the issue.)

Admission number four: I believe we humans, and particularly those of us who live in the Western world, are particularly wasteful. And unconcerned about what that waste means for the rest of the planet.

Admission number five: I think that if we are concerned in theory, we are generally unwilling to make changes because they would be inconvenient and or restrictive. Personal sacrifice for the greater good just isn't our style.

Admission number six: I believe that Christians, who believe God gave them dominion over His creation, should be MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT THAN ANYONE ELSE, and willing to make the aforementioned sacrifices. Sadly, this is often not the case.

Admission number seven: That being said, I also believe that we live in a fallen world. It's broken. And while there is a LOT more we can be doing to improve the quality of the environment, the world is decaying. And there is nothing we can do to make that stop.

Admission number eight: I tend not to live on either extreme of the global warming spectrum, though I dare say that some people think I do. And depending on who you talk to, you'll get a different answer as to which extreme they think I'm on.

Admission number nine: I want to meet Leslie. I read her stuff and it always resonates with me. I think I love her.

No fighting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

OOOOh, the Power of a Posted List

I could have written my list on a piece of paper and taped it to my refrigerator. Instead, I posted it - and oh, the motivation that has overcome me. I don't know if I should be thankful for the motivation, or if I should feel ashamed of my need to show off to everyone.

But I am showing off anyway.

I finished #1.

It's a rag quilt. Rag quilts are basically sewn so the seams are left showing. Then you snip every half inch or so and, once washed, the seams fray and look, uh, raggy? The above picture was taken before I washed it. Below is a closer view of the snipped seams. (And you can sort of see the cute little puppies on the cream fabric.)

Rag quilts seem to be quite the rage (or they were not too long ago.) I don't particularly like them, but they are so easy to make. My mother-in-law makes them using two layers of flannel and no batting. This way they are still warm, but, sans batting, they are even easier to make.

I made this one out of some flannel scraps she gave me. It's a baby quilt and was meant to be donated in January when our church was collecting baby items. I will still donate it, but I'm not sure where yet. I have a lot more flannel that my MIL gave me - enough to make a few more of these quilts. Add that to those to the list, right?

Now that I have completed the projects that required sewing (s-l-o-w-l-y, due to the wacky state of my machine) I think I will also be attempting to get #2 crossed off that list by having my machine serviced.

In the mean time, I might also try conquering #10. So, tomorrow night, I will likely have all my paper and stamps out for a little bit of cardmaking fun. I was thinking I should make a set of cards to give away to a *lucky* reader, but I can't think of a fun contest (unless answering the question "if you could decide whose head should adorn the next PEZ dispenser, who would you choose?" would be considered a fun contest for my readers.... given of course, that the prize was a mere pack of homemade cards.)

Any ideas? Cuz I'm all for giving a set of cards away!


A Great Recipe for Fudge

I got out all the little pieces of my rail fence quilt that had yet to be sewn together. When I started working on it, I remembered why I'd quit in the first place: none of the seams were lining up properly. I think I cut my red fabric incorrectly. I had been trying to make up for the error when I was sewing. In other words, I was fudging it. But I got tired of trying to get stuff to work out, so I put it down.

Tonight, I just wanted to get it done. There was no pinning, no ironing seams, none of the things that good quilters are supposed to do. I just sewed the thing together. Well, my machine sewed them together, but only SLOWLY, or else it started doing its crazy snarly thread thang again.

Here it be: (It looks very yellow in this picture, but I don't know how to get it to look "right.")

It measures a whopping 36x48, which might have been another reason that I quit - because it wasn't going to be big enough for even a lap quilt. It's a good size for a baby quilt or a wall hanging. But for it to be big enough for an adult's lap quilt, a border would have to be added.

Anyhoo... I finished it. And I am totally willing to send it to anyone who might want it. It's no masterpiece, but you are welcome to have it if you'd like it.

Here is a close up of the fabric:
If you'd like to have it, leave a comment explaining, in detail, why you think you deserve the quilt top. I'll randomly select from what will likely be the hundreds of responses.

But seriously, if you want it, let me know. You will be helping me to reduce some of the clutter around here!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An Exciting List, by All Accounts

There are things I want to get done. Projects languishing in corners of the house, atop my desk, and even in my mind. There are so many things I'd like to do that when I have time to do them, I fritter most of it away just trying to decide what to tackle.

I am going to list them, because listing them makes me feel better. It doesn't make for really exciting reading, but hey.... WHAT'S NEW?

So, without further ado: MY LIST

1. Finish up that flannel rag quilt that shouldn't have taken more than a week, but got set aside when my sewing machine decided to do it's little snarly thread thang.

2. I suppose I should get the machine serviced too, though I can't really say I WANT to do that.

3. Finish piecing that rail fence quilt. I'd be completely content at this point just to finish piecing the top and then fold it up and never quilt one tiny bit of it. Maybe I could have a contest on the blog... you could win a rail fence quilt top.

4. Try my hand at crocheting a wrap. The word "crochet," when written, just isn't very pretty, now is it? And, is it grammatically correct to put "ing" on the end of a French word to make it a gerund?

5. Oh, that quilt pattern I have that I picked out the maroon/maize/green fabric for. The one stashed behind the filing cabinet.

6. Yeah, and ditto that for the blue and yellow fabric and pattern stashed right there in front of the book shelf. Can something be stashed if it is out in the open? I suppose a fabric stash is stashed no matter where it is.

7. Can you tell it's late, and I am not thinking coherently?

8. Finish Traci's T-shirt quilt.

9. Find out when the classes I want to take are offered.

10. Make a bunch of cards to have on hand for whenever I need them.

11. The cat quilt - in girl colors. Yes, I already bought THAT fabric too.

12. Plan out an idea for the ol' blawg involving a cool button and a Mr. Linky.

13. Use the phrase "sine qua none" correctly in a sentence.

14. If you even try to get smart with my by posting a comment in which you use "sine qua none," you will be banned from my blog.

15. Start reading some of those books I have in my side bar. That cursed list is growing. So much stuff I want to know. Why on EARTH does it all have to be WRITTEN DOWN in books?

16. I would go start doing one of these things, but I it's late, I am tired, and I DON'T HAVE TIME for any of them anyway. I didn't even plan Ms. Boo's lessons for this week yet.

17. Yes, I know it is Tuesday.

Good night.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blanket Statements

I was thinking the other day about how I need to put away some of the blankets that we've had out over the last few months. (Thank goodnees I didn't, because it's gotten downright cold again.)

There is one blanket in particular that really got me thinking. (It doesn't take much, eh?) It is a simple bed quilt, really. Light blue on one side, dark blue on the other. I have had it since I was about five when my sister and I got matching ones from my grandmother for Christmas. I think it was more like my mom picked them out with the money my grandmother sent, but I have always loved this quilt. It is SO WARM!

The quilt, however, isn't doing so well. This comes as no surprise, given how long I've owned it. The seams are torn and the polyester batting is showing through. I was thinking that I needed to throw it out. But have I mentioned that it is WARM? And that I've had it since I was FIVE? An odd thing to be sentimental about, but what can I say? I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of it.

When I looked at two of the other blankets we have out, I realized that they have a "story" as well. There is the one I bought when I was in college to hang on the wall of my bedroom as a layer of insulation. The two exterior walls of my room made it so. very. cold. A cheap blanket with a pink and blue design that is supposed to make it look like a pieced quilt, it has since been on a lot of picnics with our family - both indoors and out.

The last blanket, the only one of the three that really IS a handmade quilt, was given to me as a Christmas gift by my mother-in-law.... about two months after I started dating Paul. Either she really, really liked me, or she was doing some sort of reverse dowry thing in an effort to get rid of Paul... which it really was is, to this day, debateable. ; )

It seemed odd to me that I have a story associated with each of these blankets.

Odder still is, as I have been working to finish up* a quilt that my Sunday School class is making, I have actully prayed for the baby who will receive it: that he will treasure it, that he will know the story behind it, and that the story of the ladies he never knew who made it for him will bring glory to God and Christ to his life.

Here it is.
"Cat Nap" pattern is by Marla Stefanelli

*This would be why I haven't had much time to post lately. The baby was born a month early and I was scrambling to get this done!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Actual Comment

Me, Today:

"I think the baby's leg is in the yellow bag."


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Various and Sundry

Eating, like, four tablespoons of chocolate frosting and then a big scoop of peanut butter cup ice cream isn't conducive to losing weight. Is it?

RE battery disposal. I have looked into it a little bit and have determined that regular batteries (like the Coppertops, or a simple Energizer) are not recyclable. I can explain why I thought they were, but I won't bother.

However, cell phone batteries, button batteries, lithium (e.g. camera) batteries, rechargeable batteries, car batteries: they can all be recycled. And PLEASE DO. Some of them contain heavy metals that are toxic... we don't want that kind of stuff leaching into groundwater from your landfill, now do we? Find out if your batteries can be recycled by clicking here (scroll down to the bottom for an easy-to-read chart) or call 1-800-8BATTERY. Then find out where you can recycle them.

And just for the record, I don't like you all calling me out on that because it sorta takes away the whole feeling of getting the last word. THANKYOUVERYMUCH!

Casual mention:
I had windows open in my house all day long. SWEEEEEEEET.

Currently on my mind:
Motherhood and how, though I don't beat my kids, I surely have some areas that need improvement. Does improvment have two e's? So, I am going to ask you all if you have read any good books about mothering OR parenting in general that you'd like to recommend.

And now, I am going to bed.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Got The Last Word! I Got The LAST WORD!!!!

Ms. Boo approached me today holding her battery operated Nemo bubble blower which, given that we are out of bubble solution, she was using as a fan. The batteries were dying, so she came to ask me for some more.

"No," said I. "I am not putting more batteries in there just so you can use it as a fan."


"Because we already have a huge pile of batteries we need to dispose of, and I don't want to waste any more."

"What does 'dispose' mean?"

"It means that we need to throw them out. Only we can't just throw batteries in the regular trash."


"Because they have some dangerous stuff in them that you can't throw in the trash."

"What dangerous stuff?"

"It's called acid." Wondering if the questioning would ever end.

Ms. Boo shot back. "What is acid?"

"Ms. Boo, you really don't want to hear my answer to that."

"Why? What is acid?"

"Ms. Boo, it's a proton donor."


Except for the laughter coming from the kitchen. Paul thought it was hilarious.

Now you all wish you'd paid better attention in chemistry class, eh? Turns out you DO use chemistry in real life!

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Few New Finds

I found a few new blogs during the blog party. Thought I'd share since, if you were participating, it's unlikely you visitied all gizillionty and seven of them. Me? I went over to the list a few times and randomly clicked on things from the top, middle, and bottom of the list. (I did also try to visit those who visited me, but I will admit I didn't get to all of those... yet.)

So here are a few:
A Southern Girl's Guide to Everything. It really is about everything. And I just like reading...

. Because I am all about reading the blog of anyone who willingly admits to their geekiness as well as quotes lines from The Princess Bride.

Enter the Circus. A fellow Buckeye with some great links to stuff for kids. Also battling clinical depression and an abusive past. But not all "woe is me."

Mental Tessarae. I don't think this blog was part of the party, but Luisa pointed me there, and I found Luisa through the party, so I guess I did kind of find this one through the blog party. This blog got some goooood writin'.

There was another blog of a mission-minded Aussie girl who made lots of clay beads/crafts. She had worked with SIM and had links to them on her page. I THOUGHT I bookmarked her, but now I can't find it. Anyone know who she is?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tell Me How That Makes You Feel...

Oh, my word. I haven't posted anything of consequence in quite a while, but I feel as though I have been blogging nonstop. Most of my time has been taken up by the Blog Party. The last I checked, there were over 800 participants. Just for the record, I do not intend to visit all 800 of those blogs. I like blogging, but not that much.

The rest of my time has been spent e-mailing other bloggers. If you have been reading me for any length of time, you know that I am in this blogging thing to talk to people, exchange ideas, challenge one another's thinking, etc. For me, those things usually take place on a blog. These last two weeks, however, seem to have been banner weeks for communicating with my bloggy cohorts via e-mail. So I am blogging, just not on my blog. (Is there a term for that?)

And this would be the point in the post where I would consider giving a shout out, a thank you, or an introduction to those bloggers I have been conversing with, but I wonder if I should.

So I am going to ask you all. Do you ever feel insignificant, dismissed, left out etc. when you are reading a blog and/or comment in which the author writes about personal communication she has had with another blogger?

All this "off-blog" communication is unusual for me. Maybe you all communicate frequently with other bloggers, and I am just out of the loop. But I will admit that reading that kind of stuff on someone else's blog tends to make me feel like the junior high kid who didn't get invited to the party.

So, what do you think?


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thank you, Bloglines

I sent a communique to bloglines last week that basically said hey, my feed doesn't work.

My feed disappeared from all of cyberspace.

Then I got an e-mail from bloglines saying that it works again. And, by golly, it does.

But now anyone who was subscribed has to go re-subscribe. So go do it. Because you DO NOT want to miss one moment of the excitement over here.

With posts this exciting, I know you are all headed over there this very minute. Try not to trip over your keyboards, people.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

We're Having a Party

Ultimate Blog Party

So, mister, mr. d.j.
Keep those records playing
Coz I’m having
Such a good time,
Dancing with my baby

We're having a party
Everybody’s swinging

Dancing to the music
On the radio.....

Welcome to my blog. My signature looks like "Lou" and nine times out of ten I type my name "Loir," but my actual name is Lori. I also go by PEZmama because I like to keep my readers as confused as possible. If you want to know how I play the blogging game, you can read about my blogging personality here. You can also see a picture of me here, and read an alarmingly inane post while you're at it.

What you will find "rattling around" this blog is a whole lot of drivel, a little bit of humor, even less insight, and an appalling number of sentences that begin with a conjunction. So, if you were looking for a cool blog, you have come to the wrong place. If, however, you want to get to know an average Joe, or an average "Lou" as it turns out, then have I got a blog for you.

Now, let us dispense with the trivial introductions and get on with the banality that is my blog:

Smoothies are on tap. Grab one and go join a conversation. I've invited all kinds: the nerdy, the spiritual, the goofy, the uncool, the down, the quirky, the getting-it-togethers, and the not-quite-theres. If you don't have fun with one of those groups, you might need to find another party.

And they're all listed here.

Enjoy yourself. And thanks for stopping by.