Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

COH Week 51

Carnival of Homeschooling - Week 51
at Principled Discovery

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling - Week 50

It's that time again. Time for the Carnival, yes. But it is also that time of year again. Time to haul out the boxes of decorations, dig the reindeer cookie cutters out of the back of the cupboard, and decide if you really have to run back to Wally World and fight the holiday crowds... you can get by with half a roll of Scotch tape and some gum, right?

Well, first things first. First, you've got to get yourself into the holiday spirit. But where to start? Angel at Aduladi' Homeschool has begun her search for The Christmas Vibe. Let's join her and take a listen to Nat King Cole sing The Christmas Song.

Better? All mellowed out now and curled up in your favorite spot with a cup of tea or hot chocolate at just the right temperature? Good. Because the kids (using their innate "parental peace detection system") are about to come crashing into the room chanting that oh too common refrain, "We're bored!" Don't panic (move your cup over to the table, though). Beverly at About Homeschooling has some instructions for Reindeer Games that you and your kids can create and play together. Just click on over and get started.

Now that your adrenaline is pumping and the kids have crashed for the night (how do they do that?!), it's time to start thinking about presents. Some people are really easy to shop for... like me. I'm a very practical gal when in comes to gifts. Put together some bookshelves, wrap a big red bow around them, and hang a stocking filled with gift cards on it, and I'm happy. Alasandra, on the other hand, has experienced a bit more stress shopping for her loved ones... many of whom have the nerve to have December birthdays which just adds to her stress. However, she shares with us her first-hand experience with "necessity is the mother of invention" ...or is it "that which does not kill me postpones the inevitable?" I can't remember. Anyway, this Christmas Hack discovered a great craft idea that would make a great gift. It's a wonderful kid project. Not the crafty type? Not a problem. Carol, the HomeschoolCPA, has a great list of gift ideas for WAHMs (work at home moms)... and isn't that every mom? She has ideas to fit every budget, every schedule, and every level of creativity.

Now that you've got the gifts out of the way, it's time to get those Christmas cards written and sent out. (Don't forget to change the CD. Let's try some Bing Crosby... and some more hot chocolate. Mmmmm.) Judy, at Consent of the Governed, reminds us to not forget our troops serving overseas as we send out our cards today. Send a greeting to the troops. And if you have a family member serving our country in the military, thank you... and thank him (or her) for us, too.

After a good night's sleep, it's time to see how we are doing on our to do list. Gifts made? Check. Cards ready to mail? Check. So, now it's time to head to the post office. You load the kids in the car, pop in the history CD (home school, car school... same thing, right?), and you're on your way. This past week, Heather (Stepping Heavenward) and her boys learned about the Assyrians amidst the hustle and bustle of their Christmas preparations. Her son even made up a song! Too many times to count, you have turned over in your mind, "To homeschool through the holidays or not, that is the question?" Elena at This Domestic Church has also been debating this.

You arrive at the post office and get everyone out of the car. (La la la la/ La la la la/ Shamshi's world... you are going to be singing that all day!) The kids help carry some packages and envelopes (it is the season of miracles) and you settle into your place in line. All is well. Then a sweet lady bearing a single envelope falls behind you in line, scans the angelic faces of your children, smiles and kindly asks them, "No school today?" Your heart sinks. "We are in school!" one of your cherubs replies cheerfully (although, to you, a little rehearsed). "We homeschool," you answer to the woman's puzzled look. "Oh. That's too bad. Don't you wish you had a break? Wouldn't it be easier to do this," she points to my pile of packages, "if they were in school?" Not now. Not while everyone is being peaceful and no one is crying or bleeding. You just want to mail some packages. Sigh. If you were the Whimsy Chick, you would not despair, however. She has the answer as to why she homeschools. And one of those reasons is socialization... cool, huh? (In her post "America is an Idea", Dani from Principled Discovery counters the "what about socialization?", anti-homeschoolers by asking of the government schools, "But what about unification through diversity rather than socializing to produce cookie cutter children?") Fortunately for you, Taz's Mom, from EternaLearning Academy, is right in front of you in line, and she has also prepared an answer as to why she homeschools. Take notes... you never know who you're going to run into next.

You finally get up to the counter, and as you negotiate the package placement system ("All right, all right! You can each give a package to the postman. Youngest gets the smallest package... oldest gets the biggest package. Youngest goes first. Go.") the postal worker smiles at you and shares, "You homeschool? Cool. I wish I could do that, but my wife and I..." You then hear the list of reasons why he feels they can't homeschool their own children. You've heard many of these reasons articulated before (mostly inside your own head when you were a 'newbie'). Before you know it, you've morphed into Dana from Bureaucratic Daycare and find yourself quoting an article by John Turtel that answers the question "Homeschooling, can I do it?"

The kids have been behaving well, you are experiencing a 'confidence euphoria' after your conversations at the post office, you do have a couple more gifts to pick up (and more tape... you had to sacrifice your gum in the interest of quiet at the post office), so you decide to head over to the mall. You are caught up in the spirit of giving and let the kids pick the music for the ride over. Well, you're not singing "Shamshi's World" anymore... is that a good thing or a bad thing? As soon as you get to the mall, find a parking space, retrieve your toddler's mitten, convince your son that you won't let him starve (you never have before, why would you start now?), and tame the coats, hats, scarves, and mittens that everyone sheds as soon as you walk in the door, you head straight for the bathroom. Experience has taught you to have your children not put off until you are in line with an armload of purchases what you can do now. On your way to the bathroom, you see a sign bearing a life-sized image of a police officer striking an Uncle Sam pose with the message "Shoplifting is a Crime." This inspires a discussion on Proverbs 21:2 you studied a few days ago. It's all about connections. (This episode inspired by the actual life experience of Kristina from On Fire.)

After a couple of hours at the mall (there were more "last minute" gifts than you originally thought), you all come home ready to collapse... but you can't. You still have to get through some math and grammar today. "But, Mom...!" "Can't we just watch a movie? My feet are tired!" "And my brain hurts!" You give in with a sigh. This is going to put you a full week behind in grammar. Maybe you can fit some in on the way to Grandma's house next weekend. Who are you kidding? You slump into a chair wondering how you are possibly going to get it all done. Maybe the woman at the post office was right. Welcome to burn out. As The Thinking Mother points out, burnout is when there is a gap between expectations and rewards... and burnout isn't only for the 9-5ers in Manhattan, either. Time to sit down and reassess.

Got your cup of tea and some soothing music on in the background? (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen always calms me.) Alrighty, why did you decide to homeschool your children in the first place? To keep your children from physical harm? Concern over how our government schools are run? These were some of the concerns raised in a series of articles and reader responses read this week by Nicki at Home School Central. In fact, the lack of safety and student control in the government schools also came up as concerns in another series of articles that Gena at Home Where They Belong was alerted to this week. But you also had positive reasons for choosing to homeschool your children. You wanted to make them life-long learners. "Teach a man to fish..." and all that. That is one BIG reason Why (you) Homeschool. Actually, it is a HUGE reason. Experience tells you that you need to be able to inform yourself about the various, new experiences that you will encounter in the "real world." For example, how can you give informed consent regarding your medical care if you don't know how to educate yourself about your body and those things that ail you? The Hernandezes at APMFormulators remind us just how important this ability can be.

You think back on some of the doubts you had (and sometimes still entertain). "I am hardly an expert in education, " you (and Andrea) told yourself. You knew that you would have to Die to Yourself when you became a parent, and, as Jeana at Red-Letter Days reminds us, you had to recommit to that sacrifice when you chose to homeschool. But it was a worthy sacrifice. Yours is a holy calling. Leader in a Domestic Monestary (where the two rules are No Fighting, No Biting).

You realize, as the music on the stereo changes over to something nostalgic to match your pensive and cheering mood, that you have been neglecting your Mental multivitamin and not treating your job, your calling, with the level of professionalism that you should be. You've been getting up late (even though you know your daughter is more teachable in the morning) and not showering until... well, not as often as you should. So, now that the kids' movie is over, you call an all-school assembly and ask them to forgive you for the lack of respect that you have been showing for their schooling. You tell them that you will begin your recommitment to their education by recognizing that you (and they) need a break. Lara, author of The Open Door, reminds us of the necessity of well-timed breaks... and when to read your children's cues that break time is over. When your middle-schooler reminds you that you promised to read a book to her about the Winter Solstice tomorrow and do some Christmas crafts, you pull-up Unbridled Learning's post on The Winter Solstice and Christmas and tell her to pick an activity that the two of you can do together the next afternoon.

So after encouraging your perpetual learner, you begin your break. You make everyone some hot chocolate (topped with whipped cream, of course) and cuddle up on the sofa in front of the fireplace to read a Neglected Christmas classic. (Thank you to Mama Squirrel in Dewey's Treehouse for reminding us about this forgotten favorite.) After the story, the kids will go to bed, and you will haul the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the garage and the basement and bake some cookies to enjoy the next day while you spend well-needed family time decorating for the holidays.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A note: This week, much beloved and widely read homeschool blogger, Spunky, announced that she was retiring her blog. Laurie at Trivium Pursuit reminds us in her Message From Spunky to thank Spunky by voting for her blog - which was the only homeschool blog to win a nomination for the Wizbang Blog Awards 2006 in the education category. She became aware of her finalist status the day she announced her blog's retirement. This calls for some music. Join me in a round of Auld Lang Syne, won't you? Just follow the bouncing ball.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. As always, if you find any broken links or other errors, please leave a comment below or email me, and I will fix it ASAP. If you would like to participate in a future Carnival of Homeschooling, you can find information about doing so here. Don't forget to check out the Carnival next week over at Principled Discovery.



Testing to see if I can figure this thing out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Well, That's Encouraging!

You know it's going to be a good day when you walk out your back door first thing in the morning and even your sidewalk is happy to see you!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Just Call Him B.B.

On the way home from church yesterday, the kids and I were listening to a music mix CD that Frodo had made (Frodo was still at church waiting for Primo to finish her Christmas Play practice). The second song on the mix is U2 (smile) and B.B. King performing When Love Comes To Town. Terzo always sings along with music, but I never thought that Quarto payed much attention. Then, out of the blue, in a very blues-y, gravelly voice (but clear as a bell), Quarto belts along with the chorus, "But I did what I did before Love came to town!"

Since "Lucille" is taken, what would be a good name for a guitar?

(You should hear Terzo sing the second verse. He's pretty good, but it sounds odd coming out of the mouth of a six year old.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cowboy Calisthenics

I have discovered the soon-to-be-newest fad in exercise programs. Trust me, it will be sweeping the nation. And just think, I'm letting you in on the ground floor.

The program has 4 easy steps:

1. Crash your daughter's square dancing class during line dancing time. If you don't have a daughter in square dancing, go to your nearest county fair, retirement home, or township singles night.

2. Grab the nearest toddler and attach him firmly to your hip. (I cannot stress the word "firmly" enough.) It is helpful to bring your own toddler or to ask permission before grabbing a random toddler off the street. I was fortunate enough to have Quarto pulling on my jacket saying, "Dance with me, Mommy! Dance with me!" No coercion or permission needed.

3. Commence dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe. (Hang on to that toddler. He can really throw himself into those spins!)

4. Collapse into a breathless heap as soon as the music ends while the toddler yells, "Again! Again!"

That's gotta be good for at least 1000 calories, right?

Oh, and to add some entertainment to your workout (if you can possibly increase the entertainment value of watching 50 kids, ages 7-17, trying to do the Cotton-Eyed Joe in a room designed to hold 50 people only if they stand very still), wear a knee-length, medium-weight jacket with a heavy wallet in one pocket and a cell phone and key ring in the other. Then, place yourself immediately in front of an uncoordinated 6-year-old. Watch the 6-year-old duck and sway to avoid being clocked by your wallet or keys while trying not to take his eyes off of your feet. Trust me... this makes the chest pounding, unladylike perspiring and complete loss of equilibrium totally worth it.

I'm tellin' ya. It's gonna be BIG!

Monday, November 27, 2006

I just don't get it

Frodo and I were watching the eleven o'clock news on Black Friday (which Frodo was convinced was taped in advance since all the stories were rather generic with little to no detail and generally didn't seem very newsworthy... but I digress). The lead story was the required "look at all the crazy people who slept in front of the Stuff Mart to buy the new and improved Tickle Me 'Til I Pee Dancing Cockroach and Alarm Clock" story. I was doing fairly well tuning it out until I heard a woman interviewed say this, "I got some great stuff. I got this monitor. I didn't know what it was, but everyone else was grabbing one so I got one too."


This brings keeping up with the Jonses to a whole new level. I guess what really shocked me about this was not that this woman bought something because it was "cheap" even though she didn't really need it (or even know what it was). It was that she was admitting it to millions of people and didn't seem all that ashamed or embarrassed by it.

Repeat after me:

"I am only saving money on a purchase if I am buying something I was planning on buying anyway, but I buy it at a price less than I was originally planning on paying."

Now if this woman was planning on buying a monitor anyway and was sharing how happy she was to have saved 75% by buying it on Black Friday, I would have no problem with the story (except that I still find it hard to beleive that someone buying something at a sale is news). Frodo and I have braved the crowds on previous Black Fridays. I love going out the day after Christmas to buy my cards for the following year. But I was planning on buying those things anyway.

This woman isn't saving money... she is just spending it less quickly than she would have if she had been buying random, unidentified things she doesn't need at full price.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Move Over Charlie Brown

Our living room is small. We have always had small living rooms. Thus, we have developed a Christmas tradition of two trees. One in the living room (this is the "formal tree" with the pretty crystal, china and glass ornaments that looks all 'grown up' when it is decorated) and one in either the play room or the kids' bedroom (this one has the kids' ornaments, paper chains and popcorn strings). We had to replace our living room tree last year when our basement flooded and ruined our old tree that was stored down there. This year, we have to replace the kids' tree because it just plain-old broke.

I took Primo out to Wally World with me yesterday and went tree shopping. We looked through the trees on display then headed off down the aisle where the tree boxes are kept. There we found a boxed set of three "spruce" trees of various sizes (4', 3' and 2') that we hadn't seen in the display area... this should have been our first clue. We decided these would be cute in the playroom and would give each of the older kids thier own tree to decorate as they wished. Primo promptly offered that since her and Secondo's trees were bigger than Terzo's they would let Quarto put his ornaments on thier trees. Who could reject such harmony and Christmas spirit? We grabbed a box off the shelf, and Primo carried it to the checkout... this should have been my second clue.

As the kids were taking their baths last night, I decided to set up their trees as a surprise so that they could ooh and aah over them before bed then spend this afternoon after church decorating them. I opened the box and pulled out the first little tree. It had a very cute, wooden base... very rustic. I liked it already. I carefully unwrapped the cord to free the top then attempted to insert the top onto the lower section. This took a bit of muscle, but I got it on... and the tree looked terrible. Secondo comes in and squeels, "Yea! The trees!" After looking at it for a minute, she adds, "Maybe it will look better when you fluff it." So I begin fluffing. This tree refused to be fluffed. I thought maybe it was the tree, so I grabbed one of the smaller ones, muscled it together, and began to fluff... in vain. In the meantime, Primo had come in and asked to try the smallest tree. No amount of fluffing, bending, twisting, or grunting got those things to look like anything but pieces of wood with wire stuck with bits of green paper.

Aren't these the saddest excuses for Christmas trees you've ever seen?!

I don't have the patience or compassion level of Charlie Brown, but I do have a receipt. These sorry things are going back to the store tomorrow, and we will find a different tree for the kids.

I think that to find the "perfect" tree, I would have to use a real one, and although I would like a real tree, I have to face reality and admit that I am too lazy to water one. Plus, I have a three year old. If we had a real tree (especially one I wasn't watering), my house would look like Toddler Chainsaw Massacre. ("There are needles and sap everywhere! Oh, the humanity!") That said, I have to agree with the poet, Joyce Kilmer, only God can make a tree (especially one that looks good with Christmas lights and paper chains).

I THINK that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

- Trees by Joyce Kilmer

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Words, Words, Words

I saw this on a new blog I discovered today and thought it was a fun exercise. And to be perfectly honest, Frodo and I discuss this frequently (odd, maybe, but true), so I already have some answers for these mentally prepared.

BTW, the blog I saw this on was Semicolon, and I recommend that you check out thier weekly Saturday Review of Books.

Words that always look misspelled to me:
conscience (also reminds me of a movie line)
its (I always want to put in an apostrophe)

congratulations (I blame Hallmark for this... conGRADulations, ugh)
surprize/ surprise (both are correct but neither looks right)

Words I enjoy saying:

linoleum (Sesame Street reference)

Words I enjoy hearing:
I love you
Hey, Sweetie

book sale

Abbreviations I dislike:
lbs. (lub?)
oz. (makes me think of wizards... small ones)

.org (most people sound like they are trying not to barf when they say this)

Abbreviations I like:
PPD (postage paid)

Proper nouns I enjoy:
Mrs. Frodo (I still smile when I am addressed by my married name)
Bilbo Baggins
Lake Wobegon

Words I associate with happiness:

Words I always misspell:

misspell (ironic, isn't it?)

Words I enjoy spelling correctly, every time:

Words that, though I love their meaning, I’m too embarrassed to say out loud:

Words I can never remember the meaning of no matter how many times I look them up:
persona non grata (I know that this is technically a phrase, but I always think it should mean "thankless person" or "missing person")

inflammable (shouldn't this be the opposite of flammable; why not just say flammable and stop confusing me?!)

Words that sound like what they mean:


Words that sound like something other than what they mean:
this happens to me more with names than with words

What are some of your favorite words? Your least favorite?

Nine Weird Things About Me

Heather at Stepping Heavenward tagged me for this, so here we go:

Nine Weird Things About Me

Or Things About Me That Don't Come Up In Common Conversation

1. I won a blue ribbon in high school for square dancing.

2. I have passed out at the following locations: on a bus at Epcot Center in Disney World, in a Metro station in Washington, DC, in an Introductory Biology class in college, and in the cardiovascular unit at Washington Hospital Center in DC.

3. I was excused from a graduate school class because it was my anniversary, I was 5 months pregnant, and I showed up to class carrying a dozen roses.

4. In the year before Primo was born, I met former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit (he was secretary then), Meet the Press anchorman Tim Russert, and former Social Secretary to the White House and famed etiquette expert Letitia Baldridge.

5. I attended a live broadcast of America's Most Wanted (I was there for a class requirement to observe the collecting of caller tips for a graduate school class).

6. When I was a kid, I wrote a letter to President Ronald Regan asking for a picture of he and Mrs. Regan. A few months later, I received a photo of the President (machine signed) and a letter (suitable for framing). Frustrated that I did not receive what I had requested, I sent a second letter thanking the President for the photo but pointing out the error. A couple months later, I received a nice photo of President and Mrs. Regan on their ranch signed by both of them.

7. My mitochondrial DNA is part of the permanent research collection at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Medical Center.

8. Those items I would categorize as "ideal framable art" would be: black and white family photos, homemade art, and gravestone rubbings.

9. I was once offered half-interest in a medical practice if I went to medical school.

I am tagging-

Aduladi' Homeschool Academy

Life in the Two Acre Wood

Trivium Academy

The Foil Hat


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Great Loss

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, recipient of the 1988 Presidential Medal of Freedom, a hero of Frodo's, one of the strongest influences on my own political and economic philospohies, and arguably the staunchest modern advocate of Freedom (both economic and personal), died this morning at the age of 94.

A couple years ago, Frodo worked at the Libertarian booth at our town's annual street fair. The night before the fair, Frodo and I stayed up late making t-shirts for each of us and our kids to wear to the fair. My shirt bore a quote from Dr. Friedman:

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

Tax Freedom Day, the date on which we stop working for the government and begin working for ourselves, is said to have its origins with Dr. Friedman. He wrote in one of his 1974 Newsweek columns that the United States should have a national holiday called "Personal Independence Day" to celebrate:

...that day in the year when we stop working to pay the expenses of the government, and start working to pay for the items we severally and individually choose in light of our own needs and desires. In 1929, that holiday would have come on Feb 12; today it would come about May 30; if present trends were to continue it would coincide with July 4.

Sadly, according to Americans for Tax Reform, Dr. Friedman's prediction was all too accurate. In 2005, the group determined that "cost of government day" occurred in the second week of July.

In his bestselling book Free To Choose, co-written with his wife, economist Rose Director Friedman, Dr. Friedman cements the connection between economic freedom and personal freedom:

Economic freedom is an essential requisite for political freedom. By enabling people to cooperate with one another without coercion or central direction, it reduces the area over which political power is exercised. In addition, by dispersing power, the free market provides an offset to whatever concentration of political power may arise. The combination of economic and politcal power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.

Milton Friedman on The Power of the Market (video)

Dr. Friedman did not limit his defense of personal freedom to those areas obviously affected by economics, however. In the 1990 version of his PBS series Free to Choose, he makes clear his view on America's government school system and who should be in charge of children's education:

Milton Friedman on Education (video)

(this is my favorite Friedman moment ever)

In regard to education, Dr. Friedman and his wife put their money where their consciences were and started the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice which supports parental choice in education through educational choice in the form of school vouchers... a concept Dr. Friedman originally introduced in his book Economics and Public Interest in 1955.

The rights that Dr. Friedman worked so hard to defend were not just those that benefited

the individual. He purported that total freedom includes not only the right to work to make one's self successful, but also to harm one's self. Man has the right to be stupid as well as to be wise.

"The reign of tears is over. The slums will be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."

That is how Billy Sunday, noted evangelist and leading crusader aginst Demon Rum, greeted the onset of Prohibition in 1920, enacted in a burst of moral righteousness at the end of the First World War. That episode is a stark reminder of where drives to protect us from ourselves can lead.

Prohibition was imposed for our own good. Alcohol is a dangerous substance. More lives are lost each year from alcohol than from all the dangerous substances the FDA controls put together. But where did Prohibtion lead?
New prisons and jails had to be built to house the criminals spawned by converting the drinking of spirits into a crime against the state. Al Capone, Bugs Moran became notorious for their exploits - murder, extortion, hijacking, bootlegging.Who were their customers? Respectable citizens who would never themselves have approved or engaged in, the activites that Al Capone and his fellow gangsters made infamous. They simply wanted a drink. In order to have a drink, they had to break the law. Prohbition didn't stop drinking. It did convert a lot of otherwise law-obedient citizens into lawbreakers. It did suppress many of the disciplinary forces of the market that ordinarily protect the consumer from shoddy, adulterated, and dangerous products. It did corrupt the minions of the law and create a decadent moral climate. It did not stop the consumption of alcohol.

If the government is to try and ban private consumption of alcohol and tobacco, it must surely ban such activities as hang-gliding, skiing, rock-climbing and so on. Where should it stop? Rugby? American Football? Ice Hockey?

Insofar as the government has information not generally available about the merits or demerits of the items we ingest or the activities we engage in, let it give us the information. But let it leave us free to choose what chances we want to take with our own lives.

- from Free to Choose

Edward H. Crane, president of the CATO Institute, summarized Dr. Friedman's contributions better than I ever could:

Here's a guy who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in monetary theory and he was a great Chicagoan, a great empiricist and theoretician of economics. But ultimately, what Milton believed in was human liberty and he took great joy in trying to promote that concept....Milton would say, "Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it." ...In my view he was the greatest champion of human liberty in my lifetime, certainly in the 20th century. And he didn’t slack off in the 21st century.

Milton Friedman


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let's Hear It For Deadlock

The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.

- Eugene McCarthy

When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.

- Harry Truman

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

- Daniel Webster

The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.

- P.J. O'Rourke

For Primo

A Prayer For My Daughter

by William Bulter Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Primo, may you have decades upon decades to grow, live, and love

and an eternity to bask in His Glory.

O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

-Psalm 34:3

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Children in Worship

Someone on the WTM Message Board recommended this article when another asked about how to handle having children participate in the worship service. It clearly states the philosophy behind including children in the worship service while also offering helpful, practical tips. Here is a taste:

God-centered worship is supremely important in the life of our church. We approach the Sunday morning worship hour with great seriousness and earnestness and expectancy. We try to banish all that is flippant or trivial or chatty...

There are several reasons why we urge parents to bring their children to worship. But these arguments will not carry much weight with parents who do not love to worship God.

The greatest stumbling block for children in worship is that their parents do not cherish the hour. Children can feel the difference between duty and delight. Therefore, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. You can't impart what you don't possess.

I encourage you to read the entire article, The Family: Together in God's Presence, by Noel Piper on the Desiring God Ministries website if you are interested in learning how and why to involve your children in worship.

We have included our children in the worship service since Primo was a newborn. It hasn't always been easy. Children wiggle and yell and ask embarrassingly phrased questions at inappropriate times and at inappropriate volumes. "But how can I worship if I am tending to my children through the worship service?" you ask. I contend that you are worshipping while tending to your children. God tells us that children are a blessing (Psalm 113:9; Psalm 127: 3-5; Proverbs 17:6). He also commands us to worship Him corporately (Acts 2:1; Acts 5:12; Acts 15:30-35). Therefore, for the stage of life in which you have small (or not so small) children, you worship God by teaching your children to worship. Clinging to unrealistic visions of what worship is when you are teaching your children to worship alongside you will only cause you, your children, and those trying to worship around you to become frustrated and miss out on true worship.

Some tips that we have found helpful in involving our children in the worship service:

1. Draw pictures of the sermon for younger children or encourage older children to do so. This keeps them (and you) listening to what is being taught rather than disappearing into an imaginative world or counting ceiling tiles. (from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer)

2. Allow children to sing, clap, and dance as they are moved to during times of music. Make sure that you sit in a place where you can minimize distractions of those who may have a different worship philosophy.

3. Sit in the deaf section if your church has one. Often, children can grasp concepts by watching the signs for complex thoughts and words even if they could not understand the spoken concept. An added bonus is that children's hand movements are tolerated more where others communicate and worship with their hands.

4. Do not be afraid to remove a child from the service if they are being disrespectful in their disruptiveness. (Every child is going to ask questions, and these should be answered as often as possible, but yelling or jumping around is not acceptable.) However, use this period of removal for discipline then return to the service, otherwise the child will think that he can get out of the service by being disruptive.

5. Pray for your children. Pray in the service, before the service and throughout the week that your children would serve God through corporate worship.

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

-Psalm 34:1-3

Monday, November 06, 2006

What do these things have in common?

A whirlwind. An 18-wheeler. A compact car.

Give up?

These are all things I feel like I have been hit by in the last three days.

The whirlwind was Terzo's birthday party and was actually a good experience, not a bad one. Less like these destructive tornadoes and more like the twister in The Wizard of Oz that results in being surrounded by munchkins and just over an hour and a half of surrealism. I am always sorry to see the kids' birthday parties end because I have such a fun time planning them and watching them enjoy themselves. What a gift! Saturday, however, I felt myself fading quickly, and wrote it off to just being tired and went to bed early.

Enter Sunday morning and the 18-wheeler. I was so sick, I couldn't lift my head off of the pillow when Frodo tried to wake me for church. I slept until 11am then summoned up enough energy to slink downstairs, make some tea, take some medicine, then curl up on the sofa and go back to sleep.

This morning was an improvement. I only felt like I had been hit by a compact car (I can't decide whether it was a Chevy Nova or an AMC Gremlin, but it was defenitely an ugly compact car). Needless to say, I called a sick day today. I am still trying to figure out if I can count lessons in nursing and life skills. Primo dressed and took over potty training of Quarto, Secondo and Terzo got breakfast for everyone (all over the floor, but eventually everyone ate... not off the floor), and everyone very considerately kept thier death matches over toys and videos out of the living room where I was trying to nap.

Tomorrow I am hoping for a Mr. Bean mini-car day at worst. (Or maybe his nemesis car, it only has three wheels. Three wheels would feel less crummy than four, right?) As long as I can function to cover the three R's and get the kids to their respective Cub Scout and Keepers at Home meetings, I'll consider it a good day and count my blessings.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Today Is A Holiday

No, the banks aren't closed. There are no sales at the stores. The mail will still be delivered. But school is out. Well, our school is.

Today is a holiday because it is Terzo's birthday. He is six years old today, and in honor of the momentous occasion of his birth, classes were called off for the day, and Terzo was offered the opportunity to do whatever he wanted for the day. Now, we are getting ready for his party scheduled for tomorrow, so his choices were limited to something he could do at home, but within that realm, he had all the power. His sisters even did his morning chores for him (their idea, not mine) so that he could take time to choose what he wanted to do. He could decide what game we'd play, what movie we'd watch, what creation we'd make. So what did he choose? He chose to help me clean the refrigerator! And when he was done, he cleaned the kitchen floor (a rather practical and logical decision given all of the water he had spilled in the process of cleaning the fridge). When he had finished with the floor, he asked what else he could clean, and I told him that since it was time for lunch, he could pick a movie to watch and I would make lunch.

After eating, Terzo climbed into my lap (he's not too big for that, he decided) and we snuggled under a blanket and cried and cheered while Aslan, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy defeated the White Witch and brought peace to Narnia. About halfway through the movie, Terzo snuggled closer, sighed, and said, "Mom, I'm gonna snuggle you forever."

I hope so.

Happy birthday, my handsome man.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Reformation Polka

An entertaining and clever way to learn a short history of the Reformation. Enjoy... but beware, I now can't get the chorus our of my head! (I am impressed that someone could work the word "transubstantiation" into a song... and rhyme it!)

The Reformation Polka
by Robert Gebel

[Sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious"]

When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian!


Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!"


Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!"


Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek!


Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance!


Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

HT: Stepping Heavenward

*short historical note: When Luther wrote his theses and was asked to recant his teachings in front of the Diet of Worms, he was heartbroken and pained... not defiant as this song, and many other sources, suggests. The last thing Luther wanted was to break from the Catholic Church. He loved the Church and wanted to see change within her in areas where he felt she had gone astray (namely, in the paying for indulgences... especially as the Church grew wealthy while its parishoners starved.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The flier that changed history...

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

-introduction to Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences by Martin Luther (1517), a.k.a. The 95 Theses

Other Luther quotes:

Be a sinner and sin strongly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ.

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

Pray and let God worry.

Happy Reformation Day!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Nearest Book

As seen on Mental Multivitamin:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog (or here in the comments section if you don't have a blog) along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig around for that "cool" or "intellectual" book on your shelves. (I know you were thinking about it.) Just pick up whatever is closest.

Here is my contribution:

"He would have none of what those big fellows tried to sell him. So it's up to us, boys. You know, something different, unusual, but in good taste, and you know different. Now do your best!"

Can you guess the book?

(To be completely honest, this was the second closest book to me, geographically speaking. I just picked it up at the library book sale this morning and haven't started reading it yet. The closest book was Shepherding A Child's Heart, but there was no writing on p. 123.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Art Can Be Dangerous

Whenever our kids go bike riding or rollerblading or go tearing around on their scooters, we make them wear their helmets. At every checkup, the doctor asks our kids if they wear their helmets when on wheels or ride in a booster seat in the car. No one told me that helmets would be necessary in art class.

This past Tuesday, I had this elaborate art project all set up (I always have high hopes for art… I should know better). I had spent days cutting out pictures, words, letters, numbers, etc from magazines and had spent that morning getting out scissors, paper, fabric, glue, and every other craft item I could think of so that the kids could work on collages in the style of Romare Bearden. Quarto was going to join us, so I set up a little spot for him with some paper and crayons since he finds glue “yucky” (although tasty). Being a typical “I want it therefore I must have it NOW” two-year-old, he immediately climbed onto his chair and stood to reach for the crayon box before I could move it within his reach. As he thrust himself forward by pushing against the chair, the chair, obeying Newton’s Third Law of Motion, shot away from the table. That’s when the Law of Gravity took its cue, and Quarto plummeted to the floor. Unfortunately for Quarto’s forehead, Secondo had moved closer to him in an attempt to catch him and his head met the edge of her chair on the way down. Then there was silence. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I am talking about. That nanosecond where the world stops spinning and sound waves are held at bay while your heart sinks into your gut. Then came the scream. An ear-piercing scream that expresses a toddler’s shock clearer than any Shakespearean oration. A scream that says, “That chair just attacked me! Can you believe it?! Me! Of all people!”

Primo and I took turns holding a compress on Quarto’s head and gathering changes of clothes and making phone calls. I take pride that I live in a neighborhood where many moms stay home during the day, but wouldn’t you know it… none were home Tuesday afternoon! Instead, I had to set people’s imaginations reeling when I called Frodo’s school and told the secretary that there was an emergency at home and I needed Frodo to come home immediately. By the time Frodo got home, the bleeding was under control, the kitchen was cleaned up, Terzo was comforting Quarto, Primo was crying and saying how much she loved Quarto and didn’t want him to die, and Secondo was asking, “Mom, how come when I look at Quarto’s cut I get dizzy? Can you see his skull?”

The emergency room visit was amazingly fast. We were on our way home about an hour and a half after we arrived. Quarto was amazing. He only cried twice: 1) when the triage nurse removed the duct tape band aid Frodo had put over the cut which caused the bleeding to restart and 2) when the doctor gave him the shot of anesthetic. He winced at one point when the doctor moved the needle into his line of vision, and when she apologized, Quarto said, sniffling, “That’s okay.” Before the doctor could come stitch up Quarto, she had to give another little one stitches. I was panicking because she was screaming bloody murder, and I was afraid it was going to scare Quarto, but Quarto amazed me. Do you know what he did? He looked at me and said, “That baby crying. We pray her?” So while waiting for his own stitches, he and I were praying for the little girl to have peace and healing. I love my kids.

Quarto is doing fine. The cut was rather deep, so he needed two sub dermal stitches and four surface stitches. We’ve been calling him ‘Franken-Toddler’ and he shows his “tiches” to anyone who will look. His stitches don’t come out until the day after our family photo. I could reschedule the photo, I suppose, but why avoid a photo that will recall so many scary and wonderful memories for years to come?

All this because the poor boy wanted to hold the power of ‘Sunshine Yellow’ in the palm of his hand.

Alive and Well

A couple weeks ago, I promised an update, so here it is. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. We have been having great fun, but someone else’s experiences read are never as exciting as one’s own experiences lived.

Actually, the main reason we have been scarce (especially ‘virtual me’) is that we found a school day routine that works really well for us, and I haven’t wanted to interfere with it by coming online during school hours. If we stay on track, school takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending on the subjects we are studying that day. What about after school hours? Well, I have been trying not to do much housework while teaching, so I have to do housework during quiet times and after the kids go to bed. Thus, my screen time has been limited.

I thought this year would be more of a challenge because I am teaching three grades, kindergarten, third and fourth, and in many ways it is more of a challenge. However, I have always done better under pressure than I have when I have seemingly limitless time, so I think that has worked to my advantage this year. Primo and Secondo have many subjects that they can do together… history, chemistry, Latin, grammar, art, music, some math, and Bible. They do some math and spelling separately. Terzo joins them for Bible, art and music.

He even joined in our last Chemistry experiment (who can pass-up making marshmallow molecules?). The main focus with Terzo this year is learning to read, but he insisted on doing math, so I pulled out the first grade Saxon Math book, and he loves it. He also loves word finds, so I print out a new word find every time he learns a new phonics sound. (By the way, if you haven’t discovered Enchanted Learning, I highly recommend it. This is where I get Terzo’s word finds, and I have gotten art and science pages here as well. It is well worth the $20 annual fee to become a member and have access to additional pages and remove the advertising from printouts.) Keeping Quarto occupied has been a bit rough, and apparently including him in our studies can be hazardous to his health.

As to what else we’ve been up to:

-4H for the girls

-Soccer for Primo

-Cub Scouts for Terzo

-Keepers at Home for the girls

-Weekly library trips for everyone

-Homeschool Book Club for Primo, Secondo and Terzo

-Square Dancing lessons for the girls (although Terzo joins for the line dances)

-celebration of International Talk Like A Pirate Day

-field trip to the Smithsonian’s Folk Life Festival for everyone

-Field trip to the zoo for everyone

-joint field trip to Native American Day at the local museum with Aduladi’ Homeschool Academy

-Titus 2 bi-monthly meetings with another homeschool family from our church for me and the kids

-Bi-monthly cleaning exchanges with a second homeschool family from our church for me and the kids

-Bi-monthly Sunday night teaching at church of 2 and 3 year olds for me and Frodo while the kids go to their own classes

-American Girl Book Club at the library for Secondo

-Series of Unfortunate Events party at the library for the girls (they won a copy of The End… very cool)

-monthly homeschool support meetings for me

-graduate school classes and thesis writing for Frodo

-teaching weekly childbirth class for me (this includes making dinner for the couple I’m teaching… it is one of Frodo’s former students and his wife and we all have a wonderful time when they come)

-Great Books Reading Partnership reading for me (I should be posting, too, but I haven’t had time)

And last but not least:

-potty training for Quarto

Yes, we’ve been busy, but we have been learning and having fun doing it. Soccer is almost over, Frodo will graduate in December, and the couple I’m teaching will have their baby. Even as these things end, other things are waiting to take their places… skating lessons, holidays, applications to Doctoral programs. But some things will remain the same… Sunday will remain a day of rest, family meal time will be protected, and we will look at every experience as a chance to glorify God and learn, learn, learn.