Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My daughter sent this to me via email this morning. It made me smile, so I figured I'd share...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Turning off the dumb Wii...

I have kids on vacation who have no schoolwork to do and have already completed their "life grids" for today. Does this mean they're curled up reading a book? Listening to Christmas carols? Walking their new dog? Baking Christmas cookies? Playing a board game?

Nope... they're playing on the Wii the dumbest game I've ever seen.

"Well, at least they're spending some time together," you might suggest. Nope again, unless you count fighting as time spent together. It is a one-person game they're playing, and the best you can do is sit around and watch, bossing your sibling around while she tries to take her turn.

I think the ol' Grandpa had the right idea!

Christmas Eve, Unplugged

'Twas the night before Christmas and out on the ranch
The pond was froze over and so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school.
And happier young folks you never did see
Just all sprawled around a-watchin' TV .
Then suddenly, some time around 8 o'clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
"Just what I expected," they heard him remark.
"Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago."

"I'll hunt up some candles," said Mom. "With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we'll make out all right."
The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle and started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.
Mom started to sing, and first thing they knew
Both Pop and the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang "Holy Night,"
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.
They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God's Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight - and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed 'twas a fine Christmas Eve.
Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on.
"The power company sure got the line repaired quick,"
Said Grandpa - and no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch - the old Son-of-a-Gun!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So close, and yet so far

Okay, so here's the truth: Winston is a sweetie. He is much more calm than we originally thought, now that he's away from the environment of the SPCA. He is already learning to heel when we take him and Pippin for a walk. He sleeps great in his crate, and he holds his urine all night and does a huge morning pee when we first get him up. He goes potty in his potty spot every single time we take him out there. He seems very happy to be here, and very eager to please.

And yet I have to keep one eye on him (literally) at ALL times. Does he chew on inappropriate things in my house? No. Do I fear he might attack one of the children or Pippin, the other dog? No. Does he just flagrantly pee or poop in my house? Growl or snap at us? Bark all day long? Make a mad dash up the stairs? Runaway and make us chase him? No, no, no, no, and no.

So, what's the problem?

Christmas trees. Ever notice that your Christmas tree is a large outdoor tree, brought indoors and set up in your living room? Ever thought about the fact that it looks just like the tree the dog pees on in your backyard?

Ditto houseplants.

Technically, peeing on them is really, really close to right. So close, and yet so far...

For this I gave up holiday baking and addressing Christmas cards before Christmas??! Well, I don't really need the extra calories... my neighbors have made it lots of years now without homemade Christmas treats... and I've not been on time with a Christmas card, ever.

But isn't this just worth it??!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Welcoming Winston

I've been meaning to write a post called "Awaiting Winston" for several days now; he was supposed to come home last Thursday but was unable to. He had kennel cough, which disallowed his intubation, which prevented his neutering surgery, which delayed his homecoming.

We were ready for him, yet he couldn't come. We had prepared a place for him... a crate... bowls... food... a collar... tags with his new name and contact information for our home. It sounds silly to make much of it, as if it is some profound thing, but it has been a profoundly moving experience for me, preparing for this dog. Moreso than when we adopted Pippin into our home - we found Pip and brought him home the same day, getting all the "stuff" we needed for him after the fact - this experience of preparing for this dog ahead of time has reminded me in some small way of my adoption as a child of God.

The Lord has set His love upon me, based on no actual merits of my own. He knows my sinful nature, my tendency toward selfishness and wrongdoing and sin, and yet He has chosen me for His family... welcomed me to join His Kingdom work despite His full knowledge of how much I'll fail... of what a pain I'll continue to be, despite my best efforts...

Very few ever love with even a shadow of that grace, that mercy, that forbearance and acceptance and tenacity. It is agape love... God-love...

Don't get me wrong. I do not mean to suggest that I have this sort of love for my new dog. But preparing for his arrival into my home has reminded me, ever so slightly, of how God chooses to call me His own, despite His certain knowledge of my impending and continual failure. This dog is not at all like any dog we've ever owned before. Interestingly, it is the first dog we've ever considered adopting which iivo has appreciated from the get-go... and the first one I've ever not liked from the start. This must be a "man's dog," of sorts.

But I'm very aware of his faults and flaws. He sheds terribly. He's big and a little wild. He has a destructively waggy tail. He has oozing wounds on his ears. He is a jumper. He is not housebroken. All in all, he has little to commend him to the potential adopter. And yet we have chosen him. We have received him, set our love on him, agreed to "instruct him and teach him in the way he should go," and committed to call him our own even when he fails to do so.

And so, I present to you Winston, the newest canine member of our family. (He's pretty dopey in this video, taken just hours after his surgery.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Standing Up Whoville

Okay, call it silly, but we have a new holiday tradition in our home, thanks to my middle daughter, OG. Last night, while she was Christmas shopping for her siblings, she found this Cozy Cracklin' Fireplace CD at Rite Aid for $4. She immediately announced that her older sister, EV, would love it and that we needed to get it for her.

(Previously, EV had bought me a "crackling candle" that had a wooden wick and would supposedly make fire-popping sounds when lit, but much to her disappointment, it did no such thing. She had known I missed the sounds of a real fire burning when we got our gas logs.)

I had successfully avoided buying a more expensive version of a similar CD just an hour earlier at Borders (a previous stop in our shopping date), and for $4 I figured it was worth a gamble.

Well, anyway, we love it! We put it in the DVD player when we got home, turned on the gas logs, set it to play the Christmas songs (lovely instrumentals with Classical guitar and piano), and all sat back to watch the screen play the lovely fire... for all 66 minutes of running time!!

This is remarkable in that we had been planning to curl up last night as a family with a bowl of popcorn and the How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD, but none of us (from the 9-year-old to the 42-year-olds) could bring ourselves to turn off the peaceful, quiet, relaxing environment of this lovely crackling fire and beautiful Christmas music.

iivo quietly turned to me where we were snuggling on the couch and asked, "How did you know I needed this? I didn't even know I needed this."

So, slow down in the midst of the Christmas frenzy and give yourself a beautiful treat this year, for $4 at RiteAid. It is worth more than every penny!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Worldview Resource Directory

Today I came across an unbelievable resource called the Worldview Resource Directory.

A compilation of hundreds of useful resources on a wide variety of social and theological topics, it is easily perused for suggested reading on just about any subject.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Red Pill and the Shot

I am not necessarily one who looks for a conspiracy around every corner, but I have come to believe - over many years of research and investigation and study - that conflict of interest is a huge factor in almost everything.

Just as it operates in my day-to-day life - as it does in yours - so it operates, on a much wider scale, in most of the industry, and government, and business, and institutions that operate around us.

What drives me crazy is that people seem to be willing to separate themselves from this understanding and simply believe whatever the medical community tells them, as if there is no conflict of interest present at any level within the medical or pharmaceutical communities.

It is as if every player in that arena is presumed to be a "good 'ol Doc Baker" (a favorite from our family's Little House on the Prairie viewings) whose only motivation and ultimate purpose is unquestionably the good of his patients... to the point of working at his own expense. Certainly no one ever presumed (and rightly so) that Doc Baker was "out to make a buck" at the expense of his client; rather, Doc Baker would work for no pay - or for the barter of a chicken or a quilt or a meal of stew. He would make house calls. He was like a member of the family, and there was not a bone in his body inclined toward greed or financial aspiration or dishonest gain.

How and when did we transfer that level of trust to our contemporary society's medical and pharmaceutical establishment? And on what basis do they deserve unquestioning, unflinching devotion and assumption of good will?

I have many good friends who are doctors, and I do believe that they believe they're doing the right thing when they do what they do. Based on what they've been taught, they are most often practicing medicine in the manner they're convinced is the best thing for their patients. So we trust them.

My first foray into not trusting my doctor with absolute carte blanche authority, doing whatever it was he told me to do, came fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. But that is another story for another day, if you ever care to hear it. For now, let's just say that I continue to be shocked - weekly - at "just how deep the rabbit hole goes"* in the arena of deliberate deception, conflict of interest, and dissembling - when it comes to medical information in general, but vaccination science and policy in particular.

If you have the stomach to handle "the red pill,"* listen to this interview with CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. What she continues to uncover regarding medical, pharmaceutical, and governmental conflicts of interest, particularly as relates to H1N1 (swine flu) reporting and recommendation, will likely shock you, especially if you're still very prone to presume good 'ol Doc Baker is looking out for you when he recommends that you get that shot. "Pharmaceutical money is behind many strings that are pulled in Washington government," she notes.

"Let me begin by saying that this was the same kind of stonewalling that I received under the Clinton administration, under the Bush administration, and now under the Obama administration, by CDC, FDA; it's very common..."

Thankfully there are still a few investigative journalists out there willing to stick their noses into things, and then to stick their necks out to report what they find. I think you will find it interesting and enlightening.



(You can find links to the other parts of the interview in the right-hand sidebar at the YouTube site, or you can listen to Part 2 of the interview here. Here are Part 3 and Part 4.)

For more information about this and other investigative reporting that Sharyl Attkisson has done on this subject, see this CBS report containing her interview with Dr. Bernadette Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health and current health editor for US News & World Report.

*The references to "the red pill" and "how deep the rabbit hole goes" are from the 1999 film The Matrix.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Perhaps a proofreader would be in order...

I have certainly never been characterized as "easily amused," but many times silly things will strike me as funny which nobody else thinks are as funny as I do. Case in point: Friday night's Chinese restaurant menu.

So - with all due respect* and acknowledgment that they're doing quite well for composing in a second language - I offer the following amusing Chef's Suggestions:

* Walnut Shrimp...
Jumbo shrimp with cream walnut sauce exquisite flavor, you're never try before.

* General Tso's Chicken...
The most tender morsels of chicken enveloped in an etherealty light blended of special ingredients to import the morest crispness & exquisite flavor.

* Beef with Orange Flavor...
The tender beef breaded & deep fried with imported tangerine peel and enhance by a rich brown sauce.

* Roast Duck (Half)...
The old traditional way to marinated and slow roasted to golden brown.

* Spicy Pepper Shrimp...
Breaded large shrimp deep fried to golden crispy & cooked in special way to coat with hot and spicy powder.

* Jumbo Shrimp Chef's Special...
Jumbo shrimp with vegetable in chef's own sauce.

We were also advised by a large sign near the ice cream: "To avoid sticky, wash spoon every scoop."

And one near our table: "Please bring in church bulletin and received 10% discount."

On the front cover of the travel menu was a map, depicting our location as being near "Eftinghum St." (Effingham St.), "Crowford Porkwoy," (Crawford Parkway), the "Naval Haspital," the "Renuissunce Hotrl," and the "Sport Hall of Fome Museum."

The fellowship over this meal was a delightful end to a delightful evening of watching my youngest daughter EL play handbells in the youth handbell choir that was performing at the Portsmouth Antique Show.

[*This is shared in good humor as good-natured fun. I do not mean to be seriously mocking anyone. I would also like to freely acknowledge how much Chinese that I - the English speaker - could put on a menu in their language: precisely zero words.]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blepharospasm

That frightening-looking word is the official name for a new phenomenon I am experiencing, officially defined as "an abnormal involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids."

Apparently it is most often caused either by excessive fatigue from lack of sleep, or by stress and anxiety over a particular event (like an impending public speaking engagement).

As far as I know, the frequent twitching of my left eyelid which I have experienced over the past few days is the result of neither. I have certainly had more exhausted and more stressful times in my life, when no "blepharospasm" was present. I am not experiencing a particularly sleepless or anxious time in my life right now.

Whatever its cause, "Eye Twitching is associated with an abnormal function of the 'basal ganglion' from an unknown cause. The basal ganglion is the part of the brain responsible for controlling the muscles."

So, I'm not sure how I feel about having any sort of "abnormal brain function from an unknown cause," but I do know that the little twitch I've begun to develop a dozen or so times a day in my left eye is driving me crazy.

I guess it is time for "sleep week" in our home, where I go to bed at 9:00 p.m. and see if more sleep will take care of it. But who has time for that! I have overnight Thanksgiving guests arriving on Wednesday, and the late-night visits with out-of-state family members is one of the best parts! "Sleep week" will have to wait.

Does anybody else have any experience with this? I'd love to hear how it resolved itself...

Friday, November 20, 2009

"This, the oldest of all American holidays..."

The following is from a newsletter I received from HEAV, but the links and information contained therein are wonderful educational resources, not just for homeschoolers, but for all of us who move toward commemorating "this, the oldest of all American holidays."

I loved reading again about the history of Thanksgiving. Schoolchildren around the country are told that the Thanksgiving holiday originated as a celebration where the Pilgrims thanked the Indians for their help during the harsh winter. This is a drastically incomplete picture of what truly transpired as both Native Americans and European Americans together thanked God for His goodness to them. May we all remember again the rich heritage of our nation's gratitude to Almighty God for His blessings and provision for us.

Following is the body of the text of their mailing, including the Editor's Note at the end:

David Barton of Wall Builders suggests a few resources to review the true history of Thanksgiving. This scholarly article, "Celebrating Thanksgiving in America,” includes primary sources about the four-century long highlights of the holiday.

Find a number of famous Thanksgiving Proclamations of historic significance listed on this page.

Read a notable Thanksgiving sermon entitled, “Blessed Is the Nation Whose God Is the Lord, and the People Whom He Hath Chosen for His Own Inheritance,” preached by the Reverand Thomas Baldwin of Boston in response to President George Washington's 1795 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Editor's Note: Unlike modern sermons (which are commonly published or taped weekly), due to high paper and printing costs, only the most popular sermons and preachers were published during this era. Once available as pamphlets, notices appeared in local newspapers announcing the sermon details. The prices were listed, sometimes noting sale prices were less by half “for those distributing them free in the prisons and gaols.” Sermon pamphlets were collected as private devotional reading and individuals who could afford it might have selections bound together into volumes. George Washington was among those who collected them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Who owns your children?"

A recent news story about homeschooling from my friend Dale Hurd, a reporter with CBN News, has my blood boiling.

The reality that children are being seized from loving, exemplary parents simply because those parents have chosen to educate them at home is appalling. To hear the terrified screams and cries of little 7-year-old Dan Schultz as he is forcibly removed from his bed and home in the middle of the night is shocking... disturbing... sobering...



(I just keep hearing the voice of the little twit in Steven Crowder's video - you know, the one who can't name the Vice-President of the United States - announcing, "I don't like America. I'm from America, but I don't like America. I'm moving to London.")

This idea that to be a "progressive society" means that the State takes over the lives and education of its children - with little or no regard for parental rights - is no longer just a European idea.

Consider the words of the current United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who believes that "the more our schools truly become the centers of the community, centers of family life, the better our children can do." He envisions "pushing innovation, pushing change," where schools are open "twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours a day, six or seven days a week, twelve months a year."

Why? Because, "Our society has changed, and our schools have not really kept pace." He acknowledges - and he's right - that the days of kids coming home from school at 2:30, to a mother at home and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, are largely over. He is correct when he acknowledges that the typical American school child is currently "going home to almost no-parent families." Dad is at work. So is Mom. She has been since he was six-weeks old.

I just missed when we started calling this good. acceptable. ideal.

When did it become the government's responsibility to raise our children for us?

As you evaluate the merits of his plans for American schools (which include things like onsite provision of three meals a day, onsite provision of dental and medical care, and onsite provision of vision care and eyeglasses for students), consider his own track record of success as CEO of Chicago's public schools. Even taking into account a controversial change in testing methodology which experts have claimed "significantly inflated test scores," fewer than half of all Chicago elementary and middle school students met or exceeded state standards during his years of leadership. This means that for all the money he poured into it (an astonishing average of nearly $11,000 per pupil), fewer than one in every two Chicago students can read on grade level. Or write on grade level. Or perform math on grade level. Or demonstrate understanding of science on grade level.

His assessment of the situation? "The money I spent to open our schools longer in Chicago is arguably the best money I spent."



"This needs to be the norm, not the exception," he has said when referencing this proposed near-24-hour-a-day oversight of children, in all areas of life, by schools.

Sounds like he's following the battle plan of Adolf Hitler, who noted, "When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'*

*From a speech given by Adolf Hitler in November 1933, quoted in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mourn with those who mourn...*


I just found out about this, and I think it is very interesting. I remember George Bush's having been criticized for being slow to visit New Orleans following hurricane Katrina. I was so glad to hear about these unpublicized visits by the former first couple to the survivors of the Ft. Hood shootings. Their Texas ranch is about thirty miles from the military facility, and apparently the Bushes arranged to enter and leave the facility secretly to avoid press coverage of their time there.

*From Romans 12:11-15

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Blind Side

I know Hollywood - or at least most movie critics - never like movies like this. They'll cry foul, using words like cheesy or corny or sappy or preachy or something. But I still think it looks great.

The true story itself is great. I can't wait to go see it.

Watch the trailer here. Or check out these video thoughts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anticipating Advent

Okay, I realize that the point of Advent is a time of preparation and building anticipation for an important coming event, so I think it is hilarious that I am getting excited that Advent itself is coming...

It truly is one of my favorite times of year.

A friend recently asked me about Advent traditions we do, and it got me thinking about it all just a little bit earlier this year. I am approaching the coming Thanksgiving holiday (the "official" commencement of Advent for our family, for all practical purposes) with mounting excitement.

In whatever ways you decide to do it, why not join us and make Advent a special time in your household this year, too?



Please also share your favorite traditions and ideas in the comments section, as I am always open to adding something new that has proven especially meaningful.

Here's to making the Christmas holiday about something more than presents and toys!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"That one dude..."

Okay, so I'll admit that the third grader couldn't name the Speaker of the House, but all of the children in my household were able to successfully name both the President and Vice President of the United States.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not praising this as genius. But I am noting that they did better than 66% of the people Steven Crowder interviewed outside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA.

So it seems that my 11-year old, who mistakenly called her "Peloski" instead of "Pelosi" but did, in fact, know both her first and last names without any prompting, is more knowledgeable than most Americans, 2 out of 3 of whom apparently can't even name the Vice President of the United States, let alone the Speaker of the House. I wonder how many know what the Speaker of the House is... What this position does... Where in the line of succession to the President this position falls...



Scary...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, EL!

Nine years ago today, I delivered what turned out to be my last child. At the time, I did not know I was experiencing a major "last" in my life.

Labor and delivery has always been a very special time for me. My husband is home, and his gentle demeanor and special support and total focus on making me comfortable is a wonderful, astonishing thing. You see, labor lasts for several hours. Long hours. For me, the hours move both slowly and quickly, but they blur by in a haze of pain and excitement and anticipation and joy. They are both long and hard, and fleeting. And I know the time must be very long for someone who is outside of the physical experience of it. I'm sure at times it "gets old," just waiting and holding and caressing and having to soothe. For hours. But for me, it has always been a very precious time.

When I was experiencing it nine years ago, in the sweet haven of our bedroom, I did not know it was to be the last time. The last umbilical cord cut. The last placenta examined. The last "first nursing."

How many more "lasts" have there been over these past nine years, totally missed at the time?! At some point I changed her last diaper, not realizing it was the last diaper I'd ever change for one of my own children... I experienced the last time I'd ever breastfeed, without knowing it in the moment... I taught my last child to read without realizing it was a milestone... the last thumb-sucking passed unnoticed... the last time snuggling together on the bed... the last time she still fit, curled up on my lap, and I buried my face in the sweet scent of her hair...

And so, this rainy, windy morning, we abandon all previous plans for the day - thanks to Ida, a severe tropical storm sitting right on top of us - and commemorate little EL... my last baby, who is no longer a baby at all.

How proud I am of who you are, and of who you are becoming, little EL! You are a treasure. You are so earnest, so genuine, so real. You are so passionate, and you feel things so deeply. You are sometimes very defiant and rebellious and naughty, but you are always so sincere in your brokenness and repentance. I can't wait to see what your adult self looks like, after many more years of loving refinement from your Heavenly Father.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet EL. I love you more than you could ever know, and I thank the Lord for you on this, your birthday. How sad to realize that I totally missed your last eight-year-old hug... it went unnoticed at the time, and is now lost forever.

Let's live every moment with full knowledge of the wonder and magnificence of it all, okay?! I don't want to miss any of it from just not paying attention...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Math Plates"

A few nights ago, the little six-year-old girl next door came a-knocking to see if my youngest daughter (age 8) could play. EL had spent some portion of her day dawdling, so her school work was not yet completed and she was unavailable to play. However, little KM came inside anyway.

"What are you doing?" she had asked.

"I'm making dinner. Wanna come help?"

"Sure!"

And so I had a new young kitchen helper on my hands. (Our previous neighbor girl had also learned to cook, and do fractional math, in our kitchen, but she has since moved away.) And so, it was time once again to bring out the "math plates."

Math plates are a regular part of the schooling in our home because "home economics" is also a regular part of the schooling in our home. (I understand that this is no longer a PC term, but it fits exactly what I'm trying to accomplish, so that's what we call it.) I feel very strongly that I want the children in our family to know how to cook when they leave home. They all need to understand nutrition and healthy eating. They all need to be able to follow a recipe to prepare things from scratch, without dangerous pre-fab ingredients.

But the girls also need to know how to shop frugally, how to plan family meals, how to pull off getting all parts of a meal ready at the same time, etc. Call it sexist, but I do want the girls to be equipped to be doing the bulk of the meal preparation for their families one day because I hope they will choose to be home with their children when they are young. Mom training children = Mom home with them all day = Mom who needs to do most of the shopping/cooking/cleaning = Dad trying to support a family on one income = Mom who needs to know how to resourcefully provide for her family on less-than-average funds. (Hence, home economics.) But I digress...

Math plates. These are nothing more than paper plates (ours happen to have a lovely floral pattern on them, but only because those were the most substantial ones around when I needed to make them). There's a whole plate (a birthday plate, I think) and then there are the "half plates" (three plates, cut in half to make six halves) and the "third plates" (a plate cut into thirds) and the "quarter plates" (a plate cut into fourths). Whenever I am making food in our home and there is a young child around (unfortunately there is a dearth of these in our home these days, but not from lack of trying), I grab them and let them help me.

[A word about this sort of "help" - it is not helpful. It is training. It is fun, but it is work. Do not expect it to pay off as "help" for many more years. But call it help. Kids love to think they're helping; they don't need to know it isn't really helpful but is actually a ton more work taking a ton more time than you would take on your own. This is one of the secrets of mommyhood.]

Usually the math plates come into play in our home when I'm doubling a recipe. With six of us eating, I'm usually at least doubling everything. Sometimes I'll triple or quadruple it, just to jazz up the mental math required of them. Or we'll do something "half whole wheat" so that they have to work with halving as well as doubling.

At any rate, eventually the day will come when you suggest pulling out the math plates to help with some impending recipe conversion, and the child will say, "Mom, may I just do it in my head, please?!" By all means, you will indicate, and you will smile to realize that you have a pre-schooler who is handling complex fractional math computations in her head without batting an eye.

Here's to kitchen math!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Difficult Decision - Difficult Choice

Every year my mother gets the flu vaccine, and every year she gets sick. She doesn't get the flu, mind you, because that would mean admitting that her vaccine had failed to protect her against the flu. Instead, she gets the "crud."

I haven't been willing to post anything yet about the flu vaccine, or the swine flu vaccine, since to take a position against them is seen as almost adversarial, certainly "selfish," and most definitely "stupid." So I haven't taken a public position... not even when a friend dutifully went to get her vaccine, then promptly reported on FB that she had the flu within three days... not when another friend posted on FB about her newly heightened fear of H1N1, prompted by having watched the 60 Minutes special in which a young boy nearly died... not when yet another friend posted on FB that her cousin had died of H1N1, but further inquiry revealed that she actually had had West Nile Virus... not when a friend revealed that the lupus he has suffered crippling debilitation from for many decades presented itself after a swine flu vaccination thirty years ago...

It is a serious topic, and those of us who question the conventional medical "wisdom" of vaccines are slow to make that position known to the masses. Most folks just aren't ready to question everything they've ever heard about inoculation and how beneficial it is... how necessary... how important...

Just know the following facts* before you stand in line for your arm prick: in the areas of the world that have just completed their flu season, H1N1 had proven to be a mild flu that is of little danger to all but the most severely immunocompromised; that 99% of deaths reported as "flu deaths" are actually a result of secondary infections like bacterial pneumonia, which you are more likely to acquire when you submit to the vaccine, as it causes suppressed immune function for several days after administration; that recent studies indicate that those who have had the seasonal flu vaccine (this year, or in years past) are more likely to catch swine flu than those who haven't; that they stopped actually testing for flu strain two months ago, and are simply assuming and announcing that anyone with "flu-like symptoms" has H1N1; and that both the seasonal flu vaccine and the swine flu vaccine contain thimerosol, a mercury preservative.

(If you're contemplating the flue vaccine decision, read this and this, even if you don't watch the videos that start automatically when you click the links.)

*Links to studies and information which substantiate the above statistical claims can be found on this website. I don't want to take time to go back and find them all right now. This post has already been a "saved draft" for over a week now, waiting for me to find time to re-do this research. It isn't happening... you can take the time yourself if it is important to you.

I did find this funny look at this serious issue, however, and I share it here just for fun. It made me laugh.

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Temerating!

After a pamphagous* week-end, I have decided to get careful about what I'm eating (quality and quantity) and commit to some sort of exercise every day. I need to lose a few pounds, and I know I feel a lot better when I eat less and work out more.

It is a strange time of year to decide this, heading into the "feasting" holidays, but I figure if I don't do it now, I might have five or ten MORE pounds to worry about come the obligatory solennial "start-on- January -1-but-end-by-January-13-diet" that most Americans (myself included) go on.

*Pamphagous, by the way, is a word I found on Save the Words, a site which makes you aware of words that are falling out use so you can begin to use them again in conversation and correspondence if you think they're worth saving. (All the italicized words are from that site, too. Do you know what they mean?!) Since I am extremely pamphagous most of the time, but would like not to be, I decided to begin to use that word. Literally, it means "omnivorous," but connotatively it means "eating or consuming everything."

Hopefully, I will develop the lubency for running that my husband and sister-in-law demostrated as they trained for the OBX 1/2 Marathon they completed this weekend; the rest of us joined them only in their mandatory pre-run carb-fest. Blech! I need to get home and have a good, cold salad!

So, anyway, I pledge to eat less and work out more, and maybe lose a few pounds in the process. And I'm hoping not to temerate.

You can look up these words, or find some of your own, on Save the Words.org. Just click on "adopt-a-word," then type the word into the box and click "find." The word will appear in a new box to the right... hover over it for a definition and a smarty-pants, potentially politically-loaded sample sentence.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Our Children Are Watching

Recently, the Parents Television Council has published a study entitled "Women in Peril." Basically, what they have found is that TV storylines depicting violence against women have increased 120% since 2004, while other violent crime on TV has increased by only 2%.

While the study found a significant increase in all forms of female victimization storylines, they found a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; further, they found an 81% increase in incidences of intimate partner violence on television.

The PTC has made a video compilation from a variety of shows, both comic and dramatic, that depict some of this violence. WARNING: It is shocking and disturbing and, in some cases, revolting. If you are usually careful and selective with the types of media entertainment you allow yourself to watch, you likely have not seen anything like this in a long time, if ever. You might not wish to fill your mind with these sorts of images.

On the other hand, if you are a Christian adult, and especially a parent, who regularly watches television programming, perhaps seeing them all together like this will serve as a wake up call as to the seriousness of the issue at hand. These shows are not ones I've watched, but the titles are very familiar to me since they are the "popular" shows of our day... ones that many of my friends and acquaintances have indicated that they watch regularly: C.S.I.; Desperate Housewives; Grey's Anatomy; Criminal Minds; Family Guy; American Dad.

If you are a child (and especially if you are my child), do not watch this video compilation of these clips. It is perverse and ugly stuff.

I am cringing at the idea that many, many American children are regularly watching these kinds of violent depictions. My six-year old neighbor has cable television in her bedroom, and watches whatever she wants to at whatever hour of the day or night. I'm sure she's not alone, as statistics show that many children have televisions in their bedrooms. One study found that nearly 3 out of 4 black (70%) and Hispanic (74%) children between the ages of 2 and 13, and close to 1 in 4 white children (22%) of the same age, have free access to a television in their bedroom. Another found that 41% of five-year olds have their own private bedtime television in their room!

What are they watching?! What are we doing? This study only began to scratch the surface of the garbage we're putting out on the primetime airwaves of every major television network* in America. It did not analyze for depictions of graphic sexual content; it did not keep track of television incidences of profanity. or nudity. or risk behaviors. or self-mutilation. or alcohol abuse. or drug use. or suicide. It did not chronicle television incidences of deviant sexual behaviors like group intercourse, homosexuality, incest, multiple partners, and sexual behavior with near-strangers.

Check out the Family Guide to Prime Time Television, where you can look up any television show and see how it rates on an evaluation of its family-friendly nature with regards to sex, language, and violence. We owe it to ourselves and our children not to let ourselves be "lobsters in the pot of cold water" as the networks turn up the heat!

* Networks included in the study were ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Every network but ABC demonstrated a significant increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009. (CW and MyNetworkTV were not included in the study since they did not exist in 2004.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Stolen Indulgence of Writing

I am currently reading a life-transforming book. Several, actually, but two in particular* are significantly impacting me. I am struck by the fact that books are companions that I can't do without. As life gets busier and busier, and available time gets as thin as weak tea, I sort of desperately snuggle down into whatever books I'm reading; stolen moments with these words, however brief, keep me focused and grounded and self-examining and growing.

Writing, blogging... not so much. Don't get me wrong. I am a writer - an avid writer - and getting my thoughts organized into something coherent and lucid is something I highly value. This happens easily when I choose to sit down to write, but when time is short, it gets passed over like a pleasant but unnecessary byway, by simple virtue of the time it takes. I can, and must, gather thoughts and examine motives and petition Deity and facilitate relationship... but when time gets scarce, these are accomplished in a sort of inverted cone of priority, with writing somewhere near the bottom. (Well, not near the real bottom, where things like watching a movie or stealing moments on Facebook reside; and certainly not in the "past the bottom" category of things I simply have no time for, where things like watching television shows reside.) But near the bottom of the cone, at the wider part, you will find a multitude of things I usually try to make time for no matter how busy I get with the dailyness of the "have to," each competing for a share of the fleeting spare moments...

And so, here I sit. I am in the quiet moments before the rest of my family awakens, wishing for a cup of tea wafting delicious hints of spice and sweet into my nostrils from warm hands. But there was no time for that this morning, as I sought to steal a few moments to write.

The narrow parts of the cone... pray, journal, breathe deeply the Scriptures... are musts.

The obligatory business parts of my life... plan and execute the schooling, pay the bills, prepare the meals, wash the clothes... are reluctant "musts" as well.

But the good books, the genuine fellowship, the significant conversation, the fun game together... these each vie for a share of the remaining time. A good cup of tea and a chance to try the hand with the pen stick their noses in there, too...

Life is a mystery; a glorious, fleeting treasure to be revered and cherished and experienced and savored... loveliness, beauty, music, family, creativity, laughter, art...

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Phil. 4:8). My hope and prayer, my delight, is to live life fully through my beloved God and through the people He has given me to love and to serve.

"We can pray." My husband just quietly slipped into the room, whispering those words. And with that, I travel back up the cone, leaving this stolen indulgence of writing...


*Anderson, Neil T. Victory over the Darkness, 2nd Ed. Ventura: Regal Books, 2000.
*Swenson, Richard A, M.D. The Overload Syndrome. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A word fitly spoken...

October 16 was Noah Webster's birthday, and here in America this date is officially known as Dictionary Day. Visit the link for great suggestions and ideas for celebrating the beauty of language.

Here's to choosing just the right word...

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Everything's Amazing & Nobody's Happy

This video of an appearance on Conan by stand-up comedian Louis C.K. is hilarious and very insightful.

Check it out here...

"I'm only responsible for my watch..."

"I'm not prepared to argue that letter-press printing is better, to anyone who doesn't already think so..."

This is an intriguing quote to me - and not because I have any opinion at all about whether or not letter-press printing is really great. It is a quote from John Kristensen, proprietor of Firefly Press in Somerville, MA. (This is located near where my in-laws used to live, but I've never been there. I've only become aware of it through this video I have watched; it is a short documentary about letter-press printing that has me thinking on so many different levels...)



This quote in particular has me thinking. You see, I am a pretty opinionated person; I am also pretty open. This is often a problematic combination. I try not to impose my views on other people, but I am very often unsuccessful in this attempted restraint.

If I feel strongly about something (especially that something is particularly good or particularly bad), I really want to share it with people I care about. Usually this does not garner me the high praise that my friend Rachel recently received. ("ah, there is the rachel that I dearly miss. filled with wisdom and opinion, and spunk! love you.") Usually my shared stuff is less considered "wisdom; opinion; spunk" and more considered "pushy; judgmental; obnoxious." I'm not as cute as Rachel, either, which doesn't help...

No, I don't have a real passionate opinion about letter-press printing. But I do often find myself convinced, as John Kristensen is, that some such-and-so thing is better than some other such-and-so thing. What I have failed to learn is his wisdom not "to argue that (it) is better, to anyone who doesn't already think so."

So, among the many, many things-I-think-are-really-good-and-therefore-must-tell-you-about which I've discussed with people, high on the list is probably homeschooling. It is not the conventional schooling choice for most of America, so it puts me in the "weirdo minority" just by the very fact of my doing it.

I remember discussing last year, at a Homeschooling through High School Symposium sponsored by HSLDA, the common problem of people-who-don't-homeschool feeling judged by those of us who do choose to homeschool our students. We were walking to the cafeteria for our lunch break, and one of the High School Coordinators walking with me gave me some really great advice. She said, "Oh I would never try to convince someone to homeschool who didn't want to. It takes too much time, too much work, too much commitment, too much personal sacrifice... there's no way I'd ever try to convince someone to do it who wasn't already being convinced it was the right thing to do."

And so, I am learning - with varying degrees of success - to keep my mouth shut. Not only about homeschooling, but about just about everything. It is ironic, because it feels very much like I have to stop caring for people as much. I have to watch them do things I believe will be harmful in the end. I have to stay mum about things I think would help them in the end. In short, I have to "let people screw up their own lives," as my father advised me a few months ago.

And I have to accept that they're also probably going to stay mum about things-that-would-help-me-in-the-end-if-they-would-just-tell-me. I'd love the opportunity to hear their "wisdom; opinion; spunk," to accept or reject as desired, but this is not the way most American friendships function. It's a shame, really, but "them's the breaks." If only I could learn the lesson of another of Kristensen's quotes, "I'm only responsible for my watch..."

By the way, though... If you are reading this, and you know me personally (yeah, the map says there are strangers I don't know around the world somehow stumbling onto my Blog... hmmmm...), please know that I really do want to know. Even if it hurts my feelings. Even if it makes me angry. Even if I don't agree and never change based on what you shared. I want the opportunity to hear it and weigh it and take it before the Lord and make a more-informed decision, prayerfully, because you cared enough to share with me. Thank you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Elephant Song

My daughter, who really does love elephants, sent me this song. I think it is very cute, and that small children would find it hilarious. Enjoy...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dog Love

Steve Allen purportedly once said, "Old men miss many dogs." It is true of middle-aged women, as well... I still miss our sweet Little, even as I'm enjoying getting to know our new friend, Pippin. This weekend we will take him camping with us for the first time. Little used to love it. We'll see about this little guy that barks at all noises coming from outside when we leave the bedroom windows open at night. If Pip is one of these "bark all night at the campsite" dogs, I'll go nuts.

My father sent me this sweet song a few weeks ago, and it still makes me smile. It highlights the remarkable fact that canine love often seems enduring and unconditional, reminding us of that heavenly love which truly is enduring and unconditional. As George Eliot once said, "We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment."



I'm not sure my dog really "loves" me at all, but merely appreciates my care for him and views me as the pack leader, in true canine fashion. But he does turn a truly blind eye to all my faults and flaws, which is more than most people in my life. (I have a lot of faults and flaws. It is hard to be blind to them, and even harder to bear with them with grace.) Andy Rooney once observed that, "The average dog is nicer than the average person." He was probably right. One of my goals in life is to love those the Lord puts into my path with the same sort of uncritical spirit that my dog extends to me. (I am very critical, both of myself and of those around me.)

I don't "love like my dog" well yet, but I am confident that, "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it," and so I continue to hold out hope. Laugh if you will. I truly do hope to one day love as uncritically as my dog does...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Score One for Normal

This article, entitled Education Normal, was written by Mark Mitchell* for Touchstone Magazine. This is not a magazine I read regularly, but the article itself is thought-provoking.

In fact, it might be just plain provoking if brought up in casual conversation in a group of parents. (I rarely do this sort of thing anymore. I have enough "different" ideas, and hold them strongly enough, that I tend to be provoking just by existing in near proximity to other parents. If you do something differently from others, you know, you're automatically "judging them" by having made your different choice. Or so the story goes. They're not judging you by having chosen differently from you, mind you... But I digress. Forgive my baggage. I'm trying to work through it all; really, I am. And I'm trying to work on holding an opinion strongly and confidently without making others who don't hold the same opinion feel judged. It is tricky business!)

In the meantime, we have found a few similarly-minded friends with whom we discuss these types of parenting issues and decisions. We have also found a few not-so-similarly-minded friends who are those wonderful and rare types of friends who like to bat around the ideas and have the discussions and play "devil's advocate" for each other... all that general "irons sharpens iron" kind of stuff... even though we know of our general "different camp" tendencies from the get go. At the end of the day, we often end up agreeing to disagree, but it is all very amicable and respectful, and it is especially refreshing to those of us who really do want to be challenged and encouraged and questioned and affirmed and, and... In these sorts of gloriously rare and beautiful interactions, no one feels condemned and, in the end, everyone feels all the more confident in the choices being made before the Lord. I don't know how it is possible, exactly, but I can tell you that it isn't possible at all unless the Lord is very involved in each of your lives, and in all your interactions together. Pretty tall order.

If you're fortunate enough to have some of these sorts of friends, phone them right away and tell them how much you appreciate them. Write them a note, thanking them for being who they are in your life.

And maybe next discussion you can bat around the ideas raised by this article.

*Dr. Mark T. Mitchell is an Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College and a James Madison Fellow at Princeton University.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Excuse me. Have we met?

Okay, the wonders of internet technology never cease to amaze me, but this is blowing my mind these days...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amazon.comRecommended for You
Amazon.com has new recommendations for you based on items
you purchased or told us you own.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Following this announcement, which arrived unsolicited to my inbox, was a list of eight books (with lovely little photos of the books' covers)... all of which I would, in fact, LOVE to read!

I mean, it was accurate enough that it was almost creepy... This particular computer program knows me better than most of my friends. Hmmm...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

... to look deep into Your wonders...

"My Father, this moment, I push aside all sense of need... every request... each complaint... even words of praise or worship...
... just to stand silent... to turn the eyes of my soul to You... to look deep into Your wonders..."

- Amy Carmichael, I Come Quietly to Meet You, ed. David Hazard (Minnesota: Bethany House, 2005) 31-32. See it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We the People...

...in order to form a more perfect union...

Today is Constitution Day.

I have found a wonderful website for enhancing your knowledge of the Constitution.

There is even a test to ascertain your knowledge by taking a short ten-question quiz to see how much you know about both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It certainly seems to be an important time in the history of our great nation to be familiar with the Constitution, and to be well-versed in our understanding of - and ability to dialogue intelligently about - the Constitution.

For an in-depth study of the Constitution, I'm excited about Michael Farris's Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens. I hope to be able to study it one day soon with my homeschool highschoolers.

(Great reason for homeschooling #254: You actually get to learn the stuff you never did back when you went through your schooling experience!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fun Learning Activites for Children

Check out the Fun Learning Activities for Children Blog I just found!

If you have little ones, you have a rich store of learning activities at your fingertips on this Blog... Math, Bible, Reading, History, Geography, Science, Nature, Language, Art, Music... you name it!

You can also check out this site for Singing Spelling Rules.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh what a blessing are lunch dates!

I've posted before about the weekly lunch dates I take with my children on Friday afternoons. They cycle through, one at a time, so they each get to go to lunch with me once a month; my father takes one of the others at the same time, so one of them has a lunch date with Mom and one of them has a lunch date with Grampa. The remaining two of them - randomly paired together depending on "who's left" in a given week - have a "lunch date" together at home. It is grand fun, and gives me a chance to interact on a totally different level with my kids... not necessarily wearing the "Mom hat" or the "teacher hat," but just the "friend hat." I don't often get to wear just the "friend hat," and I like it! But I digress from my point...

Two small but notable things from some recent lunch dates:

First, when with my son: We're sitting down across from each other at one of his favorite restaurants of choice, and suddenly he says, "So, Mom, what's been happening with you lately?" When I ask for clarification about what he means, he says, "Well, usually we talk about me, and how I'm doing and what I'm feeling, when we have these dates. I was just wondering how you're feeling about life, spiritually and otherwise, so I figured we could talk about you some this time."

I felt special and honored, and I felt happy and proud that my son is growing up to be a man who cares about others' thoughts and feelings. May that dimension that cares as much for the other person as for ourself grow in each of us more and more!

Secondly, when with my middle daughter: She chose the lunch special at the local Japanese Steak House for our lunch together, and though she loves to watch the man cooking the meal, she chose for us to sit in a booth and have the "kitchen hibachi" where they cook for you 'over there' and bring your food to you 'over here.' Why did she do this? Because the women we would be seated with were going to be distracting to her, and she didn't want to be paying attention to their conversation or having them pay attention to ours.

Again I felt special and honored. And I didn't eat all my fried rice before my meat was done, either!

Oh, how fleeting are these days. I'm so thankful for these sorts of special moments with my children!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mail Goggles

Okay, so this post could better be entitled, "The Homeschool Mother's Guide to Shamelessly Forcing Keep-Your-Brain-Alert Math Drill Opportunities on Your Older Child."

I have enabled the "Mail Goggles" lab feature within their Gmail accounts, and they have to leave them there. (Yes, yes, I put it on my account, too, set to level 2 difficulty. I'm trying to beat my own record of doing the five problems in 12 seconds, but I can't seem to do it yet. But I digress...)

This little gem of an application forces you to accurately (as in 100% accuracy) answer five simple math problems before you can send your letter. It was first created as a "protect yourself from sending stupid emails late at night on weekends when you might be a little bit drunk" sort of thing. But once it is downloaded, you can change the hours to anything you want... we set it to force us to keep our math brains sharp 24/7.

Sure it is irritating, but it really has helped my basic arithmetic skills to be faster and sharper. I'm sure it is time to move up to the next level, but, well, you know...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hilarity from Comedian Tim Hawkins

My father sent this Tim Hawkins video to my children, entitled "The Government Can." I think it is an hilarious musical satire regarding the state of government spending...



But while I was watching that video on YouTube, I found the following, which are equally funny, in my opinion....





Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Need a Rosie the Robot

I remember watching The Jetsons when I was little. I loved it.

I also remember how far-fetched the idea seemed... you know, talking on the phone while watching video of a person very far away. I vaguely remember watching Mrs. Jetson pop out her fake made-up-cardboard self to put in front of her real sloppy-at-home self when answering the phone. This was not something the rest of us had to worry about when we answered the phone. I mused that it would be a problem - having to think about your appearance before you answered the phone - if that sort of video phone thing were ever really to become possible.

Which, of course, it wouldn't.

It all seemed so ridiculous... so impossible... kind of like the idea of "beaming up" to a new place when I watched Star Trek.

(Will we really be able to do that one day, too?!)

Well, this morning I just logged onto the video chat on my new laptop... in Google chat and with Skype. The fact that I can call - talk to - and SEE a friend of mine living across the ocean - for FREE - is astonishing to me.

"The only surprising thing is that you're still surprised," as my husband often says to me...

Franken-bear-y

Our sweet dog Pippin swiped a little purple teddy bear from the girls' room during last month's rearrangement of the furniture. By the time we found it, he had eaten off the nose, chewed out the eyes, and managed to gnaw off both ears. (All this before he ever went for the enticing little ribbon tied around its neck.) Eventually we had to throw it away because he managed to make it through the left arm to the little plastic beads inside. (Yes, they were all over the floor!)

Last week - again unbeknownst to us - he returned to the room for a second challenge... the little pink twin to the purple conquest he had made last month.

PT made me laugh first thing this morning by picking it up from the middle of the floor and asking, "Look, Mom, doesn't this look like Demon Teddy Bear?"


And, while we're discussing the canine member of our family and his new naughty habits:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Good Questions

How do you approach the Bible?

How can we make time for the Bible?

How do you keep from growing indifferent to the Bible when you're so familiar with it?

How do you memorize Scripture?


What would you say to someone who hasn't read their Bible in a long time?

Read John Piper's answers, in an article from an interview with Bible Study Magazine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1-800-GOOG411

Never again will Alltel (now Verizon) charge me for my directory assistance needs!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

He said some pretty great stuff...

President Obama addressed the nation's school children today. All the indignation and hoopla and protest were undeserved. He said some pretty inspirational things to the youth of America.

(You can read a transcript of the entire speech here.)

"I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

"I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

"But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities.

"Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.

"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

"That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as...
"Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
"But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

"That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, 'I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.' These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time.

"If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

"No one’s born being good at things; you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

"Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.

"So find an adult you trust - a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor - and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

"So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

"Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions.... But you’ve got to do your part, too.

"So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you.

"So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
"Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America."


Monday, September 7, 2009

The Point of It All

As we begin to clear the fog that descended during the summer haze... rub our sleepy eyes and ask why we're up when it is still so dark... settle out the kinks of our new school schedule... open crisp new textbooks and pull out colorful highlighters... watch the mailbox for those last bits of curriculum to arrive...

In the midst of it all, I pause to remember the chief point of it all...

23 "This is what the LORD says:
'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." - Jer. 9:23-24

Here's to a new homeschool year. And here's to knowing Him above anything else.