Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to Homeschool: The 1980's vs Today

I read this article earlier today and here's my take on it.

The 1980's

1) Check the local school calendar and let the kids know that they will not be allowed to play outdoors before 3:00 on public school days.  Explain that they are not allowed to answer the phone during that time either, since we don't want the neighbors or any local authorities to question why they aren't in the classroom.

2) Call local public and private schools to determine dates to purchase used textbooks.  Browse local bookstores for appropriate additional materials.  Call A-Beka to see if you can order only one copy of their Christian School curriculum, rather than 30 copies for an entire classroom.  Purchase expensive posters and maps intended to be used in a traditional classroom and try to find wall space to accommodate them.

3) Have conversation with church friends and family members explaining (yet again) why you wouldn't trust the local school teachers to educate your child.  Try to validate your ability as a teacher despite the lack of a degree.

4) Sew matching jumpers for your daughters to wear for special occasions, and check to make sure they have plenty of culottes for the playground.  Check to be sure your boys pants are still long enough to touch the back of their sneakers.  Re-hem and patch knees as needed.

5) Fill out affidavit declaring your home a private school, and non-profit organization by default.  Come up with awesome school names and eventually narrow it down to your last name plus "Academy".  Joke about having fundraisers for your non-profit, but realize you don't know enough people to actually make any money.

6) Spend $100 on art supplies and science equipment out of pocket and remind yourself that your children are too precious a resource to send them into the trenches of the local public school.  You are more interested in their spiritual development than trying to save money by shipping them off to the local humanistic indoctrination center.

7) On the first day of public school, get the kids up early to start a traditional school day.  Finish by noon and join the kids in making fun of all the time wasted in a traditional school.  Look on with pride as your children mock their neighbors getting off the school bus, knowing that the evening will be fun and family oriented since you don't have to do homework, like your neighbors do.

8) Wonder privately if you're doing enough, and if your kids will be able to get into college eventually.  Pray that you will be able to explain to a college admissions counselor that they are smart enough to get in despite homeschooling.


1) Eagerly open box after box of school curriculum and supplies as they arrive from curriculum vendors you learned about at the homeschool conference at the beginning of summer.  Struggle to find shelf space for all the new products alongside all the other products you've used in the past, but can't get rid of because the younger kids will need them in a few years.  Determine to get rid of the failed curriculum you've used in the past.

2) Purchase new file folders for all the children.  Color code everything so they know which file folders are theirs. Spend a week filling out assignment plans for each child in your official Homeschool Planner.  Determine that this year you will keep careful records and date everything your children do.  You WILL take pictures at every field trip, and co-op, so you will have something to show for your work.

3) Go through your email and mark your calendar with all the co-op dates and extra classes you want your kids to be in.  Promise yourself that they will do a foreign language and a fine arts class this year.  Sign up for more classes than you actually have time for and realize later that you will have to opt out of half of them.

4) Buy new lunchboxes and food storage containers because you remember doing it every year as a child, and want your kids to have similar experiences, even though you will probably only use them once a week on the co-op days.  Try to get your kids to pick one of your favorite childhood characters that has been re-booted and realize that they really don't care because they don't have time for cartoons with their busy schedules, and you don't really want them "watching that trash on TV" anyway.

5) Proudly tell everyone you meet that you are homeschooling this year, and eagerly anticipate defending your right to educate your child, and their better overall scholastic scores.  Smile sweetly and reassure those who doubt their abilities that, "It's not for everyone, but it's easier than they think."

6) Determine to go to more support group meetings so you don't burn out this year.  Peruse the web to find a support group you can really get involved in, whether or not it is the one you've signed up for co-op classes with.

7) Make sure your kids have physicals so they can participate in the local homeschool PE program or umbrella sports teams.  Opt out of all vaccinations, and defend your right to do so.  Buy new sneakers for the programs, along with a few stylish outfits so your kids will fit in with their peers.

8) Go to your local school supply store and buy smaller versions of posters and maps to use in your dining/school room, even though your kids will move from room to ro
om throughout the year and even do school in the car more often than they will use the actual school room you've set up.

9) Delete emails you haven't opened simply because you're already overwhelmed by the schedule you've made and can't possibly fit in another thing.

10) Wonder privately if you're doing enough, and if your kids will be able to get into college eventually.  Pray that you will be able to explain to a college admissions counselor that they are smart enough to get in despite the bad name homeschooling has gotten in recent years.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Peek Inside a Cluttered Mind

How to Spend 7 Hours Planning a Two Week Menu and Shopping List

  • Turn on computer
  • Log into Google account
  • Open "Drive"
  • Open ongoing "Menu/Shopping List" file

Previous weeks' Menu

  • Update day numbers on menu file
  • Tell 11 yr old, 9 year old, and 5 year old to start on their chores
  • Begin updating calendar row of Menu
  • Resolve cleaning issue between 11 year old and 9 year old
  • Remind 5 year old to clear table
  • Realize that your phone has added arbitrary duplicate reminders to any calendar entries you've added in the last two weeks
  • Open Google Calendar on Desktop
  • Systematically click through Google calendar entries turning off reminders
  • Say hello to DH and 16 year old, who just returned home
  • Tell 16 year old to help clean up
  • Go back to updating calendar row of menu 
  • Get phone call from friend canceling Monday's plans
  • Update calendar row of Menu
  • Update Google calendar
  • Respond to 16 year old's question by telling them where to put mundane object
  • Text best friend to see if they want to come over Monday since other friend cancelled
  • Talk to M-i-L on speaker phone for several minutes wishing her a happy birthday (She's pretty awesome)
  • Realize you haven't emailed S-i-L in a while, and jot note to her
  • Remember that you haven't made or sent invitations for 9 year old's birthday party and it's two and a half weeks away
  • Decide not to hand make invitations
  • Click through Vista print Invitation designs
  • Respond to 16 year old's question by telling them where to put other mundane object
  • Check with BFF for feedback on invitations (since her 12 year old is sharing the birthday party with your 9 year old)
  • Pin several invitation ideas since BFF isn't responding to facebook chat
  • Remind 5 year old to clear table
  • Watch viral video about baby lovebird with splayed legs

  • Remind 11 and 9 year old (who watched video over shoulder) to get back to work
  • Answer DH's question about random topic
  • Ask DH about response to dinner invite from friend
  • Discuss options with DH
  • Wait for DH to commit to a yes or no about dinner invite
  • Give up waiting for DH's decision
  • Check Facebook notifications
  • Scroll through Facebook news feed since the window is now open
  • Comment on random posts
  • Remind 11 year old (who is reading over shoulder) to keep doing chores
  • Finish updating calendar row on Menu
  • Show DH Google calendar for next two weeks
  • Ask 11 year old what they would like to make for their meals, since they're sitting at the nearby computer
  • Wait for 11 year old to look through Pinterest for ideas
  • Check Pinterest while waiting for 11 year old's decision
  • Pin random entries
  • Write down what 11 year old's menu choices
  • Call 9 year old and ask what they would like to make on their nights
  • Tell 11 year old to let 9 year old on the nearby computer to look through Pinterest for ideas
  • Watch video about how to make Minecraft rice crispy treats as per their request to make them

  • Pin said video
  • Ask 9 year old for non-dessert input on their meal choices
  • Input 9 year old's choices
  • Call 16 year old and ask what they would like to make on their nights
  • Answer questions about what constitutes and easy meal and what constitutes a hard meal
  • Give suggestions
  • Listen while 16 year old tells you why they don't like your suggestions
  • Look up recipes for traditional Irish food
  • Input 16 year old's choices
  • Take moment to calm down after realizing you now have to show 16 year old how to prepare Corned Beef
  • Re-think idea to teach three older kids how to cook in the same year
  • Pin recipes for 16 year old's menu options
  • Ask 5 year old for their "menu input"
  • Finish menu
  • Check email
  • Clean up spam and junk mail
  • Surrender nicer computer to DH so he can order pizza and update budget program
  • Have budget meeting with DH as per his request
  • Ask DH about decision concerning dinner invite
  • Check Pinterest again
  • Spend more time on Pinterest re-pinning random pins
  • Go over 9 year old's Birthday wish list
  • Cross off entries for "another cat", "a doggy that doesn't chase cats", and "pet white tiger".
  • Teach 9 year old how to spell "origami" for her request for origami paper
  • Ask for clarification about other list entries
  • Ask DH what he wants for Father's Day
  • Update menu with his requests
  • Remind DH to make list of Father's Day gift suggestions
  • Start working on shopping list
  • Realize that you've been working for 6 hours and decide to write a blog post
  • Stop to eat dinner

  • Get back on computer and work on blog post
  • Ask DH about decision concerning dinner invite (Yes!)
  • Update calendar row of Menu
  • Update Google Calendar
  • Tell kids to get ready for bed
  • Work on shopping list
  • Decide to finish shopping list tomorrow morning before going shopping
  • Finish blog post

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Passing of a Crafter

I received a phone call from a friend this week informing me that a very dear lady had passed away.  She was a crafter.  Here is what I envisioned.

* * * 

For Joleen
Fabric on the cutting table
Pins still pushed through the layers of
Pattern tissue and muslin.
Ready for cutting.

The sewing machine surrounded by bits of remnant,
Ghosts of projects recently past
Bits of string snipped from the ends 
The waste basket filled with fibers
Carefully selected pieces of 
Calico chintz and broadcloth 
Partially assembled, stacked on the desk
No actual surface of said furniture visible

The room awaits it's mistress
Dust settles in the interim
Weighty medical appointments detain
The Lady of the realm
No worries. She's left the room many times before and
Always returned to pick up where she left
The myriad of finished projects 
Bear testament to her consistency

The rolls of ribbons on their rack rest easily
The zippers and buttons await their next venue
Stacks of fabric tip precariously from their 
Home inside the open armoire
A new lady enters, eyes glistening
New fingers brush along the many textures 
Housed in their dutiful yet disheveled places
She stops and turns full circle.

The Lady's scent still lingers
Though it's been months since she stood here
The new comer lifts the fabric on the cutting table
Her finger pricked on a pin, she cries out

Though the pain in her finger is slight,
The pain in her heart explodes afresh.
She will save this sorting for another day.
The door shuts quietly the dust settles once again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Caesar Salad and The Love of Christ

Have you ever been ashamed of being a Christian?

No, I'm not referring to those guilt-ridden manipulative memes that go around saying that you have to pass it on, or burn in hell.

Well, let me just say I was pretty embarrassed the other night.  I was on a date with my hubby, and here is the conversation I overheard from the table behind me.


"Can you believe this?  It doesn't even look like food."

Waiter approaches. "Is everything ok? Can I get you anything?"

"You can get me some decent food. Does this look like Caesar Salad to you?"

"I'm sorry sir, I'll take that away.  Would you like something else?"

"I would like to eat something with nutritional value."

"Would you like to talk to the manager?"

"Yes, that would be great."

"Do you want me to take that other one?"

"No, you can leave it, I'd like to show it to the manager."

Waiter walks away with a Caesar salad that looks identical to the one my husband just finished.

Conversation continues at the table while they wait for the manager.

"It's just disgusting.  There's no nutritional value at all in something like that."

"I know.  Since when is Caesar salad made with Iceberg?  They need to re-read the recipe, it's not rocket science."

Conversation turns (at which point I become very uncomfortable).

"I was listening to the radio the other day, on the way home from your house, and this song came on.  I think it was called 'Pressing On'."

"Is it current?"

"I'm not sure.  It sounded like a contemporary singer.  I mean, not raucous, but more modern than Sandy Patti or Steve Green."

I sit there thinking, "Oh, so they're Christians,"  and then try to tune them out again.

Manager Arrives "Is there anything wrong, sir."

Here is where the man's tone becomes degrading and condescending.  "I'll say there is.  Take a look at that salad.  Does that look like Romaine to you?"

"Yes sir, that is what we use in our Caesar."

"I'm sorry, but that's not Romaine.  Where is the green?  Romaine is dark green.  You understand the difference between Romaine and Iceberg, right? I mean, you own a restaurant."

"I assure you, sir, we only use Romaine lettuce in our Caesar Salad."

"I'm not an idiot.  I feed Romaine lettuce to my turtle. My pet eats better food than this."

"I'm sorry you're not satisfied, sir.  That is the Romaine we receive from our suppliers."

"Don't give me that excuse.  This is your restaurant.  You have a duty to your customers.  Maybe you need to get a new supplier.  If I owned a restaurant, I would be ashamed to serve this kind of crap to my customers."


At this point I was so livid I wanted to go over there and tell the guy to shut-up.  The manager was cool and composed the entire time, and I felt so bad that he had to deal with that kind of ridiculous non-sense.  I tried to tune them out the rest of the time, and only partially succeeded.  Deep down I was so glad that this couple hadn't said anything about Jesus in front of the manager or Waiter.  If they had, I would have felt obligated to tell the waiter that I was a Christian too, and not to judge us all by their rude, offensive, nit-picky standard.

So, here's my point.  Never sacrifice kindness and love on the altar of nutrition.

My hubby, as I said before, had the same salad.  I asked him if he enjoyed it and he said it was good.  I saw the lettuce he ate, and it looked fine.  It was Red Lobster for crying out loud.  It wasn't the Ritz.  I'm sorry, but you cannot expect to get organic, locally grown produce, picked at the peak of freshness as a free side to your seafood dinner.  If that's what you want, go to the Nantucket Seafood Grill and pay $10 to get it ala Carte.

Christians are called to put others first.  How can you do that if you're so irate about not getting your nutritional expectations met that you verbally abuse a hard working business owner?  Suppose you aren't satisfied with your dinner, suppose the waiter royally ruins your night by messing up your order, or maybe spilling your drink on you (I've had that happen to me).  Even if you feel justified in your complaint, find a better way to voice it, one that shows compassion and kindness. Express your disappointment in a way that shows your respect for them as another human being.

Here's another thing to consider, just in case you've never worked in food service.  Restaurants can easily process 50 heads of lettuce a day depending on the size of the restaurant.  All of this lettuce is cut and mixed at one time.  Which means that the outer leaves of the romaine don't always end up in equal portion to the inner leaves in every single bowl of salad.  Here's a shocking photo of what the inside of a head of romaine lettuce looks like:
So, what are the odds that your particular bowl of salad is going to contain a high quantity of dark green leaves?  Not good.

Or, maybe, just maybe, you should leave your entitled attitude at the door and realize that the world doesn't revolve around your nutritional requirements.  Perhaps you should be grateful that you aren't living in the bush in Africa only getting a bowl of rice a day when the gang warfare slows enough for the shipment to get through.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Excuse

I probably wouldn't have known this woman existed had it not been for Social Networking.

I read a blog confronting all the haters who were upset at this woman for her confrontational "motivation", and while I agree with the premise (that haters need to stop spewing over things that were never said), I couldn't stop thinking about the image itself.

Honestly, I do find it disturbing.  I see a woman who has struggled to overcome her circumstances and was able to prove to the world.... what? How much better she is?  That she fought hard to become another brainwashed icon of our society's objectification of women?  That she was able to have three children in three years, unlike those who struggle to have any?

I'm sorry, but the reason the "haters" latched onto this woman is because she was just a bit too in-your-face.

So, in reply I'd like to be an advocate for my fellow women, and leave a few of our "excuses" for her consideration.  These are from real women I've known who have been inspiring to me.  I've changed their names to protect their identities.

  • My name is Caroline, and here's my excuse: Within the first four years of our marriage we had three kids. My husband, being the excellent man he is started working two jobs to help pay the bills.  Isolated at home with three children all day resulted in clinical depression.  The medication caused unnatural and excessive weight gain.  Rather than depend on other taxpayers for our food, we have cut our budget to bare minimum to live within our means.  This unfortunately means lots of carbs.  I'm gluten sensitive and metabolize proteins much better than carbs.  Because of our financial situation I am unable to purchase enough protein to maintain a balanced weight.  I've had a total of five live births, and three ended in Cesarean section.  I don't eat a lot of junk food, I exercise without expensive equipment.  

I am most proud of Caroline for the following reasons: She is not using their financial situation to become a burden on society.  She is a hard worker.  She is an excellent mother.  I also happen to think she's beautiful.

  • My name is  Tabitha and here's my excuse: I was a very healthy child.  When I hit puberty I started packing on weight.  I already ate healthy food, and was active, so my parents consulted with doctors to determine why I was suddenly becoming obese.  Eventually the Doctors said it was a glandular problem.  Despite consultation with many doctors, use of medications, and other attempts I have never been able to lose the weight.  Everyone else in my family looks fit and healthy.  I know I'm healthy, but I look fat.  I've never had children.  

I am most proud of Tabitha for the following reasons:  She has not used her weight as an excuse to be unhealthy.  She is friendly and outgoing.  She has become a successful business woman and is an excellent wife to her husband.

  • My name is Jane, and here's my excuse: I packed on weight after my first child weaned himself early.  After realizing just how fat I'd become I tried to use traditional dieting methods to lose the weight.  I created a calorie deficit like all the "experts" recommended, and yoyo-ed my way gradually up to 80 lbs over my "ideal" weight.  Despite every attempt and even short term success I've never been able to keep the weight off.  I've exercised, dieted, given up, exercised, dieted, given up, ad nauseam.  I finally realized after 16 years of research that calorie deficit diets don't work for my metabolism. Three out of my four pregnancies were plagued with nausea and acid reflux.  The only way I could manage feeling mostly normal was to nibble on food all day every day.  All four pregnancies resulted in cesarean sections making it difficult for me to get back in shape quickly afterward.  

I am most proud of Jane for the following reasons:  She's always fun to be around.  She may not be Hollywood's definition of beautiful, but she's beautiful to me.  She's content with her life and sometimes that's more important than stressing over someone else's standards of beauty.

  • My name is Yvonne and here's my excuse: I was active my whole childhood; played sports, took ballet, etc.  I married young and my husband began to abuse me emotionally.  As the abuse continued I felt less and less capable to function, had to go on medications to control suicidal thoughts.  I've had very little money for a long time with my husband never keeping a job for long.  I knew the food I was eating wasn't ideal, but couldn't afford to buy better.  I've had four cesarean sections, and my abs are completely shot.  It took over 15 years for me to realize that I was being abused, and after I found out he was cheating on me, I divorced him.  All the stress and anxiety hasn't helped me lose weight.

I am most proud of Yvonne for the following reasons:  She amazes me, not only with her ability to recognize what was going on, and get out of her abusive situation, but for not wallowing in it.  She's going back to school to earn a law degree so she can become an activist to protect women from further abuse.

So you see, there are plenty of women out there that society would look at in scorn.  Women whose outward appearance seems to say, "I'm lazy, I have no self control, and I use food as a way to get pleasure."
Here's what I would say to Mrs Kang if I were able to sit down and chat with her.  "I urge you, Mrs Kang, to find a better way of expressing yourself.  There are plenty of reasons for women to be 'fat'.  Maybe instead of putting masochism on a pedestal we should exalt character... you know... kind of like Jesus did.

"Oh, and by the way, I put some clothes on you, because I don't want my son to read my blog and see an image of your half naked body."

Friday, January 3, 2014

Writing Ramble

The new year is upon us
My brain is buzzing
I feel the words flooding in my mind
A dam about to burst

Where to find the time to write
This life is busy
Throwing itself in my way
Creating more work, more responsibility,
More opportunities I can't pass up.

Obligations keep me from my keyboard
Necessity and compulsion carve out their slots
Water through clay
Leaving little of the bank

I must, I will find it
I will forge on, resolute
Finding time for passions between obligations
I can't not write
It is in me, and must come out

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gaming Devices in Church?
A friend of mine on Facebook recently asked this question: 

"Should it be acceptable for children to play their gameboys during any part of a church service?"

Here are my thoughts.  

I think there is a deeper question here. How do we teach our children to engage in corporate worship?  

I've been unofficially diagnosed as ADD. I can tell you that I struggled for years in a liturgical church service. Even as an adult, sitting still listening and even taking notes is difficult for me. My body needs to be doing something in order for my mind to be quiet and listen.  

This begs the question, how well do you know your child? Are they the type who can sit quietly and listen to something they are really interested in or are they the type that wiggle even when watching their favorite TV programs?  

If they need to be moving to stay focused, how can we constructively enable them to do what they need to do? Should we passively teach them that God made them wrong by enforcing behavior that fits into a compliance mold?

How can the church encourage its people to be what God created them to be without disrupting others' worship experience?

Here are some suggestions... if your child is old enough to be rational, discuss with them why they want to bring their gaming device. Explain that you want them to engage in what's going on. If you know they are capable of absorbing information by sitting still and listening, then that should definitely be encouraged. If they have a hard time, determine a compromise. This compromise should be something mindless and repetitive they can do while listening. Above all, don't expect more of your child than yourself. Our children notice when we whisper during church. They notice when we doodle or fidget. It's provoking them to anger to expect them to be better behaved than we are.

Here are some examples of what to do to resolve the issue. They are not meant to be taken as black and white, right and wrong, simply some things to consider.  

There is a lady at my church who approached the pastor thus. She wanted to crochet during the service. Her craft is repetitive, often requiring hours of the same stitch again and again. She explained that she wasn't trying to be offensive, and honestly wanted to know if he minded. He said it didn't bother him, since he knew her heart.  

I've often taken simple knitting projects to church. I find that the repetition of the same stitch again and again quiets my mind enough to listen to the service. I try not to be showy about my work. I usually work on scarves that are not too large, use materials that aren't flashy, and sit in a location that is not distracting to others. 

One of my daughters draws during the service. I have talked to her about maintaining focus, and being sensitive to the speaker. She must stay quiet and she must not try to show off her work while the service is going on.  

My son, who is now 16 years old used to have a hard time sitting still and listening. Now he does fine. It took him a bit longer than a lot of other kids, but he learned and eventually settled down. He doesn't doodle or fidget. He does whisper the occasional comment to his friends about what the pastor said, but I know adults who carry on constant commentary to their neighbors through the entire service.

Our 4 year old usually has a children's program to go to during the service. We allow her to play games like Angry Birds or Bubble Shoot on a tablet when there isn't an alternative for her. She's at an age where she isn't going to understand most of what is going on, so we would rather encourage her to sit quietly, than to be bored out of her mind and start getting mischievous.  

So to answer the initial question: There is nothing in the Bible that says it's wrong to play games during the church service. In Hebrews 10 we read: 

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In light of this, I believe parents should guide their children to be engaged in the service. They should do this by getting to know them, the way God created them, and encourage them to engage within that nature. I believe "Gameboys" and other PGD's are too mentally engaging for the majority of children to use them during a service, however I think very young children should be allowed to use them to teach them to be still and quiet while others are trying to listen. However, they should be weaned off of them as soon as they are mature enough to engage more.