Friday, April 30, 2004


Last night we went to a Bush campaign party (one of 5,000 or so being held simultaneously around the nation). That was all fine, but I confess I spent most of the evening being very nonpolitical and admiring the house and lands, which correspond very closely to my dream house. It was a pre-1850s farmhouse, beautifully restored (the wife was an interior designer and the husband apparently good at following orders) with the original fireplaces and hardwood floors in many rooms. It was set among big maples on a couple hundred acres of rolling berry farm.

This should fill me with renewed inspiration to learn from The Tightwad Gazette, which I got from the library this week, and save as much money as possible.

My other distraction for the evening was trying to get Baby to settle down. I appreciate his political enthusiasm, but look forward to the day when he can express it in ways besides kicking me in the ribs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

May Day

When I was a little girl, May Day was the occasion for two things: My grandmother singing "Today's the first of May, May, May; Today's the first of May" very, very off-key. (I still have no idea what the tune is.) And for making little construction paper baskets and filling them with stray flowers and leaving them on people's doorsteps.

Then I went to work in Olympia and found out that May Day was some sort of international holiday for the proletariat, characterized in Olympia by wealthy college students behaving despicably in the main streets, protesting they know not what (except perhaps public decency laws). Sensible people who had other options avoided downtown on May Day. Ohio is if anything more union-y than Washington, but I have heard no rumors that the holiday is celebrated as vigorously.

This year someone's adding a new option for celebration. May Day for Marriage, a rally at Safeco Field in honor of traditional marriage. No doubt it will draw some lively folks on both sides of the debate. (This is Seattle, after all. Anybody remember WTO? At least this time people will know what they are protesting.) I don't see any signs of similar events in other states.

Perhaps all three holidays should be combined in some sort of "Free-Flowers-for-the-Marrying-Proletariat" celebration. This would be handy, as wedding flowers can get really expensive. (Tip to brides: Try Costco.)

I need to plant some May-blooming perennials so that Baby and I can make May baskets in 2007.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Chickens are Evil, Reprise

Just make sure when you think you're killing evil alien chickens, it is actually an evil alien chicken and not your neighbor. The DA doesn't take kindly to that.
My little herbs are sprouting!
Abortion March

Bunnie Diehl has a host of pictures and commentary from the national abortion march last weekend. (Caution: Not for tender eyes or the faint of stomach.) The overwhelming feeling I've always got from seeing this kind of protest, in pictures or in person, is how very anti-life these people are. I don't just mean they support abortion; I mean they reject life and its goodness. They deny the personhood of children, and so they begin to destroy their own personhood and reduce themselves to slogans and causes and festering bitterness. One doesn't see many smiles at these rallies.

Even that quintessentially amoral Alfred P. Doolittle had a better perspective when one of his drinking chums asked what he'd ever given his daughter:

"Anything? I give her everything. I give her the greatest gift any human being can give to another: life.

"I introduced her to this here planet, I did, with all its wonders and marvels.

"The sun that shines, the moon that glows. Hyde Park to walk through on a fine spring night.

"The whole ruddy city of London to roam around in, sellin' her bloomin' flowers.

"I give her all that, then I disappears and leaves her on her own to enjoy it.

Now, if that ain't worth half a crown now and again, I'll take my belt off and give her what for. "

Because Doolittle still loved life, as corrupted as his version of it was, he can still be a lovable rascal. But who could write a comedy starring an angry feminist?

Monday, April 26, 2004

One Thing Leads To Another

Things were going well on the housewife front this morning, albeit I was running a bit behind (as is typical on a Monday). The kitchen was clean from its weekend mess, the first load of laundry was started, my exercises were done, and the pot of beans for supper was cooking. Time for me to do my relaxation practice.

As usual, "relaxing" turned into "napping," at least the light dozy sort of napping where I'm vaguely aware of still being alive but not awake enough to give serious thought to getting up.

The next thing I became vividly aware of was that the house smelt like smoke. Now, I have much experience in burning beans (ask my younger siblings). I know there are degrees of burning. There is a certain point at which you can dump all but the bottom layer of beans into another pot, start over with fresh water, and have at worst a mildly smoky flavor. My siblings called it "Cajun" and learned to prefer their chili that way.

I didn't even have to look at the pot to know that this point was long past.

Naturally I was perturbed not only at wasting an entire pot of beans, but also wasting nearly the last of my distilled water--a few slack days towards the end of last week, the monthly distiller cleaning, and the aforementioned invasion of brothers-in-law had left us down to our last gallon.

As I was setting the pot outside and airing the house (fortunately it's a balmy spring day) it occurred to me that, after all, I was highly overdue to clean out the refrigerator. And under the sink. And test out the self-cleaning cycle on the oven. As long as the house stank that bad, I reasoned, it was the ideal time to do all other stinky tasks. They couldn't possibly make it any worse.

And thus a pot of burned beans turned into spring-cleaning the kitchen for the next three hours. The refrigerator is sparkling. Under the sink is sparkling. The oven racks are scrubbed. The oven is running the self-cleaning cycle. (I was wrong, it does stink worse than burned beans.) The sink is sparkling. (I discovered the sink cleaner also does wonders on my enamel bean pot.) The floor is clean. The dishwasher is running. The distiller is running. The washing machine is running.

I'm going to go take a nap now.
This weekend's agenda involved taking the four youngest brothers-in-law (ages 11 to 17) to a baseball game and then having them spend the night, returning them at church the next day.

It was fun. It was crazy. There were moments when I wondered if I really wanted ten kids. But everything went quite well, and so far I haven't found anything broken. There was the little incident when one was washing up plastic baggies while the other one dried, and he mischievously placed a baggie loaded with dirty dishwater in the drain. The other one retaliated by dumping it in the sink. He did wipe up the resulting explosion.

There was also the incident with the oatmeal, but I suppose I can't really blame it on them. I was explaining the functioning of a catapult to one when DOB tried to bluff me on whether I would actually launch the catapult. So I did. On his face. And all over his church clothes. It was time to wash his glasses anyway.

And now everyone has left and things are very, very quiet. Ten kids would be fine. But I hope that by the time our oldest son is 10 we have a house with a barn. Boys need somewhere to go and be boys without driving their mother bonkers.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Chickens are Evil

An attorney in Nicaragua is arguing on behalf of his client that it was actually the rooster and hens who owned the drugs and guns, not the client.

Yes, folks, it is the chickens' fault. I recommend this argument to all young lawyers with struggling criminal defense practices.

I need to keep a closer eye on my flock of rubber chickens. Who knows WHAT they're hiding in the closet.

Friday, April 23, 2004


Yesterday WorldMagBlog had a vigorous discussion on home education, triggered by a remarkably stupid example of the public schools' bankruptcy of morality or common sense. This seems as good of an opportunity as any to post more thoughts on home education that have been running around in my head. (Hey, I've been looking forward to doing this for the last 15 years; I can't help getting excited now that the day is finally in sight.)

Since homeschooling as a modern movement didn't really get going until the early 80's, DOB and I will be among the first generation of homeschooling parents who themselves have never suffered from formal education. Thanks to our parents and the other pioneers, the prospect facing us is a much easier one.

The major hurdle in doing anything new is simply its newness. For people who thought education happened in a certain building by paid professionals between certain hours, taking their children away from that was very strange and scary. For us, sending our children to suffer through hours of drivel at the hands of strangers is what seems strange.

The classic objections to homeschooling seem silly to us. How will we teach them everything they need to know? Well, come on, if our parents could produce such brilliant people as ourselves, surely we can do as well. ;-) Adolescent arrogance aside, our parents were variously into engineering, speech therapy, and art. None of them knew anything about law except how to steer clear of it. All a child needs to be taught is how to read and write fluently and think coherently. Everything else he can find a way to learn if he wants to (and if he isn't smothered through decades of schooling, he probably will want to).

But the academic question has pretty much died down. Socialization is still raised, much to our amusement. I remember a few years ago I was schmoozing around in advance of speaking at a political event and fell into conversation with an older woman who was convinced her grandchildren would suffer horribly from lack of socialization because her daughter was homeschooling them. I'm still trying to compose exactly what smart remark I should have used in response. Meanwhile, DOB works in sales, of all things. We don't seem to be suffering from too much social misfittedness. I'm still not sure exactly what people are hoping for in socialization. Courtesy, respect, and kindness are not best taught by herds of eight-year-olds. Succumbing to the pack instinct is, but that's not a skill I particularly want my children to have.

Most significant, we have a radically different perspective on what education is. It's not something tied to a particular time and place; it has nothing to do with how much time you've spent or how much paper you've gone through. It doesn't start with a lunch box and end with a diploma. It's simply finding out new stuff all the time all the way through life: because you need to, because you want to, because the mind is a gift from God and it is a delight to use it.

"What a mystery is this, that Christianity should have done so little good in the world!
Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it?"
You are John Wesley!

When things don't sit well with you, you make a big production and argue your way through everything.
You complain a lot, but, at least you are a thinker and not afraid to show it. You are also pretty
liked by people, and pretty methodological about your life and goals. You know where you're going.
Some people find you irritating, so watch out for people leaving you out of things they do.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Rats, I've never cared much for John Wesley.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

We Plow the Fields and Scatter

At long last, I planted herb seeds today, the one thing I am ambitious enough to attempt growing this year. I have spent the equivalent of 6 bunches of herbs on this project (dirt and seeds--growing trays graciously supplied by boxes from Aldi's and bags from Walmart). So I hope to get at least that much in returns.
Music Selection

This blog is having some interesting discussions on contemporary Christian music, dissecting the words of the most popular CCM songs and debating how much CCM is good for you. There's more discussion here. I just about died laughing at the critique of the AWANA Cubbies song--it's true, they're not happy all day long; I've lived with several. Makes me think more carefully about what songs I want to teach Baby.

OK, making fun of the vapidity of modern Christian music is fun, but the bigger question is, What should we be singing about? Which is especially relevant since DOB leads singing at our church and we pick out the music. After all, the week before the same blog deconstructed "Amazing Grace" from a Lutheran perspective. And some of the people on the discussion seem to take the position that every Christian song to be worthy of the name must explicitly refer to Christ and his work. Which seems unbalanced the other way to me--yes, that is the centerpiece, but there are times to talk about other things or refer to it implicitly.

Worship music is sort of a diet. I would be very interested to study the Psalms as a model of a balanced diet and see how much various topics came up. But for now I will just put up my rough dietary recommendations:

Bread (6-11 servings): The work of Christ. That is what being a Christian is all about, and the preponderance of our singing should be about that.

Meat and Milk (5-8 servings--these aren't quite the USDA recommendations but I like the analogy better this way): Doctrine about who God is, the Bible, etc. People in early growth stages (new Christians, children) probably need more of this category.

Fruits and Vegetables (4-7 servings): Personal testimonies of salvation, life as a Christian, songs of challenge, etc. Salvation is personal and it's good to talk about it, but some churches (especially conservative evangelical ones who haven't succumbed to CCM) spend the bulk of their time here and don't get into the more substantial stuff. Give us some protein, folks!

Fats and Sweets (Use sparingly): Songs about how I feel about God. It's OK to do this once in awhile, but not at the expense of losing sight of who God is and why we love him. This stuff tastes good and can fill you up temporarily, but doesn't give you any nutrients. (I haven't conducted a survey or even heard much of it, but it seems like the bulk of modern praise and worship songs fall in this category.)

Some other general comments on music selection: Bad grammar, illogic, and faulty doctrinal statements ought to go, no matter how beloved the song.

Scripture set to music is a great concept, as long as they put big enough chunks to music that one has the proper context. i.e., it's not an improvement over stupid lyrics to sing "God is love" over and over, even though that phrase can be found in the Bible.

As for styles, setting aside the question of whether any particular form of music is evil, couldn't everyone agree that not all forms of music are appropriate for all purposes? I doubt anyone would seriously contend that polka is demonic, but I don't know anyone suggesting that it's appropriate for church. Music written for dancing should stay in dancing settings; music written for seduction should stay in seductive settings. Music used in worship should sound worshipful.

As for time frame, I think everyone, whatever their inherent preferences, should make a serious effort to include worship music from different genres (with above caveat) and time periods in their diet. Every musical style and time period will reflect the prejudices and predominant issues of the people writing it. To get a balanced diet, you need to get outside one timeframe and hear from the saints of God through the ages. (This argument shamelessly stolen from C.S. Lewis, "On the Reading of Old Books.")

I might note that the aforementioned more conservative evangelical churches tend to dodge the modern praise and worship timeframe where we spend all our time singing about I Feel So Good About Jesus and instead stick to the music of the previous hundred years, which is predominantly about What Jesus Does for Me. It's still unbalanced (and the music tends to be dull, too). And the lack of doctrinal content paves the way for the I Feel Good About Jesus songs.

Wow, I think this is my longest post since same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A kindred spirit for the Grammar Commando. I hope this book is in our library.
How to be cool: Drive around with The Ride of the Valkyries cranked up.

I actually can well imagine this could induce speeding. Maybe that's why one rarely hears the classical station play it.

Hey, even worse would be those songs that are really slow in some spots and really pounding in others. No doubt those drivers that DOB gets stuck behind who always go 70 in passing zones and 35 in no-passing zones are listening to Bolero or something.
The other day DOB and I were making a list of top phrases you don't want to hear during surgery. Like this:

OK, now, which side was it on?
Sterile, schmerile--we mopped yesterday.
Hey, what's this doohickey for?
Did anybody see where that sponge went?
Was that in milligrams or micrograms?
I must have slept through that lecture.

But in the hospital silence may be even worse.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Diaper Bag Essentials

I was cleaning out DOB's old backpack to turn it into a diaper bag and thought to myself, "Surely every baby needs a copy of the Cato Institute Pocket Declaration of Independence and Constitution."

Well, at least ours does.
Morning Has Broken

Today was the first day of DOB's new position. So naturally he needed to be there on time and all spruced up, not to mention hauling in all his computer equipment. The activities of the weekend left us with no free energy to prepare for this event, nor have we figured out a way to get to bed early on Sundays.

So naturally, it was also the morning when I ironed two shirts before I found one without stains, when the toilet backed up, when I remembered suddenly that I had to fix a lunch in addition to a breakfast and the only leftovers in the house was Mexican food that still needed to be assembled, and when the eggs burnt.

Anyway, he's safely off now.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Spending Money
Went to a baby sale and a garage sale today; got various baby transporting equipment, a few books, and a few gender-neutral t-shirts and onesies. Including an adorable Fourth-of-July outfit with stars. Even though it's in the smallest size it looks huge. And it's not like we'll be up to going anywhere on the 4th. But it was so, yes, I'll say it, cute. Besides, it was only 50 cents.

We've now completely exhausted our cash supplies. We didn't realize until we were heading out of the baby sale that they only took cash, so we had to quickly find a friend who had extra cash and would accept our check.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Twists and Turns

DOB's knee is slowly improving, but it's obvious something has to change or he will just keep reinjuring it. Part of that something is his job, which as it stood involved long hours and a lot of time walking around, hunting down clients. (As he said, he could do great if he was just a senior representative and people would come to him.) So, almost exactly one year after deciding to take this job, and having spent down most of our savings trying to make it possible, we were casting about for something else. Some prayers are answered a lot faster than you expect. On Monday, DOB walked in to talk to another representative--the one with whom, a few weeks ago, he was interviewing assistants for in hopes of taking on one jointly. He starts work Monday, doing the desk part of the job while the other rep goes out and talks to people. He says it makes him feel sort of like Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Brain Implants

When I saw DOB reading an article on brain implants, I immediately thought, "Is there a list where we can submit names of candidates for implants?" Alas, though, it seems that even when the technology is fully functional it will only help people send signals from their brain, not create brains where none existed.
Have been vegetating a lot this week, researching prices on baby stuff and reading a lot of articles on feminism, day care, and other modern plagues. And yet again it reminds me of Chesterton:

I remember my mother, the day that we met,
A thing I shall never entirely forget;
And I toy with the fancy that, young as I am,
I should know her again if we met in a tram
But mother is happy in turning a crank
That increases the balance at somebody's bank;
And I feel satisfaction that mother is free
From the sinister task of attending to me.

They have brightened our room, that is spacious and cool,
With diagrams used in the Idiot School,
And Books for the Blind that will teach us to see;
But mother is happy, for mother is free.
For mother is dancing up forty-eight floors,
For love of the Leeds International Stores,
And the fame of that faith might perhaps have grown cold,
With the care of a baby of seven weeks old.

For mother is happy in greasing a wheel
For somebody else, who is cornering Steel;
And though our one meeting was not very long,
She took the occasion to sing me this song:
'O, hush thee, my baby, the time will soon come
When thy sleep will be broken with hooting and hum;
There are handles want turning and turning all day
And knobs to be pressed in the usual way;

O hush thee, my baby, take rest while I croon,
For Progress comes early, and Freedom too soon.'

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

As can be seen in the margin, DOB has started his own blog, The Ducal Herald. There are couples, after all, who get separate bathrooms. We don't mind sharing the bathroom, but we apparently need separate writing spaces. It's more like having two cars--sometimes we just have to head different places at the same time. But DOB is keeping his editorial status over here, and if he ever gets it to work I'll be able to post on his. So we'll still be able to comment back and forth.

Monday, April 12, 2004

On The Line

Our phone line has been getting increasingly fuzzy over the last couple of weeks. I finally got to calling the phone company today. Over the fuzz, I talked with a lady who told me that if the problem was internal, I would either have to pay a $90/hour fee for inside service, fix it myself, or add inside service to my account for $3.95. But if I wanted the inside service I had to do it immediately, before she transferred me to the service department. I chose the last option, and was transferred to the service department where another lady explained that to test whether the problem was internal or external I would have to locate a gray box on my house, unscrew a screw, plug a phone in outside, and make a phone call to test it.

This sort of household fiddling is not my cup of tea and it has been pouring rain all day, but DOB is still on crutches and we were both very tired of the fuzz, which was making conversation nigh impossible. So I put on my raincoat (which fortunately is still buttonable) and boots, found a screwdriver, and ventured forth. Sure enough, right outside the garage door were a number of gray boxes with wires, and one of them had a special section just for customers to unscrew. To be sure it was a Phillips screw and the lady on the phone had said to take a flat-head driver, but it worked just fine to unscrew it, so I did not worry about it. Inside, howerver, there was no phone jack.

I was perplexed, so I summoned DOB, who donned crutches and slippers and hopped out to look. He informed me that this was the wrong box, and I must extend my search to the other end of the house. So he went back to work while I rescrewed that box and searched farther afield. Sure enough, at the other end of the house was yet another gray box (I had no idea houses had so many), this one not only with a friendly customer access option, but with a flat screw and a label that said "Phone Line." So I was pretty sure I was on the right track. I unscrewed it, and sure enough inside was a phone jack.

I turned to go inside and get the phone to plug in, when I suddenly felt myself lurching forward with my feet entangled. I looked down and saw a wire waving in the breeze, with a tag at the end that said, "If this wire is loose, call Verizon." Feeling a sense of dread, I went inside and discovered the phone line was, indeed, dead. I told DOB what had happened, and he put on his shoe and his jackets and hat and crutched out to look. He determined that the situation was serious, but suggested I test the phone in the box before calling Verizon just to make a full report.

So I came in, got the phone, plugged it in outside and stood in the pouring rain making a phone call. Sure enough, it worked fine. So I returned to report this to DOB and was about to call Verizon from the cell phone to report it when it occurred to me that I could make the call from the outside phone line. Faced with the option of standing in an ice cold downpour, my feet in a puddle, holding a large kitchen phone and a screwdriver while listening to hold music, or racking up cell phone minutes, I made the obvious choice.

I should have taken gloves, though. They answered surprisingly quickly, considering, and the fellow on the other end was very apologetic. "You're actually standing in the rain? O my g**, O my g**, Is the rain actually hitting you? Oh my g**, I'm so sorry." I was ready to dispense with the apologies and get on with fixing the phone. He informed me that the inside service was not showing up on my account, and that anyway the $3.95 was only if you waited 30 days for it to activate; immediate activation meant a $39.95 charge for the first month. I was standing in the rain and my feet were getting wet and our phones were dead. I said to go ahead and please send someone out ASAP. He promised someone by 3:25 tomorrow.

I returned inside, where DOB had verified that we still had internet access even though the phones were still dead. Mystifying. There seemed nothing to do but wait, so I dealt with a few remaining outdoor tasks, put on dry socks and tea, and sat down to collaborate on the spreadsheet he was working on. Shortly thereafter, the doorbell rang and outside stood the Verizon guy, coming by to check on how involved the problem was. He went out back to look, then came in a few moments later. We tried the phone lines: dial tone, no fuzz. The repairman reported that the phones were probably dead because I had jerked the connection out when I opened the thingamajooker in the box outside; as to the fuzz, well, maybe it had been loose. Anyway, it should be no charge so not to worry. Asked about the loose wire, he said it was just a grounding wire and he would go make sure it was secured. And off he went.

So now it looks like I paid $39.95 for nothing. I wonder if they'll let me take it off now. Bleh.
The holiday meal is over and all has gone well. Everyone seemed to get enough to eat and have an enjoyable time. No dishes were broken (although I don't have them back in the cupboard yet, so the field is not entirely secured). We sat the four youngest boys in the kitchen, as the dining room only seats eight at maximum capacity. Midway through the meal, we were surprised to see them all simultaneously leap up and run out the back door (as we discovered later, to change their shirts in the van). Not knowing why but not lacking quick reflexes, we got up and locked all the doors. Then DOB's uncle and I took the kitchen table and rotated it 90 degrees.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Tomorrow we host our first holiday meal here. I am running around ironing napkins and picking flowers. We have borrowed a brother to assist me in setting up. And I have come to a vital conclusion: We need more girls in this family. Raymond is doing a fine job, but somehow he just isn't sufficiently impressed over the way I used prickle balls from the backyard to raise the height of the flowers in the vase. Nor can I get any profound comments from anyone around here over whether these napkins look all right with those placemats. Although it was frequently exhausting, I miss the convergence of female creativity that erupted around holidays when I was growing up.
"It's no shame to be poor. Of course, it's no great honor, either."

Tevya, Fiddler on the Roof

Friday, April 09, 2004

Political Stuffs

Cato Institute is cool. World Magazine is cool. A joint article is even cooler, like this excellent article by Doug Bandow on a Biblical understanding of the role of civil government.

Ohio has risen to third in state and local tax burden, according to this year's report by the Tax Foundation. It's lower down on federal tax burden, probably because we're taxed too much to make enough money to owe federal taxes--I know our federal tax refund will be more than ample to cover state and local taxes.

And on a very tangential note, our accountant has a beautiful reception area. Deep red walls with white trim, light wood floor, traditional but simple furniture. Very bright and open and warm and inviting. Cozy but not stuffy. It's almost enough to make you feel good about tax time.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Men, Women and Babies
Yesterday's Dear Abby contained a letter to the following effect:

"When I date a man, I wine and dine him with gifts and candlelight dinners, but they never seem to be appreciated. Not only that, none of them ever do anything for me. I am always being stood up, heartbroken, used or taken advantage of."

I have a hard time believing people can be this dense, but I have seen evidence that they are. This woman has no doubt grown up believing men and women are essentially the same, No doubt she was raised to believe that as a woman she can just go out and get whatever she wanted, and her mother never mentioned that catching a man requires a certain amount of aloofness. So she just goes out and chases a man the way she'd like to be chased--and then is bewildered when it doesn't work.

But despite all kinds of attempts at cultural re-education, it turns out that Grandma was right all along. Men are pushovers, if you know how to handle them--but they can't be treated like women.

Unfortunately, our whole culture tends to make women by default responsible to take the initiative in the direction of a relationship, so no wonder they get confused as to who should do what. The modern relationship pattern seems to be for things to just drift along, the man getting as much as he can while committing as little as he can, until the woman insists upon having "The Talk" about what exactly is going on. Under the older pattern, men were generally expected to indicate their intentions at clearly-defined points. If they failed to do so, the woman usually had a father or brothers around to demand an explanation.

On other fronts, the knee is improving slowly, with much icing. I took the Rhogam shot yesterday, and while we were waiting for the post-shot checkup, we toured the Mother-Baby Center of the new hospital. Everything is brand spanking new, with private rooms with cushy chairs for everyone but me, nice big private bathrooms, and waiting cradles. Putting someone in one of those cradles is still beyond imagination.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Citadel Under Siege

Still not sure what is up with the knee, but it could be just a bad sprain; the kneecap appears to have put itself back in, at least. It still is a blasted nuisance. It's not the great tragedies and catastrophes that are draining in life; when the world stops, you can stop to deal with it and feel the proper object of sympathy. It's the little things that you have to go right on living through that wear you out. On which sympathy comes in the form of "I can top that story."

This is also the week I have to get my Rhogam shot (in case of incompatibility with Baby's blood type), which involves two trips to the hospital lab, on top of my now bi-weekly checkup. So we are spending an unconscionable amount of time at medical offices.

But then, the sky and the grass and the daffodils are brilliant colors this morning; last night's spaghetti turned out particularly well; the thank-you notes are mailed at last; there is more space on the office floor; and I'm finally going to get up and give the house a long-overdue vaccuumming. It's also the little things, not the huge celebrations, that make life livable.

Monday, April 05, 2004

On our way to the chiropractor this morning, to get DOB's busted knee checked out. In honor of the occasion, a Chesterton quote:

"The center of every man's existence is a dream. Death, disease, insanity, are merely material accidents, like a toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove that they are the citadel."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Preparing for Psychological Turmoil

As it turns out, being a new parent is a lot like having obsessive-compulsive disorder. I think people get over it, though. Or maybe all of the children in the world are correct, and their parents are nuts.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Home Education
This week when I called home I could hear my 4-year-old nephew in the background waking up from his nap. Sidetracked from hunting for his mom, he first sat down and colored a picture of Abraham and Sarah, receiving occasional clarifications on the story from my older sister. Then he asked something of my younger sister, which launched a lesson on telling time, complete with ripping the clock off the wall and spinning the hands around. The hour hand concept was easily mastered; when he got to the minute hand, however, counting by fives proved too difficult. This launched a consultation between the three of us on how to set up a number line so he could practice skip-counting until it was easy. Then he took a turn talking to me and told me about the clocks, along with the dirt pile in the garden and the monsters on Sarah's computer game.

Nobody wrote a lesson plan or plotted months in advance that today was the day to tell time. Nobody bought a fancy curriculum or handy little classroom gizmos. Nobody handed him a worksheet and said, "Finish this or get in trouble." Nobody forced him to take a test. A little boy wanted to know something, so he asked someone who knew, and they taught him. That's how education is supposed to work.

That's how I remember it working, growing up. I remember my oldest brother teaching me addition in the car. A friend of my sister's showing my four-year-old fingers how to follow the notes of "First March." Sitting on my dad's lap at six and trying to fathom the mysteries of algebra at the same time as my 13-year-old brother. Mom using long-lost leftovers as a lesson in microbiology. My grandfather deciding his two middle grandchildren needed lessons in surveying, shed painting, and tractor driving (lessons at which my younger brother outstripped me as far as I did him at spelling).

And it wasn't long before I was returning the favor: editing my mom's letters so they would be less polemic and more persuasive; lecturing at the dinner table on the evils of government intervention; training my youngest brother in reading and math. Teacher and student, training and practice, were not fixed categories, but based on the realities of the moment.

Education doesn't take fancy curriculum or years of training or a set class of "teachers" who have all the answers. It takes people living and working together, sharing their excitement about the things they know and curiosity about the things they don't. We've got scrap paper, pens, a Bible, two dictionaries, a library card, and we think the world is a fascinating place. We're all set, Baby, just as soon as you are ready.
An Evolved Understanding

Even the slightest hint of questioning the orthodoxy of evolution, as everyone knows, calls down fire and brimstone for violation of the First Amendment. Even if you don't mention the "c" word or the "g" word.

But what if you want to use religion to endorse evolution? Ah, that's a different matter entirely. The National Center for Science Education, a private organization dedicated to promoting teaching evolution (is that all there is to science?), has used a government grant to develop a website to help public school teachers teach evolution. Among the resources are links back to quotes from religious organizations on how believing evolution is just fine. They even use the "c" and "g" words!

So what's the real state of the First Amendment? The establishment clause is already defunct. We have an established religion: it's called scientific materialism, the worship of blind material processes. Anything that furthers this religion is allowed; anything that detracts from it is prohibited.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Barefoot and Pregnant

I have recently discovered why being barefoot and pregnant go together. It's not about male oppression--I think it's about increased circulation. Whatever it is, my feet are hot. It's early April and I have already abandoned boots for sandals, and even played baseball barefoot in the mud last weekend. This is a strange development, as I was formerly inclined to cold feet, taking after my mother who, according to my father's theory, used to soak hers in ice water before crawling into bed. Now I'd rather hang mine over the edge of the bed to catch the night breezes. And as for wearing shoes at home--why bother?

Time to go back to the kitchen. ;-)