Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Birthday season has begun. And our first and biggest birthday girl turned eight last Friday. There are many good things about turning eight. For one, no more booster seats!

For two, you are old enough for the summer drama programs! The Duchess will be performing in "Annie, Jr." at the local theater the weekend after next and she has been gone every morning, practicing singing and dancing. When she's home, she's usually busy marking up her libretto or belting out "Tomorrow."

It's been amazing to me to watch how she handles this. It's the first time for me, letting my kid go out and do something with total strangers. And she just does it. Asks questions when she needs to. Lets me know what she needs. She's taking on the world (or at least this little slice of it) by herself, with confidence and poise, and it's great to watch.

At home, she still loves to draw, read, organize elaborate fantasy games, and help me organize and plan.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It Came

Remember that summer we were waiting for? It came today.

The sky was blue with watercolor clouds. The temperature got all the way up to 74.

And we finished school, and did the end-of-school dance. I'm still pretty impressed with myself that we made it through a whole year of school on schedule and as planned and still enjoying it. It may almost make up for having let the basement turn into a house of horrors during the same time.

Then we went to downtown Bremerton and played at the Fountain Park with friends. And we went to see the Naval Museum. And in a fit of generosity I let the kids split a hot dog from a vendor, and in a fit of generosity he gave them a second one to split.

Next up: Birthday Season!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Sometime last winter, we bid on a second-hand playset at an auction. We lost the bid. Then the people who won the bid found out it was somewhat different than they expected, and we got asked if we wanted it after all.

We did. So we made arrangements, and Toolboy and B5 drove up to help transport it. Toolboy had just purchased and installed a playset in his own yard, so he thought his truck was well up to the task. "We might just be able to tip it over into the truck and drive home with it."

Then we arrived, and saw the structure in question. It was not one of those cheery little sets one sees advertised at the hardware store. It had been built from scratch, of four by fours, and the main platform was nearly as large as the ducklings' bedroom. Tipping it into the truck was out of the question. So was leaving quickly.

The builder and the now-too-old beneficiary were busy dismantling it, and when Toolboy arrived with more tools he and B5 started working too. The ducklings found a small pond to get soaking wet in, and DOB and I finally reluctantly started to wield tools even though we usually try to leave such tasks to people who are moderately competent. However, this looked beyond even our powers to break. I was a little concerned as most of us were busy dismantling the bottom supports while Toolboy was still taking apart the top--and Toolboy is no lightweight--but it all came down in the proper sequence.

At the end we did have to tip it over to finish dismantling it. Just tipping the frame took five people.

Anyway, it all came apart and it is now sitting in a heap in the way back. When we have the nerve to put it back together, it should be ample play space for all the ducklings. In fact, we may just move them out there.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More Snarky Things I Don't Say on Homeschool Forums

OP: Why do my friends and relatives make these snarky remarks about how I'm "super mom"? Just because I keep a clean house, feed my family healthy food, get up early, enjoy homeschooling and have a great marriage. I still struggle just as much as anyone.

SQOC: Well, I don't know about your friends, but now I hate you, too.


OP: I've been using (XYZ religious curriculum) but I want something that is more Bible-based. Like would have all of history and science taken from the Bible.

SQOC: Has it occurred to you that the Bible was written before the last 2000 years of history and scientific discoveries? How, exactly, do you think this is going to work?


OP: I've been reading (Old Book) but I'd really like something that comes from a more Biblical worldview.

SQOC: You do realize that when  you say "Biblical Worldview" you mean "precise alignment with the theological trends of a small group of modern North American Christians," right?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Settling Down and Settling

Courtship Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Some almost-final thoughts:

I'm not saying, of course, that courtship ruins marriages. I know many people who courted and who are now happily married. However, that does not prove that courtship is good or "works," either. I once met a wonderful Christian couple who had been selected at random and married at gunpoint by the Khmer Rouge. I know many couples who have good, happy marriages that started in ways I don't approve of at all. The failure or success of a marriage is entirely due to the people in the marriage, their choices, character, and yes, compatibility, and not on the circumstances that brought them together.

The trouble comes with convincing people to follow courtship under the assumption that it is more godly to let your parents choose for you than it is to choose for yourself. If you want your parents to choose or approve your spouse, fine. But the Bible does not say they have to.

I wonder if a lot of the turmoil is not over the problems we have with choices. Excessive choice is the blessing and bane of modern existence, from buying toothpaste to choosing a spouse. We have so many choices it is hard to settle on one, and hard to be happy with the choice we made. This may be where a lot of the notorious "fear of commitment" comes from.

But you can't solve this problem by arbitrarily removing choices for other people. That leaves people less free, but they still know the other choices are out there. Sooner or later they will grow resentful of their loss of freedom. I'm not sure there is a solution to the choice problem, but a little more awareness might help. We are going to need to start teaching ourselves and each other choice management. The knowledge that the sheer number of choices is going to make it difficult, and that at some point more comparisons are only going to make you more unhappy. Find something that you are happy with, and then turn your mental energy (this is a natural human strength) into justifying your choice.

In this regard, I don't believe in the "Right One" mythos, whether it's expressed in spiritual or secular terms. I don't think there is one magic right soul mate to whom we belong and we should wait until we are sure we have found this mystical being. Add that idea to the vast theoretical field of potential marriage partners and no wonder no one can settle down.

I do believe there is such a thing as true love and a deep and lasting connection with another person. If you've found it, hold on to it. There probably are better people out there. But when you truly love another person, you don't want someone better. You want this one, flaws and all.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Waiting for Summer

This is the time of year where all over the country people are starting to moan about the heat and turn up the A/C and make lemonade.

Here in the northwest we consult the calendar and put on our shorts and drag out the barbecue, and then we step outside and put on a poncho over the shorts and hold an umbrella over the barbecue and take the food back inside and turn the heat back on.

But summer's coming. Maybe this year, maybe next year. We live in hope.

It's coming and the sun will shine like God's own mercy and the thermometer will climb all the way up to 78 and the sky will be bluer and the grass will be greener than imagination-enhanced memory and we'll laugh at all you people crisping and melting elsewhere.

It will be worth the wait.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Courtship, Part 1, Part 2,  Part 4.

And now for Parental Authority.

To which I want to begin by saying that I have nothing particular against the way our parents handled our courtship. They did their best to step back. They didn't meddle. They didn't pursue their own agenda. There are many courtship horror stories out there of parents who got highly aggrandized notions of their own importance, but ours is not one of them.

The problem I have is not with our parents in particular, but with the notion of parental authority in courtship in general.

I do believe in *children* obeying their parents.  I believe in honoring parents all your life.

I don't believe this gives parents the right to make decisions for their adult children.

The irony was, my parents did an outstanding job at raising us to be adults. To go out and make wise decisions for ourselves. To ask their advice and weigh it but not need our hands held. Except that we all believed courtship was the right way to go.

I was twenty-three years old. I had a professional degree and was licensed to practice law in two states. I could drive a car, run for office, buy, sell, travel . . . anything. Anything except make the most important decision of my life. That one had to be taken out of my hands. According to courtship, the only way for me to please God and have a good marriage was to turn that choice over to my parents.  And so, after functioning as an adult for years, I returned to childhood at the most critical juncture.

Courtship advocates will claim that there is no overstepping of authority because the girl always has the right to say "no." But the right to say "no" is meaningless if you don't also have the right to say "yes." They will also point to the many women who have blundered badly in choosing a partner. However, courtship has been around for long enough now to establish it is not a fail-safe means of guaranteeing the lifelong good character of a spouse, either. And I strongly suspect that teaching girls that they can't trust their own insights is not going to help weed out the bad guys.

Anyway, no harm, no foul, right? My parents did approve DOB (eventually) and we were able to go ahead and get married and all that. But, either enforced or just expected, the courtship rules loomed over us. With a nice, laid-out procedure to follow, with parents to please and expectations to meet, there was no need for us to talk about how *we* wanted to do things.

I don't know which of these rules were good and which were bad. I doubt it would have made a lick of difference if we had kissed each other before the wedding. But I'm sure it would have made a difference in our marriage if we had thought we had some responsibility to decide that for ourselves. It took us years of marriage to actually start talking about and making life decisions together, and looking back now, I think courtship contributed to that unhealthy pattern. It taught me to be passive. It taught me that my opinion did not matter. Que sera, sera.

Further, the point of getting married is supposed to be leaving your old families and starting a new one. But by its nature, courtship is intensely family-centered. Leaving a close-knit family and being flexible enough to try new things and establish a new family is hard under any circumstances. Under courtship, it's practically impossible. Loyalty to the old families is paramount; the new relationship is secondary. (This is why "compatibility" looms huge in courtship. If both families don't already agree on practically everything, there's not even a chance of a successful courtship.)

I am all in favor of people listening to the counsel of their elders, particularly their parents. If your parents really can't stand the person you want to marry, you should probably think long and hard about why. But that is very different from telling parents they have the duty to approve or disapprove, and telling young people they have no final say over their own lives.