Monday, April 26, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I haven't posted much in the last couple weeks. Sometimes I don't post much because I don't have much to say. Lately, I have plenty to say, just not much time to say it.

April 13, GL went to a new eye doctor. The last doctor said he was just slightly farsighted, he only needed glasses for reading, and it was borderline whether he needed them for that. The new doctor said the problem is not so much his slight farsightedness as the fact that his eyes simply don't work together. He thought this might partially explain GL's difficulty with reading, writing, math, and any other task that requires clear visual perception. He said the new glasses will help, but he needs to wear them all the time, and he would give us the name of a specialist to follow up with. We're still waiting.

The boys spent the next two days exploding out both ends. GL doesn't so much throw up on things as at them. Yes, due to gravity, the puke eventually makes its way to the floor, so I have to clean that, too, but wherever he is standing when the wave hits, he launches the projectile horizontally (I think he holds the record for horizontal distance) and won't move or turn his head until he is done. If he has any warning it's coming, he shows no sign of it. He won't run to the bathroom before, during, or after. He won't even point his mouth down if you put a bucket under it. So I actually spent more time cleaning walls than floors. At least most of the number two ended up in the toilet.

April 16, BB went to a birthday party. April 17, BB and I went to a rocket launch. It was too windy to fly much. Most of the rockets that did fly went horizontal, and many of them crashed. April 18, after church, I went back to the launch for a little while (It was a two-day event, and not far from home) and the winds had decreased enough for a little more flying, but still limited to low flights on less wind-sensitive rockets. One of my favorite models snapped its shock cord and lawn-darted, while the parachute and nose cone headed for the state line. I'll have to rebuild it. We hurried home so MB could get to work and make up some hours so she could take Tuesday off.

Late that afternoon, a man from the Countywide Universal Amalgamated Journal Sentinel Tribune Post Dispatch News-Free Press Sun Chronicle Daily Planet Democrat Observer stopped by to offer a special deal: an introductory subscription for a dollar a week. MB had said she wanted to try the paper, not for the articles, but for the coupons, so I wrote him a check. He promised our subscription would start Wednesday. When I talked to MB, she said that no, she had wanted to try the Big City Universal Amalgamated Journal Sentinel Tribune Post Dispatch News-Free Press Sun Chronicle Daily Planet Democrat Observer, because she thought it would have more and better coupons, and their introductory subscription, while shorter, was cheaper.

We spent Tuesday, April 20, in Madison with GL. He is having his first follow-up evaluation since his diagnosis six years ago. We got through a substantial portion of it. It was an exhausting but productive day. We'll be going back next week for the rest of it.

Wednesday there was no paper. I called the circulation department, and they said new subscriptions take eight to ten days to begin. It didn't take them long to cash my check, but they didn't even have my name in the computer yet. And they wonder why newspapers are dying! I should have just stopped at Corner Gas for a Sunday paper.

We got the call Wednesday that GL's new glasses were in. MB went with him to get them. The office was closed. She called them back, and they said, "Which office did you go to?" "The one where he had his eyes tested." "Oh, that office is only open one day a week. The doctor is in his other office in the county seat today, but we could send them there next week." Thursday BB and I had a dentist appointment, and MB took GL to the county seat to get his new glasses. MB spent the rest of the week exploding out both ends.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

While you were sleeping

I can't punish my husband for things he did while he was asleep, but I can blog about it. Sunday morning at 0430 Papa Bear shook me awake and instructed me to "get dressed for work". A) It was 4:30 in the morning I never leave for work before 0600. B) I rarely work on Sunday. C) Papa Bear doesn't normally wake me for work.
I love you Papa, next time you have a nightmare try to leave me out of it.

George Washington's $300,000 library book fine

Apparently George Washington and I have something in common: overdue library books. As Joe Carter commented,
Winning a war of independence and fathering a country have secured George Washington’s reputation for greatness. But our first president now stands accused of a violating a sacred public trust: He checked out library books and never returned them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

This will probably make some people angry.

Goldilocks' Haircut




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sharing the Joy

One of the joys of reading so many blogs is that it gives me something to do when I'm putting off something more productive. Another is the offbeat and humorous things these bloggers run across. One shared this today. Abbi, I wanted to give you credit, I just couldn't figure out how to share a share, so I linked it directly. Another posted this. I especially like the idea (in the comments) of putting it on the dashboard. In place of St. Christopher. Man, then the forces of evil and chaos wouldn't dare mess with me. They'd be laughing too hard.

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Question of the Week

QOTW: Do you include outdoor time and nature study in your homeschool? If so, how do you incorporate it? How much time do you spend doing this?

We use the outdoors for PE, walking, running and biking around the neighborhood. We also take hikes in a state park five miles from our house. We take note of wildlife when we see it.

When we moved from the city (we put up a bird feeder, and no birds came) to to a small town surrounded by farmland, we wanted to take advantage of the increased opportunities to observe nature. At first, I put out peanuts for the squirrels, but it turned out to be harder to keep them away than to attract them. Rabbits are also frequent visitors. I wish I could keep them away from my garden. We had an unusual visitor last year. I grabbed my camera and managed to snap a photo before it ran away. We decided later that it was probably a badger.

I hung a feeder with a seed blend the bird feeding specialty shop recommended for the birds in our area. Ignore the seed mixes marketed to attract a particular species or mixture of species. With any mix, the birds will pick out their favorite seed and throw everything else on the ground. If you want to offer two or more types of seed, put them in separate feeders. I read up on which foods attract which birds, selected the two that would attract the widest variety, (suet and  black oil sunflower seed) and hung feeders with each. I also read that offering water without food will attract more birds than offering food without water. I decided to offer both. The key is to offer water when it's hard to find. A birdbath heater keeps it from freezing in winter. For the health of the birds, offer clean water. Change the water at least once a week, and scrub the birdbath when it starts growing algae. Bleach works best.

I fed the birds so we could observe and enjoy them, so I hung the feeders under the eaves in front of the picture window in the living room, and cut off the perches on the side away from the window. If the birds want our food, they have to perform. I placed the birdbath so we could see it from the kitchen table. Once the birds started showing up, we bought bird books to identify them. Goldfinches were the first to visit our feeders. When a new variety appears, we grab the books.

We also got Birds of Wisconsin Audio CDs. There is an edition for each state. I sorted the birds by season, and made complilation CDs for winter, spring, summer and fall. I had the boys listen to the appropriate CD for the season during their daily memory work the first year. The second year, we did the same with Reptiles and Amphibians of Wisconsin. Yes, our boys can identify frogs by their calls.

We're no biologists; we have not done any organized or in-depth study of the animals we see. But it's remarkable how much we can pick up just by noticing animals as they appear and keeping a few references handy to answer questions as they come up.

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Question of the Week

I subscribe to 83 Yahoo groups. Some of them are mostly inactive; some I only check when I have a question; but there are a fair number that I subscribe to as daily digest. Several of the home schooling-related groups have the same moderator. She posts a question of the week (QOTW) to all her groups to keep discussion going, (members are invited to suggest topics/questions) and gathers the responses from all groups into a pdf any member can download.

When the question is interesting, I may spend an hour or more composing a reply. That cuts into my blogging time. I think I'll start posting some of my responses here.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not a Tame Lion, part 1

I grew up in a deeply religious family, although they would have denied being religious, because in the Baptist church we attended, as in others like it, "religion" was a bad word. "I'm not religious," we learned to say, "I just love the Lord."

We didn't repeat prayers out of a book. That would be "vain repetition as the heathen." Even repeating the Lord's prayer didn't count as a "real" prayer. We learned that Jesus gave it to us as a sort of outline for making up our own prayers, but didn't mean for us to literally repeat His words as our own. I guess that would be plaigarisim. We crafted our heartfelt prayers on the fly, which made them real, although they did tend to follow the same patterns and be built from the same collection of stock phrases.

"Tradition" was another bad word. We had a strong tradition of not having any traditions that we were aware of. We had certain ways of doing things; we did them that way over and over, with little variation, and woe to anyone who joined our group and tried to change them (or, being unaware of them, blundered out of bounds) but that's not the same thing.

I remember being shocked the first time I visited a church that had Sunday School after the worship service. Can you do that? They didn't even take an offering. There was a box (padlocked, of course) by the door, and you dropped your offering through the slot in the top. After attending that church for several years, I happened to be out of town one Sunday morning, and visited another church. The pastor called some men up front, one of them said a money blessing, the organist played some mood music, and they circulated through the pews collecting money. After several years of not seeing that procedure, man, did it look tacky!

We didn't have rituals either. Actually, we always said we didn't have empty rituals. Those words usually went together, and it was strongly implied that there was no other kind. We had baptism and the Lord's Supper because, well, because Jesus said to, and we did them very solemnly, like a funeral. But we went to great lengths to explain that they were only symbols, with no power in themselves. (We also went to great lengths to explain that when Jesus said wine, he didn't really mean wine, but grape juice, because wine contains alcohol, and we were convinced that drinking alcohol was a sin. And if Jesus drank wine, it was only because he didn't have the good fortune to be born in the days of refrigeration, so it was the best He could do. But He probably drank the weakest wine available.)

Before partaking of either baptism or the Lord's Supper, you had to say the appropriate prayer, but the power wasn't in the words of the prayer, either, it was in somehow getting your heart right with God. Once you cleaned up your dirty mind and straightened up your crooked or slipshod ways, you could be filled with the Holy Spirit. After that, He'd be giving orders and so long as you followed them, well and good. When you didn't, He would make sure you felt terrible. Then you would have to go back and ask for an extension on your original forgiveness, and try again to shape up.

We didn't have infant baptism, but we didn't call it adult baptism either; it was Believer's Baptism. You didn't have to be an adult; you just had to be old enough to believe.* Baptism didn't save you, believing did. Once you believed (remembering the exact time was considered good evidence, as was praying the Sinner's Prayer) then if you died that minute, that night, or a hundred years later, you were going to Heaven with no further preparation required. Once saved, always saved. But you really still ought to be baptized because, well, Jesus said to, and it was a "testimony"—sort of a commercial for being saved. We kind of overlooked the verses that say, "Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins."

I "came forward" (another of our non-rituals) when I was very young. A man took me to a small room and led me in a prayer. I don't remember a lot of details, but he said if I didn't, I'd go be with the Devil, and I didn't want that. When we got home, I told my mom that I'd asked Jesus in my heart, and I was a Christian now. She was so happy, she cried. I was confused. Hadn't I done something good? I was four. The next day, I decided I wanted my sister to have Jesus in her heart, too. She was agreeable to the idea, so I prayed for her, and then went and told my mom that I had prayed for my sister and made her a Christian, too. Mom said it didn't work that way.

Salvation and belief were equivalent, and considered a one-time event. So was baptism, unless you went to a church that did it wrong. Then you had to do it again to get it right. I figured I had the salvation thing taken care of, but I was not ready to be baptized. Have you seen how deep those baptistries are? They had a concrete block for little people to stand on, but what if the pastor dropped me? I decided there was no way I was going in that tank until I learned how to swim. I learned to swim when I was eight, but had to pinch my nose with one hand to keep the water out, so I could only swim in circles. The next year, I learned to swim a little better, but it took me yet another year to work up the nerve to get baptized. I was ten.
So I was saved and baptized, and my past sins were forgiven. I probably could have coasted for a long time without thinking about sin if it weren't for Communion. In my church, to receive Communion, you had to be "saved". That meant you understood and believed that you were a sinner, Jesus died for your sins, and you accepted His forgiveness. You also had to understand what Communion represented. Baptism was not required.

We had Communion once a month. Every time, the pastor would read 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. I especially took notice of verses 27-29: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." I don't know about you, but I sin more than once a month. When I examine myself, I find it's a whole lot more. I was surprised how often I sinned. I had the mistaken impression that God was surprised, too.

So I confessed my latest sins, and asked forgiveness. I knew God wiped out my past sins, but I thought then I could stop sinning. Or at least go longer between sins, and overcome them one by one. I found myself confessing the same sins over and over. I knew I only obtained forgiveness by the grace of God, but I felt as if I were required to reform on my own. I was failing miserably.

I don't mean to say that my church's theology was really this confused, but this is how I understood it as a child. Then I happened to hear a sermon on the radio that explained something I think my church had been trying to teach, but I had somehow missed. It described three "levels" of Christian living, and identified them with three verses:
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I knew this verse. I would sin, then confess, and He would forgive. But I kept on sinning.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." So God actually limits the temptation to what we can handle, AND provides a way out? I'd had the impression that once He gave us a fresh start, we were sort of on probation, and required to make it the rest of the way on our own. But here He is, actually stacking the deck in our favor!

Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." I'd heard this verse before, but this preacher explained something I hadn't understood: you can't stop sinning on your own. You don't have the strength. God's power is required to remove your old sins, and God's power is required to keep you from new sins. You're like a baby who can stand while holding on to something, but not walk on his own. You can continue circling the coffee table all day, but if you want to go anywhere, you have to reach out for His hand. Holding His hand, you can walk, but the minute you let go, you'll fall down. God is not disappointed that you need His hand every step of the way. He is not surprised when you fall down. In fact, He only lets you fall so you'll reach out for His hand.

*Naturally, that age varied with the individual. If you died before you could understand "the plan of salvation" you went to Heaven anyway because you were below the "age of accountability" a concept that seems to have developed because no one wants to tell the grieving parents of a dead infant or toddler that their child went to Hell. (If ignorance is an excuse, why send missionaries? Well, because Jesus said to. That simplifies a lot of decisions.) I suspect that infant baptism arose for the same reason. What happens to children who die very young? I don't see any reason God couldn't give them a free pass, but I don't see an explicit promise in Scripture that He does. This is an emotional question for me because I have ten children who died before they were born. I don't have any easy answers. I'll trust that whatever God does is right, even if I don't know what that is, because that's all I can do.

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Friday, April 9, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, I looked out the window and saw a patrol car from the sheriff's department pull up in front of our house with lights flashing. My first thought was, "Oh, no! GL must have called 911 again!" But he insisted he hadn't used the phone. I watched, and the deputy got out of the car and walked down to the house where TKDTS live. That's when I saw another patrol car already at that address. A few minutes later, a deputy brought the oldest of TKDTS out in handcuffs and put him in the car. They stayed at the house a long time. Then they drove away with him.

TKDTS teenage cousin, who lives next door to them, was out in the yard watching. He was arrested a few months ago for possession. We started locking our car doors at night when we started noticing a suspicious smell in our car every morning. This isn't (or wasn't) a high-crime neighborhood. Most of our neighbors are retirees. This is a small town. Underage drinking, drunk driving, and drug use are usually the most serious crimes that happen around here. Sigh.


Monday, April 5, 2010

These Made Me Smile

In case you didn't know, Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

April showers? Fight Back!

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!


Friday, April 2, 2010

I think this is what she was missing

In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, Chapter 9 The Perfect Penitent

Reading the earlier post leaves out whom or what we were enslaved to. To Death, yes, to the Enemy, to a great degree, but ultimately to our own rebellion. Our very idea of freedom was itself slavery. Until we give up the idea of being free on our own terms, true freedom is unattainable.

Lewis quickly dismisses the idea of God letting us off, but only if He can punish someone else, but goes much further in explaining that we are not only unable, but unwilling, to do the work of redemption.
Now what was the sort of 'hole' man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor--that is the only way out of our 'hole'. This process of surrender-this movement full speed astern--is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person--and he would not need it.
This is where both the idea of God letting us off and the idea of God only rescuing us from Death and Hell fall short.
Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it. Now if we had not fallen, that would be all plain sailing. But unfortunately we now need God's help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all--to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God's nature corresponds to this process at all. So that the one road for which we now need God's leadership most of all is a road God, in His own nature, has never walked. God can share only what He has; this thing, in His own nature, He has not.

But supposing God became a man--suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person--then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.
This also answers the objection of the sinner who thinks he can "take his medicine like a man" and does not, therefore, need Christ.
I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, 'because it must have been so easy for Him': Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays. In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them? The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because 'it's easy for grown-ups' and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no 'unfair' advantage), it would not get on very quickly. If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) 'No, it's not fair! You have an advantage! You're keeping one foot on the bank'? That advantage-call it 'unfair' if you like--is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself ?
Those who object to the idea of the wrath of God forget at what object it is directed: the wanton destruction of His treasured creation: ourselves. That is what He rescued us from.

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Things that make you go, "Hmm."

I just read a thought-provoking post about redemption. I think she raises some valid points, but I can't help feeling she's missing something. She's certainly been out in left field before. Unfortunately, her idea of a good discussion is one where everyone agrees with her. And the last time I employed my rapier wit against an instance of blogging stupidity, the perpetrator got so offended she stopped blogging entirely. (Note to self: Texans can dish it out, but they can't take it.)

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Good Friday? Yes!

I meant to post this earlier. A blogger I read re-posts it annually on Good Friday:
Happy Good Friday!

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Was your day this bad?

I was looking forward to participating in this feature, but couldn't find anything suitable in the last two weeks. Stress? Yes. Chaos? Absolutely. Hard work? Challenge? Check and check. But nothing really memorable, let alone funny. So I'm posting one from the archives. I've been blogging long enough that I have archives? How time does fly!

Arby 1, Papa Bear 0.

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