Thursday, August 31, 2006

The FDA: business as usual

HT: The Curt Jester

From an article by Jill Stanek:

So what if minor girls can't buy emergency contraceptives without a prescription?

Their rapists can.

When last week the FDA authorized over-the-counter access of ECs to women 18 and older, it also authorized over-the-counter access to men 18 and older.

Why would men buy ECs?

Ask them in Thailand, where ECs have been marketed for 20 years. In Thailand, ECs are advertised in men's magazines....

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I've been tagged!

By A Catholic Mom in Hawaii! Yes, the Homeschooling Meme has finally made its way around to me. Well, since we're unschool-y and I'm, um, lazy, we really haven't invested in too much curriculum. Also because my son is only five. So some of these will be tough to answer. (In fact, as I watched this meme make the rounds, I thought, "Hey, it's good that no one has tagged me because I have no idea what my answers would be..." Got me, Esther!

1) ONE HOMESCHOOLING BOOK YOU HAVE ENJOYED - Okay, this will probably be my most shocking answer of all - I don't think I've ever read a book on homeschooling. Okay, now that you've regained consciousness, put a cool cloth on your forehead and elevated your feet, I will tell you that while homeschooling philosophies interest me, I've mostly gleaned from websites and discussion groups so far. But I would like to read Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto (oh, I actually did read a couple of chapters of one of his books!), and a few others. I think the most valuable information I've gotten so far has been from good parenting books that taught me about how children develop and learn, and encouraged me to trust my child.

2) ONE RESOURCE YOU COULDN’T BE WITHOUT - Is it cheating to just say books? Lots and lots of books? And a library card? Because if I had to pick ONE thing not to be without, that would be it.

3) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH YOU HAD NEVER BOUGHT - I've hardly bought anything. So nothing to regret yet.

4) ONE RESOURCE YOU ENJOYED LAST YEAR - Well, this is fairly recent, but Samuel has really gotten a lot out of these fraction circles.

5) ONE RESOURCE YOU WILL BE USING NEXT YEAR - We got some cuisenaire rods that we haven't really explored yet, but I think they will be a great resource.

6) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BUY - Jennifer just informed me of the existence of the Identiflyer. I WANT ONE!!!

7) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH EXISTED - I forget which blogger answered this way, but I'm going to steal it, because they read my thoughts exactly: free trips to anywhere! How awesomely educational would it be to go spend a week in Egypt? Or Africa? Or anywhere that has a beach? (Okay, that last one wasn't really for educational purposes so much as because I love the beach and I live in Illinois.)

8) ONE HOMESCHOOLING CATALOGUE YOU ENJOY READING - Well, I've only browsed Catholic Heritage, but I like it quite a bit. I'm all about flexibility.

9) ONE HOMESCHOOLING WEBSITE YOU USE REGULARLY - 4Real Learning Forums - I mostly lurk, but love the info.

10) TAG FIVE OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS - I have completely lost track of who has and has not been tagged. If you haven't done this yet, you're tagged!


The Catholic Carnival is up at A Song Not Scored For Breathing.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Category Five. (You'll need to scroll to the bottom of the post.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Theme Shelf: Bugs

Hey, now that my camera's working, I can post a picture of the theme shelf I mentioned here.

From left to right (roughly): Honeybee book, bug-eye looking glass, bug-catching tongs, tessellating beetles, bug net, magnifying glass, and Bugs book. And, hovering in background, bees that once adorned Samuel's beehive cake when we had a bug birthday party.
I can't believe we only have two books on bugs. How on earth is that possible? Anyway, I think the display is pretty cute, and Samuel has been using all of the materials, so I am excited to keep this going. Now I have to pick a theme for next time. Maybe birds, since it is migration season. I don't know if I have too many bird-specific books either, other than my field guide, so I will have to get some things from the library. And, I want at least a couple of non-book items, too, so maybe a pair of binoculars? I'll have to come up with a few things. I REALLY want these and these, thanks to this post, but I'll put them on Samuel's Christmas list and survive without them in the meantime... somehow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Oh, the horror!

Tragically, Samuel has been eaten by the couch.

the horror!
Seriously, is there some sort of award for photos of your kid sleeping in weird places? I think we'd be quite a contender.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

camera is back in business

Okay, so we bought batteries a while ago, I just kept forgetting to put them in. But that has been remedied, so...

Here is Samuel completely zonked after we had friends over to play today. He was playing outside and I came upstairs for a bit. I heard him come in, and then a while later realized the house was silent. When I came looking for him, there he was passed out on the floor.

Next exhibit: Samuel's new loft bed.

loft Samuel wants to paint his room dark blue to match the darker blue stripe in his rug. When I told him that would be awfully dark, he said, "Yes, I want it to be like a cave." He even wants to paint the ceiling. I am not painting the ceiling dark blue! But I am considering letting him make the final choice of wall color. I am worried though that he will change his mind and want a different color soon - and it will be really hard to repaint a dark blue wall! On the other hand, it is his room... what would you do?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Oh yeah, this is a homeschooling blog, remember? While overhauling our house, I've cleared a few spaces that seemed just perfect for strewing. I ended up with an empty bookshelf (which is nothing short of a miracle in this house) in the living room, so decided to display some themed materials there. I selected some books on insects, bug catching nets and tongs, a magnifying glass, a dead bee in an observation jar that we've had forever, and some plastic beetles that fit together to make different tessellations. Samuel has already been using pretty much everything on the shelf, except for a book he hasn't read before (he's very resistant to reading something new lately, despite the fact that I can't think of a single book he hasn't liked) so I definitely plan to keep using the shelf this way. I am looking forward to putting out some fall-themed materials. Did I mention that autumn is my favorite season?

Also, inspired by this post at Among Women, I decided to give fridgeschooling a try. I didn't put too much up, since Samuel can't read very much, but I have a letter, some shapes, and a habit (saying please and thank you) and a virtue (patience) to work on. I haven't made a big deal about it, as I want to see if he will take the initiative to explore the new fridge features on his own. So far, he's noticed, but hasn't said much about it, so we will see.

BTW, the overhauling? Well, I already mentioned that I took 4 years' worth of junk out of what is now Samuel's room. (Although we still call it the Sparrow Room. It was originally the "spare room", but Samuel misunderstood and called it the Sparrow Room all the time, and we like that better. Hey, the loft is like his bird's nest!) In addition to that, we are clearing another 4 years' of junk out of the basement, which is finally being fixed up to be a family room. In the past, junk that needed to be moved from the basement went to the Sparrow Room, and junk that needed to be cleared from the Sparrow Room went into the basement. It involved a lot of stair-climbing, but was otherwise a great system. Now all the junk is in the guest room, and while we are not planning on having overnight guests any time soon, it's always good to be prepared, and at the moment I am not sure if there is even still a bed in there under all the junk. So, I have my work cut out for me. Which means I should not be sitting here blogging. Or maybe I should say, which is why I'm sitting here blogging.

Okay, okay, I'm going. Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Carnival Time!

I still haven't had time to read all the posts from last week's plethora of carnivals, and the next batch is here already!

First, the Late Summer Field Day is up at By Sun and Candlelight! I am disappointed I didn't get a chance to join this one, as I love this carnival! I will have to catch the Autumn Edition - my favorite season, after all!

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Patricia Ann's Polywog Creek Porch.

And, the Catholic Carnival is up at To Jesus Through Mary.

Finally, while you're surfing, check out this hilarious post at the Dumb Ox Academy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why to avoid government schools

I really enjoyed this immensely informative series on this topic over at Why Homeschool. Be sure to read parts 1, 2, and 3.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

more on discipline...

Thanks to all who commented on my parenting post. To respond to some of the points of those who commented, both here and in the original discussion over at Danielle Bean's site...

I am sure that Dr. Ray is a great guy. I did not mean to imply that he is a bad parent or a bad Catholic. From what I know of his beliefs, I think that his understanding of the human person and child development is not entirely in keeping with the Catholic faith. But I know lots of parents who spank and are otherwise not very "AP", and are still good parents and good Catholics. I just think they aren't living the fullness of what Catholic parenting should be. (Not that I don't often fall very, very short.) Dr. Ray sounds a lot like Dr. Dobson - and the Catholic way to parent should be different from the Protestant way, because we have an entirely different view of the human person.

Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Really, it is not! My child does not run wild. We explain to him why he needs to do certain things instead of just ordering him to do it, and let him make the choice. Just an example, tonight we went out for ice cream. One of Samuel's friends was there and got 2 scoops. Well, of course Samuel wanted 2 scoops. Rather than just telling him no, which would have made him upset, I helped him make the decision for himself. I reminded him that he barely finished his one scoop last time, and asked him if he thought 2 scoops would be a good idea. He thought about it and decided that one scoop was sufficient, and happily ordered his chocolate cone. No tantrum, no argument, just a five-year-old making a good choice. Now, if he had still wanted 2 scoops, I would have let him have it, because if you're going to make it the child's choice, you have to mean it. (In which case, we would have discussed wastefulness when he failed to finish the cone, or he would have experienced some rather unpleasant natural consequences if he managed to cram it all in.) Just to clarify, I do not let Samuel choose every little detail of our lives. Some things he just has to do. But I believe he is much more cooperative at those times because I do let him have as much control over his own life as I can. Because I am willing to work with him, he is more willing to work with me.

A common response to this sort of talk is, "Well, I'm glad that works for your child, but it would never work for my child." If that is your reaction, I would encourage you to give it a shot. Your child may surprise you. Children are so much more capable than we give them credit for. Although I would guess that there might be a brief transition period where your child might run a little wild with their newfound freedom of choice until a new trust is established between you. Kind of like "deschooling" when embarking on an unschooling lifestyle. Someone (I can't remember who! Sorry!) once said that you can't really dabble in unschooling, that it has to be a way of life. I think that the same can be said for the attachment parenting/gentle discipline lifestyle - trying it for a day or a week won't really tell you if it works. You have to really do it for a longer period of time until it is a way of life to really see the difference.

Another common response is simply that we all do what works for us, and as long as it works, it's fine. This kind of relativism is very disturbing to me. I don't think that there are many (if any) actual moral relativists in the world (if you find one, ask them if it's okay if you punch them in the nose), but that's what that type of statement suggests. As Catholics, we do believe in moral absolutes, and morality is all about how we treat people - including children. Who ever came up with this idea that children should be subjected to treatment that no one would inflict upon an adult? The next time you need your child to do something - or stop doing something - think of how you would handle the situation if instead of a child, it was another adult. Of course children are not adults, but many of the same principles apply. If you want your child to grow up to be a healthy adult, start treating him more like one! I don't know any adults who would improve their behavior and be more likely to cooperate after being hit, belittled, or told "because I said so". I know I certainly wouldn't. The Golden Rule applies to parenting, too.

With that, I had better get to bed! I'd love to hear what others have to say on this, as it is one of my favorite topics. (As you can you tell!)

planning ahead

Well, I know where I want to go for our eighth anniversary! Cleveland is looking like a lot of fun, thanks to Rebecca. Since our anniversary is the day before the Feast of the Assumption, this would be perfect! Now I just have to convince dh that we should drive to Cleveland. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


So, here's what we did over the weekend, besides NOT buying new batteries for the camera. We went with my parents to the Scott AFB Air Show, featuring the Thunderbirds. It was Samuel's first air show (how he got to the age of five without seeing an air show is beyond me) and he thought the show was great. The only thing he didn't like was the noise. Several times, we were distracted by some of the planes, only to have another one sneak up on us and go screaming over our heads. Samuel does not like that kind of noise unless he is the one making it. (Thankfully he has not yet replicated the sound of a jet engine.)

We actually got to see the show twice - once at the airfield, and once from my parents' front yard. They live so close that we could still see a lot of the show the next day. Ever since then, Samuel has been putting on a lot of air shows with his souvenir planes.

The next day, Shawn was trying to get Samuel to guess what he was thinking of and giving him clues. One of the clues was, "It was too loud." I was trying to encourage Samuel to think of the air show, and asked "What was too loud recently?" He thought for a moment and replied, "Me?"


So many carnivals, so little time...

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up here, at the Common Room.

A series of Loveliness Fairs is starting at Sweetness and Light, with Simple Elegance in the Kitchen.

The Carnival of Yum (I love that name) over at A Garden of Lilies and Roses.

The Catholic Carnival (I just discovered this one) is up over at just another day of Catholic pondering.

The late summer Field Day is coming soon. Get those submissions in! I will have to see if I can come up with something other than my recent close encounter of the icky kind.

This will be one of those stay-up-reading-blogs-until-2:30am-with-a-cup-of-tea-or-two-or-three kind of nights.


Arg, we were gone all weekend, and then celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday, and I have not had time to blog today, and the result is that I have about 17 blog entries stored up in my head. We'll see how many I get to tonight. Before I dive in, I'll post this article that dh sent me.

"If you want to fail at homeschooling..." by Kimberly Hahn

I really like it, although I don't entirely agree with #12, being an unschooler and all. However, I have been thinking that even we could benefit from a more regular schedule, so we will see if we can accomplish that in the months to come. (Hey, more regular schedule=more regular blogging time for me! Now there's some motivation!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

What I learned today...

It is not a good idea to walk from the house to the car while juggling a 6-pack of beer, car keys, several other items, and a cell phone (in mouth) because you will see something large and insect-like out of the corner of your eye, and, thinking it must be the cicada that was buzzing around the carport earlier, ignore it. However, on looking up you will discover that it is a giant orb spider approximately 1.5" from your face. You will try to scream (without dropping the cell phone) and leap backwards flailing about with your laden arms in an attempt to ascertain whether there are any spiderweb threads on you that might form an assault route for the spider. Beer bottles: intact. Dignity: not so much.

Apparently I'm not the only one being attacked by nature.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is there a right way to parent?

Danielle Bean had an interesting discussion of discipline styles on her website. One comment in particular caught my eye:

Like Dr. Ray says, "If you can't control them when they are
2, how do you think you will be able to control them when they are 15?"
I will state right up front that I am not a fan of Dr. Ray Guarendi. There seem to be two main parenting philosophies popular in Catholic America at the moment, one led by Dr. Guarendi and the other by Gregory Popcak. I am most decidedly in the Popcak camp, and the quote above perfectly sums up why I feel that way. I do not understand these people who want to break their child's will and completely control them.

At first glance, it sounds very appealing, I'm sure. Lots of little robot-children who follow your every command! Who wouldn't want that? But what happens when Robot-Boy or Robot-Girl grows up, and encounters peer pressure, advertising pressure, bad influences from TV, movies, video games, and music? Their will to resist has been destroyed, and no wonder that the youth of today are in the state they are in.

I am not advocating raising a disobedient brat. What I am advocating is raising a child in such a way that respects the will God gave them and helps them to make right choices. If it is their choice, and not something you force upon them, they will be so much stronger when it's time for them to make the choice without your help.

For the best parenting advice, please check out the following:

Parenting with Grace, by Gregory Popcak

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, by Becky Bailey

I prefer Popcak for overall parenting philosophy and especially parenting in accord with the Catholic faith, and Bailey for a discipline how-to. Bailey is not Catholic (as far as I know) but her principles fit right in with the faith.

So, is there a right way to parent? There are lots of right ways, and each should be tailored to your child. However, that doesn't mean that anything goes. I do not think that parents who spank are necessarily bad parents. The Church has not made any declaration on this subject, and pious Catholics are free to disagree. However, that doesn't mean that there is no right and wrong. Just because theology is still developing and we haven't discovered the truth yet doesn't mean the truth isn't there. Either it is okay to spank some children in some circumstances or it is not. The Church hasn't said one way or the other yet, but I think there is sufficient reason to believe that spanking is not in accordance with Catholic belief. See this list from Popcak for more information.

Of course, the issue is much deeper than spanking. One can quite successfully break the will of the child without laying a finger on them. From another parenting site that was recommended in the aforementioned discussion (as part of a so-called "Bill of Rights for Children")

Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say "No" at least three times a day.

Now, there are plenty of days when I say, "No," at least 3 times. Sometimes it's more like 300. However, I don't do it just for the heck of it. In fact, I am really working on saying it less. Before I say, "No," I try to ask myself, why not? Sometimes there is a very good reason. But often there is no reason other than my own apathy or laziness. Why should that get in the way of my son's activities? Why stifle your child's play just because you can? Which leads to the next quote...

Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say "Because I said so" on a regular and frequent basis.

If you don't have a reason, see above. If you do have a reason, why would you not share it with your child? Yes, there are times when you need immediate obedience (child is about to get hurt). However, your child will be more likely to respond in those times if he trusts that you have a good reason for telling him to move. Whenever possible, I give my son the reason for what I ask him to do. Sometimes I ask him to do it first and I will explain later. This is enough for him, he knows the reason is coming. And, when it is truly an emergency, he knows from my voice that it is urgent and he trusts that my reasons are good based on past experience.

There is so much more I could write. This type of gentle discipline really fits in with the parenting style I talked about before. It may be a little more effort initially, but is so much easier and enjoyable in the long term. The only other thing I will say is that we haven't done this from the beginning, and I still slip up. A lot. But when I do things the Popcak/Bailey way, it works, better than anything else we've tried. I think I will go and reread both of those books. I can always use a refresher!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Woman priests"

Just about every day for the last several weeks, I have read yet another article about yet another woman who thinks she has been ordained a Roman Catholic priest. I say "thinks she has been" because, of course, there is no more sacramental reality to these "ordinations" than there is when my son plays Mass and pretends to consecrate orange juice and tortilla chips. What on earth makes these women think they can define what a 2,000 year old institution with over a billion members believes? And the press has been pretty consistently reporting it as if these women are legitimate members of the Church who are being legitimately ordained. As if. I'm sorry, but if you don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches, then, um, you're not a practicing Catholic. You don't see meat-eaters walking around calling themselves vegan, do you? (Don't get me started on "Catholics" for Choice...) For the record:

The Church is not refusing to ordain women because She doesn't want to. It's because She can't. The sacrament of Holy Orders simply cannot be conferred on a woman.

The Church is not sexist. The most highly honored person besides the members of the Holy Trinity is Mary.

Jesus didn't choose not to ordain women just because of "the times". Priestesses were common then, and he clearly didn't have any problems hanging out with women, going against custom, or offending people. He chose men because only a man can be in persona christi.

Others have written about this far more elegantly than I, and there are much more deep theological truths to be explored if you really want to understand the issue. I recommend reading this article from Catholic Answers if you want to know more, or use the Catholic Blog Search over there in the sidebar.

Yee haw!

Carnival of Homeschooling Week 32 is up here, at Sprittibee. Just watch out for the music file that she put on there. Better turn down the volume before loading the page if baby is sleeping!


We've been busy lately, so apologies for the absence of blogging. Here's a synopsis of what we've been up to:

- Our bestest friends moved back to the area, so we've been playing at their house.

- We bought Samuel a loft bed, and have been cleaning out all the junk (4 years' worth) that has been accumulating in that room since we moved into this house. (When asked if he intends to sleep in his new bed, Samuel said, "Maybe when I'm older." LOL) I would love to post a picture, but we are out of camera batteries. I have already missed several good photo ops, too! Better send dh a message to pick up some double As, stat!

- Catching up on house cleaning and laundry. And trying to declutter so that both of these tasks are more efficient. Honestly, I have no idea how my house gets so messy. I think part of it is that there are certain things that inevitably get messed up within about a nanosecond of me cleaning/straightening them. Like the couch cushions. Samuel is constantly rearranging, building with, bouncing on, and flinging about the cushions. Which I am fine with, except that with a relatively big couch in a little room, when the cushions are in a disarray, the whole room seems messy. And that there are things like this everywhere, so that the whole house always seems messy, whether it really is (and don't get me wrong, sometimes it really is) or not. Major reorganization needed here...

- Trying not to go insane from the wailing of the pipes. For some inexplicable reason, our pipes (specifically, the cold water pipe to the shower) started making this horrid wailing sound a couple of days ago, and continues to do so on and off. It will do it for HOURS and it sounds like a beluga in labor. (Or so I would imagine, not having been privvy to the birth of any whales.)

- Baking another pie with my sister. We've been in a pie mood lately. Okay, I am always in a pie mood, and I've just dragged her along with me. Although I've discovered that she isn't the best accomplice in pie-making, because her sugar-and-cinnamon application technique to the leftover pie crust scraps is sorely lacking. We'll have to do some practice drills this weekend when we bake our next pie.

So, that's been our busy life, which is always busy, and will continue to be busy, just in new and exciting ways. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unschooling Voices

The second Unschooling Voices is here! Head on over to A Day in Our Lives and check it out! I am going to get a cup of tea and enjoy it at a leisurely pace. Blog carnivals always go better with tea, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Actually, we unschoogle."

Maybe that's what I'll tell people now, thanks to this fun post over at The Lilting House. Isn't it funny how "look it up" used to refer to a dictionary or encyclopedia, but now refers to the internet? Do people even have encyclopedias anymore? We have looked up what polar bears like to eat, what a liger looks like, and most recently, why moths are attracted to light. Oh, and once I found a suspicious spider in the basement, trapped it in a glass, and carted it up to the computer where Google cheerfully supplied me with a plethora of brown recluse images to compare our little eight-legged friend with. Diagnosis: non-poisonous. I, too, heart Google.

Did you know...

... that 5-year-old faded stretch marks turn bright pink when sunburned? Interesting. (Aren't you glad there was no photo for this post?)