Saturday, November 04, 2006

An Unexcused Absense--or, True Freedom.

Good grief...I've been gone so long I almost lost touch with the world of blogging. Things are coming back into focus, however, and I will be better about posting several times a week...But the absense isn't completely unexcused. I just like to say "unexcused absense" because I can get away with it now that I'm a completely free individual.

I mentioned before that we began a new home-based business, and for the last six months that has taken a front seat to just about everything. It is the pot boiling over on the front stove burner, the "squeaky wheel that gets the grease." You get my point.

But this is the beauty of most of the things I do--homeschooling, blogging, working from home--they are all demanding in their own right, but only to the extent that I ALLOW THEM TO BE. I'm starting to realize in my life what true freedom is, and I think that it has become one of the major "whys" for homeschooling my children.

Freedom has to be a state in which we have total control over our time and finances, and in which we are not being governed by external factors or forces. My family has seriously undertaken to make this our permanent state of existence. Certainly, we will still have the ugly beast known as taxes to govern us to some extent, but at least we can afford to pay a really great accountant, get the most money back, and just sign the paper zap it to the IRS. Aside from that, we are working to eliminate the limitation of a job that dictates where my husband will be and for how long. We will "fire our boss" in 18 months! Aside from a home mortgage, we have eliminated all financial obligations. We are heading toward a life in which we can be, do and have without limitation. This, in turn, gives us the freedom to give without limitation.

Ultimately, I want to model this for my children. I want them to be free in their hearts and minds to be who they are without limitation. This doesn't mean that they will be raised without ever having to work or understand the value of money, etc. Quite the contrary--I hope that through this freedom they will understand exactly what the purpose of work and money actually is.

Any American who understands even a little about human rights would likely agree that
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We all agree that should be free, but are we really? I sincerely believe that
slavery has never ceased to exist since the dawn of humanity--it just takes
differeing forms at different times of history--tyranny, bondage, famine,
superstition, low regard for the value of human life, war, debt, obesity...
We are obligated as human beings to be free. We were created with an acute understanding of what it feels like to NOT be free, and an inherent desire to BE free. I could never believe that God's intention for us was for us to suffer under bondage to anything. He has certainly provided avenues for us to alleviate suffering, if only we would turn to them and travel those paths. At this point in our history we must throw off the fetters of inferior education, poor moral examples, poor diet, poor health, chronic debt.

We can, and will be free if we only make the decision to be so, and take decisive steps in that direction. We owe it to our children.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What is this, REALLY?

I had a little conversation with my son today. I told him that this year, when people ask him why he's not in school, he should answer that, "we learn at home," as opposed to saying "I'm homeschooled." Why? I'm growing further and further away from the traditional concept of school all the time. I want to imply that our life is home and learning is a central part of that existence. I'm tired of the "little school in the corner of the house" concept. I don't need a little student desk and a little black board and a little teacher's manual.

Here's an example of how it happens--we often talk about what nutrients are in the food we are eating. We think about the food we're eating and whether or not it's good for us. In one of these such conversations, we started talking about cells, free radicals, and antioxidants and what they all do. By the end of the conversation, my son had a very clear understanding of how free radicals can damage our cells and make them sick. We'll go over it a few more times, but for the most part he gets it--all from talking about it over lunch. I didn't need a science book. I didn't need a standardized test to see if he could spew it back, and I didn't need some government oversight to see if he learned it from a qualified teacher.
So, aside from reading and his math programs (which he really enjoys), we're going to learn at home, and let his love of life and all thing interesting drive what we do. Does this mean I'm becoming and unschooler? Maybe. That's just fine with me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Get 'Em While They're Hot!

I saw this article today and it inspired the previous post...

It made me realize that this age of technology will not fade away. Nothing short of total destruction of the planet (which may in fact happen someday) will stop the advance of the internet and virtual reality. So, the next question is, do you have your web address? If you don't, there's no need to worry--they're adding "340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion — enough for the foreseeable future, Mr Kessens said." I'll say. Enough, perhaps even for my grandchildren, but by then they'll start needing more...

Here are some interesting statistics that are current, but what will they be 10 years from now, when my boy is 15. Ten years ago when my hubby and I were courting via the internet, we were just tackling instant messaging...

ONLINE, ON THE PHONE, ON THE UP

50 billion the number of e-mails dispatched every day wordwide; in 2001 the traffic was less than 12 billion

88 per cent of e-mails are junk including about 1 per cent which are virus-infected

32 The average number of e-mail messages received per person per day. This is rising by 84 per cent each year

440 million the number of electronic mailboxes in use, including 170 million corporate ones, growing by 32 per cent per year

1,035 million the total number of mobile phone text messages sent each month in Britain

37 The average number of texts a user sends per month compared with 21 in 2001 1 million the number of children aged under 10 in Britain — one in three — who own a phone

8 The average age at which a child gets a mobile phone in Britain

Think about it...


Nintendo, Computer Games, and the like...Comments Please!

Perhaps you can help me with this...

My son loves computer games. He also loves playing Nintendo at friends' houses on rainy days. He loves anything computers and the like--but it stands to reason...so do his dad and I. My struggle is the balance issue. I read unschoolers who say that if their child wants / needs to spend two days conquering a game on their game cube, so be it--it will pass and he will move on to something else soon. Other homeschoolers are opposed to anything that doesn't involve gardening, playing outside and interacting with books and nature.

This morning as I played with my boy and started tickling and rough-housing with him, his ribs were poking out all over the place and I was impressed with his five-year-old muscles. He's a miniature man, in love with playing outside, sword fighting, playing make-believe, and climbing trees. He eats very well, is passionate about taking his vitamins, and knows that drinking lots of water is important for staying healthy.

Then why do I feel guilty for even entertaining the idea of a Nintendo for him for Christmas?

All comments are welcome! What do you think?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Accidental UNschooler!

oy my--as my best friend likes to say. I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted or even have had time to sit and think about posting.

It's hard not to beat oneself up for things left undone when life gets busy. School, for instance, would be one of those things. My son has been happily neglected in that department lately, but I have to admit that it hasn't been all bad. It has taught me a couple of things that are pretty important to any homschooling mom who gets weighed down with the responsibility of making sure all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed.
  1. Boys don't learn to ride bikes when sitting in front of the table doing lessons.
  2. Boys don't get bumps, bruises and scrapes from climbing trees while doing lessons.
  3. Boys don't learn about "Jedi Reflexes" that prevent deadly falls off of trampolines while doing lessons.
  4. Boys don't get to run with a pack of other boys, getting dirty and sweaty and then falling into bed at night happy and exhausted while doing lessons.
  5. Boys don't get to choose and finally come around and say, "Mom--I want to start doing school again. I want to learn to read." when they are burning out on lessons.
So that's where we are. All of those things have happened since we began our home-based business and I'm figuring out that unschooling can be really good. He's very enthusiastic about the business also, and has watched us working harder and in a different way than he's ever seen before. I don't think that any of this is wasted time, and now, learning to read is his choice, not something I'm pushing. Last week schools let out for the summer, and here we are, getting ready to start again, as long as the pool / play / bike riding allows. Ah, happy boyhood!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Innocence

oh, my...i went in to check in on my almost-five-year-old son. he's asleep in his big-boy bed. he has kicked off the covers and is nearly snoring in deep sleep. in the corner of his bed there is his bear, wilbur, and his frog, max. beside him is his most powerful transformer, guns poised and ready, protecting him from any bad guys and bad dreams.

what is it? there is something so tender, so innocent about five...he's not ahsamed to clutch a bear and hug it, or sleep with it for security, and yet there is the emerging MAN--HE WHO WIELDS A WEAPON--HE WHO PROTECTS THE PREMISES--he who hugs and kisses his little sister when she bumps her head, and tenderly strokes her hair after her first haircut.

oh, LORD, please help me to remember these days. small boy, big man, all at once in one loveable person.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Know Your Why

I had a visit with a friend yesterday whose kids go to a private catholic school that is very academically challenging and somewhat elite. Their kids "have" to go there--the dad wouldn't have it any other way. I haven't spoken with him personally, but I'm supposing it's because of the education.

Meanwhile she referred another of her good friends to me to ask me questions about homeschooling and why I do it, because she's considering homeschooling, also.

I have to chuckle to myself every time I talk with this friend, becuase everything she says about her PRIVATE super-school gives me every bit more reason to homeschool. Everything she says about why she thinks her other friend SHOULDN'T homeschool is exactly WHY I choose homeschooling.

Stay with me here...I'm about to draw an analogy. We've recently started a home business (hence my fewer posts!) and in the training for this business, they constantly remind us to remember and DRAW ON the WHY of what we are doing. They say things like, "Do you have a dream? You must allow yourselves to dream. Visualize the future and what you want for your family." Running a family business is hard work--let me rephrase that--running a family business is HARD WORK--and requires something of everyone in the house.

Homeschooling is like that--I love the dream that I cling to for my family--that we would spend our days together, learning together, travelling together, worshipping together, and socializing together. I love that my children are exposed to other families whose values mesh with ours, who also enforce things like respect, manners, kindness, and consideration for others. I want the soil of my childrens' hearts to be soft and unpolluted by the world so that they can readily receive the gospel and understand their need for the Lord when the time comes. I love that, now that we've started a home business, they will understand that they can control their own future success, and that SAT scores, school attendance, and the "record" does not determine how successful they will be later on. They will be part of our efforts to grow this business and learn more than any high school civics or economics teachers could hope to teach their classes.

I love this life. When I first started working the business, I didn't see how I could juggle it with the homeschooling. Now I understand, by revisiting my "why" that the two have a synergistic relationship. What a fun adventure this will be! Nevertheless, the going is bound to get tough sometimes, and I know that I will have to revisit these WHYs to keep my head above water. I think I'm going to make a list and post them up here by my computer...

Spunky...again...keepin' it fun!

Spunky is giving away a Benz Microscope and Apologia Biology Set this week. Click Here to get the details.

...can't wait to see who wins!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Got a Little Sidetracked...

Phew..it's early in the morning, and I've got a little time, so I'll try to catch up.

Spunky has some really interesting things going on at her blog. Check it out...it's stuff that really is important to us homeschoolers, in particular the issue of parental rights--is it an inalienable right or is it a fundamental right of parents to determine how their children should be raised and educated? Read up, weigh in.

Accidental Homeschooler, on the other hand, has had a WHOLE LOT going on in life in general. We've started a home business, and my head has been swimming in the last few weeks trying to get things organized and underway. It's really hard work, but fun! Little man thinks he doesn't have to do lessons any more, but he's got another think coming...starting today!

It really has caused me to consider the dreams I hold for my family. My first thought was this: "this is a whole lot of work--how on earth can I possibly homeschool and run a business? I guess I'd better consider enrolling him in school." My second thought was "whoa, sister--what about the education that comes from running a family business?" I had to remember why I homeschool, and what about it keeps me on task? It's the freedom, the same reason that we've started a business. We want out of the rat race. We want our family at home, together, enjoying meals and chores, staying in and going out, and we want it on our terms. We don't want to have to pack up the car and leave at 4:00 A.M. for vacation at the beach because it's the only days off from school and everyone else in the DC area is also going to make the mad dash to the beach that day, rain or shine. We want to say in the middle of a sunny week when all the other kids are in school, "let's go to the beach today!" and do it. Freedom...more on this later...

So, I'm going to have to revamp my schedule a little bit to start earlier so I can keep up with this blog, my son's lessons, meal planning, etc. It's an exciting adventure we're starting! Stay tuned for progress reports!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Who are you Blaming for your Plus Size Wardrobe?

If you are reading this and are overweight, please...don't take offense. I don't know why or how you became overweight and what you plan or don't plan to do about it. I myself am overweight, and I'm working furiously to overcome that state. I have mentioned before the campaign in our house to overhaul our health...

But...this campaign to make McDonald's responsible for the nation's obesity problem is patently ridiculous. Doesn't anyone take responsibility for the food they ingest? A child cannot go to McDonald's lest a grown-up, most likely a parent takes them. A human adult cannot eat a Big Mac or a Crispy Chicken #7 combo meal lest they walk in and order it. McD's has made an honest profit offering exactly what people who walk through their doors are looking for--food that is fast, convenient and tastes good, much as we hate to admit it. If you don't like how fat you are, then stop going to McDonald's. You'll probably not lose weight that way. You might have to actually make some lifestyle changes along with it, but don't sue them or write a book about how they are to blame for your health issues. Everything in moderation, my friend...everything in moderation.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gettin' Somewhere

Well, I'm making some progress in the blogging business. I've been added to the Homeschool Blogwatch! I'm excited to welcome new readers to my little spot here on the internet. I'm new at blogging, but I hope to keep the entries frequent, interesting, and most importantly, encouraging.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Cost of Homeschooling

I'm a little behind on posting this because my family and I have been fighting a bug, but it was too good not to link to. Concerning the amount of tax dollars that are poured into each student, and the relative cost of homeschooling, Spunky posted this. I was very amused...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Junk Food in School, or, Reason 468 Why I Homeschool

We hear so much in the news about obesity in children, and you only have to look around you to see that it is, in fact, a huge problem. I found this article on Yahoo! health and thought it was kind of interesting that lawmakers are "concerned" about junk food in public schools.

Dangerous weight is on the rise in kids. This week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the rate of obese and overweight kids has climbed to 18 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls. Four years ago, the number was 14 percent.

Lawmakers blame high-fat, high-sugar snacks that compete with nutritious meals in schools.

"Junk food sales in schools are out of control," Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record), D-Iowa, senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said Thursday. "It undercuts our investment in school meal programs and steers kids toward a future of obesity and diet-related disease."

Is the problem because there is junk food in schools? I don't know...I want to blame the parents on this one. Yes, schools can help, but good health and nutrition starts um...at home?

I don't know about you, but my mom was a health fanatic, mainly because she was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis in her 30's and didn't want us to experience the same health problems when we were older. I knew what was good and bad to eat, and I would be stricken with attacks of guilt if I surpassed our two-cookie limit, ate too much candy or ice cream, or, worst of all WHITE BREAD! I guess I am my mother after all--my four year old boy already knows what is good, healthy food and what is not. He knows that chicken has protein, carrots have vitamin A and are good for your eyes, he knows all about vitamin C and how it's important to fight disease. Perhaps most imporantly, he knows how important it is to limit treats and get exercise, and he's proud of himself when he's done both.
Parents are responsible for how kids eat, but kids are at school for much of the day, said Margo G. Wootan, the center's director of nutrition policy.
Well, now, that's my point exactly. I don't have this problem because my son gets three home-prepared meals a day, and I myself monitor his activity levels and if he's getting sweets or not. Another reason for homeschooling.

Should they take junk food machines out of schools? YES. But will that stop kids from eating junk food? Not if Mom and Dad aren't setting a good example and teaching them at home to eat healthy diets. The nanny state just can't touch the heart in quite the same way as mom.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Told Ya So!

As a homeschooler taking full responsibility for the cost of educating my child, I tend to get a little bitter when reports like this come out. How about a little of my own tax money going to educate my own child who, by the way, is far and above the level of most other kids his age (and I'm not biased at all wink, wink)! I believe that he is gifted with intelligence, but I believe more fully that the reason he is ahead is BECAUSE we have fostered an environment that will nourish his mind and body. Meanwhile I pay huge amounts of money in taxes to increase the stupidity of society through public schools (see my post Dumber than Taxes ).

What would you do with $8287 per student in your home? I know mine would have some REALLY NICE field trips and a wholotta books and art supplies. He'd also have a foreign language teacher and music and art lessons. Since we don't get a piece of that pretty pie graph, however he'll have to settle for mom.

HT Spunky for pointing this out.

TV and Soda

I posted before about our family's decision to ditch the TV subscription, and I'm happy to report that we are none the worse for wear. It has been about four months now, and there were no D.T.'s, no "weaning" off the tube, no begging on the part of the boy to turn it back on.

I should, in the interest of full disclosure, admit to two exceptions (easy to make with DirecTV service because you can turn it off and turn it on any ol' time)...We turned the service on for the Olympics, and I'm glad we did. We have also had it on for the last two days or so while little man is recovering from a hideous stomach flu and wants to do nothing but lie on the floor under blankets and get better.

Even so, it is not the first thing he has chosen. I also got him some games, a new puzzle, and a lego creator set to ease his suffering and he has spent a lot of time focusing on them as well. In the past TV was the "default" choice. Now that the habit has been broken, it is really the last choice he makes. He understands that as soon as he is better the TV is off again, and he's fine with that, and in the meantime I maintain strict control over the program choices.

I wish to draw this analogy: I love CocaCola. My favorite meal during football season used to be a ham and cheese sandwich on Italian bread and a Coke. Knowing what I know now, however, I know that soda and carbonated beverages actually leach calcium from your bones, not to mention the shock to my system from the sugar and caffeine that results! I also know that white bread is as bad or worse for you than the Coke. I suppose the ham and cheese have some value in terms of protein and what-not, but there are certainly better choices, if you want to consider that the ham is probably preserved with all kinds of phosphates and who-knows-what, and the cheese is high in fat and cholesterol. My knowledge of this tasty meal surpasses my body's ability to enjoy it now, and I no longer find myself wanting to eat this kind of thing.

The same is true of TV. When I see it now, I am offended more often and bored more quickly by all of the "junk" that enters my brain. I actually think about the money I'm wasting to have this gobeldy-gook enter my house. I consider the damage it can do to my family, both to their physical, as well as their mental and emotional well-being. My knowledge of the subject has surpassed my ability to enjoy watching TV.

Will we go back to TV? As far as I can see, no. Having Mom and Dad both completely on board with this, as well as having just started a blog, a new home business, and oh yeah, educating the children (!) we are occupied with many more valuable things that will contribute to, not detract from, our family's health and well-being.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Choices We're Given in Life...

My brother gave my son a cowboy costume...handcuffs, spurs, badge, but no gun. I'm guessing that cowboys are becoming more politically correct these days. That did not stop my son--he quickly procured one from his personal arsenal.

He ran downstairs the morning after receiving this gift (having slept with all of those cuddly items in his bed) and asked, "DO YOU WANT TO BE ARRESTED OR SHOTTEN?" No "dood morning, mommy!" no hugs or kisses...just wanted to know which of these miseries I would prefer.

Yesterday he received a Darth Vader Transformer and asked, wielding a light saber, if I would prefer to be "shotten or cut in half." I chose to get "shotten" because I thought I'd have a better chance of survival.

Makes you think about the choices we're given in life. Sometimes the decisions we make seem just like that--a choice between two bad things, so we choose the least bad thing that we can, or at least the one that will be less painful. It seems to me that many people are doing this with their lives, their health, and their children's education. They look around them at the options they are given by society, the government, and their surroundings and choose the lesser of two evils in any given situation. It's like being at McDonald's and choosing a chicken sandwich instead of a burger because supposedly it's healthier, but you're STILL at McDonald's.

When my son gave me the option to be "arrested or shotten" I politely said, "neither, thank you. I'm feeding your sister right now." That's my point. Stop choosing the least bad thing and make the decision to avoid them altogether and make a new way. It's why we got rid of our t.v. service. It's why we are focusing on our family's nutrition and health, and it's why I breastfeed my baby and homeschool my son.

May you be encouraged to make the best choice...not the least bad choice today...for your family and always.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It Was One of Those Days

I have to say that yesterday, I almost caved into Ms. Hirshman's all women must work and have only one child policy. I threatened to put my child into daycare. I was sure that at the end of the day I would march him down to the local public school office and enroll him in public school.

It was one of those days that I wouldn't want Ms. Hirshman to read about on my blog, because certainly I would have seemed as low as Lowly Worm (read any good Richard Scarry books lately?). It was certainly boring. The kids have had colds that rendered them unfit for society, and the weather was dreary and threatening rain. Little Missy is cutting teeth in addition to her cold, and so was feeling crabby and needy. Little Man was following me around, getting into stuff, asking far too many "why" questions, and making incessant boy noises when he wasn't asking questions.

I made a point to reserve a few hairs on my head for the next day, but most of the good ones no longer reside there.

But isn't this is the test? Can we handle the dailiness of life with grace and contentment? I believe this is the point that people are missing--those that insist that one cannot live a fulfilled existence as a stay at home mom. It is on days like yesterday that I take comfort in this passage from Proverbs 31:25-27:

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue,
She watches over the affairs of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Yesterday I did not feel strong or dignified. I felt tired and low. I was not laughing at the days to come, I was questioning my sanity. I didn't feel wise or particularly iformative. I was watching over my household, but I felt despondent.

Even so, God was faithful to speak to my heart that in fact, every day in the life of my children is part of their journey toward eternity. I cannot grow weary in doing good for them. I am entrusted with a beautiful treasure, so I will embrace my life in this place and laugh at the days to come...


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Silence is the Only Word...

I have been sitting with a blank screen in front of me for some time, searching for words to reflect my thoughts...

There are times in this life when there are no words, quite simply, and the only thing that makes sense is silence. I have been greatly troubled and moved to grief in the last day by the news that a family friend's older daughter was hit by a drunk driver on Saturday. She died Sunday morning.

The drunk driver was travelling (from what I was told) 90 miles an hour, rear-ended the car in which the young woman and her boyfriend were driving, flipped the car three times into a telephone pole and killed our friend's daughter. The drunk walked away unscathed. The innocent suffer.
Psalm 103:15
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
I held my daughter and wept for our friend.

Flesh gives birth to flesh, and the spirit belongs to God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3, 7
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on the earth,
so let your words be few.
...Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.
Therefore stand in awe of God.
Silence...there are no answers to grief in this life except that God is just, even when this life is as unjust as this tragedy. We exist in the flesh, but Life belongs to eternity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sally Made me do it!

If you asked me who finally tipped the scales for me in the decision to homeschool my children, I'd have to say that "Sally made me do it." If you haven't heard of Sally Clarkson, it's time you familiarized yourself with her work and ministry. Here, don't read the rest of this blog post...go buy some of her books, then come back and finish reading...

The reason I say this is because I was first introduced to her through her book The Ministry of Motherhood. It examined the job that we do as mothers as compared to the ministry of Jesus and the relationship he had with his disciples. I would call it a very inspirational handbook on what it means to raise disciples, and I plan to read it again...something I rarely do.

However it is her book The Mission of Motherhood that I am currently re-reading because this book inspires me, encourages me and brings me to tears. Very gently and with a warmth that springs from her own contentment as a wife and mother, she unfolds the biblical design and purpose to which mothers are called, and the incredible responsibilites with which they have been entrusted.

Even though Sally Clarkson is a homeschooling mother, she never mentions this as something one must do in order to fulfill the biblical design of motherhood. Nevertheless, when I was finished reading these books, I walked away feeling a certain conviction that I could more certainly build the kind of home that she talks about by homeschooling my children rather than sending them out to be taught by others.

She writes about one rough day that brought about an epiphany:

"I needed to accept days like this--my children's neediness, the myriad mindless tasks, and even my own occasional discomfort--as part of my partnering with my husband toward our mutual goal of building a godly heritage for Christ. I needed to nurture my children with my songs, my words, and my physical labor, treating each day as sacred in ther development toward becoming healthy, mature adults. I needed to face the reality that all of the "important stuff" I was longing to do had far less eternal significance than what I was involved in doing. If I didn't commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else."


And this, dear homeschooling mommies, is what many of us struggle with on a day-in-day-out basis. It is so difficult to infuse our homes with kindness, bless our children when they spill their milk at dinner or throw up in our beds, realize that the gentleness with which we love and nurture them is what softens and prepares little hearts to receive the message of the gospel and receive the Lord into their lives. Keeping the eternal perspective daily and understanding that if we do not, we tear down our homes with our own hands is the task before us. Let us not grow weary...

If you are needing refreshment and some encouragement for the road you journey, read The Mission of Motherhood. I guarantee a blessing will come of it!

Proverbs 14:1
"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sons and Daughters

I adore baby boys. I think they are the cutest things in the whole world--pudgy, fat fingers, rolly-poly legs, tromping and banging through life with all the grace of a wrecking-ball. Then they turn to their mamas and oh, my...the sweetness and adoration and cuddles that they can generate! There is a special bond between mothers and baby boys that is unmatched in any other relationship, and I'm convinced that even a man's wife cannot possibly love him as much as his mama.

But I should state all of that with this one disclaimer--I adore baby girls. Sweet and delicate and easily offended, a little girl daintily charts her way through life with intent and a gentle touch, feeling her way with deft little fingers that pick and lift and stroke (and sometimes grab and pull, much to the cat's dismay.) Mama is her safety, her companion, her friend, and Daddy is her object of adoration.

I have one of each, a son and a daughter. I was convinced that I wanted two boys, and that life would be great that way. I could raise boys--they are uncomplicated, fun, rough and tumble, loving, and eat a lot. I like all of that. Girls play with dolls and like frilly things and role-play a lot (just like I did when I was little) but something in me forgot how to like that stuff...until I had a girl. When I first found out she was a girl, I had the thought, "What does one do with a girl?" until our first "conversation" in the hospital. I picked her up and looked at her, and she looked me in the eye and opened her mouth wide at me. She didn't fuss or cry or wimper. I replied, "Oh, you want to nurse. Okay. I can do that!" and from that moment on I felt that we had an understanding, us girls. I have that...and the adoration of a sweet son who makes no apologies for loving guns, projectile objects, all manner of fighting robots, and noise in general. They are so different, and I love them so completely for who they are.

Edna St. Vincent Millay says of an autumn scene in the poem God's World:

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,--Lord I do fear
Thsou'st made the world too beautiful this y ear;
My soul is all but out of me,--let fall
No burning leaf; prithee; let no bird call.

This poem describes an encounter with beauty, in this case a breathtaking autumn landscape, but in my case, I recall this poem often when I consider my passion for my children. My soul is all but out of me...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Oh Happy, Complicated Simpletons!

Warning: this violates the short and sweet blog entry rule. Read on, please. It would give me great pleasure...

This woman has it going on. She has a kid, she's writing a book, and she's a successful, what, law professor or something? I'm glad there are law professors. Really I am. I have no use for them, but I'm glad they're there. Granted, I have even less use for law professors of her ilk, but I digress.

Ms. Hirshman believes that women who stay at home are doing themselves and society a disservice, and that with the divorce rate what it is, women need to be prepared by staying in the office.

"Hirshman has some questions for the women who disagree with her: How can women leave the workplace when the divorce rate is 41 percent? And don't women know that after divorce, the man's standard of living goes up 10 percent while the woman's can collapse?"

Well, I for one don't really have any concern about divorce, so I can easily leave the workforce. I have a solid marriage that started with a commitment from me to my husband to "make it hard to leave in the morning, and great to come home at night." I've always been around for him, and I've always made homemaking a priority, even when I was working. He loves for me to be at home raising our kids, and doesn't want me to go back to work, though would "let me" if I wanted to. (I say "let me" because it's not something he lords over me--I'm a free agent.) Could it be that marriages are strong and homes secure because there's someone keeping the proverbial homefires burning? Hmmm....Let's examine some of her other points.

In response to a woman who took issue with her for demeaning her choice to be financially dependent on her husband, Ms. Hirshman says,

"Well, people choose to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but that does not stop people from saying it's a mistake," Hirshman said. "Listen to the risks you're taking before you take the risk."

This is the silliest reasoning I've ever heard. Why isn't she listening to any of the happy SAHM's whose marriages are secure and don't have children in therapy because of their absentee parents? This argument has holes so large that I could drive my minivan through. One is a dance with death, another is a lifestyle choice. I don't see the connection.

"Hirshman says working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn't buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine.

"I would like to see a description of their daily lives that substantiates that position," Hirshman said. "One of the things I've done working on my book is to read a lot of the diaries online, and their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person."


I wonder if she read my blog. Oh dear. Do I sound uninteresting or boring or uneducated? I'll have to go back to my professors in graduate school and give them a piece of my mind. I laugh as I write this. This woman hasn't a clue what it means to love with her life, to give everything in her soul to the health and well-being of her family, or to have the all-over feeling of rightness that comes on a lazy Saturday morning because DADDY gets to be home with us, too! As far as Ms. Hirshman is concerned I am complicated, educated and creative. I am also thrilled to have given up money to give all of those God-given talents to my children and husband. I love. I am loved. What on earth do I need money for? Do I sound fulfilled to you? If not, then you have a problem.


I wonder what Ms. Hirshman would say to my best friend who gave up her spot on the U.S. Olympic sailing team because she wanted to have a baby, and didn't want to delay any further? She's so glad she did. Medals don't giggle for you when you tickle them.

Hirshman says that's why women should only have one child. If you have one, you can keep up in the workplace, but two makes it difficult.

My response to this is only something that wouldn't be very Christian to write. Who the heck is she? Communist dictatorships demand that families have only one child. Do I really need to go into all the societal, not to mention familial problems that this implies? What would Ms. Hirshman say to my friend who has seven of the most wonderful humans that walk this earth living under her and her husband's roof? (They don't have to worry about divorce, either, by the way.) I'd like to see Ms. Hirshman keep up in that household--forget the workplace.

The long and short of this is that Ms. Hirshman is a condescending elitist. She just doesn't sound particularly fulfilled or happy to me. I think she is damaging herself and society with her choices and vitriolic lashing of anyone who is not living her version of the successful or even useful life. Misery loves company, does it not?

Many thanks to SPUNKY (I read you every day) for posting about this. I just couldn't leave it alone.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Busy-ness (and) Syndrome

A friend of ours came to visit. We met her in the city, took her around for the day, and then brought her home with us to stay the night and take her to the airport the following day. It was a fun, busy, and satisfying couple of days, but I was tired at the end of it...taking care of company, two kids, running around the city--deep breath.

As we were coming home in the midst of rush hour traffic we stopped for some take-out, and the place was packed with people, probably on their way home from work, trying to get a supersize nibble before rushing their kid over to the Sylvan learning center, just across the parking lot.

We wondered out loud--what's the big deal about Sylvan and tutoring places in general? I'm not saying they're bad...I'm just supposin' here...

Let's see...parents need two incomes so they can pay for their lifestyle. Child goes to public school that is sub-standard, comes home from school and after-school day-care cranky. He's unwilling or unable to do homework because he's too tired, doesn't get it, or just doesn't care. Parents scratch heads supposing that it must be the school's fault, or the kid's because he just doesn't listen, or his teacher isn't explaining well enough, so it's off to Sylvan for some caring, quality help. Once home from Sylvan exhausted child goes to bed with a peck of approval from Mom because he got his homework done. Next morning before sunrise she shuffles him out of bed to get him to school and herself off to work.

I am convinced that the busy-ness that people are engaged in today is epidemic. They are in a constant struggle to keep up, keep pace, and bypass the "average" so that they and their kids will be "special," "successful," "accomplished." I'd like to paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles... He said to Mr. Incredible that he invented his superpowers, but when he was tired of them, he'd sell them, and then everyone could be special, and then when EVERYONE was special, NO ONE would be!

My friend that was visiting teaches kids piano. She says that most of the kids are enrolled in two or three additional activities. "No wonder they don't practice," was her comment.

Looks like we'll have some pretty "special" pianists someday...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

'Tis the Season

...for every imaginable virus to strike. For little babies to have runny noses and wheezy coughs and for big brothers to spread the germs all over the house unwittingly. For dads to finally succumb to the crud and have to stay home from work in bed a day, and for moms to get a bit of it, too, but never really get to rest.

It is in these seasons when you just scrape by, the laundry piles up a little and the messes creep in. Lessons are done in catch-as-catch-can manner and sleep reigns supreme in everyone's fantasies.

One could be tempted to feel downhearted or even depressed, but there is a blessedness in it all. The days spent curled up together watching videos with grilled cheese and chicken soup meals are days that will be remembered fondly later. I still remember the compassion my mother had for me when I was sick, the meals she made to comfort me, and the presents I got to keep me occupied when I was "down." A new story record (does that date me?) or a coloring book could change the whole outlook on being sick.

So instead of railing against it all, hopefully we can be still and allow God's grace to fill our home and keep us from growing discouraged. Some day, when my boy is away at college or a bachelor living on his own, he'll think back to his momma and how good it felt to have her take care of him when he was sick.

When you think about it, that's why kids get sick so often and moms aren't allowed to...

On Reading

I love to read. I love it so much that I don't do it very often, or nearly as often as I wish I could.

One day last week my poor family had no dinner. When I say no dinner, I mean NO DINNER--hubby scrounged some ramen noodles, I slapped together a pb&j for the boy, nursed the baby, and I have no idea what I ate, or if i even did. All for a book.

It's all because of Pride and Predjudice. So now I'm on an Austen kick and decided to read Sense and Sensibility while I'm at it.

Thankfully my husband didn't mind at all. Ramen noodles are good once in a while, aren't they?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Update on Princess Crab-Apple

The crabby-baby syndrome disappeared with the outbreak of a rash on my sweet little girl's hairline, head, neck and tummy...she had roseola. She's better now!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Something all too Common

My heart has been heavy all day with the news that the boy shot in Florida by a police officer is now dead. I am the mother of a son and a daughter. There is no thought more terrible to me in this world than something happening to either of them, that they should lose their lives. My heart is broken for this boy's parents, whoever they are and whatever kind of parents they were.

Patrick Lafferty, a 15-year-old neighbor who has known Penley about six years, said he wasn't surprised by what happened. He said Penley was a loner who "told me he wanted to kill himself dozens of times."

"He would put his headphones on and walk up and down the street and he would work out a lot," preferring to keep to himself, Lafferty said.

Kelly Swofford, a family spokeswoman and neighbor of the boy's parents, said the boy had run away from home several times. Her 11-year-old son, Jeffery Swofford, said Penley had said he had something planned.

"He said 'I hope I die today because I don't really like my life,'" Jeffery Swofford said.


I have hopes and dreams for my children. I think every loving, normal parent does. However, my greatest, deepest, and most motivating desire for them both is that they know deep within their hearts that they are loved, first and foremost by God and secondly by us, and thirdly by each other. I want them to have such a strong sense of family that they would never feel the need to behave in this way or despair in such a way that they lose the desire to live.

It is so hard to write about this because I don't want to sound preachy or judgemental or freakishly reactionary. What I mean is that in no way am I making a statement about this boy or his parents and who they are or how they lived--I know nothing more than what I have seen in news reports. The facts are that a middle-school boy brought a pellet gun to school, wielded it at a cop, and now he is dead. I know nothing of his motives and nothing of his life except its end, but I have to ask myself, "what on earth could have prevented this?"

My head has been racing all day with past news reports and flashbacks of visuals that began with Columbine High School and incidents that continue even to this day. It's not like there is one school in this country that is impervious to this kind of thing--anywhere there is a school there will be bullies, loners, freaks and geeks, preps and jocks, in crowds and outcasts. There are experiences that children have in school that they never tell their parents, and they are harbored in the heart and carried for life. Schools are a world unto themselves, and no amount of PTA involvement can completely eradicate the weirdness of the situation--hundreds of children to handfuls of adults, and they are expected to thrive. Many do. I wonder, though, if any of them thrive without ever having an experience that they would gladly trade away if they could.

The more I learn about parenting and the more I pray for my children, the more I become convinced that these situations do not need to happen. I believe in a few principles of parenting that reach the heart of a child, and it is my prayer that by practicing these things, my son will never harbor hurts so deep in his heart that he hates his life. These principles are:
  1. Quantity of time spent with a child matters as much as the quality of time.
  2. Preventive maintenance in discipline is just as important as correcting wrong behaviors (see #1), and this can be done by listening, talking, praying, and playing together.
  3. A child needs to feel welcome and at home in his own house. If there are too many "no's" and not enough acceptance of who he is and what he likes to do, he will want to be elsewhere.
  4. Gender roles are important and should be modeled by a child's parents to the greatest extent possible, not a substitute.
  5. Kindness in a home must prevail. Where there is unkindness, bitterness develops.
I realize that many, many children do not have homes that can even begin to embrace all, or even some of these ideals. Thus it becomes our mission to teach others at every opportunity, by word and more importantly, by example, how to be for our children what they need. Otherwise, children being shot in school will continue to be something common, though I doubt we'll ever get used to it.

When it Rains the Cat's Away...

And the day that Daddy leaves for a business trip, all the tea in China hits the proverbial fan.

wait...I'm tired.

Tuesday, before he left, husband was in a car accident.
Wednesday we made a major purchase (cost more than $1000 and required more than one male to bring the thing home)
Thursday we had a hearing over a silly lawsuit.
Friday husband left for the opposite coast.
Friday Mom decides to take children to the museum to divert our attention from Daddy's absence. Boy catches stomach virus and throws up on the capital mall in D.C.
Mommy tends to boy for three days.
Baby girl starts teething (OR SOMETHING! I'm still not sure why she's been so crabby) and cries for the better part of four days and won't sleep.
Long-anticipated play date gets cancelled.
Baby is still crabby--won't sleep. Mommy doesn't sleep as a result.
Five days later Husband comes home. Baby falls asleep on his shoulder and goes to bed without a peep. Boy sleeps happily in his own bed. Dinner is served and cleaned up and put away.
Mommy has a beer.
Mommy is going to bed.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My heart has been heavy all day with the news that the boy shot in Florida by a police officer is now dead. I am the mother of a son and a daughter. There is no thought more terrible to me in this world than something happening to either of them, that they should lose their lives. My heart is broken for this boy's parents, whoever they are and whatever kind of parents they were.

Patrick Lafferty, a 15-year-old neighbor who has known Penley about six years, said he wasn't surprised by what happened. He said Penley was a loner who "told me he wanted to kill himself dozens of times."

"He would put his headphones on and walk up and down the street and he would work out a lot," preferring to keep to himself, Lafferty said.

Kelly Swofford, a family spokeswoman and neighbor of the boy's parents, said the boy had run away from home several times. Her 11-year-old son, Jeffery Swofford, said Penley had said he had something planned.

"He said 'I hope I die today because I don't really like my life,'" Jeffery Swofford said.


I have hopes and dreams for my children. I think every loving, normal parent does. However, my greatest, deepest, and most motivating desire for them both is that they know deep within their hearts that they are loved, first and foremost by God and secondly by us, and thirdly by each other. I want them to have such a strong sense of family that they would never feel the need to behave in this way or despair in such a way that they lose the desire to live.

It is so hard to write about this because I don't want to sound preachy or judgemental or freakishly reactionary. What I mean is that in no way am I making a statement about this boy or his parents and who they are or how they lived--I know nothing more than what I have seen in news reports. The facts are that a middle-school boy brought a pellet gun to school, wielded it at a cop, and now he is dead. I know nothing of his motives and nothing of his life except its end, but I have to ask myself, "what on earth could have prevented this?"

My head has been racing all day with past news reports and flashbacks of visuals that began with Columbine High School and incidents that continue even to this day. It's not like there is one school in this country that is impervious to this kind of thing--anywhere there is a school there will be bullies, loners, freaks and geeks, preps and jocks, in crowds and outcasts. There are experiences that children have in school that they never tell their parents, and they are harbored in the heart and carried for life. Schools are a world unto themselves, and no amount of PTA involvement can completely eradicate the weirdness of the situation--hundreds of children to handfuls of adults, and they are expected to thrive. Many do. I wonder, though, if any of them thrive without ever having an experience that they would gladly trade away if they could.

The more I learn about parenting and the more I pray for my children, the more I become convinced that these situations do not need to happen. I believe in a few principles of parenting that reach the heart of a child, and it is my prayer that by practicing these things, my son will never harbor hurts so deep in his heart that he hates his life. These principles are:
  1. Quantity of time spent with a child matters as much as the quality of time.
  2. Preventive maintenance in discipline is just as important as correcting wrong behaviors (see #1), and this can be done by listening, talking, praying, and playing together.
  3. A child needs to feel welcome and at home in his own house. If there are too many "no's" and not enough acceptance of who he is and what he likes to do, he will want to be elsewhere.
  4. Gender roles are important and should be modeled by a child's parents to the greatest extent possible, not a substitute.
  5. Kindness in a home must prevail. Where there is unkindness, bitterness develops.
I realize that many, many children do not have homes that can even begin to embrace all, or even some of these ideals. Thus it becomes our mission to teach others at every opportunity, by word and more importantly, by example, how to be for our children what they need. Otherwise, children being shot in school will continue to be something common, though I doubt we'll ever get used to it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dumber than Taxes

There's been a lot of buzz about John Stossel's Stupid in America report in the blogosphere. I have read the article, but I didn't see the program, because we don't have any t.v. reception anymore. Even so, my husband and I were discussing this very issue just the other night. We figured that, with the $6,000-8,000 of our tax monies that are spent on each individual student in the public schools (and sometimes more if that school needs "help" raising test scores and what-not) they should be virtual geniuses. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I COULD DO WITH $6,000????!!! Books, field trips, computer programs, music and art lessons, sports activities...The fact is that I pay my taxes for someone else to get all of these things and then will probably spend that much and more for my own child's education, as well, just as if I were paying private school tuition.

The NEA vehemently opposes school vouchers and competition. Why? They might actually have to work a little harder, or consider their students' real needs...freedom of choice, for starters.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Entering Narnia, Part 2

It was to my delirious delight that my son was eager to read The Chronicles, but what's more, he craves them.

The actual wardrobe that is said to to have inspired the story that C.S. Lewis wrote is housed in a special collection at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College. When I told him that I had seen the real wardrobe, he said without hesitation, "Oh Mommy I want to go there!" I cannot wait to take him!

I never believed in Santa, and no TV show has ever had the impact on me that The Chronicles of Narnia had as a child. I can believe in Narnia. It is so real, and so tangible, and no one has ever proven that it doesn't exist. I still believe in it, actually. The grave disappointment for me however, came the day I reached into that wardrobe and knocked on the back of it and felt--a wood panel back...no pine trees, no soft glow from the lamp post. The professor did say that it would not be through the wardrobe that the children would find Narnia again, so what did I expect, really? Even so, the sign on the door is rightly posted, "please do not climb into the wardrobe." It is a strange, magical pull that one feels to hide in there and close the door, but not all the way. It's a foolish thing to close oneself up in a wardrobe, as all the Pevensies remembered except for Edmund...

Unschooling? Classical? Charlotte Mason?

I found this Carnival of Unschooling while checking my favorite blog. It answers a lot of questions about unschooling from people who actually practice it. I always believed it to be the sort of thing that people only talked about, but didn't actually do. I only ever met one person who really used an uschooling approach, but I thought, "she doesn't count--she's weird, she's a braggart, and I don't like her." Okay, I admit, it's a terrible thought, but it was a strong first impression that I was getting, and I never saw the woman again, so it's just that--a first impression. I'm sure she's a fine person.

I hope to avoid any kind of classification in our home-centered education journey. I think I'm a classical educator, but also I subscribe to the Charlotte Mason philosphy, and strangely, I find myself to be a bit of an unschooler at the same time. My son is only four, and my daughter is a dear, tiny, innocent eight months (today in fact!) with not a hint of knowledge about what Mommy and Daddy have in store for her (just you wait little girl...it's going to be amazing!).

I had no idea that "preschool" with my four-year-old would turn out to be part kindergarten, part Narnia, part Star Wars (we battle with light sabers on a regular basis--I'm learning some pretty amazing moves--and sound effects!), and part--but mostly--hugging and kissing and cooking and eating and bathing and visiting and playing.

How then can I say that from one year to the next I'm going to follow this-or-that curriculum or system? How can I determine from one year to the next what we'll want, need, or even be interested in? I can't deny that Disney is partly responsible for my reinvigorated interest and delight in Narnia. Who knows what the Olympics will bring about? Or the next election? I'm going to keep my options open and take it year by year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Entering Narnia with a Four Year Old Boy

I have to admit that I was both thrilled and disappointed when I learned that a movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia was to be made. I couldn't wait to see it, but was dreading the desecration of what is a perfectly constructed work of art in its own right. My husband and I went to see it, and other than being too close to the screen in the sold-out theatre, we enjoyed the movie very much. I was pleasantly suprised. I won't spoil it for you but I will say this much:

It was beautifully done.

I wouldn't take my son to see it until he's a little older--maybe 7 or 8 (He's 4 now).

I decided to refresh my own memory of the stories that I read first as a girl of about 9 or 10, and then again later on as an adult. I think I've read the whole series three times, not including this reading. I started reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to my son, not knowing if he would be able to listen that much. I now feel guilty for underestimating him. He absolutely loved it. At different points in the story he actually got so scared (in a good way) that he would jump and hide behind me, or start jumping around with relief at the outcome of and exciting moment.

At the conclusion of that story, he was practically begging me to start Prince Caspian immediately. We are now reading that, and he would have me read it at every free moment.

I decided to help his listening comprehension with a project, and we started it yesterday. He is enthusiastically making a picture book of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

It's an easy project. You can put absolutely anything in the book--we cut out winter scenes, pictures of coats, and a beautiful spring landscape picture from catalogs and magazines. Then I "Googled" whatever I wanted a coloring sheet of. For instance, I typed in "faun coloring sheets" and wham-o! I had my choice of coloring pages of fauns. We are now coloring the pictures of all of the different characters that we printed out--a lion of course, a faun, a minotaur, a centaur (he's especially interested in the armies), beavers, a castle that can be Cair Paravel, and we'll probably cut out photos of boys and girls from magazines to be the children. He will then tell me the story in his own words and I'll write it down just as he tells me, and we'll put the pictures and story together.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Things of Which I am Convinced

God is good. When I say this, I don’t mean it in a trite, fluffy way. I mean it in my bones. He is so all-emcompassing and complete, that I am convinced of my dependence on Him for my very next breath.

Sleep is essential. For every member—from the toughest, most enduring Daddy to the little baby who can’t eat her dinner because she missed her nap and is too fussy. Sleep is a gift from God and if we neglect it, we cannot function at the fullest capacity of usefulness for His kingdom. At the times we need to miss sleep for extentuating circumstances, we are afforded the opportunity to rely more heavily on God’s grace and strength.

Food is deeper than mere sustenance. Family meals centered on homecooked favorites and fun experimental failures are the heart of bonding, and every member should participate as often as possible. A great deal of corporate laughter happens around our table, as do many frustrating moments fraught with fidgeting bodies, messy slops and noisy chewing, but we’re together, and we work it all out together. This is where manners are taught and conversation is mastered. If home is where the heart is, then the heart is where dinner is served.

TV is very unnecessary. Completely unnecessary, in fact. Life is full enough, so why waste it watching other people whose lives are mostly trainwrecks?

Friends and companions are necessary. They must be chosen carefully. Then once chosen they must not be neglected, but tended to carefully, like a garden.

Children are a gift. Wondeful, sweet, tender, and innocent, they remind us of our own beginnings and carry us through to our ends. Above all, they turn our eyes to our own Heavenly Father to remind us that He is good, and that we need him more than anything.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Teaching a Bird to Read

Have you ever watched a bird for any period of time? Ever notice how they don't hold still even for a moment? Something is always twitching, their heads are constantly looking this way, then that.

That is what it is like to teach a four-year-old boy to read. He is ready. He knows all his sounds and all of his letters, and makes up his own reading games and letter hunts. He wants to read and tries...but when the time comes to sit down and do a lesson (we're doing Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons)I feel as if I have a bird sitting beside me, and it is my job to get that bird to focus on the page of the book for more than one second at a time.

If the bird were a chicken, I think I would have wrung its neck and had it for dinner by now, but since it is a lovely bird, and something I cherish tremendously, I think I'll try to teach it to read.