Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Don't forget to tune in this Thursday evening to the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which caught the interest of the media this year by replacing the Miss America Pageant. Championship Rounds live on ABC from 7 to 9 p.m. Texas Time (that's 8 to 10 Eastern for all you non-Texas readers, both of you).

Naturally, we're all rooting for 12-year-old Samir Patel, who is both Texan and homeschooled, and so cannot possibly fail to win.
CoH 22

The 22nd Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Common Room. Several pieces, as you might expect, on the subject of keeping the little ones busy during summer. There's no break around here, though: we work like dogs during the summer, getting as much work done as possible while the temperatures are soaring daily into the humid 90's and above, with lap swimming in the early morning and recreational swimming in the evening. We take our long break when the weather gets cooler, from around Thanksgiving through the new year.

Anyone else treat the heat and suspension of outside classes as an opportunity to slave over a cool desk?

Monday, May 29, 2006

On-Line RCIA: Waiting for Pentecost

Hearty congratulations to those who were confirmed this Easter Season, and to those who will be confirmed during the Nine Days leading up to Pentecost. These nine days of prayer are called a "novena," and while novenas can be prayed at any time of year, in imitation of the prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles during the period of anticipatory waiting between the Ascension and Pentecost, this is the "official" novena time.

If this is the first you've heard about it and just realized "Golly, I've missed the first three days of the novena!," don't worry about it: just join in today for Day 4. The link above gives a very Franciscan novena; others (somewhat less elaborate) are here and here. Or, of course, you can just pray as the Spirit guides you, perhaps including the traditional Catholic prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful
And kindle in them the fire of thy love.
Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created
And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Parental Involvement

I thought this was interesting just because of the number of times I've been asked, "Why don't you stay in the public school system and work for change from within?"

“There is no true consultation. It’s more, 'We will brief you,’” said Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson.

And that, Klein might say, is just as it should be. Consulting with parents can create “gridlock,” the chancellor once said.

You bet. They really don't want to hear my opinions on what's fundamentally wrong with the standard curriculum and pedagogy. I don't want to waste time beating my head against the wall. Homeschooling is win-win for everyone.
Salon, the Pearls, the Ezzos

Interesting Salon article on the Pearls and the death of the homeschooled boy in North Carolina. The writer makes clear early on that "Christian" in the particular cultural context has a restricted meaning, and that many homeschoolers, Christian or not, want nothing to do with the "discipline" style of the Pearls and their followers. (Click through annoying ad to get to the whole article.)

At the end is a link to an older article about the Ezzo Babywise books. Too depressing for words, and an irritating photo showing crucifix-toting parents ignoring their hungry crying baby: excuse me, I don't believe it was the Catholic churches that were passing around the Ezzo books and holding seminars on baby-starvation a few years ago.

One thing I don't see mentioned in either article is that both the Pearls and the Ezzos, despite their fundamentalist credentials, are just doing a Christian version of the mainstream parenting advice featured in the awful What To Expect series and repeated by "normal," secular pediatricians and baby advice books nationwide. From the second article:

"Overwhelmingly, "Babywise" parents accepted without question the conventional wisdom that "kids today" are out of control. Faced with the onslaught of media images of rampaging middle-schoolers and wilding teens, these parents believe that by cracking down on what Ezzo defines as infant rebellion now, they will prevent problems later."

And thus the Ezzos' and Pearls' advice to discipline early and often, from infancy onward. But while the extreme admonitions to strike babies or deprive them of food catch the media attention, the underlying premise does not: namely, that infants and toddlers must learn to be independent at an early age, that they must not be over-indulged, that restrictions and limitations must begin from day one, or brattiness is sure to follow. We finally tossed aside What to Expect the First Year when we grew tired of the breathless assurances of disaster if we helped parent our child to sleep, if we nursed her a day past thirteen months, if we in any way let the manipulative little creature think that we might be responding to her emotional cravings and desires rather than to her rawly physiological needs.

The Pearls and Ezzos just take it a step further, but the underlying philosophy, whether in fringe Christian or mainstream secular terms, is the same: your little one must learn to get himself to sleep; to stop himself crying; to not expect that lovely nursing to happen too much; to be a little independent adult, respectful of the needs of the real adults, and that right quick, or delinquency and neuroses lurk in the near future.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stale Air

Did anyone else catch NPR's Fresh Air interview of Michael Farris, founder of the HSLDA, yesterday? It was breathtaking to hear how, within a space of about fifteen minutes, Farris and Terri Gross managed between them to commit all of the Forbidden Phrases of homeschooling. It went something like this:

Terri: So what do you say to the well-founded concern many people have that homeschooled children are unsocialized, isolated sociopaths and probable future domestic terrorists, whose parents are obviously unqualified to teach?

Michael: Maybe we should talk instead about the socialization of institutionalized children who are locked into prison-schools and forced to hate Christianity.

I was ready to rip the radio out of the wall.
21st Carnival of Homeschooling

At Principled Discovery. Featuring an especially interesting link to a piece at The Learning Umbrella on school districts dumping low-testing kids at risk for dropping out by convincing their parents to "homeschool" them (i.e. let them drop out without it counting as a dropout); a phenomenon we all became more aware of around here after the scandals of the Houston Miracle, and some personal experiences with "dumped" children in homeschooling groups, many of whom have issues beyond the academic.
The Stages of iPod

Thanks to Yahmdallah for the suggestion.

1. Price Panic: Thanks for the iPod, honey, but we can't afford it! Oh, the credit card company gave you free prize points in exchange for your not pursuing those questionable extra charges? And you bought it with those? Well that's okay then.

2. The Last Ten Years Vanish: Hooray! I can listen to all my cool music again, just like I did in the days before Wee Sing tapes! Gosh I haven't heard Bono missing notes on Boy in ages.

3. The Reality of Child Neglect: Turns out that you can't hear the little one screaming when you have Shonen Knife cranked. When am I going to get to use this thing?

4. Everything is Absorbed into Homeschooling: Now my iPod mostly contains recordings of Shakespearian drama, the Iliad and Odyssey, and medieval recordings from BYU's Chaucer Studio, so I can plug it into the tape deck and Offspring #1 can carschool when we run errands. Sigh.
Life and Death

In the local news. The man who was killed in a jet-skiing accident on Lake Travis yesterday was blogger Father Todd Reitmeyer, we learn this morning from Amy Welborn's blog. He was home in Austin for a vacation.

Meanwhile, Robert Springsteen, who was flagrantly railroaded for Austin's infamous and unsolved 1991 Yogurt Shop murders (his death sentence had been commuted due to the Supreme Court's decision regarding death sentences for minors), has had his conviction overturned by the Fourth Circuit. The APD, and pretty much no one else, remains convinced of his guilt. Just like they were convinced of Maurice Pierce's guilt. And Christopher Ochoa's. And Lacresha Murray's. Odd how the APD gets confessions out of so many people who turn out to be innocent.

Michael Scott, the third defendant in the Yogurt Shop murders, remains in prison serving a life sentence (having refused an offer at one point of a 20-year sentence, out on parole in 13, in exchange for rolling over on Pierce), convicted chiefly on the basis of his confession.

St. John Vianney, patron of priests, and St. Dismas, patron of the wrongfully imprisoned, pray for Fr. Reitmeyer, for Springsteen and Scott, and for mercy and justice in our city.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jab, Hit, Then Stop

We saw examples in a previous post of the medieval and renaissance portrayals of the young St. John the Evangelist as long-haired and delicately featured. Mistaking St. John in Leonardo's Last Supper for a woman is a tourist's error.

Now here's another Leonardo. Take a guess: who is this lovely young creature?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

CoH 19

The latest Carnival of Homeschooling is up here.

Sorry for the light bloggage recently; the Opinionated Homeschooler has been trying to re-learn high school chemistry. This time around I seem to be actually understanding it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Don't know why ... there's no sun up in the sky ...

Everyone make it through the storm okay?

We lost some big limbs from our elm, nothing worse. The tree guy was supposed to come Monday for pruning just so we wouldn't take this kind of damage from a bad storm, but oh well. No other real damage that I can see, though we haven't checked the roof thoroughly. The house across the street that's being rebuilt had the roof crunched pretty badly by neglected trees; the pecan in front of the house next to it looks ripped up enough I can't see it staying alive.

We heard a loud POP when the leading edge hit, which turned out to be the power line at the corner going down. The street was a couple inches under water at that point, and the electric flashes and popping just kept going on nonstop. The fire dept. wasn't able to get anyone out for an hour to fix it. Eudoxus rescued the cat who had sensibly holed up under the car.

I'm surprised the flooding isn't any worse, as the city has recently blocked off the storm drains as they work on this endless project to (ironically) increase sewer capacity in case of a big storm. Like this one. This is the project they promised us after the 2001 storms, where we actually had water jetting out of the drains and flooding everyone.

Did anyone see the 1.5" hail they promised us on the news? I found a .5" chunk that bounced onto the porch, but I wasn't inclined to wander out among the falling trees and power lines to look for more.

What a mess. Time to go clean up the yard.

Update: One perimeter check later ... a particularly big elm limb crunched our fence at the corner, and the security light behind the house is in a zillion shiny pieces. The tree guy stopped by in person to beg for a postponement, since he's spending the next few days chainsawing trees off of people's roofs.

So, Mrs. Darwin ... the radar looked like y'all got socked pretty bad last night. Any interesting funnel-shaped clouds, or was that fun all going on to the southwest?