So, now everyone is dressed, breakfasted, medicated, and ready for a morning of play. We won't try much schoolwork today. Perhaps a read-aloud and some craft in the afternoon, but I'm afraid that ten students is a little too much for this Granny. Besides, isn't Reformation Day a holiday?
Anybody else enjoying this one?
On the occasion of the much-ballyhooed (or much-bemoaned, depending on which corner of the blogosphere you frequent) 300 millionth baby in the U.S. being born last week, Mark Steyn has responded to liberal hand-wringing:
"Three hundred million seems to be greeted more with hand-wringing ambivalence than chest-thumping pride," observed the Washington Post, which inclines toward the former even on the best of days. No chest-thumping up in Vermont, either. "Organizations such as the Shelburne-based Population Media Center are markingAfter responding to the tired ol' scare stories about over-population, Steyn wonders what other nightmares we could possibly be talking about:
the 300 million milestone with renewed warnings that world population growth is unsustainable," reported the Burlington Free Press. Across the country, the grim milestone prompted this reaction from a somber Dowell Myers. "At 300 million," noted the professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, "we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."
As for other degradations the weight of which is so crushing to Myers, name some. America is one of the most affordable property markets in the Western world. I was amazed to discover, back in the first summer of the Bush presidency, that a three-bedroom air-conditioned house in Crawford, Texas, could be yours for 30,000 bucks and, if that sounds a bit steep, a double-wide on a couple of acres would set you back about $6,000. And not just because Bush lives next door and serves as a kind of one-man psychological gated community keeping the NPR latte-sippers from moving in and ruining the neighborhood. The United States is about the cheapest developed country in which to get a nice home with a big yard and raise a family. That's one of the reasons why America, almost alone among Western nations, has a healthy fertility rate.Of course, if you've listened to all those economists who tell you that it will cost you $1.4 million or something like that to raise each child, you'd be scared silly to raise one, let alone raise a family who needs a big back yard. The truth is that those figures are promulgated largely by entities with an agenda, and that agenda does not include large families. "Large," of course, is a highly-relative term these days:
In America, there are 2.1 live births per woman. In 17 European countries, it's 1.3 or below -- that's what demographers call "lowest-low" fertility, a rate from which no society has ever recovered.
And so Steyn thinks that the milestone last week should be celebrated:
The reality is that in a Western world ever more wizened and barren the 300 millionth American is the most basic example of American exceptionalism. Happy birth day, kid, and here's to many more.Well, my grandson wasn't THE one, but my calculations tell me that he was about #299,999,989.
Why can't I take a utility bill or a bank statement and put it in the folder in the filing cabinet RIGHT THEN?
Why do I have to wait until I have a stack of papers 7 inches thick (really! I measured!) to file? I hate this! And every time I finally get them filed I make myself a promise that I will never let this happen again...that I will file every single piece of paper as it comes.
And that lasts about 5 1/2 days. That was the record.
So now I'm tackling a stack that reaches back to, oh, I don't know, I'm finally back to July so I figure they've been collecting since May or so.
Maybe it's because in this day of doing everything by computer, I really don't deal with paper all that much and so it's not an every week habit like it used to be. If I'd been this bad in 1985 I'd have filled up all the bathtubs with paper in five months! But I don't even like to touch the stuff anymore. If it doesn't have a URL it's worthless and I don't want to fool with it. There are still a few pieces of paper, though, that need to be kept for a while and I have to figure out a better system.
And then there's the check problem. Okay, does anyone use checks anymore? I've even forgotten how to order new ones! I don't go through a pad in a year anymore so I MOVE more often than I order checks...and that's not often these days! So now that I'm finally coming to the end of the ones I ordered when we retired from the military and returned from Hawaii, I feel like I need to go take a class or something. I have been reduced to begging the piano and karate teachers to take Paypal until I can get my act together! I laughed the other day when I had to sign my name somewhere and it occurred to me that I almost can't do THAT anymore. Signing checks was about the last thing I ever did in real handwriting, and now I do that so seldom that I have to look at it twice to make sure it looks like it used to.
Well, anyway, tonight there will be no more promises. Before I go to bed I'm starting a new stack of things to file so the pressure will be off. And I'll be back in the spring.
My, how the world has changed...
I have a love/hate relationship with early voting. I am very glad that our state allows it. I love the option. I love it partly because it's so easy for things to pop up in my life on election day that might make it nearly impossible to vote. With early voting, I have my choice of several different days, great hours, and short or nonexistent lines.
On the other hand...I have this recurring daydream every time I vote early. It goes like this: I'm sitting propped up in bed two nights before the final election day, watching the news about who's ahead and who's pulling up in the polls, feeling very smug because my voting is already done. And then, "THIS IS A FOX NEWS ALERT. Just coming across the wire...AP is reporting that Robert L. "Buddy" Evans, Republican candidate for Texas 6th congressional district, has just been arrested on suspicion of murder. Authorities say that Evans may be responsible for as many as eight grisly murders near the Texas-Louisiana border last year. Texas law says that he must remain on the ballot unless he confesses or is convicted, and with just two days left until the election, it still appears that he is a shoo-in to represent his district in Congress."
Since there is at present no way, at least in my state, to "take back" your vote, even if you accidentally voted for a serial killer, my smugness is always tempered as I walk away from the early voting booth. If any of those guys I just voted for are about to be arrested for something awful, please let it wait until the night of the 7th so I won't regret having jumped the gun.
Oooh. Bad metaphor.
The site also has a place where you can sign up to be notified of offenders moving into your area, an update on Amber alerts, and a page of safety tips to go over with your children.
If you have children, or even if you don't, bookmark this site and make yourself a reminder to check in once a month to see what the movement has been in your neighborhood or near your child's school. Over 1000 registered sex offenders report an address change EVERY DAY.
You go, girl!
What was I thinking when I scheduled a birthday sleepover for ten 10-13 year old boys while the Papa is out of town??
Well, with the way both of our travel schedules have unfolded this fall, there really was no alternative (except to "just say no" LOL). So I figure, hey, it's only a few hours, right? I can do anything for one night.
But now, with the clock at Sleepover minus seven hours and counting, panic is setting in. Especially since I also realized yesterday that 18yo ds, who was my "fall back plan," won't even be home! His band is performing somewhere tonight, which I'm sure is much more important than my eventual institutionalization for psychosis...but we'll see. Do they take you in an ambulance for something like that?
If this were a party for my girls, I'd be in the kitchen making petit-fours and canapes (well, all right, I'd have THEM in there doing all that!) and making sure we had a nice selection of special teas and pretty napkins. But no amount of culinary skill or sacrifice would mean as much to the bunch that we'll have here this weekend as does my freezer full of Bagel Bites, Mini-Beef Tacos, Pizza Rolls, Jalapeno-Cheese Nuggets, Chicken Taquitos, and a variety of chips and dips. Not the usual fare at Granny's House, but this is about them, right? I keep telling myself it's about the memories and not about the amount of preparation or the total grams of trans-fats.
And then I'm wondering, is it possible to OD on video games? No, I don't mean THEM, I mean those of us who have to listen to unending hours of those annoying noises that come from the speakers. What are those, anyway? I've speculated that it's a new language that only adolescent boys are using, one that females have not been genetically pre-programmed to decipher. Probably just as well.
So, if you think about me this weekend, look toward heaven and whisper a prayer that by the time the emergency vehicles arrive with the siren and the revolving lights and the restraint devices, that the boys will have accumulated enough great memories to last until next year, and that my sons will be grateful enough that they will come often during visiting hours.
I am so excited about this book! Lynne Cheney, one of my favorite people, has done it again, and it was great to see her on FOX and friends this morning with Our 50 States. Her enthusiasm for our great country is contagious...she'll infect your kids with it in this fun book about the distinctives and fun facts about every state. It would be a great Christmas gift!
I promised an update on the kids' online classes. This is the first year we've used this option, and if I had it to do over again I might have started with just half the number of courses we're currently doing. Because, truth be told, it's as much or more work for the parents as it is for the kids until the steep learning curve is scaled. And working with two different online schools has been very challenging, since each one has totally different types of procedures for turning in work and testing. As a matter of fact, even the two courses we're using from ONE school have very different procedures. And the requirements, the expectations, and the deadlines are rigorous, more so than anything I've ever required at home. When they say "6 p.m. ET," they MEAN it, and there's a penalty to the grade for every day something is late. And if it's a minute late, it's a day late! Oh, I've been tough on assignments here and there, and I've enforced a few deadlines, but the day in-day out pace is tougher than what Nathan is facing in his first year of college. Good preparation, yes...but it's at times left both me and the Papa breathless trying to make sure all the bases are covered.
So, my recommendation for those of you who have asked is to approach with caution. If you're not sure that your household can stand the pace (if you're nursing a baby and have two toddlers for instance!) then stick one foot in the water with ONE course. If that works, then add one or two more the following year. But I'm very "high" on the overall effect with my three students who are taking them. It's brought a real sense of accomplishment to get the first few weeks under our belt, and I see it paying dividends in their non-online work as well.
We are currently using The Potter's School and Oxford Tutorials, in case you'd like to check them out. The first is a huge school, with something like 1600 students this year, and hundreds of courses offered. The second is much, much smaller with just one professor and a few courses and a much more laid-back approach. Still rigorous and challenging, but not as much of the "running a marathon" feel. I highly recommend both schools.
I'm already comfortable here, which means it's truly the RIGHT house, huh? Kim saw it and commented on the Extreme Home Makeover, and I'll have to say that I'll enjoy it as much as one that any team of remodelers on TV could do. In this case, the entire team, floor to ceiling, was....TA-DA--
SUSIE, AT BLUEBIRD BLOGS!
Yes, her hammer and saw and level and paintbrush are the best around! So if your place is looking a little run down, or if you want to redecorate in your favorite colors and fonts, think about a total remodel in time for the holidays...and tell her I sent you :-)
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY CUTE LITTLE STEPS, SUSIE!
I've locked the doors on my other blog and started moving some of the "furniture" over here in preparation for the arrival of my new design. Scroll down the sidebar to find some of my favorite things.
Speaking of favorites, I've always derived a moderate amount of pleasure from watching politics. It's a great study in human nature, as well as an opportunity to test my powers of prediction. What I *didn't* need was to hear this morning of another way to indulge my interest...Here is something that could easily pull me in and tempt me to give up cooking, teaching, cleaning, and anything else non-essential :-) If you're a news or politics "junkie," go have a look. But be careful. Fantasy Congress - Where People Play Politics!
I'm sure I'm dating myself, but it gave me a twinge of sadness this morning to hear of the death of Jane Wyatt, aka Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best, at age 96. Unlike many of my generation, I have a supreme appreciation for this show and others of the Ozzie and Harriet genre. It seems it's rather cool these days to show a rather embarrassed disdain for the old sitcoms that portrayed a happy nuclear family and pretend that they were merely a figment of the 50's imagination. Not so. It's the world I lived in and there were many, many families I knew that looked and operated much like the Andersons. And even if there hadn't been, the perfect family as fantasy was great entertainment. What many forget is how often these families portrayed themselves as IMperfect and fragile. No, not as in Desperate Housewives, but as in the kinds of dilemmas my family found ourselves in every day. We didn't always get ours wrapped up in thirty minutes, of course, but watching a family who managed to didn't make us disillusioned or envious or unrealistic. Revisionist history says we were all hoodwinked into thinking this is the way all families were. I knew better even then, and still relished the model. Anyway, farewell Margaret, and thank you...
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin'...
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out... reconsider.
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
"I Hope You Dance"
by Tia Sillers
Dear friends lost their 47 year old son to a heart attack.
Another dear friend has been unjustly accused of a horrible crime.
Grandson Isaac is in the emergency room as I write, having a gash in his head stitched up and suffering another, unstitchable, gash in his tongue.
Relatives have children that are causing them great grief.
My chronic pain has returned after a lovely respite.
Sometimes, when bowing beneath the weight of such sadness, I turn to the Psalms. Today, though, God brought to mind a passage that seemed incongruous, and very inconvenient I might add. I'd rather commiserate with the Psalmist. But no, Jeremiah had to speak up:
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'
I don't understand, Lord. Plans for welfare? Not for calamity?
It's here that I'm keenly aware of my near-sightedness. These things certainly look like calamity to me.
But my glasses don't correct for eternity. They don't even correct for next year. What looks like disaster to me doesn't take into account the way God is working behind the scenes, in the dark, around the next corner. It's only when I bow to His line of sight that I can trust that it will all make sense someday. The calamities, big and small, that are in focus today will dim and blur and blend into the larger portrait of Christ that God is painting in and with His people.
Right now I'm thinking about how this realization affects how I present these events to the children. How do I put these things in focus without minimizing the pain? They carry impact in our lives and there's no getting around that. To deny their "heft" in this life is to risk alienating the ones watching, the ones who have inherited my nearsightedness. But to adjust my focus so that the sadness is all we see is to deny the power of the One who holds all these events in His hands.
Lord, give me the wisdom to acknowledge what I see and yet walk by faith...
So...today I head home. This is what little Liam looks like at nearly two weeks old, already losing some of the newborn look and giving us a glimpse of how much he'll be changing in the next months. It hurts to leave...in some sense I'll never again see the same little guy I leave today. But I leave him in the hands of capable, loving parents and most of all in the Hands of a loving God who will shape and mold him into the image of Christ. When I see him next, he'll be a little farther down that road....
Goodbye, Liam Slaughter. Granny loves you.
Granny is enjoying the quiet days at the Slaughters, at least as quiet as a household with five children 8 and under will ever be! We've resumed lessons with the two oldest, something that they're not entirely thrilled about, but a sign that life is returning to normal...
We are anticipating a home birth, so today the tasks consist of getting the birth room all ready. All baby clothes and blankets are washed and ready, freezer is stocked with some meals for the first few days, and the household is in wait mode. Soon there will be another set of lungs and demands within these walls, but those realities are nothing compared to the treasure of another pink or blue bundle of sweetness...God's continuing whisper of blessing in this home. I'm privileged to be here to witness His goodness...