Stay At Home Parents are Moochers

In November, I wrote a post about how Leftism and the Family Cannot Coexist. I said then:

When a leftist speaks about making someone a “full participant in the economy” he reveals his willful ignorance of economics. When I bake bread myself, and eat it with my neighbor, that is an economic activity, just as much as if I had bought my bread from a baker instead. But if I simply grow my own wheat, grind it, bake it, and give half to my needy neighbor, there is no way that the IRS can get its grubby hands on it.
Since the government can’t quantify your loaf of homemade bread, that loaf simply does not exist for the leftist. He imagines that you are hungry, and tries to convince you of that fiction. Though you can sense that your tummy is full, simply because that bread didn’t cost any dollars, the leftist believes you are lying to yourself. You’re starving, you fool!

I thought it was a pretty good post to have been written by a hillbilly mommy blogger, but Rourke, our house dissenter, begged to differ. You see, my (totally imaginary and not at all provable by the actual works of leftist ideologues) idea that the Left, which thinks that the State is entitled to every ounce of our productive labor, and to the just redistribution of the fruits thereof, also seeks to tear down family, church, and community in order to usher us all into taxable work is nothing but right-wing paranoia, curable by (and I quote the man) “nothing short of bloodshed.”

And I’m the bloodthirsty extremist, Rourke? I trashed that comment because it was longer than my post, and I really think a person ought to do that kind of spewing on his own blog instead of bothering me with it. I realize too late that I could have left that comment there, since it proved my point almost better than I myself did, but I was in “ain’t nobody got time for that” mode, and really didn’t care very much if I was being fair or not. Lesson learned. But I do have time now, so I want to take a moment to point out some leftists saying that surprise! all your labor are belong to us.

You see, it is a bonus to you that you don’t have to pay taxes when you wipe down your own counters and watch your own kids. You’re a moocher if you don’t send your kids to daycare and get taxable.

Twitchy calls it unbelievable, but if you’ve been paying attention, and possibly reading books by the thinkers that either come up with this junk or seek to counter it, it is all too believable. They are greedy, and they are materialists, and I will probably delete your reply to the contrary this time as well, Rourke, but knock yourself out. Don’t forget to wipe the spittle off your screen afterwards.

Go do some unpaid, untaxable, God-honoring mothering today, ladies. Our nation’s freedom depends on you.

{ 12 comments }

Teach Them Diligently 2015

I just registered!

Teach Them Diligently 728X180

See you in Atlanta?

{ 1 comment }

Origami Owl (Giveaway)

Update: Congratulations, Melissa! Our winner has been contacted and will receive her prize soon. This party is still going, though, and anyone interested can still place an order through my party link until Friday, January 16.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day (so send this link to your husbands, ladies!)

My friend Holly is an Origami Owl consultant. Meet Holly:

holly

She’s the one on the right. The lack of noticeable facial hair might be a clue.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Origami Owl’s living lockets, so here’s a pretty picture of one. You choose from a huge variety of charms to fancy it up, choose your favorite locket, add a dangle or two, and stand back and sigh with contentment when it is just right:


necklace

But I really want to show some non-necklace options because I can’t wear necklaces. Maybe you can. If so, go choose some charms and get started. Necklaces make my skin hurt and turn red, so let’s look at some pretty bracelets, instead. These wraps are leather, and I love them:

wraps

I will probably buy this next one. I suspect my children would have a higher opinion of me if I had a bracelet that would shame me into taking a deep breath before acting on whatever nonsense I think they’re up to at any given moment. They’re pretty good kids. I should simmer down a minute and think about that:

patient

And Origami Owl has earrings:

lobes

 

I can’t wear those, either. But this ain’t about me. It’s about you, and what you might win.

Buy: The Origami Owl party of which I am your completely virtual (sorry, you’ll have to buy your own chips and dip) hostess will go on for another week or so–at least until you all have your chance to buy gifts for Valentine’s Day and finish spending your Christmas money.

Win: Everyone who leaves a comment below will be entered to win 2 Origami Owl charms of your choice.

Win more (participants in the online party only): Everyone who buys something during my Origami Owl party will be entered to win….something. I don’t know what. The more people who buy through my link, the more awesome the Grand Prize will be. Fun, huh?

How to enter: Leave a comment. What do you want for Valentine’s Day?

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, January 8, 2015. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. If you have been flagged as a troll in the past, I will rescue this comment, and this comment only, from the spam folder. We don’t want to be unfair, even if you are. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck! – 

Disclosure: As hostess of this party, I will receive something from Holly. I’m not entirely sure what, except a chain. My opinions are, as always, my own. Here’s your grain of salt

 

A Thought on Chores and Consequences

Something I’m seeing a lot of lately in social media is parents using chores as consequences for misbehavior. Not only do these “grounded” kids have to do extra housework to get back to their video games, but I’ve even seen some pretty elaborate systems worked out, where a child has to do a number of chores from a list to get back on Mom’s good side. This, the provenance of which is untraceable after being shared so many times on Pinterest and Facebook, is among the worst of them.:

 

grounded

 

Now, before I say what I want to say, I’m obliged to say that if you do this sort of thing, and you are unconvinced by what I have to say about it, I don’t think you’re necessarily a bad parent, nor are your kids necessarily destined for jail or rehab due to your (I do think) less than stellar choice of training tools. I’ve seen this idea from a lot of people who read this blog, so I apologize for seeming to speak to anyone in particular. It’s really not any one person who made me notice this, but some of you will just have to take this personally, since parenting is such a personal thing. Sorry about that. Let’s be friends anyway, OK? ;-)

Think for a moment about the message you’re sending to your children, you who have used this idea in some form.

Cleaning your room is punishment.

Emptying the dishwasher is punishment.

Taking care of the family pet is punishment.

Cleaning your room is punishment.

Write something nice to a family member. This is a punishment?

I’ll bet little sister will be ever so thrilled to know that brother’s affection is only obtained by this kind of arm-twisting. I really would not want to be married to a man whose parents had taught him that compliments are to be administered grudgingly and for the ulterior purpose of getting out of the doghouse. Would you?

Parents, if you want children who whine about every chore, give them a chore every time they need to be corrected. If you want your children to never ask how they can help around the house, make asking how they can help around the house into a groveling apology for having a bad attitude.

If you want your kids to be sincere friends and lovers, and honest workers, you cannot teach them that some things are beneath well-behaved people.

I’ve heard this method described as rehab. This is not an effective means of rehab, any more than prison work details are. Have you seen the recidivism rates in our penal system? Not good! You’re teaching kids that only people who have screwed up should have to do “extra” housework.

Housework is a lot like money. There’s no such thing as extra. We all pitch in until the work is done. It’s part of loving one another.

One thing that this list might be good for does occur to me, though. This might be pretty good way to raise a whining, entitled feminist, if you happen to be raising girls, or a domineering and unappreciative husband, if you’re raising boys. Most of the things on this list are things for which I, as the mother of the house, am responsible. I don’t necessarily do them myself. Since I am training my children to take care of themselves and each other as well, they do a large amount of housework. But these things are certainly my business to oversee, and they are also the part of my job that feminists find demeaning and beneath them. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think most of today’s entitled grownups were probably raised this same way. You talked back to me? Clean out the garage!

I do all of these things and more, and feel grateful, not unfairly used, in my position as the keeper of all this. Why do you think that is? I wonder, if my parents had punished me with work, rather than just expecting me to work because that is what self-respecting people do, would I feel the same way about laundry now? Or would I have had to learn the right attitude about housework to become a decent wife and mother? Would I feel trapped, rather than useful, if dishes were a disagreeable way to earn the favor of my family, rather than a way to restore order after a meal with the people I love?

I do realize that this method of child training seems like a great way to get a little extra work out of a kid who is obviously not pulling his weight (or he wouldn’t have very much time to get into trouble, right?), but a little bit of redirection into the right kinds of work before the difficulty crops up might be of more spiritual use than such a wrong-headed punishment after the fact.

If you want your kid to feed the dog, tell him to feed the dog. If you want to correct him, speak to his heart–or to the seat of his pants, depending on his age and the infraction.

Happy New Year!

I don’t do resolutions. Not for New Year’s Day, anyway. I resolve things all the time, with mixed results. Why wait until the first of the year to set myself up for failure? I can do that any time I want!

There are several things I would like to resolve to do at some point this year, though I won’t resolve to do them today, because that would be too much like New Year’s resolutions, which I don’t do. (Fellow underachievers, you see what I’m doing here, don’t you? I’m resolving things in a non-committal way, because I might not be so resolute if I don’t sneak up on myself with my own goals. Sigh.)

  • I would like to get the kids some of the many kinds of lessons that they are so sweetly asking for. To be brutally honest, running to and fro and interrupting my days with appointments is the part of motherhood that I kinda hate. But I shouldn’t do that. It’s unfair for me to be so stingy with my energy. So we will do the lessons, despite my fear of becoming a van-schooling mom instead of a homeschooling one. Violin, dancing, swimming, and skiing. I hope we get to stay home some days.
  • I want to blog more often. I have lots to blog about, but only a few minutes a day to sit down and type. Tell me, would you hate it if I blogged about things that I don’t usually blog about, just to let off steam? I’m afraid you’ll all go away if you found out what I’m really like. ;-)
  • I want to get my social media use under control. My trouble is that when I sit down to write, I check Facebook and Twitter, my brain turns off. And then I text somebody. And then I have to check my rss feed. And before I know it, I’ve lost an hour. Hours are precious. I would like to reclaim them for usefulness.
  • I want to save 30% of our income this year, and 100% of my piddly little blog earnings. We have been saving for a house for a long time, and we thought we were going to be ready to buy this spring, but we’ve set our sights higher after looking at what we can afford with our current funds. As long as we’re doing it this way, instead of the go-into-way-too-much-debt way, why not go crazy? So we’re going to save for one more year, and get something that we can be really excited to own.

I just did a search of my blog to see how many times I’ve done non-resolutions like this because it felt like I’d done this before. Yep. I did ’11, and made some worthwhile goals. Let’s see how I did, though that was three years ago. How could it be three years already?

  • I wanted to make the blog pay for itself. It has done that, barely, but consistently. I stopped accepting paid ads and reviews, so I’m scraping by on Google ads and a very few active affiliate links, but it is still paying for itself. Somebody told me I should sell my ebook instead of giving it away, but I’m really a terrible businesswoman. Awful. Abysmal. Not such a great writer, either.
  • I also wanted to get into size 8 jeans without lubricants or fainting. Success! I am, as we speak, wearing a size 8, though that didn’t happen until just this week. It certainly didn’t happen in 2011, 2012, or 2013.
  • I wanted more friends. Yes, I now have more friends. My heart had been pretty thoroughly crushed and spoiled for friendship for a while, but I have several wonderful ladies in my life to whom I don’t feel remotely strange saying “love ya.” I still miss the friend to whom I referred in that other post. She was a good sort. (Sadly, I was not. The whole dust-up was pretty much all me, frankly. Jesus had a lot of work to do. Still does. But we’re getting there.)

Thank you, readers, and skimmers, and non-reading, comment-hijacking soap-boxers, and dissenters, and trolls (OK, maybe not the trolls), for hanging out with me this year. I hope you’ll stick around for the next one.

 

 

The Jealous Mom

Jealousy seems to be such an ugly word, doesn’t it? In these undiscerning times, we equate jealousy to its illegitimate half-brother, covetousness. Many times when you see a person accused of jealousy, that person is being defrauded of his rights, often right to his face. As an example, a young man who is engaged to one girl might accuse her of jealousy when she becomes irritated at his attentions to another. By accusing her in that way, he deflects attention from his unfaithfulness by making her ashamed for caring that he is unfaithful.

“Why are you talking so sweetly to my adversary while she twirls her hair in such a fetching manner?”

“What are you, jealous? If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a jealous woman!”

Likewise, our God is a jealous God, and much atheist ink has been spilled over the spurious objection that jealousy is a petty and ugly thing that would be beneath this hypothetical God who, since He doesn’t exist, must take on whatever characteristics the atheist assumes would be fitting for an Almighty God, so they can argue with this Being from their imaginations. But atheists don’t get to define God. He is self-defining, and if He says He is jealous, then we’d better pay attention to what He means by that. Jealousy is not a petty emotion, but a protective and loving one.

There is a distinction between jealousy and covetousness: Jealousy has a right. Envy, or covetousness, has none.

So, what does this have to do with mothering, you ask? Well, everything. One of the most effective tools that Satan has used in our parents’ generation and ours to separate children from the influence of parents is the accusation of jealousy.

You think that a mommy’s kiss on an injured knee would be more fitting than a teacher putting a sterile band-aid on it? Why would you be so controlling? So involved? So jealous?

You don’t want other women raising your children? Tsk-tsk.

You don’t think Sunday School teachers can catechize your children better than you can? What do you think you are, some kind of theologian?

You won’t allow your kids to watch certain “kids” programming because it blatantly indoctrinates children to believe that parents are at best cluelessly irrelevant, and at worst sinister killjoys?

You think that the public school version of sex education, history, and literature will corrupt your children’s morals, misinform their choices, and ruin their lives? That they would be better off learning about, oh, everything really in the context of a loving home?

JEALOUS! You are jealous, like that mean old God of yours!

And we fall for this!

Mom, the World will try to convince you that you are a petty, small, and controlling person, if you think that you are the person to whom your children should turn for their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. We’ve been made to feel ashamed of our God-given, natural longing to be our babies’ first and best companions and friends. Why is that? Are we not the possessors of the right and duty to nurture and guide our young? Are we not the ones who know both first and best what our children need? Of course we are!

But Satan is as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And do you know what prey is the easiest to devour? Unprotected young. They are weak and inexperienced, delicious and tender morsels for a hungry but cowardly Enemy. Moms, especially homeschooling moms, but all Christian moms are belittled as “helicopter parents” for the high crime of demanding to know what their children are being taught, wishing to teach them their own faith, and wanting to control the influences that are brought to bear on those young lives.

This belittling is done for the same reasons, and in the same ways, as the cheating husband: to separate us from our rights and privileges as the rightful participants in that intimate relationship; they intend to usurp our thrones as beloved Guides in our childrens’ lives. While the allegations of jealousy are hurled at our heads, accusing us of “controlling” our children, the truth is that for a parent to willingly give up control of a child’s upbringing to a stranger employed by a godless State is a true dereliction of duty.

A woman who allows her husband to flirt with other women without rebuke is not an open-minded and loving girl, but a dupe and an abused woman. Not only that, but she encourages his sin by winking at it.

A God who doesn’t mind if you worship other gods is a cuckolded husband, not one with the inherent dignity of Yahweh.

So what is a mother who allows the State and its propagandists (these are our children) to make her feel that her interest in her own children’s well-being is somehow dirty, abusive, and petty? They are the abusers. She is being defrauded of her family by a covetous and thieving “society”, and made to feel that she is wrong for noticing.

So, moms (and dads, but I speak to moms), know this: It is not only OK to be a jealous mom, it is a holy calling. Guard your children’s hearts. Guard their minds. Guide their choices. It is a father and mother’s duty, not the state’s, to ensure an education in righteousness. Don’t let the accusation of jealousy put you on the defensive. Do what God has given you to do.

 

Jon-Lorond Saves the Day

Update: We did it! Jon-Lorond is fully funded! Thank you so much, those who shared, and especially those who contributed. I’ve drawn the winners, and will be emailing them shortly. Congratulations Michelle W., Liz, and Christine! 

Again!

Listen, people. My friend Hanna (lives right in my same town and goes to my same church and everything!) is a very gifted gal, and she has this book. It’s about an adventurous little boy named Jon-Lorond who, get this, saves the day! I know! Who’d have guessed?

Just like her main character, Hanna is an adventurous type, so she’s doing this whole publishing thing on her own. The story is written. It has pirates. The pirates are not the good guys. (I know you Christian people will like that. I do, anyhow. Pirates are scum.) She’s got an amazing artist named Luke Flowers to draw up colorful characters like this guy:

hillbillypirate

I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s an ordinary pirate. I think that’s a hillbilly pirate. But I’ll never know if we don’t get this book published.

All that’s left to do? Money. Hanna is just a few measly thousand dollars from her goal!

Just as I did for the first Kickstarter campaign, I have pledged my financial support. Sadly, I don’t have ten grand just lying around so I’m asking you all one more time to pitch in with me. Buy a book, y’all? Just one? Maybe just add a few dollars to the pool, even if you can’t buy a whole book. Whether you can pitch in yourself or not, you could at least share it with your wealthy (heh) friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway! What I’m going to do is this: If Jon-Lorond Saves the Day gets fully funded, I will have a giveaway on this here blog. I’m on the hook for four books of my very own, so I will give away three of them, to three readers. I might even be able to get Hanna to sign them for you, if you ask real nice. But this giveaway will ONLY be open to people who comment on THIS post, BEFORE the funding deadline is reached, telling me where you shared this link to the Kickstarter campaign. It ends in 48 hours, so get to work!

How to enter: I need to see the link Forget the link. Just share and let me know where you shared it. I completely forgot about Facebook’s privacy settings. Just be honest with me. Leave a reply in the comments, one entry per comment, as many shares as you like. The more you share, the more chances you have to win. I can’t give extra entries for buying a book or more, because that would be legally iffy, but your backing would be greatly appreciated.

I must read this book!

Details: This (potential) giveaway will be closed for entries on November 5, 2014, at 11 p.m. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but follow the rules: One comment per social media share, with a link to the page you shared on. I will draw 3 winners, who will then have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. I will be personally responsible for delivering your prizes. Estimated delivery will be sometime in Spring of ’15. Be patient. Good luck! – 

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for publicizing this campaign. I just happen to think Hanna is the bee’s knees, and her kids are pretty awesome, too, and maybe some of hers might marry some of mine someday, so I want to be super helpful. Just in case. (Really, I just think it’s a neat book.) ;-) 

Leftist Utopia Cannot Co-exist with the Family

In a speech Friday, President Obama said this:

“Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Plenty of ink (pixel-ink, anyway) is being spilt at the moment deriding our president’s lack of appreciation for parenthood, especially motherhood. That statement betrays a condescending distrust of the ability of Americans to make their own best choices. In my feed-reader this morning, I have all of these:

Thanks for that, Mr. President

Obama’s Feminist Remark: It’s not about choice

Mr. President, Thank You for Your Honesty

There are a few more, too, but those are my best girls, so I’ll just send you there.

I’m more interested in the purpose behind the feminist condescension in the president’s remarks than in the remark itself. If you really think Obama cares about your personal fulfillment, moms and dads, I’ve got some essential oils I’d like to sell you. (Kidding! Please don’t go yet, my oily friends!)

It’s not true that the left believes stay-at-home parenting to be merely financially unrewarding to the parents. Those are just the words they use to try to convince you that you’re being mistreated, underutilized, and forced to do work that is beneath you because it is “unpaid.” They make family relationships out to be not only degrading and unimportant, but detrimental to “the economy” not because they care how you feel about your prospects in life, but because they are materialists, and you, my fellow mere mother, are just raw material to them. Raw material needs refining in order to be used, so get out there and better yourself!

You are not a soul to this man, nor a lover of souls, but a currently useless tool of the State. 

The economy of souls, of course, is also a real economy, but is nowhere to be seen in leftist ideology. Given that the government has no soul, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that they think that nurturing your own children is a waste of time.

When a leftist speaks about making someone a “full participant in the economy” he reveals his willful ignorance of economics. When I bake bread myself, and eat it with my neighbor, that is an economic activity, just as much as if I had bought my bread from a baker instead. But if I simply grow my own wheat, grind it, bake it, and give half to my needy neighbor, there is no way that the IRS can get its grubby hands on it.

Since the government can’t quantify your loaf of homemade bread, that loaf simply does not exist for the leftist. He imagines that you are hungry, and tries to convince you of that fiction. Though you can sense that your tummy is full, simply because that bread didn’t cost any dollars, the leftist believes you are lying to yourself. You’re starving, you fool!

It’s the same with motherhood. They want you to believe that you’re not really producing anything, because no one is paying (or taxing) you. But you are producing something, and you know it, moms. You’re producing souls, and souls require nurturing that a daycare worker simply can’t provide. The reward you reap will not be primarily financial (though there’s a lot to be said about the financial value of offspring), but there will be real benefit to you and to the rest of society.

For a leftist, it boils down to control. If they can’t monetize your economic activity, they can’t tax it. And if they can’t tax it, they can’t control it.

Now, I don’t believe for one moment that Obama doesn’t actually know that he’s proposing something that is economically ridiculous: Paying tax collectors, bus drivers, day care workers, food service workers, social workers, and who knows who else to do what a mother can do for mere private pennies on the government-subsidized dollar. I’m sure that he, along with most leftists, is well aware that if it doesn’t make financial sense for one family, it is not going to make financial sense for the whole country to subsidize it, either. Even when you add in the not-at-all-guaranteed larger future earnings due to uninterrupted career activity, it’s doubtful that the amount earned, and taxes paid, by any woman who requires subsidies will amount to nearly enough to over the cost of all the strangers necessary to make up for just one mother gone missing from the home. If those future earnings would be enough, the market would bear that choice without the government forcing taxpayers to cover it.

This is not about opportunity cost, in other words, and the left knows it. They’re lying about their motives. No matter how the president wants to spin it, what this is really about is making mothers resent their children, the poor resent the wealthy, and children resent their parents. Resentful, divided people are easily controlled, and the left knows this. They desire to control your children, but that’s mighty hard to do when you’re home with them all day filling their heads with nonsense like “Jesus Loves Me” and “You are more than a number, more than a statistic, more than a brick in the wall.”

Remember this when you hear these “compassionate” leftists telling you how they will make your life better:

Untaxable economic activity cannot be permitted in a totalitarian state.

Everyone must give to the State, everyone must receive from the State. The State must be God. Every time a mother chooses to engage in the non-financial–yet thoroughly economic–activity of raising children, she does something that the State can’t monitor, tax, or even understand. Her trade is in the economy of souls. The State has no soul, and in its fear and jealousy of our freedom desires to destroy that entire unknowable, uncontrollable economy. While Obama hides this bitter medicine in the syrupy language of personal happiness, it is in truth about separating families into smaller, more manageable economic units of one. It’s like busting up a ten dollar bill at the arcade. Sad, if you liked being a ten, but they need quarters to play the games.

So there’s your warm, fuzzy thought on this cold, harsh morning (we’re sorta snowed in here), families: You owe your usefulness to the State, not to each other.

 

Iplanner1 know what you’re thinking. Another planner? It’s like an addiction or something.

I know I must seem like the scattered, disorganized, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type on this blog (right?). Well, I kinda am. That’s why I love to plan. If I was naturally organized and efficient, I wouldn’t need these things, right? If it weren’t for planners, I’m pretty sure my kids would be bathed once a year, and eat macaroni and cheese three times a day. NTTAWWT.

Fortunately, people keep sending me planners to try, and I get to use them and tell you about them. This one is known simply as The Daily Planner, published by Sue Hooley of Homemaker’s Friend. I have a copy of the 2014 (of course), and a copy for next year, too.

Unlike my own DIY planner, this book is for homemakers, not necessarily homeschoolers. It pays to have your plans separate, sometimes. Among the features of this planner are:

  • weekly and monthly views
  • a full year calendar with notes for each month
  • perforated, tear-out shopping lists (love these!)
  • notes sections for tasks and projects
  •  info section for phone numbers, address, etc. (paper still beats smart phones)

monthviewBuy: I think this planner will be a handy addition to anybody’s scattered (or not-so-scattered) lifestyle. If you’d like to buy one, they’re currently $13.99 plus shipping, with free shipping if you buy three.

Win: Sue has graciously offered to send a copy of her 2015 Daily Planner to one GAH! reader.

How to enter: Just drop your name in the hat by leaving a comment.

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, October 30, 2014. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. If you have been flagged as a troll in the past, I will rescue this comment, and this comment only, from the spam folder. We don’t want to be unfair, even if you are. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a free 2014 and a free 2015 Daily Planner to review. No other compensation has changed hands. There are no affiliate links in this post. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.

No Time Like the Present

…to start preparing your Advent activities.

If you do that sort of thing. I do. Here’s one of my favorite things to do with the little beings:

Advent

 

That’s an affiliate link. Of course!

A Conversation

Would you counsel your child to date an unbeliever?

Mom: Hey, sweetheart, I saw that handsome young man…um, Cody? Is that his name? I saw his mom yesterday!

Daughter: Yeah, that’s his name. What about him?

Mom: Well, you know…he is a really popular kid, lots of trust fund money and a wonderful future in politics. All the other parents are trying to get their daughters into his social circle. Would, um…would you like to date him? Maybe even marry him? It would be such a step up for you to really understand the way his world works, be a part of it.

Daughter: No, Mom! He’s popular, and cute, and I guess it would be a lot easier on you if I wasn’t home every weekend while the rest of the kids are out necking, but weren’t you trying to raise me to be a Christian? Don’t you want me to marry a Christian?

Mom: Of course I do, honey! I want you to marry a Christian very badly! So you get out there and make Cody a Christian! Doesn’t he deserve to hear the word of God?

Daughter: Mom, I don’t think I’m prepared for that. I’ve only been a believer in my own right for a couple of years. What if he wants to teach me some of the things he’s been doing? Like having sex, doing drugs (just a little weed, nothing serious). What if I don’t yet have the understanding required to resist his arguments? If I give him my heart, don’t you think I might compromise? Aren’t we supposed to keep from being unequally yoked? And won’t he, being the person of higher social status, be the leader of our relationship? So won’t I be the one who ends up learning from him?

Mom: Yes, honey, but I just know that your light in his life will change everything. Your mere presence is enough. I’ve arranged a date with him Friday night. He says he’s bringing condoms and a pack of Camels, but I’m telling you, just say no. I know you’ll be strong enough. And sweetheart, do make sure you learn everything about his point of view on the subject. Be respectful when he pulls you into the backseat of his car. You don’t want to be narrow-minded!

Daughter: Don’t you think…maybe you could just tell his mom about Jesus? Or we could send them a tract? Talk to them together?

Mom: Oh, no, honey. Your presence is required, in this way. Sorry. That’s just the way it has to be. Nothing else will work.

Daughter: Hm. OK, Mom. I guess you know what you’re doing. You really do care about Cody’s soul! So much that mine is of almost no account at all! Thanks so much for that!

 

And that, my friends, is why we don’t send our children to public schools as missionaries. It’s not about what’s popular, or what makes social sense, or spreading the gospel (seems we could do that without sending our precious daughters to the drive-in with Cody, doesn’t it?), but about protecting those things which are valuable. World-view matters. Understanding matters.

If you don’t believe in missionary dating, why do you believe in missionary education?

Who’s in charge matters. 

Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? –2 Corinthians 6:14-16

A Day in the Life

Lessons and life are keeping us pretty busy here at the GAH! household. So busy, in fact, that I kinda forgot I had a blog. Sorry about that.

I thought it might be fun (for me, if not for you) to give a play-by-play look at our day. The problem with that is that I can’t decide whether to do this on a day that is going well (to show how good it can be), or a day that is going poorly (so you’ll know that you’re not alone in your fallen state). Since I’m not sure which to do, I’m just going to live blog today, starting now. You never know what you might get!

9:13 a.m. Breakfast was over half an hour ago. The children are supposed to be cleaning up their zones. I divide the living areas into smaller chunks and give each child responsibility for keeping that area clean for the day. When Mama hollers “ZONES!”Everybody immediately hops to and starts to tidy up, laughing gaily and helping one another along as needed. ROFL. When I give the signal, everyone wanders around aimlessly for a moment, a couple of kids fight about who was assigned which zone, and then, eventually, after I’ve reminded them a time or two (or ten) more that they shouldn’t stop until they are finished, we have a clean(ish) living area.

9:15 Scratch the “live” part of “live-blogging.” I can’t update on the fly. I’d lose track of things. I’ll just post this all at once. Tomorrow. Maybe. (OK, it turned out to be next week. Busy.)

9:20 I’m off to transfer some laundry to the dryer. Started it before breakfast. Only one load today! Then we will pray, sing, and read for our morning meeting. I’ll have my computer handy to take notes. Hark! What song is that? Why, daughter is crying. Mommy to the…oh, OK, now she is laughing. I guess I’ll just let them work it out amongst themselves, whatever it is.

9:30 Baby needs his nap. Nurse him while we read and sing. We usually have this done by now. Today’s reading is a chapter in Genesis. The seven year-old boy narrates, though not well. He needs prompting. Lots. Was he even listening? No, but the five year-old girl was, and big brother was, so they add what they know. We sing Draw Me Nearer, and then do our memory box.

9:45 Put baby in his bassinet. Good grief, the little boys are so LOUD! “Please don’t follow me. You’ll wake up brother.” And, miraculously, they don’t, and he goes down without waking up.

 

9:50 Listen to a couple of scenes from Hamlet. Those who can, sit and listen. The rest go play quietly. My desk is a tangle of wires, books, kleenexes, etc. I think I’ll straighten that while we listen. I say “Hush.” A lot. I guess the “quietly” part didn’t go so well. I pause it, send the tots out of the room, and start over because no one was listening. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Finally, the three oldest children are sitting and ready to listen. We listen. I do a little bit of my jigsaw puzzle while we listen, then David narrates. Mommy re-explains some things. They enjoy the Shakespeare mornings. ‘Tis true!

10:20 Tot school. I read a story and give the two little boys some undivided attention while the older ones do some copywork and spelling practice, maybe even get started on their reading lists. Then the littles play on the porch on this beautiful fall morning. Rice play, anybody?

Rice play

Sometimes tot school is a song and a book. Sometimes we play playdough or color. Baths are good for this time, too. Sometimes they wander off and do things alone, but I don’t let that happen very often.

This isn’t a time to just get them happy so they’ll be out of the way (though it does work out to that effect), so much as it is my time to fill up their hearts with the knowledge that they are loved and I am interested in them. I remember feeling like no one was very interested in my goings-on when I was a child, and it was pretty lonely feeling. I don’t want to do that to my babies. (I still feel that way sometimes, actually. What are you doing here?) I don’t want my kids to feel that way. Once they’re taken care of, I can devote more attention to the big kids, who are ready for…

10:50 Math. Start with the oldest and work my way down while the little boys do whatever it is that little boys do when mommies aren’t looking. It’s going to run long, due to whining. Hopefully, we’ll still have science. If not, we’ll push that up into our margin time after lunch.

11:30 There are men in my kitchen now. That’s because my cabinets started coming down off the walls a few weeks ago. All by themselves! Old house. Glad it’s not ours. They’re finishing up the replacements, and distracting the kids. I am done. Done. DONE. But we can fit in science now because I can’t make lunch anyway.

11:35 That part about doing science? Scratch that. There are men in my kitchen. It’s very distracting. Tomorrow is another day. Everybody is free to play or read.

12:00 The men didn’t take long, so we clean up after them and eat lunch. It’s just leftovers. Quick and easy.

1:30 “Zones!” They do better in the afternoon. I clean up the kitchen and dining room. Then we make beds, tidy rooms. Most of us, anyway. I’m nursing the baby and directing the little boys in picking up their messes. I send the two big boys to fold that load of laundry. There’s a baby in all of this somewhere. He’s just along for the ride. Not much to say for himself, I guess. He just hangs out with whoever.

Hanging out with sister

2:00 Littles go to naps. Time for me to clean the bathrooms. As soon as the boys finish their laundry, I’ll have them work on their reading lists, narrating as they go.

2:45 Reading lesson for the 5 and 7 year olds. She’s catching up to him fast.

3:00 Handicrafts. We’re doing basket-weaving (using this book to learn). Sadly, I failed to buy the flat oval reed, so I have to order that before we can continue. We only made it to the third row.

Handicrafts

But that’s better than nothing, right? Since we can’t do that, now’s a good time to pull out a new picture to study. AO has us doing Fra. Angelico. After that, the boys and girl will play until dinner time. Sometimes, though not today, I’ll play our composer study song for the week during this time, too.

Between now and dinner, I will nurse baby, check in on Facebook and Twitter, read my feeds, and finish this post. Then I’ll make dinner, and whatever is left undone after that will wait until tomorrow. Before I go to bed, I put the next day’s plan on the whiteboard, and we’ll do it all again tomorrow.

So, there you have it. A day like this is possibly boring to read about, but it was very busy and productive and fun for us. And I guess that’s what matters.

 

 

Speak for Those Without a Voice #IAmYourVoice

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the unfolding chaos in Iraq with a stomach-churning anger and sadness, not knowing what to do, other than pray. I happen to think that praying is the very best and most useful thing a Christian can do, so at least we can do that. God is their help, and our prayers are effective! However, if our prayers spoken in faith don’t spur us to action, what good are they?

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. –James 2:14-17

My friends from Planet Mommyhood have taken action, and they’re asking us to join them in helping our fellow Christians in this time of need.

Watch this:

Then visit I Am Your Voice to find out what you can do to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. Or you can go directly to Food for the Hungry and donate to help feed and sustain the families who are fleeing ISIS, often with nothing more than the clothing on their backs.

Another ministry you may want to consider donating to is RUN Ministries. I’m told that they have refugee facilities set up and are risking and sometimes losing their lives in order to give a safe place to fleeing Christians and Yazidis. I have not checked into this ministry myself, but it’s another option.

Jon-Lorond Saves the Day

Support a budding children’s author.  Jon-Lorond

I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Hanna Rasco. Hanna is a dreamer, and a writer, and (most importantly) a mother with a heart for her kids. Watch:

Now, I have noticed the same problems with children’s books that Hanna has. Boyish themes are hard to find in this culture, unless by “boyish” you mean “gross, icky, rude, and stinky.” It seems that all the adventurous and heroic writing is done to encourage girls to be more like…well, boys. Then boys end up with books full of fart jokes and sensitivity training. That is simply not good enough!

I hope some of you will consider joining Hanna’s Kickstarter campaign.  (I will be pledging my financial support, too, of course.) The book looks wonderful, and some of the perks for backing this project are pretty enticing, as well. Hanna is offering everything from superhero capes to secret family recipes.

Click here to find out what you can do to help this creative mama give her sons (and yours) some heroes in their stories.

Excuses, Excuses

My dad’s a preacher. Y’all knew that, right? Well, he is. And he’s the kind that likes to get out and knock on doors to see how the people are doing. Naturally, that means he has a lot of stories about the excuses people make to avoid Sunday morning (or any other time) worship.

I don’t keep transcripts of conversations (that would be weird), so what follows is a composite of a couple of anecdotes of both his and mine.

Christian (Chx): Do you believe in Jesus, God’s son?

Unchurched person (UP): Oh, absolutely, yes!

Chx: Oh, good! Well, if you don’t have a church to attend, we’d love to see you at ours!

UP: Oh, no. No, I couldn’t do that. You see, my neighbor, who very conveniently attends a church you’ve never heard of, is a very bad witness. She gossips and curses and probably does worse than that.

Chx: Oh, so you’re saying she’s a hypocrite?

UP: The worst!

Chx: Well, why don’t you just get in church and show her how it’s done, then?

UP: Yes, but…well…I just can’t feel good about worshiping with a bunch of hypocrites. I can’t believe Jesus would ask me to do that.

Chx: Tell me, where do you think hypocrites go when they die?

UP: Hell, of course.

Chx: Well, do you want to spend eternity with them, or just Sunday mornings?

UP: But I don’t have to go to church to be saved!

Chx: You’ve got an interesting definition of “saved” if you think that. If you are a believer, you will want to be in fellowship with other believers so you can learn and grow. The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We’re also told that there will be fruit in the lives of those who are saved, and one of those fruits is love for the rest of the Church–even those that are failing miserably at the moment. There’s no such thing as a one-member church.

UP: But those people aren’t really Christians!

Chx: Really? Do you believe I’m a real Christian?

UP: Of course! I know you are because we’ve been friends for so long. You mean it. I’ve seen the way you treat your wife. I know you’ve never cheated anybody in business. You know the Bible better than anybody I’ve met!

Chx: Well, why not come on down and worship with me, then? I’ll sit right beside you!

UP: Oh, well, you see, there’s this lady at that church across town who gossips. And besides, I don’t really have anything to wear…

Dear unchurched person (the one who claims to love God. We’ll deal with the admitted unrepentant some other time):

If you continue to live a life apart from Christ, when you stand before God, you’re going to stand there alone, unprotected from actual Judgment. I’m not talking about the “judgment” that you think Christians are heaping on you when they tell you that you need to repent of your sins (something we all have to do). I’m talking about Judgment with a capital J, the kind that sends you to Hell.

Please understand that God is not going to ask you how such-and-such down the road made you feel about your lifestyle. In fact, He wants that “judgmental” person to make you aware of your sin so that you can be forgiven of it. He won’t care much whether you liked the demeanor of the man who greets (or fails to greet) you on Sunday morning. He won’t care if the people in your local church suited your personal taste.

Of you, and of those whom you revile as hypocrites, He will only ask one question:

“Did you repent and worship my Son?”

Repentant people seek to worship Christ. They seek to learn more about him. And they seek each other. When a Christian is cut off from the Body, for whatever reason, he feels it keenly, and he wants to remedy that situation as quickly as possible.  Anyone who claims to want Jesus, while excusing his distaste for worship with invectives about those “Christians” is fooling himself. While he pretends to be “hurt” at all the “judgment”, what he’s really doing is judging Christians in general to deflect awareness of his own sins.

I can tell you from my own experience that when I became a believer, my formerly “judgmental” “stuck up” Christian neighbors suddenly looked very different to me. They looked sincere to me, where before I had seen hypocrisy. I thought I saw anger in them because they made me angry. But they seemed concerned now, where before I had thought them judgmental. I saw them as judgmental because I was heading for Hell, and they knew it, and they didn’t pretend otherwise.

Excuses will not save you, friends. Only Christ will. Only repentance will. No matter what the failings of the individual in the next pew, you must face Him one day with your choice. So what’s it gonna be? Are you going to continue to cut off your own nose to spite your face, or are you going to start seeking a place to worship him?

Why People Are Leaving the Church

Seems to be a hot topic right now, so I thought I’d tell you the real reason. I can do it faster than those other articles I’m reading, too:

People are leaving the church because they don’t want Jesus.

If they did, they’d find their place in His body, then stay and serve him there.

You’re welcome.

Have a simple, uncomplicated, and obvious day!

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –Colossians 3:13

Homeschool Survival Tip

Whew! We’re already at the end of two weeks of our first Ambleside Online term of the year! I’m not sure if you all noticed (I assume you have better things to do than sit around noticing things like this), but I have not written a single useful word in months. Sorry. We’ve been busy. But I do have a word for you. You ready for it?:

Recovery.

There you have it. That’s all you get from me, and I won’t charge you a dime for it. (I’m trying to be like Dan Phillips says, and not be too wordy. Bye, now!)

OK, I’m kidding. Recovery is a very good word, but requires a bit of explanation, doesn’t it?

It’s a homeschool planning word, so if you’re not a planner, maybe skip this tip. I’m going to be full of tips, among other things, from now on.

If you want your homeschool to be successful, not stressful, plan a recovery day into your week. A recovery day is not a day of rest. That would be the Sabbath. Recovery Day is still a work day, but it’s an unplanned work day. You know, for all that stuff that you planned, or forgot to plan, or wish you hadn’t planned, but still have to do, that didn’t quite happen on the other days of the week.

When I first started teaching these kids (formally), I had five days a week marked out in beautiful, permanent pen. It was so pretty, so inspiring, to look at my planner. But then by the end of the first week, my planner had been brutally marked up and scribbled out and only half accomplished, not because we hadn’t worked hard enough, but because I hadn’t planned any margin time. There was no room for mistakes and surprises. Being lamentably human, I can’t help but have a few of those, but I was a noob, and this fact had somehow not occurred to me yet.

Now, though, we have a recovery hour during the little kids’ nap time every afternoon, and then the whole day on Friday is for catching up on whatever fell by the wayside throughout the week.

Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you actually do everything you plan, when you plan it. If so, hats off to ya, and please don’t laugh at me. But for the rest of us, this is one way I’ve found to build flexibility into the school plan.

What about the rest of you homeschool parents? How do you recover your unfinished plans?

How’s This?

Redesign! I might tweak it a little bit, but I think I like this. You like this? Should I put back the dark background?

Pardon the Mess

We (OK, Jesse) got the spammy stuff out of the blog, but my blog design got caught in the crossfire. Oh, well. I was thinking of a redesign anyway. Try not to notice all the ugly going on around here for a few days (or weeks). Thanks!

Pasta Primavera

Pasta PrimaveraOr some approximation thereof.

It has been a while since we’ve had a recipe, hasn’t it? Well, this is more of a round-about way of making a meal than it is a proper recipe. I never make it the same way twice. And hillbillies don’t know much about Primas, though I do know an old lady named Vera; so this primavera is probably not remotely authentic. If you have a grill, then fire that thing up instead of the oven. I do not have a grill, sadly, so I have to heat up my kitchen to make it.:

Pasta Primavera
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: ha!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Pasta, roasted veggies, cheese.
Ingredients
  • Use any of the following vegetables in any amounts you like. More veggies=more love, so don't be skimpy about it.:
  • 2 zucchini, julienned
  • 2 yellow squash, julienned
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • ½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, whole, outer paper removed
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground, but I don't need to tell you that, right? Right?)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. Toss veggies (except tomatoes) and seasonings in oil, then spread in a single layer over two baking sheets.
  3. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. Wrap head of garlic in foil, with a little olive oil drizzled over it, and throw the packet on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast the veggies for about 25 minutes.
  6. If your oven won't hold both pans on one rack, switch the top and bottom pans halfway through for even browning.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the top pan in the last five minutes of cooking. You just want to warm them up a little, not cook them much.
  8. While veggies are cooking, prepare pasta according to package directions.
  9. Drain pasta, then melt butter in the pasta pot. (How much? How much butter do *you* like? Let's say half a stick)
  10. Remove the garlic from its foil, adding any oil from the packet to the melted butter. Let it cool a little bit, then smash the roasted garlic from its casing using a big flat knife like a chef's knife. (This part is fun if you do it right. Cut the root end of the garlic off and smoosh from the pointed tips of the cloves and it should squeeze right out.)
  11. Give the garlic a few good smashes with the knife to make a paste.
  12. Add the spaghetti, veggies (along with their oil), mashed garlic, and parmesan cheese back to the pot, and toss to mix.
  13. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

So, there you go. One of my favorite pasta dishes. Hope you like it!

Measuring Motherhood

What is motherhood really worth?

If you’ve been on Facebook around Mother’s Day, or spent any time at all reading mom blogs, you’ll have seen numerous articles about how much real money a mom is worth. You know the ones. They add up the yearly wages of chauffeur, chef, daycare provider, psychologist, nurse, etc., and that’s how much you’re really worth, Mom! This past Mother’s Day, there was a very sneaky bit of advertising wrapped up in a video about how motherhood is “the hardest job in the world” and pays nothing. Nothing at all. (And now that you’re feeling guilty, kids, you need to fork over your whole allowance to buy an amazing gift for that completely unappreciated mom in your life!)

Eh. Maybe motherhood is that hard, maybe it isn’t. What I’m more concerned about is what it says about our society that we mothers so need our value to be defined in dollars and cents and hours “worked” that, instead of being ignored as the irrelevancies that they are, these things get passed around like a cold virus in a mid-winter Sunday School class. These articles, infographics, and videos all play to our desire to be appreciated, not by our own immediate families, but by the Joneses.  It’s not our children or husbands that we’re aiming at when we repost these things. We know they love us. We know they know how much they need us. It’s distant relatives, friends, and even strangers that we’re trying to convince. We look at the wider world and beg “Please, appreciate us! Look how much we do! Look how much money we’re worth!”

What motivates you as a mother? I can tell you what motivates me, and it’s the blossoming of my children under my care. I know I’m not alone in that. Nobody really measures that relationship in cash. It’s when we turn our faces from the people who make us mothers, and stare into the faces of strangers that we suddenly we feel the need to justify ourselves in terms of dollars and cents.

If we had any sense of our own real value, we’d find these memes insulting, not inspiring.

Think about it for a moment. Is a prostitute more valuable to a john than you are to your own husband, just because money changes hands? Do you measure that intimate relationship in terms of dollars per transaction? No? Then why try to measure something as priceless as motherhood in currency? Why do we think that being able to put a dollar amount on those things we do makes us seem more valuable, rather than less? All of the things that we can pay–are, in fact, encouraged to pay–other people to do for our children do not add up to our true worth. There is an insidious strain of thought in our culture that serves to separate us from our most important work–that of raising our children–by making all other jobs but motherhood out to be fairly compensated. If you cheapen motherhood, you cheapen the people mothers serve, as well. The Enemy knows this quite well, so he does everything he can to make mothers look elsewhere for their sense of self-worth.

If you’ve been here for a while, or if you’ve read my ebook, you’ll be familiar with my story about the second grade teacher who taught me that “mother” is not something worth aspiring to. I suspect that the reason we’re all so desperate to prove our cash value is that, like little Cindy long ago, we’ve been taught that the only way to be a grown-up is to bring home a paycheck. Further, I suspect that the reason we’ve been taught that a paycheck equates to usefulness, and the reason that government schools love feminism so much, is because government schools are tax-supported, and you can’t tax mere motherhood. You can only tax income.

And so, from our earliest grade-school lessons, income has become the only value we know how to assign people.

The trouble with the dollar value model of measuring motherhood is that you can’t pay a chauffeur to have a heart-to-heart in the car about the way the rest of the girls treated your daughter after dance class. You can’t pay a daycare worker to look lovingly into your baby’s eyes and tell him he’s still loved while she cleans up the accident that so embarrassed him. You can’t pay a housekeeper to pray over the people to whom the house she’s cleaning belongs.

You can pay people to do the physical act of care-giving, but you can’t pay people to love your children while they do it.

We women have outsourced so much of our physical labor, and not just as mothers, but as daughters, neighbors, and church family, that society has lost its understanding of our spiritual value as care-givers. Most people in our culture in this neglected generation haven’t often felt the difference between care administered for pay and care administered out of love and concern for the well-being of the recipient. We’ve gotten used to being “served” in any number of intimate ways by people who don’t really care a hill of beans about our spiritual condition. But we are people, not machines. We need to be served, not serviced. On a gut level it will always matter to our children whether the people around them would still care if they weren’t paid to.

Motherhood isn’t cheap. It costs us everything we have sometimes, doesn’t it? But it is free! And we do ourselves no favor when we encourage others to view it as a merely financial transaction. To assign a dollar value to what we give daily as mothers only cheapens the relationship. It’s time we reject these cheap, manipulative demands for cultural validation and instead learn to respect the sanctity of our unpaid, often difficult, even lonely, but indispensable and invaluable private duties to our families.

grrrr

I’m working to figure out what’s going in with the spam in the rss feed. Something was hacked. Obviously. Stay with me. I’ll get it fixed. :-)

Jord Watch (Review and Giveaway)

“Watch.” Tick-Tock said, nodding. “Ay, a likely enough name for such; after all, what does a person want with a timepiece but to watch it once in a while?”

–Stephen King, The Wastelands


Has there been another time in history besides our own where so many things are rendered into anachronisms so quickly? Granted, the Victorians might come close (when was the last time you needed a shoe buttoner or a mustache cup, for example?), but we seem to be losing things very quickly. I mourn my Walkman, rotary phone, and even my CDs are looking a bit old school.

One thing that I’ve refused to let go of, however, is my watch. It’s not so much out of need, since, working in technology, it seems like the current time is provided by nearly every single surface around my office, my car, my home, but there’s something reassuring about my watch. It may seem like an affectation, but I find that there’s always that odd moment when I’m out at lunch and the cell is dead or back on the desk, or out for a walk, or in any of a countless number of other situations in which I still need to have the time close at hand.

Cindy gave me a Jord watch a few weeks ago. She was asked to write a review of it, but, being a men’s watch, she asked me if I’d review it instead.


I was skeptical of the thing, at first. It’s…wooden. It’s a wooden watch. What in heaven’s name do I want with a wooden watch? It’s also pretty large. As big as it is, you’d expect it to be one of those new-fangled interfaces to your smart phone (as if you didn’t have enough going on to drain the battery).

Turns out, there’s a lot to like about a wooden watch, and I haven’t taken it off (other than bed time and showers) since I first put it on.

The band was large enough to go round my ankle at first, however I was able to drop links quite easily using a pair of tiny flathead screwdrivers. I despise having to go to a jeweler’s to have a watch resized, so this was a big plus.

It’s also extremely lightweight. I’ve been wearing a steel watch for a long time; once I started wearing this one, my other feels like I’m putting on weights to go deep sea diving.

The band and body are carved from sandalwood. This makes it extremely pleasant to smell; this got me in trouble, though, the first time someone commented on it. “Smell my watch!” is one of those comments that will make people think you’re a bit of a pervert, and I don’t recommend it. Shame, that; the smell really is very pleasing.

And believe me when I tell you that people will comment on it. I wouldn’t recommend this watch to someone who’s not somewhat outgoing generally, because this thing is going to constantly break the ice for you, like it or not. It’s not quite as predictable a conversation piece as a puppy, or having six kids, for example, but it’s a close second.

I do have two small nits to pick, despite the fact that I wear this watch all the time. The numerals are mounted round the square edge of the face, which makes reading the hours between 1 and 2, 4 and 5, etc, very difficult. I’m getting somewhat used to it, but it’s very easy to find yourself an hour off occasionally. Also, I’m not sure who it was that thought a blue second hand would be easy to see against a green face, but this person surely has better eyes than I do. While I’m not color blind, I had the watch for a week before discovering that it even had a second hand.

These are trivial complaints, though, and are far outweighed by all of the positives. I’ve been pleased by the thing, and am very pleased to have it. You would be, too.

Buy: You can buy one of these beautiful, good-smelling watches at the Jord website.

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a Delmar-green Jord watch. (Don’t let the word “green” throw you off. This watch goes with everything.)

How to enter: Just leave a comment. Have you ever seen a wooden watch? Or smelled one?

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, June 4, 2014. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: We received a free watch to review. No other compensation has changed hands. Here’s your mommy/daddy blogger grain of salt.

Permission to Be Ordinary

Homeschooling is going mainstream, and we’re about to lose one of our favorite arguments for it. 

Homeschooling is kind of an extraordinary thing to do, isn’t it? Even with the rapidly rising numbers of homeschooling families each year, we’re still in the minority (for now). Nearly every weekday outing I take with my kids requires me to explain to someone why my older children aren’t in school. People still don’t think of children staying with their mothers all day as a very normal thing. Parents just aren’t qualified to raise kids, you know.

When we think of homeschooling, we still think of violin-playing spelling bee champions with 140 IQ’s who were just too smart for normal school. And you know what? There really are a lot of home educated kids like that! It isn’t at all surprising that homeschoolers like to promote as much good press as we can for ourselves. Here’s a popular infographic, and I think it has some interesting facts that ought to be considered:

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure UpSource: TopMastersInEducation.com

Stories in the news like this family with seven kids in college by the time they were twelve years old, and blog posts asserting that homeschooled kids are 120% more smarter than public schooled kids are constantly circulating the web, not because those are our best reasons for homeschooling, but because to be able to associate ourselves with such an outstanding group of people easily counters the arguments of which we grow so weary.

“You’re not qualified.”

“They’ll never get into college.”

“Homeschoolers are bad at math.”

Just a few weeks ago I had to listen to my neighbor explain to me that I can’t possibly teach my children math in the higher grades, so I’d better be ready to send them to school by eighth grade. (I’ve learned to just nod my head and pretend that I’m going to take that brand-new, brilliant idea into consideration. I really don’t care what the neighbors think.)

We homeschoolers love this kind of evidence that homeschooling “works” because pointing to other people’s results is a lot easier than explaining our core reasons for keeping our children at home. Our motives are good and wholesome and altogether defensible, but because we live in a society that scarcely even understands what education is for, those points also take longer to explain and upset people more often than the academic argument.

I have to wonder, though, if we’re not accidentally making the task of defending our choice harder by using these kinds of things to bolster our case. You see, our stellar statistics and outliers like the “Brainy Bunch” family set some unrealistic expectations for normal kids. The first generation of homeschoolers was almost certainly an unusual group of people. It seems to me that they required a unique set of characteristics–qualities that usually go hand-in-hand with high intelligence and academic achievement–to be able to boost the homeschooling movement from the gravitational pull of traditional education. That first generation had, at the very least, enough imagination to dream it up, confidence to follow through, ingenuity to figure out how, resourcefulness to keep it going under pressure, and courage to fight the courts and social stigma.

As homeschooling becomes more mainstream, though, we are going to see some regression to the mean (though I doubt that we could ever regress to the abysmal performance of public schools). Because homeschooling really is a viable and superior alternative, and for reasons that have little to do with math, more and more parents who would never have considered such a thing before are going to jump on the bandwagon.

Those stellar statistics are going to level out, homeschoolers.  At some point, our neighbors are probably going to notice that some of us are pretty awful at math and science, and most of our children are going to trade schools or straight to the workforce instead of to Harvard. For that reason, it would be good if we kept our debating skills sharp, so that we can explain why homeschooling is well within our rights, regardless of our outcomes. If our best defense of home education is that other homeschoolers are really smart, we are sunk, because most of us are going to be graduating children who become ordinary people.

And that’s OK. Cashiers and plumbers, homemakers and factory workers are every bit as necessary to the functioning of society as engineers and political leaders.

Homeschoolers, as much as we cheer for greatness and excellence, and hope to see our children attain the absolute pinnacle of their personal capabilities, we need to give ourselves permission to be ordinary. The rightness of our choice to raise our own children isn’t predicated on our academic results or our children’s future earnings. It is based solely in our right and responsibility to raise our own children for the Glory of God. (Yes, I am aware that many people homeschool without any religious purpose, but they still have that right and responsibility, whether they know it or not.)

If we don’t keep our focus on that first principle, we’re going to make life mighty hard for our kids who are better at bricklaying than calculus. Not only that, but we might find our right to raise our own children, so hard won by the first generation of homeschoolers, diminished by our own focus on the wrong point. We need to speak the language of liberty when we defend our choices, rather than flashing the gaudy plumage of worldly success.

Test scores may temporarily dazzle our opponents into silence, but they will not stand the test of time like the simple truths of God-given rights and individual responsibility.

 

Samaritan Ministries

Samaritan

Please note that I am not an expert on all things Samaritan, nor am I associated with them except as a member. I’m just explaining things to some people who asked, and this post is not meant to be taken as expert advice on the subject. So don’t blame Samaritan if I’ve misunderstood something. However, if you decide to sign up for Samaritan after hearing about it from me, I’d love for you to name our family (Jesse and Cindy Dyer) as your referral. It helps cover a portion of a monthly share when we get sign-ups.

Children don’t cost a dime, as I like to point out to people who ask me how I afford all these kids. Hospitals, on the other hand, do.

Several readers have asked me to tell them more about Samaritan Ministries. Our family joined Samaritan Ministries back in August, 2013. Between the so-called “individual mandate,” and the fact that our high-deductible insurance kept getting more and more expensive while decreasing in usefulness, we decided to get out of traditional health insurance. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to participate in a thing less than a know-it-all government telling me I have to, or else pay a fine tax whatever they’re calling it this week to make it seem legal.

However, I don’t like breaking laws (even questionable ones like this), so we couldn’t just not have coverage of any kind. Fortunately, members of health care needs sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the individual mandate, so there is a way to both buck the system* and appease the IRS when tax time rolls around and you have to prove your health-care status.

Need-sharing is a pretty simple idea. Instead of paying a third party you simply send your monthly share amount to the person assigned to you by the ministry. When you have needs that are shareable, you submit your bills and the ministry sends your name and address out to others so that they can share with you. I didn’t want to jump in and tell all about need-sharing until I was sure of the way it works, and whether it works, so I’ve been waiting for my bills to come due for the baby before I wrote this post. Well, here he is!

 

Cute, huh?

And here the bill is!

 

A better way to pay for health care.

Not so cute.

And that’s doesn’t even include the anesthesiologist. Or the doctor. Or the baby’s hospital stay. Or the pediatrician. Wowza. This is kind of terrifying, isn’t it?

But it doesn’t have to cost that much. One of the many things I love about Samaritan is that they will help you negotiate down the costs of your health care. I have called for myself a few times and asked various offices for discounts, and sometimes I even get them, but the professionals do a much better job of that because they know more about the inner workings of the (criminally ridiculous) financial side of health care. Always ask for help.

Does it work? Yes! While I have been skeptical that everything would be paid on time–after all, we’re depending on people we don’t know and who could flake out any time–the bills that I submitted earlier have been paid, and I’m confident that this bill will be paid, as well. Samaritan will always make certain that shares not received are reassigned to other members as quickly as possible. In addition to providing funds, members pray for each other, and there is always someone available at the ministry to pray for us, as well. There are, however, times when the amount submitted is more than the amount of money available, and then members receive less than the full amount of their bills. The ministry does have its ups and downs, life being unpredictable the way it is.

Who is Samaritan for? The most important requirement is that you be a church-attending Christian, and not engaging in any risky or immoral behavior. The reason for that is that this is a religious ministry for believers who want to depend on their brothers and sisters when they need help. It is not a health insurance plan. Samaritan is most likely a good choice for any Christian who pays for their own health care. It is a GREAT choice for anyone who hates the current state of health insurance and wishes to take action instead of just complaining about it.

Who is it not for? People with a lot of pre-existing conditions might not want to go this route. We have several conditions in our family that we have to cover out-of-pocket, and we’ve been blessed to be able to do so, but that is a down-side of this kind of thing. If you do join, the ministry shares these kinds of needs as “special prayer needs,” and many members (ourselves included) make an effort to send whatever they can for these kinds of special needs. So even those things may be less of a burden than you’d think.

I would also not consider this plan if I didn’t have enough emergency money stashed away to start making small payments on the bills myself, because it does take from 30-60 days for the checks to start rolling in.

What is covered? Any non-pre-existing need over $300 is covered, with exceptions for things like illnesses and injuries related to immoral behavior. Routine physicals and pre-existing conditions are not covered, nor are vaccinations, birth control, or baby murder. You always cover the first $300 of any need, but any discounts you receive are applied to that amount, so you can often end up will full coverage. There is a limit per need (not per year, as I had said earlier), but you’ll need to browse the literature to really dig into all the details. Even with these exceptions, we’ve found it to be quite affordable.

Does this post mean you’re blogging again? Yes! I missed you people. I hope you don’t mind if I blog some more, but if you do…well, don’t let the door hit ya.

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with every detail of our good experiences thus far with Samaritan Ministries, but it has been good, so I thought you’d like to know. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can download an information packet or watch an introductory video.

Please note that I am not an expert on all things Samaritan, nor am I associated with them except as a member. I’m just explaining things to some people who asked, and this post is not meant to be taken as expert advice on the subject. So don’t blame Samaritan if I’ve misunderstood something. However, if you decide to sign up for Samaritan after hearing about it from me, I’d love for you to name our family (Jesse and Cindy Dyer) as your referral. It helps cover a portion of a monthly share when we get sign-ups.