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.

Why does Jesse Have So Many Children?

People ask me, “Jesse,” they ask, “why aren’t you getting a vasectomy?”

Wow.

I thought I’d take a moment, this one time, here and now, to respond to that question about me and my testicles. I will create a QR Code, and have it emblazoned on a button, and I’ll wear it for just such occasions.

I don’t usually respond honestly. It’s not a simple answer, and I generally want to be polite. That said, the question itself, in its sheer belligerence, gives me the sense that, when the questioner thinks of what I come home to, they picture starving orphans clustered around flaming garbage cans, wearing fingerless gloves and asking timidly for more…

Let me answer with a question; what are you doing to advance your beliefs, your ideals, and your politics?

Everybody has something. After all, we were  taught to try and leave the world a better place than we found it, right? Some recycle, some preach, some stump, and some lobby. Some make art, some raise dogs, some do community work.  Some do charities, and still others don’t sweat it too much; they just try to be decent people.

There are many choices, and and for every one of those choices, you can bet that there are vicious, ugly-minded troll-like beings that disagree, and are quick to tell you why your choice is not only wrong, but actually helping to destroy the world rather than to help it. It’s a slightly free country; they are for the moment entitled to their disagreement. Just know that whatever choice it is that you’re making has its share of dissent. And probably has a forum of people devoted to hating it.

For my part, I have children.

You see, I don’t have to make you agree with my politics or my faith. I probably can’t, and it simply takes too much effort. No, I don’t have to convince you; I just have to outnumber you.

I am blessed with a certain standard of living; while others may foster a lifestyle suited to their desires in such straits, I give up those extras; the vacations, the nicer clothes, the spiffy toys. (Well, most of the spiffy toys.) I use that money instead to house, clothe, and feed more people. People that I’m raising as I, not the state, not my neighbors, choose to raise them. I’m raising them to be people that believe what I believe. As Lenin once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Of course, he was shamelessly ripping off Proverbs 22:6 : “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When Lenin wasn’t restating biblical truths, he was busy committing genocide, so you have to be careful about quoting him. Thankfully, I get to teach my kids about what a monster he, and his ideas were.

Will all of my children follow the instruction I’ve given them? Maybe not. But I’m betting the majority will. And that majority will vote. And that majority will reproduce. You see, as an added bonus, I’m not only teaching them my religious and political ideas. No, I’m also teaching them my ideas on reproduction. So I am fairly certain that my children will have lots of children, as will their children, and so on, and so on..

I’m playing the long game, friend. So while I may be something of a minority in some of my points of view, that’s OK.

All I have to do is wait.

On Pain

I finally figured it out.

It will sound crazy to most people, I’m certain, but then, most of the time when one of us flawed humans utters the phrase, “I’ve finally figured it out”, the rest of us tend to don hard hats, hip waders, or whatever other analogy you like to signify the expectation of flawed reasoning, outright falsehoods, or else the kind of rhetoric once found primarily on internet sites like Angelfire and Geocities, usually centered 20 point Times Roman set to blink.  Nothing makes a crazy point crazier than blinking text.

So here goes.  For the last several years, I’ve been living with fairly constant pain.  I think I know why this is happening to me.

On the surface, the problem seems to be that I had some teeth extracted, and when I did, terrible things happened to my jaw, which has in turn caused me to suffer from TMJ.  That’s the non blinky text response.

The real reason, I think, is to teach me about character, and about parenting.

I don’t believe things happen for no reason.  I’m in good company; Einstein said that God doesn’t play dice with the world.  Of course, if He did, we’d be in for something of a bumpy ride, but I get the point Al was trying to make; we aren’t subject to random acts of a whimsical deity.  Scripture has a lot to say on this, and I feel that the Bible is somewhat more authoritative on this point.  I like Proverbs 16:9 most: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

We’re not always given to understand things.  Why a son commits suicide, why a father is lost in an accident, or why people suffer from terrible illnesses.  There’s always going to be someone who’s got it worse than I do, someone who’s situation defies even the most seasoned of silver lining detectors.  I can never explain why, and I don’t try.  You see,  I tend to look at these things like rainbows.

In order for a rainbow to be visible, you have to have just the right density of water vapor refracting towards the viewer at an angle of 42 degrees.  We see that rainbow because our viewing angle permits it, but that’s not what’s creating the rainbow; the rainbows are there all the time.  There are thousands of potential rainbows, viewable to anyone able to stand at just the right angle.  In fact, there are some angles which allow one to see a complete circle of a rainbow.

Along those lines, I believe that our lives, and the ultimate good to which our Father leads us are like those round rainbows.  We can’t see them all the time, but for an omniscient Being, able to see everything from every angle…well, you get the idea.  Rainbows everywhere, even in places that, from our perspective, seem dark.

But that’s not what I came to understand.  What I’ve learned is that I am a brat.  I am a terrible person who suffers from that most common of afflictions: I believe that life should be easy. And for the most part, it has been.

I get angry at the guy who cuts me off in traffic, forgetting that the universe was not designed to protect me from the actions of my fellow brats.  Rather than forgive the knucklehead in front of me, modeling the actions of my savior, I allow myself to act callously, and I shout and holler.  Pitiful, really, when my trivial first world problems compare to Christ’s forgiveness of his executioners, of us all, even from the very cross.

And so that brings us to these headaches.  I’ve learned a lot about myself in the course of the last four or five years.  For example, I’ve learned that our personas are not indivisible singletons.  We are lights, just as the Lord described us.  Those lights, like rainbows, are comprised of many different shades, different components, which vary in strength sometimes.  I have felt myself, that part of me which is me, shine on a few rare days like a torch, and gutter on my worst days like a votive candle in a high wind.

I’ve learned that pain is as multifaceted as our personas.  Some pain can be dealt with, can be worked through.  Some pain is as death; debilitating to points beyond reason, to lead to moments where the desire, the need for relief becomes the only coherent thought left.  Pain can affect you in ways that you would never expect.  I’ve lost balance, lost vision, lost the ability to reason, to control my emotions.

Through all of this pain, however, I’ve not yet learned the one lesson which I now believe to be the reason for this suffering.  I’ve never learned to suffer joyfully.  I’ve never learned to place others over my own torment, and I believe that I will continue to suffer at least until I do.  I may suffer beyond this lesson, but that’s inconsequential.

Rather than take to my bed, I must learn to continue working for my family, to continue to, at the barest of minimums, be there for these little people who are little for so short a time.  I must show them that suffering does not relieve us from the obligations to our Lord and to each other; I must show them that it is possible to suffer gladly, and to do that, I must stop attempting to find the strength within myself, but rely upon the strength of He who made me.  In Christ, all things are truly possible.

So, summary time, the pithy little wind up to send you on your way, like an after dinner mint.  Never been good at those, but I’ll take a swing.  Before I do though, I would say one other thing.  I don’t have the first clue of what kind of hardships that you, dear reader, are facing.  I hear stories, regularly, from people in all walks of life that shake me down to my boots from empathy.  I am in no way trying to tell you that what I’ve come to realize is an explanation for me in any shape or form applies to you.  I can’t see that rainbow that the disparate facets of your life, of your pain, are casting to glorify God.  I can only see a faint arc of my own.

Nietzsche said that that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I think Nietzsche was ahead of his time; he’d have had a great page on Angelfire.  He didn’t think about celery, and he didn’t think about time.  Time both strengthens us all, and eventually kills us all.  Which time is doing to you presently depends on your point of view.  Like rainbows.

And celery, well.. Think about it.

Anyhow, summary: I suffer for the same reason that we forge steel; to strengthen me, to brighten me so that I may better reflect the glory of our Lord, and to teach me.  This isn’t crazy.

The Parent Game

I had a dream the other night that I thought I’d share with you.  In it, I find myself sitting in a chair, facing very bright lights.  My eyes adjust as I feel the heat from their unyielding beams cooking me slowly like an apple turnover in a fast food heat lamp.

Behind and flanking me are large upright panels, which are covered with a thin yellow carpet along with the floor.  The carpet is a pale shade of yellow, a gradient getting ever lighter as the eye moves to the center of the panel behind me.  Hung upon this center are the words “The Parent Game” in a pale shade of yellow.

Somehow, I have been sucked into a late seventies game show.

The crowd makes excited noises as a man in a pale blue suit sans tie, shirt unbuttoned on the top three buttons, revealing a forest of long curly hair, which is in turn doing its best to hide the large gold medallion with the symbol for Taurus emblazoned upon it.  He’s a white guy with a huge afro. Is it Chuck Barris?  I can’t tell.

“Wwwwwwelcome to The Parent Game!” he says, revealing a set of choppers as bright as an arc lamp.  My pupils are probably the size of a pinpoint by now.

The crowd, which I cannot see due to the studio lights, claps.  I wonder for a moment why; I mean, have you ever walked into someone’s home, and upon their initial greeting, started clapping like a trained seal?

“Who’s our first contestant?” Afro-guy asks the ether.

Apparently the ether is populated by a booming baritone voice that says, “Meet Jesse Dyer!  He’s a computer programmer from North Carolina, who enjoys reading, music, and pretending to engage in other hobbies!”

This gets another applause.

“Let’s go over the rules.” Afro-guy says. He turns to me, his 10,000-watt smile dimming down to a somber, funereal expression. “We will be showing several moments in Jesse’s career as a father, and ask him to rate his performance, from one to ten–ten being ‘on par with Solomon the wise’, and one being ‘someone call the cops’ territory.  We have also provided our studio audience with an electronic voting system, asking them to vote on the same scale.  If Jesse’s idea of his parenting meshes with the crowd’s average votes, he gets the number of points that he scored himself on his performance.  If Jesse can reach forty points before the time is up, he’ll win today’s prize.  What’s today’s prize, Van?”

“Jesse will win an all expenses paid trip to EgoTown!”

Must be a nice place, judging by the crowd’s reaction.  Again, why cheer for stuff that someone else is getting?

“He’ll spend five glorious days and nights basking in the light of his own self-aggrandizement!  A net package worth four thousand dollars!”

Afro-guy picks up his cue perfectly, teeth blazing as he grins around, “If Jesse fails to reach twenty points, he has to pay a penalty. What’s this week’s penalty, Van?”

I want to say, hang on a sec, I didn’t sign up for this, but I can’t seem to find my voice.  I mean, yeah, I had my children voluntarily, but I don’t recall having agreed to a penalty based on the crowd’s opinion of my fatherhood.

“He’ll be forced not only to suffer the shame and castigation of the crowd, but the guilt of having been a lousy father.”

The crowd boos and hisses, a little too eagerly.  Nothing like the polite applause for Egotown.  Could it be that, while they don’t get anything from my win, they do get something for my loss?

“Let’s show Jesse his first example of fatherhood.”

A large white screen rolls down from the lights and catwalks above the set, and the studio lights dim as, of all things, a projector starts clacking away above, projecting down onto the screen.

On the screen (sometimes blurred and jumpy), we see me, sitting in a chair, reading, while two of my kids are playing in front of me.  It is incredibly obvious that they are trying very hard to get my attention, and equally obvious that they aren’t getting it.  They’re acting out something or other that they’ve cooked up, and laughing at their own performance; the crowd gets a bit of a chuckle, because it really is pretty clever, but mostly cute.  I don’t smile, though, because I’m watching me ignore them.

In the darkened studio, I hear the sounds of buttons being pushed on the voting panels.

The lights come back up, and Afro-guy says, “OK, Jesse, how many points would you rate yourself there?”

I can’t manage to look at him.  “Two.”

“And the crowd said..” says Afro-guy, making a sweeping gesture towards a huge seven-segment LCD on the wall beside him.  A bell rings as it flashes “1″.

“That’s two points for Jesse!”

He smiles like the audience ought to be clapping, but they don’t.

Again, the lights dim, and this time, we see me in the grocery store, pushing a racecar-shaped grocery cart full of kids.  It’s obvious, judging by the way that I’m having to maneuver this thing with upper body strength, that it’s like pushing a contrary mule through the store.  It’s equally obvious that the little ones inside the cart, spinning their dual side steering wheels and laughing like loons, are having a great time.

The lights come up, and Afro-guy looks at me expectantly. “I’m gonna say a five.”

The board lights up; 8.  ”Eight?  For that?  Are you kidding me?” I ask the crowd, which I still can’t see.

“Sorry, no points for you.” says Afro-guy, and the next section plays out.  In this one, I’m spanking a child.  Click click click, goes the crowd.

“Now hang on a second!” I say, “There’s no context here.  I don’t remember that; what was I spanking him for?”

“I’m sorry, you’ll have to give an answer, or forfeit.”

“Eight.” I say.  Ding, goes the bell, and crowd has spoken: 2

“Now wait a second!  You think I like doing that?  You think I do it for fun?  I hate spanking them.  I hate being the heavy, and I hate it when they cry, but you have to understand…”

“I’m sorry,” says Afro-guy, “We have to move on.”

“No,” I say as the lights dim; I don’t even see what’s on the screen, “we certainly don’t; we need to stop right here.”

I stand up.  ”I didn’t have my children to play some ridiculous game show, nor do I raise them as I do to earn you people’s respect, nor to avoid my own shame.  I raise them the way that I do because I love them, and I know that if I don’t teach them the fear of consequence for wrong doing, they won’t learn it until it’s the state’s job to administer punishment, and a few spankings are a love tap compared to what they’ll get there.

“And while I’m at it, that first segment didn’t rate a two.  Sometimes, every now and then, there are things in my life that I need to pay attention to that are not my children.  I’m fed up with the constant guilt we’re told we’re certainly going to eventually feel if we didn’t spend every waking moment in rapturous attention to our kids.  I love them, and I play with them, and I spend time with them in lots of ways that I’m certain you people would ignore.  That day in the grocery store, I had people coming up and praising me out of the blue.  For what?  For taking my kids to the store?  For pushing them around in a cart that they like?  That’s not exceptional, that’s every day, common place. I guess the point I’m trying to make is, everything’s relative.  Sometimes they have my attention, and sometimes I spend time at other things.  The ratio between the two is my problem, my responsibility, not yours, and I won’t make the mistake of guilt tripping over isolated incidents again.

“I don’t need this.  I don’t need to behave in a way that makes you people happy.  If you don’t agree with how I handle these situations, that’s your own business, but don’t think I’m going to sit here and tremble at your opinion on the matter.  This game is over.  I’m going home.”

Afro-guy stares at me as if I’ve crawled up from the bottom of the sea, and as the lights even out, I look out into the studio seats.

There’s nobody there at all.

Faith and Family Planning

I am not a blogger.

(Wow, the myriad of responses you folks are likely having.. “Well, duh!” Or, “Umm, this is a blog, right?”

My wife is a blogger. Good one, too.

She wrote this. Go read it. No, seriously, go read it; the rest of this won’t make sense otherwise.

Finished?

I get a kick out of reading her blog in part because I get to see what leads up to the posts, usually. And as I’ve said before, she is incredibly kind to me in that she doesn’t show people the nasty, oafish, moron that I often am. [That would be because he isn't.--ed.]

That’s my job, as you’ll see in the following:

I break my wife’s heart every time we find out we’re expecting, and it’s because of my lack of faith. Stay with me on this.

Here’s how it works: she finds out she’s pregnant. She tells me. I respond very, very badly.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have four going on five children, and I love them all dearly, I enjoy them being in my life, I’m proud of them, and I have not one single regret.

However, when she tells me, my first thought, God forgive me, is never, “Yay! Another one of these gorgeous little people, full of laughter and hugs, tears and ouchies, curiosity and questions, messes and mayhem, growth and surprise to brighten my life, grow my heart, hold my hand, and, one day, notice I’m gone.” I wish that were my first response; it is most certainly my last.

However, I am ashamed to admit, my first response has always been, “But what if…”

That trailing ellipsis contains all of my fear, my self doubt, and my lack of faith. All of it comes to a head at lightening speed, and the thing I can’t bring myself to say, except here, this one time, is “.. what if I fail them, the way my father failed me?”

The man who fathered me left when I was an infant. He was not a good person then, and his actions, despite my never even knowing him, have sent my life in the wrong direction so many times. I blamed myself for never having known him, and I allowed that guilt to seep into my life so deeply that I never believed I was able to succeed, and I fulfilled my own prophecy through inaction, laziness, regret. It destroyed my educational career, and I feel that it is purely the grace of a loving God that has put me into the position I’m in today.

My fear and doubt culminate in that one moment, and as I spin into scenarios of my children huddled around a trashcan fire, homeless and hungry because I have again failed myself, failed them, I see her face fall because she thinks that it’s her; that I don’t want another child, don’t want another life to shepherd, and at that moment, I’m incapable of telling her that I feel that this life she’s growing is the best thing I think we can do for this world; that we can make the world better by filling it with as good a group of people as we can shape; that I love her and this new life, and that I am proud of her.

I want to tell her these things, but all I can do is frown as that fear, that lack of faith in the love our God has for us grips me.

In my better moments, I can’t help but know better; didn’t I just tell you that it was God who put me where I am? That God that has intervened over and over again in my life; our lives, and made his patience and mercy known to us, over and over again? I am truly blessed, both in what I’ve been given, and how clearly He has shown his hand. Someday I’ll tell you about it.

Yet in this, I still struggle. And that brings me, finally around to how this has even the first thing to do with her post.

We have talked about this before, she and I. (You would kind of expect that, wouldn’t you? Despite random strangers comments to the contrary, I do know what causes these little people..)

I have tried to sit the fence; saying that God blessed us to be fruitful and multiply, sure, but did not say, “.. multiply as often as possible.” I wanted to believe that, you see, so that I could stop breaking her heart, stop being afraid, stop accepting the incredible blessing that God has seen fit to give me.

Silly, isn’t it?

Pray for me, folks. Let me remember, the next time she comes to me (if she does) with her eyes downcast, afraid of what I’m about to say, help me remember that in raising this new life, I will model the behavior of my Father, not my father, and that it is through his providence that my family will flourish, not mine. If I can do that, then at that one crucial, irretrievable moment, I can show her how much joy she and He give me.

I can’t tell you how much pain I’ve seen in the faces of some of the men I respect most in my life, who have come to me, tears in their eyes, and told tell me of the regret they feel for having mutilated themselves (sorry, proper name is vasectomy), and how much they wish they could undo it. Or about couples I have known, good, loving people, who could not have children of their own, and how much that inability cost them. I can’t tell you these things, and if you can’t understand them, can’t empathize, then I pray that you never do.

Do I really have to tell you what side of the fence I’m on?

This post is linked up at Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling’s Big Family Friday.

So I Married a Blogger

The wife was sick.  No words strike greater terror into the father of four and a half than ‘sick’ and ‘wife’, especially such a father whose wife is a homeschooling, stay at home mom.

Oh, sure, everything starts out ok.  I mean, how hard is four bowls of cereal (replete with banana shavings and banana chunks, since I can’t chop evenly) really?  The baby eats like a champ, and I’m not foolish enough to think that this isn’t because of the novelty of Daddy doing the feeding.

Yes, my wife spoils me rotten.  No, I’m not ashamed of myself.  Moving on…

This is day two, and I decide that I need to get the kids out of the house.  Nothing major, nothing I haven’t done before.  However, today is library day.

Foolish me.  I’m prepared for this.  This will be cake.  After all, look how well breakfast went!

We get the van loaded, the children all nestled in every conceivable safety precaution against danger short of bubble wrap.  There’s some diabolical numerology involved in a three year old girl, a five point restraint, and two bowls of sugar frosted O’s; I’m sure it foretells the coming judgement somehow, but at any rate, it makes for a lot of patience being blown early.  It’s ok, though, no problem.

Many Veggie Tales Silly Songs later (as much for the kids as me, I’ll own up), we go through The Pledge.

“OK, kids, we’re going to be on our best behavior in here, right?”

The children allow that they will indeed behave well.

“We’re going to use our quiet voices, ok?”

The children consent to collective quiet.

“We’ll do what Daddy says without argument, or we’ll go home, is that clear?”

The children confess to the clarity seen in my previous statement, solemn as parsons, calm as cucumbers.

I unstrap them, and lead them inside our community library.  I’ve been here before.  I have a list of books that I need to collect, but I’m a grown man.  I served my time in the 80′s southern Pub Ed system and their insistence upon Messr. Dewey’s method; how hard can it be?

As it turns out, it can be impossible.  The card catalog of my childhood is replaced by a PC, a golf pencil, and a hint of paper.  The latter objects are for noting your inability to find anything in the most circuitous, infuriating, labyrinthine web application devised.  When Hell upgrades their methods of moving between the inner and outer circles, the modern Dante will surely be using our library’s search engine to find his way.

I can’t find any of the books my ailing lady wife has listed, but again, I am secure in the inherent order of the building; I’ll simply make my way through the stacks and find what I’m looking for.  I’m sure this is what Moses was thinking, Jews arrayed behind him, on day one of that forty year hike through the desert.

Apparently children’s books need to be split into not one, not two, but three sections, and it is of tantamount importance that they be classified in different methods in each section.  Dewey makes an appearance in one of them, however my subject (China) is in great demand, as I can find every nation on earth (including, heaven help me, Uzbekistan) in the Geography section but it.  I truly cannot find China with both hands and search engine, and the baby is squirming mightily.

I would ask a librarian, but they’re busy, as it turns out, readying themselves for Story Time.  “Ah”, says I to myself, slyly, “I shall drop the kids in story time and try again.”  This I attempt.

My daughter, however, has decided that the young mother’s baby to our right is the most interesting plaything, and is reaching for him despite said mother’s discomfort.  I gently pull my daughter to my left side.  Or try.

She’s not having any of it, and her insistence on the matter is getting progressively louder.  I pull her away from the group and whisper in her ear that she is to sit on my left.  Apparently, this is three year old girl for “arm and detonate”, because she goes off like Fat Boy over Hiroshima.

The experiment is over.  I pull my children out, the smell of failure oozing from my pores.  I am a terrible parent.

 

Why the digression, you ask?  What has this to do with marrying a blogger?

The next day, at work, the first person I see says to me, “Hi Jess.  How was the library?”

“Uhh, ok, I suppose.”  I’m wondering, was this person there?  Do I have a golf pencil still stuck behind my ear?

A little later, from someone else : “How’d you make out at the library?”

Is my name Truman?  Is my poor performance the butt of company gossip?  “OK, I guess…”

Later, outside our building, I run across a friend whom I haven’t seen in almost a year.  “Jessssss!” he calls out, “How’d things go at the library?”

Just before I begin to drool, it finally hits me. Facebook.

Random people know about my life because my life is a part of my wife’s life, and my wife’s life is part of the collective knowledge which is the Internet, or as I am more and more coming to think of it, Them.

You people know more about me than does my pastor, my co-workers (except those co-workers following my wife), and in some ways, my children.  (Although sooner or later, their reading skills will engulf an RSS feed aggregator, so this will balance out.)

I am not a public person.  I have tried using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, Google+, Instant Messaging, IRC, Offline Mail, and every other electronic social interaction since before most of you knew the difference between a web page and a wombat, and you can verify that by the string of inactive accounts on servers across the face of the planet.  I’ve tried, and found I can’t stand them.

I love people, but I can’t stand graffiti, and that’s pretty much what social interaction over the Internet becomes, vehicles like blogs barely excluded.  If you have any experience with CB Radio over the last few decades, you’ll know exactly what I mean; the easier it is to talk over a given channel, the less intelligent the conversation on that channel becomes.  This is why ham radio enthusiasts exist; you can only talk to them if you took a test and earned a license. My attempts at legislating an Internet license continue….

On the other end, I don’t have much to say, really.  Or at least, I have a lot to say very, very infrequently, as evidenced by the above.

So it is fascinating to see the woman I married, who started out being even quieter, less outgoing than I, become the central hub of a huge network of total strangers who know about how I had planned to take the kids out to the library.

She is kind, my wife.  I am, in many respects, an absolutely terrible human being, rife with issues and ailments that would be, to most people surfing the wave of public interest, comedy gold.  Yet she has never taken advantage of this, and has always portrayed me as a good husband, father, and provider.  You people believing this image is as intimidating as it gets, and I try to live up to this.  It only now occurs to me that she knows this, and therefore…

No, too paranoid. Never mind.

At any rate, while I read her blog religiously (because A. Google Reader doesn’t require me to talk to people, B. I enjoy her blog, and C. What kind of idiot do you take me for?), I should really follow her on Facebook more closely, even if that does mean I have to filter through the mental quagmire of all the people I’ve friended (read as family) in order to do it.  It would be easier on my paranoid reflex.

And so you know, the library didn’t go so well.

Homeschooling: Handling Skeptical Extended Family

A guest post by Jesse.

Watching my wife set out on the path to homeschooling, I knew that what she needed most was support.

I never doubted her ability or dedication towards doing the job for a second.  Filling this role has been the direction she was practically built for, and she’s filled in the blanks with a dedication towards learning how to do those things that she didn’t already know.  She works harder at her job than I sometimes do at mine, and I find myself having to live up to her.

She needed support from me, both emotional and financial, and while both are important, I think it’s that first that would have undermined her choice most.  Money is necessary, sure, but you can find ways to get around the lack if you’re determined (and she is; I’m not exactly bringing home the bacon by the truckload).

Without support, however, I don’t think she could have made it past the first few weeks.  I know I couldn’t have. And so, when she told me about a situation involving a woman and her mother, my heart went out to her. Apparently, this lady is homeschooling her children, and her mother is making critical statements in front of the children.

I heard this, and immediately thought of Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood saying, “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!”

Later, “Why a spoon, cousin?”

“Because it’s dull, you twit, it’ll hurt more.”

How do you handle this? Everyone’s situation is different, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, but I know how I’d handle it with my own mother, if I were in this poor lady’s shoes. First, I’d have to decide what I’m ultimately hoping to achieve by even saying anything.  Do I want her support, or do I want to just get her to stop making these negative statements?  In my experience, you can’t win support in a single dialog; most people need to think it through on their own, so I’d set my sights toward the more acheivable goal of preventing this negative energy from getting into my life.

I’d take Mom out of earshot, maybe on a walk or some neutral ground, and tell her point blank, “Mom, these things you’re saying about homeschooling hurt me.”

Then I’d keep my mouth shut, and listen. Oh, sure, you can go in with the explanation guns a blazin’, talking about how much better your choice to homeschool is than public schooling, but then again, you already know these reasons.  You believe in the choice you made, otherwise you wouldn’t have devoted so much of your time and energy into a lifestyle that has to be one of the most taxing choices one can make.  Your choice doesn’t need defense, does it?  So why start the conversation in a way that places you automatically into both a combative and an inferior, defensive position?

No, I’d stand on the conviction that my choice doesn’t need defense, at least not yet.  Instead, I’d confront Mom with the repercussions of her comments.  Not with anger, but with honest confusion; as in, why would you choose to hurt me this way?

Then I’d prepare myself for what comes next, and I’d do my best to be open to what I hear. Maybe Mom has truly valid concerns about what I’m doing that she can’t voice any other way.  Maybe she doesn’t understand how her actions affect me.  Maybe she just doesn’t understand what I’m doing, but that’s why I’m doing this; not to hurt her in return, but to open a dialog.

Maybe she’ll just say, “Oh, hey, I’m sorry, didn’t realize.”  I’d forgive her immediatley, but ask her to be candid about her concerns. Maybe she’ll launch into a discussion about why she thinks I can’t do what I’m doing.  That’s going to be hard to hear, but I think perhaps I need to hear it.  If her opinion didn’t matter to me, I wouldn’t be hurt.

In any case, I’d do my best not to play the victim here.  I’d listen, and try to calmly explain this decision I’ve made with my life and the lives of my children.  I’d also remember that while I want her support, I don’t need it.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be carrying on in the face of her actions.

I’d also consider, beforehand, how far I’m willing to go with this should it turn confrontational.  Personally, I’d go as far as possible with a calm attitude, but if I couldn’t keep my composure, I’d tell her that, frankly, these are my children, and while she doesn’t have to respect my decision to me, she does need to respect it in front of my children.  Maintaining discipline is hard enough without having someone scoop the ground out from under my feet.

I don’t think it would get that far, though.  I think if you approach someone with an open hand rather than a closed fist, you can usually come to some terms if they’re willing to stay open as well. She does care enough to voice concerns, if she’s going about it in a hurtful way. And if you handle it with grace, and with tact, that can go a long way towards getting this other person to reconsider you and your decision to homeschool.