22 July 2008

Moving Update

Did you know that six-year-old boys are very helpful during a move? I sure didn't, but I'm finding that out. It helps that my boy thrives on hard work. {Are all boys like that? He's the only boy I know well right now.} Anyhow, yesterday he and I and my grandfather spent a couple hours at the new house. I was able to clean almost all of the tile floors {which were extremely dusty after this house sat there for so many months} while E. replaced all of the outlet covers using an electric screwdriver and vacuumed out all the drawers and shelves in the kitchen and hall bathroom and my grandfather sanitized the kitchen drawers and shelves.

This is good since wiping high shelves is a precarious task for a large pregnant lady like myself.

And, incidently, how do large pregnant ladies clean tile floors? Using a Hoover FloorMate borrowed from certain Kind and Benevolent Parents, that's how. Gadgets are so helpful at this stage in life.

So the good news is that the new house is very close to being totally clean and move-in ready. The bad news is that all the cleaning supplies have been at the new house for a number of days and so the old house is almost completely trashed. Good thing I have a few days to deep clean the old house before the final walk-through!

21 July 2008

The Great Brandini

For my first trick, I will attempt to disappear for one or two weeks. For my second trick, I will reappear for a short time, only to disappear again on August 25, 2008, which is the date of the C-section which will remove the little parasite Sweet Baby O. from the confines of my tummy. For my third trick, I will attempt to survive the first six weeks of being a mother of four and come out kicking and relatively unscathed.

What a challenge.

But back to the first trick.

We're moving on Saturday. We should have the keys to the new house any day now. But no matter. We've been over there cleaning away. We just aren't moving anything in until the bank says that is acceptable. But it's been a lot of work and I am short on time and energy while also being overwhelmed by an abundance of contractions.

Hence the disappearing act.

I do have one post that I've been working on in my brain. It is begging to be let out sometime soon, and I plan to comply. But other than that, I'll be lucky to have time to reply to comments. Of course, the fact that my comments problem has been repaired should speed that part of the process quite a bit.

Hopefully, when I am back full time {before disappearing again}, I will have a few photos of the house to share. If I have time, I'll put some photos on the scheduled-post function for fun.

17 July 2008

Thirty for 30

Today is my wonderful husband's thirtieth birthday. My, how time flies. We met shortly after our eighteenth birthdays. I have had the privilege of watching him improve for over a decade. He's like fine cheese wine. He he.

So I thought that, in honor of the Big Day, I'd make a list of thirty things I really like or find interesting about Si. Don't worry, I'll explain most of them.

So here it is, Babe. The spotlight's on you today.

  1. For seven years, he thought my birthday was his birthday. I think it was just that, when we were beginning our marriage, he didn't like saying he was a couple months younger than I am. So, each year when my birthday hit, he began to "round up." When I turned twenty-three, so did Si. Maybe it's because he's a twin and so having a birthday by himself bothers him. Whatever it is, he had a suspicious streak of independence this year. I turned thirty, but he remained twenty-nine until today. He says turning thirty doesn't bother him, but this behavior makes me wonder...
  2. He's a twin. I'll get this one out of the way since I mentioned it above. He and his twin are so incredibly close that they promptly moved to opposite coasts when they left home. Just kidding. They actually love each other very much. They are fraternal, but they look a lot alike. I only got them confused once and it's because they were dressed similarly and I wasn't really paying attention.
  3. He wrote a best seller. Okay, so it wasn't a national best seller. However, for one bookseller in our local community anyhow, he was last week's Number Two. Not bad for a first-time author!
  4. He's honest to a fault. How can honesty be a fault? When it interrupts a board game, that's when! Si takes great pains to be truthful at all times. I can only remember him bluffing during a game once during our twelve-year history together. I was shocked, but what was interesting was so was he. And he's never done it again.
  5. He likes to kick things. In high school, he was the kicker for his school's football team. He's never quite gotten over it. Early in our marriage, we even went to the park and I would watch while he kicked a football around. He also kicks soccer balls and rocks. I think this is genetic as two of our three kids began kicking balls around the house the minute they could walk.
  6. He is a man of conviction. Si is one of those people who did hard things before it was cool. He is one to give up his own pleasure for the greater good. He will fight the good fight even when he fights alone. He will do the right thing even when it requires great sacrifice. This is why I was never scared of marrying him.
  7. He is getting grey hair. He used to say it was one for each kid. But now that there are more than four, he admits that he's greying a bit. It's just the sideburns, really. He seems to find this fact interesting. I love it.
  8. He mows his own lawn. There is approximately one other guy in our entire neighborhood who does this, so this is actually very significant, especially since the other guy doesn't do nearly as good a job as Si. Our lawn looks great. So do the flowerbeds. And trust me when I say that this has been an uphill battle {the landscaping was a bit out of control when we moved in}.
  9. He involves his son. Si doesn't just mow the lawn. He uses it as an opportunity to train the little one. About three years ago, there began a Saturday morning tradition. Si would mow the lawn, and E. would faithfully follow behind him pushing a drop-seeder. A year later, E. began to receive his own lawn tools from family and friends. Si taught him how to pull weeds and how to use a hoe. Now, E. is a full-fledged gardener who wants to be a farmer when he grows up. All because of a daddy who took the time to share his work with his son.
  10. He wrestles with the kids. Men are so interesting in this regard. Never in a million years would you find me on the floor, rolling around, covered in children. It just wouldn't happen. {Perhaps it's because I'm perpetually pregnant.} But Si will often do this for half-hour stretches without complaint, and even when he's tired. Somehow, he manages to be aggressive enough for the big one and yet tender enough with the little sprite. It amazes me.
  11. He has dimples. This was not on my list of husband requirements, but my do they delight me.
  12. He keeps his laugh a secret. When someone says something funny, Si is much more likely to give a little grunt than he is to laugh exuberantly out loud. A good thing about this is that he doesn't go giving his laughs away for free. If you are an aspiring comedian, you have to earn this man's laugh. And if you get it, you will know that you were really, truly funny.
  13. He really believes. I have watched Si faithfully follow the Lord for a long time now. I have seen him cling to his faith in hard times, and grow a bit with every passing year. Have you ever met someone and been surprised to learn they were a Christian? Have you ever met a Christian about whom you later wondered if they really believed in the first place? Si is the complete opposite of that sort of person. I'm not saying he's perfect. I'm just saying that I know his faith is true.
  14. He is good with kids. I'm not just saying this because he's a dad. I mean that, before we were ever married, he was just plain good with kids. He even ran a little after-school club for kids at one point in college. Some people are good with their own kids, while other people are good with kids. Si is good with kids.
  15. He used to misspell his own middle name. This is not his fault. Apparently no one ever really bothered to make sure he knew how to spell it correctly. Don't worry. By our third year of marriage, he had it down perfectly and he's never looked back.
  16. He didn't chase a dream. There has been a lot Si has given up for his family. We didn't exactly plan our life the way it's turned out {though we see now that this is God's perfect plan}. He had a lot of things he wanted to do in terms of travel, education, and career. Some men chase those things to the neglect of caring for their families. Si never did that. I never had to worry that he would choose a dream over us. He has faithfully taken care of me and our ever-growing family.
  17. He did chase a dream. There has been a lot he's given up, like I said, but he also has learned that there are things he can pursue without any detriment to his responsibilities at home. And he's also found versions of previous dreams that were a little more practical. Writing his book would be one of those dreams. He worked so hard to write it. And he did it. And it's in print. And I'm so proud of him.
  18. He extends grace to those who need it. I think one would expect a guy who wrote a book like Culture Makers to be judgmental in a bad way. After all, part of the purpose of the book is to teach discernment, which isn't exactly popular in this anything-goes world we live in. But what I see in Si is a reflection of our Savior. Jesus saw where people were. He understood that they were sinful and that their beliefs were wrong. And His response was compassion. He pulled them out of their sin and set them free, telling them to "sin no more." I see something similar in Si. His awareness of others' beliefs doesn't bring about condemnation. It brings about compassion that flows from a heart of grace.
  19. He is objectively handsome. It always embarrasses Si when I say this, but still I think it is true! When we first met, we were just friends. The relationship was purely platonic for many years. In fact, had you told us when we were eighteen that we would marry someday, we would have both laughed at you! However, I always knew that he was handsome. He was handsome in the way a waterfall was beautiful. There was a set of objective criteria that he met. With his newly grey hair, he meets it even more!
  20. He used to play horrible practical jokes. I live in fear that this character flaw trait will rear its ugly head once our oldest son is old enough to appreciate it. My memories of Si in college include, but are not limited to, a certain fish placed inside the ceiling of our dormitory. It absolutely stunk for weeks before anyone discovered the source. When we were older and more mature, he took one of our baby's dirty diapers and left it under his younger brother's bed when we were visiting.
  21. He isn't afraid of manual labor. To me, there is nothing more effeminate than a man who is afraid to sweat a bit. I'm not saying a man has to toil all day long to be a man, but I occasionally see guys at Starbucks who look like they are afraid of good old-fashioned hard work. When Si sees the vacant lot in our new backyard, he sees potential, even though nothing will happen to it but by the sweat of his brow. I am conveniently giving birth soon in order to avoid having to offer my assistance. Si isn't afraid to put in effort in order to glean a reward.
  22. He isn't afraid to ask. If he doesn't understand something, Si will ask for an explanation. If his salad was big enough for two dressings, but he was only given one, he'll ask for an extra. {He'll also manage to get it free, but that's another story.}
  23. He is convinced that my drink tastes better. This has been the main struggle in our marriage. Only in the past year has he finally accepted that he can have his own cup at the dinner table and still enjoy his drink. For years folks would offer him a drink and he would decline in favor of drinking mine. I have no idea how our daughter got the way she is.
  24. He likes his toddlers. I always joke that each child gets their chance to be Daddy's favorite around here. Sure, he likes all the kids. But Si has a special place in his heart for the ages of about 14-30 months. It starts right around the time they can yell, "Daddy!" when he gets home from work.
  25. He eats like a chipmunk. In fact, his roommates warned me before we got married. They told me that I would find him with a bit of food in his mouth, and I could know with certainty that he hadn't finished. The other half of that cookie was somewhere, hidden away as a future snack. A more recent example would be eating half a popsicle and then putting it back in the freezer {in its case--it was all very sanitary, mind you} for some other time.
  26. His nickname is Depression-Era Dad. Si is very frugal. I mean it when I add the very in there. Once, when the kids asked for fruit bars at the store, Si bought one. And then he cut it in half! I teased him that it was like that Disney movie where they are all standing around watching while one character slices a little bean into equal portions. Even though I find this amusing, I must also say that Si has taught me a lot about making wise expenditures, as well as forgoing foolish ones.
  27. He is humble. This is something that has struck me about Si. He simply isn't very prideful. Si truly believes that others are important, that they have dignity. He esteems others while often denying himself.
  28. He has good aim. Si doesn't practice shooting very often, but let's just say you don't want to be the other guy.
  29. He studies. Si is a thinker. He doesn't pretend to know everything. To the contrary, he often admits how little he knows. And when he finds a question turning around in his head, he pursues it with determination. He seeks out experts, whether in print or in person, and learns what he can. I admire a person who studies; they are such a rarity in this world.
  30. He feels thirty. Whenever I tease him about turning thirty, this is his response. It supposedly doesn't bother him because he feels thirty. It didn't bother me, either, but I like to torture him just the same. And then I think that, indeed, he seems thirty. He's a grown man, after all. He has a job, a wife, almost four kids. He is responsible and thoughtful. Thirty, it seems, has arrived just in time.

16 July 2008

GFCF Meal Plan for July 14-20

It's been a while since I've posted one of these, and this week's is a pretty good one, so I thought I'd share. Of course, like every other week, it's subject to change pending unforeseen obstacles like overwhelming nausea.


Here we go...

Monday, July 14
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread. This is the only way to keep up with the zucchini crop. We eat it every single morning without exception.
Lunch: Odds-and-ends leftovers from the weekend
Dinner: Homemade spaghetti sauce over rice pasta and salad. I revisited my Summer Red Sauce, this time cutting out the meat entirely and substituting nine beautiful homegrown tomatoes for the canned diced variety. This made the sauce so sweet and yummy!

Tuesday, July 15
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Great Granddad's homemade chili {the great grandparents were watching children while I went to the OB and ate out with my mom}
Dinner: Rosemary Marinated Lamb Chops {add a bit of arrowroot powder to the marinade to create a tangy GFCF sauce for the meat}, potatoes fried in coconut oil {YUM}, and a salad made of store bought romaine topped with homegrown tomatoes and homegrown green onions

Wednesday, July 16
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Boiled eggs and fruit slices
Dinner: Italian Roast Beef {because I'm on an Italian kick and I need to clear out the freezer before we move}, simple brown rice, and salad

Thursday, July 17
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Leftover roast beef
Dinner: Organic stove-popped popcorn {I use coconut oil now and WOW does it work well} and fruit smoothies {Si has a going-away party for a friend that night, so the kids and I are eating simple}

Friday, July 18
Breakfast: Zucchini bread
Lunch: Leftovers and more smoothies to fill everyone up
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with tomatoes {this is God's version of pasta, people, and the recipe from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook is excellent--growing some or all of your own ingredients makes it dirt cheap frugal, too!}

Saturday, July 19
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Leftover spaghetti squash with Amaranth Millet Bread if I get up the energy
Dinner: Breakfast for dinner {fried eggs, country fried potatoes, etc.}

Sunday, July 20
Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Leftovers and some fruit slices and/or salad on the side
Dinner: We're going to eat at my parent's house. I'm bringing my GFCF Pound Cake and topping it with gluten-free homemade strawberry sauce for dessert!

15 July 2008

Taylor on Cultural Knowledge

I promise I am almost done quoting Poetic Knowledge incessantly. But I realized that there was something I forgot when I did my two recap posts.

Actually, this is a subject I've thought about a lot because there is a big push to educate children from a perspective of the entire world instead of the culture in which they live. This has never made sense to me, and the main reason for that is my own experience. I was educated right before there was a super-huge multiculture push. So I primarily experienced my own culture, and then a bit of Mexican culture, but then I'm not sure that is a bad thing seeing as the town I lived in was actually about 50% Mexican immigrants. Becoming familiar with Mexican culture a bit helped me get along in the world I was in, I suppose.

When I entered college, I began to really appreciate other cultures. For the first time, I tested foreign foods {and found that I liked a lot of them}. I read books about exotic places and was captivated by them. And I think that I appreciated these cultures because they were so other than the culture I was raised in.

It was all about contrast.

Today, kids are told that they need to learn about so many other cultures from the time they are very young. Children's books are packed with stories of African tribes and South American adventures and such. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but I think that there is something to be said for first immersing a child in their own culture, and then later moving on to familiarizing them with other cultures.

We also seem to be becoming a people without a culture {popular culture being not a real culture}, and I think it might be connected to not treating any one culture as our own.

Here is a somewhat lengthy quote from Taylor:
In the school of the poetic mode of education, there are very few books indeed, and the ones used, in a sense, choose us before we chose them; that is, these are the books of our tradition, which is the Western tradition. No amount of forced multiculturalism in the schools can change the fact that we are born at a certain time into a certain culture and tradition, and no amount of study of, for example, the culture of the East, will make us any more Eastern when reading translations of Tibetan folk stories, as will be our culturally instinctive response to the world of the stories of Grimm and Andersen. And, turning this the other way, a school in the Orient would do well to read those stories that have been handed down to them by their tradition. It is not a question of being exclusive or xenophobic; it is rather to recognize that the taking on of another's culture and traditions is unnecessary and inappropriate at this level of education. The study of Chinese literature, for example, would be a very good thing to do, gathering as much information about Chinese philosophy, politics, life, and manners, not to mention some attempt at learning to translate the language--all necessary collateral studies precisely because the story or poem was not written in our tradition and we would need to do as much 'homework' as possible to recreate the circumstances for its appreciation. But to accomplish the conditions for reading stories from China is the work of the graduate student on the way to becoming a specialist, an expert in a particular field. The school of the poetic mode remains a school of beginners. {emphasis mine}

Now, I would never take this to mean the children should exclusively be exposed to their own culture to the point of crazy measures like avoiding missionary stories or speaking to widely-traveled persons! However, this quote is referring to the school. What do we take the time to study?

I was thinking about this also in terms of literacy. For instance, why does the mariner in Kipling's Just So Stories say that his natal home is the "white cliffs of Albion"? Well, if you are doing Year 1 of Ambleside {which is focused on Western, English-speaking tradition}, you learned {by reading Fifty Famous Stories Retold} the story of Albion and Brutus and just how Britain acquired its name. Your six-year-old therefore makes a connection to ancient folklore {and knows that the "white cliffs of Albion" refer to Britain} while reading Kipling, something many adults are incapable of.

If we rigorously study many traditions from a very young age, my hunch is that our traditions will become a mere curiosity and have very little, if any, depth. Any culture doing such a thing might be jeopardizing itself.

12 July 2008

The Littlest Sprite

When I think about how things will be changing in the next two months, I think about how the most drastic change will be happening to Baby Q. We'll live in a new place, she and A. will have a new room, we will have new neighbors, and all of that. And then there is the fact that Q. will no longer be the family's baby.

That will be O.'s place come late August.

The birth of Baby Q. was interesting to me. When E. was born, he was my baby. When A. was born, she was my baby. But Q. felt like she belonged to the whole family. Even now, she is everyone's baby. She is community property, and there are sometimes arguments over her.

Raising Baby Q. is also a little bit like getting a second shot at raising E. They are similar in a number of ways, not the least of which is physical agility. I learned early on to teach them to climb safely {and instruct them where they might and might not climb} rather than telling them not to climb at all. Both Q. and E. were born with uncanny balancing abilities. This means that Q. is a pint-sized daredevil. She is the tiniest little toddler and she looks so delicate, and yet she'll climb up on my rocking ottoman, stand up tall, and rock it back and forth with her legs, arms out to her sides, simulating surfing.

That really scared us the first few times it happened.

Or how about standing on the arm of the toddler-sized rocking chair so as to look out the window? That one is scary, too.

She and E. also have in common two other qualities: an enjoyment of hard work, and a relish for playing alone.

Q. already does laundry. While A. has had to be pushed to begin doing chores of any kind, Q. has been known to attempt chores that are well outside her abilities. We try desperately to find things for her to do. This past week E. taught her to bring the clean silverware to where he was standing to put it away. This actually slowed down the process of putting things away as we had to wait for her to toddle back and forth, but she was absolutely beaming.

Q. likes to find a quiet place alone. She often hides behind a table or under a crib and does her thing. She plays with her dolls or E.'s trucks or flips through a book. I think she is possibly an introvert, which might be why she is exhausted after church, but energetic after naps.

However, Q.'s and E.'s personalities diverge at one point: cheerfulness. Q. is mostly happy and content. She doesn't let much bother her. She doesn't seem to worry about anything. She only cries when something is seriously wrong.

But perhaps the quirkiest thing about Q. is her impish tendencies. She has a twinkle in her eye that lets me know when she's about to do something she shouldn't. She laughingly walks up to me and asks, "Bye bye?" And she waves to me. I don't know why she invented such a scheme, but this version of bye bye is asking permission to do something naughty. If I am distracted and say goodbye in return, she takes it as me giving her my leave. And she runs to do what she ought not to do.

And I mean runs. She has learned that her opportunities are short-lived.

I have told Si many times that it is unfortunate that this daughter's theme verse is from Proverbs 9 instead of Proverbs 31. We had such high hopes before she was born. The verse is this:
"Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!"

Proverbs 9:17
You see, Q. is convinced that the food and drink belonging to her siblings is vastly superior to whatever it is that we have given her. A. is her usual victim because she too scatter-brained to keep proper track of her property. Two examples should suffice. The first is in regard to water. Q. loves, more than anything, to steal A.'s sippy cup. She will sneak up and grab it at any open opportunity, tuck it into her armpit like a football, and run away as fast as she can.

Stolen water is sweet...

The second example deals with food. Every evening the children get a final snack. It is usually a simple small bowl of fruit. If A. turns her back for even a second, Q. will stuff her mouth as quickly as she can with whatever is in A.'s bowl. This usually results in Q. looking like a chipmunk for the next ten minutes, and A. howling about how Q. stole her food when she wasn't watching.

Food eaten in secret is delicious...

It really is unfortunate that she is displaying such serious character flaws at such a young age.

So here she is, our intelligent, impish child who is so tiny that I constantly have to remind myself that she isn't a baby anymore. As I always do, I grieve for her as I approach the end of my pregnancy. She has no idea what is coming or that our family will be changing or that she will no longer be the littlest.

11 July 2008

Ambleside Hints: Geography in Paddle-to-the-Sea

I have been thinking lately that when I find little tricks for Ambleside that work for me, I should share them here in case anyone else would find them helpful, or has a comment for me that will help me improve what is already working and make it even better.

I say this a lot, but one of the beauties of blogging is collaboration.

So anyhow, we are in the midst of our first week of school. It is going great, we really love Ambleside as much as we thought we would, etcetera, etcetera...

Paddle-to-the-Sea isYear One's learning-geography-by-reading-literature book. Today was our first day reading it. So far, so good.

What I wanted to share here was our collateral material. First, we have a giant foam puzzle-map of the USA that some relatives gave us. I am sure that any USA puzzle-map would be helpful, but it is fun when it is giant and made of foam.

Just ask my three-year-old.

Anyhow, we started with this because I wanted them to see the big picture {being the US, not the world}. So we looked at the map, and I had the six-year-old point out where we live, were Gigi lives, where his Great-Grandparents {in Florida} live, and so on. And then I asked him to look up at the top and find the Great Lakes area. I described it to him and he was able to find it on his own. We talked about the Great Lakes, how they are big enough to be mistaken for oceans when you stand on the shore, how Canada is on the other side of them, and other details. The point was for him to focus in on the Great Lakes in the context of the whole USA.

At this point, he and the three-year-old {who is not about to be left out} were each handed a blank map, which I attained for free thanks to the Googling power of my incredibly handsome husband. Want a free Great Lakes map that is blank? You can have one, too! I copied and pasted it into a Word document so that I could enlarge it a bit.

I had the children begin to color it. I put blue dots in the Great Lakes and had them start by coloring the Lakes blue. To the children, all these black lines mean nothing, so I tried to assist their coloring so that they actually make a map and not just a piece of modern art. They didn't get through it all, but that is good because the map will be a work-in-progress which we get out each time we read a chapter of the book.

Whatever they were able to color today, I labeled with a black marker. Eventually, we will trace the path traveled by Paddle-to-the-Sea on the maps which they have made.

Incidentally, I discovered that my three-year-old is suddenly very good at coloring.

Anyhow, these are just a couple simple tools, but I definitely saw them enhance the geography-learning experience.

Chasing Birds and Butterflies

When A. was born, she was almost instantly and quite obviously the perfect match for E. This is significant as I had wanted a boy, and the children closer together at that {they are just shy of three years apart}. But the Lord built the house in His perfect plan, and I never could have imagined its beauty.

It has been so interesting to me that our two oldest look so much alike--same strawberry hair, same blue eyes that turned to green around age two, same sprinkling of freckles on skin that tans rather than burns, same, same, same--and yet so very different.

A.'s first nickname was The Bird. She was initially dubbed thus because of the way she ate when being introduced to solid foods. Just like a baby birdie, she tilted up her chin and opened her mouth wide and she sometimes made little chirping sounds. Later on, the name stuck because, as her hair grew in, she sprouted what could only be referred to as wings on the sides of her head.

If E.'s mind is a steel trap, A.'s is...something else entirely. I was going to say a sieve, and she is by far our most forgetful child, but it isn't just sieve-like. Quite often things catch in her brain, but they get so jumbled up as to be hardly recognizable, at least in the first few months. And then, suddenly, it'll all fit together like a puzzle that some hidden part of her consciousness must have been working on.

For instance, she was so bad at learning her colors that we actually discussed whether or not she was color blind. But now, at almost three-and-a-half, she knows them all perfectly. However, though she shows great desire to know how to identify her letters, she has already proven that the process will be much like color-learning. All we will see is confusion and error. But she has shown me that, somewhere deep in her brain, she really can figure it out. And I believe she will. It just takes patience on the part of the teacher, I think.

So we have this scatter-brained, forgetful little bird who flits around sounding confused much of the time. She offers us all endless delight, but that isn't all.

She also offers us comfort.

When she was in her two's, the whole family knew that if they needed to hold a little person, A. was their girl. Just the fact that she let you hold her made you feel better sometimes.

This has changed in her three's, but I'm seeing that same comfort flow through her to others still, just in a different way. When Q. recently had the flu, A. was right there beside her the whole time. In the beginning, I tried to get her to go away, mainly out of fear that she, too, would come down with something and what would I do with two sick girls? But I began to learn that trying to help console Q. was showing me part of who A. is meant to be and who was I to get in the way?

And so A. held Q.'s hand while she threw up, whispering softly in her ear that she was okay and Mommy would keep her safe. When it was time to clean Q. up, A. helped, and I mean really helped. I wiped one of Q.'s hands down with a baby wipe and A. wiped the other. And then A. wiped the floor while I changed Q.'s clothes. She hesitated to leave the room even to wash her hands, but I assured her that is what good nurses do. A. didn't seemed phased in the least by the utter grossness of it all. She only wanted to love and help her sister.

We have seen smaller examples of this in her before, but this flu was truly significant. I began to wonder what enormous acts of service this child would perform in her lifetime. Her heart is so pure and loving.

Like a butterfly, however, this beauty is easily damaged, and I am learning to protect the most sensitive spirit in our home. A. has been known to cry when one of the other children is injured or disciplined. She has been known to cry excessively when something hurts her feelings. She is easily frightened. She is scared of the vacuum cleaner and anything else that makes loud noises. She earnestly desires protection, and often asks, "Daddy keep me safe? Mommy keep me safe?"

She, like her older brother, is also simply an average little girl who plays with her dolls, takes the ribbons out of her hair even though she was just told not to, and refuses to eat her dinner on occasion {like last night}. But these are some of the things that stand out to me about A., and what I hope to remember about her as we move to this next chapter in our life.

10 July 2008

Raising Wendell Berry

Whenever I get close to having a baby, I come down with fits of nostalgia. I am currently less than 50 days from having this baby {assuming the C-section happens on August 27th}. Couple this with the fact that we hope to move in two weeks, and I find myself watching my children with new eyes, wanting to remember what they were like when...

...we lived in that rental two miles away...

...there were only three of them...


Thus begins a series of three posts, one for each child.

But before I begin, I feel compelled to note that I intend to look back on these posts with amusement. Even though children are so...themselves from the time they are tiny, I am all too aware that what a child is like as a baby doesn't predict their personality or character as a toddler, nor intimate what they will be like at five or 15 or 50.

But some things will endure, and I'm curious what that will be. The future is a mist, to be sure.

I often joke to my husband that we are raising Wendell Berry. I say this while admitting an almost-total ignorance of what Wendell Berry is actually like. I've read his bio on Wikipedia, and also his wonderful novel Jayber Crow, but that's about it other than my exposure to numerous people who claim to have been influenced by his fiction, poetic, and/or nonfiction works.

It's not that our eldest is like Wendell Berry so much as Wendell Berry, to me anyhow, symbolizes that intersection between the agrarian and the poetic. He is a highly educated man, an amazing writer, and yet also a humble farmer. His poetry, the small snippets that I've been exposed to, appreciates simple things like sowing a field. He is a prolific writer that remains anchored to the earth.

My son is not yet a writer, but he is an avid reader, and he has a literary mind if ever there was one. When he describes a bird or a cloud or a garden, he uses poetic imagery. He truly appreciates natural beauty. He loves the simple things, like harvesting tomatoes from his tidy garden.

I've also mentioned to my husband that perhaps it is more like raising C.S. Lewis. After all, Lewis was famous for his almost-total recall of everything he ever read. E. is like that, often spouting off sentences {and sometimes passages} from books I had forgotten we read together. He quotes them verbatim. He remembers the name of every child in every Little House book.

Does anyone know who Frank was? I still can't figure that one out.

But then, my sweet boy is also a lot like Oscar the Grouch. He can be grumpy and cantankerous. Actually, maybe that makes him like Michael Savage, who I once heard describe himself as being like that uncle who you feel obligated to invite to Sunday dinner, and then said uncle argues with everyone during the entire meal, and no one can argue back because, mostly, he's right, but then you are so glad when he leaves, but then by Wednesday you are beginning to look forward to seeing that uncle again.

E. was born at the age of approximately 90. He talks about his health too much. He thinks he knows things. He tells you in no uncertain {and often rude, but we're working on it} terms that you are wrong. He will probably live to be 115. Have you ever noticed that old folk's homes are full of curmudgeonly old men that specialize in a certain brand of amusing grumpiness? That grumpiness is like a health tonic. It keeps them alive, if for no other reason than for spite.

Surely E. will make it to 115. But instead of an old folk's home he'll hopefully be surrounded by the ten children he says he plans to have. After all, he is also showing signs of being a man's man--possessing that steady, reliable, internal strength. If he keeps it up, no one will mind having the old guy around, especially if he keeps up his skill at fixing things.

I am not saying that he is all of these things all of the time. Not at all. For the most part, he is a normal little boy who rides his scooter, is too rough with his sisters on occasion, acts up when company comes over, and really likes food. But the things I mentioned above are characteristic, too, and I think they are some of the things that make him distinct from other little boys.

08 July 2008

Another Poetic Knowledge Recap

I still have quite the collection of quotes. Reviewing them all, typing them up, reflecting on them one last time...the whole process helps solidify what I've learned. It's a process that I've performed many times before, only once upon a time it was done in a private journal.

Because blogs hadn't yet been invented.

That's an interesting thought.

Anyhow, here are some more quotes from Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education. Did I mention I love this book?

I love this book.
[E]xistentialism, now so widely invoked by theologians and atheists alike, begins with a radical subjectivism that, under the terms of the form is always in danger of "creating" a God so personal as to become private and indistinguishable from man...
Just something that made me say hmmmm.
Rousseau's passionate desire for self-sufficiency in the learner leads to alienation, asserting...that we learn alone and exclusively in the subjective mode...One of the natural results of Nature, growth, is that men form societies, no matter how crude and primitive, and pass on knowledge one to another as teachers and students within families, societies, and schools.
A possible danger I see in homeschooling is that children might perhaps think that knowledge is always and absolutely best acquired through the reading of books in solitude. This is not only contrary to logic, but also to the Biblical ideas of education as taking place through conversation within the family in Deuteronomy 6 and also instruction from the Teacher to the student {as the Teacher serves as mediator between the student and the world} in Proverbs, just to name a couple examples. I find myself wanting to make sure that my children are exposed to various sources of knowledge over the coming years so that they do not become too dependent on any one method of learning.
"A man should have a farm or mechanical craft for his welfare. We must have a basis for our higher accomplishment, our delicate entertainments of poetry and philosophy, in the work of our hands." {Taylor quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson}
This is quite a counter-cultural assertion. Our society disdains the labor of the hands. Those of us who are educated are expected to pursue specializations and leave manual labor to others. There is no sense of a balanced man, a man grounded by intimate knowledge of real things--of trees, whether this be growing them, pruning them, or making from them something beautiful. I think Charlotte Mason understood the necessity of the real in learning, and this is why she encouraged the life out-of-doors and also the teaching of handicrafts to even the very young. If we are not intimately tied to the world about which we think and ponder, we are in danger of thinking about said world in ways which are entirely wrong, for we cannot possibly understand the nature of the thing.
Thus, under modern education,
the child...is introduced to a kind of intellectual work which, all things considered, is rather easy: reading books and compiling facts. At the end of his studies he is not capable of doing any other work than reading books and compiling facts. So, he becomes a bureaucrat, an employee, a professor, or tax collector. He doesn't even realize that he can do anything else...he himself thinks only of leading others on toward the same routine. {Taylor quoting Henri Charlier}
I remember that after I graduated college I was keenly aware that I knew how to do absolutely nothing. I had no ability to produce anything tangible. Graduate school had always appealed to me, for I have a love of learning, but it also was a "safe" route--a route of the familiar books-and-learning routine. I wasn't fit for much else. Mothering has been a gift to me in that I have acquired actual, useful skills. It has grounded me in reality in a way that my school education never did, and probably never could.
"The majority of things made today are not made by men at all. The majority of men today do not make things. They only do what they are told." {Taylor quoting Eric Gill}
It is true, that men today are mostly fit for taking orders. It is my belief that government education is specifically tailored to the production of men with a slave mindset, which is why there is very little crying out against the elimination of the liberal arts. Liberal arts, being fit for free men, have a limited audience, and the size of that audience dwindles with each generation graduated.

I remember once hearing Dr. Voddie Baucham speaking and he marveled that whenever he told folks that he homeschooled his children, one of their first questions was whether or not such a thing was legal. He declared that this was a question asked by a person with a slave mindset, not a free man. He himself was determined to think and to act as a free man. If you have ever heard Baucham explain his background, then this statement becomes particularly profound.
"[T]hese crafts are superior in a way that can never be taken away from them, that is, they teach there is a nature of things. A professor can have fallen into great error, can be mistaken, and he can stay there his whole life destroying thousands, ten thousand intelligences, but nonetheless will continue to have a good job and will have a very comfortable retirement afterward. But if a peasant fails to plant his fields two times in a row, he's ruined." {Taylor quoting Charlier again}
And so I learned that one value of crafts is that they anchor the soul to reality, regardless of which craft in particular is practiced.

The Bible refers to the law of sowing and reaping. Ideas have consequences, it is true, but it is hard for us to understand when we reap what we have sown with our minds, and we are never able to fully identify when something is a consequence of our thought and when it isn't. Couple this with the fact that many ideas sown into the culture take longer than a generation to reap, and we begin to see why we thinkers can have a reality-disconnect.

With the crafts, there is a direct result that can be reaped in only a year or two. This is good for the soul in that we understand that what we do impacts the world around us. The crafts tie us to community in this way.
"Mistake me not: wonder is no sugary sentimentality, but, rather, a mighty passion, a species of fear, an awful confrontation of the mystery of things." {Taylor quoting Dennis Quinn}
Wonder is akin to reverence, I think.
Curiosity belongs to the scientific impulse and would strive to dominate nature; whereas, wonder is poetic and is content to view things in their wholeness and full context, to pretty much leave them alone.
Interesting distinction.
If education does not cultivate the natural desire for union with reality with the understanding that the poetic and gymnastic modes are real knowledge, then it delivers something profoundly inferior to the reality and powers of the human being. For desire of the real to rise up, there must be something real to arouse it, and gadgets, computers, and gimmicks used to hold attention, all taking place in classroom environments technologically insulated from reality, are simply parts of the generally unlovable atmosphere of modern education--unlovable because they are all efficiency, utility, and no longer beautiful.

And that's a good place to conclude. Things that are real will hold no interest if a child isn't introduced to them in the first place. This is why we have a low-tech {no-tech?} approach here at the homeschool. We do not wish to be distracted from the good, the true, and the beautiful which it is our aim to pursue. As was the moral in our Aesop for Children reading yesterday:

Do not let anything turn you from your purpose.

07 July 2008

Poetic Knowledge Recap

If all goes as planned, today is the first day of school. The only reason I can keep blogging through such a week as this is the beauty of scheduled posting. I think I'll make much use of this tool in the coming weeks. Before beginning Year One with my son {and preschool with my daughter A.}, I decided I wanted to go back through James Taylor's Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education one last time. This book, after all, has influenced my philosophy of education more than any other.

I think it even surpasses Charlotte Mason in terms of its influence upon me. Gasp! Of course, that might be because Mason organized a lot of things that were already in my brain, while Taylor introduced entirely new concepts and ideas.

I've underlined so much of the book that it would perhaps be copyright infringement for me to share it all here. But I'm going to give some excerpts a go, and add in a bit of my own reflection.

But first...What is poetic knowledge? After reading the book, I think Taylor would say that poetic knowledge is the first sort of knowledge a child gathers {and one that is particularly shunned today}, and, rather than being the only sort of knowledge, it is a type of knowledge which underpins all other types of knowledge. More than anything else, poetic knowledge is gathered using all forms of the intellect and senses and has as its foundation wonder.

It is this aspect of wonder that really grabbed me. As a devotee of classical methods of education, I fear hubris more than anything else. I would consider my work in our home a shame and a failure to graduate children who know much and are full of self. Wonder leaves very little room for self, while simultaneously leaving much room for God. It is, I think, the perfect antidote to hubris.
[T]his way of education for the beginner is based on the child's natural disposition to learn by imitation; that is, not only to attempt to duplicate what they hear and see but to become the thing that is imitated...
As an example, I would hold up my son E. We have been reading The Long Winter. One of the central activities in this particular book is haying. They grow it, cure it, gather it, stack it, haul it and even, when their coal runs out, burn it. My son spent many days last week using a toy tractor to "cut hay," which, his imagination assured him, was growing underneath his sister's crib. When children read books, a part of them becomes the thing they read, and they often act it out later.
"To young children should be imparted only such kinds of knowledge as will be useful to them without vulgarizing them. And any occupation, art, or science, which makes the body or soul or mind of the freeman less fit for the practice and exercise of virtue, is vulgar..." {Taylor quoting Aristotle}
We are very careful with our children, and sometimes this is misinterpreted as overprotection. However, if we are in the business of growing souls, and our goal is to grow a soul most fit for virtue, then there are two aspects of this. The first is avoiding things that degrade the soul's virtue. The second is to fill that soul with everything required to produce virtue. Some think that to take away one thing {like a television, for instance}, is to leave them with nothing. It is actually quite the opposite. Leaving out influences that we consider degrading is the first step to making time for the building up and cultivation of the virtuous soul.
[T]o "Hearken"--and "to incline the ear of thy heart" is not only the first disposition for learning anything, it is also a poetic disposition.
This is something I want to cultivate in my children, for it is the path to wisdom. The wise man in Proverbs is characterized by his quietude, his receptivity to what he can learn around him, his eagerness to hear. I think that sometimes I have encouraged my children to speak too much and listen too little. Perhaps this is a fault in my own character as well. One of my goals for this year is for the children to learn to place value on listening with their whole beings, which is the true posture of learning.
And although this book is devoted to the poetic mode of knowledge, gymnastic was always considered as an integrated and complimentary mode with the poetic spoken of by Plato and Aristotle. For a simple understanding for our times,...we can think of the gymnastic mode first of all as direct experience with reality, for example a life lived more out of doors...
Hence, one of the appeals of the micro-homestead project. The children will not simply be outside, but they will experience creation's seasons. They will see planting time and harvest. They will, in time, have trees to climb and ducks to chase. They will nurture fowl and gather their eggs. They will plant a butterfly garden and, in a few years, reap its glory and delight.

But I'm not sure it ends there. We will not listen to hymns and folksongs in our school, we will sing them ourselves. It is such a simple thing, and yet there is a distinct difference between being entertained by something and being the source of that something's actual creation.
[M]odern education...has turned even play into a kind of work in that it is usually conducted as a means to learning something else rather than treated as an end in itself.

May I never have goals for my children's play other than that they experience delight, wonder, and the other poetic responses.
[A]ll learning now becomes a kind of effort and work which Dewey models after a dynamic idea of democracy of social change, where learning has as its end the fulfillment of a progressive society always changing toward some perfected goal. Everything is measured by the changing needs of a social end, rather than knowing and learning beginning as a natural and effortless good in itself and leading to the fulfillment of the innate desire to know and to love.
Taylor later quotes John Senior stating that "real schools are places of un-change, of the permanent things." And all of this reminds me, naturally, of T.S. Eliot's Choruses from 'The Rock':
The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?
That, my friends, is a good stopping point for today. Dewey invaded our educational system in order to bring about a change centered on nothing but change itself, an unstable foundation to be sure. This has resulted in an increasingly chaotic culture which, as Eliot rightly says, "advances progressively backwards." C.S. Lewis once wrote,
We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
For many of us, that is precisely what homeschooling is: a turning back that is, at its core, truly progressive. As we follow the old paths and seek out the First Things, the things of un-change and permanence, we are acting in a way that builds culture rather than tears it down.


For another recap, go here.

06 July 2008

Book Signing!

Yesterday was Si's first official book signing for Culture Makers. I know I don't post many photos here, but I just couldn't resist posting a photo of the hottie very serious author-type man at work {please note the dimples for which I married him as they are very important to me}:

Did you see that there are only two books in the picture? He actually sold out and had to run to his car and gather the stack of books he had taken just in case! It had been my prayer that this would be an encouraging time for Si, and also for the bookseller, and our prayers were answered.

The bookstore wants to buy more, which is great.

When I was visiting the event with the children, I noticed that the store had a stack of classics on sale for $4.50 each. I subtly handed one to E. {The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, to be precise} and told him to let Daddy know that this book was something Mommy would like. Apparently, when Si went up to purchase it, he was told that they don't take credit cards for anything under $5! Not to be detered, he grabbed up another beauty, Tales from King Arthur. He had done such a good job at bringing in a crowd that the store gave him an "employee" discount!

What a wonderful day all around.

05 July 2008

Kung Flu Fighting

We were blessed by a visit from the stomach flu fairy this week. Q. was the only victim, but she was sick enough for all of us. Have I ever mentioned how tiny she is? At 18 months, she is just under 20 pounds. The doctor has told us before that she is fine, just very petite. But what I'm learning is that tiny people are weaker when they are sick, and they have less fat to burn when a high fever hits. It can get very scary, and they have to be watched very closely.

Hence my absence from the internet. I spent two full days and nights doing very little other than holding and rocking and cleaning up after Q.

Our family has lots of experience with colds. In fact, our children tend to be sick from November to February most years. They seem to catch one cold after another. We spend our winters at home, reading quietly and hoping that future years will be different.

The stomach flu, however, rarely hits home and I must confess that I find myself at a loss as to what to do when it does. Thankfully, my wonderful aunt is the dictator head nurse at our pediatrician's office and is good to tell me exactly what needs to be done and what to watch for.

Anyhow, I thought I'd document what we did this time so that I can remember for the future. It's nice to be able to google myself when I need advice. Besides, one never knows who might benefit from the random things published on the internet.

For the record, I am not a run-to-the-doctor type of mother. My relationship with antibiotics and Tylenol is tenuous at best. However, many alternatives aren't very well publicized. It seems to me that there should be a third option. In other words, the choice shouldn't be go to the doctor or do nothing. There should be things we can do at home. That is what my aunt helped me with, especially when it came to keeping Baby hydrated.

The past few days felt somewhat like a war, so I'm going to call this my arsenal. I have both offensive and defensive weapons. Remember, while mothers defend the child who is sick, the children who are not sick must, if possible, be kept that way! This is where playing offense comes in handy.

Here is my aresnal.

Offensive Weapons

  • Clorox Wipes. I try not to use toxic substances in our home. In fact, The Nourishing Gourmet recently posted some handy tips on killing germs while using more natural substances. Her homemade kitchen disinfectant would, in theory, be as effective as Clorox Wipes. However, I had to use the wipes. It was the most efficient way to kill the germs. Let's just say the older children were overly interested in vomit. I had to get things wiped up quickly and with the least amount of effort. Clorox won.

    In general, I'm not a freak about germs. It doesn't bother me that there are little things I can't see lurking around my house. But when those little germs prove that they can ruin my son's favorite holiday {he loves fireworks}, I go to war.
  • Acidophilus and Other Good Bacteria. Good bacteria in supplement form is an excellent way to prevent tummy trouble. I keep this stuff on hand and anytime I get a tummy ache, I take a supplement. The brand I use is called Tummy Tuneup and it contains a wonderful combination of healthful bacteria. E. can't swallow capsules, so we empty one into his cup. A. refuses to drink it {she says it tastes like dirt}, so for her we keep on hand Primadophilus. Be careful where you buy this one as it really needs to be kept refrigerated at all times.

Defensive Weapons

Most folks own a vomit bowl, clean towls, baby wipes, and other basic supplies for cleaning up messes. What I'm going to try to share here is a little bit more unique.

  • Dirt Devil Spot ScrubberThis baby really scrubs. There were a couple times this week where of necessity I had to leave a mess behind and take care of the baby before I could clean it all up. Needless to say that the mess looked like it could make a permanent impact on our carpet. But it didn't, thanks to my handy Spot Scrubber!
  • Garlic Compresses. I have explained how to make these before. Garlic is thought of as an antibiotic, but unlike traditional medicines, there is no evidence that a tolerance can built up against it. Garlic supposedly warded off the plague for French priests in the early 19th century, in case you were wondering.
  • Electrolyte Solutions. The biggest danger when encountering tummy troubles is actually not the tummy troubles. It'd dehydration. My aunt has us start with 1 teaspoon every 10 or 15 minutes. Once the child keeps that amount down for an hour, then she has us increase the amount. This will vary by situation. For us, we couldn't go over 2 teaspoons every 10 minutes for the entire first day. I fed her with a medicine dropper and kept a timer by my side so that I never missed a dose.

    However, the appropriate solution to use is debatable. By far the most popular solution out there, especially for babies and toddlers, is Pedialyte. However, this product always makes me uncomfortable since it often contains "natural" flavors, artificial flavors, and artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 6, or Blue 1. The Pedialyte freezer pops also contain other priceless ingredients like sodium benzoate and citric acid.

    I admit I tried Pedialyte this time. I had some free samples on hand, and I figured that if Q. would drink it, that was the most important thing. However, she hated it. And she couldn't seem to keep it down.

    Once upon a time, long before the invention of Pedialyte, there was bone broth. Any bone broth will do, but I prefer chicken for sickness, and I'm thinking that is personal taste. After all, South Americans claim that fish broth will cure anything. Normally, I keep some homemade in our freezer to use as a base for soups. However, with all the morning-noon-and-night sickness, I can't stand the smell of chicken cooking for hours and hours, so Q. had to stick to organic broth courtesy of Trader Joe's.

    If you want to read about the healthfulness of bone broths, go here. Another option is to use gelatin {a bone derivative} to make homemade gelatin sweetened with agave nectar and flavored with juice. We like to use apple juice. This homemade gelatin will help supplement the broth infusions, especially if the child is craving something more substantive.
  • Codliver Oil Most of us skip our vitamins when we're sick. However, codliver oil, which is a known superfood, packs quite a punch when it comes to supporting health. Once the child is keeping down food, a full dose of codliver oil can be spread out into tiny amounts through the day to assist the body as it fights.
  • BRAT Protocol. It is said that the BRAT protocol contains the best foods when a parent begins to reintroduce solids to a child that has been on a liquid diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. {Rice can be boiled in bone broth and blended in a blender or baby food maker, thus producing a pudding-like texture that is easy for toddlers to eat.}
  • Love and Prayers. I am not a babywearer. I do not carry my infants all day long, or wrap them in a sling and attach them semipermanently to my body in order to give them a womb-like feeling. With that said, I never put down a sick toddler unless circumstance dictates that I must, or the child shows me that is what they want. Instead of flipping on a video, I prefer to hold the child, rock them in my rocking chair, sing them a song, or read them a story. Physically loving the child through their pain {rather than medicating them out of it or distracting them from it} is my personal approach.

    While rocking the child, bathing the child, or even thinking of the child while the child is sleeping in their own bed, I pray. My husband prays. Our friends pray. Q.'s sickness this week was scary for a good 24 hours. Her fever was near 104 degrees, and she was very lethargic. We knew her body was fighting, but we also knew that we needed to monitor her closely and make sure she was handling the fever well. All of us are in God's hands, but it is the big and little traumas in life that remind us how vulnerable we really are. Si and I both worked hard all day nursing Q. He held her for at least an hour while I made dinner, for example. The following morning, when her fever had broken and she seemed so much better, we knew it was not our hard work {though we had certainly done our duties}, but it was the Lord's mercy in answering our prayers.

Anyone have anything to add to the arsenal? Specifically, has anyone tried making ginger water for a flu victim? This is one I saw in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books {well, it was for preventing upset stomachs}, but I've forgotten to try it so far.

01 July 2008

Ideas Have Consequences: Redefining Marriage

Last night, I ran across an interesting post concerning our state Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage. What I found even more interesting was the discussion that ensued in the comments. A common theme I saw in the comments was one I have encountered everywhere I go these past couple weeks. There is much debate over what the effect of this new change will be. Many folks say that they can't imagine a gay marriage having any impact on their own marriage whatsoever.

So today, I invite my readers to use their imaginations.

Ideas have consequences. They do. Saying that we cannot imagine what the consequences will be doesn't change the fact that each and every idea has a consequence, and usually a multitude of consequences. The fact that we are unable to predict how the future will be different because of the sins or virtues of today is simply an admission of our own limitations rather than any limitation on the ramifications of an idea.

It is my belief that limiting the discussion to the question of "How will legalized gay marriage change my marriage personally?" is actually quite myopic. Ideas, and especially ideas made into law, have consequences for the young, middle-aged, and old. They have consequences for singles, for widows, for married couples, for divorcees. They change the culture in one generation. To limit the discussion to how a wedding ceremony might change, or how even marriage might change, is to overlook that the family unit, which is a core building block of society, has been changed beyond recognition, and the ramifications of that will reach into the far corners of life as we know it.

So today, I invite you, as I said before, to use your powers of imagination and also observation. If you live in California, things are already changing. If you live in another state, be prepared because California tends to export itself to the uttermost parts of the earth. Use Scripture. Use logic. I'll give you extra points for using both. Make one observation, or make many. My goal here is thoughtful conversation.

Here are my current thoughts and reflections on the issue:
  1. Think of the children. It is hard for me to imagine how this will change my own marriage personally. I was married way back in 2001 when marriage meant something different than it means today. However, the existence of marriage and weddings as they were then formed my expectations as a child. For instance, I was a female, therefore I imagined the other party in the wedding being a male. I imagined myself wearing a white gown and veil. I imagined my groom in a tux. I imgained bridesmaids standing up for me, and groomsmen standing up for him. All of this dreaming was a direct result of my culture. Now imagine what doors have opened for my children, especially for the one I carry in my womb, who will live his entire life {perhaps, unless we overrule our Court} in a state where the culture of marrying and giving in marriage is entirely different. We intend to teach our children well, but culture is a powerful adversary. Children now will choose not only their wedding colors but whether they will have a bride or a groom opposite them, and whether they will dress as a man or a woman. {If you think this sounds crazy, I must explain that on the first day of the ceremonies, my husband saw a "groom" wearing a bridal veil. Our local paper displayed "brides" dressed in matching tuxedos, the traditional attire of the groom. Every tradition seemed to be mocked that day.}
  2. Think of what public life will be like. On the day of the Court decision, our family made our weekly grocery trip. I found myself steering my son to the right and to the left to avoid a particular 20-something homosexual couple that couldn't seem to keep their hands off each other, and when they weren't touching, they were behaving in such a way as to draw as much attention to themselves as possible. I have seen numerous same-sex couples at the grocery store over the years, and never have I felt the need to change our usual route. The difference, I believe, was the Court "victory." These young men were emboldended by the Court, and were determined to display their victory celebration. As gay "marriage" becomes more and more mainstream, more of these couples will be holding hands and kissing in public. And what will people say? That husbands may not kiss in public under any circumstances? No. Now that homosexuals have appropriated the language and the cultural forms, they will act the part. And now we will have to explain to our children and younger and younger ages what in the world it is that they are seeing.
  3. Think of government. I am not a legal expert, but I did vote in favor of the law that the Court overturned. The Court is in the habit of overturning the will of the people. At what point do we say that we no longer have a democratic republic? Rather than discussing the law, let us discuss how the law came about in the first place and whether or not this will change how all laws are made. What else is next. Where else will the Court tell us that we are wrong, that our traditions are illegal, and that we must be silent and accept their decisions?

I could go on, but I really do have other tasks before me today. I hope that you all choose to participate. Many perspectives is one of the things I value about blogging. So please, without being combative, share what you imagine, or what your eyes have already beheld.