Friday, April 30, 2010

Ducks, ducks, ducks

I have been working hard at mastering all the features and functions of my new camera while trying to improve the composition of my photographs. I think I'm making progress. Here are yesterday's shots of my aunt's ducks. Over 70 shots were trashed to get these few good ones. Thank goodness for digital. I don't think I'd feel comfortable wasting this much film.

Duck portrait

Three ducks

Fred Touched up

Fred and Mama

And just for comparison, these are the ones that I took two weeks ago with my point-and-shoot.



Thursday, April 29, 2010

Puerto Rico the 51st State?

Puerto Rico does not want to be a state. The people have voted no three times. But the people's wishes mean nothing to Progressives.

Sneaking through congress today is a bill (HR 2499) that would force Puerto Rico to vote whether they are content with the status quo. Not whether they want to be a state. No. We know what that answer would be. But Are they content with the status quo.

Are you? I'll bet that we can be on opposite ends of the political spectrum and we would both answer no. This is a backdoor move to force Puerto Rico into statehood. And with it, more votes for the Progressives. Add this to voting for felons, amnesty for illegals and the nearly 50% of Americans who pay no income taxes and they will have an unbeatable voting bloc.

Itty Bitty Biddies

I'd mentioned earlier that I thought my husband was helping with this whole chicken thing just to indulge me. On Friday, he proved that he really likes the chickies when he called to tell me he found some biddies and what breeds did I want?

Buffy again
He came home with a Buff Orphington.

Moral Support
A Gold-laced Wyandotte and an Araucana.

Pitiful little thing
Unfortunately the Wyandotte baby had something wrong with her foot and kept holding it in the air. She was eating and drinking a little, but not putting on weight like the other chicks.

When we got home from karate practice last night, the chick was lying in the bin. I though she was dead, but a closer look revealed shallow breathing. We brought her into the house and took turns holding her to keep her warm until she finally gave up about thirty minutes later. We buried her under the redbud tree.

The kids are taking it really hard. I think it's mostly that it came the day after we lost Myles than feelings for the chick itself. It's not been an easy couple of days.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Heart Hurts

Today I made the tough decision to have an old friend put down. Myles was a 13 year old orange tabby. I got him when he was just six or seven weeks old and can still remember how bummed I was that I had to lock him out of my room that first night because he kept trying to bite my chin.

Myles was a chin chewer and never got over it. But other than that, he was a great cat. He was gregarious, interesting, tolerant of the children and rarely made a mess.

He was an indoor cat for the first 7 years of his life, but when we moved onto some acreage, I began to let him out. He thrived. Then he started to lose weight. I thought it was the extra exercise, until a vet check-up last summer revealed that he had hyperthyroidism.

The vet made the diagnosis like it was no big deal. He prescribed a month of medicine and said we'd check him out after that. And it wouldn't have been a big deal if Myles hadn't been allergic to the medicine. After a week on the drug, he started scratching himself then had a full blown anaphylactic reaction that landed us at the emergency vet.

So it was back to our vet the following Monday where we were told that Myles would need surgery to reduce the size of his thyroid. The surgery would cost about $2000 and would have to be done in Atlanta. I think it was that point that I realized Myles' days were limited.

We spent the next months indulging him with canned food, pieces of cheese and other treats. Still, he was getting progressively worse. He had been reduced from a robust 15 pounds to literally skin and bones. To try and soften the inevitable blow for the kids we got Trevor. A feline friend seemed to breathe some new life into Myles. At least for a while.

Over the last couple months, Myles morphed into the ultimate scavenger. No crumb or half-eaten sandwich was safe from him. When he wasn't savaging, he was screaming for food in front of the refrigerator. The constantly empty water bowl and full cat box clued me in that his kidneys were going too.

I think this is probably the saddest part to me. His behavior had become so irritating that it was becoming hard to love him. Not that he wanted love. If you tried to pet him, he'd run to the fridge and start yelling again. I was finding it hard not to be mad at him for knocking over the butter dish and eating the butter or tearing open a bag of biscuits left on the counter. Rationally, I knew it was desperation that was driving him to this, but I still found myself getting angry at him.

Last night as I was tucking the kids in bed, Myles decided that he was not able to make it to his box and relieved himself on my son's sleeping bag right in front of us. That was the final straw for me. I explained to my kids that Myles was going to have be taken to the vet in the morning to be put to sleep. They protested some but much less than I had expected.

We took Myles to the vet today and said our goodbyes. The doctor asked if we would like to be with him and if we would like to take his body home. I declined on both accounts. All in all, I am taking this much worse than the children who were ready for snacks and park day as soon as we got back in the car.

I can't help but doubt myself whether or not I did the right thing for him. Whether he would have been better living out his last weeks or even months or if I saved him from more suffering as his body slowly starved him to death. Should I have even popped for that surgery last fall. I suppose it is too late to second guess any of it now.

God bless you, Myles. I love you and I hope the angels aren't as stingy with the cheese slices as I was.

AZ Law Spurs Congress and Obama into Action (Scary thought)

Immigration reform has been tossed around since the Bush administration and depending on who you ask, it means something completely different. Progressives want amnesty for the millions of illegals in this county. The people living in border states and the majority of Americans want our existing laws to be enforced.

One of the responsibilities that the constitution actually gives to the federal government is to provide for the common defense. It is a federal responsibility to enforce immigration laws. There is a war being waged along our southern border and it is not being reported. The folks in Washington are ignoring the problem in hopes of winning the votes of the illegals pouring into the US.

Phoenix, AZ is now the kidnapping capital of the United States and second only to Mexico City in the world. Drug cartels are committing atrocities on the border, terrorizing local residents and nothing is being done.

Last week, Arizona took matters into its own hands and passed a bill that would help state and local law enforcement to their job. The bill includes common sense provisions such as: No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.

How did Obama take the news? He called it "misguided" and irresponsible then threw everything else onto the back burner (a good thing) to focus on reform (not such a good thing).

What is irresponsible is the federal government refusing to enforce existing laws. We don't need more laws (that likely won't be enforced). We don't need fast-track illegals to citizenship. We need to protect our border. People who want to be citizens need to come in the front door.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken Palace

Last week completely got away from me but I'm back to blogging this week (unless this week turns into one like last week. No guarantees, k?).

The big, exciting news from last week is that my new camera arrived on Friday! I got a Nikon D3000. Yes, I know it's Nikon's entry level, but I'm an entry level photographer and I had to turn in my Mother's Day, birthday and anniversary present tickets to get it. Now with some luck and a little practice, I will have better pictures here for you.

We got the chicken coop finished this weekend. We still have to build the run, but for now the girls are moved in.

Starting the footings and floor.

Framing it up. Who else has a chicken coop with a 9ft ceiling?

Siding on!

We built a wall on the inside to have a "people only" side of the coop where I can store feed and stuff.

Helping Dad
Helping Dad with the roof. This is the first pic in this post taken with the new camera.

Tin Roof
One of my husband's customers helped him out with the tin for the roof.

Chicken "stairs"

The build-out
Building boxes and roosts.

Break time
Still life...aka lunch time.

I can access the nesting boxes from the "people only" side.

All done! Except for the run and the paint and the trim. So....Umm...Mostly done!

Home sweet home
We love our new home!

Coming soon...Goldman Sachs, immigration reform and pics of the new biddies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Peeps

I was preparing a piece on Goldman Sachs, but there are just so many directions to go there (is Goldman the Fed?, campaign donations to Obama, donations to Reid etc, etc) I've decided to post pics of my new biddies until I can get enough caffeine in my system to get Goldman straight in my head.

Two Easter-eggers (the brown ones), a blue Maran and a Frizzle Easter Egger.

This is the blue Maran. They lay dark brown eggs. I was hoping for a black copper Maran which lay chocolate brown ones.

The little black one is a Frizzle Easter Egger. Frizzle means its feathers all stick out instead of resting against its body, giving it a wind-blown look. My mom had to have it. The Easter Eggers lay blue/green eggs. The smaller brown Easter Egger chirps like a cricket, it's too sweet. So, I named her Cricket.

We are going to start listing our free range eggs for sale this fall. If you're nearby and interested, you know how to contact me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AZ House Votes to Check Obama's Citizenship

The Arizona house voted 31-22 to add an amendment to a bill that would require Obama to produce his birth certificate for his name to be on the 2012 ballot. At least it's a step in the right direction.

Those of us who would like proof of Obama's place of birth are disparagingly labeled "Birthers". And yet his grandmother and Kenyan officials say he was born in Kenya. If Obama is able to prove us wrong, why hasn't he simply produced his birth certificate yet?

Student Loans and the Health Care Bill

My sister and brother-in-law came to visit the weekend before Easter. The topic of conversation turned to the changes in student loans. (In case you haven't heard, the Health Care bill makes the Federal Government the sole provider of student loans.) My sis and bro-in-law are on the Ramsey plan and my brother-in-law was concerned that the bill's provision that you can't pay back more than 10% of your salary a year would apply to them.

I'll start with the obvious: "What are student loans doing in a Heath Care Bill?", throw in a: "Who is the government to tell a private bank what they can and can't loan money for?", and wrap it up with a: "Must this administration into every corner of our lives?".

My thought is they know this bill is going to cause a shortage of doctors. By controlling student loans, they can offer incentives (ie other people's money) for students to study medicine. They can take this past just medicine, think Soviet-style dictation of what field a student must study in order to get to study at all. Then they can use student loans to give preferential treatment to specific groups. You're a white male? Forget it.

I'm done venting now, let's see what's going on with this thing.

The first thing we are going to see is and increase in tuition. As the government has made loans and financial aid more available to students, colleges and universities have raised their tuition to take in as much of this "free" money as possible.

The plan will limit a borrower's payment to 10% of his income. Yes, limit. This means that you cannot contribute 50%, 60% or even 100% of your income if you want to. No paying the loan off early. The government needs your interest to pay for health care.

....needs it unless you go to work for the public sector. The plan will forgive "all remaining debt after 10 years of payments for those in public service work and 20 years for all others." So they are encouraging people to work for the government. And where does the government get its money? (That is not a rhetorical question. If you answer Obama's stash, you'd be wrong.)

I foresee more classes in environmentalism, diversity studies and modern day feminism. And if you want a good education, better look at self-education.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Friendly Backyard Owl

At some point each year, my sleeping patterns are disrupted by a large, feathered, nocturnal intruder....




Behold the creature who (no pun intended) holds this magnificent power.

The Barred Owl

I have described this bird's "monkey" noises to many a friend and been scoffed at! I come today, armed with the TRUTH!!!

See, I'm not crazy, just really....




Friday, April 16, 2010

Birds in the Bush

The other night I went to close up the coop for the night. When I got up to the garden, I was relieved to see that they were all inside already - no chasing birds tonight, thank goodness since dinner was in the oven at 425 degrees. When I got close enough to be recognized, all my beautiful birds, in perfect unison chirped, "MOM!!!!" and fluttered out of the coop like a feathered football team taking the field. Fortunately, they went back inside with equal gusto, but it sure was a nice welcome.

They have taken to perching in the saucer magnolia. It's cute to watch them trying to stay in the bush.

1984 in 2010: There is no such thing as privacy

I remember when On Star first came out as an option for vehicles. I swore I'd never have that on my car, but On Star went from being an option to being standard on all vehicles. Want a new car? You get it.

A few years ago, I got tired of driving the Mommy Bus (aka Yukon XL). The thing was making me feel old. My brand new GMC Acadia came with On Star. One night, cruising down the freeway with the twins in their booster seats, my radio cut out and a booming voice came through my speakers. It scared me to death! It was On Star informing me that my free year of service was about to expire. Beyond the obvious concern that this could have caused a wreck, I don't need people butting in on the privacy I (perceive to) enjoy in my own car.

I am an honest, law-abiding, Christian person, but I don't like the idea of my whereabouts being tracked at any time. A quick search on how to disable On Star revealed that it is so entwined with other systems, it's nearly impossible to disable.

Sure the technology seems like it could be helpful. Who hasn't heard the commercials about the mother whose kid is locked in the car or the family who has just been in an accident? But what happens when that technology falls into the wrong hands? The government took over GM last year. Still feeling warm and fuzzy about your On Star?

Invasions to your privacy are everywhere. Cell phones are equipped with GPS tracking (for your own good, don'cha know? How else would we know where you are when you call 911?). You can't drive through an intersection without being captured on camera. Your email and search engine track sites you visit to tailor advertisements to your interests.

It was announced a couple of days ago, that the Library of Congress is acquiring the entire Twitter archive. And perhaps the most scary thing, Yahoo is involved in a court case against the federal government to protect the privacy of its customers. The government, thwarting the 4th Amendment, contends that e-mail messages which have already been read are not subject to the protection of the US Stored Communications Act. The government is trying to force Yahoo to turn over their archives without a warrant.

Whether we like it or not, Big Brother is watching....

Some other links about the Yahoo case:

Google backs Yahoo in Privacy fight with DoJ

Yahoo, Feds Battle Over E-Mail Privacy

EFF Backs Yahoo! to Protect User from Warrantless Email Search

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Tax Day. What is this adminstration doing today that should scare the socks off you?

It's April 15, the day that day that some us really feel the weight of how much of what we earned is taken from us and the majority of Americans (who pay no federal income taxes) chatter excitedly about how much money they are getting back.

My advice to anyone who overpays and looks forward to a refund in the spring.....DON'T. It's only a matter of time before the federal government hands out California-style IOU's instead of the money that belongs to you.

I really don't feel like saying much more about income taxes today, but feel like I should address the federal government and your money in some way today, so I think I'll talk about something that hasn't been getting much coverage, Obama's push for regulatory reform.

Yesterday, Obama vowed to "move quickly" on regulatory reform. Of course he wants to move quickly before ticked off American's throw his progressive cronies out of congress this fall. He needs to move quickly before any of us really have a chance to see what is in this plan, just like health care. Like the slush-fund bailouts (which have yet to be spent) he wants to move quickly because everything will collapse if this is not done now, or preferably, yesterday.

When government wants to move quickly on anything, you should get nervous. So let's take a look at what they are actually proposing or at least look at as much as we can decipher (despite promises, transparency is not one of this administration's strong suits).

-This plan creates the Financial Services Oversight Council (FSOC), a massive new agency chaired by the Treasury Dept. This agency will have the power to force financial institutions under its supervision without even requiring the approval of congress (not that their approval means anything anymore).

-The Federal Reserve will be given power to "supervise all firms that could pose a threat to financial stability, even those that do not own banks." The Federal Reserve Bank is already way too powerful, this adds to their almost limitless power to manipulate our economy. The plan's vague language would essentially allow the Fed to take over or shut down any firm it deems to be a risk.

-A new National Bank Supervisor to supervise all federally chartered banks. Another banking czar. Fabulous...

-Creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This agency assumes that all consumers are stupid and therefore limits the choices we have to the most basic forms of investments. It requires that we decline basic products before we are allowed to purchase more complex products.

I am in no way a banking or financial expert. But I see some scary stuff here. Anything that creates more government, gives more power to the Fed, limits products available to the people and creates a "Czar" who is not accountable to anyone is scary. I'm sure even more is hidden in these 101 pages but like most Americans (including those whose job is to read it) I have too much to do today to read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Living off the Grid

I haven't had time to write much the last few days. Responsibilities around the house have taken me away from the computer and that got me thinking about today's topic.

Each year, I plant a very large vegetable garden (I've never actually taken a tape measure to it, but I'm guessing it's about 40x60 ft). When I started the garden, it was more out of nostalgia and love of fresh produce than actually feeding my family, but as this country starts teetering toward depression, my thoughts on it have changed.

Right now, we are all in a Dow-at-11,000 springtime high, but I truly believe that the worst still lies before us. The debt is still spiraling out of control, the official unemployment rate still hovers at 10% (but is actually much higher when you take into account those who have given up looking and those who have taken part-time, lesser paying jobs), the Fed is still printing money and that's just the tip of the iceberg. FDR's New Deal turned a minor depression into the Great Depression and this administration seems hell-bent on following the same model.

The uncertainty that this administration has created in the marketplace is already affecting my family personally. My husband is in sales and so far this spring, sales have been good. The problem is inventory. I've been watching my dear husband work himself to the bone trying to get product to those who need it. He said he was having this problem because the factory produced less product this year. I assumed that they produced less for fear of reduced sales but it seems that's only part of the story. In some instances, they produced less because their suppliers produced less and they can't produce a product if they don't have all the parts. But the future is looking brighter right?

I may sound crazy, but while I have the ability to do so, I am doing what I can to make sure that we don't starve through another Great Depression. We may live off eggs and vegetables, but we won't starve. Companies have popped up adverting survival seed banks. It amuses me that people think they could throw these in any old patch of dirt and have a garden. It has taken me 5 years to enrich the soil in my vegetable garden.

I've been picking up extra items at the grocery store when they're on sale...another peanut butter here, another can of beans there. Bread has gone up to almost $4 a loaf, so I've started baking our own (I'm getting better at it. Turns out baking bread requires a lot of talent and experience). We have paid off all our debt except for the house, and are trying to pay that down as quickly as possible. I know there is more I could be doing (goats? solar generator? a well?) and would welcome ideas I'm not thinking of. Hopefully, we won't need to worry about any of it but it can't hurt to be prepared.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Non-existent Soccer Game

I found this article from The American Thinker interesting.

Any ideas where he could have been? A little suspicious with the nuclear summit going on in Washington this week. A private meeting with China perhaps? He sure seemed to like their president.

Be sure to read the comments on the article. They're entertaining....

Bowing to Dictators

Yesterday, Obama was photographed bowing to the Chinese President. Is there a dictator he doesn't love? He snubs our allies (think Britain and Israel) but grovels to these guys. Good one, Obama.

The Saudi King...

The Japanese Emperor...

Hugo Chavez...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When you give a kid a camera....

I was trying to get the rest of the vegetable garden planted yesterday. The kids were being good, but I could tell they were getting bored, so I handed them my camera and told them to take pictures of the chickens.

They took 115. Here are some highlights:

"I got it, I got it! No, you got it."

One of the Wyandottes.




Jeff is going to work on construction of the chicken Taj mahal again tomorrow. I've been taking some pictures of the progression and will get them up here on one of these lazy weekend posts.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stupak Not Running for Reelection

Bart Stupak (D, MI) is not seeking reelection after 18 years in the house. After planning to vote against the health care bill because it will allow federal funding to pay for abortion, this guy flip flopped at the last minute, claiming that an executive order would keep the unborn safe.

Bart, I don't think you believed that at all. I think the executive order was a way you could save face while caving to the pressure. I think you know that the voters are going kick you out of office for what you did and your "retirement" is just another attempt for you to save face.

The Democrat Party Platform states, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. "

Sorry Bart, we ain't buying it. We see your lack of integrity. This only makes you look even more spineless. Enjoy your congressional retirement package courtesy of the voters you screwed over.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Boy Wanted

By Frank Crane

I've been reading this to my sons recently. Maybe some of it will sink in.

This "want ad" appeared in the early part of this century.

Wanted -- A boy that stands straight, sits straight, acts straight, and talks straight;

A boy whose fingernails are not in mourning, whose ears are clean, whose shoes are polished, whose clothes are brushed, whose hair is combed, and whose teeth are well cared for;

A boy who listens carefully when he is spoken to, who asks questions when he does not understand, and does not ask questions about things that are none of his business;

A boy that moves quickly and makes as little noise about it as possible;

A boy who whistles in the street, but does not whistle where he ought to keep still;

A boy who looks cheerful, has a ready smile for everybody, and never sulks;

A boy who is polite to every man and respectful to every woman and girl;

A boy who does not smoke cigarettes and has no desire to learn how;

A boy who is more eager to know how to speak good English than to talk slang;

A boy that never bullies other boys nor allows other boys to bully him;

A boy who, when he does not know a thing, says, "I don't know," and when he has made a mistake says, "I'm sorry," and when he is asked to do a thing says, "I'll try";

A boy who looks you right in the eye and tells the truth every time;

A boy who is eager to read good books;

A boy who would rather put in his spare time at the YMCA gymnasium than to gamble for pennies in a back room;

A boy who does not want to be "smart" nor in any wise to attract attention;

A boy who would rather lose his job or be expelled from school than to tell a lie or be a cad;

A boy whom other boys like;

A boy who is at ease in the company of girls;

A boy who is not sorry for himself, and not forever thinking and talking about himself;

A boy who is friendly with his mother, and more intimate with her than anyone else;

A boy who makes you feel good when he is around;

A boy who is not goody-goody, a prig, or a little pharisee, but just healthy, happy, and full of life.

This boy is wanted everywhere. The family wants him, the school wants him, the office wants him, the boys want him, the girls want him, all creation wants him.

What's in This Thing? Part 1

Nancy and Co. got their wish. The Health Care Bill passed. People across the country are showing up at doctor's offices and calling insurance agents asking for their Obamacare. But how could they possibly know that benefits wouldn't kick in until 2012? This thing had to pass for us to know what is in it.

So no "benefits" until 2012, but fines and taxes start immediately. Starting this June, tanning salons will pay a stunning 10% tax on top of the taxes they already pay. What gives the government the right to single out a specific industry for an arbitrary tax? And who visits/owns tanning salons? It's not dark-skinned people. So this is a tax targeting white Americans. Could you imagine the outrage if the government slapped a 10% tax on hair braiding salons?

Several large businesses including Caterpillar and AT&T say that the tax on retiree drug benefits alone will cost them billions.

Beginning this year, insurers must offer coverage for "children" up to age 26. I was married with 2 kids on the way at age 26! Somehow I don't see this lowering costs.

In 2013, contributions to Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA's) will be limited to $2500. These accounts allow people to put away pre-tax money to pay for their own medical expenses. Here they go, limiting our ability to take care of ourselves.

Starting in 2011, you will prohibited from using your FSA to pay for over-the-counter drugs.

Also in 2013, a 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers. Another tax on US manufacturers- sounds like a great way to keep US jobs. Says Ernie Whiton, chief financial officer of Chelmsford’s Zoll Medical Corp., which employs about 650 people in Massachusetts, "This bill is a jobs killer".

Higher premiums for young people. The bill bars insurers from charging older people much higher premiums than younger people. It is estimated that this will raise premiums for people in their 20's and early 30's by about 17%.

More to come....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homeschooling Doesn't Make Kids Antisocial

I homeschool. The myriad reasons why is a topic I'm not ready to tackle yet. It's such a big topic, I may pick at it one reason at a time.

My grandmother-in-law mailed me the article posted below last week. It addresses one of the reasons I homeschool, one of the doubts I have about homeschooling and the criticism I get most often from those who don't homeschool- Socialization.

If you've ever met my kids, you know that they are two gregarious, headstrong, grounded and well-mannered little boys. Critics of homeschooling constantly ask, "aren't you worried that they aren't around kids enough?", "don't you worry about their socialization?". When I hear these things over and over, doubt creeps in even though I can look at my sons and know that they are wonderfully socialized.

I wish they had more little kids around to play with, but they don't seem to think they are missing out on anything. When I think of relationships I had with other children growing up, I realize that I received more negative things than positive things from those relationships. I often felt bad about myself because was excluded from the "in" clique. I was influenced by and exposed to things I never would have done were it not for peer pressure. I was picked last in gym. I was stereotyped as one of the "smart kids" (a group of kids with whom I had nothing in common) and fretted about my image until my sophomore or junior year when I decided I really didn't care.

None of this can be credited as life experience that readied me for the real world, because face it, the real world is not like K-12. I know I'm not the only person who felt the breath of fresh air upon getting to college or to work and being freed from rules and constraints that only exist in school. If anything, the kids at the top of the school pecking order graduate with the disadvantage. It was pathetic to see some of those people at my 10-year reunion. Many of them had done nothing with their lives and were still trying to cling to their High School glory.

So are my kids missing out on socialization? Yes. They are missing out on a lot of negative socialization that will do little to help them in their lives.

QUESTION: Don’t you think home schooling might negatively impact the socialization process? I don’t want my children growing up to be misfits.

DR. DOBSON: This is the question home-schooling parents hear most often from curious (or critical) friends, relatives, and neighbors. “Socialization” is a vague, dark cloud hanging over their heads. What if teaching at home somehow isolates the kids and turns them into oddballs? For you and all those parents who see this issue as the great danger of home education, I would respectfully disagree – for these reasons.

First, to remove a child from the classroom is not necessarily to confine him or her to the house! And once beyond the schoolyard gate, the options are practically unlimited! Home-school support groups are surfacing in community after community across the country. Some are highly organized and offer field trips, teaching co-ops, tutoring services, social activities, and various other assistances and resources.

There are home-schooling athletic leagues and orchestras and other activities. Even if you’re operating completely on your own, there are outings to museums and parks, visits to farms, factories, hospitals, and seats of local government, days with Dad at the office, trips to Grandma’s house, extracurricular activities like sports and music, church youth groups, service organizations, and special-interest clubs. There are friends to be invited over and relatives to visit and parties to attend.

The list is limitless. Even a trip with Mom to the market can provide youngsters with invaluable exposure to the lives and daily tasks of real adults in the real world. While they’re there, a multitude of lessons can be learned about math (pricing, fractions, pints vs. gallons, addition, subtraction, etc.), reading labels, and other academic subjects. And without the strictures of schedule and formal curricula, it can all be considered part of the educational process. That’s what I’d call socialization at its best! To accuse home schoolers of creating strange little people in solitary confinement is nonsense.

The great advantage of home schooling, in fact, is the protection it provides to vulnerable children from the wrong kind of socialization. When children interact in large groups, the strongest and most aggressive kids quickly intimidate the weak and vulnerable. I am absolutely convinced that bad things happen to immature and “different” boys and girls when they are thrown into the highly competitive world of other children.

When this occurs in nursery school or in kindergarten, they learn to fear their peers. There stands this knobby-legged little girl who doesn’t have a clue about life or how to cope with things that scare her. It’s sink or swim, kid. Go for it!

It is easy to see why such children tend to become more peer dependent because of the jostling they get at too early an age. Research shows that if these tender little boys and girls can be kept at home for a few more years and shielded from the impact of social pressure, they tend to be more confident, more independent, and often emerge as leaders three or four years later.

If acquainting them with ridicule, rejection, physical threats, and the rigors of the pecking order is necessary to socialize our children, I’d recommend that we keep them unsocialized for a little longer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fact or Theory

The Discovery Channel just came out with a new animal series called Life which airs on Sunday nights. I was excited. The kids are starting to get interested in animal programs just as I was when I was their age. The HD footage is amazing. The first Sunday night it was on, we all piled in the king sized bed and I let them stay up until 10:00 to watch the whole thing. We made it through an hour of the second Sunday before concluding -Life wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Picture this: a lizard crawls up on a rock. Oprah is narrating in hushed, excited tones. The lizard inches to the edge of the rock and sizes up the distance to the ground. Kettle drums beat in the background, increasing the tension. The lizard takes a deep breath, closes its reptilian eyes and takes the leap! The orchestra quiets and Oprah chimes back in, "And from there, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to becoming birds with real flight."

I paraphrased that, but you get the idea. "Science" these days, has a bad habit of confusing fact and theory. Take Darwinism, as an example. Darwin's theory is chock full of holes (and missing links) but alternative theories are not even allowed to be explored especially not in public school. Professors and other people in the scientific community have been ostracized, fired or denied tenure just for questioning evolution. Ben Stein's documentary, Expelled: No intelligence allowed, was rather interesting despite his monotone. Bueller, Bueller.

Global Warming is another theory accepted as fact. So many people in government and the scientific community are reliant on Global Warming as a source of income, power and influence that they even changed the name to Climate Change when the earth started cooling just to keep the funds flowing in. Nevermind the emails uncovered last year that exposed the deletion and doctoring of data. Nevermind evidence that the earth has been cooling for the last 10 years. Forget evidence of much warmer periods prior to the Industrial Revolution. The theory that man's activities are causing the climate to change is still drilled into us and into our children as though it is gospel.

As parents (and for ourselves), we have to be aware of what is being taught and what is being omitted. Don't leave it to the schools to present alternate theories; you'll have to do the research and fill in the blanks yourself. Teachers know it would be career suicide to do so. Scientific integrity has sold out to greed and intimidation.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Church and State

Last week it was reported that the Civil Rights Commission of Davenport, Iowa was seeking to rename or remove Good Friday from city calendars citing that they were in violation of the Constitution and separation of church and state. Davenport Civil Rights Commission chair Tim Hart said, "Just call it something else to respect the diversity of the people of Davenport."

This past Tuesday, I was talking to another mother about this and she shared a story from last Christmas. She had taken her children to the local public library. The library had its "holiday" books on display...Hanukkah and Kwanzaa but no Christmas. When she asked, the librarian told her, "Well, that wouldn't be right." Fortunately, she persisted and the Christmas books were eventually displayed with the Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books.

Why are Christians not included in diversity? Why does this false interpretation of separation of church and state apply only to Christians and finally, why do people believe that separation of church and state is part of the US Constitution?

The first amendment says simply, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". At the time, many states had official religions. This part of the first amendment was added to keep the federal government from interfering with the states and to avoid the establishment of a national church such as the Church of England.

God was central to the founding of the United States. The phrase separation of church and state actually comes from an 1802 letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. I found some interesting history here. Basically, Jefferson wrote the letter to address his critics who were calling him atheist for not supporting proclamations of fasting and thanksgiving. Jefferson was opposed to these things not because he was anti-religion, but because to him, they represented a British practice that he feared could lead to a British-style monarchy in the new republic.