Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
After finding and visiting the potty in a back corner, we were able to see the Hope Diamond in all its glory by ourselves. Starting on the second floor was a good move, as by the time we circled around all the gems and minerals and headed downstairs it was very crowded with families pushing gargantuan-sized strollers. We looked at the dinosaurs and prehistoric fossils before another bathroom break (the downside to taking Charlie anywhere) and a quick run through the mammals. By then it was getting close to lunchtime and the kids were starting to get cranky and hungry so we made a quick exit and hopped back on the train. After lunch consisting of 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese, Timmy and I shared leftover pecan pie for dessert (I had the leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning, yum!).
There were just so many people, even though it isn't anything compared to the summer crowds, that the trip consisted more of keeping tabs on all the children rather than examining the exhibits. Some days are like that, but 2 days of it in a row would be too much. I'm rethinking the plan to go to Mt. Vernon tomorrow, we might go the more relaxed route with the National Zoo instead.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Though Cpt. Kirby Vidrine will soon head to Iraq for a year, the Fort Bragg chaplain insists his wife is the real hero. "She is the backbone of our family,” Vidrine said of his wife, Wendy. “I definitely married up."
Wendy Vidrine cares for the couple’s eight children – ranging from 12-years-old to 11 months – and she is pregnant with their ninth child due in June.
A typical day involves Wendy Vidrine homeschooling all of the children, cooking, cleaning and taking them to music lessons. It takes a 15-passengar van to transport the family around.
Pray for Captain Vidrine and his family as well as all our soldiers in harm's way on Thanksgiving.
Read this great story "Grandpa" told around the dinner table, including,"The first seed had been planted for the American Revolution. People were free to practice their religions as they saw fit and were free to keep the fruits of their labor. This had never happened before in the history of mankind."
This was my favorite comment:
"Our Pilgrim ancestors dealt with all the hardships it took to settle this land. They had to deal with cold, hunger and death while the average lefty gets upset if Starbucks runs out of cream. So now that this country provides us with what we need and all the comforts the world has to offer, this puke has the nerve to criticize those that made the sacrifices."
Another example of a wacko reinterpreting Thanksgiving, a professor in Indian lit in California and mom of a kindergartner "wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.
Raheja... said she met with teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without "dehumanizing" her daughter's ancestry.
"There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype," she said."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The most useful portion of the book for me was the findings of a 1982 study by 3 sociologists that showed, "students from widely differing economic backgrounds and from parents with different levels of education performed better, as a group, in Catholic schools." They found that the achievement gap between races was narrower than in public schools. The four reasons given for their high level of achievement were the higher level of discipline, that parochial school teachers had a base of moral authority, that all important decisions were made at individual schools, and (very important) the "steadfast resistance" to educational fads.
Of course the days of squadrons of nuns in habits teaching classes of 60 1st graders with complete control are long over. Most parochial schools are at the most staffed by 1-2 nuns with lay people, sometimes not even Catholic, teaching children watered-down curriculum. But many Catholic homeschoolers embrace all 4 of these principals. I wonder what studies will find in decades to come, perhaps we will be reading lines like, "90% of religious vocations coming from the homeschooling movement?"
Monday, November 24, 2008
On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Any homeschooler worth their salt knows that Paul Revere was a silversmith who rode through the countryside of Massachusetts yelling, "The British are coming!" But did you know that he was also a dentist (think silver fillings) and performed the first dental post-mortem identification? After Dr. Joseph Warren was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Revere IDed him by recognizing his own handiwork using these very tools.
The museum has been in several locations in DC including inside Ford's Theater where President Abraham Lincoln was killed. This display shows casts of Lincoln's face and hands, bone fragments from his skull, a blood-stained cuff from the surgeon who attended the autopsy, and the bullet itself that ended the life of this great man.
Major General Daniel Sickels had his leg shattered by a cannonball during the Battle of Gettysburg. Shortly afterwards he offered the bone to the museum and would visit it on the anniversary of his amputation while he served in Congress.
And for the non-squimish folks there are preserved organs showing disease, legs of folks with elephantitis and leprosy, skulls showing damage from pistol and saber, and containers with fetuses in every stage of development. The kids held real brains, kidneys, intestines, and lungs that have been injected with plasticine and looked at cross-sections of a person on the computer.
While a few of the displays are not for those with easily upset tummies, we all thought it was wonderful and well worth the trip. Cousin Ann met us in the lobby and said, "This was fascinating! I have been meaning to come here for 40 years." Don't wait as long as she did to see this museum: small, but chock-full of gore and gross.
I have to include one last picture of a hairball removed from a 12 year old girl's stomach. This is the reason I told Mary long ago that she was only allowed her to grow out her hair if she does not put it in her mouth, otherwise it will be chopped off.
The Baltimore Catechism states, "To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church." The 5th Commandment is not nuanced, "Thou shalt not kill," and the laws of the Church sum up the abortion issue with, "God the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves, Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes."
The catechism also defines a heretic, "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith."
Of course with so many of her fellow pew sitters voting the most pro-abortion candidate into the White House she has a lot of company.
California’s first lady, Maria Shriver considers herself "a Catholic in good standing" despite the fact that she openly advocates abortion. "I find I don't spend a lot of time trying to square my own daily life with the institutional Church," said Shriver. "I pick and choose."
Shriver called herself a "cafeteria Catholic," a term that is most often used in a derogatory manner, referring to individuals who only selectively submit to Church teaching and authority while still calling themselves Catholic.
On the disparity between Church teaching and her belief on abortion, Shriver told Quinn, "I often talk to my daughters at the dinner table about the difference between being pro-abortion and being pro-choice." She explained that she believes supporting the right to choose an abortion is different from supporting abortion.
The older kids were complaining the other evening about my refusal to let them play with the neighbor's girls after 7pm. "You go to bed at 8pm. Just because they let their kids stay awake until 10pm doesn't mean we start doing so. Their parents apparently don't believe in the 5th Commandment, (their Obama sign is STILL up in the yard)that doesn't mean we do the same."
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
But... when we got to the huge house at the end of the road no one answered the doorbell and when we asked a boy dribbling his basketball around the side if there was anyone around he said to go in the garage door. "Yooohooo! Anyone home?" I called in while opening the door a crack. Nothing. After another round of trying the front door I gave up in frustration and decided to try plan B: dropping some supplies to a lady collecting them for the Missionaries of Charity nuns AIDS house. Despite the written directions I never saw the right road and gave up that quest in frustration.
Okay, well there is always Plan C: going to the local hobby shop to find Christmas gifts for Will. We found the right shopping center, only to find... the place empty and a closed sign on the door.
Aggghhhh! What is going on here? I looked at their web site last week filled with pictures of a thriving store, lists of merchandise stocked, and hours of operation.
In a desperate attempt to salvage something of the afternoon and saving a car seat from certain wetting by Charlie, we stopped at the Penn Dutch farmer's market and bought some wheat germ, some warm rolls, and gummy lobsters. It wasn't the scene of camaraderie that I envisioned, but at least they were some mighty good rolls.
Darling-Hammond is a self-described advocate of “progressive” education, the methods of which she believes are “grounded in a deep sense of curricular intentions, arise from compelling questions, and include rigorous intellectual challenges such as critical thinking and problem solving across disciplines.” The best progressive educators “engage in a dialectic between the subject and the student” and in so doing, the student “is constantly moved to a broader and more thoughtful place in the curriculum.”
Such eye-glazing edu-speak manifests itself in a staunch opposition to traditional testing — i.e., testing that might ask history students, say, to answer specific questions about history. And indeed, Darling-Hammond, when she was a professor at Columbia University in the early 1990s, worked to move New York’s Regents Exams away from paper-and-pencil tests and toward personalized performance portfolios that she said would give pupils “multiple ways to show their learning.” Such as demonstrating what they know about George Washington through, say, a song-and-dance routine rather than an essay. (Liam Julian, National Review)
Bet you $5 that Mrs. Darling-Hammond wouldn't be allowed within 200 feet of either of the prestigeous private schools the Obamas are considering. Because if she was, the caliber of education there would be as dismal as it is in the rest of the district.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.
The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."
It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to "assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity" financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The protest from the commission comes on the heels of other objections to the rule by doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, state attorneys general and political leaders, including President-elect Barack Obama.
Obama has said the proposal will raise new hurdles to women seeking reproductive health services, like abortion and some contraceptives. Michael Leavitt, the health and human services secretary, said that was not the purpose.
Officials at the Health and Human Services Department said they intended to issue a final version of the rule within days. Aides and advisers to Obama said he would try to rescind it, a process that could take three to six months.
The proposal is supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals.
Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, said that in recent years, "we have seen a variety of efforts to force Catholic and other health care providers to perform or refer for abortions and sterilizations."
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In the letter, the head of the Diocese of Portland wrote that marriage - as ordained by God - is an institution exclusive to one man and one woman who "are then given the responsibility to procreate the human race, and to nurture, educate, and pass on shared values and mores to their offspring."
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Maine went on to tell his membership of nearly 200,000, or about one-sixth of the state's population, that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples ultimately strips away what the church considers an essential component - namely the ability and obligation to have children."
To strip marriage of this essential component is to render marriage meaningless and open it up to endless revision and redefinition," Malone's letter went on to say.The bishop's letter comes in response to ...more than 120 religious leaders representing 14 different faiths from throughout Maine have formed the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine.
Monsignor Marc B. Caron of Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Lewiston said that the Catholic perspective on marriage has never wavered over the course of history. Marriage by Roman Catholic standards has always represented a life-long relationship between a man and a woman."For us, marriage doesn't belong to the state," Caron said. "The state doesn't have the authority to transform it any other way."
State laws view marriage as a contract between two people for as long as they want to be together. But for Catholics, entering into marriage is a holy sacrament in the eyes of God that is meant to last a lifetime.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I love the start of a new quarter, nightly making a stack of books on the floor for each child's next day's work, the freshness of the lesson plan pages just begging to be scribbled through and highlighted, and the opportunity to find a new method of organizing their papers and time each morning.
Writing this down makes my life sound quite pathetic, but it is likely more productive than spending my days shopping and lunching with the other suburbanites. While quelling screaming matches and getting the older ones to practice the piano isn't worth much in many folk's eyes, I'm a blessed and lucky girl.
the vodka box in the background is NOT my weekly stash, but tapes and CDs that I haven't found a place to store yet!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The 10 minute film gave a very good overview of what life was like for the Romans in 79 AD as well as the historical background. While our knowledge of Greek mythology is lacking, the older children had just studied some of the early Roman Emperors in Story of the World and could spout facts about Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar when we came upon busts of the two men. We sat on the floor in the red dining room and pretended to eat, we called each other by our "Italian" names, and imagined the riot of color that would have surrounded us if we lived like the Romans with mosaics on the floor, frescoes painted on the walls and ceiling, and painted statues in the courtyard.
The whole lifestyle of Pompeii's elite sounded so luxurious until I remembered that almost all the inhabitants perished in a particularly gruesome way. We finished off our time downtown with a very gourmet lunch at Cousin Ann's of lovely roasted chicken and tuna sandwiches, chips, fruit, and cookies. The next stop on our family's tour of DC involves body parts, antique medical equipment, and the history of medicine in America. Read my review of the National Museum of Health and Medicine next week.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Charlie: "I need to go potty."
Will: "Teachers don't allow pupils to use the bathroom."
(both students escaped shortly thereafter to watch Lady and the Tramp, despite Mary pleading, "Charlie, recess!")
A growing body of research is finding that praise based on talent and intelligence -- as opposed to effort -- not only doesn't help kids achieve success, it actually backfires.
Children who are praised as smart, special and talented stumble at school when faced with challenges that don't immediately reinforce the mantras they hear at home. They're also more likely to avoid tasks at which they may fail than children who are praised instead for their hard work. And they are more apt to lie and cheat well into their university years. Psychologist Polly Young-Eisendrath calls it the self-esteem trap.
"It's the expectation of being exceptional and the pressure on oneself to be exceptional which creates a kind of restlessness and sense of self-consciousness," says Dr. Young-Eisendrath, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Vermont.
What's more, according to her new book, The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance, overpraised children don't outgrow these setbacks.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
10 kids running up and down, 'round and 'round, in and out
1 baby chewing happily on refrigerator letters
2 moms sharing stories from the trenches at the kitchen table
1 smashed thumb followed by a bowl of ice cream
2 pairs of wet pants from falling in the stream
Mixed and stirred together produced a lovely time, let's get do it again soon!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
When I showed the stylist a picture of what I wanted, "highlights to blend everything, not much change in length, just layers with a flip and low, low, low maintenance she said, "This look is perfect for you and will be very easy to style." And it is. I like it more today than when my sister-in-law saw me walking in her kitchen Saturday afternoon and said, "Wow!"
Thank you Tim, Melinda, Mark, Cheryl, and all the kids for a great birthday.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
What I want to know is, with two parents who enjoy writing, how come getting Will or Mary to write 1 book report a quarter the only task I despise in homeschooling?
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
"I need help," I told my husband but after investigating nannies on the net, I realized at $500 a month, we just couldn't afford a "professional" to watch them each morning.
"Think, think, think of another option," I told myself and then put out the call on our local Catholic homeschool yahoo group and asked a neighbor to do the same among the local Orthodox Jewish community. Within a few days I was inundated with offers of babysitters. We settled on two girls, a homeschool teen comes on Friday mornings and a college girl comes Monday and Wednesdays, each for 2 hours. Working efficiently Will and Mary can get most of their work done and practice the piano by 11am. Both girls have been great with the kids and today we cleaned the bottom basement and put all the toys down there with a clean square of carpet so they have somewhere better to play.
With baby #6 cooking, I realized that I just couldn't do it all alone: clean the house, care for the kids, teach the older children, cook the meals, and run the errands. Help has arrived and I have found in the past week that our daily routines have become much smoother because of it.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The results of this election leaves me peering over the edge of that peak, realizing that there is no safety gear to protect us, and while forces many keep us in the seats for a time, the loop-the-loop is coming up quickly. Some are going to fall out and we won't be able to do a darn thing about it. Higher taxes, more babies killed in the womb, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in Iraq, and a loss of freedom and liberty that we cannot even imagine. Our nation was at a crossroads of who we were and who we wanted to become and I am sure we will look back at some point and wish we had made another choice.
May God have mercy on us.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Unfortunately, I didn't check the hours Arlington was open until we got into the visitors center and realized we had 35 minutes before the gates were locked. Quickly we used the grave locator on the computer, booked down Eisenhower Drive as fast as 8 year old legs could go and were able to pray a Hail Mary for my sweet, dear grandfather and all our family and friends that have left this world for the next.
We did make it over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watch the Marine guard for a while in silence before jumping back on the subway riding to Union Station for a bite to eat and home again for baths and bed. We will certainly go back during our stay here, to visit, stroll, and remember.