Thursday, February 25, 2010

On My Mind

I've been reading a lot lately about education. Like everything else in our life, decisions about educating our children are complicated by living and working overseas. In Vietnam, our best option is homeschooling. We're not comfortable with the government schools, and international schools are way outside of our price range (read that as WAAAAAYYYYY outside). I've never seen myself as a homeschooling mom and am trying to learn more about it.

I've come across several books or articles that make a compelling argument in favor of Christian education or home education. The argument is this: education is about training the whole person and is primarily about shaping character rather than conveying information. If this is true, the conclusion is that we can't train a child without being deeply engaged in the education process and without being able to teach from a biblical perspective.

It's hard to find fault with this argument. On the other hand, I've known many godly and wise parents who have shepherded their kids through public school. This is clearly one of those issues that isn't answered by one prescription for every family.

I'm curious, how have you made decisions about educating your children? Do you home school, provide for them to attend a Christian school, or guide them through public school? If your kids are in a secular school, how do you help them form a biblical worldview? If they are away from home most of each day, how do you stay involved in shaping godly character? If you homeschool or send your kids to Christian school, how do you stay engaged with the community so that you are able to share Christ's love with others?

Enough questions. In short, I would like to learn from your experience. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

In the Vernacular

I was at the sink washing dishes when I heard a scuffle break out downstairs. I ignored it until Caleb started howling. I hastened pell-mell down to the basement wiping soapy hands on a dish towel. The ensuing conversation went something like this...

Me: What's going on down here!?!

Caleb: (Wailing and clutching his head) Nathan hocked me!

Me: Huh?

Caleb: (Still wailing, still clutching) Nathan hooooockckcked meeeee!!!

At this point, I look to Nathan for clarification. He stares back at me with his very large and very innocent chocolate eyes, wisely saying nothing. Unfortunately, he forgets to discard the plastic hockey stick he is holding over one shoulder. I begin to put the pieces together.

Me: Nathan, did you hock your brother?

Nathan: Yes. (Wailing stops. Both boys wait wide-eyed for the consequence.)

Me: Nathan, no more hocking your brother. Give me that stick. (He complies.) No more hitting, kicking, pinching, scratching, biting, or hocking each other before lunch. Do you understand?

Both boys: Yes.

They return to playing semi-civilly. I return to my dishes. Another word is added to our family dictionary.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter Colds

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

                             Ogden Nash

"The Germ" by Ogden Nash, found in Winter Poems edited by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, and published by Scholastic Inc., 1994.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Romance is Overrated


Daniel and I are arguably the most unromantic people in the world. It isn't that we don't love or enjoy each other. It's just that romance isn't really our bag. I like to be surprised about as much as I like wormy broccoli, which makes gifts tricky. Daniel isn't keen on roses or chocolate or perfume, and unless I have serious change left over from groceries, I can't afford the things he really does want. It works out well. We just make a pact not to buy anything and shake on it for good measure.

The boys reinforce our natural unromantic tendencies. With them around, candles inspire blowing contests, fancy meals incorporate ground beef or chicken, and the table looks like a Jackson Pollock painting when we're finished. Deep conversation revolves around the Backyardigans or the latest trip to the library. It is periodically interrupted by "powing" or "vrooming" noises depending on whether Nathan is a cowboy or a race car driver for the evening.

We have never called each other "honey" or "sweetie" or "babe." I would probably wince if Daniel tried to get my attention that way. He would surely shudder if I tried it. Occasionally, we do call each other "friend," as in "Hey, Friend, how was your day?" It seems most appropriate.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Digging Out

When it looks like this out of doors.... looks like this indoors.

Both boys napped this afternoon which hasn't happened in ages. Guess how I spent my unexpected free time.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Crib Notes

I must confess that I am a Super Bowl imposter. I am attending a Super Bowl party this afternoon without having watched a single game this season. To be perfectly honest, I have not seen even a few minutes of a game, a recap, a playback, a sportscast, or a blooper for the past several years. Until a few minutes ago, I didn't know which teams were playing, where the game was being held, or what XLIV stood for (my Roman numerals are a bit rusty). To avoid being discovered and disgraced this afternoon, I've just completed cramming Super Bowl info. I thought I would share the fruit of my labors with my fellow football neophytes.

A few tips to begin, do not write these facts on your hand, the inner part of your arm, or any other appendage. If you are suspected of cheating, the evidence will be impossible to destroy. A sticky note or 3x5 card is a much safer vehicle for crib notes. Keep it up your sleeve or, better yet, slip it onto your plate and cover it with a pile of bbq chips. Don't reveal your "knowledge" too liberally. You are sure to be uncovered if you randomly announce, "Super Bowl is a much snappier name than AFL-NFL World Championship Game. So glad Coach Hunt came up with it." Reserve comments for those moments when you are backed into a corner. When someone asks, "Do you think Gay will be up to the game today?" casually respond, "I heard it was just a stomach bug. Can't imagine that will keep him out." 

Now, on to the essentials. The following facts should get you through if used sparingly.

  • The rival teams are the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.
  • The venue for the game is South Florida, more specifically, the Sun Life Stadium in Miami
  • Super Bowl games are always designated by Roman numerals. XLIV stands for 44.
  • The Colts had to beat Baltimore and the New York Jets to get to the Super Bowl. The Saints had to win against Arizona and Minnesota.
  • The Super Bowl is a face off between teams from two divisions of professional football. The Colts are part of the AFC. The Saints are part of the NFC. The winner of the Super Bowl is the top team in the NFL. If this makes any sense, you are definitely BNTB (Beyond Needing This Blog).
  • Head Coaches: Sean Payton (Saints), Jim Caldwell (Colts)
  • Quarterbacks: Drew Brees (Saints), Peyton Manning (Colts)*
  • Big Names: Marques Colston (receiver for the Saints--This means he tries to catch the ball and run with it. Apparently, he's pretty good at it.), Peyton Manning (This is a familiar name. If I've heard of the guy, he must be decent.)
*Take note of the Saints coach and the Colts quarterback. "Payton" and "Peyton" might trip you up if you're not vigilant.

It seems that the half-time show and commercials are also a big part of Super Bowl mania. The Who are headlining the half-time show. (British band--You probably know more than I do.) The buzz regarding commercials is all about Tim Tebow and his pro-life advertisement. Tebow won some sort of trophy and is an up-and-coming football star. More importantly, he is a man of faith. I must admit that I am mostly watching the Super Bowl to see his controversial ad.

Regarding who to root for, I would suggest casing the joint. Tally the number of Colts fans vs. the number of Saints fans. Choose the side with the greatest number. Or take a few minutes to assess the group before committing yourself. Pick the two or three people most likely to know something (the ones glued to the television set). Go with their opinion. A final possibility is to just root for the Saints. After all, aren't saints supposed to be noteworthy for their faith and virtue. Surely there is something holy about cheering for saints on a Sunday. 

I should sign off for now. I need to prepare my sticky notes and brush up on a few more facts before the game. Then again, maybe I should just be honest and admit that I'm in it for the friends and the food. Certainly I'm not alone.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Contagious Kindness

     "The fact is," said Rabbit, "you're stuck."
     "It all comes," said Pooh crossly, "of not having front doors big enough."
     "It all comes," said Rabbit sternly, "of eating too much.... Well, well, I shall go and fetch Christopher Robin."
     Christopher Robin lived at the other end of the Forest, and when he came back with Rabbit, and saw the front half of Pooh, he said, "Silly old Bear," in such a loving voice that everybody felt quite hopeful again.
 From "Pooh Goes Visiting" in Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Image located at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Carry Me

I thought I would post a couple recent pictures of the boys. They are growing and changing so quickly. Some days I give them an extra squeeze just to stock up against the time when they are too big for such things.

Caleb has outgrown naps and his favorite Toddler Tunes video. He can dress himself and bathe himself (mostly) and eat ice cream without wearing most of it. Nathan is stringing full sentences together and marching into Sunday School without crying or clinging. These are welcome advances. On the other hand, they both tend to regress at night. Caleb wants milk at bedtime and then inevitably has an accident at 3am. Nathan wakes frequently and inexplicably.

You may remember Nathan's night terrors from nearly a year ago. Thankfully, we seem to be past the screaming and flailing and irrational terror that characterized his waking then. We do, however, still struggle with nighttime fears.

As I was putting Nathan to bed last night he said around the thumb in his mouth, "Scary animals get me!" I told him that God is always with us and that he is big and strong. We can ask him to keep us safe. I asked Nathan if he wanted to pray and ask God to take care of him. He closed his eyes and said, "God... BIG and strooooong...please carry me. Amen."

I love the theology of children.
Yes, God, you are big and strong. Please carry me today. Carry me through the things I fear. Carry me when I am impatient and irritable and at my worst. Carry me when the boys look to me to understand you. Carry me when I need rest and peace. Carry me close to your heart where I belong. Amen.

A Hiatus

Hello again. I'm back from an unplanned three-month hiatus. There wasn't a reason for the long silence. I just got distracted by life and its many demands. Friends often ask how we are adjusting to being back in the States. I never have a good answer to that question because part of adjusting (or readjusting) is disequilibrium. Whenever I move to a new place or adjust to a new/old culture, I lose my sense of balance for a while. It takes a few months before I can move beyond just living and be able to process the experience or write about it. Maybe this explains my inability to blog over the past few months. In any case, I hope to return to writing and keeping in touch with all of you. I've missed you.