Monday, March 31, 2008

Long and controversial post about Sunday School yesterday

I haven't been to Sunday School for a looong time, mostly because our church does not have a nursery or classes for children under the age of three.

Well yesterday I finally made an appearance, and went to a parenting class, taught by a woman in my church who has five children and the oldest is in high school. She is using materials called "Effective Parenting in a Defective World."

Yesterday's session was "Punishment versus Discipline."

First an overview of the lesson and video, from the notes:

Punishment is about inflicting penalty for an offense; it's focus is past misdeeds; the attitude of the parent is hostility and frustration; and it results in fear and guilt

Discipline is about training for correction and maturity; the focus is future correct acts; the attitude of the parent is love and concern; and it results and security

He said there is no reason to ever punish because Jesus already past for all our offenses. No punishment is needed.

He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently - Proverbs 13:24

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him - Proverbs 22:15

He said that spanking is "so strongly taught in scripture" and is "God's answer to eliminate a lot of your stress and frustration." The problem is not spanking itself, but the way it's implemented. It should be done with a wooden spoon, so they don't associate pain with your hand. You should "flick your wrist" when you do it, and it should "sting and hurt a lot, but produce absolutely no damage." Then you should pray together and prompt your child to ask God for forgiveness, where he is restored to God, and then you can have a loving time together, child and parent.


Now, here are some of my thoughts. Keep in mind they are just thoughts, I'm not an authority, and my kids are still young. I understand that I may be off-base, and I also may change my mind in a few years. But this is what went through my mind during the class.

Please feel free to add your thoughts to the mix:

- Isn't it a rather large leap to say that "the rod of discpline" means spanking? Are we to believe that God thinks spanking is a requirement for discipline? How can spanking (or any single act) be the only way to teach or disciple someone?

- I have never understood the idea about using a tool to whack your kid, as opposed to your hand, because the hand should always be loving. What kid is so dumb to not realize that it's the parent's hand who is making the paddle/spoon/whatever whack them?

- It felt really really weird to be sitting in church among people I know and be given instructions for exactly how to go about whacking our kids.

- The point was made that discipline was about teaching and training. How does someone learn by being hit? The example made in his talk was about a child going to a neighbor's house when you told him never to go in that particular person's house. It seems like there would be a whole host of things you could instruct your child about -- ways to decline an invitation, how some people or situations are not safe, what to do if you sense a threat, etc etc. Yet his idea of "training" in this situation is to take the child into the bedroom and hit him.

- Similarly, he used the phrase of "being restored to God." I don't understand this theology at all; how is a person "restored to God" by being hit by another person? If he is talking about the prayer afterwards, okay, but how does the spanking fit in with that? The implication seems to be that you can't talk to God, or won't be forgiven, unless a third party has deliberately inflicted pain on you first. How is that Biblical? And how is that not a punishment?

- The point was also made that punishment is about anger and vengeance, and discipline is about love. I would agree that spanking when you're angry should not be recommended ... but does anyone else think it seems totally creepy to smack your own child when you're perfectly calm and happy? Hitting them when you're mad at least makes sense.

Anyone care to jump in?

Poems about angels and God

Rachael writes so much stuff I can barely keep up with it all ...

The girls had a combined birthday party Saturday (hopefully I'll blog more about that later) and Rachael got a Princess notepad. She assigned all of us an "angel" of sorts, and wrote a "poem" about us on each sheet of the notepad.

Here's the one for me, the Rose Angel:

[Hi I am the Rose Angel I grow seeds in gardens to grow in little rose bushes and I wear roses on my ears and hair.]

Benjamin got to be Jesus:

[Hi I am Jesus I am kind of like God but I am people-size. I am a boy just like God. I make miracles just like God.]

Rachael was the "Water Angel," but I can't find that one right now ...

Rebecca got to be the Berry Angel:

[I am the Berry Angel and I give berries to the birds. When I do this job it makes me feel happy. - Berry Angel Poem]

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Kindergarten Test

I always find something interesting when I tidy up our playroom.

Just now I found this. (The italics are mine):


(Do Easter Bunnies hide the eggs or find the eggs?)


(Is Horton an elephant or a deer?)


(What do firemen do?)

A. POT OWT FIRS (put out fires)
B. BAC BRED (bake bread)
C. DOW THE LONDRE (do the laundry)

(Remember the story - did Jack and Jill climb up the hill?)


The correct answers were marked. I could picture Rachael making the test and giving it to Rebecca, although I don't know that for certain.

A few things I noticed:

- Rachael's printing has word spacing now, which she didn't a few months ago
- That's a lot of writing for a six year old
- There were question marks in-between the questions. I'm not sure if they were decorations, or is she doesn't know exactly how a question mark is used
- I just thought the whole thing was pretty clever! :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Here's an example of what homeschooing looks like in our house. Keep in mind that this is just one sliver of what we do:

I felt like we had exhausted the Berenstain Bears, Junie B Jones, Amanda Pig, PD Eastman, Amelia Bedelia, and so on, and posted on a homeschool group to get new ideas for what to read to the girls.

Among other things (like Charlotte's Web and Ramona the Pest), someone suggested Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. Well, that made me pretty excited, because I loved that book and truly would not be the writer I am today if not for Ms. Blume.

So ... I got it at the library and we read it, and the girls, especially Rachael loved it.

And I was asked to read another chapter again .... and another chapter again .... and I felt like I could only do so much ...

So I went back to the library and got the audio cassette of Judy Blume reading it. I've never been into audio books much myself because I'm one of those people who can't grasp it too well if I'm not looking right at the words. But the girls have been listening to it again and again. Rachael even took it outside on the back porch this afternoon.

Then I did some searches on the web for TOAFGN activities. Most of them are, uh, not my style (like lists of vocabulary words to define, or "cause and effect charts").

But, I found some info about what gave Judy Blume the idea, and how the original manuscript was different, and why it was rejected, and I read that to the girls.

I also showed Rachael some fourth grade school assignments where the kids had to draw photos of the different characters and write a poem about them. She liked looking at them. I could picture her maybe possibly doing something like that herself. Will it upset me if she doesn't? No.

Then I found out that in the 90's there was a Saturday day morning kids' show called "Fudge" (with Eve Plumb AKA Jan Brady as the mom). I somehow found a couple episodes on the Internet, so last night the girls watched them at the kitchen table while I cleaned up and got the dinner ready. They liked it, but I didn't get the impression they wanted to watch any more of it. If they do, that's fine too.

Oh yeah, and I also got SuperFudge out of the library. We read the first couple chapters together, but it didn't grab me as much, and then I forgot about it, and no one has asked for it ... Rebecca was disappointed (as was I) that there was no pictures in that one.

So ... that's sort of how we do things around here. One thing that's neat is that I had no idea we would be doing something with Judy Blume just two weeks ago. I also don't know if we will be doing anything more with Judy Blume in two more weeks.

It's always an adventure around here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rachy goes to school!

A few weeks ago Rachael told me she "wanted to try school to see if it was fun."

The staff at our church's school was kind enough to let her come in for one day -- today! Her she is this morning, with her reading book and her lunch!

She said it was fun. She said some parts were boring ... like Spanish, because they sang songs she didn't know in Spanish. And she said that in PE they did tests, like how many sit-ups you can do, that kind of thing. But they also did a game called, "What time is it, Fox?" and she liked that.

It sounds like the kids were very nice and helpful and friendly to her. Robert dropped her off in the morning, and he said it was kind of like she was a celebrity. A lot of kids knew her from Sunday School, and were gathering around saying, "Rachael's here today?"

What cracked me up was at the end of the day when we were walking out to the car. Rachael said to me, "I can't believe people do that every day!"

Then later, she said, "School is long!"

I said to the girls, I think Rebecca feels the same way you probably do, Rach ... I think she liked having you gone, but she's glad it was just for one day."

Rebecca nodded and said, "Yes."
Posted by Picasa

Me and my girls

Well, sad to say, but true .... I haven't seen many good pictures of myself (or even good mirror reflections) in, um ... well, about the last two and a half years. So I figured that, since these look pretty decent, I should certainly post them.

Here's me and Rachy. The other day someone said she was a "Mini-Me."

And here's me with my Rebecca. She is NOT a Mini-Me.
We've always kind of felt like she must have dropped out of the sky, both in her looks and personality!
Posted by Picasa

Rebecca, our Wild Child

These pictures that Rachael took of Rebecca were so, um ... interesting, that I decided they needed a post of their own.

Yeah, I know this picture is fuzzy, but I still liked it.

This one is my favorite. You go, girl!

And she took this picture herself!
Posted by Picasa

Movie Stars!

Last week the girls spent the day with some family friends.

When they came home, they burst in the door and announced, "We're movie stars!"
So of course I had to get the camera.

Posted by Picasa

Baby for dinner!

This was taken about a month ago, and I finally downloaded it.

Benjamin must have been climbing in the cabinets, and Robert scooped
him up and had me take their picture.

Bon appetit! :)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Countdown to school

Rachael has her "day of school" next Monday.

I asked her today if she was still excited, or nervous, or both. She said both.

"What are you nervous about?" I asked, thinking she might say that she was afraid kids would be mean to her, or that she would feel left out, or wouldn't know what was going on or how to do the work.

She said, "I'm nervous that it's gonna be a bunch of boring stuff."

When I asked her what part of school she was most excited about, she said, "Lunch!" Isn't that funny? As if she normally never eats lunch. Then she said, "And recess!"


The weather was nice today; the kids and I were out back for about two hours.

When Robert got home, Rebecca pointed out to him that some of the daffodils had bloomed, and some had buds. She picked one and put it behind my ear.

When Rebecca sniffed it, she said, "It smells like Jesus! Doesn't it smell like Jesus?"

So now we know what Jesus smells like.

Wow, Stephanie was right!

Stephanie said she didn't think I only had eight people reading my blog; she was sure I must have at least nine! :)

She recommended I install SiteMeter.

Well, she was right: So far I'm averaging about 23 hits a day. And I can even confirm that it's not just my mom checking it 23 times!

Today's recent hits ranged from Tucson, Nashville (that's probably Stephanie), South Carolina, California, and Texas.

So now that I know I have an audience ... I'd better come up with more stuff to say!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Book Review - Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe

I recently joined a homeschool group in town, and someone was able to get this book for several of us at a bulk rate:

Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson

[Isn't an interesting that a man would write a book like that? And along those lines, I didn't care for the way he addressed the reader as "Mom" throughout the book. I'm not his mother.]

It's one of those books you can read in less than an hour -- which is a very good thing! :)

I would recommend it, since it's short and cute and cheap. It was not life-changing, but it was a good reminder. And possibly there are other women out there who could be helped greatly by reading it.

Here are some of my thoughts and observations:

1) There are several cartoons and most of them are pretty funny. For example, one has the title of "Dueling Homeschoolers":

First Woman: I bake my own bread.
Second Woman: I grind my own wheat.
FW: I grow my own wheat.
SW: I do genetic altering bio-technology of wheat.

2) I think this kind of thinking ("everyone's kids are better behave than mine, Everyone else's house is neater and cleaner than mine," etc) is true of almost all women, or at least almost all mothers. Homeschooling probably intensifies and broadens it. Why is that? Why do women compare themselves all the time?

3) The lie that probably hits me hardest is "Everyone fixes better meals than you." And I really do like to cook! It's just that I don't have much energy for it these days, and even if I did, I probably wouldn't grind my own wheat.

From page 34:

This lie has sprung from pure motives of good people trying to help each other eat more healthily, but it has become a heavy weight most moms carry ... Good cooking catchphrases have become badges of spirituality.

Moms proudly announce that they bake their own bread ... grind their own wheat ... eliminate processed sugars ... eat only raw vegetables ... and love to throw a little chickweed on their salads.

Maybe you like to do some of those things I mentioned. If you do, that's great ... BUT keep it to yourself!

Yup, I've certainly felt that way. (That everyone else is eating and cooking better then me, I mean.)

I wouldn't agree, though, that you should keep it to yourself if you like to do those things. After all, doesn't he have a whole section about "being real." Also, if someone is so weak that they're going to crumble because someone else bakes all their bread, well, they need to get over it, as opposed to the Bread Baker hiding it so as not to upset anybody.

5) This part was odd to me, from page 44:

I would guess there aren't many moms who absolutely love homeschooling. Some enjoy parts of homeschooling, but some hate every part of homeschooling except the results.

So is he saying that a fair amount of women homeschool their kids for years, even though day after day, they hate doing it -- just because they believe it's "best" for their kids? Could that possibly be true??

Gosh, I tend to think if they feel that way, their kids would be better off in school, and these women would be better off spending their days doing something they actually enjoyed. It sounds like someone being "guilted" into doing something huge that they hate but are afraid to say no to .... How sad if that's true! And how odd that he doesn't address any of that, but instead just says, "Don't worry, you're not the only one who hates it." Wow.

Anyone else have any thoughts about that one?

6) Here's something Robert and I were talking about last night, from page 81:

God makes no mistakes. It's also true that God gave your children exactly the mother they needed ... If God wanted someone better than you to be your children's mother, He would have done that ... if you want someone better to teach your children, you'll find no one. You are the best. You're number one!


So Susan Smith was the best mother those kids could possibly have?

What about all the people there who molest, hit, or constantly belittle their kids? Or are drunk half the time? They're "number one"? Are you kidding me?

Sorry, I just can't buy into the idea that just because God gave a person kids, they are doing a great job as a parent and everything they choose is just fine and dandy, because hey, they're the parent, and God ordained that.

I'm curious what others think of either the book in general, or any thoughts I posted above.

Notes found in our house

I just found two folded up notes in our playroom.

They said, on the outside:


I assume that's Rachael's American Girl doll Mia, and Hannah Montana.

When unfolded, one said:

to Mia wen it is sumr we swim in the pool and we hav lesins ther and wen it is sciool ol bring you home wrk too wrk on and ol be the techr

and the other said:

To Mia From Hannah I wunt you to war your yonuform and go to the soft ice cream and then go riding on aer biks

with some illustrations.


1) To Mia, When it is summer we swim in the pool and we have lessons there and when it is school I'll bring you homework to work on and I'll be the teacher.

2) To Mia From Hannah, I want you to wear your uniform and go to the soft ice cream and then go riding on our bikes.

We were just reading a Berenstain Bears book yesterday about kids riding bikes and the playground and then going to get soft ice cream.

The girls were painting a little while ago and are now playing Blue's Clues Treasure Hunt on the computer. Busy busy ...

Groovy Mother Hen

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Educational Resource

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rachael's going to school!

Wait! Don't pass out -- or cry!

Or cheer, as the case may be! :)

Rachael said she "wanted to go to school to see if it's fun" and the principal at our church's school said she could come be a guest student on St. Patrick's Day.

Rachael is so excited. She already picked an outfit and has it hanging up. She wants a lunch box. I said, "Um, why don't you just use the zippered lunch pouch you've used for camp?" She said something like, "No, I have to be like all the other kids!" Sheesh.

Her stuffed animal, "Lammie," immediately began sobbing hysterically when she heard the news. "I don't want Mommy to go to school!" she said in her little Lammie voice, shaking violently. "I'll never see her! She'll be gone all day!"

"It's just for one day," Rachael told Lammie calmly.

It's seven and a half hours ... what a long day. Seriously, what do people even DO in first grade these days? I think she's expecting they'll go from music class to painting time to recess to snack time ...

Anyone have a kid in elementary school? What is the day like? Is it a lot of writing and worksheets? A lot of fun things?

Stay tuned ...

Cynical humor

This appealed to the cynical in me:

The Spies Who Love You

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mom the Musician

I just felt like writing, but I don't have much to say.

Thursday night I accompanied the choral concert at Wheeler High School. The girls (ages four and six) come with me when I do most concerts, which I think is really cool. They sit in the auditorium and color while we warm up and rehearse for about an hour, then they sit through the entire concert.

I think that's really neat on several levels:

1) They get to see some quality performances for free

2) They see that their mother does things other than make them oatmeal and do laundry

3) They get to learn concert ettiquette and how to occupy themselves quietly when there is a need

4) They get to see what teenagers act like and do with their time

Once I heard Rachael singing one of the songs ("O Sinner Man")at home. Not only was her pitch perfect, but she used choral diction which I thought was hilarious and REALLY COOL!

What was really exciting about this particular concert was that it was combined with a middle school. Being no dummy, I went up to the middle school director, introduced myself, and handed her my card ten minutes before the concert began. She said, "Oh, I could use you to play one of our pieces tonight!"

And I did! I have never done that before! And no way I could have successfully done that ten years ago.

So, it's always nice to think I'm actually getting good at something.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A thought on learning to read

I go to a women's Bible Study every Wednesday morning while the kids all go to their own classes.

A few weeks ago one of the women in my class, who speaks English as her second language, was reading a passage to us out of her concordance. Twice she hesitated on a word, and the woman sitting next to her leaned over slightly and simply said, "tabernacle," or whatever, and then she continued reading.

It occured to me how thoroughly obnoxious and weird and condescending it would have been if, instead, that woman would have said, "Okay, what does it start with? Okay, so what sound does T make? .... okay, now what's the next letter? ... how can you tell if it's a long a or a short a? ... okay, now put them together ....."

But yet people do that to kids all the time when they're learning to read, or just hitting an unfamiliar word.

Just something to think about.