Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween costumes, another benefit of homeschooling

I am so glad that our family has escaped attempting to be better than the neighbors in terms of how much we spend on our kids. We don't have TV so we have not been subjected to, "I gotta have XYZ cereal, toy, or brand of jeans." We don't send the kids to school so they don't have the influence of other children who are caught up in what is popular to wear, eat, or play with. It saves money for sure, but it also creates a more giving atmosphere in our home.

As for Halloween, we do let the kids go trick-or-treating, but they wear costumes depicting Saints. Will is St. Francis of Assisi, Mary is Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, Maggie is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Charlie is St. Stephen, and Timmy is going as a bee. The last one is a leftover of our pre-Catholic life and we can always pretend that he is part of St. Francis' entourage. Saturday we will go to the All Saint's Party with the local Catholic homeschool group, and then the costumes can go back in the dressup trunk, all ready for dressup play.

As many parents have learned the hard way, the scariest part of Halloween isn't living in the same home as an opened bag of fun-sized Milky Ways. It's the tyranny of the costume. With costumes selling for $30, $40, even $80 a pop, the pressure on kids to have the "right" costume - and on parents to buy them - is ratcheting up.

In fact, even as consumer spending drops - Halloween spending is rising. The National Retail Federation predicts Halloween sales, on costumes, candy, decorations, and the like, will hit $5.77 billion this year, up from $5.07 billion last year.

"Halloween is an important holiday for many children," said Detris Adelabu, chair of the department of human development at Wheelock College. But "finding the right costume can be challenging and stressful for children and parents."

Good luck trying to get off cheap. As Pamela Paul, author of "Parenting, Inc.," wrote in an e-mail interview with the Globe: "I think parents have come to see ALL celebrations - birthdays, Halloween, Xmas - as if they're some kind of referendum on how much they care about their kids, with the barometer being how much money you spend. (Boston Globe)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

carnival of homeschooling

Halloween edition is up at Why Homeschool.

Will gets into the act

After Tim and I went to bed on Tuesday night I heard some scurrying up and down the stairs, but was too tired to get up and investigate. In the morning there was a stack of homemade campaign signs on the kitchen table: NO BAMA, Micane/Palin, and NO BIDEN included. When I explained to my enthusiastic political consultant that he spelled Sen. McCain's name wrong, he quickly made up a new batch and wore one proudly on his shirt all day.
We now have signs on both doors and the kitchen window, in stark contrast to our liberal neighbors on both sides. Barbara wrote a very good post about post election relations with the neighbors at Praying for Grace. I love this sign and would be VERY tempted to replicate it if some goon throws a brick through our front window, but we don't own a gun (except for that BB gun we had to leave in Maine since our county in Maryland does not allow them) Here is video of a rotten 9 year old kid in our old stomping grounds of Chapel Hill, NC trying to steal someone's McCain-Palin sign, only to be electrocuted. (only slightly)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Maggie May

My enthusiastic, precious little munchkin. This is the child who tries to make everyone smile, who always tries to help with chores, who would have spoiled me for sure if she had been the first born.
God bless you Maggie on your 6th birthday and may you keep your Pollyanna attitude intact all your days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do you know who the real Barack Obama is??? Think again...

Who is supporting Obama? Hamas, for one.

PA daily reports that Gaza residents are randomly calling American homes trying to convince Americans to support Barack Obama for president. Can anyone seriously believe that young Palestinian men are allowed free and easy access to operate an internet phone bank in the impoverished and violent Gaza Strip — and bring that effort to the attention of the international media — without Hamas’ knowledge and approval? The support that Barack Obama is receiving from avowed terrorist enemies of America should bother him. The fact that it does not bother him should bother us even more than the fact that terrorists see something in him that they really like.

Most of the Palestinians feel hatred towards USA, whose administrations have always stood by Israel...

Palestinian brothers inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are listed in government election filings as having donated $29,521.54 to Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. Donations of this nature would violate election laws, including prohibitions on receiving contributions from foreigners and guidelines against accepting more than $2,300 from one individual during a single election.

Rashid Khalidi, the one-time PLO spokesman who now heads the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia, is not distancing himself from his past. Consistent with what you’d expect from someone who justified PLO attacks on civilians in Israel and Lebanon from 1976 to 1982, Khalidi routinely refers to Israel as a “racist” and “apartheid” state, and professes to believe in a “one-state” solution to the conflict. Guess which country would have to disappear for that “one” state to come into existence?

The Khalidis and Obamas were good friends. In his capacity as a director of the Woods Fund, Obama in 2001 and 2002 steered $75,000 to the Arab American Action Network, the brainchild of Rashid and Mona Khalidi. Obama mentioned that he and Michelle had been frequent dinner guests at the Khalidi home (just another guy in the neighborhood?) and that the Khalidis had even baby-sat for the Obama girls.

Even less attention has been paid to the man Obama appointed as his emissary to the Muslim community in the U.S., Mazen Asbahi. Asbahi, it turned out, had ties to the Islamic Society of North America, which in turn was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. The Holy Land Foundation was accused of being a front group for Hamas. When news of these associations became public, Asbahi resigned from the campaign to “avoid distracting from Barack Obama’s message of change.”

Many American Jews preparing to pull the lever for Obama have never heard of Asbahi. But they surely know about Jeremiah Wright. They know that he gave a “lifetime achievement” award to Louis Farrakhan; that he supported efforts to get U.S. businesses to divest from Israel; that he gave space in the Trinity Church bulletin to Hamas; and that he has accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians. They are preparing to vote for a man who tamely tolerated all of that (and more) for 20 years.

What does Barack Obama feel about the Constitution? He thinks it is fundamentally flawed.

Thomas Jefferson must have been mistaken when he said, "To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association--the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." --Thomas Jefferson: Note in Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816.

Check out these quotes from Obama in 2001:

“You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the courts, I think where it succeeded was to get formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples -- so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I was able to pay for it I'd be OK. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.And to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted.

The court's just not very good at it, and politically it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it [redistribution of wealth] legally, y'know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts. ..…”

Can a good Catholic support Obama? No.

Last week the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kansas City, Kan., declared abortion should be the most important issue for Catholics to consider when deciding on who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. Archbishop Joseph Naumann, said other problems facing the United States today, including the war in Iraq, should be considered less important than the right to life.“The church in the United States always cherished its rights and its responsibility to form the moral (conscience) of the country,” he said during his visit at University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is an abortion supporter. Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, a Catholic, also supports abortion. In contrast, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin oppose abortion.

What will Obama do to win the election? Cheat.

In Ohio as many as 200,000 new voter registrations in that state are suspect, yet Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is refusing to follow the 2002 Help America Vote Act that requires her to verify these registrations. The Ohio Republican Party sued Mrs. Brunner, but the Supreme Court said the GOP lacked standing. Justice does have standing — it is charged with upholding that law — but has ignored the fight. The Justice excuse is that it isn't appropriate to file litigation so close to Election Day.

Yet that hasn't stopped the Civil Rights Division this month from filing a lawsuit against Waller County, Texas, to correct alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act; a lawsuit against Vermont for failing to report accurately on overseas ballots; and an amicus brief in a case filed by a civil-rights group that is suing to stop the Georgia Secretary of State from complying with voter verification rules. Justice's election suits always seem to side with liberal priorities.

It doesn't help Justice's credibility that attorneys charged with supervising voting issues are avowed Barack Obama supporters. According to Federal Election Commission data, James Walsh, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division, has donated at least $300 to Mr. Obama. His boss, Mark Kappelhoff, has given $2,250 — nearly the maximum. John Russ, also in Civil Rights, gave at least $600 to Mr. Obama.

And what happens to those who dare question this man? Retaliation.

Angry over a hard-nosed interview during which Barbara West of Orlando’s WFTV peppered Sen. Joe Biden with the kind of probing questions the pro-Obama mainstream media refuses to ask, the Obama campaign has completely banned the television station from future access and interviews. "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best, for the duration of the remaining days until the election," wrote Laura K. McGinnis, from the Obama campaign.

During the interview, West asked Biden: "Aren't you embarrassed by the blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?"Biden appeared flustered by the question, but quickly gained his composure and denied that Obama had been close to ACORN. Biden claimed that the campaign had not paid ACORN any money to register voters. West did not challenge Obama on this point, though during the Democratic primary in Ohio, the Obama campaign had, in fact, paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN-backed group. West did note that Obama has worked with this group in the past.

West again stung Biden, asking him about Obama's statement to Joe the plumber that he planned to "spread the wealth around." West queried: "A Gallup poll showed 84 percent of Americans prefer the government focus on improving economic conditions and creating more jobs in the U.S., as opposed to taking steps that distribute wealth. Isn't Senator Obama's comment a potentially crushing political blunder?"

Biden dodged the question, but West bored in, quoting Karl Marx's "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," and asked Biden, "How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?"

Biden appeared stunned and asked, "Are you joking? Is this a joke?"

West then asked Biden about his now-famous statement that Obama would be tested and would not be able to stand up to the challenge without help. "Are you forewarning Americans that nothing will be done and that America's days as the world's leading power are over?" West asked. An obviously annoyed Biden responded by asking West who was writing her questions. West is a veteran TV news journalist who had worked as Peter Jennings' producer at ABC News.
West returned to the “spreading the wealth” question, asking Biden what he'd "say to the people who are concerned that Barack Obama will want to turn America into a socialist country much like Sweden?" Biden again ducked the question,…

What happens to a normal American citizen who questions Obama tax plan? TV broadcasts showcasing every private detail of his life.

Government computers in Ohio may been used to illegally access personal information about Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as "Joe the Plumber," according to the Columbus Dispatch.

During their October 15 debate, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain referred to "Joe the Plumber" constantly. In the days following the debate, information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport utility vehicle was retrieved from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times, the Dispatch reported.

With access to such information limited to legitimate law enforcement and government business, state and local officials are now investigating whether the information was obtained illegally. The information was retrieved using accounts assigned to the Ohio attorney general's office, a county child support enforcement agency, and the Toledo Police Department, according to the report.
An Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign told the Dispatch that the information breach may have been politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," Paul Lindsay told the Dispatch.

What about that promise that 95% of Americans would pay less taxes under Obama?

Well, only if you don’t consider letting the Bush tax cuts expire a tax increase, don’t consider a recall on tax breaks for IRAs a tax increase, don’t consider that the “standard” for rich folks getting it socked it them keeps changing in Obama’s plan disturbing (rich last week was $250K, this morning it is $150K, who knows what it will be tomorrow?), and knowing that 40% of Americans currently don’t pay income taxes and therefore a tax cut would constitute welfare.

Oh, and your pension that you are counting on to keep you fed and warm in your old age? Joe Biden promised last week, referring to CEOs, “Their pensions go first," he told the cheering crowd. Meaning what? We're going to take 'em.
He's going to take away people's pensions. If you let that happen, he can take away yours.

Stop and think about what our America, the land we love, could become under a socialist president with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid eager to do his bidding.

Sources include National Review Online, What Does the Prayer Really Say?, Rush Limbaugh, AP, and Columbus Dispatch.

Monday, October 27, 2008

just tired...

After 3 days of orthodontist appointments for Will and Mary, trying to get the two to read their book report books, and feeling increasingly pregnant, I am just worn out. Add to it the stress of the upcoming election and I just want to escape from the madness with a few novels. Here are a few I have been snuggling up in bed with (along with a cup of hot cocoa):

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky (teen girl hits a man with the car, mom lies to protect her) , Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah ( 3 decade eclipsing story of best friends), The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center (girl gets dumped by her loser fiancee the day before she delivers their baby), and Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane (3 very different sisters and their emotional battles).

One of the benefits of moving often is discovering new favorites at the local library since our weekly hauls simply exhaust the good picture book selections after a year. Tuesday afternoon we found Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel by Leslie Conner. This historical tale shares the wisdom of a young lady in her selection of the useful rather than the merely decorative. This one, unlike the above twaddle for grownups, I highly recommend for family snuggle time on the sofa.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

making a point...

Someone passed this on, I couldn't resist:

Yesterday on my way to lunch at Olive Garden, I passed one of the homeless guys in that area, with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money."

Once in Olive Garden my waiter had on a "Obama 08" tee shirt. When the bill came, I decided not to tip the waiter and explained to him while he had given me exceptional service, that his tee shirt made me feel he obviously believes in Senator Obama's plan to redistribute the wealth. I told him I was going to redistribute his tip to someone that I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. He stood there in disbelief and angrily stormed away.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $3 and told him to thank the waiter inside, as I had decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy looked at me in disbelief but seemed grateful. As I got in my truck, I realized this rather unscientific redistribution experiment had left the homeless guy quite happy for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pissed that I gave away the money he did earn. Well, I guess this redistribution of wealth is going to take a while to catch on, with those doing the work.

just click...

On this link to see what Baby Sunshine looks like right now and to read Cardinal Egan's plea to help elect a pro-life President and Vice-President.

Baby Sunshine's fellow tummy dwellers would thank you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

put down your coffee cup...

So, Sarah Palin's advisors decide that it is time for her to meet a bunch of serious world leaders. They head to Europe, where, first up, she has an appointment with the Pope. The Pope and some of his Cardinals invite her for a boat ride on the Tiber. As they are sitting in the gondola talking, a wind starts up and blows the Pope's hat into the water. Palin looks around and realizes that no one is going to do anything about it, so she calmy rises, takes off her her high heels, and steps off the side of the boat. Instead of diving into the water, however, she walks across it, to the hat, picks it up and walks back across the water to the boat. She climbs in, hands the Pope his hat and continues discussing whatever it was they had been talking about. The Cardinals are open mouthed in astonishment at what they have just seen. The news media, in nearby boats are busy discussing among themselves how to report it. Headlines the next day at the New York Times, The Washington Post and the networks all blare: New Revelation: Sarah Palin Can't Swim.
H/T Al Hurley

I love fall, except...

the annual Cub Scout popcorn sale.

I'm supposed to spend several afternoons tromping around with 5 kids in tow, keeping the little ones from destroying people's yards or getting run over in the street, directing a 10 year old to proper sale techniques, while simultaneously staying close to a bathroom. This year there is the added difficulty of living in a mostly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood because they can't conduct any business on Saturdays and can't buy anything non-Kosher.

Well, we did the best we could under the circumstances and that is all that anyone can ask for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

price point

Before we had children I used to love going to auctions. It was fun to watch and get into a bidding war. After acquiring some pieces of silver for far too much, I set a dollar amount for each item above which I would not bid. This rationale kept me from going overboard in later auctions and I scored some lovely things for much cheaper than I would have paid in an antique shop, my favorites being a wool Karistan rug, a coin silver spoon, and a silver cup for Tim so he won't feel left out.

This same theory has served me well while grocery shopping. I do not hesitate to snatch up 10 packages of something if they are a great deal, and if something is too costly I refuse to purchase it. A loaf of bread should never cost more than $3, if that is all that is available then I will make our own everyday instead. A box of cereal will only go in the cart if I can get it for $2 or less, last week I found several boxes of Rice Chex in the cratch-and-dent section for $1.15 a box. This does cause our eating habits to fluctuate based on what I find on sale. Some things are obviously non-negotiable such as milk and laundry detergent and until recently Coca-cola, since my 1-a-day addiction required it. But when the price of a 12 pack skyrocketed to $5, I told myself, "No, I can make do with other drinks." The past week cups of homemade Chai Latte have given me the same little boost in the afternoon. I miss my frosty red can, but in the great price wars there is a line in the sand I will not cross.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

helping with chores

Years ago while I was pregnant with Charlie I strained my back something terrible and was forced to stay in bed for 4-5 days, which seemed like an absolute lifetime. The OB fitted me with a back brace and instructed me to not lift anything over 10 pounds until delivery. I had almost forgotten about those few stressful weeks until yesterday when I pulled something in my back while carrying a tub of sweaters up from the basement. I popped a few Tylenol, but it kept nagging me because I don't even know what is going to happen when I go into labor this spring. Tim's sisters both live 1 hour away and after only 2 weeks we haven't really gotten to know many of the neighbors well. Tim can't take time off from work if I can't take care of the children and there is no other family to assist, even if I was in dire straights.

So... the kids have been instructed to HELP. They are all willing to chip in for precious Baby Sunshine's sake. Will is carrying the laundry baskets up 2 flights of stairs, Mary and Maggie are emptying the dishwasher, and even Timmy is helping with the laundry.

Timmy hauls every piece of wet clothing out of the washer (I am so grateful for a front-loader!), identifying each, "Daddy shirt. Maggie pants..." and shoves them into the dryer. He then pushes the buttons to start the cycle. As the items begin spinning he traces a circle with his finger, "goes round and round!" Thank goodness for my helpers, especially the littlest of them all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

one benefit of procrastination

I enjoy receiving Better Homes and Gardens magazine in the mailbox each month, giving me ideas for our future home, yummy recipes, and unintended laughs from some of the quirky ideas presented (who on earth would shelve all their books facing the wrong way to make the shelves look more "clean"?)

To get me to renew my subscription they have sent me lots of incentives, but by putting it off I came up with a pretty good deal: 2 free subscriptions. If you want one of them, be the 1st and 2nd person to email me (addy on the sidebar) with your name and address. As soon as I write it on the card I will dispose of it properly.

carnival of homeschooling

Melissa's Idea Garden is hosting this week's carnival featuring lots of different breeds of dogs.

Why he served

Via the Boston Globe:

The following is a blog entry written on Aug. 30, 2008, by Army Specialist Stephen Fortunato, who was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in was blown up by an improvised explosive device. This entry was forwarded to the Globe by his mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Crawford.

If I may …I’d like to say something….Just to get it out there so it is clear.To all the pampered and protected Americans who feel it is their duty to inform me that I am not fighting for their freedom, and that i am a pawn in Bush’s agenda of greed and oil acquisition: Noted, and [expletive deleted] You.

I am not a robot. i am not blind or ignorant to the state of the world or the implications of the “war on terrorism.” i know that our leaders have made mistakes in the handling of a very sensitive situation, but do not for one second think that you can make me lose faith in what we, meaning America’s sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers in uniform are doing.I am doing my part in fighting a very real enemy of the United States, i.e. Taliban, Al Qaida, and various other radical sects of Islam that have declared war on our way of life. Unless you believe the events of 9/11 were the result of a government conspiracy, which by the way would make you a MORON, there is no reasonable argument you can make against there being a true and dangerous threat that needs to be dealt with. i don’t care if there are corporations leaching off the war effort to make money, and i don’t care if you don’t think our freedom within America’s borders is actually at stake. i just want to kill those who would harm my family and friends. it is that simple. Even if this is just a war for profit or to assert America’s power, so what? Someone has to be on top and I want it to be us. There’s nothing wrong with wishing prosperity for your side.

I am a proud American. i believe that my country allows me to live my life more or less however i want to, and believe me, i have seen what the alternative of that looks like. i also believe that our big scary government does way more than it has to to help complete [expletive deleted]-ups get back on their feet, a stark comparison to places where leaders just line their own pockets with gold while allowing the people who gave them their power and privilage to starve. I have chosen my corner. I back my country, and am proud to defend it against aggressors. Also, if you dare accuse us of being inhumane, or overly aggressive because we have rolled into someone else’s country and blown some [expletive deleted] up and shot some people, let me remind you of just how inhumane we COULD be in defending ourselves. Let me remind you that we have a warhead that drops multiple bomblets from the stratosphere which upon impact, would turn all the sand in Iraq to glass, and reduce every living thing there to dust. Do we use it? No. Instead we use the most humane weapon ever devised: the American soldier. We send our bravest (and perhaps admitably craziest) men and women into enemy territory, into harms way, to root out those whom we are after and do our best to leave innocent lives unscathed.

…One last thing…a proposal. i know it has been stated time and time again but i just think it is worthy of reiteration. If you find yourself completely disgusted with the way America is being ran, and how we handle things on the global stage, you can leave. Isn’t that amazing? No one will stop you! If you are an anarchist, there are places you can go where there is no government to tell you anything. That’s right…you are left solely to your own devices and you can handle the men who show up at your door with AKs in any way that you see fit. Just don’t try good old American debate tactics on them because you will most likely end up bound and blind-folded, to have your head chopped off on the internet so your parents can see it. However if you insist on staying here and taking advantage of privilages such as free speach and WIC, keep the counter-productive [expletive deleted] to a minimum while the grown ups figure out how to handle this god-awful mess in the middle east.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What to do with Mr. Poopy Pants?

For some bizarre reason we have always used the name nappie, instead of the American "diaper" so I got a kick out of this article out of London. I honestly tried to do the cloth diaper thing many years ago, but living in the Italian hotel for a month with a washer that would only hold 8 pieces of clothing and no dryer quickly squashed my enthusiasm.

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.
The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.
To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.
The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.
Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the “negative laundry options” outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

'bout time...

DENVER (AP) - Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput labeled Barack Obama the "most committed" abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing a Catholic Obama ally and other Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a "disservice to the church."

Chaput, one of the nation's most politically outspoken Catholic prelates, delivered the remarks Friday night at a dinner of a Catholic women's group.

His comments were among the sharpest in a debate over abortion and Catholic political responsibility in a campaign in which Catholics represent a key swing vote.

While Chaput has won praise from traditionalist Catholics for stressing opposition to abortion as a foundational voting issue, voices on the Catholic left have sought to apply church teachings to war, poverty, the environment and other issues.

Although the Catholic left is not new, several advocacy groups have either formed or ramped up activities since 2004. Partly, their efforts are a response to attention given to the pro-abortion rights stance of Democrat John Kerry, a Catholic who was criticized by a few bishops who suggested he should be denied or refrain from Communion.

"To suggest - as some Catholics do - that Senator Obama is this year's 'real' pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse," Chaput said according to his prepared remarks, titled "Little Murders."

The Obama campaign has been promoting an... endorsement from Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic law professor and former legal counsel in the Reagan administration.

Kmiec wrote a book making a Catholic case for Obama. He argues the Obama campaign is premised on Catholic social teaching like care for working families (by raising their taxes?) and the poor (he won't even help his own half-brother who lives in a hut in Africa on $20 a year?) and foreign policy premised on peace over war. (somehow if Obama is President then the Islamic extremists will just give up trying to kill us?)

While applauding Kmiec's past record, Chaput said: "I think his activism for Senator Barack Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn."

Pro-Obama Catholics "seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues," said Chaput, who wrote a book this year, "Render Unto Caesar," about Catholics and politics.

Chaput emphasized he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Denver archdiocese. The IRS prohibits clergy, in their role as clergy, from supporting or opposing candidates. Chaput already has said that Obama running mate Joe Biden, a Catholic, should not present himself for Communion because of his abortion rights position.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

National Portrait Gallery

After lunch on Saturday Will, Mary, Maggie, and I hotfooted it over to the nearest Metro stop to see another museum on our "Must See in DC" list. After first getting on the wrong train, scuttling off red-faced at the next station, and then waiting for the train going downtown we emerged at the Chinatown station and walked across the street to the entrance of the Donald Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. We were thrilled to "spy" the International Spy museum catty-corner from the Metro station because Will and one of his aunties are planning on a one-on-one trip sometime soon.

Unfortunately my digital camera's batteries died right as I went to take my first picture, despite reminding myself this morning to put fresh batteries in my bag. Oh well. The first floor portraits consisted of many famous Americans, including inventors, writers, signers of the Declaration, and military men. We skipped the "Women of Our Time" exhibit and instead looked at paintings of Julia Ward Howe (wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic), Harriet Beecher Stowe (wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin), and Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girls Scouts). Upstairs we wandered through the America's Presidents exhibit featuring magnificent paintings of Washington, Lincoln, and Jackson. I was impressed by the children recollection of many people from their lessons in early American history including Ben Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, Daniel Boone, and Meriwether Lewis. Will rattled off the 3 main differences of opinion between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as we were standing in front of the latter's portrait, a sure sign of homeschooling excellence, that is, if anyone had been around to hear him.

The museum wasn't terribly crowded and we managed to get downtown, tour the portrait galleries, and make it back home in about 3 hours, quite do-able for an elementary age crowd. The little boys would have loved the train ride, but getting anything but a cursory glance at the paintings would have been almost impossible.

Friday, October 17, 2008

another good reason to homeschool

BALTIMORE, Maryland, October 14, 2008 ( - At St. Thomas More Academy in Buckeystown, Maryland, students read classical literature and recite the rosary daily as part of an integrated, Catholic curriculum. The school is one that parents typically choose for its outstanding fidelity to Church teaching.

But when the young Academy recently petitioned the Archdiocese of Baltimore for official status as a diocesan Catholic school, they were told this was impossible unless Thomas More implemented the Archdiocese's "Human Sexuality" course. The course is a curriculum for elementary-age children that teaches sexuality "in a spiritual and developmental context as well as a biological context." In the introduction to the "Catechesis for Human Sexuality," the Archbishop writes that "because of the pervasive influence of many of the negative aspects of our society, parents need and should welcome assistance in carrying out their role."

Founder and president of Thomas More, Dr. James Merckel, however, did not wish to use the curriculum. He, as well as a number of Thomas More parents, felt the curriculum would be inappropriate for the public setting of a mixed classroom. When Merckel therefore requested dialogue to find a compromise on the issue, he was told that the curriculum was "non-negotiable." Merckel told (LSN) that, were he to accept the sexuality series, alarmed parents would withdraw at least one-fifth of the school's students. "That, financially, would destroy us," he said.

While Thomas More has succeeded in establishing itself as an excellent faith-based school, if not an officially Catholic one, Merckel said there are significant burdens involved in lacking recognition from the Archdiocese. Thomas More recently lost its accreditation status with the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS) when, desperate to fill a position, they hired a non-Catholic teacher. Though this was the sole exception to the school's norm, which requires teachers to swear an oath of allegiance to the Magisterium, the hire was a breach of NAPCIS requirements.

This, in addition to being unable to celebrate Mass or prepare students for the reception of the Sacraments, has put Thomas More in a squeeze. "It's very awkward," said Merckel, adding, "Ecclesiastically we're correct, politically we're not."

While so far the Archbishop has refused to budge on the issue, documents issued by the Vatican appear to back up the school's position on how human sexuality should be taught. In its guidelines for appropriate sex education, the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education emphasized that all sex education, when conducted outside the home, must be in harmony with the wishes of parents. The Congregation quotes John Paul II, who speaks of the role of the school as "responsible for this education in service of and in harmony with parents."

In elaborating upon the family as being uniquely suited to teaching delicate matters, the guidelines state, "The fact remains ever valid that with regard to the more intimate aspects, whether biological or affective, an individual education should be bestowed, preferably within the sphere of the family. "It being understood from what has been said on the primary duty of the family, the rĂ´le of the school should be that of assisting and completing the work of parents." The Catechism also firmly emphasizes that "the right of parents to educate their children is primordial and inalienable."

While the Archdiocese officially acknowledges parents' "essential role as the primary educators of their children," it has also rejected Merckel's attempt to compromise through a home-based course in chastity similar to ones used in other U.S. dioceses.

To contact the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Division of Catholic Schools:
Dr. Ronald J. Valenti, Executive Director
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: 410-547-5515

The 2 main textbook options required by the diocese to teach sex education are Family Life, and Growing in Love. A little digging on the internet gave me these reviews:

Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) does not recommend Benziger Family Life because it violates several principles of Catholic chastity education. These principles were stated in The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, which the Pontifical Council for the Family published in 1995.

(1) Benziger Family Life is designed for use in a coeducational setting. Trying to teach chastity in such a setting violates the child’s privacy and modesty, and simply is counterproductive.
(2) Benziger Family Life does not ensure a respect for the different phases of childhood development. In particular, the program runs the risk of violating the child’s “years of innocence,” i.e., “latency” or prepuberty stage, presenting explicit, biological information prematurely and providing other materials that offend modesty. The Church unambiguously teaches that such explicit, immodest presentations can never be tolerated. Even during puberty and adolescence, moral education “must not include the more intimate aspects of sexual information, whether biological or affective, which belong to individual formation within the family”.
(3) Benziger Family Life possesses a flawed view that the primary cause of impurity is ignorance, not sin. This is seen by a continual focus on information, rather than formation. The program tends to inform sinners rather than form saints. BFL is also deficient in its presentation of Catholic doctrine, such as an inadequate treatment of original sin; failing to even mention, let alone distinguish between, mortal and venial sin; and making an inaccurate presentation on the human soul.
(4) Benziger Family Life ambiguously presents official Church teaching on marriage and family, specifically regarding contraception. In addition, the program recommends the works of others who dissent from Catholic teaching on marriage and family. Because of such referrals, and because of the program’s inadequate presentation on sin, the program does not have in place safeguards to help ensure that teachers faithfully communicate Church teaching on sensitive marriage and family issues.

Growing in Love mentions the Ten Commandments, though only briefly in grades 4-6. It discusses "conscience"; presents a positive picture of "parenting" (though not motherhood or fatherhood). It also discusses the sacraments, the Magisterium of the Church, includes stories about the saints, and even has a "Salvation History" strand. There are also quotations from Scripture and Church documents throughout the series. And Jesus is mentioned on almost every page -- although almost always as a model or an example; usually as our brother, but rarely as our Savior -- and never as our Judge. He is sometimes described as the Son of God and as fully human, but very much in the manner in which all people are described as children of God.

If a bishop, pastor, educator, or parent were to go through the GIL series with a checklist of all the things that are supposed to be included in any truly Catholic treatment of the subject of sex, most -- if not all -- items on the list would be found to be at least mentioned somewhere. One might plausibly conclude, therefore, that the program is really all right, that authentic Catholic teaching about marriage and sex and morality is "in there".This would be very wrong, however. Many of the "Catholic" things in the series appear, in fact, to have been included in order to be found in accordance with any possible Church "checklist" that might be employed. Often, however, the Catholic things found in these books bear little organic relation to the overall framework and content of the program.

..what is really intended to be imparted to children through this GIL series, what is effectively being taught through frequent emphasis and repetition is an almost wholly modern secular approach to the subject of sex. Why is such a seemingly sound and attractive Catholic sex education package unable to deliver the true Catholic goods to young people? After having carefully read through all of the materials, I believe the series would be, in fact, very harmful to Catholic children. This will be apparent in examining a number of "myths" that pervade the entire series, and that effectively supersede and cancel out the superficial Catholic elements it contains.

Now, if the Archbishop of Baltimore really believed what is contained in their strategy for Catholic schools, "the Strategic Plan for Catholic education recognizes the varied choices that parents exercise in determining the best educational environment for their children," then they would allow the parents of a Catholic school to decide what is appropriate without trying to shove a possibly harmful, secular, flawed, and dissenting sex education program onto their precious children without threats of eliminating access to the Sacraments.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

carnival of homeschooling

The carnival for this week is up at Homeschool Buzz.

TORCH meeting

Last evening I left Tim and the children home (after we opened my husband's birthday gifts) and went to my first Mom's Night Out sponsored by the local Catholic homeschooling group. Of course I belonged to a local group down in NC, went to get-togethers there, but this was different in a special way.

In this one room was a collection of women with whom I shared a lifestyle that is so different than what is the norm. When I went to the hospital this past week to fill out paperwork for Baby Sunshine I was barraged with, "This is your 6TH baby?" insinuating that I belonged right next to the bearded lady at the freak show. Last night we played a funny introduction game and learned some interesting facts about each other. Best of all we shared how many children we had and how long we had been homeschooling. While there were a few moms just starting, the majority of the 30+ moms almost repeated each other, "We have 6 kids and we have been homeschooling for 8 years."

Here I didn't have the biggest family by far, here I wasn't the only mom foolish enough to attempt to teach 3 different grade levels, I wasn't the only person serious about my Catholic faith. Here were ladies who had put professional careers on hold for almost 20 years to stay home and educate their children. Last night's get-together was a wonderful way to begin our MD homeschooling adventure and I hope to make many friends within their ranks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Watching a little too much...

Star Wars? Yesterday Will rearranged the structures in the backyard that were designed to hold firewood and organized a Jedi knight training school.

"Feel the Force Maggie!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Udvar-Hazy field trip

I highly recommend going on field trips on Columbus Day or any other federal holiday when the local public school is still in session. We practically had the entire place to ourselves as well as our own private tour guide in my dh, Tim. As an avid reader of aviation and space history we got the full story of all the space missions, the background of most of the planes, and he had perfect "dad sense" to know exactly when the children's attention was wavering and move on to the next exhibit. Watching the planes landing at Dulles International from the observation tower. I never knew that the jets touch down at about 100mph and there is always a little plume of smoke from the wheels due to friction.Looking at lots of models of helicopters, including ones Charlie deemed, "wheely big."

The Enola Gay which dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima to compel the Japanese to end WWII.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise which was used to test landings, but was never sent into space. While the official posted rules said no food or drink we calmed a fussy toddler with liberal access to the baggie of Cheerios and a sippy cup. This lead to a quieter and more pleasant experience for all the visitors at the museum today. While I wouldn't allow any food in an art museum, it seemed pretty safe here. Next week's trip is likely to be at the National Portrait Gallery and the little ones will stay home, leaving all the famous paintings safe from grubby fingers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the tourist to-do list

Since we are only going to be stationed in the DC area for 3 years and likely part of the last year the kids and I will move up to Maine to oversee the building of our new home, I felt compelled over the summer to compile "the list," places we absolutely must see. I want to attempt to stuff some culture in these children's minds while I have the opportunity. Once we are ensconced in Maine I don't anticipate coming back to this area. Why ever leave a place millions of people call Vacationland?

Mt. Vernon
Arlington National Cemetery (to visit the grave of my grandfather)
National Museum of American Art
National Museum of American History
National Portrait Gallery
National Postal Museum
National Zoo
Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum
Lincoln Memorial
Capitol (to see the Statuary Hall in the basement) *
National Archives
Bureau of Engraving and Printing *
National Gallery of Art
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Phillips Collection
National Museum of Health and Medicine (I like the story of the Congressman who would go regularly to "visit" his leg on display. He lost it at Gettysburg)
National Geographic Explorers Hall
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
National Aquarium
US Botanic Gardens
US National Arboretum (the bonsai collection is fantastic, I don't think the kids would be interested in much else)

*need tickets from our Senator/Representative

Tomorrow being a federal holiday we picked the easy-to-drive-to Udvar-Hazy branch of the Air and Space Museum as our first tourist pick. Between piano group lessons, Scouts, hour long drives to visit the aunties, and local parks we will be either driving and riding the METRO most weekends.

Any suggestions as to which attraction we should pick for next Sunday afternoon?

Friday, October 10, 2008

background noise

A new part of our homeschooling day is the constant roar of car and truck motors...

Catholic voting guide

Agnus Daily has a funny, yet poignant voter guide for all Catholics, especially those who believe that promoting "social justice" holds the same weight as the evil of abortion.

About a month beforehand I start to become obsessed about the daily ebbs and flows of presidential elections. Checking in with Drudge a couple of times a day, reading The Corner at National Review, listening intently to the sound bites on Rush Limbaugh has become part of my daily routine. However, this is the first year I have put a sign on my van, attended a political rally, or sent folks on the other side of the aisle information to help change their minds. The only thing I had left to do was vote. So I did. The absentee ballot was signed, sealed and delivered a few days ago to our town in Maine.

Go Sarah!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

driving anxiety

I love to drive, so much that during college I would hop in the car to travel 300 miles just to have a home-cooked meal. (It helped that gas was only .99/gal.) I love singing along with the radio, arguing back with the talking heads, and imaging the lives of the folks who live along the way. When we PCSed to Italy I quickly figured out the roads and we took many trips to Pompeii, Positano, Sorrento, and the Abruzzi Mountains. I took driving there as a challenge, learning how to pass on narrow curving 2 lane roads, how to avoid the 3 wheeled trucks chugging along the A1 at 35 mph, keeping my eye out for the BMWs flying down the left lane ready to run into anyone that dared get in their way. Other wives refused to go anywhere, afraid of getting killed, but I pretended I was the next Mario Andretti.

Maybe it is because I'm approaching 40, maybe because I'm driving something that is closer in scale to a 18-wheeler than a Maserati, but I'm intimidated about driving here in DC and it is a little embarrassing. I don't want to be one of those grandmotherly types who drive 35mph no matter what the speed limit is. But I have a heightened sense of mortality when I pull out onto the Beltway, this could be our last trip to the Commissary or Costco. I'm afraid of getting lost with all these children in the car, finding a parking space, and even taking the METRO and having one of the little ones jump off the platform.

This seems to be some phobia that has just taken hold of my brain, but perhaps this happens to a lot of folks and I will eventually get used to it. Yesterday we managed to get to the hospital in one piece so I could get my "official" pregnancy test and get into the system and this afternoon we have a trip to IKEA planned (if all the schoolwork and piano practice is completed) to finish organizing the girl's room.

Likely I will look back at this post 2-3 years from now and laugh, "What a ninny I was!" but by then we will be headed to Maine for good where there are no traffic jams and even fewer crowds. It might be 3 times as far to the grocery up there, but on the way I might see 3 cars and nobody backs up on the highway.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

carnival of homeschooling

The new carnival is up at Corn and Oil. The archives for all past carnivals is posted at Why Homeschool here.

a boy of few words

Timmy turned 2 over the summer and according to the experts he still has a very limited vocabulary. I can't say exactly how many words he should be saying since I threw away the What Your Toddler Should Be Doing guilt-inducing tome, but I would guess that our youngest child's 25 word list is far short of the mark of "what your 27 month old should be able to say."

But what Timmy does say cracks me up daily, "Bad Boy!" to Will when he won't give him a favorite tractor; "Yes Mam," to me whenever I ask, "Do you understand?" and he always comes downstairs in the morning saying, "Hi Frehie!" to the cat. His two favorite animals, Fluffy and Gedene (Geraldine), are mentioned constantly and can name everyone in family pictures except poor Charlie (who luckily doesn't seem to notice). Some of Timmy's favorite words have to do with the farm: tractor, turkey, tree, doggie, and it always makes me giggle when he shouts, "Frehie!" upon seeing a horse or cow.

Since we have been through this phase of toddlerhood before I don't worry half so much about what the "experts" say he should be able to accomplish at a certain age, as I probably have more experience observing children than most college professors who study development. Timmy is a perfectly normal little boy with a rapidly expanding vocabulary, a rapidly expanding appetite, and a rapidly expanding mommy. Before too long he will be saying many new words necessary for his 3rd year: baby, gentle, umbilical cord, cry, shhh, napping, nursing, and hospital.

Monday, October 06, 2008

getting back into the homeschooling groove

It only takes an alcoholic 1 drink to fall off the wagon and it only takes 1 week of not doing schoolwork for our schooling to suffer a similar fate.

Last week we had to clean, pack, and do all those last minute chores involved in winterizing a house, so we packed up the schoolbooks and decided to take a mini-vacation. Today was our first day back to the books in the new house, boy was it a struggle! For one thing it was a mistake to have the play room and the schoolroom be in the same space, but there wasn't another option so the older ones were frustrated by the noise level involved in snapping LEGOS together and stacking blocks.

Some of the work scheduled for the day was more intense than usual with Will finishing up a paragraph about getting lost in the woods and Mary having to study for a spelling quiz. When baby Timmy started screaming and hitting Charlie because he wanted every toy his brother picked up I hauled him up to take a time-out in the crib. We finally finished up the last assignment at 1:30pm and ate heartily of a late lunch.

Tomorrow will be a better day, if only because piano lessons begin again and I can't physically take a day more intense than this one.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

better clothes organizing

I have always been a fan of stockpiling children's clothes, buying them at thrift stores and storing them in rubbermaid bins. Every 6 months or so I pull it all out and carry the "new" clothes upstairs to swap out with the too cold/too hot/too small clothes currently occupying dresser space. However, my bins have become a mess with size 12 stuff in with baby items and girl clothes in with boy stuff. Yesterday I discovered 10 pairs of pants that can fit Will in various locations. This was an expensive mistake, but I can take comfort knowing that he will wear some of them out, leaving the rest for Charlie and Timmy to grow into.

Last week I re-read The Tightwad Gazette III, a collection of articles from Amy Dacyczyn's newsletter. While some of the information is dated, I found her clothing organizing system to be the solution to my problem. The mother of 6, Amy made the same mistakes I did until she created a card for each child with the items needed down one side and the sizes across the top. She put a check mark for each item of clothing in its proper spot. This method allows her to see how many shirts/pants/coats are already in storage in each size. Since I just sorted out the winter gear for my brood now is the perfect opportunity to make up these cards for stocking up in the future.

1 day update: I took 2 hours to inventory all the boy's clothes. Now I just have to put the information onto cards. Luckily I only have to do this once, all that sorting wore me out. To recover I had to lie down with a bag of m&ms and a sudoku puzzle book for 45 minutes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

back to civilization

While I much, much prefer to be in Maine (despite the weather forecast for snow flurries tonight), it is nice to be back to a house with high speed internet. Having to drag 5 kids up to the library 12 miles away every week or so to post on their very weak and sporadic wi-fi was not the highlight of my summer vacation. It was spending time in the beauty of woods, fields, open space, and the stunning scenery Maine is famous for. Yesterday the leaves in the central portion of the state were in full color, the maple's red striking against the ash's yellow and the pine and fir dark green.

Our trip back was pretty uneventful, there were no traffic jams or overturned tanker trucks. Our only snag were during the first hour of the trip with Charlie and Maggie having to water the grass in the median 3 times. I also recommend that (and this is important for those traveling anywhere with small children) you do not stop at the Friendly's in Augusta, Maine for dinner on a Thursday night. It took 2 hours from walking in the door to pulling on everyone's jammies in the parking lot and pulling back onto I95. While the food was good and the food wars have expanded the children's repertoire, the folks I felt sorry for were the two blue-haired couples right behind us, smack between our bunch and a family with two truly obnoxious brats. I would guess that the children were about 4 and 6 who climbed on the table, stood in their chairs, whined, fussed, and/or yelled the entire time we were in the restaurant. At one point I overheard this very immature mother say, "Shoot me if I have more than 2 kids." "Lady," I muttered under my breath, "if I was as horrible a mother as you, more than 1 kid would be too much trouble."

Now we are back in suburbia land with instant access to the news and blogs, traffic you have to take into account every time you go out, and shopping opportunities not available in small town America. Only 2 years, 10 months left before we are back in Maine for good. Hopefully by then we can get fancy web access at the farm.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

pack 'em up and move 'em out

We are in the midst of scouring every surface in the apartment, packing all our clothes, dropping off books to 3 local libraries, fitting in one last lobster dinner, and saying goodbye to our Maine friends. Please pray that we have a safe trip back down the East Coast on Friday.

Bye farm, see you next year!