A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

Search Me!

Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

2024 A to Z Challenge

#AtoZChallenge 2024 badge

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Good Book

The Best of Good by Sara Lewis is the second book this summer I have read at my wife's recommendation. Like The Help, it is a fantastic read.

Tom Good, the protagonist, is a living testament to the phrase, "You are never too old to be immature." Good, for some compelling reasons had never grown up.

To call Good conflicted would be like calling Lake Michigan wet. A bartender who's never touched the stuff. A musician whose only successes were "fakes."

Good's life, the tumultuous past, and the stilted present come together when he hears that an old girlfriend is in town and that she has a son that looks just like Good did at that age. This propels Good to examine himself and leads to a story of a life turned around.

The Best of Good is in some ways reminiscent of Judith Guest's Ordinary People and in others of Nick Hornby's About a Boy. The way Lewis crafts this book is masterful. Late in the book, a quilting storyline is introduced. Lewis has actually quilted Good's story for us. She brings out disparate parts of his character and history throughout the narrative and brings all these pieces together by the end of the novel.

Next Time: Soccer Pics Kick

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Bunderground railroad or Why it took 8 hours to vacuum the play room.

I mentioned in a recent post how active my BIL is in the care of my FIL. What I did not mention is that my wife, since she has some time off this summer has volunteered to give Mike a week off and work with her Dad this week.

This morning Amy and the girls took off for Grandpaville (that's not the real name of the town) at about 6:30 a.m. leaving a small list of things for Charlie and I to accomplish while they were gone. Again this was a relatively small list. Charlie's room was painted this Saturday with the help of a H.S. graduate from our home school co-op who is earning money for a nearly 1/2 year trip to England come September. As a result, all of Charlies room, save his bunk bed is in one of our main rooms.

This morning I gave Charlie a half hour of computer time and went to read in my room before starting on the jobs. Charlie let Smoky, our bunny out into the play room which is a very common occurrence. A half hour later Charlie and I started on the list. The first thing was vacuum the play room. So I went to get Smoky and move him out of the way (He doesn't like the sound of the vacuum cleaner). Smoky was nowhere to be found. Now he's gone missing before, but we have a small house and we've never had to look more than 5 minutes.

There were no doors open and while there is a small hole next to the dryer that leads to the outside it is much too small for Smoky to get through. We spent hours looking for that bunny and praying. Like I said we live in a small house, so we kept looking in the same places over and over again. What was really odd and scary was that we couldn't hear him. Most of the time when he is out of the cage we know what room he is in from the scratching noises emanating from that room. We couldn't hear anything. I even turned off the fish tank filter, refrigerator and fans but still nothing. As the hours passed by this lack of noise was bringing me to the opinion that he was either dead or out of the house.

Charlie in the mean while was very upset with himself as He was the one who let the bunny out of the cage. Charlie did nothing wrong! A bunny cannot be cooped up in a cage all the time and we had all let Him out before for longer than the half an hour Charlie did. We were both dreading telling Emma that her bunny was missing. Charlie was afraid that she would be mad at Him. I was afraid that it would break her heart. We had just celebrated his first birthday over the weekend and now he was gone. I called Amy at her folks and let her know what was happening. She wisely kept the girls in the dark. She also alerted her facebook friends to pray.

We walked around the block a couple of times asking neighbors of they had seen him. Poor Charlie would hear the sound of trucks backing up and convince himself it was a bird of prey attacking. I did my best to calm him down. I asked Him if he would blame me if I was the one who let Smoky out of His cage and he said no. So I said why would you blame yourself?

Instead of cleaning the house we pretty much destroyed it looking for Smoky. We dumped out all the buckets of shoes, toys, clothes that Smoky could possibly be at the bottom of. We basically ransacked the house in search of our precious commodity.

The aforementioned student came by at 2 to help us hang new curtains in Charlie's room. He also helped me check in places Smoky might have gotten into. At 3:40 Amy who had been checking in all day texted us that she and the girls would be home in 20 minutes. I texted back that there was still no sign or sound of Smoky. At that point I was pretty sure that I would soon be explaining to my 10 year old daughter that Her bunny was either dead or gone.

Charlie and I went into my room and I prayed that if Smoky wasn't dead but just sleeping or hiding somewhere that God would wake him up or lead him back to us. 5 minutes later I heard a sound. Now I had heard sounds before that but it was usually Charlie in the next room. One time it was literally Charlie turning the page of the book he was reading. It was that quiet in the house with the fan, refrigerator and fish tank off. This was a bunny like sound. A scratching behind the wall of my bedroom. The room behind my bedroom is the bathroom. The sound I heard was coming from the bathtub area. Well we had checked the bathtub a dozen times. He wasn't in the bath tub. The sound was coming from underneath the bath tub.

Our dryer is in our kitchen behind the dryer there is an access panel to the back of the bath tub. I checked there at least 4 times but I was always concentrating with a big hole under the bath tub. I noticed there was a small area on the side of the bath tub that maybe a bunny could crawl into. I called Smoky's name for like the thousandth time (I'm crying even as I type this) and got a carrot we had left over from his birthday party and held it out over the opening. 30 second later, he stuck his face in the opening. For a second I thought I was imagining it since I so much wanted him to be alive. But he was really there! For a scary second I thought he was going to turn around and go back where I couldn't follow Him. But I was able to get him out of the hole.
5 minutes later Emma was home and wasn't surprised at all to see Smoky right in the cage where she left him in the morning. Amy on the other hand was shocked. Like me she had not counted on seeing that bunny again.

For 6 hours, Smoky was underground and is acting like he was never gone. I may contact a vet in the morning just to be on the safe side. A minute before the girls came home I joked with Charlie that this was one way to get out of doing our jobs. I am so thankful to God that it turned out to be a day where there could be laughter instead of tears. Alright laughter and tears instead of just tears.

Next Time: A Good Book

Monday, June 28, 2010

Surprise, Surprise. I'm pro home-schooling.

Men's Monday Meme

It's Men's Monday Meme time again at families again.

Here are his questions:

What do you all think? Have some (perhaps most) public schools become to corrupt ~ socially and educationally ~ for Christian children to go to? Should we go back to the way of our founding fathers and teach our children at home? What about Christina schools?

With a blog by the name of Home School Dad, I think you can get an idea of what kind of response you might get from me. It should come as no big surprise that home schooling is what we think works best for our family. Many people mistakenly think that we began home education because we thought something was wrong with public education. We started home education because we saw it in practice and thought we would enjoy doing it and thought our children would benefit from it. It turns out we were right.

Over our journey we have had experiences that have both given us respect for public educators and also a deep desire not to have our children in the public education system.

My wife works at a public school as a school psychologist. Over her career she has observed hundreds of teachers in public class rooms. (Technically she's there observing students but the teachers are doing their thing as well. ) Amy says experiences like this have been few and far between. She says that the vast majority of teachers have been interesting and engaging.

Also we have both noticed the great dedication these public school teachers have for their subjects and their students. Recently I was allowed to attend a multi-day training being given at Amy's school for a SRA program called Reading Mastery. Amy was already attending and thought it would give me good ideas for teaching the children reading. The experience was a very positive one, as I did learn many helpful strategies for teaching reading. I was also exposed to teachers, psychologists and paraprofessionals (previously referred to as teacher's aides) throughout the district. Some of the attendees were not getting paid for the training. Their dedication to their students was easily observed.

Conversely, Amy has noted that evolution as fact, is weaved throughout the fabric of the curriculum and instruction at the (K-8) public school where she works. She has also observed a teacher (who happens to be Buddhist) really pushing Buddhism during a world religions segment in a Social Studies class. She says such proselytizing is infrequent but more frequent than the uncaring teacher experience cited above.

As for Christina schools I am not sure what Tim from Families Again meant by that. Did he mean schools that were taught solely by teachers name Christina? Or is it schools that are taught only to students name Christina? Or is the subject matter about Christinas? In junior high could you take an elective about Kristy McNichol or is it just Christinas? Again I am not sure, so I can not comment on that kind of school.

One type of school that was not asked about was Christian schools. That does seem to be a common question when Christians talk about home schooling is what about Christian schools. I wonder why Tim didn't ask about that?

For our family, Christian School is not an adequate replacement for home education. Remember, that the main reason why we were drawn to the movement was the participatory nature. Sure, we'd be dropping off our kids to Christians (not necessarily Christinas) but we'd still be dropping them off.

I like where were at: 4 days of educating the kids at home and 1 day of bringing several home school families together in a co-op experience where the students can benefit from the expertise of other parents.

So that's the Men's Monday Meme for the week. Feel free to stop by at Families Again to join in.

Next Time: The Bundergorund Railroad

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This

The White Sox are playing the Cubs this weekend and as incredible as this is for me to imagine the series is now for just more than bragging rights and the inaugural BP Cup.

Let's go back 2 weeks to May 10th. The White Sox were on a 2 game winning streak and had won 5 of their last 10 games. However they were 26-33 overall and were 3rd in their division 8.5 games behind the division leading Twins. They were 7 games below .500 and just had finished their second consecutive sub .500 home stand. This was a far cry from the team that I had predicted to win the 2010 World Series. Traditionally when you get that many games below .500 it can take well over a month to approach the .500 level again.

At the Time, the Cubs were in a nearly identical situation. The Cubs were 27-33 overall, 3-7 in their last 10 in third place in their division, 7.5 games behind the then leading Cincinnati Reds.

The Sox beat the Cubs in the first two games at Wrigley which brought their winning streak to 4 (a season high) before losing in a monumental pitchers duel between Ted Lilly of the Cubs and Gavin Floyd of the White Sox on June 13th.

Since that Sunday night two weeks ago, the White Sox have yet to lose a game. They have swept the abysmal Pittsburgh Pirates, the mediocre Washington Nationals and the stellar Atlanta Braves. The 9 game winning streak has brought the white Sox over .500 for the first time since Opening Day. The Sox are 37-34 as they face the Cubs in a 3 game series at U.S. Cellular Field. They are still in third place in their division, but only 2games behind the second place Tigers and 2.5 games behind the Twins. Yes, in 2 weeks they have gained 6 games on the Twinkies. That is incredible! The Twins and Detroit finish up inter league play on the road this weekend against 2 very good National League East opponents (Mets and Braves respectively). This means that The Sox have a pretty good opportunity to gain even more ground on their division rivals. There is even a small mathematical possibility that The Sox could be in first place as early as Sunday Evening. That this has all transpired in the past two weeks is basically incomprehensible to me.

I''l be back in a few days with a Cubs Sox recap.

Conventional Wisdom

I have decided to blend this edition of things fortnightly with a long promised synopsis of the Home School Convention I was at earlier this month. So, here are a few things I learned at the 2010 I.C.H.E (Illinois Christian Home Educators) Conference.

Thing 1: Be Careful out there.

A friend of mine was a seminar speaker at the conference.

He spoke about identity theft and on-line safety. Did I mention he was a police officer? I am planning to have him be a guest speaker at a blogging class I am offering at my co-op this year. Hopefully we can work all the arrangements out. I plan to interview him later this Summer and feature that interview here.

Here is a bit of what he had to say at the conference. . .

I have learned quite a bit from him already on Internet safety and as a result will be implementing some changes in this blog in the near future.

Thing 2: Pass the catch up.

One of the best things about the conference is seeing old friends. Between people from our co-op, our church, we were running into friends from other places we lived, college and even saw a co-worker of Amy's that we did not know home schooled. These "chance" meetings are real energizers and encourager's. Maybe next year I'll run into my Aunt Eileen!

Thing 3: Tongue Tied

I had the opportunity to work off some of the cost of the conference by working behind the scenes at the conference. One of these jobs was by working as a "host" to seminar speakers. Basically what I do is introduce myself to the speaker 20 or so minutes before they speak and make sure they have everything they need. During the talk I make sure that the place is quiet as all of the talks are being recorded. I was very happy that I was assigned to host a seminar that Dr. Voddie Baucham, a keynote speaker at the conference was speaking at. I spoke with Him briefly on 2 occasions before his address. I had been planning to tell Him how much I enjoyed his work. This was the third conference I had heard him speak at. I also wanted to tell Him how much I enjoyed the book of His that I read. I had even thought about telling Him that I was going to be blogging a review of it soon and give him my business card. But alas I clammed up, which is extremely uncommon for me. I'm not even sure that I told Him my name. Maybe next time.

Thing 4. Guess which one did not speak at the conference.

A conference is a good place to hear quotes. Either quotes speakers attribute to others, or direct quotes from the speaker themselves.

Here are 3 quotes I heard at the conference. Try to guess which speaker was not there in person?

  • Museums are the secular temples of our day- Bill Jack

  • God says don't walk sit or stand (with sinners) and we say how about marriage? Voddie Baucham

  • A pious spouse is a s necessary as a sound arm or leg. - Martin Luther.

Before you answer please be aware that George Washington Carver was announced as one of the speakers.

You were correct if you said Martin Luther. As for GWC, there was a man there who impersonated Carver. I was unable to go to the seminar which was a little disappointing since my daughter had just finished reading a biography about Him.

Thing 5: I'll take History for 300 . (It actually was not that much.)

As I've mentioned previously. One of our big expenditures each year is buying curriculum at the Home School Conference. Some of the stuff we just pick up at the conference and others is delivered to our house a week or two after the conference is over. We are trying out some new curricula this fall and continuing with others. One new thing that looks really promising is called the Mystery of History. Parts of it were offered at our co-op this year and though none of my children participated, it seemed pretty cool. We are doing the ancient history unit this coming year. The more I review the materials the more psyched I am for the class to begin.

Well those are some things I wanted to share from the convention. If you have things you want to talk about it. (How Fred Rogers of me) please join in below.

Next Time: A Good Book.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I hate when that happens. Actually I don't

In yesterday's Sox game which Chicago won 9-6. A kind of crazy play happened in the 4th inning. Alex Rios was up and he hit a hard ground ball to Atlanta Braves Third Baseman Brooks Conrad. The ball got lost in Conrad's shirt and Rios was on board with a single. Don't believe me? Here is the play.

Almost exactly 3 years ago the same thing happened to Ryan Zimmerman of The Washington Nationals when they played the Cleveland Indians. Inter league play must have an effect on National League third baseman where they want to keep the ball.

Robin Hood - A Review

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle is by any definition a classic work of children's literature.

I just read the above pictured edition (Available at Amazon).

Even if you are well acquainted with the legend and have seen the movies and television programs there are many stories here that I have not seen in film. Even the familiar tales of Robin Hood's first meetings Little John and Friar Tuck both come to life here in more detail than I had previously encountered. The encounter with Friar Tuck is my kid's favorite part and they often quote it and make themselves laugh in the process.

The book originally published in 1883 still has a freshness and originality to it. The adventures are as enjoyable and intriguing as if they were just told for the first time. One aspect of the writing that both dates the book and casts it in a bad light is it's stereotypical treatment of Jewish people. This may have been acceptable in the late 1900's but I was surprised these crude comments weren't edited out of modern editions. Unlike Mark Twain's derogatory language in Huck Finn, I don't see any purpose educational or literary to keep them in the book.

The Maid Marian is the only notable figure missing from Pyle's stories. This makes the book heavy on adventure and light on romance. This suited me and my Son quite fine. (He hates it when his adventure stories are interrupted with kissing).

The edition pictured above features some fine discussion questions by Arthur Pober Ed. D. Next fall I am going to read the book to my kids as part of school and use some of the discussion questions for writing assignments.

Next Time: Home School Conference.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Day Hero

Not all Father's Day heroes are fathers. Take for example, my BIL Mike. Mike is a couple years younger than me. (If you don't know how old I am, I'm a couple years older than Mike.) As long as I've known Mike, he's been working on his novel. Like many aspiring novelists, Mike has had internal and external road blocks detouring his path to Novelist Extraordinaire. I am not sure if Mike realizes that his journey through the roadblocks might just be the story he's been looking for all this while.

A few years ago, Mike's father's (my FIL) health took a serious nose dive. Mike stopped all he was doing and moved back in with his parents and supervised his father's care. Now, while my FIL and MIL have both worked very hard in their own right on Donn's road to recovery, Mike has been tirelessly involved behind the scenes. He takes Donn to his appointments, spearheads his physical therapy, and supervises his diet and medication. Mike has essentially willed his Dad back on the road to health amid the obstacles.

I also consider the bravery of Mike. When he realized that he was taking care of his Dad's health at the risk of his own, he devised a plan to both care for his Dad and achieve victory in his own personal life. Mike is my Father's Day hero because he has dedicated this time in his life to making every day Father's Day for Donn.

P.S. Families Again is hosting a special Father's Day inspired Men's Monday Meme. The Question this week was:

Who is/was the most influential man in your life? Tell us about him?

I am not participating as such, if you are interested in participating click here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Six Word Summer Update

Six Word Saturday time again:

Here is a Six Word Summer update:

We've been doing lots of swimming!

Amy has been done with work for about a week and a half now. We stopped school about the same time she stopped working. Our park district opens it's pool to coincide with Amy's school district letting out for the summer. We have been swimming most every day and are having a great time.

The following pictures are from the end of our D.C. Trip when we went to an indoor water park in Sandusky, Ohio. But swimming is swimming, and the kids are basically up to the same antics pictured here at our local pool.

Dive over to Show my face dot com for more Six Word Saturday.
Next Time: Either a book review, a movie review or none of the above!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Things Fortnightly

It's Thursday and time once again for Things Fortnightly. The part of the show where Dave sings a silly song, or something like that.

Actually, I am taking the week off from things fortnightly and will be back next Thursday with a super fine edition.

Next Time: Robin Hood

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You only have what they wrote.

In the most recent carnival of home schooling there was a post entitled Beyond Homeschooling your kids: Radical Unschooling? by June Tree at The Digerati Life. At first glance, it is a seemingly benign piece about the author's first experience with the concept of unschooling. But the way the author pieced her work together seemed like she was misstating facts about home schooling or giving her opinion under the guise of facts.

So I set out a carefully worded critique of her work. Evaluating what she said on a point by point basis. I showed my work to my editor/wife and she said it read like I was mad or offended. My wife knew I was not mad or offended. But she reminded me that others who read my blog don't know me, they only have what I write to go on. So if my thoughts are not worded correctly or explained carefully enough, the author can misconstrue my intent.

I then thought about Ms. Tree's piece. I don't know her. So I only had her written words to determine what point she was making and why she was making it.

Here are a few examples of how editorial choices can affect your reader's perception:

In her opening paragraph, Ms. Tree says that home schooling is rare and then says parenthetically that it's illegal in other countries. This was rather confusing to me. Based solely on how she wrote that sentence, it seemed like she was saying that homeschooling was rare because it's illegal in other countries. Which is ridiculous! It also made me wonder if she was being purposely misleading by not saying some other countries. She had a link to an article that said that homeschooling is illegal in Germany but the source article went on to say that such illegality is uncommon in Europe.

So the reader is forced to draw one of two conclusions: 1) the author made grammatical errors that turned a benign statement into a controversial one. 2) The author really thinks that homeschooling is illegal in all other countries and thinks that is the reason why it is rare in the U.S.

Another problem I noticed in Ms. Tree's writing was that at times it seems like she is stating facts and others offering opinions. At one point it made me think that the author was possibly stating her opinions at facts. To make it more confusing the author didn't use documentation for her facts. But again if they were only opinions, she doesn't need documentation.

For example, in Ms. Tree's second paragraph she states:

There are reasons for this — usually some circumstances make it easier to keep a child homeschooled (sic) for a period of time, maybe a family decides to move to a new place and needs adjustment, maybe it’s a conscious choice to try a new educational methodology, or for some, it may just be a cheaper option (after all, even public schools these days are trotting out the donation boxes more often and sponsoring more and more fundraisers).

When she says there are reasons for this and then says usually, that reads to me like a fact. It seems that the author is saying the main reason most people home school for a short time due to outside circumstances. Then the author speculates on what she thinks those sources maybe, so I was unclear as to whether the author was passing off unsubstantiated opinion as fact or speculating on the reasons why people home educate.

Again, I only have what she wrote to go on.

So what, you may ask? Why are you making such a big deal about this? There have been many articles over the years about homeschooling that contain wholesale inaccuracies of home schooling. Where the writers seemingly make up their own facts. This article may have inadvertently seemed like another one of those. It just reminded me how important it is when you write, to make sure that what you wrote conveys what you wanted it to.

I am not saying that Ms. Tree is trying to do a hatchet job on home schooling or unschooling. I actually thought the tone of her piece conveyed a genuine desire to open a dialogue on the subject. However, the above examples may lead readers to believe she has already formed her opinion and is trying to open a debate, rather than a dialogue. The tone and the words themselves don't seem to match.

The struggle of good writing is to be factual, clear and be able to write what you feel inside so it is clear to someone who doesn't know you outside of your writings. This is especially important when writing about hot topics. Through Ms. Tree's original piece and my aborted attempt to critique it point by point, I've been reminded how important and difficult this process is.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Schemers - A Review

I have been reading Bill Pronzini's nameless detective books since I was in high school. During that span of over 25 years Pronzini has been cranking out these noir classics of the pulp collecting detective. Over the years Nameless has gone from a single operative to a family man who has operatives working for him.

This has allowed Pronzini the ability to write multiple cases at once intertwining a theme throughout the narrative. The 2009 nameless installment Schemers has two cases involving nameless and his operative Jake Runyon matching wits against an emotionally unstable stalker and the perpetrator a seemingly unsolvable book heist.

Pathos and description are two of Pronzini's signature traits. He deftly handles both in Schemers. From the eerie prologue to nameless's closing victory over an old friend/nemesis, Pronzini shows why he was recently named A Mystery Writers of America Grand Master.

In terms of storyline and character development Pronzini was not at his best. There were some plot points that I thought were not as fully explained as some of his previous points. There was some ambiguity that I thought would make the story more palpable if it could have been resolved. That being said, Bill Pronzini's Schemers is still a worthy addition to this long running series.

Next Time: You only have what they wrote.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to handle stress

Men's Monday Meme

Tim of Families Again checked in again with this week with some good questions for the Men's Monday Meme:

How do you deal with stress? Is there really a good way to do it? Is there a Biblical way? Is there a medical way?

Generally I don't deal with stress well. There are basically 2 ways to deal with stress outside of the biblical way externalize it or internalize it. Basically to me that means give yourself high blood pressure or give it to someone else. I tend to do both. This past month my daughter has been learning the biblical antidote to stress found in the 23rd Psalm:

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.6 Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Such a simple stress reliever! I remember a comic strip I read the year I graduated High School. It was the comic strip Kudzu by the late Doug Marlette. The real star of the strip was the Reverend Will B. Dunn. In this particular strip Dunn is reading the 23rd Psalm in a modernized version. He reads: The Lord is my therapist. I shall not freak out.

Funny at the time, but actually a pretty good dynamic equivalent translation. I tend to freak out a lot while trying to educate my children. God's "therapy" is to restore my soul.

One way to increase stress in your life is to put undue and arbitrary pressures on yourself and family. Sometimes we can even take the things in our life that relieve stress and twist them in a way that increases stress. For example, I noticed that Tim of Families again is a daily blogger and part of NABLOPOMO (National Blog Posting Month). In my second month of blogging, February 2009, I tried my hand at NABLOPOMO and it was horrible for me. I felt under so much pressure to blog each and every day. No one forced me to blog each day, but I took that stress on.

These days my blog is what I intended it to be a creative and emotional outlet. It's been almost a week in between posts. I have plenty of topics I want to get to, but I am not putting that extra stress on myself or my family. To See this Weeks Men's Monday Meme click here.

Next Time: Schemers

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Now it's the Cubs Turn

There are 5 major professional sports teams in the city of Chicago. In 1985 the year I turned 21 none of these teams had won the championship in their league in my lifetime. The 1985 Bears took care of that very quickly and defeated the New England Patriots in early 1986 in the Super Bowl. 5 and 1/2 years later the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan won the NBA championship and did so again 5 more times in the next 7 seasons. In 2005 my beloved Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since 1917.

Tonight the Chicago Black Hawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

As I type this, people are shooting off fireworks in celebration in my small suburban neighbor hood. Congratulations Hawks! Now there is just one Chicago team left to win the championship in their sport, the Chicago Cubs. Now that the Hawks have broken through maybe the Cubs will be next.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good help and a good book are hard to find.

My wife and I both love books. She loves reading them and I love having them. See. I'm a keeper and she's not. Don't get me wrong she's definitely a keeper. She's worth keeping around and then some, but she doesn't need to own a book once she's read it. I probably have 100 or more books at home that I have never read. She probably read 100 books this year that she does not own.

So when Amy read a book earlier this Spring and wanted to read it again, and now tells me she wants to own it, I knew it must something special.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is indeed, something special. The story takes place in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights period. Stockett turns in a beautiful, poignant book that is at turns hilarious, harrowing and heartbreaking. (The alliteration society called and they want their h back.)

The Help is one of those books that tells first person narrative of the same events in multiple voices. It has been my experience that in books like theses,one of the voices is usually more realistic or fleshed out than the others. When that happens I generally wish they told us the story in one strong voice rather than adding in several lesser ones. This is not so with The Help. Skeeter, Abileen and Minnie, are all complete characters adding their own distinct pathos to the tale.

The tale itself is the story of how African American domestic servants raise white southern children from birth, often becoming closer to these children than the parents themselves. It is a story of how these 3 heroic women from diverse backgrounds begin to chronicle the good, bad and ugly of this way of life in the deep south.

When you have a story with heroes, you need villains and The Help has one of the best (worst) evil characters that I have seen in print in quite a while. Skeeter's childhood friend puts a face on racism. Hilly shows us from the first chapter that above all else she cares about keeping the lines between black and white clear, distinct and unequal. Watching Hilly ruin the lives and livelihoods of anyone who dares cross her is sobering.

Stockett does an excellent job building tension in The Help. She would bring out some snippet of character development and then let us ruminate on it for 100 pages before developing it further. There were also several unexpected twists and turns along the way.

The best part of the Help is the dialogue. Each of the main characters has a lovely way of expressing themselves rich in colloquial expressions. My favorite part was when Abileen told her young charge Mae Mobely about a special man from space, Martian Luther King, who was hated because he was green.

The first book I read during my Summer reading plan, is always the best I've read at least until I finish another. After starting with The Help, I am not sure how any books will be able to overtake this one.

Next Time: Conventional Wisdom

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Open Letter to Tim of Families Again

Men's Monday Meme

I really like The Men's Monday Meme that appears each week at Families Again. I feel sympathy for Tim, as it seems that very few people participate each week. No one hardly ever participates in my Things Fortnightly. Perhaps a week from Thursday, he'd like to give it a go (Subtlety has never been my strong suit.)

I don't always know how to set up my answers. Should I just have you click here to read Tim's article? Should I spend a few paragraphs explaining it? The main point of this week's rant (his words not mine) was that churches seem to judge some sins and turn a blind eye to others. His questions for any men to answer this week were:

What do you think about my above rant? Am I being to harsh on churches and Christians? Are there certain folks that should not be allowed into a church because of their sinful behavior?

As you may have surmised by the title, I have decided to answers Tim's questions directly this week.

Dear Tim,

Thanks for mentioning me in your post last week. There have been a few of your meme's I have wanted to participate in over the past few weeks. I just have not had the time or could not find the words to express my feelings appropriately.

This week's post really got me to thinking. It made me think of my college years in the late 80's early '90s. At the time, homosexuality was much less accepted even by the non Christian public than it is now. Each year on our campus the Gay Student group would participate in an event called Denim days. You were supposed to signify your acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle by wearing jeans. I always thought this was a bit of a trick since jeans were (and probably still are) the clothing of choice on a college campus. It would be like telling a group of motorists to signify their support of a tax hike by having air in their tires. In order to "speak against" homosexuality many people had to plan their attire in advance.

This was a very emotional time on campus and many unchristian and hypocritical things were voiced or acted out against homosexuals. At the time, I wrote many op-ed pieces for the campus newspaper. I decided to write a piece that pointed out the hypocrisy of using the Bible to condemn one sexual sin when a vast amount of students were practicing other more conventional ones. I argued that all sex outside marriage between and a woman was sin and not just the same sex ones.

In my article I did speak out against homosexuality, but since I also spoke out against other sexual acts and hypocrisy, many in the homosexual movement embraced my article. I was even asked to read it at a campus gathering on the issue.

So, Tim, I must say that I understand and agree with your rant. We can't pick and choose what sins are horrible and what sins are just bad. Now I Corinthians 6:18 does say: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (NIV) However, I think that is a reason to flee from sexual sins, not a reason to say that those sins should be considered better or worse when compared to other sins.

After all. all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and not everyone has sinned sexually. The result of any sin is death (Romans 6:23) and Jesus died to forgive sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He didn't have to die twice for the sexual sinners and only once for the liars.

In answer to your question as to whether you were being too harsh. I think only you can answer that question. If handled improperly, blogging could become a platform for the kind of gossiping you and scripture rightfully condemn. Personally, it doesn't sound to me like you were gossiping, because a) you didn't name names and b) you gave general examples. However, If there are specific people in your church who are committing the sin of gossiping, have you brought it to their attention following the scriptural model?

I will answer your question as to whether there are certain folks that should not be allowed into a church because of their sinful behavior once I've made a distinction. The church is not a building, the church is a body of believers. I Corinthians 5:9-13 says

9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders?Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside."Purge the evil person from among you."

Too often we judge those outside of the church. It is those that claim to be believers and continue in sin that we are to remove from the body, not from the building. The purpose of this removal is always repentance. Earlier I referenced the Biblical model of addressing sin to a believer. As I am sure you know, it is found in Matthew 18:15-17. In the NIV it reads like this:

15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

I think Biblical discipline intertwines Matt 18:15-17 and I Corinthians 5:9-13. Such a model was used at a church I was a member of a few years before I got married. At the time, I was involved in sins that no one at the church was aware of. When the church followed this scriptural method on a friend of mine involved in a similar pattern of sins, it was the first step God used in bringing me to repentance, restoration and eventually marriage as the forces of darkness were using my sinful pattern of behavior make me feel unworthy of God and marriage. I left the state to court my wife prior to finding out what happened to my friend. But the process of expelling an immoral believer had a profound impact on the spiritual life of myself and many others in my church. More so than gossiping or judgemental hypocrisy ever could.

Thanks Tim for bringing up such an important topic and reminding me of the power a Biblical acting church can have on a believer in persistent sin.

Dave (Home School Dad)

Next Time: Good Help and a Good Book is hard to find.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

2009 - 2010 home school co-op recap

Earlier this spring our co-op had it's Spring Closing program. Our family was unable to attend as we also had an AWANA closing program on the same evening.

I found out recently that the student who prepared the closing program slide show posted it on you tube. Although most of you wont recognize anyone in the pictures except our family. I thought I would post it here, so you could get an idea through pictures of what a wonderful experience a home school co-op can be.

Next Time: Conventional Wisdom

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Things Fortnightly

It's time once again for a thing or two or seventeen.

Thing 1: White Sox

I have been blogging about the top 25 labels of my blog for the first 300 posts. Tonights installment is the White Sox they were in a 6 way tie for # 20.

I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The NW burbs are Chicago Cubs country. My Mom grew up as a Cubs fan and my Dad followed suit when he moved to the Chicago area. Each summer of my youth we would go to a Cubs game as a family and every few years our school would go to a game.

The White Sox used to have a program where if students had straight A's or perfect attendance they would earn 2 free White Sox Tickets. My older sister earned tickets this way and I remember how she and my Dad went to a Sox Orioles game together. The next year I had perfect attendance and my Dad took me to a game. This is where I fell in love with Bill Melton, Richie Allen, Wilbur Wood, Rich Gossage and the whole Happy Days gang. I still liked the Cubs but they took a backseat to my passion for the White Sox. That was more than 35 years agao and I remember it like it was 28 years ago.

As I am writing this it is actuall Wednesday night and I just came home from a White Sox game. The White Sox still give tickets away and Charlie and another Dad and son went on the White Sox dime. The Sox lost, but we had a wonderful time despite the score. The White SOx have this section called fundamentals where kids can play catch, use batting cages, and a few other cool things. It's like having a theme park within a ball park. Charlie and his friend had a great time.

Today (Thursday) I am heading back to Chicago to see the Sox play again. Lucy scored 2 free tickets and we are going to dog night. Fans actually can bring their dogs to a special section and into the game. In the past I have taken all 3 kids to dog night. Tomorrow is the first game where it is just Lucy and I. I wonder if she will want to play puppy when there are actuall dogs who can do that for us. I am not sure, but I think this is the first time in 30 + years of attending ball games that I have gone to back to back games. I wouldn't mind if we got a win instead of a loss, although Lucy will probaly have just as much fun as Charlie had independent of the result of the game.

Thing # 2. Lucy Dance Revolution.

Lucy had her ballet recital about a week and a half ago. One thing I noticed is the attrition rate of dancers as they get older. Their were 3 classes of pre school dancers of about 20-25students each. There were 2 classed of kindergarten dancers. In the highest level there (jr. high to H.S) there were 6 dancers. I wondered aloud to Amy if Lucy would be one of those 6 10 years or so from now. We think that she might just be. She loves dancing!

Things have changed much in the few years since Emma's first (and only) dance recital. Emma's recital (run through the same park district) was free of charge. We were given 2 free tickets for Lucy's recital and had to pay $5.00 each for every advance ticket and $7.00 at the door. That part was sort of understandable. What I did not get was that no photrography of any kind was allowed during the recital. Pictures like the one above were allowed to be taken at the rehearsal the day before. Well guess what? Grandparents don't go to rehearsals! You can't come between the trinity of grandparents, grandchildren and cameras. You don't mess with that!
The only footage taken at the recital was by a professional videographer who was selling the dvds and tapes for 20 big ones. So were photographs and videos not allowed so there would be less commotion at the recital or more ka-ching for the videographer? You tell me!

Thing 3: What's going on next year?

There is a home school conference this weekend that Amy and I usually attend. One of the main things we do there is choose the curriculum for the next calendar year. This is basically the first year that I will be the primary curriculum chooser. Two years ago we were planning on Amy teaching when we picked the curriculum. Last year we went mostly with curriculum we already owned. I am pretty sure of some things we will do this year and totally open on other areas. When I say I am the primay curriculum chooser, that is kind of a misnomer. We generally pick the curriculum together. When Amy was themain teacher, I would defer the final choices to her as she was the one who needed to teach the material. The only difference between now and then is now she would defer that final decision to me.

Thing 4: Reading Update

I started my summer reading last week. I am fully engaged in 3 books right now. Two from home and one from the library. When I read I tend to read more than one book at a time. Between 2 White Sox games, the home school convention and just regular life I'm not sure how mych reading I will get in in the next few days. Hopefully some.

Thing 5: No Junk food June?

June is usually a good month in our family to try to eat a little more healthy and to exercise more. I started the month out by going to that most healthy of places, Dairy Queen. Amy had told Charlie that we would go to Dairy Queen after his last soccer practice of the year. This just happened to be on June 1st! Healthy eating will commence a little later in the month.

That's all the things I

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip