Aug 31, 2008

schooling my young

We just finished the first week of homeschooling. IT has been a tough one. Not because it's hard to homeschool. No, I think it's probably easier to teach a child one-on-one about concepts like addition and geography and language arts, than it is to teach them not to lie, not to tease their sister, and to pick up all their toys.

The problem is the schedule. With this homeschooling, it's all day non-stop. I'm never not doing something. There's no kick-back-relax time until the kids are stowed away in their little bunk beds. And even then, my baby has been going strong lately, until around 9:30, and I'm so exhausted at that point that I fall asleep in the middle of whatever movie or discussion or whatever "us time" that skywalker and I attempt after they are asleep. I have been thrilled to get to know the other homeschooling moms in the area, and to realize that we CAN get everything school-related done by noon, and have the rest of the day for Emma to play or do whatever she wants. She likes this I think. She misses her friends, but her friends aren't really from school anyway. She's got one best friend who lives a few miles away, some friends in the ward, and she play with her little sister (when she's not teasing her mercilessly.) And then there's the homeschooling group that she's getting to know better, too. We had a rousing activity at a certain local beach, and she loved it, right up until the part where she lost her bracelet in the water. We came home in tears. Sigh.

I have just been feeling so washed out and unmotivated this weekend. I keep thinking, why am I doing this? Why??

I went to church today at 11:00, with family in tow. We got there and suddenly realized, our church starts at 1:00! I nearly crumpled right there on the foyer. We went back home, put the kiddoes down for a nap. And then I slept until 1:20. WE got there late, and spent the half of sacrament meeting that we made it there for, in the foyer, with the toddler running around screaming, the baby demanding to be nursed every thirty minutes, and the six year old doing her best to slyly egg the toddler on in her misbehavior. I thought to myself, no way. This is not going to work. Not unless I can find a really good motivation... to be this tired.

Today in Sunday school, we watched a video (it was joint Sunday school the third hour) that the county put out. About prescription drug addiction. I perked right up. I love the topic of addiction. Not love it, as in, I like addiction. But it is something I'm passionate about. There was such a good message in this video: addiction is a disease. Treat addicts with compassion and support. Reach out to them. Take prescriptions carefully. Throw out the ones you're finished with so that you don't tempt others (including your kids) into abuse.

And it was interesting. As soon as I was willing to listen, the Spirit flooded into my heart and gave me the message He was probably waiting to give me all week. One of the commenters, an adolescent addiction specialist, talked about why children have addictions. She said that kids are under a lot of stress once they start school. They worry a whole lot. They worry about flunking out. They worry and worry and worry about their grades (or they decide not to worry, because it's too much for them). They worry about "fitting in" to a particular group.

It evoked memories I had forgotten, of my own childhood, my own school experiences. I was so stressed about school. I was. All the time. I got so scared, I screwed up. I would accidentally forget stuff. I would second guess my test answers. I didn't do very well. I realize, looking back, that this was why... I had a pathological fear of failure.

I also thought about my own peer situation. I was not the kind of girl that bends to peer pressure. The group of kids I went to school with were into drugs, or cheerleaders. So I had a group of two other friends. Everyone made fun of me for whatever reason they could find. I had one boy tell me once that I was a "dog" and he'd never date me. (I didn't invite the refusal.)

Is this the way a kid, with the moxy and the wherewithal to resist peer pressure, should be made to feel about her social abilities, about herself?

A resounding no.

I suddenly realized that I am homeschooling because I think that my kids deserve for me to be their teachers, they deserve for me to nurture their learning in a kind, loving, individual-centered way, and not the cold, dry system of testing and textbook regurgitation that we currently have.

Until my kids have the emotional maturity to handle the stress of the world, unfiltered and unsoftened by my influence, I'm not sending them out there alone to sink or swim. I plan on sending them out there before they leave home, yes. They need to have the skills to survive before they're away from my guidance and influence.

But six years old is not the age for that. Seven isn't. Eight isn't. Thirteen isn't, either. This I felt, powerfully, as I sat in that classroom. I'm so grateful that my husband feels passionately about homeschooling, and got me to look into it, to try it, because now that I am open to it and really understand why I'm doing it, I realize that I wouldn't be happy any other way.

Still, I could use your prayers for the next little while (if only for my children's' sake... a sane mom is a much nicer mom.)

Thanks for listening.

Mormon Beard Theology

A very deep topic, being discussed over on consciousignorance.

Aug 29, 2008

Blogging with friends

SO I just went and commented on a bunch of old friends' blogs, and realized that if they log onto this page the first thing they'll see is "Dodge Uterus." So I'm quickly posting something else.

Here's a nice picture. Of the kids.

That's right. I'm a normal, stay-at-home, not flamboyant at all mom of three. Right?

Aug 15, 2008


from vacay. Here is a grool picture for your enjoyment: Nosurf family in a Northwest rainforest. (No, I did not go surfing on this vacation... I have stuck to my principles.)

Breaking Dawn: the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Funny

I just finished breaking dawn. I wasn't planning on checking it out or buying it anytime soon, or anything; I lucked out. I was over at my friend's house, and she asked me if I had read it yet, I said no, and she rushed and got her copy to loan me. I couldn't very well turn down such a generous offer, now could I? And I must admit I was curious to see how the whole thing would turn out. You know, if Stephenie Meyer would go ahead and Turn Bella.

I'm not going to give it away. (Ok, yes I am, but only out of necessity of this review. So if you haven't finished it, go finish it before you read the rest of this post.)

My opinion of the Twilight series is a somewhat conflicted one. I wouldn't even bother with it; it's not really my type of novel, except the author is LDS, and I admit I've always had a penchant for vampire stories. Anyway, my conflicted feelings about this novel are strangely strong. Here they are. I'm following Dave's method of review... I find it makes things more clear in my head. So here's the good, the bad and the downright funny, of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series.


Fun premise.

1) She creates a unique and interesting supernatural world, with history, social norms and customs, cultures of various groups and lifestyle choices. Somehow, despite the sheer outlandishness of it all, she makes it believable.

2) The danger inherent in each plot is delicious. I gobble it up. I tend to be uncommitted to these novels, a little bored, until the suspense starts and then I can't put them down until I finish. I consider that a sign of good writing (the not putting it down thing, not the bored thing.)

3) With her sensuality, she doesn't do the Mormon-author thing: hint, or awkwardly write around it, without ever fully going to bat. IMO, it's better to just come out and describe something you're trying to describe, otherwise you render it more, let's see, what's the word...

see what I mean? It becomes kind of GROSS when you talk around it or blushingly hint at it. She doesn't do that, for better or worse.

OK, now the bad.

Edward, Bella, the misogynistic overtones, The "helpless love" phenomenon, pandering, and some improbable shifts.

1) The obvious problem is that Edward is too perfect. The author tried to give him a weakness (Bella) but it is quite obvious that in the mind of any reader, Edward being vulnerable to Bella is far from a bad thing. In my own personal opinion, the thing to dislike (loathe, really) about Edward his self-flagellation, meaning, he is always mooning over how bad he is for Bella and how he needs to stay out of her life but he just can't , he needs her. Also his self-righteousness. He's always teasingly teaching her stuff or correcting her clumsy mistakes or simply tossing her over his shoulder and taking her places she does not want to go... which leads me to my next point.

2) Bella is insipid and weak in this story. I am sorry. There is nothing to like about her! The only point of sympathy for me is the fact that she's so pushed around by everyone, but my sympathy fades fast as she seems to actually like being shoved out of harm's way, spied on every night by her protective boyfriend (see a possible scary real-life parallel, girls?),teased about her driving skills, outshone in her chemistry class, and be treated all the time as if everyone else knows better what is good for her. (Though I admit, on this last point she fights back from time to time... thank goodness, or I don't think I could finish any of these stories.) The frustrating thing for me is, Jake's character is empowering, rather than demeaning to Bella as Edward's is. Jake teaches Bella how to ride a Motorcycle, at Bella's request. Bella's relationship with him is much more on even footing. I feel like Bella is shadowed, under some cloud, in all her scenes with Edward, and standing in the sun with the light on her face in the scenes with Jake. She shoulda ended up with Jake, in my humble opinion. It would have brought about a much better message.

3) The helpless love! Holy cow. These books are riddled with examples of "love-at-first-sight," head over heels, relentless passion, not a moment of real annoyance or anger (I mean, she makes a half-hearted attempt in the whole Bella-wants-sex-Edward-Doesn't think, but it never really comes to hard feelings.) The vampires find their "one and only" mate, and in Edward's case it's Bella: she intoxicates him with her beautiful scent (pheromones are going to determine my eternal happiness?) and he can barely restrain himself from ripping her throat open and drinking all her blood (see another disturbing parallel, girls?) And then there's the werewolves and imprinting. They can't help it... it just happens. No freedom of choice.

Love is not like that. I find it disturbing that young girls are reading this series and perhaps forming some unrealistic (and damaging) expectations.

4) Pandering:
These books are romances. Remember my post a while back, on the difference between chick-lit and a harlequin?

this book is a well-written harlequin, in my opinion. I mean, Mrs. Meyers never gets to the point where she's describing in detail enough that I have to put it down, but she dwells on the physical, on the sexual, on the sensual. In just the way a woman would appreciate: a relationship with the "perfect" man, who is overprotective, good looking beyond belief, and unfailingly emotionally intimate. Those scenes in Bella's bedroom where Edward just lies there and holds her softly? Holy cow. Watch out, husbands. Your wives might just develop an appetite for that sort of thing... oh wait. It's already the product of every normal woman's deepest fantasies. Tremblingly intense sexual tension, tenderness, emotional commitment, but none of the man's side of it... the automatic reactions, the desires that, once aroused, are hard to slow down, hard to deny. All you husbands also know what I am talking about. This book gives women exactly what they want... and it paints an unrealistic (possibly also damaging) picture of possibilities for a young woman as well. IN reality, things are a lot messier than that. You can have it, but it takes looooots of practice, lots of familiarity, and dang it all don't ever let any male in bed with you, girls, until you are thoroughly married! Thank you.

5) improbable shifts (plot spoiler warning). This whole series describes in detail how Bella should not become a vampire because she'll have to leave family and friends, for a long time at least, because of the nature of newborn vampires (uncontrollably thirsty, driven only to drink human blood) and the very real need for secrecy, to protect those who aren't vampires from the volturi (who will kill anyone who is not a vampire to keep the vampire secret). Bella turns, and isn't uncontrollably thirsty. She can still associate with Charlie by slyly hinting and he naturally just doesn't "want to know". Improbable. Also, Edward did NOT want Bella to become a vampire, he said all along he'd miss her scent, her human fragility, her warm skin... she turns, and it appears he is more passionate about her than ever before. He doesn't bat an eyelash. It appears he wanted her to be a vampire all along, because, according to Bella, "It's so much better" that way. What? I mean, What???

This leads me directly into my third category:

The downright funny.

Bella's honeymoon, strange plot twists, and the name that rhymes with sesame.

1) OK. I'll try to get through this. SO the honeymoon was unlike all of Mrs. Meyers previous "Sex" scenes in that it is suddenly removed from the moment. We don't read about Bella and Edward having sex. I guess this is a good thing, but it's also jarring for me... it becomes much more harlequin-y when curtains start to be drawn over scenes and we read about Bella "blushing" all the time rather than reading about what really happens. But that's OK. No, no... please, Stephenie. I'm OK with it... don't go into anymore detail.

2) So, Edward is so out of control on the honeymoon he chews through some pillows and scratches up a wooden headboard. Ha! Hahahaha!! Sorry. It's so disturbing, I should not be laughing. And the fact that Bella has bruises all over her body the next morning, too (OK, girls... another VERY disturbing parallel.) But dang it... it's just so funny, when you read it, and think about it... I'm sorry.

3) So Bella gets pregnant that first night, and because her baby is a half-vampire she is has the baby in her for only about a month before it is delivered... this seems all-to convenient for the author for me. But OK. But it's such a strange part of the book... Bella suddenly starts wasting away, Edward is angry, angry, angry at her because she wants to keep the baby (another disturbing paralell) bella almost dies and then wait! She has to drink blood, and then everything is all better again... except Bella dies when the baby is born and has to be turned into a vampire. Wha??? And then Bella is suddenly a vampire and the whole world is glorious and all we read about is her stunning new speed and grace and beauty and her and Edward's undying passion for a hundred pages. It completely throws one for a loop, mentally.

4) She names her baby Renesseme. usually with unusual names I can get it through my head and be OK with it... never, in this case. I have just one thing for Mrs. Meyers: you realize that you have created the ultimate in "Utah" baby names? How do you think this looks to the rest of the world (said with a wry chuckle?)

Well, in the end I guess I'm not saying don't read the book. There are those few good things about it. Ultimately, i guess I"m saying don't take the book too seriously. Please. For fun, it's no harm. But make sure that you can make fun of it, too. Because if a person were to really take all that this book teaches, all it contains to heart, I would be seriously worried. So I'm hoping that anyone who reads it just does it for entertainment, and can possibly laugh with me too.