One more sleep til Halloween/Reformation Day

And man do I need it.

Do you know what the problem is with having imaginative children? They never want the costume you can buy at Party City. Never.

The boys are being Hank and Drover from the Hank the Cowdog Series, and somehow I’ve been roped into being Sally May, the ranch wife. (I get a broom.)  Actually, the dog costumes are pretty simple, even if I did spend an inordinate amount of time looking for brown sweats.  All I have left to do is add the ears and tails and make badges for The Head of Ranch Security and The Assistant Mutt.

hank and drover

I actually love that they picked Hank and Drover, because they are two of the funniest characters in kid lit. Their conversations never fail to crack me up. A sample:

  “He sat down beside us and gave me his usual silly grin. “Hi Hank. I guess I fell asleep. Did I miss anything?”

    “You missed everything, Drover. I’ve just blown this case wide open.”

    “I’ll be derned. Which case?”

    “The Case of the Turkey Bandits, and if you want to learn more about it, just sit and watch.”

    “Yeah, ’cause a potted watch never boils.”

    I stared at the runt. “What?”

    “I said . . . I’m not sure what I said.”

    “Something about ‘boils.’”

    “Oh yeah. I had a boil once, right on my hiney.”

    “I’m sure that was very painful, Drover, but this is not the time or the place to discuss it.”

    “I couldn’t sit down for a whole week.”

Maybe I can get the boys to re-enact some of their conversations in costume. Anyway, their costumes weren’t that hard this year, even though they weren’t as easy as picking up Hulk and Captain America from the corner store.  The real challenge this year was Sprite’s costume from the Hero’s Guide to Being a Hero book series. On the surface, she just wants to be Cinderella. Except not just Cinderella, but rather Princess Ella from the Hero’s Guide books. Princess Ella the adventurer, not Cinderella, hey! Order the costume on Amazon! (Ignore that, I wasn’t paying attention. She wants to be Lila, the younger, spunky sister Prince Liam, Prince Charming to Sleeping Beauty (who is a complete brat). Anyway, she made a dagger and various tools, and I sewed a thing. And it looks like it.


(Aside: the audio books of this series are really well done. Bronson Pinchot narrates them, and he is perfect. They’re great road trip books.)

Anyway, besides Halloween, it is also Reformation Day for Protestants everywhere. Time to nail your 95 Theses to your door! My new favorite way to celebrate Reformation Day is with German Pancakes. Because nailing paper to a door isn’t really that festive.

Normally, I put a big pot of chili in the crockpot on Halloween, and we eat chili and mac & cheese for the non-chili eaters and watch The Great Pumpkin after collecting our candy horde. (Because mom and dad get a share, that’s only fair.) But I’ve got no time for chili tomorrow, so I think we’ll pick up pizza. Sometimes tradition must give way to sanity. Sanity would be a great tradition to start.

What are your Reformation Day/Halloween traditions?


*This post contains affiliated links. I would have put this disclaimer up top, but it would have messed up my intro.




These children belong to me, but I do not own them.

This is a post I’ve been writing off and on for quite some time. Every time I see a parent post a video of her doped up kid after a dental appointment or a Facebook post attempting to shame a kid into good behavior, I cringe.  One of the primary responsibilities of a parent is to protect her children, not expose them. (Another primary responsibility is to correct them when needed, but unless it absolutely can’t be avoided, that should be in private.)

I understand the thinking the public shaming as discipline, even if I don’t agree with. A kid’s foolishness can have long lasting consequences. In our desire to keep them from hurting themselves, we hope a little shock therapy and public shaming will get through their thick skulls because we’ve talked ourselves blue and dammit why won’t you listen to reason. I get it. But what’s the cost of a (perhaps temporary) behavioral change when compared to the damage to the relationship and the broken trust and respect?

There’s also the fact that kids can shame and embarrass us in front of others, so why not return the favor? Because you’re the adult, that’s why.

But even more worrying than the shame/discipline is the tendency to use the private and even intimate moments of kids as fodder for entertainment: for Facebook likes, retweets, and viral videos that can be monetized. That seems to me to be very clearly exploitative. My children belong to me, but I don’t own them. Likewise, I belong to them. We belong to each other, but we don’t own one another. I don’t own my spouse or my parents. I don’t own any human being. (Theological aside: As a Christian, I don’t own myself, either, a fact I find very comforting. “You are not your own, for you bought with a price.” 1 Corninthians 6:10b-20a)

What I do have (part) ownership of is a relationship. The belonging is in the relationship, they are my sons and daughters, but they are their own persons–or God’s. But because of that special relationship, I have a unique insight into their lives and a window into their intimate moments. That position comes with a responsibility to be respectful. When I expose their intimate moments, I’m hurting that relationship as well as my child. I’m saying that their privacy and dignity isn’t as important as my momentary popularity with strangers. There’s another verse in Corinthians about “those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty.”  (1 Corinthians 12:23) The same principle applies in our relationships: the more vulnerable and intimate the moments shared, the more honor and respect we should have. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean upload it to YouTube.

So what do I think is okay? Where’s the line and what’s the rule? Honestly, I don’t have a hard fast line. I tend to err on the side of caution, so you won’t read a bunch of kid moments here, and I use knicknames with them. (Yes, I do write about my family sometimes. So obviously my line isn’t “never.”) I think the key is that moments when our kids are vulnerable should be kept private. When they’ve done something profoundly stupid and when they are not mentally competent are pretty obvious times when it’s time to put down the camera and be a parent.

But I also cringe when parents post intimate moments. A couple of examples (that I’m not going to link to, Google if you must): The first is when a young man–maybe 11 or 12–learns that his mom is pregnant. He’s reading a letter on camera, and is so overjoyed he begins crying. Another video shows a similarly aged boy bursting into tears–not of joy–when he finds out his new sibling is going to be yet another girl.

Both of these are moments: one beautiful, one disappointing, are extremely private. Both of these young men are at particularly vulnerable times in their lives when cruel and foolish kids will use their tears as a weapon against them. But even if they are surrounded by wonderful, understanding, empathetic junior high students (BWAHAHAHA!), those moments are private. Those reactions are personal. They aren’t owned by the parent behind the camera any more than the kid is owned by him. What right have we to take that moment and blast it out for the world to see?

Does that mean I don’t think parents should never post anything about their kids? Obviously, no. But what about things like “Reasons my son is crying”?  Honestly, I don’t know. I think that’s probably mostly okay. And a lot of that depends on the kid. I have a child who that sort of attention would crush, and one who would get a kick out of it. I love when parents share moments like Ella singing Elvis and the girl with much wisdom. I think ultimately the line between voyeuristic exploitation and sharing from a heart of goodwill and respect is probably a lot clearer than we think–if we give it any thought at all.

What do you think? What’s off limits to post of another person–especially a kid?


Terrible Tuesday: That’s a lot of straws

I’m not saying the camel has a broken back. I’m just saying that’s a lot of straws.

The end is nigh links!

I wished for a Khan Academy for sewing on Twitter, and *poof* a friend pointed me to Craftsy. I know what I want for Christmas!

New degrees challenge “time-served” model. I don’t know what this looks like in practice, but it certainly is a positive step.

Hey mom, what do you think about this for Thanksgiving aprons?


Kid friendly Minecraft Youtube channels.

Homeschooling high schooling people: Making homeschool economics fast and easy. I like the idea of using the Great Courses classes. I used one lecture from the Western Literature series for the Iliad. I’ll have to explore other options.

Speaking of homeschooled high schoolers, a friend and senior in (homeschool) high school has a blog about Texas State Parks. Her family has a goal to camp at all the parks, and she’s reviewing them. I’m very envious of their trailer.

Games nerds play. Bless our hearts.

only gameGonna go burn some of these straws.

Hot mess Monday

Rather than write the long, whining post about how today and everything in it is horrible, I give you this:


You’re welcome.

For more discouragement, check out more of Despair’s Demotivators and get more demotivated.

You’ll never finish

And that’s okay. It’s to be expected, actually. C.S. Lewis wrote,

“The second enemy is frustration–the feeling that we shall not have time to finish. If I say to you that no one has time to finish, that the longest human life leaves a man, in any branch of learning, a beginner, I shall seem to you to be saying something quite academic and theoretical. You would be surprised if you knew how soon one begins to feel the shortness of the tether, of how many things, even in middle life, we have to say “No time for that,” “Too late now,” and “Not for me.” But Nature herself forbids you to share that experience. A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

From “Learning in War-Time” in The Weight of Glory

He was writing specifically about the work of a scholar’s work in war time. But like a lot of his writings, I find this oddly relevant to my life–a non-scholar in a peaceful environment.  The tyranny of the to-do list, the bucket list, and “ought to” list is common to many people in many circumstances.

Right now, I’m  finally getting the deep down, soul knowledge that my brain already knew: there are too many “good opportunities” available, and we can’t take advantage of them all. There will always be more to learn, I could always do more, and do it better. Except I can’t. I am finite. My time is limited, and in order for me to do the work that I have been given to do, I have to turn away from some amazing opportunities. Furthermore, it’s okay for someone in seemingly identical circumstances to have different priorities and a different calling. I have to be careful to not try to justify our choices to others, because too often I find myself either second guessing our decisions or judging someone for making different choices. The only thing we all have in common is the gift of today and the grace for the moment.

Mid-camping break

I’ve taken a break in our weekend camping trip to bring Sprite back for her last game of the softball season, where she hit a homerun, thank you very much, and her team finished undefeated.

*Pause for cheering*

We’re at the lovely and very crowded with scouting groups Eisenhower State Park. Everyone is out enjoying this beautiful weekend, including this guy, the “common” garden spider. I don’t think he’s common at all. I prefer to call him the Zig Zag  Spider. Much more interesting. He’s too pretty to call common.

zig zag collage

Bulldozer found a fossil, which is a big hit.


My favorite parts of camping out are sitting around the fire, skywatching–we saw a meteor from the last of the Orionid Meteor shower, and this:


Percolating coffee is the best. Now to head back up to the fun with an exhausted girlie and a puppy dog who is having way to much fun. See?

Traveling Jack

Fine Arts Friday: Hudson River Autumn

The school of painters, not the geographic location, although the location certainly did inspire, didn’t it? No matter who we study, what artist, time period, or style, my heart keeps returning to these painters who so wonderfully captured the beauty of creation.

“Autumn of the Hudson River” by Jasper Francis Cropsey. 


Albert Bierstadt, who is most known for his breathtaking landscapes of the West, gives us this beautiful picture of Oneida County, New York.



Frederic Church, “Autumn,” location: unknown.




And finally, the father of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole gives us “An Italian Autumn.”




May your autumn be as lovely as these.

Shall we play a game?

Would you like to play Global Thermonuclear War? Wait, that never ends well. Except for that one time. How about this. Search Google images for your name and the word “meme” and post what you find.

Mine are mostly April Fools memes, and this is the best.

April Fool

HT: The lovely and talented blogger, columnist, children’s author and all around good person Amelia Hamilton.

Terrible Tuesday leads to Wiped Out Wednesday

Yesterdays Terrible Tuesday was particularly Tuesday, and I’m feeling it in my bones. I haven’t even showered today, and I took a bike ride that left me sweaty and stinky. So, yeah.


Jesus take the wheel

Fun fact: I really loathe this song. I didn’t start out being a hater, but the Christian station I listened to when it first came out played it incessantly, and I wasn’t always able to turn it off. So instead I just started yelling, “Don’t do it, Jesus! Let her crash!” And that will be an important incident for my daughters (who were tiny at the time) to tell their therapist on why they are the way they are.

Pardon me, I really must bathe now.

Terrible Tuesday: 600 days!

Today is my 600th day of consecutive blogging. It’s not really an anniversary, it’s just a nice looking number. Very round. 600. Six hundred. DC. Well, that ruined it.

Arbitrary goals links!

Combining exercise and art. Major kudos to this guy who drew a bicycle on a map by riding 212 miles in a day.

Christmas is coming! Show the parents of the kids in your life some love by not overstuffing them. And if you’re the parents, show yourself some love. The Ultimate List of 100 Non-Toy Gift Ideas.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s original first page of The Lord of the Rings from 1937. I love his handwriting.

LOTR first page

 5 Lives saved by the exact right person randomly showing up. This is a very cool article, but it is at Cracked. It’s exceedingly mild for a Cracked article, but the standard disclaimers apply. Also, the last guy saved way more than one life, so the title is misleading.

10 clues you might be a homeschool dad. Yep to all of these, except the snake thing. No snakes!

Happiness is a big pile of leaves and a puppy dog.


Onward to the next random mark on the chain! 666 here I come!

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