Saturday, November 23, 2013

A New Post up at Tom's

I've got a new post up at Tom's of Maine. What sort of dishes should you use if you want to be a good steward of our natural resources? There's not actually a cut and dried answer. Read the whole article to find out more!

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Reasons the Democrats should Impeach Obama Now

How can Democrats deal with the total meltdown of ACA, the exploding scandals, and bleak prospects for 2014. Sure, going nuclear yesterday was something. Not a great something, but something. But if Reid wants to save his caucus, it's time to go beyond nuclear. He needs the equivalent of the Death Star. He needs... to impeach Obama.

1. It steals the Republicans’ thunder.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Adding Colgate to my Client List

One reason that this blog has been so quiet is because I've been working as a corporate blogger.  I've recently added Colgate to my list of clients, and this is my first published piece with them.

It's not as much fun as writing about the Church, kid lit, homeschooling, or politics, but....  it does make budgeting a bit easier!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Homeschool Your Children

Thinking about homeschooling? Here are 10 reasons to make like Nancy Reagan and Just. Say. No!\

Angry child

1. You love packing sack lunches.
Do you tenderly pack your child’s lunch each evening, carefully balancing healthy and delicious for a perfect brown bag delight? You’ll hate homeschooling. For a homeschooling mom, lunch is most likely ‘reheated leftovers from dinner’ or ‘You’re 7. Fix yourself a sandwich, for goodness sake!” In fact, we’re so bad at brown bagging it that, on the rare occasions where a co-op or field trip demands a sack lunch, the results are often somewhat… nonconformist.

2. You believe that training for cubicle life should start early.
You’ve read Dilbert. You know what the workforce holds for your child. While he’s sitting up straight and obedient in his desk, those lazy homeschoolers are sprawled on couches, hopping on one foot, or flopped on the floor. Who’s going to do better as an office drone? Your guy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Yeller- Borrow it on Amazon!

Way back when I started this blog, I focused on writing for children. The intervening years and cash flow needs have diverted me into copy writing, but I still want to get back to children's fiction. So, as a baby step in that direction, I re-edited Yeller, my 2008 superhero novel for the 10-14 year-old crowd.

It was like a totally new book to me at this point- I'd forgotten nearly all the details.  It's actually a fun, exciting read.  It deserves a bigger audience than my hard drive, so I've put it up on Kindle.

If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for free through the Kindle Lending Library.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pregnancy and Teeth

I have another Tom's article up.  This one's about pregnancy and teeth. After 7 pregnancies (and soon to be 6 births) in 10 years, I practically have a PhD in being pregnant!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Obamacare Exchanges, Try Number 1

This morning at 7:55 CST, I decided to try my hand at the Obamacare exchanges. I'm in Indiana, so we're trying the federal route.

7:56 - I go to, and click on the link to apply.  I'm redirected to a page that says that the exchanges are busy, and I'll have to wait. They'll forward me to the application when a slot opens.

I try to click on the 'helpful links' at the bottom of this waiting page, but they all say 'access denied.'

I open another tab so I can keep browsing.

8:00 - The site finally forwards me to the application.  I start filling out basic details like name, email address, username and password.

8:04 - I reach the third page of the application, where I need to choose security questions and answers. The only problem? There are no security questions on the pull down menu, just blank boxes. Since I can't complete this step, the exchange won't let me continue.

8:05 - I give up.  No wonder the Reid wanted a government shutdown! That way he could blame these glitches on the Republicans, instead of on a sad lack of beta testers.  Seriously- how did they let this go live without catching this glitch? And I'm using Firefox, not some weird browser!

Obviously, the people running this thing have no IT experience. Heck, when I interned at the DOE back in college, we Beta-tested EVERYTHING to death before we let it go live. Of course, that was nukes- this is only health insurance.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Guest-Blogging at Tom's of Maine

I've recently started guest-blogging for Tom's of Maine.  Yes, the toothpaste company.  They have a lifestyle blog, and I'm posting articles over there once or twice a week.  

Which, along with my textbook writing gig for, explains why this blog has been basically dead for a long time.  Also, I'm pregnant! (Due in December)  So, any time I get a chance to breathe, I'm sleeping instead of blogging.

Anyway, the end result is that all my various and sundry blogs are pretty quiet as I focus on paid work and building a baby.  But, these things come in cycles, so if things quiet down, I'll be back. 

In the mean time, I'll be channeling my inner 'fun mom' for Tom's of Maine... because when you're in the third trimester, it's much easier to write about doing fun things with your kids than it is to actually get up and do fun things with your kids. (Though with all the 4H projects and Lego action going on around here, I think my kids are pretty happy making their own fun these days.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

5 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me about God

My whole life, parents, religious education teachers, and priests told me that God was a loving Father. As a teen and college-aged kid, I assumed that I knew what that meant. Parents have lots of rules. They don’t understand why you do what you do. They make you do chores. They constantly give you advice you don’t need. Parents are people who spoil the fun and treat you like a baby, even when you’re clearly a mature, rational, practically perfect adult.

It took having kids of my own to realize what God means when he says he’s a loving father. I’m an incredibly imperfect parent. Still, I can look at my children and understand a smidgen of what it must mean to be the Perfect Parent.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Another ADHD article

I have another ADHD article up over at Lifescript. I hope I can stay interested enough to keep writing these! (No, it's not a joke. 5 articles on ADHD every week drawing on personal experience gets tough! But I want to do at least 30!)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Randomness

For some reason, MY clothes never get washed clean in the blood of the lamb.... 

So, I was reading what Simcha Fisher had to say about Jennifer Fulwiler's health issues and I thought, "I'm so glad that nothing scary or traumatic ever happens to us." And then I realized that last year, until Ada miraculously (literally) got better, WAS that scary or traumatic thing. At the time, I couldn't see how I'd endure from one day to the next, and I couldn't understand why God was throwing so much at me. And then one day, out of the blue, it was over.

And now, I forget how miserable I was before.

Easter's a lot like that, I think. After the darkness of Good Friday, it's suddenly all daffodils and Eucharists and candy and sunshine, and anything painful that went before just doesn't matter anymore because NOW is so good.  I guess that's a foretaste of the Resurrection of the Dead, too.

Anyway, a random thought, so I'm sharing. Now, back to the laundry, because we just got back from a trip, which means 56 complete outfits to wash! That's a lot of wash.....

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pumps on Parnassus

The following is an audition piece I wrote for a corporate blog. They passed, but I'm putting it up here so that I can use it for samples later on.

Pumps on Parnassus: A Love Story About Shoes

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brick by Brick-- From the Foundations Up

I've never successfully registered to comment over at Father Z's site - somehow my attempts get flagged as spam, so I'll have to respond to his latest post over here instead.

I don't see why people are throwing a fit over Francis's decision to celebrate Holy Thursday in a prison. He can't celebrate the Mass in the Lateran yet anyway, because he hasn't taken possession. Celebrating it at St. Peter's would turn it into a spectacle and a tourist attraction. But Holy Thursday is not supposed to be about Paparazzi and celebrity worship. Holy Thursday is about the beginning to the Tridium. Parish churches all over Rome will have their liturgies. The pope is currently parish-less, so why not reach out to the imprisoned, who also lack a parish for Mass?

Father Z. talks about rebuilding the church brick by brick. And saving the liturgy is very important-- but what if our new Pope has noticed that the foundations are also cracked? All the beautiful liturgy in the world will be worthless if we forget what's at the root. Francis wants to lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, but he also wants to remind us that we are a Church of sinners, and that Jesus didn't shun those who weren't pure enough or good enough or refined enough. Those people, the prisoners and the lepers, deserve a beautiful,reverent liturgy too, don't they?

Under Benedict, some of us embraced a new monasticism. We prepared to hunker down with our families, to keep the light alive as the world plunged into darkness. For eight years, we read, we learned, we prepared.  Some of us assumed that the time to shine forth wouldn't be for generations. We assumed that Benedict was preparing us to keep the flame alive for hundreds of years.

Now Francis is here, shouting that we must take the Gospel out into the world, bring the indifferent back to the Church, and proclaim Christ to all of our neighbors.  I think Benedict understood that it was time. He started liturgical reforms - when we bring others back to the Church, we can have a beautiful place prepared for them. But all the liturgical reform in the world won't do any good if we keep it to ourselves.

Francis isn't here to undo the Benedictine reforms. He's here to let us see that Liturgical reform must go hand and hand with evangelization. And we can't just limit ourselves to the members of the folk choir. We have to go out- to the prisoners, to the sick, to the unchurched. We have to find the people who don't know the love of Christ, and bring them into the warm embrace of their Mother, the Church. We need to baptize and bring the masses back to Mass. 

Francis isn't going to celebrate a folk mass at the prison. He loves those teens, and he wants them to know that their loved. He's going to go out of his way to give them something beautiful and magnificent. Just wait and see.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In which Robert Barron is Awesome.

Fr. Barron had a really good homily on religion and science. I need to think about it for a while before I have anything intelligent to say, but I wanted to post it here so that I won't lose it, and so that anyone who's interested can check it out.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Insanity is Repeating the Same Failed Tactics Over and Over Again

According to a post a Joanne Jacobs, Ohio now requires all third graders to read on grade level by the end of the year. Children who can't pass a test are held back, and repeat third grade. Since I'm usually in favor of requiring competency and creating consequences, you'd think I'd be in favor of this, right?

I'm not. I can't see how this policy will help kids. The research on reading seems to suggest that, once a student has learned enough phonics to sound out words, the most important factors in reading are vocabulary and background knowledge. Basically, it doesn't do you any good to sound out a word, or a series of words, unless you can understand them.

These days, public school K-3 tends to focus on decoding and reading simple words, not on building vocabulary and content knowledge. Basically, we've increased the focus on language arts, and we're ignoring the subjects that we're supposed to apply language arts to: literature, art, music, geography, history, science......

In the early grades, kids develop background knowledge and vocabulary when we talk to them, read interesting books to them, take them on field trips, and even show them educational programs. (My kids recently watched the National Geographic special on Treasures of Afghanistan, for instance. Now they won't STOP telling me about the standing Buddhas and the giant reclining Buddha.)

Elementary curricula have de-emphasized this background knowledge in recent years. It's not such a big deal for the more privileged kids. Their parents will take them to museums, read books to them, attend art festivals and go out to the orchard to pick apples. They enter school with a huge advantage in vocabulary and experiences, and their parents will keep giving them new words and things to think about. When they see "Afghanistan" in a text book, they'll remember where and what it is, because they already know something about it.

The problem with Ohio's policy is it will fall heaviest on the poor. These kids won't be reading at grade level because they don't have the vocabulary and experience to comprehend grade level texts. Then, when we hold them back, they'll get more empty phonics and decoding practice, and they'll still get no exposure to subject area knowledge, and they'll stagnate.

Third grade is too late, and repeating third grade won't help. If Ohio is serious about teaching kids to read, it needs to teach them about everything else. Read children the Little House books before they can read them on their own. They'll learn a lot about life as a pioneer. Read to them from National Geographic. Teach them about mummies and Greek myths and Napoleon and Spanish Doubloons at the bottom of the sea, take them to the museum and the theater and, most of all, the LIBRARY. Without basic vocabulary and background knowledge, reading is a chore. And hours spent teaching kids to 'make connections' as they read won't do any good unless the kids have some facts and ideas to connect.

The Ohio plan is a disaster, and I have a feeling the kids who suffer most will be the ones from families that have the fewest resources to help them develop subject area and cultural knowledge.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Taking Time Out to Read

I've been taking some time out to read recently, as I recover from a particularly nasty flu which has swamped Perry County.

So, here are my recent reads, with a few comments.

I won a copy of this book when Elizabeth Scalia hosted a blog contest. On the same day the book arrived in the mail, the electronic copy I'd requested from my library came in. Clearly, I was meant to read this book. I enjoyed the whole journey, but my favorite chapter was the one on Edith Stein. I realized that I need to give this saint a bit more of my time and attention, and plan to go hunting for some of her works on women and family.

I also recently read
I had tried to read 'Mortal Engines' a few years ago. While I found the setting interesting, Reeve's characters and plotting fell flat. He corrected those problems with Fever Crumb, where he created an intriguing main character and a harrowing plot. I can't wait to pick up the sequel when I hit the library again.

At the request of my third grader, who wants me to read and love whatever she does, I've recently started reading the Sisters Grimm series again.

I read and enjoyed the first one when it came out, but my daughter is tearing through the series and insists that I read them all as soon as she's done. They're fun, quick, popcorn reads, and I don't mind. Besides, reading them leads to very animated breakfast conversations with my daughter.

I also recently read  this book, because I loved Princess Academy (as did my daughter.) The sequel was a fun read, full of romance and revolution but still appropriate for my third grader, who is intellectually precocious, but emotionally nine. It's a must read for fans of the original, and I don't know how I missed its release!

Anyway, there's my quick, shallow, and goofy reading wrap-up. Since I'm recovering from the flu, I'll have to set the novels aside and go back to the copywriting mines..... those SEO-oriented blogposts don't write themselves... (Yet... I'm toying with the idea of seeing if I could be replaced with a computer program.... because it's an amusing thought.)