Friday, June 26, 2009

Another unschooling victory

I was feeling disappointed this morning that my children don't share my exuberance for gardening. People ask, "Do the children help you with the garden?" and I have to be like... well... yes, but often reluctantly, and usually for only a short period of time.  But I quickly came to my own defense in this mental conversation I was having: we garden a lot. I just can't expect my children to jump up and down with enthusiasm when I'm asking them to pull weeds in 98 degree weather. In fact, I can't expect them to jump at all, when it's an exertion just to breathe.

And... the reality is, my kids also now know a lot about raising their own food. We have had very little formal instruction time, but simply being at the garden, helping the other gardeners (always much more interesting than helping mom), watching other gardeners, and just experiencing the daily life of a garden has taught them more than I could ever do from a textbook or even an enriched classroom environment. They have seen the process of transforming sad-looking soil into lushly growing, healthy, yummy food. Perhaps they couldn't pass a written test (especially if perfect spelling were required) but I am confident that any one of them would be able to create their own garden and help others do the same. And, well, they have: Stuart has a watermelon patch in one of the community beds, Anastasia has a 'secret' (weed) garden here at home, plus numerous cacti. 

Learning by doing... it's the way to go!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What we can learn from the gay marriage movement

This is pride month, and in St. Louis, gay couples are celebrating by getting married. No, gay marriage is not governmentally recognized in MO: these couples are simply finding a religious official who supports them, and they have a ceremony. Easy as that. I don't know their hearts; I don't know how long they'll stay together, or if it's going to matter in their relationship if they do or do not have a document with a legal seal on it, but it seems to me a much better way to approach the whole issue than throwing hysterical, politically-charged fits about it. There is this sense that emanates from a good portion of the homosexual community that what they are seeking is everyone else's 'approval'- that somehow they have to legitimize their lifestyle through the acceptance of the rest of the world. Anything less than that is somehow hatred- even though I treat my queer friends just like I do everybody else, the fact that I may have a difference of opinion somehow makes me homophobic.  So it is good to see people simply living their life as they believe is their right, without demanding the 'approval' of the majority of the voting community. 

How does this apply to the Christian community? Really, I believe we are often the same: throwing politically-charged, hysterical fits to be 'accepted', 'approved', 'normal'. Anything less is somehow hatred.  If people treat us in the same crappy way they treat everybody else, but they choose not to wish us Merry Christmas, suddenly that means we are hated and the target of persecution (try living in North Korea and THEN let's talk about Christian persecution....) But American Christians seem determined to politically demand acceptance and approval by the culture. The irony of this... much more so than in the homosexual community... is that PEOPLE, WE FOLLOW A MAN WHO TOLD US WE WOULD BE HATED! Sorry for shouting, but come on!  What did you think you signed up for, a trip to Disney World? Yes, even though we give away more money than the rest of the population combined, yes, even though we run orphanages, build hospitals, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, champion the imprisoned, and are basically just nice people across the world, we are HATED. Why? Well, duh, people in general try to hide the fact that they are inherently lying, greedy scumbags, and as soon as a Christian walks in the room, boom, the game is up. Hate is an obvious consequence of convicting the world of its sin. So what should we do? Demand that our country 'return to being a Christian nation' so we can feel nice and comfy and never offended, or continue to live our lives as we know is right, doing what we know is right, and accept the consequences of our lifestyle?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sick Day

An official sick day for mommy here at the Holden House. Not that it makes a huge amount of difference; I basically have to do the same stuff I do everyday, I just have an excuse to moan a bit more, and sit at the computer instead of doing more housework (like cleaning the gross bathrooms). The kids are cranky that their friends didn't get to come over because I'm sick- since, of course, it's my fault that I had to BBQ last night and sit next to a smoker at Stuart's baseball game and thus developed a severely sore throat- and also overly excited because of the week's activities. But they're not handling it too badly and have kept themselves somewhat occupied and have also refrained from major skirmishes with one another.

Sick days always remind me that my worth does not arise from my productivity.  I love to LIVE life; to be involved and busy and full of fire. But that is in some ways diametrically opposed to Jesus' teaching that 'he who wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'  Good thing to remember on days like this!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Selfishness seems to have become hip at our household lately. It has slowly been building over the last several weeks... more focus on 'getting what we want', leading to more complaining, more whining, and finally a LOT more squabbling. I've done scads of threatening and punishment to little avail- I think because overall, the children have a difficult time understanding the subtle wrongness of selfishness. It's not like slapping someone or stealing their money. It's not breaking a direct order from mommy or daddy ('don't be selfish' is a bit too nebulous for elementary-aged children). And while they perfectly understand the concepts of loving your neighbor and treating others like you want to be treated, let's face it- getting our own way just seems much easier and certainly much more fun.

I've cancelled treats, taking away privileges, kept track of misbehavior and things have certainly improved. There seems to be more of an awareness of the issue. But still, it has been rearing its ugly head much too often. "No, you can't have that toy, I might play with it someday." "I'm going to keep singing this song just BECAUSE it annoys you- no other reason necessary!" "I'm not going to be happy with any meal except one that I choose myself, and it has to be something nobody else in the family likes!" 

You get the point.

So today, finally, finally, there seemed to be a bit of a breakthrough- an epiphany moment, when the light bulb flashed above the heads and they realized the full hideousness of selfishness. Suddenly the reason for all my anger and punishment broke through the thick skulls of my stubborn children- because they were, collectively, on the receiving end of someone else's selfishness. A seemingly minor selfishness, but nonetheless terribly painful for all involved. My children asked me 'why? Why would someone do something like this to us?' and I could answer, 'Selfishness, nothing more and nothing less. Simply because this person wants what they want, nevermind if the cost is everyone else's feelings.'  This person's actions weren't the terrible sins that we tend to gasp over. There was no rape, robbery or murder. Just simple selfishness, but that was enough.

Will this mean the end of squabbling and complaining? I could hope so, but I know better than that! Will things improve? I think so.