Gender Inequality at the Local Bookstore.

I was recently in Barnes and Noble to pick up a paperback copy of the book our 11-year-old needs for her literature class this upcoming semester. As I was looking for the title another book, on the subject of black women in American history, caught my attention. I was less than impressed with the some on list of names presented as worthy of emulation and consideration, but as I put it back on the shelf, the sign above the books caught my attention:


As I turned around to leave, I ran across another table of books. Included on those shelves was this title:


And a second volume:


Above another shelf of books was this sign:


By this point I was thorougly ntrigued and totally distracted from the purpose of my original foray into the young people’s book section. I spent the next 15 minutes carefully combing the children’s and young adult book section looking for something, anything that would indicate that Barnes and Noble had considered that there may be a market for books that encourage boys or manhood in any way. Here’s what I found:

blank space

As a mother of five daughters, one might assume it pleases me to see such effort being poured into making our daughters feel good about themselves. One would be mistaken.

On the contrary, I see every reason to be concerned about a culture that does nothing to promote positive, authentic masculinity and male leadership in its boys while encouraging masculinity and male leadership in its girls.


Not your parents’ homeschooling.

One of the things we still get questions about on a regular basis are the scope, accountability, or limitations of homeschooling. Given the way the practice has exploded in recent years, this surprises me, but the reality seems to be that most people are still fairly committed to the conventional public school system, with private school close behind for those who can afford it.

The perception of homeschoolers as isolated, socially awkward, and lacking educational rigor or responsibility is far removed from our particular homeschool experience. In fact, we have run across a lot of things and people in our Christian homeschool community that dovetail and overlap pretty closely with the secular school world. For example:

  • A strong emphasis on acquiring the tools to test well enough to get into college
  • A trend toward insuring kids have credit transferable to the state system
  • A marked increased in the use of tools like the public virtual school network to tackle subjects the parents can’t or don’t want to tackle.

Those are just three that initially occur, not including some of the peripheral issues concerning culture and modesty that many families are dealing with, largely as a result of the fact that church youth groups and ministries contain a mixture of kids from all educational backgrounds. Additionally, there are different standards on many of these things held by parents as well.

So when people ask me questions that I thought were already well plowed in the general culture and with answers I think are well known, I am surprised. Our homeschool experience is far removed from the days when the clarion call was “Heaven, not Harvard!” To be sure, the wonderful Christian homeschool parents we encounter and enjoy fellowship with are definitely more invested in their kids’ eternal end than their temporal one. They have simply decided that a top notch education can be included in those plans.

We are such parents, and our homeschool life reflects that. We have always been crystal clear on the reality that not all socialization is good socialization, so that basic question has never been something that moved us. However, for the sake of accountability, rigor and fellowship, we have included a few outside educational components to our homeschool life. I’ll list a few.

When our 11-year-old started her middle school years this fall, we knew that we wanted to add some extra rigor and accountability to her education, and so set out to research the many venues we are blessed to have in our area.

These are venues more structured and yes, more expensive, than your typical homeschool cooperative that most people think of when they consider homeschool enrichment. That is not what we were looking for, having already been connected to such a cooperative for several years.

What we did was enroll our kids in what can only be considered a part-time Classical Christian school, where the teachers are paid and the high school level students receive credit for the work they do. In our area, there are many alternatives available for homeschoolers to avail themselves of such services and it’s one of the reasons why we have, unlike may communities, a fair number of families to share community with for the past 5 years, forming lasting friendships.

Socialization? Check.

As for the question of curriculum and state accountability, the curriculum our kids are working on are, in most cases, more rigorous than the public school curriculum, but in the areas where a student might need more time or developmental berth, homeschooling provides the opportunity to provide it. Having paid teachers who often grade assignments more strictly than parents or conventional teachers has been instrumental to our daughters’ academic development.

Accountability? Check.

Rigor? Check.

I realize that not every homeschool family has access to the resources that we enjoy in our particular situation and geographic region. The point of this post is to point out that homeschooling has evolved in myriad ways. Many of the ways are for the better, and some are for the worse.

One thing is for sure. It’s not the same Christian homeschool most often thought of by those only familiar with the kind of Christian homeschooling called to mind in people who are familiar with the homeschool movement popularized in the 1980s.

This is a new generation of Christian homeschooling.




The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. Analysis and synopsis here.

I only read this play -reportedly Shakespeare’s shortest- because our middle school aged daughter was recently a part of its production as a part of the classical education program our children are enrolled in. I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare. However, I am a huge fan of comedy and this play is really quite funny.

The language, as anyone who read Shakespeare in high school can attest, is cumbersome and often frustrating. I know for certain that there were parts of the dialogue that our daughter didn’t quite grasp and for that I am thankful. Our drama instructors, a wonderful couple who love the Lord dearly, are former New York theater people who stayed true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s original play and Shakespeare had a ribald sense of humor.

My  kid is down there in one of these outstanding costumes that a very talented mother put together from blankets, duvet covers, and other miscellaneous scraps of fabric.

comedy of errors

Book life, homeschooling, and a request.

I still have a few book reviews in draft, which are being slowed down significantly as we adjust to our new homeschool workload. Sometime over the next two weeks, I expect to post reviews of the following books:

  • Captains Courageous
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • Your Man is Wonderful

In the meantime, we are experiencing quite the challenge juggling the demands of homeschooling, the homework and readings associated with the supplemental classes our kids are taking, and regular homemaking necessities.

The positives are that our kids are getting top notch instruction from some amazingly gifted women (and a few men) in subjects I could never have tackled with the same depth of knowledge and enthusiasm. Latin, literature, drama, speech, visual arts, and art appreciation taught by teachers with passion for the subjects, years of studying them, and a wholly Christian worldview are pretty priceless. We are thankful to have found such a great community to add to our homeschool repertoire and more parents to join us on the journey.

The challenge is that being out of the house two days a week means that we have to incorporate the reading and homework for those subjects, the instruction of the subjects I am solely responsible for (math and science primarily), meals laundry, and other daily duties into a workable schedule. This, five readers, is where you come in.

I am looking for a scheduling program -online or PDF- that I can use to organize our day, keep good records, and generally organize our new homeschool life. It doesn’t have to be free. I’m willing to pay for it so long as it is adaptable and works. Up until this point our days have been fluid and relaxed because we weren’t out as much with the exception of our much less demanding co-op. It’s a new day, and I need something new to tackle it with. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Today has actually been a pretty sane day. So much so that we made it to the library. Everyone in our house has different reading interests, and as I moved about the house this afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the different stacks and what they revealed about the range of readers:


My stack.


lover of all things magical.
The eclectic reader.
foodie/aspiring culinary artist.
Too busy mapping northern Europe to check out books! Also busy reading Captains Courageous.

I’ve had to break out my long abandoned -but pretty effective- laundry schedule to keep that from being a huge pain. My slow cooker is also going to start getting quite the workout.

Basically, I’ve got to up my time management game since we decided to abandon the relaxed homeschooling approach.

Rabbit trail: Scrabble in the digital age.

Saw this on the big dining table where the kids were playing Scrabble yesterday:


verb: informal

  1. search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

    “hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures”


Le Sigh…

I hope to have the next -and last- installment of Modern Romance posted tomorrow.

Go check out Ljubomir Farms!

Those of you who have followed my writing or commentary know that I am a big believer in supporting the business enterprises of people I know and admire. I also like to pass along a good word for them.

I am thankful that to date, every single book written or product made by friends has been high quality or worth advertising to my friends and readers. Today I am blessed to have another opportunity to support a stellar fledgling business

Scott and Mychael operate Ljubomir Farms, a hobby farm in Texas where they sell high quality home, kitchen, and food products for a fair price. I recently received a shipment of tea towels, which Mychael got to me in record time!


She also added a jar of blackberry lavender jam which I slathered on a biscuit with butter, temporarily suspending my hiatus on wheat products. Again, it was totally worth the splurge!

I want to add an extra bit of encouragement to support fledgling business endeavors by smaller online and local Christians who for obvious reasons can’t compete with the cheaper pricing of big box stores like Wal-mart or Target. It really is worth the bit of extra money or the slight bit of trouble to make this extra effort.

We often use the promise “you reap what you sow” to remind us to do right by others and refrain from doing ill. I like to think of it in the other direction more often. When you are blessing to others, especially fellow believers, you make deposits into you own resevoir of good will and blessing.

Of course, quality matters as well, and I would never suggest you buy unworthy products, but no worries on this one. Mychael’s tea towels and jam have my seal of approval.

Other books/items from my friends for wich you can find reviews here:

Wardrobe Communication, by Amy Fleming, aka Hearth.

You’re te Cream in My Coffee, by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Christmas stockings, handmade by Joanna.

At My Savior’s Feet, a Bible Study.

Note to self…

It is probably not a good idea to try and *do* school full tilt the last two days before you leave for vacation. At least, it’s not reasonable to expect your children to be fully attentive while visions of fun and games dance in their heads.

I’m currently reading Write These Laws on Your Children. The author has taken his kill shot yet, but I’m only 40 pages in. This should make for an interesting review.

Enjoy the rest of your week!