June 2007


Neither Mr. Boy nor I are Vacation Bible School material, but the two girls love it.  Peppy songs, arts and crafts, and a big assembly at the end of the week.  I bribed came to an agreement with Mr. Boy that if he would attend VBS without complaining, I would give him extra Lego privileges.  (Legos are a controlled substance in this household, what with the goat-like habits of the experienced toddler and the aspiring toddler.)


Turns out they have not needed my volunteer hours, at least not yet, despite the stern warning on the registration form that all parents were expected to volunteer, or else.    (Or else: bring snacks.  If there’s one things I’m worse at than VBS, it’s VBS-snacks.  So I said I’d volunteer.)  Our parish is blessed with an army of professional early-childhood educators, all of them out on leave for the summer and apparently getting restless for lack of activities to lead.  Or something. 


Freed for a couple hours with no responsibilities except  SB (her: first word: "back pack" – she’s highly portable), I headed across town to visit a dying kinsman at the hospital.  (Too complicated to explain the precise relationship.).   Love him dearly, and 80-something is way way too early for him to go.


You might think that the peppiness of the VBS-CD — sent home with each family so the children can learn their songs for that assembly at the end of the week — might ring a little hollow at a time like this.   But not at all.   As Father said at that first funeral I blogged about earlier this year, "It is for this day that we are baptised".   Choruses of children urging, "Dive into Jesus!" is just the thing right now.


Meanwhile, the Curt Jester has posted a brilliant You-Tube on this whole question of songs with hand-motions. For those of us who are VBS-resistant.







So perhaps, like me, you have been told to change your smoke detector batteries annually (on your child’s birthday, was the instruction I received).  And you might be thinking, "But my detector will start chirping when the battery gets low.  Then I will change it."   (Or perhaps you are still trying to decide, which child’s birthday?  Or do larger families need fresher batteries?)


Here is the reason to change the battery before it starts chirping the "change-me" beep: Because the batteries may decide to run low in the middle of the night.  Trust me.  You do not want to be awakened in the night  to be summoned to  rummage for a nine-volt battery.




In other exciting news, my limerick is a finalist in the Ironic Catholic’s poetry contest.  Mine’s #3 ("there came a notorious sinner . . ."), and I hope it will be useful to somebody, but I voted for poem #4 as my favorite. 


Consider #3 an example of what poetry-on-demand assignments produce.   Why English teachers (at home or away) should never expect grand inspiration on a deadline — though asking for a display of technical competence is  fair game.  Go vote!  My feelings won’t be hurt if I lose ground from my current 9% of the vote, I’m amazed to be in the finals at all.




My favorite thing about having preschoolers is hearing the language learned.   At the table we are always asking Bun, age 3, "Would you like more to eat?  Would you like more to drink?"  And she doesn’t hesitate to  let us know, "Yes, I’d like more to drink.  I’d like more to eat.  I’d like more to ice cream.  I’d like more to peaches."


The first of the blackberries came in, at that abandoned lot I mentioned earlier this spring.  They were small and dry and bitter, I expect due to the drought.   A friend reports her blueberries had the same problem.


Not discouraged, all children wanted more to blackberries.  Our second harvest offered better fruit, having had a few good rains while they were while they were ripening.   Trip number three, perhaps at the end of this week or the beginning of next, promises to do even better.


Our own berry patch is not producing much fruit.  Squirrells are proving very agressive foragers — they dug up my hot pepper seeds! — and seven-year-old boys are not especially effective squirell-hunters.   We do have a few green tomatoes on the patio, tomatoes which tremble every time a certain three-year-old passes; our only hope is that their neighbor the pansies are still holding forth valiantly, despite drought, heat, deluges, and preschoolers.


In other answers to the question, "What do you do all day?", our neighbor recently had his cedar siding replaced with vinyl.  Friendly contracters, evidently not concerned about the litigious society, happily let us haul off as much of the old stuff as we wanted.  I gave the kids a one-wheelbarrow-load limit.  We came when the guys were working on the dormer windows, so we gathered all short boards, which is just well with four-foot-tall woodworkers.


Mr. Boy spent about two days removing nails, and LP sanded the boards as much as she thought necessary.    The castle yard now boasts one cedar-sided teepee, and one kindergarten-sized pergola.   Both likely to be dissassembled and put to new uses as the summer wears on. 




There were several topics competing for this blog entry today, but I vote you just go read this.

‘Tis the season.  I’m aware that people once lived in the South without air conditioning.  Even until very recently.  Now, though, we are completely dependent upon it.

When I go into sci-fi mode and imagine a world where it’s just too expensive to run the A/C six months out of the year, I wonder what would (will?) happen to this state.  A lot of lifestyle changes, no doubt — adopting the siesta habit would not be so difficult.  The planting of trees is easy, too  —  leave the lawn untended, it becomes wooded soon enough.  (As a write, a baby oak is getting started in my pumpkin patch.)

Shade does make a huge difference in temperatures even in a humid climate, and here the sprawl-method of urban development would come back to haunt us.  I’d say it haunts us now, honestly.  Walk through a shady neigbhorhood in the mid-afternoon, it is merely sticky and hot.  ("Very warm" is what I might say, but I tend to understate things.  Think low- to mid-nineties.)   Stand in a parking lot, it can be easily ten degrees hotter.  

Where rising energy prices will hurt most, though, is at home.  It appears to me that there is no longer much effort to design and build homes that stay cool ("cool") in the summer.  Our house does pretty well at the beginning of the season, because it gets little direct summer sun and because it is built on a slab.   But even this one lacks for cross-ventilation you see in a Charleston house or other traditional styles.  Still, we manage to hold off — comfortably — on turning on the A/C for several weeks after our neighbors flip the switch.

Builders would do well to wake up to this.  Where northerners worry each fall about paying a heating bill, around here by July folks are talking about paying the air-conditioning bill.   Unlike other green-building techniques, this one isn’t expensive.  You mostly just need a floor plan that matches the climate.  And I’ve got to think that if you could convince customers your tract house really would require less air-conditioning than the competitor’s, it would have to help business.

The evil bill is sitting in a committee.  (Right near the Preschool Bill, which keeps coming back each spring. The Schmooney bill is in a different committee.)  You can look here  to find the current calendars for what is close to actually becoming a law.  

So I went to check and see why I couldn’t get to my blog (server change), and then out of curiosity followed the link to the Home School Nations – South Carolina blog.  Where I learned about this bill (3941), currently in the House of Representatives Education committee.

It’s just plain strange.  2nd and 3rd option homeschoolers in South Carolina report, via our various organizations, directly to the State Department of Education.  This is efficient and makes sense — each compliance association is something of it’s own little school district.

The new bill would require that the compliance associations also send your contact information — your child’s name, birth date, grade, your name and address, and your child’s date of enrollment in your compliance association, to your local public school district.

Are the public schools going to start sending us *their* student’s personal information?  And what about your local private schools — how come they don’t get a list of their potential customers sent to them every year??  Seems the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Charleston get a list of all the kids attending the Episcopal private schools, while we’re at it.

This is just bizarre.  2nd and 3rd option homeschoolers already have a "school district".  Our organizations already report to the state.    A truant officer can contact the student’s compliance organization to get a confirmation of whether the student really is enrolled in good standing with their organization.  Public schools have enough to do already with their own students, without having to worry about getting dozens lists about  students who attend some other school.

It’s a dumb, expensive law that serves no good purpose, and only confuses everybody about what students belong to what organization. 


Edited to add: This is the same august body that is giving us the Schmooney solution to widespread illiteracy.    Nothing against the "soft cuddly stuffed animal" per the language of the bill, of course.  It just seems like maybe, um, we don’t need a *law* about this??

We need to mobilize Smart Cat and Dr. Tick-Tock.   Fortunately, it does not appear that the would-be law includes penalties for those who wish to combat illiteracy using some other, less-official plush toy.  I’m having visions of beleaguered public school teachers trembling as the state prosecutor grills them in the witness stand on why they used, say "Dooley" or "Deputy Billy" in their illegal reading program.  

On the other hand, maybe if the legislators are busy with literacy mascots, they won’t spend so much time thinking up categories of people who need their personal information sent to other unrelated third parties.