bear - ingn.1 the manner in which one comports oneself; 2 the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit; 3 a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~]; 4pl. comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation; 5 the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
I sympathize with car dealers who didn't get a shot at the money, but -- If anything, the only obvious bad news here for the country is about what might have been: It turns out that the government could have offered $2,500 to $3,500 instead of $3,500 to $4,500 per vehicle, and people would probably still have bought a bunch of cars, more of them for the money budgeted, and maybe a little more slowly.
The success of this voucher program makes me wonder if perhaps voucher-type programs should have been tried sooner. A lot sooner. Vouchers in general strike me as a good compromise that combines government funding and assistance with market freedom.
From Disputations, a bit that I think might help me as I ransack my schedule for a spot to stick some of the Divine Office:
Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden light because they are the means for us to become what His Father created us to be -- viz, His sons and daughters, not His servants or oxen. They lead us to freedom, and with each step we take we become more ourselves. Other yokes, other burdens are unnatural for us, and so weigh us down in ways we weren't created to support.
The hard part... is not bearing Jesus' burden but picking it up in the first place, since to do that requires setting down the unnatural burdens we've gotten used to.
This leads to the obvious question: Which of my "burdens" weigh me down unnaturally, and which are part of His yoke?
When people compliment me on the weight I lost last year, I always take care to give credit to Mark for being very, very supportive.
Mark refuses to take much credit. He says it's very easy to be supportive of me. Here is his algorithm, according to him:
Listen to me when I wonder out loud why the scale is not doing what I want it to do
Ask, "Have you been sticking to your habits?"
Listen to the answer
Say, "Well, there's the reason the scale isn't doing what you want it to do. Go back to your habits."
Wait for a chance to say "See? I told you things would improve if you went back to your habits."
Repeat as necessary
Of course, this doesn't include all the cheerful schedule-arranging and child-minding he does for me so I can swim and run every week without fail, but I guess he doesn't mind that.
Must be time to listen to him some more (image courtesy of babyfit.sparkpeople.com):
Have I been off my basic background of habits? Yes. Namely, I haven't been interested in vegetables and I have mainly been making up the difference with hot buttered toast.
The last couple of days I've tried to correct this with lots of green veggies. I'm having the most success with steamed leafy greens, so maybe as boring as it is I'll just try to eat a bag of collards or spinach every day. And I can go back to my extra habits too -- they're all still really good habits, even for a pregnant person.
The ride home from the airport after we picked up our Kidsave child Rita was a little tense. We quickly found out that when they said in her bio that she speaks some English, by "some" they meant "not a single word." A Colombian social worker named Maria was with us as well, and she didn't speak much English either.
"Is hot too where you live?" I asked in broken Spanish.
They barely managed to nod and smile. They had arrived a day late after getting stuck in Atlanta overnight, and were too exhausted to strain for conversation topics. Rita was so tense and stressed by her strange new surroundings that she'd developed a bad headache. In the forty-minute drive back to our house we made some other efforts at chitchat, but it was hard work. Our group consisted of a suburban American family from Texas, a young career woman from the bustling city of Bogota, an orphaned child from rural Colombia, and we were all tired. It was pretty quiet for most of the ride home, the main sound being the air conditioner straining to beat the sweltering heat.
Then Maria started to say something, hesitating to make sure she chose the right words. "I hate to trouble you," she said apologetically, "but it's very important that Rita and I go to Mass on Sunday."
When I told her that we are Catholic too, everything changed.
In one moment we went from having nothing in common to having everything in common.
Read the whole thing; it sums up succinctly one of my favorite things about being Catholic, namely, the blessed conformity of the Mass, and why it's so beautiful to know what to expect, no matter where you are. I wrote the word "conformity" just now having only skimmed Jen's post, and went back to discover that she, too, used that term with affection.
You can learn more about Kidsave in Jen's post here.
My children eat more healthfully than I did as a child. I'm sure that their education is at least as good as mine was at that age, and they get all the benefits of learning within the family that I didn't. Mark and I are still married, of course, living together and loving each other in the same household; another thing I can give them that I didn't have.
Maybe it's not a good idea to compare their childhood to mine, or any generation to another? The temptation has proved too much for plenty. Witness the meme of "giving one's children a better life." Mark doesn't indulge in that kind of thing much. I stand in awe sometimes of what it might be like to look back on childhood with the kind of satisfaction and fulfillment that he does.
One thing about my children's lifestyle that bothers me, because it seems far inferior to what I had or especially to what Mark had: They just don't have the freedom to roam about our neighborhood the way we did when we were their age.
I didn't have a large area to roam, myself; up till I was ten or eleven, I had the equivalent of one or two city blocks. But I could step out the front door and be gone till dark if I wanted to, without having to say exactly where I was going or what I'd be doing. Another girl my age lived catercorner from us, and we spent a lot of time at each other's houses, mostly at her house, playing with dolls or board games or video games, or down back of her house where there was an awesome rope swing at the edge of the woods. Some years there were more kids around, and there always were more boys than girls, so my younger brother had plenty of playmates. We played Frisbee in the street in front of our house. I had a bike I was allowed to ride around the block, and there was an alley with lots of hiding places among the mulberry bushes. I wasn't supposed to go into the strip of woods that adjoined our block, none of us were, but the little creek that ran through it was irresistible and we did play there in the summer, pretty frequently, slipping in and out from the back yard by the rope swing. Of course, I walked by myself to and from the bus stop every school day, and in summer might come home for lunch and then head right out again. When it started getting dark my mom would step out on the back porch and yell for us, and if we didn't come home a few minutes after she called, then we were in trouble.
That was the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, in 1984 or so. Fast forward twenty-five years and hop to inner-city Minneapolis. We live many blocks away from wooded greenery, and the closest city parks involve walking several blocks and crossing more than one very busy street. All the neighborhood children are kept very close in, it seems. You just don't see them much, except when the ice cream truck comes, or when school starts and they wait for the buses. And my children are among the children you don't see much. Not even when the buses come, in our case. They play in our postage-stamp back yard, and we drive to our friends' houses in the suburbs and they play there with our friends' children who are also our friends. The alley is not a place I want the kids to play. The street makes me nervous; it's not supposed to be an artery, but we're a block away from a pair of one-way arteries, and all day cars speed up our street, trying to save going a couple of blocks out of the way.
It's not a blighted neighborhood, though it has its share of foreclosed houses and graffiti. The prostitution and the drug deals are supposedly a problem here, according to the precinct cops, but I never notice any activity in the day time.
One of our summer projects: We're trying to teach Oscar, almost nine, to make his way around the neighborhood now. It seems funny to have to teach this. When I was a child I learned to get around as my play area widened over the years, first my back yard, then the path between my house and my playmate's house, then the walk to the bus stop, and so on. With Oscar it's more like, he had to stay in the back yard ALL THE TIME until I abruptly decided he ought to be roaming around more. I could just shove him out the door and say "Be back by dinner" but his personality and mine being what they are, it's working out instead to send him on missions, each one gradually increasing his territory.
We started by getting a third cell phone, which I send with him. I am pretty sure moms yelling for kids from their back porches has gone the way of the dodo by now.
There are two handy destinations in our near neighborhood. One is a little convenience store around the corner and across a very busy street (with a light and a crosswalk). The other is a neighborhood branch of the public library, a bit farther away and across a medium-busy street, again with a light and a crosswalk. We started out by taking some walks to the convenience store, and by sending Oscar in to buy things. And by letting him walk around the block, and later ride a bicycle on the sidewalk around the block. Gradually we have worked up to sending him to the store alone, on foot, to buy small grocery items (a half-gallon of milk, a can of tomatoes). He is now allowed to ride his bicycle around the four nearest city blocks (and is still required to dismount and walk his bike when he crosses any street; I have seen cars blow through those stop signs more times than I care to count, and I want to force the habit of complete stop at the intersection). Yesterday I sent him ahead to walk to the library while I got the other children ready to go, so he got a good twenty-minute head start on us, long enough to walk alone and yet short enough for me to check that he got there promptly; he performed admirably, and so in a few days I may send him on an errand to return some books and come right back. After that will be an errand to go look for books to check out for himself, and to be back by a certain time. And we'll keep expanding the walking and bicycling privileges. I would like for Oscar to be able to ride his bicycle to the YMCA, a mile away and on the other side of the highway. But that's not going to happen this summer. I'd like for him to take the city bus to more interesting places. I'm not sure when that can happen, probably not for a couple of years.
It's been a relief to get moving on this. I think his younger brother will be able to accompany him on some of these jaunts by next summer. There are a few things we won't be doing -- I'll keep them in our yard during the obvious school hours (between about 9 and 2:30) for no other reason than to keep people from calling the authorities on us.
I have no illusion that the age of my childhood was an innocent time when children were safer. When I was seven and walking home from the bus stop, two men in a car drove up and asked me to get in (I ran home). The other girl my age, whose house I spent so much time at? Her mom's longtime live-in boyfriend liked to walk around the house in just a towel (I didn't tell my mom that, because I was afraid she wouldn't let me play over there if I did); I learned much later that he had abused my friend for years. Once when I was swinging alone on the rope swing I lost my balance and nearly bashed my brains out; once, balancing on a retaining wall over a sewer grate inlet, I nearly fell in the rushing, high waters of the creek in spring flood. And I didn't go outside all that much. I was the kind of kid who always had her nose in a book.
And yet I think I was healthier for the freedom to roam a little, than if I'd been made to stay in the house and yard all the time. I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen for my kids.
UPDATE: Commenter Jamie points out:
It's been almost a year since a woman in our neighborhood reported us to the police and then to CPS because she didn't think our son should be walking home alone, and I still think about it all the time. It's not just a question of what my kids are capable of; it's also a question of what other people think my kids are capable of.
Yes, this is a big part of my caution too, and the reason I don't allow any of the children outside the back yard -- even on our own front porch -- during school hours. (Readers who don't know Jamie's CPS story, her posts on this (with excellent comment threads) are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Yes, I think it's that good of a series).
Or maybe that should be H-day. Or S-day. Or... I don't know, suggest something.
August 17 we will go Back To School.
Home school, that is, not "away school" as my kids have taken to calling that mysterious yellow-bus destination. (The boys got a chance to ride a yellow bus to YMCA camp this summer. It dispelled some of their longings, I think.)
I would rather start after Labor Day, but with a baby expected in the winter, plus the usual weeks off for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Holy Week, and a couple of vacations and trips to Grandma's, and the Extra Sanity Week I always give myself in late March, it's start early and end late in 2009-2010.
I am almost ready. I have to be ready, actually, by next Thursday (more on that later).
I have a weekly basic plan worked out, printed, and in my master school binder. One page shows it organized by student, one page shows it by day, and one page shows it by subject. (You wouldn't believe how many precious seconds of "ummmmmm....." this saves me, having it all printed out three ways. It's the difference between "What do I have to do today?," "What does Oscar have to do today?" and "When was I going to set up the art project?")
I have a one-page basic to-do list, for each day of the week. Not a schedule, exactly, although there are a few time points on the pages: "leave for music class at 9 AM," that sort of thing. Crucially, these are not printed out and placed in page protectors. They are handwritten. They will be scribbled on, annotated with this-goes-here-instead-of-there arrows, rewritten many times.
For Oscar, I have a 36-week schedule planned out for catechism study. Another one for Early Modern World History. Another one for science. Another one for independent reading.
Theoretically, I should have another one for 19th-Century American History by now. I'm about half done. I have a feeling we'll have to wing it, a little bit, on that one.
For the whole family, I have a 36-week schedule of read-alouds.
I don't have a schedule for math, spelling, English grammar, composition, Latin, Milo's nature study, music, art, or learning-to-read-and-write. I don't really need one for those. You just keep going, one page or chapter or lesson at a time.
I have been to Kinko's to spiral-bind the assignment/record books. They look lovely and crisp, all new and blank.
I think I have all the supplies I need to get started, except for a few grocery-store items. For instance, I need two gallon-size glass jars for science. I'm thinking: pickles. Oh, and we also need to finish drinking the case of Crispin's Hard Cider we bought so I could have two dozen identically-sized clear glass bottles. A toast... to science!
No, I'm not in bad shape at all. What a relief. Because a couple of months ago, when I was napping for two hours every afternoon, I didn't think we would ever be ready.
An interesting article at Scientific American. War-related food shortages can save lives, it turns out.
CD [celiac disease] acquired a name in the first century A.D., when Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a Greek physician, reported the first scientific description, calling it koiliakos, after the Greek word for “abdomen,” koelia. British physician Samuel Gee is credited as the modern father of CD. In a 1887 lecture he described it as “a kind of chronic indigestion which is met with in persons of all ages, yet is especially apt to affect children between one and five years old.” He even correctly surmised that “errors in diet may perhaps be a cause.” As clever as Gee obviously was, the true nature of the disease escaped even him, as was clear from his dietary prescription: he suggested feeding these children thinly sliced bread, toasted on both sides.
Identification of gluten as the trigger occurred after World War II, when Dutch pediatrician Willem-Karel Dicke noticed that a war-related shortage of bread in the Netherlands led to a significant drop in the death rate among children affected by CD—from greater than 35 percent to essentially zero. He also reported that once wheat was again available after the conflict, the mortality rate soared to previous levels. Following up on Dicke’s observation, other scientists looked at the different components of wheat, discovering that the major protein in that grain, gluten, was the culprit.
Celiac disease is of special interest among autoimmune disorders because
it is the only example where the addition or removal of a simple environmental component, gluten, can turn the disease process on and off. (Although environmental factors are suspected of playing a role in other autoimmune diseases, none has been positively identified.)
Many more interesting details in the article, including recent research on the mechanism of the autoimmune reaction and prospects for non-dietary treatments of the disease. Finally, something to think about if you've got celiac in the family and are still having babies: The author and colleges have
...begun a long-term clinical study to test whether having infants at high risk eat nothing containing gluten until after their first year can delay the onset of CD or, better yet, prevent it entirely. “High risk,” in this case, means infants possess susceptibility genes and their immediate family has a history of the disorder.
We suspect the approach could work because the immune system matures dramatically in the first 12 months of life and because research on susceptible infants has implied that avoiding gluten during the first year of life might essentially train that developing immune system to tolerate gluten thereafter, as healthy people do, rather than being overstimulated by it. So far we have enrolled more than 700 potentially genetically susceptible infants in this study, and preliminary findings suggest that delaying gluten exposure reduces by fourfold the likelihood that CD will develop. It will be decades, however, until we know for certain whether this strategy can stop the disease from ever occurring.