Thursday, March 31, 2011

Answers to Questions About Homeschooling

Homeschoolers get questioned all the time about why they homeschool and tons of inane questions about homeschooling. Thanks to Deborah Markus at Secular Homeschooling, here is a list of answers to those pesky questions.

Hat tip: Joe Carter

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Challenges of Raising Girls

It's tough to be a parent of daughters these days when the culture is doing everything it can to undermine fundamental values that parents are trying to instill in their kids. Consider two recent examples:

A recent Tide commercial involved a teenage girl getting ready to go out on a date and wanting to wear a skirt that Dad thinks is immodest. Dad wipes his dirty hands on the skirt in the hopes of sabotaging her wardrobe choices for the evening. But Mom comes to the rescue washing the skirt in Tide so that the daughter can wear it out on the date. As Kathryn Jean Lopez points out, it's time for parents to step up to protect their kids. The main problem with this commercial is that Dad really knew best but Mom decided to undermine him and let her daughter go out in the inappropriate outfit.

Another story comes from Abercrombie and Fitch. Their latest marketing ploy is to offer push up bras for grade school girls.  (Hat tip to Ed Morrissey) It's no great surprise that Ambercrombie and Fitch would be behind something like this since they have been selling inappropriate clothing and invoking soft porn in their catalogs and advertisements.

The question is, of course, why any parent with any sense would buy their kids clothes from that store at all.

It's tough these days in our over-sexualized culture to protect our daughters and help them make smart choices not just about the clothes they wear but many other things too. It's our job as dads to protect our daughters even if that means protecting them from themselves.

One final thought: when my daughters were younger (they are both teenagers now) we employed what we called the "touchdown test" to determine whether a top was appropriate. I would have them raise their arms above their heads (the referee's touchdown signal) to see whether a top was long enough to cover the belly. They now are able to make those decisions themselves and will often tell me before I have to tell them that a top is too small.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Origins of Sweet Tea

While we were in Charleston, SC last week, we took our daughters on a carriage tour of the historic downtown area. If you go, be sure to check out Palmetto Carriage Works as they provide terrific tours.

Anyway, our guide Eric (who was fantastic) pointed out that Charleston was where tea originated in the United States. Turns out that he was right on this point: botanist Andre Michaux was responsible for developing the first tea plantation in the United States. They also can claim their own tea party in 1774 (Boston wasn't the only city to host one).

But the most interesting tidbit he offered (and I haven't been able to confirm this for certain) was that Charleston was the origin of that Southern elixir known as sweet tea. According to what Eric told us, residents found the local water was still too brackish tasting even after brewing tea. So their solution was to add a whole lot of sugar. Consequently, they developed sweet tea.

As I said, I don't know whether there is any truth to this but it sure makes for a good story.

By the way, here is a recipe for how to make perfect sweet iced tea. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baseball Blogging At Eephus League

I've been blogging about baseball for a long time but am pleased to announce that I've just joined the Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae as a contributor. Stop by there to check out all the great baseball blogging and be sure to check out my articles that will appear there periodically. Here's my first post for them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reviving the Lost Art of Scorekeeping

Baseball, unlike any other sport, is not only to be watched but it is meant to be observed closely. Those who pay close attention to the game are rewarded by the rich treasure to be found in its minutiae.

One way to get in touch with the pace and feel of the game is to keep score. Again, unlike other sports, the scorecard unlocks the hidden secrets of the game. But most fans don't bother to keep score in part because they don't know how.

But thanks to an enterprising young woman, scorekeeping is destined to make a comeback this season. Bethany Heck, proprietor of the Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae has developed a terrific scorebook that is the perfect accompaniment to the game. She's been raising funds through Kickstart and already has raised twice her goal.

The beauty of keeping score is that it also is a perfect way for dads to introduce the game to their kids. I'm planning to teach both my daughters the joy of keeping score this season and Bethany's scorebook will be just the thing for the job.

If you've never tried to keep score, give it a whirl. I guarantee that once you get started you'll want to do it at every game. And you'll never watch a baseball game the same way again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rules of the Road

Our family travels a lot mostly because my business travel usually takes me someplace I can drive to in a day. Since we homeschool we can take trips together which is, of course, a whole lot more fun. Along the way we've developed some guidelines to make our trips more enjoyable.

First, we usually take audiobooks with us on our trips. Most of our trips involve five to six hours in the car each way so it's a good way to pass the time (if we're not listening to satellite radio or just talking). Here is a brief list of some our favorite books.

Another thing we try to do from time to time is get off the interstate. Interstate highways may usually provide the most direct route from place to place but they are not always the most interesting. Sure, it takes longer to get some place if you get off the interstate but I guarantee it's a lot more interesting.

We also try not to rush getting anywhere. That way if we run across something interesting along the way we can stop and take a look.

If we're visiting someplace new we always try to do our homework first. It's always a good idea to figure out what your destination has to offer you that will be of interest. If you don't you'll end up wasting a lot of valuable time figuring out what to do.

Finally, we always try to eat at local dining establishments. The main problem I have with chain restaurants are that they are always the same. Some of our most interesting adventures involved finding good local joints to eat at. Over time, we've developed our favorites so that when we're in a certain place again and again we can go back to our favorite haunts.

Family travel is not as daunting as it may seem if you just plan ahead a little and make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The God Who Comforts

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Observation On Work Ethic

Chicago Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat offered up this interesting observation on her blog the other day (hat tip: Bleed Cubbie Blue):

Greg Maddux faced 20,421 batters in his career. Just 310 of them saw a 3-0 count. That's roughly one every three starts. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for the research.

So in other words, 1.5% of the batters Maddux faced over his career saw him go to a 3-0 count (meaning that he had very little control). Such performance does not happen by accident and is a testimony to the tremendous work ethic he brought to the game daily. How much better off would be as a nation if each one of us put that kind of dedication into our jobs? One can only wonder.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I spent a couple of hours at the dentist's office this afternoon getting several fillings in my molars. My dentist was drilling for an interminably long time. I thought he would never finish. In fact, I kept thinking back to this scene from Marathon Man:

Then I tried to think of something more cheery. So my mind drifted to this bit from Bill Cosby:

At least that thought made the afternoon more bearable.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Time For A Change

When I started this blog back in 2004, I was very interested in following politics and writing a lot about what was happening in the election. It didn't hurt any that a friend of mine was running for Congress in our district, either. I had picked the name Daddypundit because I wanted it to represent that I was both a dad and a pundit (or at least an aspiring one).

But now I'm facing a blog identity crisis. True, I could write a lot about politics but many other fine (and far more talented bloggers) already do that. I could post each day offering links to other things that folks had written that I found interesting. Again, there are many others who already do that.

I've been thinking for some time that maybe it's time to start focusing on the "daddy" portion of my screen name and write more about things I'm experiencing as a father. I'm also thinking that maybe I'll talk more about things that my family enjoys or experiences together. In other words, I'll turn my focus away from writing about politics and culture and more about things that are more family and parenting oriented. From time to time I may still comment on a news story but for the most part I'm thinking this will be a little more personal blog.

My hope is to come back to an original purpose of this blog which is to share my experiences as a dad first and foremost. I'll still have other forums to write about politics and culture such as Stones Cry Out but this will be a little different here from now on.

So I hope you will join me on this journey as I turn my attention more towards my experiences as a dad. And I hope that you will enjoy this journey with me.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Reexamining Warren Harding

Most historians rate Warren Harding as the worst president of all time. But perhaps he's gotten a bad rap. As Ryan Cole and Amity Shlaes point out, an examination of Harding's policies might have some merit and provide some encouragement for us today.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Chivalry Is (Mostly) Dead

First there was the case of Joel Northrup, the kid that refused to wrestle a girl and was roundly lambasted in the press as a result. Then a middle school student is suspended for opening a door for a woman. At first blush the two stories may not seem related. But there is a connection. In both cases, young men are punished for demonstrating respect towards women.

As a father of two girls, I have trained them to expect men to treat them with respect (including but not limited to opening doors or having the decency not to wrestle them).

Rather than punishing these young men for showing respect towards women we should applaud them. Frankly we'd all be better off if young men would demonstrate respect to women - even if they don't ask for it.

Liberal Columnist Calls for Defunding of Planned Parenthood

It's not every day that I will link to an article by Kirsten Powers but this one is worth reading in its entirety:

During the recent debate over whether to cut off government funding to Planned Parenthood, the organization claimed that its contraceptive services prevent a half-million abortions a year. Without their services, the group’s officials insist, more women will get abortions.
I’ll admit I bought the argument—it makes intuitive sense—and initially opposed cutting off funding for precisely that reason.
Then I did a little research.
Turns out, a 2009 study by the journal Contraception found, in a 10-year study of women in Spain, that as overall contraceptive use increased from around 49 percent to 80 percent, the elective abortion rate more than doubled. This doesn’t mean that access to contraception causes more abortion—though some believe that—but that it doesn’t necessarily reduce it.
In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception. In fact, 54 percent of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method, if incorrectly, in the month they got pregnant. For the 46 percent who had not used contraception, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy; 32 percent had had concerns about contraceptive methods; 26 percent had had unexpected sex, and 1 percent had been forced to have sex. Not one fraction of 1 percent said they got pregnant because they lacked access to contraception. Some described having unexpected sex, but all that can be said about them is that they are irresponsible, not that they felt they lacked access to contraception.
Ms. Powers goes on to torpedo one of Planned Parenthood's claims that their services help reduce the number of abortions in the United States. However, the numbers over the past ten years tell a different story:
Over this time period, the U.S. government has funneled billions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, in large part because the organization claims to provide services to avoid unplanned pregnancies – a laudable goal. Yet despite a robust budget—Planned Parenthood reported a total annual revenue of $1.1 billion in its last financial filing—the organization has done absolutely nothing to change the fundamental dynamics of the United States’ abortion rate.
Digging a little deeper, Ms. Powers finally discovers the true agenda behind Planned Parenthood and why taxpayer funding should end:
To preserve its federal subsidy, Planned Parenthood continues to claim that without its contraception services the abortion rate will go up. This deception smacks of a fleecing of taxpayers in an effort to promote an ideological agenda, rather than a sincere effort to help women plan families.
What is that ideology, exactly? To find out, you have to dig through Planned Parenthood’s tax forms because the group certainly isn’t going to tell you. According to its most recent tax filing, the purpose of Planned Parenthood Federation of America is to provide leadership in “[a]chieving, through informed individual choice, a U.S. population of stable size in an optimum environment; in stimulating and sponsoring relevant biomedical, socio-economic, and demographic research.”
So it is, in reality, a population-control organization. Funny, this was never mentioned in the gauzy $200,000 advertising campaign launched last week. It also doesn’t make it into the “About Us” section of the group’s website, which repeatedly claims its mission is to protect women’s health, when in fact the real mission is to keep the birth rate at whatever level the leaders believe it should be
To hear Planned Parenthood and their supporters, they exist only to provide Pap smears or breast exams or prenatal services. In fact, President Cecile Richards has gone so far as to erroneously imply that they provide mammograms. (A spokesperson for the group confirmed to me that this is untrue.)
Planned Parenthood officials are allowed to believe whatever they want and to pursue whatever goals they choose. But their dishonesty in how they present their organization to the public, along with ignoring basic statistics about their area of expertise, makes you wonder what else they are hiding. It’s also hard to deny that they are at core a blindly ideological organization, not a run-of-the-mill charitable nonprofit.
Whatever you think of abortion rights, this is not the kind of organization that taxpayers should be funding.
Hats off to Ms. Powers for being willing to do a little homework and discover the truth. If more liberals were willing to set aside the preconceived notions about abortion and examine the facts behind the claims of Planned Parenthood cutting off taxpayer funding would be a no-brainer.