Harry Potter is the New Alcohol

For the past month, I’ve been expecting someone to jump in the comments and chew me out for reading Harry Potter. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened, but I’ve been thinking about what I might say if and when that time comes.

I don’t climb on soapboxes very much, as they tend to be slippery and I prefer keeping my feet on non-skid surfaces. However, it seems to me that Harry Potter is the new alcohol. By that I mean admitting to reading Harry Potter can be somewhat of a taboo Christian freedom that half of evangelicals think is sinful and the other half think is laughable.

This isn’t to say that we have license to go ahead and abuse our freedoms (and I’m not going to go to the other extreme of saying Harry Potter needs to be tucked in the pew next to the Bible and the Trinity Hymnal). Still, it seems one has to be either very anti-Harry or in-your-face-everyone-must-read-Harry. I’m neither.

I talk freely about reading Harry Potter here because I don’t think reading the books is sinful. I think it could very well be a stumbling block for someone, though, so I don’t carry my current copy into church with me. I’m not afraid of having the discussion, but I don’t want to bring about dissension where there is none already.

Having lived more than half of my life on the “Alcohol = Sin” side of that issue, I can spot legalism when I see it. Now in my recovering legalist days, I enjoy a very occasional dip into my once-heavily-debated freedom, but again, I don’t go around flaunting it. This isn’t particularly spiritual, but mostly because I have the alcoholic tolerance of a two-year-old.

That said, and with regard to reading J. K. Rowling’s oft-debated creation, I just enjoy really good literature. And I’m so glad I can say with full assurance that Harry Potter is just that and nothing more.


Things to Come

I keep coming up with things to write about, yet have neither had the will or the when to do so. Such topics include:

  • My trip to Nashville and Birmingham this past weekend
  • My new job
  • Intending to begin school with the girls, yet keep putting it off
  • Spending lots of time tonight making 2 week lesson plans
  • Finishing book 6 of Harry Potter and crying – Why, oh why? If I’d known before I started, I might not have read the series.
  • Daugher #2 turning 7 tomorrow

So, seeing as how I’ve got a kitchen table covered with curriculum guides, my lesson planner, the girls’ individual binders, and a bunch of other random stuff which will certainly get in the way of being able to eat breakfast here in the morning, I’m thinking I’d better not spend any more time writing. Tonight.

Can’t Blame This One on Amtrak

Otherwise entitled, “Where’s a Geography Major when you really need one?”

The girls and I began our journey to the Deep South today and then (shocker) we took a wrong turn immediately after leaving Missouri (as in, 15 minutes after leaving the house). This wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that I didn’t notice my mistake until I was deep in the heart of Illinois (not the right direction to Nashville in case you are directionally impaired like I am).

We went 90 miles out of our way. And these weren’t 90 miles at 70 mph: they were 90 miles on what is presumably historic 40, which translates to 45 mph speeds, lots of roadwork involving flaggers stopping you for 20 minutes to let the other traffic through first, and stop lights. In short, we were 3 hours behind schedule.

As our destination was the home of Charlie and Andi Ashworth, who were making dinner and expecting us to arrive at 4, I then felt the great need to communicate my blunder so they wouldn’t still think we were coming at 4. As I don’t have a cell phone and forgot to write their phone number down, I was desperate to find a hotel from which I could pirate some internet access from the parking lot. It took two towns and three hotels.

The stress of all that made me totally forget to check the gas in the van. So I didn’t notice we were running on empty until that last chance gas pump dashboard icon lit up and I suddenly realized how much trouble we were in, being 30 miles outside of a town with a gas station. We literally prayed our way to Fort Campbell, KY, where I didn’t even care how much they were charging for gas.

After that, we were completely fine. Full tank, fully communicated, and pointed in the right direction. We made it to Nashville and have been having a fabulous time. In case you haven’t heard me say it 1,000 times before, you really must get your hands on a copy of Andi’s book Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring. She is the real deal, and her words are ones we all can be and will be encouraged by.

On the docket for tomorrow: lunch with This Classical Kristen and the much anticipated wedding, followed by a family slumber party with the Zellners. Watch out! It’s extrovert weekend for the Dunhams. We’re loving it!

Schoolish Stuff

We didn’t end up starting back to school this week like I was sort of thinking. That’s where I went wrong – I was sort of thinking about it and not really thinking about it. Our summer ended up being so nutso that we’ve really used the past couple of weeks to catch up on simply being home. We’ve been getting our routine back in place and that is no small thing. I actually planned meals for this week again and we have seriously incorporated chores for all of us into the daily rhythm. My oldest groaned today when I gave her her afternoon chore pack and she said, “There are just SO MANY CHORES!” For the record, her afternoon chorepack had about 4 things in there, all age-appropriate, so it wasn’t that bad. I said, “Yes, Dear, there are SO MANY CHORES. And now you know how it feels. If we all work together, this isn’t so bad, right? Right? Come on, RIGHT?”
So that feels like our first major educational goal – it’s not academic, but it’s life-driven and, perhaps just as important.

Also, we’re going to Tom and Christine’s wedding this weekend in Birmingham with a stop-over in Nashville, so in my mind the summer won’t really come to a close until we get back from that. Add to that the two-day school the girls will be attending this year which doesn’t begin until after Labor Day and you can see why things are still a bit unsettled around here. Oh, that and the fact that I can’t seem to put down the Harry Potter books. I really need to finish those so I can stop being distracted…

So, small steps. Routine and chores first, then we’ll add back in some read-alouds (I’m thinking The Penderwicks – something not on the curriculum plan for this year) and perhaps do some math review and begin handwriting. If we did nothing else this year but improved math and handwriting I would call it a success. My 8-year-old scored in the 8th grade level for language arts and spelling on her standardized testing last May. Her math? Well, I knew it needed help, so I wasn’t surprised by the score which will be left unaccounted for at this moment. So, though we’ll still be working on those things, obviously, our priorities will definitely be skewed towards things of a numerical and legible nature.

In other news, and this probably isn’t really news, but a recap, I’m not taking any seminary classes this year and I’m very happy about that. I want to fill in the rest of my 30 hour Graduate Certificate with all Jerram Barrs’ classes anyway and he’s on sabbatical right now, so I’m happy to wait. I heard a rumor that he’s thinking about teaching a Children’s Literature class sometime in the future. I’m so there when it happens. This year is going to hold many other things to take the place of the seminary classes, so it’s a good year to take a break from that. Craig will still be taking two classes in addition to his full-time teaching gig.

Our full fall schedule has not hit yet, so I know we’re all going to be in for a bit of a shock when it does. But until then, we may just continue to sit this week out and enjoy a few more days of summer.

Comparing Apples to Apples

I’ve been in Whole Foods to actually purchase things three times in my life now. The first two times I spent under $2. Today I actually grocery shopped. What changed?

When I went in before, I had major sticker shock. Who pays these kinds of prices for food you can get much cheaper at Aldi or Schnucks when they have a sale? Not me! No way. You see, all I had to compare the Whole Foods prices to were my normal cheap (frugal, I mean) purchases without considering health factors.

But I’ve now renewed my quest to purchase dairy and meat items with no rbST in them and am doing my darndest to not have corn syrup in the ingredients either. I’ve been to no less than five different stores that specialize in natural and organic foods within the past week. Whole Foods was the last on my list today and let me tell you – when comparing Whole Foods prices to their counterparts, they look pretty good. I’ve now got the right comparison to measure them up against. I’m still a loyal Trader Joe’s shopper too, but on some really important things (milk, butter, yogurt, meat), Whole Foods has the better deal.

Still, it’s hard to make more expensive grocery choices when the grocery budget is so limited as it is. It would be nice if the best food choices were easily obtainable by all budgets. The positive of that, though, is that I was forced to buy only what we needed. With food being about 30% more expensive than I’m used to paying, I really need to say no to about 30% of the junkie items that somehow make their way into the cart.

So that simply means we will eat less junk and better “whole foods.” I’m getting it, it’s just taking me longer than most people to figure this stuff out.

So Nice…

…to have the windows open and blowing a cool breeze through the house while listening to the girls playing in the backyard again. We've missed you, nice temperatures. Please stay for a good, long while.

Important Things

Ballet Bags

Because sometimes the urge to create something comes during the worst possible week and there is nothing that can be done about it but to create it. And of course the girls all needed bags for their ballet shoes this fall, so it should have been on the list, even though it wasn’t…