My “inner European” is Confused

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything – at least, *you* think so.

I have no idea why I should be French. My favorite vacation is visiting historical sites and museums, and I do love chatting all night over coffee, and it’s entirely true that it is acceptable to me if the chat includes some vigourous debate that enlivens the blood and energizes the brain cells. If that and preferring a cheap car to one that costs more than a down payment on a house make me French, well, Que Sera.

Bonnet Tip: Contemplating the Laundry– The DeputyHeadmistres likes to seek out new blogs, meaning blogs the DHM has not seen before. The DHM regrets to say that due to time constraints she is often forced to judge a blog by its cover, and undoubtedly many wonderful blogs never come to the DHM’s attention because she found the blog name forgettable (and in some cases execrable and in other places actually excreable). “Contemplating the Laundry” however, is a name that immediately charmed and amused the DHM. She is further charmed by the fact that the blog proprietress things that Anna Karenina is the greatest novel ever, and she was positively enchanted by this post.
Contemplating the Laundry is a Catholic, pro-life blog with plenty of good information and resources about pro-life issues such as stem-cell research and this post which warmed the DHM’s heart and prompted her to blow kisses at The Cherub from the computer. (The Cherub waved back and asked for a cookie) Do Contemplate the Laundry with the DHM.=)

Execrable: Extremely inferior; of very poor quality or condition
Excreable: Capable of being discharged by spitting

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The Real World, 2002

The DHM frequently runs into tiresome people who tell her that her family just does not live in the Real World. The DHM pinches herself and notes that she is real, and that she is alive, and that her family’s world is just as real as those less pleasant. The REal World is the one we create in our daily interactions and choices. Here is a glimpse of the Common Room Family’s ‘Real World’ from a journal entry three years ago:

“A few wildflowers are starting to bloom on our property, so we went out and took pictures of them. We’re going to put together a notebook of what blooms out here (we have lots of wildflowers). The notebook will include photographs, identification, written descriptions, etc. (Note: in our real world, we moved before this project was finished)

We picked a few and put them on our scanner, multiplied the image by 200
percent and looked at ’em close up. Apparently an ant had hitchhiked in,
because there he was, standing up on the tip of a leaf and waving. That pic
then became our screensaver.

The girls have decided they are going to use the scanner and some flowers to
make their own stationary. (In the real world I don’t think they ever did)

For some reason the First Years had picked some leaves and put them in a
jar out on the deck. A huge bumblebee flew into the jar, so we put a lid
on, brought it in and four of the kidlets painted pictures of it. The two
eldest didn’t want to paint so they just wrote a description, and one of the
girls looked it up on (it’s probably a Sonoran bumblebee,
possibly the Queen).

We filled up two upside down trashcan lids with water and set them up on bricks for a low birdbath. We have watched quail, robins, sparrows, finches and a wren come for drinks and bathing, as well as a nine striped ground squirrel.

I tried to convince The First Year Boy that just like the birds take baths to keep clean, he should do some splashing in the sink to clean his very filthy face. He
was not persuaded, so physical persuasion had to be applied.

We looked at a fly under a jeweler’s loupe, watched the dog try to dig out a
groundsquirrel; hung laundry on the line….

The 11 y.o. read about the charge of the Light Brigade in her history book
and then looked it up in her poetry book. The 13 y.o. finished reading a
biography of Louis Pasteur.

Also in our real world on that day, I wrote “paint jars spilled, tempers frayed, the wind blew over a baby tomato plant (leaving me now with two survivors out of ten), the dog pooped on the floor, the beds are unmade, it’s taken somebody two hours
to do her algebra (half of that time being spent staring into space), the
floors need vacuuming, the toilets need scrubbing (I couldn’t find the brush
when I wanted it, and now I know were it is but I don’t want it anymore) and
I have no clue what we’ll have for supper.;-)

So, three years later the DHM still does not know what we had for supper that night, and she supposes it must not have mattered very much. She does not remember whose temper frayed or why (though she suspects it was her own). She is in blissful ignorance about how dirty the floors were or when she got around to scrubbing the toilet. She does remember the little ant waving at us from the scanned picture. She does remember how much fun it was to look at the flower photographs magnified so much. She recalls fondly the trashcan lid birdbaths, as well as how interested the 11 y.o. was in The Charge of the Light Brigade. She is not sure which child did not do her algebra in a timely manner.

What are you doing today that will be worth remembering three years from now?

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In Which the Equuschick Goes Educational

She here offers one of her newspaper articles, written for the shelter she works at, for your consideration.

Every responsible person who has ever owned a dog knows how important training is, especially where children are concerned. A good dog knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that aggression towards a child will not be tolerated under any circumstances. This is as it should be, even the sweetest natured dog will not be aware of the damage it could do to a 3 year old child in a single moment of irritation, and even the smartest dog will not always be able to distinguish between being disciplined for snarling at a child who was only stroking the dog’s back, and being disciplined for snarling at a child yanking at his ears. To avoid any confusion, the safest thing is to ensure the dog knows that child aggression is never acceptable.

But while all of this is being done, let us not forget that, for two reasons, children should be given as much training as the dog. First of all, it is simply unfair to expect the dog to do all the work in the relationship. Though the perfect dog who will never snarl at a child is the ideal we should strive for in our training, this perfect dog does not exist and it’s possible to ask too much of even the most loving animal. Secondly, it is best for the child’s own well-being if he understands basic dog safety. You may invest a great deal of time and effort teaching your dog to tolerate children, the owner whose dog runs around town as a stray probably did not invest in the same training. As a result, the stray dog who wanders into your yard most likely has no idea how to act around a strange child. By default, it becomes your responsibility to teach the child how to act around a strange dog.

What are some dog safety guidelines to teach your children? When considering an unknown animal, the best thing you can teach your children is to just leave it alone. It’s a hard lesson for curious children to learn, but you need to make it absolutely clear to them that it is never okay to approach a loose and unknown animal. Teach them to recognize the mood of a dog by its body posture- a dog with its tail between its legs, sunk low to the ground, is a frightened dog who will be unpredictable and should be left alone. A dog “taking a bow”, with his rear up in the air and his chest laying down, is a dog in a playful mood, who will not be aggressive but probably won’t be gentle, either. A dog with his ears rolled back and the hairs on the back of his neck raised is an aggressive dog , and should not be approached under any circumstances. Find pictures of these dogs online and show them to your children. Teach them what do in the rare case of a truly aggressive dog who may attempt an attack; look this up online as well, and make sure they are prepared.

In some cases, unknown dogs will be accompanied by their owners. Children must learn to ask permission before approaching the dog, and must ask the owner for an introduction to the dog.

Unknown dogs are not the only dogs that present a safety to risk to uneducated children. Any family dog, when feeling threatened by a child, can bite.

Children often have a hard time understanding that animals aren’t toys. A stuffed dog whose ears are pulled by a child will not react the way a real dog would, children must be made to realize that pulling the ears of the family pet is cruel to the dog and dangerous to themselves.

Many young children also engage in the dangerous game of “teasing” the family pet- pretending to offer the dog a treat, and then pulling it back. THIS IS NOT OKAY. A game this frustrating is bound to aggravate even a good-natured dog, and in some cases the dog himself may not even be annoyed, but the mouth that was open to receive the treat will accidentally close on the hand that pulled the treat away. A sister of mine was once bitten in this way by the best dog my family ever had, and the saddest thing was how devastated the dog was. He had never meant to hurt her.

No doubt you were already aware of the hazards teasing and ear pulling can present, but other dog safety guidelines are less obvious. Whatever we do with a dog, we must remember to ask how things look from his point of view- that of a carnivorous predator who functions in a distinct hierarchy. As an example, it is fairly common for young children and even adults to want to hug a dog around the neck. To us, it seems only a sweet and touching gesture. To a dog, pressure around the neck is similar to a disciplinary, even an aggressive, action that occurs in a dog pack. No doubt you have seen dogs in a fight go for the neck of their opponent, and for this reason some dogs are uncomfortable with a child putting pressure on the neck, and will react defensively.

By the same token, we must remember that dogs themselves were often prey as well as predators in the wild, and we must careful how we approach them. Let any dog, whether you know it or not, see and smell you before you pet it. Be careful of your body language as you approach them. Though direct eye contact with your family dog is something you can train it to be comfortable with, direct eye contact with a strange dog is not a good idea. As you approach a dog, be careful not to tower directly over it. Kneeling is a good way to make your posture as unthreatening as possible. Never directly corner a dog, this is only what predators do to prey- and the dog will react defensively.

Whatever you do, the important thing for all children to remember is that a dog is an individual,and a very alive being- He feels pain and fear as the child does, he has good days and bad days, as the child does. If you must, and you *must*, insist that your dog tolerate anything and everything a child does, it is only fair to ask for a modicum of patience and consideration from your child.

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The Leader Alone

I believe that it was C.S. Lewis who said that leaders are often alone and being asked by others why they are going in the wrong direction.
Someone leading should be in the front and looking over the horizon. When he or she sees someting that turns out to be either a dead end of simply not the desired outcome the leader will turn around. The followers will ask why the leader is not headed in the same direction as they. The only appropriate response is that “I have already been down that road, seen its outcome, and have turned around.”

The leader is the one who is not afraid of turning around (alone if neccessary), and as John Maxwell puts it,”Will climb the highest tree to look around and yell, ‘We are headed in the wrong direction’ “.

T. H. M.

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Spelling Lesson

Pipsqueak: What is the plural of cyclops?

Headmaster: Is that with one i or two?

(The correct answer is cyclopes, which then makes it a three syllable word. No, the DHM did not know that. She had to Look It Up.)

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