Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Stepping Away

Four years ago, for reasons which should be obvious, I left the Republican party. I am still registered as an independent. Setting myself outside of the two major parties has given me some much-needed perspective. I’m not saying I don’t still have bias. Everyone does. But I try to step outside the echo chamber and analyze stories on their merits and not their political viewpoint.


If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend approaching every news story this way: Could this be true? Where are the corroborating facts, statements, videos? Where is it being reported? Is this based on a social media post of any kind? Is it presented in meme format? I feel like I can’t be the only person who goes through these steps when I hear a “news” story but I sometimes think I am as I scroll Facebook. 


Yesterday, people were repeating the idea that Trump is ordering mailboxes to be removed from streets across America to mess with mail-in voting. Now, this is the hard part: set aside the name in the middle of that sentence and all your feelings about it. Read that sentence again. Does that sound like something a President would do? Is it even something he could do? I was skeptical. Upon investigating, I found an interview with a USPS representative who said “the Postal Service has for decades installed and removed its 'iconic blue' collection mailboxes based on the volume of mail received to each. She said that low-volume mailboxes are a financial drag on the Postal Service, which lost more than $2 billion in the second quarter. 'It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day,' Frum said. 'Historically, mail boxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas.' ” 

Now that you have some context, you can see that there does not appear to be malicious intent here. Furthermore, the USPS has already said they will stop this routine removal of boxes until after the election. Unfortunately, this has not stopped people repeating this misleading story. Now, I am still investigating other aspects of what has been said, but the idea is that Trump is removing mailboxes is false.


What about voter fraud? Multiple news outlets have scoffed at Trump for suggesting that mail-in ballots open the door to fraud, saying there is no evidence for this. But a simple internet search found this quote: “votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show.” Is this a declaration from a Trump spokesperson? No, it’s from the New York Times in 2012. It’s also noteworthy that, while saying there is no evidence for mail-in voter fraud, many news outlets simultaneously accuse Trump of trying to commit voter fraud. So which is it? Is mail-in voting completely secure, or is it easily compromised? The answer is probably somewhere in between. Either party is capable of committing fraud. Either party is capable of registering a dead cat to vote.


The double standard is driving me crazy. In 2008, the national debt was the most horrible thing in the world (which, objectively, it is). But as soon as Obama got in office, there wasn’t another word about it, despite the fact that he increased it 84%. Once Trump was in, oh, dear, the national debt is important again (which it is, and in fact never stopped being).


How about the morality double standard? Republicans in 1992 harped about Bill Clinton’s infidelities and lack of moral character (which were true), while Democrats insisted that a man’s character has nothing to do with being President (which is also, in some respects, true). Fast-forward to 2016, and the roles are reversed! I guess I’m a simple person, but I try to be consistent. I was against Trump for many of the same reasons I was against Bill Clinton. My stance didn’t change just because the letter after the candidate’s name did. I was against children in cages when Obama did it, and I’m still against it now. I could go on and on.


Frankly, I can’t take this anymore. I have real things in my life that I have to deal with. I don’t want to spend precious time hunting down the truth of every news article I see, but neither do I want to blindly accept something just because it fits my worldview. So I give up. I’m stepping away from social media until after the election, because I just can’t. I will still be diligently fact-checking news stories, but I won’t have to see other people reposting falsehoods they haven’t bothered to check. It’s irritating that I have so many intelligent, well-spoken friends who just swallow whatever they’re fed because they love/hate Trump. Please, stop! Do your research. Don’t hit “share” unless you’re sure.


I will end this on a positive note. I have just come back from traveling halfway across the country to take my son to college, and I have good news. America is still America, folks! As George Washington said in his farewell address, parties only serve to divide us. He saw exactly what would happen, just as surely as if he had a time machine, once we allowed Party to be more important than Country. We the People need to take our country back from the special interests on both sides of the aisle. We need to realize that neither party is 100% right or 100% wrong. We have far more in common than party politics wants us to realize. Find that commonality. Talk about that. Because that’s what will keep us together.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Why I Teach

Educational Field Trips for the win!

          Something I hear often as a homeschooler (and if you homeschool, you’ve heard it, too) is “I could never do that!”  And I always think, “How do you know unless you try?”
            You see, I never wanted to be a teacher. I’m sure that would surprise my little brother, who I used to make sit on our playroom floor in front of a large chalkboard, with his classmate stuffed animals, so I could “play teacher”. But when it came time to choose a major, teaching was the last thing on my mind. I was a writer, not a teacher.
But I guess it’s part of my DNA. My dad was a teacher, my grandmother was a teacher, one of my aunts was a teacher. I was destined to be a teacher. I just had to figure it out. And homeschooling helped me do that.
It hasn’t always been an easy road. There were times I wanted to drive my sons to the nearest school, throw them through the front doors, and yell, “Here, you do it!” But I didn’t. And along the way, I discovered something.
            Teaching gives me joy. I love sharing my passion for literature with my students at co-op. I love getting to know my own children and how they think in our school room at home. And it is a joy to see a student who was struggling finally “get it.”
            Teaching is satisfying. There is nothing like helping a young person find their voice. And what a tremendous satisfaction to hear those students’ success stories, to be told, “I never got literature before and now I love it!” Or a Facebook message – “Mrs. Hege, I tested out of freshman English thanks to you!”
            I love the relationships I’ve been able to form with my students. I get to know them through their writing and class discussions. And I get to know their parents, too. We’re all in this homeschooling thing together! We have an amazing community where we support each other, love each other, and pray for each other. Without that, I’d probably have given up.
            That brings me to the need. Some homeschooling moms just don’t know how to teach literature and writing, or they really feel the need for outside input about their children’s writing. Every year as our co-op plans next year’s classes, three or four ladies will approach me to ask what kind of literature I’m teaching or to request that I do my research paper class again. I won’t lie, it feels good to be needed!
            None of this could have happened if I had said, “I could never do that.” Once I figured out that I was good at teaching, that I actually loved teaching, I looked for every opportunity to do it. And the more I do, the more I feel that I am right where I’m supposed to be. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fight the Dead...

As I have previously established, I am terrified of dead people.  Not the kind that stay dead.  The kind that insist on getting up and walking around long after the time when this is a viable option for them.  Before we were married, future hubby and I went to a wax museum where the Chamber of Horrors included scenes from scary movies, the twist being that you had to walk through the scenes of horror instead of just past them.  So there we were, enjoying a fun evening out together, when suddenly we're in the middle of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.  The memory gets kind of fuzzy after that, but I'm pretty sure I screamed hysterically and ran.  Because even though they were only wax figures, they were zombies.

So it comes as a surprise to everyone I know, and especially to me, that I have become a fan of The Walking Dead on AMC.   In all honesty, I am fascinated by the interaction of the living characters and tend to look away when the zombies show up.  But the zombies are the not the scary part of the show.  The scary part is what the living humans are capable of doing to each other.  Like it says on the picture, fear the living.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Surviving at the Homeschool Convention

It's time for the annual trip to the CHAP fair - a huge homeschool fair and conference up in Harrisburg.  I love it.  I'm not sure how many times I've been, but I look forward to it every spring.  The speakers are always fantastic, and the shopping - oh, my, the shopping!

Every year, I also talk to at least one homeschooling friend who is terrified to go to the fair.  Maybe terrified isn't the right word, but it comes close.  And it definitely can be overwhelming.  So here are my tips for negotiating the homeschool fair, wherever yours may be.

  1. Make a list.  If you know what you're there to buy, and you have a price range, you'll know when to buy and when to walk on by.  You're also less likely to buy lots of stuff you don't need.
  2. Don't be rude.  Don't stand in front of a vendor and look for cheaper prices online with your cell phone.  If you absolutely must price compare, do it somewhere else.
  3. Make a budget.  Yes, you're only there to buy next year's curriculum.  But when you pass that used book booth or you see the perfect birthday/Christmas/Mother's Day gift, you need to know ahead of time what you can afford.
  4. If your children are coming, give them a budget also.  I guarantee there will be lots of toys, both educational and otherwise, and knowing ahead of time what they can spend will make it easier on everyone.
  5. Schedule your seminars.  Look at the list of speakers online ahead of time and know which seminars you absolutely don't want to miss.  Last year, I thought I would buy the CDs of the ones I missed, but I didn't.  I'd much rather hear the speakers in person.
  6. Plan on eating.  At CHAP, they don't allow food inside the complex, so I either have to have cash for the concessions or pack food in the car and go outside for lunch.  This year it's supposed to be raining, so lunch in the car might not be the best choice.
  7. If you're shopping, bring a suitcase.  Or something on wheels.  Trust me, it gets difficult carrying your purchases around in a bag.  And if you don't have a longsuffering husband like mine who's willing to drag everything out to the car periodically, you will regret not having something rollable.
  8. Relax.  If you get tired, or just overwhelmed, take a little while to sit down.  If you feel like leaving, go ahead and leave.  No one's judging.
I'll see you all at the fair!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I recently told a blogging friend that I want my blog to be a reflection of my mind.  If you read it, it would be like reading my mind.  But then I realized something: my mind is a very scary place.  It's full of dark corners, a few cobwebs, things waiting to jump out and surprise me.  I freak myself out on a regular basis.  And I'm not talking about watching too many horror movies.  I'm talking about something much scarier.

SHE is hiding there.

She goes by different names.  Pride.  Fear.  Defiance.  But the worst part is, I never recognize her.  She shows up very predictably, but I always let her in and entertain her for a while.  Sometimes I even let her talk to my husband, though she usually doesn't want to because he recognizes her right away and sends her scurrying back to a corner.  Most of the time, I hold her hand and lead her around my innermost thoughts and let her whisper in my ear.  And I know she'd love to guest write a blog post.

The only way to get rid of her is to invite her to speak to my Best Friend.  He knows all of her tricks, but more importantly, He can banish her.  He did it a long time ago in the wilderness.  He finished it on the cross.  And when I hear Him start to say, "It is written..."  I know she's going to turn tail and run.

And then I can blog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20 Years!

Twenty years ago, I made one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Happy Anniversary, my love!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deadlines and anniversaries

This coming week has some important dates.

Our homeschool portfolios are due on June 30, but since we are going to be at Good News Camp the whole last week of June, I need to get them turned in by Friday.  This is always a big stress-out time for me because I don't want to forget anything.  Also, inevitably, Caleb has not finished all of the required writing for the year.  So we need to finish a paper he's been working on and write up a lab report as well.  Thankfully, I'm already finished with Isaac and Joshua's, and Noah is still too young to need one.

On Wednesday, hubby and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  How it got to be 20 years already, I'll never be able to tell you.  What I can tell you is that every single day, I love this man I married more and more. He is planning to take me up to Hershey later today for some serious roller coaster time, without the boys.  Yep, he knows what I like!

Did anyone see the guy walking across Niagara Falls last night?  My stomach still hurts from all the anxiety.  I am so scared of heights, I can't even watch other people do stuff like that without my palms sweating.  Eek!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Time FLU and I didn't have fun

Ha ha.

I don't think it was actually the flu.  Although I had the vaccine this year, and I guess it could have been a mild case.  I woke up in the middle of the night Sunday night with horrible nausea and stomach cramps.  And then a headache and body aches.  And I stayed in bed all day yesterday.  All I had to eat was graham crackers and a soft pretzel.  That's how sick I was.

Today?  Just fine.  I woke up at 8:30 (granted, later than I usually would) and I felt fine.  I spent the day visiting with my parents, who have finally arrived from Florida in their RV.  I have eaten the normal things I would eat on any given day and it has caused no further distress.

But I did lose a whole day.

I also got to see what my family would eat if I were not around to cook for them.  Shudder.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


At the beginning of this school year, I wasn't at all sure my then-9-year-old would be reading even up to second grade level, let alone 4th, where he should be.  He has always struggled with remembering sounds and combinations, so we went over the same things many times.  But we found the perfect program for his needs: Funnix.  You can find it here.

Isaac's biggest problem with other phonics programs was that they moved too quickly.  I won't name them (though if you want to know, email me and I'll share), but we tried several other computer-based phonics programs and they left him in the dust.  This meant either tears of frustration, or no long-term retention.  When we started Funnix, it moved at such a slow pace that he was able to follow it, keep up with it, and ACTUALLY LEARN!  He is now five lessons away from finishing Funnix 2 and he is reading fluently.  When we test, I fully expect him to be at grade level.  It's amazing the progress he's made this year, and so exciting!

My favorite part is sitting in his Wednesday night class at church and listening to him read Bible verses out loud from the King James with little to no hesitation.  I am thrilled.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Land ho!

I think I'm done.  I think I've found a name I'm happy with, a look I'm happy with, and a layout I'm happy with.  Now if I could just get the fonts to cooperate...

We had a fun weekend.  We went up to Hershey yesterday after church and enjoyed our season passes for the first time.  I rode the new Skyrush coaster and screamed my head off.  It was terrifying.  In a good way.

Now we're down to what I anticipate being the last week of school for the younger boys, and hopefully the oldest as well.  We'll see.