Thursday, May 26, 2011


I don't want to feel like I have to justify to my friends if my boys go out on a date.  Now, mind you, I say this with the comfortable certainty that that probably isn't going to happen any time in the immediate future.

While my friends outside my Christian circle think of me as very conservative and I've been called to the right of the John Birch society (pretty sure that's not a compliment), Christians don't know what to do with me.

Mostly they seem vaguely suspicious of me.  I am theologically conservative, yet my flat-out rejection of some of the more popular trends in the conservative home educating crowd flummoxes them.  They suspect I am a heretic or at least deceived and ill-informed.  The polite horror when I mentioned that my son was looking for a math themed Halloween costume to wear to his college Calc class for extra credit is but one indication that I too often stray from the current standard orthodoxy.

The courtship model causes me unease.  This article goes a long way toward capturing why.  The fact that I voice unease with the courtship model, with the patriocentric movement, with the family-integrated church movement causes my friends unease.

None of this should be reason for divisiveness.  None of these matters concern the nature of God or the way of salvation.  And the folks I hang with are too polite to make it a divisive matter.  But neither do they really want to talk about most of these topics.

Perhaps the comments here can be a thoughtful forum.  I'd be very interested in hearing others' thoughts after reading the linked courtship article.  How do you intend to guide your kids when it comes to dating?  I am sure I have much to learn from all of you!

"Break the conventions.  Keep the Commandments." --GK Chesterton

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good News or Merely More Confusion?

Hi, all!

There is some potentially good news on the homeschool MathCounts team issue.  You may remember new homeschool teams were banned from competition this year.  We were fortunate in our region to have a coordinator who scored our kids' team on an "unofficial" basis and reported those scores to me privately.  They, by the way, "unofficially" won that portion of the competition and "unofficially" placed second overall as a team.  For their fantastic debut effort, they received nary a nod or applause or mention from the podium.  We were the only ones who knew of their achievement.  Great way to treat kids, hunh?

MathCounts just issued a new ruling for the upcoming competitive season.  I've listed it below, but some concerns remain.  For instance, my local middle school competes in one region even though the school draws kids from two different MathCounts regions.  I live in a town that straddles two counties.  According to the new modification, if a homeschooled kid lives just 10 minutes from where our team practices, he or she would have to drive an hour to the homeschool team in that region/county rather than 20 city blocks to our team.  Seems to defeat the intent of the ruling, which is clearly to restrict homeschool teams to a small geographic area.  Also, there is no such thing as a legitimately recognized homeschool group in my state.  Homeschools are legal private schools in IL.  This year, I had all our competitors' parents sign an affidavit saying they were in full legal compliance with the state code regulating private schools.  I don't see any way our state could require any more.  Or would our homeschool math team be considered a legitimately recognized homeschool group by virtue of our regular meetings and practices?  Who is the arbiter of legitimacy here?

I applaud MathCounts for relenting on their unreasonable rule of last season, but as long as we have magnet schools, private schools and public schools who are not in compliance with the rules below, the policy remains discriminatory toward a group of kids merely because of where and how they receive their primary instruction.  And in my book, that's just plain wrong.

Team Eligibility Rule Modification:  Coordinators were notified that the Homeschool/Small School eligibility rule will be modified for the 2011-2012 program year.  Homeschool groups will once again be allowed to register a team for the competition program.  However, all homeschool groups registering a team will be required to meet the following qualifications:  1. All registered members of the team must live within the same chapter they will be competing in and 2. Homeschool groups registering a team must complete a Homeschool Affidavit that identifies the school as a legitimately recognized homeschool group within the state and discourages the homeschool group’s students from registering independently should they not be selected to represent the homeschool group noted on the affidavit.

The rule prohibiting small schools from combining with other small schools to form a team still will be enforced for the 2011-2012 program year.

Although the MATHCOUNTS Board of Directors has agreed to modify the team eligibility rule for the 2011-2012 program year, the format of the affidavit is still in the development stages.  Additional information concerning the rule modification will be provided to coordinators when it becomes available, as well as in the 2011-2012 Coordinator Manual and in the 2011-2012 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tornado Relief

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, will pick four charities nominated by those who comment on her blog to receive $500 each.  Additionally, for each comment left this week, she will donate $.25 to relief organizations providing direct aid to the tornado victims in the southern US.  You can read her column here.  I've noticed that on most of her "give away" type posts, there are 30-35,000 comments left within 24-48 hours.  I'm praying that the completely altruistic basis for this one and the full week timeframe might spur even more.  Tell all your friends!



The marathon runners in Champaign weren't the only folks sweating and persevering this past weekend.  3000 mathletes, including 10 from the South Naperville Homeschool Math Team, descended on the University of Illinois campus for the annual Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Competition.  Student competing at the ICTM state finals must place or meet minimum qualifying scores at regional events held throughout the state in March in order to advance to the state finals.

Adair L's minivan squealed into the Illini Garage Mahal after an almost all night drive from a family vacation in Texas.  Adair, S. Nap's only freshman, contributed to the team's highest finish of the day, a third place in the Calculator Team contest.  The five person team included soph Jack R, juniors Julia N and  Ryan M, and senior Andy F.  After barely squeaking into the state competition on a minimum qualifying score, Jack R rebounded and bested 110 other competitors to finish a strong fourth place individually in the Geometry contest.  Charles S and Landon T concluded their high school math competitive careers by teaming together for a hard fought 5th place finish in the Junior/Senior Two Person Team Event.  Julia N and Ryan M led a capable junior class that included Jenny Y and Nathan D in the Algebra 2 competition.  Their four score combined total landed them in 8th place as a team.  South Naperville formed this year with the blessing, encouragement and support of Cornerstone Homeschool Math Team.  Cornerstone, out of Carol Stream, captured the Division 1A State Overall Championship for the fifth year in a row.

South Naperville's Middle School team proved equally stellar in their inaugural season.  The six person team faced down teams twice their size at the March Junior High Math Contest hosted by IMSA.  Rowan M, Joseph L, Hannah W and Zachary L took top honors in the 7th grade team contest while Rowan M captured second place individually.  Nathan R finished third in the 8th grade individual competition.  All half dozen kids finished in the top 50% nationally in the MOEMS ( math contest.  Nathan R also received a silver pin for being in the top 10% nationwide.  MOEMS is a once monthly contest held over five months.  Last year, 150,000 kids from 6000 clubs participated in MOEMS.

The middle school kids performed similarly well in MathCounts competition.  Last year, MathCounts banned homeschool teams from the team portion of competition.  After huge national outcry, they amended that decision and banned only new homeschool teams pending a full review of the policy for next year's competition.  The team competed at the Joliet chapter regionals held at Heritage Grove school in Plainfield, where chair Richard Sinnott graciously agreed to score S. Naperville's team results on an "unofficial" basis.  The four person team of Nathan R, Rowan M, Joseph L and Hannah W "unofficially" won that portion of the competition and finished the day overall in "unofficial" second place.  Homeschoolers are allowed to compete and advance as individuals and the Joliet chapter sent the two highest scoring individuals who are not a part of the winning team on to state competition.  Nathan R, finishing third individually and second in the Countdown round, earned the top individual slot to advance to state competition held in Matteson, IL on March 12.  He had a great time there.

Emily Sault, veteran homeschool mom and fixture in the Naperville home educating community, coached the middle school club this year.  Judi Newman ( assisted in providing individual support and coaching where needed.  Regina Macwan led the high school club and was assisted by Marla Sheldon.  The team takes a well-deserved break until mid-September when they will resume practicing on Tuesdays 2-4p at Book Rd. Baptist Church, just south of 104th St on Book Rd in Naperville.  All are welcome to participate and inquiries can be sent to Holly Ramsey at for the middle school team and Regina Macwan for the high school team.