A First Taste of Irony

The Ring of Truth
Anna brings a library book home from school every Wednesday. She’ll be bringing her third one home today, and I’m hoping she chooses as well as she did last week.

I was a bit surprised by her choice. It wasn’t about princesses or fairies or superheroes. It wasn’t a book series she was familiar with, like Curious George or Clifford. It wasn’t by Dr. Seuss. Instead, it was a story about an Irish peddler, blarney contests, and leprechauns: very different from what she usually reads, but she liked the pictures and wanted to hear the story. (NOTE: Spoilers below)

The Ring of Truth is about a peddler named Patrick O’Kelley who is so skilled at telling tall tales that everyone speculates he got a bit of the Blarney Stone stuck in his teeth. He is so skilled at lying that he boasts he could even out-blarney the King of the Leprechauns. Well, the king doesn’t take too kindly to Patrick’s boasting, so he lures him into the Leprechaun Kingdom and tricks him into putting on the Ring of Truth. Now Patrick can only tell the truth. His business, which relies on flattery, suffers, and he can’t enter the blarney contest as he planned.

Well he ends up getting pushed up onstage at the contest anyway and tells the whole tale. Everyone bursts into laughter and the judges declare his story the biggest pile of blarney they’ve ever heard. He protests, but to no avail. No one believes him and he wins the pot of gold.

Now, being part Irish myself and having a well-developed sense of irony, I saw the plot twist coming the moment he got pushed up on stage. Anna, of course, had no idea, but when we got to the punch line she burst out laughing. She got the joke. I was so proud.

My daughter is finding more and more things funny lately and both Julia and I enjoy making her laugh, but this was the first time she laughed at something ironic. It’s a big step forward in her comprehension of literature.

And another way I can get her to laugh.

Bloggerhood Etc. 10/20/14

beach bonfire

Photo: Heather Park

Best Photoblog.Once I Went to a Wedding” by Heather Park and Evelyn Shoop at Momsicle.

Best Special Needs Post.The Path to Self-Advocacy” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Support for Special Needs.

Best List.The 5 Worst Commercials of the MLB Postseason” by Grant Brisbee at SB Nation.

Best Satire.The War on Halloween” by Drew Chial.

Best Question.What Does it Mean to be Blackish?” by Christena Cleveland at Christianity Today.

Most Hopeful.The Secret to Stop Feeling Like a Failure” by Jennifer Dukes-Lee, guest-posting at Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience.

Best Social Commentary.Deus Ex Musica: Beethoven’s Bad Influence” by Alex Ross at The New Yorker.

Best Parenting Post.The Whole Truth About Infant Cereals: 7 Science-Based Tips” by Alice Callahan at Science of Mom.

Best Reflection.Mark Driscoll Impacts the Non-Mars-Hill People Too” by Andee Zomerman at Nature of a Servant.

Best Sports Commentary.Kirk Cousins, E.J. Manuel, and Why Bad Quarterbacks Keep Getting Starting Jobs” by K.C. Clyburn at Football is Stupid.

Best Advice.How I Learned NOT to be an Obnoxious Author” by Sarabeth Caplin.

Best Mom Post.To Live Like a Child” by Ashley Larkin at Draw Near.

Best Dad Post.A Dispatch from the Gender Frontline (I Went to Some Toy Shops)” by Simon Ragoonanan at Man vs. Pink.

Best Essay. “The Other Side of the River” by Stephen Knox at SB Nation.

Most Awesome Video.3D Printed IRON MAN Child Prosthetic Hand” by Pat Starace (via YouTube).

Bloggerhood Etc. 10/13/14


BEEFTANK!!! (Image: Jon Bois/SB Nation)

Best Return.Breaking Madden: BEEFTANK Returns” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Most Honest.Making Peace With My Mental Illness” by Cara Strickland at Little Did She Know.

Best Special Needs Post.An Extraordinary Story” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Support for Special Needs.

Best List.10 Reasons I Can’t Relate to the 30-Something Blogger” by Andee Zomerman at Nature of a Servant.

Best Question.I Sing Because I’m Happy! Or is it the Other Way Around?” by Adam Hall at Tenor Dad.

Best Parenting Post.Target’s Response To My Calling Out Their Girls” Clothing Problem” by Stephanie Glese at Huff Post Parents.

Best Commentary.Synod 14: The Church Needs to Replace the Family” by Artur Roseman at Cosmos in the Lost.

Strangest Story.I’m a Blonde Tattooed Girl From Texas. Why Are ISIS Fighters Tweeting Marriage Proposals to Me?” by Jennifer Williams at New Republic.

Best Use of Bad Candy.Six Silly/Spooky Candy Corn Crafts” by Brent Almond at Designer Daddy.

Best Travel Article.Shakespeare and the Seven-Year Old” By Melissa Hart at Show Me the Monkey: An Oregon Family’s Adventures.

Best Guest Post.Why I Am Made Right” by Ashley Linne at Addie Zierman’s How to Talk Evangelical.

Cutest.What Happens When Second Graders Are Treated to a Seven-Course, $220 Tasting Meal” by Jeffrey Blitz at New York Times Magazine (Video).

Best Essay.40,000 Suicides Annually, Yet America Simply Shrugs” by Greg Zoroya at USA Today.

Best Bilingual Video.Transformers: Age of Extinction (變形金剛4 灭绝重生)” by Honest Trailers (via YouTube).

“The Transformers are back! And they’re as over these movies as we are.”


No Child Left Behind?

This is a letter to the editor from a mom in Ohio who tried to exempt her children from standardized testing. I’ve removed her name and location out of respect for her privacy.

Dear Editor:

My mom guilt has made me sick. I’m disturbed with the knowledge that I’ve gained since August of 2013 about education reform in Ohio. The increased standardized testing and how they are coupled to the new Common Core national standards.

Changes in curriculum, the frequency of standardized testing, data mining of student information, Teach For America replacing real teachers in a classroom … it goes on and on.

On Aug. 25, 2014, I stood up to formally refuse standardized testing for my two older children, who aren’t old enough to do so for themselves. They are 5 and 8 years old, in kindergarten and second grade, respectively.

With that decision, I found myself traveling down the rabbit hole. I knew that it would be hard, but was not ready for the push-back, bullying and obstruction I received from our local district.

I can handle the bullying, which has continued through the district’s superintendent, who has called my home, long string of emails telling me what I can and can’t do with the education of my children. That I am not allowed to ask my children’s teachers anything about testing, curriculum, materials, etc.

On Sept. 26, the superintendent confirmed my children were standardized tested.

I believe in respectfully speaking truth to power and authority. I want you and I to be able to exercise our constitutional rights when we think something is important. I believe my parental constitutional rights have been violated in (my) School District.

(Name withheld).

School districts are supposed to serve children, their parents, and surrounding community and not the other way around. If we can’t determine our own children’s education while they are in school then why send them there. Deep down, I feel this is an attempt to sabotage our public education system. Over time it will push the wealthiest parents into private schooling, and the parents who can manage on one income into home schooling. As for the rest—the poorest who have no choice—their kids will suffer the most.

That’s the cruel irony of a law called “No Child Left Behind.” I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Bloggerhood Etc. 10/6/14


Photo: Chris Bernholdt

Best Rant. “Stop Taking the Play Out of Playgrounds” by Chris Bernholdt at DadNCharge.

Best Book.One of the Coolest Books of Maps That Your Kid Will Ever See” by Tom B. at Building a Library.

Best Birthday Cake.Baking Dad: Space Shuttle Birthday Cake” by Chris Routly at Daddy Doctrines.

Best Commentary.Neoliberalism Has Brought Out the Worst in Us” by Paul Verhaeghe at The Guardian. (NOTE: What Europeans call “neoliberalism”—i.e. extreme economic liberalism—is known as libertarianism in the U.S.)

Best Role Model.Heisman in Pieces, but Marcus Mariota Remains Whole” by John Canzano at Oregon Live.

Best List.10 Movies That Were More Biblical Than Left Behind” by Benjamin J Corey at Formerly Fundie.

Best Reflection.Martha, Misunderstood” by Cara Strickland at The Junia Project.

Best Book Review.The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins” by John Gray at New Republic.

Best Relationship Advice. “The Secret to a Conflict-Free Relationship (Just Kidding, I Don’t Believe in Those)” by Natalie Trust.

Best Parenting Post.Kids and Electronics” Bring Back Boredom” by Cornelia Becker Seigneur.

Most Disgusting.Types of Boogers: A Cartoonized Guide” by Andy Herald at How to Be a Dad.

Best Question.Will D.C. Residents Do What Red Mesa Residents Did and Save Their High School Indian Nickname?” by Anthony Brown at Redskins’ Hog Heaven.

Best Dad Post.Suffering Children” by Brian Doyle in America.

Best Call to Action. Social Justice for Single People” by Christena Cleveland.

Most Thought Provoking.Why You Need More Muslim Friends” by John Huckins in Relevant.

Best Video.She Moved Through the Fair” by Peter Hollens (via YouTube).

His debut album from Sony Masterworks comes out October 27th and is available for pre-order (more details at the end of the video).

A New Word



$127.50 at Letterpress Blocks by (in)courage (New words don’t come cheap!)

What makes a word?

A combination of letters? Yes.

A defined meaning? Yes.

Being in the dictionary? Um … not necessarily.

At some point, every word had to be made up by someone. Shakespeare made up words, so did Lewis Carroll, G.K. Chesterton, Dr. Seuss, and many others. Language is a living, growing organic thing, It mutates and evolves over time as it’s spoken. Dictionaries only report what’s already there (and sometimes they propagandize what someone thinks should be there, but that’s another post).

So why not make up a word? My daughter does it all the time, and if creativity is the essence of play—and I believe it is—why shouldn’t I make up words too?

I did. Last night Without even trying.

Spinderrific: adj. Something so good it makes you want to spin in a circle as fast as you can. A combination of terrific and spin, with a “d” thrown in because it sounded right.

Now I invite you to create your own word and leave it in the comments.

Thanks to Jimmy Edgeworth for inspiring my new word (and this post) at last night’s Mid-Valley Willamette Writers Meeting.