The White Rose

Today is the anniversary of the executions of Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst who were half of the group called the White Rose. The White Rose was a German Resistance group during World War II.

Hans and his sister Sophie were caught leaving anti-war leaflets in a lecture hall at the University of Munich and Christoph was arrested the next day. They were all executed a few hours after being found guilty of treason.

I read this brief account of their life. It has no sources cited, so take it for what it’s worth. It has no obvious inaccuracies, although I’m hardly an expert. I liked this part:

By a miracle the parents had a last opportunity to see their children. They
saw Hans first. Robert embraced him saying, ‘You will go down in history. There is another justice than this.’ Hans asked them to say farewell to his friends, and only when he mentioned one name very special to him did he weep, bowing his head so that no one should see. Sophie, when her turn came, accepted some little cakes that her brother had refused, saying, ‘Lovely. I didn’t get anything to eat at lunchtime.’ She looked wonderful, fresh and full of life. Her mother said, ‘I’ll never see you come through the door again.’ ‘Oh mother,’ she answered, ‘after all, it’s only a few years’ more life I’ll miss.’ She was pleased and proud that they had betrayed no one, that they had taken all the responsibility on themselves. Her main concern was that her mother should be able to withstand the deaths of two children at the same time. But, for herself, she was completely composed.

Of course, no one really knows how they would act under certain circumstances, but I always felt that I would have been a Sophie Scholl had I been living in Germany at the time. I always saw my brother Pete working with me too. And, yes, I saw myself losing my head over the whole thing, literally, just as they did. Oh, I think I would have eaten the little cakes too.

And this part struck me as interesting for our current political situation:

It was striking to see with what incisiveness and logic Sophie saw how things would develop, for she was warm-hearted and full of feeling, not cold and calculating. Here is an example: in winter 1941-42 there was a big propaganda campaign in Germany to get the people to give sweaters and other warm woolen clothing to the Army. German soldiers were at the gates of Leningrad and Moscow in the middle of a winter war for which
they weren’t prepared …Sophie said, ‘We’re not giving anything.’ I had just got back from the Russian Front… I tried to describe to her how conditions were for the men, with no gloves, pullovers or warm socks. She stuck to her viewpoint relentlessly and justified it by saying, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s German soldiers who are freezing to death or Russians, the case is equally terrible. But we must lose the war. If we contribute warm clothes, we’ll be extending it.’

I think of how today so many people say that they oppose the war in Iraq, but support the troops. This makes no sense to me. How can you support the troops if you think they are engaged in what is often called an immoral war? Should the German people have supported their troops during WWII? Or should they have let them freeze, as Sophie felt they should?

Week 22

I am really happy to be in Week 22 of the school year. The schedule I follow is 32 weeks long, so we’re more than 2/3 through. I can’t wait for school to be done.

I often have people ask me about homeschooling. It’s hard not to notice that I do, when I have all of my kids with me during the day. Most days, we stay home doing schoolwork, but occasionally we venture out, usually for milk. Thankfully, around here, lots of families homeschool, so I don’t feel too odd.

But when asked about homeschooling, generally from someone who is considering homeschooling or someone who perhaps feels guilty that they aren’t homeschooling or someone who thinks that I think they should homeschool, I assure them that it is a lot of work and things like cooking dinner or cleaning the house can not take priority. It’s really not for everybody, and I don’t think anybody should feel guilty if they send their kids off to the public indoctrination center, er, public school. {No, SERIOUSLY, I’m just trying to be funny.}

It is so hard, in fact, that I love any excuse to cancel school for the day. Don’t tell the kids this, since they are convinced that I really enjoy sitting with them for hours on end as they whine about having to copy 5 measly sentences with neat handwriting and proper punctuation. I am such a slave driver. So, I love it when we take the day to go to a museum or take the week because of a holiday. The only bad thing about this is that I have voluntarily chained myself to this 32 week curriculum and I MUST get it done. ALL of it. So when we take one day off, I try really hard to cram all that missed work into the rest of the week. That way, the weeks won’t run into the next one and we’ll finish the school year in a reasonable amount of time.

So the poor kids are regularly working like dogs to play catch up if we take a break. Making it necessary to take another break because we’ve been working so hard, making it necessary to work even harder, and so on and so on…

I am getting a little bit better and starting to omit some things on the to-do list. The redundancy of some tasks is only useful if done on different days (in other words, 15 minutes of piano practice per day is better than 90 minutes once a week and 90 minutes of “Ode to Joy” will make you despise Beethoven).

And maybe next year, I will take the 32 week curriculum and immediately number the DAYS and think in terms of DAY 63, DAY 64 instead of WEEK 19, WEEK 20.

National Gallery of Art

Bill told a big whopper last night: “I had a good time today.”

We went to the National Gallery of Art. I had a great time. It was a bit difficult: besides our 5 kids, we had our guest. Our kids were pumped up to go. I had printed a sheet with 13 works of art on it. The kids were on a scavenger hunt for these paintings. They had seen postcard-sized prints of most of these paintings and I had downloaded all of them to my screensaver a few weeks ago, so they had seen them flash by all day long. We talked about the art. They had tried to copy the art. When they would find a painting on their list they would be so excited I thought my own heart would burst.

Our ADHD guest was not as thrilled to be in a museum. The rules of talk quietly, no running, no climbing, no touching and the rooms with nothing in them except maybe a couch (oh, and some things hanging on the wall) combined to make him wish he were anywhere else. Bill made the mistake of threatening to take him out of there, so he then proceeded to try to earn this reward. Bill missed the Duerer Madonna because he was eating crow in an atrium for a bit.

Bill also didn’t like that the security guards felt the need to stay within 5 feet of our group at all times, mainly because our ADHD guest looked like a loose cannon. I didn’t notice this, but Bill insisted it was true. Perhaps he’s paranoid…or maybe I just get those looks so often I don’t even notice it any more.

Anyway, we saw all but one of the pictures on our list. We missed an Audobon, and I’m really sorry for that. We’ll have to go back. We ran out of time and ended up blowing through a whole section of the museum on the way to find one Da Vinci (“oh, was that a Botticelli? maybe next time….”). I almost blew off three other paintings. We were eating pizza in the cafeteria and I suggested to Bill that we eat and then head home. Fritz had a piano lesson at 1:30 pm and Jenny was approaching nap time. Fritz heard us and said, “But Mom, I really wanted to see Homer. That’s my favorite.” What’s a mom to do? We saw Homer, Picasso and Miro and then ran home.

That part, when Fritz expressed excitement and desire to see a painting, was the best part. Next best was Jenny, only 2 years old, saying TWICE, “There, Mom” and pointing to one of the paintings on the list. And then at dinner last night, we all discussed which paintings we liked best and talked about various techniques and themes and stuff…now that was really cool.

I love field trips.

parenting dilemma

Situation: 5 year old guest spending the night at our house. He and Billy will sleep on the floor of the boys’ room. Billy has 2 pillows and offers one to the guest. The guest wants the OTHER pillow. The coveted pillow has a hand-painted cover on it that says “Billy”. I tell him that it is Billy’s special pillow and has his name on it. He begins to cry. Fritz offers his special pillow which is identical to Billy’s pillow, except that it says “Fritz” instead of “Billy.” This alternative is not acceptable to him and he continues to cry.

Which lesson is more important here?: that MY son learn that accomodating a guest is a polite thing to do? or that the guest learn that some things are simply not for sharing?

Solution: do not invite children who have no siblings over for a slumber party.

sexy new wheels

Ain’t she nice?
Look her over once or twice.
Now I ask you very confidentially,
Ain’t she nice?

My new wheels. It’s in Texas right now, purchased on eBay. It’ll probably take a few weeks to get here. The only thing I don’t like is the color – but there are worse colors.

Admit it, you’re jealous. haha

I never thought I’d drive a MINI-VAN, let alone a 12 passenger behemoth.

what’s the point? eBay gripe

We’ve been looking on-line at used vans. There are several at eBay we’ve been considering. They usually have a reserve price (an undisclosed amount that the seller will not sell for less) and a “Buy It Now” price if you’d rather just close the deal right now at their suggested price.

There is one van for $11,900 Buy It Now. The vehicle is a 2003 model, but it’s going for pretty cheap because it has a few dents. And this is fine with me, because the other vans are all 2005 models and like new, but cost $20,000. So, I see huge savings in getting this particular van and don’t really care about the dents.

So, the sale ends today. Last night we bid $10,160 on it. If you don’t know, eBay will put you at highest bidder with the lowest price possible and automatically raise your bid for you to your maximum. We became highest bidder at $8500 but the reserve had not been met. Today, we were outbid by a bid of $10,200 which still did not meet the reserve. So what’s the reserve? $11,800? hello? what’s the point of even offering anything for bid?

strength in humility

It is my fervent desire that my husband makes it home from work at a reasonable hour tonight. Yesterday, when it was past time for him to be home and he hadn’t called to say he was on the way yet, I called and reminded him that I really wanted to go for a run. Before midnight. He called an hour later and insisted that I get ready to go out the minute he came in the door. And he, wonderful man, didn’t even complain that he had to hold the baby for the whole half hour and therefore didn’t get to eat his dinner until 8 pm. This is the sort of support and encouragement that I require of him, but he usually forgets to provide. Of course, since he spends 12 hours in the office most days, I suppose I should be more understanding if his brain is a little fried and he has trouble remembering my long list of demands including being home for dinner and providing an opportunity for me to exercise.

I’ve been watching my friend’s children for a few hours on thursdays to give her a break since her husband is deployed. She watched my kids on Tuesday for that FRG meeting and is insisting that she could do that every week. The baby is high-maintenance, but I’d keep him. The rest of the kids are pretty easy to please and require very little adult-directed entertainment. In other words, the older 4 kids know how to go play, as long as they have each other, and generally only need an adult around to provide food and drink and occasionally arbitrate. And if they are in an environment with toys they are not accustomed to, they could disappear for hours and maybe only pop up looking for the bathroom.

But I hate to ask her to watch the kids. I’m supposed to be helping HER. I know my kids aren’t much trouble, but that’s not the point. And, I KNOW, having been there, what’s going on. It is VERY difficult for strong, independent women to accept help. On the one hand, having me watch her kids for a few hours provides her with a much needed break. I am sure that over the next few months, there will be times that those few hours are all she has to help her keep her sanity. But on the other hand, she can’t help but feel that all those hours of help are adding up and that she OWES me so much.

This is, of course, not the case. It rarely is. Most of the time, people offer aid out of the goodness of their heart. A woman makes a meal for a friend or neighbor who is sick or has had a baby and does not expect a meal in return once health is restored. A neighbor who watches your kids for an hour while you take a feverish baby to the doctor is not looking at her calendar while you’re gone and planning a time when you can watch her kids.

And I think most of us can accept the occasional assistance like that. The problem comes when there is a long-term situation that has one person “on the take” frequently and rarely able to reciprocate: for example, a serious illness. A woman who is herself sick or who is caring for a child, spouse or parent who is very sick probably isn’t going to be able to help anyone else for quite some time, but may need the help of the community in the form of meals, child care or whatever someone could offer for months. Accepting help for months is a difficult thing to do. We want to be strong and having your church bring you meals twice a week for three months is not what a strong women does.

But, yes, it is. A truly strong woman can be humble. A truly strong woman knows she CAN do it all, and DOES do it all, but she knows that sometimes her prayers to God for strength are answered, not just with the spiritual stamina that she knows she needs, but also with a very tangible, very real strength in numbers as others help her.

I had much practice at the virtue of humility when Bill was deployed. I had to suck it up and ask for help many, many times. And sometimes the answer was no, and I had to ask someone else. It was horrible. I distinctly remember when I was very pregnant and the gutters on my roof were clogged with oak leaves. We were having heavy rains and the water wasn’t able to drain away from the house so it was getting into the basement. I really didn’t think it was prudent for me to climb up and clear the gutters myself: not only did my swollen belly keep me off balance, I had three little kids to keep an eye on too. I called four or five people before I found someone willing to come out and clean my gutters for me. Isn’t that ridiculous? Who wouldn’t help a pregnant woman with a deployed husband clean out her gutters? Can you imagine saying no?

Looking back, I don’t even remember what the excuses were. I don’t even remember who told me no. I just know that I had to ask for help for a basic need not once, but repeatedly. I guess God felt I needed to prostrate myself and beg, which is very humiliating and exactly how I felt. But I’m stronger because of it.

And so, back to my husband who can’t get home at a good hour and my friend who wants to watch my kids. It would be nice to take an hour once a week to go for a run. I wouldn’t be so mad at my husband for coming home late all the time if I knew that on tuesdays at least I could exercise. And I suppose that my friend’s situation isn’t the same as someone with a serious illness. She is capable of watching my kids, they would offer her a distraction, and she wouldn’t feel the burden of “owing” me something.

And perhaps, this is God’s way, again, of keeping me humble. I could be proud of myself for helping out someone in need and getting nothing out of it. Or I could let her reciprocate and thereby negate that accumulated balance of her “owing” me.

my clever son

Yesterday, Billy discovered that all the answers to his math worksheet are in the teacher’s manual. He could not understand why I wouldn’t just let him copy them down. Why in the world should he tax his little grey cells when all the answers were over there? It wasn’t deviousness, it was pure 6 year old logic: you want the answers, there they are, let me copy them. He failed to see the value in having me make him calculate what was left if you took 2 bananas away from a monkey who had 7.

He is too much like me.