Category Archives: Uncategorized

Shades of unschooling

Our homeschooling is usually structured. Not very rigidly so, but I normally have a plan for our homeschooling that involves working on math problems, reciting poetry, working on grammar rules, reading the classics, learning Latin and French, some history, social studies, etc. We don’t do all that every single day, of course. I usually pick 2 or 3 topics and we rotate through them. Then we take breaks by doing some music or colouring and so on.

This morning our homeschooling routine is chaotic to put it gently. Our furnace decided to stop working late last night and we’re busy dealing with that (we’re on alternative heating sources at the moment, waiting for the repair guy). I’m also scrambling to finish prepping ourselves for a trip next week, including packing our filming gear, finding my nice clothes, and – oh yes – putting the finishing touches to two speeches I’m giving.

So this morning I surprised Youngest with a new colouring book (I always keep some on hand for emergencies) and she’s going to be busy for a while with that. To the older two I said: Find something good to do that won’t get you in trouble. So they picked up a book about hand shadows that their dad fished out of a spare book bin yesterday, turned their desk lamp towards the wall, and started working on them. They’re debating how best to portray animals, assigning each other various animals, and making up/acting in impromptu stories.

I have trouble sometimes understanding how the unschoolers manage to get their kids to learn what they need to learn. But episodes like this morning help me see it. I will still continue to have some structure in our homeschooling, because I find it better to have some kind of plan that follows (however loosely) the classical curriculum. But some freedom for the kids to learn and explore what tickles their fancy is very good indeed.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

Supporting is loving

I put a lot of time and effort into producing what I do on this website and on social media. And I want to do more of it – including writing more books. I am therefore launching a public appeal for support on Patreon. I am looking for fans who enjoy what I do to help keep it going by pledging a monthly payment. Pledges start at $1/month. I’ve also put in a bunch of rewards for those who wish to pledge $3 or more per month. Please go visit my Patreon page for details.

An important note for Canadians: Please note that Patreon at the moment only works with US dollars. So please consider the exchange rate when making a pledge. You can always go back to your Patreon account and adjust your pledge later, as you see fit.

Thanks, and hope to see you there!

p.s. if you prefer using PayPal, by all means you’re welcome to do that, too. Please see the right-hand sidebar for subscription options, or use this link (which I share with my husband) for one-time contributions.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

Mississauga, here we come

Eldest and I are gearing up for our second tournament, which takes place in Mississauga on Saturday (it’s at Mentor College, 40 Forest Street, if you’re in the area and want to come say hello – look for Team Douvris uniforms, we’re the cute ones). We’ve been training pretty hard for it. Eldest even started adding more training a few weeks ago. Her technique is slowly but surely improving, and so is her endurance. Combined with a healthy clean diet and enough sleep, she’s turning into a fine little athlete. But what’s really impressing me about how she takes all this is her attitude. She works hard during training and doesn’t mind getting yelled at (and yes, there are times when yelling is called for). When it happens she hustles and tries again harder. Which usually leads to praise and that seems to make her happy.

She’s even improved her attitude at home and with the homeschooling. Every now and then, when I have some computer work to do, I’ll ask her to read something to her sisters (these days they’re reading a mini-biography of Leonardo da Vinci) and she’s happy to do it. She can also be relied on to coach her sisters (properly, that is) through their math or grammar exercises when I need her to take over from me. All this without neglecting her own work. She’s also more thoughtful and helpful with chores; instead of waiting for me to ask her to set the table, she notices me preparing lunch and starts doing it. The other day I commented that she would be having fun at the tournament playing with her friends once they’re done competing, and she said you know, Mom, I don’t think I want to play and run around as much this time. I think I want to go from ring to ring and cheer other members of our team.

I’d like to take all the credit for this wonderful attitude of hers, but I can’t. Most of it is her, of course, and being part of this fantastic competitive team has certainly given her a great deal of motivation to improve herself. And I’d say that’s money and time well spent.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

Could the next pope be Canadian?

Absolutely shocking news this morning: Pope Benedict announced he would be stepping down at the end of the month. Word is that the new pope will be elected in time for Easter, which falls on March 31 this year.

Could the next pope be Canadian? Not impossible – the leading contender would be Cardinal Marc Ouellet, of Quebec.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

The absentee president

From the WSJ:

On Sept. 11, 2012, as Americans were under attack in Benghazi, Libya, President Obama failed in his basic responsibility as president and commander in chief. In a crisis, the president went AWOL.

Thanks to the congressional testimony of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey late last week, we know they met with President Obama on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. in a pre-scheduled meeting, when they informed the president about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The meeting lasted about a half-hour. Mr. Panetta said they spent roughly 20 minutes of the session briefing the president on the chaos at the American Embassy in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi, which eventually cost the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and information officer Sean Smith.

Secretary Panetta said the president left operational details, including determination of what resources were available to help the Americans under siege, “up to us.” We also learned that President Obama did not communicate in any way with Mr. Panetta or Gen. Dempsey the rest of that evening or that night. Indeed, Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey testified they had no further contact at all with anyone in the White House that evening—or, for that matter, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That’s not all we discovered. We now know that despite Gen. Dempsey having been informed of Ambassador Stevens’s repeated warnings about the rise of terrorist elements in Benghazi, no forces were put in place or made ready nearby to respond to possible trouble. It also seems that during the actual attacks in Benghazi, which the administration followed in real time and which lasted for some eight hours, not a single major military asset was deployed to help rescue Americans under assault.

And we learned one other thing: Messrs. Panetta and Dempsey both knew on the night of the assault that it was a terrorist attack. This didn’t prevent President Obama, Secretary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from peddling a false version of events in the days and even weeks that followed, as the administration called the incident spontaneous, said there was no evidence of a coordinated terrorist attack and blamed the violence on an anti-Muslim video. So the White House, having failed to ensure that anything was done during the attack, went on to mislead the nation afterward.

Why the deception? Presumably for two reasons. The first is that the true account of events undercut the president’s claim during the campaign that al Qaeda was severely weakened in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The second is that a true account of what happened in Benghazi that night would have revealed that the president and his top national-security advisers did not treat a lethal attack by Islamic terrorists on Americans as a crisis. The commander in chief not only didn’t convene a meeting in the Situation Room; he didn’t even bother to call his Defense secretary or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Not a single presidential finger was lifted to help Americans under attack.

This is an embarrassment and a disgrace. Is it too much to hope that President Obama is privately ashamed of his inattention and passivity that night? And that he has resolved, and instructed his senior staff, to take care that he not be derelict in his duty as commander in chief ever again?


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

What do you mean, "in charge"?

John Bolton deconstructs the Benghazi debacle.

Senator Lindsey Graham asked the day’s most telling question: Who was in charge as the attack progressed? Incredibly, Panetta first responded, “What do you mean, ‘in charge’?” Then, perhaps even more incredibly, he said, “It’s not that simple,” pointing to Ambassador Stevens, “the people on the ground,” as being in charge. Pressed further, Panetta said, “We all were [in charge].” Notwithstanding Panetta’s confusion, the answer is obvious: The President was in charge. Or should have been.

It is precisely this failure of leadership by the Obama Administration, before, during, and after the Benghazi attack, that should concern us. Benghazi was an unnecessary tragedy, compounded by White House incompetence and disinterest, but there are far broader risks and threats that are even more gravely concerning. The failures surrounding our second September 11 were only amplified in the following months as al Qaeda assumed control over an area in Mali larger than Texas, and terrorists attacked a large natural-gas facility in Algeria, killing over forty foreign hostages.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

Should the US expand its kill list?

Adding Mokhtar Belmokhtar to the target list would constitute a big expansion in the drone war on terrorists. There is no question this terrorist needs to be brought to justice. But is the drone program the way to go?

For what it’s worth, my gut feeling (and yes, it is just that, a gut feeling) is that President Obama will set his drones after Belmokhtar and not think twice about the consequences of expanding the drone war this far into Northern Africa. That will make his Nobel peace prize fans blanch… and cause real headaches for his successor.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

That explains it!

PQ minister Bernard Drainville thinks the Feds’ reform of EI is a conspiracy against Québec. (in French)

The idea, see, is for the Feds to make it so difficult to stay gainfully unemployed in remote Quebec to force those people to take jobs in Alberta’s oil patch.

That darn Stephen Harper. He’s all about the oil, he’s from Alberta, he likes oil, he obviously hates Quebec, well – if you mix all these things together, add a dash of paranoid delusion and stir until you are quite literally blue in the face, of

There is a small part of me deep down somewhere that feels sorry for Drainville and those who think (and I use the term loosely) like him.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).

Previewing SOTU

In which the president is expected to promise more of the same.

President Obama will map out the contours of his second-term agenda when he speaks to the nation in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

In a speech meant to build on his second inaugural address — which was directed at the Democratic base and served as a bookend of sorts to his reelection campaign— Obama will put details on the far-reaching government agenda he hopes will become part of his legacy.

The economy will remain Topic A, and Obama’s speech is expected to warn of the danger automatic spending cuts known as the sequester pose to a slowly improving economy. At the same time, Obama will give due weight to other priorities such as immigration and gun control.


This website is patron-supported. Visit this page to make a pledge (please note: Patreon works in US dollars).