A parent, not a pill

Given how common the diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are these days, and the seeming haste with which physicians will prescribe stimulants to treat the disorders, you may find it interesting, as I did, that the Wall Street Journal reported in July that those prescriptions do not improve the academic performance of the children who take them. In fact, they may even have the opposite effect.

According to the article, “Stimulants used to treat ADHD like Ritalin and Adderall are sometimes called ‘cognitive enhancers’ because they have been shown in a number of studies to improve attention, concentration and even certain types of memory in the short-term. Similar drugs were given to World War II soldiers to improve their ability to stay alert while scanning radars for enemy aircraft.”

The study the WSJ was reporting on, however, indicates that over the long run there is really no significant difference in achievement scores, grade point averages or being retained in school among students who take the ADHD medication and the students who do not.

That would be disappointing and even troubling all by itself, but the study went further. Not only do students on the medication not perform any better, but “boys who took ADHD drugs actually performed worse in school than those with a similar number of symptoms who didn’t.” A separate report, a working paper published on the web site of the National Bureau of Economic Research, indicates that girls on the medication report suffering from more emotional problems than girls who do not use the drugs.

Given the number of students taking these medications–2.7 million of them as of 2007–this is serious news. While the prescriptions have been flowing in increasing numbers there have been other voices arguing that the medical community really has no idea what the long term effect of ADHD medication will be on the children who take it. And the belief that these medications help improve focus and academic performance has led to them being popular among students taking important tests or trying to improve their grades–even students who do not have a prescription for them. There is such a demand for these drugs on the “black market” that estimates are that as much as 15% to 20% of all ADHD medication winds up in the hands of someone without a prescription for it.

The WSJ article also points out that what ADHD medications do seem to do effectively is improve classroom behavior. Students on the medication are more likely to sit still and less likely to interrupt the teacher than those students diagnosed with ADHD who do not take the drugs. More specifically, “The medicine may help with focus, but it doesn’t help with deciding what to focus on.” In other words, the ADHD medications are effectively behavioral modification drugs.

I can remember attending an educators’ conference years ago, when ADD diagnoses were just coming into vogue, at which the head of a large educators’ organization suggested that ADD might be more accurately spelled BRAT. The comment received the chuckle the speaker was going for, but in the years since then the diagnosis became so common, and the medication so prevalent, that there was surely a growing number of people who believed that the “disorder” is real and the treatment effective.

I have worked with enough children and talked to enough people to know that there are legitimate cases of chemical imbalances and other challenges that make focusing and remembering difficult, and perhaps there are times when treatment with medication is warranted. At the same time, I can say with just as much conviction that I have worked with enough children and talked to enough people to know that there are times when children who were unsuccessful on the medication become much more successful when they are in environments with structure and discipline, when they are held accountable, and when they have adults who encourage them in their work.

I can recall another professional conference at which I heard an expert in the field of working with troubled youth say that while there may be a case for medication in some instances, the best treatment for children who seem incapable of focusing or applying themselves appropriately is “consistent, loving discipline over time.” I would have to echo that with a hearty amen, since that is what all children need, regardless of whether they have any diagnosis. Not coincidentally, that is exactly what the Bible prescribes for raising children, too.

I am not a mental health professional, and I am not going to jump on a soap box and say all ADHD medications should be eliminated or all children should be taken off of these drugs. I will say this, though: no physician or parent should ever use drugs just to get a child to behave or sit still. There seems to be significant evidence questioning the merit of using these medications in order to accomplish improved academic performance, and that means physicians and parents alike should think long and hard before putting children on these drugs–especially when there seems to be a link between the medication and emotional problems. If a child has trouble focusing, listening, learning or obeying it may not be a medical problem. It may not take a pill, but it will take a parent.

Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you

This is the first time I have ever “reblogged” anything from anyone, but Kim Keller’s “Dear daughter” letter is an excellent response to Miley Cyrus’s “performance” at the VMAs. Equally excellent is the “Dear Parents” comment to her post from “Bethany” and Keller’s follow up post, “Dear Daughter: The Postscript.” Unfortunately I could not figure out how to reblog it without the photo, so my apologies for including it.

Roadkill Goldfish

Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no,” made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hang out like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.

Why would I do that? Because…

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Influencing People

It probably will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I did not watch MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday. Actually, I have never watched the VMAs. However, as someone who seems to get the majority of news online these days it would have been impossible for me to miss the hubbub about the Miley Cyrus performance. In fact, commentary on the performance seems to be so ubiquitous that I was tempted to skip it altogether in this space. As you can see, though, I decided not to do that.

I should probably state right up front, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have never been a big fan of Miley Cyrus. That is not to say that I had anything against her in her Hannah Montana days, it’s just that for all intents and purposes I ignored her. Neither her show nor her music were of interest to me, and what little I saw of the show neither gave me cause for alarm nor prompted me to want to pay more attention. However, I can be counted among the number of those who have been both concerned and disappointed by the kind of attention Ms. Cyrus seems to be seeking, and receiving, in recent years. I was disappointed by her Vanity Fair cover shoot, but I have been just as disappointed by other magazine covers she has had since, specifically the March 2013 Cosmopolitan cover. (There may well be more, but this is the only one I recall).

So what have I seen and read since Sunday’s performance? Well, first I had to go to Google to learn a new word, as I had no idea what “twerking” meant. It is a word that has not made it to dictionary.com yet, but Wikipedia was helpful. Apparently twerking is “a dance move that involves a person, usually a woman, shaking her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle.’ According to the Oxford Dictionary Online to twerk is ‘to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.'” Okay…I probably did not really need to add that word to my vocabulary, but at least now I know.

On Mr.Conservative I read a post that started this way: “On Monday, people were abuzz about Miley Cyrus’s staggeringly vulgar performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards show. For almost six minutes, she twerked with teddy bears and Robin Thicke, used a giant foam finger to simulate sex, snaked her long tongue in and out of her mouth, and generally shocked even the jaded entertainment world.” The post included a video clip of the performance, which I watched enough of to get the gist and to see why the performance was all over the Internet. Now, I watched it without sound so perhaps the words would have given some needed context, but I certainly did not understand the teddy bears. Given that teddy bears are most commonly associated with children, though, it seems questionable at best to include them in the kind of performance Cyrus gave. It did not take long, though, to realize that Cyrus’s performance was very sexual in nature. But Cyrus is certainly not the only young female pop artist to incorporate explicitly sexual behavior in her performances, so why does this one seem to be raising more ire?

First, because Cyrus came to fame as a child actress, starring in a show made for children by the preeminent family-friendly brand, Disney. There is no way to expect that child actors will retain the same appeal and innocence as adults as they had as children, but Cyrus seems to be flaunting the fact that she is going as far in the other direction as she can. Just today USAToday.com ran an article entitled “Miley Cyrus moves on with new racy photos,” describing a series of pictures she tweeted on Monday “in provocative poses, all showing her backside.”

Second, Miley Cyrus is the daughter of country music singer and actor Billy Ray Cyrus who both sits on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council and has been vocal about his Christian faith. The PTC, according to its own web site, exists to advocate responsible entertainment. More specifically, “The PTC works with the entertainment industry to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children and presses elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards.” The PTC press release condemning the VMAs said in part, “MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials — while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable.” I would agree with that statement, and I think that the rating systems for both television and movies are often ignored or, shall we say, creatively enforced in order to permit content that clearly violates the content standards that have been established.

At the same time, the PTC press release asks, “How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?” referring to her “‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini.” Again, I would agree with their conclusion, but I would have to suggest that it has nothing to do with the fact that Cyrus is a “former child star.” If the behavior is inappropriate for children it is inappropriate whether the one perpetrating the behavior is a former child star or was never seen on the public stage until well into adulthood. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich wrote, “It seems like the core of the anti-Miley brigade is the idea that she’s a former child star who is now, terrifyingly, a sexual human being. This strikes me as a mixture of nostalgic nonsense and puritanical nonsense.” I may not agree with him completely, but I agree with him that the fact that Cyrus was a child star on Disney isn’t really the point.

Interestingly, even Entertainment Weekly reported negatively on the VMA performance, with Kyle Anderson writing that Cyrus “masturbated a foam finger in front of millions of people. What we got was a desperate stab at ‘adulthood’ at best and a reasonable exhibit A for strengthening indecency laws at worst.” And Anderson is not exactly a prude; he says of the performance’s use of teddy bears, “the idea of turning pieces of childhood ephemera into hyper-sexualized fetish objects is provocative”–and he meant provocative in a good way. But his conclusion is difficult to argue with: “It came across more as somebody trying to shock with every single element of her performance, rather than someone who has a clear idea of who she is as an artist.” Brooke Shields, who was herself exploited as child star and also played Cyrus’s mother on Hannah Montana spoke on the TODAY Show and said, “I feel like it’s a bit desperate.”

I agree with Anderson and Shields, and that brings me to Point 3. It seems to me that the bulk of Cyrus’s behavior in recent years–perhaps beginning with the Vanity Fair shoot–has been a desperate attempt to shock and, in so doing, to present an image as opposite as possible from the Christian good girl she was marketed as and seemed to embrace at the beginning of her public life. The Christian Post says that Cyrus “was raised as a Christian and was baptized in a Southern Baptist church before she moved to Hollywood in 2005. As a youngster, she regularly attended church and wore a purity ring.” Her interview in the March 2010 issue of PARADE includes this observation about her faith: “Before her family moved to L.A. in 2005, she was baptized in a Southern Baptist church as a kind of spiritual insurance policy against big-city life. Yet she no longer frequents church these days.” A spiritual insurance policy? I am assuming that was the verbage of the article’s author and not of Cyrus, but the idea holds–many people seem to think that if they do the right things–get baptized or go to confession or read their Bible or whatever–it does not really matter what they do with their life.

In the same article Cyrus is quoted saying, “My faith is very important to me. But I don’t necessarily define my faith by going to church every Sunday. Because now when I go to church, I feel like it’s a show. There are always cameras outside. I am very spiritual in my own way. Let me make it clear, though—I am a Christian. Jesus is who saved me. He’s what keeps me full and whole. But everyone is entitled to what they believe and what keeps them full. Hopefully, I can influence people and help them follow the same path I am on, but it is not my job to tell people what they are doing wrong.”

If you are a celebrity who is constantly hounded by the paparazzi I can see how going to church could be a challenge, both for you and the other congregants, but I struggle with Cyrus’s assertion that she wants to influence people to follow the same path she is on.

She continued, “People are always looking for you to do something that is non-Christian. But it’s like, ‘Dude, Christians don’t live in the dark.’ I have to participate in life. If I wear something revealing, they go, ‘Well, that’s not Christian.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to hell because I’m wearing a pair of really short white shorts.’ Suddenly I’m a slut. That’s so old-school.” Cyrus is both right and wrong. We should not–any of us–be bound by what others may think, and there is certainly room for believers to have differences of opinion and conviction over what is and is not acceptable for Christians, what is and is not honoring to the Lord. Anyone who takes a stand as a Christian is opening themselves up to being judged, perhaps unfairly.

At the same time, the New Testament epistle of James says that Christians are to demonstrate their faith through their works. In fact, James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Simply professing faith is not sufficient. In fact, in verse 14 of that same chapter James asks what good it is for someone to say they have faith but not to live it out; his implied answer is “no good at all.”

Matthew 5:16 is another passage that points out the importance of the Christian’s behavior. In the Amplified Bible it reads this way: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” It would be a challenge (to put it mildly) to call many of Cyrus’s recent choices “morally excellent,” “praiseworthy” or “noble.”

It turns out I could go on writing about Miley Cyrus for quite a while–far longer than I ever would have thought possible until I set down to pound this out. What it comes down to, though, are these three things:

1. Miley Cyrus has in the past professed to be a Christian, but her actions are not demonstrating that faith, and she is not making many choices that most parents would want their children to emulate.

2. This has nothing to do with the fact that Cyrus was a child star or a Disney star; it has everything to do with the fact that her behavior at the VMAs was tasteless, exploitative and offensive, and was certainly not consistent with one who has claimed to want to influence people for Jesus.

3. Miley Cyrus is a human being with a sin nature, and so are we all. I believe it is a God-given responsibility to evaluate the actions of others and to determine whether they are acting in a manner consistent with His Word, and if I could talk to Miley Cyrus I would lovingly tell her that I do not think God is honored by her “twerking” on national television or posing in explicit and suggestive photographs.

Finally, though, I should point out to you–as I would to Miley–that I make mistakes, too. God is surely not pleased with all of my thoughts, choices or actions, either. Thankfully, my choices are not all broadcast instantly around the world. But the good news is that God loves Miley Cyrus, and He would welcome her back with open arms.

Cookie Cutters

It’s interesting to me that the same government that has thus far permitted and/or encouraged pro-choice positions on such fundamentally moral issues as abortion and homosexual marriage seeks to deny choice in so many other areas. For example, there are pushes to seriously restrict gun ownership, there are efforts to muzzle the discussion of positions other than evolution in school textbooks and science courses and, yes, there is now a law prohibiting the sale of sugary treats and high calorie drinks in school cafeterias and vending machines.

The new guidelines were announced in June. The U.S. Department of Agriculture program is entitled “Smart Snacks in Schools” and will eliminate candy and sugary drinks from school vending machines and a la carte menus as soon as next year. In fact, to quote a report from the Dallas News, the new guidelines will establish “fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost everything sold during the school day, even outside of the cafeteria.” The executive director of the food and nutrition services for the Dallas school district said that while the changes will be difficult, they are “in the best interest of…students.” She went on to say that the new rules force schools to provide “healthier options.” The reality, though, is that that is not really true. See, “options” presupposes that the schools will offer healthy snack items as well as the more “traditional” snacks that the new guidelines ban. But when the “healthier options” are the only choices, they are not, in fact, “options.”

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack used similar language in his statement regarding the guidelines, saying, “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options through school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts.” Again, though, Mr. Secretary, when choices are eliminated, “options” are not what remains.

An article in the New York Times reports, “When schools open in the fall of 2014, vending machines will have to be stocked with things like whole wheat crackers, granola bars and dried fruits, instead of M&Ms, Cheese Nips and gummy bears.” I am not opposed to having things like whole wheat crackers and granola bars in school vending machines; I think that is a great idea. I would wholeheartedly support the encouragement–perhaps even the requirement–that such options be made available (though I would prefer–and be much more likely to support–such requirements being made at the local level than coming down from on high). What riles me is both the “government knows best” attitude that is inherent in these new guidelines and the blatant inconsistency in the government’s position in this area as opposed to others.

The Times article also quotes Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. She said, “By teaching and modeling healthy eating habits to children in school, these rules will encourage better eating habits over a lifetime. They mean we aren’t teaching nutrition in the classroom and then undercutting what we’re teaching when kids eat in the cafeteria or buy food from the school vending machines.” I love her use of the word modeling, because that is a word I use often in emphasizing the responsibility that teachers have in working with students; particularly in a Christian school, there should not be a disconnect between what we say and what we do. But eliminating choice is not modeling anything other than the idea that the government needs to make this decision for schools, parents and students because they are not capable of making the right decisions on their own. And again, if we buy into the idea that we should create environments that force people to live according to what we believe is ideal, we will soon live in a country with little or no freedom. And do not forget–anytime there is a decision about what is best, someone has to be making that decision. Who do you really want deciding what is best for you or for your child? Michelle Obama? Tom Vilsack? The food services director at your child’s school? Or you, the parent?

The Times article reports, “Health advocates are taking the same approach to curb the consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods that they did to reduce smoking: educating children in the hopes that they will grow up healthier and perhaps pass along healthy eating behavior to their parents.” Interesting comparison, because I do not recall anyone banning the sale of cigarettes in order to curtail smoking. Sure, cigarettes were not sold in schools, and there have been laws passed regarding when and how cigarettes can be marketed in order to ensure that they are not being advertised to children, but the sale of cigarettes has never been banned. If health advocates were truly taking the same approach then they would realize that (1) the change they are trying to effect takes time, and (2) it comes ultimately as a result of education and personal choice. Is cigarette use down in the United States? Yes. Is it down because anyone was prohibited from smoking? No.

“Ms. Wootan said she was pleased that the rules would prevent the sale of sugary sports drinks like Gatorade in high schools. The drinks have already been withdrawn from elementary and middle schools, but Ms. Wootan said teenagers mistakenly think such drinks are healthier than sodas,” the Times reports. Okay; assume her point is valid. Correcting this “mistaken thinking” should be accomplished through providing the facts and educating the teenagers who are mistaken, not by eliminating their choice. And the fact that the drinks have already been eliminated at the elementary and middle school levels but are popular among high schoolers serves only to demonstrate that the elimination of the choice does not ultimately inform or change behavior, since today’s high school students were, necessarily, yesterday’s elementary and middle school students. If banning such drinks from the lower schools accomplished the goal, the high schoolers would avoid these drinks even once they were available (which they don’t) and if they did that, the schools would stop selling them since they would sit unsold in the vending machines until they expired. Imagine that–a free market system at work!

All of this comes from the fact that the U.S. has a high rate of childhood obesity, and the powers that be feel that it is the rightful role and responsibility of the government to fix that. Given that the government seems incapable of fixing much more serious problems that are most definitely its bailiwick, I question this logic. But put that doubt aside. Is there an obesity epidemic in the U.S.? Based on the numbers I have seen, there is legitimate cause for concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has more than doubled in children and more than tripled in teenagers in the last thirty years. In 2010, more than one-third of children and teens were classified as overweight or obese.

But what causes obesity? The CDC reports, “Overweight and obesity are the result of ‘caloric imbalance’–too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.” And therein, my friends, lies the problem. Notice that the CDC does not say that obesity results from too many Snickers bars in school vending machines or too many Powerades being consumed by high school students. Rather, the problem comes when students are continually taking calories in and never burning them. So the problem is not what the students are eating nearly so much as it is what they are doing–or, perhaps more accurately, not doing. When students spend their free time sitting around texting, surfing the Internet and playing video games they are not burning many calories. A much better solution to the problem would be to get students to be more active. Should they eat healthy? Sure. But banning cookies from the cafeteria is not going to accomplish that by itself.

The school where I serve is not subject to all of the federal guidelines for school lunches because we are a non-public school and we do not take any government funding. We have vending machines that sell sodas and sports drinks. Our cafeteria serves healthy meals but it also serves dessert. We have water fountains and we have a salad bar. In other words, we actually offer choices. And students in our cafeteria can even–brace yourself–have seconds if they want! But guess what? Though I have never measured it, I think I can safely state that the rate of students who are overweight or obese at our school is far lower than the national norm.

You know what that means, right? Yep… Eliminating choices won’t solve the problem.

Digital Dementia

I read a report recently of a new ailment that seems to be afflicting young people around the world, though the term originated in South Korea: digital dementia. What is that exactly? Well, according to the South Korean doctors who coined the term, and as reported in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, it is “a deterioration in cognitive abilities that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.” (Click here for the article). What causes this deterioration? An overuse of technology like smart phones and gaming devices. The article cites Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, as saying that the overuse of such devices actually “hampers the balanced development of the brain.”

According to the reports out of South Korea more than 18 percent of Koreans between the ages of 10 and 19 are using their phones more than seven hours per day. South Korea is considered to be the most technologically-connected nation in the world, and more than 64% of Korean teenagers have a smart phone, a number that tripled from 2011 to 2013. The overuse of these devices is causing poor development in the right side of the brain, which is where concentration occurs. Doctors speculate that this could lead to the onset of actual dementia in 15% of those impacted.

South Korea is not the only place where technology is overused, of course. The article in The Telegraph references a book entitled Digital Dementia written in 2012 by Dr. Manfred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist. As best I can tell from a quick search on Amazon this book is not available in English, so I have not read it and am unlikely to be able to do so in the near future, but the article in The Telegraph reports that Spitzer warns that the damage caused by the overuse of electronic devices is irreversible, and he has called for banning digital media from German classrooms.

I can appreciate the good doctor’s position, but I do not think banning technology is the answer–not in classrooms, at least. Technology is a tool that allows teachers to do some wonderful things in their classrooms–things that were unthinkable even when I was in high school (which was not all that long ago really). I think a bit of caution on the part of parents is wise. I am surely not the only one who has wondered about the wisdom of parents equipping their pre-adolescent children with phones that cost hundreds of dollars, can take crystal clear digital pictures and have instant connectivity to the Internet. There is simply no need. Even worse, though, is when those same parents allow their children to use the device whenever they want, and for as long as they want. Don’t even get me started on cell phone etiquette! Forget digital dementia; maybe we should be on the look out for the complete loss of muscles in every part of the body but the thumbs when people are texting each other from fifteen feet away!

So where does the U.S. stand in this coming digital disaster? According to the March 2013 report from the Pew Research Center and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, 78% of U.S. teenagers (ages 12 to 17) have cell phones, with 47% owning smart phones. That means, the report states, that 37% of all U.S. teens have smart phones, up from 23% in 2011–a significant increase, but not nearly the tripling that occurred in South Korea. Yet, 74% of U.S. teens say they access the Internet on cell phones or other mobile devices at least occasionally, and 25% of teens say they are “cell-mostly” users of the Internet–a number significantly higher than the 15% of adults who identify themselves as such. A finding that I found particularly troubling given the predators that are out there is that a significantly higher percentage of girls than boys report being cell-mostly Internet users–and while 71% of teens who access the Internet on a home computer say they do so on a device they share with other family members, that is highly unlikely to be the case with those who use the Internet primarily via cell phone. (If you want to read the entire Teens and Technology 2013 report you can do so here).

So, what is my point? Well, first of all, I think the term “digital dementia” is a bit silly. I think the last thing we need is another label for mental health professionals to slap on teenagers (or adults) who are basically lacking in common sense and self control. At the same time, I think there are legitimate concerns over the amount of time teenagers are spending on digital devices. I would strongly encourage parents to limit both the amount of time their children and teens have access to cell phones and other digital devices and to seriously consider whether or not their children and teens need smart phones or cell phone access to the Internet. My gut instinct is that there are very few times parents will find that their children and teens do need such devices. That said, though, I feel just as strongly that prohibiting the use of cell phones and other tech devices by children and teens is equally unhealthy. We live in a world where technology is ever-present, and that is not going to go away. Effective parenting will involve training and equipping children to exercise self control and discernment in both how to spend money (hundreds of dollars on a phone that is basically a mini computer is seldom justifiable) and how to use technology in a safe, healthy, and God-honoring manner. Parents need to take to heart their God-given responsibility to teach and train their children, and they need to take to heart Psalm 37:30, which in the New Living Translation reads, “The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.”

Back From Hiatus

It has been well over a month since I posted last. That has not been so much by design as it has been a result of just being busy. It was summer break from school, which would certainly make one think that the schedule would be less hectic, but that was not the case. In addition to all of the things that go on around a school during the summer months to prepare for the start of a new school year, I took two graduate courses this summer and between two different trips with my family was away from home for three weeks, putting seventy-five hundred miles on our car and traveling through seventeen states. It was a great summer, and while I did on occasion think about things I would like to blog or blog about, it just never happened.

Now, however, the summer hiatus is over, school has resumed and, oddly enough, I think things may actually slow down a bit and fall back into a routine. Hopefully that will also mean I will have an opportunity to resume blogging more regularly, too. Stay tuned!