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everyone, meet Elsa

So, I promised you all pictures of my new kitten if you were interested– and apparently you were. I don’t have very many yet (she is incredibly active when she’s not sleeping underneath something like the bed), but these at least show off what her coat looks like.

Also, we decided to name her Elsa because she came out from hiding while we were watching Frozen— the scene when Elsa finally realizes that she can open up to people and just love them. She came out from under the bed and wanted to be held and petted for about an hour. It was adorable.

elsa 4

elsa 5

 elsa 10

elsa 9

She’s what’s called a “smoke.” Her undercoat is completely snow white, but as it grows out it turns black. It’s fascinating when she moves because it sort of shimmers. She’s also still a kitten, and still growing. Siberians grow to be pretty large cats, and she doesn’t mature for another couple of years.

Now, if I can just convince her to keep her nails to her scratching pad/post instead of buried in my Michael Kors duvet cover . . .

Dogs are so much easier to train, folks.


a quick note to say "thanks"


I made a cake for you. Here, you can have a piece. (It’s an upside-down red bell pepper cake.)

I wanted to let you all know just how much I appreciate you. I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now, and having you as my readers? It’s pretty spectacular. I already knew this, of course, but the last few days have made that especially obvious.

So, thank you, everyone for sharing my guest post on PCC.

Thank you for supporting me.

Thank you for all the e-mails letting me know how much it meant to you to read it.

Thank you to all the people who took the time to defend me, my writing, and my integrity. It was good to know that you believe that I’m trustworthy.

Thank you for being there with me this week when things were getting really hard.

I couldn’t have done it without you.


Mrs. Field (almost) goes to Richmond


If you follow homeschooling groups on facebook or get the e-lerts from the HSLDA,  you’ve probably already heard about Virginia’s House Joint Resolution 92. Delegate Rust proposed HJ 92, and if it passes it will ask the Virginia Department of Education to evaluate how they implement the “religious exemption” statute.

You also might have heard about the “religious exemption.” In Virginia, homeschooling parents are able to use the religious exemption to not educate their children at all, and it is completely up to the parents whether or not their children get an education, with absolutely no oversight or accountability of any kind. In families like the Powell’s, this lack of oversight has created a situation where parents are under no obligation to even teach their children to read. That is in direct violation of the Virginia State Constitution, which states that every child has a right to an education.

This is because the wording of the religious exemption statue is so incredibly vague that school boards don’t know how to enforce it, and they are required to make a decision with no guidelines and no credible information. Because there aren’t any limits or qualifications, overtaxed school boards are required to make case-by-case decisions, and how school boards make these decisions varies from county to county. There’s also no requirement for school boards to take a child’s desire into account– for example, when Joshua Powell went to his school board begging to be enrolled in public school, the board cited the fact that his parents had a “religious exemption”– he wouldn’t be allowed to attend school even though he desperately wanted to get out. It took him many years to recover from his homeschooling experience.

All that HJ 92 is is a request for the Virginia Department of Education to look into how individual school boards make their decisions regarding the religious exemption statute, and to report those findings to the state assembly. That’s it.

Personally, I am enthusiastically supportive of this resolution. It requires absolutely nothing of parents or homeschooling families– but it would still be able to offer us the most comprehensive look at a state homeschooling policy… pretty much in the history of modern homeschooling.

I was supposed  to be in Richmond today* with Virginian homeschoolers, meeting with the delegates who can vote this resolution out of committee, explaining why HJ 92 is so important and asking them to support it. If you’re a Virginian homeschooler or homeschool graduate  and you can get to Richmond, consider setting up a meeting with your delegate and asking him or her to support it– or just calling his or her office.

If you’re not a Virginian, you can still get involved.

You could sign this petition.

You could consider donating to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (tax deductible).

Or, you could donate to Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (not tax deductible).

If you have the time, you could start reading Homeschooling’s Invisible Children and Homeschoolers Anonymous. Share stories you think people you know would be interested in. If you know a homeschooling family, bring what you’ve learned up in conversations when you can and if you want to. If you want to get involved in more activism, there’s working groups and new networks– I can get you in touch with some if you’re interested.

Hopefully today is a good day.

*I had a sudden costochondritis flare up. The only way to treat it is to stay in bed and take ungodly amounts of Advil.


update to comment policy

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You can read the comment policy in full here, but I’ve updated it today. The basic ground rules are as follows:

  • no ad hominem, meaning don’t attack someone– in the comments, me, a character in the post.
  • no rape apologia. Ever.
  • no threats of any kind. Ever.
  • if your comment is a threat or rape apologia, you are instantly banned.
  • corollary: nothing that makes me or my readers feel unsafe. I get to decide what that means, although if someone is making you feel unsafe and I haven’t stepped in, please let me know and I will do whatever necessary to correct that.
  • Second corollary: this blog is a safe space for everyone, but especially marginalized groups. I believe in allowing everyone to have a voice and to have the ability to share opinions I disagree with, so I will tolerate sexism, racism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and abelism to a degree. However, if your comments, over time, demonstrate a continued and persistent use of any of these, I reserve the right to ban you.

And now, the update: I will no longer publish comments that include links unless those links are directly related to the post and contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.

I very rarely have problems, but I have the comment policy in place so that I can effectively deal with problems when they happen. I don’t believe that completely un-moderated spaces are safe or productive– and I think most (if not all) of you agree.

Carry on!


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Yule…


Today is the first day of my Christmas vacation, and . . . I am good. I’m with Handsome’s family, and the next two weeks are going to be a happy blur of visits and White Elephants and cheesecake (one of my best friends gave me an amazing cheesecake recipe). I finished the project I’ve been working on since May, and it’s nice to have that off of my mind, at least for a while.

I’ll be back to blogging by January 6th. In the meantime, I’ll probably be on twitter and facebook occasionally, so you can look for the stuff I’m reading and thinking about there (for example, yesterday I tweeted my thoughts on the Olivet Discourse. Good stuff, that).

I hope all of you are having a fantastic holiday season, and I’ll see you in the New Year!


And here’s the cheesecake recipe, just because it’s that incredible: Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake.


Coalition for Responsible Home Education


I wanted to take the time to introduce all of you to a new non-profit organization. Many of my friends have sacrificed time and resources to make this a reality.

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education

OUR MISSION is to raise awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, provide public policy guidance, and advocate for responsible home education practices.

OUR VISION is for homeschooling to be a child-centered educational option, used only to lovingly prepare young people for an open future.

I encourage you to check out the website– it is amazing. People like Heather Doney, Rachel Coleman, Kierstyn King, and R. Stollar (among others) created this amazing resource, and I believe in their mission. Homeschooling can be a wonderful thing– or it can be something used to create nightmares out of children’s lives. CRHE doesn’t exist to put an end to homeschooling, or to make homeschooling more difficult. It exists to protect the children that no one else has noticed.

CRHE was created to educate and inform citizens, lawmakers, and service providers about protections homeschooled children and youth require to ensure that they receive an adequate education and preparation for adult life.  We are committed to providing resources, conducting research, and promoting policy to protect homeschooled children and youth from falling through the cracks if their parents or guardians are unable or unwilling to responsibly educate them.  We are a nonpartisan organization committed to ensuring that the interests of the homeschooled child are respected alongside the interests of the homeschooling parent.

I hope you have a few minutes to look over the website and see what they have. See if you can recommend it as a resource. Ask if homeschooling families you know have heard of it. Maybe put links on your facebook, twitter. If you’re part of a homeschool co-op, talk about it. Spread the word.

Also, please consider donating (link at the bottom of their page). I’ve never tried to use the space I have here to ask anyone for their money, but I believe that this is an organization worth supporting. They’re just beginning– which means start-up costs. Everyone involved is not getting a penny: it’s a labor of love. But, if CRHE is going to be effective, money is going to be necessary, and soon.

Thank you for taking any time you have to get the word out.


brief hiatus and conversation thread


I’m going to take a week or so– maybe two weeks, maybe less– off from blogging. I’ve been working on a project all summer, and it’s heading into the final stages (at last!). But, it needs more of my attention than blogging everyday can allow, and I’d really like to get this one knocked out of the park. Sooner I get it down, the sooner I can get back to the regular schedule. Also, I’ve discovered that without grad school deadlines I’m a horrible, really horrible, procrastinator.

I’ve got some guest posts lined up for you that I’m very excited about. And, if you don’t know, my “Learning the Words” series is an ongoing project and anyone can submit an idea at any time.

I’ll still be responding to e-mails and comments. If you come across anything interesting you think we’d be interested in, feel free to post it here (or on facebook, or on twitter!), and we can discuss! Also, make sure you check out the facebook page for interesting articles and stuffs.


going to the Faire


One of my favorite pictures of my parents was from their honeymoon, a wallet-sized photo my mother kept in the bottom drawer of her jewelry box. They’d gone to a festival, and my mom had managed to persuade dad into dressing up as a Renaissance noble. It was something I couldn’t really picture my father ever doing, but it was an image of him that I carried with me: a knight-errant, carrying his lover’s favor into battle.

I don’t know if it was because of that picture, but ever since I was little I had a fascination for all things Medieval– bordering on obsession, at times. I developed a love for ancient English history, Arthurian legends, Celtic and Norse mythology. I read any book that I could get my hands on that had anything to do with Europe in the Dark Ages– fiction or otherwise. When I discovered fantasy literature… well, now, I basically don’t read any other kind of fiction. I sneaked The Chroncles of Narnia out of the library and hid them under the bathroom sink, reading them a few pages at time. I did the same thing with The Lord of the Rings. When I eventually read Harry Potter three years ago . . . I was instantly in love.

You’d think with that level of obsession, I would’ve known what a Renaissance Festival was, but I didn’t. I had some vague notion of what it was, but the only thing I really knew about it was that people would swallow fire and swords, and that was about it.

Until I met Maria*.

I was at a summer academy for a month, and Maria was the first person I’d ever met that shared my love of all things fantasy. There were some activities that required semi-formal wear, and she’d brought her Lady Guenevere-style gown. I had the biggest girl-crush on her, and probably followed her around like a lost puppy. She described the Renaissance Festival she performed at every year, and that’s when I was hooked.

I wanted to go to a Renaissance Festival.

But, I knew that a public event like that was off-limits. Between the possibility of seeing a costumed man shirtless and the public drinking, it was not a place good Christian girls like me went to. It just . . . wasn’t done. It was inappropriate.

Well, I finally went to one this last weekend. Saying I was excited about it would be an understatement. I was practically bouncing off the walls. I decided to dress up as a Romani– well, the Disney version of one anyway, since I already owned a few of the elements, including a crazy colorful skirt and a peasant-ish-looking blouse. I bought a few colorful scarves, some bangles, and gigantic hoops and called it a day. I also spent the weeks leading up to it watching way too many makeup tutorials on youtube. Which, seriously, some of those are insanely fun.

The end result:

gypsy 1

Also, the actual Festival was pretty darn incredible. The one we went to is located on a permanent fairgrounds, so all the buildings look period. There were well over a hundred vendors– one vendor, Feywood, was absolutely incredible. They make tables and lamps and chairs out of found wood, and it’s gorgeous. There was a haberdashery that made gorgeous lace-and-satin parasols, and one metalworker– Valkyrie’s Armourer— that makes custom Wonder Woman sets– crown, bracers, belt, and breastplate– and they’re amazing. There was some amazing head pieces that I tried on:

head piece 1try on

In the first part of the day, I saw a woman dressed in a beautiful velvet gown with an underbust corset, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen. When I saw it hanging in the window of another vendor–Moresca— I had to go in and try it on.

try on 3

It was way out of my price range, but I felt like a princess just wearing it.

There were some fantastic shows, too– a sword-swallowing act, a joust, a hypnotist, a few comedians, and one of my favorite bands from Celt Fest was also there. It was a pirate-themed weekend, and some of the costumes were amazing. One man looked exactly like Jack Sparrow. I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn’t Johnny Depp. He got a lot of stares, I’m sure. Mostly I just had a blast walking around with people who loved something as much as I did. It was literally a dream come true.

So, what about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but were never allowed? Did you eventually get to do it? What was it like?


shameless self-promotion!

puss in boots

So, hopefully you’ve seen this on twitter or facebook, but I thought I’d throw this out on my blog in case ya’ll aren’t the social media types. (Which, guys, twitter is awesome, in case you weren’t aware. It’s one of my favorite things the internet has ever given us.)

Christian Piatt put together a list last year of the “Top 25 Christian Blogs you should be reading,” and he’s updating it now.

One of my amazing readers nominated me (it’s completely open to nominations, you can throw in any blog you want. Right now there are over 200 nominations), and as of this posting I’m hovering in the 40s-50s.

There are so many fantastic blogs on this list, and I think the blogs that are in the top 10 right now definitely deserve to be there. They’re some of my favorite writers.

The interesting thing about this list is that it is mostly being determined by open voting. Many lists like this are selected by a handful of people who may or may not even be aware of blogs like mine– or, like some lists, are obviously skewed toward conservative-ish Christian male writers. Other lists are put in order and ranked according to how they stack up according to Google stats– and, since my blog is part of WordPress and my stats aren’t publicly available, I’ll never get mentioned in a list like that. Neither will many other amazing writers get a nod in lists like those.

This list is different, though. We Are the People, and all that.

So, if you want to take the time, you can head here and look for “Defeating the Dragons.”

And, while you’re there, if you see another blog you love, vote for them, too!

It does take a very brief sign-in process (the easiest way is to do it through facebook or twitter, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to have your accounts connected).

Anyway, happy voting!


front porches, coffee, and fuzzy blankets


So, today’s post is just a little bit of housekeeping.

First of all, I wanted to say hello to all my new readers and commenters! I’ve been linked in a bunch of places in the past few weeks (which is terribly exciting), and that means some new faces. So, hello! This blog wouldn’t be anything without all of you, and I love that you’re here.

But, that leads me to this: I’ve never felt the need to have a comment policy before– I just moderated comments on a case-by-case basis, although it’s been extraordinarily rare when I’ve decided not to approve a comment. I basically have one, Supreme Cardinal Rule: no ad hominem. And… yep, that’s pretty much it. Keeping things PG-13, as well, but, I’ve never had a problem with that yet. I talk about some pretty intense things here, which means I get the same kind of content in my comments, and I appreciate that. Sharing our stories, speaking the truth of our lives– that’s what this blog is here for.

So, pretty much anything goes– except attacking each other. Intense, passionate, disagreement is fine, and I do my best to be flexible in this. Most of the time, I just step in briefly to remind you guys to play nice, but that hasn’t happened more than half a dozen times so far. I try to keep out of it unless it’s clearly getting out of hand, and that can be a tough balance to strike.

Which means that, if you are feeling attacked, pressured, etc, by someone in the comments,  feel free to say so– in the comment section, or you can e-mail me (contact info at the top). I want my comment section to be a safe place where everyone can talk, argue, and yes, even fight occasionally.

However, this comes with a caveat: just like any other moderated space on the internet, I don’t take kindly to trolls. If you send me an e-mail or try to contact me, and you threaten me in any way, I will instantly block you and ban you from my blog. And I am the only person who gets to decide when I feel threatened. I will take any necessary steps to make sure that myself and my readers are protected.

Ahem. Anyhoo.

I am so lucky because my readers are an amazingly diverse group– there are people here from pretty much every religious tradition– Christians of all stripes, Judaism, Messianic… and there’s also agnostics, theistic agnostics, atheists . . .  straight, bi, gay, lesbian, trans* . . . and I love that you’re here. I have learned so much from all of you, and that makes me happy. But, that also means that we’re all coming from intensely different backgrounds, and keeping that in mind could make sure that feathers don’t get ruffled too much.

All of this will go into a “comment policy” page at the top. Nothing much will change around here, really, but I just wanted to get this out there.


I’m going to be taking a break next week. My in laws are going to be in town, and we’re doing all the touristy sight-seeing things. Ordinarily, I’d have a good-sized backlog of posts ready to go up while I was away, but I haven’t had the time or the energy to do that. It’s been… an exhausting week, for a variety of reasons.

That being said, I’m currently open to two types of guest posts: my “learning the words” series, and you can find all of the posts here.

I’m also looking to start another guest post series. One of my readers sent me a request, and I think it is a good, good idea. Many of you come from intensely fundamentalist, Quiverful, homeschooling, patriarchal, or conservative religious homes. I think it would be helpful to have a series where those of you who have managed to get away from that environment tell your stories. I’m specifically looking for stories on how you moved out of your parents’ home while still single and what that was like– the steps you had to take, being concerned about younger siblings, were you able to move out with your stuff, did your parents try to keep you at home through withholding identification, all of that.

Anyway, I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll join with me in making this a safe community where we learn from each other. So, come in, sit down, grab a cup of coffee (or tea!), a fuzzy blanket, and let’s settle in for a good, long talk.