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31 October 2009

Sunday Scripture

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
-Matthew 4:17

When Jesus said “repent,” His disciples recorded that command in the Greek language with the verb metanoeo. This powerful word has great significance. In this word, the prefix meta means “change.” The suffix relates to four important Greek terms: nous, meaning “the mind”; gnosis, meaning “knowledge”; pneuma, meaning “spirit”; and pnoe, meaning “breath.”

Thus, when Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath. A prophet explained that such a change in one’s breath is to breathe with grateful acknowledgment of Him who grants each breath. King Benjamin said, “If ye should serve him who has created you … and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath … from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”*

Yes, the Lord has commanded us to repent, to change our ways, to come unto Him, and be more like Him. This requires a total change. Alma so taught his son: “Learn wisdom in thy youth,” he said. “Learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. … Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.”*

To repent fully is to convert completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy work. Alma taught that concept when he posed these questions: “I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”* That change comes when we are “born again,” converted and focused upon our journey to the kingdom of God.

-Henry B. Eyring

A Wasted Vote?

I think that the idea that a vote for a Constitutionalist, rather than a Republican, is a "wasted vote" is flawed thinking. This idea that it's better to vote of the "lesser of two evils" is nothing more than propaganda, used to keep those in power, In Power. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:

In the presidential election, as I began to consider my options, I quickly realized that the Republican candidate McCain was not a viable candidate for me. Mr. McCain and Mr. Feingold co-sponsored McCain-Feingold "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act," ostensibly a campaign finance reform bill. This law, among other things, forbid "issue advocacy adds" which name a federal candidate to be run by corporations or paid for by corporate or union funds within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the election. In my view, this is a gag on free speech and unconstitutional. I will not vote for someone who has so little regard for the Constitution. Mr. Bush I had similar issues with the bill:

However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with Federal elections.

I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.

I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law. (Full text)

I believe that Mr. Bush, a Republican President, failed America when he signed a bill into law that he believed was unconstitutional. It was his duty to veto all unconstitutional legislation. He swore an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." He failed to do so with this bill.

After the elections were over, I found a very interesting article that debunked another "gotta vote Republican" myth: The idea that, "at least we'll get good court nominees." New American took a look at the track record of those Republican court nominees, and they had some very interesting findings.

However, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the historical record shows that most Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices over the last century have abandoned the restraints on government power set forth in the Constitution. (Emphasis added)

Here are some examples they found:

Republican President Herbert Hoover appointed Charles Evans Hughes as chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1930. This despite the fact that long before this appointment Justice Hughes had opined: “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is, and the judiciary is the safeguard of our liberty and of our property under the Constitution.” Such relativistic language, placing no authority in the actual words of the Constitution, but only in “what the judges say it is,” is the essence of legal positivism — the legal theory that has led to the worst excesses of judicial tyranny in the last century. ... As chief justice, Hughes affirmed most of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s extra-constitutional New Deal legislation.

Chief Justice Hughes was assisted in supporting the vast expansion of federal power under FDR by two fellow GOP-appointed justices — Harlan Fiske Stone (nominated by Calvin Coolidge) and Benjamin Cardozo (nominated by Hoover).

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower nominated a string of statist jurists to the High Court during the 1950s — including Earl Warren as chief justice of the United States in 1953. Eisenhower said at the time that he wanted a “conservative” justice and that Warren “represents the kind of political, economic, and social thinking that I believe we need on the Supreme Court.” Warren, however, turned out to be one of the most activist chief justices in our history.

Under Earl Warren, the court decided Brown v. Board of Education, which used federal power to eliminate discrimination in education by unconstitutionally usurping the power of the states. Brown established a great government lie out of whole cloth — that education is a compelling federal government interest, rather than a family and community interest.

One thing that various people talk about a lot in elections is abortion. People who want Republicans in office talk about getting Roe v. Wade overturned by the "good judges" those Republicans will appoint in office might be surprised to learn that Roe was written by a Republican nominee in the first place:

Republican President Richard Nixon appointed Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court in 1970, who voted conservatively in his first years there. Then, in 1973, he wrote the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, which nullified all state anti-abortion laws in a single stroke and led to the unrestrained murder of tens of millions of babies.

Even Regan appointees have served us poorly:

Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court in 1981 and 1988 respectively. Both voted to strike down state restrictions on abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) and state anti-sodomy laws (Lawrence v. Texas), and to uphold the McCain-Feingold campaign finance (anti-free-speech) law. Also, both have gone on record favoring the use of international law to interpret our Constitution. Recently, Kennedy wrote the opinion that ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional for a man who raped an eight-year-old child, citing “evolving standards of decency” in the United States (Kennedy v. Louisiana).

I was quite surprised to learn how many of the Supreme Court Justices were Republican appointees:

By 1992, at the beginning of the Clinton presidency, eight of the nine Supreme Court justices were Republican appointees. Yet, the court continued its destructive pattern of trampling on property rights, disrespecting the right to life, expanding state power, disregarding family and local autonomy, and (in general) imposing unconstitutional rulings. There was little attempt to restrain the unconstitutional excesses of the president or Congress.


Republicans aren't much different from Democrats. The policies coming out of Washington are and have been both Socialist and Statist. It seems to me that if We The People want to see real change, we're going to have to start with ourselves. We're going to have to move past the idea that you have to be either Republican or Democrat in order for your vote to count. We're going to have to start working a little harder than glancing at party affiliation to determine a candidate's worthiness for office. We're going to have to take a more serious look at so-called "Third Parties."

Might I suggest glancing at the platform of my own favorite party, The Constitution Party.

I ask, with the Constitution Party's national chairman,

“How long do you think it will take to get the kind of government you believe in, so long as you keep voting for people who won’t support your views?”

Light Saber Man

We bought Monkey a blue light saber, then watched Star Wars 2 with him tonight. By the second half of the movie, as Yoda brings in the cloned cavalry, he was sitting on his Daddy's lap, waving that light saber for all he was worth, just like the Jedi. Very cute.

When it was over, he was grabbed an orange Boomwhackerand required us to help him beat back the hordes of Bad-guys.

Later, he was singing, "Run, Run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the LIGHT SABER man!!"

Works for me. Jedi are fantastic heroes.
I want to be like Yoda when I grow up.

30 October 2009

Whoosh - There Goes October

Monday was pretty uneventful. We did lots of math. We counted pennies again, Monkey jumped in circles while we counted dog noises, we played Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and he counted our silverware when we ate our ice cream. We didn't do nearly as much reading, which is OK; we'll get that another day. But we did do some flashcard games with the letters and sounds. The one that went the best was when I would show him a letter and he would find it on his alphabet strip and then tell me the sound. He's really solid on about half of the letters, but some of those less common ones are tripping him up still. We didn't get to doing our read alouds until bedtime, and he was pretty tired by then! He made it through reading the scriptures, but fell asleep in the middle of reading Little House on the Prairie.

Tuesday we did some nature study, which got its own post. It was a great trip. We saw all kinds of fun things, including the garter snake that I almost stepped on.

Wednesday we got a lot accomplished. For math, I had some new manipulatives to play with. Late last week, I made 10 squares of 2 different colors of felt, so 20 in all, and put a dot on one side of them with paint. By Wednesday they were dry and I was organized enough to play with them. I had 3 and Monkey had three, just pulled randomly from the pile, so our sets were different. We then set and re-arranged our 3 "tiles" into every different shape and arrangement that I could think of. "How many is it now?" I wanted Monkey to see that no matter how they were arranged, they were still 3. We also talked just a little bit about how 1 and 2 are partners to make 3, and 2 and 1 are also partners in 3. Monkey thought the whole counting and re-counting was hilarious. I'm not sure he understood what I was getting at with the "partners" idea: he gave me a funny look.

We did some practicing with his letters. I've been trying to emphasize some of the less common letters, and it's paying off. I could see that he's getting better at them, but I didn't realize how much better until Thursday.

We read a chapter and a half of Little House on the Prairie. I'm beginning to look at my copy of the 1000 Good Books list, thinking about what are we going to do next. I always find choosing a read-aloud a little bit stressful.

Thursday, when we did our phonics practice, I tried something different: I told Monkey the wrong thing. I'd show him a letter - W, and tell him it said, /d/. His response, "Noooo! W says /wuh/!" It worked like a charm. Much faster, much more fun, and I realized that he knows his letters, big and little, much better than I'd realized. And he's much more firm in the sounds of all of them (except B & D, which he switched around consistently), than I thought. We also have been using his markerboard to practice 2 letter blends, and I've shown him some CVC words, but he doesn't have those yet. It's close though. Very close. I pulled out the next game in the Happy Phonics pack and set it up. It's a blending game, and we'll start it next week.

We also went to another nature preserve and did some more nature study. Ducks, this time. The kids (public school was out and there were many) were loving it when the ducks would tip up and nibble on whatever's down there. I need to pull out the Handbook of Nature Study and learn some more about ducks because I couldn't tell Monkey very much about what they were doing as they tipped and splashed. But it sure looked like they were having a good time! Monkey also experimented with the moving water. He liked to drop leaves in and watch them get washed away. We did that for quite a while. I've got pictures of it all, but I think I'll have to get those up later.

Today, Friday, we didn't do a thing. We spent the morning catching up on some housework, and the afternoon we spent enjoying Daddy after he came back from a week away on business. It was a good day.

Mom's Ed went well this week. Read some more from America's Constitution while I waited at the doctor's office (just a check-up), and I worked a little bit more on the Sumerian King List, and I had a peek at the Epic of Gilgamesh, which looks pretty interesting.

Article: In Defense of Memorization

The music of the verse was as entrancing to [my daughter] as to any grown-up. Without knowing it, a child who has learned a scrap of verse has been drawn into the civilizing interplay of music and language, rhythm and sound, melody and words—just as educational theory as far back as ancient Greece posits, according to Werner Jaeger in his classic account of Greek education, Paideia.

From The Cat in the Hat on up, verse teaches children something about the patterns and relationships that bind together the words of which it is composed. Poetry sets up an abstract system of order and harmony; the rhythm and the rhyme scheme are logical structures that a child can comprehend even before he understands the words themselves, just as he can grasp the rhythmic and harmonic relations of a piece of music.

What the child discovers, in other words, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but important to cognitive development. Classic verse teaches children an enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, correspondence, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relation (tense), and contingent possibility (mood). Mastering these concepts involves the most fundamental kind of learning, for these are the basic categories of thought and the framework in which we organize sensory experience. Kids need to become familiar with them not only through exercises in recitation and memorization, but also, as they proceed to the later grades, by construing, analyzing, and diagramming particular verses. In The Idea of a University, John Henry Newman called this close study of language “a discipline in accuracy of mind,” a “first step in intellectual training” that impresses on young minds notions of “method, order, principle, and system; of rule and exception, of richness and harmony.” And of course memorization is a kind of exercise that strengthens the powers of the mind, just as physical exercise strengthens those of the body.


This article is beautifully written, and I love what they have to say. I can say that the little bit of memory work Monkey has done has been surprisingly successful - he knows bits of "Who Has Seen the Wind" after only a few readings, and he's doing well with the scripture memorization we ask him to do, which seems like a lot of memorizing for such a little guy! For me, I was just amazed when I started doing memory work: not only was I able to memorize, but it made my brain work better all the time, I remembered more of everything, not just the verses that I had set myself to remember. No more Mommy-brain for me! My memory box takes care of that for me.

29 October 2009

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #2

Hi! So glad you could stop by! Welcome to the second edition of the Classical Homeschooling Carnival! I hope you'll find something that will be useful to you in this edition of the Classical HS Carnival; we have some great posts this time.

Kristen presents a well thought out post about the different ways siblings will sometimes respond to the same curriculum, and a lovely review of two different Latin programs: Latin for Children vs. Latina Christiana posted at The Curriculum Choice.

Rhonda said she had an "off" week, but still got a lot accomplished in this Weekly Report and Field Trips post that highlights activities she did with her children in the Grammar and Logic stages, posted at Living Water Christian Academy.

Ritsumei ponders Classical self-education and world history in her post, A Notebook for History posted here at Baby Steps.

That concludes this edition. So glad you could stop by; hope you will come back again! Submit your blog article to the next edition of
Classical Homeschooling Carnival
using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

If you would like to host an edition of the Classical HS Carnival, please stop by the carnival homepage and email me or just let me know in the comments of this post.

Classical Homeschooling Carnival

A Notebook for History

Whereas there is nothing quite so likely to make me feel half-educated as reading The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM), and Whereas I have never actually studied world history in either High School or College, I Am Resolved to begin the process of remedying my own ignorance by studying World History.

Additionally, it strikes me as useful to know something about history in prior to teaching it. Now seems like a good time to do something with this project because I know that it's going to be a very long, slow project.

I began by setting up a binder. First I made it pretty. Because pretty is important. Then I put tabbed dividers into it and labeled them the way that TWTM suggests for the logic stage. I chose the logic stage because it seemed like that's where most of my education would have fit, more or less, if I were to categorize it into the Trivium.

These are my labeled sections:

*Great Men and Women
*Wars, Conflicts, and Politics
*Inventions and Technology
*Daily Life
*Cities and Settlements
*Primary Sources
*The Arts and Great Books

Since I have the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (found it at the thrift shop for half-price; looks brand new), I'm using that. The Kinfisher History Encyclopedia is on my wish-list, since that's the actual spine that TWTM suggests for the logic stage, and the Usborne is a little elementary. But the Usborne has all those lovely internet links, and with that and a little help from Wikipedia I'm getting along.

I started with Jericho. The Book of Joshua clearly goes under "Great Books." I read about Çatalhöyük. Fascinating stuff. Again, pretty easy to file away, under "Cities and Settlements." Next came Sumer. I thought I'd push through it quickly so that I could get on with Egypt, which sounds very interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my Egyptian friends from college. Plus, ancient Egypt has mummies. How cool is that? Only, Sumer turned into a bigger, more interesting project than I thought it would be. And it posed some interesting challenges.

For instance, I didn't have a very clear idea of where Mesopotamia was. So I looked it up and printed out the map, along with a map of that same area today. It's basically Iraq. Now, where do I put this in my book? I ended up converting the "Primary Sources" section to "Primary Sources and Maps." Though there will likely be some maps that find their way into the cities section.

For some reason, this whole "where do I put the maps" question was very stressful to me, and I consulted on the TWTM's message board, AKA the Hive Mind. After an interesting discussion about the merits of a sectioned notebook vs. chronological notes vs. a commonplace book arrangement, one of the ladies made this very interesting observation:

TWTM has you study things chronologically and keep a timeline, but file them non-chronologically. That way you get to look at things both ways. Having sections makes you choose which is the most important aspect of something. Choosing makes you think about it.

Read her whole comment.
Read the whole thread.

Seems to me that having things set up in a way that forces you to think is an excellent way to go, so I'm sticking with the sectioned notebook for my history. Plus, this has the added benefit of letting me try out TWTM's suggested sections before Monkey needs to use them so I can have some idea of how they work in practice. I like it!

27 October 2009

Hurray for Thrift Shops!

I went to GoodWill this afternoon, looking for a flannel shirt for Monkey to wear tomorrow when he dresses up as Bob the Builder. We'd found the overalls the other day at a different thrift shop & I'll talk to Daddy tonight about raiding a toolbox for a really big wrench. He's got a real hard hat ($6.29 at Home Despot), and if he feels like carrying it around, he's got a toolbox his Daddy gave him. So he'll make a pretty convincing Bob the Builder. In addition to that flannel shirt, I got him 2 other warm shirts. Hopefully they will fit him the whole winter: last year he outgrew his stuff partway through and I had to buy more. This year I bought bigger.

So, here's what I came home with from GoodWill this afternoon:

*3 warm winter shirts

and books:

*Desert Giant: the world of the Saguaro Cactus
*The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal
*Bob the Builder: Scoop saves the day
*Bob the Builder: Bob saves the porcupines
*Outside and Inside Snakes
*DK Eyewitness Explorers: Human Body
*DK Eyewitness Explorers: Weather
*DK Eyewitness Explorers: Night Sky
*The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Space (Hardcover & practically brand new)
*The History of Railways.


*a magnetic states puzzle

The Kingfisher book & the shirts were more than half of the cost, but it all came to about $24! I'm feeling pretty good about that! I've been so frustrated by library fines lately... maybe eventually I can have my own "library," with NO FINES.

Critters & Moss

We went out to our local nature preserve this morning, and had a good time. The first thing we noticed was the golden "carpet" they've "installed" in the yard! Monkey picked a leaf and carried it around for a few minutes, though I didn't let him take it into the nature center itself. It was OK though. He was no sooner inside than he found something else to be interested in! We'd seen some of it before, but this time we also visited their "pond room," and found some interesting things to look at. For instance, the largest frog I've ever seen, a bullfrog, and the smallest frog, a spring peeper, no bigger than the size of a quarter.


spring peeper

This is the last frog we looked at. He also looked at us, and seemed quite intelligent about it. When we walked up to his aquarium he hopped out of his water and came over to check us out. Looked at whoever was speaking. Generally was much more friendly than your average critter. I didn't catch what kind of frog he is though; too busy watching him watch us.

Photo credit: Monkey

At this point I required Monkey to go outside again. Nature being outside, I thought this would be more productive. But on our way out we stopped at the office and checked out a pair of binoculars. That was pretty cool. Not that I got a turn with them, but it was cool that they had loaners available! Then we took off on the park's trials.

About this point Monkey started asking me to show him "cool things." The first thing we looked at was some spiky soft moss growing on the base of a young tree, but the photographs I took turned out fuzzy. I was bummed, because I remembered there was a moss and lichen challenge on the Outdoor Hour and had been thinking maybe these would work. Next we found these pretty leaves that are so beautifully contrasting.

It's kind of hard to see, but here Monkey is checking out the seeds on the yellow plant from the last picture. He wanted to know what the brown clump at the top was, and I told him the seed head. Good thing that he didn't ask any more: I realized that I don't know much about this stuff, in spite of all I have learned in the past year, and should read about some of these things in the Handbook of Nature Study!

It was about this point that Monkey began climbing to find more moss and I realized we needed a new rule: Mom holds the binoculars while Monkey climbs. Fortunately, the very little bit of dirt that got on them brushed off easily.

This is the moss Monkey was climbing up to look at.

Crustose lichen

The big excitement happened at the very end of the trip. We'd gone into a little opening in the trees to look at a bunch of rocks with some big splotches of lichen, when I just about stepped on a snake! It was well camouflaged: I didn't see it until I moved just before I would have put my big foot on it. I was startled. I squeaked. Then I had Monkey come over and look at it too. He had a hard time finding it, but eventually did it. The folks at the nature center said that it was a garter snake when I returned the binoculars, and were glad we'd see it because it tells them the garter snakes are moving from the one side of the preserve to the other for their winter hibernation. Because it was so well camouflaged, I couldn't get any great pictures. Here's the best one, with everything but the snake in black and white to help you see it. It's amazing to me how well it still blends, after editing the picture to make the snake more obvious.

26 October 2009

Starting Early

Monkey: I want to follow Nana.
Mom: Where are you going to follow her to?
Monkey: I need to get in my car, and follow Nana.
Monkey: So give me my keys!

24 October 2009

Sunday Scripture

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
2 Nephi 25:26

23 October 2009

Friday Again

This week's big change was adding in some more math. Monkey's doing really well with it! Right now we're counting in all the new and creative ways that I can think of. These are pennies we counted out this morning. Monkey wanted to make stacks, so that's what we did: 5 plus some more, in the second row is what you're looking at, though it's hard to see. I made some flannel board pieces and he made me pictures of one and two pretty successfully. When we tried to show this to Daddy he wanted to do four, and that didn't go quite as well. So there's still some solidifying to be done on these number concepts, but it's coming along nicely.

We continued with the Happy Phonics games, as well as the file folder games, and he's definitely improving in his ability to discern between "b" and "d," though I've realized that we must be missing certain letters because he's got some that he really struggles with - V, W (he wants it to be an M), he mixes up the sounds for G and J, that sort of thing. I was a little surprised, but it should be easily remedied with some more games focused on those letters.

About midweek, Monkey discovered this book on our shelves. I found it at the thrift store a while back, and he periodically finds it and looks all though it. It's one of those cool ones with the see-through panels that shows all the different things going on in the body. The first organ they discuss is the skin, and we spent a good chunk of time this week talking about skin and fingerprints. We got out my scrapbook inks and made some fingerprint art. That was fun, so Monkey wanted to do it again a couple days later! When we took our trip to the library one of the books I grabbed was about the skin and I read just a little bit to him. It's a bit old for him and enough over his head that it didn't seem to be grabbing his attention very well, but we did look at some of the pictures and talked briefly about cells and microscopes that make things MUCH bigger, like his magnifying glass, only more. It was nice, but the "finger painting" was much more fun.

We're making good progress in our read-aloud right now as well: we're doing Little House on the Prairie, and Monkey asks for more each time I read it. Since we're doing it at naptime I seldom give it to him, though I'll probably read a second chapter this evening since he's a bit under the weather and in on the couch enjoying some Bob the Builder, looking a bit pathetic. You know a three year old isn't feeling quite right when they ask for a nap and then sleep for 3 hours!

Nature Study, we more or less skipped, though Monkey did come out and help one day with garden clean-up. But with him under the weather, I haven't felt like I could take him out in the cold rain we've had most of the week.

Mom's Ed:
Not as much this week (not that there's tons in any week), but I did spend some time studying a great article on unity and charity, as well as some re-reading of parts of The Well-Trained Mind.

Young Organist

22 October 2009

A Picture of "One"

Here is Monkey at his flannel board, making a picture of "one." After we were done with the picture of "one" I started to put away the numbers, planning to let Monkey just play in the felts. He begged to do a picture of "two," so that's what we did! This picture, being the second time we did it, was much easier to do.

21 October 2009

He's Off!!

Friday, Stachelbeere, Maulbeere, and I met some friends and went rock climbing. It's what Stachelbeere wanted to do before he left. We had a good time! (We left Monkey with Nana & Grandpa and they all liked that arrangement.)

It was beautiful. This is the top of the "bunny hill." I told Stachelbeere that he couldn't take me to the difficult climbs, as this was the first or second time I'd been, and it it was the second then the first was while I was in high school. He laughed and we went to the "bunny hill." It was plenty challenging!

The sunset from the rocks was beautiful. Though the it was a bit chilly on the backside to just sit and watch what the sky was doing.

Sunday, Stachelbeere was set apart to be a missionary.

Monday, we went with the family to take him to the airport.

Today, he was to report to the MTC. Family living out there took him, and by now he has begun learning to be a missionary. It's so sweet to listen to my Monkey pray for Heavenly Father to, "bless him to be a good missionary."

In about 2 weeks, he's supposed to go to the Marshall Islands, where he will be learning a new language. (We don't know which one yet.) Letters take a long time, (and Stachelbeere isn't much on writing them) so we are pretty excited that the mission president's wife is a blogger! She's highlighted a few of the differences between the Marshall Islands and the US. She mentioned that some of the senior missionaries got to meet SpongeBob. She took pictures of the huts the missionaries live in on Christmas Island. The mission is made up of a continent's worth of ocean, well studded with little islands. So far, the biggest city that anybody's been able to find on the maps since the family started looking is about 26,000 people. Some of the missionaries serve in what they call the "outer islands." She's got pictures of that too.

We'll miss Stachelbeere, but we know that he's doing what the Lord wants him to do in the place the Lord needs him.

If you serve a mission faithfully and well, you will be a better husband, you will be a better father, you will be a better student, a better worker in your chosen vocation. Love is of the essence of this missionary work. Selflessness is of its very nature. Self-discipline is its requirement. Prayer opens its reservoir of power.

- President Gordon B. Hinckley

Car Painting

Monkey loved this. We got out some cars that I guessed would be pretty washable (look out for complex tires with deep grooves in them!), drove them in paint, then drove them on the paper. Monkey loved it. This is definitely a repeater project! Though as you might notice from the picture, Mom has a bit of a problem with proportion: 7 colors is too many. We'll stick with 3 or 4 that blend well next time.

But even with a whole lot of colors it was a fun project. Monkey even survived getting his hands messy. Though by the end of the project I'd taken away all his clothes to wash paint out of them. Next time I've got to put some kind of smock on him!

Behold! The final products! We did as many as I had counter space for, then I cleared things off a bit and let him do one more. Next time I'll have to do these AFTER dinner so I can give him more space and they'll be dry before breakfast. We've got 2 on our fridge and took the middle one to Grandma & Grandpa's house where it's decorating their fridge.

19 October 2009

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #1

Welcome to the first edition of Classical Homeschooling Carnival! I am excited about getting together some of the great posts about doing a classical education, and I think that we've got a great posts for this first edition. Around here it's just getting to be hot chocolate weather, so grab some and settle in for a good read.

Jessica presents School of Aletheia: Leaf Scrapbook posted at School of Aletheia. It's a fun idea and a presentation that is easy to do and easy to look at.

Dave Miller presents Slicing Up History When We Homeschool: Beyond Ancient/Medieval/Modern posted at The Homeschooling Physicist, saying, "My article discusses different ways of viewing world history and the various series of books we are using in our homeschooling for our world history curriculum."

Ritsumei presents Weekly Wrap-Up posted at Baby Steps. A quick look at our week with some thoughts about teaching phonics to the young learner.

That concludes this edition. So glad you stopped by! Submit your blog article to the next edition of Classical Homeschooling Carnival
using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our
blog carnival index page

If you'd like to host the next edition of this carnival (31 Oct 2009), contact Ritsumei.

Article: Making Your Home a Haven

When people visit my home now, their response when they walk through the door is not “Oh your home is so clean”, now I hear “Your home always feels so warm and inviting”.


That sort of thing is my most favorite type of compliment to get on my home. It's a people-oriented attitude, rather than a stuff-oriented attitude. I'd never thought about what specifically I could do to make my house more warm and inviting more of the time. I think she's got some good ideas.

18 October 2009

Cupcake Hero: Pumpkin + Halloween

The Cupcake Hero roundup is posted now. I didn't realize it, but there was a Halloween theme, and some very creative recipes and spook-tacular decorations! If your name is Kate, or you are a fan of Halloween, you're not going to want to miss this!

Sunday Scripture

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

17 October 2009

A Busy Week

Been a busy week! We took a trip during the first part of the week, so we didn't have much academics during that time. While we were out we visited a good friends' firehouse which was a good time. It was Mom's first time at a firehouse too.

We also checked out a photography exhibit at a local museum. Monkey surprised me with how enthusiastic at the museum! He wanted me to take pictures of a bronze statue (not allowed), and examined the beautifully carved guardrail on the stairs, and then was happy as a clam in the lower level's kids section: the "touching part." He was pretty disappointed when I eventually insisted that we had to go home.

Not too much this week, other than that. A few letter games. I'm looking at Math Expressions as a possible math "text," though we wouldn't be using it in a "text" sort of way for a long time yet. I got to look at copy of the workbook & teachers' manual this week, and I'm thinking this looks pretty good, though we haven't made a final decision yet. I also talked with Mom, who uses the series in her classroom, and have some ideas for math games to make and play in the mean time, as we finish deciding what we're going to do and do something about the decision.

No art this week, though I would have liked to. I'm thinking that we should do a car-painting, where he uses some of his little (easily washable) cars to paint tracks, perhaps on a T, for "tracks." But that has ended up needing to wait for next week.

Mom's Ed:
I read some more in America's Constitution this week, which was very interesting. I blogged a bit about the three-fifths clause. The next chapter is about the Congressional Powers spelled out in Article I, and I'm looking forward to getting a clearer idea of what those are.

The Three-Fifths Clause

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to th ewhole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." -Article I, US Constitution

The "all other Persons" means slaves. Three out of every five slaves counted toward how many Representatives slave states had. It was the only type of property that got special consideration in the Constitution; everything else happened based on either numbers of States or numbers of (free) people. Thus, the more slaves a state had, the more seats in Congress it had, forever. The Constitution included no provision for ending the extra seats. (Remember, this is before the Civil War and emancipation.)

In my book, America's Constitution: A Biography, Mr. Amar says, "Modern laypersons and law students confronting the words 'three fifths' for the first time often suffer from a similar confusion [as the founding debaters], recoiling at the idea of valuing slaves at less than 100 percent. This initial reaction misses the point. The clause did not aim to apportion how much a slave was a person as opposed to a chattel. Had this been the question, the anti-slavery answer in the 1780s would have been to value slaves fully: five-fifths. Yet in the context of House apportionment, a five-fifths formula would not have freed a single slave, or endowed any bondsman with more rights of personhood against his master or the world. Five-fifths would simply have given slave states even more voting power vis-a-vis free states. The precise Article I question concerned Congress's proportions, not the slaves'. The principled anti-slavery answer to this question in 1787 was that for legislative apportionment purposes, slaves should be valued not at five-fifths, or even three-fifths, but rather zero-fifths." (Page 89)

So the House was had exaggerated representation for slave states. It was pretty significant too: the South started out with 13 extra seats. Though Massachusetts had more free people, Virginia got 5 more seats because of her slaves. It was a gift that kept on giving: when the slave states redrew their House district lines, they skewed them within the state so that the plantation areas got more votes than areas with fewer slaves. Because the electoral college was created based on Congressional numbers: more seats in Congress=more votes in the college, the tilt toward slavery affected the Presidency. Presidents, in turn, nominated cabinets, the Supreme Court, and lower judges. And as state legislatures began to apportion themselves using the 3/5 idea, slave areas got more power in the State governments as well. At the time State legislatures, not the people, elected the Senators. So the whole government was leaning in a pro-slavery sort of way. It would have taken much more than simple emancipation to unseat the various incumbents and judges that had their jobs because of this pro-slavery lean. I'd always kind of wondered: if the Civil War was so long ago, why is it that it took so long to get to the Civil Rights Movement? It would appear that at least part of the answer was that a pro-slavery/anti-black bias had become institutionalized in the government.

15 October 2009

Cupcake Hero: Pumpkin

I can tell that I'm a bit out of practice with the whole heroic cupcake thing, and it's also showing that I was short on time. But the cupcakes were yummy! Here's what I did:

Pumpkin Whoopie Cupcakes

For the Cupcake:
I used Joy of Baking's cake recipe forWhoopie Pies. The only thing I modified was the baking times.

Pumpkin Cakes:

3 cups (390 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (410 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 - 15 ounce (425 grams) can pumpkin puree

For Pumpkin Cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (can also use a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Beat in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 full. With moistened fingers or with the back of a spoon, smooth the tops of the cakes.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes, when lightly pressed, spring back and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

This actually makes a cupcake that is very closely related to a muffin prior to frosting. We even had them for breakfast. But when I finished them they were definitely cupcakes!

For the filling: Dark Cinnamon Ganash.

I made WAY too much ganash, and have to figure out what I want to do with the leftovers. (Anybody know how long this stuff keeps?) Anyway, Joy of Baking provided me with the recipe again: 1 part cream to 3 parts chocolate. I used Ghirardelli's 60% dark chocolate, and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, which I think was not quite enough.

For the frosting: Cream Cheese Frosting

This is where I really cheated: I used a tub of Betty Crocker. But if it wasn't homemade, I didn't have any complaints! I simply didn't have time to do homemade.

And the whole "they're supposed to be Halloween-y" thing? I didn't get the memo until after the cupcakes were made and eaten. But it was fun anyway. Better luck next month, right?

14 October 2009

Fire Fighters

We went on a short trip this week, and one of the things we did was visit a friend who is a volunteer fire fighter in his "free" time. He and his fire-fighting buddies were kind enough to give Monkey the grand tour.

This included trying on some key pieces of gear. Those hats are heavy! You can't see it, but Daddy is steadying the very large, very heavy hat so that we could get the picture.

*I have since been informed that it's not a hat, it's a helmet. Oops.

When we were done with the firetrucks we went to the other side of their station and had a good look at the ambulances, which was also very interesting.

This morning, when we told Monkey we were coming back home again, this was his reaction:

Monkey: I don't want to go home.

Daddy: What?? Why not?

Money: I want to go to the firemen.

11 October 2009

Sunday Scripture

4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
-15 Luke 4-7


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