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27 July 2010

We Have a Baby!

Raven made his appearance on Sunday night, and he's a cutie! I haven't pulled the pictures off my camera yet, but hope to do so soon. We're doing well and loving having a new member of the family!

24 July 2010

My Sister's Etsy Shop

My sister recently opened an Etsy shop, and she's got some adorable stuff in there! I'd show you the one that I bought, but it's destined for a friend's babyshower, and I don't want her to accidentally see it before the party. But it's both cute & clever. She's also got a blog for her shop, where she tells a bit about the inspiration for her cute little onesies. I got mentioned one of the first posts.

Sometime in the next few days I'll be putting up a give-away that Kate is graciously allowing me to host. In the meantime, have a look around her shop:

12 July 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: A Bit Late

Monday: We took as a holiday. Monkey's Daddy had the day off for Independence Day, and we thoroughly enjoyed having him around. Monkey had been asking to do "tire painting," which we did, and we set off some fireworks in the driveway Monday night.

The rest of the week was pretty productive. I put together another game from Happy Phonics, the Castle Game, which Monkey enjoyed. We also spent some time working on the Reading House. With Monkey's fine motor skills improving, we're doing more with Math - and he's loving it. All week I kept hearing, "Let's do Math!" OK. We can do that. Some of the stuff we did went into the binder I made. Some of it was sidewalk chalk and other temporary mediums.

One of the great difficulties I've had in moving forward in the Math Expressions book we bought a while back has been figuring out how to deal with Monkey's fine motor skills. He enjoys math, but this book (and all others that I'm aware of) assumes that the kids learning are older than 3 1/2, and thus that their fine motor skills are considerably more developed. In using Happy Phonics, we've avoided him needing to write at all in order to learn to read. But in math has been more difficult to avoid writing. This week, it occurred to me that the gradual process recommended in the Well-Trained Mind for moving narrations from my writing them to him writing them should also work with Math.

For first grade, you write the narration down, have the child read it back to you, and then place it under My Reading. ... By second grade, most children can dictate short narrations to you and then copy these narrations themselves. The second grade notebook should contain less of your writing and more of the child's. ... By third grade, your student should be able to narrate the plot back to you and write it down himself without the intermediate step of dictating and then copying. In short, he'll have gradually worked his way up to doing book reports. (TWTM, pg 59-61)

Obviously, Monkey's not doing 1st grade work yet: we're doing a mix of preK and K work. But it occurred to me that this gradual transition from my writing to his would work for math as well. We tried it out this week, and I am pleased with the result. This is the "scene of two" we worked on together:

Kumon went mostly well this week. Memorization was a bit shaky: we usually do that at bedtime and Monkey kept falling asleep before we got it done. Our Scripture reading went great again; two weeks in a row! We'll likely finish the Book of Mormon this week and start the Gospels. Monkey is very much looking forward to reading all those stories about Jesus!

We also took a tour of the Hospital on Thursday, which I think I enjoyed more than Monkey did. They've remodeled since I had Monkey, and the nice environment they had then has been improved upon. I'm getting very excited for this baby to come!

Saturday, Monkey got a special treat: we took him to the Children's Museum near the temple, where he played with his Aunt while we did a little temple work. He was sooo tired when we picked him back up, but it sounds like he had fun! Aunt Kate has promised to share pictures with us soon.

09 July 2010

Fix-it Friday

Actions from Pioneer Woman. (Tweaked & masked a bit)
Clipping mask from CoffeeShop.
Background texture from Shadowhouse.
And, of course, beautiful picture from Fix-it Friday's contributors.

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #10

Wow! What an awesome response there's been this month: seven posts, where the previous record was, I believe, four. Well, seven submissions that actually pertain to homeschooling. I've had as many as 50+ articles submitted, but only keep the ones that are actually relevant.

Before I get on with the show, I wanted to invite people to let me know if you're interested in hosting the carnival. I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy, and although the Carnival doesn't take tons of time to set up, I'm not getting much computer time right now, due to threatened pre-term labor that has me taking naps nearly every day, rather than blogging while my son sleeps. I suspect that the newborn period will also be a challenging time, and that my blogging may continue to suffer! So if you'd like to host in August or September, drop me a line.

Pamela presents Books, Books, Books posted at Blah, Blah, Blog. Check out that home library while you ponder her thoughts on books and reading.

Elizabeth shares Learning Letters a resource she created for her son and generously shares with us, posted at Learn Live Laugh, saying, "A great resource for moms of children ages 0-5 who want to make every day full of fun, exciting, educational activities for their children."

Tracy's been working overtime and presents Math Learning Field Trip Ideas for Homeschoolers and Homeschool co-opsposted at Math Learning, Fun & Education Blog : Dreambox Learning.

That Resource Team presents June 1 - Learning Cards for European History posted at That Resource Site.

Ritsumei shares a bit of planning and reworking of schedules in Ready, Set... posted here at Baby Steps.

Irene gives encouragement for those feeling wounded by constant criticism in Home Schooling and Socialization posted at Irene Reardon.

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

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06 July 2010

The Proper Role of Government: Local Government

The Proper Role of Government, by Ezra Taft Benson
-- read the full text.
My commentary as I study his article:
Part I (Foundational Principles, Origin of Rights)
Part II (Separation of Church and State)
Part III (Source of Governmental Power)
Part IV (Powers of a Proper Government)
Part V (Government = Force)
Part VI (The US Constitution)
Part VII (Local Government)
Part VIII (Legalized Plunder)

From the essay:


It is a firm principle that the smallest or lowest level that can possibly undertake the task is the one that should do so. First, the community or city. If the city cannot handle it, then the county. Next, the state; and only if no smaller unit can possible do the job should the federal government be considered. This is merely the application to the field of politics of that wise and time-tested principle of never asking a larger group to do that which can be done by a smaller group. And so far as government is concerned the smaller the unit and the closer it is to the people, the easier it is to guide it, to keep it solvent and to keep our freedom. Thomas Jefferson understood this principle very well and explained it this way:

“The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.” (Works 6:543; P.P.N.S., p. 125)

It is well to remember that the states of this republic created the Federal Government. The Federal Government did not create the states.

I've spent a lot of time pondering this section of Benson's essay, as the things that he's saying were not as obvious to me this time. Starting with that first sentence:

It is a firm principle that the smallest or lowest level that can possibly undertake the task is the one that should do so.

I mulled this statement over for a while before I realized that this principle is at the root of all the jokes about doing things "by committee." Some things are funny because they are true. Committee jokes fall into this category. Management jokes are closely related. In both cases it's humorous commentary on what happens when too many people are trying to make decisions: you often either get gross inefficiency, power trips, or both. Giving the job to the lowest level possible, as Benson suggests, is one way to eliminate those problems. Jefferson's observation brings to light the fact that the lowest level of government is self-government of the individual and family.

I think there are two things that make this principle of self-government something very difficult to put into practice and leave in practice:

1. The temptation to meddle in other people's affairs, often with the intent to help them, is a powerful thing. But self-government has a corollary: minding our own business. Not everybody thinks like I do, not everybody values the things I do, and people will make different choices, and that's OK. I must remember to live and let live. I cannot and should not "right" every foolish thing that I see. It's not my business. They have their freedom, and to keep my own I must respect theirs.

2. The freedom that comes with self-government comes with a relatively high cost: responsibility for the outcomes of the decisions I make. If my business fails, I will loose money. If I choose to quit school I will probably not have insurance... and thus neither will my children. If I live in a dirty house rather than get off my butt and clean it, my family and I will likely get sick. The more free I am to make decisions, the more I am going to be responsible for the results of those decisions. This is as it should be. There is no justice in shifting my consequences - or my rewards - to other people.

Even in a perfect world, where everyone behaved honorably and respected their neighbor's freedom to choose, we would need to work together to meet some of life's challenges. Fire and other natural disasters typically threaten more than one family, and even in a utopian setting would require people to work together. Since the world we live in a less-than-perfect world, we also have crimes that will need to be dealt with. And much of the modern lifestyle that we enjoy rests on projects in the community, such as roads, sewers and water pipelines. Since most of these things are situations unique to the local area, it seems logical that they would be best dealt with at the local level. Thus the need for an active local government, sensitive to the needs and wants of the community that created it.

To apply the principle outlined in this section of the essay to the United States, we would see a pyramid emerge: The foundation, and largest section at the bottom would be the responsibility shouldered by each individual and family for their own self-governance. The next section, somewhat smaller, would be local government: city and county. Smaller still would be the State governments, with the Federal government limited to the few powers outlined in the Constitution. Those powers delegated deal primarily in only three areas:

1. Creating an equal footing among the States for trade by standardizing currency and certain other trading rules.
2. Presenting a united front to foreign powers.
3. Providing for common defense, should the need arise.

One thing to note is that implementing this philosophy would create a situation where the variance of local choice from one area to another could, and likely would be considerable. This makes sense: local conditions vary considerably.

Another interesting note is that following the American Revolution, the thirteen English Colonies became thirteen States. As I read about the history that lead up to the creation of our Constitution, it has become clear to me that Massachusetts and Virginia were distinct from each other in much the same way that Germany and France are distinct from each other. I had wondered why, outside of America, "State" refers to a sovereign entity, a country, but inside, it's a piece of the whole of the Union. Turns out it's because in many ways our States are (or at least, began as and ought to be) a sort of federation of cooperating nations that deal with the rest of the world with a united front. One of the challenges in creating these United States was that of creating a national identity, and convincing people that it was worthy of the possible dangers to their local identity. But the national union - the federation of the several states - was never intended to destroy that which made each state unique, nor to destroy the freedoms of those states to govern themselves. Alexander Hamilton put it this way in Federalist #3:

"But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States"

Benson's remark is a timely and urgently needed reminder:

"It is well to remember that the states of this republic created the Federal Government. The Federal Government did not create the states."

02 July 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Independence Day Edition

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." -John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts (11 October 1798)

It's been a busy week! I'm being more careful with my sleep, and the contractions are gradually getting better, which means that the things I usually do are more likely to have been done this week. This is exciting to me! Between that and the amazing efforts of my husband, we've had some good progress on a whole bunch of projects this week. Most exciting to me is that he pulled up, leveled, and added another ring of stones around our "circle garden," which is now ready to be filled with compost and then plants. Plus, the laundry and other housework is doing better than is has been in a while. Monkey also did quite a bit of work with his Daddy in the basement, working on finishing another section of it a little bit more. Monkey loves that sort of thing, and his daddy is kind enough to include him quite a bit.

"A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive" -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Lafayette, 1823

Phonics: Monkey's making good progress. I finally got the brads I needed to put together the "Reading House" from Happy Phonics, and we're doing that quite a bit. He also read a couple of Bob Books to me this week. No new ones, but we're still getting back up to speed after taking a whole month off for Grandma's funeral, so I have no complaints. We may try a new one next week... or we may not. He's still resisting the work of reading quite a bit, and I don't want to turn it into a power struggle or unpleasant chore. We have plenty of time. Just before Grandma died, he was starting to get excited about it; it seemed like he was realizing that he could do it. I'm hoping to recapture that enthusiasm.

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power" -Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted (1775)

Math: I recently re-purchased Anno's Counting Book, since it's been lost long enough that it was clearly not going to resurface in a reasonable amount of time. With that, we've re-started doing some of the math activities from Math Expressions. This week, we focused on "partners" in numbers. We used stickers to show the partners that make up 2-5, and Monkey enjoyed a couple of dot-to-dots. Speaking of dot-to-dots, a friend shared a link to dot-a-pix, which is a ton of fun! I haven't been brave enough to try Monkey on there, but I'm thinking that kids a bit bigger would enjoy it.

"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government" -George Washington, Farewell Address

Kumon: Writing went well; Monkey really enjoys that book. For whatever reason he wasn't really interested in the gluing book this week. That one is more for fun than anything else, so we didn't work on it. I suspect that it just couldn't compete with all the fun projects that Daddy had going this week. Who wants to glue when you could be in the garage helping dismantle an old Firebird?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." -Declaration of Independence

Read-aloud: We're still doing poetry, and having a good time at it. Today we read Winkin Blinkin and Nod, which I really liked. So did Monkey, though I don't think that he caught the double-meanings at all. But the illustration in our book this afternoon was charming, and we spent a long time discussing which of the boys in the picture might be Winkin, and which was Blinkin, and which was Nod. It was entertaining. I'll have to ask him if he wants it to go in his poetry book. We'll probably do another Winnie-the-Pooh book after the poems, but I'm in no hurry; we're having a good time with the poems, and the last time I checked the used book store they didn't have Winnie-the-Pooh, except for the one we already have.

"Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favourite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests" -George Washington, The Farewell Address (17 September 1796)

Scripture: This is the best week for Scriptures that we've had in quite some time. We read from the Book of Mormon every day this week, and are making good progress toward finishing it off. I need to look around and see if I can find a reading chart for just the four Gospels, which is what I plan to read to him next. I think that I'll leave the Epistles for another time. In addition, our Scripture Box is going very well. He's just about ready for a new scripture or two, and a couple of the old ones I think we'll move back for fewer repetitions here shortly as well.

"— the Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government lest it come to dominate our lives and interests" -Patrick Henry, unsourced

See more wrap-ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


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