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27 August 2011

Real Friends

I've been reading about parenting tonight, and came across this fun "GOYBP"  site. That is, "Get Off Your Butt Parenting." So far, I like what I see quite a bit. I'm reading this page, and it's got some awesome thoughts, including a story that moved me to tears. But the thing that brought me to my blog was this, about a friend. A real friend.

It’s humbling to admit that I didn’t realize my yelling was “that” bad.  Nor did I realize how often and how loud I was yelling, until a friend who cared enough to tell the truth did just that.  She told me my home sounded like her childhood home and though I was not yelling anything mean or shameful, my kids were still being affected by it.
I knew deep, deep down that she was right.  I knew I needed help and support.  I asked my dear friend if she would provide accountability in terms of yelling and 8 years later, she still asks me how I’m doing!

I hope that Joanne knows how fortunate she is to have a friend with that kind of courage. It's hard to be the one who says, "Hon, I love you, but you're waaay off here." It's scary. It has to be important because it's risking the whole friendship. What if she hates what you say and it spoils everything? I have spoiled friendships this way, by trying to be that friend. The one who said the hard things. Friendship, real friendship, is hard work. Sometimes, like everything else in life, in friendship there is opposition.

If being this kind of friend is hard, it's no picnic being the person on the receiving end either. It's never comfortable to take a good hard look at yourself and realize that something is seriously out of place. It's no wonder that we sometimes get angry at the person holding up the mirror where we find such unpleasant things! It takes courage to say, "Maybe you're right; I'll think about it," rather than snarling and leaving. I hope that the next time someone tries to do this for me I have the courage to be the kind of friend that Joanne was in her story.

Perhaps the coolest part of the story of Joanne and her friend is the way that it's turned out. Not only does it look like Joanne learned some new skills, but she's written this cool website, and who knows how many people have benefited from her idea of GOYBP. It seems particularly appropriate to me that the story would be on her page about becoming a Grace-Based Parent, since it seems clear to me that she's become an instrument in the Lord's hands in teaching people about parenting, and friendship, and who knows what else.

18 August 2011

Tie-Dye Results

We had a friend over, and had a blast dying everything we could get our hands on. Got some cute stuff out of it, and learned a few things about tie-dye and batik.

  • Don't forget to let the stuff sit after you pull it out of the dye.
  • Rinse it while it's still tied up, so that the white stays brighter.
  • Wax melts nicely in my mini crock-pot, but
  • Batik has to be done on dry fabric. If it's wet it will resist the wax and take the dye.
  • Make sure you have plenty of space to hang things: if they touch the dye can transfer.

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #18

Here it is again - another Classical HS Carnival! We've got quite a few entries this time, so settle in and enjoy!

A lot of families mark the start of their school calendar at this time of year. Cellista, of La Scuola d'Argento shares an intimate glimpse of a day in the life with her post, The First Day of School.

Paula ran unto a new idea late in her planning, and is reworking her schedule in Planning 201: Retreat and Regroup at Wakefield Academy.

Other folks are steaming along, full speed ahead. Nadene, of Practical Pages, shares how read-alouds have become the glue that holds their homeschool together through good days, bad days, and everything between, in Read-Alouds: the Homeschooling Glue.

Paige shares her new writing program with A Week with Classical Writing Aesop: Day 1. It's the first of a 5 part series on Elemental Blogging.

At Delightful Children's Books, Amy has made a great list of 11 Children's Books About Stars and Space.

If your student is a further along in their educational journey, try Regina's Ninth Grade Biology Notes at Green Apple's Blush.

Here on Baby Steps we have finally begun our study of Ancient History, and we kicked it off by building a Shaduf.

Last, but certainly not least, MissMOE has a lovely review, History Portfolio Review, posted at Homeschooling While Living the Life of Easier. She has many pictures, both before and after the pages were used, giving a nice feel for the portfolios.

That concludes this edition; I hope you enjoyed it! 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.

16 August 2011

Review: I Heard the Owl Call My Name

A very good friend of mine loaned me one of his favorite novels, I Heard the Owl Call My Name. After reading it, I can easily understand why this one would be a favorite. My inclination is to turn around and re-read it, which is a very unusual reaction for me to have to a book.

First of all, it;s got beautiful prose. The author, Margaret Craven, really has a gift with words. These would be words to read over and over in the hope that the cadence of them would seep into my own writing and make it beautiful as well.

"The Indian knows his village and feels for his village as no white man for his country, his town, or even for his own bit of land. His village is not the strip of land four miles long and three miles wide that is his as long as the sun rises and the moon sets. The myths are the villagae, and the winds and the rains. The river is the village, and the black and white killer whales that herd the fish to the end of the inlet the better to gobble them. The village is the salmon who comes up the river to spawn, the seal who follows the salmon and bites off his head, the bluejay whose name is like the sound he makes - 'Kwiss-Kwiss.' The village is the talking bird, the owl, who calls the name of the man who is going to die, and the silver-tipped grizzly who ambles into the village, and the little white speck that is the mountain goat on Whoop-Szo."

The author divides the village into a number of groups: the vicar, who is dieing but doesn't know it, and among the Indians there are the Elders who see the decline of their tribe with pain, the respectably middle-aged, and the Young, who increasingly are going over the bridge to the white man's world. They go for education, but in gaining an education they loose something of themselves. This division is extremely thought-provoking.

What is it that transmits a culture from one generation to the next? What keeps our village from disintegrating the way that the Tsawataineuk of Kingcome did? How do we educate our children, and how do our choices for their education shape the way our culture is - or is not - transmitted to them? This book is a thinker, and worthy of a second and third read.

15 August 2011

Batman & Montoya

Monkey built a drive through, and then the Batcycle was the first customer. This is how the story unfolded:

Batman: Hello.

Daddy: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. Would you like fries with that?

Batman: Yes. And also chicken nuggets.

Daddy: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare for fries.

At this point Mom laughed so hard she could hardly speak.


Photo credit: Wikipedia
We learned in Story of the World about ancient farmers using a shaduf to irrigate. Monkey asked me how it works, and I had some guesses, but looking at the descriptions, it became clear to me that I didn't know. But I also found some interesting clips on YouTube of some homemade shaduf projects. Pretty soon I'm thinking, "I could do that." So after lunch, we did.

Materials we used:

step ladder
 6 foot staff
several feet of rope
masking tape
child's sand bucket
4 cans of fruit

What we did:

We used the rope to hang the staff from the ladder, and secured the rope in the center with some masking tape. It wasn't terribly sturdy, but it did do the job. Next, we taped 4 cans, totaling about 3.5 pounds, to the back end of the staff with masking tape. The various things I read indicated that the counterweight ought to equal the bucket of water. This was not what I would have expected, but it turned out very interesting once we built it. Then we attached the bucket to the other end with more masking tape, and let Monkey go at it, moving water from our wading pool to a large bucket.

The little guy didn't like how cold the water was straight from the hose, so he supervised the process from just outside the pool.

Meanwhile, Monkey experimented with different ways of using the machine, and found that some ways of using the shaduf are much, much easier to do than others.

The masking tape on the bucket end and fulcrum lasted for about an hour, which for one happy little boy was just about perfect. He was almost (though not quite) ready to be done, and it was time to go inside and fix dinner when the tape gave out. In addition to a very memorable afternoon playing with a shaduf, he also bumped into a number of science concepts: levers and fulcrums most particularly. We didn't make a big deal out of that part of the project, but when we do study them he'll have hands-on experience to draw on. I like that.

13 August 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Starting Fresh

We'd planned to do school throughout the summer, but with all the excitement in our house, it didn't happen. Almost all the reconstruction is finished; we have a closet that needs to be painted, as well as some touch-up painting in the kitchen. The carpets are being cleaned next week, and then it's "just" a matter of getting all the stuff sorted back into its proper places. We picked school back up this week.

We started out with a birthday cake (Green Lantern), and the little guy had a run-in with hand, foot, and mouth disease. But he's much better now. By the time we did the shaduf on Thursday he was back to toddling around. I like that. After the high fevers and the painful blisters in his mouth, his little smile was a most welcome sight!

Easily the most exciting thing we did this week was building a shaduf, after we read about it in History. I have tons of cute pictures that I'm working on turning into a post of their own, so I'll just give you this one. It turned out awesome. Monkey also did a narration on what we did for the project.

What did we do?
We built a shaduf. We also used it.

How did it work?
It worked by us using tape and a string on a bo staff. Both ends got used. We attached one of my buckets to one end. Then we did the cans and put them on the back end.

What did the shaduf do?
It carried water. But ours was different from a real shaduf. What made it different is that the middle part wasn't the same. Our counterweight wasn't a rock; it was made out of cans.

Since we talked about levers, counterweights and the fulcrum, the shaduf included more than a passing nod at Science as well as History. But who's counting, right? Our official Science for the week was looking at dolphins and black-capped chickadees. I love the bird clips on YouTube. We see chickadees on our feeders all the time, and I've pointed out their call often enough that Monkey commented that it's familiar when he watched the clip. But there's something cool about the close-ups, and there are some really nice clips on there. This one calls itself a "mini-documentary."

Phonics is going well. Monkey is very comfortable with short vowel sounds now, and we're starting to introduce some of the other vowel sounds. It's going to take some practice, but he's getting there. We also added a few more review games from our Happy Phonics kit, which has been a nice change of pace. The "Build a Sentence" game has been a particular hit with Monkey, and I like it as well because it forces him to pay attention. The words in the game are pretty basic, so I may expand this game a little to make it reflect the rules we've learned recently.

I decided that our Math was not really challenging Monkey, and so we'd picked up the pace a while back, but still he didn't seem to be challenged. After making it a matter of prayer, I've decided to skip him ahead in the book a little. But this means we need some new manipulatives: cuisenaire rods and base 10 blocks. And, I need to re-plan what we're doing when. So, other than a few tanagrams one day, we didn't do math this week, and likely won't next week either.

We practiced Writing the letters N, R, and W this week, as well as doing the copywork, "Jesus made the world." He's doing well. Much more comfortable with capital letters still, but making progress.

We have several postcards that have come in since last we learned about the countries our cards come from for Geography. When I grabbed one, it was from Poland, so that's the country we learned about this time.

In Grammar, we're discussing pronouns, and I put the list of pronouns in Monkey's Memory work book. He's doing well on memorizing the list, and we're about halfway through the set of pronoun lessons in First Language Lessons. It's not very exciting, but it's building a good grammar foundation which will be useful later when we start doing foreign languages and more compositions.

10 August 2011

Making Bread is Easy, Promise!

I keep hearing people say how intimidated they are be making bread, specifically yeast breads. I guess my Dad did me a bigger favor than I knew when he said, early in my teen years, "Hey, why don't you make some bread?" I grabbed one of Mom's cookbooks, made a big mess (failure to clean up said mess nearly got me booted from the kitchen), and made some bread. Nobody told me it was difficult, so it never occurred to me to think it was. Looking back, I'm sure those first loaves wouldn't be winning any contests. But they made my Dad smile; he said I did well, and that was all the encouragement I needed! With the tough economic times, making bread is an easy way to reduce the grocery bill. Even a little homemade bread will make a difference in our grocery budget. I usually also make our english muffins, sometimes I take on bagels, and occasionally I'll make tortillas. I like homemade tortillas, but Monkey loves to help and he slows that process down a lot. Basic bread, though, doesn't mind the small helpers much. Let 'em mix, let 'em "knead" and off you go, no problem.

Bread, like any other skill, gets easier and better with practice. Don't feel like because the first batch didn't work out, it never will. As you get the hang of what the dough feels like (soft, not dry, but not *quite* sticky) you'll learn how to do it. Every batch of flour is a little different, so don't stick hard and fast to the recipe - if it's a bit dry add at tbsp of water, if it's a little sticky, add a little more flour. No kittens will die if it's not perfect ! I have a kitchen aid, but I don't like to use it for bread (makes the bowl super hard to get off to wash), so I always mix and knead by hand. About 2-3 cups of flour will make a nice size loaf, or a pizza crust, or sometimes we roll it out a cut it with simple cookie cutters, or run the pizza cutter through to make bread sticks. Bread is actually very forgiving, once you get the hang of it. Here's my favorite recipe. I have made it so many times now that I hardly measure anymore, so the amounts are approximate. This recipe began its life as a pizza dough recipe, so I'll give those instructions first.

Pizza or Bread Sticks or "Fish Bread" or Loaves
1 cup water, lukewarm
2 1/2 flour
1 t salt
generous dash sugar
~2 T oil
1 T yeast
pizza spices (opt)

Put yeast in water, set aside. Mix flour (may sub up to 1c whole wheat, I haven't really tested past that), salt, sugar, oil, and pizza spices if desired. Yeast should be beginning to make the water cloudy, then foam up a bit. Sometimes I put a little sugar in the water to help it along. Pour yeast/water mixture into flour. Stir.

At this point I always have to adjust the flour/water ratio a bit. I keep my flour bucket next to me as I work and toss a little more in as needed. I often start with dough that's dry, so I add some water, but inevitably it's too wet. If It's only a tiny bit too wet, let it sit 10 minutes. Some of my best bread has happened when I let wet dough sit 10 minutes; it gets more workable. Once you have the water/flour right, then you knead it. And when you think it's done, knead it some more. And a little more for extra measure. Your mouth will thank you! Then, roll it out. If I'm doing pizza, I roll it right on my pizza stone. If I'm making bread sticks, I roll them on the counter, cut into strips with my pizza cutter, and move the strips to the pizza stone. If I'm doing "fish bread" we roll it out, cut it with cookie cutters, and repeat, just like cookies. Knead a bit between batches, and if it gets too tough, let it rest 10-15 minutes before you roll it ought again. Bake about 8 min at 400F. Then either build your pizza or brush with some garlic butter. YUM!

If you want bread for loaves, reduce the oil or eliminate it altogether (I forget it half the time anyway... not a big deal, though it tastes better for the pizza-type stuff). Knead, same as before, till you're sick of it and then just a little longer. Oil a clean bowl, spin the dough around in there so it's got oil on every side, then flip a towel over and ignore it for an hour. Should be around twice as big. If it's not, give it an extra 1/2 hour. If it's chilly in the house, I'll stick it in the oven with the light on - but cover it with plastic wrap, cuz that will dry it right out. Pull it out of the bowl, and shape it into whatever makes you happy. Sometimes I'll round it a bit by tucking at the bottom so the top stretches smooth a bit, then put it on my pizza stone. I like to score the top with a knife a little - it's pretty. Sometimes I'll shape it into an oval, and those fit nicely into a loaf pan. Bake at 350F, and start keeping an eye on it around 20 minutes. When it's done it should be golden brown, it should smell heavenly (that's the biggest clue), and if you tip it out of the pan, the bottom will be golden brown, and done.

This clip of Julia Child was super helpful to me, though she and her friend are WAAAAY more fussy than I am. But the stuff they say about flour, and about kneading the bread, I learned a lot from. YouTube has a number of great clips. I learned how to braid challah from YouTube a while back. That's pretty - and easy too, once you've seen the video! Happy Baking!

05 August 2011


Learning about animals is a lot of fun, but it can be hard to find clips that aren't pushing an agenda, and I'm just looking for educational clips at this point, not clips that condemn all human activity as evil! Time enough to discuss the difference between earth worship and being a good steward when Monkey's a little older. At this point, I'm just looking for information and exposure to the amazing variety of animals the Lord made for us. These clips are both pretty good. The first is a clip of a pod of dolphins swimming underwater. The second is a blurb from SeaWorld which really showcases the dolphins' ability to jump without coming across like a commercial.

04 August 2011


We read about people eating lizards in the first chapter of Story of the World, but Monkey didn't know what lizards are, so we'll need to learn about those too. YouTube is great for that.

03 August 2011

Learning to Self-Educate

Shortly after I got married, we moved from the campus of UIUC where I had been studying Japanese, to Purdue, where I planned to get an elementary education degree while my husband finished his education in engineering. Before classes started we felt strongly that I should not attend the university at that time. I cried, and then canceled my registration. I loved school, I loved learning, and mourned that the Lord was directing me away from the only way I knew to "become educated."

Read the rest of my discovery of self-education over at LDS Parenting.


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