31 March 2011

Postcrossing: Russia


This week we didn't get any postcards in, but we sent one out to Russia.

Links Links Links

I keep hearing things that go along these lines, "You are doing a good job, but most homeschoolers..." and then it's all about the stereotypes, particularly bad socialization and academic neglect. Thing is, the research says that the fears of mass academic neglect are completely unfounded. Homeschooling works. And no wonder: who doesn't benefit from that much one-on-one instruction?

Jamie has a great post about Homeschool Goals Not Accomplished. Don't worry. She's not fessing up to academic neglect so much as she's musing about why some of the electives she'd planned didn't work out and pondering what to do about it.





This awesome bubble art project makes me want to get some pastels. Apparently the site has a section of projects to do with them, which is cool. I need to go browse.

In about 2 months the plan is to study butterflies. I may have to make this caterpillar for breakfast (or more likely, dinner) sometime that week. It's adorable!

Cocoa shared ideas for birds' nests - edible & not. They're adorable. And they're just in time for us to be doing 6 weeks of birds here. I think we have a new craft on our agenda!

And, finally, a bit of muchkin humor: Thinking Outside the Bowl.

29 March 2011

The Proper Role of Government: Legal Plunder

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)

Having looked at the things a government ought to do, Brother Benson turned his attention to the other side of the coin: things which it is right that a government should not do.



THINGS THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT DO

A category of government activity which, today, not only requires the closest scrutiny, but which also poses a grave danger to our continued freedom, is the activity NOT within the proper sphere of government. No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare programs, schemes for re-distributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.




I believe that last line bears repeating:



If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.



This becomes a very simple starting point a we consider the issues of our day. It becomes an easy way to measure proposed legislation against principle.

Can I force my neighbor to pay for radio broadcasting?

Can I make my neighbor help with another's mortgage?

Is it right to make my neighbor subsidize veterinary education?

Incidentally, I found these on a list of bills that Congress recently voted on. I selected bills that had had final votes, and tried to take the first ones there (that I could quickly follow the title's meaning- some seemed rather arcanely titled), rather than cherry-picking votes that would illustrate my point. As it happens, none of these bills aims to do things that I would be comfortable compelling the lady next door to do.

Because in our government sovereignty (the right to govern) rests in the people, rather than the ruler, and the government exists because the People will it so, it is a government of delegated powers, the authority for those powers being derived from the Natural Rights of the People. The People created their local and State governments, and the State governments, in turn, created the federal government, which was ratified by a vote of the People. Federal power flows from the People. That is, federal power consists solely of power delegated to it by the People.



If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.



Brother Benson goes on to talk about how this can be a difficult principle to live at times:



To be sure, there are times when this principle of the proper role of government is most annoying and inconvenient. If I could only FORCE the ignorant to provided for themselves, or the selfish to be generous with their wealth! But if we permit government to manufacture its own authority out of thin air, and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master.



Any time you hear an argument that starts out, "But what if people don't..." You're probably viewing first-hand the difficulty of this principle.

"What if people don't educate their children properly?"
"What if property values drop?"
"What if people don't pay a living wage?"
"What if..."

The list is nearly endless. Violations of this live-and-let-live principle come in other forms too. Freedom absolutely requires both responsibility and consequences. It can be uncomfortable at times, if we do not anticipate those consequences. Another example I recently heard, incident to Wisconsin's union privileges debates, was this:


"Could the wealthy be asked to contribute even a very small portion of their money (come on, you are a millionaire surely you can afford the same amount of money the the public employees willingly said that they would give up out of their $40,000ish salary ) I have yet to meet any millionaire public employee."



First of all, if it's the tax man coming to your door asking for a "contribution," he's not going to be coming, hat in had, with a polite request. He'll bring the force of the IRS's private army, and the threat of jail time for tax evasion. Regardless of how you, the "donor," feel about this as a use of your personal earnings, regardless of your own needs, and regardless of your thoughts on the justice of the cause in question. That's not asking. And, when it's talking about someone else's money, that's not "taxing ourselves" as another friend asserted later in the conversation. It's force. And it's wrong.

The woman who made the suggestion is a friend, and a good woman. I believe that she, like so many, has simply never really thought through the thing she suggests. It's been generations since these principles were taught in government schools. I know that prior to reading Brother Benson's essay I certainly could not have told you what was wrong with suggestions like this, which are plentiful. I like to think I would have been vaguely uncomfortable with the idea, but the fact of the matter is, I was pretty clueless before I read the essay, and the Robinhood-like nature of this common suggestion may have appealed to me. After all, we're supposed to care for the poor, right? Reading this essay and the book "A Glorious Standard" made me realize how important these things are: what the government does is closely tied to the freedom we have to exercise our agency to the fullest.

Thing is, the way we care for the poor is important. The method is as important as the outcome, if we want to remain morally correct. Because government has funds only through taxation, I believe that charitable works can only justly be done through by private entities. I cannot take money from my neighbor lady to give to the poor, so I cannot authorize my government to take her money to give to the poor. I further believe that in our current situation, where the government has manufactured authority to do "charitable" work, it creates a complacency among those who would otherwise give more generously - after all, the government's got it handled. The heavy tax burden that results also reduces the individual's ability to give. Plus, when the government is deciding who gets the "charitable" contributions, we are often forced to give to those who do work we do not approve of. For me, groups receiving tax money I contributed to, but to whom I would never make a voluntary contribution includes organizations such as Planned Parenthood.



But if we permit government to manufacture its own authority out of thin air, and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Beyond that point, where shall the line be drawn? Who is to say "this far, but no farther?" What clear PRINCIPLE will stay the hand of government from reaching farther and yet farther into our daily lives? We shouldn’t forget the wise words of President Grover Cleveland that "… though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people." (P.P.N.S., p.345) We should also remember, as Frederic Bastiat reminded us, that "Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in." (THE LAW, p. 30; P.P.N.S., p. 350)



In talking about government with my friends, I have found that a number of them reject the principles laid out in this essay by Brother Benson. When I have asked them to articulate what limits they see being on government, they haven't been able to do so, and at times have gotten quite upset with me over the question and my dissatisfaction with answers that boil down to "whatever the voter (or high court) wants." I cannot feel secure about any foundation for rights that leaves them vulnerable to the whims of the majority or our crooked politicians.



THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN PROPER AND IMPROPER GOVERNMENT

As Bastiat pointed out over a hundred years ago, once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth and providing so-called "benefits" for some of its citizens, it then becomes a means for what he accurately described as legalized plunder. It becomes a lever of unlimited power which is the sought-after prize of unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to control the machine to fatten his own pockets or to benefit its favorite charities – all with the other fellow’s money, of course. (THE LAW, 1850, reprinted by the Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-On-Hudson, N.Y.)




My husband and I often comment on the most recent round of "Who Wants to be the Biggest Victim." You see this "game" all over in the race to collect or protect the latest cash prize. Raise the minimum wage, stop picking on unions, expand affirmative action... the list goes on and on.



THE NATURE OF LEGAL PLUNDER

Listen to Bastiat’s explanation of this "legal plunder."

"When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it – without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud – to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed!

"How is the legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime…" (THE LAW, p. 21, 26; P.P.N.S., p. 377)




The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act that's being challenged in the courts rewards politicians that adhere to certain rules with tax money for their campaigns. That is, they take from the people and give to the politicians. Even worse, they have put a 10% surcharge on civil penalties and fines for this purpose: violate hunting or fishing ordinances and suddenly you're supporting a candidate of the government's choice. It's a clear case of the legalized plunder that Bastiat was talking about: those candidates couldn't take that money as individual citizens. It would be stealing. It's no different when the government does the dirty work for them. Arizona politicians who really want to be clean and principled will be opting out, in spite of the advantage to their opponent under this law (self-financed candidates trigger a donation to their opponent).

Our governments are rife with examples at both the state and the federal level. I'm confident it's at the local level too, I'm just not well enough informed to know of a specific case at this point.



As Bastiat observed, and as history has proven, each class or special interest group competes with the others to throw the lever of governmental power in their favor, or at least to immunize itself against the effects of a previous thrust. Labor gets a minimum wage, so agriculture seeks a price support. Consumers demand price controls, and industry gets protective tariffs. In the end, no one is much further ahead, and everyone sufferers the burdens of a gigantic bureaucracy and a loss of personal freedom. With each group out to get its share of the spoils, such governments historically have mushroomed into total welfare states. Once the process begins, once the principle of the protective function of government gives way to the aggressive or redistribute function, then forces are set in motion that drive the nation toward totalitarianism. "It is impossible," Bastiat correctly observed, "to introduce into society… a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." (THE LAW, p. 12)



The Constitution of our United States exists to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. Legalized plunder leads to an ever diminishing level of freedom. We must speak up against it whenever and wherever we find it. We must elect leaders with the courage to say NO. We must find men of moral fiber, and that is a process that begins long before voting day. We may need to step outside our comfort zones and become those moral men serving the public ourselves, even as Washington was called from retirement several times to serve his country. We must wake up and defend our liberties from those who would plunder them from us, or we will wake up and find them gone.

25 March 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: A Person Place or Thing


We started doing First Language Lessons this week. I suspect that we'll breeze right through this pretty quickly; it's relatively straight-forward and Monkey's good at language stuff. The first lesson introduces nouns, so of course I had to go find the applicable Schoolhouse Rock clip! Music makes everything better.



I felt the need to buy books this week. This happens sometimes. Fortunately, I hadn't been to my favorite thrift store in a bit, so we headed there while we were out grocery shopping. What a great call! The books were $.25 each; we spent $5.50.



And, as is the norm for our house, we had a steady diet of lego creations. This one is a Batplane. We also had a dragon, some tanks, a starfighter, a missile (several of those), a couple buildings, a pyramid-shaped staircase... yeah. Lots of legos around here. We even used them for math.





The Math Expressions book uses "bodies in motion" regularly to help cement the number concepts we work with. This time Monkey chose to do jumps. He jumped 10 times, then 9 times, then 7 times, as we worked with the numbers. He always loves that sort of thing!



Monkey's been enjoying a steady diet of "Super Friends," and as a result I am often corrected if we call him the wrong thing: "Wonder Woman, I'm Superman today!" Oops. Guess I'd better get that right! He's got two Superman shirts and a Batman, and for the days that those are dirty, he talked me into making a bat-symbol to pin to his chest. And of course the cape. Always the cape.



And then there was the balloon creations. Note that he was Batman that day. :])



We had a look at the super moon. That was chilly - and a bit frustrating because I was struggling with my camera at a time when I cared how the pictures turn out. I need to go take some more moon pictures sometime just to figure out the new camera some more.



Let's see. I made biscotti. Monkey helped me eat them. Especially the half covered in chocolate. He wasn't all that impressed with them once the dipped part was gone, but he sure liked to have the chocolate part!



In addition to that we had a visit from several of my family members, which I completely failed to photograph. BAD me! And we did a bunch of school, though we did take Thursday off while the family was here. I guess maybe there's a reason why I felt like this was a busy week, even more so than usual.

Links Links Links

An interesting take on teaching good writing - using very short essays: Teaching to the Text Message.

I'm thinking about doing this oil-on-the-paper experiment to explain about birds staying dry when they're on the water. Also, it just sounds cool. They said they couldn't stick their fingers through wet paper if it had oil on it. I want to try!




A pair of very good questions from the Representative from Texas:
"We have to remember, a no fly zone is an act of war. Now what moral right do we have to participate in war activity against Libya?" AND
What would we do if someone slapped our United States with a no-fly zone and sanctions, and then started bombing to enforce it?

Additionally, if we ARE going to go to war, it's Congress's job to decide, NOT the president's. He's commander once we decide to go to war, but the decision is not his to make.



Also, here is Susan Wise Bauer doing a dictation with her 13yo son. While it's not an exciting pair of videos (you spend a lot of time watching him write), I found it very instructive as to what dictation actually looks like. I didn't expect that there would be so much grammar instruction in the process. And she basically had him do the problem orally before wrote it, which surprised me because I'd conceived dictation as a primarilly written sort of thing. And that, altogether, is very interesting.



For further reading on why this matters, try the message boards here first and then here.

24 March 2011

Postcrossing: Singapore and Taiwan

It's going to be a big week for geography! In addition to the one going out to Holland, we got two in the other day, from Singapore and Taiwan! I love getting exotic mail!

Here's the video we watched for Singapore. How cool that we already sent one to Malaysia, so when I realized it's right by there, I knew just where it was. Hopefully Monkey will start to get stuff like that from this. I know my own geography is getting better with this project!


And this will be for Taiwan.


19 March 2011

Queen Puabi of Ur

In working on my own self-education a bit, I decided to participate in Sketch Tuesday with Monkey. Sketch Tuesday this week is themed around jewelry, and I was thinking about doing one of my necklaces, but then I came across this lovely headdress when learning about Sumer:



Here's the original that I was working from when I made my drawing: it's a little simpler than the one in the following clip, and simple was nice for doing the drawing.



An archaeologist named Woolley discovered about 1800 graves in a dig in Iraq. Of those graves, 16 of them were "royal" tombs, and the finds he made were reported all over the world from 1922 to 1934. Artifacts from this work were split between the Universtity of Pennsylvania, the British Museum, and the Iraqi Museum.

Queen Puabi, buried in one of the 16 royal tombs, is interesting because she appears to have ruled in her own right in a time when the other nobles buried near by are all identified by their husbands - yet the archeologists think that her tomb is sitting right on top of her husbands because she didn't want to be separated from him in death. You can explore a bit about her tomb at the British Museum's website. It's got clickable sketches of the tomb and photos of some of the artifacts and reconstructed artifacts they have.

There's more cool pictures here:
University of Chicago: Treasures From the Royal Tombs of Ur

Another interesting thing about Ur is that Ur's ziggurat is thought to be a possible Tower of Babel site. This site has a discussion of the possible Tower of Babel site near the bottom of the page. The British Museum also has a site for the Ziggurat of Ur, with clickable pictures. Apparently this is one of the sites that Woolley excavated.



Weekly Wrap-up: The Well-Planned One


All that planning I've been doing is starting to pay off: I felt like we actually are going to have space in the week for adding things when we add a little more in two weeks. That's pretty exciting!



Art was fun. Monkey worked on building a caterpillar, and Raven had another try at finger painting. Both of them had a blast. We also entered Amp the Magic Sword-Pig in Sketch Tuesday; it was our first time participating.

Math went well. Pretty unremarkable. Nothing photogenic this time. But he's doing so well at it, it makes me happy. Hopefully math remains as much fun as it is here at the start!



For science this week the activity I'd picked in Mudpies to Magnets was to compare seeds. We looked at pumpkin, cantaloupe, pansy, lavender, chamomile, and some other ones that I forget. Then we did one better than the book suggested, and we planted them. It's about that time, and we're all so cabin-fevered that we can hardly stand it! Raven sat in his exer-saucer and checked out a pot while Monkey was doing my planting for me.



Phonics went well. Monkey's starting to blend more smoothly, which is exciting. It's his least favorite part of school, but he does it well most of the time. For our read-aloud we're reading Star Wars: Force Rising, which is about how Obi-Wan almost didn't become a Padawan. Good story. I pre-read it, and now I'm reading it to Monkey. I'm also very much looking forward to reading the next one!

We also had out first postcrossing postcard arrive, from Toronto, and we sent one to Italy, so those were the countries we looked up on the map this week. I'm still so impressed by this pint-sized geography buff.

Defenestration



The Defenestration of Prague - where a group of Protestant nobles defenestrated some Catholic emperor's men - started the Thirty Years' War. Aren't you glad you know that?

16 March 2011

Links Links Links

We'll start off with an unexpected birth story: An Open Letter to the Nurse at Cedars Sinai that Called me a Failure.

I swiped this love song from my cousin's blog. My favorite part is the couples at the beginning, but the song is also great.


The Headmistress posted this Bizarre Depression-Era Recipe. I'm so NOT trying it!

This one is from the message boards: apparently she had a BEAR living under the porch... all winter long?!? She even put up pictures from when it climbed their tree, and the realized it wasn't a mouse.

This is a great post about using manipulatives in math. I'd love to get some more of those - and the blocks they were using in her pictures looked awesome!


I think this guy, if the claims about him predicting a previous earthquake are real, looks a bit too credible for my comfort. In any case, his theory is very interesting.


15 March 2011

Postcrossing: Italy





Patriotic Virtue

I'm reading The 5000 Year Leap,and loving every minute of it. I read with my notebook in hand and prefer to have two colors of pens handy for my note taking. What can I say, I'm an office supplies geek. But the best part is the ideas in the book. Cleon Skousen, the book's author says this about the purpose of his book:


A short time before, a brand new majority in Congress had been swept into power, and our professor of Constitutional law was constantly emphasizing the mistakes these newly elected "representatives of the people" were making. He would demonstrate how they were continually seeking answers to the nation's ills through remedies which were not authorized by the Constitution, and in most cases by methods which had been strictly forbidden by historical experience and the teachings of the Founders.

As I talked to some of these enthusiastic new Congressmen, it soon became apparent that their zeal was sincere and that any mistakes they might be making were the results of ignorance, not malicious intent. In fact, all of us belonged to a generation that had never been taught the clear-cut, decisive principles of sound politics and economics enunciated by the Founders. Somebody had apparently decided these were not very important anymore.

To this extent it could be said that, ideologically speaking, we were a generation of un-Americans. Even those of us who had come up through political science had never been required to read the Federalist Papers, John Locke, Algernon Sidney, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Cicero, or the original writings of the men who put it all together in the first place. (Preface)


The first thing I thought when I read that was, "Yes! Exactly! Why isn't this stuff being taught?" Later, I realized that I had no idea who Sidney, Montesquieu, Smith or Cicero are, and only the vaguest idea of who Locke was. And although I have a copy of the Federalist Papers, I have yet to finish it. Clearly, my education is rather incomplete - and I took "AP" American History, which prided itself on looking at "original documents," but spent no time at all on the ideas in them.

Skousen goes on to outline briefly 28 ideas that guided Founding thought. The first idea is this thing called "Natural Law." I was excited to see that, because I'd run across tantalizing bits about Natural Law, but never found a satisfying definition. I'd never been able to answer the question, "What is Natural Law?" Turns out, Cicero (contemporary with Julius Cesar) answered that question quite some time ago:


Cicero's compelling honesty led him to conclude that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established. The Creator's order of things is called Natural Law. (page 34)


To me, that means that Natural Law is basically the Gospel, applied to government and politics. Skousen quotes directly from Cicero toward the end of the chapter:


"As one and the same Nature holds together and supports the universe, all of whose parts are in harmony with one another, so men are united in Nature; but by reason of their depravity they quarrel, not realizing that they are of one blood and subject to one and the same protecting power. If this fact were understood, surely man would live the life of the Gods!"


This idea of the necessity for a virtuous and moral people becomes the second principle Skousen addresses. He quoted a number of the Founders' writings on the topic:


Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. -Benjamin Franklin (page 41)



Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens... Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education ... reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. -George Washington (page 45)


And one more, not in the book, which I have liked for a long time:


"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -John Adams


These sayings from the Founders make so much more sense now that I understand what is Natural Law, and that our Constitution is built on a framework of Natural Law. Education, that is, the transmitting of these principles from one generation to another, becomes a most important concern under these circumstances. Jefferson spoke of a "natural aristocracy" made up of men of virtue, talent, and patriotism. Interestingly, at the time there was also an expectation that those who could afford to do so would serve their country without pay. Although there was pay available, George Washington apparently did not accept payment for his time in the Presidency. He also was not paid for his services as the commander of the Continental Army. Franklin, in particular, is quoted in the book, warning about the dangers of high salaries for high public office.


And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. (page 52)


But the thing that is most interesting to me is that the solution they offered was a sort of national faith. Congress, the very year they were organized (1787), passed the Northwest Ordinance, organizing government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio River, which included the following:


Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.


Notice that religion is listed as one of the reasons education needs to be encouraged. The first reason they listed! So what happened to the whole separation of church and state thing? Skousen quotes de Tocqueville to shed a little light on this question:


"Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions... I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion -- for who can search the human heart? -- but I am certain that they hold it indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society. (page 62-63)


Again from de Tocqueville, with commentary from Skousen:


"This lead me to examine more attentively than I had hitherto done the station which the American clergy occupy in political society. I learned with surprise that they filled no public appointments; I did not see one of them in the administration, and they are not even represented in the legislative assemblies."

How different this was from Europe, where the clergy nearly always belonged to a national church and occupied seats of power. [de Tocqueville] wrote:

The unbelievers in Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a [political] party much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are representatives of the Deity than because they are allies of the government.

In America, he noted, the clergy remained politically separated from the government but nevertheless provided a moral stability among the people which permitted government to prosper. In other words, there was separation of church and state but not separation of state and religion. (pages 64-65)


As it turns out, the Founders never intended for an atheistic government, such as we have now. That was not at all what Jefferson was talking about when he penned those fateful words about a wall of separation between church and state. He was not saying that he thought God had no place in government; if so, why on earth would he have referenced God so clearly in the Declaration - and laid all his logic for the necessity of the separation from England on the Creator and His endowments on men? The patriotic virtue these inspired men held indispensable for the continuation of our republic was always intended to rest on a foundation of solid Christian morals.

14 March 2011

Amp the Magic Sword-Pig


Monkey tells me that his pig is magical, and all the different colors let him transform into an airplane, a car, an autobot and oh, I don't remember them all. Each color does something different.


Mine comes from this Ringling Brothers circus poster. I hadn't had my sketch book out since 2006; it felt good to draw again.


Sketch Tuesday rules are here, and Barb will post a "circus" slideshow tomorrow. (You know, when it's actually Tuesday...)

There. Now she's got a slideshow.

13 March 2011

Bob the Builder



I was browsing my posts that never quite got published and came across this from two Halloweens ago, I think. Wasn't he a cutie?!

Postcrossing: Toronto

We got our first postcrossing postcard yesterday! I'm definitely more excited about it than Monkey, but he said he was interested in learning about where it came from. This one is from a Canadian neighbor in Toronto.





Links Links Links

Just a bit of this and that from around and about.

I've been thinking that some obstacle courses this summer would be fun. Monkey's not rollerskating yet (though maybe we should find some), but this kid-made obstacle course looked like fun. Here was another idea.

I enjoyed seeing Rand Paul go after the energy folks in this clip. Go Mr. Paul!!



Harmony Art Mom had a good idea - put up a painting for your desktop wallpaper for art appreciation, and I chose this one by Degas.

And, last, here's a lovely article with a more realistic look at those pioneer foremothers' lives. Here's a favorite snip:


Because the lure is there to think, Since I can never do as good a job of it as they did, why try at all?” or “Clearly I am not cut out for this. Some women were not meant to be homemakers, and I am one of them. I should go back to work, and things will be better.”

While it may seem like a silly and overblown reaction to the fact that pioneers grew their own food and we just found ourselves unable for the third year in a row to plant that vegetable garden we wanted, it is a mantra that is too familiar to many. There is a seductive whisper around us: “Just give up. You aren’t good enough. You can’t do this. Who do you think you are?” And we all know the one who would love for us to fall for those lies, don’t we? But we forget that we were not intended to be pioneer foremothers. God put us here, in this time, and with our own challenges. These challenges are different, sometimes less immediate, but quite often everywhere around us.

12 March 2011

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #15






Hurray for another Classical Homeschooling Carnival! I've got a baaad case of spring fever, and we're still buried in snow, so I'm showcasing some of the beautiful flowers that we will (eventually) get to enjoy. (Sorry the carnival is slow again: we were sick for about 2 weeks, starting right when I was supposed to post!)




Miss Nirvana presents The Very Hungry Little Caterpillar posted at Nirvana Homeschooling, highlighting their reading activity using the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Angela presents Homeschool Week in Review: Monday, January 10th - Friday, January 15th posted at My Classical Homeschool. She shares a number of fun ideas, including some adorable origami people her son made after reading The Boxcar Children.



Dragana presents Pictures with straws posted at Every Child is an Artist. Someone has been very creative with their drinking straws!

Christine presents Visual Latin Review posted at Our Homeschool Reviews.



Ritsumei presents More on Planning posted at Baby Steps.

Nadene presents Gauguin?s Loulou posted at PracticalPages, offering art appreciation lesson, resources and ideas and how we copied a Gauguin artwork using a grid for our enjoyment.



Jennefer presents SOTW Wrap Up and Review posted at Smooth Stones Academy. They've just completed volume 4 of The Story of the World, and she shares her thoughts on the series.


That concludes this edition; thanks to those who contributed! 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.

07 March 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Busy Busy


Last Week:

We were sick, but we did do a few fun things. Raven got to try out finger painting for the first time while Monkey did a magnet-painting activity. Looked to me like Raven really enjoyed himself, and he didn't even complain much about getting cleaned up!




The idea, for Monkey, was to use a magnet to move metal objects which would push around the paint. This is right up our alley: paint, but not messy. We ended up taking 2 tries to get the job done, because regular fridge magnets are not strong enough to move even very light paper clips through the paint. That was frustrating. But then we borrowed one of Daddy's big ceramic magnets, and we were in business!



This week:

Monday: We got up and were off to a roaring start with some Postcrossing geography. We watched a clip and looked for Turkey on the map & globe.



This clip was fascinating - and now Turkey is on our travel wish-list. We had no idea there was so much interesting stuff there, and would never have guessed that so much of it would be early Christian sites!



We also practiced phonics and did some graphing for math.

Tuesday was another productive day. More phonics & math, and a science experiment. Monkey wasn't really interested in this one, although I thought it was pretty. The idea was to talk about diffusion and color mixing, but you have to maintain the munchkin's attention for more than 3 seconds to do that. This one was a (pretty) flop.



Wednesday and Thursday we sort of fit school in where we could. Some of our best friends are moving out of state, and we had a last playdate with them on Wednesday, and then went to one last playgroup with them Thursday morning. We squeezed school in around that.

One of the math activities we did was to practice "right" and "left" by hiding a quarter and pretending to be robots. The person who hid the quarter had to give directions to the robot: "Go three steps forward. Turn right." This was a lot of fun!

Now that we've done 4 weeks of the plans I wrote up, I'm experienced enough to say that I like this type of planning. It's flexible, yet gives me enough structure to get things done. I'm going to have to refine the process some, because we still have a few things to add in, and our days are getting pretty full. But I think we'll be able to do it. And the days ARE going to be more full than they were: we're starting to be doing considerably more work. I've been working on the next section of plans and they're getting close to done. I'm excited about the stuff we'll be learning and doing in the next couple of months!

05 March 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: The Really Sick One



Oh my, we hardly got anything accomplished on anything this week! That's because we started the week with Monkey and myself just flattened by the fever-cough-snot thing that's going around. It takes about 5 days to run its course, and Monkey followed that up with an ear infection bad enough to impress the doctor when he peeked in the poor little guy's ear. Then Raven caught the fever thing, and now it's looking like Hubs may have to take a turn at being sick too. Looks like most or all of us will be staying home from church again tomorrow. [sigh]

But, in spite of that Raven has managed to got sooo close to crawling! He gets on his hands and knees and rocks and rocks. The he face-plants. And we're starting a new idea for how to help Monkey move to the next step in phonics. I'm hoping we can help him to start seeing syllables and words, rather than just individual letters. Plus, my first two Postcrossing postcards were received, so I can start looking for exotic mail in my box!

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