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27 August 2012

Let Your Light Shine

Hero came home from Primary a couple weeks ago with pictures of candles and "bushels;" they'd been discussing Matthew 5:14-15.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Now, his teacher at church does a nice job, but you're not supposed to use candles at church, so instead of lighting a candle, they had to be content with coloring in some candles at church. I was pretty sure that my little son had paid attention, since he was able to tell me a fair amount about the lesson. I also knew that coloring can never have the impact of a real candle. So I got one out.

"Hero, what was the Lord comparing to a candle?"

"Being good."

"OK. So, being good is like a candle."

I lit a tea light, and we watched it for a minute.

"Do you know what a bushel is?"


"It's a type of basket. Normally, they're not see-through, but I want you to see what happens to the candle, so I brought this pint jar for our bushel.""

I put the jar over the candle, and we watched it for a bit to see what happened. I was surprised at how long it took for the light to go out. Hero was surprised that it went out, and Dragon was delighted by the whole process.

"What happens when you hide your goodness?"

"It goes away."

They loved the whole process, so we did it several times. The Daddy walked in on the last one, and guessed that we were doing science, which lead to conversation about how fire needs air, and when the air is used up, it goes out. As they're talking about that, I'm thinking how remarkable it is that all things really do testify of Christ. So then we talk about how we need the Lord's Spirit to help is be good, and if we don't have that because we are hiding our goodness, our light- our goodness- goes out.

At that point, Hero's attention was about used up, and so I asked him to finish clearing his place from lunch. But I kept thinking. The candle went out because, under the jar, it quickly used up the air. But it wasn't for lack of air; there's plenty in my kitchen! I thought how sin cuts us off from the Spirit- not because he won't help us, and not because he's not there, but because we are hiding under our "bushel."

Food for thought, that.

25 August 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: the one with bees

It's the end of another week, and we've been busy again! We started out our week with some serious excitement: we went to visit a bee hive. That was a lot of fun, and Hero got to wear a bee suit and get right up there next to the hive and see everything. Our bee man is pretty awesome, and was happy to show him all the stuff in the hive, and answered both his questions and the questions that the Daddy and I had as well. Definitely the high point of the week.

A lot of the rest of the school for the week was road school. The Daddy had to do some business travel, and we've worked out a way for us all to go with him on some of the trips he has to take. It's very nice, because neither Hero nor Dragon really tolerates the Daddy being gone very well. So we did a bunch of our work in a hotel. And, we got to go swimming. The boys love that!

We've been working on a lighter load through the summer, which has been very nice. We spent quite a while on China and Moses, and we also added some extra Old Testament history as well, so by the end of the spring we still had a lot of ancients to go. So my main goal for the summer was to finish up the ancients and be ready to start the medieval history this fall. And we're just about there. We're doing Rome right now, and have looked at some reenactment photos, as well as watched a couple documentaries in addition to the stories in Story of the World. Road schooling makes doing some of the projects we might otherwise do much more difficult, but there's a whole bunch of fun stuff online. We found a cool thing about Roman coins that Hero really enjoyed.

Math is also going very well. I don't have any pictures for it this week, but since we did the thing with Alexander the Great and fractions a couple weeks ago, he's continued to be interested in fractions, so we split our time between the basics of fractions and two-digit addition. We have a great book for doing fractions with our cuisinaire rods, called "Everything is Coming up Fractions" that has some very clear explanations and fun puzzles that Hero likes.

Reading is going so well too! Hero is reading some simple books now, he sometimes reads his Bob Books on his own when I didn't ask him, and he takes turns for just 2-3 lines out of the scriptures when we read as a family. It's so exciting! We've slowed down the phonics instruction to be able to practice the actual reading more, but he's much less resistant to doing the phonics now that he's finally seeing it start to pay off.

The other thing that was super exciting this week was that while we were out I got to go to the temple. It's been a looong time, and it was soooo nice.

Photo credit: LDS.org

Visiting the Hive

Our bee-keeping friend invited Hero to come to the hive again if he wanted, which he did. Hero decided that it was cool enough to do again, and that he wanted to show his Daddy what it's all about, so we went again. This time we were better prepared: long sleeve shirts, long pants, and hats to keep the bees out of our hair. Also, I had my camera and the long lens ready to go. And our bee guy had bee gear for Hero! It was awesome.

First, we saw the hive all put together. The lid is slanted to allow ventilation, and the rock on top keeps the lid from blowing away.

The bees have a little door they like to go in. Turns out there are several openings they could use, but this is the one they like. They were pretty active when we got there; much more so than last time. Maybe because last time we visited it was evening, and as the sun set the bees wanted to go in and do whatever they do at night, and this time we were there mid-morning. In any case, there were quite a few of the little critters buzzing around before anybody even got close to the hive.

Our friend helped Hero into some bee "armor" so that he could go right up to the hive. It was older equipment, but it still did the job. Hero was pretty excited when he realized that he was going to be right in the thick of things this time!

Next, they started the smoker. Bees don't like smoke, so it's useful when working with them. They were burning twine in a cool little can with a mini-bellows on the back side of it, which Hero got to try out. Since I was pretty sure that he'd never seen a bellows before, we also mentioned that a larger version of a bellows was what Nephi used when he was building his boat.

The bee man continued to take the hive apart, and he showed Hero everything as he did so. Honey and pollen, drones and "house bees" and wax caps on the frame, and all sorts of cool stuff in there.

When you look at the hive, you can see that it's made out of several sections, and it turns out that the various sizes of sections have different purposes. The top ones are a little smaller, and they're called "Supers." It always kind of amazes me how the bee man just sticks them on the ground, and it doesn't seem to disturb the bees too much. Even with them on their sides. Bees are cool that way.

Pulling the trays out (I forget their right name) also doesn't seem to bother the bees too much. At least, not from the super area. I think on this tray he was showing Hero a drone, but I can't remember for sure. I think it's cool how Hero was able to be right there, nose to nose with the bees. I'd kind of like to see up a little closer, but with only the one extra suit, that wasn't an option this time.

Now he had all the supers off the top of the hive, and they were down to the little skinny layer. It's called an excluder, and its job is to keep the queen down in the bottom section of the hive. That way, the queen only lays in the bottom sections, and the honey and wax in the top is ready to be harvested at the end of the season. It's harder to see at this  resolution, but the excluder has a sort of screen on it which is large enough for the worker bees to get through, but too small for the queen.

At this point, the bees are stirred up enough that they've made a pretty good cloud around the two of them, and you can see all the bees buzzing around them in this picture. Hero was hoping for a peek at the queen, which didn't end up happening this time. But he did see a bunch of larve, and the way that things work down here in the brood boxes below the excluder. The bee man said that it wouldn't be a good idea to disturb the queen too much, and that when they pulled the trays down here some of the larvae were going to die from being disturbed like this. But he wanted to check and see how much larvae were there, so they did have a peek.

Before the bee man removed the top brood box to look in the bottom he pulled out his smoker and smoked the bees a little. It was really remarkable to see how the bees would go right into the box, away from the little bit of smoke as he moved the smoker over the top of the brood box.

The bees weren't doing that much with the bottom brood box; some of the trays were still empty. The bee man said that this was a good strong hive, but not an amazing one. He seemed pleased with how things are going.

Then, having looked the whole thing over, they started putting things back together. By this point, with their home completely disassembled, the bees had made quite a cloud around the two guys and the base of the hive. It was remarkable to see how quickly they went back into the hive as it went back together.

A few of the larvae had fallen out in the process, and the bee man figured they were going to die anyway, so he had Hero pick one up and bring it over for a picture. This is my favorite from the whole batch of photos from the day.

The larvae are kind of icky-looking. I guess that's not surprising, since they're squishy bug larvae. But that didn't seem to bother Hero at all. He brought it right over so that we could see. I'm a little entertained, since he won't touch worms or frogs, but didn't think twice about grabbing bee larvae. Maybe it's the gloves.

Having put it all together, they stayed and watched the bees go back in for a while. This was when we learned that there's another hole on the back of the hive for ventilation. The bees could  use it for a door, but mostly they just like to go in this front door.

Especially considering that most of the trays were never taken out of the hive, it was somewhat remarkable to see how many bees were headed back inside now. The cloud of bees rapidly shrank as they all went back home.

Once again, he kindly invited Hero to come back again another time. He plans to harvest the honey Labor Day weekend, so maybe we'll be able to help out with that a little. He'll come out and take the supers off for the winter, and take the honey and wax out of them. Watching them working with the bees was fascinating. The bee man had some other hives that he was headed to have a look at, so we said thank you and let him be on his way.

23 August 2012

Rome Online

It's always interesting to see what sort of fun resources I can find online for the topics we're studying. Here are some that I collected for Rome.

The Stories Coins Tell - in interactive thing about different Roman coins and the stories they tell.

This one's not interactive, but it is a clear explination of the way the Roman Republic worked. This is good information because I'm looking forward toward the time when we're teaching about the American Republic, and this will lay some groundwork for that, so we'll spend some time talking about this, and I'll have him do a narration when we're done.

This documentary from National Geographic has some general information about the peak of Roman civilization, and contrasts the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian.

22 August 2012

Roman Reenactment

We're finishing up our study of ancient history by looking at Rome. In the process, we discovered that there are groups that do reenactments of Roman battles, and it looks like they've spared no expense. Hero picked a few pictures to share; they all come from this flicker photo stream.

Roman Military Spectacular, Caerleon

Roman Military Spectacular, Caerleon

Roman Military Spectacular, Caerleon

He says someday he'd like to build a catapult. Maybe we can find one of those models and make a mini one.
Roman Military Spectacular, Caerleon

Roman Military Spectacular, Caerleon

16 August 2012

Back in Nature

It's been a rough summer for nature study. We basically haven't done any. We haven't been to our favorite parks all summer. We've hardly even been to playgrounds, though we have enjoyed our own backyard.

There's a couple reasons for this. One of them is that about the time I was ready to get organized and go to the parks, I got pregnant. And started sleeping through the next three months. Then the heat came on, and with heat indexes over 100F regularly, I simply couldn't tolerate being outside, so I hid inside in our nice air conditioning.

Things have been better the  past couple of weeks, so I have been outside more. First, we took the gardens in hand a bit. They are in sad shape, but it's better than it was. Now, we're getting to the point where we are branching out to our favorite parks some more.

So, today, we went looking for frogs at one of our favorite parks. The park has a little stream, and in the fall we can usually find some good sized frogs hanging out in the water. We didn't find those today, but we did find some little bitty ones. This one was the size of my thumbnail.

We headed through the garden toward the stream, but I couldn't help pausing to take a few pictures of the flowers. Even faded a little, they were beautiful, and it was sooo nice to be looking at flowers through my camera again!

Over by the stream, we discovered some water lilies. They were beautiful. I think we must have missed their blooms last year. That's pretty believable, since we were dealing with all that water in our house and didn't do very much nature study last summer either. 

The boys were having a blast. It's amazing to me how big they're both getting. We measured Hero today; he's 4 foot 2 now. Wow.  He kept standing on stuff and wanting to know if it made him taller than me. Next month, it probably will, if he stands on the same stuff. And of course, anything that Hero can do, Dragon can do too.

The boys looked for sticks to play in the water with. I had a great time taking pictures of the flowers. But we didn't find any of the big frogs. That's OK. We found some bugs that scooted around on the surface of the water. And we found some floppy sticks that the boys loved playing with.

The stream is just a short one, and we didn't have tons of time if we were going to be on time to the appointment we had to go to, so we didn't stay long. It was a bummer. Nobody was ready to go. Nobody really wanted to move on. But Hero wanted to see the flower kaleidoscope they installed last year, so we headed to the garden area.

14 August 2012

Playing with Rods

We've seen some more free play with the rods again. It's amazing to me how much fun both of the boys have with just playing around with these things. Yesterday, Hero built a semi-symmetrical tower. Today, I explained that a square has to be the same length on all sides or it's really a rectangle. Then, I asked if he could build a square out of only black rods. The tower with all the squares in the base was the result.

13 August 2012

Astronomy Clips

In honor of the Mars Rover landing, we're watching some astronomy clips.

Thirteen Planets - including our Dwarf Planets. Pretty interesting. I didn't realize there are so many dwarfs!


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