09 10

30 December 2013

First Broken Bone

We have our first broken bone. The baby's finger got stuck in a hinge when she pulled up just as someone went through a little half-door in the library at church, and she has a tiny fracture right at the tip. Also, her fingernail popped off. And she had to have a stitch in the nail bed. It is, hands down, the worst pinch I've ever seen- more like a crush. 

She's a tough cookie. She had plenty to say about it while they were working on her at the ER yesterday afternoon, but when it was done she took a nap and woke up all smiles. 

18 December 2013

All About Ears

We had some great conversations about ears today. When it was finished, we watched these movies, and then Hero(7) labeled a diagram and glued it into his science notebook. By the time we were done he seemed to have a pretty good handle on what happens in the ear.

Also, yesterday, I was listening to Susan Wise Bauer's lecture, "The Joy of Classical Education," and she was talking about the process and purpose of the grammar stage of learning. I don't have an exact transcript to quote from, but she talked about how difficult it is to think critically about a topic when  you don't have a solid foundation of background knowledge to draw upon. Building that foundation is the work of the grammar stage. And kids like repetition. She pointed out how you can read a favorite book over and over and over again (Dragon(3) likes "Should I Share My Ice Cream" by Mo Willams right now), and they not only never seem to get tired of it, but they thrive on it. Now that I'm watching for that, I'm seeing that with the way that Hero is dealing with science right now. He's discovered Bill Nye the Science Guy, and he loves to watch him for pretty much as long as I'll let him. He's some episodes 5-10 times now. The Water Cycle is a particular favorite. And as he gets comfortable with the content of the movies, now he's asking if he can reproduce some of the demonstrations they do in the show. It's very interesting. And he's interested in doing the experiments more than once, possibly with minor variations, but sometimes just the same, checking to see if it happens that way more than once. The repetition isn't boring to him. He's seeking it out. I find that just fascinating.

*Please note: Since I wrote this, I have discovered that Bill Nye is very anti-Christian, and that he has said that he'd like to lure Christian children away from their parents' faith. I have no desire to find that my children, upon realizing that a trusted childhood teacher figure thinks that Christianity is so much bunk, and even dangerous to society, start to question their faith. We no longer use materials created by Bill Nye, and Hero knows the reasons why.

"And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments."
-Mosiah 23:14

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

15 December 2013

Women in the Church

I got asked about women and the priesthood. Women, Mothering, feminism, priesthood... it's a huge topic, at least potentially.

The initial question was generated by a feminist's article. She saw that a number of her friends in "the cause" were calling for the Church to ordain women, and wondered if she ought to jump on the bandwagon, even though in 20 years of "committed feminism" this had never bothered her. 

Now, normally, I link to stuff that generates posts like this one. I'm not going to this time. I'm not linking because I think feminism is nasty, insidious stuff. It takes the actions of a relatively few men, and holds them up as examples of why ALL men are rotten. It devalues Mothering. It sends rotten messages to boys about not only the men in their lives, but also the men they will become. It teaches girls to look for offenses where they may or may not exist. It cripples relationships, and replaces unity with competition. And, in cases like this, where feminists "take on" the Church, it introduces seeds of doubt, and those seeds, when grown, bear bitter, destructive fruit. I'm not linking to that, but since I've been asked, I will share a few thoughts on women in the Church.

This has been a tough topic for me in the past. When I was 13 or 14 I remember really grilling one of my Sunday School teachers about it. "Why can't women have the priesthood?" I was a bit put off by that, at that time, and suspect I was somewhat belligerent. OK, knowing myself, I was probably more than a bit belligerent. I remember that I made him sweat a bit, which I regretted even then, but I also remember that I really, truly, wanted to understand. He told me that women get to be mothers, and I went away entirely unsatisfied. I didn't understand any more at the end than I did at the outset.

He was right.

The doctrine of Mothering is beautiful and profound. The privilege of Mothering is awe-inspiring. The experience of Mothering is like nothing else. Nothing else has challenged me, taught me, given me opportunity to serve, frustrated me, thrilled me, or made me grow like Mothering does. Nothing else even comes close. It's amazing stuff.

But the doctrine of it may just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Church. And that's what I was missing the day that my teacher told me, "Women get to be mothers."

It's knowing the importance of what I'm doing that keeps me going through the puke and the tantrums and the poop. It sustains me through the sleepless nights and the days when nothing goes right and I can't get "anything" accomplished. It puts the snot on my shirt in the proper perspective, so that I can see that it's not about the snot; it's not about the mess.

It's about salvation.

Think about the Plan. We'd come to earth, we'd get a body, we'd be tested, and have an opportunity to walk by faith. When given the choice between good and evil, we're here to prove to ourselves (because God knew from the beginning) that we really will choose the good.

So we have a family. We're born. We. Forget. Everything.

How terrifying is that? We come to take a test, and we're told up front that there's going to be a Veil of Forgetfulness that means that all the studying, or whatever it is you do to prepare goes away. Who agrees to that kind of thing? It sounds crazy! But not only did we agree, we shouted for joy! Why did we do that?

We knew we would have a Mother. Our own personal angel, guide, teacher, mentor, and care-giver, and her primary role -the main thing she's supposed to do- would be to nurture and to teach, so that all that important stuff that babies forget when they arrive as little bundles of cuteness and joy could be re-learned as quickly as possible. (Dads are awesome too, and I know that, but this post is about Mothering.)

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.
-The Proclamation on the Family

That's "it." Mothers nurture children. That's their main thing. You can say it in so few words, yet it will take a lifetime to really figure out how to do it, to know what it all means.

Sure, superficially, it's a messy job, and sometimes leaves you coated in grime its best not to consider too closely. But that's not what it's about. My husband sometimes comes home with grease smears on his shirts, or scraped up knuckles. But nobody thinks that's what his job is about; he works on radiation equipment for cancer centers. The mess is incidental. Mothering is about the Message.

For unto us a child is born
Unto us a son is given
and the government
Shall be upon His shoulder;

and his name shall be called
Wonderful, councilor
the Mighty God,

the Everlasting Father
the Prince of Peace
-The Messiah

But Mom can't do it if she's not there. And there's so many voices saying to her that she doesn't need to be there. So terribly many things saying to women, "Never mind that home and family stuff. It's beneath you." Or sometimes it's something more along the lines of, "You need that new _________. You're going to have to get a job." It's a lie. It's all lies. Our children need us. Your children need you. My children need me. And we can't swap places and expect it to work.

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.
-Heber J. Grant, October Conference 1942

The Lord, in His wisdom, sends us the children we need - and the ones that need us. He sends us souls that will blossom in the strengths that we have to offer, and that are able to weather our weaknesses. He sends us the children that can teach the things we need to learn, and that need to learn what we can teach. He sent my children to me, and He sent your children to you, and that was not an accident.

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.
Ezra Taft Benson, October Conference 1981

You know how you always hear that it's the teacher that learns the most? Mothering is teaching. You teach them to walk and talk, to tie shoes and ride bikes. You teach them to work and play and to feed the dog and be nice to people -- and that's just the little stuff. Moms teach about God and the meaning of life, and the Gospel.

Mothering is about salvation.

There’s not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood and marriage. There is no superior career and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim that can exceed the ultimate rewards of family.
-- D. Todd Christofferson,  October Conference 2013

I've seen, time and time again, feminists try to convince women that something else, anything else, is more important than being at home. They're wrong. One summer I sat in my grandma's living room, and we talked about feminists. Grandma was born in 1927, and she was in her late 70s or 80s when we talked. She lived through some amazing history. She married my Grandpa in 1950, and they lived 38 years together. He died in 1988, and she went on another quarter century, looking forward to the reunion. She saw the rise of feminism first hand. This is what she told me:

Feminists should have stopped with the vote.

The more I think about it, the more profoundly right I think she was. All this "equality" stuff has lead women to trade something precious - partnership with God Himself - for a mess of pottage. A bit of alphabet soup after your name hardly compares. The personal development you might find in the workforce can't possibly hold a candle to what He would teach you in the walls of your own home.

Is it hard? Heck yeah! It's really hard! But, did you expect salvation to be easy? Do you even want it to be easy?

Good timber does not grow in ease.
The stronger wind, the tougher trees,
The farther sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
Douglas Mallock

My Sunday School teacher told me: women get to be mothers. But it took twenty years and more for me to understand the majesty of what he was telling me. Mothering is amazing stuff. Fresh, pure souls, entrusted to my care. My job is to point them to Christ, to show them the way home. It's a hard job. The demands are constant. The rewards are amazing.

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

12 December 2013

"What are Quadrants?"

Well. I don't know. Let's find out.

A quadrant is an old tool for measuring latitude. Guess today is a pretty good day for explaining latitude. Here's a picture of Ptolemy using a quadrant (hurray for WikiMedia!).  

This is a pretty cool project. I think it's just a bit beyond where Hero's at; he's not that interested. Though I am tempted to make one and do it myself.

05 December 2013

A Little Copywork

Copywork is not fashionable. In fact, I have been soundly criticized on occasion for doing copywork with my boys. I'm ok with that. Not everyone has to like it, but it works for us. 

Modeling the result you want is well-acknowledged as an effective method for teaching. No matter how often you get after your children to say please and thank you, if you don't say those things yourself it is unlikely that your children will  either. If I want my kids to learn to vacuum, I don't hand them the tool and say what I want, I'm in there, taking turns, helping manage the cord, and pointing out parts that have been done well as well as sections that need more work. I use copywork to bring the same benefits of modeling to our writing practice. Hero(7) is able to write, and his handwriting is nicer and nicer all the time.  We are now beginning to work on endurance and speed, and he has asked to learn cursive, so we do that sometimes too. Now that he's able to write more than just a few letters, copywork begins to shine. 

Last night we continued to read about Zacharias and Elizabeth, so today I've given him part of Gabriel's announcement of the baby who would become John the Baptist. I love it. The language is so majestic. "I am Gabrail, that stand in the presence of God..." And using it as copywork lets us take a closer look. We can look at the beauty of the words, and in a very natural way, we can also glance at the grammar. The grammar is important; it's the structure that the majestic message is hung upon.  It's got a dependent clause, "that stands in the presence of God." I didn't tell him that, but I did mention the pause in the flow as you say these words, and that it's extra information. I know that he's still pretty slow with writing a lot of the time, so I didn't use the whole verse, which gives us a chance to talk about an ellipse.

Hero is familiar with scripture citations; he's spoken them many times for the scripture box, and he's learning to use them to get around when he reads with us or on his own. But writing it requires an attention to detail that other uses had not required. It also gave me a chance to say, "colon," and I don't really expect the term to stick today, but when I'm ready to teach it, there will already be a foundation in place to build upon because of hearing about it and drawing it in copywork from time to time. And each time he practices, he's working with an example of high-quality writing, learning very organically from masters of the English language. 

It's not his favorite activity, and he know I know that, but he also knows that I consider good writing to be an essential skill for his adult life. We usually do copywork 3-4 times in a week. I keep it shortish, and he's a good sport about it. 

Dragon(3), who of course can do anything Hero can do, has been after me to teach him to write as well. So I made him a page of a single, simple letter to practice. I helped him to draw the correct direction and order, and he took it and ran with it. He likes the letter K. I was surprised at how well he did. 

One great thing about how we do this stuff is that we have no curriculum costs for handwriting, it's free, and it's 100% personalized to where the kids are at. I just print out a day at a time as we go along. 

And that's our copywork. 

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

27 November 2013

New Journal Cards

I got my Journal Cards done! They were fun to make, and I'm excited to share them with you. Come and have a look:

Don't forget to pin them - and make sure you follow my shop on Etsy or my Facebook page, so that you get notified when I finish new things: I'm working on a set of Hippos for Christmas, and I can't wait to show it to you!

21 November 2013


I see a lot of people worrying about lesson plans, but I admit that I'm doing that less and less lately. I still use my planning guide, but the way I use it has been morphing. Lately, I've had the feeling that Hero's need for "white space" is higher than it has been. And there's been more time where the boys play together than there ever has been, and I love the way their relationship is developing. I have waited school more than once because I didn't want to mess up the good things they were doing together.

My Hero is very mathy, and I have yet to successfully plan math more than a week or two in advance, if that. I suspect that Dragon is also going to do quite well with numbers, and we're starting him right out in Miquon, rather than Math Expressions. Anyway. I'll think I've got a good pace, but then Hero sponges it up and gets bored, so we move on. Fast. So I just roll with it. Lately, I've been asking him, "Do you want to do fractions or multiplication today?" I just got some graph paper, and I'm going to see if I can interest him in some of Vihart's doodle games. We'll see.

Our science is very un-schooly. It has been for a long time now. I hated the animal encyclopedia that TWTM recomended for the 1st grade animal study: too basic. Oh. And the boy had eyes only for birds of prey. We spent nearly the whole time on birds of prey. Dissected an owl pellet. Went out to the local eagle's nest. He's never really stopped loving the birds of prey, and they come up as a topic from time to time still. We were interested in astronomy, so we tried to do astronomy after the animals (he didn't care about bodies or anything else from the 1st grade year, so I figured we'd come back later). And kind of we did, but you'd never know it to look at my lesson plans, LOL! When I did come back around the to human body, thinking that we'd do a section on that, it turned out that our conversations we had - the baby was in the NICU with a collapsed lung, so we talked about lungs, and another time we talked about how skin works, and the interactions of muscles and bones... how intestines work. We hit enough stuff in just conversation that the body encyclopedia that TWTM recommended was too simple. Lately, he's discovered Bill Nye the Science Guy and he can't get enough of him. He'll watch episode after episode, for hours. And want more the next day. Real science kick. It's really cool to watch. But I didn't plan it. I don't even remember why it is that I introduced him to Bill Nye. They've had 4 or 5 tonight. They're "looking" for the one on the water cycle, but they haven't found it yet today. They've watched it several times now, and it spawned an experiment this morning predicting and observing water condensation, all Hero's idea. I just helped him structure his experiment a little, and took notes for him. He's got another one that he wants to do. I'm helping him do the scientific method process. One of these days I need to introduce him to the term "the scientific method."

Anyway. Anything you buy a curriculum for --in our case that includes Story of the World, All About Spelling, Rod n Staff grammar -- you just open to the next page. Anything you are doing in an interest lead kind of way, you ask the kid what they want to learn and then figure out how to make it happen. That's my process at this point, and I have yet to get it to plan nicely. When I pre-plan and write it all down, I open the book and make a note of what's next, and I try to predict the pace he'll want to go, and guess at the rabbit trails we might enjoy. Other times, I track what we did do as much as what I think we'll do. We hit most things most days, and I don't sweat it if we have a day - or even a series of days - where we miss the same subject. We'll get back around to it. I've learned that interest is cyclical: this week Hero is inhaling science and he can't concentrate on language arts. But when the intense need for one kind of information is satisfied there will be room for other kinds. One time he wanted a whole week of math. Later he was reading so much that there wasn't room for much else. There were a couple days where he wanted tons of Japanese. Now he wants science. That other stuff will come back around again, and I don't want to spoil the joy of learning by breaking his Zone. Other times we'll buzz along, hitting everything nearly every day for a couple weeks or even a month or two. And both "schedules" are ok.

The child is obsessed with....

I think children learn differently from adults. They often go at One Thing hammer and tongs for an extended period of time, exhaust it, then move on. Heck, they even eat this way. "He only eats pb&j right now." This makes adults anxious and controlling because we think they'll be that way forever. Nope. This is what children do. No need to correct unless it's dangerous. They outgrow it. Don't let it make you nuts. Just roll with it, stay observant, give additional wholesome choices, and be patient. This passes.

The Libertarian Homeschooler

All that means that more and more, I'm tracking, rather than planning. I think it's going to end up being a balance thing. Maybe some things will need more planning, and other topics will work better with tracking. After all, this homeschooling thing is a work in progress.

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

The Poop Parts

"Look! It's the poop parts!"
"Yep. Those are called intestines, and they make poop."

He digs around in the body some. 

"Look! More poop parts!"
"Well, actually, those are pee parts. They're called kidneys."

Gotta love spontaneous science!

18 November 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Addie!! You are the big winner! Email me at BabySteps . Blogger @ gmail . com (take out the spaces) and I'll send you your templates!

Meanwhile, I've been working on a set of journal cards to coordinate with these templates, and it's been a crazy week, so they're not as done as I'd like, but I thought I'd offer a sneak preview of what *is* done. If you haven't done it already, like my shop's page to get a note when I do finish them. I'll be sure to post a link when they're ready!

Here it is:

I'm hoping that I can finish off a last couple for this set and get it in there this week, but we'll have to see. It's a school week, and there's some other stuff going on too, so there's not too much time for designing right now!


13 November 2013

More Skip Counting

Hero needs some practice with his skip counting by 5's. So we're practicing.

There's this worksheet, and we'll make a connection to clocks on this one, since it shows so nicely how you skip over the other numbers, and it goes to 60.

We'll count a pile of 20 nickels again.

I'm going to chop up a 100's chart (and probably laminate it so we can use it for other numbers), give him the multiples of 5, and have him put them in order. Maybe I'll have him color a non-chopped version as well.

What else? What fun things do you do to practice skip counting?

12 November 2013

Skip Counting Songs!

Hero is learning multiplication, so we're playing with some skip counting songs. These are the ones we listened to today.

OK. So it's easy to get distracted. We also watched this verb one. And then I wanted Conjunction Junction... but I found this zero song instead.

We're not done with skip counting, but that's as far as we got today.

PS. Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

08 November 2013

Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway!!

It's been a long time, but I've re-opened my Etsy shop, and I've got some digital scrapbooking supplies in there. Not a lot yet, but I'm working on it. I thought that, to celebrate, (and also because they are fun), I'd have a give-away.

So. Up for grabs is a set of four templates for making "pocket" style pages. They're layered .psd files, 12x12 inches, at 300dpi. I use them for making Project Life style pages.

I used the one on the top left to make this page. (You can see the credits for the items I used on this pages that were purchased at DSP here. There are several. The DSP designers are awesome.)


So. Here's how you enter.

1. You can have one entry for a leaving a comment, saying what kind of digital scrapbooking supplies you like best; what you'd most like to see in my shop. (I'm just about ready to list a set of journal cards that coordinate with these templates, but I need a project for after that.)

2. You can have a second entry if you get on Facebook and like my shop's page. If you do that, you'll need to come back and leave a comment letting me know so that I can keep track of things.

3. And, finally, you can have a third entry for sharing on Facebook or posting on your blog - again, leave a comment (and if you do a blog, leave a link).

 The giveaway closes in one week - on 15 November 2013, at midnight. Thanks - and good luck!

07 November 2013

The Choices We Make

My Dragon loves to be outside. He loves to ride his bike. He loves to watch the birds, especially the crows.

He also loves to dump out baskets of toys. 

This time, he dumped out our big bin of Duplos, moments before we were supposed to go outside, and right after he and Hero finished picking them up. Mostly, Hero had picked them up. 

Now, Dragon has to do that great big job. By himself. While Hero rides his bike on the deck.

It's a hard lesson. But a good one. I'm hoping that he'll figure out that dumping the toys isn't a great idea. He's a bright kid. It shouldn't take that many times before he's a bit less into the mess. Natural consequences are good stuff.

Turns out, people have been talking about natural consequences for a good long time. Over at the Mises Institute they've got an article on natural consequences that's a bit older. They've reprinted an article from the 1800's called "On Moral Education." It's pretty good stuff. Talks about natural consequences in a way that I'd never considered:

Now in these and like cases, Nature illustrates to us in the simplest way, the true theory and practice of moral discipline. Observe, in the first place, that in bodily injuries and their penalties we have misconduct and its consequences reduced to their simplest forms. Though according to their popular acceptations, right and wrong are words scarcely applicable to actions that have none but direct bodily effects; yet whoever considers the matter will see that such actions must be as much classifiable under these heads as any other actions. Note, in the second place, the character of the punishments by which these physical transgressions are prevented. Punishments, we call them, in the absence of a better word; for they are not punishments in the literal sense. They are not artificial and unnecessary inflictions of pain; but are simply the beneficent checks to actions that are essentially at variance with bodily welfare — checks in the absence of which life would quickly be destroyed by bodily injuries. It is the peculiarity of these penalties, if we must so call them, that they are nothing more than the unavoidable consequences of the deeds which they follow; they are nothing more than the inevitable reactions entailed by the child’s actions.

Let it be further borne in mind that these painful reactions are proportionate to the degree in which the organic laws have been transgressed. A slight accident brings a slight pain, a more serious one, a greater pain.

So far, so good. When Tigress is exploring, I warn her, but I don't always prevent her from getting minor bumps: that's the stuff of learning, and she'll be better off for having them. Which is not to say that I let her just dive off anything! Still, she's developed the respect for the Edge of things that all babies eventually do.

It's becoming something I'm aware of in my parenting, this business of not getting in the way of natural consequence. That can be hard. Interestingly, it makes me aware of the natural consequences of my own actions. If I don't keep up on my dishes, the kitchen is nasty and unpleasant. And I don't have the things that I need for cooking, and I'm still responsible for making food appear at regular intervals. If I stay up late I suffer in the morning - and my family often suffers with me. Natural consequences don't go away. Bumps don't stop hurting. Short nights always act like short nights. Dirty rooms never are pleasant. Yelling never solves the problem, and in fact, it makes new problems to deal with.

On the other hand, natural consequences can work for us too. Kindness and patience encourages more of the same. Clean spaces are more pleasant to be in -- and they tend to be easier to keep clean too. Reading the scriptures brings peace and stability to our home.

Choice is a remarkable thing.

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

25 September 2013

Spontaneous Goodness

I came back from the bathroom today and found this:

I'm thinking this is one of those times when I "forget" that I'd planned to do some Official Learning and let the spontaneous goodness happen. 

I love homeschooling!

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

24 September 2013

Ring Around the Rosie

We just finished reading about the Black Death. Our book mentions that historians think Ring Around the Rosie dates to that time, and, that being a favorite game, we had to spend twenty minutes playing.



P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Fscebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

06 September 2013

Breakfast Drama

I finally decided to act on the fact that cold cereal (especially the Crunch Berries knock-off I prefer) is bad for me. But this has caused some drama.

I have no idea what to make for breakfast 7 days a week kind of drama. 


I hate drama. I guess we'll call this growing pains. Anyway, my friends on Facebook helped me out with some ideas, and that's something. Also I found a recipe for these odd little oatmeal bits. Turns out they're nothing to write home about on their own (I'm avoiding sugar for at least a little while, so no chocolate chips this time), but they're pretty satisfying with fresh yogurt. 

You know what's really weird? Plain yogurt tastes pretty good today. That's just odd.

Anyway, here are the ideas I collected for non-cereal breakfasts:

Sushi rice
Steel-cut oatmeal (apparently it freezes well into single-serves)
Whole-wheat blueberry scones
Dry quick oats with ground flax seed, sliced banana & cinnamon, topped with milk
Overnight oatmeal
Brown or white rice with milk, honey, & peanut butter on them, plus fruit
Plain yogurt with fruit and oatmeal
Baked oatmeal
Wheat toast with avocado spread on it. Or fruit. Or with peanut butter on it.

That ought to keep me busy for a while. There's some tasty ideas on there.

P.S. Wanna read more about the adventures at our house? "Like" my blog on Fscebook to get my posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

Origami Math

We picked up the book, "Math in Motion," and have been trying out the activities. It starts out pretty simple, but it's amazing the mileage you can get from only a few folds on a square piece of paper.

First, we looked at lines of symmetry with the square. That was pretty easy, since Hero has done that on Kahn Academy before. The we made some rectangle folds and he looked for the lines of symmetry on the new rectangles. That was kind of fun, because I got to help him discover that the diagonal on the rectangle is not symmetrical like it is on a square. We did another page of diagonal folds, and looked at the shapes and symmetry there.  Then we turned them into a waterbomb base, and from there into a waterbomb.

Unfolding the waterbomb showed us some pretty awesome geometry. It's a great way to throw in some extra concepts and keep the perception of math as fun. I like both those things quite a lot.

P.S. Wanna read more about the adventures at our house? "Like" my blog on Fscebook to get my posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

22 August 2013

Responding to a Feminist's Question

I am a bit of a birth junkie. 

Folks who are close to me are not going to be surprised by this revelation. The oldest of 8 kids, I used to love reading my mom's pregnancy books whenever she would get pregnant. I was briefly apprenticed at a midwife in high school. Now that I am a mother myself, I've read enough that the usual "over the counter" pregnancy books no longer did the job and I started looking for something "prescription strength": so I read midwifery texts for fun. I have yet to get tired of talking about birth. I like birth, and I am amazed and awed by the incredible design of our bodies. They are marvelous creations! 

As a result of this fascination with birth and babies, I follow a number of birth-related Pages on Facebook. One of my favorites is Improving Birth. They talk a lot about research, and what it says about common US birth practices. I like research. Today they posted an interview with their VP. She said some nice things, but there was one thing she said that really stood out. 

"How can we bridge that disconnect, that feminism is not the antithesis of motherhood, but the embodiment and the redefinition of it?”


I don't know if she thought she'd get an answer, or if an answer to that question is even really welcome, but I posted my answer. I guess I'll find out how serious she is - and the other women that make up the community as well. As a strict constitutionalist, and a deeply religious Christian woman, I am part of a tiny minority in the birth junky/midwifery community. Or at least, that's been my perception of the situation for quite some time now. We'll see. This is what I posted:

She asks about the "disconnect", and wonders why people think that feminism is the antithesis of motherhood. For me, the answer to that question is this: the FEMINISTS said so.\

 A few years ago I sat in my Ob's office listening to the talk show in the lobby, and the feminist being interviewed said that women who think they want to be stay-at-home moms don't really know what they want. They just *think* they want to stay at home because they've been told they're supposed to want that. Being the mom has been my dream as long as I can remember. As a college student I joked that I majored in Japanese because "they don't offer degrees in Mothering." As a multi-year fertility patient, a woman who just couldn't seem to ovulate, and when I finally did, I finally got pregnant, only to loose that first baby to an early miscarriage, and there I was, pregnant again, and so close to my SAHM dream, only to hear some arrogant feminist claim that she knew better than I what I want. *That* is why I think feminism is antithetical to Mothering. 

But that's not the only reason I want nothing to do with the feminists. That first miracle baby was a son, and my second miracle, 4 years later, is also a son. I hate what feminism says about my sons. Feminism takes some admittedly ugly behaviors of some men and generalizes the blame to all men. My sons are not what feminism says men are. Neither is my husband. Or my father and brothers. In fact, I've met only a handful of men, ever, who behave the way feminists paint men. I have no use for a movement that cannot distinguish between actual jerks and the rest of the men in the world. I don't want anything to do with a group that teaches, even indirectly, that my boys are inevitably going to grow up into something horrible: men. They are already well on their way to becoming good and noble men. The kind of men that a Mother smiles about as she says, "That's my boy!"

I was blessed with a 3rd miracle last January, this time a daughter. I hope she never takes up the feminist cause because I don't like what feminism teaches about women. I don't like the shrill, leftist position of feminism. First of all, shrillness is unbecoming on anyone, at any time. Secondly, feminism is all about a victim mentality. My daughter is not a victim of men, or of anyone else. But should someone be cruel to her, I hope she will choose not to become a victim anyway. Victims live in the past, as does feminism. There's no need for that. Feminism teaches that it's all men's fault... as if the women were not in the least responsible for shaping society, or inactive in building our culture, which is a laughable assertion. I want none of either the passive bystander or the angry, shrill protester that are the two images of women I have observed feminism presenting. But more than that, feminism's leftist ways are abhorrent to me. Rather than advocating for freedom for all, feminism seeks to use the power of the government to coerce men into "better" behavior. At every turn they seek judicial and legislative solutions: they seek to address the "oppression" of women by using government, which is by definition, force. Yet the hand that rocks the cradle hold the future in her hands, including the future of the culture. Freedom would have solved every problem without stooping to the same tactic (force) they claim to abhor. Another reason to hope my daughter avoids this movement: even as they say that those women who want to be a SAHM don't actually know what they want, feminists howl with outrage at the suggestion that murdering our unborn is sick an wrong -- even as research shows that the unborn are learning, tasting, sleeping and wakeful, able to feel pain, in short real people. Yet feminists would teach my daughter that her unborn child is no more than an expendable mass of cells at best, and at worst, a parasite. Yes, I hope my daughter always rejects feminist thought. 

I appreciate the valuable educational efforts of Improving Birth. There is a great deal of educating that needs to be done. But I see this as an issue of freedom, and of education. Our culture teaches some horribly wrong things about birth, and like so much of culture, it's transmitted by women, from mother to daughter. Women will seek change as a natural result of education, and if the free market is allowed to operate, people will be falling all over themselves to offer the sort of research-supported practices this Page advocates. We don't need laws, except perhaps to repeal barriers to the proper function of the free market. And we can certainly make these things happen without feminism. 

My Grandma, not a midwife, but a wise woman if ever there was one, lived to personally witness the triumphs of feminism. Near the end of her life she told me, "Feminists should have stopped with the vote." More and more all the time, I am appreciating the wisdom of her words.

P.S. Wanna read more about the adventures at our house? "Like" my blog on Fscebook to get my posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

16 August 2013

Chatting in Japanese

I majored in Japanese in college, but I didn't do very well, owing to the fact that I hadn't the foggiest idea how to study. I never needed to do it before then, not even in the Spanish or German classes that I fooled around with prior to going to college. It wasn't until I encountered the concept of a commonplace book that I learned how to study, and that idea I ran into just about 6 years ago when we were deciding to homeschool and researching how to go about doing it. If you glance through my comments on President Benson's Proper Role of Government essay, you can see the changes as I learned to study and practiced this new skill learning about the Founding. My study of the Constitution was the first place I ever successfully studied anything on a long-term basis. I've been fooling around with Japanese longer, but it never amounted to anything.

About a year ago, that started to change, and there's a couple reasons for that.

A while back I was on the Well-Trained Mind message boards (I think that's where it was, anyway. I like it there. Go by "Ritsumei". Wave if you see me!) and someone gave me permission to mix languages. See, I had this idea that I couldn't speak Japanese until I could really speak it, all the way. In college they had this great Japanese conversation group. The TAs, the students, the folks who had been over to Japan teaching English, anybody who had two words of the language to show off, they were all invited to invade this great little coffee shop, and they'd just take over the loft and chatter away in Japanese. The TAs that did all the teaching basically demanded that we show up the first few times, and I felt like such an imposter. I couldn't follow the conversations,  I couldn't say anything that was in my head, and the "dialogs" we memorized weren't very useful. (Are those socks nylon? No? Oh, they're cotton. I'll take it. Put it in a bag, please.) So I never said anything. And I only went occasionally, and I missed out on a fantastic opportunity to use the language in an incredibly supportive environment.

But it's OK to mix languages. You say what you can in the language you're learning, and you say the rest in the one you know, and no kittens will die. Particularly not when you're sitting in your living room - or a cozy coffee shop - in America's Midwest. Not only will nothing bad happen, but something good will happen: practice with the words you do know. This is so simple, but it was such a revelation to me! I don't have to be able to discuss politics and philosophy to be able to start speaking!

So I'm teaching my kids Japanese now, and I talk to them in a strange pidgin nearly every day. And it's working. They are understanding more, and they're starting to throw in a word here and there, or a phrase. Our Japanese is a mess. It's full of Dragon's toddler lisps, Hero's uncertainty (he's like me, and inclined to wait till it's just right before allowing it to pass his lips), and my wobbly and incomplete grammar. Our levels of formality are all over the place. But it's happening. I get thanked in Japanese as much as in English. I tell Dragon, 「来てください。」 and he runs over as readily as if I'd said, "Come here, please." It's small stuff still, but it's a start. And since I'm studying, the quality of Japanese I can give them is improving.

Another thing I've learned is that little bits add up. I try to spend a little bit of time practicing, reading about grammar, studying my vocabulary, something, every day. I don't reach that goal, but since I keep trying, I generally get a little something in most days. Often it's no more than 5 or 10 minutes, though I like it when I can spend 30 or even more while I'm nursing, or after the kids go to sleep a couple times a week. It's soothing. Since I've given myself permission to be where I am, and stopped beating myself for not being perfect Right Now, it's fun. If I spend some time studying grammar, then practice making up phrases or sentences using the new construction, odds are good that when I go read the Book of Mormon I'll find something using that, and my understanding will broaden.

Which brings me to the other thing that has made a huge difference: my iPhone. I'm not an Apple person most of the time, and there's things about my phone that make me roll my eyes pretty regularly, but I love my Japanese apps. I've tried more than a few in the past few years, and have settled into a system with some favorites. Being able to cut-n-paste an unknown word from the scriptures into a dictionary and my flash card app has made a huge difference. I love that I can carry a basic grammar reference, a couple sets of flash cards, several dictionaries, and The Book of Mormon and Bible -- in my pocket! Kids playing nicely in the backyard, and nobody needs attention? Awesome. I can flip up to ~60 flashcards in 5 or 10 minutes. Or try to read a verse while I'm waiting for Andy to run into the post office, including copy-n-pasting unknown words into a dictionary. This morning we practiced body parts. At least, that's what I told myself we were doing. I tickled the boys, and names the part I was attacking. And when I didn't know the word for "back," I looked it up without breaking the game! My phone will has a recording of a native speaker reading all the scriptures, so any chapter I want, I can have it read to me. I have an app that puts the English and Japanese (and 3587565436 other languages, if I want 'em) side-by-side, with the verses lined up, so I can easily reference them. We have some kid songs on my phone that I can bluetooth onto the speakers in the car, and off we go, singing the same stuff (kinda) in both languages. Technology is amazing stuff, and it's making a huge difference.

So, more and more all the time, we are chatting it up in Japanese. It's pretty amazing.

P.S. Wanna read more about the adventures at our house? "Like" my blog on Fscebook to get my posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

14 August 2013


Dragon: Nay! I say NAY!

Hero: Yea. 

Dragon: Nay!!

Hero: I say unto thee, Yea!

Dragon: Nay! English Nay means NO!!

Mom: [must not giggle. must. not. giggle. Do not encourage fighting, not even when it's riotously funny. No giggling!]

12 August 2013

Artist Study: Michaelangelo (Week 1)

We'll do his "Moses" sculpture first, from the tomb of Pope Julius II. It's part of a whole scene that took quite some time to finish.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This article has a whole bunch of pictures from different angles and several detail shots, as well as an explanation as to why the prophet is depicted with horns. Apparently there was a problem with the translation of the Vulgate, and it lead to Moses having horns on a number of works from that time.

For our second picture, we'll look at this one, Madonna of the Steps. Apparently this is an early work and the only low relief that he did. I like it, even though this article points out some flaws in the perspective.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
There's also a lovely detail of this piece here that I enjoyed.

Balancing Screen Time

Screens are a challenge. Trying to extract the most good from them, while avoiding the pitfalls is a constant. I have seen a few kids, primarily young men, reach adulthood and their life comes screeching to a halt because they cannot self-regulate their screen time and disappear into video games, barely coming up for air. The world is not, I don't think, going to become less video-intense anytime terribly soon, so I need to teach my children to control the screen, rather than be controlled by it.

All this pondering came about when I read an article called, "Video Games: A Blessing or a Curse?" with a very different take on screens from what our family's approach has been thus far. 

We’ve all heard the declarations on both sides of the coin, especially in the unschooling world. One side of the pendulum swing states, “Video games are fabulous; parents shouldn’t put any limits on access to them." The other side of the pendulum swing states, “Too much video game playing is at the crux of many childhood issues, such as obesity, social isolation, and aggression.”

My husband and I fall on the "less is more" side of the pendulum when it comes to most television. And while we do enjoy a few PC games, we have no plans to purchase any of the various console systems. I've considered, seriously, Minecraft, but have not yet taken the plunge. The bulk of the apps on my phone are educational or at least edu-tainment. And even those we limit. There's just so many things to do, to learn, to experience and accomplish, and screens are a huge time-suck that often leave very little space for anything else. The article's author, on the other hand, is much more comfortable with kids spending time in front of screens. (Her youngest, it sounds like, is just older than my oldest. That may be a factor.) Reading about not only her decisions, but the reasoning behind them, has given me some new stuff to mull over, and put words to a few things that have been sort of stewing in the back of my mind. 
For one thing, it's hard to explain to Hero why I'm limiting his screen time, when I use screens, specifically my phone, quite a lot. The author has four sons, each of whom use screens differently, and constructively. And it's that word -constructively - that I've not been paying enough attention to, I think. Bloon Tower Defense and Facebook fall on the "junk screens" side of things, while Mango Japanese, The Federalist Papers online, and math facts games are much more "veggies screens." And that makes a difference. Since some of his school, especially Japanese, has a screen component to it, it's muddying the water and our rules aren't working very well.

So, what do you think? How do you deal with the question of how much is good and when does it become too much?


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