09 10

29 March 2013

White Space

I posted an article about the benefits of allowing kids to be bored from time to time. (You've seen my page, right? I'm posting all the interesting articles I find but don't have time to blog about.)

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children's writing, said: "When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

"But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen "tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity".

I loved the comment that Wendy made:

"White space is not your enemy."

Photo credit.
White space, or negative space, is an art concept. It's the empty, quiet area in artwork, and often adds impact. I ran into it in high school when I was working through the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. They had some of these cool vase-face things.
The vase is the "positive" space, the profiles in the black and white picture highlight the white or negative space. If you look closely you can see them on the sides, mirroring each other. I used to draw the vase-faces as doodles on my school work pretty regularly, and there's a section of my sketch book that has quite a few of these. In art, leaving "white space" can increase the impact of what you do, which is the effect I was going for in this scrapbook page I did a while back:

Wendy made white space into an extremely effective metaphor for life. Structured activities are wonderful. Structure gives organization to our days, and that is something that children thrive on. They like routine. I like routine. I'm most productive on days when our routine is functioning well. But, like the piece of art that has too much in it, a life filled too full looses focus and effectiveness. Children need white space, where they have to invent their own games. Adults need white space as well. It is in the white space of our lives that we ponder, and probe the profound. It is in the white space, and the things we choose to do when we don't have to do anything at all that we discover what is truly important to us.

You can learn a lot about yourself in your white space. But, if life is so scheduled and hectic that there isn't any there, then what are we denying our children? From the article:

"But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."

Don't fear the white space.

Subtraction Race

Hero asked for one of these race sheets again, so I made one to practice subtraction to 20. If your kids like it, "like" Baby Steps Blog on facebook to be notified when I make him more games and sheets.

What's an Acrobat?

We were looking at Usborne's Internet-Linked History Encyclopedia, and I was planning to look at some Han dynasty burial treasures. That was the plan. But the page showed a drawing of Ch'ang-an, including some acrobats performing in the marketplace. The kids didn't seem at all impressed by that, which was odd. Until I realized that they had no idea what acrobats are. So we headed to YouTube to watch some Chinese acrobats. It's not period, but at least it's got a Chinese flavor to it. And they've been doing "acrobat tricks" ever since. Once we established that acrobatics never happen on chairs with wheels, I like this game a lot! Who knows? We may even make it back to Han burial treasure at some point.

Here are some of the clips we enjoyed.

23 March 2013


How true this is! Real learning requires effort.

When I lived with my grandmother during a period of unemployment we had following college, I tried to read the Federalist Papers. I approached it in much the same way that I approached every book: I started on page one and looked at the words. I knew the words (for the most part), but the way they are arranged in that book is somewhat different from how they are used in the science fiction novels that were my main literary diet up to that point. My first attempt at reading the Federalist Papers failed spectacularly, and at the time I had no idea why. I put it back on the shelf, puzzled over it a bit, and eventually moved on to other things.

Several years later, I started participating in the LDS Mothers' Education Course. I described my experience with the Federalist Papers to them, and we talked about how difficult that language is - and also some suggestions for what to do to learn to handle that kind of reading. Between that group and the things I learned when I researched homeschooling, I really learned to study for the first time.

I also heard about the essay, The Proper Role of Government. Over the next several years I read some books. I read the Constitution and the Declaration. I really considered them for the first time, ever. I joined a Facebook group that studies compares government action to the original principles and intent of the Founders. (We spend a lot of time frustrated by government.) I read a couple of bills, and slogged through parts of a couple of Supreme Court decisions. I read part of the Federalist Papers a year or two ago, but got distracted before I got very far, so I'm currently on my third attempt.

Learning, real learning, takes effort. You can skim over some information in an afternoon, but to really know a thing, to understand it, that takes effort.

22 March 2013

Soggy Math

Yesterday, we went swimming, and while we were splashing around Hero started asking me:

"What is 3+20+50+100+6+30+200..."

So I answered a few. It's good practice, and he's mostly using nice round numbers, so it's not too bad, as long as he doesn't go too fast. Mental math was never something I was particularly good at, but this game is making me better. I figure turnabout is fair play, so after a few minutes I start asking a few math questions of my own.

"What is 10+13?" He can do that in his head. Cool. Good to know.

"What is 5+10+40+100+300+40+..."

"What is 35+12?" Bigger numbers. No carrying. No problem.

We're still splashing. Dragon has no caution, and I have to keep a sharp eye on him, least he find himself in the water up to his eyebrows, but I can add while I do it. This game works for me.

"What is 23+10+100+35+400+..."

"What is 16+36?" Carrying. In his head. While splashing. Guess he's got that concept. I'm impressed.

So, after that I'm thinking that he's doing well with addition, and I'm thinking it's time to put a bit more subtraction in our mix. I made this worksheet. He always loves playing with dice. We used a 12-sider, and it was just right.

About yesterday: Math in the swimming pool? I love homeschooling!

20 March 2013

Always Doing

Pondering Math Again

It's nice that I'm not the only one who muses about the proper balance between formal and informal teaching. It's an especially good question when talking about math.

I was taught math in a pretty rigid way. Normally, teachers are on the look out for fun activities to add to whatever the class is studying. There's a lot of learning in that sort of thing. Projects, when I was in school, were usually the sort of thing that allowed and encouraged creativity. There wasn't just one right answer; the student could own the process and put something of himself in it.

Nobody did that with math.

In math we progressed in lockstep from page one of the text to page three sixty seven, doing page after page of problems.

I am coming to the realization that it doesn't have to be that way. Math is a game, if you let it be that. It's a puzzle, it's patterns that can be manipulated and played with, often in fun and beautiful ways.

The more I realize this, the more exciting it is. Math has become one of my favorite things to teach, because even though Hero is still working on arithmetic, I am learning so much in the process of teaching him. I once dreamed of going into astrophysics, and spending my nights studying the heavens. I love stars. I chickened out because of the math required. Now I'm realizing that my struggles in math class were not because I'm bad at math, the way I always though. I think I struggled because I never saw anything cohesive about it. Math was a pile of formulas, largely unrelated formulas, that had to be memorized and correctly filled with today's numbers. I never saw the patterns, or the beauty, until I started teaching. And I certainly never saw any fun! I'm so glad I'm learning better now, so that my kids can know better than I did.

This morning's practical examples of these ideas are ones I've found in the past day or two that got me thinking about this stuff again. First, one of Vihart's clips, which I can't figure out how to embed from my phone, so you'll have to click over to YouTube for a few minutes if you want to watch it.

And second, some great thoughts at Learning Unboxed about finding a balance between formal and informal learning. I especially like this because she's got a great example math-art project they did and it's easy to see the value for her son. After spending all those years going from one page in the text to the next, it can be a bit nerve wracking to branch out and follow interests and linger over kid-made projects. But it's so valuable to let our kids own the math. She's got a great math-art project for doing multiplication tables too.

17 March 2013

Believing Christ

Baby Girl is doing great, but it's still winter, and in addition to the flu going around, there's bronchiolitis in our area. That stuff's nasty business; it put my brother in the hospital when he was only slightly older than Baby Girl. We've been there and done that already. She's not allowed to go places much yet. Especially not to church, where all our friends are anxious to meet her, to look at her, touch her, hold her and breathe on her. They're wonderful people, and I'm anxious to introduce her! But not yet.

So I had to figure out something to do to get the lift that I need on Sunday. Since I am, temporarily, worshiping at home, I needed to put some kind of structure in place. I've been listening to BYU Speeches. There's some good stuff in that database. I've been focusing on talks about Christ and His Atonement.

Last week, I listened to this one: "His Grace is Sufficient."

You can read it here, if you prefer. Or download the mp3. I need to do that so I can listen to it whenever. This talk really impacted me. I listened to it several times. Some highlights include:

They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”
I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”
Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?”
 And this:
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”

Today the talks I've been listening to are old enough that they don't have video, though the audio is good. First I listened to a Brother Stephen E. Robinson in a talk from 1990: Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement. 

One of the things that Brother Robinson talks about is the familiar "Parable of the Bicycle." His daughter gives him her hard-earned $.61, a hug and a kiss, and he buys her the bike she wants. Now, I'd always understood that that $.61 gets added to the parents' money to help purchase the bike, but after listening to Brother Wilcox's speech, I realized something: it doesn't work like that. I've struck very similar deals with my kids from time to time, and I don't think that I've ever put the coins they earned into the actual purchase of the item. They give me a fist full of coins, and I usually stick them in my pocket, where they eventually migrate into our coin jar and sit there until I need meter money. I pay for the item with my debit card. Their money does not contribute to the purchase. It's important because of the effort they put in, and the things they learn from it. But they're not buying anything; I am. I now realize that His Grace is like that. The parable works. It just doesn't work the way I always thought it did.

Here's something else Brother Robinson says:

In the New Testament the Savior says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). We misinterpret that frequently. We think that means blessed are the righteous. It does not. When are you hungry? When are you thirsty? When you don't have the object of your desire. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after the righteousness that God has, after the righteousness of the celestial kingdom, because as that is the desire of their heart, they can achieve it—they will be filled. We may receive "according to our desires."

This is such comforting doctrine! I want to be so much better than I am. I can really identify with Sister Robinson:  "I've tried and I've tried, but I cannot keep all the commandments all the time." The more I realize that the more "hungry" I get. The more I realize how amazing the Living Water is that He offers us, the more "thirsty" I am. But I still feel like a screw-up more days than not.

I finally started to understand what the Savior means when he talks about "living water" as he's teaching the woman at the well when I listened to this talk a couple weeks ago. It made so much more sense when Brother Bednar explained the value of water before he started to relate it to this story. I don't know why I'd never put that together, but I hadn't.

The living water referred to in this episode is a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. And as water is necessary to sustain physical life, so the Savior and His doctrines, principles, and ordinances are essential for eternal life. You and I need His living water daily and in ample supply to sustain our ongoing spiritual growth and development

I finally get it: we die without water. We die without Living Water. Christ is life itself, everlasting.

I am finally learning to believe Christ. To believe that all that He offers, He offers to me, as flawed as I am.

13 March 2013

Poetic Narrations

I came to it late, but I'm learning to enjoy poetry, and more than just Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. I've read poems to my boys on and off for our read alouds, and they like it too. But I'd never really made a study of poetry, or looked at any particular author. I want to have favorite poems, but I don't. At least, not yet. That may change.

Tonight I ran across this: Poetic Narration, posted over at Charlotte Mason Help. Here's the heart of the idea:

Once you have exposed your child to a wide variety of good poetry and they have learned to enjoy it, then they are old enough to begin poetic narrations. For us, that was around 11 or 12 years of age. My children really enjoy these. I simply ask them to write a narration about a specific passage, but it must be written as a poem. When they become comfortable with this, I add another requirement- copy the style of a recent poet they have studied or are currently studying.

Hero's not ready for this just yet. I'm tempted to try it out myself, though I'll have to start by assigning us some poetry to read. I'm taking suggestions.

Names of 11 and 16

This is what we'll be doing for math the next two days. These are some of my favorite ones; I may print an extra to do myself! I think I might have gotten the original idea for this exercise from Education Unboxed, but I can't find it on there this afternoon, so I could be remembering the wrong website. Who knows. In any case, it's a great activity. We'll be getting out our rods and playing around with them to see how many different ways we can make the numbers.

12 March 2013

Addition Practice

We worked on sheet C-19 from our Miquon books this morning. By the end Hero was doing pretty well, but he needed more practice, and I needed to be sure he really understood. I made up this page to double-check the concepts. Gotta brag just a bit on the owls; those are my own original creation!

09 March 2013

Practicing Reading Clocks

We're practicing reading clocks now. We've fooled around with it before, but this time it's more serious, and I'm thinking that it's going to take better than last time. Since I didn't buy the workbooks that go with our Math Expressions books and I didn't really love the ones in our Miquon books, I generally just make up something similar to what the book shows. Generally this works very well, since he's testing out of a ton of the work (I give unit tests as pretests). We don't do every page, and we usually don't do as many problems as they offer on a page either. But clocks are harder to fake it, and I couldn't find a worksheet that made me happy, so I made one. Feel free to use it now or to pin it for later!

Figuring Out Artist Study

Figuring out how to study Art is not an easy thing. We had a go at it just over a year ago, when I discovered smashbooks and we made some artist books using the concept. That was cool, and we did a little bit, but I didn't know how to make it last, so it didn't. Those lovely books have been gathering dust on my shelf. But I'd really like to do more than that with them. Really really.

Peter Brueghel's Tower of Babel
So I'm studying a little more about it this time. The idea of doing Artist Studies comes out of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, at least, that's where I got the idea. I started on Pinterest, and one of the awesome pins I found was this one: How to Plan Artist Study for the Semester. Why, that's exactly what I need! As I started reading that, there were links to follow, and I had other questions too, so I'm googling other stuff too. Turns out people have written quite a bit about it.

There's a lens on Squidoo: Artist Study, Charlotte Mason Style. Right off the bat is a suggestion that would make my life easier: stay with the same artist for quite a while. Four weeks at a minimum. We did Peter Brueghel for a while, using a library book, but then I never figure out what to do after we looked at the book. But at the time, I thought that we'd do a bunch of different artists, maybe one a week or more. I can see that not needing to choose a new one all the time would at the very least aid consistency. This lens also pointed out some pages in Miss Mason's books that deal with working with art.

The minds of children and of their elders alike accommodate themselves to what is put in their way; and if children appreciate the vulgar and sentimental in art, it is because that is the manner of art to which they become habituated. -Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, Page 308)

Sir Edwin Landseer's Alexander And Diogenes
Miss Mason has a lesson plan, build around the painting Alexander And Diogenes. She mentions an interesting backstory, but only sketches it out. I found a more detailed version here, and its a fun story. This is how Miss Mason suggests studying this picture, through a process she calls "picture talk" .


  1. To continue the series of Landseer's pictures the children are taking in school.
  2. To increase their interest in Landseer's works.
  3. To show the importance of his acquaintance with animals.
  4. To help them read a picture truly.
  5. To increase their powers of attention and observation.
Step 1 - Ask the children if they remember what their last picture talk was about, and what artist was famous for animal painting. Tell them Landseer was acquainted with animals when he was quite young: he had dogs for pets, and because he loved them he studied them and their habits -so was able to paint them.

Step 2 - Give them the picture 'Alexander and Diogenes' to look at, and ask them to find out all they can about it themselves, to think what idea the artist had in mind, and what idea or ideas he meant his picture to convey to us.

Step 3 - After three or four minutes, take the picture away and see what the children have noticed. Then ask them what the different dogs suggest to them: the strength of the mastiff representing Alexander; the dignity and stateliness of the bloodhounds in his rear; the rather contemptuous look of the rough-haired terrier in the tub. Ask the children if they have noticed anything in the picture which shows the tine of day: for example, the tools thrown down by the side of the work-man's basket suggesting the mid-day meal; and the bright sunshine on the dogs who cast a shadow on the tub shows it must be somewhere about noon.

Step 4 - Let them read the title, and tell any facts they know about Alexander and Diogenes; then tell them Alexander was a great conqueror who lived BC 356-323, famous for the battles he won against Persia, India, and all along the coast of the Mediterranean. He was very proud, strong, and boastful. Diogenes was a cynic philosopher. Explain cynic, illustrating by the legend of Alexander and Diogenes; and from it find out which dog represents Alexander and which Diogenes.

Step 5 - Let the children draw the chief lines of the picture, in five minutes, with pencil and paper.(Vol. 1 Pg. 309-310)

Jean Monet's Woman With a Parasol
 She has more lesson plans; the next exercise is designed to help the kids make a clear mental picture, and then put that picture on paper. She emphasizes the importance of teaching the kids to really see the world around them through this sort of activity, so that they may take pleasure in it.

Jimmie also shares what this sort of thing looks like in their homeschool. The example she shares comes from their work with Renoir, which includes daily work looking at his paintings, and also a project recreating one of his works. I really like a number of things she says, but this one, in particular, resonates:

I pointed out all the ways that her rendition matched Renoir's original and praised her. Then I asked her to place her work alongside his and point out what was different or lacking in her version. In this way, I am not criticizing her work but I am teaching her to look critically at art.

Another useful link is this list of questions to ask about the work. I would not have thought of most of these. There's some good conversation starters.

This blog post points out that it's easier to remember to do something if it's done daily, rather than weekly, and she also says not to get too hung up on choosing the artist.

As for who we'll make our fisrt artist? I don't know. My husband suggested Dan Scott. I'm thinking that this artist is one whose art will appeal to Hero, and that seems especially important for the first artist, so we may just do that.

For updates on how our artist study is going, follow me on Facebook.

07 March 2013

Hero's Rover

This is Hero's Rover, which he built today while we were trying (only semi-successfully) to read from our Solar System book. After a while I stopped bugging him about the book, because he's telling me about this Rover, and it's cool. Here's what he says about it, in his words:

"My Rover is an 'Angry Cat' technology type of rover. The red piece, as you see in the picture, is a little light that has a transmitter that goes to the receiver, and then the Rover also has a little slot that holds nine baggies, and those nine baggies hold little samples, inside of the Rover. The arm is really small, it's between one and two inches long, and it's invisible. The white arm that holds the satellite head, that is the arm that can spin any direction and stop at any time and shoot. From both sides at the same time. It drives around on cities and on other planets. It sends back the information on my little receiver that you see in the next picture. It measures how wide and how tall and how fat it is, with its little red piece that I've already told you about. So, and, and the orange piece is the antenna. It sends the signal all the way to my device, all the way to the planet, whatever planet I am on. And that's the end of the Rover information."

He also built a receiver. He wants to talk about that too.

"The receiver is the thing that the Angry Cat Leader, me, Hero, the Hero Angry Cat is the Leader. So I'm the one who holds the receiver, and I have 10 rovers. Five of them right now are taking images of Ultron's technology [Ultron is an Avenger's villain], and the other 5 are taking pictures of a planet called 'Deplety.' Deplety is a rock planet. And my rovers are on different locations. Two of them, right now, are on the western part, and the other two of them are on the eastern part, and the last one is on the way southward piece. And the 'Angry Cats' are good guys. They are defenders; they save peoples' lives. They can walk through a fiery building and save people. No matter how scary people think an Angry Cat is, they will help. They can breathe water, they can breathe fire, they can breathe ice, and lava. They can also breathe rock. And they only do that to bad guys. Like for instance, a battle between the Angry Cats and Ultron is going on. I need to get back out there an start leading my army of Angry Cats again."

I thought about stopping him and making him "do school," but then I came to my senses. There's a huge amount of synthesizing going on here from the astronomy that we've studied this week. And when the things that he learns show up in his play then is when I notice that they really get internalized, and they stay with him. Can't argue with that!

06 March 2013

The Voice of God Within Us

I'm still working on studying the Constitution. I think it's a project that's going to last a very long time before I feel like I have a solid understanding. Maybe if I could sit down and study it intensively for a month or two that would be different, but I can't do that; I squeeze it in during quiet times and after bedtime. Anyway. I'm reading Ratifying the Constitution, edited by Gillespie and Lienesh, and I'm really enjoying it. Not only am I learning a lot about the various States that formed our union, I'm also learning a bit more about some of the principle personalities in each State. Today I found this quote from James Wilson as I'm reading about the "radically democratic" State constitution that Pennsylvania put into place in 1776. Turns out a number of big names were involved in writing that document, including Benjamin Franklin, according to the blurb I read. That was a revelation to me: not only were the men who wrote the US Constitution experienced statesmen, at least some of them had been involved in writing constitutions prior to the convention in Philadelphia, and so were experienced in that way as well. I don't know if James Wilson was among the crowd that wrote the constitution of 1776, but he was involved in the Pennsylvania ratification debates, and the little bit this book tells me about him makes me want to know more.

His commitment to popular sovereignty was fundamental. ... For Wilson, public issues were always moral issues, grounded in a deep moral sense, the moral equivalent of first principles. Morality was God given and hence instinctual. In this regard it was the most fundamental of our senses, reaching beyond the physical, the rational, and the emotional. "Our instincts," Wilson declared, "are no other than the oracles of eternal wisdom; our conscience... is the voice of God within us." This moral sense was present, or at least potentially present, in all persons, strong or weak, educated or uneducated, propertied or propertyless. "All sound reasoning," he wrote, echoing Reid, "must rest ultimately on the principles of common sense." Because this "common" sense was available to all, even "common" men could act as valuable and responsible citizens of a republic. It was a view of human nature that was neither optimistic, like that of Jefferson, nor pessimistic, like that of his fellow Federalist John Adams, but realistic; and it led Wilson to argue on every occasion for the broadest possible base for eh government of the United States and of Pennsylvania." (Ratifying the Constitution, page 56)

To follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, click the links on the top right of this page.

Staying on Track

It's been very useful to me in the past to see others talk about how they do the practical, day-to-day things in their homeschools, so I thought I'd share the way that I do my lesson plans and daily lists for Hero. This is my planning grid. It shows 2 weeks of Hero's work, and I recently started to put ABC games and art projects down the extra space for "tot school" for Dragon, who insists that he not be left out.

The very top line is phonics, though we won't be needing that for Hero too much longer; his reading is better and better all the time. I just put a check mark by the days that we do phonics. I've got a spot to mark every day, but we've never done it quite daily. More like 3-4 times in a week.

Next is math, which is the hardest for me to plan because Hero is like a sponge in math; I can't seem to keep on top of where he needs to be. I seldom plan more than a week or two at a time, because if I do I'll just end up needing to re-plan it after he's seen what I'm showing him once or twice.

The rest of the subjects go like that: handwriting & drawing are related skills, so I've combined them, and we do that about 4 times a week. I'll be switching out geography for artist study on the next batch of charts that I print; I feel like we get a lot of geography in the context of our history, and it's far more useful and memorable when it's in context like that. Artist study is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time now, but haven't been able to make it work. We're about to try again. Science and History have the largest blocks because I have to make notes about what activities I plan to have us do. As you can see from the pink arrows, it's not set in stone. Sometimes stuff gets skipped, or in this case, forwarded into the next week.

I generally write in pencil because it's more flexible. If I write in pen I invariably end up looking for my whiteout! I plan out what I'd like to see happen in the week on this chart, but don't commit to specifics as far as the days for most things. That way, if we're engrossed in something we can stay with it for the day without messing everything up, and if we've got plans to be out or something unexpected comes up, our school schedule can absorb it pretty easily. Most weeks it takes us from Monday to Friday. Occasionally, we finish on Thursday, sometimes we've got a little mop-up that needs to be done on Saturday. It's a pretty flexible system, and it's been working nicely.

When we get up each morning, I make a list for the day, like this one we're using today. Hero knows that certain things have to wait until after school, like screen time, so he has motivation to get his work done. He chooses (mostly) what order to do things in. Some days he can do this much in about 2-2.5 hours. Other days there's lots of breaks and we're finishing up school around dinner time. I don't worry about it too much, as long as we're consistently getting things done. I do monitor to make sure that there's plenty of free play time, but it makes very little difference to me if he wants to do his school all at once or a little at a time over the day.

The second, short list on the right of the picture is my list of stuff I want to do with Dragon today. That's for my own reference; I don't think he's aware that he's "doing school" most of the time. Today I planned to play some letter games, read some stories, and I had him play with our pattern blocks. The list keeps me organized enough to actually remember to do stuff like that with him; without it I can get really bad about forgetting to do even basic stuff like reading the poor kid stories. Thank goodness for being able to make lists! I never used to do it, but the more I have to accomplish, the more useful I'm finding my various lists.

To follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, click the links on the top right of this page.

05 March 2013

Liberty Tree

I found this interesting site about America's Great Seal. Apparently there's a lot of symbolism in it, and I'm looking forward to exploring it. I found the site this afternoon as I was looking up a snippet of a poem by Thomas Paine that is printed in the front pages of the book we just picked up, Guns for General Washington. I was considering using it for memory work, but I'm thinking, after reading it, that it may be a bit hard for a 6 year old. I want him to be comfortable with difficult language, but I also want him to be able to understand what he's memorizing. Here's the poem, though. It's beautiful.

The Liberty Tree – A Song by Thomas Paine (1775)

"In a chariot of light from the regions of the day,
   The Goddess of Liberty came,
Ten thousand celestials directed her way,
   And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
   Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
   and the plant she named Liberty Tree."

"The celestial exotic stuck deep in the ground,
   Like a native it flourished and bore;
The fame of its fruit drew the nations around
   To seek out this peaceable shore.
Unmindful of names or distinctions they came,
   For freemen like brothers agree;
With one Spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
   And their temple was Liberty Tree.

"But hear, O ye swains ('tis a tale most profane),
   How all the tyrannical powers,
Kings, Commons, and Lords, are uniting again
   To cut down this guardian of ours.
From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
   Thro' the land let the sound of it flee:
Let the far and the near all unite with a cheer,
In defense of our Liberty Tree."

01 March 2013

Day in the Life

Every so often, it's fun to do a snapshot of what our days look like. This is an example of our routine when Daddy is gone for business. Happily, he doesn't have to do that very often or very long.

9:00am - Everybody up! We snuggle, we eat, we dress.

10:30 - Hero is drawing knights for his art/writing, and Dragon plays with playdough.  I shower while the baby sleeps (heaven!).

Hero's knights.

10:50 - Hero practices piano while I snuggle Dragon. Baby Girl is still sleeping.

11:00 - I realize that when I made today's list of school work, I left math off. Oops. Yes, Hero, you can do your math on my phone today. He plays Hungry Fish, Othello, and Montessori Numbers. Dragon takes a turn on the piano, then goes to watch what Hero is doing with the phone.

11:15 - I nurse Baby Girl and read Dragon some stories. Hero is still doing math on my phone, but wants to switch to the reading game, Montessori Crosswords. After the stories, Dragon wants to do Starfall.

11:20 - Dragon won't stay on Starfall, so he looses computer privileges. He throws a tantrum and gets a timeout. He's sounding tired; I wonder if he feels ok.

11:30 - Baby Girl is stinky, so she gets a change. Dragon finally completes his timeout (I don't count tantrum time toward the timeout time), so I give him a big hug, and we turn on my new Lindsay Sterling disk, turn it up, and dance around the living room.

12:00pm - Time to start cooking lunch. We're having bean and rice tacos. I give Hero some Es to practice writing while I cook.

12:05 - I put Baby Girl in the wrap and nurse her while I cook. Dragon has to be sent out of the stove area because he's making me nervous around the hot stove. He's unhappy and leaves the kitchen. Hero is drawing knights rather than doing his Es. I have an internal struggle: do I redirect him to the Es I asked for, or do I step back while he follows his interests. I decide to let him keep drawing. Once the rice is going, I go find Dragon laying on the couch snuggling one of Hero's favorite animals and looking miserable. We snuggle for a few minutes, and then he comes back to the kitchen and starts drawing too.  I'm now pretty sure he doesn't feel great. Hopefully it's just hungry, and he'll be all better after lunch is over.

12:30 - Still waiting for the rice. I get out 1001 Nights to read while the boys color and I mind lunch. Baby Girl is sleeping in the wrap.

1:00 - We finally sit down for lunch. I still haven't read any of 1001 Nights, but I do manage about 1/2 a chapter while we eat. By the end of the lunch there is shredded cheese spread all over the whole dining room floor. I'm not quite sure how that happened. It's all mixed with the muffin crumbs that I still haven't swept up from last night, and it's sticking to my feet. It's driving me crazy; I grab the broom. While I'm sweeping Dragon starts throwing his food. I give him a timeout and finish sweeping up the worst of the dry mess. Then I hand him a rag and we clean up the rice he threw. Hero clears his place and does the Es.

1:30 - Quiet time. I wish it was naptime; I want to do some scrapbooking and it's just not going to happen. Maybe after the boys go to bed. Baby Girl is still sleeping. The Daddy calls and we talk to him for a few minutes as well.

2:30 - After a couple of warnings to stay in his quiet time or he'd head up to his bed for a naptime, Dragon got "banished" and snuggled and fell asleep in about 10 minutes. I'm not terribly surprised; he's been off all day. Hopefully the evening will be better. Hero's quiet time is finished and he's back to drawing (since his mean mom won't let him have a screen right now). He wants me to come draw a knight for him, since he drew 4 for me. Baby Girl is still sleeping in the wrap. After that we do Japanese.
More knights.

Mom's knight.
3:20 - Baby Girl loads her diaper most impressively, with much noise and concentration, and I discover that Hero is embarking upon that stage in life wherein a single fart is worthy of 10 minutes of giggling.

3:30 - I'm beginning to think we're approaching the point of diminishing returns for school. Hero is supposed to be doing memory work with me, but the CD player has cycled through all 5 disks and is back to Lindsay Sterling. Hero's urge to dance is clearly irresistible. My poor boys need to be outside more than I can do this week. Plus, our memory work is stale; we need a new poem or something.

3:45 - Dragon comes downstairs after his nap. His mood is much improved, and he joins the dancing. Baby Girl is awake, has eaten, and is having some floor time. Hero (sort of) listens to me read to him about the Solar System while he does some summersaults. The boy has serious ants in his pants today. I'm very glad that he doesn't have to try to sit in a desk and contain all those wiggles.

4:45 - School has been declared to be officially DONE for the day, and the boys both requested some screen time. Hero is playing one of the Daddy's favorite video games, MechWarrior Mercenaries, while Dragon wanted to watch Elmo's Potty Time. I'm hoping that he'll take a hint from Elmo and decide that the toilet is cool enough to use. Baby Girl, having slept all day, is ready to start the evening's cluster feeding and is nursing again. I'm going to play in Photoshop making another scrapbook page, since everything is calm for the moment.

6:00 - Dragon's show is done, and I'm finishing up the new cover photo for my blog's facebook page. You should go check it out. I give notice to Hero that he needs to finish up and proceed to tickle Dragon, and then chase him away from Baby Girl, who is sleeping again. We head to the kitchen to start working on dinner. I'm not exactly sure what we're going to eat, but Dragon's going to help make it.

6:40 - We're still sitting at the computer, watching Lindsay Sterling this time, rather than just listening. Dragon asks for a violin. I tell him that before he can have a violin he has to be able to take care of it. I also make a mental note to talk to my friend about Suzuki stuff, and when they recommend starting and what it costs. This isn't the first time Dragon has said he wants a violin.

7:00 - The Daddy calls. Everything stops for this. However, due to the wonder of cell phones I can also cook dinner while I talk to him. "Cook" being a non-technical term. We have turkey sandwiches and applesauce. Hero asks for more of the 1001 Nights story and I oblige him.

8:15 - Toss Dragon in the shower, followed by the bucket and cup he likes to play with. Baby Girl still likes the sound of the water, so I lay her on the rug. She's fussy in the evenings, but this seems to help tonight. For a while. Hero plays piano a bit, then comes to check out the Japanese I'm studying while I wait. I promise to teach him written Japanese after he's better at spoken Japanese (and not so incidentally, reading English). Baby Girl starts freaking out (in spite of Hero's best efforts) while I'm washing Dragon's hair. Dragon, Baby Girl, and I clear out of the bathroom so that Hero can have a shower all by himself.

9:30 - It's definitely time for bed; both boys are getting grumpy, and they're starting to antagonize each other. We get our vitamins and head upstairs so they can each be in their own beds, in their own space, for the rest of the routine. Poor Baby Girl is freaking out, and I can't figure out what's going on. We say family prayers, and the boys say their personal prayers, and I set my phone up to read scriptures to them for me (not my favorite method, but it got done) and step across the hall to change the baby's diaper. It's wet, and a clean one helps, but she's still growling a bit.

10:00 - The Daddy calls to say goodnight. Dragon talks first, and while he's chatting, Baby Girl loads the new diaper. Which Hero finds hilarious, so Dragon sensibly concludes that it's hilarious, and tells the Daddy all about it. Baby Girl passes out with a look of extreme relief on her face. I change her again while Hero talks to the Daddy, then I get a turn to talk to my sweetheart.

10:30 - I'm downstairs, blogging and getting ready to play with Photoshop some more. The boys are 90% asleep, but Baby Girl is fussing some again. However, she's clearly winding down as well. Only 10:30? Not too shabby. I make a mental note: don't stay up late; the boys didn't, and that means they won't sleep in tomorrow. Don't be stupid. Stupid is easy. Photoshop is fun. But it will suck tomorrow. Don't do it.

11:30 - I have the computer start working on a backup to my external hard drive for my photos and digital scrapbook stuff. This is going to take a minute; there's more than 18,000 files in My Pictures. Happily, the computer is happy to do it in the background while I fool around in Photoshop. Baby Girl is sleeping-- and so is my left arm. I wonder if she'd sleep as nicely on my rocking chair here by where I'm sitting. I should think about going to sleep soon myself, but I just located the pictures I want to work with...

11:45 - I'm digging through my Photoshop Toys board on Pinterest, trying to find the tutorial that I need. I need to spend some time downloading the cool fonts I have pinned. Not tonight.

12:00am - I finally find the tutorial that I was looking for, but it was one of the first ones I ever pinned, and it took a long time. Continuing to play would be stupid, so I shut things down and get ready to sleep.

12:15 - I'm still sitting here, procrastinating. This is starting to be stupid. I want to read 1001 Arabian Nights all night tonight, but I'm trying to convince myself it's a bad idea. I'm as hooked as Hero, and I've never read it before, so going slowly to read it aloud is hard, even if this is just a retelling simplified for a younger audience. I decide to leave the book downstairs. Reluctantly. One of these times I need to read the real one.

12:45 - Drat. I forgot to do laundry.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin