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26 February 2014

Legos at the Library

The library had a Lego night on their calendar, so we tried it out. They had a Space Theme going on, which was pretty fun. We built space stations. 

Later we found a stash of wheels and made some pretty cool Rovers. This one is the Curiosity, of Martian fame. 

There were enough Legos that I got to play too, so I made a space probe. 

When it was all done we grabbed a few books and visited the "jungle" in the foyer. 

The boys have declared Library Legos a success and they want to do it again. Works for me!

21 February 2014

Educating Women (Part 1)

It always surprises me that this whole "educating women" thing is still an issue. And then I read a blog post like this. And I realize that maybe it's not as settled as it seems.

The post takes issue with an article called, "The Fork in the Road: Graduate School or Motherhood?" in a BYU publication for women. Now, I'm not a BYU fan, and when I say that I don't mean that I don't follow BYU sports, I mean that I think that BYU -specifically their honor code- does some things that are fostering doctrinally unsound attitudes in their students, and then it exports those doctrinally unsound ideas to the rest of the US, and very likely the world, when the graduates leave. I actually think that these unsound ideas contribute significantly to the stereotypically unpleasant "Utah Mormon" that you hear about from time to time. So I'm cool with taking aim at BYU. However, in this case, I don't think it's just.

Here's the issue the blogger has with Fork in the Road:

The author points out that “decisions to pursue education, career, and family are very personal to each woman,” and that it’s important not to judge women for pursuing a career. She then lists reasons why women might want to pursue a career:  a family may not be able to live on one income, a woman may become a single mother, or a husband may lose his ability to work.

What about the woman who pursues a career because that is her “individual path” that she has carefully chosen?

Now, I don't see it. Sure, the reasons explicitly stated leave out the "individual path" option, but I think that if you read the article closely, the most likely reason why the author chose graduate school was either (a) she also had a struggle with infertility going on that she chose not to share with the reader, or (b) it was her... carefully chosen individual path. After reading and re-reading the article, I actually suspect the latter. So far, there's really not much to write about here. But the blogger continues:

I would like love to see more support for women who are completing graduate programs and pursuing careers, not just as a plan B. Pretending that the only possible reason a woman would want a career is as a backup is dangerous because it alienates those who are pursuing a career for other reasons. Doing so implies that such women are selfish and perpetuates a culture that tells women, “be whatever you want to be, as long as it fits within the bounds of what I think you should be.”

And this, I will address, because I am an advocate of careers as Plan B. But not because I have any desire to force people into "bounds" that I set. I advocate it because I believe being an at-home mom is the thing most likely to make the largest number of women happy. And that belief grows out of my understanding of the doctrines of the religion that I share with this blogger.

So. What is the doctrine on the matter? There's two topics here: education, and Mothering.

Mothering first. What is the doctrine of the Church on Mothering? I blogged about it some a few weeks ago. I'll give you a hint: Mothering isn't about the goo that's sometimes on my shirt, any more than my husband's work with cancer treatment equipment is about the grease that is sometimes on his hands. For some reason, this seems to be harder to see with the decision to be a SAHM than it is with other lines of work. But Mothering isn't about the mess or the housework. You have to look deeper than that to see the essence of Motherhood. President Grant had to say this about it, in a First Presidency Message, in Conference:

The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth... Thus every husband and wife should become a father and mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant.

By bringing these choice spirits to earth, each father and each mother assume towards the tabernacled spirit and towards the Lord Himself by having taken advantage of the opportunity He offered, an obligation of the most sacred kind, because the fate of that spirit in the eternities to come, the blessing or punishments which shall await it in the hereafter, depend, in great part, upon the care, the teachings, the training which the parents shall give to that spirit.

No parent can escape that obligation and that responsibility, and for the proper meeting thereof, the Lord will hold us to a strict accountability. No loftier duty than this can be assumed by mortals.

Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord's plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for their second estate "to see fi they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abr. 3:25)." To lead them to keep their second estate is the work of motherhood and "they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever (Abr. 3:26)."

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.

The mother that entrusts her child to the care of others, that she may do non-motherly work, whether for gold, for fame, or for civic service, should remember that "a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Prov. 29:15). In our day the Lord has said that unless parents teach their children the doctrines of the Church "the sin be upon the heads of the parents (D&C 68:25)."

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. To you mothers in Israel we say God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours. To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed.

-President Heber J. Grant, Message of the First Presidency, General Conference, Oct. 1942 (Emphasis added.)

So, the first and most important reason that I encourage women to be an at-home Mom is because it's really really important. I believe that it really is the highest, holiest service women can do. It's not a crumpled second, left over after men got the good careers; it's the best, most significant thing that a woman can do. We get to partner with God in His work.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. -Moses 1:39

His Work is grand and marvelous, and almost beyond the comprehension of man, He allows parents, and especially mothers to play a critical role! One that the Prophets have repeatedly warned cannot be delegated. They have warned that to do it correctly, Mom needs to be home. And not just when the kids are babies. Mom needs to be home. Children need their mother - and women need what the process of Mothering will do for and to them.

Two years after he became the prophet, Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk entitled, "To the Mothers in Zion" which emphasized the eternal significance of Mothering. There is a lot of good stuff in this talk, including the following:

Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.  Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, "We'll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we've obtained a few of the material conveniences," and on and on.

This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.

 Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels.

 Brigham Young emphasized: "There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?--To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).  Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.

President Benson goes on to acknowledge the struggles of those who wish for children, but cannot have them, and then he says this:

The Lord clearly defined the roles of mothers and fathers in providing for and rearing a righteous posterity. In the beginning, Adam--not Eve--was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother's calling is in the home, not in the market place. Again, in the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: "Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken" (D&C 83:2). This is the divine right of a wife and mother. She cares for and nourishes her children at home. Her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible. With that claim on their husbands for their financial support, the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.(Emphasis added.)

While it is the norm for girls to be encouraged to select a career, and even within the Church I have heard girls encouraged to look for their life's work outside the home, this is clearly not in step with either the scriptures or the teachings of the modern prophets. I think, too, that it is telling, the way that women talk about their lives. When you ask a woman who stays home what she does, she'll usually tell you some variant on, "I'm a stay-at-home Mom," but if you talk to women who work outside the home, even part time, they will usually tell you, "I am a nurse." "I am a teacher." "I do payroll and taxes part time for Bob's Heating." "I work a few hours a week at the craft store." It is very unusual for a working woman to mention that she is a mom when you ask what she does. The role of mother, though it is undoubtedly the more significant, gets very little consideration.

Whenever possible, the challenges and joys of full-time Mothering should be Plan A. Being a city planner or a therapist or an engineer can never hope to compare. To many listen to the feminists and other voices that encourage us to exchange our birthright for a lousy mess of pottage. Too many recoil at the foolishness of Esau's decision, and yet do the very same thing. A career is, and should be, Plan B. Mothering is the work of salvation; no career can hold a candle to that. Pretending otherwise is dangerous because it endangers souls. It pretends that following the prophet and not following the prophet are equally valid choices, and that is certainly not the case.

Which is definitely not to say don't be educated, but that's a post for another day.

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!

19 February 2014

Hey, Look!

It's a bunny highway! 

I think it's cool that he's working around it. 

18 February 2014


I knew there had to be chapter books dealing with heroes! It's such an obvious place to do some merchandising. But I've been having a terrible time finding them. No more. We asked the children's librarian, and he's got three. And he sat right down to read them. He was excited. That is worth the effort I've been putting in, trying to find those silly things. 

Hero read, last night, while I wrestled with the little kids and the nebulizer. And while I was trying to herd Dragon into his bed, Hero was finishing one of his books. And he ran downstairs to grab the other. 

For the first time, he missed what I was saying because he was that engrossed in his book. You should have seen the dirty look I got when I asked him to find a stopping place. 

I see more of these DC Heroes books in our future. Hopefully Marvel has some as well. 

16 February 2014

A Day in the Life

I wrote this last Tuesday, when my kids were sick. This week, they're much better.

7:10am: wake up to Tigress screaming and rubbing her ear. Give her some medicine, massage the area like my pediatrician showed me to try to drain some pressure off. She's really sad. Snuggle. Pat. Change her diaper. Still pretty sad. Snuggle. A drink of water finally helps. It takes her a loooong time to go back to sleep. I'm tired. But at least Dragon has been ok. He was up until after 1am, coughing till he puked. It took forever to get that cough to settle down so he could rest. She finally goes back to sleep about 7:45, and I do too.

8:05: she wasn't as asleep as I thought, and she's fussy again. I'm beginning to be concerned that she's not going to let me sleep anymore. This is not a very nice beginning to my day. 

8:15: We head down to my big chair for more snuggles. I don't want her to wake the boys yet, but I'm running low on ideas to help her sleep some more. 

10:30: The Daddy was really nice to me, and let me sleep, but all good things must end. Dragon just woke up, and he's hot, coughing, and miserable. (He and Tigress were diagnosed with bronchiolitis yesterday. My little girl also has an ear infection.) The Daddy gives snuggles, and I grab medicine. First, the ibuprofen and an antibiotic, and then they both get a breathing treatment. Dragon starts to refuse his, but when I let him pour the medicine in the cup & turn on the machine, it's good. Tigress, though, cries through the whole thing. By 11:00 we're done, and I'm wondering how to find 10-15 minutes to do a little yoga, and thinking about what I want to put on Hero's list for school. I make a list, but it feels like I'm forgetting something. 

11:40: I'm partway through my yoga. Tigress started out playing with my yoga strap. Then I tried her in the high chair. Clingy as she is, I didn't think it would work, but it did. For a few minutes, anyway.

Dragon doesn't want breakfast, in spite of his assertion yesterday, "I'll be hungry tomorrow." But he does consent to eat a clementine. When that's gone he surprises me, and asks for an orange creamsicle. I don't have any. Happily, I do have some creamsicle ice cream. At this point, he's hardly eaten in 2 days, and part of what he had, he puked up last night, so calories in the boy is good in my book. I'll worry about sound nutrition later. I give him ice cream. For breakfast. He's pleased. 

Hero and the Daddy head to the basement for their workout. It's nice to hear the sound of their conversation floating up the stairs. 

1:00pm: I'm still not dressed, but there's a fair amount accomplished. Hero chose history first today, and so we read about the Spanish Armada. This is (finally!) the last chapter of our Middle Ages book. In the process of  discussing this, we talk about slave trade, and touch on the way that this battle opens up more religious freedom, globally. I've studied the Spanish Armada before, but this time it's obvious to me that part of what's going on here is the hand Providence is reaching out to set up the sort of circumstances necessary for the Restoration, and we talk about that a little. Hero colors a picture of a Spanish Galleon for his history notebook, and copys the first couple sentences of his narration into his book. He's getting better at writing, but his narrations are still longer than his endurance, so I'll finish it off in a little while. Dragon has finished up his turn on the computer, and he asks me, "Can I eat something, Mom?" Music to my ears! I drop everything and find him some food. He's only picking at it, but something is better than nothing. He's looking a lot better than he was when I woke up. Tigress is pretty grumpy and clingy still, but has had some time on the floor, playing pretty happily. I get the boys a glass of milk, and wonder if I can get enough dishes into the dishwasher to get some clean sippy cups. I'm getting seriously behind on my dishes. And I've noticed that the bathroom smells faintly of puke. I must have missed some when I was cleaning up last night. 1am isn't the best time for a good job, but I can think of one or two things I'd rather be doing, than re-cleaning a puked-in bathroom. Ugh. At least everyone is reasonable cheerful right now. I like that. Maybe I can score a shower.

2:10: The Daddy's appointment for work today fell through. This is both good and bad. Good because we always love the days he can be at home, and this kind is especially nice because he doesn't have as much paperwork to do. But it's also bad, because it means that his hours this week won't be as nice, and that makes the boss grumpy. But, with him home, I get a shower (yay!) and get dressed, without having a sad baby. That's awesome. The kids ate some more, and he and Hero head out to the garage to work on a project out there. It's not on our list for today, but he'll be learning all sorts of skills while he's working with his Daddy. Very useful. I've learned to roll with it when cool opportunities come up. He can do some of the other stuff later.

Tigress took a tumble a few minutes ago, so I of course snuggled her. It's about nap time anyway, and she fell asleep. Oops. It's time for her nebulizer. She can have it when she wakes up; a nap is at least as important, and there's no way she'll sleep through the noise. Dragon wants to watch an Iron Man movie. Suddenly, I have time to do some dishes. I also throw in a load of wash, though I forget that Dragon's Avengers bedding needs to be washed, and I put in just whatever was by the washer.

2:45: I've  been listening to my Japanese lesson (I use JapanesePod101) and working on the dishes. The dishwasher is just about filled (but not quite), when I hear a Sad Baby. I grab her and put the last few things in and start it, since I know if I wait, I'll forget it until I start looking for clean dishes. That doesn't take long, and I'm ready to do the nebulizer. This time, she's good with doing it, so it's much more pleasant for us both. I've accidentally brought an extra mask to the couch, and Dragon amuses himself dissembling it. Then he puts it back together, which he's pretty excited about. I realize that Tigress has fallen back to sleep while she's been breathing. Hopefully she'll stay that way. She needs it. When she's done, Dragon breathes too. Meanwhile, Hero pops in to grab his gloves, because it's chilly outside. I wish I could get out to see how their project is going, and get some pictures, but it's not going to happen. 

6:00: Hero has just about finished off the basics of his book work, which is all we're going to do today. He finished coloring a Spanish Galleon for his history notebook. We discussed doing the crystal growing kit he has, but decided that would be better done first thing tomorrow, so he'll have all day to observe it. He did his scripture box, and wrote a little in his journal. A little free reading will round out his day, as far as school goes. 

The little kids are all worn out. Dragon rolled himself into a blanket and fell asleep on my chair. Tigress fell asleep on my lap while I was on the phone. I want to do Speedscrap tonight at DSP, but I don't know that it will happen, as miserable as my little ones are. 

7:00: Dinner is cooking. Scrambled eggs with some veggie mix-ins. I thought about doing some more Japanese, then decided to listen to the next lesson from the Great Debate course that my sister and her husband gave me for Christmas a year ago (it's awesome; wait for a sale). I've been doing it pretty slowly, since I've done a lot of reading with it, and it's also difficult to find large chunks of time to listen to the lectures. But it's a fantastic course, even if I am progressing very slowly. 

7:50: Dinner is over. I'm ignoring the dishes. Hero found You Wouldn't Want to be a Viking in a pile of books his sister pulled off the shelf and settled in to read it for a few minutes. Dragon wants to snuggle, but after a few minutes, he asks to watch some Avengers cartoons. The baby's asleep on my lap, and I take her with me for some one-handed Photoshopping and the Speedscrap chat. I'm a little slow, but it's all good. 

8:40: I've found the picture I want to work with, and in the process learned a bit about my photography, which actually happens pretty regularly with Speedscraps; that's one of the reasons I like to do it. I start my editing, and Dragon comes in. "I want to huggle you!" He looks so forlorn. I say goodbye, save, and go snuggle some more. And watch Avengers. 

9:10: Avengers are done, and we send Hero to shower. After that, it's family scriptures. Tigress has had it, and we don't read much, only 7 verses. They're good ones, though. 

22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. (Mosiah 2:22)

9:45: The Daddy brings the nebulizer out. Dragon doesn't want it, but I tell him I'm going to make him his very own cloud to breathe. And we sing silly songs. It shouldn't, but it feels like a lot of effort. But it works. I'm glad when it's Tigress's turn and she just sits, not quite asleep. Dragon runs off and asks the Daddy for a snack and a drink. Then we all head upstairs for bedtime. 

11:10: Teeth are brushed, prayers are said. I have the phone read to Dragon because my voice is threatening to quit. Hero reads his own tonight. Both of them fall asleep quickly. 

11:30: I take my sleeping baby downstairs with me, figuring that there's no way she'll let me park her just yet. The Daddy is on his computer, and I spend a few minutes on mine before I decide not to be stupid and go to bed on time tonight. 

12:05am: I can't find my jammie pants. And Dragon is breathing badly. He's hot. Find the thermometer; 103 again. Drat. He's not very pleased when I try to slip him a little Tylenol without waking him up. Sometimes that works, but not this time. I wonder why he resists taking stuff more when he's really sick. 

12:15: Dragon throws up. We help him into the shower. I feel bad for the Daddy, because Tigress wants only 1 thing: me. And I'm helping Dragon shower and changing his bed, and I need two hands. 

12:45: Dragon is back asleep, but Tigress is still fussing. But I found my jammies, so I don't have to sleep in jeans. That's nice. So is a washer and dryer. I'm going to have clean bedding ready for my little son, and that's a blessing. 

1:10: The baby is still sad. I've tried a bunch of things, and it's not working. Now I grab a squeezy-pack, and she sucks it down. Wants to play with the empty package. Fine. I put the lid back on and let her play till she falls asleep. But wakes back up when I try to lay her down and turn off the last few lights. I try more food; she scarfs it. I guess the poor thing finally got hungry. Neither one of my sickies has been eating much. Still not ready to sleep, though. We try some water next; she likes it. Falls asleep drinking. I hope she gets some "feed me" words or signs soon. Words are a wonderful thing. 

1:45: She's finally asleep enough that I dare trying to put her down. I'm tired. This time, she's finally really asleep, and that means I can sleep too. I check Dragon again (I can't not and still sleep), and I get some rest too.

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 February 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: pondering books

Monday: We had a pretty good day, even though Dragon and Tigress were sick. The Daddy had his appointment cancel, so he ended up telecommuting, rather than going to a site, which was really nice, I had to take the two little ones to the doctor's office. Turns out that they have bronchiolitis, which is no fun at all. So they get "breathing medicine" for the rest of the week. And we'll be keeping a close eye on them. We've had a couple family members get really sick with this over the years.

But it was a good day anyway. I got lots of phone calls from my family, and my friend love me, and I'm happy.

Tuesday: Two of the three kids are sick. But the work the Daddy had scheduled falls through, and I'm grateful he's home. We still manage to get a good amount of school done. And, because I'm crazy like that, I do a "Day in the Life" post. I've always done them on typical days before, and this is anything but.

Whoa. It's Saturday now. We had a great rest of the week, but I didn't do a daily thing. We did (finally!!) finish off volume two of Story of the World. The Middle Ages are just too stinking interesting. We followed soooo many rabbit trails! Spent a month on the Vikings, and the revisited favorite aspects, particularly Padric Culum's Children of Odin, over and over again. But this week we finally finished the book, and did the first section of the first chapter in volume 3. I'm liking the change, but I also feel like I need to figure how much narration we're doing. Volume 3 is definitely an increase in the level of difficulty it's asking from the student. There is more information in each section, the map work seemed like it was more involved, and according to the introduction, the extra reading selections recommended are also done with an older student in mind. This is cool. Hero is ready for more. But I also feel like there is going to be a period of adjustment while we both catch our balance and figure out how to go forward with this new level of instruction.

The other exciting thing is that he finished his first chapter book. I am definitely more excited about this than he is. I required that he choose one and read it. He says that he enjoyed it, but he also only read as much as was required. Which is ok. He wanted to know why reading chapter books is so important to me. I'm willing to go to a fair amount of effort to find books that he wants to read, but I do expect that he'll be reading, and (gradually) increasing the difficulty and length of at least some of the books he reads. When he asked me why, we had a chance to talk about how, as much as I love reading to him, I won't always be around to do it. He needs to be continuing to develop his reading skills so that when he wants to know something, he doesn't have to wait for me to read it. He wasn't very enthusiastic about that answer, but seemed to see the sense in it. Meanwhile, I continue my search for material that will be sufficiently interesting to make him want to read more. There was a thread on Facebook this morning about enjoyable books for kids his age or slightly older, and I'm thinking of heading the library and grab a bunch of the books they suggest. The list includes:
Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbot
Chronicles of Narnia
Jack Stalwart
Warrior Cats by Erin Hunter
Dragon Slayer series
Magic Treehouse
Peter and the Starcatchers by David Barry
Nancy Drew
Redwall series by Brian Jacques
The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy, and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken
Spiderwick Chronicles
Levin Thumps
Indian in the Cupboard
Ralph S. Mouse series by Beverly Cleary
Harry Potter
Trumpet of the Swan
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Charlotte's Web
Little House books
Frannie K. Stein series
Shark Wars
Ranger's Apprentice
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Bunnicula series
Origami Yoda series
Teddy's Button
Because of Winn-Dixie
Percy Jackson series
Man in the Iron Mask
Magic School Bus series
Hank the Cow Dog
Puppy Place
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
A Long Walk to Water
The Beyonders series by Brandon Mull
Little Britches by Ralph Moody
Michael Vey series
My Dog Skip
Shiloh series
Black Beauty
Sign of the Beaver
The Extraordinary Adventures Of Ordinary Boy-The Hero Reveled by William Boniface
Charlie Bone series
Time Warp Trio series by John Scieszka
The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
Mysterious Benedict Society series
Dragon Hatcher
Hardy Boys
Nate the Great
Artemis Fowl
Knights of Artenthrae
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Dragon Slippers
Dragon in the Sock Drawer

What I'd really like to find is chapter books starring Marvel or DC characters. Batman, Superman, et al. Not graphic novels, chapter books. You know any?

If you want to see what other folks are doing, check out the rest of the Wrap-ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Nap Time Cuteness

Dragon has been pretty sick this week, but he's starting to be better enough to be getting into mischief again. And to care about things like toys. It's a good change; he was pretty limp the past few days. It's nice that he's got the energy to bounce around today.

But not too much. I don't want him to overextend and get really sick again. Nap time is a must. Apparently, Optimus Prime is tired as well. 

"He's also sleepy. Just like I do. He needs to lay on my pillow."

Shuffle shuffle. Cough. 

"I'm going to lay him on my pillow. Optimus needs to be tucked in."

Shuffle. Squirm. Snarfle. 

"Hey! He doesn't stay put on my bed!"

12 February 2014

Libraries and the Use of Force

I was part of a Facebook conversation the other day, and the topic at hand was a discussion of what is - and is not - proper for the government to do. It was a public thread, on a libertarian profile, with people from all over participating. One of the ladies didn't like the advocacy for minimalist government being put forward. She used a library as an example of how, when we work together, we can accomplish more than we can alone. So she supported doing things like libraries and education through the government.

She was right. We can do some really good things when we work together. But she was missing something important.

What was missing is that, funding the library with it's lovely collection, pleasant programming, and charming librarians is a heavily armed IRS agent. He's not cute and cuddley, and he really doesn't care that, for example, your daughter had a 10-day NICU stay, and both your sons had surgeries this year, and you really can't afford to make your "contribution" to the library. If you don't ante up, he'll shoot your dog on his way to rip you out of your shower so he can throw you in jail.

The power to participate in the governing process is the power to determine under what circumstances it is legal to use force on our fellow men. Governments exist for only one purpose: to make and enforce rules governing human conduct. Every rule or law which is passed has attached to it a penalty. The penalty invariably takes from the disobedient either his life, his liberty, or his property.

Under a government subject to the voice of the people, the ultimate responsibility for laws, and therefore for determining when it is proper to kill a person, jail him, or take from him his property, rests directly on the voting citizen. There is no other place to rest the credit or blame for what is done in the name of government.
-H. Verlan Anderson (Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, Introduction)

This woman did not believe that she was being unkind. The on the contrary, it was clear from her comments that she was moved by compassion for those around her, particularly the less fortunate, and that is a noble impulse. But what she didn't notice is that when libraries, schools, public pools, and so forth are funded through taxes you can have things like the widow on a fixed income, the one whose children have long since grown and left, and she's getting by. But if she has a major medical event, or some other significant expense, she may very well be forced from her home by her inability to pay property taxes and her new bills both, even if her house is completely paid for. The tax collector isn't going to let her off without paying her "fair share." She considered only the effects of what is seen: the library. She missed entirely that which is unseen: the coercion that funds it, and the unintended consequences that even good things can have  when they are done incorrectly (because certainly broad access to knowledge, the purpose of a library, is a good thing, and necessary to the survival of a republic). The end never can justify the means.

To use force is a serious thing, and you don't have to see the man with the gun to be violating another's agency. A number of church leaders, including President McKay and Elder Uchtdorf have said that agency is God's greatest gift to man, next to life itself. We should be as reluctant to damage agency as we are to damage life! President Hunter taught,

"Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force others to do better, they inspire others to do better, indeed inspire them to the pursuit of God."
(A More Excellent Way, April 1992)

We live in a wicked world, and Satan does his best to make evil look desirable, even justified. One of his strategies is to make evil actions, such as the unwarranted use of force, legal, even mandatory. It can be easy to miss, indeed, he takes great pains to disguise himself and his handiwork, and to whisper soothing lies to those who may feel uneasy. But the fact remains, most of the time, the use of force, even -and perhaps especially- to achieve benevolent ends is not justified.

"There is great risk in justifying what we do individually and professionally by what is "legal," rather than what is "right." In doing so, we put our very souls at risk.
-James E. Faust, "Be Healers", Clark Memorandum, Spring 2003

How do we risk our souls? Well, one way would be to violate agency. If agency is, as our prophets have taught, as valuable as life, then we can anticipate that the penalties for the destruction of agency will be as severe as those for the destruction of life, and the repentance process as urgent and arduous. Yet most are much more casual in their concern for agency than they would ever dream of being in their concern for life.

Libertarianism is the idea that we can work together to do good things without the use of force. And we can do it better than it could ever hope to be done by the force of government. We don't need a man with a gun to make us build a library. Like minded people can create privately funded libraries. Perhaps a church, or a service organization, a philanthropist would create one. Maybe a businessman would create one that might charge a subscription fee. The beauty of it is, if you want the service you can buy in. If you feel poor folks may be left out, you can raise funds for a scholarship, or open an all-volunteer library in a donated space. Will every library built fit your idea of the ideal library? No. And that is ok, even desirable. The possibilities are limitless.  And they absolutely do not require force to get the job done.

Never forget: when we do a thing through the government, we are embracing force to get the job done. We are saying, in effect, "This job is so important that all must participate, and any who will not are going to lose freedom, property, or even their life as the penalty." We need to be very clear that we are within the bounds of justice when we act, whether our action is purely individual, as well as when we act within a group, a State, or our nation. In all cases, we are responsible for the force that is used, whether we use the force ourselves or whether it is "merely" done in our name.

In my view, there are very few things for which we can, in justice, use force against our neighbor.

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!

08 February 2014

Spelling "Onion"

Hero(7) is closing in on the end of phonics. Nobody's in any particular hurry; Hero reads pretty well, though he still needs practice. But phonics isn't very exciting at this point, so we are just taking it slow. 

Interestingly, he's been having a vocabulary expansion. I can tell because suddenly he's asking for definitions again. 

Gargantuan. Resilient. Commandeer.

I've been pointing out root words and helping him see the connections. 

Tricycle. Triceratops. 

Automatic. Automobile. 

He's catching idioms and checking their meaning. 

Looking down the barrel of.

There's tons of growth going on, and it's fascinating to watch it unfold, like a bud coming to bloom, one petal, on bit at a time. When we finish phonics, the plan is to have a look at word families, using English from the Roots Up. I have a feeling that we won't use the book the way it says we ought to. 

I ran across this video. Fascinating stuff. I love language. It's so much fun to see my son become more sophisticated in its use. 

Which brings me to spelling. I don't love spelling. Spelling never made any sense; I knew nothing about phonics. Add that to the way I read -not just word, but whole phrases at a glance; I don't even see the letters most of the time- I was a very bad speller for a very long time. I sometimes leave whole syllables out, though not as much anymore; I've been working on it for a long time. 

This video brings it together for me. The phonics I've been learning alongside Hero (never was very good pronouncing things in my head, so I don't), the root words that I'm passingly familiar with, but I'm really looking forward to doing that in an explicit, organized way. Entomology has always been fun, but now I'm realizing it holds clues to the mystery of spelling. 

It's just all so interesting. 

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!

07 February 2014

Weekly Wrapup: the sick one

Poor Hero's had a tummy bug this week, so we haven't done much school. Mostly just some reading. And documentaries. Quite a few of those, mostly about military planes. Missiles. Things That Go Boom.

So, with less school going on, I've had more free time than usual. I started the week doing really well with housework, but the baby isn't feeling well now, so that means lots of snuggling. I've been reading, and it feels so nice to do more of that! I didn't even realize how much I've been missing reading Real Paper Books. Matter of fact, I didn't even realize how little of that I've been doing. I could use some fiction to work on. I like non-fiction, and I've been reading more of it in recent years than in any other season of my life. But I've gradually become disenchanted with all my fiction authors, and I've suddenly realized I miss it. I'm halfway toying with the idea of dusting off my novel that I was writing and finishing it. And possibly writing a book about the human body and puberty that isn't so terribly simplistic, nor filled with propaganda, nor sending subtly negative messages about the body. That is an intriguing idea. I have yet to see anything available that is even remotely acceptable (not that I've done an exhaustive study, yet); maybe I need to make what I want to see.

While Hero's been down for the count, Dragon has been getting a lot of one-on-one attention, and the time to focus on just him is delightful. I have a few pictures from when we made naan (or at least, a naan-like-object) the other day. He loves it when we cook. I need to figure out a way to do more of this with both boys - and soon, my girl too. It just gets so complicated when we're all trying to do it all at once! But this time, it was just me and my Dragon. Yes. I know the one picture is fuzzy. That's pretty true-to-life. The boy is a study in perpetual motion.

And that's been our week. Not too much going on, and that is ok.
Pop on over to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to find out what other families have been up to this week!

06 February 2014

Hurray for Avocados!!

Mom: What's your favorite vegetable?

Hero: Potato soup.

Dragon: Avocado!!

So I look for avocado recipes. And I find this list of healthy things to do with avocados. And this is what I heard:

Hero: Avocado noodles? Gross. Avocado smoothie? Ew. What's that? Avocado soup?? Avocado popsicles??? Ew ew ew!!

He was particularly offended by avocados in popsicles. I must admit, I didn't keep any of the recipes. A couple came close, but in the end, I kept looking.

These 'Tater Skins, with avocado, though, those made the menu. The avocado cheesecake... not so much. Even if I *am* looking for a cheesecake recipe for my birthday. Think I'll keep looking. These Cheesesteak Quesadillas look pretty tasty. We'll try those. And these Paninis are making me droll a bit. This Potatoes with Avocado Sauce looks pretty good too. And avocado with bacon in grilled cheese. I could eat that.

How much avocado do you think I can put on the menu before there's mutiny at the table?

Too bad Hero left before he saw the avocado ice cream.

02 February 2014

Best Conversation

The Daddy: "Dragon, what would you think about another baby in the house?"
Dragon: "Can I have some of this?" *Holds up bacon bits.


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