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28 February 2015

Herb Class

I bought an herb class. It's online, and self-paced, so I have a fighting chance at getting somewhere with it. Once I had it, I told the kids I'd bought a class -school- for myself. That was a fun moment. I could see the gears turning over that statement! I often study, and they know that, but I don't usually call it "school" and doing that seemed to really make them think.

So, it's got all these videos to watch, and handouts to read, plus, there's a lot of stuff that the instructor, his name is 7Song (I have yet to discover the story behind his name), has mentioned that he's not covering, but he thinks is critical to doing herbalism. Like, botany. 

Now, we've been doing our Nature Study for around five or six years, now. Hero was just a little dude, and we'd go out and look for interesting things, and I'd learn a little each time, so I could tell him about them. I gradually accumulated field guides, and field guide apps, and we've had a blast. But it's been very just-what-catches-our-eye, more than a structured thing. And I love birds, so they've really been the heart of what we've learned about. I know a few more plants than I did, mostly wildflowers, but mostly I've learned birds

Now, I'm learning botany. Whew, that sounds official and intimidating! But there's some good conversation about what kind of resources are out there. I found this series from an intro level class from Berkley. 

And this clip was recommended by 7Song. 

And, of course, there are books. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Field Guides like the Peterson's guides I've got, ones that are locality specific, such as you might find at the local library. Herb Mentor has some stuff too, though my budget is, at this point, exhausted, so no pay sites for me for a while.  7Song's  recommended clip has a whole Botany Every Day site that he said he likes. His Facebook profile says he dropped out of high school in 1975, but he's founded an herbalism school, and he definitely sounds like a professor when he talks. That he is very knowledgeable is obvious. It's nice to come across someone that's self-taught, and so clearly become an expert at his chosen thing. 

Anyway, The Daddy bought me a big bunch of beautiful flowers the other day, so tonight, I snipped a few off, and we tore them apart. 

I have no idea what kind of flower it is. But I did learn a bunch as I tore it up. For instance, I'd never really thought about petals from a single plant bring this different, particularly since they're shaped so similarly. 

Hero had a look, too, though it wasn't something that held his attention very long. He did tear one apart, though, and see a bunch of the different parts. I'd printed a little diagram. Turned out, it was hard to use, but it did the job, mostly. 

Once the petals were off, I had the little bundle from the middle. The chart tells me those are stamen and the pistil. I vaguely remember learning about those in school, but I can't remember what they do, any more specifically than just reproduction stuff.

It was somewhere in the middle of this process that Dragon asked me to read him his "poop book." Maybe I should have stopped and read to him, but I was on a roll. We'll read it again, soon.

Tigress was really into the project. Shredding the flower was fun. I'm a little afraid for the rest of the bouquet. Hopefully the can of worms isn't too large; I'd like my flowers to last a few more days. 

The little ovary at the bottom was surprisingly tough. First, I tried scissors, then I eventually grabbed one of my kitchen knives to get me into it. A quick internet search for a better graphic to help me figure out what I was looking at, and I realized the little bits in there are baby seeds -- this, Hero thought was pretty cool. Me, too. 

Meanwhile, Tigress was finishing off her second flower. "Did it! DID IT!!" She's a little fuzzy here because she was bouncing in excitement, and my camera didn't handle it very well. She was mighty happy with herself for destroying those blossoms -- just like her big people were doing. It was adorable. 

At the end, this is what I had. I was able to identify almost everything. One of the stamen-looking things was quite different from the rest, and I'm not sure what that's about. You can see it there, lonely, by the word "filament". Plenty to learn, here. But I made a good beginning this evening, and that feels good.

21 February 2015

Mormon Bible Study: Psalm 2 (part 3)

I'm still going through and looking at all the places that quote Psalm 2. So far, I've been reading a lot of Paul. The next one on my list is Hebrews 1:5, which quotes Psalm 2:7, or at least a portion of it. Here are the two verses:

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
Hebrews 1:5

And the second one:

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Psalm 2:7

I was reading the whole chapter, there in Hebrews 1, trying to make sense of Paul. He reminds me a bit of Victor Hugo: there is a majesty in his writing that is truly inspiring, but he's frequently not really in a hurry to get to a sharply defined point. Figuring that out is nice; I really like Hugo. When I started reading an unabridged version of Les Miserables, I was amazed to discover that the priest who rescues Val Jean has a massive hundred page introduction to his big moment in Val Jean's life. I loved reading it, because the priest is so incredibly good, and so inspiring, that reading about him made me want to be a better person, myself. With all that introduction, the reader knows that, as amazingly merciful as he was with Val Jean, it was just business as usual for him; nothing to see here, just a humble follower of Christ, doing what disciples do. This first chapter of Hebrews reminds me of that passage from Hugo, where the author shows, rather than tells, the majesty of his subject. It's very encouraging. Maybe at some point I will feel like Paul is an old friend of mine, familiar and relied upon. I would like that. In this chapter, I feel like he's painting one of those pieces where you need to step back a little, and take it all in, more than hone in on a single verse, because if I let the focus become too sharp in a single place, I loose the thread of what he's driving at. Perhaps that's because I'm still making friends with Paul. In any case, I do better with looking at the whole chapter.

Hebrews 1 is a sort of introduction to the majesty of Christ, and toward the end of the chapter, Paul starts talking about how Christ is much more excellent than the angels that minister in heaven, and I got to thinking about the word minister. Its meaning is somewhat fuzzy in my head, which left the passage a little out of focus. So I looked it up. Just dictionary.com, not anything cool like a concordance or Webster's 1828 (yet), since that's what I had available at the time. But it was enlightening, just the same.

Minister: (verb)
to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.: to minister to the needs of the hungry. to contribute, as to comfort or happiness.

And that is what the Lord does for us. In fact, as I continued to read this chapter, I realized that Hebrews 1 has some fantastic teachings about the nature of the Lord. Here is a partial list of the attributes that I noticed:
  • Christ speaks in a variety of ways and times. (vs. 1)
  • He made all things. (vs. 2)
  • He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and in His express image. (vs. 3)
  • Christ upholds all things with the word of His power. (vs. 3)
  • He purged our sins. (vs. 3)
  • He is exalted with the Father. (vs. 3)
  • He is better than the angels. (vs. 4)
  • He is the Only Begotten (vs. 5 - and this is the link to Psalms 2)

And it goes on through the whole chapter like that. I don't think that it's an accident, or just pleasant meanderings, that Paul spent the whole opening of his letter to the Hebrews talking about the nature of God. (Incidentally, I don't think it's an accident that Hugo spends so much effort on the character of his priest, either, but that's another discussion, entirely.) There was purpose to the way he opened his letter; knowing the character of God is of paramount importance! Brother Andrew Skinner summed it up beautifully in a BYU devotional  at which he spoke a number of years ago:

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: "It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God." In other words, one of the foundation stones of the restored gospel  is a knowledge of what kind of being God actually is. But not only do we need to understand what kind of being God is, we must come to know God. In the same sermon from which we just quoted, the Prophet Joseph further stated, "If any man does not know God... he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle." In His great high-priestly or Intercessory Prayer, the Savior confirmed that life eternal was to "know... the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [the Father] hast sent. (John 17:3)." (emphasis original)

It's interesting, too, that Brother Skinner references Christ's role as our Great High Priest, because Paul delves into that in the next several chapters of Hebrews, including chapter 5, where he references Psalm 2 again. I have long loved the passage in the Book of Mormon that describes what a high priest looks like, but this section of Hebrews draws a clear parallel between the "garden variety" high priest, and Christ as the Great High Priest. Really, though, there is no (or should no be) "garden variety" high priest. As I understand it, in Old Testament times under the Law of Moses there was ... one. One high priest, in charge of the temple. That's all. It's kind of mind-boggling, really, when we consider that from the perspective of a time when we are blessed to have a high priests' group in every ward. One. In all of Israel.

The loss, when you look at what they really lost in the golden calf episode, when they lost the fullness of the Gospel, is staggering. Catastrophic. Most likely, when Mary went into labor, Joseph was not able to give her a blessing to comfort and protect her; they were not Levites, so he would not have had the priesthood, and even if he had, it would probably not have been the Melchizedek priesthood. For generations -millennia- under the old law, there was no priesthood in the homes of the Lord's people; the members of His church were without the priesthood powers most LDS fathers bear. 

Now, the passage in Alma talks quite a bit about the personal attributes of the man who makes himself eligible for becoming a high priest. The passage in Hebrews 5 starts out with some comments on what a high priest is supposed to be doing. With the ending of the Mosaic Law, some of these duties have changed - high priests no longer conduct animal sacrifices - but most remain, including having compassion on the ignorant, teaching, and calling people to repentance. John Taylor said that the "Melchizedek Priesthood holds the mysteries of the revelations of God (JD13:231)."

This idea of Christ as the Great High Priest was new to me, but it fits so beautifully. Everything that the character ought to be, He exemplifies. He is the most compassionate, the best teacher. He calls us to repentance unendingly. He is the source of revelation, and He stands at the head of the church.

"With regard to the Priesthood. We have been found fault with sometimes because we profess to have the Priesthood. Let me say to this congregation that our Heavenly Father performs all His works—the creation of worlds, the redemption of worlds—by the power of the Eternal Priesthood. And no man on the earth, from the days of Father Adam to the present time, has ever had power to administer in any of the ordinances of life and salvation only by the power of the Holy Priesthood. You will find this to be the case in the whole history of the Prophets of God. When Aaron was given the Priesthood he was called by revelation. “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Jesus Christ himself had to be called of God. He was a High Priest. He left the Priesthood on the earth with his Apostles. They officiated in it until they were put to death. It is by that power that we administer in this day and generation. The Church and kingdom of God has continued to grow from its first organization. It is true we have been called to pass through many afflictions in our day and time. Nevertheless, the Lord has preserved His people..."
-Wilford Woodruff

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Blacks in the Scriptures

I have a friend that recommended this Blacks in the Scriptures site to me. She's having a get-together to talk about it in a couple days, and she wants to know if I'm coming.

No, sorry, I've looked over some of their stuff, and I disagree with their interpretation of scripture, and thought it would be better to stay home. Then I don't rain on her parade with my skepticism. But she asked me what I think about it, and the Brother Perkins that writes for the site wants to talk to me about it, and for whatever reason, WordPress isn't playing nice tonight, and I've spent the better part of an hour trying to persuade it to give me a password so I can comment on the blog. No luck. So I'm putting my thoughts here, in order to keep my word that I would share some comments, and because my friend asks. It's a pretty big site, and I haven't looked at it all, but this article seems to have a good summary of their thoughts, so that's what I'm responding to.

First of all. The title.


My first beef is with the title. I don't believe in "really nice" racists. Racism is ugly and unacceptable. I don't buy this accidental (kinder gentler) racism thing. And, right off the bat, I'm on my guard. I am so so so sick of baseless accusations of racism. It's hurtful. It's divisive. It's as ugly as real racism. And that's what this sounds like is going on in this article. At this point in my first trip through the article, the only reason that I didn't just roll my eyes and move on to something else was that my friend asked me to have a look. That was a couple months ago. I still feel pretty much the same.

There is a wordy introduction, and then the article gets to the meat of the matter, starting with the Great Commandment and a definition of racism. I agree with the comments on both topics. Next comes a list of teachings that are to have grown out of the policy of not ordaining blacks to the priesthood. Some, I have heard of, others I haven't. I'm rearranging the list just a little, so I can comment on it. I've bolded the words from their list to separate them from my commentary. (It may be worthy of note that I had achieved the ripe old age of 8 months when the policy was changed, and I cannot remember a time when blacks couldn't have the priesthood. I've only read about it.)

  • Blacks were fence sitters in pre-existence - I have heard this said in conversation, but I have been a member all my life, and I don't recall it ever being part of a lesson. In my reading of the scriptures I have never seen justification for this belief. Nor have I seen it in my reading of Conference talks or other commentary. I have never, personally, found this idea compelling.
  • Blacks are representatives of Satan here on earth - Oh fer cryin out loud. Really? I have never seen anything remotely like this in scripture. This one floors me.
  • Blacks are lowly, uncouth, lazy & detestable to others - I have never, ever, heard this at church or in reading church materials. Not once. Not anything like it. Really, the only place I've seen this kind of gross generalization is in the movies about the civil rights movement. In real life, I've never seen anyone act like this toward blacks.
  • Dark skin is a mark of unworthiness - I vaguely recall hearing this idea once. If I had to guess, I think it was when I discussed the restriction with my dad, and he was telling me some people believe this. I don't remember him being very convinced by the idea, and I don't think that I have ever been aware of anyone at church saying that they believed this when the restriction would come up in lessons. I can't think of any scriptural justification for the idea in modern times. 
  • Penalty for intermarrying Blacks is death on the spot - What?? I've never heard this before. 
  • It was time for everybody else but Blacks - I've heard this said in the general membership, put forward as an explanation of sorts. "Well, I guess it wasn't time for them yet." Christ gets to decide who gets what, and when and I make it my policy to not argue with Him. He's smarter than me.
  •  Blacks cannot enter into the Temples and perform sacred ordinances - This used to be the policy of the church. When I studied it as a teen (it bothered me that they would have been shut out), I was never able to discover why the policy was put in place, but I did learn that it was just a policy, not a doctrine. I was glad to hear that, and eventually stashed the questions this raised under "Things To Ask the Lord When I Die." I've still got an eye peeled for those answers, but have yet to find them. 
  • Black families cannot experience the blessings of sealings - This would have been the natural consequence of the policy, at least for this life. Knowing that God is no respecter of persons, my conclusion was that those who died prior to the change in 1978 would, along with those without the law, have their temple work done by proxy. To categorically, permanently bar these people from the blessings of temple ordinances is inconsistent with what I know about the nature of God, and inconsistent with His stated purposes for earth life. I figured that blacks would be dealt with much the way that people who die without the law are: mercifully, and on the merits of the portions they had access to in life.
  • Blacks are cursed - The scriptures plainly say that the Lamanites were cursed with "skins of blackness" and that "a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan", though in that case, it is the land that was specifically cursed. We also read that "the seed of Cain were black". It is my experience that the scriptures say what they mean. In the case of the record about the Lamanites, that verse was written by Nephi, who told us "I glory in plainness". I don't believe that a man who glories in plainness, who wished to write in a way that could not be mistaken, so there would be no mistakes, would mean something so different from what he says. It is my policy to take the scriptures at face value, particularly the Book of Mormon, until there is some compelling reason to do otherwise. However, all these things happened a very, very long time ago. The record since then is fragmentary at best, being far more concerned with the preservation of Gospel principles than with the story of what happened after these curses were given. The scriptures are silent on the topic of modern skin colors and any relationship that they might or might not have to cursings previously given.
  • Blacks, the seed of Cain, a murderer - This appears to have been true at one point. However, the Lamanites, also black, were Hebrews, and described as being "white" prior to their cursing. It stands to reason that there may be other peoples who had their skin changed, since we have record of it happening twice. Therefore, to say that all modern black people are descended from Cain is a hasty generalization

So far, so good. But here is where it all goes off the rails. The next item is a "racism test." I'll go ahead and just answer the questions Brother Perkins asks, again given bolded:

  1. Was the priesthood restriction of God?  I don't know. I do know that it stood through the presidencies of 10 different prophets. I do not believe that God was unable to persuade 10 different prophets to do it His way. That not only doesn't stand to reason, it flies in the face of the promise that the prophet will not be permitted to lead the Church astray. I have to conclude that He, for whatever reason, chose to allow the restrictive policy to remain in place. I don't know enough to answer this question.
    *** Edited to add: ***
    Due to information the church has published, pointed out by "Anchovies" in the comments, I can now say that for reasons known to the Lord, it is clear that He directed President McKay to leave things as they were, with the ban in place. I do not understand, but I don't have to. His ways are not my ways, and He is not required to explain Himself to me.
    *** End of addition ***
  2. Did the Lamanites have a darker skin than the Nephites? Yes, most of the time. The scriptural record is very clear on this point.
  3. Is or was dark skin a curse? Yes, at least part of the time, it began as such. The scriptural record is also clear on this point.
  4. Is interracial marriage wrong in the eyes of God? This one is an interesting question. I don't think it was ever about color; in my opinion it was always about covenant. I'll get to that in a bit. 

Now, according to Brother Perkins, anyone that answers yes to any of these questions is a racist. That's another hasty generalization. And one that I take serious issue with. I am not a racist, and I am finished with cowering before baseless accusations of being such. Being very conservative, and for the Constitution, it's an accusation I hear regularly. Saying that strangers are racist is  calling names; it's ugly. It is not Christlike. I don't care a fig about color. It's not an issue until someone else makes it an issue, generally by calling names. Left to my own devices, I don't think about skin color.

One thing Brother Perkins was right about, though, is the Great Commandment. There has never been any more than one standard for behavior: Love God and love your fellow men. Jacob wasn't very happy with his people for their behavior toward the Lamanites, and hating or treating people poorly is no more excusable today. There is no astrix on the Golden Rule.

Now. About interracial marriage. I can think of several cases where intermarriage was forbidden. I don't believe that the Nephite prohibition against marrying Lamanites was about color, not for a minute. I believe that it was always about the covenant. The Children of Israel were forbidden from marrying the people of the land. The Lord was very specific: that prohibition was specifically to keep His people from going "whoring after other gods".  The idea is to have as many righteous homes as possible, so that as many spirits as possible can be taught the gospel. In the case of the peoples the Children of Israel drove out, they were ripe for destruction. In the case of the Lamanites, I'm thinking that Laman and Lemuel must have been extremely effective teachers of hate. They taught their children a hatred of their cousins that lasted for a thousand years, and they must have taught them to also hate the Gospel, because a thousand years later as the Nephites were being destroyed, the Lamanites were still trying to destroy the sacred records. It is something of an assumption, but I think it safe to presume that Cain also taught his children to hate and to destroy. The prohibitions recorded, then, were never about color, and always about preserving the Gospel, and preserving the people from apostasy.

In modern times, things were a bit more murky during the period of priesthood restriction. I can recall seeing a quote from one of the Brethren discouraging interracial marriage. I don't remember who or where; it was a long time ago, so I can't link to it. But, as I recall, it was less about color, and more about preserving the integrity of the home, and avoiding the strain on the marriage that comes from the blending of two cultures. If I remember correctly (and I may not - it was quite some time ago), then they discouraged not only interracial marriage, but also marriage of those not of your own country. There is, too, that encouraging those kids who could, to marry in the temple would have as a natural by-product a discouraging of interracial marriages.

In the end, while I have some common ground with the site, and I disagree with them on some important points, it is his ugly generalizations and baseless accusations of racism that leave me wanting to have nothing to do with his site.

10 February 2015


Sometimes, you just find fantastic ideas on Pinterest. I've had a string of wins, lately. This is the most recent: felt monsters. Hero(8) really got into making these. We had a blast.

09 February 2015

Planing Early Modern History

A couple months ago, I sat down and correlated our history study for next year with church and family history. I have since realized that I need to do the same thing with the second half of the Story of the World 3. Church History in the Fullness of Times is abbreviated CHFT. So, here it is:

Chapter 22: The American Revolution

We'll be spending some time on this section of history. I am so excited about this!

Read Alouds: Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt by Forbes
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Fritz
Additional reading: Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? by Fritz
Our Declaration of Independence  by Schleifer
Fight for Freedom by Bobrick
Herstory, the chapter on Deborah Sampson, by Ashby
Paul Revere: In their Own Words by Sullivan
Sam, the Minuteman by Benchley
Guns for General Washington by Reit
George Washington: The Crossing by Levin
God's Hand in our Nation's History by Benson

Family History: Edward Ruttledge, signer.

Chapter 23: The New Country

Additional reading:
Who Was George Washington? by Fritz
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Fritz
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on George Washington, by Winder
The Great Prologue by Peterson
FHE Lessons for the Bicentennial of the Constitution
A More Perfect Union (Movie)

Chapter 24: Sailing South
Read Aloud: Maoriland Fairy Tales by Librivox

Chapter 25: Revolution Gone Sour

Presidents and Prophets: chapter on John Adams

Chapter 26: Catherine the Great

Additional reading: Russian Folktales
Herstory, chapter on Catherine the Great

Chapter 27: A Changing World

Presidents and Prophets: chapter on Thomas Jefferson

 Chapter 28: skip

Chapter 29:  The Rise of Bonaparte

Additional reading: Lyrical Ballads, Wadsworth

YouTube Documentary on Beethoven and listen to a selection of his music

Chapter 30: Freedom in the Caribbean

Chapter 31: Different Kind of Revolution

Hillsdale Economics 101, lecture #2
Learn Liberty: Why Does 1% of History Have 99% of Wealth?

Chapter 32: The Opened West

Additional reading: Lewis and Clark in Their Own Words (library book)
Who Was Johnny Appleseed (library book)

YouTube Documentary: Louis and Clark

Chapter 33: The End of Napoleon 

Additional reading: A Timeline of the War of 1812 (library book)
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on James Madison

Chapter 34: skip
Chapter 35: skip

Chapter 36: The Slave Trade Ends

Additional Reading: Herstory, the chapter on Sarah and Angelina Grimke.
Amos Fortune: Free Man, by Yates
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on James Monroe
Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes

Chapter 37: Troubled Africa

Additional Reading: African Fairy Tales
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on John Quincy Adams

Chapter 38: American Tragedies

Additional reading: Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Jeffers
Soft Rain: The Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelissen
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on Andrew Jackson

Church History: The First Vision from JS-H
CHFT 37, 1st paragraph; Joseph's Preparation & Interem Events, pg 41-42

Chapter 39: skip

Chapter 40: Mexico and Her Neighbor

Additional Reading: Davy Crockett: In Their Own Words by Sullivan
Susanna of the Alamo by Jakes
Presidents and Prophets, chapter on Martin Van Buren
Church History: Lost Pages, CHFT 45-49

07 February 2015

Watercolor Instructions

I have been very frustrated the last few times that I tried playing with watercolor, because I couldn't seem to make pictures. I can make nice backgrounds for art journal pages (this one is Watercolors and colored pencils), but I just couldn't make pictures.

So I went and asked the girls that use Ambleside Online's facebook group. And they helped me out with tips, instructions, tutorials, and sample journal pages. There are some really lovely people using Charlotte Mason's methods.

They gave a number of tips, and also some links to various tutorials. Like this one. Which helped me to understand better what to ask for when I'm trying to get my kids to do nature journals. That was really helpful, and when I did it that way, I immediately started to see cool things happening with Hero's journal.

They also showed me some a couple of great video tutorials. I have watched some (and seen fantastic progress in my paintings!!) but not all of them, yet, and I want to keep track of them so that I can continue to improve my work.

This one isn't a video tutorial, but it does have some really interesting bits on doing a drybrush technique - I hadn't even realized that was possible with watercolors.

Next, they shared a whole YouTube channel with me full of watercolor tutorials. I'm really looking forward to digging into that a little bit! Looks like there are some fun things to learn there.

Then, I started trying out some of the things I'd learned, and the directions we had were so good that, even without someone here in the kitchen showing us what to do, both Hero and I showed marked improvement in our work on the very first try. We get the paints out regularly; Hero knows how to do it on his own and starts painting independently on a regular basis, as well as the work that we do together as an official activity. I'm excited to see how we can improve over the next few months, messing around. This is some cattails that we saw, though I didn't paint the whole stand of them. There just wasn't time for that much, so I simplified it down to two stalks. It was so exciting to see a real picture, even if it wasn't much. You can see from the way the paper has buckled that I'm still using a lot of water in my "dry" brush. I'll be working on that, especially since this is just a sketch book, and the paper isn't really excited about being that wet.

Hero(8) did this one of a Black-capped Chickadee. We had seen a chickadee at the park, so we found a picture on the internet, and he copied it. He just grabbed whatever pen was handy, so he ended up with a blue outline, but I still was pleasantly surprised by how nicely he did.

Dragon(4.5) doesn't do a nature journal, yet, but he does like to paint. And the lines (he tells me it's a transporter) are a new addition. He's been making "Pegasus eggs" a lot lately - little ovals of color. This was the first time he'd tried drawing and painting it.

A week later, we stayed canceled Nature Study because it was all of 3F outside (and windy), and we have a toddler. This is pretty typical of our winters, but the birds helped us out. We had some House Sparrows show up at our (empty) feeders, so we watched them a while, and then Hero filled the feeders. We looked online at the All About Birds entry for House Sparrows, and found an internet picture to use as reference.

Hero's completed drawing turned out fantastic - easily the most realistic art he has produced to date, and a marked improvement over last week. I have no idea what was different this week, but I love it.

Dragon loves to paint, too. We were listening to Thomas Payne's Common Sense while we did this, so he drew a "Liberty Cannon" and a "Liberty Bow" (with arrows). You can see the "cannon" next to him; it's the orange and green splot.

I was cooking lunch, so I didn't get to play, much, this week, but Dragon loves to mix up colors on his mixing tray, and wanted me to use them, so I drew a quick flower-like object. I didn't have any particular type of flower in mind, just "flower," so the shape isn't so hot. But I was really excited about what I was able to do with the colors on the petals and leaves!

I can't wait to do some more!

All Kinds of Addition

Dragon has been doing a lot of good counting in both English and Japanese, and I felt like it was time to introduce addition. It's not really a new concept; he has naturally picked up on it, and regularly asks, "What is 10+9?" But he hasn't been working with the rods very long, so we've been working with just counting exercises, laying the groundwork by attaching meaning to the rods and making sure that his counting is good in both English and Japanese. He's been doing great, so today we started doing addition.

The lady over at Education Unboxed is so good at teaching math, and I was using a different program when Hero learned this stuff, so I popped over to see what she suggests for doing addition. I'm glad I did. Not only did she have a fantastic way of showing the concepts, but there is a lot of it that's vocabulary I know in Japanese, so we went ahead and did the lesson bilingually.

 He doesn't write numbers, so the little bit of that I ascribed for him, but he did great with figuring everything out. I only gave him 6 problems, and just enough rods for what we were doing because the whole bin is overwhelming. I also made up a short 1-5 staircase for reference. 

It doesn't look like much, only six problems, but it was just right. Between the various new concepts and working in both languages, he had a lot of stuff to keep track of. It was just right to get him working, and to stretch his abilities, but not so much as to over do it. I love it when I judge things nicely and it turns out like that!

Hero did some self-checking double-digit addition. I picked this sheet mostly because I knew he would enjoy the hero on the page, and the puzzle. It was actually a little on the easy side for him, since there wasn't any regrouping. When he did it perfectly the first time, it was a great opportunity to praise him for doing careful work. I liked that both because I like to give a well-earned thumbs-up, and also because his last several pages of math had several errors in math facts that he should have known. So the timing for an opportunity to praise careful work was just right. We're really working on addition with carrying, which is frustrating for him (so many places you can put numbers!), so it's nice to have a moment to say, "Hey! You're doing good!" He's been needing that.

06 February 2015

Fun With Pistons

We just found slimes for the first time in our Minecraft server, and we're messing around with things to do with sticky pistons. There are some cool ideas.

Ok. This is not sticky pistons, but it is really cool.

So is this. Hero is pretty excited about building this one.

OK. And this one's not pistons at all. But it's cool. YouTube is full of "useful" information.



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