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24 May 2015

Weely Wrap-up: A Win in Japanese!!

Easily the most exciting thing in my week has been a huge leap forward in my Japanese studies! I recently started browsing through the All Japanese All The Time blog, and came across his suggestion to study whole sentences, rather than vocabulary and grammar in isolation. I've been trying this week, and I don't think that I've ever done anything so effective! Part of the magic is the way that he suggests collecting: out of real Japanese materials (not the Engilsh-Japanese student "ghetto") that you're using because they are fun. Right now, I'm enjoying my flashcards immensely. Can't get enough. I've always kind of liked reading the dictionary, and right now the sample sentences in my Japanese-English dictionary are completely fascinating, so I'm building a list of sentences out of my dictionary, built around words I already know. So lots of the sentences I'm studying are ones that have one or two words that are new, and the rest is familiar. But the really cool thing is that I'm learning to say things in a Japanese way. And, being more comfortable with saying things in a Japanese way, the simple ebooks I've been working on are getting easier -- after only one week!! I have my eye on some Stargate episodes in Japanese, and I've kicked up the Japanese talk radio background noise, since that helps to get the language and patterns into my ear. The kids were eating up the Avengers in Japanese that I found on YouTube, and they ask for Shimajiro. I switched my phone's default language to Japanese, and I'm trying to persuade my phone to show me stuff in Japanese on Pinterest. And it's working. For all of us. Every day I understand noticeably more than the day before - without putting in tons of effort. Because, after all, there's still the rest of life to accomplish.

And, in spite of my enthusiasm for my dictionary and flash-cards, we did do quite a bit of non-Japanese stuff.

Nature Study went particularly well. Our pond is really coming to life. We saw tadpoles - the first time I've seen them, ever - and fed turtles. The kids got muddy. We watched water-scooting bugs and listened to bird song. I found plantain and burdock, and identified the remains of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit we found last week, even though the flower was broken off. We noticed that "our" mouse has opened a new hole - the 3rd we know of on his house. I still have some wildflower photos to identify. The pond was gorgeous. The woods were beautiful. It was fascinating. I love Nature Study!

Hero(8) has been hard at work, learning to blow bubbles. Not that that's terribly educational. But it's important to him, and he's so happy with himself! We've had several pieces of gum hit the floor... ew. But he's making progress. Even if it is hard to photograph his successes.

We were minding our own business, attempting some bookwork on Friday, when Nature Study came to us. We discovered that a Mama Mallard built her nest in the neighbor's rhubarb. Happily, they don't eat the rhubarb; hopefully they'll wait until the ducks are done nesting to finish taking out the plants. In the mean time, we have front-row seats, since the fence is easy to see through. I've seen 5 or 6 babies, but didn't get a good enough view for a reliable count. The neighbor says there's 8. I'm wondering why they decided that a suburban yard, a mile or more to the closest drainage pond, much less a real pond, is a good place for a nest? No idea. But I'm delighted.

The kids have been doing some great stuff around the yard. Hero has decided that mowing is one of his favorite jobs. And they all like the planting we've been doing. Hero and Dragon each did their own pots. Dragon chose red ones, appropriately, Snap-dragons. That makes me smile.

Hope that your week went as well as ours did!

17 May 2015

Psalm 4: Hear My Prayer

When I sit down with a passage of scripture,  the first thing I want is to understand the meaning of all the words in the passage. My parents raised me consistently exposed to and talking about scripture language (in many ways, it's its own dialect), so I am fortunate that, for the most part, the distinctive language of the scriptures doesn't bother me, even with the King James Version. But even with that, sometimes the scriptures, and especially the Old Testament, can be tricky. Psalm 4 has one of those tricky spots. From verse 2:

"...how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?"

This didn't sound like the usual sort of leasing, where you rent something, so I looked it up in Strong's. It comes from the Hebrew "kazab," which is typically translated as lie, but was also rendered as deceitful, false, liar, lies, and, here and in Psalm 5, as leasing. When you render this with one of those other words, it makes a lot more sense: "... how long will ye love vanity, and seek after lies?" I looked it up in the 1828 Websters, just for fun, and it appears that this used to be meaning of leasing, but it was obsolete back then already. So, at that point, I backed up and looked at the beginning again.

Photo courtesy LDS Media

I love that. The Psalmist combined both a plea for help and a faith-boosting reminder of the times He has previously assisted. During prayer is a great time to think about how the Lord has cared for us in the past, precisely because that will boost our confidence before the Lord, and it seems to me that quiet confidence or assurance is a key to unlocking the power of prayer (which is distinctly different from arrogancy, or from selfishly demanding). I found myself browsing through scriptures about prayer. There are so many to love. I scrolled through dozens, dealing with a bunch of situations. Invitation after invitation to seek Him in prayer. I ended up making a scripture chain of some of my favorites.

Psalm 4:1
Hebrews 10:35-36
Matthew 21:22
Luke 6:12
Matthew 17:19-21
Words of Mormon 1:8
Colossians 4:2
James 5:16
Jacob 4:10

Sweet Power of Prayer, April 2003

Brother Nelson's wry humor appeals to me, but he has a great point, too: the act of praying isn't hard, and that's by design. It's not something that only holy people or smart people or whatever kind of People Who Are Not Me do; prayer is for all of us. Our Father wants us all. He wants to hear from us; He wants to help us. Not only does He want to hear from us -that's only half the equation- He wants us to hear Him.

14 May 2015

Weekly Wrap-up: the one in the garden

Our week has included a delightful lot of gardening. Our new Apple tree is blossoming. This is the first year it's done that, and I'm extremely excited about it. I don't know if this will lead to actual apples, since the tree we put in to be a pollenator is a year younger, and didn't flower. But it's an exciting step, nonetheless! 

Some of my early stuff is up in the garden, and we've been enjoying chives from the garden regularly for a week or two, now. 

Most of the rest doesn't make very exciting pictures, yet, but the Lemon Balm is up, and I planted purple cone flowers, and forget me nots, and all kinds of fun things. Hero has a Goblin Dwarf Gallardia that he loves because it's a Goblin Dwarf, and we were reading the Hobbit when we found it. The peppers are in, and I need to get rid of some more strawberries so I have room for my tomatoes in a few weeks when we're past danger of frost. 

Over the weekend, Hero and a couple of his friends participated in a "Mini Mudder" and got super dirty, worked extremely hard, and learned they were tougher and more capable than they realized. 

We had some good nature study, too. Found a Jack-in-the-Pulpit and saw an Oriole. The plant was a lot easier to photograph than the bird!

So, as is usual for us at this time of year, we spent a ton of time outside. But we did do some bookwork, too, and Hero found time to re-read some of his Percy Jackson books as well. Violin lessons were great, too. The boys picked out songs for the recital at the end of the month. 

08 May 2015

Dandelion Delight

It's dandelion time! I know, it's strange, but I love dandelions. My children bring them to me as gifts, and that's adorable. Also, they're pretty.

Also, it turns out, they're good medicine. They've been valued for ages.

 Imagine you are moving to a new world, leaving behind everything you know and love, for life in an unknown country. If possible, you'd probably want to bring along favorite foods and most-used medicines. ... It's ironic to me that dandelions were once so cherished that people intentionally intentionally brought them across the ocean so they would not be separated from them. But then fast forward a few hundred years later and many people in North America poison dandelion with chemicals to discourage its abundance... -Rosalee de la Foret

Imagine you are moving to a new world, leaving behind everything you know and love for life in an unknown country. If possible, you’d probably want to bring along favorite foods and most-used medicines. What would those be for you? Tomatoes? Pumpkins? Antibiotics? Dandelions?

Text from Dandelions and Delicious Dandelion Fritters - LearningHerbs
Read More at http://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/dandelion-fritters/
Copyright © 2015 LearningHerbs.

So, it's dandelion time, and I'm playing. Tigress and I went out and we picked all the blossoms in the front yard. These, I popped into the dehydrator for a few minutes on the lowest setting (you don't want to overdo it, or they'll turn white), and they are in oil on the back porch, steeping. In about a month the oil will be ready to turn into lotions and soaps.

We added some of the greens to our sandwhiches today, too. Having heard a lot about how bitter dandelions are, I was a little nervous about this, but they were mixed with some romaine, and I couldn't taste them at all. The kids ate them up. And they asked to make something out of the flowers. So we'll be trying some Dandelion Fritters, probably tonight.

I also tried making some tea from the dandelion leaves. That was not as good as some other flavors I've tried, but it wasn't too bad, not nearly as bitter as I thought. Maybe this bitterness is less than I'd been lead to believe. 

If I can find enough blossoms, then there are some other things I want to mess around with. One of the ladies in an online group said that she dries the leaves, crumbles them, and then uses them like parsley. Several mentioned that they add them to soups and smoothies. There is also Dande Flower Syrup, I've had my eye on this Dandelion Bread for a while, now, waiting for the flowers to start blooming. And, if I really hit the jackpot for blossoms, then there's this Dandelion Jelly that is supposed to taste like honey. That would be fun to make, just to see if it really does. Over at Eat The Weeds, they've got a whole collection of recipes. Their Pumpkin Dandelion Soup sounds interesting. I have no idea if I'd actually like it, but it could be fun to make. And there's Dandelion Lemonaide from Herb Mentor.

I never knew there was so many interesting things to do with a few Dandelions!


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