Sunday, January 30, 2005

new schedule--how we're doing

Georgie is really liking the new priorities we've set for school. She usually gets violin, Spanish, and typing done by 8 am. She does copywork while I take Marcus to school, then math when I get home, which is normally done by 10. We've started our Shakespeare study. We read Bard of Avon by Daine Stanely, and have started "Midsummer Night's Dream" a retelling by Leon Garfield. You really cannot go wrong with Shakespeare, one of those responsible for adding nuance and beauty to our language. Right now I'm learning about another--William Tyndale. I'm reading Fire in the Bones by S. Michael Wilcox, a book about this martyr and father of the English Bible.

We got out Latin books in the mail Friday. I ordered Lingua Latina set one. I had read some of the introduction of Wheelock's Latin to Georgie on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday morning she woke up and said, "I'm actually kind of excited about Latin." Well, I don't blame her. I think Latin is exciting, too. Georgie had wanted to learn Hebrew or Italian, but I don't feel as comfortable teaching those. I did have four years of Latin in high school. I didn't think I remembered much until I started looking through the books. We'll see how it goes.

I must remember our schedule and priorities on a daily basis. I must remember that I am only using K12 as a resource--it is not the basis of our school. I have a slightly different educational philosophy than the K12ers, a philosophy largely shaped by Charlotte Mason who said that "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." I must use very wisely the limited time I have with Georgie in a way that reflects our values, not K12's values. I feel that the decision to use K12 was an inspired one, just as my decision now to limit our K12 time is inspired. I have been praying earnestly that I could be a more inspiring and uplifting influence on my children and create a beautiful atmosphere in our home. I feel that the prompting I've received to change our priorities was Heavenly Father's answer to those prayers.

Mister Marcus

On Thursday evening, about 7 pm, Marcus fell down the basement stairs. I was in the living room. I heard a bump and a cry. I went to see what had happened and Marcus was coming up the stairs holding his left arm and whimpering. His forearm was bent to the side in a "v" shape. It looked horrible and I felt like fainting, but then I remembered that J was not at home and I would be the one to take my son to the emergency room. Marcusl said, "I think I need to go to the doctor." He knows the routine very well, this being his third broken arm.

I popped him into the car and headed off, leaving Georgie with the girls until J could get home in about fifteen minutes. I tried to sing on the way there to distract M from his pain, however, when I sang "We Are a Happy Family," he said, "But Mom, I'm not happy!" Poor thing.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the ER I saw that it was completely full, so I had to park in the physician's overflow lot that isn't even paved. There was lots of ice and I almost slipped carrying M in. When we got into the ER it was crowded. We sat down to wait our turn. We waited about fifteen minutes, but M kept whimpering and I could tell that he was in a great deal of pain. I hefted him back over to the front desk and told them I was worried about him. I showed them that the arm was getting quite swollen and he was in pain. They said they'd send a nurse out to look at him. We waited another five minutes, and in that time my poor boy fell asleep. When the nurse came out she said she had a room ready for him, but she would keep checking in other patients as long as he was sleeping. "Oh my goodness!" she said when she saw the arm.

We were finally taken back to the critical care room. They gave him a little iguana stuffed-toy which he promptly name "Trophy." They came in to take x-rays and the nurse said to him, "This will be just like a picture, so you have to smile and say, 'Cheese!'" He made a grunting noise and then said, "I can't smile." The nurses and doctor were amazed at how quiet and well-behaved M was. He was very brave when they put the I.V. in, for example. Nurses kept coming by to check on him and said things like, "I'm in love with this boy" and "What a trooper!" He got very relaxed and a little silly when finally they gave him some morphine. He enjoyed some conversations with Trophy. He spelled the words he knows how to spell and showed Trophy the many different shapes and colors there were in the room. The doctor said they would set the arm at 9:30 pm. When they came in to do it, they gave him a sedative and a painkiller. M went in to la-la land. The doctor had to use quite a bit of force to bend the arm back into place. The nurse kept looking at me. I must have looked a little pale because she kept telling me not to faint. I didn't feel faint. M did not move a muscle while they worked on his arm. The nurse said that's a bit rare--kids usually cry out or flinch. If he'd done that maybe I would have felt faint, but as it was I felt some amount of wonder at the sight of the doctor bending my son's arm as if he were Gumby.

When the sedative was wearing off, M slurred, "I can't talk. I can't move my head." He slowly turned his head to look at me. "You've got four eyes," he said. He looked at the space above him and raised his feet in the air. Swatting his legs around he said, "Shoo! Shoo!" I asked him what he was seeing and he said, "Mosquitos, Mom. There are lots and lots of Mosquitos. Shoo!" The nurse came in and looked puzzled. I told her what was going on. She smiled and said hallucinations were common. Just then M belted out, "I got one!" The nurse covered her mouth to keep from laughing and went out.

We had to stay at the ER until past 11:30 pm. M had fallen asleep and wouldn't wake up. We got home close to midnight, almost five hours after we'd left the house.

The next morning M was in high spirits. He couldn't wait to get to school to show everyone his splint. I hadn't planned on his going to school, but I decided it would probably be safer then having him at home where there is greater temptation to climb and jump off things. The ER doctor had told me to "keep him quiet. Don't let him jump off things." Then he laughed and said that was a stupid thing for him to say. His own four-year-old son would never be quiet or stop jumping off things.

M has been fine. I didn't have to fill the narcotic prescription. He's been fine with the ibuprofen. He'll see the orthopedic doctor on Tuesday afternoon, when he'll get his cast.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

new schedule

I'm working on a new schedule and different priorities for homeschool this semester. We finished K12's Language Arts 4, and I have LA 5 but we're not starting yet. We're both a little burned out on K12 LA and we need a break from it. The Language Arts portion of K12 is my least favorite part of the curriculum. I've been looking at Ambleside Online, a free Charlotte Mason curriculum, and that is what I like.

Here is what we'll be doing now:

Violin practice
Journaling (something written—could be for History or Literature, too)

2xs per week:
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics
Newspaper article

1x per week:
Art study
Composer study

I look forward very much to studying Shakespeare this term with Georgie. We're going to read The Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream from Shakespears Stories by Leon Garfield. We'll also be reading the original play Julius Caesar. We'll also be studying Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Christina's Thai Dish

My friend Christina invited us over for lunch Thursday and showed me how to make her favorite Thai dish. It was delicious and looked so easy to do! I took notes and I can't wait to try it.

Here's the recipe:

Christina’s Green Curry

1 T minced ginger
chopped lemongrass (about ½ cup?)
1 clove minced garlic
¼ cup minced white onion
Saute above ingredients in olive oil. Add some salt.
Add to pan 3 chicken breast halves cut in chunks, cook for about 5 minutes.
Add chopped green bell pepper, about ¼ cut chopped cilantro, and 2 chopped green onions.
Add 1 can bamboo shoots.
Add green curry paste to taste (I think she used roughly 1 T).
Add 1 can of coconut milk. Let it simmer a few minutes.
Remove from heat and squeeze ½ of 1 lime over curry and stir.
Serve with jasmine rice.

Read Aloud Update and The Long, Long Saturday

Oops! I forgot one other book I read to the girls last summer: Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.

Good heavens, I thought yesterday would never end. I had a fairly good night of sleep, however, and I'm glad that day is behind me.

I awoke early to prepare our home for the onslaught of fourteen first graders. Lidia's birthday party started at ten and ended at noon. I quickly put the house in order, printed off our list of party games, did some last minute preparations, and set off to pick up the cake and balloons. Thank goodness for four-wheel drive. We had a big snowstorm Friday that had left the road quite slippery still. J borrowed the neighbors snow-blower (I think it's time we make that purchase) while I was gone. On the way to Sam's I crossed the Bloomington Ferry bridge on 169 and saw a car going the other way doing donughts. I picked up the cake and the balloons and when I arrived back home some of the guests were already there.

I think it went well. We made beads out of clay for necklaces for our first activity. Then we went down stairs to play some games: a version of musical chairs using lily pads and hopping like frogs, a balloon stomp, caterpillar relay, and freeze dance. We went back upstairs and had cake and icecream and passed out gift bags. Then Lidia opened the presents. One poor little girl stood like a statue beside L holding the present she'd brought behind her back. She wanted L to open hers last. She reluctantly handed the gift to L. L opened it and the little girl blurted out, "But that's one of my Christmas gifts!" L quickly held the gift out to her (I think it was "clickits" or something) and said she could have it back. The girl sadly shook her head and said that her mom wouldn't let her take it back. Poor thing!

I think the party was a success, and didn't I feel relieved when everyone left! I quickly got lunch together and then we were off to a Primary activity I had volunteered to help with before I knew it would be on the day of L's party. It was a music theme with loud, obnoxious, hand-made instruments. The children were unruly. The older children were the worst behaved. Mercifully, it lasted only an hour and a half. My children loved it. I took Advil.

We got home close to four. I began preparing for teaching an evening yoga class for Enrichment meeting. (The women's Relief Society holds monthly meetings called Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment.) I left at 5:30. We had pizza and salad for dinner there. We had an excellent class on discovering your talents (it turns out I'm good at "seeing the big picture," "planning," and "motivating.") Then I taught two half-hour yoga classes. It seems they went over well. I hung out to talk with some of the other ladies about good books. They'd had a book discussion going on during my yoga classes. I heard one mother of six commenting that she hated how teachers in the public schools always said, "It doesn't matter what your children read as long as they're reading." She did not share that philosophy and neither do I, of course. What a lot of hogwash.

I got home at ten and read a little Walking Drum before I went to bed. I did not regret that the day was over.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Summer Read-Aloud Favorite: Mandy

Last summer I managed to do three read-alouds with the girls: The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, Twenty-one Balloons by William Pene du Bois, and Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards.

Though we enjoyed very much all three, I think Mandy was my favorite. Maybe that's because I didn't have very high expectations for it. I'd never seen it on any "best read-alouds" lists or anything. I have to admit I was also thinking, "Julie Andrews has so much talent as a singer and actor, she can't be a great writer, too."

Well, she is. In my opinion, this book approaches the caliber of Anne of Green Gables. The delicate and subtle characterization of the orphan Mandy is revealed in poignant descriptions of her thoughts and feelings. Perhaps Andrews does a bit more telling than showing with this character, but my children were visibly touched by the parts describing Mandy's feelings. There were many instances in the book that showed how complex and conflicted our feelings can be. Mandy also faces a complex moral dilemma that generated some very good discussion with my daughters about how it can sometimes be hard to choose the right.

The plot of this book was very exciting and suspenseful. Of our three summer read-alouds, this was the one that both girls would beg and plead for me to keep reading. "Just one more chapter!" They even cried a couple of times when I said no. I was surprised because Georgie tends to eschew "girly" things, including female protagonists who aren't Caddie Woodlawn, and Lidia was only six at the time we read it. The book kept their attention marvelously--they hung on every word. Speaking of words, this book is rich with great vocabulary words. I copied down nearly fifty words for "word-a-day" activities, including "interminable," "premonition," and "iridescence."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"Angels May Quote from It"

Here are some thoughts of President Spencer W. Kimball on journal keeping:

"Your private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity. Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant. Your journal, like most
others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are “made up” for a public performance. There is a temptation to paint one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative. Personally I have little respect for anyone who delves into the ugly phases of the life he is portraying, whether it be his own or another’s. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story. Why dwell onthat one ugly truth about someone whose life has been largely circumspect?"

"Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events."

Our Curriculum

Our eldest daughter is almost ten and in the fourth grade. She is enrolled in the Minnesota Virtual Academy, which uses the K12 curriculum developed by William J. Bennett. To learn about the K12 curriculum go here. What does it mean to be enrolled in a virtual academy? These virtual academies are charter schools set up in 11 states. They send us $1600 worth of curriculum, free. We do all of our work at home. We have a teacher to whom we send work samples every month. We go on field trips with fellow MNVA students and teachers. Some homeschoolers say that the fact that our daughter is enrolled in this school makes us public-schoolers, not homeschoolers. That's fine, they can say what they like.

When we began our homeschooling adventure I bought some things from Sonlight. We were using their history and science, and some literature. I got Singapore Math and Easy Grammar.
I got a few other resources for Latin root words, Spanish (Rosetta Stone), and Logic. I was so excited about my program. But then the time came to teach all of this stuff to my third grader. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I started to not like some of my curriculum choices and wondered if there were something better out there. I was primary president in our ward. (That means I was in charge of a lot of kid's stuff at church) and I had a kindergartener, a toddler, and a baby. We were preparing to sell our home. Things were a mess.

Then I heard about K12 and the Minnesota Virtual Academy. The way it is right now, only students coming directly from public school can enroll in the MNVA. I researched the curriculum and it looked excellent. Here are a list of things I like about K12:

  • You can order different grade levels for different subjects. Though Georgie was in third grade, we started her with Math 4. She is in fourth grade now, but she's starting Language Arts 5 and is 40 percent through Math 5.
  • You can move at your own pace. If you finish a subject early in the year, you can start a new one right away.
  • The literature is very high quality with an emphasis on classics. I grew up on classics and I recognize the good stuff when I see it.
  • The Math. K12 developed their own math program and it really works well for our daughter. Though I have not tried many other math curricula, it looks the best of what I've seen out there.
  • The online planning and progress tools. It's so well-organized and easy to use! I love it.
  • For fifth and sixth grade History, the curriculum uses Joy Hakim's History of Us series. I had planned on using that anyway.
  • Everything is free to me, unless you count the taxes I pay (which are pretty stiff in Minnesota). We get boxes and boxes of curriculum delivered to our front door--books, workbooks, art supplies, music supplies, and materials for science experiments.

I would not use anything below grade 3 from K12. I can prepare my young children for third grade work without the help of a package curriculum. I wish I had not started with LA 3 when Georgie was in third grade. She really would have done better to start with LA 4, but oh well. Live and learn.

I don't know if I'll always use K12. Somtimes I go back and forth on it. In another post I'll list the cons.

Mother's Course link

For some reason I am unable to set up a link to the course outline for the Mother's Educational Course for Latter-Day Saints. The link to the egroup is:

There is a link there to the course outline. Or, type in (but do not click on): There is an underscore between "mother's" and "course."

I am enjoying my reading for the course so much. I haven't finished January's assigments yet (and I probably won't) but I feel like I'm really making some progress. This course is going to change me, I can tell.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Today Bertie found some Eucerin and some time in the bathroom. She smeared the entire container of that stuff (consistency of shortening) all over the vanity and mirror. She rubbed it into her pants, which I threw out. I'm hoping it will come out of her sweater. Luckily she didn't rub any in her eyes--I've heard it can damage eyes. I've got to learn to keep that stuff up and away.

Friday she climbed up to a kitchen cupboard and got the maple syrup out. She also found a bottle of glitter. It's amazing how those two mix! There was maple syrup and glitter all over the counter and all over Bertie. It wasn't quite as bad as the time I came home and found everyone scrubbing the family room carpet. J looked up with a very scared expression and said, "Do you think we'll have to replace this carpet right away?" Bertie had squirted an entire bottle of Hersey's syrup in a big pool in the middle of the family room, which has the best carpet in the house. We scrubbed and scrubbed. And then we called in the professionals. The carpet still has a very slight stain, but barely noticeable.

I made whole wheat bread today. Everyone loves it.

J has to work with Russians and Israelis early in the morning, so I guess it's lights out. Our computer is in the bedroom.

Teach Me to Walk in the Light

Here's another LDS Primary song:

Teach me to walk in the light of his love
Teach me to pray to my Father above
Teach me to know of the things that are right
Teach me, teach me to walk in the light

Come, little child, and together we'll learn
Of his commandments that we may return
Home to his presence to live in his sight
Always, always to walk in the light

Father in Heaven , we thank thee this day
For loving guidance to show us the way
Grateful we praise thee with songs of delight
Gladly, gladly we'll walk in the light

~Clara W. McMaster

Saturday, January 15, 2005


J and I got a babysitter tonight. It has been months since we've had a babysitter. When my parents were visiting over Christmas we did get out together a couple of times.

First we went to Ikea and had "the experience." It was very crowded, as I've been told it is on Saturdays. Most customers there appeared to be either Asian, college kids, or young (very young) marrieds. There did seem to be some good deals and pretty stylish stuff, but we concentrated on finding a dresser and bunkbeds for Marcus and Georgie's room. We bought this house in spite of it having only 3 bedrooms upstairs. There is another nice bedroom in the basement but I don't feel good about having Georgie go down there yet. She and Marcus are sharing a room for now. They have a huge closet in which Georgie piles her clothes and a small, broken-down dresser. There is only one bed, Marcus'. Georgie's full-size bed is in the basement bedroom. Georgie has been sleeping on the floor for the ten months we've lived here. It may seem cruel that we have our poor daughter sleeping on the floor while everyone else has beds, but you must realize that it was only recently that our other three children started sleeping in their beds. For at least 6 months, all of our children slept on the floor because they preferred it. They refused to sleep in their beds. Now the younger three do sleep in their beds, and Georgie has decided she would like one. Anyway, we found a couple things we thought would work but the check out lines were so long we were going to miss our dinner reservation.

We went to McCormick & Schmick's, a seafood restaurant in Minneapolis. It's the only fairly good seafood I've found around here. What I had tonight was actually very good--scallops with peanut curry, stir-fried vegetables and jasmine rice. I love Thai food. It was very pleasant. (I'm like Claudia from The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. F. I love to be waited on.) I've heard bad things about the service there but I thought they were very attentive tonight. When we got home the babysitter had everything picked up and clean and the kids in their pijamas. We love you, babysitter!

J is reading Curious George to Marcus and Bertie while the big girls finish watching a movie the sitter brought.


I fear that in my last post I was indulging, just a little, in righteous indignation. I apologize. I do feel frustrated when my dearly-held personal beliefs are attacked and misrepresented, but I didn't mean to put myself above others. I didn't mean to suggest that all leaders of other faiths who attack my faith are ignorant. I know that there are many who are excellent people.

I was taught from a young age to respect others' beliefs. I enjoy very much learning about other religions. My mother is a good model for me in this, as she is in many things. She takes Hebrew classes and loves to learn about the Jewish faith. She says that learning more about other's beliefs makes her see more good in them and also have a greater appreciation for her own faith.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with my statements. Please feel free to make comments.

What's up with anti-Mormon literature?

This is what I'd like to know: Why do other churches pass out anti-Mormon literature to their congregation? Where I grew up in central Maine, there were even pastors who actually preached from the pulpit against the Mormon church. My friends would tell me all about it. I know of at least one church that even had showings of anti-Mormon films.

My friends would ask me if such-and-such was true, and did I really believe such-and-such. Most of it was grossly exaggerated in an effort to put our beliefs in a negative light. One of my friends told me that he found it all very condescending, and he was disgusted with his pastor for always speaking against Mormons, passing out the literature, and showing the anti-Mormon flicks. He wondered if his pastor didn't think he was smart enough to figure out what Mormons believed on his own.

At the time, I thought it was pretty funny that these pastors got so worked up about my faith. I mean, didn't they have anything better to do, like feeding the sheep, conducting funerals, that type of stuff? Now I see that it was probably a great deal of ignorance and fear on the part of these pastors. I've heard (from someone who attended classes there) that the Bangor Theological Seminary tolerates anti-Mormon discussions in class. I say "tolerates," but it could be "promotes." Some of these pastors in my hometown were educated there.

I don't know why they wouldn't just say something like, "If you want to know what a Mormon believes, ask a Mormon." Does that sound unreasonable? Why do they take up precious time slamming others' beliefs when they could be discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Here is an article about an evangelical leader who made the following comment and has suffered a backlash from it:

"Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you," Mouw
said, noting a tendency among some Christians to distort the truth about the
beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "We have told you
what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what
you believe." Mouw went on to explain that "we have even on
occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community
is 'really' trying to accomplish in the world. And even at our best, we have —
and this is true of both of our communities — we have talked past each other,
setting forth oversimplified and distorted accounts of what the other group

Household Chores

I admire the way my husband gets things done. He has a rather fierce work ethic, and I think it has much to do with the way he was raised. J was born to a very poor family in a border city in Mexico. When I say poor, I mean that his parents had limited education (6th grade), few work skills, and no money when they married at a very young age. While lacking in these things, they were rich in an abundance of work ethic, creativity, and a fierce desire and determination to progress. (I think that this same desire to improve themselves drew J's parents, and thousands like them in Central and South America, to our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. More on that later.)

J's father was a temp worker. He did not have a permanent job at Pemex, Mexico's oil company, until J was 16. Money was scarce in that home in a way that most people in the U.S. cannot understand. Sometimes it was hard to put food on the table, and they had many hardships. However, their home (built entirely by J's father) was spotless. J's mother kept her home and yard immaculate. When J's father first built their house you could see through the walls because they were not plastered. They had no money for that for many years. J's father is talented in drawing, so he drew huge posters of Disney charcters to hang on the walls. The children didn't realize this was to cover the cracks between the boards. They just thought they were incredibly lucky to have such a fun, beautiful house!

J's mother involved her children completely in the maintenance of their home. They were expected to have beds made and clothes put away neatly every morning. When they were done with a toy they developed the habit of taking care of it immediately. If they started something, they finished it. J's mother also taught them personal grooming and to take pride in their appearance. I see that these clean, orderly habits have carried over into my husband's adulthood and contribute greatly to his current success and happiness.

There are few things I desire more for my children than for them to develop these same habits. I will be posting more on this topic. A couple of years ago I read an interesting, brief article on this very topic. Here it is:

Household chores teach children lifelong values

You can make a big difference in your child's future by asking him or her to take out the trash, do the laundry, wash the dishes, make the beds, and put away the toys. University of Minnesota research shows that involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life--they learn a sense of responsibility, competence, self-reliance, and self-worth that stays with them throughout their lives.

Using measures of the individual's success (such as completing education, starting a career path, IQ scores, relationships with family and friends, and not using drugs) and examining a child's involvement in household tasks at all three earlier times, Marty Rossmann, U of M associate professor of family education, determined that the best predictor of young adults' success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four. However, if they did not begin participating until they were 15 or 16, the participation backfired and those subjects were less "successful." The assumption is that responsibility learned via household tasks is best when learned young.

Rossmann explored outcomes for 84 young adults based on their parents' style of interacting with them, their participation in family work at three periods of their lives (ages 3 to 4, 9 to 10, and 15 to 16). The study followed up with a brief phone interview when they were in their mid-20s. She also looked at previously unexplored data collected from a longitudinal study by Diana Baumrind that is famous for its analysis of authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting styles. Baumrind started her study in 1967 using a sample of parents and children living in the San Francisco Bay area. Rossmann's own family had been a part of the study.

How the tasks are presented also influences children's ability to become well-adjusted adults. The tasks should not be too overwhelming; parents should present the tasks in a way that fits the child's preferred learning style; and children should be involved in determining the tasks they will complete, through family meetings and methods such as a weekly chore chart. They should not be made to do the tasks for an allowance. The earlier parents begin getting children to take an active role in the household, the easier it will be to get them involved as teens.

Rossmann hopes to replicate the study with a larger sample of the population and groups that represent greater diversity.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Maine book

This looks like a must-have:

University of Maine Press, 1998

For years and years, Maine has been home to many famous children's book creators. Robert McCloskey, who was the first person to receive the Caldecott Medal twice, created his classics Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Time of Wonder in Maine. Barbara Cooney, who also received the Caldecott Medal twice, created Miss Rumphius in Damariscotta, Maine. E.B. White based Charlotte's Web on his saltwater farm in North Brooklin, Maine. Maine can also claim Margaret Wise Brown (of Goodnight, Moon fame) as a summer resident of Vinalhaven, Maine. Plus Rachel Field, who summered on Sutton's Island, off Mt. Desert, Maine, was the first woman to receive the Newbery Medal for her 1929 book Hitty: Her First Hundred Years.

Maine's honored place in children's literature has continued throughout the years with an abundance of quality children's book authors and illustrators. A Celebration of Maine Children's Books is an attempt to celebrate and showcase Maine's talent, past and present.

A Celebration of Maine Children's Books is a 336-page guide to the best Maine children's books. It features 185 Maine children's books ranging from toddler books up to YA (young adult) books.
Read more

Update: 9 minute mile

Yes! My 54-lb. 10-yr. old girl ran a 9 minute mile. (There was a comment asking if this statement in a previous post was a typo.) Her two gym teachers plus the woman at the front desk told me this. They were surprised, too. I think it helped that one of her teachers ran along beside her. When Georgie wanted to catch her breath he let her walk for 15 seconds, and then they would start jogging again. She said sometimes she wouldn't even wait the whole 15 seconds, so I don't think he pushed her too hard. :-) Thanks for the comments--I love them!

btw, I'm still trying to figure out how to find other blogs I like and how to post stuff on the sidebar. When I've figured this out, I will include a list of other blogs I like, including SCHOOL@HOME, my inspiration to start this blog. (I couldn't resist the lighthouse. So Maine-ey.)

I Can Do All Things Through Christ

This article by Virginia Jensen is the Divinity article selection for the month of January for the LDS Mother's Home Education Course.

I have not even finished reading this article yet. I'm on page 7 of 11. I have found it very inspiring so far, so much that I have to post this. Sister Jensen shares the following story:

In my backyard is an extensive rock garden with huge rocks. My grandchildren
love to climb these rocks. For them, it is like mountain climbing because the
rocks are so big and they are so small. One day five-year-old Will was
scrambling up and down with relative ease, but his younger brother, James
Patrick, who was only two at the time, was having a great deal of difficulty.
The rocks were so large compared to his little two-year-old body. Now, James
Patrick is a determined young man and was not about to give up, but he was
making no progress, and his hands were getting scratched and beginning to bleed
from his attempts. His knees got banged every time he slid back down a
His wise and watchful mother was surveying the scene from the kitchen
window. As she saw his frustration about to overtake him, she stepped outside
and said, "You can do it, James Patrick. Keep trying. You can do it. I know you
can." Spurred on by her words of encouragement, he gritted his teeth, made one
more attempt, and got himself to the top. His mother went back into the house,
and James Patrick played at the top of the yard for a while, where I was pulling
weeds. When he decided he'd had enough and started to climb down, I heard him
quietly whisper to himself as his foot started to slip, "I can do it. I can do

Jensen uses this story as an analogy to describe how our Heavenly Father encourages his children through their mortal experience: Just as my little grandson's mother did not immediately rush out and lift him up over the rocks, so our Savior does not remove our trials from us, though he clearly could. We are promised our trials will not be more than we can handle, but they cannot be less if we are to fulfill the measure of our creation.

Another beautiful analogy (Jensen is very good at these):
The landscape of Southern Utah is filled with spectacular reminders of the
refining nature of trials. In Arches National Park, harsh elements—wind, ice,
and rain—have penetrated cracks in stone and dissolved the weaker materials,
leaving the stronger materials, to create structures so magnificent that people
travel from all over the world to see them.
Similarly, the hardships we
encounter in our life are the very tools the Lord uses, like a master sculptor,
to shape us into the divine creations we are destined to become.

I need to get back to the kids, but I felt I needed to post something on this article. I'll have to post more later.

Georgie's Private Gym Class, etc.

I took Georige to her first homeschooler's gym class yesterday and we were surprised to find that she was the only child! She has two teachers, all to her little self, for two hours. I asked if they thought other kids would sign up and they said it's happened this way before that there are only one or two to begin with and more show up later in the year. Well, G enjoyed herself. She had a fitness assessment and ran the mile in 9 min. 10 sec. I thought that was pretty good for a tiny little thing who hasn't been very active for a few months. She played badminton, football (?!) and worked on her basketball skills. I do hope more kids join because we're always looking for opportunities for G to see other children.

We do have co op on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays. G gets together with four other children (unfortunately all of them are boys). She does have quite a bit in common with these guys. They all love those Megabloc dragons and three of the four are also reading the Redwall series. They all learn quickly and take an intense interest in learning. (Otherwise known as being "gifted." I'm not sure what I think about that label.) I like chatting with the other moms. In another post I'll list our co op topics.

I signed G up for a homschooler's science class which she starts this afternoon. Pretty soon she'll start her six week "Multimedia for Homeschoolers" class at the Bloomington Art Center. The description of the class is:

Students will learn the elements of using different mediums. Clay, printmaking,
drawing and painting are just some of the techniques you will be using to
express and create with. Learning about art history and famous influential
artists will also be incorporated into the lesson plans. Be ready to share
ideas and learn to create your own style of work!
Looks like fun. G is a busy girl this winter! September through December she took a science class offered through STAR, a co op for gifted children (there's that word again). It was a space and NASA theme and it was the absolute highlight of her week. I didn't sign up for any STAR classes for winter term because the classes were not as interesting to G and they also changed the location of the classes. It used to be a 6 min. drive for us which was convenient, but now it would be 20 min. That's not as convenient.

I just gave G some ibuprofen. She says her legs are killing her from that mile run yesterday, poor thing!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Child's Prayer

I just got my "I will Follow God's Plan for Me" CD! When I saw the list of primary program songs for 2005, I could hardly contain myself! There are three of my all-time favorites here. (In the Church of Jesus Christ, children ages 3-11 attend primary. They participate every year in a sacrament meeting program where they sing songs and give talks.) This year the songs are fantastic. The theme is "I Will Follow God's Plan for Me." I cannot hear "A Child's Prayer," "Teach Me to Walk in the Light," or "When I am Baptized" without crying.

The song Lili most frequently asks me to sing is "A Child's Prayer." Here are the lyrics:

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev'ry child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away
But I feel it close around me as I pray
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago
Suffer the children to come to me
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to thee

Pray, he is there
Speak, he is list'ning
You are his child
His love now surrounds you
He hears your prayer
He loves the children
Of such is the kingdom
The kingdom of heav'n.

Marcus/Bertie Favorite Books

On this blog I would like to include a monthly list of books I've read to Marcus and Bernie, ages 4 and 2 respectively. I'm hoping that this will prod me to read more to them, and more of a variety. They tend to like the same books read to them over and over. I'm going to start doing what a fellow blogger, Tenniel (see her blog) does with her children: I'll let them pick a book and then I'll pick one, and we'll try reading several times per day. I hope my picks will broaden their horizons.

Here are some of Marcus and Bernie's favorites. We read this all the time:

The Complete Stories of Curious George by Margaret and M.A. Rey
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Dr. Suess's ABC
There's a Wocket in My Pocket (Dr. Suess)
Goodnight Moon by Maragaret Wise Brown
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Grouchy Ladybug, Hungry Caterpillar, and Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (Michael has memorized Grouchy Ladybug)
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Olivia by Ean Falconer
Love you Forever by Rovert Munsch
Moo Moo Brown Cow by Jakki Wood

White Bean Sauce

White Bean Sauce

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
4 to 6 stalks celery, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. cooked white beans (I usually use a can of Cannellini)
1 3/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
Parsley flakes
Crushed red pepper
Olive oil
8 oz. spaghetti or other pasta
Parmesan cheese

Prepare spaghetti according to directions and set aside. Saute bell pepper, red onion, and celery in olive oil until transparent. Add garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add cooked white beans and chicken broth. Blend in blender. Return to skillet; add parsley and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve on top of spaghetti. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

If you happen to be a former dairy farmer in central Maine, you may put mountains of parmesan cheese on top. The strangest things are inherited--my son also adores mountains of parmesan cheese atop everything, just like Grampy. Little Michael runs to the fridge for the parm. at almost every meal, just as I remember my father doing. Weird.

This white bean sauce recipe is one of my husband's favorites. (I think this is because he feels virtuous when he eats it.) We're on a virtuous streak here with our eating. We don't eat much meat or junk normally--we eat lots of whole grains. We love brown rice and whole wheat bread made from freshly ground wheat. We like fish, too. However, over Christmas we went a little heavy on the tamales, Mom's Best Clam Chowder (I'll post it another day), and Chocolate truffle mousse cake, my absolute favorite. Oh, the decadence! We're trying to get back on track.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Are these your children?

I have been asked that question countless times at parks, malls, and even schools. Now that I cut my hair I don't hear it quite as much, but when I wore it long it seemed that I was always getting asked if I was the nanny. My children are almost 10, 7, 4, and 2. I will be 31 in May. You do the math. I was not a teenage mommy but evidently I look like one. Or a nanny.

This article about being a young mother made me laugh out loud:

The Case for Young Mothers
By Tiffany Lewis

The other day at the park I befriended an elderly Spanish-speaking woman babysitting twin toddlers. We conversed back and forth and she watched me frolic around with my two boys. As she was leaving she pointed and asked, "La hermana?"

"Oh no," I said, assuming she was referring to my two-year-old. "He's a boy."

She shook her head. "No – you. Are you their big sister?"

I laughed. "No, I'm their mother!""Ahh!" she exclaimed, "but you are just a baby!"

Which is, I must admit, entirely true. I often feel that I am simply playing an extended version of make-believe "house," only my kitchen set is much bigger and the pizza isn't plastic. These little boys running around are simply life-size dolls, except the dirty diapers, sadly, are very real.I have tremendous respect for women who decide to have their first child at 50. I honestly wonder how they do it. I'm a relatively fit, energetic person, but by the end of the day I'm usually lying on the floor, exhausted.With these older mothers, where does their liquid energy come from?Mine comes from sugar cereals and chocolate chips stashed in the freezer. These are things you can't eat once you're All Grown Up. And here's another confession: When no one is looking, sometimes I drink the milk right out of the carton. Read more.

From the mouth of Mrs. Basil E. F. ...

"I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you . If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

Books Georgie Has Read Since Sept. 2004

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm by Robert O'Brian
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konisberg
The following books from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques:
Mariel of Redwall
Martin the Warrior
The Bellmaker
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
The Long Patrol
The Legend of Luke
Lord Brocktree
Phantoms in the Brain* by V.S. Ramachandran
Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales* as told by Julius Lester

* In progress

As you can see, Georgie is a more prolific reader than her mother. Grampy R gave her Phantoms of the Brain and another nueroscience book by the same author to finish before he comes to visit in April.

Books I've Read Since Sept. 2004

Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Schools We Need: And Why We Don't Have Them* by E.D. Hirsch
Sushi For Dummies
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Daniel Deronda* by George Eliot
How to Read a Book* by Mortimer J. Adler

* In progress

I'm about 3/4 through Daniel Deronda. I skipped parts of The Schools We Need. I've read half of How to Read a Book.

This is not the most impressive list. I wish I had more time to read. I've also been working on my physical science course. Sometimes I fear starting a new book because then I just want to read right through everything--homeschool, meals, laundry, violin practice, housework. Some of those responsibilities are not compatible with reading. I mean, how can you fold laundry while holding a book? If anyone's found a way please let me know... I know that some people like audio books. I don't do well with them. I have too many distractions. My kids would be too loud and wouldn't let me listen. I know one woman who has solved that problem by wearing earphones while she goes about doing her housework. She is happily oblivious to all that goes on around her. Her children could be screaming for help in some remote part of the house while she mops the floor and listens to Your Money or Your Life.

A Mother's Educational Course

I am a member of an egroup dedicated to the personal education of LDS homeschooling mothers. Here is the group description:

A Mother's Educational Course for Latter-day Saints has been developed to help us each become better persons, mothers, home educators.
Charlotte Mason said: "It is our business to know all we can and to spend a part of our lives in increasing our knowledge of Nature and Art, of Literature and Man, of the Past and the Present. That is one way in which we become greater persons, and the more a person is, the better he will do whatever piece of special work falls to his share."
And what greater work on earth is there, than that of a mother.

Our course outline can be viewed at course.html. (For some reason I can't get blogger to accept the entire address--you'll have to type it in. Our core subjects are Divinity, Education, Literature, and Music Appreciation. Our add-on subjects are Science/Nature, Health/Physiology, and Handicrafts (Drawing and Painting).

We are reading and discussing selections from each subject area. I plan to use this blog as a journal to record my readings and thoughts from the course.

I have a great desire to progress by furthering my education. I am taking Physical Science 100 through BYU's Independent Study which brings me close to finally getting my degree. I have two English classes left and one religion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Why We Homeschool

I first began researching homeschooling a little over two years ago when we were contemplating a move to Mexico. I wanted to be prepared in case I didn't like the schools down there or didn't feel right about an immediate and complete Spanish immersion for my young children. I researched various prepared curriculums and searched the internet (where, of course, there is a wealth of information on the topic!). I read The Well-Trained Mind and several books written by Charlotte Mason devotees. I then read a couple of volumes from Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series: Home Education and Philosophy of Education. I was very excited after reading Bauer's book (WTM) and honor it as my introduction to classical homeschooling, but I don't agree with everything in the book. I was much more influenced in the long term by Mason. Perhaps the book that most made me want to take the plunge was Arthur Henry King's Arm the Children: Faith's Response to a Violent World.

After doing this research I wanted to try it out. There seemed to be innumerable benefits to schooling one's children in the home, and few drawbacks. My eldest daughter was quite bored through much of second grade despite the efforts of her excellent and caring public school teacher, so she was game. I was also dismayed by what my daughter (who likes to hang out with boys) was picking up at school. I know that we all must be confronted by foul language, hand gestures, dirty jokes, and the like at some point in our lives, but must it happen when we're seven? I also have very strong and negative opinions about pop culture, extreme multiculturalism, and moral relativism, all of which are rampant in the schools.

I want to enjoy my children before they're grown and gone. I want more time with them. I want them to learn to "seek out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." I am so inspired by the following words of a very wise man:
"Character is the aim of true education; and science, history and literature are but means used to accomplish this desired end. Character is not the result of chance, but of continuous right thinking and right acting. True education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also, honest men, with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love. It seeks to make men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life. It is regrettable that modern education so little emphasizes these fundamental elements of true character."

Georgie did third grade at home and is now doing fourth. She enjoys it so much that she once said to me, "Mom, can't you teach my college, too?" Eventually I would like to have the opportunity to teach all of my children at home. For now, we're letting our children choose between the public school and home. Lidia, my first grader, has chosen school. She says she may begin homeschooling in third grade. Though I miss her very much and wish she were at home, I feel good about the decision to let her decide.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Our Family

We are a homeschooling family living in a suburb of the Minnesota Twin Cities. We've lived here close to ten years, but I (Calandria) was raised in Maine, where generations of my family have lived. I still consider myself a Maine girl. My husband J was raised in Mexico and we met as students at Brigham Young University. I was an English major and he studied Electrical Engineering. We moved here for work after graduation and have not been able to leave since! J owns a small fiber optics company which is staying right here. We are staying, too, for the time being, though I long to return to Maine.

We've been blessed with four children. Georgina is our eldest and is almost ten years old. She was an infant when we moved to Minnesota. When Georgie was about 18 months old, we moved to Caracas, Venezuela where we lived for six months. We spoke only Spanish there, and spoke predominantly Spanish for a while when we returned to Minnesota. Of our four children, Georige is the one who speaks and understands the most Spanish. She is not fluent, but she gets by. Georgie is our engineer. Her brain works very much like Dad's. She tends to like "boy" things like building stuff out of anything, boyish styles of clothing, Megablocs dragons, and Starcraft, a computer game. These interests stand in stark contrast to her looks. G is a slip of a thing with thick, waist length auburn hair and enormous russet-colored eyes. G can beat her mother at any logic game. That's not saying much, but it is to say that she challenges her father.

Lidia will have a birthday bash when she turns seven next week. She's invited fifteen girls. [nail biting] A contrast to big sister in many ways, Lidia has the nopal stamped on her forehead. That is the Mexican way of describing someone who physically resembles their indigenous forebears. Lidia has almost black hair that she is trying to grow out. Her snappy black eyes betray a vivacious personality. L flounces about with a devil-may-care attitude most of the time. She can be a cipher. Her first grade teacher says she has an "incredible mind." (L chose to attend public school this year. More about that later.) L spoke in complete sentences before she was two and begged to learn to read. We started reading lessons when she was three and she quickly learned. But go ahead and try to get her to read a book now. She would rather design clothes. L spends an extraordinary amount of time sketching and painting. She also loves to write and illustrate stories. Both Georgie and Lidia take Suzuki violin.

Marcus is four. He is, most days, a delight to his mother. Our Marcus has passion. He (like most four year old boys, I'm sure) adores Scooby Doo. Since we moved to this house about nine months ago, Marcus has been enthralled by our mailbox which is down the street a bit and is opened with a key. He has made a fast friend of the postman. Marcus loves to sing and pretend. He identifies very much with his favorite book characters, Max from Where the Wild Things Are and Curious George. Marcus experienced an awakening when he started attending a Montessori preschool this year. He is in love with learning and doing his school work. We were amazed at how quickly he learned to write letter and numbers, recognize numbers from 0-100, and read. He showed no interest in these things before he started school. Everyone says that Marcus looks quite a bit like his father. He and Lidia are the siblings who most resemble each other.

Berenice is two and a half. My mother visited over Christmas and she laughed about the dichotomy in little Bernie's personality. Bernie is very dainty. She is the fairest skinned of my children, and many people say she looks exactly like me though I don't see it. Her hair is cut in an adorable little bob, stacked up in back. She often speaks in a soft, sweet voice. She likes nothing better than to cuddle, preferably with Mommy. Mommy is the center of her Universe. Most of the time Bernie is a gentle soul. However. If B feels that she has been slighted in some way, stand back. A deep, harsh bellow will inform you that you have not treated her with proper respect. For example, the other day we were out doing errands with my mother. Marcus saw a mail truck, which he naturally brought to our attention. As we wound through a curvy place in the road he'd say, "I see it! I see it!" "Yes, Marcus, yes!" I replied several times. Evidently, Bernie had been saying that she saw the mail truck, too. All of a sudden she bellowed, "I SEE IT, TOO!" so loudly and with such a monsterous tone that my mother was quite taken aback. Those of us who live with Dr. Jekyll/Miss Hyde were not.