Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Did I just read that?

From foxnews.com today: "Felony drug possession convictions face a maximum sentence of 4 years in Nevada, and that's what Hilton's charged with " (foxnews.com home page)

Wow. I don't think Paris Hilton would mind being sentenced to 4 years in Nevada. Unless maybe they meant a town like Hawthorne. I'm not sure she'd enjoy that much. But Vegas, I suspect, would be high on her list of places to be stuck for 4 years.....

Say, is that what's wrong with Nevada? It's actually a prison in disguise?

9 yo says to me today:

and I QUOTE, "That's the incorrect plural form of that word, Mom. It should be fungi."

Later, him: "Why is the term called, 'nebulous'?"
me: "I don't know. It's nebulous."
him: laughter. Lots of it.

You think maybe he's smart? Yeah. Me, too.

What's been on my mind lately:

1 Kings 17:  
"1 And aElijah the Tishbite, who was bof the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor crain these years, but according to my dword.
  2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
  3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and ahide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is bbefore Jordan.
  4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
  5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
  6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
  7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
  8 ¶ And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
  9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a awidow woman there to sustain thee.
  10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
  11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of abread in thine hand.
  12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
  13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
  14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
  15 And she awent and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
  16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah."

Few things I noticed: Elijah's stream dried up. And God had other plans for him. But I can't help but imagine how he felt, that God had provided for him, and it didn't work out anyway. At least, not how I would have guessed it would, were I in his place. But that didn't mean God had forgotten him. Just that the plan was not a forever plan, and there was another way to go.

Also I noticed that the widow didn't suddenly have an abundance. But the barrel of meal wasted not--in other words, it wasn't full, but the handful of meal didn't get any LESS. And the cruse of oil didn't fail--it didn't run out--but nobody said it got full. But they didn't starve.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is what I've noticed, too

I guess some other people have started to clue into the latest rhetoric toward religious people: Your argument isn't valid because I say so, so I will belittle you and not listen.  I hate that.

Articles discussing it (thanks, Laramie!):




Also, one of those ends with a fantastic section of "Did I just read that". I love it!

Did I just read that?

from foxnews.com today: "Police are searching for motives behind the actions of a gunman accused of fatally shooting a Mormon church official dying in a shootout with police."

So the bishop was already dying from a shootout with police, and then another gunman shot him? Huh?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Strange beliefs we run across often:

1. Marriage is a temporary state, like having a boyfriend/girlfriend, so a married person (male or female) is always potentially available someday. This changes interactions between sexes a great deal and (unfortunately) both devalues and weakens marriage, and therefore society.

2. We have a lot of kids because Tim decided he wanted a lot of kids and I had to go along with it. For some reason it never crosses people's minds that we might have decided this together or that (gasp!) I might have wanted a lot of kids! The reality is that with 5 kids in a row, I was the one who started saying, "I think it's time to have another baby." Tim likes kids, so he was okay with that and excited about it, and we ultimately made the decision to go ahead with it together, but it has NEVER been his decision, and if I ever said, "I'm done," he'd say, "Okay." Tim considers each child a gift and thanks me for being willing to have each one--he understands that it's a sacrifice for me, and he would never impose that on me. But it's also a sacrifice for him. And it's a joint decision. It is, after all, not just his family. It's OUR family. And we BOTH wanted a lot of kids, as incomprehensible as that might be to the "modern" woman.  And, what's more, having a lot of kids has given BOTH of us an immense amount of joy. Not just Tim. Me, too. And no, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.  Or that someone imposed this on me.

How Nice to know

Since we moved out of Utah (where I was surrounded by my gifted family and gifted peers), I have grown to understand that I'm weird. I never saw myself as weird before, but I know I'm weird here.

Fortunately for me, two things happened along with that realization: 1) we discovered that we moved to maybe the only state where, culturally, people are not just tolerated but actually valued for being different  and 2) I was told by many women that knowing me, and me being comfortable with being weird (they didn't know I didn't realize I was weird) gave them "permission" to be themselves, and they've been much happier since. So I embraced the "weirdness" even though I don't really understand what about me is so different from other women. And I still don't know how to answer people when they say, "You're children are really different from kids their age." And I hear that a LOT. (I think I usually reply, "Now you understand why we home school!"

So today I came across this article, http://hoagiesgifted.org/optimum_intelligence.htm , and was delighted to find that, at least in some circles, I am perfectly normal (not at all weird). And this woman's experience sounds like my mom's life. And my dad's. And my husband's.....Really, I guess I'm not so weird after all!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

7 Lies about marriage

I read this: http://www.ivillage.com/great-expectations-7-lies-about-marriage/6-a-126549?ivNPA=1&sky=otb|ivl|pp|&obref=obnetwork&p=1

Expecting to argue with it.

But I was surprised--I think the guy is right.

And, amazingly, he points out things that the church has been teaching all along. That's what surprised me. So much about our culture that we don't pay attention to is destroying marriage.

The one thing I think he missed:  Number 5 points out that having both spouses working away from the home makes both miserable and breaks down marriages (this is something I hadn't ever thought about; I knew it was unfair to women for our culture to expect them to be everything, but I hadn't thought about what it does to marriage!).  The thing the author fails on here is he says the answer is men need to do more housework. In reality, I think the better answer is God's answer: as often as possible, women need to stay at home and do just that one job instead of trying to be home and in the workforce.  I just didn't realize that could strengthen  marriage!

Christianity and Teens

Apparently 75% of teenagers claim to be Christian, but most don't even know what they believe. Except...get this...Mormon teens and evangelical teens. (I was glad they included Mormons as Christian on this one!).

"Dean talks to the teens who are articulate about their faith. Most come from Mormon and evangelical churches, which tend to do a better job of instilling religious passion in teens, she says. 

"No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

""There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior," she says. "They do a lot of things that parents pray for."" http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/

And the reason for most teens not knowing or living the gospel they profess to believe? 

""If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation," wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary."

In other words, their parents aren't living and believing it, either.

Also this: "Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says. "We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says."

And this: "She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews."If your church can't survive without a certain number of members pledging, you might not want to preach a message that might make people mad," Corrie says. "We can all agree that we should all be good and that God rewards those who are nice.""

Interesting that it took them hundreds of years to make this observation: when the people pay the minister, the gospel becomes secondary.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rough Week

This week, we finished another round of chronotherapy, trying to get sleeping at normal times (like night). No matter how you do it, shifting your sleep schedule 10 hours is always terrible. Especially when you're doing it to a couple of toddlers. There were days that we were so exhausted that even the big kids went to bed in tears. No school happened this week while we tried to work the sleep out.

I took all the kids to church by myself. Difficult is an understatement when I have one that's just starting nursery and won't go by himself and one that still won't go to primary or his class by himself. How do you juggle that?

Tim was out of town and then got back home, but he was on a different sleep schedule than we were. That was weird. He brought all the rest of our stuff from Utah, so now everything we own is in one place again. But mostly still packed because the house still needs a lot of work and who has energy for that?!

My sister was in and out of the hospital with complications from childbirth.

Monday, my parents used money from a stock sale (from stocks they forgot they had) and paid off their house. That was exciting, actually.

Also Monday, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I tried to be reasonable about that and remind myself that it would most likely be okay (it's a fairly common kind of cancer in white men and has a high 5-year survival rate), but I cried myself to sleep.  Wednesday he had surgery, which went well. Everything looks good, but it was a traumatic few days for my whole family and still hasn't really settled down--especially since my parents were supposed to leave on a mission to Portugal in a week (and it looks like they still will--that's how well everything seems to be going on that). I don't know when that will settle down--the cancer has a high survival rate but also a fairly high recurrence rate.

Thursday, exhausted from bad sleep for a week, we finally slept dusk to dawn (instead of dawn to late afternoon, as we had been). I think it will still be a few days before we get used to it and settle down to normal life. I, for one, still feel deeply sleep deprived and therefore anxious and grouchy.

Thursday we took Daniel to the dentist with a toothache. I knew he needed work done (there is visible decay), but when you sleep all day, doing things like dentist and doctor appointments is impossible. So now that we're awake at the right hours, that's top priority. Anyway, we found out Dan needs a root canal and crown or his tooth pulled, plus at least 4 other visits to get his mouth in order. For a 4 year old, that usually amounts to a trip to the Children's Hospital to get all the work done at once when the child is asleep. Tuesday we find out more after we see a specialist.

Thursday night Tim took the three big kids to the Scouts activity. They were fishing, and Daniel caught the first and only fish of the night--which they threw back. They had a lot of fun.

We managed to get a free king sized mattress that is both newer and in better condition than the one we have been sleeping on for almost 11 years (which we got used in the first place). That meant we had to re-do our whole bedroom (which wasn't bad because we found the missing lost piece to our bed and could finally put it together right after a year). Lot of work, though.

$800 worth of checks Tim has earned didn't arrive this week like they were supposed to. I hate it when that happens. I have had to come to grips with the fact that, like most of the rest of the people my age in the nation, doing fine might have to be okay (vs living in wealth and luxury like we grew up thinking we should pursue).

Sleep deprived kids have been fighting and crying all week. Sleep deprived me hasn't been able to figure out what to do about that. Daniel, especially, has been either crying, playing wildly, or screaming at me for 6 days straight, from the time he wakes up until well after he's supposed to be asleep.

Tim had to work feverishly to get all his work done this week and still get ready for his next gig--singing at a state fair for 12 days, 4 shows a day.  We did a whole summer of fairs when Daniel was a baby, and I remember how miserable they can be. And a lot of work for what amounts to between $8 and $9 an hour. At least he's singing, but I almost told him to pass on the gig and try for temp work for $10-$12/hour where he could stay at home. The thing that stopped me? The temp agencies in town are so swamped that they won't even call Tim back or respond when he fills out the applications!

The house is hot again. It has been raining every afternoon for a month, and now it's not. So we have heat. All day. And despite our coolers working their best, it's up to 80 degrees in the house every afternoon. Makes it hard to make dinner. And when kids are hot, sleepy, grouchy, toothachy, and miserable, what do they want to do? Drape themselves all over me. Just what I want when it's hot and I'm also grouchy and tired and stressed.

We got a letter today from the home insurance people. They never inspected the house before we bought it. They've never inspected it since. They have, however, raised our premiums (and lowered our deductible) without warning or our permission several times since we signed up. So when they sent me an "anonymous" survey about how they're doing, I told them I wasn't really pleased. So what do we get now? A notice that we'll have an exterior inspection in the next 90 days and if they don't like it, they'll cancel the insurance. Never mind that the house looks mostly the same as it did when they signed us up with no inspection 5 years ago! So now I'm terrified that they'll show up and say, "Sorry. To keep your insurance with us, you have to paint the house, fix the broken window, repair the balcony that is loose, fix the flat roof, put grass in the front yard, etc." (And those things do need to be done--this house was built in 1972 and is still wearing it's original coat of paint. It's never been repainted ever.). It's not that I'm opposed to doing those things. They're on the list. For when we have the money for them. NOW is not the time for that to become a requirement.

And next week we're facing me teaching primary (subbing for Dan's class), Caleb giving a talk in primary, Daniel having a dentist appointment, me having a doctor appointment, the kids' first day of school ever (for a group homeschool run by the state, so it's free, and that gets GREAT reviews from the other homeschooling parents), and possibly me driving the kids six hours back to Nebraska so we can be with Tim. All with just pregnant me and five kids under the age of 10.

So is it any wonder that I cried when we dropped Tim off at the airport this morning?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today I.....

Today I spent all day on the phone helping moms start homeschooling for the first time. It was amazing to find that they had the same questions and worries I did the first few years of homeschooling my kids.

I guess muddling through it for the last 4 1/2 years and growing up in an environment where alternative education was welcome, I've learned a few things.

But the biggest thing I can offer moms that they're not going to find almost anywhere else is I know how to homeschool when you have NO money to invest in it.  The people I talked to today, on the whole, were in the same boat we are: can't even print online worksheets because the ink and paper cost too much. And I have spent a lot of time getting educated and finding resources for just that situation. What I've found is that if you can access the internet, you can homeschool for really truly free and without the pressures a cyberschool puts on you. And I really believe you can get a better education than you can through any of the programs out there, if you just know where to look (and I think it's great fun to find those where to look places).

Honestly, if it could be my job to interview kids and then create custom homeschooling online curricula for them, I'd do it in a heartbeat. That sounds like fun to me!  And the parents I've talked to today were, across the board, excited about the possibility of customizing their child's learning to match their abilities, challenges, and talents. It's really very fun. And liberating. Especially as you grasp the idea that YOU really are in charge, and you can do great, fun things without having to do busy work.

So what I'm doing now is, as I finish each of my children's curricula, I'm going to be putting them up, complete, online so that other parents can access and use them as a starting point for making their own for their kids. Granted, not everyone is going to want to include materials science for their kindergartener, but at least it will give people an idea of what they can do.

And you know what? I REALLY enjoy helping people get started homeschooling. It's a way of teaching, and I love teaching.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Things we teach high schoolers that writers should note:

Good storytelling, summed up in one page: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/goodstorytellingR.pdf

Writing for children, summed up in one page:

Musician Pay

I frequently laugh that musicians do get paid in money, but often get paid in other ways, too. For example, we get free hotel rooms and admission to whatever event Tim is singing at (state fairs, arts festivals, etc.). We get meals sometimes. Often we get exposure to new fans and people who are hiring entertainment (Tim gets paid for good work by getting more work.).

The funny thing is, Tim is most often paid the "secondary" payment in T-shirts.  And maybe second in stuffed animals.

This weekend, Tim did a fantastic show in Logan and got paid more in tips than he ever has gotten for tips before.

Plus he was paid in the form of three red potatoes and a miniature watermelon.

I guess that's what you get when you play farmer's markets!

(And, quite frankly, I was delighted. Getting paid in food makes a lot of sense to me!)

Latest "project"

I mentioned before that I was working like crazy to get the kids' school curricula ready for them. This entails finding activities in each subject to supplement the Head of the Class curriculum they are signed up for because I find Head of the Class to be a nice seed, but not a complete, fulfilling curriculum. But it's free and I love the interface--and they let me put other activities from around the web into their interface. Anything that has a website or a download link can be inserted, so I've been digging for web activities, interactives, interviews, lessons, and .pdfs to add to what Head of the Class provides.

It's a fun search, but doing it for 5 kids is a little overwhelming. Especially since I keep finding things that really fit into other years of my master plan, so I've also been filling out 1st and 3rd grade extensively (and I don't have anyone in those grade) 5th grade pretty heavily, and 6-8 lightly (and I don't have anyone those ages yet!).

The search has been really interesting, and has resulted, I think, in learning materials that are more appropriate for gifted kids than the usual options (either the material is too easy by far and too repetitive by far but appropriately entertaining, or the material is intellectually stimulating but not really high interest and fun).  For example, Anda's biology curriculum, as it's coming together, consists of core lessons from AP Biology on Hippocampus surrounded by coloring sheets, art projects, kiddie animal music videos, interviews with biologists, outdoor experiences, videos from Bill Nye, materials from Mythbusters, cut-and-glue worksheets, and other more traditional materials pulled from the entire K-12 spectrum. So, for example, she'll read a passage from a college-level textbook about animal adaptation, and then watch a video of a picture book of camouflage, do an interactive activity about tide pool animals versus coral reef animals, play a "find the camouflaged animal" interactive designed for 8th graders, watch a clip of a National Geographic movie on animal adaptation, and then color a picture or create a wall mural or puppets from cut-outs.  By collecting materials from the whole range, we can stimulate both her brain and her interest and keep the learning fun without making it boring.

And I'm doing that for 5 kids, covering 2 different preschools (one for kids who can't get control a pen well or click-and-drag and one that is really kindergarten-level, learning to write and do math), Kindergarten (which is really more akin to an average 1st grade), 2nd grade, and 4th grade. Really, none of the years actually resemble what they do in public schools, though. I just find it easier socially and mentally when interacting with the public schools to call them by their age-grades and just make sure the material is actually appropriate for my child.

So it's been fun. And it's been really fun to have the kids gather around and watch me collecting learning experiences for them and have them saying, "Can I do school right now?"

Kids at church

I was watching all the boys in primary yesterday while I sat with a terrified 4 year old, and I saw that every boy and girl who was over 5 years old--the ones who have been the school--didn't quite act like my kids. The girls were playing with toys and ribbons and not paying attention, and the boys were downright irreverent--mocking those who were singing the songs, refusing to participate in the prayers, talking and squirming and ignoring the teachers. And then there were my kids: so totally different from most of their peers (not all--there were other well-behaved kids scattered around the room, but they were mostly on the other side of the room from me, and heavily overshadowed by the kids surrounding me). My kids were sitting quietly, listening, singing when it was time to sing, praying.

And I sat and looked at them acting more like the 4 and 5 year olds (who were, on the whole, reverent) than the "big kids" and wondered if there was something wrong with my kids.

Then Primary ended and I dragged my exhausted family out into the hall and found all 4 little kids gathered around Caleb because he was holding a single chocolate chip cookie. He said he'd answered a question in class and earned one cookie, and then at the end, the teacher just gave him another. He asked me to break it into 4 pieces. So I did, and handed him the first one. "No," he said. "I only asked for 4 pieces. These are for the other kids. I already had some." He had saved the entire second cookie for his siblings--none for himself at all.

I came away with tears in my eyes.

My kids might be different, but I'd say that it isn't that there's something wrong. There is something very very right.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This irks me.

Labeled "national interest", Fox published a story about a lesbian couple in Texas whose daughter was refused admittal to a conservative Christian private school on the grounds that the school was confident the girl would not be comfortable there, being taught conservative Christian values that went against her lifestyle at home.

And the article sides with the LESBIANS. Not the school, who were absolutely right. It's totally unfair to admit a child who has a lifestyle they will be preaching against on a regular basis. And, to the school's defense, their admissions policy apparently is to reject ALL children of parents who aren't living their standards, homosexual or  heterosexual.

Two things struck me about this:  one, it's not a story that should be of "national interest." It's a local story that goes on almost every day with almost every private school. Kids are refused admission all the time for not fitting the profile. Nobody complains when a kid with an IQ of 85 is not admitted to a school for gifted students whose IQs average 185--even if the reason is that the kid wouldn't be comfortable or thrive in the environment. Private schools have the right, actually, to refuse admission for no reason at all if they want. They are PRIVATE organizations, not public. So this is not an issue of "national interest."

The other thing that struck me was that the article so clearly spun the situation to make it negative for religion and paint it so that religion is victimizing lesbians. That is absolutely NOT true.

I think the media is doing more to destroy the first amendment than anyone else.


Social Upheavals?

I find it very interesting that the world around me has had a resurgence of Feminism being pushed, and a new set of scientists pushing the idea that men and women are identical in their brains, and only nurture, not nature separates them.

It's like we've come back to our parent's challenges once more.


After a very difficult summer vacation (this spring), Caleb took himself off sugar.

He and I have both noticed that he's calmer, happier, more social, and more able to focus on his math assignments (the only ones he struggled with last year).

Could be he's just older.

Could be the sugar.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More on Mormon Feminism

My brother, Jon, is a brilliant scholar and thinker. He's also an open and active Mormon Apologist (which means "defender of the faith" not "apologizer for what we are").  He's a great example to me--I'm usually terrified to speak or write in defense of what I know is right. I almost didn't hit "publish" on my last post on Mormon Feminism for fear of the backlash (which never came--I suppose because Mormon Feminists don't like to read blogs of happy Mormon women--it disproves their points. All of them.).

ANYWAY, Jon wrote a nice piece on Mormon Feminism. You can read it here:


I don't know why the Feminism thing has hit so hard and so fast and so strong and so suddenly, but a LOT of my friends have noticed it. Jon's insights are both enlightening and comforting--if we, as women, stay the course and trust in God, he will protect his church and us.

The thing that has struck me in recent days is that the world is increasingly requiring us to rely on our faith in God just to get by (all of you women who are trying to hold things together and raise your babies while your husband spends months and years searching for work will know exactly what I'm talking about. And you're not the only ones).  The Mormon Feminists are another voice out there that is subtly (and not-so-subtly) attacking our faith, planting doubts, and generally making it more difficult to hold to the rod. (And the sad things is, they're PROUD of this! Proud that they're making life difficult and trying to move us further from God and closer to the world.)

But what do we do with the voices in the Great and Spacious Building?  We don't listen to them.

Just cling to the rod, even if other women in the church mock and laugh. As Jon so aptly reminds us--God is the one in charge, and his is the only opinion we need be concerned with.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Did I just read that?

From craigslist today: "Candidate would need their own computer, ink-jet printer, and a reliable means of transpiration. An excellent candidate would also be enthusiastic, extremely-efficient, and hard working." http://boulder.craigslist.org/dmg/1902909783.html

And also a plant. Swamp Things encouraged to apply.

("Transpiration" is evaporation from plant leaves.)

Did I just read that?

from ksl.com today: "6 badly injured in 'miracle' crash flown to Bogota"  http://www.ksl.com/?nid=235&sid=12014397

I'd say it's a miracle if they can fly a crash anywhere!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I'm Not a Mormon Feminist

It has come to my attention that many of my friends from my childhood--all brilliant--have grown up to be the new leaders in the Mormon Feminist movement.

This has left me pondering some over the past few days.  I have never self-identified as a Mormon Feminist--or, indeed, as a feminist at all. While it chafes me that women still get less pay for equal work, and I am deeply offended when rape victims are blamed for the crime, and I can't stand the idea of male supremacy, I also find that the feminist movement has done more damage than the men have to my freedom to be a happy, fulfilled woman. I get more opposition from feminists than I ever do from men. I deeply respect people like Susan B. Anthony and Brigham Young who worked hard and long for respect and equality for women, but I hate that feminists tend to be philosophy-nazis (if you don't toe the party line--our party line--you are evil and to be taken care of and put in your place).

So why am I not a Mormon Feminist when so many of my friends are?

Well, first of all, what I see from the Mormon Feminists is a whole bunch of women who have planted their feet firmly in the world and are trying to force the rest of us to join them in whatever the current social trends tell us is "right." This doesn't sit well with me because I have studied history: current social trends tend to be passing and also tend to be oppressive and ultimately bad for society, regardless of their rhetoric (take, for an example, the Inquisition. Also the Salem Witch Trials. Also the free love, lotsa drugs '60s Hippie Movement.). Personally, I really do believe that there is a God, and that He knows everything, and that He loves me, and that He is talking to prophets who relay HIS message, not their own. Consequently, I believe that his instructions, even if they don't make perfect sense to me, will make me happier ultimately than anything I come up with on my own.  Therefore, trying to change God's instructions to match the current social trends doesn't make sense. I'm all about pushing for change or rejecting things I disagree with in social, political, cultural institutions that are run by people. Seriously. Why else would I homeschool? Why else be so nonconformist as I am? People are stupid and swayed by trend and tradition, and sometimes need to be pushed to change for the better.

But that is the key reason I'm not a Mormon Feminist: Their actions and beliefs indicate they believe the church is run by people. My actions and beliefs indicate I believe the church is run by God. It makes a difference--a significant difference.

There are other things, which really all spring from that one key difference. For example, the Mormon Feminists seem bent on carving out a cultural "Women's Place" in the church that is founded primarily on Wiccan philosophy and approach to womanhood. I personally don't find that necessary. Women HAVE a place in the church--a very important one--but it's not based on celebrating womanhood, but on taking what women are especially good at and serving others. Where the Mormon Feminists want to look at and focus on us as us for our own sakes, the Church asks us to focus on us as us for OTHER'S sakes--other women and families. Personally, I believe more in the latter. It's more unifying, strengthening, and bonding, and ultimately puts women in an even more important position than a Wiccan "goddess nest" would. The MFs believe in making a place for women at the exclusion of others (because they believe that makes us stronger). The Church has a place for women--called Relief Society--that is focused on women's true place in the world: as part of a family and part of our world. A woman's true strength and value cannot be separated from other people--men and children--because life cannot and should not be separated that way.

Everything the Mormon Feminists do and work toward ultimately seems to point to a single goal: Getting women the priesthood. The result of that is their actions subtly devalue the power and authority of the priesthood, replacing ordinances, for example, with rituals that exclude men and celebrate women. It's almost as if they value themselves so little that they're running around saying, "I'm going to prove that I don't need YOU."  When really, that's not how it works. God set it up on purpose that the women need the men--and the men need the women. BOTH are necessary. The MFs have confused the Priesthood with power, when really it is an obligation to service much like motherhood. In fact, the scriptures make it abundantly clear that if a man tries to use the Priesthood to elevate himself or give himself power, he loses it.

I, personally, see the priesthood as God's way of putting men closer to the natural position of women as integral to His plans. Women, by their nature and birthright, are necessary for God's plan to go forward (who else can give bodies to the babies and nurture them? Nobody). In order to not lose the men, they had to have some reason that they were also integral to the plan, so that families would lean in toward relying on each other, instead of apart, with women doing the family thing and men doing the sperm donor, violence, selfishness thing and leaving all the women to run the civilized world. In highly feminist organizations we've been involved in, we've found the men are roundly rejected from a young age as worthless. That thwarts God's plan, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of ALL his children--men and women. (And, if you've been to the temple, you'll know that men and women really can't get there without each other. Neither is more important than the other, but our world has a hard time grasping the concept of equally important and still very different.)

I guess that's the thing with the whole women and the Priesthood issue: you can't come at it from the World's point of view, or it doesn't make sense. But if you try to look at from God's point of view (as much as is possible based on the scriptures), it's a whole different issue.

There are other things, too. I keep wanting to tell the women that if, for example, they feel left out of Sunday school, perhaps they should put the work into becoming Sister Scriptorians, as President Kimball begged them to, and then go into the class and Raise Their Hands to make comments, rather than petitioning the church to change things.  Also that if they want things changed, perhaps asking the bishop is less productive than appealing to the Lord, who is the one in charge. If they don't understand something, perhaps they might try what Sister Beck urged them to and get some personal revelation rather than simply rejecting it. God does talk to women, after all. Directly. All the time.

Ultimately, the reason I think I'm not a Mormon Feminist is I've tried living life the way the church suggests, and I've studied the scriptures and words of the prophet, and I've found that it did, indeed, work at making me happy. So why agitate for change? I'm not discontent, and I don't believe in creating discontents just to have something to work for.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Interesting quote from article on why religion is not delusion:

"Second, an important finding that has emerged over the past 20 years or so from the cognitive science of religion is that religious thinking builds quite seamlessly on our natural modes of cognition. By evolutionary design, we tend to see the world in terms of intentional, meaningful patterns. Religious thinking simply takes this mode of thought to its very logical conclusion: we're inclined to think the world is an intentionally created, meaningful place because it is. Since religious thinking comes naturally to us, it is actually the skeptical mindset that requires greater effort to consistently maintain. Which leads to an interesting hypothesis: given the relatively greater mental effort required to maintain skeptical beliefs, it should be atheistic thinking, more so than religious thinking, that is prone to slide into pathology."


On the disenchantment with a false savior.

I thought this was a nice, well-written piece:


Friday, August 13, 2010

"What are you up to"?

What am I up to lately? People keep asking.


I've calculated the number of school lessons I want each child to do in a year, and I've been going through their curricula one at a time (that's 5 years worth of learning), checking each lesson that's on there to be sure I didn't overdo one thing or not cover another. I've been also searching out lessons online to fill in the gaps (I figure the big kids need 2100 lessons for the year, and Nathanael needs 720. That's a lot of ABC videos and color games on a preschool level!).

We started school a week ago, so we've been getting used to doing that every day again.

I gave Caleb a standardized test to satisfy the homeschooling law. Without even doing most of 3rd grade math, he ended up in the 92nd percentile overall. The law states you have to be above the 17th percentile to continue homeschooling, so we have no problems there. We're also trying to finish 3rd and 4th grade math for Caleb this year, so that he's not behind anymore.

I came to the conclusion that it's easier to just tell everyone what grades my kids are in by age instead of ability level. So they are now in K, 2, and 4. Never mind that "2" in our house means college biology, 3rd grade language arts, and 2-4th grade math all in one year. Never mind that 4 means college history and biology. He's just in 4th grade, and our curriculum is a little different from yours, that's all! (Or not, since so many of you have gifted kids, too!).

The downstairs toilet flusher arm broke (the nut cracked and fell off), so I bought a new one and installed it. Then the upstairs toilet flusher arm broke (the arm itself cracked and fell off), so I recycled the old one I'd removed and used it with the still-good nut from upstairs and fixed it. I love having just a little mechanical ability--saves us lots of stress, time, and money, and allows me to fix things even when Tim is out of town or busy.

Nathanael taught himself how to use the computer mouse to point and click (still can't click and drag yet, but we'll get there). That's pretty good for a guy who is still learning the names of the foods he eats! So I've spent a deal of time teaching him how to use the computer. I had to teach him what an arrow was and what sparkles were so he could use starfall.com, which is very toddler-friendly and educational. He's only 19 months old, so teaching introductory computer science is a little tricky, and we sometimes have tears when he can't get a non-link to do something (you mean you can't click on anything on the screen and get action?), or when he gets to the wrong page and doesn't know how to go back. It's especially frustrating for both of us when he can't explain what he was trying to do or what he wants, only just sit there and cry and say, "Help, mommy. Help. Aggigator." (This morning I had to go through half a dozen, "Is this the website you wanted?" before we found the right site, and then half a dozen more "Is this the game you wanted?" before we found the right screen.). We also had to switch him to a one-button mouse because he kept right-clicking on flash animations, which puts up a little box you can't just get rid of by clicking somewhere else. And I have to get up every five minutes or so and pick up the mouse and move it back to the center of the workspace because he gets mad that he can't move the pointer low enough to click on something without the mouse falling off the table.  But he's pretty sure he's cool because he can use the computer by  himself now. (And now you know why I keep all those old computers sitting around set up. If he clicks all over and fries the hard drive, which has happened before to other of my toddlers, we just throw it away and hook up another old computer. No great loss.). And I think it's pretty cool that my toddler can stay busy by himself long enough that I can do insane things like go potty or take a shower ALL BY MYSELF.

We took the kids out to hang out with a naturalist who had a telescope and a lot of knowledge, and we watched the Perseid meteor shower together.  Boy, that guy can tell ancient myths so that they are more interesting than any movie you've ever seen. Perseus and Andromeda was suddenly the most exciting story ever told!

Also we're doing the usual round of dishes, dinners, shopping, reading to people, trash, baths (these got put on hold yesterday, though, because one of the kids lost the bathtub plug. Again. Last time I found it on the roof.).

There has been a measure of "How are we going to get a trip to Nebraska to work for all of us," since Tim got a gig there.

What else? Trying to set my brother in Utah up on a blind date with a girl in Utah--going through me in CO and my friend in New Zealand. Go figure.

Spent a lot of time on the phone this week getting news from home as the parents get geared up to leave on a mission in a month and my sister just had a baby. (Hooray Beth!).

So, yeah.  Normal life. Not much to report.

Split Pea Soup Recipe I made up (and it was the best ever)

Mom gave us some of her food storage because she's leaving on a mission, and the kids pulled out a bag of dried split peas the other day and left them on the counter. So I've been looking at them for a few days.

When Tim gets paid, we usually splurge on something. Used to be going to a Chinese buffet, but that was several children ago. This time, he really wanted an honest-to-goodness ham. They happened to be on sale, so we got ourselves an 11 lb ham and baked it for dinner.

Split peas sitting around, and now I had a ham bone....

So I made split pea soup. I glanced at a bunch of recipes, including lentil soup recipes, and made my own recipe up, and it was my favorite split pea soup ever. Tim loved it, too. In fact, we both liked it so much that we ended up only sharing a single bowlful with the kids and ate the rest ourselves.

So here's my recipe (as much so I don't forget it as because you need it):

Split Pea Soup

1 16 oz bag of dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1 ham bone with about 2 c meat left on
1 carrot, peeled and diced (think frozen mixed veggies size, in 1/4 inch cubes)
2 ribs of celery, peeled and cut the same size at the carrots
1 tbsp minced dried onion
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt (or less or more to taste, depending on the saltiness of the ham)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Ground Black pepper to taste (but be generous!)
7 c water

Put it all in the crock pot and cook on high until the peas are as soft as you like them (I prefer mushy to the point of not being pea-shaped anymore, and that took about 5 hours). Remove the ham bone. Take the meat off, break or cut into bite-sized chunks, and return the meat to the soup. Remove the bay leaf if you can find it. Stir well and adjust the seasoning (I added more salt and pepper at this point). You can let it sit on low in the crock pot for another hour or so if you want, or serve it right away.  Stir well before serving.

Did I just read that?

from ksl.com: " Tabiona Town Councilman Rick Wilberg [said,] "I don't know whether to cry or get mad. I'm ready to stop by the side of the road and slap a horse or something.""

Slap a horse? Really? I can't stop laughing!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

free for homeschoolers for a limited time


Annual Education Reassessment

Every year about this time I start thinking, "What do we need to learn this year?"

I suppose it's a throwback to my years as a teacher. I taught at a private school and had my students for 2 years in a row (7th and 8th grade), so I couldn't teach the same thing every year. And I was perfectly free to teach anything I wanted each year. My instructions were to teach the kids how to write and how to think.

Since I generally despise the literature that's in textbooks and most English teacher's hearts and shelves, I didn't do much teaching of literature. I did lots of writing and humanities, though. Some grammar. Shakespeare. One year I did calligraphy. One year we did film studies. One year we wrote and produced plays. One year we did design. I think we made paper once.

So every year in August, I had to think, "What am I going to teach this year?" I didn't start until August because I always started the same: Essay Writing.  So I knew I had about 3 weeks of lessons ready come school starting. It was after that that mattered.

Since I'm a DIY homeschooler, I don't have a curriculum I know we're going to buy this year and use, so I don't have the lessons laid out for me.

The information is out there to do complete everything free using online resources, including math (thanks to IXL --http://www.ixl.com/--putting a fairly rigorous K-8 Math scope and sequence online in a parent-friendly format). You do have to jump around from site to site to get everything, though. Especially with math.

This year I finally did what I should have done years ago but didn't have the experience to do: I made a K-8 educational plan, listing the subjects and what I wanted the kids to learn in each (working from a master list I made of the subjects and what I eventually wanted covered).  So now I'm trying to stop myself from spending HOURS making all the k-8 lessons right now. Why not do it? The web is not a steady, reliable place--I might choose links that don't even exist 5 years from now. Plus I might have a kid who wants to do things faster, slower, or in a different order. Plus next August I can almost guarantee I'll be sitting here doing the same thing I'm doing now.

Still, having a general outline of all the kids' elementary and middle education is kind of a relief. I was starting to wander that "am I covering ANYTHING they need to learn" land. By the time I have my kids graduating from 8th grade, I think I'll have the materials amassed for anyone to educate their children completely free, using the best of the web and in approximately half an hour a day (that's how long it takes us to cover what public schools take 5 hours a day to teach, since they have one teacher trying to educate too many students at once).

In the meantime, I sure get tired of copying and pasting!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Strangest thing happened

I've known for years that 4th graders are the target audience for moosebutter.

So now I have my first 4th grader in the family.

And guess what?

Caleb is suddenly a fan of moosebutter.

Who would have guessed?

My own kid!

Interesting article on the development of emotional maturity in the gifted.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Did I just read that?

So I got this book for Caleb's birthday from Savers. It's teen fantasy, and derivative of both Harry Potter and the Dark is Rising but I thought Caleb  might like it. It's called "The Magickers," by Emily Drake.

Today I picked it up to thumb through, trying to convince Caleb to read it. My usual MO in other people's fiction is to read: the first page, the last 3 pages, a couple of pages in the middle, and then the whole book if those haven't disappointed.

Emily Drake lost me in the FIRST PARAGRAPH. I don't know if this reflects poorly on her, or if it should scare me about the editors at DAW. (Daw is a pretty well-respected fantasy publisher, too!).

It wasn't just that the first line ("The moon hung like a silver lantern in the midnight sky...") read like something from the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest (worst first lines ever: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/). It was this line that really stopped me short, right there in the first paragraph: "His sneakers sank with every step, and he pulled his T-shirt closer around him as the sea mist fell like a cold, cold rain."

Did I just read that? For real?

What kind of T-shirts does the author (and her character) wear? T-shirts don't work like that! I'm trying to imagine pulling a T-shirt closer around you, and I really can't visualize that. Plus, I'm not convinced she's ever been in a sea mist. By definition, mists cannot fall like rain. They are MIST. She might mean the spray from the waves battering the rocks? Maybe? Or the sea mist settled onto his skin like an icy rain? Just not quite sure how that one got past the editors.

Reading JUST THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, I understood two things I hear from agents all the time (on their blogs): 1. You can usually tell within the first paragraph if a book is going to work or not, and 2. Don't start with a dream sequence.

It was apparent to me by the end of the first paragraph that what I was reading was a dream sequence. And you know what? I skipped it. I don't want to know that stuff right up front. I want to jump right into the real story, not the character's hangups. So now I understand why agents beg new writers not to start with a dream sequence.

Still, I bought the thing, so I was determined to give it a second chance.  So we skip to the last two pages, and almost the first thing I read was this gem: "He didn't think civilization had ever reached into this place. A rough lane ran down the hills and into a valley...."

So if civilization had never reached into that place, why was there a ROAD there? Hmmmm?

She goes on, "...and a great, dark gray mountain towered above the scene. A waterfall pierced its side, waters tumbling down in a crystalline spray from impossible heights and foaming into a pool of darkest blue."

What she's describing here is a fantasy painting. She's apparently never seen a real mountain towering above any scene, or she would know this description is Picasso-esque in its perspective--seeing the road running down the hills, and the towering mountain, but also the waterfall AND the pool at the bottom? The perspective is flattened and twisted, showing you everything all at once, described by someone who has seen paintings of large mountains but never stood at the foot of one and really looked at it.

Next page (the very last in the book): "He was too far away to see the details of its scaly form, but not too far to see the ebony sharpness of the claws it stretched out and raked into the ground."

So which is it? Too far for detail or not? Because if you can't see the detail of the FORM (like, the shape of the dragon....), how on earth can you see the claws? Unless the claws are bigger than the dragon..... He also sees its teeth. Claws and teeth--sounds like details of its form to me!

There was at least one other gaffe I found when I read the "couple of pages in the middle" that I randomly opened to and that I can't find now, and a mythos explained that supposedly justifies all the warring and battles and history of magic in this book--and it was wholly unconvincing. There was no power or appeal to it--no emotional reason to be involved or to care.

And there was a slew of errors that an astute writer or a half-decent copy editor should have caught, like pronouns with indefinite antecedents. A character smooths the strings of her dulcimer in one paragraph and smooths her skirt "again" in the next.

It actually gives me hope. This is a PUBLISHED book, after all. And I can do better than that! Maybe not as a writer--I'm too close to my words to evaluate that--but I could at LEAST get a job as an editor some day!

PS: I found the one I lost: "The porch itself creaked as if the wind could walk over it."

What on earth does THAT mean?!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

This guy knows what he's talking about


Some day I think I'd like to design curricula for gifted children. Not many people have the skills to design curricula and also understand gifted kids. Usually "gifted" programs actually just double the busy work.

Instead, I want to, say, have a curriculum for Caleb that has college-level readings, 8th-grade-level discussion questions, and single-sentence to single-paragraph writing responses (since at least some of my gifted brood balk at the idea of handwriting anything!).

Really, there are plenty of materials out there for math/science gifted kids, but almost nothing for verbal/social studies gifted kids.  We need a computer-based lesson on Greek/Latin/Germanic roots of words that is adult-level information, with a 5-9 yo sense of humor, and cute little cartoon characters to go with it. You can't find that out there right now!

And nobody's ever going to make it commercially because it isn't commercially viable. We're talking about making stuff that's appealing to one in 300,000 kids (or some ridiculous number like that!). Plus, gifted kids are so individual, what appeals to one might not appeal to another. So it might be an impossible task.

Part of me says "normal kids would value that, too," but I realize that I might not know any normal kids well enough to know that. All my friends are gifted, too, and all their kids are. And I've found that every child I have ever interacted with responds well to the particular ways you have to learn to treat gifted kids, so it's hard for me to know what "normal" is.

Still, I can dream, can't I?