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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AG: The Thinking Girl's Barbie?

As you can see, she likes to go to sleep with the dolls.

An article from Slate on American Girls. I've been meaning to post on this topic for forever! I'm inspired by a message I found on my phone (a few hours to late to watch!) from my Mother-in-Law that Dr. Phil had a special on American Girls on. I'm not a fan of Dr. Phil, but I'm sure it would have been interesting anyway. I'm aware there's a lot of criticism of the dolls out there, particularly on the Internet so I was eventually intending to write about why I encouraged and nurtured Leanna's love of the dolls. I have no idea which side Dr. Phil came down on. So a bit late, I'm finally addressing the topic!

I introduced Leanna to the American Girls, and encouraged that interest. I was at the tail age that they're directed towards when they originally came out. So this wasn't an aspect of my childhood that I was reliving or even one that I lost out on and wanted. I just love the idea of them. I love that there is a doll that has a background, tells a story, and that they are educational. I am a huge American history buff, so this just falls right in line with my interests. I love that each doll is linked with a whole series of books that tell the story of the doll's life in that particular time period. They bring history alive for young girls. I love how the company started, from Wikipedia:
In 1983 educator, writer, and entrepreneur Pleasant T. Rowland was looking for dolls to give her nieces for Christmas. She found baby dolls (which emphasize mothering) and teenage or adult dolls (which emphasize future aspirations of an older age), but no dolls that realistically represented girls in an eight-to-twelve age range. This experience was coupled with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg that demonstrated the value of making history accessible, and inspired Rowland to create Pleasant Company's American Girl line of historical dolls and books.

I love that the company makes a whole line of books devoted to relevant topics for young girls. They make a magazine that doesn't sexualize young girls like so many other magazines do, without being boring or patronizing. It doesn't have adds from any other companies either! It's all wholesome and teaches girls to believe in themselves and in their dreams. I've read rave reviews of the magazine several places.

The company gets a lot of criticism for being so expensive (the dolls are about $95 retail. I got Leanna's on ebay!) and for encouraging rampant consumerism. Naturally, I would love for them to be more affordable, particularly with my financial background. I would argue that how consumerist you get with it could largely be determined by the girl's parents though. You don't have to buy all the clothes and items. You could have your daughter save her allowance for items, or have her do special chores to earn it. They can come as gifts from relatives or parents for birthdays and special occasions, or on a bonding mother/daughter trip to the AG store. All this could lead to conversations on what is/isn't worth saving up for, why quality is important. The dolls are expensive, but they are heirloom quality. There can be discussions on how these clothes are different from what we wear today and what functions they served (a tea party dress, riding clothes, St. Lucia's Christmas gown, Sunday best outfits, baking outfits, etc.) in the time period they represent. Not to mention that you can make your own clothes for the dolls much cheaper, if you are so inclined. And there are online stores devoted to selling clothes that fit the AG dolls for a cheaper price, not to mention ebay!
I like these from the comments on the slate article:

For amhuy, ......."It was all about the story. Like others who posted here, I was also obsessed with any story containing any independent girl fighting for it: Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Secret Garden. …" A related point came from RW99:
The lasting appeal of the dolls went beyond the cute outfits and accessories, it was directly related to the stories told in their books, the ways in which these girls faced problems and challenges and overcame them with the help of their family and friends. Besides my everlasting idol, Laura Ingalls, they were the only female role models who stood out for me at that age (I'm talking 8-10 years old) as more than just the typical "helpless girl," who usually had a brother who got to do all the cool stuff.
We know all about that in my house. My son, aged about 6, once complained that his sister had hit him with her doll. It sounded so funny that we laughed, at which he said, "Yes but Samantha is very solid." That became a family joke, but hey, maybe there's something to it. MR … 3:30 p.m. GMT

From The crotchety gripings of a fan, fifteen years strong)by papageiena : .......However, you guys really touched on something important. It is still expensive and materialist, but they're some of the few things available now to be good role models for girls. They're still encouraging girls to be strong, intelligent, and themselves. It's harmless play, but it doesn't feel sterilized or hysterically-feminist and it treats girls with respect. There's no boy-crazy bollocks or make-over parties (or worse), but instead, it acknowledges a lot of us want to go on adventures, do the right thing, and make the most of ourselves.
American Girl Dollsby Derry Mary:.....Thanks for the discussion of American Girl dolls. My youngest daughter loved Samantha and got one for Christmas 1988. She picked Samantha because Samantha was from the same era as my daughter's great-grandmother (with whom she shared a birthday and this g-grandmother lived to be 97!) So, they were able to share many stories about life of Grandma Lorena and discuss many issues that were brought up in the books. They developed a lovely bond and my daughter also deepened her love of history even more. Also, my daughter and I were able to share a great many interests as well through these dolls-sewing, reading, history. My daughter is nearly 30 now and I no longer live in America, but we still share our love of sewing, history and dolls forged when she was just a little American girl herself.
Yes, they are rather pricey; but when I got my daughter's doll, it cost $70. She started saving for the doll (we knew we were going to get it for her for Christmas any way) but she was diligent in saving for the doll. By Christmas, she had nearly enough to buy the doll as was so excited to use the money she had saved to order more accessories. She learned about saving and working to earn something that she wanted and carries that lesson to this day.
I for one think the American Girl dolls are a great idea and even continue to read the catalog on line!I hope that the movie will be shown here in Ireland. I only wish I had a grand-daughter to share it with!! Thanks for the article! It was nice to hear what adult American Girls got out of the dolls.

The dolls also tell stories of the not so pleasant side of life as well. The dolls or their friends face difficult situations that real American girls face. But the books deal with them in ways that the girls learn to be strong and upbeat, even in difficult situations. They have books that teach girls about managing money, about "The Care and Keeping of You" and about babysitting, about dealing with siblings, about dealing with friends. This year's doll of the year, Chrissa, deals with bullying, and I did get one Chrissa book and a workbook type book for Leanna because of her experiences at school this year. So the company not only teaches history, but also discusses relevant issues for girls today!

For a while before last Christmas, I talked to Leanna about how the dolls were expensive dolls, that they were very good quality and should be treated with care. I warned her that I didn't know if we'd ever be able to get them because they were so expensive. And that if she ever did she'd have to keep them away from her brothers!! You have to be responsible to own expensive dolls like that! I introduced the books, borrowed from the library, first before Santa brought the dolls. She was hooked on the Kirsten books right away. And the catalogues are fun to look through and dream! I do vaguely remember looking at one or two of them way back in the day. Even if I had the money, there are some items that are so ridiculously expensive that I still wouldn't buy them. And I let Leanna know that. But it's fun to look through and dream about it! For us,the dolls are both a bonding experience and an educational one!

Topics you don't think much about......

Someone did a post on toothbrush holders. (How they used to be built into the house but are now becoming obsolete). Just kinda funny, the things we think about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One of those days

What a day! It was one of those days where one thing after another after another goes wrong. We didn't get as much school done as I'd like to. There were bugs everywhere today. Jacob was constantly constantly into things he shouldn't be. Some days it is literally one thing after another. The boys decided to move the little couch, so they pushed the rug back and moved the couch both forwards and backwards, knocking all kinds of stuff off other furniture (my clutter piles!) in the process and making the entire living room floor a mess. They muddied the entire kitchen floor just from the dirt on their shoes after going outside. It was mopped 4 times so far today. The kids were constantly fighting all day. My voice was actually hurting from yelling so much (which is not the best response, but I was really frustrated today). Jacob woke up early from his nap. Leanna dropped her diary lock behind the desk with the lizards on top, and Justin tried to move things to look for the lock, unsuccessfully. Which created more mess. The printer's out of black ink already. Jacob was spilling cups of water and cereal bowls. He knocked a completely full cup of coffee directly into my lap. And I was wearing white pants. Later he took a tumble down the steps. All the way! It scared me and him, but he was fine. We have two vacuums sitting in the hallway, near the top of the stairs and he had climbed on the top of one and somehow twisted and fell. Leanna was closest and managed to catch the vacuum, but not Jacob. At least that way the vacuum didn't fall on top of him! Nobody wanted to eat the food in our house (me & Tom included), and Tom spent almost two hours sitting in the van about five minutes away from our house because it stalled and wouldn't start again. He called Triple A but right before they got there it suddenly started again. After he parked it he went back a few minutes later and it wouldn't start again. (His work van has problems too). And Justin got sick late tonight. He threw up a couple times. He seems alright now that he got everything out of his system. But it left a lovely mess all over the sink (I know, at least it was in the sink!) Just very very frustrating!

Monday, September 28, 2009

An organizing failure?

A short article that reveals the secret to getting rid of clutter. They say the secret is to never give up. Well, that sounds good then, that appears to be one my positive traits. I can endure! I can perservere! (But getting rid of clutter? I'm not sure about that one).
On a related note, I think someone signed me up for flylady. That's a website that tells you what to clean and when. They have a whole system for how to do things, and a generally sympathetic and friendly tone. I actually read about it years ago and so unless they sent me new emails based on years ago........someone recently signed me up! LOL. I am choosing to see it as a loving and caring act, rather than critical. Not because I'm such a good person that I see only good in others. Really just because at this point I can't stand much more criticism, even hypothetical criticism. But I found it amusing that this getting rid of clutter article was in an email letter I get a day after I start getting emails from flylady. Maybe a message is being sent to me?? (I don't mean just literally!) Ah well, things have been getting a little better lately. I'm getting there, just very slowly.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recent stuff

We got to try Champagne grapes, courtesy of my Mom. The boys really liked them!
A recent fort

My current reading, Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule. This one was one of my birthday presents.

I just finished Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs. A very short, but very enjoyable read! (note to Claire: Laura borrowed the book, she wasn't willing to wait for you to read it first).

We went to Celtic Fest Saturday night. It was a disappointing trip though. Leanna and I were really looking forward to the Irish Step Dancers, but the males in our family couldn't make it long enough in the rain to wait for it. It wasn't raining when we left, but as soon as we got there, bingo! We had three umbrellas, but it's hard to travel with kids in a crowded place with umbrellas. They kept giving up on them. I just didn't use one, it's tough to carry an umbrella and push a stroller. And it actually wasn't crowded compared to how it usually is, the rain really thinned out the crowds. But Justin forgot his hooded sweatshirt in the car and Tom didn't bring one, so they were both freezing. By the end Timothy was pretty cold too. We all were, but I guess since they were less interested in the fest, they minded it more.

I didn't mind the rain so much, I enjoy the music and watching the brave souls dancing. But everyone else was too grouchy and wet to appreciate it, so we didn't get to look at any of the booths or see any of the shows. Ah well, maybe next year. Leanna got a laugh out of the idea of her Dad wearing a kilt-she saw lots of men wearing them and it occurred to her that maybe her Dad could wear one. That sent her into a fit of giggles! We saw a single train go over the train tracks, the kids really liked that. And Justin was fascinated with the bridge itself, just the idea of it. And they had fries that were not fried in peanut or soy oil! The kids enjoyed some hot chocolate, and either way, it was still some elusive family time for us.

Cutie after bath

Jacob, tonight after his bath.
A good Christmas idea for him would be more pairs of pjs like this. This green pair is in heavy rotation right now. I use the kind of pjs that are like thermal underwear for the wet pjs, and then I need a thicker pair to go overtop. 1. this keeps him from getting every surface he sits or lays on wet after his bath, and 2. because the heat from a warmer pair of pjs (but not too warm!) helps the water to evaporate.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


While searching for a schedule for Celtic Fest, I found the Irish Step dancer's website. I'll keep it for reference, maybe one day......

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Log cabins & babies

Leanna, making a log cabin with construction paper and a glue stick.
Justin and Timthy also making log cabins. It was enjoyable work.

This one's from today. It's Jacob swinging his baby in the swing. He has a revolving door of babies.....sometimes it's a panda bear Leanna has, sometimes his baby is a doll or stuffed animal. He will hold and hug and kiss his babies. It's really adorable.

For me: Raising Young Writers.....

An excerpt from an article on Raising Young Writers:

*Encourage reading. Every author is a reader first. Help your child find books in different genres about a variety of topics.
*Give him the supplies he needs. Many children are drawn to a writing corner: a shelf or desk filled with staplers, various sized notepads, and a variety of pens and pencils. Add post-it notes for making lists, scissors and tape, construction paper, and hardback journals or composition books.
*Model writing for your child by letting him see you write thank-you letters, make to-do lists, and outline projects at home.
*Don’t rule out art! Many kids like to draw pictures of their stories and later add words. Illustrations are a great way to tell a story and can be a great beginning to writing practice. Don’t assume your child is just wasting time drawing. Instead, help him turn those pictures into a story. Show him some graphic novels or simple picture books and let him feel inspired.
*Journal, journal, journal. Let your child see you writing in a journal and encourage her to do the same. Emphasize that a journal can be a place for anything – the lyrics of his favorite song, a joke she thought was funny, or a way to express her feelings about something going on in her life.
*Forget about the mechanics. It’s tempting to correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But that’s exactly why kids turn away from writing. Let your child express what she has to say without worrying about writing rules. Those things can be polished up later in an editing stage, if the piece comes to that.
*Keep a family story book. Write down those bedtime yarns you create for your kids each night (that's how The Hobbit came into being!). And encourage them to make up stories they can dictate to you. This helps them to form stories without the pressure of actually writing them down.
*Take an interest. When he brings you the story he has written, forget about the general “Great job, son!” reply. Instead, ask questions about what you are reading. Your interested dialogue can help him to develop and stretch his story even more.
“The thing that makes us human is our ability to tell stories,” says Jane Yolen, author of many wonderful books including Owl Moon and How Does a Dinosaur Say Good Night. “When children learn to yoke that ability with writing, they become more perceptive, more intuitive, more logical thinkers.”
Helping your child get her ideas down on paper will not only help her succeed in school, but it will be something you will both have to look back on and enjoy for years to come.
Skila Brown is a former elementary teacher. She now writes and homeschools her three children in Lexington, Kentucky.

Another on writing as a family, about preserving family memories through words, just as you would with pictures or video.

One on different types of journaling, to get kids excited about forms of self-expression.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Makes me giggle!

Heh. For any of you with a literary bent, go vote here, who is cooler? Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls Wilder? I don't know that I can vote. I'm a fan of both!

Here's a portion of the stuff at the site where you vote:

Then, Christopher Czajka, a historical consultant for Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, launched what may be the most visceral defense of Laura since Ingalls herself tricked Nellie into swimming in a leech-infested creek.
In an exclusive screed for Culture Schlock readers, Christopher writes:
“On any given day, Laura Ingalls Wilder could kick Anne of Green Gables’ butt across the street. First of all, she was a real person. Not an fictional character modeled, physically, after a notorious stripper (really, now, who writes a children’s book and bases the heroine on Evelyn Nesbit?)
“Laura was as tough as nails. . .enduring blizzards, tornadoes, plagues of grasshoppers, near-starvation. . . and all without unravelling a braid. If only we could put Anne and her cunning little hat in a Dakota claim shanty when it’s forty degrees below zero. Then we’d see what would happen, we would.
“I have just returned from a LITTLE HOUSE festival near Mount Rushmore, where I ran a trivia contest to promote LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, THE MUSICAL. There were people of all ages in prairie drag. There’s a reason why die-hard LITTLE HOUSE fans are called Bonnetheads. . .they show up for events, you see, in their bonnets. And there are legions of them. They make pilgrimages to historic sites. They can recite lines of the TV series. They do in-depth historical research into the people and places mentioned in Laura’s books.
“And there are a LOT more Laura fans than Anne fans, at least in the United States. Trust me on this.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

100 Wishes Quilt Project

These are our family's fabrics that we chose for a quilting project for my cousin Ryan's baby. It will be his first baby and my Aunt Cindy's first grandchild. She is excited! The baby is due in February and my Aunt emailed family and friends to ask for contributions. We chose from fat quarters, they were on sale for 99 cents each, and because it narrowed the selection down a bit, and was easier than taking 6 bolts of fabric over to get cut! (except the bottom piece, that was from my stash, it seemed to fit for Jacob, who couldn't really pick his own.)
From her email:
When this project is completed, it will be a treasured keepsake. It consists of a patchwork quilt and a book of written blessings, prayers, or wishes for the new baby. It is a take-off of the tradition of the 100 wishes quilts that are made for newborn infants in China.
Here’s how it works. Each participant will give two fabric patches 7” square. 100% cotton fabric is best. Both patches must be of the same fabric. One patch will be sewn into the quilt; the other will be attached to a page in the book of blessings. Each person should write a blessing, a prayer, or a wish for the child’s life. I could use your copy if you want, or if you would prefer, I could write it up on the computer and print it before placing it in the book. If you wanted to, you could also include a picture of yourself to be added on the page.
I looked up 100 wishes quilt, and found quite a bit on the subject. I think it's a neat idea, both Tom and I had the same reaction, hey, why didn't anybody do this stuff for our kids?!. It is a custom to invite 100 people to contribute a single square patch of cloth. The 100 patches are sewn together into a quilt that contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation. I was going to look for ladybug fabric, mainly because Leanna was really big on ladybugs when she was little. When I looked up the quilts though I found out that: Ladybugs are a sign of good luck in the Chinese community. It is said that if you see ladybugs that good things will happen soon! Because of this, many people like to include fabrics with ladybugs in their 100 Good Wishes Quilts. There are tons of blogs out there specifically for 100 wishes quilts. Lots of adoption ones.
Now we just have to write our blessings!!

Banana Crumb Muffins-delicious!!

Omigosh! So good! Jacob approved too! The recipie is here, I added vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg as someone suggested in the comments.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A good point

This is from a review of a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder, the part I highlighted is what caught my attention:

Endearing mementoes from the life of a national treasure, August 18, 1999
By A Customer

This scrapbook of photos and souvenirs from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder is enthralling. How did these precious items survive trips in all kinds of weather in a covered wagon, moves that covered several states and entailed unimaginable hardships? I did not come to the Wilder books until I reached 70, yet I'm fascinated. To me, the heroine of these odysseys was Ma. Her accomplishments were in no way secondary to those of her adventurous and resourceful husband. Ma gave birth alone, braved blizzards and fires and plagues with the children while her husband was away. This book of remembrances makes it all real and true and is as educational as the Little House books themselves. A winner.

As I read Little House in the Big Woods to the kids, it really struck me what a hard life they, particularly Ma, had. As a child, I was seeing everything through Laura's perspective. But as an adult, I see that Laura's Ma was a very strong woman. You had to go through so many steps just to get food on the table! These books really are an amazing read, I'm glad I've had the opportunity to see them through adult eyes.

From an essay Written by Heather Marie Kosur© 2007 Rock Pickle Publishing, "Every day began with the same routine for the Ingalls women. Ma first prepared breakfast for her family, and Laura and Mary helped her wipe the dishes dry. Then, the girls made the beds, and Ma pushed the trundle bed under the big bed. After all that preliminary work, the daily household chores finally began. After rereading Little House in the Big Woods as an adult, I am amazed by the thorough representation of female work roles Wilder includes in her story that I now more fully recognize. But, as Eaton reveals, the chores and "other memories of pioneer life...are described with zest and humor," which adds to the timeless appeal of the story."
The books really are a national treasure, what a great peice of history! Even more amazing is that she remembered all these details beginning when she was almost 6 years old, and didn't write the books until about age 60!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Visiting Beckers

Jacob enjoying the trains

Then a bus crashed the train party!

Pumpkins were really interesting too!

Leanna played some too

Grammy trying to interest Leanna in some Lentils

Even Aunt Laura was tempted by the trains!

Beckers is a parent/teacher store. My Mom works there. We visited her while we were in the area from the Michael's crafts. Since I already had my camera with me, I couldn't resist taking some pictures! Jacob LOVES their train table. But he was VERY VERY noisy while playing with it. And unfortunately our visit coincided with nap time, so he was getting very irritable at the end. As soon as I got him home he fell asleep. It's hard for me to be in that store, because especially now that I'm a home educator, I want to buy EVERYTHING!

Beckers customers

Laura took this shot at the store-I don't know why this woman was crouching on the ceiling like a bat or reptile.

American Girl Craft at Michael's today

The crafts she made: A mini-scrapbook, a photo frame, a gift label, and an extra-a bag with a pocket-as a present for Grammy. The last one was her own idea, it was not a sanctioned craft of the store or American Girl. She also made a present for the lady in charge of the crafts (who said it was her first present all day! Awww!)

Proudly displaying her stuff:

An extra freebie they gave out, a mini magazine for the dolls. You just cut it out and fold it together.

I get emails from Michael's craft store and when they advertised an American Girl craft day, I knew we had to find a way to get there! So we made arrangements and managed to get out long enough to do the craft and to visit Grammy at work afterwards. So Leanna got time away from most of her brothers (we had to bring Jacob), and she got some time alone with Mommy, and time to do a few small crafts, and it counts as art and socialization as credit for homeschooling. And she made some cool stuff! Lots of benefits!

A comment left on SouleMama's recent post about a well loved baby sweater and recipe for brocoli soup:

"Jody said...
The sweater is precious! I'm attempting to learn how to knit for the very reason you just shared. There is a heritage and love that goes into the clothes that are made by hand. Hopefully I'll grasp the method soon."

I love the part I put in bold. That expresses it well. I've talked before about how I love that a lot of the kids' toys and clothes have a story behind them. I look at a shirt that Jacob wears that two boys wore before him as well! It brings back happy memories. I even have a couple dresses that I wore when I was a little girl that Leanna's worn as well.

Outdoor afternoon

It was such a nice day outside that we did school in the backyard today.

The kids all had a blast with Timothy's dot to dot markers, Jacob even used himself as a canvas!

Justin caught one of those white butterflies and it left this white dust in his hand when he let it go.

documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly.......

Angry Justin, with the beautiful eyes.

Friday, September 18, 2009


This was in my email this morning, and right on time, I might add!

Any of you who may be new to homeschooling are right now probably teetering on the brink. . . “What was I thinking? I'm no teacher. Who am I kidding? Maybe my mother is right. Can I actually do this?” This is familiar past territory for all of the veterans who managed to hang in there and get beyond this frightening first month or two. Please, take a deep breath, let your mind remove from the present and focus on the big picture. Remember why you thought homeschooling was right for your family a few weeks ago, when you were absolutely certain. Was it an academic concern? A social concern? Just wanting to be with your wonderful little person all day, every day? These reasons and thousands of others are “valid” and account for why each of us came to step on the path into this wonderful adventure! I have never heard a homeschooled parent say that they wished they had not homeschooled. I have heard them say they wish they had done more math or more writing, but never that they would have not homeschooled. So, go forth, brave parent! Onward and upward into the Homeschooling Unknown! Thank you for reading
- The Leppert Family

Waiting for Oatmeal

Sometimes it takes forever to cool down!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs

This classic children's book is finally coming to theators! It should be interesting to see what they do with it, this is one I'd love to take the kids to see at the movies-they've never been! Then (through a link on Jamie's blog) I found out that a main character in the movie has a peanut allergy, and has a reaction in the movie. At my Mom's work alone I saw three books about kids with food allergies. It seems to be suddenly becoming mainstream.

Books are so old fashioned

You'd think it was a joke, but it's actually true: a prep school has decided that they don't really need books-too old fashioned! Computers and a $1200 Cappucinno machine will be replacing paper books!
I find this report sad and depressing.

Great resource

Every night I look for free resouces of one type or another, this website has some great free worksheets. They're not all boring they don't look plain like most of the free stuff and it covers a nice variety. I love homeschooling in the internet age. It would be much harder, especially financially, without being able to look up information, lesson plans, and worksheets for free! Though it's costing me in printer ink!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

(part of) the Chocolate Milk Song

The Chocolate Milk Song, by Jacob. He wrote this one himself, and sings it nearly every day. It's usually longer and a little less LOUD, but you get the gist of it.

Thank God he doesn't have a milk allergy too!!

One of my favorites!!

This is one of my favorite sesame street songs! Along with six soccer socks, ladybug picnic, and of course, C is for cookie.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You're responsible for my unconcious thoughts!

Justin woke up this morning and promptly sat up and said, "Timothy!! You were mean to me in my dream! You can't do that!" LOL. He was completely serious, yelling at Timothy for his behavior in Justin's dream.
The night before he was punching the air in his sleep.
He and Jacob have both woken up before yelling at Leanna.

Allergy Update

We're still not excema-free, but his skin is much improved. There are so many factors though, it's impossible to single out what exactly is responsible. He does manage to grab things he can't have. And I struggle to get any medicine in him at all. Let alone twice a day. He's very strong, he spits out most of what you manage to get in him, and he appears to have radar for when it's in his food/drink and avoids it. But just because of long daily baths and wet pj wraps and cream applications two or three times daily, his skin is mostly normal to the touch (except for his bad spots, like his ankles and wrists). It was always somewhat scaly, now it's much softer. He's not waking up as often. Most days he's not scratching as often either. Today was bad, he was scratching all day and wasn't as happy as he usually is. (was it a food he accidentally ate? Some dust mites? Pollen in the air? Who knows!)

I'm trying to purposely say to Jacob, "No, you can't have that. You're ALLERGIC." when he tries to eat or grab something he can't have. I'm trying to emphasize the word so he starts to learn it and eventually grasp the meaning. It's very hard for him right now. As much as I can I'll replace products with safe ones, and try not to buy much that he can't have. But we're not really in a position right now to be able to afford to just throw out foods that he can't have, especially when his older siblings could eat them. I try to tell his siblings as well when I find a food that he can or can't have, so they know not to give it to him, or to take it away if they catch him with it.

(Sidenote: the sunbutter has no bad ingredients, but I one day noticed on the allergy statement that it notes that it's processed in a peanut and tree nut free facility. That part I saw when I bought it. But in small letters above it that I hadn't noticed it says made on equipment that processes soybeans. Doh! well, I figure it's still safer to have around than regular peanut butter and at least I never gave any to Jacob! Label-reading can be tricky)

I'm not sure what our options are for Halloween this year. I mean, we have three older kids who know and look forward to the holiday. So it's not like we can just ban the holiday. And it's going to be tough to manage with the older kids having food around that Jacob can't touch and to keep people from handing something to him or putting it within his reach. What I've thought of so far is to simply research safe candies for him and buy some of those. Then keep a few in our pockets to hand him as we trick or treat (to keep him from reaching into the treat bag) and have a bag of the safe stuff waiting to switch to afterwards. He'll probably still be in the stroller anyway, so it's not like he'll get that much candy anyway. Let him do it for the experience, but outline strict rules for all the kids for eating candy during/afterwards and where it will be kept. That's what I've come up with so far.

Pudding and meat

If there's a holiday involving food (ha) or a party, you can pretty much guarantee that my Dad will quote Pink Floyd at least once, " If you don't eat your meat, you cant have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!" So for him, I just had to add this article about kids & food.

The Rule of Yes

I should really try this, The Rule of Yes. It's actually advice I've come across, in different forms, multiple places. (for example, another way I've heard it is that you should try to make as many of your child's dreams come true as you can, it teaches optimism. Real life teaches well enough the harsh stuff, as parents we cushion our children til they're ready to face it or until life makes it unavoidable.)

John Taylor Gatto

I agree, I've observed myself that we keep the elderly and the young away from sight. I find that very troubling.

A couple of quotes from John Taylor Gatto today......
Gatto was a teacher in New York City's public schools for over 30 years and is a recipient of the New York City Teacher of the Year award and New York State Teacher of the Year. Gatto's teaching experiences led him to the sad conclusion that compulsory government schooling has little to do with education. New to his books? You might start with Dumbing Us Down -- a short read with lots of food for thought.

"We might be able to see that if we regained a hold on a philosophy that locates meaning where meaning is genuinely to be found -- in families, in friends, in the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy, in all the free and inexpensive things out of which real families, real friends, and real communities are built -- then we would be so self-sufficient we would not even need the material 'sufficiency' which our global 'experts' are so insistent we be concerned about."
"This great crisis that we witness in our schools is interlinked with a greater social crisis in the community. We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent: nobody talks to them anymore, and without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the term 'community' hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that. School is a major actor in this tragedy, as it is a major actor in the widening gulf among social classes. Using school as a sorting mechanism, we appear to be on the way to creating a caste system, complete with untouchables who wander through subway trains begging and who sleep on the streets."

-Excerpts from Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fun With A Kicker

An interesting post on how certain things are not only pleasurable now, but also pay off later. He says, "the more synergy you add to your life, the easier it is to get ahead."
I know that doesn't sound all that exciting, but he provides examples of things he or someone he knows have done that they enjoy doing and over time, you become better and faster at doing it. Sometimes becoming better and faster is the value, sometimes it's actual financial value.

Lifespan of Applicances

A post on the lifespan of applicances in large families. I know we only have four kids, but ours are pretty rambunctious. I'll have to share this with Tom so he knows we're not the only ones!!
Although I don't think there are many things today that are made to last. Appliances, clothes, shoes, whatever.....they all break down much easier than they used to.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who Knew??

Can it really rain frogs?

Yes! It doesn't happen very often, but there are several known instances where frogs have been sucked up by tornadoes or violent winds associated with thunderstorms, and dropped down out of the sky miles from their ponds. Check out the Froggy Page's Scientific Amphibian section for some links to articles on this subject.

(not even homeschooling for a week and already I'm learning!)

A few recent shots

Jacob and Timothy playing, They've recently begun to show real affection for each other-previously it was mainly Timothy wanting to love Jacob and Jacob just ignoring him.

one's from the day we got our letter from the school district in the mail.
The letter just lets us know that the school district processed our notice of intent to homeschool, and it reminds you that in 3, 5, and 8th grades you have to get your child tested for those national tests. It also says that our city has strict curfews for juveniles, so you should carry a copy of this letter with you at all times if you're out during the school day.

Leanna wanted to start homeschooling that day!

(Just posting some pictures I forgot to post before. )

Friday, September 11, 2009

Glimpse of the future

In case you ever wondered...........

LOL (hint: title)

Lewis Carroll/Joyce Carol Oates

A short essay by Joyce Carol Oates on Alice In Wonderland's influence on her. I am reminded yet again of a book I should either read to or have Leanna read to herself. I myself didn't fully appreciate this book until an adult. But I can see all kinds of wonderful things in it that could capture a child's imagination!

(By the way, if you ever wondered about a translation of the poem, Jabberwocky, here's one.)
I have a few connections to Alice myself, now that I think about it. I made Leanna into Alice in Wonderland a few Halloweens ago. And way back in my senior year in high school, I wrote a paper analysing the poem Lewis Carroll wrote in the preface to the second Alice book, Through the Looking Glass. When I took the AP English exam, the teacher had given all 8 of us taking it an envelope with a piece of gum for the break, and an encouraging note. Mine said something about pretending I was telling a story to a young child, a reference to the Alice analysis I'd written. (Must've worked, I was the only one to score a 5).
The poem I analysed for Mrs. Thomas:
Child of the pure unclouded brow

Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.
I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter;
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life's hereafter -
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.
A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing -
A simple chime, that served to time
The rhythm of our rowing -
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say 'forget'.
Come, hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.
Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind's moody madness -
Within, the firelight's ruddy glow,
And childhood's nest of gladness.
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.
And though the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story,
For 'happy summer days' gone by,
And vanish'd summer glory -
It shall not touch with breath of bale
The pleasance of our fairy-tale.


Did anyone else see the beautiful rainbow tonight? These are two shots minutes apart. It was actually a double rainbow. The second one is above the one you can clearly see. It's very faint, but it's there! It was just so beautiful!