10 Things We’ve Been Up To Lately

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I’ve gone and disappeared for too long again!  I really want to get back to writing and connecting here regularly.  I have to figure out a way to make it work again!

I have a massive to-do poster on my bedroom door right now, with quadrants for the house (we have a huge remodeling project starting this month), the kids, school, work and miscellaneous.  I think I’ll add blogging to the list even though it isn’t a “must” — simply because it hangs over me like one and I do feel so much better when I am keeping track of our little life here.  🙂

So in an effort to quickly catch up in a tiny way, here are 10 random things we’ve been up to lately!

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  1. We all went to the Maple Syrup sugarbush boil-off at a local nature camp, as always.  There was a huge breakfast buffet with a free-will donation, and Daryl once again worked one of the tables selling maple syrup and teaching people how to tap maple trees.  (If you want to know how to tap maple trees, check here, and learn about tapping black walnut trees here.)
  2. Toria is currently in Oregon, visiting friends.
  3. The youngest three kids, Daryl and I went looking for morels at a nearby nature area today.  We figured it was too early (it is) but we wanted to check.  One good rain and they should pop!
  4. Fiona, Alex and I went to Tiffany’s for a getaway.  They had the flu and we came back the very next day.  It was a very long drive for a very short trip!
  5. We made easy gluten free playdough.  Easy recipe: 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup corn starch, 1 1/4 cups cold water. Stir over medium heat until thick, turn onto a surface until cool enough to handle (covered with a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out), divide into balls and color. I may add a touch of oil next time, but it’s a very nice dough. Keep it in the fridge to last longer (in a baggie).
  6. Toria now has a longboard and has been riding it quite a bit.
  7. Alex was bit by the neighbor’s dog, which caused the neighbor to feel understandably bad for him and ask what sorts of things he liked.  I said he liked anything, even rocks, but that he is particularly fond of Snap Circuits since he loves science and building kits so much.  She surprised him a few days later with this massive motion exploration kit.  He literally jumped up and down and shrieked quite a bit, and has spent many hours building movable creations (ones suggested in the kit and ones he’s created himself with it).  He recovered quite well, incidentally.
  8. We have been doing lots of work on the yard and gardens now that spring is here.  It’s so nice to be around green and dirt again!
  9. The younger kids have been doing online educational games for some homeschool fun.  Fiona and Daddy play on Teach Your Monster to Read and the boys play on Prodigy for math, both of which are free.
  10. We’ve been playing lots of board games, card games, dart games and other real-life games, too.  We got an electronic dart board at a thrift store and we’ve all had a blast playing it, but it’s also been good for math.  We play 301 most of the time and you have to end up exactly on 0 to win, which means that the kids frequently have to figure out which combinations of doubles and triples would help win (like triple 17 if you’re down to 51 and have only one toss left, for instance).

Unfortunately, the flu has also invaded (we brought it home from Tiffany’s), so I have to go back to snuggling a little four year old who is not fond of being sick.  She announced today that she doesn’t remember ever being sick before and she is quite over it!  I’m dosing her up with elderberry syrup to kick it fast.

I swear I’ll be back soon!

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Great Site for Tween/Teen Health Questions

I stumbled onto TeensHealth yesterday while looking for answers to a puberty-related question for one of my kids.  The answer was thorough, helpful and reassuring (turns out about half of all boys have the same thing happen).

This particular question was rather specific and it was something I’d never heard of — not that that means much, since I went through puberty as a girl, I suppose.  🙂  I was impressed that the site had such specific information, though, instead of just the standard “here’s what to expect” pages.

It looks like a good site to share with boys and girls who might have their own questions about changes they’re going through.

The teens’ Q&A section has questions from teens on all of these subjects, with answers from experts.

Girl Stuff

Guy Stuff

Periods

Birth Control, Pregnancy & STDs

Sex

Relationships

Friends

Parents & Family

Emotions & Mental Health

Depression, Suicide & Self-Injury

Body Image & Self-Esteem

Dieting & Weight

Food & Nutrition

Fitness, Exercise & Sports

Alcohol & Drugs

Smoking

Personal Hygiene

Skin

Sleep

Doctors, Hospitals & Medicine

Mononucleosis

Metabolism & Growth

Health Conditions & Illnesses

School & Jobs

The site has larger sections for kids, for parents, and for teens.  It looks like a good resource for health and sex ed.

I have not read through that much of it, though, so you might want to preview it yourself before recommending it to your child.

If you have any other health/sex ed sites you recommend, please add them in the comments!

Folktales, Freebies and more

Jason snatches the Golden Fleece. Greek Vase from the 5th century BCE (Metropolitan Museum, New York).

Here’s a round-up of stuff I’ve been meaning to share…

Fairy Tales, Folktales, Fables, and Folklore

This great web site contains hundreds of stories from mythologies around the world.  From Finnish folk tales to Anderson fairy tales to parables of Buddhism, there’s something for everyone.  This would be great to combine with studies of countries or family heritage.

70% of science fair winners are children of immigrants

Only 12 percent of Americans are foreign-born, the NFAP report says. Even so, children of immigrants took 70 percent of the finalist slots in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search Competition, an original-research competition for high school seniors.
Of the 40 finalists, 28 had parents born in other countries: 16 from China, 10 from India, one from South Korea and one from Iran.
“In proportion to their presence in the U.S. population, one would expect only one child of an Indian (or Chinese) immigrant parent every two and a half years to be an Intel Science Search finalist, not 10 in a year,” wrote the report’s author, NFAP director Stuart Anderson.
…”Our parents brought us up with love of science as a value,” David Kenneth Tang-Quan, whose parents emigrated from China to California, told Anderson, according to the report.
Pinterest pages
I’ve heard about Pinterest, where you “pin” web sites you like and can see what others pin, but I wasn’t all that interested.  Until I saw this mom’s homeschool pins and realized what fun this site could be.  I could lose a lot of time here!
Newest homeschool writings
Here’s what I’ve been churning out in the HS front lately at the examiner, on everything from free transcript templates to how Montessori changes from middle school to high school years…

And here’s the latest in other subjects…

And a little sap…  🙂

The Never-Ending Parent

On the personal front, the baby is now very, very wiggly.  He/she doesn’t have a certain time of day or night to bounce around.  It seems to be most of the time!  Hopefully we’ll get an ultrasound next month and finally get to know whether it’s a girl or boy.  I’m so impatient to know.

Victoria is visiting homeschool friends a few hours away this week.  I’m impatient for her to come home, even though I’m sure she’s having a blast.

Anna is taking Irish step dancing lessons for a performance she’ll be doing with a small group of girls in the pageant this year.  The teachers are local homeschool graduates who taught themselves to do Irish step dancing years ago and have performed all over through the years.

Jack and Alex are currently helping Daddy at the cabin and museum.  They’ve been spending much of their time outside and generally end each day covered in mud, sand, scrapes and who knows what else.  I do like summer!

 

A Challenge On Behalf Of Children

Many of you have probably heard about the little girl who was killed by her parents this month as a result of them following the Pearls’ advice in “To Train Up a Child.”

I wrote about it here if you’re not familiar with it.

People have been silent about the Pearls for years, even though they have been linked with a child’s death in the past and they advocate practices that many of us feel are heartless and abusive.  A few bloggers have spoken out against them and some (like me and many mothers I know) have boycotted some sites who were affiliated with them.

Too many of us have stayed quiet, though.  Some people think parents have a right to use this sort of “discipline” even if they don’t agree with it while others are just uncomfortable with the thought of speaking out against it.  People are finally starting to vocally call this system what it is, though — abuse — and are standing up to it.

I listed quite a few of them and quoted them here.

The book is online and I read parts of it to see if it was being misinterpreted, as some people are claiming.  People have said it contains “good things” too, but I didn’t see a speck of anything good.  It gave me a stomach ache and made me hurt for all of the children being raised in these methods.

There are triumphant stories of beating the author’s 4 month old baby with a willow branch until she learned not to try to crawl up the stairs, proud stories of the author’s daughters telling a neighbor mother that she needed to “switch” her 7 month old baby for crying because “if he’s old enough to pitch a fit, he’s old enough to be switched.”

Michael Pearl tells parents not not even wait until their children do anything wrong before hurting them because then they won’t be properly trained.  He teaches that his methods (whipping with plumbing line, branches, rulers and other instruments) should be used until parents have “100% compliance.”  He has advised parents they should continue until children are “too breathless to protest” and has said “if she can cry out for you it’s not hard enough.”

People online have said that they respect other parents’ rights to use these methods.  It should not be okay to respect a parent’s “right” to terrorize and abuse children.

I’d like to challenge everyone who has a blog or writes a column to add your voice on behalf of children against these cruel teachings.  If you don’t have a blog, speak out about it on online parenting groups, post against the Pearls on Facebook, bring it up in playgroups and churches.

Let’s flood the internet and our communities with people speaking out and calling a spade a spade.  It’s not a different discipline method, it’s child abuse.  It’s not Christian.  It’s evil.

If you’d like to put a button on your site,  Muse Mama designed the one above that links back to this post about the Pearls.  Here’s the code:

<a href=”http://musemama.blogspot.com/2010/02/bring-back-boycott.html” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/AnneBasso/Blog%20Tools/ttuac7.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Muse Mama” /></a><br />

Thanks for listening, speaking up and being the kind of parents who give me back some faith in the world.

Swedish Study Finds Link Between Autism & Vinyl Flooring

I thought this article in Scientific American was interesting.  The study was small, but the article mentions other studies that have found links between pesticides and autism, and pthalates (present in vinyl flooring and lots of other modern household materials) and autism and asthma.

They were not even looking for this relationship, but it turned up and is yet another reason to be aware of what we bring into our homes and build them with.