Archive for April, 2008

Well, okay. I finally found a software to do it right. UnFreez by Whitsoft, an animated .gif maker. It is so easy to use. It won’t do anything fancy, but it does what I want. And it is free!

So, I changed my blog header to what I had envisioned to begin with when I actually sat down and took pictures of mixed nuts. See how each of my fruit is a nut?

I also made this blinkie, which is next to useless now that I don’t do message boards, but I wanted to play more. Tee hee. I used it at Scrapbook Bytes, but that is all. Hmmm…I’m wondering how fun this could be!


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“How beautiful your feathers be!”
The Redbird sang to the Tulip-tree
New garbed in autumn gold.
“Alas!” the bending branches sighed,
“They cannot like your leaves abide
To keep us from the cold!”
—John B. Tabb

I decided that we just couldn’t wait until we could order books and gasp we would have to simply get by for the summer with the books I already own. I know, I know. It is a novel concept – one which I’ve oft considered, but rarely put into practice. Like I said, seven years of stable employment has a way of spoiling a gal. So I cracked open that wonderful, informative, and beautifully written “Handbook of Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock.

The first section is about birds, which is a lovely lesson to begin at the start of Spring. As I read to the children about feathers, F1 found two feathers, which he had scavenged in the yard, sitting in his notebook. So we were able to demonstrate visually and kinesthetically the three parts of a feather: the quill, fluff, and barbs. The fruit were really interested in that and enjoyed showing one another that they now knew what the parts of a feather were. They were also interested in the raincoat usage of the feathers. At the end of the first lesson (which we couldn’t do, since we didn’t have any hens handy), there was a poem.

I read the poem out loud and the fruit all looked at me, fairly baffled. “I don’t get it,” F1 finally declared.

So I read it again, and asked what the redbird is. “A cardinal!” F5 shouted.

“Indeed,” I said. “Do cardinals stay here or do they migrate in the winter?”

“They stay here.”

“What keeps them warm?”

“Their feathers.” I could see understanding dawning on their faces. So I read it again, this time asking what “garbed in autumn gold” meant.

“The leaves were yellow?” I read it again, and this time they all had it under control. They appreciated the juxtapositions of leaves of the bird and feathers of the tree.

I asked them who wanted to memorize the poem and found that F3 already had it under her belt! F1 definitely didn’t want to, but while F2, F3, F4, and F5 all drew a picture representing the poem and copied it down (or I wrote it down on their picture for them), he looked up what a tulip-tree was. He printed off a couple of documents describing it (Indiana’s state tree, also known as the yellow poplar tree) and I read them aloud to the fruit as they finished their drawings.

I also got in a little plug for memorization, and the effect of good literature on one’s thinking and communicating skills. I’m hoping that, by September when the new school year starts, my propaganda crusade for memorization of poetry and passages of good literature will have developed in the fruit a desire to actually do so.

I found a new, absolutely wonderful, educational, and inspiring blog. The Classical Scholar Diane is doing an excellent job defining a classical education and how to implement it in a homeschool. I spent all weekend reading her various articles. She has articulated much of what I’ve known instinctively, but have often failed to initiate. The whole poetry discussion was my attempt at a Socratic Dialogue, and although I’m sure I didn’t really get it right, I think the fruit really did learn something from it all and were very involved in the discussion. I also started some serious reading aloud, something that I must shamefacedly admit that I have allowed to fall by the wayside. This is all thanks to Diane’s excellent inspiration.

Dairy. As in produce from a cow. I’m pretty sure that F6 has an intolerance to it. He’s been drinking goat’s milk for over four weeks now. He hasn’t had any cheese, except for some goat cheese I found at Stuffmart. I’ve checked ingredients (red dye 40? high fructose corn syrup? BHT? but no milk, whey, or caesin? Great! Put it in the cart!) and he hasn’t had any milk products or by-products. And he doesn’t have any red, inflamed eczema patches and most of the just dry spots are cleared up. The question is, were the eczema patches from the dairy or because the house was dry from furnace air? When he runs out of his goat milk this week, I’m going to give him cow milk for a couple of days and see if it causes his patches to be irritated. If it does, I’m going to assume a definite intolerance/allergy to cow’s milk and proceed to give goat’s milk to F2 and F5, to see if it helps them out, too.

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A New Old Adventure

Well, Mr. Nutt was informed this afternoon that his services were no longer needed by his employer. Honestly, somewhere in the back of our minds, we knew this was coming. I’m still reeling, however, since I’m the one who pays the bills. Mr. Nutt hasn’t been unemployed for over seven years now, and I have to admit that I was enjoying the stability of it all. Our first few years together were a hodgepodge of trying to find our niche in the world, much of that time unemployed. God took care of us in unbelievable ways and I am trying to keep my eye on that history instead of worry about the future. He will take care of us, has been taking care of us. Mr. Nutt is again seeking his way, relying on God. I’m praying that God will make it possible for us to keep our new house and sell the old at no loss. Please pray with us and for us as we embark on this new old adventure.

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Math Me

So this morning, while doing our Bible verse memorization – Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew 16:16. Each of the fruit, beginning with F1 and on down the line, recited the verse. After F5 had finished, F6 looked at me expectantly. “F6,” I said (actually, I used his real name, but you don’t need to know that), “Who is Jesus?”

“Spleter…Liv God. Math Me, 16.” Obviously, he’s getting to know how to use his personal pronouns!

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A Little of Today

So, after watching a bit of Dancing With the Stars, and hearing me comment that Marlee and Shannon were both pencils with no hips (and so it was difficult for them to swing their hips like some of the other ladies), F1 said, “Mom, you’re like a pencil with a grip.” I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time! Guess I still have a ways to go in losing my baby hips.

I instituted a new habit-former tonight. I had first read this idea in a pamphlet put out by George Wythe College, which was founded by A Thomas Jefferson Education author, Oliver DeMille. Then it was mentioned by another mom a couple of weekends ago at the mom’s encouragement homeschool group I attend here in town. I’ve been noticing that not only have the fruit not been acting on apparent needs without being asked (or begged, or threatened), but I haven’t been noticing or mentioning the good things they have been doing. So, we now have a bean jar. Whenever any one of the fruit do something that garners my attention in a good way, a bean goes in the jar. To start out, it is a just a little jar…maybe about a pint. When the jar gets to-the-brim full, we’ll all get a treat and we will also perform some act of community service as a family. I’m doing this to make the habit in all of us to do the things that need to be done and be nice to one another, as well as so I will pay more attention to the positive things the fruit do. F3 said, “But Mom, we’ll be doing things to get a treat, not to be helpful or nice.” Just as I was about to respond to that, F1 jumped in and said, “Yeah, but this helps us to form the habit of helping and being nice.” Before I was even finished speaking, F4 was off doing chores that didn’t belong to her. I think we’ll be seeing a full jar soon!

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I have just finished reading Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation by Charles Barber. Mr. Barber spent several years as a counselor to the addicted, mentally ill homeless, as well as several more years as a researcher at medical schools. This book is filled with study conclusions, statistics, anecdotal evidence, and the personal opinions of Mr. Barber and several other researchers, scientists, and psychologists/psychiatrists. I have found it to be thoroughly eye-opening in regards to the use and efficacy of psychiatric drugs, psychotherapies, and social involvement.

Mr. Barber begins the book with an expose of Big Pharma. He explains the true effectiveness of many of the psychiatric drugs – a truth not even the FDA sees before it authorizes a drug’s sale. He also outlines the massive direct-to-consumer marketing techniques that Big Pharma has used to convince multitudes of Americans that they need to the rescue offered in their little pills. A short history of psychiatry is also offered up, detailing both the positive and negative outcomes of each era in mental health history.

The next section of this book discusses alternatives to psychiatric drugs. The pros of cognitive behavioral therapy, Motivational Interviewing, peer involvement therapies, and community/social involvement are reviewed at length. Mr. Barber also discusses the revolutionary idea that our brains can change and grow in response to mental stimulus. This idea has far reaching implications and combines the heretofore at odds fields of neuropsychology and psychotherapy.

Throughout the book, Mr. Barber makes the distinction between the “worried well” – those of us who have mild to moderate depression – and those with major depressive disorder. This is an important distinction in regards to resolving the mental illness. While therapy can work well for both types of depression, antidepressants tend to only offer up side effects to those who are only mildly or moderately depressed.

One of the therapies Mr. Barber describes in detail is cognitive behavior therapy. This is a process in which the client makes an effort to become aware of the automatic thoughts that filter on a constant basis through the mind. In becoming aware of these thoughts, the client can then replace the negative ones with realistic ones, thereby effectively stopping their depressive tendencies. Although Mr. Barber spent a deal of time comparing this therapy to eastern religions such as Buddhism, I think it has much to do with Christianity. This is the same process that God wants us to do to keep our minds pure. We must “think about what we are thinking about”, as Joyce Meyer puts it in her book, The Battlefield of the Mind. We must then cast down wrong thoughts that are not in line with what the Bible says.

I recommend Comfortably Numb to everyone in the American public. Mr. Barber has offered up a well documented argument against the over use of psychotic drugs in the “worried well”. But he didn’t just leave it there. He offered an alternative in the forms of psychotherapy and acceptance of the fact that it is normal for us to be mildly depressed in light of the world in which we live.

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Dinner Tonight

So, I managed to cook a full-blown meal tonight. Not that I don’t cook most nights, but tonight just felt like more work for some reason. We had Shake & Bake chicken breasts, roasted asparagus, to which I added lemon juice (a few squirts from the bottle) and minced garlic, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw with pears and apples. I wasn’t sure if I liked asparagus and had no idea how to cook it. So I hopped online and found that recipe and also read many of the comments, which is where the garlic and lemon juice ideas came from. I really liked the asparagus cooked this way. The fruit didn’t really care for it except for F3. But SB chicken and mashed potatoes are always hits with them, so I knew they’d be getting some nutrition tonight.

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