Friday, December 28, 2007

Unschooling blog.

A fantastic blog by a mom in Canada.

She's a Suzuki instructor, so there are a lot of musical posts.

Her kids are math whizzes, so there are a lot of math resource posts.

They are involved in an unschoolers culture club, so those posts are lots of fun to read and give me ideas to store away for the future.

She posts about every day life, so you get a really good snapshot of one unschooling family (and some recipes!).

Brains and things.

Hannah loves figuring out how the body works. Her latest obsession is the brain. For a few days she's been asking me what a brain looks like and I keep telling her that we should look it up, but we've never gotten around to it.

Last night we got on Google images and looked up pictures of brains. Matt walked by as we were doing this, saw it was something 'scientific' and jumped in, telling her what the different parts of the brain did, which she loved.

Then she wanted to see a real brain working. We went to YouTube and found videos of brain surgery which led to an explanation of tumors and the difference between malignant and benign tumors. Matt and I have both had benign tumors removed, so she got to hear about that although she wasn't happy that her nursie had once had a tumor in it. That night when Matt was putting her to bed she told him that she had a tumor in her forehead, "but it's not manignant, Daddy. It's be-ign. It doesn't hurt at all. But it's there." Luckily, it was gone by morning.

Following YouTube links, she progressed from brain surgery to heart surgery which finally - FINALLY - helped her connect to the heartbeat she hears when we go visit the midwives. Now she's very excited about our next midwife visit and Ainsley is sick of having Hannah's ear pressed to her chest every time she lies down.

So if I had to classify last night, would it be biology? Physical sciences? I still need to look into Idaho homeschooling regulations to see how to meet the requirements while unschooling.

Need noise?

When I'm folding laundry, I like to have something on to keep me distracted from the drudgery. It used to be a tv show online, but I was floundering when the writers strike hit.

Then I happened upon TED. Now I don't think that I'll go back to tv. Most of the talks I've listened to have been wonderful, some have been ok, a few have been blah.

Try it, you may like it!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas just like momma used to make it.

Christmas morning.

Santa came.

Then the girls came.

I can't remember what brought on this level of excitement.

Ains unwrapping stocking presents.

Hannah with the surprise exciting present of the day - princess underwear. (We thought they would be well received, but not pored over and changed at least 57 times throughout the day.) All were loved except for Jasmine who was generously given to her sister.

Reading through a book of mythical animals.

Playing with gorgeous hats and a flute that their uncle sent them.

Random play throughout the day... These pics don't include the hours of play with Hannah's favorite present (the one she wrote Santa for), her "Brisa pony", a Breyer pegasus. It's very small and Ainsley got a different one ("Kona"), so I was Kona to her Brisa for many hours of pretend. Ainsley spent those hours interacting with us, cooking with Matt, or playing with the dolls that I made for Hannah and her.

We also played a new game called Gassy Gus that Matt got. You feed Gus different foods, and the gassier they are, the bigger his tummy gets. If he poots while you're feeding him, you have to take more cards. The girls LOVED it.

The night before Christmas...

We read Christmas books, watched a Christmas movie (The Grinch), wrapped family presents, and gave the girls their new jammies.

The girls loved playing with the wrapping paper tubes. First they had a sword fight and then Ainsley turned hers (without any prompting) into a horse.

New jammies.

Through the month of December.

Writing a letter to Santa.

Then delivering it...

Visiting a camel at a local lights extravaganza.

Getting presents that the Elf left the night before. The Elf visits several times before Christmas Day. This time he left Hannah a book about fairies and Ainsley a toy.

A friend showing Hannah a Russian nesting doll - she'd never seen one before and was fascinated. I'd never seen one go down so small. The tiniest doll was the size of my pinky fingernail.

What happens when your daughter tells you she has something on her dress and without looking you tell her to "just shake it off". Candy powder can really fly.

Making glitter snowflakes. This was our first foray into glitter and it was very glittery.

Snow play.

Watching Matt try to get a DVD out of our broken DVD player.

Playing with a sticky monkey that she got out of a 25 cent vending machine. As you can see from her face, she thought it was hilarious when it would "climb" down the window.

Ainsley dressing up. I try to keep her out of the hallway during the day because this is what happens when she sees all of the winter clothes.

Giggling babes.

My girls are running around the house chasing each other and giggling hysterically. In the teepee, under the teepee, through the chairs, under the table, through the kitchen and halls. Giggling babes are worth anything else parents go through.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NAIS is not mandatory.

It's completely voluntary.

Unless it's not.

"Premises ID Required for Livestock Exhibitors at Illinois Fairs in 2008
Compiled By Staff
November 5, 2007

If you want to show livestock at an Illinois state, county, 4-H or FFA fair next year, you'll need a premises identification number from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The new ruling applies to swine, cattle, sheep, goats, equine, poultry, rabbits and llamas that will be exhibited at an Illinois fair, beginning in 2008."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: Demonic Males

OK, so here's the deal. This book has been recommended to me over and over and over. It's supposed to give you an inner glimpse into the male psyche.

It took me almost half the book to really "get it" and not be able to put it down. The first half was good - not boring, lots of interesting stories, but I couldn't see what they were getting at. Once they hit the bonobos, though, it all tied together.

The basic premise of the book is: Men are inherently violent, much more so than women. Is that culture alone or is there a biological reason? Can we find the answer to that question by looking at the other great apes, man's closest relatives?

There are five species of great apes - gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, humans, and bonobos. Of these five species, all but one have high levels of violence towards others of their species, and relationship violence (males being violent towards females) is high in those four species.

Orangutans - rape by the "small males" is very common. (A quote from this section that I marked, since it's a sensitive subject, was "Even if animal parallels tell us about ourselves, they justify nothing.") They will even rape human females. Battery of females by the small males is very common and quite brutal. Since orangutans are solitary, there is not "inter-group" violence.

Gorillas - infanticide is amazingly common. The vast majority of gorilla females lose at least one baby to an attack by a silverback out to get her to join his troop. Gorillas live in groups that consist of one male and many females. Other males looking to start their own group/enlarge their group can go about this in two ways: they can either kill or defeat a silverback with an existing group or they can charge past him, tear a baby out of its mothers arms and kill it - there is a good chance that that mother will choose to join him. It didn't make sense to me until they spelled it out, but it is a logical choice for the mother of the killed infant to join the killer - she knows that he is strong enough to protect her next baby. So sad. There is little relationship violence since silverbacks want the females to join them willingly. There is violence between silverbacks for harem control.

Chimpanzees - by far the most violent of the wild great apes. They raid other groups, killing when they can. They rape. They beat lower males and any females and children. They even have torture like behaviors when in the midst of a raid.

There was a lot of time in this book put into comparing chimpanzees and humans since they are the closest to us in behavior.

Humans - obviously very violent. A really interesting piece that I pulled out was about how quickly humans form groups and how quickly one group can become violent towards another group (within minutes even of forming an Us vs. Them complex towards strangers).

Bonobos - now here's the interesting group. Bonobos have no "relationship violence", as a general rule. There is no rape, as a general rule, no infanticide. These apes are not a "nice" species, there is nothing that can be seen in their genetic makeup that makes them more peaceful. What makes them more peaceful? The females.

Female bonobos have the power. If a male attacks a female, he does not just have her to deal with - he has to fight off all of her supporters also. Female bonobos spend a lot of time and effort building up a support network. When a female is in danger, her friends come to her aid physically and emotionally. They support her with hoots and howls when she's fighting well and support her physically if she's being beaten. Rape is not allowed - the male would be beaten down.

Bonobos live in troops similar to chimpanzee troops. Many males, many females, a constantly changing power struggle within the troop. However, in bonobos, a female may be "top dog" while that is NEVER the case in chimpanzees. Truthfully, it's rare in bonobos also. Most of the top bonobos are male, but they are there only by the grace of the females, specifically their mothers. If the mother of a bonobo male dies, his place in the troop is likely to downgrade while a bonobo with a present and lively mother will likely move up. In chimpanzee groups, no female is above any adult male. In bonobo groups, males and females are constantly moving around in the power game and there are more females higher up than males. Also, if two females switch places, power-wise, in a troop, their sons are likely to have to switch places with each other also.

This piece of information, about bonobos being female-bonded, was exciting for me. I thought about it constantly for a few hours after I read it. It sounded so similar to the call for action in the book C*nt (sorry, I had to change that for search engine reasons) that I read a few years ago. I plugged that option, females defending females, into scenarios in our human world, specifically in my culture and came to the depressing conclusion that it would not work for us, at least not right now.

The most glaring example? Say that I have a dinner party. A friend's husband yells at her and shoves her. The other females at the party stand up to him together and tell him that he may have had the power before, but with all of us together, the power dynamic has shifted and he's no longer in control. He can't beat down seven angry women. We can protect her... until they go home together (or she goes home alone, in which case she's no longer protected - he can easily find her again). In our "nuclear family" society, we can't protect other women sufficiently. We just can't. Goddess, it's depressing to see a way out and not be able to take it.

Overall, this book was great for two reasons: the realization that a group of animals has figured it out, so we should be able to also and the realization that while male violence is never excusable, and there is a huge cultural influence on the amount and type of violence, there is also a genetic component there. And that realization helps. I don't know quite why, I wish I could explain it, but it does seem to calm me. Maybe because the bonobos have the same genetic component but have still found a way to live very peaceful lives? I don't know. My pregnancy brain won't let me compute it.

Jesus panties.

My older daughter has a recent fascination with Jesus. The other night she told me that "Jesus loves you, mother". She's also been asking who he is, where he lived, why he's dead, etc.

THIS is my unschooling challenge. For some it's tv/video games/computers, for others it's food, for others it's reading/math/science. For me it's religion.

I'm trying hard to give her straight answers with no hint of the taint that years of Mormonism left on my spiritual psyche. I try to tell her "This is what your daddy thinks, this is what I think. You can think whatever you want." I answer her questions with clear, short answers.

And if I happen to run across a video like this one, I don't hesitate to show it to her. I ran across it in a very unlikely place (in a TED speech) and laughed so hard that Ainsley was giggling hysterically also. Hannah loves it and asks to watch the "Jesus panties movie" often. Enjoy. You will laugh your ass off. Even my forever-Mo husband did.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Until I get into the habit of posting here more often, I'm not going to dissect any of these pics for you. You may notice that Hannah has rarely taken off her princess dress from Halloween. Enjoy the snapshots!

Ainsley helping make pie crust.

"Princess in Boots"

Balloon fun.

Making foam turkeys.

Jello play.

Helping make my prenatal/nursing tea.

Tattoo fun.

Milkshake mishap.

Helping cut out a pattern.

Cutting Flower's hair.

Ainsley drawing.

New paint area.

Sorting pony fruit snacks.

Gingerbread house we made.


Cute little aprons that their aunt made for them.