Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Advent Activities: Christmas Cookies

For Day 1 and 2 of Advent activities, we baked cinnamon cookies (butter, sugar, egg, flour, and cinnamon) and decorated them with some friends. Scout Kid was so into it; I need to make more effort to do crafts with him because he concentrates so hard and so long.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Science: Hear Your Heart

I've been so looking forward to this activity, checking the Amazon package tracking every day 'til our supplies came. Our supplies are a teaching stethoscope (two earpieces) and this book on the heart. Here's what we did (and, to be honest, haven't really stopped doing since; Scout Kid's a fan!):

-Read through the Hear Your Heart book. It's a bit above Scout Kid's comprehension level, but not so much that I couldn't stop and explain the stuff he didn't understand. We did skip a few pages in the middle on veins, though.
-Put on our stethoscope and listened to each other's hearts. Talked about how my heart was slower and his faster.
-Along with the book, felt our heartbeats in our chests and compared our fist sizes to compare our heart sizes.
-Watched this video to get a more visual idea of how the pumping of the heart works.

*Disclosure: Amazon links through my Affiliates account.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014

Houselove: Flylady


So if you've hung out with me and/or been to my house in the last few weeks, chances are you've heard me mention the Flylady. Since a few of you have mentioned you'd like me to share, here goes.

Maybe a month or two ago, a friend posted about the Flylady and I just sort of ignored because she was posting from the perspective of having really fallen behind in her home and being totally swamped. I thought, my house is usually pretty clean. I mean, I keep everything tidy; I usually manage to vacuum once a week; sometimes I even mop (sometimes). I didn't think about it for a while, but then two weeks ago, out of idle curiosity, I clicked over.

First things first, do not let the website put you off. The UI was, I believe, put together by a gila monster and the graphic design team was a squad of spider monkeys, but despite the ugly graphics and confusing navigation, the methods in here are pure gold.

The basis for the system is increments. Increments and scheduling. The two bases for the system are increments, scheduling, and a knowledge that it doesn't all have to get done at once. The three bases for the system... ahem. Anyways. Increments. Tasks are never done in big chunks, you don't spend a whole day turning your house upside to declutter or exhaust yourself trying to deep clean a room all at once, but do everything in short, timed increments: ten minutes of decluttering here, fifteen minutes of detailed cleaning there, two minutes of tidying there.

Since the website has the information scattered all over the place, I spent a day or so conglomerating everything for myself and typed up my own schedule. Here are the pieces of the puzzle for your viewing pleasure:
  • Have a morning and evening routine that includes:
    • Morning: Getting dressed and making your bed
    • Morning: Quickly wiping down your bathroom 
    • Morning: Emptying the dishwasher and moving the laundry forward a step
    • Evening: Shining your sink
    • Evening: Setting out your clothes and whatever is needed for tomorrow
    • Evening: Going to bed at a reasonable hour
  • Having a daytime routine that includes:
    • 15 minutes of exercise (I use the 7-Minute Workout App)
    • 15 minutes of decluttering or detail cleaning
    • Drinking water every day (I love that she includes self-care in the home-care routine)
  • Having a weekly routine (I do most of these on days other than what she suggests because it fits my life better) that includes:
  • Having a monthly routine that involves focusing on decluttering/detail cleaning a different area of your home each week:
    • Zone 1: Entrance, front porch, dining room (for me this is entrance, porches, hall office)
    • Zone 2: Kitchen
    • Zone 3: Main bathroom/extra bedroom/kids’ rooms/craft room (for me this is bathroom, hall, and boy's room)
    • Zone 4: Master bed/bathroom & closet (for me this is master bedroom/closets and office)
    • Zone 5: Living room/den/TV room (for me this is living room & basement)
  • Following Flylady's daily missions for the week's Zone in addition to doing that 15 minutes of cleaning/decluttering there.
Finally, if you haven't been all linked out, here's a link to the pdf of my schedule based on this. If you need a reason to sift through this rather complicated system, here it is: two weeks, mother of two kids under three, part-time work from home, and I have time to clean out closets and work out and clean parts of my house that have never been cleaned before and get all my regular housework done. I've been doing this for two weeks and my house is gleaming like a silver spoon.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

English: (Story) Leonard Bernstein's Peter and the Wolf

I've been trying to move away from my default of letting Scout Kid watch a movie (Robin Hood, usually) while I'm busy with something, so this morning I played him a record we have of Leonard Bernstein narrating/directing Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. He was enthralled. For most of the story he sat still(ish) listening, but near the end he grabbed his toy wolf and jump rope and began acting along with the story. As soon as it was done, he requested to listen to it again, and he's been playing Peter ever since so, I think, success!

Here are the recordings if you want to listen: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Language: Lingu Pinguin App

You see a lot of flak directed at screentime for kids, but there's one thing screens can do that I can't do: provide my children with language instruction in a native accent. Whether it's sign language or French (both of which I am teaching Scout Kid), my clumsy, slow translations can't measure up to the fluidity and accuracy of a recorded voice.

The Lingu Pinguin app is just an introduction, providing a gateway for us to talk about the different languages people use (we currently have a French intern student working on our farm and Scout Kid was asking me today, "Gus learning to speak French?", so we talked about how he lived in a country where everyone speaks French, and how his mummy and daddy talked French to him from the time he was a little baby, just like we speak English to Scout Kid.) The app is simple and attractive, and features several different screens with a theme (Animals, Toys, Nature, etc.) The different objects can be touched and respond with a narrator saying their name in French, and a little animation. The game also features a multiple choice quiz to practice. $1.99 for iPad and iPhone.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Music Mondays: XO, Beyoncé

Well, this has sort of turned my world upside-down. I don't think I've ever liked a Beyoncé song before, but I reallllllllllllly like this song. It is also probably, like, super-old news to everybody who actually follows pop music.

Science: Tree Identification

On Friday we took a basket and scissors and a field guide to North American trees and tried to identify the trees on our yard. Here's what we did:

-Used the vocabulary for different parts of trees (needles, cones, leaves, bark, etc) as we went around the yard collecting bits of each different kind of tree. This was as much a lesson in 'tree literacy' as in identification.
-Took photos of the bark of each tree so that could help us ID them.
-Sat down with our book to attempt to identify the trees. This purpose was not accomplished as Scout Kid mainly just enthusiastically flipped through exclaiming, "Hey, dat looks right!" But he really did enjoy looking through all the pictures and we talked more about different parts of a tree as we came upon them in the book.
-Gathered some fallen maple leaves and put them in a book to press. When they're done we'll glue them in Scout Kid's Nature Journal.

Sorry for the radio silence, by the way; I've been sick and haven't had the energy for anything more educational than Disney movies.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mesmerising: Formation Scenes

More mesmerising: two formation-of-the-earth scenes, one from Noah, one from Tree of Life. The one from Noah is fast and full of the vibrancy of life. The one from Tree of Life is slow and solemn and full of the weight and majesty of life.

Formation Scene from Ipogenesis on Vimeo.

Oh, edited to add: Full screen, of course. Don't miss out.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mesmerising: "Cain" Silhouettes

This website shows all the "Cain" (i.e. murderer) silhouettes in the gorgeous creation sequence from Aronofsky's Noah. I linked a few but the whole sequence is worth a look.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Meal Mondays: Roasted Tomato Soup with A Cheddar Lid

The Recipe:
Taken from Smitten Kitchen, this biting, warming soup is so great for when the weather is cold and autumnal. Which, it wasn't today, traitorously. The joys of meal-planning in advance, right?

The Ingredients:
3 pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Crusty bread, cut into short strips
Cheddar cheese, grated

The Method:
1. About 2 hours before you want to eat, preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread tomatoes out on it cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic in foil, add to pan, and roast everything for about 45 minutes to an hour, until tomatoes are browning and garlic is very soft.
2. Cool tomatoes slightly, then add tomatoes, peeled garlic, and any browned bits from the pan to a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree.
3. Place tomato puree, thyme, red pepper flakes, and stock in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon soup into 4 ramekins, top with bread strips and generous handfuls of cheddar. Bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Broil for a few minutes to brown cheese, and serve.

The Verdict:
So good, make it.

Also. I hate it when Steven is working long hours and I have to take my own pictures, bleah.

Friday, 26 September 2014

TIL: Bill C-33

Today I learned that a bill called "First Nations Control of First Nations Education" is currently under debate between the Assembly of First Nations and the Aboriginal Affairs department. (Apologies for any misinformation as this is not an area of expertise for me.)

From Prime Minister Harper's website:
"The legislation will ensure First Nations control of First Nations education while establishing minimum education standards, consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. For example, the legislation will require that First Nation schools teach a core curriculum that meets or exceeds provincial standards, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that First Nation schools award widely recognized diplomas or certificates. These requirements do not currently exist... The legislation will also improve transparency and promote accountability by establishing clear roles and responsibilities for First Nation education administrators, and annual reporting requirements. The bill will also allow for the establishment of First Nation Education Authorities. These Authorities will act like school boards in the provincial education system to provide the key secondary support to help ensure that First Nation schools are meeting their requirements under the Act, and are providing a quality education for First Nation students."

From the AFN website:
"First Nations are calling for real engagement with the federal government on an honourable process that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity to achieve First Nations control of First Nations education based on First Nations rights and responsibilities.  First Nations overwhelmingly rejected federal legislation, Bill C-33, because it was about federal control of First Nations education. In the wake of that rejection, First Nations are calling for a new path forward leading to genuine First Nations control supported by fair, predictable and stable funding for First Nations education."

From the Bill itself, section 21, which would preclude the possibility of First Nations language immersion schools (not the contrast of 'is to' and 'may; it's not insignificant coming from a government that has in the long-term played the part of dismantling and erasing First Nations cultures):
"Subject to the regulations, the council of a First Nation is to offer English or French as the language of instruction and may, in addition, offer a First Nation language as a language of instruction... The council of a First Nation may, as part of an education program, give students the opportunity to study a First Nation language or culture."

From Twitter, the hashtag #IAmRogue on the subject:

I have recently been staggered by how little I know about Canadian First Nations and the issues surrounding their interactions with the Canadian Crown and white privilege. As I do begin to educate myself and practicing listening and caring, you will find there are more posts on First Nations issues here.

Bible: Foundation Verses

For Bible, we're not really limiting it to one day but rather doing things like praying, reading together, singing, memorising Scripture, learning catechism, etc. over the course of our weeks. We have started memorising our way through these Foundation Verses from Desiring God ministries. I don't have much of a system, just saying the verses lots and using our sign language where we can.

(Great little moment, we started with Genesis 1:1, and I was teaching it to Scout Kid while we played mini-sticks with Scout Kid in full goalie regalia. We'd said it through a few times and I was leaving spaces for him to fill in he blanks and we got: "Okay, Scout Kid. 'In the beginning God created...?'" "Hockey!" Er, no, that was the eighth day of creation I think...)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Art: Concrete Indians, Nadya Kwandibens

"Seen through the lens of Nadya Kwandibens, being Indigenous in a modern world is a beautiful balance. As a Toronto-based professional photographer and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe of the Northwest Angle #37 First Nation in Ontario, Canada, Kwandibens has spent years capturing the spirit of today’s Indigenous Peoples in a manner that highlights the unique way Native identity intersects with contemporary life."

Beautiful photographs. See more here.

Monday, 22 September 2014


This post on Adventure Journal had a bit that hit me like a lightning bolt:

"A couple weeks ago, Alastair Humphreys told me about the Explore feature on Kayak.com that allows you to enter the amount of money you’d liked to spend, and shows you where you can fly in the world for that amount.

This is of particular interest to Alastair, because this year he’s encouraging everyone to save £20 (or $20, or €20) every week for the entire year, and then take that money and plan an adventure with it—for $1,000. He said at the time of our conversation, a little over halfway through the year, he would be able to get from his home in the U.K. to New Zealand, according to Kayak."

A quick and dirty calculation tells me Steven and I could get to Portugal next year if we did this $20 a week plan. Since we haven't been on a vacation longer than a weekend since our honeymoon (4 years next week!) and not at all since our children were born, this would make a good goal for our 5-year anniversary. Because heck yeah I'd go to Portugal with him!

Want to find out where you can go with your budget?

Mesmerising: Conception to Birth

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Manly Church

Today I want to talk a little bit about the common charge heard in Conservative/complementarian circles that today's church is 'feminised', springboarding off this article from Christianity Today called "Act Like Men: What It Means to Fight Like a Man", subtitled, Men, is [sic] your life characterised by courage, strength, and love?

Here's how the article starts: "One of the reasons many churches struggle is they're not a friendly place for men. Think about the worship service at your church. More than likely, there's a lot of talk about loving each other, but not much about fighting against sin or fighting for each other. There's holding hands when we sing, but not much locking arms as we get marching orders for the mission."

The article goes on to cite passages like 2 Timothy 4:7 ("I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race..."), Ephesians 6 ("Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil…so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand."), and 1 Peter 5:8 ("Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.")

You may not be surprised to find that I take issue with this. Here's why: what they are talking about is not feminisation. It is just plain weak theology and vague experientialism-- and I refuse to accept that as inherent to my gender. "Is your church all about lovey-dovey pop-psychology stuff, with no serious, difficult looks at sin and struggle to be seen? LADIES."

Those passages referenced above? Are inspired Scripture intended for the whole of the church, not 'Notes from the Men's Manual of Being a Good Christian'. Battle language is part of our life as Christians; warring against the flesh, fleeing temptation, standing firm against the flaming darts of the enemy, being alert and watchful are the territory of every Christian. Being "characterised by courage, strength, and love"? Two-thirds of that dictum are in my blog title referencing Proverbs 31, the excellent wife.

I have always loved John Piper's description of "strong complementarian women" as having "massive steel in their backs, and theology in their brains." By all means, let us call churches to draw from the richness, depth, and strength of Scripture in their meetings instead of relying on niceness to save us. Let us face the darkness of our sin, let us ask the Spirit for self-control, endurance, and discipline along with our love, kindness, and gentleness-- and let all of us do this without drawing a line down the middle for gender, because that line is not written into God's Word. Let us not, however, make the mistake of calling a theologically-weak, feel-good, standardless church 'feminised'. Because, I beg your pardon, but that ain't my femininity.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Music: Note Names

Today's exercise went in a very unexpected direction, which I guess is the fun of following the lead of your student's interest. The only plan I had was 'label the piano', but here's what we did:

-Got out our alphabet stickers and began labeling the notes-- all the C's, then all the D's, etc. As we did this, I showed him out all the C's sound the same, and so on with the other notes.
-Talked about how the high notes were light and high like a fairy's feet, and the low notes were deep and heavy like a giant's feet. Oh, oops, I mentioned fairies, so Scout Kid, "Where Peter Pan?"
-Improvised a quick song for each octave, with the low octaves serving as Captain Hook, the cannon, and the crocodile, on up through Peter Pan, Wendy, John & Michael, and Tinker Bell. Samples: "Crocodile ticks loud; his clock rings,"and "Peter Pan flies up in the sky." Not fabulous lyrics but we did sing a lot of scales that way...

Dessa, Children's Work

Just discovered Dessa. Talk about girlboss. Mind (maybe soul) blown.

Monday, 15 September 2014

English: Alphabet Puzzle

Mondays are our busy day (grocery shopping + claiming back the house from the weekend mess) so we keep the activities simple. Our English activities will actually be mostly playing with letters, talking about phonics and letter combinations and such as a natural part of the play. Here's what we did today:

-Got the fabulous Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book and Scout Kid's hand-me-down alphabet puzzle out. Dumped all the puzzle pieces on the floor.
-Flipped through the pages, finding the letters that matched the respective pages, talking about the letter sounds, and reading the words in the pages.

This was a very simple activity and I wasn't sure Scout Kid would be interested, but he enjoyed it. He was definitely more interested in this than last week's geography activity (although he did actually end up liking the continents song.)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Foundland Fridays: Soap Utopia

This recommendation is close to my heart because I love Canadian-made, and I also love natural beauty products. Soap Utopia makes gorgeous, natural soaps in Oakville, Ontario. I love the Baby Me unscented baby soap for the boys, and Steven and I use the Muskoka Boathouse and Oakmoss scents because they're nice and unisex (well, they're unisex if you're me and you're not into ultra-feminine, floral scents). I also love the lip-balms, they work better for me than anything I've bought at a drugstore (including Burt's Bees) and have lovely scents. Lily treats her customers well and I won't buy any other soaps for our family. Four-bar bundles for $22.60 with flat-rate shipping.

History/Geography: Continents

So for today's activity we did a little geography. It was not my most favoured activity, so we only spent about 20 minutes on it, but here's what we did:

-Watched the above video and pointed on the globe to each continent as the girls sang it. Talked about how a continent is a big piece of land, like a big, big, island, with many countries like Canada inside it.
-Printed this map of the world and coloured it in. (I hope that link works, they sometimes don't.)
-Quickly lost interest in colouring the world and wanted to draw tree forts instead. That's fine, I guess.
-Then Scout Kid wanted to go play Survivorman in his bedroom. I took him to his room, sang him the continents song one more time pointing at his big wall map in the bedroom, and then we were done for the day.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Quote: Kindness, Generosity, and Women Who Were Not Afraid To Grow Old

""You'll do one thing before you take her into the spare room," said Old Grandmother fiercely. "Moorhouse and Stackley have given up the case. They've only half a brain between them anyhow. Send for that woman-doctor."
Young Grandmother looked thunderstruck. She turned to Uncle Klon, who was sitting by the baby's cradle, his haggard face buried in his hands.
"Do you suppose--I've heard she was very clever--they say she was offered a splendid post in a children's hospital in Montreal but preferred general practice--"
"Oh, get her, get her," said Klondike--savage from the bitter business of hoping against hope. "Any port in a storm. She can't do any harm now."
"Will you go for her, Horace," said Young Grandmother quite humbly.
Klondike Lesley uncoiled himself and went. He had never seen Dr. Richards before--save at a distance, or spinning past him in her smart little runabout. She was in her office and came forward to meet him gravely sweet.
She had a little, square, wide-lipped, straight-browed face like a boy's. Not pretty but haunting. Wavy brown hair with one teasing, unruly little curl that would fall down on her forehead, giving her a youthful look in spite of her thirty-five years. What a dear face! So wide at the cheekbones--so deep grey-eyed. With such a lovely, smiling, generous mouth. Some old text of Sunday-school days suddenly flitted through Klondike Lesley's dazed brain:
"She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."
For just a second their eyes met and locked. Only a second. But it did the work of years. The irresistible woman had met the immovable man and the inevitable had happened. She might have had thick ankles--only she hadn't; her mother might have meowed all over the church. Nothing would have mattered to Klondike Lesley. She made him think of all sorts of lovely things, such as sympathy, kindness, generosity, and women who were not afraid to grow old. He had the most extraordinary feeling that he would like to lay his head on her breast and cry, like a little boy who had got hurt, and have her stroke his head and say,
"Never mind--be brave--you'll soon feel better, dear."
"Will you come to see my little niece?" he heard himself pleading. "Dr. Moorhouse has given her up. We are all very fond of her. Her mother will die if she cannot be saved. Won't you come?"
"Of course I will," said Dr. Richards."

-Magic for Marigold, L.M. Montgomery

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Music: Shakers and Rhythm

Today we explored rhythm in music. Here's what we did, for about 45 minutes:

-Listened to Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints while we coloured and decorated our paper plates. Drummed on our plates along with Proof, listening for the loud and soft parts.
-Filled our plates with rice and beans (one of each) and stapled them shut.
-Had a dance party to Coast, Frantik (WWMT), and Happy from Despicable Me 2. Shook our shakers, twirled ("Look, woom turning!") and ran around.
-Listened to Paul Simon's Gumboots, and watched a video of gumboot dancers, since earlier Scout Kid had been drumming on his rubber boots. While we did this, Scout Kid also practiced cutting on the streamers with his little scissors.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Meal Mondays: Five-Hour Roast Duck

The Recipe:
My friend has been trying his hand at raising free-range ducks and chickens, and we were the recipients of his first slaughteree (File that under 'words I never expected to type.') It wasn't the prettiest duck ever roasted, but beauty is as beauty tastes, so...

Recipe from Global Gourmet.

The Ingredients:
1 duck (I don't know what weight it was, sorry!)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Handful thyme sprigs

The Method:
1. Begin cooking about 5 hours and 45 minutes before you wish to eat. Preheat oven to 300F and set a rack in the middle level. Remove giblets from duck and pat dry with paper towels, removing any loose chunks of fat from the cavity. Rub the cavity with salt, pepper, and garlic, and lay the sprigs of thyme inside. With a very sharp knife, prick the skin all over, being careful not to pierce the flesh.
2. Place duck breast side up in a roasting pan with a rack (as there will be lots of grease) and begin roasting. Every hour for 4 hours, remove pan from oven, piece skin all over, pour fat out of the pan (reserving for future use!), and turn duck over.
3. After 4 hours, increase oven temperature to 350F, sprinkle duck with salt and pepper, and cook for about 1 hour longer, or until skin is crisp and browned. Let rest for 20 minutes, carve, and serve.
Note: Duck can be served after four hours; it will be juicier but not as tender as the five-hour duck.

The Verdict:
Much better than my rather sad first attempt cooking a duck a year or so back. I only cooked it for four hours and at a slightly higher temperature as I was in a hurry, and I think I pierced it too deeply, so the breast was a little dry, but the dark meat was very juicy and succulent. Mostly I think it's a case of 'practice makes perfect'; the recipe is good but I need to get better at cooking it.

Our new cat Domino was also thrilled to receive the mostly-raw neck, which had been left on the bird. Because I've been reading about homemade cat food and it put the fear in me about the unnaturalness of dry kibble for a cat.

English: Parking Lot Letters

Today we practiced uppercase/lowercase letters and phonics sounds with a "parking lot" and some toy cars. We also used a Scattergories die and our fabulous set of magnetic letters*. Here's what we did:

-Rolled the (uppercase) die and drove cars to the matching lowercase letters. 
-Picked out our family's initials from the die and parked our corresponding cars in those spots.
-Talked about the M and the W and turned the parking lot around so the W was an M.
-Pulled out our magnetic alphabet and made piles of the lower and uppercase letters on their corresponding parking spaces. We also spelled our names and our new cat's name.

*Link through my Amazon Affiliates Account.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Art: Charcoal Drawing

I'm not much of an artist myself but I figure this year we'll just explore different mediums and in future I can get an actual art course that gives Scout Kid a little bit more helpful instruction. So today we swapped out his staple markers for charcoal pencils. Here's what we did, for about half an hour, guided by Scout Kid's interest:

-Picked a few toys to draw from: a wooden toy car and an alligator puppet.
-Draw the car. Talked about the shapes we could see and copied them one by one.
-Drew the alligator. Much of this involved making ferocious zigzags for "darp teef". 
-Experimented with smudging and shading. Enjoyed how messy our fingers were getting.
-Added some brown and red pencil crayon colouring to the pictures at Scout Kid's request.
-Wrote 'car', which Scout Kid attempted to replicate, and 'alligator', which he did not, on the picture along with the date and added it to Scout Kid's Learning Binder.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Science: Chemical Reactions

Scout Kid was very excited to start 'dool' this morning, and after breakfast once Feral Kid was down for his nap, we set up at his desk for our first lesson. We used an eyedropper, a squirt bottle, a teaspoon, and our fingers to experiment with the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar. Here's what we did, led by Scout Kid's interest, for about an hour:

-Talked about how two things can mix together to make something new or something happen, and how that is called a chemical reaction. (This led to Scout Kid dripping vinegar into the soda and exclaiming joyfully, "Someping new! Someping new!")
-Used the eyedropper and the squirter to make the baking soda in the tray fizz.
-Added food colouring to the vinegar to enjoy the pink fizz.
-Experimented with adding baking soda to the vinegar instead, including making handprints in the baking soda and then rinsing hands off in the vinegar bowl.
-Experimented with tasting vinegar and baking soda (unprompted). Result: "Dat taste nasty." Drank some water.
-Experimented with adding water to the baking soda, and discussing how some things cause a reaction and some don't. 
-Cleaned up. Not an insignificant part of the lesson.

Preschool Year One

Today we officially started preschool-homeschooling at the Parsonage! It. It's very low-commitment, just one short activity every day, cycling through 10 different subjects on a two-week schedule. The subjects are:

English: covers letters, phonics, reading, storytelling, vocabulary.
History/Geography: covers world & Canadian geography, map comprehension, reading of age-appropriate historical fiction, exploration of current and historical cultures, and study of our own heritage.
Computers/Technology: covers basic computer literacy like mouse/keypad/keyboard use, iPhone apps, and preliminary coding.
Music: covers musical instruments, dance, rhythm, music notation, and music appreciation.
Bible: covers catechism, Scripture memory, Bible reading, prayer, and singing.
Foreign Languages: I want the boys to learn sign language and French, so this will cover some basic activities we are doing to lay foundations in those two languages.
Phys. Ed: covers large and fine motor activities and sports. Mostly just playing!
Mathematics: covers numeracy & counting, geometry, patterning, telling time & dates, and weights & measures.
Science: covers observation and experimentation in kitchen chemistry, local wildlife, horticulture, simple machines, basic anatomy and astronomy, and things like light-bending, states of matter, and senses.
Art: covers basic colour theory, art appreciation, different forms such as sculpting, painting, collage, printmaking, textile art, and photography.

I'm so looking forward to seeing Scout Kid learn and grow this year, and to blogging all the different activities.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Listen Hard

I've been reading the Native Appropriations blog and really enjoyed this post on the phenomenon of hipster headdresses. It also represents a beautifully articulated discourse on the subject of listening to the marginalised in general:

"I’m trying to think of examples of things I respect, and how I show that respect. I’m actually struggling to think of a time when I respected something, and decided the best way to show that respect was by taking it. I respect the Dalai Lama, but I wouldn’t put on Tibetan monk robes to show that respect. I respect the Zapatistas, but I’m not going to don a mask and wrap myself in an EZLN flag. You know how I show respect? I listen. I listen hard, I listen deeply, and I listen constantly. I listen to stories, I listen to histories, I listen to learn, and I listen to hear when I’ve misstepped. I listen so I can become a more complete human being. It is clear from your response that maybe you heard, but you didn’t listen. If you would have listened to our voices as Native community members, you would have seen that the way to show respect to your Native friends and neighbors was not to put on a headdress and defend your choice, but to take it off and apologize."

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Women's Wednesdays: Female Authors

Today just a quick list of 10 great female authors.

  1. The Bronte Sisters. I love them for the extraordinariness of ordinary women in books like Jane Eyre or Agnes Grey
  2. Agatha Christie. I love that I can never guess the murderer, no matter how many I read. After all, it might be the narrator, or one of the victims, or who even knows! (Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, etc.) 
  3. L.M. Montgomery. I first fell in love with the Emily Trilogy, and my current favourite is The Blue Castle. I love that she believes in romance and beauty, but writes them with humour and darkness, so they're never saccharine or cloying. 
  4. Harper Lee. She only wrote the one book but it is perfect. 
  5. Ursula Le Guin. The Earthsea Series is a good place to start but I've recently been enjoying her science fiction like The Word for World is Forest and Changing Planes. Such beautiful writing.
  6. Jane Austen. No introduction necessary, correct? I think I like Mansfield Park best.
  7. Rumer Godden. Start with An Episode of Sparrows. Characterization and insight into human nature always on point.
  8. Laura Ingalls. Start at the beginning of the Little House series and read all the way through. Her memory is so sharp; not only does she capture all the details of pioneer life (it's practically a manual), but whatever age she's writing about, she inhabits that little girl or young woman so well, it's hard to believe it's not a diary.
  9. Astrid Lindgren. Well-known for the firecracker humour and imagination of Pippi Longstocking, which is, of course, fabulous, but for something a little less on the beaten track, try Ronia the Robber's Daughter.
  10. Madeline L'Engle. A beautiful marriage of theology, science, and humanity in every book, but never pontificating or out-of-place in the fiction. A Swiftly Tilting Planet is probably my favourite.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Toddler Tuesdays: Earthmovers

One of Steven's co-workers gifted Scout Kid a used toy earthmover, which he couldn't have been more thrilled about. We've been watching some big ol' trucks on Youtube this morning. I'm most impressed by how dang long it takes to wash this thing!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Music Monday: Song for Zula, Phosphorescent

Haunting and beautiful. When I first heard this song I was totally unmoved by it and then one day BAM! it shot up the ranks of songs I love. You know when that happens? That happened to me with Bound Stems. I must've had My Kingdom For A Trundlebed for a solid year before I realised it was incredible and I needed to check out the rest of this band's work.

Meal Mondays: Chicken Fried Rice

The Recipe:
The other night, Steven was eating a pack of chicken fried rice microwave dinner and I was like, "Man, I could make this at home and I bet it's easier, healthier, and cheaper." It turns out I was right. Recipe adapted from here.

The Ingredients:
2-3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Pinch ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 each small white onion and carrot, finely chopped
1 cup frozen peas
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

The Method:
1. Earlier in the day, preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Brush over chicken breasts in small baking dish; bake for about 40 minutes, flipping once to coat in sauce. Cool, shred, and set aside.
2. In a large wok or frying pan, heat sesame oil. Fry carrots and onion until soft. Stir in peas.
3. Push vegetables to one side of pan and scramble eggs in the other side. Stir together, then add shredded chicken, cooked rice, and soy sauce. Fry until heated through. Serve topped with green onions.

The Verdict:
Easy, tasty, healthier than boughten. We held back on the soy sauce and added more at table so it was very baby- and toddler-friendly.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Symbolic of the Gospel...

"Genesis 1-2 establishes at least seven norms for marriage: marriage is covenental, sexual, procreative, heterosexual, monogamous, non-incestuous, and symbolic of the gospel." 
 -Denny Burk, God and the Gay Christian?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Always A Member of a Class

"...not that every woman is, in virtue of her sex, as strong, clever, artistic, level-headed, industrious and so forth as any man that can be mentioned; but, that a woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual. What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person."

Dorothy Sayers hitting it out of the park.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Music Mondays: Shapeshifters, Sam Roberts Band

Man, if you haven't listened to Lo-Fantasy yet, you get a chump award. Go listen to it now. Also, those dancers, wow.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Homeschooling: Geometric Solids

For math today we played with geometric solids. I ordered these Hardwood Geometric Solids from Amazon earlier this month, and they arrived this morning. Once Scout Kid was done his room time and we'd played a rousing game of Croatian soccer/hockey/American football, this is what we did:

-Matched the shapes up with the pictures on this printable 3D shapes chart from here. I wasn't sure how he'd do, but he did really well. He had trouble distinguishing the cube from the cuboid, and the triangle- vs. square-based pyramids, but otherwise he was able to match them up.
-Building towers and talking about flat and curved sides (mostly due to frustration with the spheres rolling away!) and how the prisms had different shapes as their sides.
-Drawing some objects that looked like the solids on the back of the sheet: tent, ice-cream cone, half an orange. Also drawing stars and beds for our families, you know how it is. He's only two.

*Disclosure: Amazon links through my Affiliates account.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Lady Legends: Harper Lee

Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the best books ever, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Homeschooling: Colour Mixing

Yesterday's activity was a quick study in colour mixing. It wasn't really the day (Mondays are meant to be for English, which still sounds like a really pompous thing to do with a two-year-old, but whatever: English, we read Huckle and Lowly. Anyways. Tangent.)

For this activity I made some homemade paint from a recipe I'm not going to link because it wasn't that good. I think I'm going to go with boughten paint in future, toxic or no, because I'm not prepared to sacrifice all my food colouring in an effort to get true red so we can do a proper colour mixing exercise. What we did:
-Watched this video on the colour wheel. I was pleased to find this, so simple and slow.
-Mixed up some flour/cornstarch paint and explained how he could mix different colours to make new ones.
-Let him at it! You will see from left to right that he made some beautiful muddy colours with my original neons. He also experimented with dripping paint all over the place and making letters (his U is in the right-hand picture). And painted a dirtbike and a trail for it. A good day's work.

Homeschooling: Canadian Geography

We've begun a very informal brand of preschool homeschool in which I have designated each weekday two subjects and if we have time, I come up with a quick activity related to that subject for while Feral Kid is napping. Tuesdays are for History/Geography and Phys. Ed (because it's normally our swimming day; I want to make it our skating day in the wintertime.)

Today we did an introduction to the provinces of Canada. We spent about an hour on this (guided by Scout Kid's interest) and did the following:
-Colouring maps of Canada, including drawing Scout Kid's house and Grandmommy's house, not to scale.
-Singing a song of the provinces that my mum invented for us years ago, slightly modified to fit in Nunavut because when I was your age there was no Nunavut. I might make a video of Scout Kid and I singing it sometime, once he learns to actually say the words instead of humming along in nonsense-language.
-Reading Paddle-to-the-Sea and tracing his route along the maps we had coloured.
-Zooming in and out on the satellite view of Canada on Google Maps. We talked about how the different colours meant water, trees, rocks, snow, mountains, and fields, and I showed him our house, and Northern Canada, and Hudson Bay and the Rocky Mountains.

*Disclosure: book link through my Amazon Associates account.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Great Against the Powerless

Sir Robert: "The other one is this. It's from a slightly older source. It is this: you shall not side with the great against the powerless."
Member of Parliament: "Mr. Speaker, point of order."
Sir Robert: "I am on my feet."
Member of Parliament: "Will you yield?"
Sir Robert: "I will not yield, Mr. Speaker. You shall not side with the great against the powerless. Have you heard those words, gentlemen? Do you recognize their source? From that same source, I add this injunction. It is this: what you do to the least of them you do to me. Now, now, gentlemen..."

-Excerpt from The Winslow Boy

I was recently asked why I write about women's issues, why I make it one of my interests and passions. My answer was twofold. One reason I wrote about in the past: I feel that misogyny is as much and more of a threat to what complementarians hold dear as gender blurring. The other is summarised beautifully by the above quote.

In the beginning of time, God created humans, without sin, in beautiful harmony, with binary gender, with love and relationship at the heart of what it is to be human. But we sinned. Our relationship with God was broken, and by extension our relationships amongst each other became broken. Ashamed but arrogant, humanity has been trying to make ourselves look better than we are ever since. Genocides, bullying, social climbing and materialistic greed, self-righteousness, self-harming, an obsessive pursuit of physical beauty or physical strength, "in" crowds and outcasts, unhealthy competition-- so much of what is sick in our world stems from the deep underlying knowledge of our fallen condition and our futile efforts to secure our standing without the sacrifice of Christ.

One way this manifests is in the strong-- whether socially, financially, physically, what have you-- using their strength to oppress the weak instead of to protect them.

God calls his people to protection of the disenfranchised, disadvantaged, and forgotten. This value was embedded deeply in the moral code of the Mosaic law. Over and over in the prophetic judgements against Israel is the refrain of their callous heart towards the poor and needy in their land. As this value relates in particular to women, 1 Peter 3:7 specifically enjoins husbands to show honour to the weaker vessel.

In a rightly ordered world, women, physically weaker in terms of sexual dimorphism, pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and menstruation, would only be protected and honoured by men. This is not so. When we look at human history, we see that across cultures, across eras, across belief systems, women have been oppressed. Women have been denied protection under the law, we have been denied education, we have been denied sexual agency*. We have been subjected to physical alterations**, we have been denied employment and financial independence. We have been told our minds are weaker, our emotions hysterical, our bodies shameful. We have been denied dignity and a public voice.

Some will suggest this is a 'victim mentality' and that men suffer at the hands of women as well.  Of course they do; sin is not restricted to one gender. Individual women do great wrong against individual men. However, I strongly argue that the systemic, institutionalised oppression of men by women has been very rare if not unheard of in human history, and is likely to remain that way, given sinful human nature which sides with the strong and oppresses the weaker.

Perhaps I am overzealous in my commitment to women's rights. However, I think it prudent as a Christian to err on the side of being overzealous for the oppressed rather than the oppressor. Certainly being oppressed does not make one a saint, and the oppressed can be greedy, selfish, self-pitying, manipulative, and so on. But the sympathies of our Lord routinely fall on their side nonetheless, and I should prefer to do the same, in as balanced and Scriptural a way as I can. It is the opposite of what sinful nature would have us do: shut up and side with the strong, protect ourselves, ingratiate ourselves, cling to our own comfort, and try to get in on the benefits the strong are reaping.

Secular feminists frequently hold forth the hope that the work of feminism will eventually bring about a better world, one of equality for women. I hope the church rises ever closer to that standard, but I have not much hope for the fallen world to get there; not as it is now. However, one day the risen Redeemer Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, will come back and make all things right. Until then, "You shall not side with the great against the powerless"-- and "What you do to the least of them you do to me."

*From genital mutilation to child brides to rape and sex trafficking to sexual exploitation in advertising and media.

**From footbinding and neck rings to corsets and plastic surgery.

Lady Legends: The Ladies of STOMP

Talk about girlboss.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Meal Mondays: A Week of Lunches

Since Steven started farm work, we've had the great blessing of being able to eat three meals a day together as a family. Seriously, it's like Little House on the Prairie. Breakfast is usually a bit of a rush so I don't change it up too much-- usually sausage, eggs (soft-boiled or scrambled), and fruit on the side, sometimes toast. But lunches, I think I've just hit my stride with. Here's my usual weekly lunch meal-plan.

Monday: Grilled Cheese & Soup
We love Baxter's Winter Squash and Carrot Soup but in a pinch will have Cup-o-Soup; Scout Kid never eats enough of it for me to be worried about the salt.

Tuesday: Hot Dogs
We buy Schneider's Country Naturals, and now when I eat regular old hot dogs the taste difference is actually off-putting. Worth the extra money, in my opinion. We toast the buns and fry up onions for on top.

Wednesday: Thin-Crust Pizza
I divide my bread-maker pizza dough in thirds and freeze it. I'm on a tight schedule between nursing Feral Kid and getting lunch on the table, so we keep the toppings simple: pizza sauce, frozen mozzarella, some sliced peppers and onions, and a little pepperoni or ham.

Thursday: Quesedillas
Tortillas with cheddar and diced deli ham, pan-fried and served with sour cream and salsa.

Friday: Burgers
I've just added this to the rotation after realizing I could make a big batch of homemade burgers and freeze most of it. We like ours trimmed to the hilt- pickles, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, ketchup, cheese, the whole nine yards. I make teeny little patties for Scout Kid and Feral Kid to eat. (Sometimes I'll do subs instead one day of the week.)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Toddler Tuesdays: Tattlys

Here's my two-year-old sporting some rad temporary ink from Tattly. I ordered two letter sets (as well as some carrots) for my sister's bachelorette party, and we've been having fun with the leftovers.

Temporary tattoos are tons of fun whether you're two or twenty-four, but what I love about the letter sets is that Scout Kid is learning as we use them. Scout Kid is sporting, along with his whale, the letters of our family's names. As we picked them out, we practiced the phonetic sounds of each letter, and anytime someone asks about them (because everyone does) he gets to practice their names again. The big thing I've noticed him picking up as we apply tattoos (every couple of weeks, there are a lot of letters to get through!) is how his counting is improved. We count aloud to thirty for each application, and Scout Kid has started joining in with me. I was so surprised the first time he piped up "ninedee" after my "eighteen", but now he'll count along with me.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Music Mondays: Cajun Rabbit-hole

I went down a YouTube Cajun rabbit-hole the other night and this is what I surfaced with.

Product Recommendations: She Is Clothing

I've been eyeing these "Elle est forte" Proverbs 31:25 shirts from She Is Clothing (Canadian!) for a while. They're currently hosting a giveaway on their Facebook page, but they can also be found on Etsy.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Lady Legends: Mireya Mayor

Dr. Mireya Mayor, "the female Indiana Jones", National Geographic wildlife correspondent, mother of five kids under 8, scientist, explorer, Ph.D. in anthropology, and author of Pink Boots and a Machete.

*Disclosure: link through my Amazon Associates account.

When Lies About "Real" Manliness Kill

If you've not yet heard the news about Rodger's shooting spree and the misogyny that spurred it on, you can read about it here. It gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A chilling statement like "I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me but I will punish you all for it," followed by a killing spree-- it's just an isolated incident from a deviantly violent man, right?

Maybe. It comes awfully close on the heels of Maren Sanchez's tragic stabbing death at the hands of a fellow student who she didn't want to go to prom with. Following that incident, I had been thinking about the role TV advertisers played in that death. I've heard or seen it said many times when someone's pointing out the sexism or stereotypes in advertising-- "Advertisers just give people what they want to see. They just use what sells."

But what if they're selling death?

How many thousands of TV commercials have aired that equate masculinity with irresistibility? The man at the bar drinking the right beer with a woman on either arm, so enthralled with his manliness that they don't mind only getting half his attention. The man with the right aftershave who turns the head of every bikini-clad supermodel on the beach. Use our products, advertisers whisper, and you won't even have to ask. Women will be falling over themselves to get into bed with you. You'll be rugged, have that perfect five o'clock shadows, the body of a movie star, and if you have that and our product, what woman could resist you? The perfect man-- irresistible.

In a media-saturated society, many men hear this message over and over, day after day, from so many different sources. It's not surprising if some of them take it deeply to heart. And if manliness equals irresistibility, what does it mean when you're not irresistible? The implication is that a rejection at the hands of a woman has nothing to do with personal incompatibility, or that she's not interested in a relationship right now, or any other logical reason why a woman might not want to be with a man. The implication is that she's emasculating you. Because if you were a "real" man, she wouldn't stand a chance. Her petty female personal preferences would be swept away in the face of "real" manliness.

Couple that with a movie culture that marries manliness with tough-guy violence, and even if all the advertisers intended was to sell some aftershave, they are contributing to a swirling pot of misogynistic violence against women who dare to turn down men.* We cannot afford to think it's okay to just "use what sells", we cannot ignore this stereotype, when the side effect is women being killed.

*Although the extreme violence in the above cases is thankfully more rare, street harassment "rejections" are often met with the same breed of aggressive disdain for women who aren't interested in the catcaller.

We Call This A Summer

Young love, we call this,
twenty-five, wading in a rough sea;
we take the salt waves full in the mouth.
Side-by-side in the green Moroccan-tile shower
we strip off our shorts and shirts
and wash the sand from our skin.
This is how an oyster makes a pearl.
This is how a starfish grows a new limb,
moon-bright in the tide-pool constellations.
These are the jellyfish stranded on the sand after high-tide,
 purple as a bruise, sharp-tongued in their small deaths.

 We return to the shore again and again,
driven by the humid air inland.
Sunburned, scoured by the sand,
my hair coarse and bleached,
here we are again, waist-deep,
chest-deep, lifted and pummelled
as by a bare-knuckle boxer. Young love,
we call this, and we fight like anything to
stay afloat. At night the moon
 lopes across the water and I wear your jacket;
I've pocket full of cobalt seaglass,
and a book of matches, and furious heart.

 We call this a summer, hot as asphalt,
green as dune-grass. We call this a summer,
wild as the grey Atlantic waves, or as a fistfight,
or love.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Toddler Tuesdays: The Stay-At-Home Life

"But there’s a limited window when the kids are young and we have an opportunity to shape and share their most formative experiences. The stay-at-home life is not economically possible for many people (though I think many of us assume it’s less feasible than it actually is), and there are many in-between options that include part-time work, freelancing, job sharing, etc. But to dismiss the possibility of spending more time with your kids after just five weeks (five weeks!!) is profoundly sad."
"Many of us who have our first kids in our 30s (or 40s) are reluctant to fully embrace fatherhood because we fear that we will become a cliché — the minivan-driving dad with yogurt stains and vomit on his sweats — or worse, a feminized loser who wipes up snot while his wife brings home the bacon. We hold fast to the hope that having kids won’t need to be disruptive and that we can still take them to hip hang-out spots or fit them into our snazzy condos. But kids are disruptive, and they should be disruptive. If they don’t reorient everything about ourselves and our identities, then maybe we are just a bit too wrapped up in ourselves."

-From Let Her Eat Dirt.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Wednesday, 21 May 2014



Cakes, veal, cheese, pearl onions, pomegranates-- what odds does it make? You will find these are the cakes of an expert hand, rough with age, tough with sun. Under the green oaks, out on the salt plains, do we not all wander like Hagar, like Lot?

My darling, if God will send a ram! There are some things too sacred not to laugh at.

Quote: From John Newton's 'On Controversy'

"There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God."

Wow. Wow. As a person who loves a good debate, this whole letter was excruciatingly convicting and helpful to me.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Orrery (Suffice It To Say)

I. Uranus
A message erased
before you had a chance to read it,
but it read like a harness, like strong arms,
like charcoal and red clay, and who am I to talk?
Murmurs in the dark (the sweeping dark of starlings)
and what washes in on the high tide
are a message erased before I had a chance to read it.

II. Neptune
When like Lot and his family we fled that darkness
empty as a moon and naked of atmosphere:
suffice it to say I never looked behind me.

III. Saturn
A solemn morning, damp with the dew on the cedars,
and my hand is in yours. Consider this a diagram,
mechanical and systematic, of the solar flares, the
cold dark lunar night, of the calendar year
with the pride of empires
and the wild, fair roots of a laurel tree.

IV. Jupiter
If nothing else,
we have the intricacy of our moving parts,
the cogs and gears of your late nights,
Angostura bitters, steady patience
like a vein of amber fed intravenously
into my wrist. The magic tricks, ink or
engine grease on our knuckles, white teeth
nipping the flesh of a lychee or perhaps your neck,
a Galilean moon in either hand and
one in my pocket for good measure.
No, I can hang on; I can wait.

V. Mars
What doesn't kill us makes us
furiously in love.

VI. Earth
Some thorny problem or another,
I suppose: desert cacti, garden roses,
mountain pines, field thistles,
it's all one. If you listen very close,
you can hear the hum of the
very core of the planet.

VII. Venus
Here it is, laid out to the best of my honesty,
sweet, and spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon,
and stubborn as anything.

VIII. Mercury
Blue-black ether for miles between us,
and all I can think of is the minutest things:
the rim of your skin eclipsed in sunlight,
an eyelash on your cheek for luck;
suffice it to say almost any word
will suffice.

IX. Solas
Consider this a chart of the stars by which,
God helping us, we can painstakingly calculate
the way to land. (And ah, my darling! There is
milk and honey there.)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Toddler Tuesdays: Native Reading Book Review

I have always been of the opinion that early reading is one of the best gifts you can give a child. Having been an early reader myself, I've seen the worlds of knowledge and adventure opened up to me by my ability to read quickly, fluently, and with good comprehension. There can be a tendency with material promoting early reading to assume it means competitive helicopter parents forcing their children into academia when they should be having unbridled playtime, but this book-- and my own approach-- are much different: they promote the joyful, rewarding aspect of learning that comes from mastering subjects young enough that they are second nature to a child. With reading, especially, not needing to labour over sounding out words or struggle to comprehend the gist of a sentence means you are free to revel in the deep, meaningful emotion of stories, or drink deeply of the wells of information available in nonfiction.

Native Reading aligns beautifully with this point of view. Premised on the fact that children are primed for language acquisition between the ages of zero and three, and based on Kailing's own experiences teaching his son and daughter to read, this book outlines 12 ways you can help make learning to read as intuitive as learning to speak for your child.

Lest you think that this means drills or hard work, let me give you the most important of the 12 ways: point to the words in books as you read them to your child. No drills, no hard work, just helping your child to make the connection between the spoken word which their brains are rapidly making connections about, and the written word.

I highly recommend this book and am excited to see Scout Kid and Feral Kid's reading skills blossom. I have been using the pointing technique since Scout Kid was probably 8 or 9 months old (although I only just read the book) and when he pretends to read, he always points at the words-- he understands that I am not just pulling stories out of thin air, but that the words on the page corresponds one on one with what I say. I have begun using the other equally simple and toddler-appropriate techniques in our reading and play; now I guess I just report back before Scout Kid turns three to see if he can read yet!

Disclosure: link is through my Amazon Associates account.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Music Mondays: Banana Pancakes, Jack Johnson

I don't know if anybody else is still listening to Jack Johnson, but it's great weekend music. Or if it's not the weekend, it's great afternoon-snack-with-a-two-year-old music. We were eating Ants on a Log so a song with bananas seemed appropriate.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Houselove: Brick Walkway

After digging a moat around the house in order to waterproof the basement, our yard is basically just a mudpit right now. But someday we'll grade and seed it and when that happens we will once again need walkways that aren't made of muddy two-by-fours. This is nice and visually impactful and a big step up from patio stones. And I often see free brick offered on Kijiji...

Complementarianism and Natural Leaders

The other weekend, I was involved in a discussion about whether complementarianism was based on fundamental characteristics of men and women. The argument I was opposing ran something like this: men in general have personalities and intrinsic qualities better suited to leadership positions, which is why God assigns them as natural leaders (not just in the church and in the home, but in business, politics, and other secular spheres as well.) Now, as is common in a group discussion, nobody really gets to explain their points to the fullest, so I wanted to sit down and write out my point of view in full, for my own sake and for the interest of anyone else who reads it.

Aside from the scientific evidence* and my personal experience (i.e. seeing a pretty even spread of personality characteristics across my circles of acquaintanceship), the main reason I disagree with this argument is because I think it actually undermines the entire position of complementarity (ironically enough, since the people who hold to deep intrinsic differences as the reason for complementarity would intend to uphold it). There are three ways in which I think this argument undermines complementarianism.

First, it borrows a leaf from the egalitarian position that a person's talents and characteristics would be the strongest influencer to God in determining who should be given which tasks among his people. But in looking at Scripture, I don't see evidence of this. I see the God who chose stuttering Moses as the spokesperson to a power-mad Pharaoh, insignificant David as the most important king of Israel, the prostitute Rahab and the foreigner Ruth as key players in the line of the promised Messiah, Christ-hating Paul as the great missionary of the early church. We serve a God who delights to use the weak to do what we would humanly assign to the strong. 1 Corinthians 1 leaves us in no doubt of that: "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."Now, this is not to say that God never uses people's natural talents and inclinations to work His purposes; of course he does. I merely wish to point out that it is a misrepresentation of God to assume that that would be as important to Him as it is to us. God does use people's talents. He also uses them in spite of their weaknesses.

Second, it demeans the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity. As complementarians, we understand complementing roles to be a reflection of the complementing roles within the Trinity. We affirm that while God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit are the same in essence and divinity, there is within the Trinity a hierarchy in which Christ submits in everything to the Father and the Spirit is subjected to the Son's authority. If we are to follow this parallel through logically whilst assuming that male-female roles in the church and home are based on ability, we would then have to assume that the Father is more powerful and better suited to leadership than the Son, who is in turn more powerful and better suited to leadership than the Spirit. But the very beauty of Christ's submission to the point of death is that he was powerful enough to escape his death at any time. Satan tempted Christ to this very thing in the wilderness, urging him to throw off his self-sacrificing submission to the Father's will and seize kingship of the Earth by his own strength. In turn, we see that the Spirit is capable of great, awe-inspiring acts of healing, revival, and other miraculous events, but He chooses most often to work quietly away at our hearts, doing the humble and largely unseen work of rooting out sin in God's people. Thus I would argue that the roles within the Trinity-- and by parallel the roles within the church and family-- as not primarily based on ability, but on willing submission to God's redemptive purposes.

Thirdly, and perhaps most practically, if it were true that male-female roles were assigned based on intrinsic suitability, surely that would excuse anyone who deviated from this general norm from submitting to these roles? If we accept that men are generally more aggressive, competitive, authoritative, and logical and thus better suited to leadership, while women are generally more gentle, cooperative, supportive, and emotional and thus better suited to following, then wouldn't we need to logically allow the women with more leadership ability to use their God-given abilities in a Sunday service, or let more passive, suggestible men let their wives take over in providing direction to their families? After all, if God assigns the roles based on what we're naturally good at, that would show that He wants us to do the things we're naturally good at. The logical outcome of an ability-based role distinction seems to me to be functional egalitarianism.

In the past, many arguments for male leadership in the church included false affirmations of women's emotional hysteria, inferior intelligence, and less discerning minds. Today, let us not be the generation of the church who seeks to root God's assigned role distinction in women's inability to lead. It will make us look foolish in the eyes of anyone who has ever seen a woman competent in leadership, and ultimately it will not lend strength to our position.

*Which, for example, tells us that men and women are much more neurologically similar than they are different, and that our hormonal differences grow more or less pronounced in direct relation to how pronounced the difference in our activities are.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I meet him in the cool of the day, in the shade of the green trees, under a sky like a golden plum. I offer him a meal; I offer him rest. I hold his neck, tasting the sweat on him. His left hand is at my waist, each nail a crescent moon of soil.

"If it is a son we will call him Cain," I whisper, hopeful, terrified.