Wednesday, December 9, 2009

At Least This Wasn't Me ...

Let's get one thing straight. I've done some pretty shitty parenting in my day.

I've given my kid a jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and a sippy cup of chocolate milk and called it lunch.

I've begged my two youngest to watch "just one more video ... please???" (in my defense, I was nine months pregnant).

I've hidden in the back of the closet when I was so overwhelmed that I wanted to rip my toenails out.

But something I heard today made my skin crawl.

No, it isn't some horrid physical abuse or heartbreaking neglect. This is something that a loving, well-educated, mainstream mom did. And from what I understand, she does this sort of thing on a fairly regular basis. At least regular enough to cause the three-year-old to develop the nervous habit of twisting her hair out by the roots.

Background: Grandmother (GM) keeps 3yo frequently after school while parents work. Grandmother and grandchild (GC) have fabulous relationship, and GM and GC have spent lots of time together over GC's short life.

GC is at GM's house during a wedding party, and GC's mom wants to go home and put the new baby to bed. (Did you get that? There's a new baby in the house.) GC doesn't want to leave, since she's having fun, and GM is happy to keep GC for the night.

Mother says to GC something to the effect of, "If you don't come home with me right now, I'm going to pack up all your things in your bedroom and give them away. Then I'm going to turn your room into a guest room for Aunt Sally." GC sobs and ends up going home, twisting her hair until it breaks off. This is the same mom who forced same child to cut her hair short so that she wouldn't twist it.

Can you believe it? What is with parents? And remember that, not only does the child worry that Mom is ready to boot her out the door, she has to contend with the knowledge that younger sister is there to fill her place.

What the heck is wrong with people?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nourishing Our Children through the Grandeur of the Outdoors

I've been reading a lot lately about how kids need to get outdoors more, how this generation is starved for time with nature. So, along those lines, and because I'm always on the lookout for ways to get my kids out of my hair - um, I mean, provide the best education and environment for healthy brains and bodies - I recently made it a point to have my youngest two spend some quality time together in the clear, clean out-of-doors.

Ah, to be surrounded by nature, to smell the fresh breeze and soak up the healing rays of the sun.

To revel in the glory of the day. To bask in the warmth of the afternoon and feel the fresh breeze against your face.

What could be better for the soul and more nourishing for the mind than to spend long, tranquil moments sharing the splendor with your sibling. For, after all, the two of you share so much of your lives, and even your genetic make-up.

I delight in the knowledge that my children have been enriched by the beauty and magnificence of the breathing, living woods around us, that they have valued the luxury of having the time to spend drinking in the radiance of the day, that they have rested at night knowing that the world that surrounds them is rich with majesty and grandeur.



Well, at least they enjoy their drama classes.

No vampires were harmed in the making of this movie.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like My Understated 100th Celebration.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Regretting My Regrets

Today's post is a guest post by Martha, who blogs at ...

Before Annika was born I had regrets. I regretted staying with my ex-husband as long as I did. Hell, I regretted ever marrying him. I regretted not finishing school sooner. I regretted financial decisions. I regretted not working out more. I regretted haircuts.

Then when I got pregnant I philosophized about how all those bad choices had led me to the place I was in the world and if I hadn't done things just exactly the way I had, maybe, maybe just maybe, Annika would never have been.

Instead of regrets, those bad choices were now stepping stones that led me to give birth to this beautiful and perfect child of mine. She is something I will never regret, not even if she turns out to be a drug addict or a serial killer. She will always be my beautiful perfect child.

But now I have something new to regret. And I wonder if I even should. Ever since I started blogging regularly, I have wished many times that I had started sooner.

When Annika was growing inside my body I had such powerful emotions and as a writer, I wanted desperately to capture it all and share it with the world. I was feeling emotions that I didn't even know existed.

Yeah, I'm one of
those women. I loved loved loved being pregnant. Even with the weight gain, hemorrhoids (gross I know), heartburn, achy legs, nausea, tiredness, brain fog, and swollen feet (my god they were like grapefruits), I loved it.

A powerful life force inside of me burned with a fury and I couldn't get enough of the feeling. Carrying my child was spiritual and divine. I had found the meaning of life.

I would sit down and try to write but I could never really figure out how to express what I was feeling. It always sounded so cheesy. I would expound wildly about how my emotions were like the universe and the sun and moon and stars.

Then I would read it and go, "who is this person?"

Then I realized they were just hormones. Yeah, the same ones that give me bloating and crankiness once a month. Yep, those hormones. And no one tells you that they take a few months to dissipate after the baby is born.

I thought I would continue feeling that way forever. I thought that pregnancy had made me into a new woman.

And while that woman was a softer person who seemed to understand children better, was friendlier and happier, I had lost my edge. I worried that I would never be able to write the way I used to.

So the first few months after Annika was born I continued trying to write about those things that I wanted to share with the world, but they always ended up being too personal and really only things that I wanted to share with Annika.

Plus, I could never concentrate long enough to write coherently and do it consistently. I can barely manage it now.

As I analyze the past two and a half years I realize that what was most important was and is concentrating on Annika and just being a mom.

And maybe the reason I couldn't form coherent thoughts often enough to write consistently is because that my emotions being transformed onto paper were less momentous than Annika learning how to crawl or making baby noises like her first "words," 'Ab' and 'Way."

Maybe the reason that we moms become less physically desirable and lose some of previous desires, and become foggy and tired is because the universe is telling us that concentrating on our little one is the only thing that should matter right now.

Hmmm, maybe it's not just hormones after all.

Momsoap is written by Martha Wood, an attached, stay-at-home mama to Annika, who is 18 ½ months. Martha co-parents with Annika's dad, Toyin. Martha never planned to become a mom and shock of all shockers, she loves it. Momsoap opines about single-ish parenthood, childhood and just life in general.

Black Friday Giveaway Winner

And the winner is ...

Kari, who wrote:
I have two stories to share!

One was when my son (who's now 18) had an ant farm he was only allowed to use at his grandparents home (their rule, NOT mine) and how he always wished he could have one of his own and you'd be fulfilling a very old dream for him if you pick our family.

The other is how I now have a 2nd family of sorts and my two daughters would love to have an ant farm and we could use it in our homeschooling.

Hope you enjoy your ant farm! Guess your kids will have to duke it out, huh?

BTW, be careful when you lift the lid to remove dead bodies. Those ants are fast! (You don't want to know how I know.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Arms & Armor Wrap-Up

REMINDER! Enter for a chance to win the red LED AntWorks! (See this post.)


The end of the semester at Friday Co-op came and went, and I neglected to fill you in on the last several classes. So here goes ...

The final week:

We studied the Mongols, and the kids had a great time making swords.

Mongol swords (think Genghis Khan), as close to the real thing as possible
(at least with my limited imagination and budget).

The boys took great pride in their weapons.

Amazing what you can do with cardboard, paint sticks, and duct tape.

There were only a few casualties.

The week before it was Australia, complete with boomerangs and aboriginal dot art.

It's all in the details.

Careful! Some boomerangs will pinch off a nose if not caught at the precisely right moment!

Whadya know! They actually flew! Who woulda thunk it?

Not only did they fly, they came back! Wonder of wonders!

The week before that we studied the Plains Indians of North America, and we made coup sticks and atlatls. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera, so I didn't get any great shots of the kids working on their sticks or their weapons. You'll have to take my word for it that the atlatls shot their darts fantastically long distances and perfectly on target. (Cough.)

Actually, it's probably best that I didn't have my camera for that effort. But you do have my word that many, many harmless coups were made with the coup sticks, and no scalps were taken. At least no parents complained.

At least not to my face.

This is my attempt, and I only got a bit of help from the cat. I promise.

My heartfelt thanks to all the parents who entrusted me with the safety and education of their boys this semester! I thoroughly enjoyed the class.

Just not the night before.

When I was up at 3:00 cutting fabric, getting burned with hot glue, and slicing my fingers with exacto knives. But it was worth it.

Um, next semester I'm offering a word roots class.
If you liked this post, you might like Zulu Warriors Right Here in Texas.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Giveaway

Picture Black Friday at your nearest mall, as seen from a helicopter. Does an image of little, tiny, scurrying critters, all illuminated by the red light of fury, come to mind?

In honor of Black Friday - and to ease the holiday shopping pain in the wallet - I'm giving away this Antworks with Red LED
(Somehow the symbolism seem entirely appropriate.)

You may enter in one of two ways:

Leave a comment here telling me how you'll use this ant farm, who will receive it, how you'll incorporate it into your homeschooling, or how you wished for an ant farm as a kid and how I'm fulfilling your lifelong desire of having an even better ant farm than you ever could have had at nine years old.

Or email me offlist at

Enter by midnight CST Monday. Good luck, and happy shopping!

If you're not so lucky on Monday, you can also buy Antworks with Green and Antworks with Blue

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Decisions and Changes

All these years of pretending I'm SuperMom ... well, those years are over. I just can't pretend anymore. And with my approaching-fiftyish age (yikes!), I guess I need to admit that I just can't handle it. It. "It" being all those things that I can't handle. How's that for circular reasoning?

A couple of days ago I sent an innocent email to another homeschooling mom who asked me to tell her a little about myself, presumably to get to know me somewhat virtually and maybe make a bit of a connection. Well (cough), I think I scared the poor woman off when I started listing all the things I'm into, and frankly, I kind of scared myself. (Okay, it's not what you're thinking ... I'm not "into" anything kinky or illegal - at least not anymore. Hey, I'm a mom now.)

I was trying to give her a picture of who I was, since I have my fingers in so many pies (and that's not completely a figure of speech - just look at my butt lately). After the long list of things I volunteer for and take on, I was exhausted. What I mean is, I was exhausted just reading about them, never mind having to actually do them. I realized just how stretched I am. How I'm not doing any favors for myself, my kids, my husband, or my family.

I know there are plenty of other moms who accomplish a whole lot more than I ever will, and there are those who'll do so with a smile and a bounce in their step. But, like I said, I'm not SuperMom (be sure to say that with a booming, echoing voice). I just can't handle it like lots of other folks.

So now I'm trying to figure out the balance that works for me. I'm not quite sure what that looks like yet, but I know that I have to say "no" a lot more often. I need to figure out how to balance the needs of my kids, my husband, and my parents, along my own interests and needs. After that comes the needs of the world around me (and gosh, aren't there just a butt load of those?) and I get to pick those that I feel a connection to.

The bottom line is, I have to make some changes and some decisions. I need to volunteer to do less, and make the time that I devote to volunteering really count. I need to devote much of my energy to facilitating the education of my children, making sure they get raised up to be reasonably independent and responsible adults. I need to be committed to making my home a place where my husband and family feel nurtured and loved.

I need to do the things that make me feel whole and valuable. That's the one that's my sticking point. What do I give up? I enjoy everything I do, but I'm terribly inefficient and can't seem to manage everything I want to do. So that means I must give up something, or maybe several somethings.

You'll see some changes here on this blog. Heck, you've already seen them ... I've been virtually silent for the last several weeks. I've spent that time caring for aging parents, sitting on the couch with my husband occasionally (well, at least once, I'm sure), getting at least twenty minutes extra sleep a night, and starting my Christmas presents (that deserves a whole 'nother blog post, the whole Christmas tradition in my family). I haven't been posting.

Actually, writing is one of those things that I do all the time. Problem is, it's all in my head. Once they come up with the Mind-O-Matic - that mind transfer thing where my thoughts magically appear on the screen - I'll be all set. Until then, I'm screwed. One of my problems is that, with menopause crashing unceremoniously into my life full force - unlike all those pleasant stories I heard about women slowly sliding into a new hormonal balance - I can't remember a damned thing. I have this absolutely fabulous blog post or article written entirely in my head, and then when I sit down at the computer to write it out, this is what I remember: "Uh, kids are good, um, sleepy tired, respect, read a good book lately, uh ..."

See? I can't make heads or tails out of it either, so I'd suggest you don't even try.

In the next few weeks (hopefully), you'll see me hammer out a new plan. One that includes posting here (although not daily), lovin' on my husband (well, you won't actually see that), writing articles, homeschooling my kids, teaching a co-op class or two, taking field trips with my kids and friends, sewing, reading, and other things that fulfill me. I'm a work in progress.

Shit, I thought by this age I'd have it all figured out.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday's Gratitude Post

When life takes over and weighs me down, this refreshes me. Even with peeling paint, pet stains, torn screens, and pencil scribbles on the wall - mere blemishes on a fundamentally glorious base, the perfect representation of my life - this view rejuvenates me.

These are the doors in my bedroom, and the tree you see just outside is actually the top of a tall oak tree, as the deck here is about fifteen feet off the ground.

I've been staring out this window quite a bit lately.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life Happens

I've been quiet lately, as some of you may have noticed. I tend to get swept up in the cycles of life. Sometimes I'll have weeks where the world bounces joyfully along, and all is easy. Other times I struggle with my own issues and inadequacies, and it takes me a while to get out of my funk.

At still other times, life steps in and changes things. Yesterday my dad had another stroke. He's recovering, and so far he's bounced back to about 80% of his normal. I'm hopeful that he'll recover much of that 20%, but only time will reveal that.

The last couple of weeks I've been preoccupied with Halloween, H and G's trip to the Appalachian Trail, my Arms and Armor class, and various other little things. For some reason, I just wanted to turn within and shut off the world. I tend to do that from time to time, and I always emerge refreshed.

This time I emerged to family crisis. Fortunately, things seem to be working out okay, but it could have been very different. I'm grateful for what I have.

As they say, "Always blessings. Never losses."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lying Low

What is it about having my family separated that makes me so out of sorts? DH and first-born are off on the Appalachian Trail (G's 13th birthday present), leaving the two younguns and me to hold down the fort.

I've been being a homebody while they've been gone, sorting through clutter and cleaning out the attic (yikes! digging through the decade-old rat leavings is another post in itself), and I haven't been in any frame of mind to be witty, clever, or even sensical. Thus, no blog posts.

Sorry if you've missed me. (And if you haven't, well, poopy on you.)

Plus, the boys took my camera with me, so I can't even take any embarrassing or cutesy shots of the remaining kids.

I promise I'll get back to it. They're back in town by the end of the week, so things should be back to normal, or what passes as normal, by the weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Waaaalkin' in the Rain

Let's get something straight. When it comes to having all this homeschooling stuff figured out, I'm clueless. And lazy. And often pretty lame.

So when an activity comes up that looks like it can pass for educational, especially if it requires little or no planning or effort on my part ... well, then, that's damn near spectacular. I jump on it like a duck on a grasshopper.

Enter McKinney Roughs, a nature park about a half hour outside of town. Occasionally McKinney Roughs hosts homeschool workshops on various nature topics for a reasonable price, and one of them was slated for today.

So I loaded up the kids, raced to make it on time (as usual, we were running ten minutes behind schedule), and careened into the parking lot at 9:30 on the dot. We found several other families there that we knew, so my kids were thrilled.

There was just one weensy problem. Did you happen to hear Hurricane Rick mentioned on the news?

Hurricane Rick as seen from this NASA image on October 18th while it was still a Category 5.

Granted, Little Ricky is now a tropical depression and isn't a bit of a threat (and never was) to us here in Central Texas. But do you see those arms of rain spreading out from that storm? A few of the fingers connected to those arms made their way across our part of the state, tickling us on the back of the neck off and on this morning.

Did I mention I was lazy? Being lazy means that often I prefer to stay indoors where it's nice and dry instead of huddling under borrowed rain ponchos previously used by sticky, sweaty school kids piling out of sticky, sweaty school buses on untold numbers of sticky, sweaty field trips. But today I didn't get the option of holing up in my toasty, cozy home, however, because I'd already paid my $9 for each kid. And hey, did I mention that I'm cheap too?

Fortunately, it ended up being pretty pleasant. It sprinkled off and on and only really rained for a short while, and the temperatures were cool enough to make the ponchos not stink too much (actually, not at all, but I wasn't trying to smell them, if you get my drift). Considering that about 75% of the workshop was held outside, that lack of hurricane rain, coupled with a smidgen of learnin' and good conversation with friends, made this a delightful morning. (Oh, and the kids didn't mind missing math and writing either.)

Just to prove that there was a touch of brain building going on, I'll give you a few pictures. These all came out pretty bad, considering that they were shot in the drizzle and the humidity made everything look like it came out of a Bela Lugosi movie.

If you look really close, you might see a bunch of monarch caterpillars on the small plant on the left. It's late for monarchs to still be in caterpillar form at this date, but the drought pushed everything behind schedule.
Poor T ... we really need to have that third arm growing out of his ear removed.

Speaking of caterpillars, this toothache tree is holding a bunch of these white caterpillars, three of which you can see here. This is an awful picture, but the caterpillars blended in perfectly with the bark. The kids kept spotting more and more of them. When they were touched, they raised bright red antennae and emitted a stench, compared alternately to dirty socks, apples, and something so heinous, and yet unnamed, that it sent my oldest into dry heaves.

Speaking of critters, we happened upon two of these funnel spider webs. On one of them, the hike leader was able to trick the spider into squirting out of her funnel and checking out the vibration. The spider was smarter than we were, however, because she took one look at the stick our leader was using, high-tailed it back into her funnel, and sternly refused to emerge again. I think I heard her say, "Fool me once ..."
If you look really, really hard, you might see a few reddish legs inside the funnel.

While I was hanging back to make sure that a boy who had run behind a bush to pee actually made it back onto the trail, I missed the name of this plant. But I did hear the part about how the Redcoats in the Revolutionary War were dyed (the coats, not the soldiers) using the pigment from this plant (fungus? bug? what the heck is that white stuff?) on the cactus. Clearly, I need to read up on my British textile history. Gosh, those folks must have really wanted their clothes to be bright red enough to be seen so far away that they could be picked off like dodos on the ground.

Wide expanses of the preserve had recently been burned, not necessarily a bad thing. Like one of the hike leaders said, the burns are like the reset button on the computer, giving the ecosystem a hard reboot.

Another burned tree. It was intriguing to see how the landscape was so brilliantly green in the areas that had been burned. Nope, not a bad thing at all.

Tomorrow, back to the grind. But that's okay. At least I won't have to be anywhere at the grizzly time of 9:30. Heck, that's practically the middle of the night!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like Pioneer Girls.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Hold on to Your Kids"

A long time ago - oh, I don’t know, several years, I guess - I stopped reading parenting books. After all, I’d read scores of them. I figured, what was the point? Either I agreed with what they said (so why waste my time?) or what they were touting didn’t mesh with my parenting strategies (so why waste my time?). My kids were older and I was pretty comfortable with what had become my parenting style - nothing I read was likely to shake things up.

Then I decided to become an API leader. As part of that process, I had to read three books, all of which had been published since I stopped reading: Hold On to Your Kids(Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate), Attached at the Heart(Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker), and Nonviolent Communication(Marshall Rosenberg).

So far I’ve finished only one of them, Hold on to Your Kids, and - as much as I hate to admit it - I’m delighted that I was required to read it.

Hold on to Your Kids is not just another parenting book. It’s not just another attachment parenting book. It gives good, solid evidence why staying close to our children and being their “compass point” is so much better than following society’s present-day norm of allowing peers to be our children’s guide. Over the past few generations, our “norm” has flip-flopped so that now we have an entirely skewed vision of what is, indeed, normal and healthy.

Over the last not-so-many years, our society has seen a shift in who should be the center of our children’s lives. Not that long ago, parents or other guiding adults were the anchors that kept our kids centered. But in recent times, that anchor has shifted to the peer group, and that has caused all sorts of problems. The authors explain not only what the problems are but also why they occur, and they give ways to solve the problems and bring our children back to us.

Absolutely missing in peer relationships are unconditional love and acceptance, the desire to nurture, the ability to extend oneself for the sake of the other, the willingness to sacrifice for the growth and development of the other. When we compare peer relationships with parent relationships for what is missing, parents come out looking like saints. The results [of having peers be the guiding force] spell disaster for many children.

Although I would have heartily agreed with the book’s premise before reading it, I would not have had any solid basis on which to place that opinion. So I was thrilled to see the authors give specific reasons why my ideas are right. hehe

Bear with me while I give a long quote, because it ties right into homeschooling and the inevitable “socialization” question:

The belief is that socializing - children spending time with one another - begets socialization: the capacity for skillful and mature relating to other human beings. There is no evidence to support such an assumption, despite its popularity. If socializing with peers led to getting along and to becoming responsible members of society, the more time a child spent with her peers, the better the relating would tend to be. In actual fact, the more children spend time with one another, the less likely they are to get along and the less likely they are to fit into civil society. If we take the socialization assumption to the extreme - to orphanage children, street children, children involved in gangs - the flaw in thinking becomes obvious. If socializing were the key to socialization, gang members and street kids would be model citizens.

The book is definitely worth reading, even though it’s sometimes like wading through a bog. I wish it had been written in a more approachable tone and edited back a bit (there’s quite a bit of repetition), but it’s worth slogging through nonetheless. (Maybe “slogging” is too strong a word.) The information is important enough that in a perfect world it would be accessible to a whole bunch of people, but with its depth it probably loses a goodly number of readers. Too bad.

This is a book that you can leave on your bedside table and pick up when you can read a page or two at a time. No need to sit down and digest the whole thing at once. But I do think it’s worth the effort.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like "Parent/Teen Breakthrough."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zulu Warriors Right Here in Texas

My own Zulu impi warrior.

Last Friday I decided to take the boys in my co-op class all the way down to South Africa. We talked a bit about the Zulu's history and culture before jumping into our project. (Just a tiny bit, though, as the boys were eager to get to the weaponry.)

I had a bit of a different project in mind for this week ... one that included a shield as well as a spear and club - the whole package, as it were. The process wasn't quite what they were expecting, because the kids were able to do virtually all of the project themselves, so they were happily occupied weaving and gluing. All too frequently, they end up watching (and thus getting distracted) while the adults do the hands-on work after they ask for help out of frustration. This week, though, they seemed to be especially pleased by their creations, knowing that they'd done most of the work themselves.

And they didn't even have to bury them for two days under manure and pound them with stones.

This is what they were supposed to look like.
(Photo from Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford)

We started with tracing ...

And cutting ...

And tracing and cutting ...

And more cutting ...

And then my brilliant idea of hardening the supple Corinthian Leather using fabric stiffener.
Let's just say that trying to take a shortcut by using a blow dryer didn't do the trick.
We ended up laying them out on the back porch to dry, where they got, well, a bit stiffer.

Sometimes the help of an adult was necessary, but it was minimal.

Evan didn't mind.
He waited patiently while the helper made the holders for the center support.

One happy impi warrior heads off down the hallway to meet unsuspecting students.

Scared yet?

(Sorry, I'm not feeling too witty or clever tonight, as I think I'm coming down with S's virus from last week. So tonight it's "just the facts, ma'am.")
If you enjoyed this post, you might like Maces, Chain Mail, and 4-Year-Old Knights.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday's Gratitude Post

Tonight I'm grateful for telephones. And internet. Telephones and internet that work. For a few days we were without our phone and internet. (Miss me?) Apparently ATT had a major break in the system somewhere and the whole neighborhood was without digital power.

I'm intrigued at the progression of my emotions: first confusion, then dismay, followed closely by outrage. (How can they possibly do this to us? Don't they know that I have blogs to follow and videos of talking cats to watch and clips of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" to laugh at? What about all my loyal blog followers? How will they possibly survive without my witticismness and profoundosity?)

Funny, my emotions quickly ran to relief, at having an excuse not to check my email and keep up on my parenting lists. Then they went to apathy, with an almost palpable desire to stay disconnected from the world.

This is what my kids do for education when we don't have internet access.

So it was with mixed feelings that I came home to find my little brilliant green light blinking to say that all was right with the digital world.

Oh yay!

Oh darn.

Okay. Back to the real world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Odd Thing to Wish For

"Let's keep our fingers crossed," I said to my darling daughter. "Yes, let's," she agreed.

What grand goal were we wishing for? What distant dream?

That her annoying cough, which has had her hacking and wheezing all day, is actually swine flu.

No, I'm not a sadistic mother, waiting second by second until one of my children falls ill, so that I can stand over them with a gruesome grin on my face and a tumbler full of castor oil. No, I'm not a doctor wannabe, hovering day by day for one of my offspring to catch some horrible ailment that I can try my homemade remedies on.

I'm just pragmatic. If the kids get swine flu now while it's in a mild form, I won't have to worry about its later, more severe version. I won't have to decide to get them a new and untested vaccine. And if S gets it now, then perhaps she'll pass it on to H and G so that they can be over it before their trip to the Appalachian Trail next weekend.

So, all of you send us your best wishes, won't you? Wishes for fever, cough, achiness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Thanks a bunch.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy Calling the Cat.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Inca Warriors

Last Friday we went back to the 1400s and down to South America. The Inca culture is a fascinating one to study. Unfortunately, I was only able to give kids bits and pieces of the story of the Incas, but my hope is that each of them took one small item of knowledge away.

This week we had nine boys(!), including a recent addition of a soaking-it-all-up preschooler and one eager visitor. No casualties this week!

What would homeschoolers do without hot glue?

An example of our slings and our bolas.

Some of the boys showing off their weapons.

The arsenal of the Inca included such weaponry as slings and bolas, in addition to a number of other weapons. This civilization was unbelievable with what they were able to accomplish, considering that they had no pack animals and no steel to use as tools. They crafted their phenomenal stonework - including the Inca road, which linked together about 25,000 miles of roadway - using fire, water, and wood wedges to cut the stones.

I could write for hours about the Incas, but I won't. I'd encourage you to read about them for yourself if you're so inclined.

I used a number of books to find out about the Incas, including these:

This is one I want to read but haven't:

If you enjoyed this post, you might like Casualties: 1 ... and Counting.