Saturday, January 31, 2015

Crawling

My baby can crawl now. She was working her way up to it for weeks, often backing herself under furniture and yelling for help to get out. She's more content now that she is mobile enough to reach much of what she wants to touch and/or mouth. I love her wide, toothless smiles. :)

I always put her to bed in her crib, but sometime during the night she cries, and then she often ends up with me in bed for the rest of the night. If I leave my bedroom in the morning before she's awake, I have to keep an ear out for her because if she wakes up and lies on the bed too long without being fetched, she can move herself off the bed. It's not super high off the ground, but it's still best to avoid a fall. If you haven't been around a newly mobile baby recently, there's a distinctive "thump-waughh!!" sound they make whenever they fall.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Eating paper & a homeschool morning

Why does my seven-month-old love to chew paper? Is she lacking sufficient cellulose in her diet? She delights in sitting on my lap and pulling papers out of the desk drawer so she can chew on them. Just now, she creeped (mostly backwards, as she hasn't figured out forward motion yet) around my chair and under the low table beside me, where she is happily trilling as she--oops, never mind, she just bumped her head and the happy trills are gone--seeks new paper and plastic toys to stick into her mouth. I have soggy, ragged pieces of paper all around my feet.

Dd2 is playing with her Duplo blocks and zoo animals. Dd5 was just climbing on a bench to get into my "off-limits-to-the-toddler" shelf and came down with a pencil compass, which she announced she will use to make circles. Dd7 is playing with a tricky/magic worm instead of reading about the human body in her Core Knowledge book like she's supposed to be doing. Dd10 is reading from the encyclopedia about the Punic Wars and narrating to me the main idea of each paragraph.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Twins...sort of

Last night I noticed that dd7 had been growing again. In fact, I put her next to dd10--who is not a short girl--and realized that they appear to be the exact same height now.

How did I get "twins" 2.5 years apart? I know children grow at different rates, but isn't it a bit extreme for a seven-year-old to be handing clothing "down" to her ten-year-old sister?

Still, the realization that they share so much DNA yet still are quite different in some ways is a valuable one that ties in with our biology studies for the next few weeks. We will be focusing on genetics.

UPDATE: One of the biology topics we studied today was sexual vs. asexual reproduction. Afterward dd10 did her 1/2 page of Bible reading, which coincidentally was the story of Lot's daughters getting their father drunk and using him to impregnate themselves. She couldn't bring herself to narrate a summary of her reading. What a pity Lot couldn't just clone himself after his wife perished.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fasces

Today my children made a fasces, a bundle of sticks with an axe in it that has been used as a symbol of government power for thousands of years. Here's a picture. (Rubber bands are a very useful invention.)
Fasces

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sick baby

My seven month-old baby is ill. I think it's a cold because she's been snotty. But she definitely has a fever. That means lots of holding and nursing. She's still pretty active, so we just keep monitoring her and taking her temperature once in a while. I'm fairly sure she's not too badly off--she just energetically turned towards the TV screen when the opening song of Dr. Who came on.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Belief vs. Faith

In German, the word for "faith" is "Glaube." In German, the word for "belief" is also "Glaube." Somehow in English, we've ended up with two different words for the same concept: the act of believing, or accepting that something is true. So "faith" often gets treated like an inert noun, a bit like "church" or "religion," while "belief" retains more of an apparent connection to the verb "to believe."

I think it is unfortunate that the English word "faith" isn't obviously linked to an action verb. Faith is a choice, a voluntary acceptance of something that isn't proven to everyone to the point of being considered a "fact."

This subject is on my mind because yesterday, some very bad men thought they acted on God's errand when they slaughtered the staff of a satirical magazine in France. They appear to have acted on three main beliefs: 1) Muhammed was a Prophet so holy his face can't be drawn, 2) any disrespect of Muhammed is blasphemy that merits the harshest punishment, and 3) God approves of them forcing adherence to their own beliefs in brutal ways.

Addressing these beliefs in order and attempting to do so within a framework acceptable to faithful Muslims, 1) Muhammed was drawn by good Muslims for centuries. The Quran does not prohibit drawing Muhammed. Only some hadith do, and they, unlike the Quran, are not accepted by all Muslims. If Muhammed was the last prophet, as Islam claims, then who cares if some imams a while back came up with a new restriction on permissible illustrations? Those imams don't speak for anybody but themselves because they are NOT prophets.

2) Disrespect of a cherished individual or object can be emotionally painful to see and hear (I personally never will watch The Book of Mormon musical), but it doesn't justify violence in response. Even if one follows an "eye for an eye" retributive philosophy, disrespect only justifies more disrespect in turn. Disproportionate punishments--such as execution for a mere verbal insult--is something most of the civilized world considers barbaric, and people are not bound by a book--the Quran--that they don't believe in.

Which leads me to my last point. 3) A religious movement, such as the Taliban or ISIS, that violently forces others to submit to it is an abomination in God's eyes because it removes the opportunity to choose to believe. When God--who has not even given us indisputable evidence of his very existence--tells us to believe in him, he is giving us a choice: to accept him or to not accept him. The ability to choose for ourselves is what makes faith meaningful. There is no such thing as forced faith in the same way that rape cannot be termed an amorous encounter. For that reason, I reject and oppose any interpretation of Islam/Christianity/LDS doctrine/etc. that uses violence to force others to follow it. Such violence removes the agency of a person to choose to follow God, thus destroying faith and enslaving others. (And yes, that criticism applies to some followers of the Pearls almost as much as ISIS.) Good Muslims choose to submit to God according to the teachings of Muhammed. Many people do not choose to submit to Muhammed's teachings, but they must be given the opportunity to make that choice without their survival being under threat or else the choice TO submit (i.e., Islam itself) is made meaningless. I hope that faithful Muslims promote religious movements that do not make a mockery of their own beliefs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Orthodox Christmas

We've been temporary host parents for a Russian-speaking exchange student for the past three weeks. As one might expect for a sixteen year-old girl during the holidays, she has been homesick. Today is Christmas per the Orthodox Church calendar, and I let her skip school to go celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas at a nearby church. She got to be at an Orthodox worship service, talk to many Russians, and eat Russian food at a potluck lunch. When I picked her up afterward, she looked the happiest I've seen her since we met her.

This afternoon she showed us many pictures of her family and continued be very happy.

It often takes leaving home to realize what we cherish most there.