Tuesday, January 25, 2005

We've had a full and exciting week! So much happening and so relaxing at the same time because it's all happened at HOME!

Our 4-H Gardening for Life club met at our house last Thursday to build bathouses. Each family measured and cut their own materials to assemble at the club meeting. The girls and I chose to build a Bat Attic, which we will place on the south side of our home. We talked all about different kinds of bats, what bats do for our gardens and what we need to do to attract bats to our yards. After building, we read Magic Schoolbus Going Batty and played an echolocation game in the yard. We really lucked out with the weather. It was beautiful and nearly 70 degrees out! Not for long, though...

Jim was home much of last week due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the Inauguration. The kids and I watched the Inaugural parade on the television and listened off and on to the different pundits and commentators. The best part was when Sam looked up at the military processional as the parade began and asked, wide-eyed, "Is President Bush going to war again?" The Washington Post ran a neat section on the Inauguration that included a spread on the best and worst quotations from past Inaugural Addresses. The kids and I read through the different quotes and talked a bit about them and their historical contexts. Emily's favorite president is still Abraham Lincoln, though she's coming to admire John Kennedy as well.

The other night, Emily made her own math "worksheet"--too funny! She drew pictures on the left and wrote out the equations next to the picture. So, 18 chocolate chip cookies minus 2 equals 16 chocolate chip cookies. 18 slices of cantaloupe plus 3 slices of cantaloupe equals 21 slices of cantaloupe. 1 flower plus 1 flower equals 2 flowers. 1 computer plus 2 computers equals 3 computers. And, 1 television plus 3 televisions equals 4 televisions. She's still writing her 3 backwards, but I'm guessing that will naturally work itself out as she begins to write more. As it is, she recognizes it when she reads it without a problem, so I'm not worried. Afterwards, she proceeded to ask her father for a page of double-digit calculations and worked through those.

Last night while we were snuggling in bed watching a movie (I was, not surprisingly, reading a book), Julia pulled out the Bob's Books and began reading out loud next to me. Before long Emily joined her and the two of them were cruising through the books, reading outloud simultaneously. It was quite the cacophony, but they seemed happy enough plowing through them on their own without any kind of audience, which surely did more towards furthering their reading than reading "for me" would have!

We read some wonderful Jataka tales together about the Quail King and cooperation and the Bull and kind speech. The girls are really enjoying the tales, though they are sometimes upsetting as bad things happen to the characters. Julia's favorite story is "Birdsnest," which is about a monk who likes to meditate in the top of a particular tree. He gains the reputation of being very wise so that the governor of the province undertakes a two-day journey to ask him what Buddha's most important teaching is. Birdsnest tells the governor that Buddha's most important teaching is "Always do good. Never do bad." The governor gets very angry at the simplicity of this advice, shouting that he knew this when he was only 3 years old. The monk replies, "Yes, even a 3 year old finds this very simple to understand, but the 80 year old man finds it very hard to do."

This week we watched the movie Seven Years in Tibet and talked about the history, politics and religion found in the movie. It became one more dot in our connect-the-dots learning about Nazi Germany, as the war serves as backdrop to the movie. We talked about Communism and Colonialism, Principles and Ethics, Geography and Technology. A very rich evening spent together. Earlier in the day, we'd watched a History Channel special on Ancient Egypt, another one of Emily's ongoing passions. It was cool because the beginning of the special talked all about Imhotep, architect of the step-pyramid and villian of the Warner Bros. cartoon, The Mummy: Quest for the Lost Scrolls. Which, in turn, connects to the new Yu-Gi-Oh movie we rented last week that is all about Egyptian God cards and Anubis.

Connections, connections, connections!

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