Degas and the Little Drama Queen Aged Six

Degas and the Little Drama Queen
Degas and the Little Drama Queen Aged Six

On Pinterest this morning, I noticed several photos of Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen on fellow Pinner Rowena’s feed this morning. It reminded me of our recent trip to the National Gallery in Washington D.C., where I had the privilege of seeing the sculpture up close.

However, after dragging my children through the rest of the museum (“Isn’t this fun, kids?” “NO! This is TERRIBLE, mom!”), when we got to the basement floor, where sculptures are kept, my daughter Leah was literally bored to tears and threw herself on the floor. Her disobedience was no laughing matter at the time, but I did snap a photo and it makes me chuckle to look back on the moment!

If I ever do decide to go back to an art museum with my children, I think I’ll use some of these great game ideas from the No Time for Flash Cards Blog to make the trip more interesting!

Below are some more photos from our visit.

"Is this the painter who cut off his ear?"
“Is this the painter who cut off his ear?”
The Larder by Antonio Maria Vassallo
The Larder by Antonio Maria Vassallo (My favorite painting in the gallery! I would love to have this on my dining room wall!)
Micah as "The Thinker"
Micah as “The Thinker
Mercury Fountain in the National Gallery. (Here's a beautiful photo that does it justice! It's a breath-taking room!)
Mercury Fountain in the National Gallery. (Here’s a beautiful photo that does it justice! It’s a breath-taking room!)
Degas - Woman Ironing (If I ever remodeled my laundry room, this would be a cool print to have in there. I love art portraying people doing things!)
Degas – Woman Ironing
(If I ever remodeled my laundry room, this I would love to have this print hanging in there. I’m inspired by art portraying people doing things, and a lot of inspiration is needed to do ironing!)

PS: The Little Drama Queen turns seven today :) Happy birthday, Leah!!

Undefeated: Seven Strategies for 7Wonders


7 Wonders is my new favorite game to play during our Family Time. After three games, I am still undefeated. Booooooooooyah!!!!

I’m a noob, but these strategies seem to be working:

1. In the first Age, focus on resources. Get as many free resources as possible as early as possible, especially ones my neighbors do not have (then they have to buy from me to purchase structures). Also, I buy resources needed to facilitate the building my Wonder.

2. Build Wonders early, if it is beneficial to so. While it may sound glorious to build a Wonder, sometimes the benefits from doing so are more easily obtained in acquiring the right cards.

3. Opt for cards that support other future cards. For example, I choose the “Baths” card over “Pawnshop”. During the first Age, these foundational cards are often free.

4. Don’t spend resources on military unless my neighbor’s military is going to drastically make me lose points. No matter how many military cards I have, I can only get 5 points for a win against my losing neighbor per round. If a neighbor only has one military card, my having six military cards will give me the same number of victory points as if I would have two military cards.

5. Choose Scientific Structures wisely to rack up points.
Because points are scored twice and based on sets, opt for a card that will add to a set or a match. If a Scientific card is not attached to a set, it’s only worth one measly victory point.

6. Pay attention to the cards in hand. I often forget to look my cards carefully to make sure I don’t have duplicates (which are illegal.) My eyes tend to get big over the victory point value, and I fail to see I already have that card in my pile. I then end up having to “burn” the card for coins, only slightly better than forfeiting my turn. Also, don’t forget to look at Commercial Structures before purchasing new resources. Some Commercial cards are only used once, where others give resources throughout the game. To prevent these victory-point-costing-mistakes….

7. Keep cards neat! Just long division, sloppy columns lead to mistakes. It is important to see all of the information on the cards, so arrange them in columns accordingly. Also, by keeping the cards around me neat, I don’t accidentally lose my cards to my excited, grabby kids. When we play at our house, we put our chosen cards above our city cards to signify we are ready for the next phase of the round. One person, chosen at the beginning of the game, always flips their chosen card first. Each flip is settled one at a time. Coins are placed in hands during purchases, not thrown on boards. When cards are sloppy or people go out of turn, valuable cards get shuffled to the next player or end up in the burn pile… not that the other players mind!

What are your 7Wonders strategies?

Female Eacles Imperialis

On going inside to examine the moth, I found a large female Eacles
Imperialis, with not a scale of down misplaced. Even by gas light
I could see that the yellow of the living moth was a warm canary
colour, and the lavender of the mounted specimen closer heliotrope
on the living, for there were pinkish tints that had faded from the
pinned moth.

She was heavy with eggs, and made no attempt to fly, so I closed
the box and left her until the lights were out, and then removed the
lid. Every opening was tightly screened, and as she had mated, I did
not think she would fly.
– excerpt from Moths of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

All the way from the road, as my sister-in-law Liz and I pulled up to my house after a girls’-night-out, we could see this yellow winged creature clinging to my front screened door. This moth, a female, is so enormous, it looks like a bat who narrowly escaped after nearly drowning in a pail of yellow paint.

When I was a little girl, my parents took our family on a homeschool field trip to the homestead of naturalist and pioneer female photographer Gene Stratton-Porter. We walked through the lush green Limberlost trails and climbed the very steep stairs of her Indiana cabin.

The memory of my childhood trip was vividly recalled during the search to identify my incredible catch, when I stumbled upon an e-copy of Moths of the Limberlost, of which Porter devoted an entire chapter to this particular species.

Isn’t it amazing how her description still perfectly details the “Yellow Emperor”, as she fondly called it, almost 100 years later?

Favorite Crêpe Batter Recipe / Nutella, Bananas and the Cthulhu Crêpe Monster

Last-of-the-Batter Turned Crêpe Monster!

This weekend, we had a lovely brunch together. Everyone helped to make Banana Nutella Cr̻pes. While we worked, in true homeschooler fashion, we talked about Henry Ford, assembly lines and efficiency. We also passed around the Cthulhu Cr̻pe Monster Рthe result of the last slosh of batter in the pan that seemed to take on a personality of its own.

(Banana Nutella Crêpes served with a delicious Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier make for a well-balanced breakfast!)

Favorite Classic Crêpe Batter Recipe

1 C milk
4 eggs
1 C flour
1/2 TSP salt
1 1/2 TB melted butter

Mix until smooth.
Let rest for 30 minutes (this is the key!) before use.

Dessert Crêpe Batter: Prepare Classic Crêpe Batter and add 2 TB sugar and 2 TB liqueur.

Chocolate Crêpe Batter: Prepare Dessert Crêpe Batter with flour reduced to 3/4 C and add 3TB cocoa powder.

Thomas slices bananas
Thomas Slices Bananas
Micah Places Bananas on a Thin Layer of Nutella
Tabitha's on Nutella duty
The Crêpe Tasters
Aiden is Attacked by the Crêpe Monster

Why Don’t We Teach Children About Death and Burial?

Chandelier at the Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

… and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. – Ecclesiastes 12:7

Just as American children are far removed from the connection between slaughtered animals and the food on their plate, they are also unnaturally removed from human life and death. I find both to be sad.

I do not want my children to be afraid of death… or life.

(As a childbirth instructor, I have shown my children videos of birth, and they have a pretty good idea where babies come from. Yes, my oldest is nine.)

Today, and I forget how we arrived at the specific conversation, although life and death are always part of an on-going conversation, we discussed two different burial practices used in places where there is limited amount of space for burial.

These are two of the sites we visited today and discussed as a family:

The Tibetan Sky Burial: In Tibet, where the ground is so rocky that it can only be dug down a few centimeters, burial in the ground would be very difficult. Instead, people are given a ‘sky burial’. The nude body is washed and then wrapped and taken to a ‘burial’ ground. The body is sliced open and incense is lit nearby. The smells of the incense and the blood attract hundreds of vultures who then eat away the flesh and carry the remains into the sky. Because the brain is encased in by the skull, when the birds of prey are done with the rest of the body, the burial practitioner cracks open the skull and the vultures finish their feast. The bones are then scattered down the mountain for open-air decomposition. In a culture that believes in reincarnation, such a burial is considered an honor.

Ossuary (Wikipedia) : Another solution to burial in places with limited space is to store just the remaining bones once the flesh has decomposed. Bodies to decay in temporary graves, sometimes covered with a pile of stones, or even in dirt. They are then washed, labeled, and stored.

Some places get a little creative with the storage of bones, such as the Sedlec Ossuary. Part of a Roman Catholic chapel in the Czech Republic, human remains in this ossuary are used as decoration, including in the form of an elaborate chandelier.

* * *

For what it’s worth, I’ve found that there are very few non-fiction books about death and burial for children outside of studies on ancient Egypt. I could not find a single book for children on modern American burial practices or even a matter-of-fact book on the career of being a mortician. Thankfully, there are many books available on grief.

Why don’t we as a society talk much about death and burial?

If you do talk to your children about such things, what resources to you use?

In what ways would openly talking about death and burial in society as a whole change how we think of and value life?

Do you think toxic embalming chemicals would be used as widely if people weren’t so afraid of the natural decomposition process?

Photo Credit: B10m via Flickr

March Giveaway Winner

Photo: Terry, Shannon, Matthew, Jessicca, and Nathanial.

Hooray! Shannon from Boise, Idaho is the March giveaway winner!

The theme for the March Giveaway was “burdens carried”. Readers were asked to leave a comment about a physical or metaphorical burden that they have either had to carry or was carried for them.

She writes,

Praise God for the burdens he has allowed me to go through and has lifted for me. Every burden or need has always brought me closer to God, and a great way for me to teach my children Gods true love.

Our most current burden was our move. We moved to a new state with no friends, no family and no church. After a lot of prayer we had a very successful move, have made friends, and found a great church. What an awesome way to teach my oldest, who is 11, if we place our worries, concerns, and fears on God he will carry us through.

There has been many burdens in our family the past few years, yet each one has brought us closer to God. My husband and I are closer than ever, and my family is safe and healthy. I wanted to thank you for reminding me to Thank God for the burdens he lifted for me today.

After her oldest began to struggle emotionally over problems at school, she decided to teach her children at home. They are very happy with the decision.

My oldest was becoming physically ill from the stress of public school. He is such a kind boy that he was made fun of and developed such stress over being teased that he would get headaches all the time.

My daughter had a speech problem, the school’s answer was to put her in a speech class. I then found out she was being taught Spanish instead of actually working on her speech. After using a charter school for a year, she was finally tested and we found she has Dyslexia.

Now, she loves to read. Her speech is clear (except when she gets excited), and she is finally understanding why she was struggling.

We have been homeschooling for 4yrs now, and I would never trade the time I have had to show my kids there real potential.

When asked what she and her family are looking forward to this spring, she said,

Being in a new state there are many things we would love to do. Idaho is a great place for families who love to do outdoor things, we hope to do a lot of hiking, fishing, and some gardening.

As teacher, Shannon used the web as a resource. She highly recommends