Jun 28, 2011

Strider vs the Mini-Glider

I love both of these bikes.  They were both about $100.  Both have nice, sturdy frames.  Both have thick, foam tires that won't puncture.  Both have no gears to maintain.  Both are pedal-less bikes.

Why pedal-less?

Training-wheels don't really train.  Keeping your balance on a bike with training wheels is very difficult.  Going around a corner with training wheels is difficult.  And yet, the child thinks that they need them and are terrified to go without them.  I know I was.  With a pedal-less bike, the child learns to balance first, slowly and at their own pace, then when they are ready, they quickly and easily transfer to a pedal bike.

Our first bike was the Mini-Glider from www.timberdoodle.com

(transcript of these videos are on YouTube)

Yesterday we bought our daughter a Strider, purchased from a local dealer, Alpine Adventures, but also available with accessories from www.stridersports.com.  My good friend Ashly bought one for her toddler and recommended it to me.  We bought from a local dealer to make sure it would be small enough for petite Helen, and it was.

We love both of these bikes.  Both are high-quality and we imagine that they will hold up to the wear and tear of the large family we intend to have.  There's nothing cheap about either one.

If you are purchasing for a 3-year-old, I would recommend the mini-glider because it comes with the seatpost quick release, which we use a lot, especially when other kids want to try it (and they do!).  It also has the break built in, and a nicer foot-post.

If you are purchasing for a 1-2 year-old, I recommend the Strider.  The seat is in front of the back tire instead of over it, which lets the seat go much shorter, even though the frame isn't that much smaller than the mini-glider.  It still has a footrest, although it will be awhile before she can use it.  The handlebar also goes shorter than the glider.  Michael likes the handlebar design more on the Strider.  You can purchase a break and a seat adapter separately on the Strider website.

So there's my review.  There are other pedal-less bikes out there, like the WeeRide, the Kinderbike, among others, but these are the two that we chose and that I have experience with.

Jun 26, 2011

Supporting the Role of Fathers

Last week I gave a talk in church about fatherhood and I want to share what I had to say on this blog.  My research on the role that the father has in the home has really helped me to clarify my own role as a mother.  I am so grateful for my wonderful husband!

 Today as I have been asked to talk about Fatherhood, I wish to emphasize the importance of women supporting men in this important calling.  God created men and women in His own image, and all children of our Heavenly Father are created equal, in that we are loved equally, and our individual worth, and our Divine potential is equal as sons and daughters of God.

However, we are not created the same, and we have different roles to fill.  By honoring and supporting men, and specifically our own husbands and fathers, in their stewardship as they preside over our homes, we are likewise empowered in our own roles and wives and daughters.

ALL of civilization depends on the father. As goes the father, so goes society. When fatherhood as an institution is strong, when a man governs his commonwealth in obedience and submission to God, order radiates throughout society.
“Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum,” writes Fr. Chad Ripperger. “Either the man will be head of the house or the wife will; it is that simple.”
Today, women rule not just their homes but the world. The pop singer Beyoncé is right: Women rule the world. They rule the world with their passions. They rule the world with their mounting unhappiness. They rule the world with their frustration and its accompanying irrationality. They rule like those capricious and unpredictable goddesses of the ancient world who alternated between wrath and seduction.
They rule because men have let them. Men have progressively denied their authority until it is all but gone.

The question I ask is, are we more happy now?  Are the men?  Is society stronger?  Strong, Godly men are the foundation for a Godly home, and women long for men who will assume that leadership so that they won’t have to.  After all, we have our own work to do.
Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling

Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers. Increased youth violence, youth crime, greater poverty and economic insecurity, and the failure of increasing numbers of children in our schools offer clear evidence of lack of a positive influence of fathers in the homes. A family needs a father to anchor it.
We truly are witnessing a decline of fatherhood in our nation.  There are more single mothers than ever before, but more than that, the divine calling of Fatherhood has been diminished in the media.  The modern father is portrayed as crass, lazy and weak compared to the modern woman who is taking over the world.  I am grateful that this is not what the gospel teaches, and what I have witnessed in my own family life.

Look at the recent “Marriage of the Century” of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.  The word “obey” was infamously taken from the ceremony.  Although men and women are equal, the gospel teaches a different perspective.  In the LDS Temple ceremony, do we vow to obey our husbands?  While those words are not actually part of the sealing, they are in the endowment, as exemplified by the very first marriage in the world, the marriage of Adam and Eve.  Eve covenants to hearken to her husband’s council, and Adam covenants to hearken unto the Lord.  When the Lord is taken from the marriage ceremony, like everything else in society, we are left with a hollow question of, “Why should the wife obey the husband anyway?”  But it the Priesthood authority for the husband to preside over the home, and his covenant to hearken to the Lord is often forgotten when we talk about obeying our husbands.

How much are women to submit to their husbands?  Are women diminished when we allow fathers to preside in the home?  My response to that is another question: To what degree should men submit to the will of the Lord?  Do men become less when they follow the Lord’s teachings?

In the LDS Church pamphlet, Fathers,Consider thy ways, it says:

Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of law and appointment. You preside at the meal table, at family prayer. You preside at family home evening; and as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, you see that your children are taught correct principles. It is your place to give direction relating to all of family life.

You give father’s blessings. You take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline. As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life.

A cute little girl was sitting on top of a pile of luggage in a hotel lobby. Her parents were registering for a room. A sympathetic lady asked if they were staying long. "Oh, we are just going to live here until we find a house. My Daddy has a new job and we had to sell our old house and move here." The lady said: "I am sorry you don't have a home any more." The little girl said: "Oh, we have a HOME, we just don't have a house to put it in."
Do you have a home?

What is a home?  In short, it is the family, the fundamental unity of society.  When the family is based on love, service, and unity, based on the pattern that the Lord has set, we will be a happy home, and we will find joy in fulfilling our different roles in the home.

Since it is father’s day, I would like to finish by honoring my own father by sharing a poem that he wrote about his Paternal grandfather, Alvin Anderson.

Grandpa’s Garden
         by Farley Anderson

Memories flood of long, long ago
  When as a very little man,
I loved to be with Grandpa.
   I was his biggest fan.
His garden was a special place,
   For love and growth was there.
The flowers seemed as tall as trees
  And made the people stare.
The rows were straight.  The earth was warm,
  And not a weed was seen.
The peas were sweet, the carrots long
  A boy felt like a king

It didn’t make much sense to me
   How much he always grew,
For when I looked in his small house
   I saw only two.
Then every fall like old St. Nick,
   A smile upon his face,
I saw my Grandpa sneak around
   And fresh vegetablize the place.

The greatest mystery to me
   Was the flowers that he grew.
You could not even eat them.
    Their stems you could not chew.
I asked about this mystery,
   The labor down the drain,
And so he paused to teach me
  And my little brain.
“You see this world is vast and large.
  I cannot change it all,
But this brown earth is my own space.
  It is special call.”

“I make it like a paradise
  For those who pass to see
What love, labor, toil and sweat
  Can make this earth to be.
And when they smell this fragrance,
   Their mind will upward turn.
Problems left, their heart will change.
   For higher things they’ll yearn.
I cannot make these flowers,
   But I will do my share,
And God and I work side by side
    To give them needed care.”

One last thing he told me,
    Though to learn it I was slow,
“For every flower you give away,
    Two in it’s place will grow.”
When from this life I travel
    To that Garden eternally
And meet the master Gardner,
   And a welcomed child to be.
I will not be a stranger,
   For I knew him here below,
And was taught about eternal things
    While Grandpa leaned
            upon his hoe.

Thank you to all of the fathers for everything that you do, and for your example to us.  We are inspired by what you do. 

Jun 25, 2011

Water Fun

About a year ago I created a PVC Pipe Activity for the kids, which has become a favorite toy.  Recently we purchased a small pool for our kids to play in and we invented a new use for the pipes.  Hey, they are actually made for transporting water, so we gave them a chance to do their job.  To connect the pipes to our hose, I had to go back to Home Depot and purchase two adapters.  One was an adapter for the hose to 1/2" pipe, and the other was an adapter from threaded pipe to smooth pipe.  My siblings came over and we had a blast, but I forgot to take pictures and we had a hard time getting the sprinkler to work because there were too many loose ends.  I went back to the store and bought eight end-caps and invited my siblings back so I could blog about it, haha.

The other thing that I did is to take my husband's drill and go to town on a few of the pieces.

I did a straight line on this one...

While I had the drill out, I also took a five-gallon bucket and recreated a game we played at Camp Hunt when I worked at a Boy Scout camp.  I drilled several holes into the bucket.  Then have several smaller buckets and you try to fill the bucket up as a team.  Some dump water in, and others block the holes with their fingers and toes.  Filling the bucket is nigh impossible, but it's fun to try.  The smaller buckets had holes drilled into them too, so they are a fun thing to play with on their own.  When we are done, we store all of the water toys in the big bucket.

Jun 13, 2011

A note on expressive thought

Recently the following video was shared in my local homeschooling e-group.  It has given me a lot to think about, especially on how I treat my children when they express themselves. 

Taylor Mali Totally like whatever, you know

The thing that really made me stop and think was the question, "Why?"  Why is there an epidemic of un-intelligence?  Why are we afraid of expressing our knowledge and opinions around our peers? Undoubtedly there are a variety of different influences that have led to this, but what I think it ultimately boils down to is a desire to fit in and not alienate ourselves from our peers.

The next thing I wondered is, how much has this "aggressively inarticulate generation" affected me?  How often do I shy away from expressing myself eloquently?  I realize that there have been a few times when I have expressed my knowledge on a certain topic, and the response of "Wow, you're so smart" have made me not want to share my knowledge in the future.  Of course I'm not "so smart", when there is so much that I do not know.  I just happen to know something about the said topic and shared what I had to say.  Children, like adults, don't want to be told how smart they are when they say something.  They want to feel like what they have to say contributes to the conversation, and is not a deliberate attempt to show off.  It's okay to express your knowledge about the Star Wars universe, but not okay to cite Shakespeare.  It's okay to be tech-savy as long as you are an average student.  Among musicians, it is okay to know a lot about Beethoven, but not Aristotle.  We really do feel like we have to cover our tracks and apologize for saying something intelligent.  It is easier to stay quiet.


After watching the video, my husband and I agreed that we are grateful that in our marriage we can feel comfortable having an intelligent conversation with each other.  The home is a safe-haven for many things, and intellectual expression and development is apparently one of them.

Jun 11, 2011

Mini Muffins

Here is a short post in praise of my newly discovered kitchen wonder-- muffins.  Mini muffins.  They are just the right size for me children to eat, and they are easy and fun to do.

I love making Whole Wheat Bread, but lately I have had a hard time getting around to it.  Every step is easy, but there are so many steps!  Grind the flour, let the yeast sponge, mix the ingredients, punch down the bread, preheat the oven, and finally cook it it.  Enjoy it we do, but I have to dedicate about 3 hours to the process.

Mini-Muffins are the new bread lately.  I mix the ingredients easily by hand, cook them for 12-14 minutes, and there is a nice, healthy treat to enjoy.  My recipe is based on the white and red checkered Better Homes and Garden cookbook I got when I was married.

It is very versatle and I have made many variations, but pictured above,

  • 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cups sugar (I usually use brown sugar but slipped this time)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • A dash of salt (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk (I'm still using up some canned powdered milk)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Two small handfuls of freeze-dried blackberries, hand crushed
  • A small dab of water so the berries wouldn't dry out the batter.
Mix all the ingredients, grease the pans, put a dab in each pan (about 2/3 full, doesn't have to be exact) and cook for about 12 minutes.  Makes 48.  I love my recent investment so I can make all 48 in one batch.  24 for devouring immediately, and 24 to munch on during the day.  Rinse and repeat, this is a favorite around here lately.

My children LOVE the small size, it's just right for them.  They don't ask for jam or any other topping, so clean-up and distribution are easier than sandwiches.  They especially like to have tea parties or picnics, when I serve it with juice, bite sized fruits and vegetables, and/or nuts.

Jun 10, 2011

Dissecting a Diaper

Yesterday my children and I dissected a diaper.  After we opened the diaper and pulled out the cotton, I showed my children how the outer layer is waterproof by pouring tap water into it.  Then I remembered that I have a blog, and pulled out my camera...

Let's dissect a diaper.  First we cut open a disposable diaper, pulled out all of the cotton, and placed it in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag. The children kneaded the bag until the powder separated from the cotton.
We put the cotton in one bowl, and the powder in the other.  I asked my son which would be more absorbent, the cotton or the powder.  He voted for cotton.  Let's find out!
Then we filled our 2 ounce shot glasses with water.  Then we colored it with food coloring.  The children loved to help mix the water.
We poured ten ounces of liquid in the cotton bowl, then decided that there was too much of the polymer-gel still in the cotton to make it a real contest.
It's time to get messy!  The polymer gel was a lot of fun.  After pouring 18 ounces into the powder, it felt very wet and squishy, but still it absorbed all of the liquid.  We stopped at this point because the children were getting it all over the floor.  I was surprised at how easy it was to sweep up.
Look at the texture!

This experiment was inspired by this video:

Disclaimer: Elsewhere on this blog I praise cloth diapering. This is true, about 95% of the time we use cloth diapers, but I love disposable diapers when we travel, or if I get behind in my laundry. :o)

Jun 7, 2011

You know you're a mother when...

Here begins my real effort to do more vlogging.  If you are viewing this in a reader (e-mail), you will need to visit the webpage to see the video.

Jun 6, 2011

Xtra Normal, text-to-movie site.

I recently discovered a fun website, Xtra Normal, which allows you to create videos by typing in a score, choosing sets and characters, and adding sound effects.  We had a lot of fun creating the video below.  I am sure that you will be able to tell who wrote what, haha.  Fair warning, many of the videos that others have posted on the site are not child-friendly, in fact, even I am not old enough for some of it.  Others are great, but I recommend spending most of your time creating your own videos.

You can use all of the features to watch and preview the videos with a free account, and you can save them. However, publishing them does cost a little, and I will be digging into my pockets to produce some videos for my music website.  It does not cast very much.  However, they do give you enough points to publish one video for free.

I also downloaded their "State" software and I am pleased with the results.  With this program, you can do voice-overs, and upload images and videos into certain backgrounds.  The lip-sinc matching to the voice-over works remarkably well.  There is more flexibility on where you can put your characters, you can purchase the ability to add up to 6 characters, make them walk around, and much more.  You can also create multiple scenes.  What am I planning on doing with this software?

  • Have fun.  :o)
  • Make educational videos by mixing these videos with ppt.
  • Encourage my children's story-telling skills by encouraging them to write scripts for the characters.
  • Make and send personal messages for family and friends.

    haha,  I am a robot. 
    Googoo,  haha,  I am green.
    hee hee hee hee, I am red.
    I do not have an upset stomach.  My superdog is faster than you.
    Yes, but the magic school bus is the best.  I am in Mrs. Frizzle's class.  Haha.
    Yes, but Peter likes me more than you.
    Did he tell you that?
    No, but I think that he likes me more.  I am more green.  Haha.
    ooga ooga ooga ooga
    Do robots have wings?
    Nee nee nee nee nee, haa haa haa.  I am a robot, and I have wings.
    nee nee nee nee, My friend is red.
    My friend is green.
    Peter is lucky that his mommy is willing to humor him.
    Yes, tell your mommy that you love her and give her a big hug.
    Do it now.
    Tamsyn likes hugs.
    But mommy, you need to tell Peter how special he is.  Go on, tell him.
    How sweet.

    Jun 4, 2011

    I'm back! Family History.

    Has it really been a month since I posted on this blog?  Wow, time flies.  I am a girl who gets passionate about projects, puts my heart and soul into it, and then wants to move on.  A blog is never done, but I took a break.  What have I been doing?  I recently renewed an old passion of mine for family history, and I have been spending my computer time google-ing the names of our ancestors.


    I have been amazed at the wealth of information that I have found, including pictures in many cases.  A family history site is of little interest to anyone but family, and the only people that it is 100% relevant to is my husband and I and our children, but to any relatives, it will be of value.  Check it out if you are curious, maybe it will give you ideas for doing your own family history.  I look forward to using this resource with my children when they are older.  Also, by installing a search engine for the specific blog, it will be easier to find certain histories.  "Which ancestor was it that was in Zion's Camp, again?"  The search will find it.  After spending way too much time on this project, I have grounded myself to only doing family history blogging on Sunday.  I then go to the Post Options, and tell it to publish the histories throughout the week.  Then I get them e-mailed to myself and I spend more time reading the histories and talking about it with my children.  I forced my husband to subscribe too, and sometimes he gives it a second glance before he deletes them, haha.  I am also working on some child-friendly presentations to teach my children about where they came from.  I will share them with you when I get to the histories of dead people.

    What am I doing to teach my children family history?

    • I am making family history bits of intelligence cards for individual ancestors.
    • We are making a poster pedigree chart, to which we will add pictures, and country flags next to individuals who immigrated.
    • I am making a card game, a smaller version of the bit cards.  Not unlike the game found here:  http://www.ancestrygames.com/index.php
    • I am working on power-point presentations with sentence histories followed by pictures (big project).
    • I am telling my children stories and showing them pictures.
    • I am demonstrating my own excitement for the subject.  (easy enough, but I need to give myself credit).
    • I am planning and executing field trips to family related locations.  For example, we visited my Grandma and took pictures of family heirlooms.  The following week we visited Michael's grandmother.  There is a historic marker in town with one of my ancestor's names on it, and we will visit it soon.  Of course there are cemeteries.  I wonder if there are any old homes still standing that I don't know about.  If money were no object, I would love to travel to Europe and see the places where my ancestors lived, but that's not in the budget right now...

    Jun 3, 2011

    Rain, rain, go away, piano chords are here to stay.

    Last time I showed you how to "build" a major triad with Lego blocks.  This video shows a little application, and how building a piano model with your blocks is an effective shortcut for building more triads.  Lead sheet music is also introduced.  By the way, you don't have to actually play the melody line to learn from this course.  You can sing, if that's easier, or invite your friends to sing karaoke while you play for them. 

    Rain Rain Go Away PDF here

    Jun 2, 2011

    Singing Solfege lesson one

    Here is an introductory video to singing solfege with the Curwen hand signs.  This video outlines So, Mi, and La.  Why do I start with these notes?  Why not start with 'Do'?  Well, these three notes are the easiest notes for children to sing.  Think of "Ring around the Rosies", or the taunting melody sung around the world, "You can't catch me!"  'Do' will come soon enough, but this is the best place to start.  This video is in the key of "D", which is also the easiest key for young children to sing in.  Even though the video is homemade with less than optimal lighting, it shows exactly what I would do with your children if they came to my home for a singing lesson.

    Special thanks to the Anderson family for their help in creating this film. Stay posted for more videos!
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