Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hunter Eating a Hot Ball

Today while we were driving in the car with some friends, Hunter kept asking for one of the hot balls that was sitting between the seats. I kept reassuring him that he wouldn't like it, that they were very spicy, and that he would spit it out.

Finally, after much pleading, I went ahead and let him have one, sure that he would spit it out within seconds. But, lo and behold, even with much funny faces, he ate the whole thing! I got this video pretty much at the end of the hilarious faces, but it was still pretty funny and a good laugh.

"There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it."
Psalm 18:8

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old


 It always amazes me how easily little children make friends.

Today while we were at a friend's house taking communion, there was a young mother there with her four-year-old son. At first Hunter stuck by my side, being quiet and polite in the presence of company but after a little while he casually made friends with this little boy, who was playing paper clips. While there was adult conversation and prayer and Bible-reading going on the two new friends quietly played tigers and other such games underneath the table without being any such disturbance. They were even sharing cookies with each other by the end of the afternoon after quiet time had ended, and parted for the day with a hug.

When we got back to their aunt's house he quickly went downstairs, only to find another little friend who was six-year-old Alannah, the Jackson's cousin. She was jumping off the couch arm onto an inflatable matress and Hunter quickly joined her in her game (not the safest, I know, but he survived). They later played with toys horses and board games and had a splendid time together, as if they had been friends for years.

It made me smile seeing him make friends so easily and effortlessly, having lots of social interactions with all sorts of different people just as a normal and natural part of life. It's not that today was anything new or different, as this sort of friend-making occurs all the time, but today was one of those packed days, and he made friends everywhere he went.

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:8-11

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For

Hunter made this list today about things he's thankful for. When I first asked him, we were in the family room which had quite a few festive decorations and he started naming off all things Thanksgiving... "Turkeys... scarecrows... indians... leaves... pumkins... corn... pilgrims..." It was funny but I explained what "thankful" meant a little bit more and asked him to think of some other things, like his favorite things in his room or things that he's really glad that he has. This list was the result, and as you can see we did keep some of the Thanksgiving decorations because he was quite insistent that he was thankful for them. The "you" at the end of the list is for family members, because he was listing off everyone ("Noah... Anthony... Mommy...") but of course if we included everyone the list would be like fifty people long and there would be no room for anything else!

I made copies of the list and put them inside Thanksgiving cards we gave to his Grandmas. I actually wrote the words down lightly in pencil and had him trace them, because he tends to write BIG and all over the place so I knew it wouldn't fit in a small card if he wrote the list without the aid. He did pretty good, and was really proud of himself, it'll be a memorable keepsake for many years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you remember all the good things the LORD had blessed you with!

"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works."
Psalm 26:7
 Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old 

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Alabama!

A while ago I wrote a post about Hunter noticing state outlines in other things. Well yesterday in our countdown to Christmas, as part of it we keep track of the days left on Hunter's 100-bead abacus. As I moved the bead over from 33 to make 32, Hunter said "It's Alabama!"

"What?" I couldn't figure out what he was talking about at first. He kept saying, "It has two on the side" and finally it clicked that he was saying that he thought the beads resembled Alabama.

The beads do kind of resemble Alabama if you were to take those two beads and switch them to the bottom, but I guess he already did that in his imagination. It made me laugh that he was so creative as to notice "Alabama" in this line-up of dots, it's incredible the things that little kids notice when we give them the opportunity, that is, give them a base of interesting knowledge and help build their natural love of learning. Learning encyclopedic knowledge opens so many doors, it's just incredible.

I was also quite amazed that he noticed that because we learned those states several months ago and it was funny that they were fresh enough in his memory to be able to recognize the shape in something like that.

"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."
Isaiah 45:22

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reading Notes on the Piano

I was working at my desk today when Hunter sat down at the piano and starting reading off all of his music note flashcards. I have been teaching him these for months but since I generally never test him, I didn't really know how much he knew. He knew every one of them, and knew most of their locations on the piano.

It was really neat to see all the teaching I've put into him is paying off and he really is learning.

"Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright... Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise."
Psalm 33:1,3

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Nature or Nuture? Developing a Musical Genius

Link: Superhuman Genius - Jazz Prodigy Ariel Lanyi

The other night I saw this show on the science channel called SuperHuman. This episode focused on "geniuses". There were several people featured on the show from an art prodigy to a man with an amazing memory. Of the five people one of the was a little ten-year-old boy named Ariel Lanyi from Israel who is a pianist and composer. I have seen many piano prodigies, especially on the Internet, so seeing a child play the piano like this was amazing but nothing incredibly new. However it was what his parents said about how he developed his talent that stuck out to me the most. Right in the beginning of the show Ariel's mother says:

"There is a theory that very young children can be taught anything. They don't have to be born that way. But, the earlier you start the education, the more you'll be able to achieve."

When she first said "There is a theory that very young children can be taught anything" I thought to myself, "That has Doman written all over it!" Of course I can't be totally sure, but when they continued on to tell of an incident with two-year-old Ariel in the car, it sounded even more like Doman. He told the story of when Ariel was two-and-a-half and they were driving in the car, and his dad recognized Beethoven's 2nd piano concerto on the radio and labeled the song for Ariel. To which Ariel said, "In...?", expecting his dad to label the key the song was played in as well. His dad didn't know it off hand but Ariel finished his sentence and said, "In B flat major!"

This is exactly how Doman teaches parents to train their children in music, simply to play pieces for them and name them ("This is Beethoven's second concerto in the key of B flat major"). His parents don't say they exposed him to rigorous music training from the time he was born, just exposed him to music and named songs for him, and had music playing in their home "almost 24 hours a day". We don't find out all the details of what they did but we do know that they believe that Ariel was taught to be a great musician because of his environment, it wasn't some gift he was just born with that developed magically on its own.

I was also impressed with his parents' and his attitude towards his "genius": they were humble, and certainly weren't pushy. Most people think that in order to "make a genius" you have to push the child but that's simply not true. Ariel was such a little charmer and I love how he said

"I don't like the meaning of child prodigy cause, child prodigy is basically someone who can play fast, and, not more than that. Not understanding music, just fast."

"And how are you different?" the interviewer asked.

"Because I understand the music, I analyze."

"Are you a pianist or a musician?"

"A musician."

"Are you a genius?"

"[Chuckles]. Not yet. I will be one day, but not yet."

"Not yet", I love that.

I also love his parents' view on his future when his dad said, "When a child prodigy stops being a child then, the question is does he have [what it takes] to be a bona fide artist, or not. And if he doesn't, then, he can be a very happy amateur. If he doesn't follow a career in music then he will have to follow a career in something else. And it has to be his decision obviously, it will not be ours."

I also recently watched a similar story about Marc Yu, seven years old, whose mother was committed to teaching her son to play the piano since she missed out as a child, and played lots of classical music since he was in the womb.

I loved the documentary, except it was funny how, even though the entire video they was pointing to the opposite, at the end of it they concluded that, somehow, these prodigies were born with "different brains" - "music brains" that is.

I just thought this was another interesting piece in the "nature versus nurture" debate. One person could take this exact same story and just call him "a prodigy", saying that he just really liked music as a little child and showed a keen interest and then randomly taught himself to play the piano. It's what Glenn Doman calls a "happy accident", and it actually happens all the time. There are many prodigies whose parents didn't even try to provide an ideal environment, they just nurtured a genius on accident (there happened to be music in the house when he was an infant, there happened to be a piano around for him to play with). But then when we look at it from a different light, where the parents actually developed a love and understanding of music on purpose.

I was really inspired by this story because I have always known that it was good for a child's developing brain to play classical music for them as infants and children, but wasn't ever sure of how much effect it was actually having. It was almost like taking a step of faith when you pop the CD in and just hoping that it's doing something good. Now I'm more inspired than ever and am ready to fill our home with great music, knowing how powerful it truly can be.

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."
Psalm 139:14

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Math Mystery

"Mathematics is not a subject like geography, but a way of thinking and reasoning."
- Glenn Doman
How to Teach Your Baby Math

It finally hit me, the meaning of those words. For fourteen long months I have been endlessly wrestling with the answer to a very troublesome question: Why does the Glenn Doman math program have such a high failure rate, children simply "losing" all that they were taught?

It was a disturbing question indeed. A revolutionary idea had been presented - that babies could understand mathematics (and understand it well, very well) if we presented it to them in an honest, factual, and joyous way. But then a peculiar speculation was made: where are all the kids who were raised on Glenn Doman math? And even worse, even more so disheartening, were the ever-increasing stories of failure with the Glenn Doman math program. "I tried it, and my kids appeared to be able to recognize quantity, but they lost their ability when they got older."

I had heard this story line many times in the past fourteen months as I browsed online forums, websites, and blogs, and was beginning to become more and more perplexed: "How could a child just 'lose' his ability to understand math and numbers?"

For a long time I was able to justify this "loss" of information and understanding with a simple enough, yet not completely satisfying, solution: The children had lost their ability to perceive quantity because they had not gone far enough with the program, their parents weren't consistent enough and the duration was too short, so the kids started to learn but lost it before they had a chance to get firmly grounded. It was really a matter of "use it or lose it".

The theory seemed reasonable enough, but incomplete, and I still had many questions. As long as the only stories I heard were "They appeared to be able to recognize quantity but then they lost it", and no stories of people actually going through the entire program (arithmetic, problem-solving, numerals and all), my story was sufficient.

Then one day several weeks ago, I met and conversed with a parent on the brillkids forum who shared their experience with the Doman math program, and things were starting to get more and more confusing. They shared how they had done the program and their children lost the ability, and they had called the Institutes who had apparently stated that all children lost the ability to do math after their third birthday! I knew there was an explanation about the statement from the Institutes, but the more perplexing part was that this parent was saying that they had done the entire math program, all the way through, with each of their children, yet it proved of no use as all their children lost their abilities after age three. Although they did admit that none of their children were ever able to do arithmetic (while toddlers at least), so it's questionable about how thorough or how consistent the program was, it still presented a difficult mystery and a million more questions with no one to answer.

Then something incredible happened: I called the IAHP and got some simple, yet incredible answers that at the time didn't seem so profound but as I have let things settle in my brain (and they have been spinning for, like I said, the past fourteen months) everything about the failures with the math program now make sense, and this puzzle is no longer such a mystery.

Here is the phone conversation I had with Ms. Breyer. The Institutes can be reached at 1-800-344-TEACH

“Good afternoon this is Connie Breyer.”

“Hi, this is Elizabeth calling…”

“Oh yay! [laughs] Good, I’m glad you called back. Yeah, so, let’s get this thing straightened out. Um, yeah, so what forum is this?”[She originally had called me but I had to call her back because of a crying baby!]

“Um, this particular forum was on a website called

“Oh yeah we’re hearing a lot about that!”

“Oh really? Well that’s neat…But, yeah, what this person was saying is that they had had a lot of success with the reading program but had tried the math program and it didn’t work, and they phoned you and said that you stated that the ability would not be retained past three years old which didn’t make any sense to me, considering you still sell and promote stuff for the math program and why would you sell stuff that you say doesn’t work?”

“Well, now, the thing is that in the book it does say that there is this window of opportunity and it closes somewhere between two-and-a-half and three-years-old. Um, after that age, usually, the children cannot see, they cannot distinguish the quantity, in the same way that you and I cannot distinguish 88 dots from 89 dots. You and I, the only way we’d know is by counting. But a tiny baby – a child – can distinguish which one is 88 and 89 instantly.”

“Well now, I knew that there was that window of opportunity but like, with my son, he started with the math program when he was almost 30 months and did great, and that was a year ago he’s 3 ½ now and can still perceive quantity, so, shouldn’t children who are trained with this program, the ability be retained?”

“There are some children that are able to retain the ability to distinguish quantity but that is not the norm. The point of the whole program, is to set a foundation for math, for the rest of their lives. Once they understand that a number is a quantity, not an abstract numeral, then everything that has to do with mathematics makes logical sense. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, everything. Once they have that, then they’re set for life, and then they are able to transfer the quantities to numerals. But it’s that understanding that never goes away.”

“But, now, when they’re older, they can still understand math, and do instant equations and such?”

“Oh yes absolutely. Our children are fabulous mathematicians.”

“Oh okay, well, that makes a little bit more sense then…”

“Yes there’s just something that happens in our brains that makes it so we no longer can distinguish the quantities.”

“Hmm… well that’s really interesting.”

“That’s why we don’t recommend starting our program, with children older than three years old, because we can’t guarantee that it will work. There definitely are some children though who are four and five and can pick it up but,”

“Now I’ve heard that, with autistic people, sometimes, even when they’re older they can sometimes still distinguish the quantities, even without training.”

“Like Rainman?”


“Yes, and for our brain-injured program, we teach the dot cards no matter how old the children are. They are neurologically that age, even though they’re not chronologically. So, we use that program with all of our children [in the brain-injured program], even if they’re adults.”

“So, is that making any more sense then? At first it was like, hope they don’t turn everybody off to our program.”

“Yeah, no, we wouldn’t want that and I’m really glad that you were able to clear these things up for me.”

“Yes, me too, and I’m so glad you took the time to call, it looks like you’ve done a fabulous program with your child. And, he has that now for life.

I then told her some thank you's for their wonderful organization and such, and told her about how I had found their books at the library and have really enjoyed learning with my son. She was a wonderfully kind lady and the phone call was not only informative but delightful.

Hanging up the phone, I was, on one hand, a little bit disappointed: So Hunter won't be able to look at a flock of birds, or a pile of cereal, or a stack of pennies and instantly be able to tell that it's 93, no more or no less? Such a "cool" and useful ability was something I was not too excited about letting go of, of him losing.

But then there was the other thought, the other perspective, the "Ah ha!" moment. As I let things settle and reflected on what was said in this phone conversation, suddenly it was all starting to make sense. "The point of the whole program, is to set a foundation for math, for the rest of their lives..." Those words rung through my head over and over again. Yes, a foundation, a foundation, to set a foundation of what math is and what it means and how it works, and this foundation - this understanding - will go on with them for the rest of their lives. That's the point, that's the goal, that's the secret to success. Does it work? "Oh yes absolutely". I knew it did, I knew it could: I had seen it with my own eyes, with my own child, that tiny kids really can do math, really can perceive quantity. The words "fabulous mathematicians" rang comfortingly again and again as I contemplated the ramifications of this conversation.

What were the ramifications? Well, I had always thought that if quantity training was initiated before the third birthday, then the child would have that for life, which is why so many stories of kids losing that ability just didn't make sense. But after this conversation, it is all beginning to be clear why quantity training is not enough.

You see, babies are born with the ability to perceive quantity. The Doman program is not actually teaching quantity recognition but rather labeling it. A tiny child can already tell the difference between 28 and 29 without any training - they just don't have a name for it. All the Doman program does is gives quantities names and teaches the names for putting those quantities together and taking them apart ("plus", "minus", "multiplied by", "divided by"). This is not teaching the tiny child anything new, per se, but simply giving them labels for things they already innately know.

But teaching them names is not enough. The child must progress to the point where he doesn't just see the numbers on a card (which he will soon not be able to do anymore) but that he sees the numbers in his head. He must be able to manipulate the numbers in his head, he must know them front and back, knowing not only the number but its relation to other numbers, knowing that "fifty" is half of 100 and 1 less than 51 and 30 less than 80. He must know that "twenty eight" is a third of 94 and half of 56, that it's the product of 2 and 14, and 7 and 4, that it's the sum of 20 and 8 and the difference of 30 and 2. If it's all in his head, he'll have it for life, and he must get to that point before he loses the ability to "see" quantity.

This is the point where we will get back to the original statement in this post, the moment where it finally hit me about the meaning of Glenn Doman's words: "Mathematics is not a subject like geography, but a way of thinking and reasoning."

It hit me as I was reading a new blog post, a Doman friend who does the math program also, with very tangible results. But she was perplexed about how her son, now two, has never been able to verbalize his answers. He can easily pick out the correct dot card when you ask him what 24+54-21 is, but if you ask him for a verbal response, even to a simple addition equation, he just makes something up, like shouting "two!" for 10+24. This is nothing new to me: Hunter does the same thing. I've discussed this odd behavior before, but for some reason when I was reading about it this time, something clicked, and it all made sense.

I realized, little kids at this stage cannot yet verbalize the answers because mathematics is not like geography - it is a way of thinking and reasoning. If math was simply about memorizing a set of facts - What is the capital of France? Who was the fifth President? What sound does the letter A make? - it would simply be a matter of recalling the correct answer, the corresponding fact. But math, in the way that babies can do it, is not about memorizing facts: it is a way of thinking and reasoning.

When you tell him an equation, a mental process is going on in his head that is nothing like the process that goes on when you ask him the capital of China. He's being trained to think mathematically, and in the beginning verbalizing what he sees in his mind will not be as easy as verbalizing other facts he knows, because they are completely different tasks. It's not as easy to recall the fact "sixty-eight" as it is to recall the fact "George Washington". Although this may seem somewhat strange to us, as we were taught math by mere memorization of times tables and algorithms, but what is going on in a baby's mind is completely different and it's not like geography.

The goal, therefore, in training babies in math, is to get them to be able to verbalize, that is, it's to get them to know the numbers in their head instead of just being able to see them with their eyes on paper. Training him to think and reason is the goal, but he must learn mathematics thoroughly before he gets to the stage where he can no longer see the numbers on paper - they must be completely internalized, so when you say "seventy-three" he knows exactly what that number is and isn't, and he can manipulated the numbers strictly in his mind without the aid of visual dots.

For some final thoughts on the issue of "making the math permanent" for your child, I will end on a quote from the forum member who brought up the phone call with the Institutes in the first place:

"If you ask a fluent reader to explain how they read they would simple state that they can. It is possible that the mental manipulation of quantity develops to the stage where the entire process takes place at a subconscious level."

That is the goal, for a child to truly master mathematics so that it is permanent in their being and always remains with them. Here is the conclusion of steps that must be taken in order for a child to go onto be proficient in instant mental calculation:
  1. Parents must, first and foremost, create in their child a rage to learn mathematics. Some children do not like the math program initially because we are teaching them something they actually already know. A child must love his numbers, must adore his numbers, for true learning to take place.
  2. On being consistent: Consistency is of utmost importance as your child will learn best this way. By taking breaks, whether days, weeks, or months, your child may forget a great deal of what was learned or even worse, lose interest.
  3. On being timely: Spending an extended amount of time on one thing would likely bore the child and cause him to lose interest. It's important to keep your lessons new and exciting to retain the desire to learn it.
  4. On being thorough: Being thorough is important, as you want to be sure to cover the material well, so he knows it well. We're not talking about endless drilling here, but about making it a part of life, talking about it frequently, and playing lots of games with numbers to be confident he knows the material well.
  5. It's important to try and follow the program as much as possible as outlined in the book. For example, don't teach numbers 1-100 all the way through to your 2-year-old without introducing arithmetic - he will want to progress to interesting things quickly, so don't hold him back.
  6. Parents should not wait an extensive amount of time to introduce numerals. It is important that numerals be learned while he is still able to see quantity, so that he is able to see the connection and relationship between the two.
  7. Parents should exercise extreme foresight to keep lessons interesting and to keep the desire to learn mathematics at a high. Keep in mind the cardinal rules of teaching, like always stopping before your child wants and to only teaching when you're both in a splendid mood. Keep lessons brief and frequent. If your child loves math, it will take a great deal to stop him from learning it. This is the most important factor for success.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we're now introducing numerals in a countdown to Christmas and Hunter has been doing very well with them. I'm not sure why Hunter is an "odd ball" and is able to still perceive quantity at so late of an age, but thank God that he is! I hope that this post has been informative to all of you who have wondered about the Doman math program but haven't been able to put together the pieces.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."
Matthew 11:25-26

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Shoot with Jesus

We got this free poster of "A Glimpse into the Life and Teachings of Jesus" when we ordered the world history time line and Hunter was very interested in this picture of Jesus. Surprisingly it's actually the first picture he's really seen of an artist's rendering of the man Christ. We talk and read about Jesus all the time but I don't really use children's picture Bibles so we don't see many pictures of the Bible stories we know.

Anyhow, today he asked to have his picture taken with Jesus. Don't ask me where that one came from but, I thought it was pretty funny and humored him by taking their picture together.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

The Realist

Things heard in the past month from the world's greatest realist - a preschooler.

1. a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are.

2. one who is inclined to literal truth and pragmatism.

3. a person who accepts the world as it literally is and deals with it accordingly

While pondering a the content of a nursery rhyme:

"Mom, cows don't jump over the moon!"

While playing with a small model airplane:

Mommy: "Does Aunt Abigail fly in one of these?"
Hunter: "No, a big one"
While singing Jingle Bells:
"Mom, is Santa Claus real?"
[didn't answer that one]

Totally randomly, while taking a walk:

"Is John McCain small?"
[don't even ask me where that one came from]

Again, totally randomly:

Hunter: "When I came out, was there a hole?"
Mommy: "What?"
Hunter: "In your belly."
[didn't answer that one quite yet either!]

While observing a flashcard with the hand-written numeral "44" on it:

"Look, if you turn it like this [upside down] it makes h's!"

After falling over backwards - hard - on his head:

"It's okay, it's okay - its just my brain!"

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child..."
1 Corinthians 13:11

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Look what I saw today...

1.98 - Those numbers don't mean much, except, that is, when you see them next to the word "Regular" on a Family Express sign!

Yes, it's true, I've lived to see the day where gas prices are below $2 per gallon. Does it phase me that just weeks ago it was well over $4 per gallon? A little. I feel like I'm floating around in a time warp of about 4 or 5 years previous.

And, it has just occurred to me that gas has not been been below $2 in all of Hunter's life. And even though I often forget that he's only three years old, that's still a very long time. It seems like a millennium ago that I wasn't a parent.

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sites for Kids - Map Puzzles

I found this site today and Hunter really liked playing the USA map game. It's good if they already know the states, then it will be easier. This great site has a ton of map puzzles with everything from continents to countries within each continent to world monuments. It's just a blank outline map and they give you one country / state at a time to drag and drop in it's respective location. Most of them can be played online with no download required. And best of all, it's all free. Enjoy!

"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations."
Psalm 22:27-28

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It was Hunter's first time going to the polls today. I'm not sure why I've never taken him with me, maybe I just never thought about it before. It was a beautiful day, so beautiful we decided to walk.

The church where we were to vote was about a block away, and the whole family went together. It was a solemn walk, a quiet, thoughtful walk. After months upon endless months of fierce debate, talk, and discussion of the weighty issues that are at stake, judgment day has finally come. It seemed almost unreal, that this historic campaign would ever end. It's been an intricate part of our lives for almost two years now, but the issue will finally come to a close as people cast their votes on who will lead this nation over the next four years.

As we walked, it was so solemn because it was now obvious that, on the larger scale, everything was now out of our hands. You can put on a convincing debate but in the end, what you have concluded on the issues doesn't dictate much. We knew, today, that it is all in God's hands.

So we did our civil duty, we learned about our democratic-republic form of government, we learned about modern voting machines and about different men who want to be our leaders and why we vote for certain ones and what they stand for and why we don't for others. And, most importantly, we learned why we pray for them. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." 1 Peter 2:1-2

That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty - that pretty much sums it up right there. We want leaders who will allow us to lead a quite and peaceable life in godliness. There is a great danger pressing, a danger of leaders who believe that the government is the dictator of our life, that children are the property of the state and all of our choices ought to be approved, monitored, and controlled by it. That, my friend, is why we vote, why we are involved in public policies and offices and campaigns. It is so vital to our freedom to worship and rear our own children, and nothing is more important than that. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

There's a lot of issues at stake, but in the end, it is all in the hand of the Lord.

"By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth."
Proverbs 8:15-16

"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."
Proverbs 21:1

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Board Breaking

So Hunter broke his first real board today. He always has fun with the re-breakable plastic boards that they have at the Taekwondo school we clean, but today they had thrown away some real breaking boards and I pulled one out for him to try, and he smashed it with glee.

It took him three tries with a front kick and, the board was probably only about a half an inch thick but nonetheless, he was very proud.

"The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him."
Exodus 15:2

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Sunday, November 2, 2008

52 Days till Christmas

Okay, so I'm not really itching in my shoes waiting for Christmas to come, but we've started a countdown to Christmas to introduce numerals (symbols for numbers, like 1,2,3 or IV, V, VI) and also to explore number personalities (like finding out if a number is a square number [like 4], or a triangular number [like 6], or a prime number, or if it's an odd or even number, how many tens go into it [like 52 has 5 tens and 2 ones] or what numbers it can be divided by [like 52 can be divided by 26, 13, 4, and 2]). In other words, we're going to be doing a lot of MATH in the next few weeks.

I'm really anxious to focus on math and get into numerals because I recently found out that the ability to perceive quantity (the ability to distinguish 98 dots from 99 dots instantly) doesn't last forever even if you were trained with dot cards from birth. I knew that if dot training wasn't started before 2 1/2 or 3 years old then the ability would probably be lost forever, however I always thought that if you made use of that "window of opportunity" then you would always have the ability. But apparently that's not so and the ability does go away, however the ability to perform instant mental calculations, and to have a true understanding of math, never goes away if you're firmly grounded in it. You just won't be able to glance at a pile of toothpicks and say "147!"

So we're going to be exploring numbers, a lot of them, and moving into the big, beautiful world of numerals. Today we had 52 Cheerios with breakfast, and did a bunch of equations involving 52. You can see in the picture above that I taped a number (dot card) to the wall with a numeral and an "equals" sign to look at all day. I also made a long line of red dots with the star of David and the word "Christmas" at the end. I also have a little table set up with a muffin tin with Cheerios in it (10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 2) and some math manipulatives (Math U See ones [blue rods] and Multilink Cubes). The little baggie has 52 Cheerios in it.

I gave Hunter a little 3x5 box and told him it was his special box to put his numbers in (to review later on). On an index card I wrote "52" on one side and on the other made 52 dots. I also gave him a big card with 52 baseball stamps on it (see picture). This whole thing has come with huge fanfare and we're making a very big deal about his new friends the numerals. He's loving it, of course.

We did a bunch of equations that equal 52. I was sure to cover all the numbers and go into 52 (2,3,13, and 26) and did some random addition and subtraction equations. We also introduced simple algebra (y-equations) and he seemed to enjoy it.

We also played the candy game to help him with retaining the ability to perceive quantity, this time only using two cards, on the count of three flipping them over and having him point to 52. I was very positive about this and was doing a lot of really easy ones at first (like 25 and 52 or 90 and 52) because he has been a little self-conscious lately saying he doesn't know, or picking the wrong number on purpose. So I made it very fun and did a lot of really easy, obvious ones - always arrange for your child to win. As we progressed a little and did more similar ones, (like 52 vs. 55) he was now shining with self-confidence and picked the right one.

I was a little worried, for a while, fearing that it was possible he had already lost his ability to perceive quantity with the way he was acting towards his math, but today was a good day, a great day, and I think he has gained his confidence back. He went to bed tonight saying goodbye to 52 and looking forward to doing our countdown again tomorrow.

"Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
Numbers 23:10

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Building Cities...

Hunter has had this recent obsession with building elaborate, detailed cities with his blocks. Whereas before he would usually only build small individual towers or other structures, now he likes to make use of every block in the box and build a little city for his toy people. Future architect? Who knows, but he sure is teaching himself a lot as he uses his imagination and math and science skills to design and construct these mini masterpieces.

"...and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch."
Genesis 4:17

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Some pictures of a conversation between Hunter and I. We were talking about, well, lots of stuff. The beautiful leaves. The contrails (airplane trails) in the clear blue sky. I just love his smile, his beautiful little laugh, his animated facial expression. Talking, always talking, about God, about creation, about man. And that just about covers everything.

"My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly."
Job 33:3

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old

November Words of the Day

Kids will learn whatever words they hear in their environment. We adults like to categorize words into "difficult words" and "simple words", but children have no such organizational system.

Did your child find the word "bread" simple and "spaghetti" difficult? Was "elephant" a struggle to learn while "dog" was easy? No, even though they have longer syllables than each other, we consider both of them "easy" because we've been familiar with them since we were small. Your child can be familiar with whatever words he hears from your, with ease.

I still remember one time when my little brother was about two, a guest at our house thought it was absolutely amazing that he used the word "annoying". I couldn't figure out why she thought that was so unusual because we used that word all the time at our house! He had simply learned it by hearing it used around the house, and we all thought it was a pretty common and easy word, but to this guest, little kids are supposed to say "he's bugging me" so "annoying" was considered advanced! It's really all a matter of perspective and, more importantly, environment.

I remember one time reading that a frequent mark of "gifted" children is that they tend to have large vocabularies. It really made me think, "Who gave them that 'gift' of a large vocabulary?" Most people believe that being gifted is the result of a good set of genes, but we get 100% of our vocabulary from our environment, not from our genes.

Children between the ages of two and six are learning anywhere from ten to twenty new words per day! That is absolutely incredible, considering that no one is teaching them these things. They learn them all simply by hearing them in their environment.

The words that are in your child's environment are completely dependent upon you. I try to use a variety of words with Hunter rather than sticking to words that we consider "easy". When Hunter needs help he often tells me, "I need your assistance please." The other day he was talking about "an enormous rat". Speaking to your children in sophisticated language will take them very far. Reading good books with an intelligent vocabulary is a great way to build their bank of words. And one thing I just recently added to our daily fun is a word of the day, to teach him interesting words but also to teach me! has a free email service called word of the day and they will send you an interesting word with its definition and examples of usage. They have a past archive of words of the day since 1999. Instead of using the current words of the day, I decided to use the words from a year ago so I can make my materials ahead. I'm just going to make flashcards with the word on one side and the definition and usage on the other side. There are some pretty interesting words in there, most of them I've never even heard before! Each morning we'll introduce the word of the day and try to use that word in our conversation throughout the day. It sure is going to be a fun way to play with words and build both of our vocabularies. Here are the words of the day for November - click on the links to see the full definition. Enjoy!
  1. forcible: effected by force used against resistance; also, powerful.
  2. myrmidon: a loyal follower.
  3. politic: political; also, shrewdly tactful.
  4. sciolism: superficial knowledge.
  5. woolgathering: indulgence in idle daydreaming.
  6. bete noire: something or someone particularly detested or avoided.
  7. fealty: fidelity; allegiance; faithfulness.
  8. ameliorate: to make or grow better.
  9. polyglot: speaking or containing many languages.
  10. deleterious: harmful.
  11. mercurial: changeable; temperamental; volatile.
  12. gesticulate: to make gestures or motions.
  13. perfervid: ardent; impassioned.
  14. flaneur: one who strolls about aimlessly; a lounger; a loafer.
  15. hector: to bully or harass.
  16. aggrandize: to make or make appear great or greater.
  17. restive: resisting control; stubborn.
  18. comport: to behave (oneself) in a particular manner.
  19. flout: to treat with contempt and disregard.
  20. extirpate: to eradicate; to destroy.
  21. wiseacre: a smart aleck.
  22. deipnosophist: one skilled in table talk.
  23. postprandial: happening or done after a meal.
  24. somniferous: causing or inducing sleep.
  25. recumbent: reclining; lying down.
  26. foundling: a deserted or abandoned child.
  27. kvetch: to complain habitually.
  28. incongruous: lacking in harmony.
  29. hirsute: covered with hair or bristles.
  30. malapropos: unseasonable or unseasonably; inappropriate or inappropriately.

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
Deuteronomy 18:18

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old