Monthly Archives: November 2009

Giant Jelly Fish –

The BBC reporters cover the large jellyfish in the Sea of Japan.



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Filed under Biology, Oceans and their creatures, Science

The trip is more important that getting there

How Montessori is my husband? Very.  He announced that he wanted to take back roads from Charleston to Greenville. Process is as important as the result – very Montessori.

Green for up and orange for back

Basically the length of our state – coast to mountains is split in two by highway 26.  It is a straight shot from Charleston through Columbia (Hi – ya’ll) to greater Greenville.

The decision we made after consulting the map (printed in 1994 – more on this later) was to go south of 26 on the way up and north of 26 on the way back.  And off we go.  Our basic goal was to try not to see a WalMart or McDonalds.  We went for the little black lines on the map.

Things we learned.

1.  There is quite a bit of our state that is very rural.

2. The small towns to the south of 26 are wealthier than the rural areas to the north of 26.  The poverty there was difficult to comprehend.  It reminded me a bit of the shots of Appalachia in the 1960’s.

3. Get a new map for the state – remember the 1994 edition from earlier.  Distances and road locations become highly approximate when entering the northern half of the state.  No really.  Roads just were not there and the ones that were there were not marked.  Nothing like driving by the seat of ones pants.  Flexibility is really important.

4.  The kids liked it.  No really really. No we don’t have game boys/DS or DVD players in the car. Nearly doubling our time (6 hours up and 8 hours back) didn’t cause any real dilemmas.  Although they have asked for sunglasses so they can look out the windows more often. We haven’t given them any since they were little because the hated them.  But they were really cute in them then.  Let’s see how they do now.

5.  Huddle Houses are ubiquitous in small town SC.

6. We want to do it again.

7.  Belton has one of three turn of the century water towers still standing in the state.

8.  The northern half of the state has some large National Forests.

9.  Who knew SC had a train museum in Woodruff.

10.  We will do it again focusing on one place to stop.  We will limit stops to less than one hour.

11.  We didn’t feel stressed when we got home.

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Filed under Going outs (Field Trips), Montessori

Quick Takes Friday – Special Edition

Quick Take 1  –  What Was I Doing?

"Air brush for real not fantasy."

Friday evening found me driving like a mad woman across town to the movie theater.  Late.  I’m never late. That should have been a clue.  My sub-conscience was trying to stop me.  I’m on this quest that began two years ago with a pair of pink socks and girlie tennis shoes to understand my feminine side.  Not an easy task.  I’ve been wearing pink underwear for a year now allowing the girlie to filter into my body.

So now here I was trying to not be late.  Well really, not be TOO late.  I was already late. I was rushing down the highway only to exit my car to step into the raging river of estrogen – the opening night of the new Twilight movie.   Yes, you read correctly – the 6:30 showing of the New Moon movie on a Friday night.

Quick Take 2  –  What was I Thinking?

I have read the books.  That in and and of its self is a confession of how far I’ve come in the process of understanding my feminine side.  It took a lot of intervention from coworkers giving me books and insisting, “I HAD to read them.”  I liked them – simple, girlie, lovie, and interesting constructs to get from point A to B.  Very high school.  The idealism was a welcome escape from a rough time at my job.  I was thinking, this movie could be interesting  to see how the long book is interpreted – myself and 200 other women and 12 year-old girls.

Quick Take 3  –  The Myth of the Idealized Male

A conversation I had with a student’s mom during car loop last year returned to my mind during the movie:

Mom:    “Oh I hear you are reading the Twilight series.”
Me:    “Uhhh.  I am.”  (be proactive in stressful situations) “I’m enjoying them.”
Mom:    “They are soooooo amazingly good.”
Me:    “Yes.”
Mom:    “Edward is the best.  He is like a symbol of Jesus.”
Me:    “Ohh.” (Get out of Dodge.)  “Your daughter is buckled in. Bye.”
(What I wanted to say went something like:  “Yes, I always like how Jesus just keeps trying to stop himself from killing me and sucking out my blood.”)

So, there I was sitting in a darkened theater next to my friend who was there to coach me through it – boy did I need it when the 12 year olds started screaming.  On the other side of me was a middle aged couple.  She was officially a Twilight Mom. She regularly told her long-suffering husband what was not in the book.  I craned my neck.  I wanted to see his face.  Why was he here?  I could barely manage the estrogen.  This man – how was he surviving.  What was HE thinking?


Quick Take 4  – It’s Not About the Face

As the movie ended and we steamed out.  I partook of a favorite ADHD pass time – listening to other’s conversations.  I spotted a hand full of couples and angle myself near one:

“Ohhh that was the best.” (Hands clasped to her chest.)
“Umm.” (Blank look.)
“I really liked it; didn’t you?” (Enraptured look at the credits.)
“Yes, it was good.”  (What else could he say here?)
“I leaves you feeling warm.”

It wasn’t just the estrogen ocean that was overwhelming the guy.  It was a gut reaction to the emotional objectification of the male.  The male characters were airbrushed to idealized perfection like centerfold women in Playboy. No mere man could be Edward.  (Insert 12 year-old’s scream here.)

This genre damages the expectations for relationships.  Men are lectured by society and the Church for the physical objectification of women, but Christian romance novels are sold in the millions, and women are not chastised for their emotional objectification of men.


Quick Take 5   –  Love Your Wife Like Christ Loves the Church

High School Girl 1:        “Oh Edward is sooooo. dreamy – perfect.”
Hight School Girl 2:    “Like. I know.  All he cares about is Bella.”
HSG 1:            “He would sacrifice himself just to keep her alive.”
HSG 2:            “I wish I had a guy like that.”
(Agggg. Maybe I should take meds so the ADHD will quiet down.  Am I getting more girlie because I wanted to slap HSG 2 not punch her?)

Should a husband strive to be Christ-like in his relationship with his wife?  Absolutely.  The onus is on the husband. The unattainable goal is one he must set for himself. It is his charge.  A wife can only strive to call forth the hope of the transformed life within the husband by prayer and by calling forth her own transformation through the grace of God.  The wife can not have this ideal.  An ideal that a human can’t meet. This sets men up for failure and damages relationships. We take our gold and spin it into straw.*


Quick Take 6  –  Deadly Thoughts

Middle-aged Mom 1:      “Don’t tell Dan, but I am in Loooove with Edward.”
Middle-aged Mom 2:    “Oh really – isn’t he a little too young for you.”
(giggle like a 12 year-old girl.)
M-a M 1:            “He is a god. I’ve been married long enough to know what a man should be like.”
(sigh like a 16 year-old girl.)
M-a M 2:            “Yeah.  You said it.”
(sigh like a 53 year-old woman.)
(I resist the urge to smash my head into the carpeted wall next to the overflowing garbage can.)

It is easier to preach against the outward actions of the person rather than the inward actions.  Men tend to be outward in their actions.  That hungry look of misplaced passions, the rage of anger, the roar of victory; while women’s more inward actions are more commonly overlooked by society. It is always easier to have the Catholic concept of seven deadly sins over the Coptic’s concept of eight deadly thoughts. Yet what is more real to God?

I find my mind veering into the subject of our “are being saved” part of our salvation and delving deeper into the idea of submission to God’s ideal. Can we discuss this?  I do wonder if the cause of our need for an ideal shouldn’t be sought within us.


Quick Take 7  –  The Caveat

*This whole paragraph is not meant to say that there should be not standards.  This paragraph assumes females have some realistic expectations and a functional understanding of themselves and their worth before God.

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Filed under Moral Compas, Practical Life - Elementary, Quick Takes Friday

Dr. Ed’s Journal – by AV

I was biology teacher at MIT.  I retired to the US military’s “Life Project”.  I am best known around the lab for being a big fan of the Beetles. My main goal was to test for organization skills between non-man-made life-forms and man-made life-forms, so I decided to use a closed environment for several weeks.  I built a yellow submarine, made from aluminum and titanium. I used heat proof paint for more protection because I didn’t know what they would encounter.  There would be four creatures on my team – two man-made and two non-man-made.

Calin, the Amish garden gnome, is Amish because he belonged to Mrs. Richardson.  He came to life one day when Mrs. Richardson prayed to God one day for a friend, she was very lonely because her husband had died five years earlier. I met Calin on a trip to Pennsylvania three years previously, when I was planing my team out, I remembered him; he was happy to go with us.

My first creation, Resser the leader of the seven elite military plush toy team.  Resser parachuted behind the dangerous mine fields of the North Korean battle grounds. He discovered where the evil dictator’s daughter was and went to China to find her.  There he collected information from the evil military dictator’s daughter by playing imaginary friend with her.

Goo and Betsy are like “q” with “u” and never seen a part.  Betsy was a circus cow who escaped to the wild hills of Kentucky where he was free to run and roam.  There he met Goo who was developed in my secret underground lab, and they became fast friends – best friends at that.  Since Goo was slow, Betsy offered to carry him. That is how Goo ended up on Betsy’s head.

The sub launched off the Florida Keys from a secret location in the Atlantic Ocean. My team’s course brought them around the Horn of Africa, through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea, and then they made for home. The sub was controlled by an on

board computer that was programed with the route they would take. After a successful test, Calin went back home; Goo and Betsy are determined to make it to California (because “happy cows” are in California), and Resser and I are going back to MIT.

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Filed under AV, Biology, Projects, Science, Writing


Here you go.  In AV’s words.

Watercolor close-up on Calin's page

I created a book that has seven pages.  The first three are devoted to the characters.

Watercolor close-up of Goo and Betsy

Watercolor close up of Resser

The next four cover the various ocean zones.  The first is the splash zone; then following are: the euphotoic, disphotic, and asphotic zones. Different media were researched and used in each page.

Close-up of the torn paper splash zone

The splash zone is the area of the beach that encompasses the shore line to the dunes and all the beach in between.  Creatures living in tidal pools, sea birds, tube worms, marine plants, and algae all live in this complex ecosystem.  All of the animals in this zone must be tolerant to the extremes of wet and dry.   Prograding (adding sand to the beach through water and wind) and regrading (removal of sand) can move the zone hundreds of feet in a few years.

Euphotic zone quilted page close-up

The euphotic zone (u fotik) comes from the Greek for lots of light.  More than 90% of the ocean’s life lives in the narrow euphotic zone.  Everything from corals to sea snakes lives in this zone.   A large amount of fish species live here, too.  The majority of sharks and rays live here as well. This is the most studied zone in the ocean. The reason being it has the largest abundance of life in the ocean.

Resser watches an angler fish in this wood cut close-up

Beginning at 600 feet and descends to 3000 feet, the disphotic (dis fotik) zone is a large zone but not the largest.  Sperm whales, hatchet fish, and microscopic organisms call this zone home. In these low-light conditions, bioluminesce is often the only light available.  It is created by bacteria stored by the fish. These bacteria live in sacks in the fish. All bacteria send off small chemicals that can be received by other bacteria, and when the bacteria receive enough of this chemicals, they turn on.

Pop-up close-up

The aphotic (a fotik) zone takes up more than 80% of the ocean. It is kind of like Alaska; there are not enough different things there to split it up more. Most of the things that live there are squid, crabs, shrimp, angler fish, tripod fish, and bacteria.  This is mineral rich water; all of the life here must be able to withstand high levels of toxicity.  Worms make up a large percentage of the population of this zone.  Because of the toxic minerals, which to most living things is very poisonous, but to the worms it causes them to thrive. The minerals are mostly sulfates escaping into the water through vets in the ocean floor.

We live ocean planet because are a planet that is 70% water. Yet we only use a small amount of this massive resource. Oil, fishing and commercial travel make up the majority of the ocean’s uses.  We know more about the typography of Mars than we know about the ocean’s typography.  I think that this is a weakness in our international policy.

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Filed under Art, AV, Biology, Projects, Science, Writing

Creche Visit

This weekend we drove about an hour west by north/west to the largest monastery in South Carolina, Mempkin Abbey.  This group of monks who follow the rule of St. Benedict in the Cistercian tradition (rising at 3am to pray, they work with their hands, they don’t speak unnecessarily among others).  Each year they offer a tour of international creches.

It was very crowded.  We would have liked to have time to reflect, draw, and think.  Here are several photos.

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Filed under Art, AV, Going outs (Field Trips), JV

Seven Quick Take Friday


TED is a weekly lecture series which is devoted to Ideas Worth Sharing. Pick a topic and search for it. The lectures are not just “techie” or “nerd” oriented. They cover arts, science, culture, business, technology, and education. They are 30 minutes or under (some as short as 5 minutes). Take a mental recharge with TED. The boys want to be a part of their audience for any lecture.


What is with the entrance into the teen years? We endured the hormonal swings of the early 12’s and though, “whew” when AV learned to manage his emotions better. Now as 13 rapidly approaches, AV is mumbling. Mumbling. I feel like I’m getting really old and need a hearing device.

Kids and College Classes

How did you all deal with asking for a home school student to sit in a college class? AV wants more information than I can provide on oceanology, and he needs to see what a normal work load looks like.

Practical and Honest

A local blogger has this amazingly complete site about all thing in home keeping. As the holidays are approaching, it is time for emergency help. Turkey thawing to cleaning the gutters. Her tag is “everything you wished your mama had taught you.”

What is up with college profs?

We have been interested to find that college professors fall in two classes.

1. Welcoming and kind to three middle schoolers, encouraging them to ask questions and explore their topics.

2. Ignoring and aloof to three middle schoolers. We have been going to the Grice Marine Lab’s graduate lectures on Fridays for three months and there is no eye contact made to any of us in any way. I remind you this is Charleston – politeness and false kindness is an art form here. If you don’t hook kids before the age of 14, they aren’t going to be interested in your topic.

Project week!

Every eight weeks the kids go into a frenzy of all project all the time. They pick a topic. Decide what they will complete in one week. We write their goals down. They go for it. The house is trashed over the course of the week and I nearly pull out my hair. The kids push themselves in areas they have never gone. Check out our last project week here, here, and here. The pride in their work is obvious.


Yesterday the boys did an orienteering event. One of the parents explained that in England the day after Christmas often finds the whole family chasing after a cartoon character in a local wild park using a compass and a series of clues. We were not chasing a character, but we really enjoyed the compass work and the attention to the detailed instructions. It wasn’t a race, but we ended up last because, well, in Montessori fashion, we stopped to look at all kinds of stuff.

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Filed under Going outs (Field Trips), Practical Life - Elementary, Projects, Quick Takes Friday