May 28, 2007

No Greater Joy

A few days ago I woke up a little late and the kids woke up a little early. The result was that I hadn't finished my devotions when they came out to the living room. They saw what I was doing and, without interrupting, each grabbed a Bible story book and joined me in silent reading on the sofa.

I couldn't have been happier (and had to wake Tomomi up to take a picture).

May 23, 2007

Illustrated Life of Joseph

I read the story of Joseph to T this morning and suggested he draw a picture to illustrate it. I came home from work and found this. I love the detail and thoroughness. Click the photo to see it larger, then go to the photo's page on flickr (here) and mouse around on it to see a frame-by-frame commentary.

May 22, 2007

Didn't Know THAT About the Empress

From this article:
Japan's Empress Michiko, the first commoner to marry into the world's oldest monarchy, says she has turned to prayer to cope with stress and at times wished she could be invisible to enjoy life more.
. . .

"It was quite a great challenge for me to get by each and every day with sorrow and anxiety," she said, adding there were times when she "prayed and muttered some childish magic words" when she found it hard to cope.

Michiko, who was raised a Christian, said she had come to consider such emotions to be a "reward, solace and encouragement."

And from another article covering the same story:
[Emperor] Akihito was tutored and mentored by a number of Christians, leading to speculation that the imperial couple may harbour crypto-Christian sympathies. Courtiers dismiss this, insisting that Michiko was never baptised and is not a believer. In her remarks this week, she did not specify what kind of prayers she utters in times of stress.

May 21, 2007

Schools Are for Fish

This comic by Jason Holm was linked to on a mailing list that I read. Homeschooling isn't for everyone and has its drawbacks but so far socialization hasn't been a problem for us. T has great friends of various ages and backgrounds. And he doesn't have the pressure to conform that he would if he were at school.

See the original page for the part of the comic I edited out. It's funny but a little negative towards people who choose traditional education.

White Family 24

It sounds like a caucasian-only version of Kiefer Sutherland's hit TV series, but it's really just Softbank Mobile's latest discount service. Softbank's White Plan allows free calls between Softbank Mobile users except between 9PM and 1AM (when it costs 21 yen per 30 seconds). Beginning in June, family members in the White Plan will be able to call each other for free 24 hours a day. Just confirm that your family members' phones are registered as such with Softbank. (In a typical Sofbank screw-up, they had me registered as a member of my wife's family but not vice versa.)

Here is the text of the press release:

SOFTBANK MOBILE Corp. (Head office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; Representative: Masayoshi Son) announced that it will launch a new family discount service “White Family 24”. The service provides 24 hours free voice calls (domestic call) between “White Plan” family members without any additional fee, and will be applied from the June 2007 billing month. “White Plan” has been well received by customers since its introduction, and the number of applications for the plan exceeded four million.

Those who are already subscribing to “White Plan” and “Family Discount”, “White Family 24” will be automatically applied from the June 2007 billing month.

With this launch, “White Plan” will be evolving to further attractive price plan for the customers.

  • “White Family 24” is an alias for “Family Discount (White Plan)” . . .
Click to see all of my Softbank Mobile related posts.

May 10, 2007

Fuse Beads

We have a lot of toys in our house. Our kids are guinea pigs for the preschool and they also have grandparents who keep us well-stocked. Some toys are bigger hits than others but one that always stays in heavy rotation is the bucket of fuse beads. If you don't know, fuse beads are colored beads that you place on a little pegboard to make a pattern. Then you can iron the beads to fuse them together and make your work permanent. Someone has a cool photoset at flickr of several fuse bead projects.

Anyway, I've noticed that working with these beads, besides being really fun, helps the kids with fine motor skills and concentration. T and R do solo projects as well as working together sometimes and like all the best toys, these beads offer enough opportunity for creativity to be fun for grown-ups too.

Here is a work in progress. The template is actually for a car but T has turned it upside down and is making a frog.

The biggest fuse beads brand seems to be Perler Beads and here is a sampling of what amazon offers. Happy fuse beading!

May 9, 2007

Soccer Game

Today a preschool neighbor (we have the greatest neighbors) dropped by to offer us tickets to a pro soccer game. A few hours later T and I were off to watch Omiya Ardija take on . . . um . . . another team. We had a wonderful time together. A couple of highlights:
  • While getting ready to leave, T says excitedly, "When we get back I'll be able to write a story called 'Just Me and My Dad!'"
  • Ten minutes into the action, T asks, "Are the players grown-ups? They look small like kids from here but they are really good."
It was good fun. I'm a typical American who only takes interest in soccer every four years at World Cup time. I wouldn't have cared much to see the game myself but like so many other things in life, seeing through a child's eyes made all the difference.

May 6, 2007

Child Raising

"Be sure that your children each day have:
  • Something or someone to love
  • Something [worthwhile] to do
  • Something to think about"
That's a quote from a book I'm reading called A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. She expands on each of these.

Something or someone to love
can be a family member, a friend or even a pet. "There are opportunities for love in every home. there also many ways to provide services (labors of love) to others if you look for them."

Something to do: "Amusing oneself with idle pastimes all day is not really doing anything. A little amusement is fine, but boredom will be transformed into real interest when your children are given meaningful tasks of recreation or of service."

Something to think about: "Thinking is quite impossible without something to think about. It is enjoying other people's ideas and thoughts and jokes . . . noticing beauty in music and pictures. . . enjoying country sights and sounds, birds and flowers. [. . .] ideas to grow on are present in books--real "living" books. And it is we as parents who are responsible for giving our children a taste of the finest, so that they will acquire a taste for the best our civilization has to offer. The power of finding joy and refreshment in reading is an incredible resource!"

Charlotte Mason was an English turn of the century (19th turning to 20th century that is) educator whose ideas are very influential in parts of the homeschooling community. (Click her name in the preceding sentence to read more about her on Wikipedia.) I appreciate her view of the liberal arts as central to quality education. I also like that she advocated "living books:"
Probably the best known of Charlotte's methods is her use of living books instead of dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The size of the book does not matter nearly as much as whether it is "alive" and engaging. Textbooks are allowed if they meet that criterion. "Twaddle" refers to books or information that is dumbed down and insults the child's intelligence. Living books should be used with as many subjects as possible. source
A good next step if the Wikipedia article sparks your interest is Simply Charlotte Mason.

Colorful Kids

T the Hulk

Yellow R

May 1, 2007

Medieval Tech Support

For anyone who's ever helped parents and grandparents with computer issues (sorry Mom and Dad):