Sunday, November 14, 2010

What I've Been Reading

In October I did manage to read one book. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. I loved it. Literally, from beginning to end, I couldn't put it down. It's about this Victorian explorer, Percy Fawcett, in the Amazon and how he disappears and over 100 people have died looking for him, (it's kind of an Amelia Earhart type obsession) and because he wrote articles for occult magazines and went to seances and that sort of stuff, many people still think he found his lost city and it's this otherworldly mystic place. I thought it fascinating in so many ways. First of all, it's a brilliant look at Victorian society, it's also interesting to learn how those explorers, ie Livingstone, Shackelton, Burton, etc., operated and how that morphed into the scientific expeditions you have now. Secondly, learning about the Amazon itself was crazy--I still think I have no comprehension of a forest that large. At first, after reading this book, I thought I really don't think I would go there, but then again, why not? Hee. Hee. Another part that I enjoyed was how this guy went into the Amazon with his 16 yr old son looking for traces of Fawcett in 1996, and barely made it out alive. Crazy! Basically the natives there said the same things to them as they had said to Fawcett 70 yrs before, that the natives that live to the east are pretty bad, you shouldn't travel in that direction. I mean, doesn't that make you just wonder whom that tribe of Indians are? And what do they know about Fawcett? Maybe there's still someone alive that could tell? What else do they know? I mean they still have no contact with the outside world at all. It kills me, I just want to pack up my bag and head out to ask them all sorts of things. I'd probably end up dead though. Anyway, lastly, my favorite part about the book was his discussion of archaeology in the Amazon. Basically I grew up believing that the Amazon was full of all sorts of tiny tribes that barely subsisted on hunting and gathering and that the Amazon was so sparsely populated and really not that interesting unless you liked eating bugs and getting nasty diseases. However, the conquistadors' accounts of the Amazon included that it was so populated that they would go days traveling on the Amazon with the banks being jam-packed with people and that huge bridges crossed it, and Amazonian women and the like. Well, everyone blew the conquistadors accounts off because they had good (monetary) reasons for exaggerating what they found in the Amazon. But now, archaeologists have actually found traces of huge civilizations in the Amazon complete with well-planned out right-angled streets, highways, and bridges that crossed the Amazon at points that were over a mile wide, etc. Now they think that diseases brought in by the conquistadors wiped out 90% of the population or more, so by the time anyone else came to explore they didn't find anything that the conquistadors had described. This is also due to the fact that there's very little stone in the Amazon, so everything was made with dirt and wood, which with flooding leaves very little traces. In fact, the native tribes made this kind of enriched soil, terra preta de Indio, (because of the Amazon's horribly infertile soil) and companies have started exporting it now because it's some of the most fertile soil you can find anywhere on the whole earth. Yet it's entirely man made and they made literally, TONS of it. Basically, any high ground in that part of the Amazon basin is man made, because it floods, so they built higher plateaus to keep above the floods and so they could grow crops during the flood season. Considering the engineering of it (technicalities and size), it's as grand as the pyramids of Egypt. Also in 2006 they discovered what's called the Stonehenge of the Amazon, believed to be anywhere from 500 to 2000 years old, which is a huge astronomical observatory tower made of huge granite blocks, each weighing several tons. Anyway, I think people still have a huge tendency to underrate ingenuity of other people. It also makes me think about all those BOM scholars and of their general belief that Guatemala and the central Americas are the "BOM lands." I personally think that's just what has been easiest to study in the past. Not saying they're necessarily wrong, maybe they're right, I just haven't seen any evidence given on why other places in the Americas should be eliminated from consideration. Anyway, just my thoughts on this cold, bleak, wintery day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Anna Karenina

Anyone read Anna Karenina? 
I'm reading it now.
Not so sure about it.
I love his writing . . . but the theme is a bit . . . questionable.
I'll probably finish it. 
The end.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


And just because I care, here's a little video to make you laugh. I love them. So much that I stayed up way late laughing my head and was an emotional wreck the next day. Be careful if you watch more of her videos though, the language and whatnot is not always the best.

I couldn't help myself, I had to post another.

Hormones Continued

This has all been great.  Thanks, Kelly for being specific about your issues and the book.  Very interesting.

For me, the hormonal birth control helped rather than hindered my horrible PMS/mood swings  (btw - I've been wondering about the PMS myth and if it's cultural or real . . . I'll be checking out that book if for nothing other than the first chapter).  J. said that was the best thing we ever did for our marriage  (I beg to differ with that, but that's between J. and me!).  :-)  However, coming "off" the birth control was another story.  For the past year I have been very wacky!  Worse, I think, than before the IUD.  When the doctors say, "You'll get pregnant within a month or two" . . . don't believe them!  :-)  Some months have been better than others, but I have felt out of kilter. 

I, too, am more interested in the diet side of things.  I want to figure out what MY body is lacking, not digesting, or just plain doesn't need!

Andrea - I agree with what you said about our mentality and hormones.  It's still hard to distinguish . . .like Marilyn said.  For instance, do you feel you should have "gone on something" when you were having all that rage?  Or could you tell yourself that it would pass, knowing that it would and just not knowing when it would happen? 

I had a dark period after Ethan was born (my 5th/youngest).  It lasted a good two years, at least.  I just kept pushing through it, using prayer as the main remedy.  But I'm wondering if it might have lasted less time if I'd done something more preventative rather than just "dealing."  Not even medication, but counselling might have helped.  You know??

Then, looking back in hindsight I think,  "Well, I got through it, so it must not have been that bad."  But it was bad.  So . . . .

It's just so HARD to know. 

Don't we love being WOMEN!?  :-)

Love you all.


Hormones, continued

Wow!  I didn't think everyone would feel so strongly about hormones.

Since Andrea asked, I'll tell you some of my personal problems.   Then I'll go into some of my notes from the book.

My problems mostly started after the birth of my second child.  Prior to Brynne's birth I cycled about every 35 days and was somewhat predictable.  I used no hormone-controlled birth control after her birth (as opposed to something like a condom).  But then I had a hard time getting pregnant with Logan.  I had a miscarriage.  My cycle ran crazily long - I'd have between 3-6 periods a year.  I attributed it to stress.  We moved a lot, I had an early-morning paper route for awhile, etc.  I was able to get pregnant a year after the miscarriage.  After Logan's birth my doctor convinced me to try Depo-Provera - which is the 3 month birth control shot.  I had it twice.  The second time my period started and never stopped.  When I went to the doctor about it they said that I was having a "reaction" and I would have to wait for all the hormones to go out of my body before my body went back to normal.  I was ready to have another baby anyway, so I wasn't too concerned about the birth control cycle being done.  My body never went back to normal.  My cycles ran anywhere from 2-9 months - totally unpredictable.  After 3 years of trying to have a baby I went to see a different doctor (we'd moved).  He suggested we try to regulate my cycle.  Since I wanted to have a baby he put me on progestin.  It didn't work at all in the way he said it would work.  Among other things, I had terrible hormonal issues for 2 weeks out of every month.  It felt like morning sickness times 10.  After six months I decided I'd had enough of that.  I stopped the drug.  A month later I got pregnant quite by accident/surprise.  I was thrilled.  Kenna is 4.5 years younger than Logan.  After Kenna was born I decided NO MORE  HORMONE BIRTH CONTROL of any sort.  I wanted to give my body a chance.  I'd only used hormone birth control for a combined total of 7 months out of my entire marriage.  It wasn't excessive.  But it wasn't a good thing for my body.  Anyway, I got pregnant again a month after I stopped nursing Kenna. 

I stopped nursing Natalie in January of this year.  I'm still having those crazy cycles.  I think it was a blessing from Heavenly Father to be able to have her so soon after Kenna.  But those two pregnancies back to back wore me out, so I'm currently using the copper-T IUD because it does not have any hormones.  I would love to do natural family planning, but since I have no predictability to my cycle, I'm trying to get that more regular before I move away from the IUD.  I have mixed feelings about birth control.   I know there are people who think it's a totally evil thing.  I think the hormone ones can be bad for our bodies, but I don't think it's necessary evil for people to - with spiritual guidance - control the size of their families.  But that's a whole separate topic.  I had problems before I even tried the depo-provera, but I do blame the depo-provera for making my problems worse.

I don't have PMS very much.  I do have a family history of women with fibroids and hysterectomies, which I am trying to avoid.   I also have irregular and anovulatory cycles.

So on to the book:

Chapter 1: PMS is not a natural or inevitable part of life, but rather one created by our culture, lifestyles, and environment.   It is a result of hormone imbalances, most of them caused by an excess of the hormone estrogen and a deficiency of the hormone progesterone.  It's also about women being out of touch with the cycles and rhythms of their bodies, their feelings, and their souls.

Chapter 3: excess or a deficiency of estrogens can make a world of difference in a woman's outlook on life and her overall health and well-being.  Excessive estrogen can cause cancer.  Estrogen dominance is a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.  Symptoms of estrogen dominance:
acceleration of aging process
allergy symptoms, including asthma, hives, rashes, sinus congestion
autoimmune disorders
breast cancer
breast tenderness
cervical dysplasia
cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction
copper excess
decreased sex drive
depression with anxiety or agitation
dry eyes
early onset menstruation
endometrial cancer
fat gain
fibrocystic breasts
foggy thinking
gallbladder disease
hair loss
increased blood clotting
irregular menstrual periods
magnesium deficiency
memory loss
mood swings
polycystic ovaries
premenopausal bone loss
prostate cancer
sluggish metabolism
thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism
uterine cancer
uterine fibroids
water retention/bloating
zinc deficiency

causes of estrogen dominance include the environment: pesticides, plastics, waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps, and other solvents.  All called xenohormones.  Most noticeable symptom is lack of ovulation.

If you have your hormone levels tested, be sure progesterone levels are tested to in order to compare to estrogen.  Estrogen levels by themselves don't signify much.

Chapter 4: progesterone
evils of synthetic progesterones and progestins.  Natural progesterone is cheap and fairly safe to use.  Hard to overdose on.  Chapter 16 goes into greater detail on it's actual uses and how to find a good one.  It is NOT prescription.  Usually can find in health food stores - but there are ones that you should NOT buy.  the book details what to look for and gives some suggestions of reputable brands in the appendix.  It's fairly safe to experiment with on your own, but you can see your doctor to have lab work done.  There's a section on the testing - what sorts of results you'll get and how to interpret them.  And notes that hormone levels fluctuate greatly - even over the course of a day - so the best indicator is symptoms, not lab tests, and they treat the symptoms to get you feeling good.

Chapter 5: disturbing effects of xenohormones in environment -
undersized penises of boys who's mothers were exposed to PCBs
50% decrease in sperm count since 1938
increased incidence of testicular and prostate cancer
endometrial cancer
cervical cancer in women who mothers were given DES (which is synthetic estrogen)
postmenopausal osteoporosis
change in sexual orientation
estrogen dominance syndrome
increases in breast cancer

Osteoporosis is more prevalent now, and more severe, and is occurring 15 years or more before menopause.
(My insert - and this in a country where dairy consumption - the supposed cure for osteoporosis - is higher than any other country)
Chapter 8 - a whole chapter devoted to PMS
The most important physical influences on PMS are hormonal imbalances caused by stress, diet, and environmental toxins.  Natural increase in sensitivity in a woman premenstrually,.
Healing PMS -
*correct estrogen dominance with natural progesterone cream
*take a daily multivitamin that includes zinc, B complex, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin E, etc.  take additional vitamin B6
*Eat a plant-based, fiber-rich diet of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes
*eat fish at least twice a week
*try herbal formula for PMS that includes some or all of: peony root, milk thistle, Vitex, wild yam, dandelion root, yarrow, and nettle
*manage stress
*get some exercise every day
*keep a journal and allow yourself to nitice the deeper levels of your anger and pain.  seek to resolve unresolved issues the rest of the month

what to avoid:
*birth control pills
*unopposed estrogen
*situations that cause anovulatory cycles
*sugar and refined carbs
*rancid unsaturated oils and dydrogenated oils
*feed-lots meats
*pesticides of all kinds
*chronic stress

Chapter 14 - Nutrition
There isn't one right way that works for everyone.  Get to know your body.  In general - organic, fresh, whole-grains.  Fish in moderation is good for you.  Less sugar and refined carbs.  Plenty of fresh air, exercise, and STRETCHING!  think of processed foods as the enemy. ;-)   Identify problem foods - you can have too much of a good thing.  yeast - importance of probiotics, proper vitamins.


There you have it!  I got the book from my library, but it's pretty cheap at Amazon.  Lots more information, of course and some of it is pretty technical.  One doctor spent much of his career studying the effects of progesterone on women, so he's basing his knowledge on research that he conducted himself.  The female doctor likes to use both traditional and non-traditional healing techniques, which I personally like, to help people have happy, balanced, healthy lives.  She's spent her career treating women.

Thank you

This is all really interesting.  I want to read the welfare book and the hormone book.  I agree that one of the most confusing things is to feel these emotions/impulses/etc. and not really know if they are "real" or if they are hormone-driven and if they will pass, or if they are more serious, or if you should be worried, or if you should be doing something, or if you should be trying to ignore it all----or what.  Very baffling, and scary sometimes.  Andrea, that is really scary about the molar(?) pregnancy.  It is helpful for me to hear of other people's experiences, if only so I have some frame of reference for what kinds of things can be caused by hormones and how other people have handled it.
Anyway . . . thanks for all your thoughts.

Mental Illness

In response to Julia, I think hormones are sometimes confused with mental illness--such as depression, or being bi-polar. People suffering from those diseases can't "pull themselves out of it" and need medication and other help. Hormones are different because, while they can exert the same control of your reactions, they usually level out again--after a period or, in my case, a d&c, so after the "episode" you can think again. Also, I don't think many of us can "pull ourselves out of it" when we are having a hormone induced reaction to something. I think you basically said that yourself--how you respond to your hormones and how you plan before and after the hormones hit can be your only way to positively handle the problem. During is pretty much lost. For Kammers, things like "don't live in Chicago during the winter" is an example of a positive help. Not solution, but help. My mom tracked her period and the three days leading up to it she and dad weren't allowed to talk about money. At all. Positive strategy. For me, lots of sex usually helps. I know, too much info--but seriously, my emotional health is directly related to how much I'm being touched. So---these are the things we need to know about ourselves to make a positive plan of action.

I don't know. Kelly, does the book talk about specific things in your diet that can help??

More on Hormones

I think it is one of the hardest parts of being a woman trying to distinguish between mental thought and hormones.  This has baffled me for years!  I, too, have had those scary moments of thinking I'm going to hurt/ruin my children or my marriage, even. I don't think necessarily as drastic as Andrea's situation, but times of darkness nonetheless.

I have to ask myself, though, why one person can "pull themselves out of it" while others continue to suffer?  Is it only hormone related?  Sometimes, yes.  But I don't think all the time.  I've had a very interesting couple of years that have caused me to think more about my hormones as well.  And what's been most interesting is that after a major paradigm shift recently in my life, the "bad times" haven't been as bad.  Does that make sense?  I had a mental shift, which thus shifted the hormonal responses.  I still had symptoms (bad PMS) but my husband and I dealt with the situation with much clearer vision rather than how we'd unproductively and distructively handled it in the past.  I don't know if that's making any sense.  But with this experience I'm just wondering where the mental and the hormonal meet.???

Maybe I just need to read the book.  :-)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hormones are interesting

Kelly, that book sounds fascinating. I would, actually, like to hear about your issues. Most people I've told this to think I'm making it up, but I think I've been a lot more sensitive to hormonal changes since the molar pregnancy. What happens with a molar pregnancy is that the egg that is fertilized doesn't have a nucleus, so a mass of cells grow really, really fast. Cancer, essentially--though they don't treat it like cancer unless there is a recurrence.

I went through 12 weeks of pregnancy hormone increases in three weeks. Basically, I became mentally ill. Literally. I don't like to think about it, but I kept my kids locked in their rooms for several days (they would get out when Timothy came home and fed and whatnot) because I was afraid I was going to hurt them. My brain would be telling me to do something but I would be doing something completely different. It was very, very scary. And confusing. And hard to admit to anyone. I called my mom one day to ask for help and she told me to take a nap. Not her fault, but you can see how people can spiral out of control before anyone realizes there is a serious problem.

Anyway, since then, any hormonal fluctuations and I flip out. I switched birth control once, fairly recently, and my body freaked out. I had a miscarriage and my body FREAKED out. Pregnancy hasn't been as bad--I think it is because the hormones increase more gradually, but still--this summer was rough. Hormones is one of the main reasons I'm scared to have more kids--even though I want at least one more after this baby. I just hate feeling like I've ruined my family because I can't keep my actions in check.

Again, I can hear all the people in my head who I know would tell me I'm just justifying bad behavior.

Anyway--like I said, I'm very interested in the topic.

Currently I'm reading two books. The first one is Miracle of Forgiveness. No, I've never read it. A lady in my ward gave one of the best RS lessons I've ever heard about repentance, and now I'm motivated to learn more.

I'm also reading Pure Religion. It is the history of our modern church welfare program and it is RIVETING. Much more so than I imagined it would be. Love it. You should all read it. What has surprised me most, so far, is the emphasis on avoiding idleness as the key reason the program got started. Makes you think. Also, many stories are included about how DI and other assistance plans helped people get not just what they needed but also a few extra things that they wanted. The point has been made repeatedly that people are here on earth for joy, and that feeling deprived all the time doesn't encourage the feeling of joy. Also makes you think.

(There was one story about a little girl sent to the Bishop's Storehouse to get shoes, and she was so sad that she had to get the practical, ugly shoes. The Bishop--a literal Bishop--working there at the time insisted the girl take home a pretty red pair instead PLUS three little anklets that weren't on the original order. He said that watching that little girl bounce out of there with a mile-wide smile and a better sense of worth was EXACTLY what the welfare program is about. So, so interesting. Another story that made me cry and laugh was about a Scandinavian gentleman whose only skills were playing the violin and cutting hair. The man interviewing him for assistance told him to report the next day to work as a barber. Then the interviewer spent the rest of the night CREATING a barbershop in the storehouse so the man could have a job. Amazing. It was ready for operation by opening time the next morning.)

Like I said, the book is fantastic and has really made me think about fast offerings and taking things to DI in a slightly different way. You should all read it.

The end.

Female Studies

Hey gals.

Just read a fascinating book about premenopause.  Does that seem weird to you?

It's called, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause".

Really, really interesting.  I find hormones an interesting topic.  I won't go into personal details (unless anyone wants to hear them) but I've had my issues and I'm trying to fix them.

If you are at all feeling something is not quite right that could be hormone related, I'd recommend this book.  It gives a lot of information about what we know about how hormones work in our bodies (that knowledge is really limited, by the way), and some suggestions about common complaints that are usually hormone-related but overlooked.

Other than that, I haven't been reading as much as I normally do.  I've had a lot of things going on.  I've been enjoying some light reading in my spare time, and re-reading of favorite books.

Hope you guys are all doing well!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I just barely FOUND my Crusoe after putting it in a special spot so I'd be able to track it down in my bookshelves easily. Ha.

Am I lame that I've read three Louis L'Amour's and the first two Ranger Apprentice series recently. Yes, all books I've read before. Yes, I loved them just as much upon a rereading. Yes, I reread books all the time.

Yes, my brain is in official pregnancy hibernation.

Yes, I have to read a TEXTBOOK of all things, to put my course together. It isn't bad, but it isn't great, either.


Point of ramble--I'm not ready to move on to the economics book until October. Maybe by then I will have figured out my life enough to carve out time for reading.

But whatever.

Crusoe and Economics

I'm cool if we move on to the economics book and read it simultaneously with Crusoe.  Crusoe is a VERY long read and so I'm finding I need to take breaks to read other books.  I've got less than 200pgs. left!  :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010


I read Silas Marner this weekend. I'd previously read Middlemarch. Most of it, anyway. I was finding it a little boring. I also tried the BBC DVD of Middlemarch and it just wasn't high enough on my priority list to devote the time needed to finishing it. I think it's a nice story - but it wasn't gripping or funny and sadly, I'm all about gripping or funny these days. (As in, I read Mockingjay while I was on vacation because it was more exciting to me than seeing relatives that I love and rarely see. Sad).

But back to Silas. I liked it. I don't think George Eliot is going to be one of my favorite authors. Good books. Good morals. Not so fascinating as I would like them.

I read a book called "Emily's Ghost" a few weeks ago that is a novel about Emily Bronte. The author took what little is known of the poor girl and spun a fascinating story out of it. Among other things, it gave Jane Eyre (I know, that's Charlotte's book) and Wuthering Heights some perspective that makes them more interesting to me. There was plenty in the book that was made up, but it was an interesting read.

I'm planning on skipping Defoe for now. I have other books stacked by my table that all came in at once. I'm looking forward to the Economics book. Let me know when you start it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

P.S. In The Virginian I laughed when he couldn't get through a Jane Austen book. So then I read Mansfield Park and I laughed harder because I now know what he means!
Hi all! I know I am lame. I never post. But I haven't posted on my own personal blog for 5 months now either. Oh well. So, my husband and I just finished reading The Virginian by Owen Wister. This is the third time I've read this book. It is one of my favorites. I am kind of surprised that a guy wrote it. My husband said he wasn't convinced that her dreams were met. I said he's crazy. Socially he gained her family's approval. Intellectually he discussed classics with her and gave her different perspectives simply because he was a guy and had totally different life experiences than her. Emotionally he opened up and shared his feelings-- what woman does love that? The only part I disagreed with was his reasoning for killing Trampas. I would rather he left his pride out of it since I don't think that was a valid excuse. He should have mentioned the fact that Trampas was a murderer and thief and that The Virginian needed to protect himself and his future wife from a possible stab in the back some day. But the speech by the judge was amazing!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Swamped and Sinking

I'm getting Robinson Cursoe tomorrow. Those other books on your list look interesting, Julia, but I make no promises because I'm so swamped right now. I don't know why, maybe it's just having my daughter back at school. Also, I'm sewing three Halloween costumes and digitalizing a lot of my mom's old photos, as well as trying to reorganize my Family History research. Yes, well, I have too many projects. Plus YW's. Oh, and our 2nd counselor just moved so I have no one to translate between the President and me. Maybe I should learn Spanish, um, yeah, since I go to a Spanish ward. That is all. Oh, and just for the record, I read the introduction to the Federalist Papers. That's as far as I got.

Two Amazing Talks

Literature and Testimony

An Aid to Perfection

And, Kelly, I did read that article you sent.  It is one of my favorites!

Hope you're all having a good beginning of the year . . . at home or otherwise!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Books to Add??

HI Friends!
Still pluggin' along with Robinson Crusoe.  I like it a lot, but it's starting to get a little tedious.  I am determined to finish it though. 

Okay, so I am hoping to join this other book group here in WA and wondered if any of the books/readings look good to you then we can adopt some of them onto our list . . . that way I can maybe kill two birds with one stone.  If not, that's okay, too . . . I'll just do lots more reading!

Here's the list.  Tell me what you think.

Documents- Gettysburg Address, Washington's Farewell Address, Patrick Henry's Liberty or Death Speech
Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson
Spirit of Laws Selections by Montesquieu
What is Seen and Not Seen by Bastiat
Bridge at Anadu by James Michener
And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran (this one was on that BYU list Kami sent awhile back)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Julia - I thought after the discussion of personal missions you might find this talk by Sister Parkin interesting. It gives it a different twist. One that I think I like better.

Sister Parkin's talk

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reply to Ju

So, I picked up RC a few times as well and have been enjoying it. Not as much fun as Moll Flanders--at least not yet. Nobody has accidentally married his/her sibling. Sigh. If you haven't ever read Moll, you should. You really should.

I finished Why Gender Matters and loved it. I was going to write a lengthy response, but figured everyone else had basically summed up the most critical points already. Boys and girls are more physically different than we realized. Boys aren't good with expressing how they feel. Different approaches work better for different genders in an educational setting. Other people have sons who destroy their rooms when left in time out. Comforting information. I plan on getting his book about girls sometime soon.

I also read Simplicity Parenting. Thanks for the recommendation, Kelly. I was going to write a lengthy response, but then didn't. So, a few thoughts. 1) The writing was terrible. Repetitive, rambling, redundant, and too much skipping around. It appeared that he had a ghost writer. He needed a better one. 2) I needed to be reminded of everything that I was reminded of while reading. Sometimes I forget to simplify. Like Kelly said, I feel pretty confident that my philosophy closely matches a simplicity lifestyle philosophy, but it is easy to get caught up in things and forget. I was also frustrated by all the stories he told of one child families with two working parents who were so crazy busy they drove their children into early adulthood. Why didn't the mom just quit her job?????? They could afford a family therapist, I'm assuming they could afford to live on one income. So strange to me--but I'm trying to repent of all the judging of others I did while I read. I am certainly not the right one to point fingers when the best I can say most days is that at least my children aren't in a Russian orphanage. Anyway, good principles if you can get past the poor writing.

I re-read all the 12th House books by Sharon Shinn over the past two weeks. They are so good. Especially the first one--Mystic and Rider. Read it. Love it. You can skip the next two (although once you've read them a few times, you start to like them a little more), but read the fourth for sure--Reader and Raelynx. Excellent. Then don't miss out on the little sequel that isn't. It is set in the 12 houses country and periodically references the characters you know and love, but its focus is on a a little known character who is a professional fighter. In fact, she's one of the best fighters in the country and she falls in love with this esoteric academic who has never held a sword. I love it. He quotes poetry to her and she . . . doesn't really get it. But it is a great story. LOVE Sharon Shinn. If you haven't read any by her, start with Summers at Castle Auburn. BEAUTIFUL. Then read The Shape-Changers Wife. Then start the 12 Houses books. I've loved everything I've read by her except her retelling of Jane Eyre set in a science fiction setting. Without the English culture to really influence the behavior of the characters, the story falls flat. Besides, while I love Shinn, a Bronte she is not.

There you go. Now I'm off to find books on poetry for kids. I bought the new Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire for school this year, and it is FANTASTIC. Mentions several different types of poems (like limericks and odes), and keeps everything very charming. We're starting with dental health and a special guest (my sister who just graduated from dental hygiene), then moving on to poetry, then skipping over to an ancient civilization. I just need to pick which one. Kami--what should I start with??? Yes, I have a masters degree in history. No, I do not know anything about history. Unless you ask me about WWII. Or masculinity. Or feminism. But even then, my knowledge is sadly lacking. Kami, however, has a nursing degree and knows TONS about EVERYTHING. That's why we keep her around. So periodically at the dinner table we can hear someone say, "I read in the National Geographic . . .." It was good to spend the weekend with you, Susie Q.

Yes, I plan on finished RC. Happy reading everyone. And good luck with the start of the new school year for those of us who homeschool.

Is Anyone Reading?

Hi Friends!
I have read some of Robinson Crusoe and love it.  Is anyone else planning on reading it?  Actually, I love our whole list and really want to keep going with it, so tell me you're going to join me sometime.  :-) 

However, I too am very easily distracted. Because I own the Crusoe book and keep putting other books on hold at the library (which have deadlines) . . . it's hard to stay focussed.  Right now I am reading The Dark Star of Itza by Alida Malkus.  It's practically impossible to find, but it's on the Newberry Award/honor list and so I just had to read it.  :-)  It's about a Mayan princess.  I've only read the 1st chapter so I can't say much about it yet.  :-)

Another MUST read is Leondard Sax's other book, "Boys Adrift."  AMAZING!!  It just reiterates a bunch of what was in his Gender book but more boy specified.  Anyone with a son must read this book (in my opinion).  I've got the girls one on hold. 

Okay, just wanted to say hello to all you strangers  (except Kami who keeps posting about her own fascinating reads, thanks!!). 

Happy Reading I guess.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya

Okay, this is the last of the books I picked up when checking out child development books. (So I'm easily distracted, what can I say.) It was an interesting read, but annoying too because I found the author's style of writing distracting and poorly planned. For instance, he jumped around so frequently without any explanation that I had a hard time following which culture he was talking about, despite the fact that I already knew most of the information he was presenting. Also, his own personal biases were hard to miss (as when talking about the big bang theory--he's actually very much a creationalist).

He starts out the book by explaining that most of Europe and US teach Greeks were the great scientists, Arabs acted as storehouse of Greek knowledge until it was rediscovered again during the Renaissance. That was what I was taught, by the way. He then cited how a more PC, multi-cultural approach is becoming popular and how he thought it was hogwash and so started to write a book on how it really was the Greeks--only to find that that's not correct and the multi-cultural approach is more accurate. All well and good, if only it had come across as sincere and not a gimmick. However, throughout the books there's little comments here and there ridiculing the societies and concepts he's vaulting as so advanced, which was more convincing that he truly had begun writing a book saying the Greeks were the only advanced society in the way of the sciences, yet at the same time it came across really crass. I think he meant them to be funny, only they weren't.

I did enjoy his explanation of why so much of non-Greek science is dismissed; mostly because it was used for religious and superstitious reasons, (yet religion still plays such a large role in our society and science to this day). Or because the sciences were only used for practical purposes, or how things which had no proof were dismissed, or because things were only theorized yet not experimented upon they were dismissed, or because things were only experimented upon and not theorized they were dismissed. (Yes, notice the double standards?) For instance, the Indians, Babylonians, and Egyptians all used the Pythagorian theorem centuries before Pythagoras, in fact Pythagoras is thought to have learned it in his travels East and only created a proof when his less numeral-literate countrymen wouldn't believe it. His proof is really his major contribution. And also how Copernicus when making his model of the universe used two theorems of math that he offered no proof or explanation for, yet were *new* to Europe, and are considered by some mathematicians as important as his solar system model. Copernicus didn't act like they were new, because they weren't new. He studied at Padua, where Arab texts were readily available, and the theorems, discovered by Arabs, were well known and well documented in Arab texts there. However in Europe at that time, attributing anything to Arabs would have been suicide. And those stories go on and on.

Another random note: Stigler's law of eponymy--formulated by statistician Stephen Stigler states that no scientific discovery is named after it's original discoverer, which is true even of Stigler's law. Hee. Hee.

My favorite chapter was on Cosmology. He points out how our cosmology (the Big Bang) is treated like a religion and quotes cosmologist Edward Harrison, "The universe in which we live, or think we live, is mostly a world of our own making. The real Universe is unknown; it is everything, and we will never know what it is in its own right, independent of our changing opinions. There are, however, universes, which are our models of the Universe, and cosmology is a study of these universes. A universe is a mask fitted on the face of the unknown Universe. Our universe is the only rational universe. Ones that came before us are mythologies. Contemporaries who disagree with our cosmology are crackpots. Cosmoslogy is a new-time religion." Those disagreeing contemporaries committ professional suicide. (As a side note, I found it interesting that instead of discussing ancient advances in cosmology, almost the whole chapter is ridiculing our current big bang theory. Again, not that I disagree, I just find it amusing. Although he mocked Stephen Hawking too--Ruff!) He does point out how similar our Big Bang theory is to Indian cosmology. Indians are very abstact thinkers, I have to say. I loved just thinking about this (from a 9th century Hindu text):

Some foolish men declare that Creator made the world....

If God created the world, where was he before creation?
If you say he was transcendent then, and needed no support, where is he now?
No single being had the skill to make this world--
For how can an immaterial god create that which is material?

How could God have made the world without any raw material?
If you say he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with endless regression.

If you declare that this raw material arose naturally you fall into another fallacy.
For the whole universe might thus have been its own creator, and arisen equally naturally.

Know that the world is uncreated, as time itself is, without beginning and end....
Uncreated and indestructible, it endures under the compulsion of its own nature.

The author suggests to read the above paragraph again and substitue "Big Bang" in for God and Creator. Fun stuff. Or here's a Maori chant that he compared to an alternative theory of a plasma universe.

From the nothing the begetting
From the nothing the increase
...The power of increasing
The Living Breath;
It dwelt with the empty space,
And produced the atmosphere which is above us
...The great firmament above us dwelt with the early dawn
And the moon sprung forth;
The atmosphere above us dwelt with the heat,
And thence proceeded the sun
...Then the heavens became light.

In another chapter about physics, he talks about Zoroastrianism (the Babylonian religion), and how their physics interprets light and darkness not only as physical but also as God is light literally, and the Devil is darkness, literally. From that came another belief system where two opposing brothers suggest a theory of matter and energy. Where the one brother makes a world of pure light, and then later a second world that was material in nature. The material world was conquered by his evil brother, thus all physical existence became a mixture of good and evil, light and darkness. Anyway, that whole chapter was intereting too. Again, the Indians, have a complex way of looking at the universe, but so often it ties right into what scientists now believe (like the string theory, and quantum physics.) Fascinating.

Now I really need to go do the breakfast dishes as it is almost noon and time for lunch. Ouch.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Great Books and Great Quote

I am getting inspired about history right now by reading stuff by Will Durant.  One of the books I read has my new favorite quote ever!!  It's just beautiful. It's from "The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time."

The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propogate the hightest virtures in the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families , they cultivated their own selves. Before cultivating their own selves, they perfected their souls. Before perfecting their soulds, they tried to be sincere in their thoughts. Before trying to be sincere in their thoughts, they extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such investigation of knowledge lay in the investigation of things, and in seeing them as they really were. When things were thus investigated, knowledge became complete. When knowledge was complete, their thoughts were sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their souls became perfect. When their souls were perfect, their own selves became cultivated. When their selves were cultivated, their families became regulated. When their families were regulated, their states came to be put into proper order. When their states were in proper order, then the whole world became peaceful and happy.

Nurture Shock

This was one of the books I picked up when looking for a childhood development book. It just caught my attention. (As a side note, I didn't like any of the books I picked up on childhood development--either too scientifically intense, not scientific enough, and/or outdated--I want one that my husband would be willing to browse through--in other words, to the point and short. Anyone have any suggestions? Please?) But back to the book. I really didn't like it overall. It was written by a couple who were surprised from some research that has come out recently on different topics and they combined them all in one book. Some of it was interesting. Some not so much. And some, well, I'll get to slamming it later. Here's an overview.

Ch. 1 (My favorite chapter) Praise: The point of the chapter was that too much praise is bad for kids. They stop trying to do hard things for fear they'll fail and when they've only got praise all their lives, they don't feel comfortable with that. Research shows that under the age of 7 kids will take all praise at face value, after that kids are as suspicious of it as adults. By 12, most kids have figured out that adults will praise a kid who's struggling even more, and so react negatively to praise. A study from Stanford Univ and Reed College discovered that students exposed to liberal amounts of praise have "shorter task persistence, more eye-checking, and inflected speech such that the answers have the intonation of questions." Heavily praised students drop out of college classes rather than suffer a mediocre grade, and have a hard time picking a major--afraid to commit lest they not succeed. Also highly praised children are more image conscience, competitive, more likely to cheat, and more likely to tear other students down. In a study with Chinese parents and American parents, kids were given a test with a break in the middle, where the parents were told their kids were below average (not true), Chinese mothers were more likely to discuss the test and American mothers more likely to carefully avoid negative comments. Chinese kids' scores went up 33%, American kids' scores half that. Most significantly people praised less in the long run are better able to go through long periods of delayed gratification and score high in persistence. (As a side note to that, my good friend from England mentioned how insanely we praise kids in America--they don't do that in France or England. She'd often mock the parents that would praise their kids for swinging at the ball without hitting anything, for example, or even just standing at home plate and holding the bat.)

Ch. 2 (Also liked this chapter.) Sleep: Sleep matters in academic performance, emotional stability, ADHD, and obesity. Many hallmarks of the teenage years, moodiness, depression, binge eating, are now believed to be actually sleep deprivation more than anything else. On sixth graders a study showed that a loss of one hour of sleep a night is equivalent to the loss of two years cognitive maturation and development in their behavior and schoolwork the next day. Sleep disorders can impair a children's IQ as much as lead exposure. This is because what is learned the day is stored and connected while sleeping--different levels of sleep connect to different locations of the brain--since the brain is still growing and maturing in a child this is especially important for them. In fact their slow-wave sleep stage in which this occurs is 10x's the length of adults. Positive and neutral memories are processed in the hippocampus, negative ones in the amygdala. The hippocampus is hit harder by sleep deprivation, hence people tend to be depressed when sleep deprived because they remember more negative things. Students with A's averaged 15 mins more sleep than B students, and B students averaged 15 more mins than C students, etc. Also talked about starting high schools later because of teenage circadian shift. Also, a study done by the Univ. of Texas showed that obese children watch the same amount of TV as skinny kids, only they get way less sleep. In fact when kids had less than 10 hrs of sleep, their chance of obesity when up 80% with each hour missed. Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin which signals hunger and decreases leptin which suppresses appetite. Also it disrupts the release of human growth hormone which helps breakdown fat, and it elevates your cortisol levels which signals the body to store fat.

Ch. 3 Race: Basically kids can tell when someone is black, or white, or green, or purple, and not talking about it is not going to raise them color blind, and in fact it may have the opposite effect because they don't know your feelings on the subject. Talking to your kids about race in a meaningful way is the best way to improve their racial attitudes. And under six is the age to do it. On the flip side, minorities that talk about race and parents give preparation-for-bias warnings often vs. occasionally (which is good), the kids tend not to link effort to success and to write off failures as prejudice. Studies show kids are developmentally prone to in-group favoritism. Young kids never think groups are random. Also exposing your child to a diverse environment is not enough. In diverse high schools there's actually more in-grouping than at not very diverse schools. Basically they have increased opportunities to interact but also far more opportunities to reject each other. Also, kids at these schools who were darker skin toned tended to be more successful than minority kids with lighter skin tones, because their already have visible acceptance in their group, and are less likely to be accused of "acting white," while kids with lighter skin tones actually acted more in keeping with their image of the minority identity to solidify their status within the group.

Ch. 4 Lying: 3 yr olds rarely lie. 80% of 4 yr. olds lie (about once every 2 hours). 6 yr old lie about once every hour (but often grow out of it). If they're still lying frequently by age seven, then they're likely to continue. Parents rarely punish lying when kids are trying to cover up, they just punish the initial transgression. Young kids think any deception is wrong--mistakes are no excuses. As they get older they realize that some types are okay. Lying is related to intelligence, the smarter the kid the better the liar. Most lie to get out of trouble when little, at elementary level, it's more complex (telling secrets, attention, coping, etc.) Parents telling kids not to tattle is to stop power struggles among the kids. However, 9 out of 10 times a child tattles, they're telling the truth. Parents are ten times more likely to chastise a child who tattles vs a child who lies. For every one time a child seeks a parents help, fourteen instances occur where the child was wronged and didn't ask for help.

Ch. 5. Testing for Giftedness: People are pathetic--basically the whole chapter is about testing three year olds' IQ to get them into gifted preschools and kindergarten. Third grade is the earliest researchers recommend for any testing and really nothing is very final about a child's brain till 12. Once in a gifted program they rarely take kids out, so remedial classes have started in some schools for "gifted" kids, instead of just putting them back into a normal classroom. Lamesauce. Also emotional IQ is really overrated in kids. This is where the book started to go downhill for me, because personally, I wouldn't be pursuing a gifted preschool anyway--the authors were quite obviously the type of parents who would be.

Ch. 6 Siblings: Siblings mostly fight over things, not their parents attention. Siblings don't have to be polite to each other, and they have no incentive to be kind compared to friends. Sibling relationships are "remarkably stable," except when major life changing events occur. Net positive interactions vs. net negative interactions are what matter. Teaching a child proactive skills on how to initiate play that they both can enjoy is more successful than teaching conflict resolution. Age spacing is not a good predictor of future relationships, nor is gender--the best predictor is how well the older child gets along with his best friend before the younger child is born--because with friends they have to learn good mutual play--especially fantasy play.

Ch. 7 Teenage Rebellion: Traumatic teenage years is the exception not the norm. The type of parents who were lied to the least by teenagers had rules and consistently enforced them but were willing to be flexible. Parents sulk more after a fight than teenagers--teenagers find arguing productive. (In truth, I found this chapter sparse and the claims poorly backed-up--not that I disagree with his general argument of rebellion not being the norm, it was just didn't have the substance that the first two chapters had.)

Ch. 8 Self-Control: Self-discipline is a better predictor of kids' school performances than IQ. Children with above average IQ and executive functioning (self control) were 300% more likely to do well in math than kids with above average IQ alone. Also, it can be taught. (Again, this chapter was really sparsely detailed.)

Ch. 9 Aggression: There's a difference between relational aggression (bossy, controlling, manipulative) and physical aggression. And while physical aggression goes up with kids watching violent television shows, relational aggression also goes up with viewing basically any show (Arthur for instance) that shows name calling, siblings disliking each other, etc; and the correlation is 2.5 times higher for the relational aggression than the physical aggression. 96% of all children's programming includes verbal insults and put-downs, averaging 7.7 put-downs per half an hour. 67% of programs specifically considered prosocial still had insults. (This annoys me, he quotes that statistic than quotes Spongebob as an example--who ever thought Spongebob was prosocial??!? Bad example.) 84% of the time after an insult the response was a laugh or nothing--out of 2,628 instances in one study, only in 50 was the insulter reprimanded or corrected. (This is why I like Charlie and Lola, no insults, siblings playing happily. Love it.) Also mentioned that children seeing their parents fight (if not overly combative) is not bad for the kids as long as the kids see the resolution. Another point, 90% of American parents use physical punishment, and while spanking had been linked to aggression--in all of those studies only Caucasian families participated. When they finally studied minorities, they found this doesn't hold true at all. In fact, in one study of black families, the more a child was spanked the less aggressive they were (and the black families spanked a little more than white families but not much). Researchers concluded this was due to the fact that black families take spanking as an ordinary consequence, white families saved it for the worst offenses and usually when the parent had lost their temper--marking the child as deviant and deserving of a special punishment, hence affecting them more. The results of the black families was replicated in another study of Conservative Protestants that on average spanked their kids 3 or more times a week. No increase aggression there. Zero-tolerance for bullying is not really that helpful--it's been shown to increase the anxiety of kids--not of other kids, but of the rules themselves and authority figures. Also, most bullies are actually the kids who are the most popular, well-liked, and admired. Nonaggressive kids just generally lack the savvy and confidence to assert themselves more often. Relationally aggressive kids are extremely sensitive and and socially intelligent, hence being able to master his social network, be subtle and strategic. Aggressive behavior is coveted because it shows a willingness to defy grown-ups (especially true for tweens and teens) and they often use bi-strategic control--being kind and cruel. Generally the same kids are responsible for both prosocial and antisocial acts--they are just in the middle of everything, socially busy. And those kids are well-like by teachers too, and generally end-up very successful. Also because we segregate kids so much by age, and they're with their peers constantly (play dates, teams, texting) that social ranking has become increasingly important. Ave. teen spends 60 hours with peers a week and 16 with adults. And finally, "progressive" dads had poorer marital quality and rated their family functioning lower than dads who took traditional roles. Basically progressive dads were more inconsistent and permissive in their discipline than traditional fathers, with the result that children of progressive dads acted out as much as children with disengaged dads--traditional dads had the best behaved children.

Ch. 10 Speech Development: Here's where it really bugged me. First, a whole chapter earlier on how IQ is developing and indeterminable till age 11 at least, and then a whole chapter on how to get your kids to talk faster??? Umm. Ridiculous. But for those of you curious, Baby Einstein is about the worst thing you can show your infants. Kids watching regular tv develop speech faster than Baby Einstein viewers. Also, just talking a lot to your baby won't help either. Actually responding to your child cooing and gooing does help. Duh. Baby talk and using motion helps as well.

Sorry that was long. I am tired. Time to sleep--since now I know all the consequences of sleep deprivation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Read this

Kayli sent me this essay to read. I thought it was . . . a good evaluation of reality. Don't be turned off that it is called "The Captivity of Marriage." Poor and misleading title choice. Read it. Do it. Just want to know if any of it resonates with any of ya'll.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I am only on federalist paper number 4. However, I am determined to finish it. The reason it is taking me so long is that I am reading it concurrent with The Making of America, The Real George Washington, and Free Culture. I am also taking a 6 week course on the Constitution. So, they all have to do with freedom, the founding of America and the Constitution and I am loving it! By the way, George Washington was AMAZING! And this is a very well written biography.

By the way, have any of you been on PAPERBACKSWAP.COM? I love this website. Basically you swap books through the mail. The first time you sign up you post ten books you are willing to give away and you get two free book credits. So, all books are the price of shipping--around 3.00. Even if it is a book that is $30 on Amazon. YEah!

Sorry if this doesn't make sense-- I am extremely tired

Wow! I am so interested in reading both Why Gender Matters and Simplicity Parenting. Thank you for sharing!

I just finished reading the first three books of a series called Elsie Dinsmore.
I really liked the first two books. The storyline is kind of like a child's Uncle Tom's Cabin. In both books the main characters are truly trying to do anything and everything for the Savior. They both go through tremendous trials and temptations to give in and not live up to their personal code of standards. (Level six thinking--from Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire.) I can see people saying this book was a little preachy, but it was exactly what I needed to read. Here was this little girl who constantly had a prayer in her heart, and truly did love the Savior above everyone else. For example, when people were really mean and unjust to her, if she felt the first stirrings of anger in her heart, she immediately knelt to pray and repent and ask for help for those feelings to be taken away. Her most fervent desire was to be like the Savior. I can't stop thinking about this. Do I ponder and think that much about the Savior? Is He my best friend like He should be? Do I love him above anyone and everything else? In fact, the big test is whether she will love her earthly father more than her Savior or if she will follow the Savior at all costs. This little girl was so completely obedient to her earthly father (When it didn't conflict with her principles) because the scriptures say to honor your parents. And her dad was really strict and sometimes mean. I know that her character was a little too perfect, but I guess I like stories like this because I love Uncle Tom's Cabin and Jane Eyre and Freckles and it is the same with their characters. Oh well. Anyway, I think what I love about it is the symbolism of how obedient we ought to be to our Heavenly Father. I loved her obedience too because it is so different than today's culture. In fact, the next book I read was called In The Palace of the King by F. Marion Crawford. In this book the daughter is not obedient to her father. And I cringed! I don't think I would even have noticed if I wasn't comparing her to Elsie Dinsmore. But both books did a good job of showing how most of the time their fathers had good reasons for any commandments they gave. Heavenly Father ALWAYS has perfect reasons for His commandments. Just because we don't know the reasons, does not mean they don't exist. That is where trust and faith come in. Anyway, both good books. Crawford's book was very well written, but she ruined it with one sentence at the end of the book--grr!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Have any of you read "The Maze Runner" (Dashner)? I finished it last week. I thought it was pretty good. Similar to "The Hunger Games" if you've read that, but I think I like "The Hunger Games" better. However, there is a sequel to Maze Runner and if it's better that the sequel to Hunger Games (which I thought was pretty much just a repeat, albeit an intense one, of the first book), then that would be good. The Maze Runner sequel is coming out in October.

I've also been reading "Beekeeping for Dummies". My daughter has done two years of Beekeeping through 4H and both she and my husband want to keep bees. I thought I'd better figure out what they're so excited about. :-) It laid to rest some of my initial concerns. Bees are quite interesting. I'm sure you could do a whole Gospel study on the nature of bees and the symbolism involved in all that.

I checked out "Hungry Planet" from the library. Great pictures. Interesting information.

Yay for you guys

Just wanted to interject a little note here saying how much I am loving your book reviews.  Keep doing this!  Even if they're not books "we're" reading (I put that in quotes because I've been so negligent in reading, myself) I love hearing about them, and I'm putting them on my list to read sometime soon, and your comments and summaries always give me a lot of good things to think about!  So, ladies, thank you, and I hope I'll be a better contributor at some point in the future. :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why Gender Matters, Part 2 from Julia

When the Proclamation on the Family first came out I was intrigued by the line, "Gender is an essentila characteristic of individual permortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."  I wondered why that line was there.  Why was it so essential?  Now, 15 years later, I see the extreme importance of that one line.  Do any of you have the book, "Strengthening our Families:  An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family?"  It's a text used for a class at BYU.  Anyway, after reading the Sax book I wanted to know what this book says about gender differences and importance.  Here is some of what it says, in case you're interested.

"New ideologies have been mixed with older, false traditions producing ever-new confusions, beliefs, and practices that are inconsistent with the Proclamation."  They listed four core ideologies:

 Irrelevent gender vs. eternal gender
President Packer has stated, "Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established.  A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman's work.  In turn, a wife and mother can do much - and in time of need, most things - usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles.  Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family."  see here

"Of course, it is important to realize that marriage, parenthood, and gender as currently defined and practiced on earth does not necessarily constitute how they will be understood and experienced in the celestial realms."  This sentence was particularly intriguing to me because I've often wondered about how these familial roles will carry over into the eternities.  Elder Maxwell's words are comforting, "We know so little about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place."

Independence vs. Interdependence
The second ideology can lead us "to view mothering and fathering as separate endeavors with separate goals that do not overlap or intertwine and leads some parents to believe falsely that their family responsitiblities end with their distinctive stewardship.  In contrast, prophets have taught that the stewardships are not mutually exclusive; for instance, fatehrs are to be involved in the daily care of the home and children, as part of their obligations to preside and provide . . . Joing responsibility and opportunity of fathers and mothesr opens to each parent almost any activity that promotes the spiritual, emotional, intellectual or physical needs of their children." 

Separateness vs. oneness

The ideology of separateness vs. oneness was very interesting.  The authors talk about how books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus may be helpful in men and women understanding one another, but too much emphasis on our gender differences can lead to separation rather than oneness.  We have the tendency to label ourselves and use terms such as "boys will be boys" or excuse our behavior simply because "I'm a girl."  "While the Proclamation points out that gender has a spiritual purpose and that God has given mothers and fathers specific family stewardships, it is not in accord with revealed truth that women and men come from different social planets and are elien to one another.  Revelation teaches us our true origins are the same - 'near unto' Kolob (Abr. 3:2-3), where our heavenly parentes reside in celestial oneness." 

Trust vs. mistrust

And last, but not least, the ideolgoy of trust vs. mistrust.  For this one I'll just quote because it's so beautifully written.  "In righteous, equal partnerships, wives' reliance on husbands does not imply subservience or devaluation of homemaking nor does husbands' reliance on wives imply subservience or devalution of economic providing.  To define power in terms of duties performed or worldly status is wrong.  Developing trust in one's spouse goes far beyond believing he or she will fulfill specific duties.  Rather, it involves identifying, sharing, and appreciating each other's gifts adn stewardships and deciding together how best to implement or fulfill each set of gifts at specific points in time throughout life (italics added)."

I guess this is just giving us food for thought from our spiritual sources.  It was comforting for me to read inspired thoughts, mostly because I do have a tendency to buy into the "separateness" ideology.  After reading the Sax book, I was nervous that I wasn't teaching my boys and girls simply based on their gender.  Somewhere in this reading they talked about how vitally important it is that we rely on spiritual guidance in these matters of gender and role division, and in instilling our children with knowledge of who they are as sons and daughters of God.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why Gender Matters: Julia's Response

WOW! WOW! WOW!  What a great book for me to read!!  I'm so glad I read this.  It made me want to read his other books, one for girls and another for boys specifically.  Sax is intriguing and not too technical (especially amazing considering he has an M.D. and PhD!).  Even while in the middle of making strawberry jam, potty training a very clueless 3 year old, and dealing with a sick child for the past four days, I could not put this book down.  Highly fascinating.

So, what struck me the most?!  I took too many notes.  I'll try to keep it brief:

* I'm going to start  yelling at my boys more, particularly my husband!  :-)  I alwasy assumed they couldn't hear as well.  :-)  hahaha

* I now have scientific proof that I am not a neglegent parent, rather I am providing risks by which my children can gain confidence.  "Sheilding kids from injury makes them more risk-averse . . . a few scrapes build character."   Ha! 

* Great quote: "Our greatest moment comes when we find the courage to rechristen our 'evil' as the best within us."   - - Friedrich Nietzsche - - Does this relate to "make weak things become strong?"

* When girls are stressed they want to be with their friends more (or chocolate, I might add) while boys want to be left alone when they are stressed.  Good point to remember.

* I was completely flabergasted when I read about the 6 year old boy, Matthew, who was on three medications by the age of six - - Ritalin, Prozac and a sedative!  All because the mom didn't listen to Dr. Sax in the first place!!

* Teaching boys about literature is not about feelings!  I wish I'd read this before leading a boys book group for John and his friends.  Duh!!  I loved what the one teacher did with Lord of the Flies and mapping out the island.  I wish I could think more like THAT!!!  "Most boys prefer to read about strong maile characters who take dramatic action to change their world."  True!  Loved that description!

* "The first priority of schools must be EDUCATION.  Social engineering comes second."  And yet what do people usually ask or talk about when they find out we homeschool?!  Hmmmmm......

* Another quote on education that I loved:  "The great mission of education is to enable every child to fulfill their potential, to discover that corner of the field of knowledge they can call their own.  Almost every hcild is a gifted child, I believe.  The trick is to discover where your child's talents lie." 

* I found it interesting that girls underestimate their academic abilities whie boys think they're smarter than they really are!  After reading that I looked back at my high school experience and realize just how true that is!  I was completely programmed that I did not like physics and did not need to go beyond what was the minimum requirement in math.  I'm surprised I made it into BYU!

* I loved the part about how a man's dependency on emotional connection later in life is soley with their wife or girlfriend while women have many other sources of emotional connectedness.  That was tender for me to think about my husband in that light.

* It was refreshing to hear that premarital and frequent sex does not only affect the female in the situation.  I also have to admit that the chapter on sexual relations was very, very disturbing for me.  I grew up in a very naive world.  And though I would hope the same for my kids (in a sense) I know that it's not probable.  There's so much scum out there!  grrr.....  Made me nervous for my girls!  I loved all the differences between how to combat and protect our children. 

* "Share with your daughters your way of coping wiht stress so they can learn how to handle their own."  I liked how Sax kept going back to the "look in the mirror" principle.  What am I doing that might lead to my girls having lower self-confidance and pushing them to give in to drugs and sex.  "You can't discipline your child if you can't discipline yourself." 

* One of my favorite quotes:  "Most 15 year old boys are not sensible people.  They are 15 year old boys."  I think I still have my head in the sand here a little bit, not fully understanding how a boy's brain works.  My husband keeps warning me!  :-)

* LOVED the chapter on DISCIPLINE!  "A well-run family is not a democracy."  How many times I've found myself doing just what he's telling us not to do . . . Negotiation!  Not an option at my kids' age, really."Negotiation subverts the process of moral internalization."   This is the one chapter I'm going to have my husband read.  "Your job is not to maximize your child's pleasure, but to broaden her horizons." 

* Ironic that a society that condemns spanking condones medication!

* "Being a real man means using your strength in the service of others . . . Being a real woman is who you are inside."  I want my kids to fully understand these two statements!!

* With this gender confusion, we are actually lacking in guiding our children to adulthood!  Wow!  I know that a lot of this research has to do with the growing number of divorce and single-parenthood.  It makes sense.  With both father and mother in the home, it's easier to teach these gender roles. 

*  And my final vote:  SAME GENDER SCHOOLING EVERYWHERE!  :-)  LOL

Friday, June 25, 2010


So here's my review of two books I recently read on bilingualism. But first of all, for any of you who are unaware, my husband is from Colombia and he does speak to our kids in Spanish. Sometimes. Recently, our three year old started demanding "In English!!!!" Hence my desire to check out these books. To be honest, I would read pieces of one and then read pieces of the other, so I'm not exactly sure what info came from what book. Lo siento.

One was the 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner and the other was Bilingual By Choice: Raising Kids in Two (or more!) Languages by Virginie Raguenaud.

There was nothing extremely new in these books that I hadn't heard before here and there. I did learn some new vocabulary. Such as "heritage language." (My kids' heritage languages would be Spanish and English.) And OPOL (One-parent-one-language) technic. They did have some good suggestions for implementing a few rules. Mostly, I just found them motivating, which is good too. Also, both listed resources of where you can find books or websites in other languages, which I plan on keeping a list of. Another useful bit was just the redirecting of what our goals are for our children's language abilities. One of the books mentioned how rare it is to have a "balanced bilingual" or a person that is equally good in both languages in all aspects of life. We definitely want our kids to be able to read and write in Spanish, but expecting a balanced bilingual is really pushing it.

Probably the most thought-provoking part in both books is when they were discussing pride in your culture and heritage. Both books talk about parents and kids being embarrassed to speak another language in public. Errr... I find it irritating, at best, when my daughter Ana tries to "cover-up" the fact that she's Latina or speaks Spanish. My brother-in-law (in Arizona) used to tell people he was from Italy and refused to acknowledge he was Latino at all when he was in high school . The author even pointed it out in one of the books how little "status" Spanish has as a language in the U.S. I guess I can understand it on some level, I mean Arizona's new law certainly points out how clearly racist some can get. (Anybody taking issue with that last statement, just think--Is my illegal, red-headed Canadian cousin going to be questioned? Umm, no. Are my legal, thick accented Latino in-laws going to be questioned? Umm, yeah.) Also, when my husband first came here, he was turned away from a job, because he supposedly "failed" a basic math test (addition, subtraction, etc.) when he was taking advanced calculus at ASU. They didn't let him see the test after it was scored either, by the way. So I'm not saying discrimination doesn't happen, I guess because I take so much pride in my heritage and history and culture (eh?), it really bothers me when people don't do the same. So here's some of the research results regarding this. "Adolescents who are active in their families' cultural traditions, have a clear way to identify themselves, and show pride in their heritage, are happier and have a healthier sense of self." (Bilingual By Choice, pg. 46). "A 2002 study of U.S. adolescents who were second-generation immigrants showed that those who kept their parents' native languages have better relationships within their families, feel better about themselves, and have a more positive attitude about school than their peers who lose their heritage language and become monolingual English speakers. Another researcher reported that bilingual children have a sophisticated sense of their identities." (7 Steps pg. 22). There was also other interesting stuff of how bad it is for a kid to abandon their native language, ie less likely to function on a high literacy level in their second language, which is the reverse of what I was expecting, but it's true nonetheless. Anyay it led me to recognize how important it is for Leo to speak to them in Spanish no matter where we are, because if the parent is willing to speak it anywhere the child will be more likely to pick up a feeling of pride of their culture.

Oh, and one other random fact I learned from Bilingual by Choice, is that it's natural for the brain to "forget" (at least for a while) an expression or word in one language when we are learning a second language. It's temporary, but necessary for langauge acquisiton. This actually has happened to me occasionally. Made me feel happy that I might actually be progressing in learning Spanish.

Overall, I felt Bilingual by Choice dwelt more on ESL issues, because that had been the author's experience, and hence not as useful to me since that's not my children's issues. On the other hand, I felt 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child fit more those parents who can afford to look only for a Chinese speaking nanny, or a French preschool, or travel to Italy every summer. Umm, that's not really me either. But I still thought it was more useful all together and would be the one I recommend if you're just choosing one or the other.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Simplicity Parenting

by Kim John Payne, M.Ed
and Lisa M. Ross

I heard about this book from a blog I follow fairly religiously called The Lazy Organizer. The book intrigued me, I decided to check it out, and now you get to read about it!

I'll just go through the notes I took and maybe...maybe not...add my own thoughts:

The main focus of the book is:
xi: "Are we building our families on the four pillars of "too much": too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast?"

6: "By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood's slow, essential unfolding of self."

7-8: Payne worked in schools diagnosing and counseling kids with "D" disorders such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, ODD. He saw similarities between kids he worked with in a Cambodian refugee camps and kids in middle-class modern families - they were both showing signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

8: "Our society - with it's pressures of "too much" - is waging an undeclared war on childhood."

9: simplification signals a change, a realignment of our hopes and our everyday lives

26: "stress can push children along the behavioral spectrum. When you simplify a child's life on a number of levels, back they come."
This, I thought, is really the crux. Payne does talk about medications. He takes a pretty middle of the road stance. He considers medications, for the majority of children, to be good if used ONLY as a scaffolding to hold the child together while their underlying issues are addressed. He doesn't think that most children need to be medicated indefinitely. I know a lot of people have solved their children's issues with nutrition changes. I wonder if part of the reason that nutrition changes work is because it slows the family down and causes them to reassess their entire lives. Either way, I think that he's right that children today are dealing with so much more stress than children used to deal with, and it is definitely worth looking into the relationship between their lives and their behavior.

Areas to simplify
too many toys, books, games, smells, clothes, etc. Too much stuff leads to too many choices. AS you decrease the quantity of your child's toys and clutter, you increase their attention and their capacity for deep play.
Regarding books: we want to foster a deep, not disposable, relationship with reading.
I've been working really hard on clearing out clutter in our home and really simplifying and purging our belongings. It's been a months-long process. I have found, as a result of fewer toys and books, that we are just happier. There is less mess to clean up each day. My kids have never struggled with imaginative play, and with fewer toys they are just as creative as before - if not more so. Homeschoolers tend to be collectors. I have found myself giving into the pack-rattish feeling far too often. You wouldn't believe how much school stuff I threw out. Stuff I collected 7 years ago when we first started on this educational path that we NEVER used. I even threw out stuff that we do occasionally use because I realized that we only use it because it's there, not because it's really that awesome. When I work with my younger children, we focus on great books and use paper and pencil for everything else.
I love his opinion on books. Libraries are fabulous. I convinced Josh to purge his books (as I was doing the same with everyone else's). I didn't think he would. But we decided to have only the best books in our house. The books that if my kid reads the same five books over and over I won't consider it a bad thing. A lot of people take the stance that if a kid is reading - anything - that's a good thing. I disagree. If my kid is going to read, I want it to be worth their while. We don't say that if a kid is eating - anything - then it's a good thing. Books are brainfood and should be treated about the same, in my opinion.

95: Familylife today often consists of whatever is left over, in terms of our time and energy, when the "work" of the day is done. Children depend on the rhythmic structure of the day.

98: Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters

109: Relationships are often built in the intervals, the spaces between activities, when nothing much is going on.

He uses a lot of statistics about the ways childhood has changed from 1981 to 2006. It's fascinating...and a little scary.
He compares enrichment activities to fertilizer. You can have too much of a good thing. Also, fields (and children) need that rest time. The importance of boredom, of Sabbath Moments (quiet days).
Talks about TV and computers...nothing new to me here.

185: Say less. He uses an example from Pa Ingalls - why did Laura and Mary always listen (and obey) Pa? Because he didn't say much. When he spoke, it was worth listening to. Payne points out that you don't have to make every moment a teaching moment. I like this. Payne uses an example of the various kids of talking parents do, such as the sportscaster (running commentary on everything the kid is doing/wearing), the number of questions and choices we give kids, and the hard time we have saying no. I have caught myself doing all of these things because it seemed like something that good parents do. No more!

My feeling as I read through this book was that there aren't a lot of major changes I want to make in my family's life. We lead a much more unscheduled life than a lot of families do. Some people think we're weird to not have TV in our living room (we are DVD-only, and that is hidden in our bedroom for special occasions) or to not be putting our kids in every sport that comes around. But I like having time to bake bread and watch my kids climb the trees in our backyard. What I did receive from this book was a stronger motivation to finesse our best things. Build some family traditions, touchstones, memories - the sorts of things that I dreamt about before I had children. Take my dreams and make our reality more like them. Obviously that dream of perfect children might have to remain a dream, but there were other more reachable dreams.

In my latest quest of simplifying our lives, it's been amazing to see all the time that has freed up. I used to think that there just wasn't enough time in the day. Now I'm looking for activities to FILL time - or filling time with things that I always wanted to do but never got around to (can anyone say visiting teaching?). My house is cleaner more often, my meals are cooked on time, my kids are happy, my books are getting read. Life is just better, simpler!

DISCLAIMER - having 12 and 10 year old daughters is hugely beneficial to this lifestyle. I highly recommend that you have them before you have your other children. :-) I'd definitely want (NEED) an electronic babysitter more often without them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From Julia

YES!  I saw this book title on your GoodReads page, Kami, and instantly wanted to read it.  I also had to return the Federalist yesterday and was debating about checking it out again or not.  Probably a not at this point.  But I still want to share some of my thoughts about what I did get to read.  Someday . . .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Response to Kami and Kelly

Kelly, what are "D" disorders?

Kami, I just reserved the book at the library. I think it will help me with my "aggressive" son. Sooooooooooooooooooooo aggressive. Love my boys' boy. Don't love his temper tantrums and holes in the wall.

If anyone else wants to join us, I'm skipping Federalist Papers to discuss this book before resuming our outlined plan. Since nobody wanted to discuss dog training books. :( Kidding. If anyone has anything to say about Federalist Papers as they continue reading, by all means share.

Kelly, when you get to the end of your simplicity parenting, let us know more about it. It sounds interesting. I might just check it out.
Kami, that was fascinating stuff. As I read your first few paragraphs, I couldn't help thinking that this has definitely got to be part of Satan's plan - to blur the line between the sexes. It totally goes against the Proclamation. I've been doing a lot of thinking about the important differences between men and women in regards to marriage. This is a similar topic to my own thoughts. I'm glad you shared. I'll have to see if I can get the book at my library.

On another line, I've been reading pretty interesting book called "Simplicity Parenting". I haven't gotten all the way through it, but I think it would be a beneficial read to anyone who has a child with "D" disorders - and also to anyone with children, really, who wants to keep from overwhelming their kid with the stresses of the modern world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why Gender Matters

I recently made a trip to the library for books about child development to give to my husband (including but not limited to the information that you don't feed a one month old baby rice. Errr...) And I ran across "Why Gender Matters" by Leonard Sax and it looked so interesting that I checked it out and stayed up all night reading it even though it wasn't really applicable to what I actually had planned. I tend to dogear books and I started doing that with the intention of sharing the info here. By the end I realized I had pretty much dogeared every single page. So, really, you just need to go check out the book and read it. It really was incredibly fascinating.

Basically the premise of the book is that since the 1960's, popular and scientific parenting theories have prescribed a "gender neutral" child rearing, (give girls trucks, give boys dolls--that sort of a thing) and that a lot of boy/girl differences are created by society. The author refutes that, backs up his assertions with research, and basically says we're destroying society by proporting such theories.

Here's an example of what our society has accepted (at least in pc terms.) "Nature really offers us more than two sexes...Our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits. The decision to label a child as a girl or a boy is a social decision. We should not label any child as being either a girl or a boy, there is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of differences." This from a tenured professor from Brown Univ. who's book received mention in the New York Times, Washington Post, and praise from the New England Journal of Medicine for her "careful and insightful approach to gender." I'm really just astounded at that. Really.

The author then cited various research reports to describe just how different biologically males and females truly are. Here's my summary:
  1. The brain actually could be considered a sex organ, like ovaries or testicles, because in 2004 it was clearly established that male and female brain tissue is "intrinsically different." Not only the hormones in it, not only the way we use it, but the actual tissue itself.
  2. Girl babies' brains' are 80% more responsive to acoustics than boys and the difference only gets bigger as they get older. So basically, those boys that say they didn't hear their soft-spoken female teacher, probably really didn't hear her.
  3. Male and female eyes have different percentage of M and P cells; M cells (which males have in larger abundance) track movement and spatial location, while P cells (which females retinas are mostly composed of) track what things are, like color and texture. Not only that, but the actual information from the eye is sent to different parts of the brain depending on gender through entirely different pathways. So translate this to a school setting: Jill draws people, pets, flowers and trees with lots of warm colors-usually ten or more-(what her eyes are more capable at focusing on), while Matthew draws frantic scribbles of a rocket hitting the earth all in one black crayon (black, blue, grey, silver are what M cells are most capable of seeing.) In summary, boys draw verbs, girls draw nouns, and a lot of that is what is visually wired in them.
  4. Males and females use different areas of their brain when navigating resulting in girls using landmarks and males using absolute direction like north or south.
  5. Already at nine months of age baby boys prefer trucks and baby girls will select dolls. He explains the study that was trying to see if that was really caused by "social constructs," and discovered that most toddlers up till 18 months generally have no clue what gender they are, so it really can't be social pressure. Boys prefer trucks more strongly than girls prefer dolls by the way. And in monkeys the same behavior can be observed.
  6. Males and females process their feelings in different locations of their brains. In girls, by teenage years it's in their cerebral cortex right along with their language skills. In boys it stays in their amygdala which has almost no connections to their language center. Translate that to a classroom: Asking a boy how he thinks this character felt in a book is going to get you nowhere.
  7. Male and female brains are organized different. Women have higher blood flow per gram of tissue than males. Women have larger brain cells in certain areas with more inputs than than corresponding male brains. Women tend to use mostly the more advanced areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, while men doing the same tasks use more primitive areas such as the globus pallidus, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Studies show that men with higher IQ really do have larger brains, but in women there's no difference in size.
  8. 8 yr. old girls have more in common with 25 yr. old women than they do with 8 yr. old boys. The reverse is true as well.
  9. Boys and male monkeys take far more risks than girls and female monkeys. This is universally true. Girls think extra risks are stupid, for boys it increases their social standing, and plus they like the rush. Girl adolescent monkeys babysit (seriously)--boy adolescent monkeys get squashed on highways taking stupid risks.
  10. Males (human and primates) are far more aggressive than females. Boys who fight actually end up better friends afterward. Girls who fight don't speak to each other for a year. Boys preferring violent stories is not an indicator of an underlying psychiatric problem, for girls who prefer violent stories it is. Rough and tumble play is crucial for boys to learn to control their aggression and the irony is that men who didn't experience rough play as children are more likely to commit violent crimes as an adult. He suggests if you have an overly aggressive son you should sign them up for contact sports so they have a supervised release.
  11. Men and women respond differently to pain. Women are more sensitive in general. And then when males are under stress it tends to dull the pain, in women under stress it increases it. Also, a pain killer produced by a pregnancy hormone is 4x's more effective in women than men.
  12. Males respond to stress and confrontation with the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight adrenaline rush). Women respond with the parasympathetic nervous system (sick to their stomach, dizzy, have to go to the bathroom, etc.)
  13. Girl friendships and boy friendships are completely different, as is bullying.
  14. Girls and boys brains mature at different rates, different times, and also in different sequences. Also sex differences are larger in children than in adults (because by then the brain is fully matured.)
  15. Girls read fiction, generally about experiences. Boys read nonfiction, generally about struggles with male protagonists. Translate to school setting: 95% of elementary teachers are female, who often pick books which appeal to them, hence boys get message that they don't like to read. He suggests reading the newspaper with boys, or Treasure Island. Not Flowers for Algernon or Of Mice and Men.
  16. Boys consistently overrate their abilities, girls consistently underrate their abilities.
  17. Dating no longer exists as a practice to find a long-term life partner. Most dating now is based entirely on the hierarchy of their peer group and nothing to do with individual characteristics.
  18. Girls generally engage in risky behaviors because of low self esteem. Boys engage in risky behaviors because they are boys and like to take risks.
  19. According to Dr. Sax, parents have relinquished control to their children, which supposedly helps them become more responsible. He believes it results in: more fat kids, more teenage sex, and more teenage criminals. And that the mantra has become, "spare the rod, sedate the child."
  20. He believes there should be a 7:1 ratio when dealing with your kids, 7 parts fun time, 1 part discipline. And eat dinner together.

And if you want more details and strategies for discipline (positive and negative), you'll have to check out the book.

To sum up he compares males and females to spoons and knifes. You can't argue which is better, only which is better for what. Spoons for broth, knifes for chicken. The difference between what girls and boys can do is small, but the difference in how they do it can be large. But both are equally capable of getting the same nutrients--so say if your child has a spoon you give them beef stew but if your child has a knife you give them meat loaf.