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Sunday, 30 November 2008

My Web Wanderings (weekly)

  • tags: pro-life

    • The husband of the teenage girl who has become Britain's youngest mother of Siamese twins said she and the babies were doing well.
    • The husband of the teenage girl who has become Britain's youngest mother of Siamese twins said she and the babies were doing well.

      Laura Williams, 18, gave birth to conjoined girls, named Faith and Hope, by Caesarean section.

    • The couple, from Shrewsbury, had defied advice from doctors to abort the girls early in the pregnancy, which they described as the 'hardest decision of our lives.'

      Only about 5 per cent of conjoined twins survive the first 24 hours. But the girls' chances are thought to be good as they are joined at the front from navel to breastbone and do not share a heart.

  • tags: Reading

    • The optimal time to learn to read is when a child is one to three years old,
      because this is the time when their brains naturally do the most closely-
      related task: learning to under-stand speech and to talk themselves.
    • Nearly all children naturally learn to understand speech, and to speak themselves, between the ages of one and three years (although the foundations do indeed start from early infancy). This is an enormously complex task, yet you don’t really teach a child to talk. Instead, children learn to talk essentially on their own, so long as they are raised in an environment rich with speech and with social interaction. And children generally learn to talk with obvious delight, seemingly without effort and, often, with amazing speed. They don’t learn to talk through regimented lessons, instead they learn by listening to and interacting with their family and friends, by singing songs, and by playing games. Nearly every child does this successfully, in every culture around the world, and children have learned to talk like this throughout recorded history and, surely, before recorded history, too.
    • I believe that the reason some children read easily and early is because reading early makes learning to read easier.
      I know this sounds strange at first. Most people consider learning to read a fairly difficult task. Look at how many six-year-olds struggle with it! And since it is difficult for many six-year- olds, they assume that learning to read must be much more difficult, if not downright impossible, for a four-year-old—to say nothing of a two-year-old! But this superficially compelling logic is not valid for all tasks.
    • For example, nearly everyone now knows that learning a foreign language is much easier when you learn it at an earlier age. In fact, in general, the earlier the better. It is better to learn a foreign language early for the simple reason that early childhood is when our brains naturally are most receptive to language acquisition. It is a window of opportunity that, if missed, makes learning harder. You can learn a second language later, of course, but it is much more difficult to attain the fluency and accent that young children pick up with no trouble at all. Because of this, schools in this country have finally started to move foreign language instruction from the last few years of high school to much earlier in the curriculum, preferably all the way to kindergarten and even to preschool. Many people resisted this because, although everyone knows that children learn their own first language spontaneously and with ease in early childhood, they assumed that learning a second language would be somehow too confusing. The reality is, while there are occasional moments of confusion— moments when a child speaks a bit of Franglais or Spanglish—children generally deal with the additional complexity of a second language better when they are younger. Preschoolers, compared to older children and adults, are truly geniuses at learning languages.
    • The core insight of native reading is that this natural genius young children have for learning spoken languages can, if given the right environment, be easily extended to written language, too. If children learn in this more natural way, they not only read years earlier, they also gain an ease and familiarity with the written word that is achieved by older children, if at all, only after a much greater struggle. Native readers learn to read as a natural, effortless extension of learning to talk. And the best time to learn to read this way is the best time to learn to talk: before the age of three. Better yet, when children learn to read in this more natural way, not only do they learn easily, joyfully, and at an early age, but they then become truly native readers. They become deeply and effortlessly literate in a way that has lifelong benefits, just as native speakers of a language have an ease and fluency that can generally only be marveled at by those who learned too late.
    • Many people have heard of a case or two of a child who could fluently read by three. Indeed, throughout history there is ample evidence that children are certainly capable of reading that young. For example, by the age of three the great mathematician Gauss could not only read, he also knew enough mathematics to correct an error in his father’s payroll accounts! More recently, it has been reported that not only was the entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey reading by the age of three, but that she was actually so fluent a reader that she started her career in public speaking at this same age, reading for her church congregation, to much applause and amazement.
    • fundamentally, speech and writing are just two different forms of the same language. The critical factor is to create the right environment where the natural miracle of language acquisition extends to the written word.
  • tags: Unit conversion

  • tags: Education, Montessori

  • tags: pro-life

  • tags: pro-life

  • tags: pro-life

    • Laura Williams, 18, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, defied medical advice to abort the girls early in her pregnancy, and will now give birth to Faith and Hope by caesarean section this week.
    • When Aled and Laura Williams arrived at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital they were understandably excited. About to have the first scan, 12 weeks into the pregnancy, they paid the requisite £10 for three photographs and duly waited for their appointment with the nurse.

      Two hours later, the couple sat in the hospital car park, Aled's face a ghastly shade of grey and Laura, beside him, still in shock and unable to stop crying.

      It was only then that they realised they didn't even have a picture . . . and why the doctors, in their supposed wisdom, had thought it better that way. For Aled and Laura had just been told they were expecting conjoined, or Siamese, twins.

    • The couple felt the doctor was blunt to the point of callousness.

      Laura recalls: 'He said I'd be better to get rid of them, that I would probably lose them by 14 weeks and if they lasted any longer it could cause all sorts of complications and I could end up having to have a hysterectomy.'

      He then told the couple to go home and think about it while the nurse returned the money for their scan pictures.

    • Aled says: 'We're just hoping for the best. If God wants the babies to be in this world it will happen. If not, that's what it's got to be.
    • 'Most people of her age want to go out drinking and having fun but Laura's always said she wanted children. And at the end of the day they're still our children no matter what the outcome.'
    • Laura says: 'No one can say we haven't tried. I'm just glad we have proved that first doctor wrong.

      'I bet there are a lot of people out there who have been in our position and have felt they had no choice. Whatever happens to us, we've proved that's not the case.'

    • The couple do not have the first, 12-week scan as the doctor advised an abortion and thought it would be upsetting to have a picture to remember their babies by.
  • tags: pro-life

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Getting Used to a New Routine and Other Bits and Pieces

From yesterday until Christmas Eve, Hubby is working late shifts Monday to Saturday so we're having to get used to a new routine. Yesterday was rather disorganised but today has been better. I'm trying out a meat loaf recipe I found on New Life. I never made meatloaf before (I think maybe it's an American thing) so I'm looking forward to seeing how it will turn out. I did make a couple of modifications as I used lamb mince instead of beef mince and I'm putting salsa on the top instead of ketchup. The loaf is now sitting in the oven ready to cook and the salsa is made and ready to be added.

Meatloaf in oven Homemade salsa

Last year Little Girl was too young to particularly notice that Daddy was around at different times but yesterday after bath time she was calling, "Daddy" and trying to go downstairs to look for him. I'm sure we'll all get used to it soon though.

A while back I read about the "box of beans" toy at Lentils and Rice and had been trying to think of something suitable for Little Girl as I knew she would love it but beans would be too small at her age. Today I finally thought of pasta so she spent the half hour before lunch time playing with a cup of (dry) pasta and three plastic tubs:

Little Girl with 'Pasta in a Box'

One last thing I wanted to share before Autumn is over is our Autumn table decoration:


It's not really an English thing to do but I've been reading about Autumn decorations on lots of American blogs and thought it sounded like a nice idea to mark the seasons so this is my first time. The stuff is actually on a lazy susan which is nice as we can turn it to face different directions and it makes it easy to remove and put back when we need to. Hopefully on Monday morning we will go out foraging for holly so that I can make a Winter one.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sourdough Starter - alternative to buying yeast

I've been making bread now for over a year without having to buy yeast. According to Milehimama, it costs about 9 cents for two loaves. I usually make three loaves a week so over a year that would cost about $7. In England, the same quantity of yeast would cost me 17p for two loaves which would work out at around £13.

Instead of buying yeast, I use sourdough starter which makes use of naturally occurring yeasts.

It is very simple to make: Place a cup each of wholemeal flour and water in a large bowl (or jug), stir, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand overnight. Each day for around a week, add equal amounts of flour and water, stir, cover and leave overnight again. (I think my book suggested one or two cups a day but I only did half cups as I didn't want too much starter.) After a while it will start to get frothy and smell a little "beery". It will hopefully look something like this:

After a week to ten days, if your starter has become frothy then it is ready to use.

To make a 2lb loaf, I use two cups of starter, half a cup of water, a pinch of salt and around 1lb flour. I mix the first three ingredients together before adding flour. I keep adding flour until the dough seems about right. How much flour you need will depend on your starter so if you need a lot of flour and your loaf is too big for the pan, reduce (or even cut out) the additional water. If you find your loaf is on the small side then add extra water. After putting into tins and leaving to rise overnight, I bake the bread at GM4 for 1 to 1 1/4 hours before turning out to cool.

Once you have used your sourdough starter, you no longer need to keep it at room temperature. (You can if you want but if so, you must remember to stir it every day otherwise it will go mouldy.) I usually transfer it into a new container and top it up with 1-2 cups each of flour and water before putting it in the fridge. Either on the morning of the day I want to use it or the night before I get it out and add more flour and water to help bet it going again and to ensure there is enough of it for the next use. You may be able to use it straight out of the fridge but I find I get leaden loaves if I do this. I keep my starter in a jug with a plate over the top. This allows it to "breathe" and also enables me to see exactly how much of it I have.

Crazy Sheep

I was looking through our photos on the computer from the last year when I happened upon this video clip which I'd forgotten about. We were on holiday and decided to go for a drive while Little Girl was sleeping to look for snow. (Hubby loves snow and Little Girl slept better in the car than the holiday cottage so it made sense to combine them.) There we were drining through snowy hills when we came upon some stampeding sheep:

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Our Annual Newsletter 2008

Today Hubby had a day off work so we spent the afternoon making our annual newsletter. Usually we print them off ourselves but we got a deal on Postcards at Vistaprint which was worthwhile in terms of both time and cost compared to doing it ourselves and they will also be better quality.

I thought it would be nice to share so here is the (anonymised) back of the card.

On the other side we have the same logo in the corner but larger and a picture of the three of us plus a greeting.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I am a "Mainline to Conservative" Christian

I found this quiz on Stephanie's blog. For once the top result was actually what I would have expected...

1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%)
2. Seventh Day Adventist (83%)
3. Eastern Orthodox (77%)
4. Roman Catholic (77%)
5. Orthodox Judaism (69%)
6. Orthodox Quaker (69%)
7. Islam (67%)
8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (65%)
9. Jehovah's Witness (65%)
10. Baha'i Faith (62%)
11. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
12. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (46%)
13. Jainism (40%)
14. Liberal Quakers (39%)
15. Sikhism (39%)
16. Hinduism (37%)
17. Reform Judaism (34%)
18. Mahayana Buddhism (32%)
19. Theravada Buddhism (32%)
20. Nontheist (31%)
21. New Thought (30%)
22. Unitarian Universalism (28%)
23. Scientology (23%)
24. Neo-Pagan (16%)
25. New Age (15%)
26. Taoism (13%)
27. Secular Humanism (10%)

Monday, 24 November 2008


This weekend we had snow on both Saturday and Sunday morning! It melted by the afternoon but it is quite unusual for it even to lie at this time of year and it is only the second lot of snow we have had since Little Girl was born.

Little Girl in the snow

Little Girl in the snow 2

On Friday we decided quite last minute to go to a table top sale on Saturday morning. We'd been thinking of doing a car boot sale but didn't fancy the cold so it seemed ideal. Unfortunately hardly anyone came so we only just sold enough to cover our £5 table fee and the organisers made a loss but it wasn't a complete waste of a morning. It was good practice and we've decided that maybe we should wait till the summer and then do a car boot sale. We also got a lovely dog book for Little Girl for 75p (she loves dogs - "woof" was her first word) and the people on one of the stalls gave her a toy vacuum cleaner which they didn't want to cart home again which she proceeded to use to "vacuum" all around the hall and under everyone's tables.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

My Web Wanderings (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Toddler Towels

Works For Me Wednesday

Since Little Girl is now into gardening, painting and "helping" to empty the potty, toddler handwashing is a frequent occurence in our house.

Photobucket Photobucket

Unfortunately as none of our towels are hung at toddler level (we rent so can't just put a towel rail in a better position) I was having to hold her up in the air at the same time as trying to help her dry her hands.

Suddenly I had a brainwave: Flannels! I have a large stash of cheap flannels from Ikea so I hung one up in the bathroom from the toilet roll holder we don't use and one in the kitchen from one of the cupboard door knobs.

Photobucket Photobucket

If you didn't happen to have anything at just the right height then hooks on rubber suckers would work too. (I don't know what the American for "rubber sucker" is so I've linked to an example.)

Now I just need to find a solution for the actual handwashing as apparently stools are not a good idea!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Book Meme

Hmm this one's been waiting in my cyber "to do" pile for over a month now...

I have to grab the closest book to me, turn to page 56 and type out a few lines.

The nearest book to me is "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. It's currently on the computer desk because I am typing up notes on it as I read it.

From page 56:
"Teaching your children to live for the glory of God must be your overarching objective. You must teach your children that for them, as for all mankind, life is found in knowing and serving the true and living God. The only worthy goal for life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

I should tag people but I know a lot of people have done this tag already and I don't want to over tag people so if you're reading this and you want to do it, go ahead and leave a comment with a link.

Lest we forget

Today is Remembrance Day here in the UK.

I always have difficulties with knowing how to view it because my father was very against it. Not against remembering those who gave their lives but against the glorification of war.

War is a terrible thing. Sometimes it is necessary but that does not take away from the horror of it.

In the Battle of the Somme alone more than a million men died but there was little effect on the positions of either side.

Neither of my Grandfathers fought in the Second World War. My grandad had a cousin who did though. Growing up they had been good friends. He had qualified as an accountant but could not find work so signed up to the RAF. He died the day before his wedding day.

Most of us in the West have little personal experience of war or its effects. We do not realise the horrors men went through to give us our freedom. I have have never met anyone who fought in the war who was prepared to talk about it - I am sure there is a reason for this.

So, I suggest that on this day, we should give thanks to God for those men who suffered the horrors of war that we may not and for the protection he has given us.

Friday, 7 November 2008

PIF winners

The winners of the PIF give away are...

Jennifer, Toni and Amy.


If you each leave me a private comment with your e-mail address, I'll e-mail you to get your postal addresses.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Pay It Forward Give Away

N.B. This is a "sticky" until 5th November so scroll down for new posts.

Heather had a Pay It Forward Give Away last month (I can't believe it's a whole month ago!) and I was one of the winners:


It was so lovely to receive a nice box in amongst all the sorting of boxes I was (and still am!) doing. Anyway, it's time for me to pass it on so if you would like to enter, please leave a comment by 5th November. Three people chosen at random will get a present in the post from me and then they in turn pay it forward by doing the same thing.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

My Web Wanderings (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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