Monday, March 31, 2008

they're here...

So, did I mention that the only reason a moth lives is to reproduce? We went to the store (Costco) to get some items, and by the time we got back, our moth had hatched and mated! The children got what they wanted, it was a female. I'm not so sure that they mated right away, but today, the female started laying eggs all over the branch. They look like little black balls with white dots on them. In the photo above, the eggs are located at the point where the branch meets the dark part of the wing. Right by the bottom leg. They are REALLY small so it is hard to get a photo of the actually egg sack. Now we are going to see if we can raise Luna Moths!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

nature's art...

God has a way of showing His wonderful creative ability through his creation. This is a picture of the Luna Moth Asher found at the Farmer's Market. We also bought a cocoon of another moth from a young man who raises moths. It will probably hatch in a week or two. It is a fascinating process to watch. In all, it takes about two hours for it to hatch and spread it's wings full.

Moths only live for a week or so, and live only to reproduce. Since their sole purpose is to reproduce, they don't spend time looking for food. In fact, they don't have mouths. The caterpillar goes through several instar periods (5) before the pupa stage. The children are hoping that the cocoon we have is a female so they will breed! Sounds fun huh? Right now the children are watching it fly all around the house. Gresham is SQUEALING when it takes off from our hands.

spring break...

This next week, on Tuesday, is the start of the spring break from school. For some strange reason, we are to attend school on Monday, then break is from Tuesday through Friday. O.K., that is weird! I guess it's a south thing.

Speaking of the south, I watched a movie the other night. God's and Generals. It is interesting watching movies that have a bend towards the south while living here IN the south. I guess I never paid too much attention to it before, but hearing people talk, and having the general attitude about the difference between the North and South, it has been a lesson in the history of the conflict in this part of the nation. The movie wasn't that good. :(

Anyway, we re on our way to the North this week. Probably Tuesday. We have some friends we will stay with for a few days, have made some new friends that we will stay with for a day or so, and will spend an afternoon or evening visiting my family. I hope to go and visit the towns where I sent applications to as well. Three small cities that are hiring art teachers this year. If I get a job in one of the smaller cities, we will be able to buy a farm outside the city limits and settle there for our homesteading adventure. If I don't find a permanent position, or if I get a job in another part of the state, we will need to decide whether we buy or rent like we did here. I think that I would rather rent for another year than to make a mistake a buy in an area that we are not familiar with and grow to dislike. Pray that I find a job in a small city and we are able to find a nice piece of property to start our agrarian life. More-so, pray that God's will be done.

Having an open heart to where the Lord will plant us makes it easy to get rejection letters back from schools that I have applied too. Instead of thinking that they don't "want" me, or that I am not qualified enough to teach there, it is a great comfort to know that it is not where God wants us. It is a confirmation, not a rejection. If only I could see this in every aspect of my life I would find less conflict, strife, and discontent.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

spring is here...

Sunday...spring-like weather. What a beautiful day. Today we decided to visit a church that is close to our house. We went to a wonderful Baptist church down the street from the rental home. Both Ildi and I commented on how lovely it is to visit places and experience how the body of Christ worships the Lord. The service was short, to the point, and full of hope for a dying world.

When we returned home, the children spent the day making things and playing. Photos above show the marbled eggs we dyed. The colored eggs we buy at the market make interesting colors along with the dyes. The children have been saving the shells of the eggs they eat and we used empty eggs to dye this year. Actually, I think this is the first time we have ever dyed eggs for Easter.

It was so nice outside that we also took a bike ride this weekend. Just around the corner from us is a country road that we have ridden on before. There is a farmer that lives at the end of the road and we have been down to his farm a couple of times to see his cows. He has the kind that has a white circle around it's stomach. Sort-of like an Oreo cookie. Neat looking creatures.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

the battle field...

Today was a pleasant spring-like day filled with excitement and history for us. We went to Greensboro where we shop at the farmers market, yet on this day we went to a battle. A battle you ask? What battle? Well, right there in the north part of the city, the famous Battle of Guilford Court House was being reenacted right near the original spot where the battle was fought.

On March 15, 1781, the Battle of Guilford Court House was fought just north of present-day Greensboro between Generals Charles Cornwallis and Nathanael Greene during the American Revolution. This battle marked a key turning point in the Revolutionary War in the South. Although General Cornwallis, the British Commander, held the field at the end of the battle, his losses were so severe that he decided to withdraw to the Carolina and Virginia coastline, where he could receive reinforcements and his battered army could be protected by the British Navy. His decision ultimately led to his defeat later in 1781 at Yorkown, Virginia, by a combined force of American and French troops and warships.

What an adventure it must of been for these men and women to come to the area, camp, and live like the soldiers did back in the late 1700's for the weekend. And, it rained really hard on Saturday, and most of the people who participated in the event stayed out and weathered it without any modern conveniences.

Greensboro is celebrating it's Bi-Centennial (1808-2008) this year with lots of city activities, and regional events. It is fun to be part of a city's historical celebration. Especially when it is so closely related to all of our lives. Here's a picture of the children on a hill not too far from where the battle was actually fought.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

fout family values...cont...

One of the areas of the Fout Family Values that I have been passionate about that has received negative feedback is the Concerning Sportsmanship in Our Family category.

Our children do not participate in organized sports, and the boys and girls are not allowed to play physical games against each other. For example, the girls can play football if they want, with each other, but they are not allowed to play football with the boys. If the boys are playing a game where they are riding skateboards to see how far they can get on one push, the girls may do the same activity, but they are not allowed to compare their time, distance, or speed to that of the boys. Seems sexist I know, but in reality, when they compete with each other, it pits them against each other and tears down everything we are trying to build concerning relationships in the home.

Here is the list of Concerning Sportsmanship in Our Family...

25. We include everyone in our games no matter what level of proficiency.
26. We remember boys and girls are different and are treated differently when playing games.
27. We play games with the intent to WIN but are happy for others when they win.
28. We recognize younger children do not understand rules in games and we make choices to include them without fault finding.
29. We compete WITH our family members against people outside our family.

It is great to hear our oldest son include his younger brother in a game when he is playing with neighbor boys. He often says "Asher is on my team" when the group is dividing themselves. On some occasions, he has asked to play on a team that is opposite his brother. Usually, without just saying "no", I ask him a couple of questions and he re-thinks his decision of being on a different team than his brother. I could spend days on the ramifications of just this example, both positive and negative, but I will continue on to my earlier intent of this post.

What, you ask, is the point of all this deliberate decision making concerning sportsmanship? The point is simple. We want the children to love each other, prefer each other, and treat each other with respect and concern. In a nutshell, we want them to give each other VALUE. Their brothers and sisters will be their best friends. We want them to grow up valuing each other more than outside influences of friends.

This has never been clearer modeled than in our last three moves. We lived in Rowland Heights, CA for 5 years, then moved to Pasadena, CA for 2 years. Now we are in Winston-Salem, NC and plan to move this summer. So, you think, how do the children show you that siblings are valued over friends outside the family? Well, not a tear has been shed because the children are leaving their "friends". No drama about losing something. They are content to just write letters to their friends. No comments about how involved they have been and how difficult it will be to leave. Does that mean that they don't develop close relationships with others? Not at all. Quite the opposite happens. But, what it does mean is that they value their family relationships more.

I know of several families that I have talked to that say things like "we could never move because our children love their school", or make statement like "how could you uproot them and tear them away from their friends like that"?

Well, you see, we as the parents create the environment where value is placed. We decide what appetites are developed, and what appetites are starved. Reminds me of an old Cherokee story that goes like this:

A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves."

"One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance."

"The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION."

"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other human as well."

The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out; "Oyee! Grandfather, which wolf will win?"

The elder Cherokee replied, "The wolf that you feed."

The question we should all ask ourselves is "what kind of wolves are we feeding in our families"?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

family time...

This is a picture of the puzzle our family put together these last couple of months. We would work on it for a few days, set it aside, and then pull it back out again to add some more pieces. Thanks to the Thomas' we have gotten the "puzzle bug" now. :) They sent us this puzzle for Christmas and slowly we started working on it all together.

Since we don't have a television to distract us, (more just me) the time we have in the evening can be spent doing family activities. We didn't plan to start making puzzles together, but since we had gotten one as a gift, it became easy to get involved with it. We are actually starting a new one today. This one is the 1000 piece size and we are looking forward to completing ones that have even more pieces.

Sometimes it seems like activities like these are a waste of valuable time. Time that could be spent doing meaningful things like milking a cow, planting a garden, reading the Bible, or helping a neighbor. However, while we are waiting for this school year to end before we move to Ohio and buy our homestead, these kinds of family activities are accomplishing many things to help our family bond more closely with each other. They in a sense, help us to practice our Fout Family Values.

What are the Fout Family Values you might ask? the FFV are a list of character traits that I found online somewhere in the past. I wish I could remember where I had gotten them so I could give DUE CREDIT to the people or person who came up with them. They are not original by any means, as nothing is new under the sun, but they are a group of specific character traits, attitudes, and behaviors that we try to live by. Do we do all of them all the time? NO. However, is is nice to have a goal in mind when thinking about how we should respond to others. And especially those that are part of our own family.

Before I list anything, let me first give a quick definition of some similar words that are usually mixed up when we think of things like values. Words like vision, mission, value, and belief.

Belief: An opinion, especially a firm and considered one. Sometimes this can be something that is true or not. (hopefully it is something that is true)

Value: The worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody. It is the outworking of your belief. (that could be good, or bad news)

Mission: An objective or task that somebody (or family unit) believes and feels it is their duty to carry out. It involves attaching special importance and devoting special care to accomplishing it.

Vision: The ability to anticipate possible future events and developments. Simply put, what the future looks like for your life.

Now back to the list. We have several areas that are labeled Concerning _______ in Our Family. For example, the first one is concerning authorities in our family.

Concerning Authorities in our Family.............

1. We love and obey our Lord Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion.
2. We read the Bible and pray to God every day with an open heart.
3. We honor and obey our parents in the Lord with a respectful attitude.
4. We listen to correction and accept discipline with a submissive spirit.

This is just part of the list that includes nine categories and thirty-eight beliefs. As mentioned, it is something we are WORKING TOWARDS, a place where we want to get to. For a copy of the document, leave a comment and an email address, and I will send it to you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

art at home...

I am stirred to share some helpful information about how to teach Art to your children at home. It is sometimes areas like Art where parents have a difficult time deciding what to do and what to focus on when they have had no formal training in art. Not that formal training in Art is a prerequisite for teaching Art, but in my experience, most adults are SCARED to death to teach art. Even getting a substitute at my school is hard because of people's insecurity about art.
As an Art teacher in the private and public schools for 15 years, I have had the chance to work with the rich, the poor, the gifted, and the *@#~`"! students. I am constantly growing on new things I can share with the students and processes I can teach them. Personally, I am still enjoying learning new ways to create art that is skill based, and extremely fun to do. You too can enjoy, along with your student, the pleasure of creating art at home.

To start with, I break the school year down into six week sections. Thirty-six weeks total, six weeks on a particular focus. Here's the order: Cutting and Gluing, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, and Weaving/Sewing. Each year I incorporate Graphic Design and Technology into the six different sections along with the skills they are learning. Usually one week is long enough for a student to work on an art project, given that it is about 45 minutes per day. That gives you six different projects you can do with your children and not feel guilty that they are missing out on a well-rounded, art inclusive educational experience.

The first tip for teaching your children art at home is to teach them what you enjoy doing yourself. Do you like stamping? do you enjoy gardening, cooking, writing? Whatever you enjoy doing will be easier for you to teach your children. For example, if you like gardening, while you are in the garden pulling weeds, planting, etc., have your student study the different shaped leaves on the plants. When you are ready to work on art, have them cut the shapes of the leaves out of construction paper and glue them down on a pleasing background color. Obviously you are teaching them the skills of cutting and gluing so your is focus is on using the scissors correctly (and safely), and using the proper amount of glue. The same project (leaves from the garden) could become the theme that runs through the whole change of mediums. For example, the student then draws the different leaves they observe in the garden, they paint a picture of a plant from the garden, they make a paper mache' of a vegetable, they stencil a print from a cut potato, and they cut out a shape of a fruit and sew an applica' on a square for sewing. It is endless what you can come up with when you focus on the things you personally enjoy doing. You are motivated, and they pick up on your motivation.

The second tip for art instruction at home is to let children create art even if you do not do it or want to teach it. Providing students with raw materials, even without a planned art experience, will give them a wonderful appreciation for creating and tons of enjoyment in making art. Children are naturally creative. Given time and resources, you will be amazed at what they will create.

Third tip....Don't worry that you are not a professional artist. Who cares if it is great or not? They don' why should you? Most parents I talk with have an idea about what they want their children to do, and when it doesn't look the right way, the parent takes the project over and "touches" it up. Don't touch it up, leave it as is and then use that as a way to teach your student about how they could improve on their skill the next time you make the same thing.
Fourth and last tip for this post. Do the same projects over and over. When you find a good project that is fun to do, and costs almost NOTHING, have them do it several times. Each time the child does the project they get better and better at the skills required.
I hope this post has dispelled some of your myths about teaching Art to your children. And I hope that it has inspired you to start creating art at home with a new attitude.
For those that are interested, I have posted this on as well.

From the art room,

PS. Some children take more time, some less when making art. In addition, there are those students who finish things that are to take four days in 10 minutes. If this happens, require them to go back and add to their project so they can learn the art and the power of focus.