Monday, December 8, 2014

for the record...

My six month old son is having some sleep problems; therefore, so too my husband and I are having some sleep problems.

He's in a crib with one open side, jammed next to our bed. I give him a bath, say prayers and nurse him down between 6 and 6:45. He usually goes to sleep pretty well, and stays asleep until 10 or 11. He wakes up, I nurse him again, and he goes back to sleep until midnight or so. From then on he's waking up every couple of hours, if not more frenquently, only going to sleep again when nursing. He wakes up pretty much for good around 6 and kind of plays by himself in bed if we're still asleep. That part seems fine since I put him to bed about 12 hours earlier. It's just the stuff in between that kills me.

He does not transfer well from the bed where I nurse him to his crib. Part of that is probably the feeling of the cold crib blanket on his face; sometimes if I lift him up with blanket where we were nursing underneath his body and face, he makes the transfer.

So I think we have two problems. The first is that he can only go to sleep while nursing. The second is that he wakes up when I put him in his crib. That is as far as my analysis has gotten. Another possible problem is that we are waking him up with our movements (the feeling is definitely mutual,) but we don't have another place to put the crib.

We tried the Ferber thing for a while, where you let them cry (not scream) for about five minutes, and then go and comfort them with singing or back patting, but not holding or nursing, for a couple minutes, and continue that until they learn that all they get out of crying is a pat on the back. That seemed like it was working for the initial bedtime, but then he would wake up every hour after that until we went to bed, as if he were only sleeping rather grudgingly. (We're sort of in the middle of one of these struggles as I'm writing this.)

Then we felt terrible and concluded that Dr. Sears was right all along and we should just go with our instincts, which tell us (me at least) to nurse and soothe your poor little baby when he cries, not to ignore him. That feels right in my gut, but I don't know that guts are the only decision-making facuties to employ in parenting. Dr. Sears doesn't really have any answers as to how to stop co-sleeping. Surely after eight or nine kids he should have something to say about that.

Also, eff Facebook again, I'm so over it. Ain't nobody got time for that. That's my new catchphrase (although it's from an old meme,) and I use it in response to almost everything that isn't essential to loving and taking care of the people I'm responsible for right now. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New blog idea

Sometime a couple of weeks ago I decided that I'd like to start learning Greek again. I studied Attic and Homeric Greek for a year and a half in college, a million years ago, and have made a few sallies in relearning it since then. Matt has kept up with it fabulously and is able to read Plato pretty well now without prohibitive labor, and I am jealous. I'd say I stayed more familiar with it than most of my classmates because right when we stopped studying Greek, I became Orthodox, so it's remained important to me, and I still know enough to make it worthwhile to look up Bible verses and stuff. But my ability to actually read it is long gone.

I asked myself how this attempt to study Greek again would be different from other unsuccessful resolutions, and somehow I came up with the idea that I should blog about it. After about a week and a half of thinking about it and talking to Matt and my best friend (who was a classics major at Reed after transferring from SJC) about it, I decided that this is what I'm going to do.

I'm going to basically pretend that I'm teaching a class in New Testament Greek. I found it very easy to learn Latin by teaching it for two years; the onus of explanation kept me accountable to really understand what I was learning and the schedule kept me on track. I've thought for years that I'd like to be able to teach Greek to our kids, and perhaps to teach it in a school or co-op someday as well. Now seems like a good time to develop the material for a course.

After studying Greek and French at SJC, and developing courses in Latin and Greek at the Orthodox school, Matt and I have come to believe that the best way to learn a classical language is through a mix of deductive and inductive approaches. A deductive study of a language consists in learning the grammar and vocabulary by memorization and exercises. It usually proceeds in a cumulative fashion, and seeks to eventually provide mastery of all the grammatical forms and concepts of the language. One practices reading the language by translating sentences that are written using only forms and vocabulary that have already been convered. It is thorough, but it is boring.

The inductive approach is to simply jump in clutching a dictionary and start reading, largely without understanding at first, but slowly amassing vocabulary and a working knowledge of the way the language works.

Our favorite way of teaching is to introduce the grammatical forms systematically as in a deductive approach, but to always spend part of the class reading an original text in the target language (we liked using Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis, daily gospel readings in Greek and the Latin Vulgate, and Ovid's Metamorphoses.) We give the students some of the vocabulary words, expecting them to figure some recognizable things out for themselves, and point out the grammatical forms that they recognize. As we continue, we give them less and less help, and they see the forms they're mastering in action.

In order to teach in this way, the teacher has to have enough knowledge of the language to be able to pick out the forms and vocabulary to be given, and has to be a savvy enough translator to guide the students in their own translation. It doesn't require perfect fluency and expertise, but I think it would be hard for an inexperienced scholar and teacher to prepare this material themselves.

So that is where my blog comes in. I will be studying Greek using a textbook (probably the very thorough Hansen & Quinn, although I might look for one specific to koine Greek,) and explain the grammar concepts in my blog posts, as if I were to teach them to another adult, who would in turn teach them to their students. I will also post a portion of some Greek text every day (or with some degree of regular frequency,) with glossary and grammar help appropriate to the level that we've attained in our deductive grammar study. I'm leaning towards using the Acts of the Apostles, since as Matt said, reading the Gospels is just a little too much like looking straight into the sun.

The goal is to amass enough material, written at the right level for a reasonably clever and motivated teacher or parent to be able to teach New Testament Greek to their students, with the goal in mind of being able to read the New Testament without much help by the end of a year or something. Ultimately perhaps I will turn it into a curriculum for Orthodox schools. That's a long way off but I want to keep that in mind so that I can be organized as I go along.

I won't start until January, because the Greek books are at my parents' house in Indiana. But I just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about it. Any ideas? How about a name for the blog?