Míliath: on Kindness and the People Nearest to Us

I’m tired of reading children’s books that endorse that idea that brothers and sisters being awful to each other all the time is just a fact of life.

I’m realistic enough to be clear that they need to learn to work things out with one another, and that the friction between siblings is a useful and important part of the process. But within that reality, I think I can help my children to learn to disagree (discuss, argue, and yes, fight…) well. It’s tricky, but I think it’s possible. In fact, I think the skill of working out differences graciously is one of the most important relational tools I can give them.

Family relationships ought to be a safe space for children and grown-ups to be other than their best, to have their big feelings, and to feel accepted for who they are. However, I think this is often conflated with a somewhat lazy approach to relationships “I can be a jerk to them, they have to love me anway.” There is some basis for this belief. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do things. I also don’t like the implied, “so I don’t even have to try to be kind,” that too naturally follows on that train of thinking.

What if our daily family life together can be the very setting for us to practice all the virtues we read about or hear about? Peace, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control….keeping these abstracted away as ideas reserved for “out in the world” makes them much more likely to be practiced only occasionally. But what if our close relationships are the exact places we should be using as a safe space to practice being good to other people? What if my children are, in fact, capable of receiving and growing kindness within them, if I can just sow it carefully?

We are not perfect people. Weeds like selfishness, angry shouting, and other unkindnesses are a fact of life. That doesn’t mean they should be ignored. That’s how you end up with a garden choked with weeds.

With that in view, we are studying kindness this week. We’re making trips to the library to learn about it. We’re studying what wise people have said about it. We’re defining what it means to us personally, and how we can recognize and practice it in our lives. As an attempt to highlight kind actions when we recognize them, we are exclaiming “míliath!” whenever we witness a kind action. Míliath means “kindnesses” (in Sindarin, because why not?).

What has worked to help you to promote kindness within your home or important relationships?

GM courtesy brown

Homemade Mondays: Lemon Sesame Salad Dressing (and science experiment)

I really like homeschooling lessons that involve food. So for our salad the other night, we mixed up this simple salad dressing together and discussed how the different layers of liquid had different densities, and what emulsions are (I only gave the very basic description that oil and water are not really friends and that when you emulsify them it’s like making them stay together even though they don’t want to–cut me some slack! I don’t have a degree in science. My goal in homeschooling isn’t to be an expert in everything; because who can know all the things? The point is to rouse kids’ curiousity about stuff and then google the answers to their questions with them!).

This was easy, fun, and delicious.


Lemon Sesame Salad Dressing and Science Experiment


1 part lemon juice

1 part honey, agave, maple syrup, sugar, etc.

2 parts sesame oil (you could easily substitute avocado, olive, etc.)



Combine all ingredients in a clear glass bottle. If you have little kids around you (or even if you don’t; whatever) take a minute to notice which liquid is where…the least dense (oil) will be on top, and the most dense (honey) on the bottom! Food is interesting!

Oh, then tightly lid and shake well to combine.

I served this over a romaine salad with sesame seeds and it was yummy.

lemon sesame salad

Float or Sink? Water Density Experiment

We used this activity in our homeschooling and I’ll be saving it for portfolio purposes (it being so obviously science-ey and all), but it’s also just a fun activity. And good writing practice!

Any child who has ever taken a bath has probably done this experiment on their own, so I wanted to use the familiar concept to introduce the process of testing a hypothesis and interpreting data.

*To make your own worksheet, click on the picture down there, copy and paste it into a word document. But you probably knew that.

water density experiment