Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meredith's Pumpkin Tea Sandwiches

Oh, these look so good! And we do like pumpkin bread...

New books at the Treehouse

These books all came in a box from a family out west who are finishing their homeschool years and have decided to part with some treasures. Some of these books are part of the Ambleside Online curriculum (mostly for the upper years), and some are just for fun.

Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler (a junior version--I'd still like to get the real thing)

"But perhaps the most amazing thing about the Dead Sea was something I didn't discover until we began to walk into the desert hills on its southern shore. Because the atmosphere is so dense in the area, the air pushes down on the water and the water pushes down on several miles of salt deposits underneath the Dead Sea. These salt deposits are pushed down toward the core of the earth and then out toward the shore, where they sprout up in two- or three-story asparagus-like formations. They look like salt lighthouses." (p. 47)

Makers of the English Bible: The Story of the Bible in English by Cyril Davey

"But, in spite of Alfred's schoolboys learning the Lord's Prayer in their everyday language, there were few men who troubled to turn any more of the Bible into English. Books and parchments were too expensive for ordinary people to buy. The young men of Alfred's kingdom had little use for reading unless they became monks or 'clerks"--'clerk' is only a later way of spelling 'cleric', or churchman. Monks and 'clerks' could read Latin well enough, so why should they bother to turn Latin into English for people who, in any case, could not read?" (p. 21)

Long Ago in Florence: the Story of the Della Robbia Sculpture by Marion Downer

"The younger della Robbias kept the workshop open for many years. But no one in the family ever inherited the genius of Luca. No one ever sculptured children with quite as much accuracy and feeling as he did--as if each child was his own beloved friend." (p. 30)

Heroes of the City of Man by Peter Leithart

"Like father, like son: Telemachus must go, if not to hell and back, at least from a deadly threat to assured life. All the way home from Sparta and Pylos, he wonders, 'would he sweep clear of death or be cut down?'" (p. 197)

Brightest Heaven of Invention by Peter Leithart

"Biblically, the belief that one can remake the world through terror and bloodshed is a heresy. Its most fundamental error is the belief that there is someone other than the Messiah whose death inaugurates a new age. The most penetrating answer to the religion of revolution is the insistence that there is only one sacrificial Victim whose blood revives and whose unleased Spirit brings not strife but peace. Only those who trust this sacrifice can have confidence that, whatever their mistakes and errors, they will not, in the end, misconstrue everything." (p. 106, on Julius Caesar)

Linnea's Windowsill Garden by Christina Björk

"Now I'll tell you about my nicest plant. Her name is Busy Lizzie. That's a good name for her because Lizzie definitely is busy: she never stops growing and blooming. This is how I got my first Busy Lizzie: Mr. Bloom had a large plant and he let me take a cutting from it. That means cutting off a little branch, so that it can later take root and grow up to be a new plant." (p. 20)

Kon Tiki for Young People by Thor Heyerdahl

"When tormented by thirst in a hot climate, one generally assumes that the body needs water, and this may often lead to immoderate inroads on the water ration without any benefit whatever. On really hot days in the tropics you can pour tepid water down your throat till you taste it at the back of your mouth, and you are just as thirsty. It is not liquid the body needs then, but, curiously enough, salt. The special rations we had on board included salt tablets to be taken regularly on particularly hot days, because perspiration drains the body of salt. We experienced days like this when the wind had died away and the sun blazed down on the rafts without mercy....On such days we added from 20 to 40 per cent of bitter, salt sea water to our fresh-water ration and found, to our surprise, that this water quenched our thirst." (p. 72)

Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe

She Wanted to Read: the Story of Mary McLeod Bethune by Ella Kaiser Carruth

"On cold days in the winter her eyes smarted from the smoke of the pot-bellied stove. The stove couldn't quite burn up the pine cones that were stuffed into it. When she got to school on frosty mornings, she was glad to stretch her hands out to it. Sometimes, even though she had run and jumped all the way to school, she was cold clear through her gingham dress. Miss Wilson would take her hands between her own warm hands and say, 'I can't let my most faithful pupil freeze.'" (p. 20)

If all the Swords in England: a story of Thomas Becket by Barbara Willard

"As they came within sight of the city, of the sturdy walls, the pile of the great church, the palace, the monastery, a huge throng rushed from the gates to meet them. They sang and shouted and wept, they called for the Archbishop's blessing. They urged him forward among them, bringing him home to his church that had lacked him too long....At every window hung silks and carpets in joyous decoration. The bells of Christchurch clashed and clamored on the clear air of the winter's day." (p. 116)

The Ocean of Truth: The Story of Sir Isaac Newton by Joyce McPherson

"Isaac found a table that spilled over with heavy books, bound in dark green and brown. For a while he enjoyed simply picking up the books one at a time, reading the titles, and stacking the books neatly on a pile. They smelled of printer's ink and leather. One volume interested him. It was by Theodore Beza, the theologian who succeeded John Calvin in the Geneva Church. He was a famous reformer of the last century. The bookseller saw Isaac hesitate with the book in his hand....He held out a book called The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin....'I'll give you both of them for a deal,' pressed the bookseller." (p. 75)

An Introduction to Shakespeare by Marchette Chute

"An actors' inventory of the period is a riot of color: a scarlet cloak with gold laces and buttons, a crimson velvet jerkin with blue satin sleeves, purple hose embroidered with silver. Every company had piles of old costumes stored away to be remodeled for the minor parts and for group scenes, but the actors who took the main roles evidently had their costumes designed for them at considerable expense. Gold lace was lavishly applied to their costumes, with copper lace for the lesser actors, and one London company ran up enormous bills with 'the copper lace man.'" (p. 58)

The Happy Orpheline by Natalie Savage Carlson

"It was difficult for Genevieve to round them all up when it was time to leave. She made them hold hands. She counted them five times and would not trust Josine to do it. She told them that if they did not stay together, she would never bring them back and that she would leave the orphanage forever and that they would never again be treated to chocolate buns." (p. 44)

Schoolroom in the Parlor by Rebecca Caudill

"'Well,' sighed Chris, 'have a good time, Emmy, Debby, and Bonnie in your extra recesses. I'll be sitting right here in the parlor studying how to spell alligator and crocodile and hippopotamus.'" (p. 74)

The Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill

"The week before Mother had knitted the cap. It was long and red, like Debby's, with a white tassel at the end. It was soft as a kitten and warm as feathers. It was hanging on Bonnie's nail behind the kitchen stove, waiting for the first frosty day. To see it hanging beside Debby's made Bonnie feel that, at last, she was surely growing big." (p. 71)

Premlata and the Festival of Lights by Rumer Godden

"Then, once again, Prem seemed to see further, to those long ago golden and silver bangles that had been on Mamoni's wrists when they lived with Bapi and, "I'll buy her a silver bangle now," vowed Prem. She knew gold would be too expensive. She forgot everything else and took a windmill....The shopman charged her a rupee more than the peddler, but she could not stop to argue, and pushed her way back through the crowd to where she had passed the bangle stall." (p. 51)

Little Plum by Rumer Godden

"Miss Happiness and Miss Flower were beginning to understand that Little Plum was in the middle of some sort of quarrel, and they did not know what to wish for: that Belinda would stop climbing the ilex tree; that Gem could learn to play; 'That we should all be peaceful and happy together,' said Miss Happiness. The two little dolls were still talking it over that late afternoon when there came a sudden and determined shaking in the ilex tree." (p. 97)

Dr. Dolittle's Circus by Hugh Lofting

Slowly the Doctor opened his eyes and raised himself on his elbow. "Where am I?" he said drowsily. "Oh, yes, of course, in jail."

Then he stared at the man who stood beside him. And at last a smile spread over his face.

"Heavens above! It's Sir William Peabody," said he. "Well, well, William! What on earth brings you here?"

"I might still more reasonably ask you how you come to be here," said the visitor...."What's it all about? They tell me you were seen throwing a woman into the sea."

"It wasn't a woman," said the Doctor.

"What was it then?"....

"It was a seal," he said at last, "a circus seal dressed up as a woman. She wasn't treated properly by her keepers. And she wanted to escape, to get back to Alaska and her own people. So I helped her. I had the very dickens of a time bringing her across country all the way from Ashby. I had to disguise her as a woman so we could travel without arousing suspicion. And the circus folk were out after me. Then just as I got her here to the coast and was throwing her into the sea, so she could swim back to her native waters, one of your coastguard men saw me and put me under arrest.--What are you laughing about?"

Sesame Bread

We found this recipe for Sesame Bread included in Gayle's weekly menu, and made a loaf a couple of days ago. You make the dough in the bread machine, but shape it on a cookie sheet and bake it in the oven. It tasted like a great big sesame-seed bun. All I could wish was that it made more than one loaf at a time!

She doesn't sound so inadequate (math without a book)

"The good news? Apparently, I’m pretty good at teaching math as long as I avoid referring to anything in a book. My children are actually doing well in math this year. They are understanding everything they are given to do, are making their best math grades ever and have even stopped whining over math lessons."--Birdie, "Further Proof That I Am Totally Inadequate"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Wee-books (reviews)

I had the opportunity to look at two more Wee-books from The Old Schoolhouse, but I'll make a general comment before talking about each of them. As I said in a previous post, I think the Wee-books can be a good idea (and a bargain) if you know what you're looking for, or if you don't mind gambling $1.95 for something that might or might not be helpful. (Some of the Wee-books have a sample to look at, but because they're so short that's hard to do for most of them.)

Just looking at the Wee-books available, I recognize articles I've read in the magazine: life experiences by Gena Suarez, columns by Ruth Beechick, an article about homeschool conventions. There are inspirational articles, interviews, descriptions of different homeschool approaches, and detailed how-to's on home-type topics; so it's pretty hard to generalize about whether or not these individual articles or Wee-books would be useful to you, or whether you'd be better off just getting a subscription to the magazine. If you already like the Old Schoolhouse style, or want to get a sense of what it's like, or just can't get enough of one of their regular writers, then you're probably in the right place.

The two articles/Wee-books I downloaded are Play What You mean: Creative Ways to Teach Communication Skills, by JoJo Tabares, and Building Strong Arithmetic Thinking, by Dr. Ruth Beechick. JoJoTabares is the creator of FootInMouthMan, and if that sounds familiar, it might be because today's Homeschool Freebie is a FootInMouthMan sampler. Her article points out that most oral communication curriculum (past the level of Dr. Beechick's preschool classic Language and Thinking For Young Children) focuses on formal speech and debate--neither of which are exactly what she's talking about, and neither of which are easy sells for grade-school children.

So what is she talking about? Effective and confident oral communication in various situations; teaching children to "express themselves well." I know children who are natural talkers, who fearlessly blurt out answers during the Children's Minute at church, who don't clam up on the phone with Grandma, and who love to show everybody what they're making for the homeschool project fair and talk about what they're reading. I know others who have trouble getting their eyes off their shoes when anybody asks them a question. So I don't know that all the suggested activities would be necessary for every child; but if you have one who tends toward the taciturn, it might be worthwhile working them into your whole-life homeschool curriculum.

That said, I don't know whether I'd want to pay $1.95 to read about playing Telephone; that, to me, is on the same level as paying to get a playdough recipe or to be told that I can find good deals at a yard sale. But I suppose some people don't know about that, or have forgotten. I like the general suggestions better, such as (for older children or teens) discussing what happens if you go shopping in nice clothes and smile at people, vs. how you are treated if you dress poorly and speak sullenly.

All in all, it's a good reminder that not everything homeschoolers do falls under a tight schedule of Readin', Ritin', and 'Rithmetic, and not everything can be taught with a worksheet.

Or should be, at least according to Dr. Ruth Beechick. In Building Strong Arithmetic Thinking, she urges us to "get rid of any textbooks or workbooks you have for kindergarten and first grade. And second grade, too, if you're brave." In spite of having used her "Three R's" arithmetic for three children, I'm not sure I totally follow her opening arguments about abstract ideas here. I do agree that emphasizing math notation for young children is about as useless as teaching music by starting with key signatures and drawing the treble clef. Homeschoolers should be free to do things differently from the norm, including math; yet in many cases there are expectations that our kids will have certain numeracy skills by a certain age--even if it's just Grandpa reminding you how he spent his math lessons learning times tables. And that can make it difficult to stay relaxed about math skills (specifically, arithmetic). To her credit, Dr. Beechick agrees that primary-age children can and should develop skills in counting money and practical measurement (feet, cups, gallons, or whatever system your country uses), and my young yard-salers would agree with that. She emphasizes number rather than numerals, and includes a checklist of concepts that represent "a good normal level to reach by third grade." (I assume that means the end of third grade, but my second grader already has most of these down solid.) She doesn't mention hundred charts in this article, but I do know that she recommends them as a good non-paper-and-pencil way to get familiar with numbers...and it seems that most children would need to be doing something more arithmetical than counting forks by the time they're seven or eight.

So the point of this nine-page article, which with TOS's advertising and homeschool info and other stuff somehow ends up being a nineteen-page PDF file (how's that for math magic) is--like the point of Play What You Mean--that homeschooling can sometimes feel like worlds away from public schooling--and that's all right. If it takes a two-dollar Wee-book to convince you of that (and to keep you from panicking over possibly purchasing the wrong first-grade math curriculum), then it's money well spent.

Related posts:

Yay for Cuisenaire Rods
Crayons' Grade Two: Math
The Primary Math Cupboard
And What Do You Do With It?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When there's so much to do in here (review of HomeWork)

HomeWork: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance
© 2009 The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC

In today's For Better or For Worse comic, a slightly bored-at-home mother, surrounded by preschoolers, housework, and the dog, searches the help-wanted ads. "But why go out there," asks her puzzled husband, "when there's so much to do in here?"

The women profiled in The Old Schoolhouse's e-book HomeWork agree with that question--but hear it in a different sense. They are all multi-taskers who have either started their own businesses or who are involved in family businesses or ministries. Beyond that--there are no stereotypes. Some have only young children, some are veteran homeschoolers; some have opted for fairly conventional businesses, others have created something unique. Their businesses often reflect personal values: preserving craft skills, encouraging strong marriages, improving health or the environment, or supporting other homeschoolers. Some of them work only at home; others travel to craft shows, or work in an office for part of the week. These women (and their families) don't mind putting in long or unusual hours, and making financial sacrifices; but the one thing they are all unwilling to sacrifice is their family life.

Because this is an Old Schoolhouse book, there is a strong Christian context to all of the stories; phrases like "God told me what to write" or even "God told us to give away our house" are common. Each person's profile, written in the first person, is detailed and sometimes painfully honest. There are descriptions of mistakes and things they would have done differently. What comes across clearly is the need for commitment to make any business work. You can't just hope for success, you have to plan for it. It's never been easy to get a business off the ground, and these days there are high expectations on any product or service, including traditional "pin money" venues such as sewing. If your product is less than top-notch, you will be quick to hear it with online reviews such as this one. You also need business skills, market awareness, and knowledge of things like licensing, liability, insurance, and taxes. The women profiled here make good use of new technology, such as the Etsy craft storefront, websites advertising their businesses, and publishing e-books or offering online lessons.

I most enjoyed Amy Cook's "Recycling Jeans in a Motor Home," Jennifer Mitchell's "A Bushel of Business" (about a family apple orchard combined with a bed-and-breakfast), and Rebekah Wilson's fairly long and detailed Hope Chest Legacy story. We wondered, though, about the description of the computer networking business, as that is similar to what my husband does for a living. Clients, in his experience, demand a greater deal of time on-site than this story seems to imply, and unexpected problems take a lot of extra time. (My husband says he spent an hour yesterday retrieving one file for someone.) I'm not accusing anyone of dishonesty, just pointing out that if you're interested in any of the businesses described, you will want to look carefully at the pros and cons, and perhaps talk to others doing similar work to see how experiences can vary.

Could you do it? Should you do it? Adding extra work responsibilities on to homeschooling and housework may sound overwhelming if you feel like you can't even get everyone's math lessons covered in a day plus run after the preschooler and feed the toddler. But in some ways it sounds like having that extra demand on a mother's time may even improve homeschooling, for reasons such as needing to be more organized and encouraging more independent learning. Homeschooled children who are involved in a family business can develop practical skills (both in business and in home responsibilities) and an awareness of the bigger world. The benefits for a homeschooling mom are plentiful as well--running a business can allow you to develop or demonstrate new skills, develop faith, and increase your understanding of God's leading.

This is not a book about how to get rich. It does not attempt to describe every possible business you could start yourself. Most of these businesses couldn't be exactly duplicated anyway; some are unique to homeschooling, or didn't exist before these women created them. But reading their stories opens up all kinds of possibilities--the sky's the limit. If you can find a market for your product or service, and it doesn't take too big a piece out of the rest of your life, it might just be the perfect business for you.

Writer's Workshop by Maggie Hogan (review)

Writer's Workshop: Getting Children Excited About Writing
by Maggie Hogan
Copyright 2009 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC

Do you know what a Wee-book is?

I don't know if the term is unique to The Old Schoolhouse magazine, but it's a clever update on an old concept.

In a nutshell, you pay a small price ($1.95 US) to download very short e-books, many if not all of which have appeared as articles in the magazine.

If you want several articles on teaching math, or just the first part of Homeschooling The Rebel, because you liked the second part and don't want to send for a whole back issue, Wee-books make sense. In the old days you would have had to write to the magazine and pay for a reprint; now it's self-serve.

I downloaded Maggie Hogan's Writer's Workshop as a sample. It printed out as five sheets (I printed the book two pages to a sheet), and, while not fancy, the layout, quotes and so on are well-organized and easy to read (even two pages to a sheet).

Mrs. Hogan is a familiar name for anyone who's been around homeschooling for awhile; she has written books on homeschooling gifted children and teaching geography, among other things. She inspires confidence in her topics by letting us know that whatever it is has worked for her children and/or others; she begins this article by saying that she could see tremendous growth in her sons' writing because of the writers' groups she led, and "they wouldn't let me quit!"

So it's hard to dispute the value of writing workshops (I am a survivor of several myself); and yet, coincidentally, I read a book this past month that does exactly that. Reading Like a Writer is written by novelist and college writing teacher Francine Prose, who used to run creative writing classes in the usual workshop format, but changed her teaching style when she felt that her students were missing out on something vital. (Think Mr. Donner's class in "Throw Momma From the Train.") Prose points out that workshops can be of limited value if other people try to make you write their way; and their somewhat casual, verbal format can limit readers' reactions to "how do you feel about this" instead of drawing close attention to technique, style, rhythm, and voice. (Consider how some of the best and most innovative published writers might be treated in a workshop. Or the reverse, how something that gets praised in class can still lack meat; what gets approval may not always be the most original or most worthy writing.) Francine Prose now emphasizes close reading of published writing, taking the best short stories and looking at the why of each word, the techniques of dialogue and so on.

But here we're not talking about college writing majors who may forget that they have to read as well as write. We're looking at ways to encourage young writers in a homeschool co-op or other home-based setting, and Maggie Hogan says that her groups have done just that, so maybe the workshop does have a place as well. There are good suggestions for keeping it friendly but organized, presenting mini-lessons at the beginning of sessions, group writing activities, having students take turns in the "author's chair" (otherwise known as the hot seat), and conferencing with students. For those who have no idea how to get started, there's a whole breakdown of a first meeting with the students and their parents.

This isn't a how-to-write e-book; if you need technical help about things like plot, you'll want some secondary resources on writing itself. But it's probably enough to at least get a group off the ground. There is no specific range of ages suggested for a writer's workshop; Mrs. Hogan suggests that having a range of ages can be a good thing, but it seems to me that the very youngest or oldest writers might need a time of their own, if their interests and attention spans don't line up well.

Controversy aside, how does a ten-page e-book succeed at outlining the how-tos of a homeschool writing club? I think quite well, assuming that you can round up a handful of interested children, and that you can find a facilitator who understands the writing equivalent of painting the earth blue and the sky yellow. If that ends up being you, you'll probably be glad to have Maggie Hogan's help.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Spring!

Spring Quiz! (I'll put a star next to my choices!)
What drink is the best in spring?
A)Ice Tea*
C)Piping hot tea

What's Better?
A)Home grown watermelon*
B)Home grown corn
C)Home grown potatoes

What's best to wear in spring? (I'm talking hot spring weather!)
A)Snowpants and a parka
C)Black shorts and a tee shirt*


Crayons' Grade Two: Language Lesson from Pilgrim's Progress

"Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober."

1. Copy these sentences.

2. Find the four words with "er" in them.

3. Why does "Enchanted Ground" have capital letters?

4. What does "sober" mean?

5. Find two places where, if Christian were speaking today, he might use contractions--try saying the lines in more modern English. Which way sounds better to you, and why?

6. On Friday, write these sentences from dictation.

Extra activities for spelling: I used some of the words to create a list on Spelling City, so you can practice there.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book sale finds

This weekend was the big annual used book sale! We found:

Two volumes of Best in Children's Books that we didn't have

Maggie Rose: Her Birthday Christmas, by Ruth Sawyer, pictures by Maurice Sendak

The Illustrated Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee

Far to Go, by Noel Streatfeild (paperback in pretty rough shape)

Thomasina, by Paul Gallico

Figgs & Phantoms, by Ellen Raskin

The Dolls' House, by Rumer Godden (we have a copy but I couldn't pass it up)

The Jungle Books Vol. 2, by Rudyard Kipling

The Street of the Flower Boxes, by Peggy Mann

Aunt Charlotte's Stories of Bible History, by Charlotte M. Yonge

Gateways to Bookland (a reader)

Life of Robert Louis Stevenson for Boys and Girls, by Jacqueline Overton, with a gift inscription from 1915

Cape Breton Harbour, by Edna Staebler

Kingfishers Catch Fire, by Rumer Godden (one of her adult novels)

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken (a nicer copy than the one we have)

The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey

The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918, Chosen and Edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1948 printing)

The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language, Selected and Arranged with Notes by Francis Turner Palgrave

Two older books of poetry that Crayons picked out

For the Scholastic shelf:

Ginnie and the Mystery Doll

Ginnie and the Mystery House

Kid Sister, by Margaret Embry

Friday, April 24, 2009

Breadlines for everyone...musings

A story within a story...Leah McLaren wrote a Globe Life Style column (April 18th) called "What David Foot didn't tell us," in which she talks about an article in the May issue of Toronto Life:
"In the cover story in the latest issue of Toronto Life, Katrina Onstad writes about the boundless enthusiasm the younger generation is showing in the face of an economic meltdown. Her over-educated, under-employed interview subjects are so relentlessly positive about the future that Onstad at one point blurts, "What if it's not okay? What if it's breadlines for everyone? What if it's Grapes of Wrath?" To which her 25-year-old subject responds with a puzzled, "I just don't go there. I just don't think that way.""
McLaren continues:
"As someone just a few years older [in her mid-thirties], I do. The rest of my generation may not know it yet, but we have been robbed. Our famous self-esteem and sense of entitlement - instilled in us by over-indulgent boomer parents - can only shield us from the truth for so long: The demographers were wrong. We are in for a very rough ride. Much rougher than our parents."
Remember that Gary Thomas quote we had at the top of the blog for awhile? "The physical and social luxuries of our world also make it more difficult for us to face the hard internal issues because we don't have to....How do we talk about the cross to a generation that finds unfluffed pillows intolerable?"--Gary Thomas, Seeking the Face of God Are the current crop of ever-more-coddled children even less prepared than the twenty-somethings to face a world without unfluffed pillows or handheld things that go beep?

I know many families who are determined that their offspring will not be that helpless or that picky, and who seem to be fairly successful in their attempts not to raise hothouse flowers...but I sometimes wonder if there's some key piece of the code that's not getting transmitted, at least in this end of the woods. I had a recent conversation with someone who explained to me in detail why eating oatmeal was just not within her current parameters. And it's not the oatmeal that matters, it's the principle of the thing. [But this same person has showed me many times how smart and thrifty she can be in other ways, so we'll let the oatmeal issue pass.]

Nate Saint's mother used to let her children climb on the roof of their house and, apparently, didn't seem to worry even when they jumped off of or onto very high things. Neighbours criticized her. Probably these days one of them would have called the authorities. However, she ignored them. Had she ordered the children down or told them it was too dangerous or otherwise coddled them, Nate Saint would probably not have become a missionary pilot.

So? What's your take? How bad do you think things can get? Do children need to be prepared for something that might never happen? you think that age bracket has something to do with one's ability to prepare for hard times, or one's willingness to stick one's head in the sandbox?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Want to be Bookworm-approved?

Bookworm's Booklist wants to know...

If you have a family-friendly blog about Children's Books or Educating Children, you can be part of her Bookworm-approved Blogroll. Details on the post linked above.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

She found them, I'm passing them on

I always like Meredith's frugal links (and the baby is cute too):

Baby Food Cooking Resources @ Once A Month Mom: not something I'd use myself right now, but boy it does look thorough.

Ordering Produce In Bulk @ Heavenly Homemakers: getting exactly what you want for a better price...and the comments are interesting too.

Good Thrift Store Tricks @ Domestic Fashionista: mostly about decorating, and Well Worth The Visit. Lots of photos and good advice. This is not just a post, this is a whole seminar!

In case you thought the CPSIA issue was dead...

Overlawyered checks in with an April 21st update.

Photo found here.

Large Family Does Lunch

Ah, lunch--often a source of frustration or at least conversation for homeschoolers, especially if you have a spouse who does not enjoy coming home to just peanut butter.

Large Family Logistics posts some workable lunch ideas--with grocery lists as well. (Hat tip to Ann at Holy Experience, who has had a very exciting few days.)

WFMW: The advantage of limitations

"So, with my tongue somewhat in my cheek, here's the money-saving tip: shop, at least occasionally, somewhere where you can't eat at least half of what's on the shelf (too caloric or high-sodium or whatever)."

We've inadvertently discovered a way to save money on groceries.

We (in mid-size-urban southern Ontario) usually do a big weekly grocery shop at either a discount supermarket or one particular independent grocery store. Some weeks, though, we only manage to make it to Giant Tiger, a discount store that (if you haven't been up to this Treehouse before) specializes more in flip-flops and talking-singing-light-up Santas than it does in groceries. Saturdays are short, or we need flip-flops anyway, or we just don't seem to need a lot of food that week.

Which is where the WFMW comes in. You see, we also have some dietary limitations, in this case sodium and related things like MSG: the limits are no longer that severe, but I still check labels for any nasty surprises, and avoid certain kinds of convenience foods.

Which is, to a large extent, what you're going to find at Giant Tiger. It's the kind of place where the fruit section consists of apples, oranges and bananas (and things like canned pineapple and expensive frozen strawberries), and the vegetables are limited to iceberg lettuce, carrots, onions, potatoes and canned (not no-salt) and frozen veggies. Not quite as limited as the corner store, but not exactly loaded with choices either.

So, with my tongue somewhat in my cheek, here's the money-saving tip: shop, once a month or at least occasionally, somewhere where you can't eat at least half of what's on the shelf (too caloric or high-sodium or whatever). Even just a store that's way too expensive will work. Get your cart and cruise the aisles. Stick out your tongue and sigh in frustration at all the preservative-laden or overpriced, off-limits stuff. Grab whatever does work for you (in our case, that included turkey kielbasa, baby carrots, potato flakes, frozen juice, puffed wheat, bagels, milk, and ginger snaps). Then come home and combine that with whatever you have in the cupboards. You'll feel economical and virtuous. ;-)

A frozen spinach...thing

Is this a hot dip? A side dish? We're not sure, but it was quite tasty.

Hot Spinach with Cream Cheese

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, partially thawed if possible
One third to half a brick of cream cheese
Butter or margarine, a couple of spoonfuls or whatever you like
Some kind of crumbs--I used whole wheat soda crackers, about a cupful
Dash of nutmeg and any other seasonings you like
Milk as needed

This is what I did: In a small covered casserole I put the spinach, all by itself, and let it warm up in the oven while I was baking something else. If the spinach is already thawed, you can probably skip that step. I took it out about fifteen minutes later, mashed the spinach around, and added the cream cheese, cut in pieces--not beaten in, just added here and there. I topped it with the crumbs, butter and nutmeg, and let it heat until the cheese was getting melty and the crumbs were toasted. At that point it also seemed to be getting dry around the edges, so I added enough milk to keep it soft (burned spinach is not nice). We ate this as a side dish along with pineapple chicken-balls and orzo: not that I'm particularly recommending that flavour combination, but it suited what we had in the cupboard and the freezer. The Apprentice in particular thought it was good enough to ask for a repeat sometime.

For the DHM: Where I've been, with Canadian additions

The Deputy Headmistress just filled out this meme, so here's my version with some Canadian content.

Instructions: "Bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now..."

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

British Columbia / Alberta / Saskatchewan /Manitoba / Ontario / Quebec / New Brunswick / Nova Scotia / Prince Edward Island / Newfoundland & Labrador / Northwest Territories / Yukon Territory / Nunavut

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I can't afford eco-chic

Funny how things go in cycles. In the spring of 2005, right after we started blogging, I posted about a newspaper article, describing young wealthy parents spending lots to buy things like natural-materials alphabet blocks. I reposted it two years later.

Now the same kinds of stories are coming up again (of course, Earth Day is tomorrow), but with an extra edge of political correctness and eco-guilt, and a bit of slightly incongruous recession fever thrown in. A popular Canadian magazine recently ran a story about a family's attempt to buy nothing for a month, which was certainly a worthwhile idea; but the details of it made me a bit frustrated. Near the beginning of the challenge, the mother of the family was so into the no-spending idea that she refused to get needed school supplies for the children, preferring to mooch them from friends (somehow that was okay); but by the end of the month she had decided on a loophole: buying things used, including at consignment shops, doesn't count as "spending," since it's kind of recycling.


Not that we don't do a fair amount of that kind of "recycling" ourselves--I guess keeping a massive 1970's TV out of the landfill counts as a good deed for Earth Day, right? But things get so complicated--you know that sooner or later somebody's going to outlaw you even having older electronics, or selling them to somebody else, because of all the bad stuff that's in them. And that magazine article wasn't meant to be about what you buy or where you buy it anyway, it was supposed to be about making the best use of what you have without buying something else.

So now I'm catching up on last weekend's Toronto papers, and The Star is running a series on "Living Plastic Free." Again, both the pettiness and the stretch-the-rules-ness of these projects are baffling.

"I talk to my [4-year-old] about getting rid of his plastic toys. He looks up at me thoughtfully, his plastic soother bobbing up and down in his mouth.


Running errands, she buys the boy a cookie wrapped in plastic (before she thinks about it), and then he wants a drink.

"I didn't want to buy water in a plastic bottle and now he's thirsty. I ask the cashier for water in a foam cup, and when she obliges, I gratefully add 50 cents to her tip jar. But have I actually achieved anything here?"
But this is where she loses me completely:
"Machine-washable produce bags sell for $6 for small ones, $8 for large. Stainless-steel lunch tins are $25 each....The bill comes to $105 with taxes....[I also buy] stainless-steel [water] bottles with plastic tops, for $22 each."
Look, kids used to take their lunch to school in tin pails, with their food wrapped in cloth napkins. Non-plastic containers and washable sandwich wraps are really nothing new. But that's what people had handy then. They didn't go out and spend the hundred-years-ago equivalent of $25 for a lunch bucket. And that's what bugs me about all this.

Not that people shouldn't do whatever they like with whatever money they have, including spending it on eco-chic lunch tins. It's their business.

But if my version of living responsibly is continuing to use my almost-twenty-year-old plastic containers and almost everything else that we were given as wedding gifts (even the Crockpot still works); or replenishing the supply at yard sales; or even, yes, I ADMIT IT, buying Ziploc bags, which I do wash and re-use as many times as I can--

then give me the same freedom to do that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rummage Sale Finds

On Saturday the Squirrels went to a church rummage sale.

Mama Squirrel found a boxful of half-used spools of ribbon; two large pieces of fabric; a slightly-used package of kids' birthday invitations; a heavier-duty tote bag than the one she's been toting; a Lawrence Block burglar mystery, a copy of The Moonstone, and a 1977 book of house plans.

Crayons bought a handful of scarves.

Mr. Fixit bought a 1978 ColorTrak RCA television. Much like the one in the photo. (The very nice man at the church sale arranged to deliver it when the sale was over.)

Sometimes Mama Squirrel is glad that we are still living in our 1959 raised-bungalow nest, because there's no way we would have gotten that baby down the basement stairs of the townhouse we were looking at a few months ago. (Our garage here is at ground level and there's an entrance through it to the basement.)

And what are we going to do with a 1978 works-great floor-model TV? For now, it's going to live in the workshop. It's on wheels, you see, and for that reason it can function as a sort of very-inexpensive-thing-on-wheels-to-move-other-things-around-on. But our 1980's TV in the living room is also starting to gag and sputter a bit, so sooner or later the RCA will move upstairs--somehow, yes, I know, at that point we'll have to tackle the stairs. But that's another squirrel story.

Photo found here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Francine Prose's Goldengrove (review)

This is the second book I've read this year that proves one point: those who write most beautifully about writing, sometimes don't write the best books.

I bought this book--and I hardly ever buy new bookstore novels, but I had a gift card--only because I got so much out of Prose's Reading Like a Writer, and I wanted to see how her fiction reflected the person who said, "I had my own private pantheon....P.L. Travers, Astrid Lindgren, E. Nesbit, the idols of my childhood," and who marvelled over Chekhov's stories. Also it was the only book of hers that the mall bookstore had in stock.

Goldengrove doesn't read like a novel by someone who's published over twenty books and who is even older than I am. It reads like a first or maybe third novel by somebody quite a bit younger--a good first or third novel, but clumsy in ways that early novels often are, and younger in a kind of flat-toned, what's-the-point style (maybe that's supposed to be the main character's voice, but I found it dull). It reminds me of a recent film that Mr. Fixit and I watched where none of the characters seemed clear on their purpose even for being in the story. Not as bad as "the guy in the hat kills the other guy in the hat," but there's kind of a reality and reader-sympathy speedbump that Ms. Prose just doesn't seem to have gotten over...with the exception of Elaine, a middle-aged woman who (not surprisingly) Ms. Prose does bring to life. (Like Jean Little, Ms. Prose can't resist throwing her own favourite books into her fiction: Elaine is reading The Man Who Loved Children and also likes Two Serious Ladies, both of which are discussed in Reading Like a Writer.) [Update: I haven't read either of those books, but I found this review of Two Serious Ladies interesting--it also mentions Reading Like a Writer. Sorry, Elaine, I'm not running to read it.]

As someone pointed out in an Amazon review, even the time and age elements in the novel don't seem quite consistent or believable, which again is surprising. The story is told in the first person by a thirteen-year-old girl (Nico), or, you would assume, someone who can't be much older than that even now because of all the "twenty-first century" references; however, in the last chapter it's clear that she's telling her story as a married mother of two, possibly years later. Her parents, as young people, "ran off to be hippies" and wore "long hair, overalls, bandannas..." Look, I have kids that age too, so I should be somewhere around the age of Nico's mother, right? Assuming that Nico's parents didn't have a huge gap between picking soybeans and having babies? Well, during the soybean '70's I was in grade school. Nobody my age grew up to be a "hippie." Eco-freaks, maybe, but that's a later incarnation. (I'm curious: where does Nico's computer-phobic father find ribbons for his Selectric? On E-bay?)

Another review compared Goldengrove to The Lovely Bones, which I haven't read. But what does invite close comparison is Lois Lowry's 1977 "children's book" (?) A Summer to Die, a short (160 pages) and elegant novel about losing a sibling. Like Goldengrove, Lowry's novel refers specifically to Hopkins's poem and the line "It is Margaret you mourn for." Lowry's book contains long-haired, overall-wearing characters too, but in 1977, they fit better. The older sisters are both beautiful and somewhat self-centered. The professor father in A Summer to Die is writing a book about irony; the bookstore-owning father in Goldengrove is writing a book that he tentatively titles Eschatology for Dummies.

A Summer to Die has a few contrived-plot issues, but it's very concrete, and nothing about it is overdone or manipulative; one Amazon reviewer points out that the details stick with you for years. You remember (if you've read it) Meg dealing with grief by eating an entire bowl of shelled peas (it made perfect sense at the time); the camera and darkroom details; the chalk line down the bedroom; the mother's quilt; the fringed gentians at the end. Goldengrove takes similar elements, stretches them out to almost three hundred pages, and adds profanity and other very un-family-friendly content. After reading this one, I don't think I'll ever look at pistachio ice cream the same way again. (What is it with grieving characters stuffing green food items in their mouths?)

There were a couple of really good lines in the novel: where Nico is trying to see pictures in clouds and can't come up with anything better than a sheep, another character says he sees Abraham Lincoln, and Nico thinks, "Margaret would have seen something even odder and cooler than Lincoln. Or maybe she would have heard the cloud singing Otis Redding." I liked that.

But overall--I just wanted the book to be done.

There's an NPR excerpt from the book here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My last poll was great but here's another!

It's a quiz actually!

What kind of look do you love?

You just got a cool new license plate, what does it most likely say?

A) DramaQueen

B) Sk8terGirl

C) RelaxN'Coffee

What is your closet packed with?

A) Lacey frilly tops
B) Cargo pants & sunglasses
C) Sweat pants & screen tees

What kind of movie do you like the best?

A) Hollywood
B) Action

Mostly A's: You enjoy to dress glamourously and high top!
Mostly B'S: You like to dress how you like and always dress comfortably, but you still have a edge!
Mostly C's: You have a huge desire to dress comfortably and like to dress how ever you like!

Note to readers: This is for entertainment only because, of course, you dress how you like this is only a quiz & is not always true. Thank you.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Crayons' Grade Two: Post-Easter Week

Another four-day week--so we're just catching up. We may not get all this done, but we'll try.

Bible: Events after Absalom's death
Miss Bianca in the Orient
Tanglewood Tales: "The Dragon's Teeth"
French lesson on Tous les tutus
Collins Maths Mazes book: "Get to the Cheese"
Language lesson from Tanglewood Tales
Poems from Come Hither
Handwriting page
Games from Chalk Around the Block: Hopscotch

To Far Cathay (Marco Polo) chapter 5
Italian Peepshow
Math: review square numbers
Maths Mazes: "Cross the Swamp"
Language lesson
Picture study: Giotto
Poems from Come Hither
Games from Chalk Around the Block: Nine Mens' Morris

Bible: continue stories
Miss Bianca in the Orient
Pagoo (the hermit crab)
Maths Mazes: "Fraction Mansion"
Language lesson
Picture study
Poems from Come Hither
Handwriting page
Chalk Around the Block: Hopscotch

Marco Polo chapter 6
Catechism test
Italian Peepshow
Finish "Dragon's Teeth" if needed
Math: review square numbers
Math: Family Math p. 134, "Bean Salads"
Language: dictation
Composer study
Chalk Around the Block: African Tic Tac Toe

Friday, April 10, 2009

Coconut chicks

Have you ever had strawberry candies made from sweetened condensed milk, strawberry gelatin powder, and coconut? They were a staple of fancy cookie plates when I was growing up--I guess that dates me, huh? Maybe they're still popular in some places.

We make Easter candy chicks in the same way--not every year, but maybe every few. The recipe was clipped from a 1994 newspaper article, and it says that they "adapted" it from Alison Boteler's book What Should I Bring? I haven't been able to find it posted online--the strawberry recipe is all over the place, but no chicks.

Here's the basic recipe--I don't think I'm violating any copyrights by posting the parts that are pretty much like the strawberries. You need: one package lemon-flavoured gelatin powder, 1 can sweetened condensed milk (we make our own, it's much cheaper), and 4 1/2 cups flaked coconut. Also whatever you want for eyes and beaks: some combination of chocolate chips, raisins, bits of nut, bits of cereal, broken pretzels, or whatever. Chocolate chips, pointy side in, make good eyes.

Combine the gelatin powder and condensed milk; add coconut and mix well. Cover and chill for about an hour. The rest is up to your creative powers: basically make small balls (teaspoon size) for heads and slightly bigger balls (tablespoon size) for bodies. Stick together and decorate as desired. Warning: this is a messy business! Keep a bowl of water nearby both to clean off your hands and wet them (it helps keep the mixture from sticking to them).

Store in the refrigerator until wanted. You can arrange them in an Easter-grass-stuffed (and plastic-wrap-covered) egg carton, or add them to a cookie plate or table decoration.
Chicks made by The Apprentice.

Date-Walnut Bars

Everybody in the Treehouse except Mama Squirrel hates dates, and Mr. Fixit can't tolerate walnuts (some squirrel he is). But Grandpa Squirrel likes dates, and Mama Squirrel had part of a package left as well as a bag of walnut pieces, and Hermits sounded good for an Easter treat. Unfortunately Mama Squirrel's cookbooks and clippings surrendered only three Hermit recipes to choose from, and the computer was undergoing the equivalent of a Cat-scan. One of those would have made way more than even Mama Squirrel and Grandpa Squirrel could eat; one used black coffee for flavouring, and while Mama Squirrel does like coffee, it just didn't sound like what she wanted. This one, from Canadian Living May 2002, was the default choice. Mama Squirrel was a bit suprised that it didn't call for molasses--don't Hermits usually need molasses?--but no matter.

When we got to the "drop on cookie sheets and THEN refrigerate" part, Mama Squirrel balked. How big do these people think a squirrel's refrigerator is, anyway? We could have chilled the dough and then dropped the cookies. We could have skipped the chilling altogether. But Mama Squirrel decided to do something else: pat the dough into a 9 x 13 inch pan, bake the whole thing at 350 degrees, and then cut the cookies into bars.

It worked. These "hermits" may have lost their ragged-hermity look, but they taste really good.

If you like dates and don't break out from eating walnuts, of course.

Here's the recipe, with my notes.

Hermits OR Date-Walnut Bars, from Canadian Living Magazine

1/2 cup brown sugar -- packed
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter -- softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup dates or dried apricots -- chopped
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans -- chopped (but not too small--"pieces" work fine)

In large bowl, beat together brown sugar, shortening, butter and granulated sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture. Stir in raisins, dates and walnuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 in apart, onto parchment paper-lined or greased rimless baking sheets. Refrigerate for 15 mins. [Treehouse variation: Don't bother chilling the dough. Pat the dough into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.]

Bake in top and bottom thirds of 350 F oven, rotating and switching pans halfway through, until bottoms are golden, about 15 mins. (Make-ahead: Layer between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container and store for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.) [Treehouse variation: Bake until it looks and smells done but not overdone, probably somewhere between 25 and 35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut in bars while still warm. Cut gently and use a fairly sharp knife because of the dates and nuts.]

Orange Chocolate Hermits: Add 2 tsp grated orange rind to the dough. Replace the raisins and dates with 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips.

Bread and Jam for Easter

For our Kiffle buns this year, we're trying something new: making sweet roll dough in the bread machine using this recipe, and then shaping them and adding jam "pokes" as we usually do(More on Kiffle here.)

"I could eat a hundred grilled cheese sandwiches. And a hundred macaroni and cheese. And a hundred kiffle. And a hundred of my favourite beans."--Crayons, April 2006

(That's an old photo--this year's are still in the dough-rising stage.)

Linked from Four Moms Bake Bread (March 2011)

Good Friday Devotion: Hopeful's Story

I prefer Bunyan's full-length version, but some cutting and a few word substitutions were needed to make this work for our family's Good Friday worship. The part of Christian can be read by different people, each one asking a few questions.

"Interview with a Sinner"--adapted from The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan

Light a candle and open with prayer.

CHRISTIAN: Then Christian began and said, I will ask you a question. How came you to think at first of so doing as you do now?

HOPEFUL: Do you mean, how came I at first to think of the good of my soul?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, that is my meaning.

HOPEFUL: I continued a great while in the delight of the treasures and riches of the world. I delighted much in revelling, drinking, swearing, lying, uncleanness, Sabbath-breaking, and what not, that destroy the soul. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loath to leave it. But the hours in which convictions were upon me were such troublesome and such heart-affrighting hours that I could not bear, no not so much as the remembrance of them, upon my heart.

CHRISTIAN: Then, as it seems, sometimes you got rid of your trouble.

HOPEFUL: Yes, but it would come into my mind again, and then I should be as bad, nay, worse, than I was before.

CHRISTIAN: Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again?

HOPEFUL: Many things; as, If I did but meet a good man in the streets; or, If I have heard anything read in the Bible; or, If mine head did begin to ache; or, If I were told that some of my neighbours were sick; or, If I heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or, If I thought of dying myself; or, If I heard that sudden death happened to others; But especially, when I thought that I myself must come to judgment.

CHRISTIAN: And could you at any time, with ease, get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you?

HOPEFUL: No, not I, for then they got faster hold of my conscience; and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned against it), it would be double torment to me. So I fled from not only my sins, but sinful company too; and betook me to religious duties, as prayer, reading, weeping for sin, speaking truth to my neighbours, and other things, too much here to relate.

CHRISTIAN: And did you think yourself well then?

HOPEFUL: Yes, for a while; but at the last, my trouble came tumbling upon me again.

CHRISTIAN: How came that about, since you were now reformed?

HOPEFUL: Sayings such as these: "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." And many more such like. I began to reason with myself thus: If a man runs a hundred pounds into the shopkeeper's debt, and after that shall pay for all that he shall fetch; yet, if this old debt stands still in the book uncrossed, for that the shopkeeper may sue him, and cast him into prison till he shall pay the debt.

CHRISTIAN: Well, and how did you apply this to yourself?

HOPEFUL: Why; I thought thus with myself. I have, by my sins, run a great way into God's book, and my reforming will not pay off that score; therefore I should think still, even with all my present amendments, how shall I be freed from that debt I owe from my former transgressions? Another thing that hath troubled me, even since I tried to improve my ways, is, that if I look closely at the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of that I do; so that now I think I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to hell, even if my former life had been faultless.

CHRISTIAN: And what did you do then?

HOPEFUL: Faithful told me, that unless I could obtain the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither mine own, nor all the righteousness of the world could save me.

CHRISTIAN: And did you think he spake true?

HOPEFUL: Had he told me so when I was pleased and satisfied with my own improvement, I would have called him fool for his pains; but now, since I see mine own infirmity, and the sin that clings even to my best performance, I have been forced to be of his opinion.

CHRISTIAN: But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said that he never committed sin?

HOPEFUL: I must confess the words at first sounded strangely, but after a little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it.

CHRISTIAN: And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified by him?

HOPEFUL: Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the right hand of the Most High. And thus, said he, you must be justified by him, even by trusting to what he hath done by himself, in the days of his flesh, and suffered when he did hang on the tree.

CHRISTIAN: And what did you do then?

HOPEFUL: I made my objections against my believing, for that I thought he was not willing to save me.

CHRISTIAN: And what said Faithful to you then?

HOPEFUL: He bid me go to him and see. Then I said it was presumption; but he said, No, for I was invited to come. I told him that I knew not what to say when I came. And he bid me say to this effect: God be merciful to me a sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see, that if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the world; and moreover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am, (and I am a sinner indeed); Lord, take therefore this opportunity and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

CHRISTIAN: And did you do as you were bidden?

HOPEFUL: Yes; over, and over, and over.

CHRISTIAN: And did the Father reveal his Son to you?

HOPEFUL: Not at the first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth; no, nor at the sixth time neither.

CHRISTIAN: What did you do then?

HOPEFUL: What! why I could not tell what to do.

CHRISTIAN: Had you not thoughts of leaving off praying?

HOPEFUL: Yes; an hundred times twice told.

CHRISTIAN: And what was the reason you did not?

HOPEFUL: I believed that that was true which had been told me, that without the righteousness of this Christ, all the world could not save me; and therefore, thought I with myself, if I leave off I die, and I can but die at the throne of grace. And withal, this came into my mind, "Though it tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not tarry." So I continued praying until the Father showed me his Son.

CHRISTIAN: And how was he revealed unto you?

HOPEFUL: One day I was very sad, I think sadder than at any one time in my life, and this sadness was through a fresh sight of the greatness and vileness of my sins. And then suddenly, I thought I saw the Lord Jesus Christ look down from heaven upon me, and saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But I replied, Lord, I am a great, a very great sinner. And I heard him say, "And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."

READER 1: "He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

READER 2: "He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification."

READER 3: "He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."

HOPEFUL: I understood then that I must look for righteousness in his person, and for satisfaction for my sins by his blood; that what he did in obedience to his Father's law, and in submitting to the penalty thereof, was not for himself, but for anyone that will accept it for his salvation, and be thankful. And now was my heart full of joy, mine eyes full of tears, and mine affections running over with love to the name, people, and ways of Jesus Christ.

CHRISTIAN: This was a revelation of Christ to your soul indeed; but tell me particularly what effect this had upon your spirit.

HOPEFUL: It made me love a holy life, and long to do something for the honour and glory of the name of the Lord Jesus; yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.


READER 1: O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

READER 2: Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.

READER 3: How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

READER 4: My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

READER 5: What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Closing Hymn: "And Can It Be"

Blow out the candle.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Time to bake

The computer's been unavailable (still ailing) most of the day, so I'm just checking in now (late afternoon). Mr. Fixit took Crayons to her craft club (usually I go too, but today I didn't have to), and Ponytails was at school...boy, it was quiet here. I got some baking done for the weekend: whole wheat bread in the machine, date-walnut bars, cranberry-orange loaf (which didn't turn out quite as well as it usually does--I think I got it a bit damp), and Rigglevake Cookies, as a nod to our Waterloo County roots. That one kept me busy for awhile, but we do have a great big container full of chewy-crispy spirals (see the photo at Jasmine's post).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

So quiet, here's why

We are still experiencing Technical Difficulties with a computer that's suffering from various postoperative complications, not to mention some kind of a general Internet outage this afternoon.

It's good for increased board game activity, anyway.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another CPSIA post: How come so many are still in the dark about this?

Hat tip to the DHM for this Doodles and Noodles post.

From the post:
"Really?" I said. "Who on the other side are you hearing from? Because I've gone door-to-door in a middle-class neighborhood full of NPR-listening moms with advanced degrees, I've waylaid dozens of "safety moms" at a nearby upscale mall, and I've chatted up teachers, librarians, children's nonprofit staffers, doctors and nurses, and other mental health professionals (in other words, the people most likely to know about and/or care about CPSIA) - and not one of them had even heard of this law. And after I explained to them....their reactions ran the gamut from 'That's insane!' to 'They'll never enforce it.' Not one thought the law was a good idea. So I'm very curious about who these folks are on the other side."

Ways you know the world is getting a little crazier

It gets harder and harder to be self-sufficient in this world--or anything approaching it. And it seems for any freedom that's lost, there's somebody waving a Green banner in your face. You're supposed to just shut up about it, because it's wrong not to care about the environment.

But more and more, our hands are tied, and it seems like there's always another piece of pending legislation promising to pull those ropes even tighter.

The city of Waterloo, Ontario, has just "outlawed" backyard chickens.

In Toronto (and some other Canadian cities) it's illegal to wash your own car, unless you collect up all the runoff and dispose of it properly. Good? Bad? Read the comments: opinions vary.

Some people in Canada (I can't track down the details right now, but Mr. Fixit heard about this on the radio) would like all "unhealthy" food to be banned in schools--whatever that is decided to mean. That includes what you pack in your own child's lunch. And heaven forbid you should send it in plastic wrap.

Mr. Fixit told me that in the European Union (including the United Kingdom), it's not only illegal to fix your own car, it's illegal to fix your own electronics (e.g. stereo components). Because of the soldering involved. And there is, according to his online friends, similar legislation pending proposed in the U.S.

So is it better not to be able to fix things and let them go to the landfill? Not to be able to eat home-raised eggs? Not to be able to make a little money sewing baby slings, or to help someone else out by knitting teddies for a church bazaar?

And look out, homeschoolers--there are a lot of people out there who don't like us, either. Overgeneralizing? Maybe. But think about it.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Hi!! I have a poll.
What is your favorite way peel a orange.
A.)With a orange peeler. (it is really handy)
B.)With your hands
C.)Tear it apart madly and insanly
D.)All of the above
It is kind of weird but, whatever!

My Avon lady, my therapist?

From The Globe and Mail newspaper (Toronto), March 28:
"[She] understands that a large part of being an Avon lady is being a confidante. 'I entered a home last week where the woman was confused about how to order from the catalogue, as it was her first time using Avon,' [she] says.

"We got talking, and discovered we both were mothers, both on a budget. She told me a $35 bottle of perfume was out of her reach, and I told her I'd think about what I could do. I'm going back there soon, and I'm going to suggest the Imari four-pack, for $14.99 It's a great deal. I'm sure she'll love it."--"The Avon lady's career makeover," by Deirdre Kelly
No further comment needed.

Crayons' Grade Two: Plans for this week

Hymn, memory work
Mr. Pipes: William Williams
Math drills
Miquon Math page P8, and play "Square Number Concentration" (homemade matchup game)
Family Pastimes' Brainy Puzzle Pack (scroll down for descriptions of the games included)
Tanglewood Tales: continue "The Dragon's Teeth"
Composer study
Miss Bianca in the Orient

O Canada, memory work
Bible: 2 Samuel 19, first half
Math drills
Math page P9
Brainy Puzzle Pack
History: Edward VI, Wars of the Roses
Handwriting page
Italian Peepshow, by Eleanor Farjeon

Hymn, memory work
Mr. Pipes (continue chapter)
Math drills
Math page P10
Computer math game
Robin Hood: finish Will Stutely Rescued
Poems, singing
Miss Bianca

O Canada, memory work
Giotto: Paintings of Jesus
Math drills
Math page P11
Tanglewood Tales (continue story)
Handwriting page
Afternoon: craft club with friends

Friday, April 03, 2009

So what did happen at the rally? (CPSIA)

I hadn't heard much about it since Wednesday--but here's one report.

Conference Weekend!

Tomorrow is our annual homeschooling conference--one of the highlights of the year for me! Not because there are so many books to buy--I won't be buying much this year, although browsing is fun; not because of the workshops, although lots of them sound interesting; not even because I get to yell Hi to some of the friends that I only get to see this one time a year; but just because it's such a blast getting a thousand homeschooling parents together for the day.

Some might think that scary:

I just call it Professional Development.
P.S. I was going to dress my avatar up for the occasion as well, but did you know that searching "jumper" in Yahoo Avatars comes up blank? How's that for discrimination?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No Tire Snacks, We Promise (CPSIA)

Gregory ate the tires and the violin. Then he slowly ate the barber pole. But when he started in on the car, he said, "I've got a stomachache. I have to lie down."--Gregory, the Terrible Eater, by Mitchell Sharmat
Best headline from the Washington rally: "6-Year Old Rider Promises Not To Eat His Dirt Bike In DC Protest Against Kid-Bike Ban." Details here.

Picture found here

Sitting on Capitol Hill (CPSIA)

Breaking news from Washington.

And more here at AmendTheCPSIA.

Homemade Deodorant

(Another topic we've never, ever blogged about before)

Here's the tutorial. Thanks to Lizzie for posting the link.

Interview from the Dusty Attic

Etsy interviews Lizzie from A Dusty Frame (the Dusty Attic is where she does her crafts).

Homeschooling on April Fool's Day

For fun, we are interspersing regular lessons today with stunts from STOP THE WATCH, a Klutz book we found at the thrift shop. (I adapted some of them.) Lunch is in there somewhere too, it just depends on how far we get in the morning.

Here's the schedule:

STOP p. 12 (adapted for Canadians): Touch your toes five times, do six jumping jacks, and turn around four times while singing O Canada.

Hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing.


Make your bed

STOP p. 34: Standing-on-one-foot-with-both-eyes-closed contest

Finish the chapter of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

Look at online photos of the Wesley Chapel in London (where the characters in Mr. Pipes went)

STOP p. 37: "Holler the word "Eeeeeeeelllllskin" continuously, without taking a breath, for 17 seconds. Exactly."

Read funny poems

STOP p. 38: "Start the clock. Read an entire page from a grown-up book out loud. Stop the clock."

Find something messy and clean it up for 5 minutes

Snack and break time

Math pages

STOP p. 39: "Touch the palms of your hands to the floor for 11 seconds. You have to be standing up, and bend the knees as much as you have to."

STOP p. 55: "Throw something weird back and forth ten times with no drops."


STOP p. 40: "Sit in a chair, don't move, don't say a thing, don't even think for exactly 60 secondss."

Cursive worksheet

STOP p. 44: "Fold a paper airplane and successfully launch it. Pick it up. Flatten it out and do an addition problem. Both numbers have to be over one thousand. Tear the sheet into 11 pieces exactly. Stop the clock."

Practice times tables

STOP p. 21: "Find a magazine. Sit down with it. Start the clock. Open the magazine and find the word "run.""

Continue "The Dragon's Teeth" in Tanglewood Tales

Walk down the street and get the mail

STOP p. 45: "Flip a coin until you get four somethings in a row. Switch your socks. Crawl over to the phone. Call the phone number I will give you. Stop the clock when the voice says, "person you wish to speak to."

Keyboard lesson

STOP p. 16: "Name five countries and your second-grade teacher."

April Math Calendar to download

Courtesy of Let's Play Math. Thanks, Denise and students!

(Today's question: what is the square root of 1?)

Day of Reckoning (CPSIA)

Overlawyered will be represented at today's CPSIA rally in Washington.

Think they'll listen?

Poster found here.
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