Monday, December 31, 2012

From the archives: New Year's Eve 2006

First posted January 1, 2007

We don't usually go out to parties or church services on New Year's Eve; we usually have a just-us party here. Often it's a theme; last year we had a Narnia party.

This year there was no real theme, but we did have a fun menu of things that we usually walk right by at the grocery store. Frozen fried rice and eggrolls, frozen chicken wings, pretzels, fishie crackers, carrot sticks, banana chips, sparkly cranberry juice in wine glasses, and Vachon Jos. Louis cakes.

Then we lit our Christmas candle, finished reading Henry Van Dyke's story The Other Wiseman (it took us four nights), and read the last chapter of Revelation and the 150th Psalm. Grandpa Squirrel arrived for ping pong (we are lucky enough to have a table in the garage), and the younger Squirrelings and I watched some of It's a Wonderful Life before they want off to bed.

Mr. Fixit, the Apprentice and I stayed up till midnight talking about budgets (Mr. Fixit always does a family accounting at year's end) and watching The Musgrave Ritual, and then a few minutes of Happy New Year's, pouring rain and fireworks from Niagara Falls.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs: Day 31, and a Prayer for Peace


For our last Dewey's Christmas Songs post, I've picked something really different.

But it seems to fit with New Year's Eve.  It's 1939, and what you're seeing is footage of French soldiers celebrating Christmas.  The singer is Tino Rossi"Prior to World War II Rossi was a major box office attraction in the French speaking world but expanded his audience to America with a 1938 visit followed up by wartime tours across the USA and Canada....In 1946, his song "Petit Papa Noël" sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. A Christmas classic for the family, the song still sells by the thousands each Yuletide season....Tino Rossi is the most popular personality to ever come from Corsica other than Napoleon Bonaparte." (Wikipedia)

The images of barbed wire aren't cheerful, but they do inspire prayers for peace and safety in 2013.



Dove image found here.

From the archives: the ideas behind the words

First posted February 2006

"There are masked words droning and skulking about us....which nobody understands, but which everybody uses, and most people will also fight for, live for, or even die for, fancying they mean this, or that, or the other, or things dear to them: for such words wear chameleon cloaks--"groundlion" cloaks, of the color of the ground of any man's fancy: on that ground they lie in wait, and rend him with a spring from it. There were never creatures of prey so mischievous, never diplomatists so cunning, never poisoners so deadly, as these masked words; they are the unjust stewards of all men's ideas; whatever fancy or favorite instinct a man most cherishes, he gives to his favorite masked word to take care of for him; the word at last comes to have an infinite power over him,--you cannot get at him but by its ministry."

--John Ruskin, "Of Kings' Treasuries" in Sesame and Lilies

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 30: Grandpa Jones


The Squirrel grandparents didn't have a Hee Haw Christmas album, but they would have liked it if there had been such a thing.  This is Grandpa Jones reading "The Christmas Guest."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dollygirl's winter term plans

For those of you who read Dewey's Treehouse on a reader and can't see the links-to-new-pages at the top of the blog, you may not have seen the plans for our winter term that I added yesterday either.  Just letting the reader-readers know they're there!

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 29: The Flip Side

Actually, yesterday's Impressions record was the flip side: side B of "Amen."  Which is sort of a Christmas song, at least at the beginning.

So here's Side A.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 28

Not a Christmas song, but a surprisingly cheerful song about being bummed out:  The Impressions, "Long Long Winter."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Favourite things at Christmas


A Tom Thomson print that Mr. Fixit found on his antiquing rounds; we put it up by the front door.

Rold Gold Peppermint Dipped Snowflake Pretzels (they make a great Christmas breakfast with muffins and clementines)

Christmas cards from friends at church

A new frying pan, new socks, new bottle of lotion, and other things I've run out of

Our Advent wreath

Having enough tissue paper and tape to wrap everything

Homemade cranberry sauce

A jar of Mod Podge and a colour printer (couldn't have done this year's gifts without those).

Dollygirl's Christmas wish:  an American Girl doll.

A furnace that's made its way through another year.

And nothing worse than head colds this week.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 25: Puer natus est.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 24, Part Two

First Call performs "One Small Child."

Merry Christmas from Dewey Squirrel and all of us.

Do you want a Charlie Brown Christmas?

Back in 2007, the Apprentice and I took the quiz "What movie is your Christmas most like?" and we both got "A Charlie Brown Christmas." "Each year, you really get into the spirit of Christmas.  Which is much more important to you than nifty presents."

This year I tried it again and for some reason it came out as "Home Alone."  "At Christmas, you usually feel like you're going it alone.  But you always have a crazy adventure!"  I prefer the definition of "Your Christmas is Most Like The Muppet Christmas Carol": "You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...And you also do a little singing."

I'm not sure if those quizzes reflect your idea of an ideal Christmas season, or your reality. I guess it depends on how honest you are, whether you get a nightmare-before-Christmas answer, or something better.

And there's the point, right? Is there a "best" answer? Is a "Muppet Christmas Carol" kind of holiday better than a "Charlie Brown" one?  And does Jim Henson or Charles Schultz or Rankin-Bass have to be the limit of our ability to express what Christmas is, or could be?

Maybe we need a new quiz for Christians. Are you having a Martin Luther kind of Christmas, or I don't know, a Chestertonian one or a C.S. Lewis one? What Mitford character's Christmas is most like yours--Esther trying to stretch her cake budget, Father Tim painting sheep, or the old lady crumbling crackers into milk on Christmas Eve? What's your favourite give-a-goat type gift from the catalogues? (Mine would be books for a school library, but I also like soccer balls.) What is your favourite Christmas or Advent hymn that is never going to make it into a Top 40 radio countdown?

I'm sure you could think of more and better questions. I could too, but it's Christmas Eve Day, and there's laundry to clear up, a pie to make...and reflecting to do.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 24: Part One

I agreed to let Dewey be silly once more on Christmas Eve Morning if we could pick something, ahem, more suitable for later on.  So here's Stan Freberg with "The Night Before Christmas."   "Mama in her black denim kerchief, and me in my motorcycle cap."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 23

"It was in the north country. One night in December, three of my boys left the trading post..."

Not a song today, but a very short film that used to be shown on Canadian TV around Christmastime: December Lights .

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 22: Double Dose!

Part One: Jimmy Durante sings "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." With interruptions.

Part Two: Teresa Brewer, "Ebenezer Scrooge." This is one right from the grandparents' 45's. Thank you to whoever uploaded this a week ago!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 21

More Christmas bells:  Dolly Parton and her guests sing "I'll Be Home With Bells On" from a November 1987 episode of Dolly.  Check out the guests!  (And check out those 1980's do's on the girls!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 20

Dewey promised to behave himself better after Day 19, so here's something from the Muppets' Christmas Carol: It Feels Like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another twist to a zero-budget Christmas

The HSBA Post has a post by Bon called "Christmas on a Budget of $0."

Bon's solution for no-cost Christmas gifts?  Re-gifting all kinds of things that somebody else could be using...and some of her old stored treasures.

I have done this too, especially with well-loved books.  One year I gave each of the Squirrelings one (different) vintage copy of Pilgrim's Progress from my own collection.  Some of my childhood books had the very-youthful signatures inside them of my own aunts and uncles; I've since passed those on to the children (or grandchildren) of the first owners. 

Family treasures make great one-of-a-kind gifts, especially if they remind you of a loved relative, maybe someone you were named after or someone who shared your interests or talents.  It's amazing...or maybe it isn't...that a great-great-uncle also loved music, or painting, or building things, or making people laugh. 

You know the expression "for love nor money?"  Those are the gifts that you can't buy with money--only love.

Thrift store Wednesday: jest 'fore Christmas

I sort of dropped the Crockpot--at least the Crock part of it--on my middle finger earlier today.  Just a bruise under the nail, but man, that hurt, and it wasn't the greatest thing for helping me lift heavy book boxes at the store either.

But I managed.

I also managed to stick to only a couple of real finds to bring home:

Walking with Frodo, by Sarah Arthur

20 Things You Should Read, by several authors, published by Tyndale.  "The revolutionary ideas of twenty of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of all time."

The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers From Alpaca to Yak.  I'm a crocheter, not a knitter, and my regular yarn preserve is acrylic worsted.  But I do know someone else who would probably like this.

And that's it for the thrift store, 2012.  Next Wednesday they'll be closed for Boxing Day, so we'll start again in the new year.

Praise for The Number Devil (book review)

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

I brought this home from the thrift store, without any particularly high hopes for getting Dollygirl interested in a story that was supposed to be a mathematical version of The Phantom Tollbooth or Alice in Wonderland.  Such books often have a didactic smell of the nursery, even when they're new; and this one is fairly new: it was published in German in 1999, and the English translation came out in 2000.  And translated books...well, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

If you're old enough, you might remember the Life cereal commercials: let Mikey try it, he hates everything. I am very happy to say that The Number Devil (at least the ten of twelve chapters we've read) has surpassed not only my expectations, but Dollygirl's. 

You can get the gist of the plot through Amazon and elsewhere.  Briefly, a math-hating boy named Robert has a series of dreams, each featuring a little red guy with horns who does amazing things with numbers.  Yes, Robert does learn to appreciate math more, but not in a "behave yourself better" way; even The Phantom Tollbooth always has a bit of that "Milo, smarten up" aura around it.  The Number Devil just happens to show up and make life...or at least dreams...more interesting, and you learn something at the same time.

I like the fact that several of the math threads continue throughout the book, such as "Bonacci numbers" (what the Number Devil calls the Fibonacci sequence).  I've seen too many books that give a page or so to things like that, and then it's off to something completely different and you never see them again.  Robert's dreams have different topics, but they're definitely sequential...and they come back to a starting place, usually "one."  (Who knew that "one" could be so interesting?)  I also like the colourful diagrams; to my poor non-math-major's mind, they make some kind of sense.  The dialogue is snappy, not patronizing, and doesn't get bogged down with what it's trying to teach; that in itself is worth a few stars.

I do agree with the reviews that complain a bit that the book doesn't always use standard terminology, although there is a sort of "translator" at the end.  If a kid gets used to "Prima Donnas" (prime numbers) and "hopping" (squaring), he or she is going to have to get that straightened out eventually.  But there are really only a few invented terms, so it's not too hard; no worse than when I was teaching my kids to read with words like "cab" and "bac."  Who cared, at that point, that "bac" should have a k on it?  It didn't mess them up permanently.

We'll miss the Number Devil when the dreams are over.

Highly recommended, probably for ages 10-14.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Nineteen (and you are not going to BELIEVE this one)

Dewey must have come up with this song from his own record stash (click on the link for the lyrics):  "Santa Claus is a Newfie."  I think he may have gone a little too far this time...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Mrs. Kravitz, Santa's elves, and slowing things down

Hurry, hurry, says the radio; only one week, only one week to shop!  As if everything were going to fall off the edge of the world when the clock strikes Christmas.  It's a Day, Media People:  a beautiful, special day, but still a Day.  With a Next Day after it, and another Next Day after that, God willing.  And you know what?  There is nothing so sacred about Christmas Morning Gifts that makes anything given later than 11:30 a.m., December 25th, illegitimate.  You could have Christmas in January, or February, or July; and some do, at least the January part.  And I do know one family who are saving it all up for February, due to an expected grandchild and other problems with getting together any earlier.  I say this to myself when I catch myself getting at all worried about getting things done by a certain day. 

On the other hand, I am trying very hard to wind down all crafting, making, cooking, and/or shopping, and take a breather before Christmas--I'm not one of Santa's elves, after all.  (Did you ever see the episode of Bewitched where Santa and his elves are in speeded-up mode, making toys in the Stevens' living room on Christmas Eve, and Mrs. Kravitz peeks through the window and goes screaming back to her husband, "They got elves!")


How about you?

Carnival of Homeschooling #364: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling #364: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

For some people it's been a week of holidays, or holiday preparations (or even summer vacation, for those Down Under).  For others it has been a struggle to find seasonal beauty amidst terrible ugliness and grief.  The posts received reflect both ends of the spectrum.

The Good

Fill Your Bookshelf presents a list of books for a unit study on Snow.   (Is snow good?  Not when you have to shovel too much of it, but I guess it's mostly good.  I actually wouldn't mind seeing a bit of snow--it's a green Christmas so far where I live.)

More books, this time at MomSCHOOLHow Can I Compete With Santa? How to Get Reading in Your Homeschool!  (Reading is definitely good.)

Trivium Pursuit presents Short Stories We Like.  "I want to share with you some of the short stories we have enjoyed over the years. Our three favorite authors of short stories are Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and O Henry, and we particularly enjoy listening to these stories as books-on-tape."

Homeschool Atheist Momma takes "a humorous look at someone else's idea of a good homeschooling day" in I Stumbled on This...

The Equuschick, former homeschooler, now homeschool mom, posts at The Common Room about a catch-the-moment learning session with a preschooler.  (And that, according to the "Dread Pirate," wasn't School.)

Learning Curve presents Nutcracker–Unit Study.  Did you notice that today's Google Doodle represents the 120th anniversary of The Nutcracker ballet?

Corn and Oil presents some Great Learning Resources, including iCivics.  "The last couple of days, I've run into some fantastic on-line resources. Besides the library and the great outdoors, the learning opportunities on the 'net are endless."

Golden Grasses presents Law, Grace and Classical Ed

DenSchool provides tips for making homemade ornaments and a link for an ornament swap.

Practical Pages tells how she uses Google calendar to do all her lesson planning.

Why Homeschool presents "An update from a homeschool graduate."

Proclaiming God's Faithfulness presents Preparing to be Thankful.  "Often we forget or just can’t imagine or believe God’s goodness toward us."

The Bad:

Living Life and Learning is Re-evaluating our homeschool year. "After a rough start to the school year, my plans and goals for the new year are laid out."

At Our Curious Home, K's Intuition acknowledges that even four-year-olds deal with grief, fear, and pain.

Dewey's Treehouse presents Uncle Eric and Limited Liability.  How does a business model illustrate a lesson on evil thinking?

The Ugly:

Tales of a Pee Dee Mama presents Reasons to Homeschool.   "I love to hear about others choosing to homeschool their children. There are many wonderful reasons to homeschool; fear should not be one of them."

Notes of a Homeschooled Mom presents Week in review: tears and joy.  "There is not way to avoid talking about the tragic events of this week. Even has homeschoolers, whose kids are not in the way of school shootings, events like this are far reaching and affect us in more ways than we can fathom."

Homeschool vs. Public School presents Preparing for Tragedies in Our Lives.

And Something to Sum Up:

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds presents DO-ing It With Love.  "While I’d love to completely organize my home and never be threatened by clutter again, and while I’d love to fulfill some of my life-long dreams or conquer same age-old fears…this challenge is really about trying to be all we can be in the time we have here on earth."

Looking Ahead:  The December 25th Carnival (yes, there is one!) will be hosted at No Fighting, No Biting!  (Well, at least not on Christmas.)  Submission information is here.

Thanks to all who participated this week! 

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 18

Evie sings "Come On, Ring Those Bells."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs: Day 17: When Ronco Did Christmas

Ronco Presents A Christmas Gift.  The best of pre-1974 Christmas music, plus a popup nativity scene inside the cover. What more could you ask?

Here's the playlist:

White Christmas - Barbra Streisand
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Tony Bennett
Away in a Manger - Tanya Tucker
Go Tell It On the Mountain - Mahalia Jackson
Carol of the Bells - Andy Williams
Angels We Have Heard On High - Carol Lawrence and Robert Goulet
O Holy Night - Birgit Nilsson
Joy To The World - New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein Conducting
White World of Winter - Bing Crosby
Happy Holiday - Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme
We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Debbie Reynolds
Jingle Bells - Duke Ellington
The Christmas Song - Johnny Mathis
What Child is This? -Vikki Carr
Deck the Halls - Percy Faith
Medley: March of the Kings, Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Robert Merrill
The Little Drummer Boy - Ray Conniff Singers
Silent Night - Johnny Cash
O Come All Ye Faithful - Julie Andrews
It's Christmas Time All Over the World - Sammy Davis, Jr.

What to choose for Dewey?  Oh, let's go with Sammy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We weep with those who weep.

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...

Dewey's Favourite Not-Christmas Songs, Day 15

For today's holiday song, Dewey picked "Candles Long Ago," a Hanukkah song by Sharon, Lois and Bram.  But if you watch the clip (from their 1993 holiday special), it's going to seriously mess with your head, because the audio is way off kilter from the video.  So do this:  go to point 3:22 on the video, and then minimize it, or do something else, or anyway, let it play and just listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBA2xgqhHUI&feature=player_embedded

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's for supper? Food that cooks by itself

I'm busy today.  Dinner has to be mostly stuff that gets dropped in the pot and forgotten for awhile.

Tonight's dinner menu:

Polish wieners and sauerkraut, cooked for about three hours in the slow cooker
Brown rice
Canned green beans, applesauce
Refrigerated crescent rolls

Rice Krispie Squares, left from the homeschool drama class party today.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 14

Twila Paris sings "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frugal giftwrapping ideas (link)

Are you done with your gift crafting and have some fancy stuff left over?

Lacking that...do you have paper napkins and coffee filters?  Other dollar-store, kitchen/household type stuff?

Head to the Ellinée blog for all kinds of ideas and beautiful photographs.  (It helps if you click on the Holidays tag at the top, then Christmas--if that's what you're looking for.)  Coffee-filter snowflakes aren't just for kindergarteners anymore.

(I especially liked the paper napkin poinsettia.)

What's for supper? Cranberry pork chops

Last night's dinner menu (after our afternoon out):

Cranberry pork chops in the slow cooker, made with a package of boneless pork chops, a can of cranberry sauce, 3/4 cup of chili sauce, a tablespoonful of brown sugar, and half a tablespoonful of lemon juice.  The sauce breaks down a lot more in the slow cooker than it does on the stovetop, so I had to thicken it with cornstarch at the end.  Ponytails was at a friend's, but Grandpa Squirrel came over and helped us polish them off.

Sauerkraut-filled perogies from the Euro foods store.  Sauerkraut might sound like the worst thing ever with the cranberry-chili sauce, but it actually worked.

Frozen peas.

Oranges, bananas, and Christmas cookies.

Thrift store Wednesdays: I can't exactly say

Yes, we did do our afternoon at the thrift store yesterday.

I put out all kinds of great nonfiction books.  I hope people come along and buy lots of them.

As for me...most of the things I brought home have to be filed under Christmas Secrets.  If you're not a Squirrel, you can hop over there for details.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day 13: A Mee, mee, mee, mee carol

The girls' grandma loved the Muppets, and the Swedish Chef was one of her favourites.  So now, as Kermit would say, get ready for something really...different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0XdZkpaUe4

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs: Day Twelve

Good Day, and Welcome to Day Twelve.  (It couldn't be anything else.)

(I'm going to say this now before I get complaints.  Yes, Bob and Doug sing about beer.  And "packs of smokes."  Be warned.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&v=l2oPio60mK4

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three Carnivals This Week, and a call for posts

The Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Holiday Edition is up at Fisher Academy International.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is hosted by Christine at Our Curious Home.  She has put a lot of work and thought into this one, so go see!

And the Festival of Frugality #366 is hosted this week at the FoF website.

We are hosting next week's Carnival of Homeschooling, so please send in your learning-related submissions before next Monday night! 

Uncle Eric and Limited Liability

Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security, by Richard J. Maybury

That is just an awful title for a book.  For one thing, you can't remember it.  At least I can't.  Maybe it could be shortened to Uncle Eric Talks.

However, it's got some amazing stuff in it.  The last chapter we are reading before the Christmas break is "Automatic Evil."  Anyone who's read Charlotte Mason's books, particularly Ourselves, will recognize where he's going right away.  To paraphrase: don't let bad ideas into your head in the first place, because they take root, reason themselves into seeming reasonable, and then lead to bad moral choices.  The Bible recognizes this too:  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

And then...bang, Uncle Eric takes that idea and jumps with it, as nobody else would do, into a pool of business theory.  "When you see good people being harmed, question the underlying model.  One model that is, in my opinion, extremely corrupt but very common and widely accepted is the limited liability corporation."

His objection is that limited liability keeps business owners from taking full responsibility for their products or their actions.  If you can only be punished to a small extent (instead of having to be fully liable), you won't try as hard to create quality products.  It also pulls investment money away from joint stock companies, partnerships, and sole proprieterships; and it can turn the stock market into "gambling casinos."  But "you are stuck in a world built on this model, so your best-laid plans will often go wrong.  Get used to it.  We cannot extract honesty and safety from something that is, in my opinion, inherently corrupt and deceptive."

This is pretty heavy-duty stuff to lay on a sixth grader.  I told Dollygirl I don't expect that she'll have to worry anytime soon about investing in a limited-liability corporation.  But we also made some larger connections with the whole idea of people taking responsibility for their work, whether that's in the work world, in school, or somewhere else.  If you're given the choice, would you rather do a project yourself (or with a friend) and get full credit for it, good or bad; or be a member of a larger team and not take as much heat if it doesn't work out?

As Steve Brown says: "You think about that."

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Eleven

Music to get your toes tapping with Django Reinhardt:  "Christmas Swing."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi5DDnYzd6E

Monday, December 10, 2012

What's for supper? Odds and ends, mostly ends

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chinese beef and vegetable stirfry, made with last night's roast beef, the last of a bottle of hoisin sauce, a package of mushrooms, and the end of a bag of vegetables
Basmati rice (end of the bag)

Microwave chocolate cake with raspberry sauce (incorporating the last of a jar of jam)

This is TOO funny: Vintage Sesame Street

How does Santa do it?  "He ties the antlers together with tape."

From the archives: a slightly grouchy, Grinchy post

First posted December 2006.

I'm thinking about the sadness of yard sales.

Although they're fun and sometimes a blessing for those of us who shop at them, it's the fact of their existence, the fact of all those almost-unused toys and books and souvenirs and gadgets and gifts being there in the first place that bothers me.

While it's true that one person's trash is another's treasure (I would love to find lids for a couple of my old casserole dishes), too much of what's out there was trash to start with (ugly posters, garbage books, cheap coffee mugs), and most of the rest is unwanted stuff bought by or for people who never really needed it to begin with. So now it's all getting dumped for fifty cents.

I've seen the saddest yard sale stories, like a girl of eight or nine who was unloading all her Barbie stuff (how much did all that cost somebody, and how badly did she think she wanted it at one time?). Handheld beep-beep games that probably made some kid very happy for about two days. Expensive exercise machines, kitchen plugins, baby things, ornaments, giftware. The stuff is manufactured, sold (often on credit cards), gifted, displayed/used briefly, stashed/stored, then yardsaled or thriftshopped. Some of it then gets put to good, creative use by people like Meredith, the Deputy Headmistress and other frugal people we know. The rest of it finds its final resting place--in the landfill.

The point of all this? Not to discourage anybody from having a yard sale and lightening their load of stuff. But to make us think twice about what we acquire in the first place. Does that seem an unseasonable comment?
"And the department stores will love you, too...and the Christmas card makers...and the candy companies. Oh, Henry, you're going to be an awful popular fellow."--Miracle on 34th Street

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Ten

I bet you have never, ever heard this one before. It's something from Dewey's private collection: "Grandma's House," by The Squirrels. (Did that predate The Chipmunks? I checked online and found it came out in 1966, several years after the first Chipmunks record, so I guess the Squirrels were the copycats...er...rodents.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RaBrq2EzbM

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Dollygirl's Grade Six: Term Two, Week Two

This is the second week of Term Two, but we're also trying to finish off some Term One books.  The list may sound a bit dry, but it's just the book end of things; we are spacing the book lessons out with other activities.

Basic Bible Studies, Study 11b:  The Exaltation of Christ.

Plutarch's Life of Pericles, Lesson 12 (last lesson)

Uncle Eric, chapter 15, "Automatic Evil" (about limited liability)

Shakespeare's Cymbeline:  read Act V.

God's Smuggler:  continue.

The Number Devil.  This has turned out to be a book that Dollygirl enjoys, so we are continuing it this week.

Albert Einstein:  With a bit of judicious skipping, we may be able to finish it by the end of the week.

Usborne Ancient World:  continue reviewing some of the ancient civilizations.  (We got as far as the Minoans last week.)

Thrift shop Wednesdays, now with photo

Oddest donation today: a stack of magazines from 1962.  Fifty years old!  One of the managers is going to look through them and decide what to do with them.

Best deal that somebody got:  an almost-complete set of Scott's Waverley novels, leather-bound, for ten dollars.  I didn't put those out--the "book boss" had priced them and put them on the "vintage" shelf.  I might have brought them home, but a customer snapped them up.

What I brought home:  a couple of books, probably for Christmas presents.  I also helped Dollygirl pick out a few doll-sized things: a small fake bonsai tree, a holiday wall sign, a teapot.  She was pricing and cleaning shoes today, and she found a good pair of sneakers for herself.  And we found a cute angel ornament for a quarter.

All in all, a good afternoon.

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Nine

First Call performs "Starlight," from their 1985 album An Evening in December.  (Even Uncle Dewey stops being silly sometimes.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3pJcMsACEI

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Growing up in the Seventies

If you grew up in the 1970's...you probably thought Santa Claus sounded exactly like Mickey Rooney.


Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Eight

This one did NOT come from the grandparents' record chest.  But it's in honour of my friend Krakovianka, and anyone else who eats perogies for Christmas. 

Veggie Tales:  The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas
P.S. We had thought about doing our own version, called the 8 Schwabian Foods of Christmas...but most of them are too hard to spell.

Friday, December 07, 2012

What's for supper? Fajita night

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chicken fajitas, with green peppers, onions, and cheese
Brown rice

Baby oranges and store cookies

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Seven

"Sunny Bank/I Saw Three Ships," by Julie Andrews, on the LP "Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Carols, Volume 5, with Andre Previn and The Firestone Orchestra and Chorus."

Not only straight from the Squirrel grandparents' Christmas archives, but played  on a 1961 Curtis Mathes Royal Dane Stereo, Curtis Mathes Turntable, Stereophonic, High-Fidelity. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-MsJphJyao

Thursday, December 06, 2012

I'm officially an educator--I think

Every so often I get a phone call from a market research company that does focus groups.  If you fit into a particular demographic and also fit into whatever they're currently studying, you get paid something to sit in a focus group for a couple of hours.  I've done several over the years, although I often don't qualify because I turn out not to eat enough fast food, drink enough wine, go on enough trips, buy enough boxes of chocolates...but I usually get picked for the groups where they're looking for people who don't do those things.  (It pays to be honest.)

Anyway, they usually ask you right away, when they call, if anyone in your house works for market research, public relations, or other conflict-of-interest companies.  Recently they added, "or is anyone in your house a teacher or educator?"  "Well," I said, "I do homeschool my kids.  Ha ha."  "Just a minute," the person said, "I'll ask my supervisor."  "Really?" I said, "It's not like I'm getting paid for it."  "Well, let me check anyway," she said. 

Back she came and, "No," she said, "or that is, yes--you do count as a teacher, so that disqualifies you from the group."

Well, how about that?  Somebody out there thinks I'm legit. 

Linked from the Carnival of Homeschooling at Our Curious Home.

What's for supper? Pizza potatoes

Tonight's dinner menu:

Pizza Potatoes: cut-up potatoes, pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, baked in a casserole.  (It's a slow cooker recipe but I didn't start it early enough.). Optional toppings: sliced olives, green peppers.

Carrot sticks

Mango-blueberry-strawberry fruit mix (thawed frozen fruit)

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs: Day Six and Dave Brubeck


We had originally posted another choice for Day Six, but decided to interrupt things for a tribute to Dave Brubeck, one of Dewey's (and our) favourite jazz artists, who passed away this week.
The You-tube choices for a Brubeck Christmas-related or Christmas-inspired piece are large.  But let's go with Silent Night.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What's for supper? Schnitzel night

Tonight's dinner menu:

Baked schnitzel (slices of pork), on buns
Reheated rice, mixed vegetables
Ice cream and brownies

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Five

Something only a squirrel would enjoy eating: Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What's for supper? Soup night

Tonight's dinner menu:

What's-in-your-hand soup, starring pre-shredded cabbage, carrots, barley, canned pinto beans, sloppy joe seasoning, and a few lentils
Beer bread, cheese, salami

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Four

Straight out of the record hassock...in tribute to the late Andy Williams. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. "

Monday, December 03, 2012

Do you like old radio shows? And Christmas?

AM740, which I understand you can listen to over the Internet, starts a few weeks of Christmas shows tonight.  They run every week between Monday and Thursday; this week's schedule is here.  We're in Eastern Standard Time so they start at 10:00 p.m.; you'll have to adjust that for wherever you happen to be.  Please note that not all the shows are family-friendly, even though they're old; we've noticed that some of those '40's and '50's radio dramas can actually be quite violent.  There's one episode of Suspense,  "A Present for Benny," that they usually play near Christmas, about a gift that's meant to go off with a bang; nobody actually gets hurt, but it's still not too good for little ones to be listening to.  (You can listen to it on You-tube though.)

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Three

From Bedrock to you... "Dino the Dinosaur's Christmas Tree."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day Two

This one is straight out of the Grandparent Squirrels' record stash.



Saturday, December 01, 2012

Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs, Day One

Dewey Squirrel likes Christmas songs. Particularly silly ones. So in the spirit of holiday fun, and in tribute to the Squirrel grandparents' well-remembered record collection (stored in a hassock like the one above), we will kick off Dewey's playlist with this daddy-o classic by Jim Backus and Daws Butler.

And stay tuned for more...that record chest was a big one. Vintage hassock photo found on Etsy.

From the archives: Mama Squirrel plays Seven Things

First posted December 2005.  (Excerpt of longer post.)

Things that attract me to my husband

1. He doesn't watch sports on TV

2. He's a very decisive shopper (he's even good at picking kids' shoes)

3. He still has hair

4. He has chips-and-pop-and-card parties with the kids when I go to meetings

5. He can install just about anything

6. He insists on comparing us to almost every couple we watch on TV or in a movie (my favourite is when he said the two of us were very much like Herman and Lily Munster)

Seven Things I Say Most Often

I had no idea what to put for this so I very gingerly asked two of the Squirrelings to write down what they thought (under threat of coal in their stockings if they wrote anything really embarrassing).

Here's The Apprentice's List:

1. "Television is not a right, it is a privilege and it can be taken away." (My note: did I ever really say that??)
2. "Look what the DHM put on her blog!"
3. "Let's sing ANOTHER Advent song."
4. "Those Bratz dolls are hideous."
5. "That was NOT a good prayer." (My explanation: I am not attempting to criticize anyone else's theology, but I do say it if someone rattles off grace a little too fast.)
6. "Apprentice, get off of your tush and do some work."
7. "When I was a kid, there were quality toys in the stores." (I'm not sure about the truth of that one...toys of the seventies were only slightly less junky than the ones sold now. We had our share of things that took ten batteries or broke after two days.)

Here's Ponytails' list, written all by herself with The Apprentice as spellchecker. [Note: Ponytails would have been nine that year.]

1. "I love you, Ponytails. Kiss, hug."
2. "I like you, Ponytails."
3. "Let's eat."
4. "New stuff in the shops are junk."
5. "Charlotte Mason is great."
6. "Do some school work, Apprentice."
7. "I love you, Apprentice. Kiss, hug."
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