Monday, June 29, 2015

What's for Supper? Pasta Salad. Funny Chocolate.

Tonight's dinner menu:

Polish wieners on the barbecue

Pasta Salad Primavera, from Saving Dinner.

Dessert: Flintstones chocolate candy from the Euro grocery. The label is German but the company is Italian. (No idea.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quote for the day: Longing unfulfilled

"At the breakfast table, I took a look at my father with his round head, his iron-colored hair, his chipper red cheeks, and I wondered to myself--at what age does a man get over this longing?

"The answer is, he doesn't. My father was so overwhelmed with longing that it unfitted him for anything but building martin houses." ~~ Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins (1971)

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Adler

Too good not to share:

"...the common elements that will unite all human beings in a single, cultural community will be related to such essentials as truth in science and philosophy, moral values and human rights, man's understanding of himself, and the wisdom that is the highest good of the human mind....There is only a human mind and it is one and the same in all human beings."  Mortimer J. Adler

Adler quote for the day: what is human nature?

"In what sense then is there a human nature, a specific nature that is common to all members of the species? The answer can be given in a single word: potentialities." ~~ Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One fainting robin

This robin has been on our porch railing since this morning. He's too young to fly very well, I think. A parent has been by a couple of times with food, but didn't seem able to plan a rescue effort.

UPDATE: Partway through the afternoon, Little Bird made it back onto the stone wall and then into the bushes. It's now early evening, and he's still sitting in the edge of the bushes, looking kind of lost. Moving out on your own is not all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lighten up (summer clothes)

I don't think I've ever done a clothes post here, at least not a human one. Usually what I'm wearing isn't my biggest concern. But last week, after I weeded out some dead t-shirts, a blouse I didn't like, and a coat that was past retirement age, I realized that I was left with a pile of:
Are we overdoing it on black, maybe?

It actually wasn't my fault. I was given a bunch of free clothes in good shape, and most of the ones that fit were black. I've been wearing them dutifully, but I realized I've had enough of them.
So I rode along on a couple of thrift shop trips, and picked up some paisley.
Summer is long overdue.

Cookie plate

Rhubarb muffins and store-bought cookies. I had a dozen little star pans left from Christmas, so I decided to use them up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quote for the day: what are people for?

"...each human being as a person is an end to be served, not a means to be used..." Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Books from the antiques market

 Found on a recent trip: vintage copies of The Little Duke and Selections from Matthew Arnold. The Little Duke is inscribed "Willie Wadsworth, June 26th, 1884." A school prize, maybe?

Quote for the day: An Educational Breakfast

It was decided to begin with Apple-sauce.  
 "How happy," exclaimed Mr. Peterkin, "that this should come first of all! A child might be brought up on apple-sauce till he had mastered the first letter of the alphabet, and could go on to the more involved subjects hidden in bread, butter, baked beans, etc."  
Agamemnon thought his father hardly knew how much was hidden in the apple. There was all the story of William Tell and the Swiss independence. The little boys were wild to act William Tell, but Mrs. Peterkin was afraid of the arrows. Mr. Peterkin proposed they should begin by eating the apple-sauce, then discussing it, first botanically, next historically; or perhaps first historically, beginning with Adam and Eve, and the first apple. 
 Mrs. Peterkin feared the coffee would be getting cold...
(Lucretia P. Hale, The Peterkin Papers)
Apple II photo found here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Something to think about: The Art of Clutter

From Grandpa Squirrel's weekend newspapers: a New York Times article celebrating clutter.
"In accumulating, we honor the art of the potter, sitting at a wheel; we appreciate the art of the writer, sitting at a desk; we cherish the art of the painter, standing in front of an easel. (By this litany ye shall know that I have many books, many paintings, many pots — and many more things I love.)"
It reminded me of this post from two years ago, about humans (and Squirrels) being "treasuring people."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quote for the day: how can you tell an honest person?

"If you ask [a person] intelligent questions--that is, penetrating, interested, honest, frank, direct questions on the subject, and no trick questions--then he quickly gets stuck. It is like a child asking naive questions. If you ask naive but relevant questions, then almost immediately the person doesn't know the answer, if it he is an honest man. It is important to appreciate that."  ~~ Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Archives, ten years ago: Ponytails

First posted June 2005.

I finished history for this year, almost. I'm doing history about the Wars of the Roses. It's where one side is red and one side is white. How this happened, one king said, "Which side are you fighting for?" And they were standing in a patch of white and red roses. So one house was called Lancaster and one was called the House of York. And one of the kings said, whoever wants the House of York to be king, stick a white rose in their hat. And whoever wants to vote for the House of Lancaster, stick a red rose in their hat. (Wouldn't that poke them, though?)

Archives, ten years ago: Lydia

First posted June 2005. Lydia's first blog name was Crayons.

1. Crayons, age 4, perusing an alphabet place mat: How come the O is HERE but not HERE? The alphabet goes H, I, J, K, L O MEN O P.

Mama Squirrel: I know that's how it sounds, but really it's L, M, N, O, P (pointing to the letters).

Crayons: No, it's L O MEN O P.

Mama Squirrel: I know that's how it sounds, but the O really goes here. That's just where people put it in the alphabet.

Crayons: Well, we could cut it! (referring to the place mat)

2. Crayons (playing kitchen): Would you like some goose jam?

Mama Squirrel: Do you mean gooseberry jam?

Crayons: No, goose jam. It's what gooses put on their bagels.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What's for supper? Chili fries

Tonight's dinner menu:
Reheated macaroni and cheese
Reheated chili with fries baked on top
Yesterday's salad
Strawberries and rhubarb

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Carnival of Homeschooling #472: The Retirement Edition

When Henry asked me to fill in as host for this month's Carnival of Homeschooling, I couldn't say no. I have been part of the Carnivals going back to at least #3 (I checked), and this is the 472nd edition. Also, this is the week that we finish homeschooling forever at the Treehouse. Our last eighth grader will be attending a bricks and mortar school in September, and the Treehouse Academy is closing its doors.
So welcome, old and new friends, to the Retirement Edition! To those of you who aren't even contemplating that stage yet, may you have many more long and happy years of homeschooling.

Home Spun Juggling presents Reading Outside the Books. "I’m still the one learning, even as I am down to my youngest child in my final years of home educating. Here is what I’ve learned about reading."
At Why Homeschool, Henry's daughter reports on her first year at college.

Our Curious Home presents Phew--we got through most of May.

From Prince Edward Island: Life on a Canadian Island presents some unplugged activities, in Weekly Homeschooling Report: An Unplanned Break!
From England: The Tiger Chronicle describes a fascinating field trip in Attending a Victorian Village School.
From Ontario: Dewey's Treehouse presents Homeschooling Reaches its End.

And Andrea at Notes from a homeschooled mom asks, "Is there really such a thing as post homeschooling?"

Some additional entries:

From Australia: Our Worldwide Classroom posted activities about Ancient China, Australia Day, and Charles Darwin.
And also from Australia: Every Bed of Roses sends a list of favourite books and book sources.
 Thanks to all who participated in the Carnival.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Homeschooling reaches its end

Mr. Fixit and I were having a conversation, about other conversations we've had with other people. One thing we've noticed is that there's an awfully big worry, in all kinds of areas, about trying to get things perfect. People want systems; commercials promise fix-alls. If you just live this way, do it that way, all your problems will be solved. There is little allowance for human variables, for weakness, sinfulness, or just realities in life. But still we get sold on the perfect way to do things.

In Jan Karon's novel These High, Green Hills, Father Tim and his wife Cynthia get lost in a cave. While waiting to get rescued, they hash out some of the issues Father Tim is having about his pending retirement from ministry. He insists, "The way things are, they're running smoothly, most of the bases are covered. I'm trying to get it right, Cynthia. I can't stop now." Cynthia responds, "Getting it absolutely right is God's job." She reminds him that the future belongs to God, not to him; that Father Tim needs to trust for what he can't make sense of. We are called to be faithful, but we should not lean on self-righteousness. A lot of systems involving "just do this" are self-righteous, self-focused.

After nineteen school years, you might think that I had homeschooling down to a system, that we could make everything work; that if we had any more children coming along behind, we could kind of crank them through school now like sausages. But it doesn't work like that. My best-laid plans, many years, have fallen under reality's wheels. One student likes to listen to stories, but balks at keeping notebooks. Yes, she should do that. But no, she's not doing that. Do we enforce what's not happening, or look at the bigger picture?

This is not a nice metaphor, but...when our oldest was small, a particular parenting source told me that it was necessary to be very firm about making children eat what they're given. Unfortunately, the dinner at which I decided to invoke that edict was also the evening she was coming down with a stomach bug, which was probably the reason she wasn't eating her dinner in the first place. It was awhile before any of us wanted to eat lasagna again.

I heard (my memory is failing right now on the source) that when one of the veteran Charlotte Mason teachers was asked about C.M. methods of teaching reading, she said that any good teacher would have her own methods that worked for her, so there was no reason to copy just what was written in Mason's books. That was about as close to the horse's mouth as we are going to get on that. There are principles of good teaching, but the details that work for one family, some of the time, may not work for another.

Is homeschool success found through our own systems and self-righteousness? In that case, I would be stewing now about all the Ambleside books we never did read, and the science experiments we didn't do this year, and the folk songs we never got around to, not to mention the field trips we didn't take.  But it's not, and I'm not. I don't apologize for our failure, over two decades, to establish nature notebooking as a lifelong habit. I don't apologize for the fact that penmanship has never been a strength around here, and that therefore copywork has also suffered. Our children are human beings. We have gone through stressful times. In some seasons, the "bases were covered." In others, maybe, one or two bases.

Did we have a winning team?

Lydia (our eighth grader) recently needed a writing sample to go with an application. She was going to write a play, but decided to write a dark-toned spy-genre story, with a teenage protagonist who's being followed by unknown nasties. There's chasing, shooting, and blood. She was quite pleased with her work.

She's hoping to be has been accepted to volunteer at drama day camp this summer. In the fall she'll be attending a Christian high school (by bus!).

Ponytails is in her last days of high school. While she's not as likely as we once thought to jump a motorcycle over garbage cans, she's still a person of passions and originality.

The Apprentice is discovering life in the big city, and still likes to barbecue the way Mr. Fixit taught her.

All three of our girls have turned out to be good writers, good readers. At least one of them likes math and science. Another prefers history and philosophy. I can't take credit for their full schooling (the older two went to public high school), but at least we got them off to a good start. And school is just the is ahead.

Linked from the Carnival of Homeschooling: Retirement Edition, and from the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: June 2015.

Another funny commercial

When I had my first tablet, this commercial used to show up every time I downloaded an e-book. I thought it was funny at the time.

Last call for the Carnival of Homeschooling

Did any of you have trouble with the how-to-submit-to-the-Carnival-of-Homeschooling link I posted? Here it is again, working for sure this time. Blog posts on anything homeschool-relevant are welcome.

This is the last call to be part of the June Carnival! The show goes on tomorrow.

Friday, June 05, 2015

I'm blogging over at the new site today

I'm blogging at AnneWrites today. Want to come over?

Big Green Checkmarks

Most amazing thing you should read today

A very important point about the meaninglessness of "what do you all think of that?"

"What Does Goodness Think of You?", by Joshua Gibbs, at the Circe Institute blog.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Quote for the day: Richard Feynman on the value of knowledge

"It is only the principle of what you think will happen in a case you have not tried that is worth knowing about. Knowledge is of no real value if all you can tell me is what happened yesterday. It is necessary to tell what will happen tomorrow if you do something--not only necessary, but fun. Only you must be willing to stick your neck out." ~~ Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Book, and a new website

(In which I shed my Mama Squirrel fur, for any of you who don't know my Human identity.)

When I finished the posts (earlier this year) on Herbartian Education, I just kept writing.

Fueled by banana chips (you thought I was going to say coffee?), I put some long-percolating thoughts together on Charlotte Mason's "Way of the Will" and "Way of the Reason," and they turned into a book. I have also been exploring the ins and outs of self-publishing, which is to say that Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason will be available in print and e-book formats later this summer.

To keep all that organized, I've started a new website. Come on over and visit. (One of the grownup Squirrelings has created a free printable surprise to go with the book cover.)

There's also a blog at the new site, which I'm just starting. I'm not sure yet how that's going to change Dewey's Treehouse; maybe the treehouse will become more of our vacation home!
In a lovely twist of fate, this is the week that the praying mantis oothecas (from last year's L'Harmas retreat) seem to be hatching. Mine is in the garden with the lettuce and spinach, and I'm watching it carefully.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

From the archives: Homeschooling and commitment

First posted May 2014

A local newspaper columnist published a piece today about, of all things, food trucks.  You know, mobile cafes, burgers on wheels.  She mused, "No one wants to be tied down.  Everybody wants to do what they want, when they want...Churches are selling their buildings...fewer want to subscribe to a newspaper...It's harder and harder to get a commitment for anything." What does that have to do with food trucks?  That we will grab a sandwich and go, but at the expense of sit-down places that have some "commitment" to the community.

Now, I'm not so sure that she isn't stretching the idea of bricks-and-mortar diners as cornerstones of community--after all, they can close up shop and disappear almost as easily as food trucks.  In a small town, you may get Rosie the waitress and Joe the grocer year after year, but here in the city you are more likely to find that the local coffee shop or corner store is suddenly under new ownership--again--and that all the old staff are gone as well. (Mr. Fixit's favourite family-run sub shop changed hands and is now a pale vestige of its former mayonnaise-laden self.)  And I have nothing in particular against food trucks.  But I appreciate her lament over the general lack of commitment in society.

And I hear a similar "aversion to commitment" from some homeschoolers who have trouble understanding a willingness to stick with one particular educational philosophy.  If you centre on one philosophy or method, you risk being called closed-minded.  You may be told that since what works for one child does not always work for another, there can be no overall approach that is "best." You may even have your religious faith questioned, because studying one person too much might mean you are respecting them more than God, or their books as more valuable than the Bible.

Well, it might.  It could also mean that what you have found seems to work, that it contains common sense, that it lines up with your worldview, that it enriches and supports your faith rather than distorting it.  It could mean that you are opting for focus rather than fashion.

Yes, it might mean you're not adventurous or willing to try new things.  Or it could just mean that you've found a road and that's the way you're travelling.  If we're headed to Lake Ontario, we don't have time to worry that we're not going to see Point Pelee or Wasaga Beach.

In an age of pluralism and "wanting it all" that extends, as our columnist says, across everything from  marriage to group memberships, from investments to the taco truck, embedding yourself into any particular anything or anywhere seems risky.  Choosing one thing over another implies that we have already judged the rest negatively. Public schoolers get defensive around homeschoolers, even when we haven't said anything bad about school, because we have committed ourselves, at least for a time, to a different choice.  Non-Christians can't understand how Christians can be so arrogant as to think that one belief is true and others are not.  The presence of one vegetarian can throw a wet blanket on a whole tableful of steak-eaters.

But it is not arrogance that allows commitment to an idea. It's not about us. It is simply being convinced of the value and truth of the idea itself. 

What's for supper? Pasta night

Tonight's dinner menu:

Salad from the garden

Rigatoni with a sauce made from ground chicken, peppers, leftover diced tomatoes, a little can of pizza sauce, and extra seasonings.

June, outdoors