Thursday, March 29, 2018

From the archives: Thrifted homeschooling can be fun

First posted March 2007. This was the fifth and last post in a detailed series about putting random, thrifted materials together to create a year's curriculum for a second- or third-grader. (Slightly edited) 

Those are the science topics, and that's a good place to point out that although this curriculum may be based mainly on books, that doesn't mean that it's not hands-on or interesting. So far I've mentioned social studies/nature field trips, math games, and drawing activities embedded in language lessons; now we can also add science activities, mostly from the Science For Fun Experiments book but drawn from the others as well, including making a pop-bottle insect feeder, a juice-can waterscope, cardboard-tube noisemakers, a magnetic racing game, a drinking-straw hydrometer, a cardboard spinning top, a papier-mache bowl, and "plastic milk." If you have very active children, you can "add action" to many other kinds of lessons as well (as the speaker at a support group meeting recently reminded us), incorporating balls, Nerf guns, and even swords into math and spelling drills.


Because a yo-yo book (Splitting the Atom) was part of the shopping bag, I thought it would work nicely to buy a $3 yo-yo and learn some yo-yo tricks, if that was something that interested the student. Splitting the Atom is a bit on the advanced side, but an interested parent might be able to help an elementary student get started. I thought about what you could learn from a yo-yo (it's very much like a pendulum) and did a search for "science with yo-yos" and "yo-yo physics." Ta-da:  an online search came up with Teaching Science wuth a Yo-Yo (by some smart people at Ball State University), which contains four or five yo-yo physics lessons you can print out. I knew I'd found something good when I saw this comment in Lesson One: "You are already beginning to think like a scientist."


Another book in the bag was Chalk Around the Block, which provides instructions for a variety of hopscotch games as well as marble-shooting, and other games which you could play with a chalked-in outline such as Nine Mens' Morris. (Maybe on an unfinished basement floor if it's too cold to play outside?)

A book called Nursery Rhymes and Songs looked a little too young at first for a third grader, but I found several songs in it that aren't too babyish--actually enough to slot in a new one almost every couple of weeks.

The how-to-draw-animal books have been mentioned already; two are very simple ones and one is more advanced.


For a total of $2.75, I brought home another bag of books to add to the curriculum; my notes on each book are in brackets. (Can you see already why I picked these out?)

The Christmas Secret, by Joan Lexau (a 48-page novel about a Puerto Rican boy in New York) (Perfect age, perfect length, and perfect extra reading for December since we didn't have any holiday books yet.)

Bedtime Bible Stories, published by Kappa Books (All right, it's not Catherine Vos! But if you want to do something beyond the New Testament studies, this includes Old Testament stories, and it's in nice big print although some of the vocabulary might be daunting for a third grader to read independently. This would also be very helpful for the last four weeks of language studies, when I had wanted to do something based on Bible stories.)

The Rat-Catcher's Son
, by Carolyn London (This is a popular Sonlight Curriculum title published by SIM; and strangely enough, this is the second book of Nigerian folktales I found within a month. However, these are told from an evangelical Christian perspective; so they could be added to or mixed with the stories from The Dancing Palm Tree.)

Gage Mathematics Assessment Activities 3B
 (Bad title, useful book written as a series of "challenges" for students. Activities include choosing board games (from a catalogue) with a certain amount of money and so that everyone in your family can play a game; folding a box from a pattern; finding your way on a neighbourhood map; and finding diagonal patterns on a hundred chart. Some activities are too classroom-oriented or are just time-wasters, but I figured about 18 to 20 of the 30 or so activities would be workable and worthwhile, and that gives you one every other week. Not bad for a quarter!)

Thomas Alva Edison, Miracle Maker and The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, Inventor: The Wizard of Menlo Park. (Two elementary-level biographies, so take your pick. Biography! Thinking like a scientist! Nurturing curiosity!)

A free booklet of activities to help parents encourage reading (Pretty basic stuff: visit the library, find creative times to read together, give books for gifts, have the child predict the ending of a story...)

The Story of Creation and Adam & Eve Story, Coloring, Game & Activity Book (Unused! Maybe something to go with the Old Testament stories if you're using them, or just something to play with. This includes paper animals, people and scenery to colour, cut out and prop up.)

You Can Yo-Yo (Less intimidating for third graders than Splitting the Atom.)

Beyond the Paw-paw Trees, by Palmer Brown (A read-aloud)

Getting to Know Nature's Children: Deer/Rabbits (What it sounds like: elementary-level text, not the most compelling I've ever read but it's simply written and nicely photographed.)

Breakthroughs in Science
, by Isaac Asimov (This is the only book that I probably wouldn't use with a third grader--the vocabulary is pretty advanced unless you have a real junior Edison--but I'm including it in the list just to show what a variety of books you can come across when you're hunting.)


Have I gone on too long about an imaginary curriculum that nobody's really going to use? Remember the original reason for this? I've been able to blather on in this much detail about a bunch of books that cost $4.50 plus $4 plus $2.75 (if you count the third trip): $11.25 Canadian. [Oops! I forgot the four books I "fudged" with, and I know they were more like a dollar or two apiece (some booksales don't have such good bargains), so let's add $5 for those.] Plus whatever you pay for the two teacher resources: as much as $20 used, so let's say we're up to $35 [with the four extras]. If you count school supplies in your budget, let's add another $20 at the dollar store for notebooks, glue etc.: $55. And a yo-yo--be generous again and say $5 with tax, so $60. The China study (completely optional) would add another $20 or so, and A Child's Geography would be $10; so maybe $70. Extra supplies such as magnets or better art supplies would be on top of that; you could end up spending a whole hundred dollars for school, maybe. (Not including field trips and computer printouts, obviously.)

But the cost of the basic books is still under $12 [plus the four extras--still under $20]. If I can find them, you can find them; maybe not in one or two trips, but over time. Usually you have to be a bit more patient than I was; you might keep finding easy readers when you're teaching a sixth-grader. But if you have friends, you can look for each other, and share and trade books too. My best advice is, look for good authors that don't age too fast (the books, not the authors).

As a final note of irony, the only "adult" book I picked up on the original thrift shop trip was Ronald J. Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. We are rich. Let's model careful use of resources in the ways we do, or don't, spend homeschool dollars; and we can learn as much from that as our children do from our school lessons.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Time of my life

From this Side of the Pond
1. What's a word that describes your life? A word you wish described your life?

Time-fluid; meaning not that I'm late for things, but that sometimes the past seems to overtake the present. Some people can't live in the moment because they're always anticipating something coming, but for me it's the opposite, using the past to feed the present but not allowing it to flood the riverbanks.

2. Back in my day we___________________________________?

We rode our bikes everywhere, no helmets. 

Snowboots went over your shoes. Getting them off when you got to school could be a challenge.

We knew actual phone numbers for the police and fire departments.

3. When it comes to takeout are you more likely to opt for Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food? Does a typical week at your house include takeout?

Probably Chinese food, subs, or pizza. Once in a while we'll get takeout chicken and fries, maybe if somebody's been sick and we need a little "meal therapy."

4. Think about the people you most respect. What is it about them that earned your respect?

Their tenacity and trust amidst thunderstorms and giants throwing rocks.
"When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang." ~~ The Hobbit
5. What's something your friends might see and say is 'so you'?

The Apprentice once bought me a t-shirt that said There, Their and They're.

Mr. Fixit suggests "a violet and blue scarf from the clearance rack." For me, not for him.

Mr. Fixit says his own thing would be a 1970 Dual turntable.
Image result for 1970 dual turntable

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Favourite free thing online right now: Open Library. It has the craziest books that a) I never thought I'd see again, including old children's picture books, or b) I suddenly think I need to check something out for the course I'm taking. Get a free account and enjoy some book browsing. You can read books on the site, but it really helps if you have something like an Overdrive account; then you can borrow them in Epub format for a couple of weeks. Another thing to know is that there are lots of books catalogued on the site, but not all of them have e-versions yet. And, since scanning software still has its glitches, there will be some typos and formatting oddities. But it's still lots of fun.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

From the archives: Grief, loss, and flattened faith

First posted March 2013; edited slightly

I recently read a Globe and Mail essay that left me both aching for one hurting soul...and wondering how Jesus would respond to his pain.  

The author said that although he believed that his Christian faith was solid, he got the wind so knocked out of him by the senseless death of his mentor that, within another year or so, he had "stopped" being a Christian.

I don't know this person, so I can't guess how deep his faith went, or the amount of grief he had to deal with.

But if the same logic applied to all Christian believers, then there would have been no Christian believers.  Ever.  Because that's exactly what happened on Good Friday.

Of course the disciples had the Resurrection to boost them up, a few days later, just as we have the promise of eternal life.  But all the same, would they ever forget the grief, failure, abandonment, betrayal that that Friday meant?  Yes, they saw Jesus alive--but did that end all their questions about the God who allowed His Son to suffer?  

If the same logic applied to me, my faith would either have been still-born...or killed off as well.  In some ways, it has died, more than once, through sin, stupidity, apathy, failure, disappointment, discouragement, betrayal.  (Sometimes other people's, sometimes mine.)  I've seen Christians I trusted charged with criminal acts.  I've known others who should have been and weren't--which was worse.  I've seen Christian marriages, those that were an example to me, fall apart because of addictions; and ministries break apart over greed and power struggles.  I've often felt, like the author of the essay, that if we lose whatever or whoever most symbolizes Christ to us, then is there a point to continuing?

It seems that the body of Christ, once again, failed to see, to offer support and help where it was most needed...or maybe it was there, and this grieving Christian just didn't see it or couldn't receive it.  I don't know.  But after the last friend has gone, the last mentor or reason to stay in the church has been taken--each Christian is still on his or her own journey.  Whether with welcome (or unwelcome) company, or alone for a stretch, the road is our own.  If that sounds like something from The Pilgrim's Progress, that's exactly what's on my mind, because that "Christian" had a mentor and best friend senselessly taken from him as well...and yet he continued on, I think, in part, to honour the memory of one he had loved.  And for a much greater reason: because it was his journey.

They therefore brought [Faithful] out to do with him according to their law; and first they scourged him, they they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords, and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake.  Thus came Faithful to his end.

Now, I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had dispatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds with sound of trumpet the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.  But as for Christian, he had some respite, and was remanded back to prison; so he there remained for a space.  But He who overrules all things, having the power of their rage in His own hand, so wrought it about that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way.  And as he went, he sang, saying:

"Well, Faithful, thou has faithfully professed
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest.
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights.
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For, though they killed thee, thou art yet alive."

Friday, March 23, 2018

From the archives: We ask what the child is to learn

First posted March 2010; part of the Month with Charlotte Mason series.

But if we’re not to undervalue children’s capabilities, not to ignore or abuse their mental as well as their physical needs, not to sidetrack their spiritual lives, not to fall unthinkingly into utilitarianism, what is it that we are to do? Let’s ask the same questions that Charlotte Mason did.

First of all, what is education about? Why must children learn at all? 

She says that “our business is, not to teach him all about anything—isn’t that a bit of a stress-reliever?-- but to help him make valid, as many as may be of

'Those first born affinities,
'That fit our new existence to existing things.'” (Wordsworth, "The Prelude")

In other words, a child has the right to learn what it means to be part of the human race, to be living in this world and to be in a relationship with God the Father; and he needs to learn in order to grow.

(Remember the definition of leisure proposed in the second post? Having the freedom (time, space, opportunity) to discover what makes you fully human.)

Second, we ask what the child is to learn. 

Charlotte Mason said, “The object of education is to put a child in living touch with as much as may be of the life of Nature and of thought…. a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books….Add to this one or two keys to self knowledge, and the educated youth goes forth with some idea of self management, with some pursuits, and many vital interests.” That simple, right?

A more detailed curriculum? Miss Mason felt that there were several non-negotiable subjects that all tied in with each other and balanced each other. From her Volume 6, Philosophy of Education:

“But what if in the very nature of things we find a complete curriculum suggested?....A child of man has a natural desire to know the history of his race and of his nation, what men thought in the past and are thinking now; the best thoughts of the best minds taking form as literature, and at its highest as poetry, or poetry rendered….as art….he is a child of God, whose supreme desire and glory it is to know about and to know his almighty Father: as a person of many parts and passions who must know how to use, care for, and discipline himself, body, mind and soul: as a person of many relationships,--to family, city, church, state, neighbouring states, the world at large: as the inhabitant of a world full of beauty and interest, the features of which he must recognize and know how to name, and a world too, and a universe, whose every function of every part is ordered, by laws which he must being to know. It is a wide programme founded on the educational rights of man….Our part it seems to me is to give a child a vital hold upon as many as possible of those wide relationships proper to him.” Those were the things she thought it was most important that every human being should learn—the things that make us fully human.

It may not sound very "leisurely" to tell (or remind) you that Charlotte Mason’s students, by high school, were expected to be on their third or fourth foreign language including Latin, to be taking two or three branches of mathematics and the same in science, to have studied more history and geography than most of us ever learn, and to be able to recast both Bible lessons and current events into lines of verse; not to mention keeping nature notebooks and more. For many of us (and our young people) that may not be realistic, although it’s certainly not impossible; I’ve heard of super-accomplished CM-educated graduates who have covered an amazing amount of material in their high school years, and who may not even realize what an out-of-the-ordinary (yet within reach of others) thing they've done.

But the key to this is not so much copying every branch of everything in the same way that CM did (studying all the same languages just because she did, or ignoring new areas of science), but following her principles, grounding children in the habits of attention and observation from the time they're small (as well as the moral-type and hygiene-type habits), and studying the subjects we do cover with books, Real Books—with Real Things as well, but largely with Real Books, inspiring real ideas and real questions, modeling real vocabulary, awakening real curiosity, offering real mind-food.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Quote for the day: vocation is a class privilege?

"While many discuss vocation in terms of authentic selfhood or personal identity, Bauman (1998) considers this a class privilege, and asserts the only vocation open to the masses today: the vocation of consumer." ~~ Bruce Spencer and Elizabeth Lange, The Purposes of Adult Education: An Introduction

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Lots of Socks

From this Side of the Pond

1. On this first official day of spring tell us something (besides the weather) you're looking forward to in this season of the year.

You mean there's something better than good weather? And no slush and salt?

Well, Easter. 

And celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Keys.

2. When it comes to spring cleaning would you rather wash windows or wash baseboards? Clean out closets or clean out the garage? Dust ceiling fans or dust bookcases? Wipe down the patio furniture outside or wipe down the light fixtures inside? Any of these tasks recently completed?

This week I organized all my crafting stuff that had been sitting around without a home. I do not have a lot of extra yarn or fabric or paper, but even my small stash needed a cloth bin (on hand), and a couple of clear shoeboxes (the store next door had a whole pile of them). It all looks much better now.

3. Your favorite thing to make/eat that calls for cream cheese? Sour cream? Whipped cream?

Baked potato soup with cream cheese. (We cut that recipe in half, and it still fills our 3 1/2 quart slow cooker.)

4. I read here a list of commonly mispronounced words. What is a word that gives you trouble when it comes to pronunciation?

Leisure, because one person's lee-sure to rhyme with seizure, is another person's leh-sure to rhyme with treasure.

5. What's a song you love with the word 'rain' in the title or lyrics?

The Eensy Weensy Spider?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Are you wearing "lots of socks" today for World Down Syndrome Day?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

From the archives: A homeschooling art lesson

First posted March 2007. Ponytails was nine and a half, and Crayons (Lydia) was almost six. The Apprentice was in public high school, but was doing a Canadian Geography credit at home.

We had a picture study lesson that was kind of a transition lesson: we've been studying Constable and we're going to be starting Monet, so I read about both of them from Hillyer and Huey's Young People's Story of Fine Art: The Last Two Hundred Years. The book talks about the problem of making something in a painting bright enough to look realistic, like trees; painters before Constable used to make their trees brown, but Constable managed to make them green by using little dabs of different colours; and that's why he was an influence on Monet and the impressionists, both in the "dab" technique and because of his interest in light and the brightness of things. We looked at a Monet calendar I have and also some prints-on-canvas I got from Hampstead House Books; I held them up close and then from across the room so the girls could see the difference.

It was a good lesson because it felt like we were all discovering something together, and because it linked something we knew about (Constable) with something new.

Besides that...we finished "Les Biscuits," a story in our French book about a greedy girl who grabs a handful of dog biscuits instead of chocolate cookies from the kitchen shelf; a chapter of Sajo and the Beaver People (we're almost done, the beaver is about to be rescued); and some geography, about faults in the earth. Ponytails worked on multiplying 3 digits times 2 digits, and played a game of Math Munchers on the computer. Crayons did a Miquon math page. And there was an ongoing game of paper dolls. Oh, also Ponytails is reading The Secret Garden to herself, and Crayons is busy with a bunch of old Ladybug magazines.

The Apprentice and I did some of her geography in the evening as well: we finished reading a Canadian Geographic article about David Keith, a Canadian environmental researcher who is also involved in public policy. Real people doing real things.

How was your day?

Thrifted finds: the thick and the thin

Things I've found recently (not all in one day) at the thrift store:
Two necklaces
Four books: The Longing for Home, by Frederick Buechner; Proofiness, by Charles Seife (for Mr. Fixit); Fidelity, by Wendell Berry; and an oversized 1978 book about J.E.H. MacDonald, one of Canada's Group of Seven artists.
A new-in-plastic calendar for Lydia (she had been looking for one, and who else sells calendars in spring?)

After a couple of dumb thrifted clothes mis-buys recently (I somehow got the wrong size of leggings, even though the waistband said Xtra Small in giant letters: should have paid more attention), I have been cautious about what I say yes to. Besides, I have enough clothes to keep me going for awhile. But I did find a lightweight grey pullover that I'm really happy with. It was hiding out on the dress rack, but even on me it's a bit short to wear as a dress: it's better pulled up as a tunic or top. (Would have been great with the leggings, sigh.)
With a purple striped scarf, and pink earrings that Ponytails gave me for Christmas
With a grey and floral scarf, and a pair of Ten Thousand Villages earrings I've had for years
With the berry and grey scarf I bought last week, and a favourite pair of thrifted earrings. All three scarves are from the thrift store.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Quote for the day: "What we furnished home with"

"Like everybody else, what we furnished home with was ourselves, in other words. We furnished it with the best that we knew and the best that we were, and we furnished it also with everything that we were not wise enough to know and the shadow side of who we were as well as the best side, because we were not self-aware enough to recognize those shadows and somehow both to learn from them and to disempower them...It was the little world we created to be as safe as we knew how to make it..." ~~ Frederick Buechner, The Longing for Home 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

An astrophysicist's tribute to Stephen Hawking

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018." ~~ Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter

Quote for the day: On what children don't need to be taught

"When I was in the States ten years ago I saw a series of children's books which just recounted very simply a child's visit to the supermarket, the post office and the station and so on and they read like primers for men from outer space, men who didn't know how to put one foot in front of another. And these books reflected it seemed to me very sharply what I encountered of neurosis in the students that I was teaching. " ~~ Ted Hughes, 1976

Monday, March 12, 2018

From the archives: Charlotte Mason and "that sweet thing which she did not buy"

First posted October 2014
"Before she goes 'shopping,' she must use her reason, and that rapidly, to lay down the principles on which she is to choose her dress,--it is to be pretty, becoming, suitable for the occasions on which it is to be worn, in harmony with what else is worn with it.  Now, she goes to the shop; is able to describe definitely what she wants...judgment is prompt to decide upon the grounds already laid down by reason and what is more, the will steps in to make the decision final, not allowing so much as a twinge of after-regret for that 'sweet thing' which she did not buy." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character
Photo from The Apprentice's Barbie story, here.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Thrifted finds

For Mr. Fixit: two 1957 handyman magazines.
For Ponytails: cookbooks she was looking for.
For Mama Squirrel: a black lacy sweater in a floral pattern. I generally don't wear black, so it's an experiment.
A pashmina scarf, in berry red and blue-grey. The photo is not doing it justice at all; it's more grey than purple..
The belt that should have gone with last week's paisley dress. I was very surprised to see it hanging with the belts.
(Here's the dress)
A book about retro fashions. (To go with the paisley dress.)

From the library: Soulful Simplicity

I was number whatever on the waiting list, but they finally got to me.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

From the archives: What Bubba and me think about homeskooling

First posted February 2008. At the time we had a first grader, a fifth grader, and a public-high-schooler who was still taking one course at home.

I try to stay away from most of the ignorant anti-homeschool articles and letturs-to-the-edditor out there; and heaven knows, there are lots of them, especially after any homeschooler gets into any trouble with the law or does some other antisocial thing. Occasionally I've posted my own rebuttals about homeschoolers/homeschooling not being so weird/scary.

But it's time to set things straight.

The question is, who's weird here?

First, you go ahead and define weird. OK...

"Synonyms: These adjectives refer to what is of a mysteriously strange, usually frightening nature. Weird may suggest the operation of supernatural influences, or merely the odd or unusual: "The person of the house gave a weird little laugh" (Charles Dickens). "There is a weird power in a spoken word" (Joseph Conrad). Something eerie inspires fear or uneasiness and implies a sinister influence: "At nightfall on the marshes, the thing was eerie and fantastic to behold" (Robert Louis Stevenson). Uncanny refers to what is unnatural and peculiarly unsettling: "The queer stumps ... had uncanny shapes, as of monstrous creatures" (John Galsworthy). Something unearthly seems so strange and unnatural as to come from or belong to another world: "He could hear the unearthly scream of some curlew piercing the din" (Henry Kingsley)." (Bolds are mine.)

You know what's really weird, is that a lot of people looking up those synonyms (if anybody did) probably wouldn't have read anything by Conrad or Dickens or Stevenson. Whereas some--not all, mind you--of our unearthly and unsettling homeschoolers will take those books as their common currency.

If you read, you tend to go looking for friends who read...or you like to read about people who like to read, like Father Tim in the Mitford books who hangs out at the bookstore, pondering Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples and waiting for obscure books by John Buchan to arrive (also one of Mr. Fixit's favourite writers).

Not that Father Tim is a homeschooler. Just that he's weird in kind of the same way as some homeschoolers. (Not all homeschoolers are bookworms, just not all vegetarians eat nutritiously.
Some homeschoolers would rather be doing than reading.)

Weird is listening to little kids at the park talking about the sexy hot singers they're supposed to like.

And the rest of us just go on scaring people (unsettling them?), just by doing our thing. My six-year-old kind of blew some people away at church when she did a reading with her sister a couple of weeks ago. I don't think they've ever had somebody under seven lead the responsive reading before. But she would have done that even if she wasn't homeschooled. It's a famly thang.

Weird is standing behind mothers in line at teachers' night and hearing them talk about how they get up to commute at 5 or 6 in the morning, drop the little ones at daycare, get home at 5 or 6 at night, and still have to make dinner for everybody including the teenagers. [Oh--you want to know what I'm doing at teachers' night? If you've just climbed up here, our teenager takes most of her classes now at the public high school. Homeschooling-all-the-way isn't a doctrinal thing with us; figuring out what works best for our own kids takes priority over dogma.]

So here's my request: Stop writing those letters telling the powers-that-be to swing their blackjack a little harder at us. Stop writing the breathless articles that always have something in them somewhere about how deprived of real lives homeschooling moms are, or how we'll suddenly become incompetent once the kids get to algebra, or how we need to be sending our kids into the school system so that they'll absorb whatever version of socialization you think is best for my family. It's not like your deathless prose is going to give me the sudden revelation that I've totally messed up my kids' lives. (Although the collective blast of them might eventually make homeschooling more difficult or in some places illegal, depriving the world of some great independent thinkers and people who would have dropped through the cracks, educational and otherwise.)

Some of what's fantastic (unbelievable) to behold in homeschooling is truly fantastic (unbelievably great). Not everything about homeschooling is wonderful. Not every homeschooler is wonderful--kid or parent. What else would you expect?

But we're not all weird either. Some of us watch the Three Stooges. Some of us listen to KISS (as if that defines normal, but for some people it might). Some of us can even read, write, spell, and think through what the the world can offer to our kids--and what we can offer back.

And that's the trooth.

Is this really what we want to see popping up on Women's Day?

Duchess Kate and Prince William's young bridesmaid is all grown up and gorgeous! editors, Wed, Mar 7 10:53 AM EST 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Quote for the day: This is why they believed

"The early message [of the Gospel] was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad--something with no essential connection with real life--would happen to them. The people initially impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it. That was the basis of their conversion." ~~ Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Quote for the day: Take a fresh look

"The mere attempt, therefore, to create an artistic form compels the artist to take a fresh look at the visible reality; it requires authentic and personal observation. Long before a creation is completed, the artist has gained for himself another and more intimate achievement: a deeper and more receptive vision...The capacity to see increases." ~~ Josef Pieper, Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation

Friday, March 02, 2018

Frugal finds and fixes: Which way round?

Finds: I bought this vintage teal and pink paisley dress at the thrift store today. It doesn't look like much on the hanger, and my colour-erratic photographs aren't helping; but look closer. Can you see the nice front tucks, the dolman sleeves, and the stand-up collar? (This photo is closer to the real colour; the others are a bit too blue.)
 It's also much improved with accessories, like a scarf and a belt:
 What if you turned it around, opened the zipper partway, and layered it over a top or a scarf? Instant shirt-dress.
 What if you belted it up, to look more like a jacket?
 What if you turned it back around again, to look more like a blouse?
 I think I like it best as a dress, but I will probably wear it the other ways too.

Finds: a makeup book for Lydia
Fixes: Our iron is thirty years old. It had been temperamental for awhile, and then stopped heating altogether. Mr. Fixit took it apart, and said that the cord and the plug needed to be replaced. He stopped in at an older hardware store that still assumes people want to fix irons, and found this funky-looking new cord. One less appliance in the landfill.
 Finds: Magazines are a great bargain at the thrift store, even when they're a couple of years old.

Quote for the day: when life seems too brutish and short

First posted February 2008
"....I wish to place on record that I am in unrepayable debt to Francis of Assisi, for when I pray his prayer [Make me an instrument of Thy peace], or even remember it, my melancholy is dispelled, my self-pity comes to an end, my faith is restored, because of this majestic conception of what the work of a disciple should be.

"So majestic is this conception that one dare no longer be sorry for oneself. This world ceases to be one's enemy and becomes the place where one lives and works and serves. Life is no longer nasty, mean, brutish, and short, but becomes the time that one needs to make it less nasty and mean, not only for others, but indeed also for oneself."--Alan Paton, Instrument of Thy Peace