Monday, January 22, 2007

The Light of Common Day

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--

The other day I was sitting at a stop light and I noticed a tall pine tree by itself on the corner. It was so tall and straight, and its bark was so distinctive that I really focused on it for a few seconds. I thought how odd that something so beautiful would be in front of a junky car repair shop near a chain-link fence. It was a stalwart tower of the forest and should be on the edge of a meadow near a stream; the discards of modern life were too prosaic to be near poetry. Then I realized I had become one of those annoying people who don't watch the light every moment in order to go the identical second it turns green. It had already changed, and I needed to be an adult.

--But there's a tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

(Poetry quotes from Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth. Sentimental drivel provided by Yours Truly. I seem to be going through a foofy romantic stage. I understand these things pass if you just ignore them. But hey, it's kinda fun. ;o)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Give Me The Wings of Faith

Give me the wings of faith to rise
Within the veil, and see
The saints above, how great their joys,
How bright their glories be,
How bright their glories be.

Once they were mourning here below,
Their couch was wet with tears;
They wrestled hard, as we do now,
With sins and doubts and fears,
With sins and doubts and fears.

We ask them whence their victory came:
They, with united breath,
Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death,
Their triumph to his death.

They marked the footsteps that he trod,
His zeal inspired their breast,
And, following their incarnate God,
Possess the promised rest,
Possess the promised rest.

Our glorious Leader claims our praise
For his own pattern given;
While the long cloud of witnesses
Show the same path to heaven,
Show the same path to heaven.

--Isaac Watts

We first heard this song on a CD made by a young friend from church. He is not a professional singer, but a young man who, his entire life, has been taught singing in a congregational and family setting; he has a strong, versatile voice and a thoughtful musical instinct. We listen to Brother Dan's CD often, and this is my current favorite song. I love the hope and faith expressed in the words, and the music makes me think of sweet, watchful patience.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Masterly Inactivity for the Younger Set

So six-year-old Cornflower picked up the Mad Libs this afternoon because she likes to feel as big as her sisters. She began shooting me questions: "Mom, plural noun! Adjective!" (Reading has just begun to make sense to her in the last couple of months and it is still a novelty.) I played one game with her and then said I couldn't participate anymore. So she meandered around the house trying to figure out the different parts of speech. Mariel, who was supposed to be doing a copywork assignment, tried to help by singing grammar songs. Then Cornflower asked the meaning of plural. I explained how when you add 's' a noun becomes more than one.

Her eyes lit up and she said, "You mean every time I want to say 'more than one plant' I add an 's'?"

"Yes," I said.

"Every time I want to have more than one anything I add 's'?"

"Well, most of the time."

So now she is wandering all over the house making things plural. Hee hee. I just love this homeschooling gig.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


We awakened this morning to find a(nother) dusting of white stuff on the ground. The kids were very excited and promptly went outside to play. I stayed in the house and wondered where it came from. We have already had a couple of days of winter weather. It's supposed to stop after a couple days when you live in Texas, right? You don't mean to say that we have to get used to it? After all, I wouldn't want the novelty to wear off.

I was freezing. I just couldn't get warm, but I'm stubborn and didn't want to raise the thermostat above 65, so I made hot tea.

We were out of several staples, including eggs, fruit and vegetables (and hot chocolate). I hadn't gone anywhere since Saturday morning and really didn't want to go anywhere today, but after I got the big girls started on some schoolwork, I loaded Cornflower into the car and we drove slowly to the store. There was snow and ice along the sides of the road and in the center turning lanes. When we got there, I cautioned her to be careful in the parking lot, as the ground was very slushy. She stepped out of the car and laughed. "It's like walking on a smoothie!"

The kids are having a blast with this weather.

There were boxes on boxes inside the store. Apparently they had just gotten a shipment of food and were beginning to refill the shelves. They were bare in strategic areas-- duraflame logs, hot chocolate, saltine crackers, chicken broth. I got the last of the store-brand chicken broth and hot chocolate. (I know, I should make my own chicken broth, but it doesn't come out strong enough, it tastes watery, and then my family won't eat the good soup I make for them.) We paid for our groceries, loaded the van and drove home. The center turning lanes were wet rather than snowy on the way. A bank thermostat stated that it was 32.4 degrees, which I thought was good news. It was only supposed to reach 30 degrees today.

All of our activities for yesterday and today were cancelled. Tomorrow the children are supposed to take (appropriately enough) their first ice skating lesson.

My parents are in Hawaii. They left a week ago Sunday and are due back this Saturday morning. They picked a nice time to go. When they call, they make sure to let me know that the weather there is sunny and in the 80s. They are snorkeling and buzzing volcanoes in biplanes and lying on beaches.

It's just cold here. I tell them I am letting the kids slide on the ice and pick icicles off the car. After all, fun is what you make it.

Rock Candy

Update 01/21/07: The rock candy did not turn out. Erg. The kids want to keep trying, so I have been given another recipe. In this one we are told to make sure and use cotton string 2/3 as long as the jar is deep; to add the sugar slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon; to dip the string in the sugar solution and let it dry thoroughly for several days before putting it back in the solution; and to cover the jar with wax paper. If we do all this, and don't touch the jar for several days after putting the string back in, we are promised clearly defined monoclinic crystals. I'm wondering what effect it would have if we waited until the full moon and Mariel promised her firstborn son. Straw into gold and all that. Ho hum. Much scientific learning going on here.

We have been attempting to make rock candy for the past week and a half. First we used the recipe in Science Lab in a Supermarket, but added too much water. Experiment #1 is sitting on the counter after a week and a half, doing nothing. Then we followed the directions to a T. Experiment #2 is sitting on the counter after a week, with the smallest of crystals forming. Then someone on the AO list forwarded a new recipe for rock candy. In this one, you gradually add four cups of sugar to one cup of water, stirring on medium heat until the granules dissolve. This takes quite some time, and to while away the minutes, the kids composed a song, based on the words of our good friend Dory (of Finding Nemo fame):

Just keep stirring
Just keep stirring
Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring
What do we do? We stir, stir

Oh, I lo-o-ove to stir
When you w-a-a-nt to stir
You take a spoon and a bowl
And pour something in
And stir-r-r-r!

We dedicate this song to all our AO friends in Year 3-- may your solution smell like marshmallows, your arm muscles endure to the end and your crystals form large and fast!

(And try not to get any of the syrupy sugar solution on your skin, as it can be very painful. We speak from experience.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


You must have your old Bunny!" she said. "Fancy all that fuss for a toy!"

The Boy sat up in bed and stretched out his hands.

"Give me my Bunny!" he said. "You mustn't say that. He isn't a toy. He's REAL!"

When the little Rabbit heard that he was happy, for he knew that what the Skin Horse had said was true at last. The nursery magic had happened to him, and he was a toy no longer. He was Real. The Boy himself had said it.

Lately I have been pondering what makes a Real Charlotte Mason education. We are reading Volume 1 of CMSeries and in the very first chapter that sweet spinster lady steps all over my toes with her talk about methods degenerating into systems and systems never quite making it to methods.
...method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling. Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end; but with no more tiresome mechanism than the sun employs when it makes the winds to blow and the waters to flow only by shining. The parent who sees his way––that is, the exact force of method––to educate his child, will make use of every circumstance of the child's life almost without intention on his own part, so easy and spontaneous is a method of education based upon Natural Law. Does the child eat or drink, does he come, or go, or play––all the time he is being educated, though he is as little aware of it as he is of the act of breathing. There is always the danger that a method, a bona fide method, should degenerate into a mere system. --CMSeries Vol. 1 p. 8

This does not take place at our house with a lot of regularity. I occasionally see glimpses of the gentle art, but often my own fears regarding possible shortcomings in the kids' education prod me to make sure we are "doing it right."

Doing it right in my mind includes all the trappings; setting out a piece of artwork, maps hanging on the wall, narrations by the children beautifully typewritten, and my kids building a ship in the yard so they can sail like Jason and the Argonauts.

But I think what Miss Mason is saying when she contrasts method and system is that while some of these things can be true necessities and outcroppings of her method, they can also be simply the trappings garnered by an anxious teacher who wants to appear to be "doing it right"-- a simple system put into place in order to "appear CM" about educating kids and turn out model CM children.

If a human being were a machine, education could do no more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems.

But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissipation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power. --CMSeries Vol. 1 p. 9

In The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams tells the tale of a bunny who goes from a simple stuffed toy to a Real Live Rabbit. Here is the process of becoming Real as explained by the Skin Horse:

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

It happens bit by bit. And things may not always "look right."

At the beginning of our journey to educate the kids, I came across an analogy that I really liked. It soothed my soul. It compared the homeschooling environment to a garden in which the gardener plans, plants, prunes and harvests. Very often a garden has periods of shabby appearance, but a lot is happening beneath the surface. As Dickon says, "It's wick-- as live as you or me."

When we began AO two years ago, I saw some amazing changes in a short time. But now that we have done this awhile, I am beginning to get antsy. There isn't enough quantifiable evidence that my kids are being educated. But so much of what is going on isn't quantifiable because it is still rising inside of them, simmering and blending into something that won't necessarily be ready for some time.

If I can be patient and understand that my job is the presenting of the feast and the training of the habits, then will we fall into method and leave system behind. But it is a process.

And sometimes the magic of it does not occur until you have been dedicated and worked and loved and stood by and waited-- and it seems all hope is lost.

"Little Rabbit," she said, "don't you know who I am?"

The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that he had seen her face before, but he couldn't think where.

"I am the nursery magic Fairy," she said. "I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real."

"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.

"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one."

Orpheus and Eeyore

(from one of Mariel's narrations of The Heroes by Charles Kingsley)

Jason called to all the heroes of the land and asked if they wanted to go on a journey for the Golden Fleece and many, many came-- even a shipbuilder whose name was Argus. He showed them how to build a great big galley ship. It was the first one anyone had ever seen. Meanwhile, while everyone was building the ship, Jason was in the northwest I think it was, trying to get Orpheus to come with them. Orpheus was the king of minstrels. He said, “My life is of no more use to me.” He’s like Eeyore, Mom. But finally Jason persuaded him to come along, and so he did.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the t'other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost

Monday, January 15, 2007

So Let Freedom Ring

We found this photo essay at today. It combines pictures of Dr. King with his own words.

"...And when this happens, when we let it ring, we will speed that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last, free at last/Thank God Almighty, we're free at last." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Faery Forest

The faery forest glimmered
Beneath an ivory moon,
The silver grasses shimmered
Against a faery tune.

Beneath the silken silence
The crystal branches slept,
And dreaming thro' the dew-fall
The cold white blossoms wept.

--Sara Teasdale

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pressing On, and Giving Endeavor a Holiday

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. --Sir Winston Churchill

This reminds me of one of Mr. Honey's favorite Bible quotes:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 3:13-14

Sir Winston Churchill doubtless had an ever-fruitful, progressive climb, and the Apostle Paul had enough strength of will to put his shoulder to it and soldier on-- "[enduring] hardness, as a good soldier of Christ." In contrast, I bumble and bounce back and forth, attempting good and even achieving it sometimes, then slipping and sliding down the path of pride, selfishness and ease-- feeling, like the March girls, that Endeavor deserves a holiday and giving it a good many. I do pray for the strength of character these two men exhibited, but most of all I pray that the Lord will keep Himself before my eyes and never let me forget the glorious love He has for me, and how small I am compared to Him, how much bigger are His purposes and how all-encompassing His view.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

It is a cold and drizzly day, with the promise of ice. We have scrapped our morning plans, and watch hopefully to see whether church attendance will be possible in the morning.

And Trisscar Swordmaid, my beloved eldest daughter, has been thinking of warmer climes and happier times. At last she has updated her blog with a post on the happiest place on Earth. I won't spoil her surprise by telling what it is and what it isn't. So go look.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Little Known Fact

You cannot focus on your schoolwork while simultaneously reciting nursery rhymes. Just ask my kids.

Cornflower found a Beatrix Potter nursery rhyme book and CD at the library yesterday and it is wonderful. But not conducive to study. Unless you want to memorize nursery rhymes. Which we do, being ladies who enjoy playing with little ones.

Oh, Mr. Pricklepin
Oh, Mr. Pricklepin
Has never
A cushion
To put his pins in!

The Challenge and Other Reading

I am not ready to post another Stacks review. I am still reading Rob Roy and Jungle Pilot. The philosophy book has been set aside until last, as we don't have as urgent a need for that background information any more. The mothers of Triss' debate team (including yours truly) have decided that the kids will not compete in tournaments this year, but will instead study the process of debate within the club. (That was a load off for me!)

However, I have read the following books in the last three weeks:

The Mother At Home by John S.C. Abbott
The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson
Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson
Dyslexia: A Guide for Parents by Gavin Reid

I enjoy the tips in The Mother At Home, but have to bypass the all-to-frequent appeals to fear, which really bother me. As mommies, don't we lay enough fear on ourselves without some author giving us all kinds of heartrending stories on how we will ruin our children for life if we don't raise them properly? Why would I be reading this book if I didn't already have a pretty healthy fear where that is concerned? So, I recommend the book, but only if you promise not to be sucked in by the fearmongering. The Lord is more than able to cover our backs where raising kids is concerned. Our job is to be faithful. His job is results.

I enjoyed reading The Fruit of Her Hands very much. I am surprised by how many "me-first" attitudes I have. Things like not wanting to have to do more than my exact fair share of the work (whatever that is) and wanting to do what I want when I want to do it. I am learning that what I think of as "feminist" attitudes aren't just anti-feminine, but plain ungodly. We are to serve one another, to cast our bread upon the waters, never asking if it pays; to do our work as unto the Lord and not unto men.

Her Hand in Marriage is a book on courtship, and I really like the way Douglas Wilson deals with it. We are still learning a lot where the courtship/dating discussion is concerned, and this is our first book purchase on the subject.

Dyslexia: A Guide for Parents is simple and easy to understand, with lists of difficulties that may be encountered with this tough-to-pin-down learning difference. I especially appreciated the chapter on brain development. The author takes a hopeful view that diligence on the part of teacher and student, with an awareness of difficulties to be overcome, can take the student to success in his or her endeavors. Here a little, there a little. The book addresses how to deal with dyslexia in a school setting and on the legislative level as well. (A little side note-- as a former proofer I found some silly typos in the book as well as a few strangely constructed sentences and wonder who did the proofing/editing.)

In my reading about learning differences I often find myself thinking "This sounds just like me!" Sometimes I experience a type of educator's couvade. When I was reading about central auditory processing disorder, I wondered if that was my problem. When I was reading about ADD/ADHD I wondered if that was what I was struggling with. Now I see dyslexia in myself-- something very easy to do, given its ambiguous nature and large symptom list. I began to label the behavior of everyone around me if they showed the least little symptoms of one of these differences. Cast about with every wind of... educational thought. I've got to be more careful about that.

I did read a little more of Jungle Pilot last night. I think I am getting back to my Stacks reading now, having had my fill of self-help books for the present.

Previous From The Stacks Challenge posts:

Stacks I
Animal Farm
Where the Red Fern Grows
Bad Guys

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Year's Resolution

Oh, I miss my coffeeee!!!! My lovely, sugar-sweetened, cream-tinted coffee!! My precious, my precious...


We read "Good-bye and Keep Cold" by Robert Frost this morning, which is about his desire to protect his orchard from too warm of weather during the winter (the cold insures the fruitfulness of the trees, if I remember correctly), and this stanza stood out to me.

I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

We have been discussing home atmosphere on one of the CM lists and this poem illustrates a point I tried to make in a post, although we were talking about children, not trees.

Our children have thought lives that we do not control. Their hearts, while we can attach them if we love them properly, are theirs as well. Our children have an atmosphere that is theirs, and we can only hope to influence it with our living books and our loving attitudes and our expectations of excellence.

So, if you have been following the discussion at CMSeries, this is what I meant. The Lord does not want us to rest in our own capabilities, or in our curriculum, or in our habits and schedules, but in Him. Something has to be left to God.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Find in this Mind

You know the Find on this Page function you can use to search a webpage? Triss would like to have a Find in this House function so she can locate books and pencils.

Ever since I discovered that function a couple of years ago, I have been looking for the Edit heading in my traditional paper books so I can Find on this Page in some of my old favorites. Thankfully the CM books are online, so with those I can Find on this Page any time I want. The Bible is online and searchable as well. I use that a lot too, usually when something I'm reading reminds me of something I read in the Bible and I don't know exactly where it is, but I want to see if my memory is applying the verse in proper context and connotation. I really like that function.

But the coolest application of this idea would be a Find in this Mind function. And actually, the most amazing Programmer in the universe has put that function into each of us. I'm still learning how to access it. The key is to make sure the input is good, short term memory is utilized and attention is applied; then the information must be understood, processed and connected to like information; and if these two steps are followed properly, the Find in this Mind function ought to work beautifully. Unless you have been contaminating the circuits with poor nutrition, or not accessing enough ventilation (fresh air, exercise).

Can you tell I have been reading about learning differences and cognitive brain function?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bad Guys

Here is Triss' latest Rob Roy narration. As you can see, she has gotten into the story:

Rashleigh and Frank met in the hall. R told F that Diana was betrothed to Thorncliff and that R couldn’t become a catholic priest. This really didn’t endear R to F and he arrived at dinner sulky.

RASHLEIGH IS A BAD GUY! When Diana heard about it, she told F so. She said that R was just wicked and that he was very cunning and that he could fool anyone. I don’t think I like R any more. He’s, like I said in December 1, “a mysterious evil sort”.

This is getting weirder and weirder. NOW this fella named Father Vaughan, an intimate of R’s, has been introduced into the picture.

I had the idea that Diana knew Rashleigh was a bad guy, but Triss seems to think Die had just found out about it. I think Die has known for a long time, though, and has only at this point revealed Rashleigh's evil ways to Frank.

We are reading so many "bad guy" books this term. Here is Rashleigh, and we have Richard III (Shakespeare's Richard, who is definitely a bad guy), and the pigs in Animal Farm. At least the good guys in Rob Roy seem to be attempting to thwart evil, which is more than we can say for the good animals of Animal Farm or the people in Richard III. In Shakespeare, we just finished reading the part where Hastings is slain practically in the middle of his self-admiring proclamations of how he and Richard are hand in glove. I just about choked at this line:

His grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning;
There's some conceit or other likes him well
When that he bids good morrow with such spirit.
I think there's ne'er a man in Christendom
Can lesser hide his love or hate than he;
For by his face straight shall you know his heart.

I suppose I shouldn't editorialize in the middle of a reading, but I just had to add a scornful "NOT!" at the end of that line. Of course, the poor man figured it out by the end of the scene.It is hard to believe how ignorant (willingly?) are the people around Richard. Not the common people or the children, of course. Only the ones who have something to keep and something to hide and something to defend. They are not thinking clearly about right and wrong and why things do not make sense, but are only posturing to save their hides, thankful they are in favor, and not the ones being beheaded.

In contrast to these sad stories, today we read about the Apostle Paul getting in trouble with the Jewish authorities in the book of Acts. Paul was not one who stood back and tried to blend in. He said what the Lord commanded him to say, and he was not afraid of trouble. In this chapter, the high priest instructed his thugs to smack Paul across the mouth. Paul called him a whited wall, and asked him how he dared to do something unlawful as he stood there trying to judge Paul by the law. Then one of the other leaders reprimanded Paul for disrespecting the high priest and Paul said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Paul said what needed to be said, but he also showed respect for authority, "saluting the uniform" when he couldn't honor the man wearing it.

Paul then confused the leaders by letting the Pharisees know that he too was a Pharisee and was being persecuted because of the hope and resurrection of the dead. This caused the leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) to quarrel among themselves, and the captain of the guard rescued Paul and brought him back to the castle. Later, Paul's nephew came to him with news that some of the Jews had vowed to kill him, and he informed the captain of the guard, who managed to send Paul to the governor and relative safety (also a nice place to preach to Felix, his wife, and assorted centurions). Paul knew he needed to submit to authority, but he also understood how to use his wits and appeal to the next higher earthly authority when necessary.

My favorite part of the story (and this is the part that keeps it from being sad) is when the Lord comes to Paul at night, before he is moved to the governor's house, and tells him:

Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

This is the reassurance that God has a plan, and He is in control. When confronted with bad guys doing bad things, we need to pray and find out what the Lord would have us do. This is not the same as bowing your head and trying to ignore the way things are. Sometimes we will be powerless. A lot of times we will be. But I know Who has the power, and we can pray to Him. We can also use the brains God gave us to figure out how to glorify Him through our trials and make things better by His grace. We don't want to be blind dolts anxious to secure our place in the sun, whichever side comes out ahead.

(I'm not sure where I am going with this, but all these ideas jumbled together in my mind today and I actually had time to type them out, so I will go ahead and post them.)

Additional note: After sleeping on it, I realized what all these bad guys have in common. There is almost always a bad guy in a story, but these particular bad guys have a lot of intelligence and cunning. So we are dealing with a lot of intelligent, deceptive, cunning bad guys this term.

Gathering Up The Fragments

Each chapter in the More With Less Cookbook has a section called Gathering Up The Fragments, based on Jesus' words after he had fed the multitude with five barley loaves and two fishes: "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." (John 6:12) These sections consist of ideas for leftovers. Last week, Mariel and I realized there were several bags of "mystery flour" in the freezer-- things I had bought in bulk at the health food store and not labelled properly. I figured when I bought them that I would remember what they were since I bake so much, but I have grown increasingly dependent on convenience foods in the last few months. In the spirit of gathering fragments, we combined the freezer flours into one big bag and are now using the mixture in our pancake and waffle recipes.

(This is something we decided to do before I realized I was stockpiling flours. I was just trying to clean out the freezer after Christmas. But it does fit well with the Year of Abundance.)

A Year of Abundance

Mama Squirrel and Meredith clued me in to this great suggestion by Sallie at A Gracious Home. She wants to live by the following saying in the coming year, and has invited others to join her:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.

Mr. Honey and I have decided to pull away from overindulgence this year (especially, ahem, in the food area) and I think blogging about it with a focus on appreciating what we do have is a wonderful, positive way to make good on our commitment. I'm sure it won't be easy-- I have already blown it and it's only the 5th of January. (I don't think Mr. Honey has blown it. That man makes up his mind and is the Immovable Object. I'm the Irresistable Force when I want to be. Scary thought, isn't it? It's a good thing we get along so well. But that's another story.) I intend to pick myself up and try again when I fail this year, and not let the failures be the end of the commitment, but just another step (albeit a backward one, perhaps!) on the road to the goal.

I wasn't really sure how to start blogging about it, but I know we do have an abundance, because sometimes when I open the school supply closet things fall out and land on me. This gave me the idea of beginning by figuring out what we do have.

I was scared to go to that particular closet first, so I looked in the pantry instead, and I want you to know we will not be starving any time soon. We have so much. Especially flour and pasta and rice and other grains. Oh, goodness. I didn't realize I was stockpiling it. I made a list of what we had, categorizing it by type of food, and the list of starches/breads was so long it went down the entire sheet of notebook paper.

Just for laughs, here is the (fiendish) starchy list:

Spaghetti noodles
Egg noodles
Boxed instant potatoes
Whole wheat flour
White flour
Club crackers
Whole oats
Pasta shells
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Pioneer baking mix
Semolina flour
Flour tortillas
Whole wheat bread
Wheat germ
Goldfish crackers
Buckwheat flour
Frosted mini-wheats
Raisin Bran
Whole millet
Brown rice

We are a family that does better with less sugar and refined flours. We do better when we eat enough protein and fruits and vegetables and not a lot of dairy. But "best" has given way to "convenience" in the last few months, and we are all paying the (lethargic, moody, irritable) price. We are now attempting to bring our eating habits back into line with what is good for us rather than what is fastest.


You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

(Well, at least we know Mom is learning something from all this homeschooling! lol!)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thank You Notes

This afternoon, full of virtuous feeling, I set the children to work on thank you notes. Our newest reader, Cornflower, required much spelling of words. She was still working on her cards when Triss and I moved to the computer to do a Plutarch lesson. As we read and discussed, Cornflower continued asking words: 'gave,' 'pajamas,' etc. Triss and I finished the lesson and I idly clicked on email. Cornflower asked, "Mom, how do you spell 'knee'?"

"K-n-e-e," I said absently as I read over an email about a stamping class.

"K?" she asked uncertainly.

"Mmm-hmm. Isn't that weird?"


There was silence for a few seconds. I thought about explaining the relationship 'k' has with 'n' but decided against it. She is still in three letter short vowel words in her phonics book, and our English language is weird. (It never occurred to me to think how weird it was that she wanted to write the word 'knee' in a thank you note.)

Then she said, "But I spelled it...hmm... k-n..."

Finally, she was finished. As I looked at the card, I realized at once the absurdity of the word 'knee' in a thank you note-- and immediately understood her request.

She was thanking her aunt for a gift of 'mo-knee.'

Monday, January 01, 2007


There! The DHM has said it much better than I can.

"Here's my hint for the new year- make sure your goals are not the sort that will find you burning bridges with others on your way to burning out yourself. Remember that the point of what you are doing is to bear fruit of the sort useful and sustaining to living souls, real people with hearts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, made in God's image. You do not want a 'perfect' house and a 'perfect' homeschool that accomplishes primarly 'mechanical action instead of the vital growth and movement of a living being.' (Charlotte Mason)"

Never a Dull Moment

As we drove home from picking up some curtain rods for Mariel's new curtains, Mr. Honey said, "Mariel, are those screws from the old curtain hardware still sitting on your dresser?"

"Yes, they're still there. You know the tall one? He's the tallest, so he's the president. The white ones are all lying down, and the blue one is giving a speech. That's how you will know them," Mariel said helpfully.

"Um, okay. I'll look for that. Thanks." Mr. Honey glanced at me. I was trying not to laugh. He said, "The next time one of these kids comes to me complaining of boredom, I'm going to say, 'Whose kid are you, anyway? Here, have some screws to play with!'"

At that moment, Cornflower shouted, "Daddy, can we ple-e-ea-se go the long way home this time?" And Triss began reading aloud a poem about some people named Hodge and Podge.

Happy New Year from our family to yours~ we wish you screws to imagine with, poetry to share, and time to go the long way.