Friday, September 29, 2006

A Friday morning

I'm finding Fridays are our more-relaxed homeschool day this year. Wednesdays are our sort-of-different day because we do some once-a-week subjects, but Fridays are more laid back.

After breakfast, Crayons was immersed in Rumer Godden's The Fairy Doll. She was most of the way through it by 9:00, when The Apprentice had headed off to school and Ponytails and I were ready to start lessons here. So the book was put down (reluctantly, with the bribe of a pretty bookmark) and we sang O Canada and some hymns from the Mennonite Bicentennial booklets. (Come We That Love the Lord; Unity (Ponytails' choice); and For God So Loved Us.) (Here's the German version of For God So Loved Us; I'll have to hunt online for the English.)

We read some of Proverbs 29 (since it's the 29th), from The Message. (We have a small copy, just Proverbs.)

Ponytails studied for dictation (and then wrote it) while Crayons went back to her book (and finished it). This was the dictation, from Peter Pan:

"I wish I had a pretty house,
The littlest ever seen,
With funny little red walls
And roof of mossy green."

Then we finished chapter 2 in A Child's Geography, mostly about the mesosphere. Ponytails drew herself out there with an oxygen mask on, surrounded by shooting stars. I'm not exactly sure what Crayons drew.

The girls wanted a snack and we had eaten up all the cookies, so I let them make peanut butter balls. After the mess lovely snack, we played the Sum What Dice Game from Family Math, and read a couple of poems and a chapter from Crystal Mountain. And that's it for this morning...After lunch we're planning on taking the nature notebooks outside and looking for Gymnosperms and Pterophyta. Do you know what those are? (Google is off limits!). Virtual coloured pencils for right answers.

Crayons on Rumer Godden

"I wish I was the Fairy Doll. Look, she's having a nice time. She's sitting on a toadstool!"

(We have the ex-library hardcover pictured on that website, with illustrations by Adrienne Adams. It's the same edition--although not the same copy--that I remember reading at my grandma's when I was young. We found it at a yard sale when The Apprentice was small--right after I'd been remembering that book and wondering if I could find a copy of it somewhere. Those things do happen! Ask me about Anna Comstock sometime...)

More homeschooling news from Europe

None of it's good. (Thanks to homeschoolbuzz.com for posting this.) [Update: Dana at Principled Discovery has posted some other links about this issue.]

For those in Canada who want to respond, the article includes the address and phone number of the German embassy in Ottawa.
“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling

If you check out Palm Tree Pundit's Carnival of Homeschooling, you can get a look at autumn in Hawaii at the same time. (Well, Anne at Palm Tree Pundit says Hawaii doesn't really have autumn, so this is a use-your-imagination look.) Lots of fall-themed entries, too.

No moss growing under our feet

Our blogging has been a bit slow this week (combination of limited time on dialup plus school plus...). I know.

These are some things we've been doing:

1. Looking at moss as part of our Botany study. Did you know that moss is a non-vascular plant? Probably you did, but my knowledge of Botany is not great, so I'm learning along with the squirrelings. And we never knew that we had so much moss in our backyard until we went out with a magnifying glass to look for some.

2. Looking at angiosperms in our backyard, ditto. Did you know that rose hips have little fuzzy things inside of them? We cut one open, along with an unripe grape tomato, to see if their insides looked the same; but they're quite different.

3. Mama Squirrel is going to a focus group about breakfast cereal this afternoon (two hours' easy work, and yes, we admit we eat our share of cold cereal in the Treehouse, although not for dinner). The Apprentice will be home from school by that time, so she can sister-sit for awhile, and then we'll blow some of the proceeds on takeout food since Mama Squirrel isn't here to make dinner.

4. We made mummified apple slices as part of an Egyptian history lesson. You mix equal amounts of salt and baking soda, slice some apples, and put the apple slices into the mixture for a week. The slices are supposed to get leathery and dried out (like mummies) instead of rotting, if you put enough mixture on top of them.

It worked, sort of. The apples didn't rot...they were just very strange.

5. The Apprentice has been doing very well in her classes and on her assignments. The only trouble she got into last week was for playing with a yo-yo during lunch break. (The hall monitor didn't think she should be doing it over a stairwell...)

The strangest way she's spent a class period so far is watching Mrs. Doubtfire.

6. There's more, but I'm on dialup, remember? I'll be back later.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This is tofu? (Chocolate Pie)

This recipe was created by Jennifer McLain and was printed as a “Recipe Redux” (makeover feature) in Vegetarian Times, January 1994. I’ve found it in a couple of places online without any credit given.

Jennifer explained her need to create something wonderful (and somewhat healthier or at least lower in fat than other chocolate pie recipes) for a family special occasion: “it would have to have the taste and appearance of one that was spectacularly unhealthful.”

Well, it does! We’ve made it twice, once for Christmas when a vegan relative was coming, and once this year for dinner with friends. It’s very chocolaty (think mousse?) and very rich, and it really does serve 12 (because you won’t want a big piece. Well, maybe you will.).

This is the recipe as published, with my notes in brackets. (It took me longer to track down the right tofu and preserves than it did to make the pie.)

Chocolate Pie After Redux

(It can be made up to three days in advance.)

Ingredients

Crust:
*7 oz. chocolate wafer cookies or graham crackers
and
*2 tbsp. canola oil or melted margarine.
(My note: I just make a graham cracker crust following the directions in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. You can use any crumb crust recipe you like.)

Filling:
* 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate (a box of the supermarket kind is fine)

* 2 10-oz. packages silken tofu
(The first time I made this, I bought a 19-oz. box of aseptically-packaged silken tofu, because Jennifer insisted that the tofu be the silken type. The second time, I had to use what the supermarket offered, which was soft (but not silken) tofu in 300 g (about 10 ½ oz.) water-pack tubs. I used two tubs, and it worked fine.)

*10-oz. jar blackberry preserves
(Jennifer says that preserves made from any red berry (strawberry, raspberry or cherry) will work. You don't taste the particular fruit, it just adds sweetness and texture. The first time, I used a jar of black cherry preserves. The second time, I was again limited to what the discount supermarket had, and I had trouble finding anything in the jam aisle marked “preserves.” I settled for a cupful of E.D. Smith Triple Fruit Wildberry spread, which is thinner than normal jam and seemed to work well.)

*1 tsp. vanilla extract

*1 cup liquid honey
(You may think you need to cut back on the honey after putting in a cupful of preserves or jam. However, we tried cutting back, tasted it after blending, and agreed that it did need pretty much close to the whole cupful. Remember, you’re adding a lot of unsweetened chocolate.)

Directions

Crust (if you’re following the recipe here): Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In blender or food processor, combine cookies and oil or margarine and pulse to make fine crumbs. Press into bottom of springform pan or pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool.

Filling: Melt chocolate in double boiler or over very low heat. Put remaining ingredients in bowl of food processor or blender and add melted chocolate. Process until very smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.

Pour filling into crust, smooth top, and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight. Serves 12. Per serving: 409 calories, 17 g fat, 57 mg carb.

Homeschooling carnival (sometime today)

The Thinking Mother will be hosting. [Update: it's up now, here.]

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jasmine's dinners with Edna

Jasmine at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict posted some wonderful memories of her visits with Edna Staebler. Who knew that Edna liked Indian food?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Birthdays, frugal and otherwise

The Deputy Headmistress has posted about her family's frugal birthday traditions. We do some things that are frugal, some that aren't, and some things that are just traditions. Some years the Squirrelings have had kid-parties, and some years they've opted for a family outing. Some years the birthday has extended over a weekend or a couple of days as we've celebrated with other relatives.

This week is Ponytails' birthday, and I should really be baking a cake right now instead of blogging. She's invited a couple of friends and her sisters to go mini-golfing with her tomorrow afternoon, and then they'll come back here for hamburgers and cake. Her birthday is sort of a Groovy theme this year; the girls are going to wear anything Groovy they can find, and we're making this Groovy Jeans cake. I don't do cakes that take a lot of skill with an icing tube; I like cut-up cakes or the kind that we can decorate with candies or plastic people or animals (NOT the kind from the cake decorating aisle--we usually use what we have in the toy box).

The best parties we've had are for Mr. Fixit--and they're almost always just for our own family, which is kind of a shame since they're usually very creative (if I do say so myself). The theme is always a surprise (unless he guesses), and it's usually based on whatever he's watching or doing that year. We've had a Dr. Who party (the Tardis was our hall closet), a time-travel-through-your-life party, a records party, a Junior-Monopoly-come-to-life party (when you landed on the Puppet Show, you got a real Puppet show and so on), and I can't remember what else. The most unusual was a Marvin the Star-Nosed Mole party which would only mean anything if you've seen the 13-episode run of the '80's TV series Four on the Floor with The Frantics. (Want to sign a petition to get it put on DVD?) We thought Marvin was wonderful so we made Mr. Fixit a board game starring Marvin and our own Dewey Squirrel (it was based on a Barbie Prom game I used to have), and a brown-dirt cake with a marshmallow Marvin coming out of a molehill. And brown streamers, of course.

Parties should be fun and have a bit of surprise to them, even if the presents are from the dollar store and we forgot to get balloons. That's pretty much the way we do it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Me and Bubba and a bag of pork rinds

After all the times I've heard it, this list of responses to "aren't your kids in school today?" still makes me laugh.

Only in Ontario

Crayons was singing along to a cowboy song on a Sharon, Lois and Bram tape. (Yes, we still play tapes.) The verse went,

"My pony is a beauty, his name is Buckaroo."

Only she insists it's Polkaroo.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Better late than never

I have been so busy this week that I forgot about the homeschooling carnival (it usually goes up on Tuesdays). Dana at Principled Discovery hosted this week's carnival.

A trip through the Middle East

Without leaving home.

Ann and Tonia at A Child's Geography have begun posting chapters from their new book about the geography of the Holy Land (and other Middle Eastern countries). You can read sample chapters here.

We're using Ann's first book this fall, and I'm looking forward to being able to start the new book when we're done that!

[Update: The amazingly productive Ann has also written a Jesse Tree Devotional, which you can order here (scroll down the page to see it). All proceeds are going to Operation Christmas Child.)

Computer woes

We've had a great deal of trouble lately with our highspeed connection. It's slow, we get disconnected, and so on. Mr. Fixit, who deals with this kind of problem at work, says that it's mostly a problem of overcrowding--too many users! So for the time being, we're using dialup.

And we have only one phone line.

So that's why blogging and blog-reading will be a little slow here until we can get the problems solved.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Remembering Edna Staebler

Edna Staebler, whose cookbooks feed my memories as well as my family, passed away yesterday at the age of 100.

The CBC has some details here.

I posted a link to her 100th birthday party here awhile back, along with a tuna recipe. Her Butterscotch Dumplings are also one of the most-Googled recipes that people climb up here looking for.

I think one of the most revealing comments on the local radio reports about her today was that the nursing home where she had spent the last couple of years had to revisit its rules on the number of visitors that residents were allowed. Edna had upwards of 30 people a week come to see her there--some old friends, some looking for autographs, some who just wanted to talk to her.

I met Edna only briefly once or twice, at book signings. But she sent me a really nice note a few years ago, after I'd sent her a long-overdue fan letter. She wrote it in the middle of the night when she was up with a toothache, and she said my letter made her hungry. I still have the letter stuck in my copy of Food That Really Schmecks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Frugal and Proud of it

Here's a link to this week's Festival of Frugality. I don't usually link to this one, but we have a post in there this week too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

When the old rules change

This post started out as a conversation--actually many conversations, many of them with Mr. Fixit. Then it graduated to scribbles and arrows on the back of a computer printout; and now I'm trying to make something coherent out of it. So you'll understand if it sounds like I'm coming from a lot of directions at once.

What we're talking about here is the thing that we call frugality, simplicity, or just making ends meet. The world has changed--not just in the last 50 years, but in the last 10 or 15. And the rules about how you make do on less (by choice or by default) have changed. I'm not sure if the principles themselves have changed, but the ways we apply them have. [Update: I keep using the word "rules." I don't like it, but it's hard to come up with another word a bit less severe. I mean it more in the sense of "rules of the game, how you play" than "rules to follow or face banishment." OK?]

The rule for thrifty transportation used to be, buy a decent used car and keep it fixed yourself. (If you couldn't get away with the bus, a bicycle, or a horse.) Up until a couple of years ago, the Squirrels had never owned a new car; we never needed to. Mr. Fixit had the tools and the know-how to buy and service older cars that still had some mileage left in them. Other than gas costs, we spent very, very little money on those cars. They were cheap to buy and insure, and if they were well taken care of, they hardly ever had to go to a garage. When they eventually died, we replaced them with similar cars.

Then came the new run of cars that aren't worth buying used. They're poorly made to start with and they have fewer user-serviceable parts. Most of the "old grandpa" cars are gone. Add to that the new realities of emissions testing, smaller parking spaces, and changes in insurance, and suddenly doing things our old way is no longer an option.

So Mr. Fixit's new rule is "find something new and moderately priced, and take care of it as well as you can (that includes things like taking it easy on the gas pedal)."

The problem of "the new things just aren't as good" applies to all kinds of things:

1. The last potential new Treehouse we looked at was about 12 years old; the windows and the roof already needed to be replaced (apparently those are the first things to go in new slammed-together houses).

2. Mr. Fixit's stereo equipment was bought in the 1980's; two of the components needed repairs this year (which Mr. Fixit managed to do with the help of the Squirrelings), and that was the FIRST TIME EVER that they hadn't worked. Try getting that mileage out of something off the shelf now.

3. FarAwaySis bought us a food processor for a wedding present. It's had several new parts over the years; there's a small fixit shop near us that used to do that sort of thing, no problem. And it's still running. But now the fixit shop is just about out of business. Nobody's bringing their food processors and whatsits in to be fixed (you'd put a new motor into something that's cheaper to buy new?), and they can't get the parts anyway.

4. Grandma Squirrel bought a new sewing machine, top of the line in 1960. She sewed on that thing--and she sewed a lot--for forty years. Mr. Fixit bought me a new sewing machine for Christmas, and he had to really look to find something solid (he chose a commercial model). And I still don't expect forty years out of it, even though I do like it very much.

5. You can get smaller and smaller on this track of things, from houses to cars to sewing machines to band-aids that don't stick and pencils that won't sharpen. The Squirrelings play with my old Barbies because the heads of their own new ones have broken off. The point is the same: mass production and moving a lot of manufacturing to third-world countries have cost us all in quality. Stuff is cheap and plentiful, but it doesn't last--small things, big things, very big things like houses. It can't be fixed, or if it can, the repairs cost more than the replacements. And you can't send houses to the junkyard.

And that means, thrifty friends, that the rules have changed. It's harder to find good stuff that's WORTH hanging onto, fixing, re-using, recycling. New laws mean that you can't even resell some stuff that someone else could use--like car seats, cribs, older cars.

Here are some of the rules [of the game, or guidelines, or principles, however you want to say it--see update above] we're currently operating under. Most of the ideas are not new--we just have to work harder at thinking of new ways to apply them.

1. Avoid excess. Everything from the plate of cookies at the office to most of the junk sold at yard sales (and I love yard sales), the gifts given for every occasions, and garages stuffed with everything. The concept of buying less and using less still works. Take fewer pictures, buy shoes that match more of your clothes, make simpler birthday cakes (without character pans).

2. Stay behind the trend. Buy the older version if you can still make it work. Sometimes this is possible now that we have the Internet--because you can buy gizmos and parts on E-bay to keep an old whatsit going. Mr. Fixit has bought older cell phones and their battery packs online--and he keeps them going.

3. Stay WAY behind the trend. Mr. Fixit's latest thing (well, you weren't going to blog about this yourself, were you?) is trying out a vintage razor, a mug of shaving soap and a brush. (You can buy those on E-bay too.) He says the soap feels better on his face, and besides, it's one less pressurized can of shaving cream in the dump.

4. Focus on time, people, and space--three things that deserve more attention than stuff. Do non-techie things together.

5. Have a favourite hobby or two--not twenty with different stuff for all of them. Put time into learning something that will pay off or benefit you and your family instead of just being short-term fun. Like making salsa, or learning to fix things (what things there are left that are fixable), or starting a rock collection.

6. Take Krakovianka's approach to decorating--go for the natural look, pottery and that sort of thing vs. plastic and particle board. Wood is still wood, and clay is still clay.

7. Use what you have (the Deputy Headmistress's approach). George Washington Carver used different colours of mud to make paint for buildings (I read that in Krakovianka's favourite book about him). Use whatever you have better and more creatively.

8. Don't focus so much on the cosmetics of things, stewing over just the perfect colour or style. I once read about a woman who had just been through a find-your-style seminar and shopping makeover, and then she went on vacation and lost her luggage (all her new clothes) at the airport. She said something like, "I didn't let it get me down at all! I just thought, I'm a beautiful person in less-than-perfect clothes, and I'm going to have a great vacation anyway."

We haven't re-papered or painted the Treehouse living room since we've lived there. Which means the paper's been up since the 1970's. It's even been patched in one place (although you have to look close to notice). We just preferred to use our money on some comfy furniture before we got around to making the walls look better. It doesn't make any difference to what we do in the room or whether we're happy there.

9. Sometimes say, "that's good enough," and leave it at that. Accept the natural way of things, like the Sultan in Jane Yolen's The Sultan's Perfect Tree (who learned that it's okay if the leaves fall off in the autumn).

Download some humour

Maria at Homeschool Math Blog pointed out this downloadable book of Homeschool Humor, by Joyce M. Jackson. (It's a PDF file that will start downloading when you click on the link.)

End of the week (phew)

It's been a very good first week of school here. We've actually gotten through most of things that I had planned to do! And everybody's still smiling. Yesterday we started "As You Like It" from Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, and "Florence Nightingale" in Armed with Courage. And started the book about music and composers that goes with our Leonard Bernstein record set. (That was fun. The chapter we read (just part of it) is based on this script , "What does Music Mean?")

Today will be a bit shortened because we're going to the library after lunch. The lineup looks like this:

Read from Proverbs
Ponytails, work on math page; Crayons, do the usual math routine with Mama Squirrel (next week's math will be a bit more varied)

A Child's Geography, the second part of chapter 1
(Mr. Fixit kindly got our e-text printed out and comb-bound this week)

Memory work: the Canadian provinces

Folk songs: the same ones as before

Read about garden snails from Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I think Crayons would like Chesterton

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."

--from G.K. Chesterton, "On Lying in Bed," in Tremendous Trifles

Yahoo!

I was zooming in to my avvie on Yahoo!, and guess what I found? A whole bunch of funny faces.

What else do I have to do but put funny pictures on the blog? Nothing but time on my hands, dude, time on my hands.

Coffee...need coffee...

I got a spam email this evening from someone calling themselves "Caffeine". I wonder how they calmed down enough from being so hyper to send it to me...

C-A-R-N-I-V-A-L (with a disco beat)

Dayton Daily News education reporter Scott Elliott hosts the Education Carnival this week.

I liked this entry:
"So let me ask you this, teachers — does being a school board member make you an “educator?” At the Miami Herald’s Gradebook, education reporter and blogger Matt Pinzur writes about a candidate for state senator whose salsa-esque, spanish-language campaign jingle calls this phone book salesman an “educator.”"

Why we love Crayons

"I am a snowflake in the Waltz of the Nutcrackers." (Said while dancing.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another process post: Wednesday's work

I'm going to do here pretty much what I did yesterday, just because Wednesday's schedule is quite a bit different from Tuesday's. Wednesday is our "different day" of the week--no Bible, no regular math, and it's the only day where I've scheduled computer time in for both Crayons and Ponytails.

After our regular opening (usually a hymn and prayer, often an extra like reading a Psalm together), Crayons will get 20 minutes of computer time while Ponytails does a grammar lesson (one of the Peter Pan lessons I posted about previously). Then Ponytails can use the Carmen Sandiego math CD-Rom while Crayons has her math time and probably time to read a story with me.

Next is the week's second history lesson. Since Ponytails finished her chapter about the beginnings of Ancient Egypt yesterday (some of them will take her two sessions), we're going to take a few minutes to look at extra books--Usborne's Ancient World has a good double spread about life along the Nile. She'll make an entry in her notebook--just a little writing and then enough time for a picture.

Then French. I don't have a commercial curriculum this year for French. I do have a couple of storybooks that were originally written in English and translated into French--they each have about a hundred one- or two-page stories in them. This is going to be an experiment in following some of CM's French-teaching ideas--reading a very short story (or part of one), working with snipped-apart printouts of the words and phrases (making new sentences), with the goal of learning to narrate a little too. I've done this before with a couple of easy-reader books in French, but this is the first time that I've tried to base a term's work on it. The first story is called "La devinette" (The riddle), and it's about two children arguing about what colour they think their father's new car is--blue or green? (It turns out to be turquoise, a word that's as easy to understand in French as in English!)

Folk songs: A la volette (to continue in French), and A Paper of Pins.

Snack break...

Then copywork. One perfect line for Ponytails, a couple of letters for Crayons. [Update: we did this with dry-erase markers on small-sized white boards.]

And last thing in the morning: Breugel (or Bruegel or Brueghel or Breughel), Peasant Wedding. That's Picture Study.

After lunch: An Emily Dickinson poem (we read a little about her life yesterday too), Peter Pan, and a nature walk before the Apprentice gets home from school. [Update: that was fun, and we had good weather for it. We just went around the block and checked out our favourite gardens and trees. We noticed that the catalpa tree that used to be covered with flowers now has big bean pods all over it. The leaves on the one oak tree that we know of are still mostly green--no acorns on the ground yet. Some of the summer flowers are gone, but most of them are still brightly coloured.]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Homeschool Carnival Week 36

The Labor Day edition of the Homeschool Carnival is up at Why Homeschool.

New school day

What do you do to get ready for the next school day? Just open the book? Make up lesson plans? Somewhere in between? This is a process post...

We're still so new at this school year that I'm making up "lists of what we have to do today," even though Ponytails' and Crayons' work is in my binder, supposedly there to be drawn on. So I go through my list and think "how will I do this? What books do I need? Where are the Scrabble letters?" This is what I'm doing right now.

[Updates after we've done this. I forgot to say that we started by reading Psalm 24 (we have a nice copy of it from an old Sunday School paper), by singing "Day by Day" (see our last Sunday hymn post), and by praying.]

Bible: 1 Samuel chapter 9, the story of Saul and the lost donkeys. Remember last year when we read about the Judges? Now Samuel is old and Israel wants a king. Picture the scene: Can you imagine the day when Saul's donkeys got lost and he was wandering around searching for them? Read the chapter. Take turns narrating. See what other points come up: maybe that God is behind all that happens, even lost donkeys and which way Saul went.

[Update: I should have known we couldn't read a story about runaway donkeys without some references back to Bert and Ethel and the pig search.]

Spelling: Ponytails find words that start with anti- , and put them into the Personal Dictionary she started last year. Crayons make words that have "an" in them, using Scrabble letters, and copy some of them on paper.

[Update: there are very few good grade 4 spelling words that start with the prefix "anti-." However, we did find one classic: antidisestablishmentarianism. Ponytails added it to her dictionary.]

History (Ponytails): read A Child's History of the World, chapter 5 ("Real History"), for 10 to 15 minutes while I do math with Crayons.

Crayons' math: put one popsicle stick in our "100 days" container. (That makes two!) Do a little work on the hundred chart with me (What is 2 more than 52? What is 2 less than 32?). Trace numerals in a dollar-store math workbook (she still has trouble with reversals).

[Addition: while Ponytails was reading her book on the back porch, Crayons and I also had time to read "The Jumblies" and "The Dong with the Luminous Nose." She likes Edward Lear a lot.]

History: Ponytails narrate back to me.

Memory work: Ponytails work on one Emily Dickinson poem. [She chose "My river runs to thee."]

Writing: we usually have handwriting scheduled here for Ponytails, but we're going to skip it today.

Math for Ponytails: work on the first couple of worksheets in Making Math Meaningful (about place value through the hundred thousands). If Crayons wants some of this math too, show her how to use Base 10 blocks to show tens and ones (like her popsicle sticks). So: remember to get out the blocks (for Ponytails too, if she wants them, although they only go to 1,000, and maybe the abacus we made a few years ago).

[Ponytails let Crayons use her spelling puzzle set during math time.]

Music Theory: this is less intense than it sounds. I bought the introduction-to-music pack to go with our Music Maker harp, and we're going to work through it a bit at a time. The first lesson teaches words like treble clef and bass clef. So: I have to get that out.

Crafts: Morning crafts are the non-messy kind. Since Ponytails is really interested in doing some crocheting (she did a bit last year), we'll review making chains and single crochet. I have some ideas for simple (small) things she could work on this year, like a Barbie hat and poncho. Ponytails has much bigger ideas, like a girl-sized shawl or a pet net. So: I have to go round up some crochet hooks and decent-sized yarn.

Lunch break! Lunch break!

After lunch readalouds: Emily Dickinson poems; "Ra and His children"; Crystal Mountain.

And then some time with the Apprentice, who will be home before lunch today because the high school kids only go for an assembly and to meet in their homerooms and find their lockers and that stuff.

And then we're done.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Overheard (Wonder-daddy)

Squirrel 1: How does Dr. Who do that?
Squirrel 2: Duh, he's a Timelord. Like Daddy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

When I was a young squirrel...

Yes, I am copying from Katelyn's Confessions of a Deranged Psychopath. I thought I'd share some of the award-winning entries from my diary. Mine are nowhere near as funny as hers, but I thought I'd give it a shot, because, if not funny, they are amusing.

This is the very first page, it's from 1999 but I didn't date them at the time. Sometime before thanksgiving, I think maybe I got it for my birthday, which is in June, but I'm not sure. Line spacing, lettering, and spelling has been kept for your benefit. I changed a few things several years ago, mostly unreadable spelling.


DEAR DiARY
TO DAY I GOt YOU.
THE DAD I HA-
VE iS A GART [great]
ONE! DEAR DIARY
TODAY I HAD A BAtHE.
I WeNT TO SUDAYSOCOl
AND SANG AND DANCE
AND SHOUT DEAR
DIARY TODAY i
Met SOMe
KI CAMe
DS AND TeAN HOMe.
DEAR DIARY"tHe WAVES
At SEA WITH
OCEAN BLYe'.' [I thought it sounded nice!]
DEAR DiAR Y
TODAY I WENT TO WRlOOl SRE AE [a mall, I won't
spell it right as this is a public blog]
AND TeAN CAMe
HOME. DEAR DiARY
TODAy IT WAS
RAINING TODAY
YES. P.S. I LOVE
yOU

I can post more, if you found it amusing.
Let me know in the comments.

So far this weekend

Things we've been doing:

1. The Apprentice and Mr. Fixit are out shopping for a backpack for her for school, since we suddenly realized her on-hand choices were between Franklin the Turtle and something that looked like she was ready for the High Arctic.

2. I've been doing updates to our support group's library database all weekend, plugging in ISBN numbers and trying to fix all the mistakes that our otherwise conscientious librarian (Mama Squirrel) has allowed to slip in over the past couple of years.

3. We had some excellent end-of-summer corn from our favourite vegetable stand, cooked in the pressure cooker--and that's almost as good as barbecued in the husk. We learned how to do this awhile back from Lorna J. Sass's book Cooking Under Pressure. You put a cupful of water and a vegetable steamer basket (we use the kind that folds up like a flower) into the bottom of the pressure cooker; husk and wash the corn, and put a few of the husks into the steamer; and stack the corn cobs, log-cabin style, on top of the husks. Put the top on the pressure cooker, turn on the stove, and bring the cooker up to full pressure. Then turn it off and let the steam out. That's it.

4. The Apprentice is planning another girls' knitting night, so she's been phoning around to everyone she can think of who likes to knit, crochet or cross-stitch. Ponytails would like to crochet something this fall too, so she's been looking at library books--she just has to decide what and get some yarn.

5. Mama Squirrel made a batch of the Hillbilly Housewife's hot cocoa mix, and sprang for a package of mini marshmallows from the grocery store this morning. We had some after we got the groceries put away. "I loved it, but it could use more marshmallows, a whole bag of them."--Ponytails

6. Crayons has her first loose tooth two loose teeth.

Friday, September 01, 2006

School for the Apprentice

I have a few more things to post about what Crayons and Ponytails will be doing this year, but I have also neglected The Apprentice. So this is All About Her.

After waiting all summer for an appointment, The Apprentice, Mr. Fixit and Mama Squirrel squeezed ourselves into a guidance counsellor's office at the local high school (Mr. Fixit's old school) and talked courses. It ended up that The Apprentice is going to take two courses there each semester this year: science and drama in the fall, and French and vocal music in the winter. The best thing about it is that she'll get to play in the labs (MUA HA HA HA)...the worst thing is that it takes a big chunk out of the day, what with getting there and everything.

And it's changed what's fair to expect from her other work, especially this fall when she'll be gone for a longer stretch of the day (the winter courses will just be during the afternoons).

So after The Apprentice gets home from school and fortifies herself, she'll work with Mama Squirrel for half an hour on English, logic, citizenship, and a bit of French to make sure she's ready for the winter course. Then she'll also work on poems, math and/or her Christian studies reading list before she gets to relax for awhile. After dinner (besides science homework) she'll have time to read some of the other books we had planned for literature, life skills, geography, biographies...maybe even science. I'll post about those later today.

But now I have to go and START SCHOOL!

:-)

Farewell, summer.

Books for The Apprentice

Math: Mathematics, a Human Endeavor, by Harold R. Jacobs (text & workbook)

Literature: The Battle of the Books (Swift)
Pride and Prejudice, or another Jane Austen novel, or Jane Eyre
"She Stoops to Conquer" (play by Goldsmith)
"School for Scandal" (play by Sheridan)
An Anthology of Verse (edited by Charlesworth & Lee)
The Count of Monte Cristo

Citizenship, Government, Economics:
Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused? (Maybury)
How Canadians Govern Themselves (e-book)
Economics, essays by Jane Haldimand Marcet
Ourselves, Book II, by Charlotte Mason
"Common Sense"

Biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Anton Lavoisier, Marie Curie, Abigail Adams

Science Reading: The Physics of Star Trek
Inventing the Future
, by David Suzuki
The Case for a Creator, selected chapters
Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe
The Sea Around Us, by Rachel Carson

Life Skills Reading: Books by Don Aslett and Edith Schaeffer.

Christian Studies: The Hiding Place
The Fight, by John White
Know Why You Believe, by Paul Little
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis
One other book by Paul Little or C.S. Lewis

Geography: The Walk across America, by Peter Jenkins
Heidi's Alp, by Christina Hardyment
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