Monday, November 29, 2010

Funniest Google hit this week (The Glorious Coming)

Someone found their way here with this query:

"is ann voskamp's glorious coming done yet?"

That sent them to our 2006 post mentioning the first version of The Glorious Coming.

And yes--the updated version is now available at A Holy Experience.

Thank you, Ann!

School Plans for the first week of December

This is "Ornament Week" as well as the first week of Advent! We will be doing special crafts each afternoon this week (along with the Allspice study), as well as shifting into a couple of different books for December. We will also be leaving French aside until the New Year and doing only Latin this month (hoping to include one or two Latin carols).

Crayons:

Monday

Bible reading
Hero Tales
Life of Stevenson, 10 pages
Kidnapped, one chapter
Math
George Washington's World, about Catherine the Great

Tuesday

Bible reading
Bible Geography, 1 section
History, pages 102-104
Story Book of Science: "The Age of Trees"
Math
English work (sentence structure and punctuation)
Life of Stevenson, 8 pages
Kidnapped, one chapter

Wednesday

Bible reading
Hero Tales
Math
English
Finish Life of Stevenson
Finish Kidnapped

Thursday

Bible reading
Math
English
Bible Geography
History pages 109-112
A Christmas Carol, pages 1-10

Friday

Bible reading
Math English
Hero Tales
Story Book of Science: 1 chapter
A Christmas Carol--pages 11-20

Ponytails:

Monday

Bible reading
History--catch up
Math and Science, as assigned by Dad
Mr. Pipes, 5 pages
Write with the Best Vol. 2, continue lesson on notetaking/outlining

Tuesday

Bible reading
Math, science
Composition
Mere Christianity, pages 51-52
Story of the World Vol. 4, 1/2 chapter

Wednesday

Bible reading
Math, science
Composition
Mr. Pipes, 5 pages
Story of the World, 1/2 chapter
Watership Down, 1 chapter

Thursday

Bible reading
Math, science
Composition
Mere Christianity
World of Caesar Augustus, with Mom
Watership Down

Friday

Bible reading
Math, science
Composition
Mere Christianity
Story of the World, 1/2 chapter
Watership Down, 1 chapter

Group:

Monday

Latin lesson 4 day 1
Shakespeare: Continue Twelfth Night
It Couldn't Just Happen--about two pages
Composer study: Pelléas et Mélisande (Fauré)
Poems

Tuesday

Latin lesson 4 day 2
And The Word Came With Power, chapters 2 & 3 (skip chp 1 for later)
It Couldn't Just Happen--about two pages
Poems

Wednesday

Latin lesson 4 day 3
And The Word Came With Power, chp 4 & 5
Age of Fable, half of chapter 13

Thursday

Latin lesson 4 day 4
And The Word Came With Power, chp 6 & 7
It Couldn't Just Happen, about 2 pages

Friday

Latin lesson 4 day 5
And The Word Came With Power, chp 8 & 9
Age of Fable, finish chapter 13

Sunday, November 28, 2010

“O Come O Come Emmanuel”: Advent I

I’m reading about one family’s nature-and-woods-and-symbols Advent ritual. The description is well written, the celebration is well intentioned, and the whole thing sounds much more organized than our usual Advent dining-table mess of crayons, song sheets and slightly aged artificial candle wreath. I have no quarrel with thoughtful parents who want to make their families’ holiday traditions meaningful and personalized.

But I’m wondering what, if anything, is wrong with the words I’m reading and the pictures I’m looking at.

I read “the Christ child.” That’s good.

I see pictures of Mary and Joseph. Also good.

So what’s wrong?

I think it over, and it occurs to me that though the Christ Child is named here, he seems still somewhat undefined. Or perhaps just part of the ensemble, rather than front and centre. The trees and the stars seem bigger here than He does.

And I’m thinking that if He is the “reason for the season,” the focal point, then our understanding of the reason must begin with something bigger than a little baby. Something ugly. Something messy. Something that doesn’t fit nicely into candlelight walks and rituals, into firelight and hot chocolate, into perfect Nativity scenes. Something not so easy to swaddle.

Something like sin.

Attempts to edge Christ out of Christmas may be as blatant as political groups banning Bibles; they may be as commercial as a ToyStory advent calendar; or they may be as subtle as an Advent ritual in which Christ becomes only one more thing to be symbolized along with rocks and plants. Or Christmas trees. Or even light and candles, if Christ is not behind and in and over them all. If His coming because of our darkness and sinfulness is minimized. Christ announced the beginning of His ministry by publicly reading a prophecy that said He had come to set prisoners free. Matthew 1:21 says “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Do we need to emphasize this ugliness during Advent? Shouldn’t this be a happy time, an exciting time? It’s not Lent, after all. Christmas is coming. Jesus’ birthday is easy to talk about, sing about (see any toddler Sunday School curriculum for how sweet and simple it can be made). But the reason—that’s not so simple. Not so beautiful. It doesn’t fit so well into our ABCs of Advent.

What if it doesn’t fit, can’t fit, doesn’t need to fit? What if that is the point?

“It seems, then,” said Tirian,” that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.”

”Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”

“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”—C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


When we sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” tonight, let’s emphasize the name Emmanuel, God With Us. We are singing to the Creator, the Saviour, the Lord. We are not singing to some vague spirit of love, snowfall, family, and Christmastime peace on earth. Because there is no such thing. People suffer at Christmas, sometimes die on Christmas. Wars are fought at Christmas. People are sick and lonely at Christmas. All kinds of evil is committed every single day in the world, Christmas or not. Even Longfellow admitted it:

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”


Don’t look so much to the creation…or to our creations…but the Creator. Pray for His spirit to come among us during Advent. Thank Him for His gift of the Son, for reconciliation, for restored relationship with Him. And for the work that was accomplished on the cross.

No ear may hear his coming; but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Allspice ideas?

Over the past few weeks, we've been dipping into Marmee's Sugar'n'Spice unit studies. We've mostly used our own recipes that feature the "spice of the week": ginger tea when we read about ginger; cinnamon-sugar doughnut-muffins; clove-stuck oranges rolled in nutmeg and cinnamon (we are trying to dry these out in paper bags so they won't go mouldy); and this week, the Common Room's Nutmeg Muffins with fresh-grated nutmeg.

The fifth study in the series is sugar, and I'm thinking about saving that one for later in the year--maybe around Valentine's Day. But I would like to do one more actual spice now--probably allspice, since that's another one we usually have here. Most of our allspice recipes combine it with other spices, usually in baking (in pumpkin bread) or heated in cider, so I'm trying to find a way to use it this week that gives it more of a starring role. We're not likely to be making Jamaican chicken or chutney either...something simpler would be better.

These Whole Roasted Yams with Maple-Allspice Butter sound like they might work.

Any other favourite allspice ideas?

UPDATE: the comments about Swedish meatballs reminded me that I posted a recipe for Pork Meatballs (with allspice) here a few years ago. Thanks for the memory-jogger!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Myrmidons: Written Narrations

Book used: The Age of Fable, by Thomas Bulfinch

Crayons (Grade 4) (uncorrected--Crayons' punctuation has improved greatly this fall!)

Once upon a time there was a king called Cephalus. He was right in the middle of a war. So he went to his friend Æacus. "Can I use some of your people" he asked. "Sure sure" said Æacus "as many as you want". "Thank you" said Cephalus. "But um I noticed that there isant any of your old people." "Ah yes" said Æacus "thats a long story."

Ponytails (Grade 8) (also uncorrected)

The Myrmidons

There was a war going on between Cephalus, the king of Athens and Minos, the king of Crete. Now, Cephalus was friends with the King of Ægina, Æacus. Cephalus went to Ægina to ask Æacus if he could borrow some soldiers. When he got to Ægina, he didn't see anyone he know.

"Where are all my friends?" he asked.

"I'll tell you the story," Æacus replied.

"The godess, Juno got very mad at us. Her husband, Jupiter's girlfriend's name was Ægina, like the city. She got very mad because it reminded her of her husband's other love. She sent a plague here.

"The plague wiped out all the men and women, but my son and I survived. Now I got mad, I had no people! I went to sleep under an oak tree infested with ants. I had a dream about the ants in the tree becoming men. Then I woke up.

"My dream had come true! The ants turned into men!" finished Æacus.

"Wow! That's amazing!" said Cephalus.

"Now, my friend, take as many men as you need! Good luck and good health!" exclaimed Æacus.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"New Dress a Day" challenge is almost up

Steph did it in 2008 with her Crockpot. (She's still adding to the blog, and has a new book coming out too.)

This year there's a blogger who challenged herself...on a budget of $365...to sew-cycle a dress every day for a year.  (In other words, she's making over vintage finds.) She has about four days left to go, and about that much money left in the budget.

Ponytails pointed out NewDressaDay to me only a few days ago, and I'm passing it on even though time's almost up. Will she meet the challenge? I'm betting yes.

How to make a squirrel?

The Ultimate Knitted/Crocheted Squirrel, at The Roman Sock Shop.  (Scroll down a couple of pictures for the crocheted version.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A year late, but still a great decoration

I found this Patchwork Star tutorial on the Linaloo blog, linked from last year's holiday series on Sew Mama Sew.  Do you have fabric?  Do you have stuffing?  Do you have buttons?  Can you cut diamond shapes?  Then definitely check it out.

And the winners are up!

The Homeschool Blog Awards have announced the winners.

We didn't win, but thank you anyway if you voted for us!

And what's happening with the Misfit Awards?

There's still time to vote for those.  Seriously.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A never-ending stream of craft ideas

Anyone who thinks that nobody sews these days should check out Sew Mama Sew, as they continue a month-long series on gifts to make--and buy and print out--for people of all ages and interests.  Today's entry is Gifts for Scholars--book bags, wrist wrests, Kindle keepers, and more. (Their gift posts from past years are also on the website.) 

And crocheted dishcloths--knitted ones too--I thought were long gone, but with this era's eco-emphasis they're back, in every shape imaginable.  Here's a visual sampling of what's currently out there; I especially like the Scrubby Rows Dish Cloth at Little House in the Suburbs.

And here's the un-toys post at are so happy.  (Thanks to A Holy Experience for sharing this link.)

School plans for the last week of November

Ponytails (Grade 8)

Monday:
Bible
Reading from Mere Christianity
Math & Science as assigned by Dad
Lesson on Outlining and Notetaking in Write with the Best Volume 2
Story of the World Volume 4, read with Mom today

Tuesday:
Bible
Reading from Mr. Pipes--written narration
Math & Science as assigned by Dad
Lesson on Outlining and Notetaking in Write with the Best Volume 2
Story of the World, read alone
Whatever Happened to Justice?, with Mom
Watership Down

Wednesday:
Bible
Mere Christianity
Math & Science as assigned by Dad
Lesson on Outlining and Notetaking in Write with the Best Volume 2
Story of the World
Extra French lesson with Mom

Thursday:
Bible
Mr. Pipes
Math & Science as assigned by Dad
Lesson on Outlining and Notetaking in Write with the Best Volume 2
Story of the World, half chapter
Canadian History, with Mom
Watership Down

Friday:
Bible
Mere Christianity
Math & Science as assigned by Dad
Lesson on Outlining and Notetaking in Write with the Best Volume 2
Augustus Caesar's World, with Mom
Story of the World, half chapter


Crayons (Grade 4)

Monday:
Bible reading
Hero Tales--Mary Slessor
English--work on sentence structure
Math drills
Math Mammoth--finish division chapter this week, keep working on multiplication
Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, ten pages
Work on history timeline scrapbook


Tuesday:
Bible reading
Bible Geography (review lesson)
Free Reading List
Math Mammoth
Science on a Shoestring

Wednesday:
Bible reading
Math drills
Math Mammoth
English work
Chapter from Kidnapped
History: George Washington's World--"The Seven Years' War Ends"

Thursday:
Bible reading
Hero Tales
Free Reading List
Math drills
Chapter from Kidnapped
Chapter from Story Book of Science--"The Old Pear Tree"

Friday:
Bible reading
Bible Geography--start a new lesson
English work
Math drill (short)
Math unit test
History, George Washington's World--"Goethe"


Group Work

Monday:
The Fearless Treasure--start "The Knight's House"
Latin--finish off lesson 3 this week (we are a bit behind)
It Couldn't Just Happen--pages 56 to 58
Picture Study--Jason and Medea, by Waterhouse
Poems

Tuesday:
Ourselves
French--start a new lesson this week (we are a bit ahead)
Shakespeare: Twelfth Night
Home Studies
Singing

Wednesday:
The Fearless Treasure--written narration
Latin
It Couldn't Just Happen, pages 58-60
Composer Study--songs by Faure
Poems

Thursday:
Ourselves
French
Age of Fable--Cadmus
Home Studies
Singing

Friday:
Age of Fable--The Myrmidons
It Couldn't Just Happen--finish the chapter
Latin
Jack and Jill--written narration (or do one from Age of Fable)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creating Advent Devotions

Confession time:  I've been less pleased than I could have been with the last couple of years' Treehouse Advent Devotions, including last year's Instruments of Peace.  In trying to get away from "the usual" things like "a is for angel" or the Jesse Tree stories (which we did enjoy the year that we used Ann's Glorious Coming, which will be available in an updated version at the end of this month), we seem to have majored on the "solitude and silence" aspects of Advent (all good too), but lost some of the enjoyment we had when we did the MCC-based around-the-world calendar four years ago.  (I wish MCC would post another one.)  It is an easy step to get away from cartoon characters and daily chocolate; it's more difficult to find words, music, Scriptures and more that will really speak to the hearts of those listening around the wreath during the month before Christmas.  Especially when we think we've heard it all before...but cherish hearing it all again.

This year I've stewed and procrastinated, even after deliberately scooping a handful of books at the thrift shop that I thought might work.  I liked Chuck Swindoll's classic Improving Your Serve; it's easy to pick and choose from, and includes extra bits and pieces like this poem by Wilbur Rees:

“Three Dollars Worth of God”

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

— Wilbur Rees


There's probably enough just in that one poem to equal several days of Advent thought.

I also found a copy of Lee Warren's little book The Experience of Christmas.  Oh, that one would be a relief in some ways--it's all THERE.  Family prayers, suggested activities, and everything

Finally I've been looking at something more unusual:  Joanne Shetler's book And the Word Came with Power, about her mission experiences with the Balangao people in the Philippines. (It's also used in the Sonlight Curriculum.)  A friend mentioned this story to me earlier in the year, and when I saw the book at the thrift store I picked it up just to read.  It struck me that, if you had time to read through its hundred-and-fifty-or-so pages during Advent, you would experience coming of Christ from the perspective of those who, hearing it for the first time, knew that it was the Good News they had been waiting for.  I would love to do this with my family...it's unexpected, and it is truly powerful.  If I'm hesitating, it may only be because it will be a big commitment in a busy month where we may honestly not all be together around the table as many nights as we'd like to be.  It's a lot of reading, a lot of listening, a lot of squirming.

The decision?  I haven't made it yet.  I'm leaning towards Lee Warren's book for nightime devotions...but wishing to do the Balangao story as well.  There might be a way we could do both--maybe working the second one into school time during December, although that would leave the Apprentice and Mr. Fixit out of things...

and this is the last problem: if we used either Swindoll's or Shetler's books, I'd post a list of the readings and of what we're doing with them...that would be our gift to Treehouse readers.  If we went with the already-prepped book, I feel like I'd be coming back to you a bit empty-handed.  It's a bit like those families who have announced that ALL GIFTS this year will be HANDMADE.  I love to make things too, but being hit with an ultimatum like that is a bit severe.  In the end, is it about handmade or not?  No.  Handwritten, hand-posted?  What matters is that we do prepare our hearts to receive the Good News...for the first time, for the tenth or the forty-fifth or the ninetieth time.  What matters is that it is still true and powerful.  What matters is that we thank God for that together.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last chance to vote!

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

Dr. Who in multi media

Recently Ponytails showed me something online about a 1984 Dr. Who knitting book.  Since then we've found out that there are tons of crafty bloggers and message-boarders out there who are knitting, crocheting, baking and otherwise recreating not only the succession of Doctors, but various Companions, the Tardis, and so on.  Some of these are funny, some are just cute...but some of the message board posts might not be totally family-friendly, so be warned.

Gingerbread Who

Fimo & Sculpey Tardis

Tardis Dishcloth

Fifth Doctor Crocheted Gingerbread Man

A Whole Set of Doctors (I like the William Hartnell)

Tenth Doctor, on Snuffykin's Journal

Rose Goes Back to the '50's (the Idiot's Lantern episode) , also on Snuffykin's Journal

A roundup of characters made from Snuffykin's patterns

Enjoy them all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When homeschooling hits the real world

We have used Richard Maybury's "Uncle Eric" books as part of our homeschool curriculum--first with the Apprentice and now with Ponytails. We haven't read all of them, just the first few. Recently Mr. Fixit decided to read Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice?, and he was also impressed. In fact, he posted the Two Laws--do all you have agreed to do, and do not encroach on other people or their property--in his office (along with his Legalize Shemp and Danger Man posters). Nobody coming into the office recognized them--which is more ironic than it first sounds, considering the professional background of most of the people Mr. Fixit works with. This is not good.



But it does get better. Mr. Fixit went to see our Money Guy and they were discussing something about the economy, the idea of the government printing more money, and how that affects the kind of investments we should make. Mr. Fixit mentioned that he was familiar with that from Richard Maybury's books (homeschooling is good for parents too!), and the Money Guy said..."Oh yes! I read his Early Warning Report website all the time!"

The connections you think should be there--aren't.

And those that are there--will surprise you every time.

Composer Study for Wednesday



Gabriel Fauré's Pavane

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's for Dinner? (National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day)

Seriously, it is. CakeWrecks even has a (mostly) family-friendly post to prove it.

I didn't know it was cleaning-the-fridge-day...had no idea there was such a thing...until Ponytails informed me of that fact while I was in the midst of arranging leftovers in a casserole dish. So I guess we were on target, if not with the cleaning, at least with the using up.

Tonight's menu was:

Pork-and-sausage casserole, made from leftover pork roast, two leftover sausages plus the brown rice they were cooked with, two or three chopped potatoes from with the pork roast, mushrooms, gravy plus a little milk, margarine, and paprika. Baked till the mushrooms were cooked through, but not long enough to dry out the rice.

Peas

Mini pita breads that the supermarket had for 99 cents a bag

Baked apples with a bit of apple butter, plus yogurt.

Transformations (craft and gift supplies)--now with photos!

It's fun picking up bits of fabric and other things at yard sales...but even cheap, if you don't use them, what good are they? (H.T. to Frugal Hacks for that link. The Deputy Headmistress posted something similar at FH this week too.)  I have a small stash of raw materials myself that I'm trying to use up before buying more.
It's the transformation of a "piece of something" into something much nicer...something you didn't have before, or something you can give to someone else...that makes gathering those pieces worthwhile.   It's the same philosophy as "a bag of raisins in the cupboard is only half as good as a batch of oatmeal-raisin cookies." It's the annual Treehouse Use It Up fever that usually lies dormant until about December 20th...kicking in a bit early this year.
(Ponytails was having fun with Picnik)
A piece of shiny striped fabric becomes a binder cover.
A bit of brown crochet cotton becomes a jar topper...or a coaster.
An old spool of white crochet cotton becomes a mat...in progress.
A piece of rummage-saled red velour fabric becomes...I'm not allowed to say yet.  Besides, I still have to go buy red thread to finish it properly.  There are some corners I'd prefer not to cut. Update: we went to the mill-ends store yesterday, so we're ready to roll on that.  I did end up buying some extra yarn there, mostly because I had no red yarn at all (must have Used It Up in some other making spree) and I have a crocheting project in mind that needs some.
[LATE ADDITION]  A thrift-shopped gingham bag with a ribbon drawstring (maybe for a wine bottle?) becomes a Crissy dress, with a bit of lace added to the top and bottom.
And a small pile of thrift shopped books may become...this year's Treehouse Advent Calendar. (Previous Advent Posts)  Stay tuned.
Photos:  Ponytails and Mama Squirrel

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To ponder...on God, life and books

Our Story within His Story, at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me
"Is that part of my love for literature?  That I can be taken into another world and someone's story and within the pages... look upon their life and their choices and their decisions and their thoughts... and see it all wrapped up neatly within the covers... hopefully with a happy ending.

"Certainly there is the aspect of literature which takes us to places we cannot go and we meet people we could never meet in person.  Whether animals which speak with wisdom or English maidens from centuries long ago or little old ladies who solve crimes while knitting in their parlor... books we hold in our hands add to our lives a little of the infinite in a finite world."

How's the voting going?

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

The year Dewey's Treehouse actually won an award (we were Best Cyberbuddy in 2007), the voting was set up with graphs so you could check back and see who was ahead.  (And it's The Common Room pulling ahead for Best Current Events...)  This year it's a total mystery...but we'd still be glad of your votes in the Methods category.  Congratulations to those of you who have also been nominated! (And the lists are long this year.)

To remember

More For Better or For Worse Remembrance Day strips here.

More Dewey's Treehouse Remembrance Day posts here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Wednesday School Plans

Crayons:

Bible reading--Hebrews 7
Hero Tales--reading about Menno Simons
English--some "messed up writing" to fix from Czechoslovak Fairy Tales
Math drills--times tables
Math Mammoth lesson--division with remainders
History:  work on timeline scrapbook
Poems
If we get time:  a science experiment showing the difference between safety matches and regular ones

Ponytails:

Reading from The Accidental Voyage (current Mr. Pipes book)
Poems
Reading from Bauer's Story of the World 4
Extra French lesson with Mom (most French is done with Crayons)
Grammar page
Math and science as assigned by Dad

Together:

Opening--hymn, folk song, reading from It Couldn't Just Happen about the age of the earth
Latin lesson:  copy the quote for the day "Alma mater" and look for derivatives from "mater"; review some of the roots we have already learned; practice counting to ten; review the genitive (possessive) case
Chapter 8 from Alcott's Jack and Jill, with written narration...this is the chapter where Merry redecorates her room and sets the curtains on fire
Composer study:  Fauré's Dolly Suite
Time for...making things...or maybe playing Zooloretto (Crayons' request)

What's for dinner? Slow cooker beef stew and Doughnut Muffins

I knew we would be going out sometime in the late afternoon, so stew in the slow cooker seemed like a good choice for tonight.

Beef Stew (from the Rival Crockpot booklet--I substituted water for the beef broth)
Reheated couscous or bread
Salad (lettuce and mushrooms)
Doughnut Muffins (recipe below), clementines and pears

Doughnut Muffins, from More Food That Really Schmecks by Edna Staebler

Ponytails and Crayons are on the second week of their Spice Studies; the spice-of-the-week is cinnamon.  I didn't want to make the cinnamon cookie recipe given in the lesson, but thought cinnamon toast might be a bit too basic; this was a good compromise.  These treats look like muffins but really do taste like Timbits.  Or like something grandma took out of the deep fryer.

This is a half-size version of the recipe from Edna's book; it makes 18 small cakes.  If you want you can double it back again to make three dozen.

1 ¾ cups flour
½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup shortening, lard, or oil
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For rolling:
About 1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon (you will probably not need nearly this much sugar and cinnamon; we had some left over to save for other uses.  You can reduce the amount of sugar coating by sprinkling just a small amount at a time on the plate you use to roll them on.)

Combine dry ingredients.  (Don't omit the nutmeg; it really adds to the flavour.)  In another bowl beat the egg, oil or shortening, milk and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir just enough to moisten.  Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full (we used our smaller-size ones) and bake at 350° F for 15 to 20 minutes. (Don't use muffin papers.)  Tap the tins to dislodge the muffins.

Melt the butter and roll the hot muffins in it to coat them all over, then immediately roll them in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  (To make things more organized, have one person dip muffins into the butter with a slotted spoon, let any extra drain off, and then set them onto a plate sprinkled with some of the cinnamon-sugar.  Have another person roll them around and then put them on another clean plate.  Add more cinnamon-sugar if needed.) Eat them warm.

Please pray hard

DadtoCherubs on Beck's Bounty needs prayers.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What's for dinner? Stuffed Peppers with chili sauce (or not)

Green peppers have been unexpectedly cheap at the supermarket lately.  Mama Squirrel bought five smallish ones on the weekend.  Tonight she cut them all in half, took out the seeds, and arranged them in a large glass baking pan.  She stuffed the halves with the following mixture:

Ground beef, somewhere between a pound and a pound and a half
1/2 cup frozen bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 good squirt Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg

There was a bit of mixture left, so Mama Squirrel added two custard cups to the pan and made two no-pepper servings along with the ten pepper halves.  (Like mini meatloaves.)

Then she took half a jar of chili sauce--about a cupful--and poured most of it into the bottom of the pan, trying to distribute it evenly.  She poured a bit of it over a few of the peppers, but not all of them, because not all of us like or can eat much chili sauce.

The pan, covered with foil, went into the oven for about an hour; the meat was done when Mama Squirrel checked, so she took them out and sprinkled some of them with Parmesan cheese.  We also had a butternut squash, cut up and baked in a covered casserole with a bit of water; and couscous (add boiling water and let it sit covered for ten minutes).

Time to vote!

The polls are open at the Homeschool Blog Awards! (LINK FIXED)

Yes, you can vote for Dewey's Treehouse too.  We have been nominated in the Homeschool Methods category.  Thank you!

Also, Ponytails' blog My Passions for Fashions is nominated in both the Crafts and the Teen categories.  Yay Ponytails!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Fall back time

Did you remember to fix your clocks last night?

Friday, November 05, 2010

As promised

It's wet, it's white, and it's coming down like giant cornflakes.

Yay, November.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Holiday Recipe Contest at The Hillbilly Housewife

Do you have a favourite holiday recipe?  The Hillbilly Housewife is sponsoring a contest--with prizes!--and you can enter here.  I'm not sure what the deadline is for entries, so you might want to do that soon.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How homeschoolers do things: period.

I was pleased with Crayons' written narration of Dryope, but I did notice that her sentences and punctuation need some work.

Well, as Ruth Beechick said, find out what they don't know and teach that.

Today's English lesson:  three separate paragraphs copied from an online edition of The Secret Garden.  I copied each paragraph into a Word file twice, and then mucked up one copy of each, leaving out periods, erasing capitals and quotation marks.  I printed them out and gave them to Crayons for "editing."  After she had a go at the first one, we compared it with the original.  Oops--missed a few sentence breaks, but not too bad.  She did the same with the other two paragraphs.  I pointed out that there was one place where I might have broken a sentence in two but where the author kept it as one long sentence; that there's often room for individual choice.

I'm planning on having Crayons continue to work on this for awhile.  However, I did notice that a written narration she did later on showed much more attention to periods! (maybe too much, but we'll work on that)

JACK AND JILL, by Crayons
(from Jack and Jill, by Louisa May Alcott, chapter 7)

One day Jack and Jill were working in Jack's stamp book.  Then Frank came in.  "Jack when are you going to do your latin." he said.  "I dunno" Jack said.  Frank became angry he grabbed Jack's stamps.  "I'm not giving them back till you do your latin."  He said.  "ERRRRR" shouted Jack.

What's for supper? Butternut Fries

Did you ever notice how interchangeable sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and certain kinds of squash are?  You can use any of them for pies, muffins, soups...and now oven fries.  We've made sweet potato fries before, but had never tried squash fries.  But the farm stand, about to close for the season, had all their squash at two-for-one prices, so we picked up a couple of extra butternuts on the weekend.  And just before I was about to stick one of them in the oven this afternoon, I saw this recipe at Tea Time with Annie Kate (with a link to where she got the idea at Fresh Local and Best).

I used olive oil, and seasoned them with paprika and a very little salt.  They don't get too mushy as long as you keep the heat high enough.

So the dinner menu was:

Honey-Mustard Chicken (one of the easiest things I know how to do with chicken)
Butternut Squash Oven Fries
Peas

Apple Cake (made from this muffin recipe, without the raisins or the streusel topping)

Ohh--yes! (Great posts from around the blogworld)

Let's start with a book review and what-history-is-about post by the HeadGirl (soon to be HeadMama?) at The Common Room.

A Sunday message of faith from Coffee, Tea,  Books and Me.

Ruth Anne's wonderful Waiting for the Story at Bread and Honey, and another post there called Coming Up for Air.

And then there's Cindy's Ordering the Affections: Music, at Ordo Amoris.

Finally...if you need to organize more than just your thoughts...Mystie at A Healer's Geste is doing a series on getting hold of things like papers and spaces.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Storebought cookies, or, what to do when the Good Cavekeeping Lady calls

It used to be that the Proverbs 31 Lady was held up as the near-impossible ideal for us:  wife, mother, transactor of business, clother of children, maker of bed coverings, laughing at the future.

These days she has a new rival for perfection.  I call her Aunt Alberta, and she makes old Prov.31 sound like a slob by comparison.  She doesn't bring her food from afar, because that's not politically correct; it has to come from within a hundred miles, and must not include bananas or anything that's not fairly traded.  The organic spinach and cauliflower she buys at the local farmstand cannot be eaten raw, because that's not nutritionally correct.  Everything in her fridge is in glass, not plastic, and she dumped her non-stick pots a long, long time ago.  When she talks about canned tomatoes, she means the organic ones that she put in jars herself.  She makes her own laundry soap as well as most of her other cleaners, and puts out only one tiny bag of garbage a week because she is recycling everything in sight (and is training her children to do the same).  All her children's art supplies are made by hand by Waldorf-friendly elves living deep in the forest. She knits her socks from recycled plastic bags (which she gets from the neighbours, because she carries only reusable bags herself), and she's replaced all her appliances with energy-saving models that run only at off-peak hours.  If she could do the same with her husband and children, she probably would.  Her favourite musical instrument is the djembe...she's building one herself in her spare time.  Out of sustainable materials.

There is no place in this woman's world for a 99-cent box of store-brand oatmeal cookies. 

Now, personally, I prefer a batch of homemade raisin bars, or if we're going a bit fancier, a pan of brownies sprinkled with chocolate chips.  I can get either of those in the oven pretty quickly if I have to.  Or maybe an on-sale bag of Peek Freans, even though I think the bags hold less than they used to.  Homemade is a good thing.

Nutrition is good too. 

So is recycling.

But all at once...it can be overwhelming.  Especially if you feel like something's going to get you if you don't get it together.

There are times when a small bowl of sliced apples, the season's first clementines and some store-bought oatmeal cookies, work fine as dessert.  There are nights when your husband comes home late from a work emergency, and you know you're going to be the one washing the dishes by hand later.  There are days when you're busy teaching French and Uncle Eric and division and not beating on each other, and you are lucky just to get a couple of loads into the washer, let alone make your own detergent and a scrubulous dessert and not mix them up.  (Yum, what's that foamy stuff in the oven?) 

There are seasons when you do some or all of those good things, or you start taking baby steps, or giant steps, into places you've never been before, because health or finances or allergies or consciousness or conscience dictates a change.

But there are also times to say enough...especially when it seems like the more we start to do, the more we could do.  Count up all the responsible, grown-up, frugal, intelligent things you have managed to do lately--in the home or outside of it.  You are probably doing more than all right. Don't look at the vast, empty prairie of what you do not feel able to take on.  Just look at where you are.  For some people the step of taking the cookies out of the box and arranging them on a plate with fruit is enough of a change for now.  For others, getting all the socks off the living room floor is good.  Some may have moved on to blue agave nectar, but others are still just getting out of the starting gate when it comes to alternative sweeteners.

As one person posted recently about homeschooling, when she says that they did such and such, you need to remember that you're listening to someone who's been at this for Seventeen Years, and you are not to knock yourself over the head because you don't get as much accomplished as she does.

So don't let Aunt Alberta do that to you either.  Just pass her a cookie and smile.

The Story of Dryope: written narration by Crayons

Book used:  The Age of Fable, by Thomas Bulfinch, chapter VIII.  Read out loud, written narration.  Spelling corrected at Crayons' request.

DRYOPE

Once upon a time there were two sisters Dryope and Iole.  Dryope had a husband Andraemon.  One day Dryope and Iole were out picking flowers and Dryope picked lotus and showed it to her baby.  With horror Iole saw where her sister had plucked the lotus was dripping blood all of a sudden Dryope's feet were rooted firmly to the spot she started growing branches the lotus had been no other than a nymph in disguise and now the gods were angry at her.  Andraemon ran out of the house.  Please take the baby and teach him to call me mother and then she fully became a tree the END.

Carnival of Homeschooling #253: Singing a Happy Song Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling takes its theme from a post submitted by Earnest Parenting, "Cooperation is Such a Joy."
"I’ve been a bit of a bummer lately I think, complaining about stress and a new school year and so on. So today?? Good news! I’m seeing some cooperation! We’re stopping for lunch shortly with almost everyone done with half their schoolwork. Several things have contributed to this happy state....I’m off to lunch, singing a happy song."
So what's everyone else singing a happy song about?

BOOKS

Crack the Egg presents List of Good Reads for Bad Days.

The Expanding Life presents Why Picture Books Matter.

LEARNING TO READ

Mumma's Place presents Fun with Phonics: "Some Phonic activities suitable for children struggling with learning to read especially with APD (Auditory Processing Delay)."

MAKING THINGS

Our Curious Home presents Mask Making.

Life of a Redheaded Mama presents The Glittering Leaves of Fall. "My oldest daughter and I did a tree craft together."

Mothers of Boys presents So Simple Paper Art. (LINK FIXED) "If your son is like mine and doesn't like "crafts," he still might love this art project. Best thing--its free!"

GAMES

Living Education presents a review of Rummikub - "a resource we use as a family to help with number recognition, colour recognition, logic, strategy and mathmatical skills."

NATURE STUDY

Fisher Academy International presents Outdoor Hour Challenge #2: Geese... (or not).

Sage Parnassus looks at the stars in The "How I Wonder What You Are" Mood.

Baby Steps has a photo post of their Nature Study.

A STRONG COMMUNITY

Corn and Oil presents The Concept of Community.

Mom Seriously presents Human Resources are Key For Homeschooling.  "Every homeschooling mom needs a few human resources she feels comfortable calling on when the going gets tough: a veteran homeschool mom, a mom who is right where she is, and a team of community advisors."

GENERALLY HAPPY THINGS

Day By Day in Our World presents Back to (home)school Bash!

Jacqueline's Jabberings presents Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!  "A celebration of a special moment and a shared secret as a result of reading and learning together at home."

Dewey's Treehouse presents Is November Dull? Nope.

Lips that Speak Knowledge looks at the relationship between love and effective homeschooling.

THE SERIOUS SIDE OF LEARNING

Blah, Blah, Blog asks if homeschooling is really Play, Play, Play All Day.

Parent at the Helm presents Trust the Feelings You’re Having about Your Child’s Education.

Our Life in Words presents Educational Philosophy. "Theresa explores various educational philosophies and how she is utilizing various aspects of different philosophies in her first year of homeschooling her daughters."

Barbara Frank Online presents Homeschooling for Free.  "The goal of homeschooling for free, especially at the high school level, is a foolish one if the only consideration is cost."

The Legacy of Home presents Homeschool Idea - Bible Treasure Box.

ParentDumb looks at Flexible Thinking.

Why Homeschool presents Free Kaplan ACT and SAT prep class. "Janine shares how to use Kaplan to help prepare your children for college."

Faithful With A Few presents The Proverbs 31 Woman – Are We Ready for Her? – Pt 1.

And that's the end of this edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at The HomeSpun Life.
Submissions are welcome! Deadline is 6 p.m. PST on the Monday evening before each carnival.
Thanks as always to the Cates for continuing this carnival!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Is November dull? Nope.

Busy, yes. Down to some serious school work, yes. As Jeanne pointed out recently, Ambleside Online's Year 4 means Written Narrations, as well as Shakespeare and some other new challenges. Crayons is also starting a math chapter on division, which is never the favourite around here...well, maybe this time will be the exception.

And the weather has been less than co-operative; it's cold and slightly dreary already, with snow threatening later in the week, and next weekend we turn the clocks back to give ourselves even more dark mornings and early sunsets.

But November is also Prime Time For Making Things...that is, for winter gift-giving...unless you procrastinate and finish everything two days before Christmas. This year we will do better, even if we have to sit back to back like the girls in Louisa May Alcott's Jack and Jill. We have rummage sale finds to use up, including more than two yards of red knit fabric (the kind that comes formed in a tube) that I found at a church sale last weekend. I saw it and thought "holidays," but now I'm not sure of the best way to use it. Anybody have any good craft/clothes ideas for such a big piece?

It's a good time for reading...well, okay, when isn't it a good time for reading? We don't seem to have One Big Readaloud Together book going right now, but I think it's time to start one. Ponytails has been enjoying Letters from Rifka, particularly because when she mentioned Belgian Chocolate to Mr. Fixit, he took the hint and brought a bit home on the weekend. Crayons likes Kidnapped very much, even if it is an "assigned" book. The Apprentice has been into Agatha Christie and other classic detective books lately, when she's not doing physics and calculus homework. Mama Squirrel has been reading a variety of food and home books, mostly from the library and a few from rummage sales.

November is a good time for watching things grow indoors. Now that Crayons is done sprouting birdseed, the next experiment in the Changes unit (Science on a Shoestring) is the classic beans-in-a-jar-with-paper-towels that everybody should do once during school. We're using dried bean seeds from our garden, the same ones we replant every year.

It's also a good time for listening to Fauré's Piano Quartets. A note on Amazon says this:
There are three great chamber music composers from the second half of the 19th century: Brahms, Dvorák, and Fauré. Of the three, Fauré is by far the least well known, even in France.
(That makes me feel better.)
French music in the 19th century was almost entirely centered on opera and ballet, and while Fauré did make at least one contribution to the operatic stage (Penelope), he was far more involved in composing chamber music and songs. The two piano quartets are both extremely fine works, beautifully crafted, and full of warmly Romantic melody. This disc was one of the first by non-French performers to make the case for Fauré as a truly great composer of chamber music, and it still sounds very impressive. --David Hurwitz
We like the You-tube posts of the Piano Quartet Number One that use Van Gogh paintings as background for the music.

And November is the month I picked out for starting Marmee Dear's Sugar 'n' Spice Unit Studies for our "family studies": one spice each week, starting tomorrow with a look at ginger. We won't do all the activities exactly as written, but they're a good source of inspiration and can even help us squeeze a little geography into the day. (Not to mention lots of good smells and tastes.)

Dull month? Not here.
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