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Monday, February 28, 2011

Daybook - February 28th

Eve of St. David's Feast

outside my window . . . 60degrees already and it is not quite 8am!  What a strange warm way to end February.

I am listening to . . . NPR - Groupon is moving into China, the world's largest internet market.

I am wearing . . .  something that I think is much too warm for the day's weather.

I am so grateful for . . . my mom making it through surgery safely.

I am thinking . . . about blog names for my kids.  I get so tired of "Middle son", etc.  Just lacks personality!

around the house . . . making laundry soap today.  It helps to have laundry soap when you have the entire household's wardrobes to wash.    

real education in our home . . . We finally finished Adam and His Kin and now begin a trilogy of Gilgamesh picture books.  

rhythm and beauty in our home . . . made a simple dining room centerpiece from pale green candles set in various sizes of glass jars.  The whole thing cost me less than $30.  

the church year in our home . . . have just about finalized our Lent meals

one of my favorite things . . . two old typesetter drawers that we hang on the wall and fill with little bits of nature we find.

recent milestones . . .  Toddler L has really made some huge leaps in the vocabulary department.  She is doing much better at imitating the words we ask her to say.  

the week ahead. . . 
:-: Monday bible study this afternoon
:-: Tuesday is St. David's day - forgot to get my daffodils planted in order to force them.  Need to plan a small celebration.
:-: Wednesday - a possible trip to a local skate park.
:-: Thursday - couples' book study: And Then I Had Teenagers (great book!)
:-: Saturday - youth event and a birthday party for one of little E's best friends.

picture thoughts . . .

This is from my school table - truly this is exactly how it looked last week.


Friday, February 25, 2011

{this moment} -- February 25th

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Visit SouleMama for more.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

School so far this morning...

After yesterday's post, I thought you might enjoy seeing just what school is like around here right now.

This morning I woke much too late after not sleeping well last night.  Hubby and I flopped out of bed and down the stairs around 8am just in time to get the youngest one off to school (and I stayed home to check email and get my day going).  Baby and a grouchy and tired middle son was up around 9.  His mood, brought on by sleeping most of the night on the couch before moving up to his bed at 4am, was Not Sunny.  His dad helped brighten the mood a bit and then I fixed breakfast while the coffee brewed.  While warming sausage, I drilled middle son on a few math facts.

Little girl was down by 9:30 and, while happy, was also very tired seeming.  Everyone ate and got chores done.

I'd had a thought that middle son could work on his math facts by using legos to "make" the math facts.  We hauled down the lego box from the third floor only to realize very quickly that my idea wasn't going to work.  So, we decided instead (or maybe middle son had the idea) to have him make a clay-mation video of his math facts. This is his current favorite past-time.  (Yes, I'll post it later if we can get it uploaded to YouTube.)

The girls decided the legos looked interesting, so I let them play and middle son work while I read the last two chapters of Adam and His Kin.  I'm not sure they caught every word of the story, but I think they got the "gist" of it.

I'm now finished reading, but the girls are still playing and middle son is still in the middle of making his video.  It may take another hour until he's done.  I need to do math with middle daughter, but I'm not entirely sure when that will happen.  She is hard to corral today it seems.

The girls have gone upstairs to dress and I'm going to try to get middle daughter to sit and do her math with me when she comes down.

Middle son: math video, history reading, some grammar practice (adverbs) and maybe writing (IEW)
Middle daughter: lego building, history reading, math lesson, and I'll have her read me a Dr Seuss book (to practice her reading) - then Ballet and Tap this afternoon.

That's school around here today.   Do I make you feel better?  :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gratitude Journal, February 23rd

Feast of Polycarp of Smyrna

:-: excitement of a promised trip downtown and a show at Children's Theatre

:-: quiet closeness of a warm afternoon drive, even if just a few minutes long

:-: freshly conditioned and brightly beaded braids

:-: wishy-washiness that may be the beginning of mutual blessings

:-: inventiveness of someone who has come up with a perfect solution to our cat-door problem: a micro-chip based cat door!

 #1- 5

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where is the reset button?

Through tears I asked my middle son, "Well, what have we done right?  What is the most important thing for you in homeschooling?  What is the main reason you want to continue?"

He tearfully replied, "Because I like being with my family.  I don't want to go elsewhere because I like being with you all."  On a day when I was feeling very defeated about continuing to educate him in particular, but the whole family in general, this was a very welcome reply.  His response was like a reset button reminding me of the reason we set out on this home education journey in the first place.

Somewhere way back in my homeschool career, I remember someone saying that you should make sure you know why you are homeschooling - make sure it is a worthy reason, because it is what your children will remember and value.  I am so thankful that developing strong family bonds was one of our main reasons for home educating our children.  It has proven a very worthy cornerstone.  And I am thankful that despite their normal bickering, our children have learned to enjoy each other's company and value being together as a family.

In a recent email discussion with a group of like-minded home educators we were discussing the late-winter blahs.  Our bright summer-inspired plans are now gathering dust, literally, and we've all seen way too much of the inside of the house.  This is the time of year that I often find myself feeling discouraged and enervated.  I am so thankful to be reminded of the simple reason that we began homeschooling:  being a family.   Thank you, Lord, for that reset!

Are you feeling the need to hit the "reset" button?  It is so tempting to ditch all those plans and start over.  At least for me it is - if something isn't working, start over.  But sometimes it isn't the plans that need resetting, it is the heart.   I think Sandy really hit on something important in her post, "Unthinkable Luxury" (please read her whole post and the one she's linked to).

In that word "reset" is a word we are so quick to miss: REST.  We need to stop being so busy planning and just REST in Him.  Before you begin to re-organize, re-plan, re-work your homeschool, take a moment and rest.  Spend some time contemplating why you began this journey.

My plans don't need to change, I just need to change.  I needed to be reminded of the cornerstone of our homeschool.  And I needed the true deep encouragement that can only come from Him (in this case it came through a little him).

How are you doing in this late-winter season?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapter 2

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Chapter 2: Media as Epistemology

"And so I raise no objection to television's junk.  The best things on television are its junk, and no one and nothing is seriously threatened by it.  Besides, we do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.  There in is our problem, for television is at its most trivial and, therefore, most dangerous when its aspirations are high.... The irony here is that this is what intellectuals and critics are constantly urging television to do."

Oh, so guilty here.  How often do I feel more enlightened by my viewing choices.  We do better to chose to watch television to be entertained than we do to be educated.  He'll go on to develop this idea much more later.

"...the concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression.  Truth does not, and never has, come unadorned.  It must appear in its proper clothing or it is not acknowledged, which is a way of saying that the "truth" is a kind of cultural prejudice.  Each culture conceives of it as being most authentically expressed in certain symbolic forms that another culture may regard as trivial or irrelevant."

 How truth is presented, the mode of presentation, must be considered and examined.  Not only that, we must recognize the prejudice we bring from our own culture and era.  It makes recognizing the "adornment" of truth in our culture by television more clear.

". . .the equation we moderns make of truth and quantification.  In this prejudice, we come astonishingly close to the mystical beliefs of Pythagoras and his followers who attempted to submit all of life to the sovereignty of numbers."

Think about how often our society determines value or worth based on usefulness or productivity.  It is why the arts are becoming rare in public schools - a beautiful picture or lovely song has no quantifiable benefit to education.  Unless of course they can be used for fund-raising.  Sadly, I've seen this happen even in private schools - those committed to excellent and broad education.  Theatre productions, art shows, musical concerts are put on for the purpose of raising money.  While raising money from a show or concert is not a bad thing, if it is the main purpose than that will affect the end product by dictating what is produced for the will be based on what will "sell".  And thus we have placed productivity over creativity.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daybook - February 14th, Saint Valentine's Day

Feast of Saint Valentine

outside my window . . . the trees are dimly lit by the most beautiful pale gold light.  It is still very early here and the sun has not risen, but the sky beyond the trees is getting brighter.  I think it is going to be on of those beautiful Carolina blue days...the ones that make the red clay all worth it.

I am listening to . . . NPR and the quiet whir of the baby monitor.

I am wearing . . . all black with a vermillion wrap.

I am so grateful for . . . my Valentine's Day present!  After we moved in one lovely framed silk painting (of a pair) was damaged- just the frame.  I thought the frame was beyond repair and to re-frame would be in the neighborhood of $150 or $200 - entirely outside what we could afford right now.  But while I was gone most of the afternoon and evening on Saturday, Hubby managed to fix it and get it re-hung!  I just about flipped when I saw it!  I guess I need to post a photo, don't I?

I'm pondering . . . why some people say "Worship" when they are talking about the music during a worship service.  Well, I know why they say it, but I'm just pondering how that definition leaves out a whole lot of other ways to worship.  Words are important.

I am reading . . . Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old Fashioned Way (JI Packer), The Wives of Henry VIII (Antonia Fraser) - this is a book I started a Long Time Ago and have just picked back up.  

I am creating . . . my dining room needs my attention.  I am working on ironing the linens and creating a lovely centerpiece.  Now if I could only replace the awful contractor-ugly lighting.  Soon, very soon.

on my iPod . . . I'm adding the People's Pharmacy to my podcast list.

around the house . . . some heart garlands to celebrate the day.

from the kitchen . . . I believe some heart-shaped sugar cookies with chocolate royal icing.

real education in our home . . . we'll learn about Saint Valentine today, and enjoy making those cookies.   The two at home school kids have both made some great progress with math memory!

rhythm and beauty in our home . . . Hubby brought home a lovely pot of spring flowers: tulips, grape hyacinths, miniature irises, and I think some daffodils.  I need to find a lovely planter for them! 

the church year in our home . . . Saint Valentine will be celebrated today for his commitment to Christ and serving those around him for Christ.  

one of my favorite things . . . Hubby, the 14-year old, the 11-year old and I snuggling up on the couch (we have two, but we all cram onto one!) to watch Firefly.  We finished up this weekend with the movie "Serenity".  It was so much fun that we are on the look out for another TV series on Netflix (or TV) that we can watch together.

recent milestones . . . Little E attended her first ever slumber party!

the week ahead. . . dinner with some friends tonight,
church meeting Wednesday night (and Eucharist before),
And Then I Had Teenagers book study Thursday night,
Friday, dinner with my pastor, his wife and missionaries leaving for Zanzibar shortly,
Saturday an ice-skating party for my middle boy (his youth group). 

picture thoughts . . .

My Valentine
From a wonderful get-away weekend a few years ago to the NC mountains.  The Chimay was wonderful, by the way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Epiphany Season Menu: Tuna Tetrazzini

Feast of Saint Scholastica
Tuna Tetrazzini is an Old Standby in our home. I call it one of my pantry meals as I always keep the ingredients (almost all canned foods) in my pantry and I can whip it up in no time. It is a very handy thing to have a "pantry meal" or two in your repertoire for those days when everything falls apart. Or just when you need a really easy meal to cook.

2 7oz cans of tuna
1/2 lb of pasta (spaghetti is traditional, but rotini works well, too)
2 7oz cans of sliced mushrooms, drained
        and/or 1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cans cream of celery soup (most any cream soup works well)
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain and flake the tuna. If using long spaghetti, break into 3 pieces. Cook pasta until tender. Combine mushrooms (and peas), cheese (reserve a little for topping), pasta and tuna in casserole dish.

Blend soup, milk, nutmeg and stir into pasta mix. Sprinkle top with reserved cheese. Bake for 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese lightly browned.

Epiphany Season Menu: Beef-Barley Soup (from leftovers of Pot Roast)

Feast of Saint Scholastica

So, you know that yummy pot roast recipe I shared with you?   If you eat beef, you really must try that recipe, it is just so good!  If you are like me, you love to cook once and have two meals. So plan ahead for plenty of leftovers and you can make a very quick and easy soup the next day.

I ended up with about 3 cups of useable leftovers (minus the fat that thickens up in the fridge overnight, we scraped that off).  That is from a 2 1/2 lb roast with 4 people eating it (We had two who weren't interested and had cereal instead).  Here's how I made soup with that:

Scrape off the fat from the left overs and cut meat and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Set this aside.  Don't discard the gravy or residual "juices"...they are a great addition to the soup.

In a large pot, I poured about 5 cups of beef broth/stock (I had a little broth leftover from making the roast and then added another box of broth) and then another 4 cups of chicken broth - it is just what I had on hand.    Don't be too picky about those amounts.  If you have more broth, use more barley (like 1 1/2 c or so), if you have less, use less barley (like 1/3 cup).  So, the barley - I added about 1/2 a cup of pearled barley to the soup and cranked up the heat to bring it to a boil.  This was all the barley I had, otherwise I would have added more, probably a cup.  Boil the barley (a low, steady boil) until the barley is plumped and softened.  I think this takes around 30 minutes, but check your package instructions.

When the barley is cooked, turn down the heat to medium (or lower, but you want a slow simmer) and add the leftover meat and vegetables (and any residual "gravy").  You just want to warm the meat/veggies and meld the flavors.  I let mine simmer for about 30 more minutes.

Serve with crusty bread!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Daybook - February 7th

outside my window . . .  blue skies are peeking above the trees and I think we'll have a clear day!

I am listening to . . . the train whistle from a mile or two away.

I am wearing . . . black wool sweater,  bright blue scarf, and jeans.

I am so grateful for . . . mom getting home from the hospital!  (came to visit and had to stay longer due to a kidney stone)

I'm pondering . . . my leggy paperwhites - they seemed so cheerful a few weeks ago, but now they are just overgrown and faded.

I am reading . . . Finished The White Queen.  I kept hoping for it to get better, but it never really did.  Not one of her more compelling stories.  I'm not even sure I want to try The Red Queen.

I am thinking . . .  about limit-setting and coming alongside.

I am creating . . . my crochet wrap stalled last week, I hope to find some quiet time this week to work on it.

from the kitchen . . . I need to start thinking about Valentine's day goodies.  I have in mind heart-shaped sugar cookies with chocolate royal icing.  Sprinkles, too, maybe!

real education in our home . . .  just trying to catch up here a bit.

rhythm and beauty in our home . . . a doily heart garland on the fireplaces, I think, will be a festive decoration for this time of year.

the church year in our home . . . pulling out the St. Valentine book, making the icon, and planning a feast day celebration.

one of my favorite things . . .  our kitten, the Great King Louie, playing with his tail or a stray lego or a left behind sock.

the week ahead. . .
:-: Mom and Step-Dad stay in town for a few more days.
:-: bible study this afternoon: NT Wright's study of 2 Corinthians (our first meeting is today)
:-: church meeting Wednesday; and book study (And Then I Had Teenagers) Thursday.
:-: friends over Friday night
:-: birthday party for one of Little E's friends Saturday

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Peter Piper's Picks - February 5th

Peter Piper's Picks - February 5th
Memorial of Saint Agatha

:-:  Always something good from the Internet Monk blog.  The original blogger passed away last year, but they have managed to continue his work.  Here's another great post:  The Evangelical Myth of Transformation.

:-: I love movies.  Love Them.  Learning to Speak the Language of Cinema

:-: Chrisitane Amanpour has great coverage of the crisis in Egypt.  She interviewed both Vice President Suleiman and President Mubarak.

:-: When I read this post by Ann at Holy Experience I realized that she hit on some of the reasons we have missed having our whole family homeschooling this year.  Go all the way to the end (past the photos) to read the 4 Cs.   Simply Homeschooling

A Roy Lichtenstien sculpture survived the 2001 World Trade Center attack and is now installed at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Aaron Douglas: African-American Modernist - a retrospective touring the country and currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Douglas was one of the most influential members of the Harlem Renaissance.