Monthly Archives: February 2011

Spin

I am a firm believer in NOT manipulating one’s children.  Someone I know used to tell his daughter, when she was much younger, that everything was “chicken,” because the girl refused to eat anything except for chicken.  So, rather than telling her it was, say, watermelon she was eating, or a hot dog, he’d say it was “chicken.”  Hm.  Not into that.

To this day, years later, he laughs over that season in his little girl’s life.  But to me?  That’s too close to lying.  And, too high-maintenance.  My style is more along the lines of, “Eat it or go to bed hungry.”  And, well… I guess both sides have merit, though mine is particularly less merciful, so perhaps I shouldn’t be patting myself too hard on the back for my honesty.

There is certainly a fine line there, I’m discovering, especially for little ones for whom appearance and perception truly matters.  In our home, that would be Audrey.  She’s almost five (gasp!), and this has been the case since she was very young.  I have to be careful not to wield unwisely my power to get her to do what I want her to do.

For instance:

  • She used to fight me tooth and nail when it was time to wash her face.  I had a little revelation, and, appealing to her vanity, I solemnly explained that she had so much muck on her face that I couldn’t see her “pretties”.  As I gently rubbed her cheek, nose, and chin, I started to exclaim that, bit by bit, her pretties were shining through!!  Audrey was genuinely excited.  After I washed her, she insisted on looking at her glowing face in the mirror, happily admiring her pink, clean little self…  It stuck.  We’ve been uncovering her pretties, after mealtimes, for years now.  It works with Fiala, too.  Fi is not quite 2½, and has never been quite as enamored with the idea of beauty as Audrey.  So, getting her pretties to shine through isn’t quite as effective, but nearly so.
  • About a year ago, I bought a pair of brown jeans for Audrey.  I couldn’t pass up the deal — the cost was less than $2 for them, brand-new!  I anticipated a bit of a struggle, though, with Audrey.  Brown, according to very small girls who have a very persistent “girlie” streak, is not a very feminine color.  She looked very dubiously at them, and proclaimed brown to be a “boy” color, because it is the same color as dirt.  “Oooh,” I cooed conspiratorially, smoothing the rich brown fabric, “These aren’t dirt-colored.  They’re chocolate-colored.  These are chocolate jeans!”  Instantly, Audrey’s face was all delight;  she changed her tune completely.  “Oooooh!  Chocolate jeans!  I looove chocolate jeans!”  And, she’s loved them ever since, calling them “chocolate jeans” every time she wears them.
  • I bought Audrey a pack of undies, not too long ago.  There was an assortment of patterns and colors, most a variety of pinks and purples.  One, though, was not to her taste:  The pair featured a number of different sizes of elephants, colored various shades of blues and reddish-pinks.  Elephants, I could hear her thinking, are boy animals.  And, to make matters worse, some of them are blue.  Blue is a boy color.  Everyone knows that.  Disdain clouded her face, and she opened her mouth to protest.  Preempting her, I pointed out, “These aren’t just elephants.  They’re elephant families.  Look.  The larger blue ones are the daddy elephants.  The lighter blue ones are the brother elephants.  The bigger pink elephants are the mommies, and the littler ones are the sisters.  And, look!” I continued with a tiny, tender gasp, “There are itty-bitty elephants, too!  Those are the babies!!”  I do know my daughter.  “Ooooh!” she squealed, eyes open wide, anticipation filling her whole self, “Baby elephants!  Elephant families!  Oh, I want to wear them right now!”  And the pair of underpants which, at first blush, she would have gladly chucked into the trash, unworn, became her favorite in an instant.  They are, still.
  • Audrey takes a nap on my bed.  The two girls share a room, and while that works fine for night time, when they both sleep, room-sharing during naptime is not nearly as successful, especially since Audrey actually sleeps only once out of every three or four days.  Normally, I time it so that I’m not doing laundry when she goes down for a nap;  somehow, I knew it would bother her if the sheets were missing.  But, on a recent Saturday, it just happened that the linens were in the wash when it was time for Audrey’s nap.  She walked into my room and balked.  “I can’t sleep on that bed.  It has no sheets.”  Now, I could have put on an old set of sheets just for her nap, but I balked at the extra work.  Instead, looking at the mattress pad — a new one, bright white, soft and puffy — I whispered conspiratorially to Audrey, “Look!”  I patted the bed.  “You get to sleep on a cloud!”  Instantly, her eyes lit up, and I knew I had sold her.  “A cloud?!?” she asked, dreamily.  “Oooh, it’s so soft.  Just like real clouds.  Do you think real clouds are soft like this?”  She napped, like a dream, on a cloud…

Manipulation?  Yes, a bit.  Spin?  Definitely.  Lying?  I hope not.

Mother of a high schooler. Almost. (Plus, a good movie.)

I can’t believe I’m old enough to have an almost-high schooler.  Wow.  The good news is that he really wants to continue homeschooling for high school.  The bad news is that I feel a little intimidated by all the changes in record-keeping I’m sure to have to do.  (Transcripts!  Argh!)  The good news is that it’s only February;  I can learn what I need to in time, I’m sure.

Does anyone have a “homeschooling your high schooler” book to recommend?   I just put three of them on my hold list at the library…  It looks like most of them are along the lines of, “You can do it!” and I feel more of a need for practical advice, like, “Here’s what you need to do differently than you did with K-8.”  We’ll see.

We — my 8th grader (Ethan), and my 6th grader (Grant) — are on the last week or two of Sonlight Core 4.*  Looking at what Sonlight offers, I think we’ll start Ethan’s high school experience with Core 200.  Up to now, I have rather avoided curricula that is overtly Christian**, but it looks like Core 200 would be interesting and informative for both of us.  🙂

So, that means Ethan will have only three months with Core 5, and not do 6-8 at all.  That’s OK, I think, as Cores 6-8 study more in-depth what was studied in previous Cores.  And, the reason we went so slowly through the Cores in the first place is because we studied them more in-depth than the assigned curriculum led us to — extra books on the era of study, both fiction and non-fiction, extra videos, etc.

This is off-topic, but, speaking of extra videos, our family watched Sergeant York last week, when it aired (commercial-free!) on TCM.  It’s a biopic from 1942, telling the true story of a reluctant American World War I hero, played by Gary Cooper.  What a wonderful movie!  I cried.  It’s about equal parts morality play, patriotic war movie, and romance:  good for the whole family.

—————————

*Yes, I have an 8th grader in Core 4.  Yes, he is well-educated.  He tested at a cumulative grade equivalency of 13+ (post high school) on the nationally normed ITBS.  Last year.

**My own private, Christian K-12 education was HIGH on Bible and the history of the Jews and Christians…  All very interesting and valuable, but it should not — in my opinion — be the sole study of history that a child undergoes.  I received only a vague, cursory, incomplete education in history, and have felt the neglect ever since.

Feminism, marketing, raising little girls, plus a bit of homeschooling

From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein.  But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:  Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library.  We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things.  In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses.  For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!

You think I exaggerate?  I do not, fair reader!  It starts even earlier than that!!!

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.

The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.

Another disturbing tidbit:

Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,

Beachhead:

1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.
2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.

I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children.  I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day.  (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short.  Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!!  But, I digress.)

Well, maybe I’m not digressing.  One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be.  They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.

So.  I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling.  But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!

ALL OF THAT SAID…  Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl.  I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!!  And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.

Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made.  Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance.  Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.

There’s a fine line there…  I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.

~sigh~

At the grocery store last night (as interesting as my shopping expeditions always seem to be!)

I do my grocery shopping after our fairly late dinnertime, and I typically go to three or four different stores, some of them a 20-30 minute drive from my home.  With several stops plus drive time, it makes for a marathon 3-4 hour trip.  This places my shopping time at a later hour than your standard full-cart grocery-shopper.  At that hour, most people are stopping in hurriedly for a few items.  Not surprisingly, I guess, at ten or eleven at night, there seems to always be an interesting contingent of people about in the stores:  shoppers and employees both.  Historically, I have had so many odd interactions, that, now, as I leave our home, my hubby says, “And if anyone talks to you, just kick ’em.”  I didn’t kick anyone last night.  But, people did talk to me, and I to them.

Highlights from last night:

  • Chatting with the produce guy at Sprouts:  As I was selecting my red bell peppers (only $0.69 each, but on the small side.  I bought three.), he was stocking the cucumbers ($0.49 each.  I bought two.).  Nosily, I inquired into the reason for a customer being irritated with him, a few minutes earlier.  He said, “She asked me to pick out a good cantaloupe for her.  There aren’t any.  Yes, they’re only $1.25 each, but they all suck.  None are worth buying.  I can’t lie to my customers, so I told her not to buy any.  She still wanted me to pick out the best one for her, and I wouldn’t.”  I thanked him for his honesty, and told him I appreciate that sort of input, even if she doesn’t.  He then said, “In that case, don’t buy the watermelons, either.”  I laughed and walked away, thinking about how he called people “my customers.”  Is that a good thing that a 22 year old guy (or whatever) is taking responsibility for shoppers like that?  Or is it overstepping the realm of his authority?  I don’t mean steering shoppers from bad melons.  I mean, calling them “his customers.”  Are they his customers?  Is he the produce manager?  I don’t think so.  I don’t know.  I thought it was funny, in any case:  the fact that he considers those perusing the produce to be his customers, which would make me one of his customers, and I never considered myself as anything but a customer of the store itself.  Hmmm…
  • At Fry’s, the checkout guy, a Hispanic in his early 40s (at a guess) asked me, “What do you make with these?”  “These” being a 60-count package of thin Arizona brand corn tortillas.  “Tacos,” I replied.  “I make a lot of tacos.”  He then asked me about what sort of meats I use, what seasonings, how I prepare the tortillas (softened in very hot oil), etc.  He was very impressed that I make shredded pork tacos, from scratch.  I almost invited him over for dinner.  (Not really.)
  • On the way out, I touched another checker on the arm to say good-bye to him.  He has frequently been my checkout guy at that store, and we always chat.  He is 22.  I know that, because he referred to himself as being 22.  My heart always goes out to him, in a way that… makes me feel like God is placing him on my heart.  I pray for him almost every night on the way home from shopping.  We talked for a few, and then I said, “I always have to constrain myself from giving you a hug.”  He said, “You can give me a hug any time you like.”  I did.  Don’t worry.  He’s gay.  I thought about it, out in the truck, on my way home, what my motivations are.  Am I just trying to show someone God’s love?  Actually, I’m not trying.  I feel compelled.  I guess I didn’t start out our not-really-a-relationship with any agenda.  But, as a Christian, at some point, should I try to tell him about Jesus?  Or not?  I half don’t want Christianity to come into our conversation, ever, because I have a feeling, from previous asides and remarks, he’s not keen on Christianity.  On the other hand, I half-hope that it does, because, if he’s had ill treatment at the hands of Christians before, it would be lovely for him to realize that there are there is someone, at least, who is a Christian and who will hug his flamin’ self, and maybe that would translate into him realizing that Jesus truly loves him, too.  After giving it some consideration, I determined that, while my intentions aren’t specifically to proselytize, can I deny that I would want for him, what I have found for myself, in Jesus?  I can’t deny that.  His love, His power, His peace, His goodness…  We’ll see.  I hope, when the time comes, whatever the Father’s intentions are for me, in the life of that young man, if any… well, I hope I don’t miss it.

Training pants duke it out. Easy Ups win.

Reasons I’m liking Pampers Easy Ups more than Huggies Pull-Ups (and no, no one is paying me for this post.  Ad-free blog, remember?):

  1. NO easy-open sides.  Fiala, who is 27 months old, and not able to “hold it” when she sleeps, was having a fabulous time, during nap and nighttime, removing her jeans (or whatever) and Pull-Up via its easy-open sides.  Just like velcro.  Rrrriiiipp! Easy Ups don’t open like that.  Whew!
  2. Cheaper.  Pampers Easy Ups are less expensive.  Occasionally, I had a $2 coupon which took away a bit of the sting when I bought Pull-Ups, or I could buy a store-brand version of them.  But, on my last trip to the store, Easy Ups — with no coupon — were cheaper than even the Target/store brand of Pull-Ups!
  3. More appropriate marketing.  I’m not a huge fan of Dora the Explorer, for a multitude of reasons, but I’m even LESS a fan of Disney Princess.  Actually, I’m even LESS LESS LESS of a fan of marketing to toddlers, but if I’m going to have to put up with some marketing, I’d rather have Dora on my toddler’s training pants than Disney Princess.  Way more age-appropriate.
  4. Softer finish.  Both the exterior and interior of Easy Ups are softer, and just have a nicer finish to them.
  5. They smell better.  Actually, Easy Ups smell just like Pampers, and I try not to think about how that scent is chemically-produced — nothing natural about Easy Ups, I’m sure! — and scent generally is not high on my list of reasons to buy something.  But, it’s a small factor.

We’re only going through 2-3 Easy Ups daily, but as I write this, I realize I still have some cloth diaper stuff… Maybe I could try that, instead, when we next run out of Easy Ups.

 

Where do you get the time to…?

I’ve heard it said that you will find the time for the things you value.  I semi-agree.

Someone asked me, “Where do you find the time to read all those books?” after my recent post on reading.  The answer is a little complicated, and I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days.

First, I have value for a WHOLE LOT of things that I cannot “find” time for, in part because my time is not wholly my own.  I have a family to attend to, and I’d be abhorrently irresponsible, remiss in my duties if I simply set about my life seeking “me time” (I hate that term, by the way).  I can’t just set off on a stroll through the woods, alongside a meandering creek, binoculars around my neck, and my Sibley guide in hand, just because I want to.  I could find the time, but if I did that, who would watch the kids?  Who would teach them?  Who would do their laundry?  Or make dinner?  Would my husband still be happy in our marriage?  Would I still be able to serve the Body of Christ, and my particular church body, with leading worship in small group?  For the children’s church?  Would I be able to say, “Yes!” to the various church-related printed matter that gets sent my way for editing?  Would I be able to contribute a wee bit to our family’s finances — by writing — if I was always pursuing the things that make only me happy?

So, sometimes, it’s a matter of priorities.  There are many things I value and would adore to spend more time doing, but other responsibilities trump them.  And, there are some things that I absolutely adore, but if I do them, the activity devoted to them precludes my availability to do something else.  You can’t always get what you want, even if what you want is a good thing.

For me, I have struggled long and hard with not being such an idealist.  Being an “idealist” may sound lovely, but if you’re an idealist of my tendencies, it’s not so great.  I spend too much effort pining for “If only…” and “I remember when…” and that’s truly not helpful.  In years past, and to some extent, even now, I can easily become immobilized by my idealism.  I know the best way, the right way;  I remember when the situation for “x” pursuit was much more ideal;  I see, way too easily, the roadblocks that present themselves, rendering a situation much less-than-ideal.  I wish for things to be much better than they are, rather than attacking what’s on my plate right now.   Thus, I do nothing, rather than doing it halfway.

And, that brings up another point.  I love my mother so dearly, but something that has long frustrated me about her outlook on life, is that she looks at her plate, and with a resigned sigh, remarks, in the Christian way of how she’s fated to eat everything on it, “Well, I guess that’s just what God has given to me, and I need to be thankful for this, and deal with it.”  That can be GREAT, in some instances:  She always makes the best out of what she has.  But, on the other hand, I’ve seen her eat things on her plate that really should be relegated to the garbage bin.  Metaphorically, of course.  Well, not even metaphorically!  I grew up thinking mothers liked burnt toast.

I don’t know if this is tracking, but what I’m trying to do is find the balance between taking everything in life as it presents itself –the good and the bad — and the idealism that can envision a much, much, much better present, as well as future.

Idealism can also lead me to a dark place of discontentment.  Instead of “self help” or “inspirational” books (or people) inspiring me, they almost invariably seem to bring to me to a painful realization of how not great something is in my life, how not great I am, how less-than-ideal I am.  And, rather than that bringing my thoughts to a loftier place of aiming for what’s better, it discourages me about where I currently am.

Though, sometimes, discouraged or not, I know I have to pull up my boots with those proverbial bootstraps and change.  But, that’s another topic.  Sort of.

Into all of the semi-confusion above enters my love of books, though the same could be said for MANY pursuits I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy, at a now-modified pace):  playing guitar; hiking (or just walking); writing; birding; spending time with friends — especially conversing, one on one, in the dim corner of a small coffee shop; listening to music (recorded or live); having devotional time with my Savior, et al.

When I was a child, I was a voracious reader.  VORACIOUS.  I read just about everything I could get my hands on, which was usually at least a book per day.  My mom took us to the library weekly, and our limit, per child, per trip, was six books.  I always finished mine, almost always before the date arrived for our next trip, and usually helped myself to my older brother’s stack…  That stuck with me through my college years, and into the time before I was married.

After marriage — though this sounds ridiculous — one of the toughest things I had to adjust to was my new lack of time for reading.  I was used to curling up, virtually every evening, with my current novel.  My hubby watched TV in the evening.  I was aghast.

Add that to my new responsibilities of keeping house and treading the tumultuous waters of a new marriage, so books went out the window.  When I was pregnant with my firstborn, and not working, I read more books during that time than I had in the previous two years of my marriage.  After that, babies took over.

It wasn’t really until about four years ago when I started reading again, in earnest.  In other words, I spent a good eight nor nine years saying to myself, “Well, I guess I just can’t read.”  Because of my habit and preference, in my mind, I had to have chunks of uninterrupted time during which I could devote all of my attention to the tome in my hands. I didn’t have multiple hours of spare “me” time.  Thus, I read very little during that era.  Any reading I was able to accomplish was done with a chip on my shoulder, about how much I “couldn’t” read.  I satisfied myself with the many delightful children’s and young adult books I read to and with my children, whilst homeschooling.  There have been MANY good books we’ve discovered as read-alouds, but I almost never read books of my own choosing, for my own pleasure or benefit.

The book that started my reintroduction to reading

It wasn’t until my dear friend Kathy invited me to attend a book club hosted by a friend of hers, way across the Valley, whose “assignment” was Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  I so enjoyed that book, my time with Kathy during our drive, the book club itself (though that was my lone foray into that particular group), the rediscovery of reading…  Well, that experience generated a new pursuit:  figuring out how I could squeeze the rest of McCall Smith’s books into my brain, by hook or by crook.  Well, not by any means.  But, I was delighted to discover that, while I still could not plop myself down into a comfy spot for hours on end, delving deeply into the novel, abandoning all else, what I could do was:

  • Pick up a book while nursing my baby, instead of flicking on the TV.
  • Read a chapter or two after everyone else had gone to bed.
  • Bring a book to a doctor appointment, rather than planning on reading the magazines on hand.
  • Bring a book to a child’s sports practice.
  • Bring a book to read while my children were at the park.
  • Read a bit while sitting on the closed toilet, keeping my youngest company while s/he bathed.
  • Reward myself with a short time of reading when the to-do list had been successfully tackled, in those few minutes remaining before I started dinner.
  • Even bring a book into the bathroom (something I had NEVER done, previously).

In other words, rather than just say, “I’ll never get two, three, four hours straight in order to really read,” I discovered that could say, “Well, here’s ten or twenty minutes into which I can squeeze a chapter.”

So, rather than consuming a book in a day or two, I now savor it a sip or two at a time, taking usually between one and three weeks to complete a book.  In that manner, I am able to get 25-ish books completed, yearly, that would previously have gone unread, because of my “inability” — my lack of time — to read.

I’ve always had a value for reading, but I had to toss out the ideal — my experience, habit, and preference — in order to find a new way to accommodate a book or twenty-five.

And that is how a woman, wife to her husband of 17 years, and a homeschooling mother of five, who makes dinner from scratch nearly every night of the year, whose home is tolerably clean, and who has multiple responsibilities at church, and some dear friends, finds time to read.

Answering your questions

I had this post about halfway done, and WordPress ate it.  I was trying to insert a picture, and the picture wouldn’t insert, so I had the post with no picture.  Then, I finally got the pic to show up, but the text had evaporated!  Argh!

I will try again.

I used to be enamored with my Stats page, especially the part that keeps track of search terms that people use to find my blog.  Some of them are odd, some baffling, some funny.  But, most of them are along the lines of

gfcf lunches for kids
teething out of order
rice milk recipe
amo amas amat
gluten free sugar cookie recipe

I popped over there today, though, to see what folks have been asking lately, and thought I’d try answering a few.

  1. “post blueberry morning cereal gluten free”  NO.  Since wholegrain wheat is the third ingredient AND Blueberry Morning contains malted barley syrup, it is certainly not gluten-free.  However, as of 22 Dec 2010, Post has changed its manufacturing process and ingredients to ensure that Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles are gluten-free.  It has also reduced the grams of sugar per serving from 11 to 9.  (Make certain your purchase is the NEW box, labelled as gluten-free.)  Pebbles wouldn’t be my first choice for a makeover, but at least Post is trying.
  2. sonlight verses rod and staff”  I’ll assume you mean versus.  R&S is a very traditional, solid, wholly Christian curriculum, unapologetic for its “old-fashioned” style of education, and unashamed of its Christianity.  It’s a good choice for families from very conservative backgrounds who want a traditional text-based education for their children, especially for those in grades 2-8.  Sonlight is a Christian company, but not nearly as dogmatic, not nearly as “Amero-centric” as R&S, and literature-based.  I think Sonlight’s 27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight is brilliant.  Read it, and that’ll likely lend to your decision-making process.  We’ve used a bit of R&S English (effective, but boring) in our nine years of homeschooling, but the heart of our homeschooling is from Sonlight.
  3. So not ugly.

    homeschoolers are ugly”  REALLY?  Audrey doesn’t agree.

  4. toilet paper nick names”  WHAT???  And, how did Google choose to direct the searcher to MY blog with THAT term??  Oh.  That’s how.
  5. can dogs be “allergic to carob””  I have no idea.  I’m guessing they could be, though.  My son Wesley was really allergic to carob for a number of years… five or so… until he grew out of it.  Carob and carob bean gum is a surprisingly frequent ingredient!  I wonder what a dog’s symptoms would be…
  6. i voted mccain”  Why, yes.  Yes, I did.  I still think he would have been a better president than our current one, whose name shall not be named on my blog.
  7. where is the hassayampa river”  It flows through the town of Wickenburg, in west-central Arizona, mostly underground.
  8. how do you pronouce celiac”  SILLY-yak.
  9. can barley cause eczema”  Pretty much anything can cause eczema.  You may want to check into dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a skin condition that can be misdiagnosed as eczema.  It is caused by an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and barley contains gluten.
  10. natural childbirth in a hospital”  YOU CAN DO IT!!  I’ve done it five times over.  However, states vary widely as to what they typically allow — hospitals in most states in the West are more apt to give their patients their rights.  However, you must choose your doctor or CNM (certified nurse midwife — many have hospital privileges, or work within an OBGYN practice, and some hospitals staff them) well.  Do your research!!  Also, take Bradley classes, not only for the instruction, but to develop a support system for birthing naturally in a hospital, and to be able to network to get suggestions for naturally-minded doctors, doulas, etc.  If nothing else, PLEASE watch this series of short videosE-mail me privately if you want a few additional tips.  🙂

Book, books, books!!

  • One more reason why it takes me 18 months to two years to get through one year’s worth of Sonlight Core material:  DK’s Children’s Book of Art.  I spied this book at the library a few weeks back, flipped through it, and fell in love.  We checked it out, and I gave it a trial run as part of my 9yo Wesley’s school, reading two pages daily to him, on top of everything else we do.  It quickly became his favorite, and after a week or so, I purchased our own copy.  Every day, I let Wesley pick the order of the day’s subjects.  He typically puts a favorite at the beginning, and a favorite at the end, with all the so-so stuff in the middle.  Art has begun our school day for the last several weeks.  The book is full of history and technique, with loads of pictures, and interesting bites of text, as well as illustrated projects for children to do, to approximate a subject of the day’s learning.  Excellent!!
  • NO, it was not picked because it's an Oprah's Book Club selection. Ugh.

    I’m part of a semi-secret book club.  There are… nine of us, I think.  We meet every-other-month, and each selects a book in rotation.  It’s semi-secret, because we don’t really want the group to grow.  We fit, just right, around a table, and there is a perfect mix of similarity and differences amongst us:  similarity to enjoy the book at hand and each other’s company, and differences to pepper the discussion with varying points of view.  The goal of each book — which has varied WIDELY in genre in the three years of the club’s existence — is Good Art + Good Message.  Both are vitally important.  This month, the choice was Cry, the Beloved Country.  A)  I cannot believe this book has never been on my radar, previously.  B)  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  The book made me weep on a number of occasions, and I placed a Post-It at the top of just about every other page, describing something significant therein.  A friend asked me to describe the book.  I wrote to her:  Inspiring, convicting, beautiful, gripping, personal, glorious, powerful story of the intertwining — through tragedy — of a black family and a white family in 1948 South Africa.  “Convicting” regarding my relationship with the Father, and my willingness to serve others… not in a “race relations” sort of way.  My mom purposed to raise my siblings and I with an understanding of the sinfulness and tragedy of racism/oppression, and I think she did a great job.  But, there were a handful of times when I just wept — and I don’t cry all that easily! — and said, “You’re killing me, God!!”  The book is such a testament, in many ways, to the Body of Christ — good relationship with other believers in Christ, and how necessary and beautiful that can be, especially when we are broken.

  • On a homeschool forum I infrequent, I requested suggestions for a series set in the post-WWI era of Britain.  Someone immediately recommended The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King.  I am about halfway through, and am enjoying it immensely.  It’s quite a literate mystery, and I am keeping my well-thumbed dictionary close at hand.  Since I’ve never read any Conan Doyle, and because there are a number of stories-within-stories, and references which I am surely missing, I had thought, “I don’t think I’m smart enough to really get this book.”  Then, about a third of the way through the book, which is set in 1918, the protagonist puts a “plaster” (Band-Aid) on another character.  Because of another book I’d recently read, I thought, “I don’t think Band-Aids were invented in 1918!” I hopped up to Google it.  Sure enough.  They were invented in 1920, but not in widespread use until much later in the 1920s.  That doesn’t help me catch any subtle Holmes case-references or anything like that, but it did make me feel a tad smug, like I DID have what it takes to appreciate such a book.  So there.  😛
  • I love this cover.

    Speaking of post-WWI series, I recently finished the latest book in Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series, A Lonely Death.  ~sigh~  As someone who relishes character development and a carefully considered plot, Todd’s books — with one exception — are an absolute treat for me.  This latest book did not disappoint.  Charles Todd is actually the pseudonym for a mother-and-son writing team, and they’re American.  This is a point of wonder to me — not only because they seem to have really nailed the British culture so exactly, but because the tone of the books — the sensibility of them — is SO NOT AMERICAN.  There is a patience there not found in many books today.  There is a lack of sensationalism.  There is a respect for the story — both the individual novel itself, and for the arcing story that has slowly developed through all 13 of the Inspector Rutledge books.  Not quite literary perfection, but really close.  I don’t usually read reviews of books before I read the books themselves, but I accidentally happened upon one a few weeks ago.  It said something about there being too many coincidences in the book, and the reader having to suspend belief in order to enjoy the book, calling it “implausible”.  To that, I say, “Wha??”  Well, except for, perhaps, the Inspector Cummins subplot.  Perhaps.  But, that’s a minor quibble, in my opinion.  All in all, both the Rutledge series, and the fledgling Bess Crawford series come highly recommended, especially if you like books that unpack with rich detail and are more about people than they are page-turners.

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