Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Jesus I Come

Jesus, I Come
©2000 Greg Thompson. Words: William Sleeper. Music: Greg Thompson.

1. Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come; Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

2. Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress into jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

3. Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward forever on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

4. Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

We sang this song this morning. It's one of my favourite new/old hymns, which can be found at Reformed University Fellowship hymn site. I think the folks from Indelible Grace maintain the site but don't quote me on that. :-)

This was followed by "As the East is from the West", a simple song quoting from the Psalms about how far away our sin is from us when we are forgiven, and "What the Lord has Done for Me", which I think was written by Robin Marks. It's on his "Come Heal this Land" album at any rate.

All of this music really served to underline what God has done for us. Then my husband preached a great sermon on Matt. 23 and the woes to the Pharisees by Christ. A good service all around.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Learning the Cello

Patti asked in the comments about my cello playing. So I thought I'd make it into a blog post, instead of answering in the comments.

I started playing cello two years ago this October. I have played piano since I was five. However, piano is a solitary instrument, generally, apart from accompanying, and I've always been fascinated by string instruments. The Bible college president at the time I was at Bible College was a cello player and I've always thought it was a beautiful instrument. So it was on my "things I'd like to do before I die" list.

Three years ago, my oldest daughter started the violin. A year after that, my youngest child was three and a half and for some reason, I don't recall all the reasons, it seemed like a good time to start learning the cello. I really wanted something to work on to challenge myself. I had also found out through my daughter's experience that we could rent string instruments from a string shop in the city, which made learning a new instrument possible. $36 a month is a lot more accessible than $1200 upfront. Part of the motivation was also that my daughter & I could make music together.

So I started making some phone calls. After a couple of "interesting" phone calls with potential teachers, I found my current teacher. She's an experienced Suzuki teacher. She hadn't done a lot of work with adults but she was willing to take me on, even with once a month lessons. As we've gotten farther into the process, I've realized what a good teacher she is and how providential it was that I was able to find her.

This year, we've made the switch to biweekly lessons in the city for my daughter and that has given me the opportunity to go biweekly with my lessons too. Although I was learning and progressing over the past two years, it felt to me like I could be progressing faster and further if I had more regular lessons. Sometimes it would be six weeks between lessons, just depending on the circumstances. So I'm looking forward to being there every two weeks and to moving ahead with it.

Eventually, I'd like to play more for church or have other performance opportunities. My daughter & I play together sometimes but we'd like to do more. I'd really like to find some relatively easy piano trios (violin, cello & piano) that we could do with a pianist but they seem to be hard to find.

We have two younger daughters and so the girls have it all mapped out - the next one will learn violin and the 3rd one viola and in just a matter of time, we'll have a string quartet. Considering that the violin teacher we found this year also plays viola, we're actually somewhat hopeful that this could take place!

We're off to the city - I may add later reasons why I think it's good for adults to learn new musical instruments.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Don't Have to Drive Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we are going to the city.

I am not a driver. I do drive but I don't love driving. I do it because I have to. My husband, on the other hand, is a driver. He likes to drive. He chooses to drive. Even on long road trips, I usually drive for about an hour a day, if that. My husband tries to relax in the passenger seat and he does a little, because he trusts me, but usually after about an hour, he's ready to start driving again.

Since our holidays at the beginning of July, I have been driving. We had to take two vehicles to BC since I stayed later with the kids while my husband came home. So I drove there and back. I drove to the city (two hours away) twice in August and once in September and I drove to a quizzing clinic three and a half hours from here last weekend by myself.

Tomorrow, my husband is going with us to the city and he is driving. I am not driving. I'm going to be the passenger.

I'm going to take several books and my knitting. I'm going to fall asleep on the way and maybe even on the way back, just because I can.

He'll drop me off at my cello lesson and my daughter's violin lesson and then come back and pick us up. I won't have to worry about parking in the Costco parking lot.

And we get to talk on the way there and back too, which in our busy lives, is sometimes hard to find time to do.

It's going to be a great day!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Last night, at 9 pm, I had the choice of scrapbooking, practicing cello or blogging.

Scrapbooking won. I haven't been doing very much lately and it felt good to do just a little.

I have put a calendar page at the beginning of each month for my 2006 calendar. I haven't done too much with them so last night, I decided to finish January's page. While referring to my calendar, because I would never remember anything, I wrote in some of the things we did in January, 2006. It was fun to look back and see some of the things that didn't make it into pictures but were still important to us, like the Canadian Federal election, and my son starting his training for working at the library. Doing one page was quick and easy and reminded me that it is something that is achievable in 20 minutes. I'll be trying to do that more.

Of course, that meant that I didn't blog, although I am now, and I didn't practice cello. I have a lesson on Friday though, so the next two days must contain some good solid practice for a longer period of time. We'll see how that goes. Wednesdays and Thursdays are not heavily scheduled so it's a good possibility.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poems for younger children

I am attempting to daily work on poem memorization with the younger two (7 & 5). So far, they have memorized If I were an Apple. The author is anonymous.

If I were an apple and grew on a tree,
I think I'd drop down on a nice boy like me.
I wouldn't stay there, giving nobody joy;
I'd fall down at once and say, "Eat me, my boy".

Of course, since it's two little girls saying it, we had to get over the hurdle of "Eat me, my boy". But we all liked the poem enough that we decided they could ignore that part of it.

This morning, we started Rare September. Deputy Headmistress at The Common Room posted over the last year selections from Child's Calendar Beautiful, a book of poems arranged over a monthly calendar, divided up for different ages. This is from that book.

Rare September

'Tis the radiant rare September,
With the clusters ripe on the vine,
With scents that mingle in spicy tingle
On the hill slope's glimmering line.

And summer's a step behind us,
And autumn's a thought before,
And each fleet sweet day that we meet on the way
Is an angel at the door.~unknown

Both my 5 & 7 year olds will learn that one, probably in a couple of weeks. In our grammar book, First Language Lessons, today's lesson was the poem of Mr. Nobody. I decided my 7 year old could learn that one as well. She's pretty good at memorizing and the challenge is good for her.

Mr. Nobody [who is definitely alive and well at our house!]

I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
in everybody's house!
There's no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.

'Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For, prithee, don't you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying 'round you see
Are not our boots - they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cinnamon Toast Challenge

Over the past few years, as I've been talking to some older women, the topic of having company over, especially after evening service or an evening meeting, has come up. What I've found so interesting is that several of them have said that when they had guests, they would serve cinnamon toast. That was a special treat and they always enjoyed having it when someone would drop in to visit. **

I've been thinking about this more and wondering why it is we feel like we have to have a special dessert or baking to serve to company. Why can't we just serve cinnamon toast around the kitchen table and enjoy the visit?

It's also difficult to find time to have people over for supper, although we do try and we enjoy it a lot. We've decided this fall that we're going to try to invite a few people over after Sunday evening service or other evenings as they may come up. I'm not going to fret about what we're going to eat - we'll make sure things are tidy (not spick & span) and get out a loaf of bread (or two) and the cinnamon sugar, along with the tea pot and some mugs and have ourselves a great visit!

Never made cinnamon toast? It's easy - mix cinnamon into a cup of brown sugar until it smells right. Toast bread, spread with butter and sprinkle the sugar mixture over. Enjoy!

** My mother-in-law also said that when she was a teen, they would have Puffed Wheat cereal with milk in the evenings when their friends would come over. Her family delivered milk so they had milk available for that, although she also said that she doesn't remember drinking a lot of milk as a child. I think the Puffed Wheat was for the kids and since I personally prefer cinnamon toast to Puffed Wheat, we'll stick with it. But hey, if that appeals to you...

*** I would also love to hear from others about what they've experienced or heard from older people about what they would serve to people dropping in or coming in to visit for an evening. I think it's fascinating to hear the stories. My mother-in-law just moved her six months ago; we've had more time to visit with her about her growing up years and it's been great.

Catching Up

I am woefully behind on postings for this blog. I can only say we're into the second week of school and several extra activities start this week. In addition, I'm busy for three Saturdays in a row and Sunday afternoon was taken up with spending an hour and a half at the hospital for this:

There are three stitches hiding under the bandaid. She was walloped by a hockey stick by a boy while playing street hockey. We took one look at it (through the blood pouring out) and knew it would be a trip to emergency. Thank goodness for the Canadian medical system! Her eye is even more beautiful today.

Today I have to pull the tomatoes & peppers out of the garden. I'd love to leave them in but the forecast is for cold and wet weather this weekend, possibly even including snow! so it's time to pull them out.

Happy September!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, Who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, Who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, Who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

The verses in italics are the ones that are in the hymnal we use. The other verses are very good too - I may be adding them!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Nature Walks & Journalling

Today, I took the little girls (5 & 7) out for a "nature walk", a la Charlotte Mason. All last year, I tried to do it but never quite got around to it. Years ago, I tried to get my family to do it but it didn't fly. Finally, today, we had our first successful nature walk. How do I know it was successful? They wanted to keep on going!

I found scribblers for both girls, and an extra notebook for myself. None of them are fancy at all. We took a pencil each and our notebooks and headed out. We only had about 30 minutes so couldn't go far. But you know, it's amazing what we found less than 5 minutes walk from our house.

The first thing we looked at was the leaves on a hedge. I showed them how to do a leaf rubbing (putting the leaf under the paper and rubbing the pencil over the top). It's a harder skill than I would have thought. My seven year old got it, with some practice, but it was hard for the five year old. We'll have to practice that.

Then we looked at a pine tree and the needles. It's hard to do a leaf rubbing of pine needles, we discovered. My five year old wanted to draw a picture of the tree; I quickly learned to just let her do what she wanted and not even worry about what page she was on in her scribbler. Does it matter if she skips around? I tried to date them later so we'd have a record of when it was done.

Beside a school playground, there is a fairly narrow line of bush, maybe 20-30 feet. There's lots to discover in there. It was neat to see them looking at the large roots of the trees, in addition to flowers & grasses.

The only thing we didn't do was to look up any of the flowers or trees at home. I don't have very many good reference books; I really need to get some. But I think just getting outside was the first step. I did wish I had the camera with me. I love taking nature photos and I feel much more comfortable doing it. But having to capture the images on paper is a good challenge for me.

I'm giving you all this detail because for me, I don't know about anyone else, I love reading about ideas such as nature journalling but I have a hard time implementing it. Because there's a five year gap between our first two children and our last two children, I feel like I have a chance to start again and do it "right". There's so much I wish I had known when the older two were young like this. But I can't unscramble eggs so I am happy to have this opportunity to put into practice some of the things I missed out the first time. And really, I should get at least my 12 year old to come with us - she's a great artist and it would be excellent practice for her. I am not in the least a very good artist - I can see it but I can't put it on paper - but I figure that it's a good idea to just keep trying and to observe as much as I can with the kids.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Contemplation and slowing down life

I’ve been thinking a lot about contemplation and slowing down on life. Lynne has written about this in her reflections on the CIRCE conference.

As I was writing a while ago about how much I enjoy naps, it dawned on me that perhaps it is in the small ways that we can reach out and slow down our lives long enough for contemplation and for family life. We spent a Sunday afternoon and evening a few weeks ago visiting with friends at their place. As my friend and I walked around their property (they live out of town) and talked, I thought that this was one way for our families to get off the merry-go-round. Just taking time together and enjoying “Sabbath rest” (not just a nap!) together refreshed our souls.

One of the ladies on an elist I’m on is French; their family splits their time between France and the US. One of her comments about American life (and I don’t think it’s that much different in Canada) is that people don’t take time, even when they eat together. She noticed a rush to get through a meal without taking time to sit and talk and just enjoy being together and the conversation. I know I’m guilty of wanting to jump up and get on with the next thing.

I think it is when we make a conscious effort to spend time just being that we are most able to escape the rush of modern life. Having a nap, spending time with friends or family, playing games with our kids, reading books out loud together or reading individually but all in the same room, or eating together are all ways to let go of the rush.

This quote was posted on an elist. It’s one that speaks to me.

James S. Taylor:

"In living and moving and having something of our being in a home culture, even
with its all-too-human fuss and bother, if we but smuggle in something of the
simple cargo - sturdy, comfortable furniture, fresh food, home-cooked meals,
good wine, one set of fine china for special meals, paintings and ancestral
portraits on the wall, an old upright piano, acoustic guitar, any non-electric
instrument, a time set apart to read aloud before prayers and bedtime~~if we but
make a welcome hearth for the songs of the Muses, we too will know that even on
this earth, now and again, a courage will visit among us in those comforting,
beautiful reflections of the permanent things, quite surprising yet strangely
familiar for us who are passing to and fro in these playful shadows, and we will
begin to see as Odysseus recognized, 'something very much like perfection.'"

I’ve been reading a couple of books of essays by Wendell Berry. In his criticism of the loss of agrarian life, I think he is speaking to the same problems that James Taylor is referring to. I’ll post more about Wendell Berry’s writings later but for now, my observation is that his criticisms are generally very accurate. I don’t think he has the answers, because he seems to ignore the true answers found in Christ, but he certainly has nailed some of the problems, especially associated with the church.

It’s so easy to get on the treadmill like a bunch of little mice. Even when we grumble, we still don’t hop off. This year, I’d like to look for those times of refreshing and grab hold of them with both hands. I’m not sure how it will all play out but I pray that we can keep these goals in mind as we go through our daily lives.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Hymn

Come Thou Fount

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,P
rone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

I've sung this hymn all my life and I've never sung the fourth verse. I found this at Cyber Hymnal. It's amazing what I learn sometimes!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bits and Pieces

I'm feeling a little random tonight. I spent the day making sauerkraut (for the first time - I'll find out in 10 days if it worked), dill pickles and cabbage rolls. We enjoyed one batch of cabbage rolls for supper. The other pan is for a potluck at church tomorrow. I should actually say that "some of us" enjoyed cabbage rolls for supper - others just picked out the filling and tried not to complain. But that's OK - it was a great treat for the three of us who like them.

We've been listening non-stop to a new album, Mockingbird, by Derek Webb. If you would like to get your hands, I mean, ears, on this album, go to FreeDerekWebb. You may still be able to download a copy for free. I'm not sure I agree with every song but he certainly has a lot of food for thought. I like the style of his music very much.

I'm going to link to another article that I really enjoyed. It's from the New York Times. The other day to get to it, I didn't have to sign in but today I had too. (Hopefully my readers won't have to). Anyway, I hate registering to read an article so I always use "stupid" or some form of it as the registering name. Well, apparently, there are other people who think the same thing. "Stupid" wasn't available but "stupid78" was. 78 people have tried to use "stupid" as their sign-in name. You'd think that sooner or later these companies would get the hint.

The article is entitled "Why I Can't Stop Starting Books". It's hard to choose just the right quote for here but I think this one will work for starters.

But I am never reading fewer than 25 books. I am not talking about books I
have delved into, perused and set aside, like “Finnegans Wake” or Pamela
Anderson’s first novel — that would get me up way over a hundred. I am
about books I am actively reading, books that are on my nightstand
and are not
leaving there until I am done with them. Right now, the number
is 27.

I'm not sure that I've ever reached 27 books at a time. I know that I often have 3-5 on the go. After all, a person needs a book for different rooms or for different moods. Do I want to go to sleep or stay awake? Do I want something light or something that makes me think? And when something new comes home from the library, well, I just have to make sure it's going to be
worth reading. If you enjoy reading, you'll probably enjoy this article.

On a different note, Michael Totten has had a lot to report from his travels in the Middle East, and especially in Israel and Lebanon. Good reads and lots to think about.

An interesting article on college education and the number of students needing remedial work before they can enter college. It's a good reminder of the high standards I need to hold before my kids.

Random bookishness

My daughter tagged me for this so here it is for her:
Random Bookishness
1. Grab the nearest book. Omnibus I: Biblical and Classical Civilizations
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences (or paragraph) on your blog along with these instructions:
5. Herodotus of Halicarnassus records some of the beginning of this great river. Christ came long ago and purified the waters of the river. Sadly, today the water is polluted.
6. Tag five people.
And anyone else who would like to join in.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Explaining the Title

Years ago, I read an article by Mrs. Chancy at the Ladies Against Feminism site. I copied this down a few years ago and have often reflected on the truths in this short paragraph. The article is excellent too.

Why is folding laundry any more "mindless" than filing a pile of paperwork
stacked in an office in-box? Why is the artful arrangement of furniture less
creative than drawing up a spreadsheet? Why do we believe that it takes no
brains to raise intelligent, honorable children while it requires tactical
brilliance to manage employees in the corporate world? We have foolishly
capitulated over the past century by saying, "Oh, I’m just a housewife." Or we
overcompensate by trying to make a list of reasons that being a housewife is
like holding a "real" job: "I’m a chef, taxi driver, plumber, personal shopper,
appliance repairman, financial counselor, time management expert, etc., etc., ad
nauseum." I think the inimitable Tasha Tudor puts it best: "Whenever I get one
of those questionnaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down
housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it? You aren’t stupid
because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read
Shakespeare." [quoted from The Private World of Tasha Tudor]

Truth be told, there is lots to running a home, let alone adding in all the rest of the activities that many of us do. My mom always said that she never understood how anyone could be bored at home - she always found lots to do. Certainly when I look around my house, I see much to accomplish and not all of it is drudgery, either! Okay, putting away the laundry can be drudgery sometimes, but as a Christian woman trying to please my Lord in everything I do, I try to have a good attitude about even putting away the laundry.

The other thing about the title of the blog that I like is that it serves to introduce two subjects close to my heart - cooking and reading!

End of the Month Supper Blues

Hmm…. What to have for supper?

Macaroni and cheese…………….. no cheese
Tuna Casserole………………….. no regular pasta
Spaghetti! ………………………. I have everything!


I've been spending quite a bit of time canning fruit lately. I think I'm almost done, although I would still like to do pears and fruit cocktail.

A friend gave me a neat tip - her aunt doesn't peel her peaches. So I tried it. I haven't eaten any yet but they look good. The skin actually almost disappears. She says the skin comes off easily when you open the jar so a person can decide whether to eat it or not. It sure sped up the canning process. It also helped that the peaches were perfectly ripe and came off the pit beautifully.

I've been making applesauce too. I tried making some fruit leathers. They turned out quite well but it's quite a long process. Considering how quickly it disappears around here, I'm not convinced if I should keep on doing it. I do have one more bowl in the fridge to put on the dehydrator.

I made apple butter again this year. It turned out very tasty. The recipe is from the More with Less cookbook, which is one of my favourite cookbooks.

Oven Apple Butter

Combine in a large greased roast pan:
5 qts applesauce, unsweetened
10 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. cloves

Bake at 350 for 3 hours or until thick. Stir every 20 minutes (I set the timer otherwise there is no hope of ever remembering to stir it). Pour into sterilized jars and seal. I don't can mine if they seal right away.
The first time I made this, I let it cook down too much. It will thicken as it cools so even if there is some liquid on the top, just stir it in and put it in the jars. It's fairly strong so smaller jars are better.
My mother-in-law, who is 82, was over for supper the first night I finished this. She said that she first had apple butter when she was in her late teens, working for a Mennonite family. She put some on a bun and said, "Oh, that takes me back!" I thought that was neat.

We like to use apple butter on pancakes, on oatmeal and sometimes on bread or buns. It's also good as a condiment for meat.

I also made Apricot Chutney this year for the first time and I was pleased how it turned out. Sometimes chutney can be very strong. I combined two recipes because of a mistake in one of the recipes.

The first is here. Unfortunately, they left out the quantities for the vinegar. So I used the amount from the second recipe, which is 2 1/2 c. cider vinegar. However, I found it was better to add about half the vinegar and stir it in, then add the rest slowly, going by taste.

Chutney is wonderful with virtually any type of meat. The More with Less cookbook also calls for it as a condiment with curry. A little with crackers and cheese as an appetizer can also be very tasty!

The Beauty of Naps

I have a nap almost every day. It's a little harder during the school year but I still try a few times a week to sneak one in. Yesterday, I thought I would look up some quotations about naps, just for fun, and I'll post them below.

For me, a nap is a quiet time in the middle of the day that lets me recharge my batteries. I'm up early and this way, I can keep going until bedtime. I usually read for a few minutes, then sleep for 15-20 minutes, occasionally 30. It's just enough for a rest and not enough that I'm groggy. It's so nice to sink into bed with that "ahh" feeling!

Without further ado, quotes about napping:
“No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.”
Carrie Snow
“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
Robert Fulghum as quoted by Barbara Jordan
“Set aside half an hour every day to do all your worrying; then take a nap during this period.”
“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.”

Book Review - Julie & Julia

On the recommendation of someone on an e-list I'm on, I picked up Julie & Julia from the library. It's the story of a young woman's one year challenge to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a tiny, actually two different tiny, kitchens in New York City.
The premise is fascinating. I really enjoy books about cooking but I also enjoy the "human interest" angle. Julie Powell does a great job of charting her journey through the cookbook. Some of the challenges included finding the ingredients, working fulltime while doing this challenge and having a very small kitchen with a limited number of tools to work with.
One of the most interesting sidelines was that she started this challenge in about 2002 (I'm guessing from some of the dates mentioned). One of her friends told her about a new thing on the internet - a web log, or blog. So Julie was one of the first to start a blog. It charted her progress through this challenge. She was amazed at the interaction she had with the readers of her blog, including gifts being sent from some of them.
The only caveat I have about this book and the reason I would hesitate to recommend it is the problem with the language. She uses a lot of profanity; I found myself skimming just to skip the profanity without missing the story. If you are sensitive to swearing in a book, I wouldn't recommend it. Sometimes books have a limited amount of profanity; it's little enough that a person can ignore it. This one has quite a lot.
I'm always disappointed in books that contain a lot of profanity because I have younger teens at home who would probably enjoy the story but who I would prefer wouldn't be exposed to that level of profanity. They are, of course, going to encounter it throughout their teens but we hope that we can keep it in limited quantities.
One of my favourite, in a squeamish sort of way, stories from her cooking challenge, is the story of how she dealt with a live lobster in a recipe that called for killing it with a meat cleaver rather than boiling it. Julie has a great way of writing that helps the reader visualize exactly what is happening!
I also really enjoyed her growing understanding of her relationship with her husband. They married early, in a world that often doesn't value young marriages, and she reflects on their relationship throughout the book, especially as they go through this challenge together. My favourite quote comes as a part of this growing relationship:

"He was my partner. It occurred to me, as I beat my rebellious sauce into submission, that my husband was doing more than just enduring this crazy thing I'd gotten myself into, doing more than being supportive. I realized that this was his Project, too. Eric wasn't a cook, and... he only cared about JC [Julia Child] because I did. And yet, he had become part of this thing. There would be no Project without him, and he would not be the same without the Project. I felt so married, all of a sudden, and so happy." (p. 174-175)

In a world that often undercuts and devalues the relationship between husband and wife and where one partner often leaves a marriage to "find her/himself", I thought this was a wonderful tribute to how marriage should truly work.

Book Review - Espresso Tales

I recently picked up Alexander McCall Smith's Espresso Tales. It's from a series called "44 Scotland Street". I've read several of McCall Smith's novels - a couple from his Africa series (that I can't remember the name of right now) and a couple set in Scotland. However, they weren't part of the same series.
The book features stories of the tenants of a Edinburgh townhouse - six year old Bertie & his parents, Bruce, Pat and Domenica.
It probably would have helped if I had read the first book in the series. As it was, I felt like I was plunged into the middle of events that I really didn't understand. I figured it out as the book went on but the first few chapters were a little confusing.
I found the style of this book to be somewhat offputting. In previous books of his that I've read, his writing was not nearly as disjointed. It may be that because the book is titled Espresso Tales that McCall Smith purposefully jumped from one character to the next without tying the story line together very much (the characters intersect sometimes, some more than others, but the point of view changes each time) but overall, I didn't enjoy his writing style nearly as much as the other books I've read. It seemed to plod along rather than flow.
Overall, the stories themselves were fairly interesting. Several of the characters either learned their lesson and, one hopes, changed their behaviours or they learned something more about themselves. I think I would recommend the series but probably recommend starting with the first book instead of the second!

Movie Review - The Shop Around the Corner

We recently subscribed to, a subscription service for dvds. It's the Canadian version of Netflix and Blockbuster. We're on a trial subscription right now but we like it and I think we'll do it for at least a few months.

One of the advantages is that we can get classic movies. Our library doesn't have very many and with the current political situation, libraries are not able to ship movies for the library postal rate, which makes it too expensive for them to share movies around. (I may blog about this one day)

Anyway, we received today The Shop around the Corner with James Stewart & Helen Sullavan. The kids and I watched it tonight. You may or not know that You've Got Mail was the remake of this movie.

We really enjoyed it. It's quite clever in the dialogue and although some of the circumstances seemed a little contrived, overall it was very believable. It's in black and white (or "grey" as my five year old put it) but after a minute or so, you don't notice it anymore.

I always enjoy Jimmy Stewart and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see this movie.

Homeschooling Meme

I was tagged by Lynne at The Sweetbriar Patch for this. It's the first one I've ever done so here goes:

The one that was the turning point in deciding to homeschool was The Homeschool Journey by Susan Card. More recently, I enjoyed The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. I know it's not the definitive Charlotte Mason book but it was a good reminder/introduction for me.
Around the World in Eighty Days
Classical Writing - Diogenes
Omnibus I by Veritas Press
Lost Tools of Writing
Something that would help me extend time so I could do everything on my list every day - and still enjoy the fun stuff!
Tree of Life
Can't say that I read any one website regularly. Do blogs count? :-)
Oh, goodness, I don't know who has done this one. I'll try
1. Kim at Upward Call who just did it by tagging herself. Humph!
2. Patti
and any one else who feels inclined. Leave me a comment if you do so I know who else is reading.

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Year

At Trinity Prep School, Maureen was asking for contributions on the subject of "Seven Habits of Highly Effective New School Years". Thanks to Deputy Head mistress of The Common Room for blogging about it.

Here's my seven off the top of my head:

1. Begin by being organized. Clean off the bookshelves and put them in a reasonable order so that when it's time to look for the books you need, you'll know where they are. If you do this once during the year, you are at least assured of having one day where everything is where it belongs.
This is only partially tongue-in-cheek. I can't count the number of minutes (hours!) we have lost because books (and other items) weren't put where they belong. It's one of the more frustrating moments in homeschooling. And I can't blame the kids *all* the time - after all, whose books do they see around the house?
Habit # 1 - have a place for everything and everything in its place to start with before school starts
2. Decide why you are doing what you are doing. A friend of mine has always had an educational plan for her family. In it, she lists why they do what they do. This is very important for those days when you question exactly why you are doing this. Pull it out then and remind yourself of what's important to your family. Then order pizza.
Habit #2 - Decide why you are homeschooling and write it down for the tough days.
3. Set aside time for the things that are very important to your family. Over the past two years, we have not maintained our regular readaloud time in the evenings that we had for years, due to busyness and scattered activities. My husband and I have agreed that this is important to us and we miss it. Therefore, it's going to be a priority to do it. This is a good reminder to do it tonight!
Habit #3 - Make time for the important things in life. Don't let everything else take it over.
4. Set your mind to what God has called *you* to do, even in the area of the curriculum you presently own. Is it working? If it is, don't buy anything else, no matter how much someone else raves about another program. If it's not working, try to figure out why before you start chasing after something else. There is no magic bullet for curriculum. It's never going to do exactly what you want it to do and it will not produce the perfect children, even though that mom online seems to have it all together. If you can't resist new curriculum, then put the catalogues away and try to avoid online discussions of curriculum you don't have so you aren't tempted to get anything else.
Habit #4 - Be content with what you have.
5. Take time to enjoy your children. For example, have you ever observed that being in a rush is the most stressful time for your family? I have. There's nothing more guaranteed to bring out the wrong attitudes and talk in me then being late and having to hurry everyone. In whatever way works for your family, plan ahead so that you don't have to rush to get to the next appointment. And relax enough to enjoy your children on the way there. If you find that you are always in a hurry and you feel like you are always running, maybe it's time to sit down with your calendar and your family and figure out what's important and what's not.
Habit #5 - Plan ahead so you can enjoy your family
6. Teach your kids to do it right the first time and keep working with them until they learn to do it. There are a couple of things I regret not doing properly when the older two were younger. Handwriting for my oldest is one of them. I let him get away with it and now we're talking about the need for remedial handwriting skills. I wish I had taught him correctly the first time and persevered with it.
Habit #6 - Persevere until they really get it
7. In what may seem like a contradiction to #6, know when you and your kids need a break. Sometimes you may hit a wall, either in attitude problems (and it could be Mom's attitude, not just the child's) or with school skills. Sometimes you need to push through, but sometimes you need to take a pajama day and give everyone a break. Then go back to the problem the next day and see if it's been resolved. You really need to know your own children for this. Is it a spiritual issue (ex. a matter of resisting authority)? Is it a character issue (ex. needing to learn perseverance)? Is it a maturity issue (ex. she'll learn to read next year but you'll keep working patiently on the phonics until then)? Is it a matter of being overwhelmed - too many nights out and fighting a cold? Or a preteen who is finding that the hormones are overwhelming and she really doesn't know why she wants to cry half the time? I think for me, knowing my kids is one of the hardest aspects of homeschooling because I tend to get wrapped up in my own little world and not notice that they are changing and growing. Taking time to study my kids and knowing when to take a break is really important.
Habit #7 - Know when to back off

I don't know if these are all habits but in reflecting on the upcoming year, they are some issues that came to mind that I think we may be dealing with. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes - I hope that I'll be prepared for this year and I hope you will be too.

A Sign Downtown

I saw this sign downtown at a florist's shop. Makes an interesting statement!

Bench Show Results

(August 20)
We had some good results from our entries in the two bench shows. I think I won about $84 in total between the two. My daughters made about $20 between them. The second bench show had more prize money than the first ($5 for first, $3 for 2nd, $2 for 3rd versus $3,$2 & $1) so it added up to more.

One thing we noticed yesterday is that the attendance and participation, especially in our local show, was quite sparse. It had partly to do with other factors (a busy weekend in the community and they didn't do it last year) but it still was less. I think some of the reason is that these shows highlight skills that aren't being used very much any more. How many people bake or can, or have gardens? Or sew or knit?There were quite a few photograph entries but on the whole, the handicrafts were not represented very well. Part of it is timing - I know that I was hard put to come up with some projects that I had completed this year but overall, it seems as though some of these skills are being lost in our culture. It's sad to see, I think.

It was a fun experience and we'll try to do it again next year. If I'm a little more prepared, the younger kids would also like to be more involved.

Sunday Hymn Post - August 20

We're singing this for our first hymn in church today so I thought it would be appropriate to post here.

Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy Name to sing, help us to praise!
Father all glorious, over all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

Come, Thou incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour.
Thou Who almighty art, now rule in every heart,
And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!

To Thee, great One in Three,
Eternal praises be, hence, evermore.
Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see,
And to eternity love and adore!

Baking Fun

(August 17)
Tomorrow there is a country fair in a little town about 45 minutes from us. On Saturday, there is a bench show in our town. Both of these offer opportunity to enter baking, vegetables, fruits, handicrafts, photography, etc. to be judged (and to win prizes ). So today I am baking up a storm.

Already made: One chocolate & one white jelly roll - waiting for fillings
Brownies that are in the oven.
Bread dough rising

To make:
A batch of bun dough that will become rolls & cinnamon buns
Bran muffins
Maybe a banana loaf

I also have some sewing to finish. Of course, I leave it all to the last minute. I need to add buttons to a nightie, put a couple of finishing touches to a cross-stitch picture that's been sitting almost finished for quite a while & wash & iron it, sew the toes & put in the ends on a pair of knitted socks and get a bunch of pictures printed and mounted on cardboard.

Good thing it's still only the middle of the morning!

Lunch Ideas

At the Choosing Home blog, they have requested lunch ideas. So I decided to list a few.
I certainly am in agreement with this statement:

It’s like this - breakfast - no problem. (Especially during the winter) Supper - no problem. But, that little meal shoved there in-between is SO hard to figure out. What’s a mom to do ? On the days that we have sufficient left over from dinner the night before, it’s not such a big deal - BUT on those other days….

Lunch used to be much easier when (a) the kids were younger and ate less for supper so we'd have more leftovers and (b) the kids were younger and didn't mind repetition. Now it's harder.
So here are some of my ideas. I'm much more scheduled during the school year than in the summer. Summer tends to be whatever you can find in the fridge. But during the year, I try to be more organized.

I've done lunch menus in different ways. For a long time, I had 5 choices, one for each day of the week and I rotated through that for months. It stopped working a few years ago. Now, on my monthly menu calendar, I either put ideas along the bottom or side that I can choose from or I put something on each day. Putting it on each day is a lot more exhausting so I don't tend to do it every month. But even having some ideas along the side helps.

Here they are, in no particular order:
-tomato soup (we like ours with cheese & fresh spinach thrown in at the end) or mushroom soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
-burritos (my kids aren't big on beans so they'll have a little bit of meat while I enjoy the beans!) -baked potato with toppings
-homemade soup (in the winter)
-curry, using a little bit of leftover meat. They particularly like it with toppings - coconut, apples, pineapple, sunflower seeds, bananas, etc.
-meat and/or cheese sandwiches - not too often but occasionally
-peanut butter & jam sandwiches
-mini pizzas - I make them with english muffins or the personal size pizza crusts if they were on sale. Also, I sometimes use salsa or red pepper jelly (for the adults) under the cheese
-fresh biscuits with tuna salad
-tuna or cheese melts
-chef salad with ham, cheese & hard-boiled eggs (or whatever else is in the fridge)
-pitas with fillings
-vegetable stirfrys - I try to include some sort of protein if we do this. We're not big tofu eaters but sometime I'd like to try it some more
-fresh bread and soup or stew
-homemade macaroni & cheese (my kids don't really like Kraft dinner so I only keep it on hand for emergencies)
-spaghetti - we often have extra sauce left over so I just cook up some more pasta. If you mix the sauce with the pasta, it makes the sauce go farther
-perogies (we're extra blessed when a friend gives us homemade perogies but the storebought ones are good too)
-scrambled eggs & toast

When I make soup, I often throw in a handful of red lentils. They are the kind that cook up almost translucent and they are not easily visible with the rest of the vegies, etc. It adds just that extra protein and vitamins without anyone really noticing.
Hope that gives some ideas - I know I'm reminded of all the options that are available!

Home Decor meets Homeschooling

(August 15)
The newest thing in scrapbooking is home decor - how to transfer scrapbooking from the pages of an album to the walls of one's home. I recently read a magazine that focussed heavily on this. Later I visited the scrapbook store and saw an example on the wall.

I've also been thinking about this quote quite a bit. So with all that circling around in my brain, I sat down one afternoon and created this project. An old picture frame, some beautiful paper that I love and a few hours later it was done.

I'm hoping that when it's on the wall to be seen often, it will help to inspire me and my children our homeschooling journey this year and help us to slow down and think about the important things in education, not just trying to get through it!

Sunday Hymn - August 13

This is my favourite hymn - it speaks to the hope and peace found in God.

Like a River Glorious

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah,
hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised,
perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Musings on Education

(August 12, 2006)

Some online friends recently attended the CIRCE conference. One of the authors highly recommended there was Wendell Berry. I had read Jayber Crow a couple of years ago and enjoyed it but I've never read any of his non-fiction. And I'd like to go back and read Jayber Crow again too.

I requested Home Economics from the library - a series of fourteen essays that "discuss what it means to make oneself 'responsible' at home." (from the cover). I started reading the essays yesterday and I'm really enjoying them.

I just finished "Higher Education and Home Defense". The following is a quote that I believe is applicable not only to education and the secular world but also to that of the church. I apologize for the length of it - I just couldn't leave out bits of it!

"Education in the true sense, of course, is an enablement to serve - both the living human community in its natural household or neighbourhood and the precious cultural possessions that the living community inherits or should inherit. To educate is, literally, to "bring up," to bring young people to a responsible maturity, to help them to be good caretakers of what they have been given, to help them to be charitable toward fellow creatures. Such an education is obviously pleasant and useful to have; that a sizable number of humans should have it is probably also on e of the necessities of human life in this world. And if this education is to be used well, it is obvious that it must be used some where; it must be used where one lives, where one intends to continue to live; it must be brought home.

When educational institutions educate people to leave home, then they have redefined education as "career preparation." In doing so, they have made it a commodity - something to be bought in order to make money. The great wrong in this is that it obscures the fact that education - real education - is free. I am necessarily well aware that schools and books have a cost that must be paid, but I am sure nevertheless that what is taught and learned is free. None of us would be so foolish as to suppose that the worth of a good book is the same as the money value of its paper and ink or that the worth of good teaching could be computed in salaries. What is taught and learned is free - priceless but free. To make a commodity of it is to work its ruin, for, when we put a price on it, we both reduce its value and blind the recipient to the obligations that always accompany good gifts: namely, to use them well and to hand them on unimpaired. To make a commodity of education, then, is inevitably to make a kind of weapon of it because, when it is dissociated from the sense of obligation, it can be put directly at the service of greed." (p. 52)

Now, obviously, there is a lot to think about in this quote. I would like to ponder more the idea that real education is free and that is an "enablement to serve." But the application I immediately thought of regarding the link of education to a place is in the church and the relationship of churches to their pastors' and how those pastors are trained.

It seems as though the more people we talk to in the church in general, the more we are realizing that the current way that pastors are trained is not working. My husband is involved with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists in Canada and their French Mission board, which oversees mission work in Quebec. The seminary in Quebec - SEMBEQ - is doing a much better job of training pastors than many other institutions. We heard a speaker a few years ago from the seminary - he quoted a statistic from Moody Bible Institute that (I hope this is correct) only 18% of their graduating students from the pastoral track continue in pastoral ministry. SEMBEQ's average is 82%. The reason it's working? They work closely with the churches and every single student is involved in their own local church. Not just as summer intern who has no ties to the church but as a working member of that local church. Those pastoral students have connections to a place and a people and it is working. It's not always a smooth ride but the church and the pastoral candidate learn together what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

So often Bible college students have little or no real contact with a church for the duration of Bible school. Then they are dropped into a pastoral situation and lo, and behold, they run into problems because they don't understand the dynamics of church ministry and no one in the church really knows the young man so he has no one to come alongside and give him some direction. Or if there are older men to give him direction, he's not interested in it because "he's been to Bible school".

I am convinced that if we in the Western world start to rethink our training of pastors, it will be one more step on the way to Biblical, disciplined churches that exist to the glory of God.


Welcome to the Blogger version of Jam and Books

After a couple of frustrating weeks with another blogging service, when I couldn't post when I wanted to, I've decided to switch to blogger. My husband has been happy with it so hopefully all will go well.

I'm going to be reposting most of the posts from the other site so my apologies if you've already read them!