Quote of the Day


New Year's Resolution

Congratulations to me on keeping my toughest resolution ever.  On this day in 1993 I smoked my last cigarette.  Yeah me! 

Last year's resolutions were:
1. Stay out of the hospital. -- Mostly successful.  I did enter the building, but only as a worried daughter, not as a patient.
2. Wear fragrance and nail polish more often. -- Yup.  I've been sparkly and scented all year long. 
3. Make and adhere to weekly menu plans. -- Yup.  I use Google's calendar to keep organized.
4. Go for more walks. -- FAIL.
5. Go to the gym 1-2 times a week. -- FAIL.
6. De-clutter the house, basement, and barn. -- FAIL.
7. Buy myself a miniature Australian Labradoodle. -- Resounding Success.  Oh my goodness, what a good decision that was.  Expensive, yes, but much cheaper than therapy and way more effective and fun.

This year's resolutions:
1. Be a kinder, more patient, more fun Mom.  Pray for me on this one please.
2. Get the kids up at 7:00 on schooldays in order to get the mandatory work done before we leave the house.  Somehow we got involved in lots of midday activities and none of us are any good in the classroom after 3:00.
3. Go for a walk or ride my exercise bike 4 times a week. 
4. Go the gym twice week.
5. Grow and preserve more food.
6. Learn to trim Nutmeg's nails, keep the mats out, and do all the other grooming tasks.


management fees

Once I ask my children to do something I may (or may not) give one free reminder, but after that I charge management fees for my reminder services.  Management fees are payable in small acts of service (fetch things for me, make my bed, etc.), nothing too dire, but enough to make them wish they had just done whatever it was in the first place.

If nothing else, it gets my bed made on most days.


How to fix your Honda Odyssey power doors that stopped working after a freeze

  1. From the fuse box near the driver's left knee, pull out fuse 13.
  2. From the fuse box under the hood, pull out the fuses labeled "Sliding doors" and "Back-up AC".
  3. Start Car.
  4. Turn off Car.
  5. Replace Fuses.
  6. Start Car.
  7. Turn off Car.
  8. Try doors.

There are other simpler fixes to be found on the internet, but they didn't work for my car, a 1999 Honda Odyssey.  This did.


The Raven

October seems like the perfect month for Poe's The Raven:
  • Classic Poetry Aloud offers an elegant reading of this classic creepy poem.
  • StoryNory offers a perkier version.
  • and you can hear the Allen Parsons Project version as the soundtrack to this whimsical home-movie interpretation of the poem: 


God’s World

God’s World 

O World,
I cannot hold thee close enough
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise.
Thy wood, this autumn day, that ache and sag.
And all but cry with colour!
That gaunt crag To crush!
To lift the lean of that black bluff.
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough.

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart –
Lord I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me – let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay




O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost –
For the grape’s sake along the wall.

-- Robert Frost


The Daily Listen

I've mentioned this before -- using iPod playlists for instruction -- in my post about Breakfast Devotions.  Since then I have expanded it to include:

Memorization Work:
  • The BSF memory verse for the week set to music or merely read aloud, if we can find it in iTunes.
  • The poems that we are memorizing from Andrew Pudewa's Linguistic Development Through Poetry
  • Our vocabulary words for the week from Wordly Wise.
  • The current unit's chapters of Prima Latina
  • The books of the Bible.
  • Any Old Testament chapters from The Message that are part of our study for Ancient History from the guide that Beautiful Feet puts out.
  • The chapters from The Message that our BSF study is covering this week.
This plays during the time of the day that we are doing chores, moving about the house.  While we are doing schoolwork, we listen to an all Classical playlist.

Later this year we will study Classical Composers, so their works will be added one at a time to the list, so that we can start to distinguish them from one another. 


Wordly Wise

We have just started with this Vocabulary Building curriculum and I rather like it.  I download the audio presentation from the Wordly Wise website and add it to our iTunes "Daily Listen" playlist, which I will tell you about in an other post.   After a couple of days of listening, we tackle the worksheets.  The children get most of the answers right and feel all clever and "Good at English".  The webiste also includes fun review games which are a nice carrot for children who complete their lessons promptly.

Besides, what's not to love about a curriculum that includes this sentence: "Only the Congress of the United States has the authority to declare war."

P.S. Just found the Wordly Wise Word Lists here, so if you wanted to you could just work with the word lists and the audio and the games. 


Stuffed Pumpkin

Oh how we loved it.  It reminded us a bit of a good cheese fondue, but more healthful.   I based it on Dorie Greenspan's recipe.

Dice and cook:
3-4 strips of bacon

Cut the top off of, and hollow out:
1 large pumpkin, about 4-5 pounds

Combine, and then fill the pumpkin with it:
the bacon
1 loaf of white artisan bread cubed and dried out in the oven.
1/2 C pinenuts
6-8 cloves garlic,
minced 3/4 C cubed cheddar
3/4 C cubed Swiss
1/2 C homemade soft cheese that I had to make when the yogurt I was trying to make curdled
1/2 C cream cheese, diced
1 C half-and-half
1 T nutmeg salt and pepper

Bake on foil lined cookie pan for about 2 hours at 350. Serve with apple and tomato slices.

Dorie's instructions are much more detailed, so if you have questions, go see her post, linked above.


Pork Shoulder Roast

Very easy, very yummy.
Puree together
  • 1 T crushed garlic
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1/4 t chipolte pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T wine or cider vinegar
  • as much olive oil as you need to make a paste
Rub the paste all over the pork roast.
Put in your baking pot
  • the roast
  • 1/4 C water
Roast at 300 for about 3 hours.
Serve in taco shells with sourcream and salsa and a side-dish of black-eyed peas & spinach (reduce the liquid and leave the hamburger out of the soup).


Chocolate Applesauce Cake

I apologize. All these posts and I've never shared the recipe for Chocolate Applesauce cake. My sister shared this with me when I was newly married; perhaps it is the secret to our years of happiness.
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 C flour
1/2 baking cocoa
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
2 C applesauce or apple pie filing
2 t vanilla extract
1 C vegetable oil
chopped nuts if you wish
350 degrees 30-40 minutes.


Zucchini Pie

Very yummy.  Very easy.

Steam together:
1 large zucchini, peeled and quartered, or the equivalent in small zucchini
1 onion, quartered.

When soft, mash them up in the bottom of a pie plate.  Cover with:
sprinkling of feta
sprinkling of herbs
6 eggs, blended together with a splash of milk

Top with:
1 sleeve of Saltine crackers smashed into
1/2 C melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Resolution Update

These were my New's Years Resolutions.  

1. Stay out of the hospital. So far, so good.
2. Wear fragrance and nail polish more often.  Gave up on the nail polish when gardening season started.
3. Make and adhere to weekly menu plans. Occasionally successful.
4. Go for more walks. Starting to do better with this, thanks to Nutmeg.  Need to replace my walking shoes.
5. Go to the gym 1-2 times a week. Took the summer off.
6. De-clutter the house, basement, and barn. Still in progress; still in the house.
7. Buy myself a miniature Australian Labradoodle.  Success!  Nutmeg is the cutest, sweetest, snuggliest, and best-behaved puppy ever.  


2011-2012 Curriculum for Home Education (aka Home-schooling)

Here is what we are doing this year.

Math: We will continue with Math-U-See because it works so well for us.  The nice man gives the lesson on DVD, the children do the practice exercises. It's great.  We've found that when the Epsilon text pairs nicely with the Fractions text from the very charming Life of Fred series.

Bible:  Bible Study Fellowship's Study of Acts, AOP's Monarch curriculum.

Language Arts: We will continue with the homey Amish curriculum Pathways Readers and WorkbookWe will also finish up -- but won't re-purchase -- last year's Monarch curriculum from Alpha-Omega Press.

Writing: I am looking into the Institute for Excellence in Writing products, particularly the one that pairs with the Beautiful Feet Books' Geography Through Literature packet.

Latin: We have left-over from last year both Prima Latina and  English From the Roots Up material, though I think we are joining a group this year to hire a teacher and have an actual Latin class.

Geography:   Geography Through Literature packet from Beautiful Feet Books; Maps, Graphs and Globes from Steck-Vaughn; finish up -- but don't re-purchase -- last year's Monarch curriculum.

History: We are just now starting Beautiful Feet Books' Gilgamesh packet.  When we finish this, we'll move onto Beautiful Feet Books' Ancient History packet, which we'll augment with the Story of the World material.  After the new year, we will need to listen to Washington - Our Home Audio Book as Washington State History is required of us this year, as Andy is entering -- on paper at least -- sixth grade.

Science:  Beautiful Feet Books makes a great Learning Guided titled History of Science.  It walks us through the great scientists via engaging biographies.  We will augment each topic with hands-on Science in a Nutshell experiment kits -- that is, when we are studying Thomas Edison's life, we'll also be doing experiments with electricity.  We will also finish up -- but won't re-purchase -- last year's Monarch curriculum from Alpha-Omega Press.

Music:  Piano Lessons

Cursive: Handwriting without Tears

Hillsdale Academy, affiliated with Hillsdale College -- where I should have gone to college if I hadn't been so young and foolish -- makes available online their complete curriculum.  I found several useful resources here, and was pleased to note that that many of the set reading lists are echoed in the Beautiful Feet lists -- though that is hardly surprising, as one of the Beautiful Feet curriculum writers was a graduate of Hillsdale College.

How about you?  What are you using this year?


I've started updating the other blog, btw.



I started the blog as a diary that I couldn't lose under the couch.  And then I got readers.  And then I started writing for my reader's benefit.  That became too much pressure.  So I stopped blogging. I'm guessing that all my readers have lost interest and drifted away.

So here, just for my own record-keeping, here are some summerish dishes/menus to help me make yummy but no-too-fussy dinners this summer.

  • rosemary polenta Barefoot Contessa: Family Style p 130
  • scalloped potatoes: Andy can make.
  • loaded salads
  • pesto
  • roast sweet potatoes
  • white beans with rosemary and olive oil
  • roasted leeks
  • roasted corn salad Pioneer Woman Cooks p 26
  • Corn Fritters
  • Lentil Salad Recipes from a Greek Island p74
  • Pea and Almond Salad Alice Bay p 81
  • Potatoes Romanoff Alice Bay p 95
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Cucumber Yogurt Soup
  • Summer Beet Soup Turtleback Farm Inn Cookbook p 60
  • Panzanella (use up dry old bread) A Flavor of Tuscany  p 20
  • Tortillas -- use up the mix that you have.
  • Biscuits
  • Piperade 50 Ways With Vegetables p 70
  • Potato and Zucchini Roast 50 Ways With Vegetables p 72
  • zucchini ratatouille
  • gazpacho Linda McCartney's Home Cooking p 55
  • fritattas
  • meat pie
  • grilled chicken Caesar salad
  • supper onion pie How to be a Domestic Goddess p 85
  • zucchini and chickpea filo pie   How to be a Domestic Goddess p 93
  • mustard pork chops Nigella Express p 11
  • real mac and cheese
  • rib-eye steak with whiskey (or red wine) cream sauce Pioneer Woman Cooks p 166
  • chicken clove enchilada (Christy's recipe, my recipe book)
  • Penne with Prawns Pioneer Woman Cooks p 166
  • Eggplant with Bechamel -- Mollie Katzen?  look up
  • Quiche Alice Bay p 110
  • Stuffed Vegies Recipes from a Greek Island p 68
  • Stuffed Cabbage Recipes from a Greek Island p 68
  • Chicken Bake
  • Shrimp and Scallop Fettuccine Alice Bay p 107
  • Halibut baked in Mayo and Tomato
  • key lime pie: recipe book
  • trifle
  • bread pudding
  • semolina cake Recipes from a Greek Island p 68


on my mind

a broody hen: one of our Wyandottes has gone broody. She sits and coos and purrs at the other hens as they crawl in with her and lay their eggs. I've marked the four I'll let her hatch, and I go in and retrieve the rest each day.
a new puppy: Nutmeg has joined our family at last. She is so funny, and cute! She is turbo-cute. Here, see for yourself:
kitty surgery: our beloved Parsley has a rare injury that requires fancy and expensive surgery and then a month or two of a splint and confinement. She is so sad. I am so sad.
class prep: classes open (for online viewing) on Thursday, and I am expected to have everything ready for the students and to be available for questions, though I don't start getting paid until a full week later. What's up with this. I've taught the classes before, but summer quarter is only eight weeks long, so I'm laboring to smush ten-weeks of material into eight weeks of class.
day camp: each of the next two weeks has one of my children off to day camp. The absent child is having a wonderful time. The at-home child, not so much.
gardens: the vegie beds are full and weeded and I am pleased. The flower gardens, not so much.
jam: we are out! I have to add jam-making to my list of to-dos.


my Hero-Son

So, when we were at Disneyland, we went to the attraction "A Bug's Life". Part of the performance involves 3D bugs (what were we thinking?) so at some point, Chickadee is cowering on the floor at my feet. When the large horrific spiders dropped down from the ceiling, I covered her with my body.

Guess who leapt out of his seat to cover my body with his, protecting me from the spiders?

Dandy. It still just melts my heart thinking about it.


Happy Annivesary to Us

Seventeen years ago today I married the nicest man. We had a lovely small ceremony on a Sunday afternoon in my parents' living room, marrying in front of the fireplace with our parents as our attendants. My sister and brother provided the music and our reception was a wonderful open house at home. It was old-fashion, peaceful, and low-stress.

a perfect wedding
The morning of the wedding, my family went to church and I stayed home. I picked flowers from the garden and made the posies for us to wear or carry. We hired a portrait (not wedding falderal) photographer to come for one hour and take portraits. We did not photograph the wedding, but had it video-taped. Tonight we will share that video with our children and look at our albums.

It was a perfect wedding. I only wish I had invited a few more people; we kept the guest list too short.

Easter Morning

Easter Morning
Edmund Spenser 1552?-1599

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin,
And, having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win;
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we, for whom thou didst die,
Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live forever in felicity:
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought;
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.


Easter Week by Charles Kingsley

Easter Week
by Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1875)

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.
You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring-
Work of fingers, chant of voices,
Like the birds who build and sing.
listen to the poem here, thanks to Classic Poetry Aloud, one of my favorite podcasts



Friday Poetry Good Friday in My Heart by Mary Elizabeth Coolridge

Good Friday in my heart!

GOOD FRIDAY in my heart! Fear and affright!
My thoughts are the Disciples when they fled,
My words the words that priest and soldier said,
My deed the spear to desecrate the dead.
And day, Thy death therein, is changed to night.

Then Easter in my heart sends up the sun.
My thoughts are Mary, when she turned to see.
My words are Peter, answering, ‘Lov’st thou Me?’
My deeds are all Thine own drawn close to Thee,
And night and day, since Thou dost rise, are one.

~ Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry Round-up hosted by Book Aunt.


Cumin-Rubbed Pork Chops with Creme Fraiche Sauce

This was so yummy, that I licked the serving platter.  Chickadee caught me and I had to buy her silence by letting her have a few licks.

Before you begin, time-travel back to yesterday and make yourself some creme fraiche. Or, if your time-traveling device is down, go pick some up at the grocery store and try not to think about how much you are overpaying for it.

Cumin-Rubbed Pork Chops with Creme Fraiche Sauce

In a small bowl, combine:
  • 1 Tb minced garlic (I used the Trader Joe's cheater stuff)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1-2 T olive oil

Rub this all over your pork chops.

In a roomy skillet, heat:
  • 1 T olive oil
Add the chops. Brown them on each side.  Turn the heat down and cook them until they are done.  Use a meat thermometer; pork is not something you want to eat undercooked.  When the chops are done, remove them to a platter that you warmed in the oven.

To the saucepan add:
  • 1/2 C lemon cooking wine (or 1/2 white wine and a squeeze of lemon)
Scrap the stuff off the pan sides and bottom and let it all bubble with the wine.  Heat on high until half of it is gone.

  • 1/2 creme fraiche

Cook until it is to the thickness you like for sauce.  Pour over the chops.  Serve.


So you think that money is the root of all evil?"

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?       "When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?
      "Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions – and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.
      "But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched – made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.
      "To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?
      "But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.
      "Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
      "Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth – the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
      "Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?
      "Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?
      "Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money – and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.
      "Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
      "Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another – their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.
      "But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich – will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt – and of his life, as he deserves.
      "Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.
      "Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.
      "Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'
      "When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.
      "You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood – money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves – slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers – as industrialists.
      "To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money – and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.
      "If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose – because it contains all the others – the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money'. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity – to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.
      "Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide – as, I think, he will.
      "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out."

original source: Part II, Section 2, pages 387-391 of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.


Resolutions and Goals Report

Here are my New's Years Resolutions.  
Zoya Nail Lacquer - Dominique - #3091. Stay out of the hospital. So far, so good.
2. Wear fragrance and nail polish more often.  Success!  Thank you to Givency Extravagance and to Zoya.  That polish is amazing.  I put it on on Monday and it still looks great on Thursday.
3. Make and adhere to weekly menu plans. Epic fail.
4. Go for more walks. Epic fail.
5. Go to the gym 1-2 times a week. Success!
6. De-clutter the house, basement, and barn. In progress.
7. Buy myself a miniature Australian Labradoodle.  Started the process.
For Lent, I gave up all my electronic games (painful).  And for Spring Quarter I am one class short, so we are implementing Domestic Austerity Measures.

Today I went to Pilates class, worked out with weights, went shopping and bought nothing that was not on my list, served a thrifty and nutritious home-cooked meal, and my kitchen sink is shiny. 
This represents multiple goals: physical strength, financial stabilization, nutrition for kids, and the on-going FlyLadying of my home.  Who's FlyLady you ask?  She's this nice lady that tells me what to do and when to do it.  My way wasn't working so well (get overwhelmed and play electronic games as an avoidance mechanism), so we'll try it her way.

I'm not sure I can afford to follow through on my puppy though.  She's not very compatible with the domestic austerity measures.


Quick Takes

  • Four baby chicks are peeping and fluttering about the bin in the mini-room.  It's an odd little room that has been the bunny room, the cleaning supply room, even an office at some point.  Right now it is the chickie room.
  • The bunnies turned 14 today.  We moved them into a bin in my bedroom.  They don't hop much anymore, so the bin isn't confining. I put a heating pad underneath the bin which they like very much.   The bin is clear and sits in front of the big window in our room.  This is a perfect spot for catching the late afternoon sun and for being snuggled in bed late at night and then popped back into the bin when I get sleepy.
  • I'm trying out FlyLady -- a housekeeping program -- as the clutter and dirt are driving me nuts. 
  • Via FlyLady, I discovered Cozi - a really sweet little calendar app -- I've been using Google Cal, but I may switch over, as Cozi integrates with FlyLady and can just pull in all my pre-existing Google Cal stuff.  Why am I telling you this? Dullsville.
  • I have, at the moment, only one class lined up for next quarter, instead of the two or three to which I have become accustomed.  Plus my property tax bill is 20% higher than budgeted, so we have implemented Domestic Austerity Measures.  
  • I'm worried that I won't be able to afford my puppy, who was due to join us on June 6th.  This makes me very sad.
  • Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
  • I've been baking awesome bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
  • I got a thank you note from a student today.  Made my day.  Probably my week.  Thanks CD!
  • Jamie and I have been enjoying watching Monk and Foyle's War.
  • I've implemented a sharp 8:30 bedtime for kids.  I don't care what isn't done, at 8:31 I am off-duty.  I love 8:30.  I love my kids too, but they are very high maintenance.
  • I'm reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  I only get to read two hours a week, whilst I wait for my kids at piano lessons.
  • Chickadee got braces.  She was so excited about it.  That lasted about 10 minutes.  Then they hurt.  Poor dear.


The Power of a Good Scolding

My bff is visiting us later today. She is famous for giving marathon scoldings, full of detail and rational reasoning and quite endless. She'll pretty much bore a child into compliance. I am getting so much mileage out of this:

Child starts to misbehave.
I say, "Hmmm, shall I ask [bff] to have a little chat with you about this?"
Child straightens out immediately.

I've tried her techniques, but I am not boring enough. It's an art I aspire to.


rooster smack-down

Rooster has been posturing and posing at me through the kitchen windows.  He gets me in his sights and puffs out at me and crows in a that way he has -- you know, that "Come out here and do my bidding way", but I just ignore him and tend to my business.

Today, however, I was in the yard when he started doing this.  I was dressed for it -- chore boots, barn coat etc., so I stood my ground.  He jumped up; I deflected him.  Okay, I kicked him if you really want to know.  But he kept coming back! 

This is not good.  In the World of Rooster, whoever walks away from a fight is a big weeny and will be chased down and spurred in the back of the legs.  No matter how I puffed at him (spread my coat wide and flapped it) or kicked him, he wouldn't back off.  I couldn't walk away, nor could I persuade him to. 

What to do . . .

Oh right! My rooster was working in the barn. Oh Jamie . . . .

Three good deflections and a small and humble rooster slunk off to the far corner of the yard where he got very interested in a small blade of grass.

I just saw him through the kitchen window.  We caught each other's eyes and he humbly turned aside, no longer interested in expanding his territory to include the house-hens, as he sees us. 


make good tables

“The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.” ~Dorothy Sayers

What took me so long?

Meal times are often a trial as Chickadee gets a little over-excited about the the two things she most missed as a small child: food and companionship.  If I leave the table, it gets worse; she shrieks and plays and can fritter away a couple of hours at the table, three times a day.

We have implemented a 30 minute maximum.  After 30 minutes, the food is put in the fridge for the next meal.  That resolved the fritter problem, but she wasn't eating enough and was still prone to shrieking.

iTunes has saved me.  I have downloaded Seeds of Praise - Seeds Family Worship, StoryNory Bible Podcasts, Paws and Tales Podcasts, Kids4Life Podcasts, 100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs, and more.  The 30 minutes for breakfast are now also 30 minutes of morning devotions.  There's teaching and singing and best of all, Dandy will not tolerate shrieking, as he wants to hear.

I can't believe it took me this long to figure out.


After Christmas Hymns

We have played our sacred Christmas playlists all season, and though we tire of the songs eventually, I love the spiritual food they offer. I'm not quite ready to go back to bluegrass and pop yet, so I've gathered together three hours of hymns to listen to. All arrangements are pretty pared down, which is how I like it. If you like the over-puffed choir and electronic embellishment sound, don't click here. If not, do click, you may find your January favorites:


Alpha Omega's Monarch Curriculum

We've moved some of the children's curriculum to online/CD-Rom material.  Of all that we are trying, Alpha Omega's Monarch is my favorite.  Obviously the scope and sequence and delivery all pass muster or I wouldn't even have given them a chance.  In addition, I like . . .
. . . that the children's daily work is listed on their homescreens.
. . . that I can access their lessons, their progress etc. from my computer (it's all online).
. . . that I set a start and a finish day and the program spreads the work out.
. . . that I can cancel a "School Day" and the program bumps the rest of the year's work accordingly.
. . . that it comes with a readable "Scope and Sequence" overview so that I know what is coming up.
. . . that the daily worksheets and quizzes and tests are 90% graded by the program.
. . . that a Godly worldview permeates the material.
. . . that there is a nice mix of worksheet style tasks and project-style tasks.
. . . that it is easy to get started with and simplifies my tasks.
. . . that the kids enjoy it.