08 November, 2006

Meditation on Thanksgiving

So, I'm doing the 1,000 gifts thing, right? It would be so easy for me to just turn this into a pride-fest about how great my life is. Giving thanks is supposed to be a humbling experience, but I can turn *anything* into a matter of pride. Some times I think Jesus created the notion of praying in one's closet just for me.

So, my number one thing today to be thankful for is Forgiveness. That my family, my friends, and my God forgive me when I screw up. Number two is the Holy Spirit, without Whom I would have no hope of conquering my pride. And that brings me to number three, hope. There are days when I feel like Pandora, that I cause more trouble and misery than one could believe possible. But, there's hope, sitting in the bottom of the box, reminding me that things are never as bad as they seem.

Today's list:
11. Forgiveness
12. the Holy Spirit
13. Hope
14. the Written Word
15. Trees, and how they always seem to reach their arms heavenward this time of year.
16. Modern Medicine
17. electricity
18. The telephone (oh, how I sometimes despise thee!)
19. constant physical laws
20. Constellations
21. The imagination
22. The life-giving sun
23. teddy bears
24. coffee
25. sugar

More tomorrow....

The Polls are still open

Hubby had to work late last night, so we didn't get to do our election. The kiddos were zonked by the time he was done. So, we'll try again tonight!

07 November, 2006

One thousand gifts

My friend Ann has started a list of thanksgiving, and she is inviting everyone to join her. Basically, you are supposed to come up with 1,000 you are thankful for and list them. My goal is to be done by Thanksgiving.

Here's the first 10:
1. That we have a loving God.
2. That my biological mother chose to give me life.
3. That my parents took me in.
4. That my mother came to Christ before she died.
5. For Hubby, and that he puts up with me.
6. For my children.
7. That my brother and sister in law have come to Christ.
8. For my nieces.
9. For my beautiful home, which is truly a gift directly from God.
10. For my health.

This is Nuts

Read this.

It is absolutely appalling. We could prevent abortion by killing babies.

If this were policy, my niece would've been on the chopping block. She was severely brain-damaged at birth. But, 1 and 1/2 years later, she is talking, crawling, cruising the furniture, and leading a happy existence with her happy family. So, if the theory is that we should wait and see how they develop, then kill them, where does it stop?

The first few years of life is when a lot of the brain cells we end up with are made. There is no way to tell what kinds of fetal or neo-natal brain damage will heal. So, should we just make it to where we can wait until they are three, and then decide?

The candidates and the issues

We have some pretty interesting issues in this year's campaign.

Here they are:

The Nouners are for

  • Getting dressed before breakfast (except Christmas morning)
  • Doing 15 minutes of work before watching TV or playing on the computer
  • Clearing the table after supper, but before watching Daddy play computer games
  • Ian and Alex can have help with cleaning their room, but only if they really need it.
  • Let Daddy have some time to himself after work.
  • Ian and Alex have to take a nap if they get cranky.
  • I will color with people who have gotten their chores done.
  • The cats should get food and water.
  • I will make sure Ian and Alex go to the bathroom.
The Wooties are for:
  • Everybody can play with my toys.
  • I will play with everyone.
  • I will color with everyone.
  • We will give the cats water.
  • Everyone can play on the computer.
  • Take a bath, then get dressed, then eat breakfast.
  • Ian and Alex should have to do less than 15 minutes of work, Mary should have to do more.
  • We should play games, then eat, then clean up, then play more games.
  • I need help with my room all the time.
  • We should watch Dad play games when he gets home.
  • We should only take naps when we're sleepy.
As you can see, there are some highly contested issues.

Now the Candidates:

Mary, the Noun Party candidate, is 9 years old. She likes being tough, watching action shows, dressing up in makeup, and riding big mountain bikes. If elected she will promise to make sure our house will stay really clean and not look like a pig sty. She says she is really good at playing football for a girl.

Ian, the Wootie Party candidate, is 5 years old. He likes playing, eating candy, running around, kid TV shows, and reading. If elected he will promise to play.

Finally, candidates you can feel good about!

Today being election day, we are having the first annual Emperor of the House election. There will be two candidates this year, Mary, from the Noun Party, and Ian, from the Wootie Party. They are currently preparing their campaign platforms and slogans, which I will post when they get them done.

So, the real question of this election is:

Will you be a Nouner or a Wootie?

06 November, 2006

I can't wait for this election to be over

I realize this is an important election, and that Ohio is a real battleground again this year. But, I am so fatigued with electionering. I get 2-12 pieces of political mail every day. I get to listen to radio adds (complete with thundering, emotional music) about how the world will end if X is elected.

If any of you out there are Glenn Beck listeners, you know about the Velveeta/Phlemowsky spoof ads he runs. It has gotten to the point where I can't tell the real ones from his fake ones anymore.

Thing is, I still don't know who I'm voting for in a couple of elections. I'm conservative, and we have some real RINOs running for office. Do I hold my nose and vote them because they are infinately better than the alternative (IMO), or do I heed my conscience and vote for someone (anyone, almost) that is not one of the two crappy choices I currently have? Specifically, for Senator we have Mike DeWine (R) who is liberal fiscally and was considering joining the judicial "filibuster." Or we have Sherrod Brown (D) who is practically a communist and has, in the past, taken cronyism to new heights. Blech. So I could write-in, or go third party, but that is going to be a defacto vote for Brown in this close race. I still haven't decided if DeWine is that much better than Brown that I should vote for him.

But, more than anything, I just want it to be over. Here's the list I've been compiling of all the people who have "called" me this election:

  • Barbra Striesand
  • Laura Bush
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Ken Blackwell
  • an undercover BCI agent
  • 10 other unnamed recorded people
  • [update: 11:12] Mike DeWine
Also, I got 1 call from a live Republican party worker.

To look at the list, it doesn't seem like much, but the same people keep calling over and over. In the time it has taken me to check my email and compose this post I have already gotten 2 calls this morning. I would estimate that 75% of the phone calls I've gotten in the last three weeks have been political in nature.

I'm spent.

03 November, 2006

We're from the government and we're here to help II

In my post below I mention that the government has gone onto farms and destroyed animals unnecessarily and with no compensation. I've gone back to nonais.org and looked up the details. There is a lot more information there than was previously, and it is shocking.

The Henshaws were confined to their home for several days while government employees slaughtered the boars and sheep on their game preserve. This was after Mr. Henshaw was arrested on a trumped up charge. These animals showed no sign of disease, but evidently the Commonwealth of Virgina was concerned that they would not be allowed to transport animals through or out of the state unless they were killed.

A government employee had hunted at the preserve several months earlier and claimed that the pig he shot was infected with Pseudorabies, a highly virulent animal disease which kills new born animals. There is question about the validity of the sample given to test from this animal, if ever a test was conducted (no results have been released), and none of the slaughtered animals were ever tested. (As a matter of fact, Mr. Henshaw was ordered to destroy the few animals the government couldn't find and was ordered not to submit any blood for testing. He agreed, because at the time he was being held in his home, and they intended to continue to do so until all the animals were killed.) None of the piglets (who should have been dead or dying if the disease were present) showed any signs of infection. In fact, it took days for the officials to find and kill them all, since they were running through the property to avoid capture.

My personal opinion is that the Commonwealth was so worried about loosing their right to interstate animal commerce, that they wanted to get it taken care of NOW rather than follow proper procedure, wait for testing, and then proceed.

During the same period, at least one other property went through a similar procedure (I have heard of as many as 4-5, but I can't substantiate that). This is the kind of thing we can look forward to if NAIS passes, only on a larger scale.

02 November, 2006

Memory Work

I feel crappy today. Too little sleep, and I think I'm getting the kids' cold. This week is fall break, due to the fact that Hubby took Monday and Tuesday off of work, and everyone's been sick. Some fun break. :)

I've spoken before about recitation being a great time saver for us, but I've never really outlined how we do it. This is what our recitation looks like, for Mary. Ian follows along, and knows a surprising amount of Greek and Latin, but I'm still working out how to add things in for him, so it's still mostly play time.

1. Latin-Prayer, Song, amo, -o, voco, sum, mensa, -a -ae, servus, -us -i, donum, -um -i, then ten random vocabulary words. (Currently learning the Lord's Prayer and Adeste Fideles.)

2. Greek-Previously learned verses, new verse, blepo, -o, eimi, anthropos, -os, doron, -ov, then five random vocabulary words. (We have about 7 verses memorized in Greek.)

3. Bible-Previously learned verses, new verse, books of the Bible, memory work on current story, 5 random previous memory work items. (We have about 20 verses memorized, and are nearly done with the Books of the Old Testament.)

4. Greek Myths-Current memory work, 5 random previous items.

5. Math-Current fact family (we're starting division), 10 random multiplication, subtration, and/or addition facts.

We need to add in a poem per month, but so far I've been to lazy to do it. The whole bit takes 15-20 minutes on a good day, but up to 30 if there's a lot of dawdling. I stop after 30, even if we aren't done. This covers grammar, bible, history, music, and math. Add in a little reading, and it's the instant 1 hour school day for those days when you normally wouldn't get to anything (co-op day, sick day, field trip, life got in the way, whatever.).

I certainly wouldn't make it the sum total of a child's education, but it is a good way to make sure the basics get covered every day.

01 November, 2006

We're from the government and we're here to help

Interesting article here, about the opposition to the National Animial Indentification System (NAIS), complete with government rebuttal.

My husband has a shirt with the slogan, "We're from the government and we're here to help." Below is a British soldier bayoneting a Minute Man. We bought it as a chuckle, since we reenact British and have an odd sense of humor. However, it has never been more apropos than today, when I read the above article in the USA Today.

I'll pick the article apart, but first the ending line. "As for arguments that the program is unconstitutional and a violation of privacy, 'I can't counter that,' Hoenig says. But he tells the farmers, 'In an emergency, you're going to be coming to people like me for help. So give us the tools we need to do our job.'"

Did you hear that? He admits that the program is unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy. But, we shouldn't care because, to paraphrase, he's from the government and he's here to help. Thanks for that bayonet, I needed it.

  1. "Once potentially affected animals are found and identified, state veterinarians would be able to inoculate them, quarantine them or do whatever would be necessary to stop the spread."

    Whatever necessary includes killing uninfected animals, with no compensation to the owners. It has happened before, and there is nothing stopping it happening again.

  2. "Clifford says the USDA this fall will begin an education campaign to try to persuade farmers to go along with premises registration. He says a lot of the opposition to the program is based on �misinformation� on the Internet, including that every chicken would need an ID under its skin and that every time someone took their horse out for a trail ride, they'd have to call the state. Neither is true, he says."

    Sure, it's not true *now*, but trail rides were going to be included in the plan, until horse owners freaked out about it. So, they dropped that part in hopes to placate them. And, it is technically true that every chicken does not have to be tagged. However, the only way to avoid tagging each and every animal is to have "lots" of animals that are always together. They have to be born the same day, brooded for the same amount of time, kept in the same pasture at all times, sent in to eat and sleep at the same time, taken to the vet together, etc. If they are ever separated they immediately have to be tagged and registered seperately. For the small producer, they effectively will have to tag each individual animal.
And, let's remember that the program isn't mandatory, unless you live in states where it is.

Sugar Rush

Last night was our trick or treat. Most of the families on the road don't celebrate Halloween at all, so we went into town for our candy. The boys did not go, due to massive attitude problems most of the day. They are currently begging Mary for some of her candy.

"What?" you ask, "A Christian home-schooler that does Halloween? Impossible." Yep. We are, as I often say, freaks. Even among the freaks, we are freaks. Let me share my All Hallows' journey:

When I was little my parents were average secular Joes, and we, of course, did Halloween. I became a Christian well before my mother, and never had a problem with it, although I had a few friends who did not partake. Then, when I was a teenager, my mom got saved. She had been into everything from crystals (largely harmless) to divination (potentially harmful), so she hit Halloween hard. No decorations, and she did give out candy, but it was complete with Jack Chick tract.

It was a fundamentalist church, and they used to have an All Saint's party, where you could dress up as your favorite Bible character, but too many parents were sending their kids as Satan (likely because it's a commercially available costume, but still in extremely poor taste) and they stopped doing it. So, my brother had to beg to be let to go out. Generally, he was, since Mom knew he didn't share her convictions, but it was still after a long lecture about it and days of asking.

Mom was leaving her pagan past in the dust. For her it was a good choice, because it was a temptation to go back to her old ways. So, I have no problem with those who turn off their porch lights and go out to dinner, or whatever. For some it is the choice between sin and sanctity.

However, that said, for the vast majority of Christians, Halloween is not a sin/sanctity choice. It is an opportunity to engage the culture. I remember one Halloween as a teen when I went to a friend's costume party and they had a Ouija board. I convinced them not to play with it, but if I hadn't been there, they might have contacted who knows whom.

Every Christian holiday incorporates pagan aspects, or is held on a pagan date. Christmas is the date of the Saturnalia. The Christmas tree is a Germanic Pagan symbol of eternal life. The word Easter is an Anglicization of a Germanization of a Middle Eastern godess, Asteroth. She's the one Gideon was told to tear down the poles of, which verse is often used to decry the use of Christmas tree, oddly enough.

We take the bits of truth from the pagans and use them in service to the Truth, Way, and Life. Halloween is no different. Halloween is a contraction of the term "All Hallow's (Saint's) Eve." The day before All Saint's Day. The Pagan name for the day is Samhain (pronounced Sa-wain), and it is the Pagan New Year's. They believe the veil between the living and the dead to be thinnest on this day. So, the early Christians took the day and redeemed it for a Godly purpose. Instead of trying to contact lost loved ones via divination or necromancy, we celebrate their lives and speak with them through God. The truth the Pagans know is that there is an afterlife, and that we should celebrate it. The fullness of that truth is that Jesus prepares a place for us in His mansions, if we accept it.

Paul exhorts us to not do anything we believe to be sin, and not to cause a brother to stumble, so fighting about Halloween is very unseemly. However, he also says we can eat food offered to idols, because we know the idols have no power over us. Halloween has no power over us, so eating a little candy offered to idols is not sin.

This year, many of the candy giver-outers were amazed at the size of my 9 year old's candy bucket. It was, in their opinion, too small. When I further told them that we go home when it's full, they couldn't believe it. And here is the true danger of Halloween for the average Christian, the sin of gluttony. When we teach our littles to go out and get as much as possible, rushing around to get to every house, we are not teaching them moderation. When we let them eat all their candy over the next day or so we are not teaching them self-control.

Done properly, Halloween is an excellent time to teach our children thankfulness, moderation, self-control, and generosity. It is a chance to meet our neighbors, to forge relationships that might eventually lead to their salvation and/or our edification. I would advocate Christian parents going with their children as they trick or treat, whatever their age, just so we can teach those lessons. Walking around with your glow stick, a literal light in the darkness, is there anything *more* Christian than that?

27 October, 2006

Happy Dance!

I am very excited to report that we have.....

Dum, dah, dah, dah....


Finely the sticks gets into the 20th (let alone 21st) century. It will be much easier for me to post from here on out, so I should be more regular than I've been in the last couple weeks.

So, yay for me!

17 October, 2006

Shameless Promotion

I've finally gotten enough work done the retail site for the farm that I'm ready to post it on the blog. It's still very much in progress, but the calendar is active. So, please head over there, especially if you are local to central Ohio. I'd love to see you at a show!

13 October, 2006

What is the world coming to?

What follows is pure, unadultarated rant. There may or may not be cogent musings on the state of society, children, and/or the family.

Hubby's best friend is getting married in December. We've known about the wedding for almost a year, and since before most people. My daughter has been very excited about it, since this friend is one of her favorite adopted uncles. We've been very excited about it, and Hubby is going to be the best man.

I talked to said friend's mother today, ironing out some of the details. She dropped a BOMB on me. It has been decided that children will not be allowed at the wedding or the reception. None. Not even 18 year old high schoolers. The flower girl and ring bearer are going to leave the sanctuary after they do their thing. The reasoning? Children are disruptive and a wedding is a sacrament.

And, here's the clincher, as far as I can tell, this is all at the request of the bride's mother. That's right, the groom thinks its a bad idea. The bride is indifferent. But, the mother-of-the-bride and the church-supplied wedding planner both think it's a great idea.

I cannot even begin to express how angry this makes me. If they don't want my children to be a part of their ceremony, then they don't want me either. We are a package. It's not even technically a formal wedding, it's at 5:30. Miss Manners (and I know because of what uniforms the military authorizes for what time of day) says that formal weddings have to start no earlier than 6:30 and that's pushing it. 6:00 is formal for cocktails, and 7:00 is formal for everything else (weddings always start on the bottom of the hour, funerals at the top).

And, okay, kids are disruptive, but high schoolers? What the heck? I could see the argument for the 10 and under crowd, *maybe*, but how many highschoolers do you know who would disrupt a wedding?

And, the grooms family is all Catholic. I've never seen a Catholic church with more than a cry room, and they believe Jesus Christ to be physically present in the sanctuary, for Pete's sake. I'm pretty sure the kids on that side know how to behave in church.

And, what kind of way is it to start a family by excluding children? It's just sympomatic of our society, though. Children are an encumberance. And, children don't know how to behave in church, because most of them have never been. Add that to parents who have no clue as to what acceptable behavior is, and it almost makes a sick kind of sense.

And these people are professing orthodox Christians, I mean, the wedding planner is on the church staff! What is that saying to the world about the value of children? I don't even know what to say. I could just spit nails.

29 September, 2006

3 year olds are interesting people

This morning I was sitting in my bedroom, talking to Ian. Alex walked in from my bathroom, carrying an old toothbrush.

"Mama, look what I found!"

"Yes, that's yucky."

Alex looks at it, "No, it's not."

"Yes, sweetie, it's old and yucky and I don't use it anymore."

"Oh." He climbs into my lap.

"What's your favorite color?" I ask. We had been talking about colors and numbers as I got him dressed.


"What color are your eyes?"


"Come here and let me see them, they might be turning green." My and Ian's eyes both turned green between three and four.

"No they're not!"

I look in his eyes, "I don't know, they might be."

"Your eyes are gonna turn RED!"

"Why, am I evil?" Evil is his new favorite word. Nothing is bad right now, it's all "evil."

"Not yet."

"Am I going to turn evil later?"

"NOOOOO! Here, let me brush your nose!" He whips out the toothbrush and begins scrubbing my upper lip. Then he starts on my arm. "Take off your glasses, I wanna brush your eyebrows, they have hair on them!"

3 year olds are interesting people. :)

27 September, 2006

Stewed Apples

This morning I made stewed apples for breakfast. Oooh, oooh, was it yummy. This is a very versatile dish. You can eat it alone, like we did, or do any number of things:

  • mix into hot cereal
  • serve over ice cream
  • spoon into precooked pie or tart crusts
  • serve over shortbread, shortcake, or bread pudding
  • mix with saurkraut and cook a pork roast in it (which is super good, tangy, tart, and sweet)
  • serve with cream or whipped cream (hot or cold)
  • you could probably also mix it into bread for stuffing or dressing, but I've not tried it yet.
Here is the recipe:

8-12 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2-1 cup brown sugar, sucanat, turbinado, etc. (honey may be used, but gives a different taste use no more than 1/2 cup, unless you like it really sweet)
1/2-1 cup raisins
1/2-1 cup walnuts
1 TBSP Cinnamon

You simply chuck it all together into a pot and cook it until the apples are slightly mushy and the liquid is thickened. If necessary you can add a pinch of cornstarch, arrowroot powder, etc to thicken, but don't use much. You could also put it into a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

I used Jonathans in mine; they are especially tart, so if you use a sweeter apple you may find you can use less sugar (or none at all). If you like it a little tart, but don't have any tart apples on hand, you can add 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar. Also, if you use sucanat you may find you have to add more water, as it is dryer than other sugars.

This will make 1-2 quarts of stewed apples, so you can freeze it to use later.

A tip for keeping the apples from browning-submerge them in a bowl of cold water. They will float to the top, but if you give them a dunking every time you add apples, they will stay fresh.

25 September, 2006

Apple Picking (or the lost art of creating)

Yesterday Mary and I went apple picking. We picked 1/2 bushel that I am getting ready to turn into jelly and apple butter. I was shocked by the number of people who paid for 1/2 peck bags for each person in their family and then only filled each half way.

I can remember going apple picking with my mother. It was a big day that we looked forward to all September. We'd go to the orchard and pick 2 bushels. It would take us most of a Saturday. Then over the next week I would help mom create all the wonderful pies, dumplings, apple butter, apple sauce and so on. It felt so good to know that the food going to my table was mine. I had seen those apples go from tree to finished product. I had pride in our food, because I had worked so hard on it. It reminds me of a commercial I used to see on Nick at Nite. "It's Shake and Bake and I helped!"

That's something I want to pass on to my children, their connection to the things in our life. I want them to be intimately involved in the process of creating. I want them to have that pride of a job well done. I want them to understand the work that goes into making something, and the spiritual nourishment that is derived from the creative process.

Mary and I were talking about how man is created in God's image the other day. One of the ways we are like God is in our capacity for reason. We are more than the sum of our chemical processes. But, another and equally important aspect of the Divine in our nature is the desire to create. To look at something we have made and say, "It is good."

I hadn't put all this together until I started listening to those half-bag families. They were there not to create, but simply to get in touch with Creation. For them, the $7 a person they were spending was worth it just for that. So many of the children didn't know where apples came from until that day. And one of the moms came up to me and said, "Wow, you must have something special in mind with all those apples." I told her what I was going to do with them and she was amazed.

I couldn't help thinking how few apples I was bringing home than in those by-gone days with Mom.

21 September, 2006

I feel a bit better

I've been slogging through with a nasty cold the last couple of days. Of course, Hubby had it for all of 3 hours (he does that), and the kids were down for a day, but Mama still isn't feeling all that well. I was glued to the couch from about noon Tuesday until this morning. I got up a few times to do stuff, but not much got done.

Mary was helpful, she kept things tidy and helped me get the meals ready (as well as doing some worksheets), so things aren't completely nuts, but I do have quite a bit to catch up on, so I won't be around for a day or two.

Have a good rest of the week!

18 September, 2006

I am in geek heaven.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this blog, but I just had to point out that I just found Wil Wheaton's blog. As a card carrying geek and a 30-year-old, he had a huge impact on my childhood. I mean, he was like my second official crush (after Kirk Cameron, of course). I never would have watched ST:TNG if he hadn't been on it. I wanted to be on the Enterprise, helping him solve equations and save the universe. And, I can relate to all the ubergeek references he makes. Good times, good times.

I might even have to revive the crush. My current crush is Daniel Jackson from Stargate. My husband is cool with it, since he thinks Col. Carter is amazing. Man are we geeks.

(As an aside, I can still remember the rejoicing in my Christian college dorm when the news was announced that Kirk Cameron had come to Christ.)

17 September, 2006

Remember the Pope's anti-Muslim speech?

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI made a speech in Germany, and quoted a Byzantine emporer who thought Muslims were violent and needed to be opposed (this was at a time when Constantinople was under direct threat of invasion). Now, some Muslims were so outraged that the Pope would characterize Islam as a violent religion that they burned him in effigy and destroyed three churches. Right.

Anyway, turns out that the entire point of the speech has almost nothing to with Islam, and everything to do with Christianity (what a surprise, not). The money quote: "Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats..."

He goes on to detail the history of the de-Hellenization of the Christian faith, and to call for a re-Hellenization. It is a call for a return to reason among Christians, and I agree whole-heartedly. It could even be read (and I, of course, do) as a call for a return to a truly Classical education for Christians.

I encourage all Christians considering the place for the Classics in their curriculum to read this speech in its entirety. Pope Benedict makes an excellent argument in favor of the study of the Greeks.

15 September, 2006

Things that make you go hmmmm....

Last night, as I was driving home from Whole Foods, a Chipotle commercial came on the radio. Now, I love Chipotle. Heck, I don't even mind McDonald's. McDonald's owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of Chipotle stock. I'm sure the amount varies, but it's definately a controlling interest.

So, the Chipotle commercial was going on and on about how they support sustainable agriculture and the small farmer. Sounds great, eh? There's only one problem. McDonald's is one of the biggest corporate backers of NAIS, as they believe it will aid in traceback in the event of meat contamination. Seeing as NAIS is the single biggest threat to the small producer today, I wonder how that squares with "supporting the small farmer."

What's so great about Greek?

After my Latin post below, I got an email asking why we study Greek, and for encouragement in the pursuit. Seeing as I have a bazillion things to do today, it seemed like a good time to write about it. (And Hubby says I have no time management skills. ;-) )

Many of the advantages to the study of Greek are similar to those of studying Latin. I'll repeat the immediate benefits:

The immediate benefits I've seen with Mary are increased focus when working, wider vocabulary understanding, better spelling and reading skills, an increased capacity for memorization, more interest in foreign languages overall, more interest in Ancient History, more order and a better flow to our school day, and less work on my part, since we cover all of our grammar topics via Greek and Latin and we are able to move more slowly, with more depth, and with a better understanding of grammar than I think we would have otherwise.

Now, Greek is a little different than Latin. While it is logical, it is not as precise. Latin is the language of the largest bureaucracy the world has ever known (excepting, perhaps, the IRS), the Roman empire, and, more specifically, its military. The Romans are known for their feats of engineering (all roads lead to Rome), but the beauty in their society is largely borrowed from the Greeks. Where the Romans are efficient, the Greeks are elegant. Where the Romans are precise, the Greeks are nuanced. Roman rhetoric is more about persuading the listener to agreement, while Greek rhetoric is more about exploring the nature of reality. (Compare Caesar and Herodotus, for example.)

The Greeks balance the Romans. If we confine our studies to Latin and the Roman world, we come away with a stodgy, rigid notion of the nature of things. If we confine our studies to Greek and the Aegean world, we come away with a fluid, abstract notion of the nature of things. But, if we study both together, we get a more balanced, and consequently more realistic, approach.

This is as true in writing as it is in formation of worldview. Latin teaches economy of words, logic of thought, and precision of language. Greek teaches elegance of expression, fluidity in writing, nuanced use of wording, and variety in language.

Also, I find it useful to study both languages, because it is a cheap and easy review. We hit the noun cases from two angles, applying both in English. We can translate words from Greek, to Latin, to English. We can look at the similarities and the differences, and we get a better idea of how English and the other modern languages formed. We can move from memorization of grammar to an intimate understanding of language as a concept with few bumps.

Just as with Latin, the study of Greek is necessary if we wish to truly understand the ancient world. One needs to be able to read Euclid, Herodotus, Plato, et al. as they intended, in the original language if one wishes to truly understand the interconnectedness between metaphysics and the mundane sciences that a true Classical education presupposes. Pythagoras isn't just geometry and arithmetic, he's philosophy.

Another reason the study of Greek is important is because it is the language through which the Bible comes to us. Even for the non-Christian this is a concern. Hebrew copies of the Scriptures simply were not available throughout much of the Middle Ages, right up to the early modern period. Even the Apostles themselves largely studied Scripture in the Greek (the Septuagint). You will see slight difference in how verses are rendered in the Old Testament and how they are quoted in the New Testament in modern Bibles. This is because the OT verse was likely translated from the Hebrew, while the NT version comes to us through the Greek or Aramaic that is drawing on the Septuagint.

Finally, it is useful to remember that Greek is the language that the Romans applied their Trivium to. Roman school children did not learn Latin at school, they learned Greek. They cut their mental teeth on Aesop. When the concept of the trivium and quadrivium were born, Greek was the language they were born from and for.

Well, today is a big day. Normally I'd be heading out tomorrow morning to sell things at the farmer's market. But, as this weekend is the town festival, there won't be many people there (the market is in the next town over). So, I'm having a porch sale instead. It will give me an opportunity to sell not just my craft and baking stuff, but also books and militaria that we normally take to flea markets in the early spring.

Today we have to clean up the last of the feathers, get the lingering tomatoes out of the garden, and get ready for the sale. It will be a busy day. We haven't gotten much school done the last few days, as Mary has been sick. But, we got a lot of good stuff done while we at the lake, so I don't feel to guilty about it.

We went to East Harbor State Park, Marblehead Lighthouse, Magee Marsh (saw two blue herons while there), Johnson's Island (which was a Confederate POW camp and has a cemetary), and saw the German and Italian POW huts while at Camp Perry. Quite a full weekend. I called it the Great Lakes/POW weekend. A few thoughts. First, staying in a base hotel with children is infinitely preferable to staying off post. On post you can let them outside to play without worrying about kidnappings, being struck by a car, etc. And, there is actually a place to play. If you go to the Camp Perry website, the picture of the motel on the front page is where we stayed. Nice big yard with picnic tables and grills. Second, five year olds can be taught to walk quietly in the forest, unless the path is gravel. Then they simply cannot help but drag their feet. Finally, seaweed, in person, looks nothing like I thought it did.

14 September, 2006

Remind me again why God made boys?

Q: What do you get when you mix a pillow full of feathers, two bottles of poster paint, and 3 minutes?

A: The boys' room and a mess that takes four hours to get to a semblance of clean.

They are still up in their room now, finishing. Mary and I cleaned the carpet and got up the majority of the feathers. We left a pile for the boys to clean up. Whether or not they actually do so before their dad gets home we have yet to see. But, all the toys and books are out of the room, and I told them no snacks until it's done.

I would not want to be them if it isn't done by the time Hubby gets home. I called him at work, so he can have the rest of the day to mentally prepare. Thank God they didn't get any paint on their new walls. The carpet is going to be coming out soon anyway, so the paint stains aren't as huge a deal as they would be otherwise, but their carpet has an interesting criss-cross green and orange pattern on it now.

How did I keep from harming them? I left the room, prayed for a few minutes, then did some yoga sun salutations until I felt calm enough to deal with it. Then, and only then, did I attempt to deal with it. Now, I just need to keep repeating the mantra, "They are only little for a short time. They are only little for a short time."

13 September, 2006

Five Years Ago

Five years ago...
...Hubby's bags sat packed next to the door, waiting for a call.
...Mary made lego models of the Pentagon, and "saved all the people."
...We huddled on our couch, thankful to be alive and together.

Five years ago...
...We looked up, startled, when the rare plane would fly overhead.
...We looked for terrorists everywhere.
...We looked after the Muslims in our midst, wary of reprisals.

Five years ago...
...We cheered with the President.
...We mourned with the survivors.
...We prayed with the angels.

Five years ago we were scared.
Five years ago we were sad.
Yet, five years ago, we were strong.

01 September, 2006

Out to Lunch, will return in 12 days

You may notice a few changes around the blog. Well, I've been meaning to redecorate for a while, and blogger just came out with a new beta, so I figured now was as good a time as any. I will be offline until a week from Wednesday. We are painting the boy's room with a nautical theme over the weekend, then we start school and I will need to put all my energy toward getting on track, then Hubby has Annual Training (for the state guard), and we are joining him for a few days on an extended field trip to Lake Erie.

Have a lovely holiday and week!

30 Days of Nothing

Today is the first day of 30 Days of Nothing. We will not be participating, but it is a wonderful idea and I wanted to put it forward for general "consumption."

What's so great about Latin?

I recently had a friend ask me via e-mail what I thought the benefits of Latin have been for us.

Do you feel it's been really worthwhile? What advantages do you perceive your children to have because of the instruction in Latin they've received?

Here is my answer:

The immediate benefits I've seen with Mary are increased focus when working, wider vocabulary understanding, better spelling and reading skills, an increased capacity for memorization, more interest in foreign languages overall, more interest in Ancient History, more order and a better flow to our school day, and less work on my part, since we cover all of our grammar topics via Greek and Latin and we are able to move more slowly, with more depth, and with a better understanding of grammar than I think we would have otherwise. Grammar takes a huge chunk of our day, but we hit spelling, English grammar, two other languages, and some history, science, and geography in a little more than an hour, with about 30 minutes instruction on my part and the rest independent. If we were only doing Latin, the whole thing would take somewhere about 30-45 minutes, depending on the day.

The other benefits of Latin that we haven't seen yet, since Mary is only 9, include easier study of Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese), inflected languages (Ancient, Biblical, and Modern Greek, German, Russian, most other Indo-European languages), the ability to read early Church and pagan documents in their original language and/or to discern the quality of a translation, more logical thought and a better understanding of formal, material, and symbolic logic, and more concise, precise writing in English. Also, since most highschool Latin work includes working with Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil, the student will automatically be introduced to ancient history, philosophy, and literature without the need for a separate course.

31 August, 2006

Rocks, anyone?

More NAIS zaniness at NoNAIS.org. I have *plenty* of rocks to sell. Trust me. Now, just to get the sheep to go with them. Not sure what we're talking about, check out this previous post.

[Update 11:46-I just finished reading the rest of the page on their blog, and this is just disturbing. I want to believe in my heart-of-hearts that it's just some wacko, but from the domain registration, I'm just not sure.]

29 August, 2006

The Latin Centered Curriculum

Well, my copy of LCC came in the mail yesterday, and Bravo, Drew! I skimmed the first three chapters, because, well, I don't need any convincing at this point. :) I will go back and read through them later, but I'm in the final throws of planning the first 6 weeks of school, getting ready to head to the library tonight, and I wanted to see the recommendations *now.*

Good news, our own little private take on LCE at the Culloden House is largely in line with the recs in the book up to this point. (We're a little behind in a few places, but not enough to be a problem with implementing what is outlined.)

Bad news, I don't have the money for Artners, but my husband and I were both history majors in college, so I guess we'll muddle through.

The thing that I am not sure about is the approach to the sciences. It is very Multum non Multa. I've got a few years yet before we have to do any hard science, so I've got time to ponder. I like the approach, but I'm just not sure if it's practicable or not. My current thinking is to push the introduction of formal science back a year (to 7th grade) and strech the recommended reading over two years, finishing half-way through 8th grade. Then we could take the rest of the year to get a good grounding conducting a lab in various areas. That would equal a highschool general science credit. Then 9th grade would be traditional Biology, then either head into "hobby science" directly, or complete another 1-2 years of formal science first, depending on where my kiddos want to go when they get to that age. At the least, it would equal out to three years of science, and maybe up to 5, for transcript purposes.

Or I may chuck it all and do it Drew's way, because it would still be alot of science and it sounds like all kinds of fun! (Yes, I am a freak.)

27 August, 2006

The official fall schedule

Well, here it is. I will probably end up tweaking it. I'd like to get to the point where we aren't spending so long on chores, but with the littles that may not be reasonable.

  • 7:30-breakfast
  • 8:00-morning chores
  • 8:30-school: recitation, grammar, math, CW A&I
  • 11:30-lunch, followed by noon chores
  • 12:30-yoga
  • 1:30-school: our daily block subjects, school reading, read aloud, writing project, culminating in a snack
  • 3:30-afternoon chores (most of the house cleaning happens here)
  • 5:30-make dinner, leftover seatwork, whatever
  • 6:30-dinner, then family time
  • 8:30-boys to bed, mom finishes any chores, Mary has free reading
  • 9:30-Mary to bed
  • 11:30-Mom and Dad to bed
There are various playtimes interspersed, but I didn't bother listing them.

26 August, 2006

As September rolls around again

Well, it's almost time for the start of our fall term, which officially starts the day after labor day. This will be the first year that I'm officially schooling two, a 4th grader and a K. Over summer term we worked out some scheduling kinks, finished off all the goals for third grade, and got an idea of how Ian learns and what he likes and dislikes.

We have some issues to work out as we gear up for a new term, though. We've taken about 3 weeks off from school for vacations, the garden, and mental health time for mom. However, in that time I've allowed some really bad habits to creep in. The kids have been watching way too much TV, we are slipping on consistent obedience, and there has been a lot of fighting between the boys.

The TV is pretty easy to remedy, I just need to turn it off and leave it off. We will start that today. I let them watch some cartoons this morning, but it is going off for the rest of the day. Let the whining begin! They will ask for it for a couple of days, and then forget about it again, if past experience is any guide. The surest way to ease the transition is to send them outside and don't let them come in for a few hours, except for potty breaks, drinks, and meals.

So, after I finish this post, that is where they are going, while I work on getting the house clean. Hubby is gone to drill this weekend (they changed weekends so they can do security for the moving Viet Nam Memorial Wall), so I'll have the day to really get things done, and to look at our cleaning schedule for the fall. When I get all the schedules finalized, I'll post them here.

Then, tomorrow, with a clean house and no TV, we can work on obedience. I'll start with Mary, as she is the oldest, the least stubborn, and the most likely to behave. Once I get her back in line the boys will likely follow with less stress, as she tends to set the tone for the littles. I'll probably give her some chores, hang around to make sure she does them, and then reward her with a game or something. It doesn't take long to get her back in line when she falls off the wagon, but it does require intense supervision. Call it tomato staking, if you like. A few days of that and she will be back to normal, I hope.

I also need to revise the chore schedule for the kids, because I've noticed that recently I've been giving a lot of chores to Mary, and almost none to the boys. It's a path of least resistance kind of thing. Once I'm done tomato staking her, I'm going to lighten up her load a bit and work with the boys (Ian more than Alex) on doing things consistently. I'll probably get MOTH down off the shelf and dust it off for this. Also, I finally scraped together the money to buy The Latin-Centered Curriculum, so it should be coming in the mail any day now.

As far as the fighting, I think it's mostly a developmental thing. Ian just turned 5 and Alex is 3.5. They are about the same weight (although Ian's got a good 3-4 inches on Alex) so scraps between them are a pretty even match. I can take the wrestling and arguing, a bit, but the name calling, kicking, etc., has got to stop. I'm hoping that getting on a good schedule and less TV will help curb this. Otherwise, I'm going to be doing a lot of refereeing.

Lest you think that I hyper-schedule, I'll point out at this point that I use schedules as more of a guide than anything else. I like to have everything down on paper nice and neat, so that when we deviate from the plan (which is most days) I know where we are supposed to be and we don't loose something in the shuffle.

On the Mom Continuing Education front, not only will I be reading The LCC, but I am also going through The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric by Sr. Miriam Joseph. I'm currently about half-way through the second chapter. The book is a bit of a crash course in the Trivium subjects. It was written in the 30's for a class the Sister was teaching to college freshmen who had little or no exposure to Classical education.

24 August, 2006

EWTN Strikes Again

Thanks to the commenters to my post below about Catholic Apologetics. Upon following one of the links I ended up at the EWTN website. They have a helpful FAQ, with actual logical reasoning no less, and an option to ask a question if you didn't get the answer you were looking for. Bless the woman who started EWTN, as it is just about the most helpful and interesting Catholic resource out there. I prefer a lot of their programing to the crap my fellow Protestants put out.

Also, it looks like I'm going to have to break down and buy a copy of the Catechism. I have a copy of Science and Health, the Bahvad Gita, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, a couple of old Watchtowers laying around, and a whole pile of other such things, but not a copy of a book that I substantially agree with. Well, I guess I am going to finally break down and remedy that oversight.

And, in case any of you out there are wondering just what I do believe, I grew up in a strict fundamentalist Baptist church, am currently nominally a United Methodist, but if I could find a socially and Scripturally conservative Episcopal church, I'd join in a heartbeat. So, we attend the church my father in law pastors (UMC) about once a month, and home church with the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer (Rite I) the rest of the time. We'd attend fil's church more often, as he basically runs it as if it were Anglican, but their worship services grate on our nerves. I'm sorry, but How Great Thou Art was never designed to have a back-beat.

My main issues with Roman Catholicism are three-fold. Firstly, I have a hard time with about half of the Marian dogma. Second is the ridgid stance on Apostolic Succession and its accompanying doctrines (ie., binding and loosing, the Sacrament of Penance, etc.). Last and most important, my husband has no intention of converting. If he were to convert, I would make a good faith effort to follow his lead.

I'm not looking to be convinced that all Catholic dogma is true (if that happens by the Will of God, so be it), but rather that a reasonable person could believe it. I'm also looking for the chain of events in the development of doctrine and ritual, what did it look like in the past, how is that different from today, and why the change occured. I'm also looking for points of agreement between our family's doctrinal stances and that of Catholicism. I've found a few that I didn't know about, which is a very good thing.

23 August, 2006

Catholic apologetics?

My brother and sister-in-law are in the process of joining the Catholic Church. Yay for them, seeing as they were alternately Buddhist, Agnostic, and Atheist. However, Catholic wouldn’t have been my first choice. I have been doing some heavy-duty research into Catholic doctrine, as I think a family should be as ecumenical as possible, and I want to really understand what they believe. So, I’ve been perusing various Magisterium-approved websites on Catholic apologetics, and been on a steady diet of books provided by my sil.

So far, all I can say is that the quality of the defenses of doctrine that I’ve seen so far leaves much to be desired. Even on the points where I agree with the topic at hand I find that the “proofs” provided are sloppy and full of holes. Now, it could be just that the authors are going for brevity and don’t want to loose their audience (the dumbing down that plagues all the corners of Christendom), but I expected more. I mean, this is the same Church that nurtured Chesterton and Aquinas, right?

Which leads me to the conclusion that I am going to have to break down and read them. I have always intended to, but don’t really have time to slog through a translation right now and I don’t have the Latin skills yet to comprehend the original. I guess I will have to start with Chesterton, but I’m not even sure if he ever wrote anything approaching a definitive apologetic. I also could call a priest and just ask him my questions, but I feel like I’d be taking up way too much of his time, since I have no intention of converting. What’s a girl to do? Maybe I can find a priest we could “bribe” with food and have come over some time. At least if I feed him I won’t feel like I’m bothering him. Hmmmm…. Decisions, descisions. Any Catholics out there with suggestions? What would the protocol be for approaching a priest with a pile of what-ifs? Is there a good meaty modern apologetic?

I am a baaaad girl.

Okay, folks, sorry I haven't posted in over a month, but life before computer. I've been on vacation (3 days with the family in Indiana, including a trip to Indiana Beach), canning, doing school, running the house, etc. Life, basically. And I've not really had much to say recently. (Which is a big surprise.) However, a nice little rant, AHEM, post will follow this.

Also, Mungo's blog is no more. I need to update the link to be runningriverlatinschool.blogspot.com, but haven't done it yet.

08 June, 2006

Blogger was hiccoughing yesterday...

I have the end of my day in the life post, but couldn't get it up yesterday. You'll be seeing it in a few minutes!

[Update: It's done!]

07 June, 2006

A Day in Our Life

Today, I thought it would be interesting to blog the way through our day. I'll be updating throughout the day and we'll see how it goes.

Our main plans for today are to do school, pay bills, write the grocery list, finish mowing the front yard, weed the garden, and go out tonight with Hubby. It's his normal game night, but we haven't seen much of him and we'll be eating dinner together, then I'll drop him off at the gaming store and do some grocery shopping with the kiddos. It'll be a late night, so I'm letting the boys sleep in.

7:00 hit the snooze and sleep until 7:20.
7:20 get up, get Hubby ready for work (lay out his clothes and sit and talk while he gets ready).
8:00 Hubby is out the door, I wake Mary up, then hit the shower.
8:25 Showers are done, rooms are clean, beds are made. Mary fixes our breakfast while I check email.
8:45 we eat and discuss the plans for the day.
9:05 Mary is supposed to be reading her story Bible, but is dancing around the living room to her favorite Celtic band. I put in a load of wash.
9:15 I remind her to start reading, she relucantly begins. I sit down to pay bills.
[update 1--10 a.m.]
9:25 Ian comes downstairs.
9:40 finished bills, Ian is eating breakfast. I check on Mary's reading progress and start on the grocery list.
9:50 Mary finishes reading, then starts whining when I tell her to get her Latin books. Evidently she doesn't feel like doing her copywork today. I send her to get them anyway. Ian is whining that he doesn't like his breakfast and wants something else.
10:00 Alex isn't awake yet and Mary is still up in her room, so I head upstairs to see what's going on.
[update 2-12:15]
10:15 Alex is up and sort of dressed (his pants are in the dryer, but he has on boxers) and eating breakfast. Mary has finally settled down to do her Latin. Ian still isn't finished with his breakfast yet, but he's stopped whining.
10:25 the grocery list is finished, the boys are driving cars around the kitchen and Mary is still doing Latin.
10:45 Mary finally finishes Latin, after stopping to play at least 3 times. The grocery list is finished. I go to do phonics with the boys.
11:00 We correct Mary's Latin while the boys play a computer game. Then Mary reads to me for a few minutes.
11:20 Playtime! I go fold laundry, in between kissing boo-boos.
11:45 The kids clean up downstairs while I make lunch. Mary puts in a load of dishes and sweeps the kitchen. Ian straightens the family room and vaccums. Alex takes all the toys to the basement. I direct them for about 5 minutes, until everyone gets going on their task.
12:15 check chores, then lunch.
[update 3-1:30]
12:40 lunch is over and we get ready to go outside. It looks like rain, so we need to get things done quickly.
1:15 The rain hit, so we had to come in. I got the mowing done, but not much else. We are getting cleaned up and ready for reading time. The boys are watching the tail end of Jimmy Neutron.
1:30 Time for our read aloud. I will read for about 20 minutes, then we'll have about a 1/2 hour of resting time/free reading.
[update 4-5:15]
3:00 Reading time got a bit out of control (I just can’t stop them when Mary is reading a zoo book to the boys and teaching them about the different animals), so we are having play time while I make some calls and get some business done.
4:00 We finally start formal school! First recitation (Latin, Greek, math), then a Greek lesson for Mary. She is starting to translate simple Greek sentences, so I introduce the concept of diagramming. We learned about parsing when we started with Latin sentences, so it seemed appropriate to cover the next thing.
4:45 I hand Mary some math problems and tackle Copybook with Ian.
5:00 I assign Mary her Spencerian copybook assignment, and go to get the boys ready to leave.
5:15 We clean up any outstanding messes and go outside to wait for Hubby.

We are currently reading _The Magician’s Nephew_ as our read aloud. I consider that to be literature study and modern history study (England in the late Victorian period). We are on a hiatus from CW and D’Aulaire’s, but we will pick back up on those in the next couple weeks.

06 June, 2006

NAIS Doublespeak

The USDA has released a new publication, The National Animal Identification System: A Guide for Small Scale or Non-Commercial Producers. Others at NoNAIS.org have questioned the veracity of this publication vis-a-vis the actual government regulations currently in place. I'm going to go with the assumption that everything in the publication is the honest truth. It's still scary enough that way. I'll break down the areas that seem to be the most glaring:

  1. "Participation in NAIS is voluntary." Today it is, but there are plans to make it mandatory by 2009.
  2. "USDA's NAIS efforts will largely focus on commercial operations and animals…” (emphasis theirs). Okay, so that tells me that the majority of the regulations were put in place with large commercial producers in mind. This is supposed to make me feel better how? Knowing I may be subject to rules and regulations not designed for my position is hardly making me calmer.
  3. "In all states premises registration is currently free." Note the currently. No guarantee that it will remain free, but a subtle carrot. If you register now, you may avoid the fees.
  4. "If your animals never leave the farm of birth or are only moved for custom slaughter for personal consumption, you will not be asked to identify them or report their movement." So, if I have meat custom slaughtered for sale at the farmer's market, I need an ID. If I sell a lamb to a neighbor, I need an ID. And the one place where food contaimination is likely to enter the commercial market if I only produce for myself is the one place that doesn't require an ID. That makes sense.
  5. "Reportable movements are those that involve a high risk of spreading disease, such as moving livestock from a farm to an event where a large numbers [sic] of animals are brought together from many sources." Okay, so trips to vet? Reportable. Hit the county fair? Reportable. Attend a breed show? Reportable. Even though each of these places would already have records of your prescence, you are still required to report? Why?
  6. "Data concerning animal movements and locations will be held in multiple, secure databases managed by private organizations and state animal health authorities." Yes, I trust private organizations with my personal info. They *never* get hacked. (note sarcasm)
  7. "Group/Lot ID is an option for animals that move as a group through the production chain (i.e., groups of pigs or chickens). USDA recognizes that tagging every individual animal is not always practical." Well, that's a load off my mind. *I'll* have to tag every animal, but the big producers get a break. Thanks, USDA.
  8. "The primary purpose of the NAIS is to enable rapid animal tracing and disease containment in the case of an animal disease outbreak or other emerging animal health concern among US livestock and poultry." Oh, well, that's just great. Do you know how they "contain" disease outbreaks? They destroy any animal that may have had contact with an effected animal. So, if there is an outbreak of disease at the chicken factory down the road, they may "contain" it by killing my poultry simply because they are in the same area, even if they show no signs of disease. Thanks again, USDA.
  9. "Under the NAIS, the following criteria describe non-commercial producers: ... 2. Individuals whose animal movements are limited to those moved directly to custom slaughter; movement within a single producer's premises; local fairs and local 4-H events." Okay, so it looks like we can go to the fair without registering, but breed shows still aren't exempt, and they are ambiguous about whether custom slaughter for sale is exempted. Looks like that organic meat you used to buy at the farmer's market is now going to be a lot more expensive.
  10. "Voluntary registration of premises does not obligate producers to identify their animals or to report the premises-to-premises movement of their animals." True, for now. The plan is for mandatory animal registration by 2009.
  11. I won't copy the entire list of "Scenarios that would not call for animals to be identified and/or movements reported in the NAIS," but if you look closely, they are all tied to animals' locations of birth. If they are ever sold (excluding trading poultry for some reason) they will be in the system. So, if you have a bad year and the coyotes get your lambs, welcome to the NAIS. You won't be able to purchase new ones without it. Also, this is going to lead to eventual problems with genetic viability on farms as producers only cross breed from their own animals and never introduce new genetic stock. Bye-bye endangered breeds.
  12. I'm going to skip most of the question and answer pages, as they just reiterate what the document said earlier, but I want to focus on #16. "What about individuals' religious freedoms?" I'm glad to know the USDA is sensitive to my beliefs. I'm glad to know they won't be making Old Order Anabaptists use computers. However, what about my deeply held religious belief that I need to keep my animals out of government databases in case the Tribulation should come in my lifetime and I'm not raptured? The answer seems to be, well it's voluntary. But we all know that while it may be voluntary now, they are going to make it mandatory.

Judging from this, should NAIS be enacted in it's current form, the day is coming when I will no longer be able to take an animal to the vet, buy or sell animals, or market my animal products. And, that's assuming that everything in this document is absolutely true. Some of their statements here don't jive with previous statements, so I can't be sure.

Sorry, IE users.

I just looked at my previous post in Internet Explorer, and it sticks all kinds of funky commented-out script code. I normally view in Firefox, where it looks fine. I promise to go in when I have time and edit the HTML so it doesn't look so funky. That's what I get for composing in Word.

03 June, 2006

Family Disaster Plan

It's hurricane season again, and while Ohio isn't a hurricane prone state, it's still a good time to review/comeup with a family disaster plan. Here's a brief outline of our plan. It goes from the fairly common to extremely unlikely, but better safe than sorry.

Level 1-24 hour shelter in place.

v Store 4 gallons of water.

v Have oil lamps and lanterns available with oil and candles.

v Have 10 pieces of wood available (if winter).

Level 2-72 hour shelter in place.

v All level 1 prep plus:

v Store 10 gallons of water.

v Have 40 pieces of wood available (if winter).

v Transfer all frozen foods to chest freezer.

v Spare batteries for radios.

Level 3-24 hour evacuation to center.

v Have enough food and water with cats.

v Map of back roads to center.

Level 4-72 hour evacuation to center.

v All level 3 prep plus:

v Transfer all frozen foods to chest freezer.

v Suburban running with ½ tank of gas.

v Have “toy kits” for each child.

v Pack essential school books.

v A favorite blanket for each child.

v A book for each adult

v Bible.

Level 5-72 hour to 1 month shelter in place.

v All level 2 prep plus:

v Water decon tablets.

v Alternate power source to run fridge, freezer, stove, radios, and well.

v Enough food to last 3 weeks.

v Extra candles/lamp oil.

v 1 cord wood (if winter).

v First aid kit with sutures.

Level 6-long term evacuation to center.

v All level 4 prep plus:

v Sheets and pillows.

v Extra TP.

v All school books.

v Extra books for adults.

Level 7-long term shelter in place.

v All level 5 prep plus:

v Solar power for fridge, freezer, stove, radios, and well, with battery and generator backup.

v 3 months worth of preserved food.

v 1 cord wood if summer, 3 cords wood if winter.

v Chainsaw, two man saw, splitting axe.

v 5 months fodder for farm animals.

v Army field surgical kit.

Level 8-long term evacuation-no shelter.

v All level 6 prep, plus:

v All level 5 prep (excluding full cord of wood and alt. Power source), plus:

v 2 evacuation sites in opposite directions.

v Meeting locations on the way to sites.

v Suburban full tank of gas.

v Tent, backpacks, cooking gear, sleeping bags, hand axe.

v 15 gallons water.

v 15 gallons extra gas.

v Army field surgical kit.

NBC Evacuation:

v All level 8 prep, plus:

v Fine particulate face masks

v Iodine tablets.

v Military ambulance with NBC filtration.

v HazMat placard ID book.

NBC Shelter in place:

v All evac prep, plus:

v Hasty fallout shelter.

v Homemade Geiger counter.

Our list may look radically different than many for three reasons. 1) We live in the country and provide much of our own food. 2) We have limited access to water in a power outage. 3) Hubby is in the state guard and they run a center for distributing disaster supplies, so I know how well stocked our shelter would be, as that is our evacuation location.

Now, progress on the list. Still don't have farm animals, that's a biggie for long term shelter in place. We have all the things we need for levels 1-4, except that the suburban has a huge oil leak that we don't have the money to fix right now. For level 5 we need the decon tablets and the power source. We could make do without the power source if we absolutely had to, but not if we don't have the decon tablets.

Level 6, we're set, but for level 7 we would need the saws and the surgical kit. Level 8 we need only the things I've already mentioned not having. For NBC evac we would need everything but the HazMat book. We are in the process of getting a functioning de-miled ambulance for to take to reenactments and there is only one thing we need to get to make the NBC gear functional, so that I why I list that.

For NBC Shelter in place, I know how to make a hasty fallout shelter and we have a good place in the basement to put one, I also know how and have the supplies to make a homemade geiger counter. Now, I don't seriously forsee there being a NBC incident severe enough for us to have to shelter in place that wouldn't kill us right out, but I figure better to know how to do these things than not. (And yes, I am a bit of a freak).

I will say that some of these scenarios seem pretty unlikely, but I myself was in an ice storm where some families were in shelter-in-place mode for a month, due to the amount of time it took to get electrical service reestablished. Personally, it was only 2 weeks for us. The first week it was too dangerous to leave the house and the second we could go out to get supplies. In that instance, no shelters were set up at all, but the high school was providing shower facilities for the outlying families once their power was restored (again, about 2 weeks).

So, what's your family's plan?

School schedule

So, I've been working on our schedule for school this fall. I will have two official students for the first time, and the farm chores are getting bigger, so I need to make sure we get everything in as efficiently as possible.

Here is what has made the cut for Mary (soon to be 9, 4th grade, or Year 2 of grammar school):

Grammar and Progym:

  • Latina Christiana I with Lingua Angelica. Then begin LCII.
  • Elementary Greek I, then begin EGII.
  • Classical Writing: Homer (lite).
  • Spencerian Penmanship, books 4 and 5.
  • Rod and Staff Arithmetic 4.
Classical, Christian, and Modern Studies:
  • Christian Studies I with Golden Children's Bible.
  • Famous Men of Rome, with study guide.
  • Modern Studies: I haven't picked them yet, but we'll read about 3 books about Colonial times.
  • mostly ag, since we will be on a learning curve with the ducks.
  • I'd like to do a few physics experiments from a book I got at the local teacher's supply.
I've decided on a two-week rotating schedule.

  • Daily: 1 lesson in Math, 1 page in Penmanship, recitation of grammar forms (Latin and Greek) along with memory verses and prayers, any poetry we are working on.
  • Day1: Latin-begin new lesson, introduce vocab, saying and background, learn/review paradigm Greek-review previous lesson Christian Studies-begin new lesson, read story together, learn memory verse (if a long lesson, do 1/2) FMOR-read and review previous lesson.
  • Day2: Latin-work independently on parts A and B from lesson. Greek-begin new lesson, learn memory verse, introduce vocab. Christian Studies-copy memory verse, answer verse questions. FMOR-read story together, discuss, learn memory work.
  • Day3: Latin-review vocabulary, discuss grammar using examples from Latin and English (can be FMOR, Bible, or CW sentences). Greek-work independently on verse copywork, day 1 and day 2 lessons. Christian Studies-discuss any background information, do any mapwork, review memory work, answer some comprehension questions orally. FMOR-work independently on 3 comprehension questions.
  • Day4: Latin-work independently on parts C and D from lesson. Greek-review vocabulary, discuss grammar using examples from Greek and English (can be FMOR, Bible, or CW sentences). Christian Studies-work independently on 3 comprehension questions. FMOR-discuss any background information, do any mapwork, review memory work, answer some comprehension questions orally.
  • Day5: Latin-review vocabulary, work on derivatives. Greek-work independently on day 3, 4 and 5 lessons. Christian Studies-timeline work, answer more comprehension questions orally. FMOR-work independently on 3 comprehension questions.
Week 2:
  • Daily: same as above, and read next story in Bible.
  • Day1: Latin-begin new lesson, introduce vocab, saying and background, learn/review paradigm Greek-review previous lesson CW-A&I day 1 FMOR-read and review previous lesson.
  • Day2: Latin-work independently on parts A and B from lesson. Greek-begin new lesson, learn memory verse, introduce vocab. CW-rough draft. FMOR-read story together, discuss, learn memory work.
  • Day3: Latin-review vocabulary, discuss grammar using examples from Latin and English (CW sentences), include CW grammar level. Greek-work independently on verse copywork, day 1 and day 2 lessons. CW-improve rough draft based on WP level. FMOR-work independently on 3 comprehension questions.
  • Day4: Latin-work independently on parts C and D from lesson. Greek-review vocabulary, discuss grammar using examples from Greek and English (CW sentences) include CW grammar. CW-final draft. FMOR-discuss any background information, do any mapwork, review memory work, answer some comprehension questions orally.
  • Day5: Latin-review vocabulary, work on derivatives. Greek-work independently on day 3, 4 and 5 lessons. CW-dictation and copywork. FMOR-work independently on 3 comprehension questions.
At some point during the year (Jan I hope). Mary will be willing to write more at one time and we can condense the Christian Studies into 2 days. Then on day 5 we will do "modern studies." She will be reading a book in American History and we will take the day 5 block to discuss it. I hope to do about 1 book every six weeks. I figure 4-5 weeks to read, then 1-2 weeks to do a project on it. That comfortably has us doing 3 books for the year. I may also have her do science readings independently, as she likes topical science books. Lingua Angelica covers music, and our modern studies projects will cover art, so I think that's about it.

It should take us 20 minutes for recitation, 10 minutes for a math lesson, 30 for grammar, and 30-an hour for Christian Studies/CW/FMOR. Total instructional time on my part: 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Then I give her an hour and a half for independent work and an hour for reading (30 min school, 30 min free). Finally, I count an hour a day for PE/nature study (AKA playing in the yard and doing farm-related chores). That's 30 hours a week, about where I'd like to be. In Ohio, we have to do 900 hours a year. So, we have to do 30 weeks of school to meet the minimum. We generally school 32 weeks (taking 6 weeks off at Christmas and 4 in the summer), so that leaves me 2 weeks of slack for days we don't feel like doing anything.

Now, for Ian. He will be 5 and officially in Kindergarten, or Year 1 of Primary School.

Grammar, Christian Studies, Modern Studies, Classical Studies, and Progym:
  • Copybook 1 from Memoria Press.
  • Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek level 1.
  • Phonics Pathways.
  • Listen to Lingua Angelica.
  • Arithemetic worksheets from the blacklines to Rod and Staff Arithmetic 2. My goal is to cover addition with sums up to 10, but if don't get that far, no big deal.
  • working with the ducks and what we discover in the back yard and garden.
Ian's schedule will be the same every week.

  • phonics: read 1-2 pages.
  • arithmetic: do one page.
Day 1:
  • copybook: Read a Bible story.
  • greek: learn to name and recognize 1 letter.
Day 2:
  • copybook: Language lesson, look at words he knows how to read, learn the definitions of unfamiliar words, possibly begin grammar work.
  • greek: Learn to write letter.
Day 3:
  • copybook: memorize verse or poem. Copy verse.
  • greek: review letters learned.
Day 4:
  • copybook: proofread copywork. Cumulative memorywork review.
  • greek: none.
Day 5:
  • copybook: illustrate verse or poem.
  • greek: review letters learned.
Phonics should take about 10 minutes, likewise with math. Copybook and Greek should take a total of 30 minutes together. So, that's 50 minutes a day with Ian. Alex (3) should take about 10 minutes total, 5 of phonics and 5 of playing with numbers and shapes. That's about all he has the attention span for. So, that's a total of 2-2 1/2 hours of school work with the three kiddos. And in another 1/2 hour of read alouds and I'm devoting about 3 hours a day to school. I think that should be very doable. This might increase slightly as Ian's reading improves and he begins to read books to me, but that shouldn't be more than 1/2 hour a day, at the most. I'm not sure of the rotation of subjects throughout the day or the times we will work things yet. I figure that will depend somewhat on what chores we have to do and everyone's mood each day.

news on the NAIS front

Well, it looks like the NAID may not make it as a mandatory program. However, if you read the comments to the article, several other things seem to be on the horizon. Firstly, the USDA has not given up. They continue to pressure people into getting a premisis ID via their various wings (mostly notably 4-H and the land-grant university extension system). Congress is pretty apathetic, as no one has been letting them know what their position is on the program. WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS! Let them know what a crappy idea this is and how it will lead to the loss of property rights, the freedom to farm, and the freedom to buy locally grown animal products. It will also lead to the loss of biological diversity, as farmers like me will be given the choice to not produce or to produce with a much higher overhead or in direct conflict to the law. Now is not the time to become complaicent about this as it would likely be the biggest Big Brother intrusion into family farming to date, and it needs to be stopped.

And speaking of Big Brother intrusions, check this out. I mean seriously, what have people got against farmers? If I didn't know better I'd say the whole thing was one big conspiracy. Now, for the record, I abhor factory farms. I abhor people who think that the best way to raise a cow is in the smallest, muddiest lot possible. I hate the chicken factory down the road where the chickens never see the light of day and we have huge issues with the flies from the manure. However, the government already has regulations in place to take care of this. As the state has gotten involved in egg production sites (I refuse to call these things farms, since one could show up in the warehouse district of any major city and you couldn't tell the differnce) things have gotten better. I still don't like it and I'd still like to see them go to the "factory free range" system where the chickens are kept in groups on small plots of land with small houses. It doesn't take up that much more space and would be a lot friendlier to the chickens and the environment.

But, I digress. At first it surprised me that the environmental lobby would be taking so much interest in regulating a natural, wholesome substance. But then I thought again. It makes perfect sense. These are the people who believe that keeping a cow in a pasture is infringing on its rights. These are the people who believe that Communism is the way to go. It makes perfect sense that they would want to clamp down on anything that smacks of being outside of government control. Especially when they can make money for their organizations in the process. Keep an eye on this. I don't think it's going to happen, but it could be the next big thing on the horizon.

Saturday Garden Update

Well, we got plenty of rain the last couple of days, and it looks like the pickling cukes are coming up already. However, it looks like I've got something eating the leaves on my cabbages and peppers, so I'm going out this afternoon to spray. I've got a 1-gallon pressure sprayer that I use to fertilze (either compost tea or fish emulsion). I'm going to fill it up with 1-part dish soap and 9-parts water and see how that does on preventing pests.

01 June, 2006


Well, the garden is finally in. This is the first time in my life that I've gotten a vegetable garden completely planted before the 1st of June. I'll update the side bar later but here's what's going on:

  • radishes are in and being eaten. I've let a couple go to seed and we'll see what I can save.
  • carrots are starting to get big and I need to thin them some. Hopefully we'll be eating them in a couple weeks.
  • sugar peas are in, but they were hit hard by the late frost and are not producing well.
  • beets still haven't come up. I replanted them, but nothing so far. They take a while, so I'm hoping to see something soon.
  • lettuce is doing well. We've been plucking and eating the outer leaves on the heads that are starting to form. The patch is very weedy, and there's really not much I can do about it. I'm pulling what I can, but I'd loose a lot of lettuce if I tried to get it all.
  • I thought I'd lost the leeks. They died back after I transplanted them, but they seem to be doing okay now.
  • Onions and garlic are doing well. I've been thining the onions and we've been eating them green.
  • English peas are doing terrific. I should have plenty to freeze and can to last the year.
  • Potatoes are growing well, as well. The plants are getting to be about calf high.
  • Broccoli looks like it should start forming heads soon, lots of new leaves starting in the middle.
  • The pickling onions (Bianca D'Maggio) I transplanted have taken well.
  • The celery I transplanted seems to have died off completely. I don't think anything has been eating it, seeing as it is right next to the onions, so I'm not sure what is up there. I did plant more from seed and expect to see sprouts soon, but it may be too late in the season to get much.
  • The cabbage transplants have gotten established and are putting on new growth. The others that I direct seeded are starting to sprout.
  • The pepper transplants seem to be doing well, but there's no new growth yet.
  • I lost every single tomato seed I planted was killed by the late frost we had about 2 weeks ago. I had them outside to get acclimated and forgot to bring them in. I did buy some at the garden center. Hillbilly is a red heirloom with orange stripes, I got two varietys of yellow, one of cherry, and one of grape. Total of 36 plants.
  • My pickling cukes were hit by the same frost, so I've direct seeded some in. I just checked the cupboard the other day and I had thought we had enough pickles to last the year, but we are getting low on dill chips and bread and butter chips, and we have no spears at all.
  • I planted two varieties of corn, yellow cross bantam, and early sunglow. I planted them last week, and they are already sprouting.
  • I planted beans about a week ago as well and they are sprouting too. Always soak your beans overnight before you plant!
  • I have watermelons, spaghetti squash, carving pumpkins, and sugar pumpkins that haven't come up yet, but I only planted them this week.
  • I picked the first strawberry today. The new ones I planted this year have started to send of runners, so I may not have to buy any more next year, we will see.
  • All the raspberry bushes but one died (okay, I only planted four and they were from Walmart, so that's not too bad). The one left is vigorous and putting on lots of new growth. Maybe we'll see some raspberries this year.
So, the last things we have left to do are to plant one more maple tree (we were blessed with 3 for free) and put down grass seed in the front yard (we were blessed with it as well) and we will have all the planting for the year accomplished. Then we can get on to finishing the woodshed and starting the stone front steps. After that, we have to build a duck house and put up pasture fencing. We're going to try to get the ducks next month, so we need to be ready for them to be outside in about 2 months.

(As an aside, I'm working on a post about our plans for school next year, I'll try to have it up this evening.)

[Update: I also have two lilacs I need to put in up by the porch. There that's really it. I promise.]