What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, November 20, 2014

winter harvest

It was 10 degrees last night.  Absolutely freezing.  And that has been pretty standard for the last week.

Before it went to single digits, I wanted to clear the garden of as many greens as I could.  I knew the plants left in the garden are cold-tolerant and hearty...but HOW cold tolerant and HOW hearty was the question.

  I brought in laundry baskets full of collards and swiss chard.  Bowls and bowls of kale.  An old enamel baby bathtub full of beets.  A vase full of Italian leaf parsley.  And I brought in the half-frozen rosemary to overwinter in the living room.

Judah, rainbow boy, helped me in between beginning his own soggy squash, flowered broccoli and half-rotten watermelon garden.  Next year when melons, squash and broccoli appear in between the cucumbers and tomatoes, I'll remember the boy who braved the cold to be with me.

In the meantime- the swiss chard, kale and collards seem unaffected by the cold.  This may not be the last harvest after all.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Visit with Opa


Adele', Judah and I were able to tag along with my mom and my sister (and a few of the children) to go and visit my Opa (grandfather) last weekend.  With winter weather fast approaching, I didn't want to miss the opportunity while I had it.

I am so glad I did!

We stopped first to visit with my Aunt Jan, who let me borrow some old photographs of my Oma and Opa when they were young to make copies of for myself.  I brought them in when we went to see Opa and, as we looked through them, I saw a glimpse or two of the old Opa.

You see, my Opa has Alzheimer's.  He does not remember me at all (and sometimes, at his best, mistakes me for my mother-his daughter) nor does he remember where he is...who he is with, that Oma has died, what he just said and so on.  The result is a vague circular discussion that seems to go round and round unless you some how stop or divert it.  He is very gentlemanly about it all, for the most part.  He says things like "You look like a nice girl."  and "I say, m'lady, why do you not visit me more often?"  He is good at chatting to a person without actually admitting that he does not remember their name or how they fit into his story.  What he does not realize is that he often says the same thing that he said just a sentence before.  Behind his eyes is an emptiness that I despise.  I remember when his eyes were full of life, of joy, of stories...of all the things that made him HIM.

When those old photographs were brought out, though, a sparkle of joy was kindled again.  He did not remember all the people in the photographs but, for a moment, he was out of that carousel of words that Alzheimer's has forced him to ride round and round.  He was there.  And those pictures- they reawakened a part of him, deep within, and he then began talking about the war!  He began to relate stories of himself hiding Jews in the Underground during the Dutch Resistance.  He spoke of a long engagement to Oma because they could not be married lest she be hurt by association if he were discovered to be helping the Jews.  He recalled living in a church organ to escape with his life from the Germans.  (All quite true stories, by the way.)

And for a moment...a beautiful moment... that was my Opa again.  His eyes were full.  His smile real. His words were memories instead of observations.  It was only a brief glimpse- only a few minutes worth- but I have longed for those minutes for a very long time.

Well worth the wait.

Review: Snake Oil Party Potion

The last review of the year!  Wa-HOO!  And guess what?  You don't need to be a homeschooler to enjoy it!   Today's review is for all the game-lovers out there...you know who you are.   And just in time for maybe a little Christmas gift giving or post-Thanksgiving Dinner giggles?!  I think so.

I present to you, from Out of the Box Games, the Snake Oil Party Potion game!!!  (cheers!  hurrahs!  oooh's and aaahhh's!)  This game is a version of the original Snake Oil game with cards that are geared to a younger audience.  The original Snake Oil game is for age 10+ and the Snake Oil Party Potion (the one I was given an opportunity to review) is for ages 8+ though I can attest, with a bit of help Adele' (at 6 years old) was able to make some convincing sells!

The object of the game is to create products that your customer can't live without by combining two words out of your hand of cards.  Some of the combinations are really easy, some are more difficult, many of them are just plain CRAZY.   Try selling a Gorilla Potty, my friends.   Or a set of fur pants.  Or a satellite parachute.

One person becomes the customer and they adopt the persona from one of the "customer" cards...things like, pop star, artist, robot and snowman.  All other players are given six word cards and must "pitch" their products to the customer and the customer then chooses which product they like best.  The "snake oil salesman" who pitched the winning product gets the customer card and it goes round and round again.  At the end, whoever has the most customer cards is the winner of the whole game!

Snake Oil Party Potion can help children with vocabulary and public speaking skills. It encourages creative thinking and problem solving. It can coax shy people to get out of the box (get it?).  It is certainly imaginative and requires some quick thinking and the practice of persuasion.  (Out of the Box Games even has a downloadable pdf about how to use it in the classroom.)  But even without all those perfectly good justifications~ it's a riot!  And that is enough.  Toy companies understand this which is why it is not surprising that Snake Oil Party Potion has earned itself several awards, including one from Dr. Toy, National Association for Gifted Children, Major Fun! Keeper,  The Toy Man, and Mensa Select.

It is a 3-6 player game but they have an alternate way to play with large groups where an 'audience' is the customer and they choose their favorite product by cheering the loudest.  I could totally see this being played with all the extended family after Thanksgiving dinner or within the Christmas festivities!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

A New Dawn

I know it seems that every time I blog, I am blogging sunrise pictures but that is because every morning there is a new one!  I never tire of watching that deep black turn to lavendar turn to flaming pink and then golden orange.  

I am in the home stretch of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Season and boy, am I going out with a bang! Three reviews in one week! 
Bleary Eyed.
Sick of being in front of a computer.
Overwhelmed a bit more than a bit.

But tomorrow is the last review I must do for the year (yippee yai kai YAY!!!!!) and I decided against signing up for another round next year.  It was great to receive free products (super great!) and it was neat to be introduced to some products that are now (and will ever be) a part of my homeschool arsenal and everyone associated with the Old Schoolhouse was super kind but it was A LOT more work than I thought it would be!  And a lot more time-consuming than I thought.  And, on top of it all, I didn't like the feeling of turning my happy, pretty corner of the internet into a bulletin board of product reviews.

If you can hang on until the end of the week, it will all be over soon!  One more to go...just one more to go.

I can't promise I won't ever do a review again... but if I do, they will be gentle and (very) occasional and only after having been chosen with particular care.  Because one thing I learned with my experience with the Review Crew is that being frugal is one thing- but TIME IS ALWAYS MORE VALUABLE THAN MONEY.  Something that, somewhere along the way, I might have forgotten.

All this to say, I want to THANK YOU, my sweet readers... for visiting me here, for putting up with my shenanigans, these reviews and my experiments in frugality and for hanging on through it all...even the bits that aren't quite your style or, it turns out, mine.

I just want you to know that I so appreciate your visits to this place and the opportunity to share these bits of my life- and so enjoy the comments you often leave me.... little threads of friendship that make this life more beautiful and all the more sweet.    Thanks for that.

Review: Purposeful Design

Today's review is for a beautiful hardcover book called Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker.  I received my copy and opened it up immediately and was surprised (and delighted!) to find that Mr. Schabacker had thoughtfully signed and dated the book for me!  What a thoughtful gesture!

In his book, Jay Schabacker takes the reader through the six working days of creation and highlights some of the amazing and purposeful ways that God created and designed the Earth for His pleasure and ours.  He explains certain things that point directly toward an intelligent, purposeful Designer and directly away from evolutionary theory.  Mr. Schabacker uses his past experiences working with the Apollo Moon Program and Ken Ham's "Back to Genesis" seminar as well as his passions for children and science and exploration to do so in a masterful way, engaging all readers from the youngest in the family to the oldest.

Mr. Schabacker discusses topics like the earth's orbit, rotation and gravity on Day 1.  In Day 2, he discusses the rain cycle and the oceans.  Day 3 looks at an apple to discover the many ways God has purposefully (and graciously) provided a good gift to us in the form of food.  Day 4 is fully loaded and brings about such topics as seasons (and why we have them), the earth's tilt, the cause of climate and times of sunrise/sunset, the many benefits of our moon, ocean tides and stars.  Day 5, he begins to talk about the birds and fish and the instincts that God gave them.  He introduces the reader to several hilarious species that God made.  Day 6 is chock full of information about things from the amazing camel and cuts of beef to cells and the perfect design of the human head.  On the seventh day God rested and the author uses that opportunity to close the book and call the reader to rest in the Lord and His plan for us...for it is a good one~filled with purpose.

I particularly liked reading about the September 11 "ground Zero" Memorial Monument and how the designers utilized the preciseness of the sun and earth's circuit to create skylight openings that allow for a ray of sunshine to hit the memorial below on only one day a year- September 11th and at the very hours the attacks were happening.  How amazing is that?

I also liked that Mr. Schabacker explained that the first three days of creation were "preparation" days and the next three days are "filling" days.  I found this fascinating, as I had heard this before, and wished that he would have expounded upon that with a good illustration.

    Or even a bad one- like mine! (see below)

Interspersed throughout the text are many gorgeous photographs and illustrations to entice the reader further.  Purposeful Design is considered a 'coffee table book' and was a winner in the 2014 Catholic Book Awards and the 2013 Illumination Book Awards within the coffee table book and Home School/Bible School categories.

This deluxe, full color beautiful hardcover book is available here for $18.95 with bulk discounts available (and free shipping!).  When you purchase the book, you get a FREE BONUS Young Explorer’s Club Curriculum that is downloadable which includes a kid's workbook (with questions), a teacher's set (with answers) and a certificate of completion.  This additional resource would make the book Purposeful Design an excellent science unit study opportunity!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Baby Vest and A Book

I have finished two crocheted cowls recently and decided I ought to pick up one of the many UFO's lying around.  (That's unfinished objects, btw)  I began the Colin Vest last year (maybe two years ago????) when I was beginning to try to hone my knitting skills.  I began the newborn size because only one skein of this beautiful yarn was mailed to me... I wanted to be sure I had enough so I went with the smallest size.

Eventually, I set it aside because it was just too depressing- working on a newborn thing for no reason at all.

But I am determined to cut down on those unfinished bits lying about so I picked it back up and have found that the knitting is not as tedious for my fingers as it had been when I last set it down.  A happy surprise!  I don't know what I will do with it when it is done.  Maybe frame it and hang it on the wall as my first knitted garment item?  I love the yarn so much.  The colors remind me of a foggy day at the beach, when the ocean looks dark and looming and the mist lifts from the sea.  I really could hang it on the wall and enjoy it.  More likely, it will find a newborn body somewhere to keep warm and snug.

I am reading Someday You'll Write, which I discovered in bed last night as I opened the first page, was written for a 12 year old girl who dreamed of becoming a writer.  So it is a childrens' book.  Nevertheless, I was captivated and entranced as I read on and found myself transfixed and somewhere between the page I began and the last paragraph that I read, I realized I had become a girl again... just needing a kind person to take me by the hand and do a bit of gentle coaxing, with some sound advice mixed in, so that a girl may believe her dreams are possible.

In those little bits of time throughout the day when I can't read but I can flip, I have piles of crafty books laid here, there and everywhere...hoping for some homemade gift inspiration.

43 more days until Christmas and my sewing machine is no more.

It has been no more for quite some time.  I have been working on older, used sewing machines for so long (and paying for repairs incessantly) that I decided I would buy a brand new one the next time the sewing machine broke.  And then break it did and I didn't have the money at the time so I never did. And now, quite suddenly, it is prime christmas-making time and I have no sewing machine!

Of course, a sewing machine would be too kind to wait until AFTER the Christmas gift making to heave its' last sigh....but that would be too easy and too perfect, wouldn't it?  So any handmade gifts this year will NOT be of the sewn variety.

And I feel quite handicapped about it.  Now, all of a sudden, all my ideas are sewn.  Ironic.

What are you up to?  Do you intend to make any Christmas gifts this year?  Have you begun to think about Christmas gifting yet?  Read any good books lately?  Come on- let's chat!