30 October 2010

Happy Samhain everyone!

The Harvest has ended, the fields are bare.
The earth grows cold, and stark, and spare.
The gods of death remain with us,
keeping watch over the living.
They tutor us in patience,
for eternity is theirs.

Hail to you, O gods and goddesses
who guard the underworld
and guide the dead on their final journey.
In this time of cold and dark, we honour you,
and we value the transition from birth,
through life,
to death,
and to life beyond.

May the growing darkness
of the coming months
be a womb in which our best selves
can grow and mature.

May the wisdom ond serenity
of the Sage and the Crone,
and all of the ancients
abide within us.
May the love and fellowship of this circle
remain with us and keep us warm.

Blessed be.

A trip to the zoo, officially off insulin, and more!

We had an insanely busy day yesterday, but it was fun!
We started at 6am, so that we could be ready to hit the road by 8. (Jack is still marveling at that. He generally thinks 9am is early.)

After breakfast we headed out to the other side of town, where I had a doctor appointment. That's less than a mile from the farm coop pickup point and the beginning of Rod and Jack's usual Friday circuit. So, while I was at the doctor's office, they ran out and picked up some of the groceries we needed. We didn't want to do a full shop, because that takes hours--and we had BIG plans! ;)

I had asked the doctor for a prescription refill for my insulin, but looking over my numbers, he said that he really doesn't think I need to be on insulin, so I am now officiall off insulin! Hurrah! I managed my diabetes for eleven years without medicine or insulin, but about four years ago, my control started to slip even as I did all the usual things to try and control it and I added first medicine and then insulin. It seems that leaving grains behind may have played a role in making unmedicated control possible again. I am starting iodine therapy to see if I can get my goiter reduced and maybe (just maybe) get off synthetic thyroid hormone, too. It would be sooo good to be medicine free after taking meds of one kind or another since I was eight! Finally, we initiated the next step in curing my rosacea. I'll write that up shortly.

After the guys picked me up from the doctor's office, we went to the farm coop and picked up our milk and then headed over to pick up Grandpa John for a trip to the zoo!

Since we got an early start, it was a long, lovely, relaxed trip. We had the time to stop to snack on fruit and nut bars, and later potato chips with soft garlic and herb cheese for a dip. But after a few hours, we were all pretty tired and hungry, so at closing time, John invited us to have dinner with him.

We went for what is probably our last trip to John's favorite restaurant. I don't know whether John realizes that or not. We didn't talk about it. But we had a wonderful last hurrah. Next weekend, we'll visit him again at his new digs.

And then ... just to make the day a real landmark day, Jack asked to sleep in his own bed for the very first time. He stayed there all night, so i think the transition has begun. It made today remarkable relaxing, too, because I was able to stretch out and relax all night.

Holistic Treatment of Acne Rosacea

I started to develop acne rosacea very, very early. It usually hits people as they enter their late forties or early fifties. Mine started when I was in my late 20s.

Because it was so early onset, I was misdiagnosed for several years, trying tretinoin ointment and other drugs for adult acne that actually irritated the rosacea. By the time I turned 40, my face looked like a bright red orange peel with bumps, rough skin, and permanent flushing. I don't have any photos of it, for obvious reasons.
the rosacea was almost entirely gone by last summer
Around then, the ads started hitting the magazines for Metrogel, a new treatment for rosacea. I recognized my condition in those pictures immediately. I went and showed the ad to my doctor who agreed to prescribe this new medicine.

Now that I had a name for this irritating skin condition I started researching it. I also saw photos that made me realize that I had inherited it from my grandfather. (The swollen nose and rough skin were a tip off.)

I also learned that "acne rosacea has no known cause" and that there there is a genetic predisposition in that people in familes tend to be susceptible to it or not. "It also has no known cure, though it an be successfully treated with long term use of antibiotics."

Hmmm. I wasn't keen on long term antibiotics, but I kept a tube of gel around to treat really bad outbreaks and just accepted that my skin was never going to be beautiful again. (Ironically, the people most susceptible to this condition tend to have very bright, clear, pale skin in their youth. Yeah. I once had great skin. Oh well.)

A year or so ago, I started seeing Dr Sickels, a holistic physician.

Rosacea was not particularly on my mind since I knew that it was incurable and aside from vanity there are few dire side effects or outcomes, but when he asked whether there was anything else he could help with, I mentioned it offhand
"well, no. Not unless you know a cure for rosacea".
As it happens, he does. Well, not a definite cure, but in many people, rosacea is linked to asymptomatic h-pylori bacterial infection. He tested me and I was riddled with the stuff, so I agreed to give it a try. For what seemed like months but was probably ten days, I took a witches brew of medications called "the ulcer protocol."

Within a few weeks after I finished, my face started to clear up, leaving only broken capillaries to tell the tale. Success! I started treating the broken capillaries with liquid iodine, and they too started to fade!

Over the course of the year, the flushing has started to return. Nothing alarming yet, but worth mentioning since we know where this leads. Dr Sickels has started me on a regimen to re-acidify my stomach so that my body can handle the h-pylori bugs on its own. I am hoping to stop the flushing in its tracks again, and get the worst of the broken blood vessels reduced. My skin will perhaps never be as smooth and clear as it once was, but if I can stop the damage in its tracks and not have the rough red bumps that's good enough for me.

So...if you have rosacea, and you've been told there is no cure, know that your doctor may be mistaken. For some people, getting asymptomatic h-pylori bacterial infection under control may be all the cure you need.

See a holistic physician for help. If he doesn't know what you're talking about, have him call Dr Sickels. (Or if you can, just see Dr Sickels in the first place.)

Edited to add: I have not had 100% success with the betaine treatment, probably because I use it more sporadicly than I should -- and because I get VERY red if I ingest corn products. However I have found a skin treatment of coconut oil with chamomile, Helichrysum, and lavender essential oils added takes the red down ion a day or two. No more antibiotics! :)

26 October 2010

Pondering ...

I was harassing my baby brother about a site for his company -- he's a personal trainer and owns a gym in Waco.

I ended up offering to create one for him. And host it at our domain, at least for a while.

And that got me thinking; maybe I should host Chez Smiffy at my own domain.

I don't know yet. I'm not particularly web savy and I'm not sure how hard it would be.

As it is, I have to wait for Rod to post page updates over there. We're still waiting to post the curriculum for Unit 4 an d we're halfwaty through Unit 5. So...maybe not a good idea. Or maybe I could get more edumacated and then post my own silly updates.

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Studying Shakespeare

We started our Shakespeare study a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, Jack has really run with it.

We started by getting three books of Shakespeare for children. The theory there being that if he knows the story well, the Elizabethan language will be easier to follow. We used: Tales from Shakespeareby Charles and Mary Lamb, Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit.

We read Midsummer Night's Dream in each of the books, and then we watched the 2005 ShakespeaRe-Told version. It was adapted for a television audience and uses modern English and a modern setting, so again, he became familiar with the story.

Next we checked out several version traditional versions of the movie.
So far, we've watched:
the 1999 version with Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania
the 1981 BBC version with Helen Mirren as Titania

and we've checked a couple more versions out, but they haven't arrived yet. I'll update as they do.

Jack watched each version three of four times, and then we started reading some scenes along with the movie using a 1959 edition of the the Pelican Shakespeare Library. (I don't think it matters much which version you use, though older versions will have been better-edited and this in one case where a mis-spelled word can be very confusing.)

The next step is the start reading scenes together. Maybe tonight.

But meanwhile, Jack has been absorbed in the story and has been adding Elizabethan turns of phrase and Shakespearean descriptions to his already colourful vocabulary. (It also led us off into finding th story of Pyramis and Thisbe in Bullfinch's Mythology.)

I wish I knew of a local company doing this play in the near future -- that would be my ideal for the next step. Ahh, well. Movies will do for now.

23 October 2010

Our Street's Repairs

This blog post is about our street being torn up. Now, we thought our street was perfect, but apparently the government didn't, so here are some photos of the construction work.
We got a note from the government that it would happen on that day.
The first thing I saw was some BIG trucks outside. It surprised me at first but then I remembered that we were having constructions works here and I said "Oh! OK" and I started to have a show. I had a nectarine at the time, so I went outside to have a nectarine and a show.
Then I went back inside so Dad could have a show as well. He said that cameras would be a nice thing if we were going to have a show. Our friends would like to have a show out of action. Then we got the cameras and we took a few photos, as you can see above and below.
I know this is a very short blog post, but this is the end of my blog post.

22 October 2010

Guess what!!

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First, it's one of "those" mornings

I woke up in a rapidly cooling puddle, with a little boy whispering "I'm sorry".

I hauled the bedding down to the basement for the third time since the weather turned cold, only to find that the basement is full of sewerage. (Maybe related to the fact that they've had the street torn up all wekk and we've had to park outside the neighborhood?)

Of course, this means no clean bedding tonight...and no shower this morning.

Then, I checked in on Facebook, and a dear friend had posted something very profound:
Damiana Nightshade Every once in awhile I feel a little depressed, then I get out into the world and I see that my life ain't bad at all. Good Morning!
She's right, of course.

I remember that my dear friend is going into residential care in a week. I hear just then from a relative that another relative has reached the point where untested, experimental drugs sound like the best answer to a health problem. I think about the friend who lives with daily pain that can't be cured or even diagnosed. I think of the friends who are struggling in one way or another.

I realize that on the grand scale of things, a smelly basement, unwashed bedding, and no shower on a Friday morning are just not that big a deal. Thanks, Dame. Again.

I wonder where I left the plumber's card...

18 October 2010

What a weekend!

A photo essay, in the style inspired by Stephanie, of Ordinary Life Magic. Stephanie, your writing always makes me feel so good about life -- thanks!

Our weekend started with a trip to the zoo with Grandpa John on Saturday. We all had a blast!

October is the best time for a trip to the zoo, because it's warm, but not to warm, and there are people, but not too many people.

Then, on Sunday, we picked raspberries. Jack said he could "pick berries forever", and Rod and I both found it meditative and deeply satisfying, too.

In two hours, we picked 12 quarts. Those we will use to make fresh ice cream and smoothies all winter.
And then we picked pumpkins ...to be roasted up and frozen for winter use, too.
We had a chance to greet the Cat in Charge. Very impressive.

And then we went home and made raspberry ice cream. :)
Happy Smiths.

17 October 2010

*I* enjoy project based homeschooling. I love making up costumes similar to the ones worn in the historical period we're studying, putting together historically and culturally authentic snacks, and making artifacts associated with the era.

Sadly, Jack just thinks it strange for the most part. I'm thinking that perhaps I should hide the project books from myself for a while. No more mummified chickens, no more historically and culturally accurate snacks, no more costumes or hand made artifacts.

If we had other kids to play along maybe -- he really enjoyed it when Corey joined us in creating Ahnks.

Maybe find someone who would like to join us for a one-day adventure every so often. Both Connor and Myra like some aspects of the project based things...the catch is finding time to do it.

We had a good day yesterday!

We got a bit more work done on the reorganization of the upstairs and I think I may have found a way of relieving the clutter on my craft table. Maybe.

Then we went out for a long glorious day at the zoo with John. John positively glowed and seemed to be having a wonderful time, and Jack and I sure were!

Almost as good as the smiles on Jack and John's faces, Rod didn't hurt! He was able to charge around the zoo with the rest of us rather than plodding painfully along behind us! And as an added bonus, when I tested my blood sugar afterward (thanks, Mark!), my usual "200 no matter what I do" was a quite acceptable 115. I know what I need to do is more walking -- but finding the time has been very difficult. Must. Try. Harder.

Today is raspberry and apple picking. Or maybe just raspberry, since the organic apples we can find are north of Lansing (almost a two hour drive away).

15 October 2010

Writing a curriculum for a truly personalized homeschool education

I wanted to let you know (you being folks wandering in from search engines) that this essay has been updated and is now published here.  That's where new discoveries will be published.

A year and a half ago, I started a series about how to write a homeschool curriculum. Parts two and four fell into the bit bucket, and I couldn't find them ... but I kept getting hits on that first section.

So today I have posted a revised, one part edition at
It's well over 6,000 words -- and I have no way of changing all the links people seems to have posted over the last year, so I put it back in the archives. If it's of interest to you, you can find it at the link.

I would especially welcome comments adding any reosurces you know about.

For every one else ... I'll try to post soon. :)

14 October 2010

The problem with science.

Well, OK, it's not really a problem with *science*, so much as it is a problem with people.

A few days ago, I was going through all of my cookbooks, looking for interesting new things to do with vegetables; if we're going entirely grain and legume free, we are going to have to be a lot more creative with vegetables or I am going to go out of my mind with boredom. Our family has traditionally focused our culinary efforts on our grains and served a few very favorite preparations of meats and vegetables along side.

As I was reading my 1896 Boston Cooking School Fanny Farmer cookbook, I came across this statement:

"Vegetables include, commonly though not botanically speaking, all plants used for food except grains and fruits. With the exception of beans, peas, and lentils, which contain a large amount of (protein), they are chiefly valuable for their potash salts and should form a part of each day's dietary."

To put that into perspective, 50 pages are dedicated to vegetables, potatoes, and salads (not all of which contain vegetables). On the other hand, 129 pages are dedicated to desserts of various kinds, and 100 pages are deciated to the preparation of meats, suggesting that Miss Farmer considered plant foods of lesser importance than just about any other element of diet.

This was, of course, the scientific and hygenic view of the day. By that time, sience had established the need for the three major elements of a healthy diet: carbohydrate, proteins, and fats. Since vegetables weren't strong providers of any of those things, and with vitamins and minerals measurable by the science of the day only as "potash salts", it was evident to the educated man and woman that while they are a delicious addition to the dinner table, and some amount were necessary to optimal health, they were not very important.

We do that, people do.

We forget that science, as valuable as it is, is limited by what we can currently measure. Even the things that are now undeniably there -- things like vitamins, amino acid, and other phytonutrients -- have not always been measurable by the best of science. That, of course, doesn't mean they weren't there before, or that they were less important to health than they are now that we know they're there. But we forget to concern ourselves with what might be there that we don't suspect and don't yet know how to measure.

This isn't limited to dietary science, of course. Heliocentrists and flat-earthers at one time based their beliefs on the best science of their times, too. Once upon a time, antibiotics and scrupulous hygiene were going to conquer illness forever! Then we discovered super-bugs and the ill effects of too little stimulation of the immune system. It's just that dietary science effects all of us so intimately and by extension, it deeply influences our cultures, as food always has.

Science is very important and I am grateful for all the ways that science has made our lives better! I follow new developments with great interest! I do think, though, that it's wise, when considering scientific discoveries, to consider what they really mean. I don't think that we can safely rely on media interpretations for that -- scientists understand the limitations of science and are far less likely to fall afoul of the "now we know the real truth" fallacy than are journalists hunting for a compelling headline. It from this fallacy that we get the stomach-wrenching swings from "miracle food" to "fatal" we have seem so much of in the last 50 years. Then again, often the language of science is so precise as to be unintelligible to the average reader.

So what do we do, if we want to stay informed? Well, I guess the best we can do is look at developments with a wait and see attitude and a whole lot of common sense. Read the reports with an understanding that there is a core of truth there, but it's very possible that the journalist has misinterpreted what it means. Understand that each new development is just that, a deepened understanding of how our world works and not a final answer wrapped up in a bright red bow.

My own solution is to examine new nutritional understanding in light of millions of years of evolution.

Some of my personal conclusions:

* We didn't evolve to thrive on processed foods, we evolved to thrive on the very same foods that spoil -- they spoil because they're chock full of nutrients and we're not the only ones who thrive on them. If the food is "shelf-stable", we have to ask ourselves why. Is it because there's no food value left to attract our competitors? Or is it because it has chemicals in it to "retard spoilage"? We didn't evolve to eat poisons, either...

* We didn't evolve to thrive on large amounts of grain -- we didn't get the hang of those until a little over 5 thousand years ago. That doesn't mean that they're bad for us per se...but perhaps overreliance on them is one reason for the huge explosion of ill health we've seen of late. Maybe. When we saw the HUGE difference going wheat free made in Rod's health, we started to consider how other grains fit into our basic view of health and nutrition. Rod started considering whether we might feel even better if we eliminated grains for a while, and allowed our bodies to really heal, then add them back in better balance to how we evolved to be nourished. Then we found out just how badly they effect my health. Achy joints, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a generall sick feeling from even the mildest dose of grains makes me think I won't be adding them back regularly any time soon. Not being a huge fan of deprivation, I continue working on expanding our grain-free alternatives.

So the problem with science...it's not a problem with science at all.

It's just a problem with how we interpret what we're learning.

11 October 2010


Today, Rod and Jack discussed applied mathematics and physics.

They invented the catapult, figured out how to build one (and many ways that don't work) and explored mathematically what makes the strongest walls.

They explored all the possible combinations of numbers that can add up to ten, and they sorted out the numbers on the face of the clock -- and learned why counting by five is so useful.


Between cuisenaire rods and lego, Jack's math education is both more interesting and more useful than mine ever was!

I am so glad Rod is such an excellent teacher. If I was on my own as Jack's teacher, these things might be as mysterious to Jack as they are to me.

Have I mentioned just how blessed Jack and I are?
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We are the flow, and we are the ebb

As we prepare for Samhain, the witches new year, Jack and I have been singing a chant that is very popular at this time of year.

Spiraling into the center
The center of ourselves
We are the flow, and we are the ebb
We are the weavers, we are the web
We are the spiders, we are the thread
We are the weavers
We are the woven ones
We are the dreamers
We are the dream
Spiraling into the center
The center of our lives

In our celebrations, we often do a dance we call “The Spiral Dance”. This dance represents that all of life is a repeating pattern:

The sun rises, birds sing, and the day becomes lighter as we prepare to go about our busy days. The sun is high and the day is busy. We work, we eat, we laugh and play. Then the sun starts to set and we come together again at home to prepare for the quiet of night. The night comes and we rest, until morning.

Spring comes, trees blossom insects come alive, and birds return. Summer becomes warm, the sun is high, and all the world is busy and in fruit. Then comes autumn, the last harvests are brought in, the world starts to look golden and then dry and brown. And then comes winter, and the snow and the cold force us into our warm homes to wait sleepily for spring.
We are born, we grow up, we find partners, we have children, we grow old, and we die. Our children are born, they grow up, they find partners, they have children, they grow old and they die. Their children are born, they grow up, they find partners, they have children, they grow old and they die.

We honour these patterns as the basis of all meaning in human life.

But this song reminds us that what we make of our time in the pattern is still up to us. We are born where we are born, and we have the talents that we have – we don’t make the loom or the thread. But we can decide what to make of the thread and the loom before us. We can make a beautiful pattern of the colours we have, or we can make a tangled mess. We can make use of the talents we have or we can sit and cry that we don’t have other talents that we think we might like better.

I really like this song. :)
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10 October 2010

What a day!

I woke up this morning with BIG plans!

Gone were fantasies of heading out with the camera and grabbing "the perfect autumn portrait". I had a plan! I slept in and hit the ground bouncing.

The plan, as agreed with Jack, was an hour of computer time, then our weight training workout, then a couple of hours of school, then we'd clean the kitchen and parlour a bit...and then we will craft for a couple of hours!

We got in an over-enthusiastic weight training session, in which I felt strong as Atlas...but pooped out before the entire set of repetitions was over for every exercise but one. I thought I wasn't doing well -- tonight, I think I may have actually worked harder than usual and gotten more exercise from fewer reps than I was getting before. *groan*

The we did an hour of Greek vocabulary -- which we combined with writing practice by making up some of the cards we'll need for our Greek game later.

Then Jack took a half hour to read quietly from his Aliki Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, after which we studied World religions, staring with what is religion and finishing with an overview of Judaism. I was mildly startled that Jack was able to pick one of the characters from a novel we read while studying Egypt as being Jewish. He was absolutely correct!

Next we started on a long overdue mucking out of the parlour. We got the hard part done, but we're only really about half-way through. Still, it feels lots better in there.

We had to break for a delightful Sunday chicken dinner that Rod made while I plowed ahead on the new year cleaning project ... then I prepared the kitchen to be cleaned in the morning (which, due to insomnia from cramping tummy muscles and legs, may not happen after all.)

Oh, and in there, I managed to almost catch up with a week's unwashed laundry.

Things we didn't get to:
* we ran out of cards for our Greek game, but we didn't get out to find more
* we didn't get to the library to pick up the Shakespeare videos
* we didn't get the kitchen any cleaner
* we didn't find an answer to the bookshelf problem. Mark has offered to help build us a shelf and I think that's what we'll do -- eventually.
* we didn't find an answer to world peace
* we didn't pick raspberries or apples to preserve for winter
* we didn't do any crafting. Oops.

So, I guess the rest of that is tomorrow's plan.

Meet Sara

My youngest grandchild.
She's expected to make her debut in early March in Stockholm.

Grandma is excited!
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05 October 2010

Helping Grandchildren Cope with Divorce and Separation

As you know, one of my greatest challenges in life is being a long-distance Grandma. My darling grandchildren live 8,000 miles away and don't speak English. That makes it tough to develop a close relationship with them.

One way I have found to try to forge that bond is to write a steady steam of letters to them. My kids are busy, so I don't always hear what's happening in the grandkids lives, but when I do, I make sure to mention it in my next letter.

But that applies to ballet and karate classes, to getting a new puppy or a new bike.

Sometimes what we hear about what's going on in our grandchildren's lives isn't so cheerful. That was the case recently. My oldest son and his partner are separated and their eldest isn't taking it well. I knew I had to write...but what does one say? There are no words that can make it OK. There just aren't.

I scoured the web looking for help, or at least inspiration. I didn't find much. Perhaps this is all just too personal. But I know that I'm not the only Grandma who wonders what one can possibly say to a grandchild far away and going trough such pain.

In the spirit of sharing what I wish I had found, here is a depersonalized version of the words I found to say. I hope you never need it, but if you do need it, I hope you will find inspiration for something to say to your own dear grandchild.

My beloved grandchild,

I hear from our family that you are very unhappy about the separation between your mother and your father. Rumour has it that you are angry at them for “breaking up the family”.

I am so sad, dear child, that you are hurting. It is, indeed, very difficult when our families break up.

I'm sure this all makes you sad, and angry, and maybe scares you, too, as you wonder what life is going to be like now. As you think about having two homes and not being with the parent you want to talk to when you need them. Maybe you’re even confused, wondering if they don’t love each other anymore, maybe they can stop loving you, too.

Sometimes it is easier to turn all of these crazy emotions into anger, rather than to feel them all at one time. So many strong feelings all at once is overwhelming. I wish that there were some way that it all could be made better for you.

Sadly, I know that there is no way to make you feel better right away. Sometimes, no matter how much they wish it were not the case, parents find that they can no longer be together.

I think that sometimes people fall in love because they need to come together to make a child – a most amazing child! You. But once that child or children are born, they find that the reason they needed to be together has passed and there are other things they need to do now.

No matter how much they try they can’t make it work to live as a family. No matter how fiercely they love you and don’t want you to be hurt, staying partners with someone who is no longer right for them hurts them too much for them to be good parents. If they continue to try, the fighting and the tears and the anger are horrible. They have to separate to make a good life for themselves and for you.

My darling, your parents have tried very hard for a long time to keep the family together for you and your brother. They know how much this hurts because they went though the breakup of their families, too. They swore to themselves and to each other that they would never let this happen. They have tried so hard to love each other as much as they both love you. But it just doesn’t work.

The love between adults and the love of parents for their children are very different. Adults can love each other and still not be able to live together and take care of each other. That’s not true for an adult's love for his or her child; that love and care never ends, even when the child is completely grown. Neither of your parents will never willingly give up taking care of you.

You know, my sweet, even if your mamma and your Pappa were to change their minds, it would never be exactly the same for you as it was in the days when they were happy together. You would always know that they *could* break up, and so you would never again have the same safe feeling that you had when you were tiny. That's one of the sad parts of growing up, I guess.

But your parents won’t change their minds. That part of their lives is over. Now, the most important thing for you to know is that all of your adults still love you very, very much and we always will. It matters a lot to all of us that you feel so many painful feelings and it breaks our hearts that we can’t make this easier for you.

Having a lot of strong feelings when your parents separate is normal. Over time, as you adjust to the new way things work, I think you may start to feel less angry.

Both of your parents will always be there for you, just as they always have been. When you are with one and miss the other, it’s OK to call them, even if you just want to say “I love you. I miss you.”.

When your grandfather and I separated, your Papa seemed to find the transitions between my house and his father’s house the hardest part. If that’s hard for you, too, perhaps it would be helpful to keep something in each of your homes to remind you that both of your families love you very, very much. Maybe you could keep a photo of your Mamma in your room at your Pappa’s apartment and a photo of your Pappa in your room at your Mamma’s apartment. Or maybe the same shirt or scarf at each place so your “don’t have to choose”?

If you can think of something that would be helpful, you can mention it to your parents and I know they will do their very best to help you make the adjustment as easy as possible. If you find it hard to talk to them, perhaps you can call your uncle and ask him to call me, and I will know that if he says you told me to call, that you want me to tell them that you want help adjusting to all these changes.

I know that things are hard right now, sweet child. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about how much you hurt. Over time you will get used to having two families. You may never like it, but you’ll be OK.

It’s normal to be angry with your parents for a while, but please remember that they love you and want to do what’s best for you and they want to help you to adjust to what has to be.

Oh, how I wish that I were near enough to come to you, to take you out for a long walk and listen to you and maybe to hold you if that would make you feel better!!

I love you, sweet darling. I hold you close in my heart and I send lots and lots of warm safe feelings to you.

Your faraway Grandma

03 October 2010

Moments in a homeschool

It's not that life in a homeschool is always blissful. Far from it.

There are days when homeschool seems to mostly mean stacks of books and piles of projects everywhere, chaos, and confusion.

But then there are the days we live for -- usually a string of them at a time.

Like last night.

When I got home, Jack announced that he was being like Archimedes. He was investigating mathematical principles all by himself. I could hear him in there, mumbling and making pronouncements from time to time with a very important air.

Another day, he'd have called it "building a catapult out of Lego and Cuisenaire Rods" and then practicing knocking down walls. Today, it was building the perfect War Machines to protect Troy.

At dinner, we watched the BBC's _Midsummer Night's Dream Retold_.

After dinner, Jack scurried around collecting all of our young people's Shakespeare book and checking to see if they have that story. (Three of them do.) He wanted to sit right down and dig in, but it was late, so we made a plan instead.

Every night before dinner we will read one of the versions of the story. At the end, we will watch another (more traditional) video production. Then, we will see if we can find three copies of the original play at the library book shop so that we can read scenes together.

Jack's excitement is the ingredient that makes homeschooling so satisfying. Rod and I are enjoying it for ourselves, too, of course -- but to see a young man on fire with learning is the real pay off.

Rod's sesame "almost toast"

A few days ago, Rod came up with this one. A "bread" that works as a base for "bread and jam" or with bacon and eggs, and other places where you want a carrier for another flavour. I tried it, and even I could get it to come out correctly.
2 eggs
1/4 cup of sesame seeds (we used raw)
2 tablespoons of potato flour
optional 1 tablespoon of guar gum

Whisk it all together and pour it into a frying pan like a pancake. Cook it on both sides, again, like a pancake. It's tasty when cold, but it also keeps in a warm oven while you make the rest of the oven.

It's a tad bland but with a mild "toasty" flavour, which is fine, if you're using it as a carrier for a stronger flavour, which is what we've been missing.

Pumpkin Pudding recipe

1 medium pie pumpkin, seeded and roasted
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon "cake spice"
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole cream milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs

Whisk together the sugar, salt, and spices in bowl until smooth.

Blend in the pureed squash, milk, sour cream and eggs.

Pour into a buttered casserole dish.

Bake until the center is almost set, about 55 minutes, depending on the depth of the casserole.

Beautiful for dessert -- or breakfast!

02 October 2010