Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back Home Again

Not sure how it can be a week since I last posted, but between preparing for Christmas, enjoying Christmas and going back to IL to see relatives, the week has sped past. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas.

Lots of thought-provoking stuff happened this past week, but I have to ruminate on it before I'm ready to post. And tomorrow, ds22 and his bride will be arriving for a visit, so I think I'll be pretty busy through New Year's. So for now, I wish you a wonderful New Year's celebration, and a blessed 2008 :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Take a Quick Break for Something Funny....

I know you all are busy today; around here, we've been making cookies and fudge (it's called Home Ec). So I just want to share something quick and funny that my support group shared with me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

At Least One Candidate Signed It

I don't want to go all political here, but I have to admit I am watching this next presidential election with great interest. If I had to decide today who to vote for, I couldn't do it; it's a moot point anyway, because we don't know who will finally make it to next fall's ballot. As in past presidential elections, I'm praying for the president we need, not the president we deserve.

That said, I find it interesting that one of the current candidates has signed the proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. I'm not going to name him (well, now you know who it isn't, lol). You'll have to find out for yourself by going to the Alliance's news page. While you're there, I encourage you to snoop around a bit and discover the purpose of this organization. If you feel so moved, you can sign the proclamation, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Christmas Present to Me

Maybe you know Lizzie. In the blogosphere she goes by the name of "A Dusty Frame." I pop by her blog once in a while and she pops by mine. She's a homeschooling mom of a young son, and her husband is in prison. Wanting to bring in some much-needed income, she decided to try writing and selling an eBook. Specifically, she chose to turn an old Home Ec project into a Christmas cookbook.

Now, even though I write and sell eBooks, I don't buy them. It's hard enough finding time to read the books I drag home from the library. And I certainly don't need another cookbook. I've got quite a few already, plus an overloaded file drawer of recipes torn out of newspapers for the past few decades (seriously....since I got married, so that's 28 years' worth!)

But I wanted to help Lizzie out, so I bought her cookbook. And what I discovered is that I had actually bought myself a pretty nice little Christmas gift. As I told her after examining my purchase, she included recipes that you don't usually find, yummy stuff like Gingerbread Waffles, Breaded Steak, Swedish Brown Beans.....are you getting hungry yet? I am.........and several candy recipes, one of which dd16 and I will be trying VERY soon.

Sprinkled throughout are warm Christmasy sayings and illustrations, plus tips for Christmas projects, including dough ornament recipes. What a great gift this would make for a friend (or yourself)!

If you'd like to check out Lizzie's Christmas cookbook, you'll learn more here. BTW, Lizzie is not paying me to say this, and I don't make money off any sales from this post. I just wanted to share this great little cookbook with you this week, because it's full of Christmas spirit :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Speaking in Dollars

I've been reading Randy Alcorn's thought-provoking book, Money, Possessions and Eternity, and in it he says something I've never really thought about before.

He discusses how some Christians refuse to purchase the products of companies that support and/or promote activities they disapprove of, and how doing so makes more financial sense than just simply selling any stock they might have in those same companies. He reasons that when you sell stock in the offending company and convince others to do so, you put that stock back on the market at a lower price, which just makes the stock more attractive to someone else, and can actually profit the company. But when you choose not to buy products from the company, it directly affects the company's profits, its bottom line. When large numbers of people choose to boycott a company's products, they can really make an impression on the decision-makers in that company.

So, for example, if you're offended by the anti-Christian bias of the movie "The Golden Compass," (see this month's newsletter for the specifics), it's understandable if you decide to sell any stock you own, including mutual funds, in New Line Cinema, producer of the movie. But to be most effective, you would want to boycott its movies, particularly "The Golden Compass."

While you're at it, you'd probably also want to boycott the companies promoting the movie with their own products. That list includes:

Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
FAO Schwarz
Circuit City

At this time of year, it would be pretty hard to avoid all those companies, particularly if you buy gifts of books or entertainment. And for homeschoolers, it eliminates all the largest sources of new books. But it could be done, if you were really determined; you would also want to notify the companies of your intentions in order to really make your point. Then you could go to local booksellers or homeschool businesses to buy your books, and local stores to buy your entertainment (if Best Buy and Circuit City haven't already forced them out of business.) Just a thought.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Easy and Worthwhile Writing Assignment

This time of year, there's nothing I like better than easy assignments for my kids. Here's one that's easy and very worth doing: sending a postcard to one of our troops overseas.

Xerox is sponsoring "Let's Say Thanks," a site where you can electronically send a postcard that will be printed out and given to one of our troops around the world. All postcards have been pre-designed by American kids; while there are also prewritten messages we can send, why not have your kids write their own message, choose their own postcard and click "Send"? It's so easy, and teaches them how important it is to say thank you to the men and women who uphold freedom.

Once the messages have been sent, click on the link "From the troops" so you and your children can read the reactions of those who have received one of these messages. You'll be glad you did.

Catching My Breath

Yesterday dd16 and I took a rare day off of school to go Christmas shopping. This is a whole new experience for me, driving an hour to the nearest city to shop. Having lived in the Chicago suburbs all of my life until this summer, I'm used to driving ten minutes in any direction and finding plenty of busy stores, complete with the usual traffic. Now that we're living in a small town, major shopping trips are planned ahead. It's certainly a change. Before, I lived in the middle of the hectic activity. Now, I leave our peaceful little world here and drive an hour to find the activity, which isn't nearly as crazy as the hectic world we left behind in Illinois.

We got a lot done, plus had time to drop in on dd24, who happened to have the day off of work. We had a nice visit. I came home to a to-do list a mile long, but chose instead to take it easy. I didn't used to know how to do that, and I'd just keep pushing myself until I was exhausted. But I've learned over time that it's especially important at this time of year to take breaks here and there. So, instead of working on my new book last night (it's almost ready for the printer!), I watched "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with dh and dd16 after ds14 went to bed. This movie is the real "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," the Alfred Hitchcock original, and rare in that it is a screwball comedy (the majority of his movies were thrillers, of course).

It's kind of poignant to watch Carole Lombard in this movie, as she would die in a plane crash a year later on her way home from a war bond tour. The movie has a more mature theme than many comedies of that time, but is still pretty funny. Watching this has made me want to watch my very favorite Carole Lombard movie (for the umpteenth time): "My Man Godfrey." I highly recommend it. (Watch it for free here.)

Tonight's break will probably be spent surfing this week's Carnival of Homeschooling; hope to "see" you there!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Twelve Days of Homeschooling

This is really clever:

On the first day of homeschool, my neighbor said to me.......

The Newsletter is Ready

This month's "The Imperfect Homeschooler" newsletter includes:

two new articles (including part two of "Don't Let Inflation Keep You From Homeschooling"),

links to Christmas puzzles and projects for you and your kids,

and, as always, the "What Our Kids are Missing Out On Dept.,"

plus a few other goodies. Check it out!

Together Again

It's kind of noisy in the dining room just now. Dd24 came over to do her laundry (it's free when you use Mom's washer and dryer) and to hang out with dd16 and ds14, and they're making a gingerbread house from one of those kits every store seems to carry these days.

I love when they can spend time together like this. It reminds me of the days when they were young and all of them still lived at home. At Christmastime, they'd all work together to decorate Christmas cookies, or to make gift tags, or some other Christmas craft. It's hard to find something that everyone can do when your kids span a wide age range like mine do, but whenever they found something to do together, they all had fun.

Ds14 is finally old enough to work with everyone else; when he was young, he'd often just watch, happy to be included in whatever the older kids were doing. Now he's quite opinionated about how to do things, and it's fun to watch.

I often think that homeschooling allowed us to make more than the usual number of memories when the kids were young, but I never realized that growing up together 24/7, with no school attendance intruding on family time, would help them appreciate their time together now that they're grown (or almost grown). Looks like all those years together paid off.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Carnival with a Twist

How well do you know children's literature? Here's your chance to test your knowledge. This week's Carnival of Homeschooling includes "eleven cold and snowy excerpts from children's books." Will you recognize them without being told their titles or authors? See how well you do, and browse a variety of homeschooling posts as your reward.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

His Proudest Achievement

It may be that in the next few years I shall discover the cure for cancer, write the great English novel, work out how to transmute base metal into gold, or invent an ingenious in-shoe device that stops the wearer treading in dog poo, even when it's concealed in autumn leaves. But even if I do, the proudest achievement of my life will remain the same: that I taught my children to read.

That's from James Delingpole, a British writer. I love the sentiment he expresses here. He sounds like a dad who has his priorities straight.

It's clear he believes that he's responsible for his children's education. Having seen the British educational system fail at teaching kids to read, he took matters into his own hands and proved that it's not really that hard to do so.

There's another dynamic at work here, though, and that's his pride in teaching his children something as important as learning to read. Parents who take the time to do this are rewarded with the knowledge that they've given their children one of the most important skills they'll ever need. If that's not time well spent, what is?

Still, we live in a world where most people expect to see tangible, material signs of how we spend our time: new cars, big houses, designer clothes. It's important to remind ourselves that those things eventually fall apart, if they don't go out of style first, while investing time in our children gives them lifelong rewards.