Saturday, May 17, 2008


Toss together
5 cups rolled oats (works better than quick oats)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans or almonds or whatever)
1/2 cup sunflower kernels

Stir together
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla (or peach schnapps or black raspberry liqueur)

Mix honey into oats. Stir till all oats have been moistened. I bake it on a lightly greased airbake jelly-roll pan for about 20-22 minutes at about 360°.

If I bake it on a cookie sheet that's not airbake, I have to shorten the time or decrease the temp. The boys like it baked longer so it's a littler browner. I do not stir it in the oven, nor while it's cooling. If I wait until it's completely cool before loosening the granola from the pan or removing it, I get bigger chunks instead of just oat-flakes. When completely cooled, store in a sealed container.

I used to try to make huge batches of granola so that I didn't have to do it so often. But then I was putting too much in the oven, and I had to bake it for so long, and I had to keep stirring it, and that was too much brain-effort and trouble for me. Sometimes I burned it; sometimes I underbaked it; I always ended up spilling some on the bottom of the oven. This recipe lets me mix it, throw it in the oven for 20 minutes, let it sit on the counter for an hour or more, pretty much ignoring it. That makes for success! LOL. Of course, this batch seldom lasts us a whole week, and would only last for a couple days if we didn't eat so many eggs for breakfast! But this recipe is easy enough to make that I can handle doing it more than once a week.

TV in the Kitchen?

I discovered something last night, and it may not be good for me! LOL!

About a month ago, we moved the computer into the breakfast nook so that the living room wouldn't be so crowded. Last night Gary invited me to sit down with him and watch a movie. Well, the poor little neglected balls of tortilla dough had been sitting for many hours, and it was high time they were pressed and browned. I knew that I'd be falling asleep by the end of the movie, so finishing the tortillas "later" wouldn't work.

Hey! What if we stuck the dvd into the computer and played it in the kitchen? I could watch with him and do tortillas, and then we could sit down in the living room together when I was done with the kitchen work. Ohhhhh, that worked well. I might have to figure out how to work this technology so I can pop a dvd into the machine all by myself!

And I'm betting that I can use the computer to listen to talk-radio online too. Maybe I won't need a radio in the kitchen after all....

Getting Rid of Smoke Smell

The people who owned this house before us smoked. They usually smoked outside, and they had scent diffusers to help neutralize the odor, so it really didn't smell bad at all. But every now and then we would notice, like when we closed up the house on a cold evening after the windows had been open all day, or when we opened the linen closet to put something away.

I discovered something this week. Since I've been hanging towels and sheets on the line, and then putting some of them back into the linen closet, that fresh scent seems to have absorbed and overcome and eliminated the smoke smell in the closet really well! It makes me wonder if taking couch cushions outside and sunning them, or washing the afghans more frequently (and line-drying them), would help get rid of the smoke smell throughout the rest of the house even faster than it's disappearing on its own.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Decks, Gutters, and Wasps (Oh My!)

I don't see what the attraction is in a deck. When we were house hunting, the ads and a variety of real-estate agents would wax eloquent about the beautiful deck on the house. I see a deck as something else to take care of. It needs to be stained and sealed periodically. The screws have to be tightened. It needs to be shoveled free of snow in the winter. What's so great about a deck? I could sit in the backyard on the lawn, and there's a lot less care needed for a lawn. Lawns are nice. Patios are too. Decks take work.

But, nevertheless, we ended up with a deck. Okay, fine.

We have wasps. Can't figure out where they're coming from. After some web-researching, I discovered that wasps often like to build their nests on the underside of wood decks. The only real solution seems to be to crawl under the deck (if that's possible) or take up the boards until you can discover the location of the wasp nest. Oh, good gravy! When we had wasps at the parsonage, you just had to keep knocking down their nests and destroying them. But when you did so, three weeks later you'd have to do it again. That's one thing when the wasp nests are out in the open, under the eaves of the house. However, if we have to take up deck-boards repeatedly through the summer, this is not going to be a happy thing! Another strike against decks.

However, today I think I may have figured out something. Maybe they're hiding in the gutters. We have the weirdest gutter-guards I've ever seen. After checking with my local home-owner mentor, I decided the gutter-guards were headed for the trash. Andrew eliminated a lot of them and we set them out for the garbage man today. Now I'm filling up the garbage can again from yankin' this weird steel-wool stuff out of the gutters. And I found lots of dead wasps. And then I found several abandoned nests. Then I found one very small new and growing nest. I betcha as more of the gutter-guards get pulled out, we find more wasps. (Note to self: do not give this job to the son who is horribly allergic to bug bites.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One-Family Rule

I blogged the other day about how a few people in Wisconsin would like to homeschool other people's kids along with their own. But it's illegal in this state. As much as I think the government should stay out of education, the reality is that they don't. There are rules, and some of them even have some fairly decent reasoning behind the rules.

Jeff asked about whether it could be considered legal to homeschool someone else's kid because the statute says that the parents can designate someone one else to provide the instruction.

That sentence allows for the fact that homeschool parents are not required, entirely by themselves, to provide all instruction for the child. For example, many kids learn foreign language primarily by speaking with a person who is a native speaker. Even though the kid may study a book, the primary teacher is Grandpa Schmidt who grew up in Germany (or whatever).

In other situations, the parents hire a tutor to be the full-time instructor in their homeschool. I have two friends who homeschool their grandchildren.

So, is it okay "hire a tutor" who is also homeschooling her own children? No. The next sentence in the statutes makes that very plain.

Once upon a time, the government was enforcing all the school codes onto homeschools. In the state of Wisconsin, they asked homeschoolers to have separate bathrooms for boys and girls. They asked for "Exit" signs over the doorways. There were loads of rules. With a lot of lobbying by some committed homeschoolers and some help from a few people in Madison, the legislature (among other legal changes) came to see how ridiculous it was to have the same safety requirements for a building where one family was homeschooling. If the children were safe enough at home from 3:30-bedtime, then they were safe enough there from 8:30-3:30. And so the law that affects homeschoolers no longer requires that they conform to the building codes and safety regulations enjoined upon conventional schools.

if I want to start "homeschooling" other people's kids along with my own, should I be exempt from safety rules? (And let's not take up whether the government has the right to enforce such rules. The reality is that they make such rules and enforce them for most public building. For those who disagree with that, you'd have to change the whole system before you can properly address whether this particular instance of building code is valid.) If I homeschool one other child, that doesn't seem like a big deal. But if I homeschool 32 other children from 17 different families, doesn't that sound more like a school than "homeschooling other people's kids"? Where's the line? How many "other kids" makes it a school instead of homeschooling?

That's why the law says that "more than one family unit" does not constitute a home-based private educational program. Saying "Well, that homeschool mom over there is the person I designated to provide my kid's instruction" does not undo the next sentence in the statutes!

CAN I do this?

Getting old.
Less strength in the muscles.
Less mental acuity.
Tires more quickly.
Kinda stinks.

So you try to do a job involving physical labor. CAN you do it? You know you can do it. You used to be able to do it. You should be in good enough shape now that --of course-- you can do it. So you go for it! It is struggle. It is work. But you accomplish the task. See? You know you could do it!

Then the next day is the back pain. And the sore muscles. And days and days of back pain. And you end up making several trips to the chiropractor to get straightened out and interrupt the cycle of pain. And life is good again.

So... CAN you do it if the work (roofing the house, rebuilding the deck, dismantling the pool, running the marathon, carrying the salt for the water softener, whatever it may be) has repercussions that it shouldn't have? Hmmm. How do you decide when you CAN or CAN'T?

You know what else I think? I think our system of doing school just exacerbates this problem. We lock kids up with their age-mates from the time they're 3 until they're 20-something. We seldom saw our parents and grandparents struggling with aging. We were too busy with kids our own age.... kids who were immortal like us. (LOL!) So now we baby-boomers and baby-busters are shocked when we have to face the fact that our bodies can't do what they used to do. Hey, this stinks! It's not fair! I want to be young, strong, and immortal again! :-)

And then, I've got all these friends who are 10 or 20 or 30 years older, and they keep telling me, "You just WAIT. You ain't seen nothing yet." LOL -- oh, lovvvvvely!

Now, if only the mind wouldn't FAIL too recall the fact that my body couldn't handle this job last time, and it's not likely to be able to handle the job this time either. But no, the mind is goin' too....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doubling Up Trips

I seldom go anyplace for just one errand. But I've been noticing that trying to do ALL the errands (gazillions of them!!!) while I'm out can get a little overwhelming. Maybe the stress of having to try to have everything codified on the list, the stress of having to put off the projects that you're working on for 3 more days (until you can do your one big errand-trip), or the stress of having to line up appointments back-to-back (and hope that the appts don't take longer than they're supposed to), ... maybe those stressors are worth spending $3 extra in gas money. Don't ya suppose?

Destroying the Law?

I have not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17

The accusation was out there. Jesus was destroying the Law. All that forgiveness running around! Forgiving tax collectors like Matthew. Absolving whores like Mary from Magdala. I mean, really now, like, you'd think just ANYbody could be forgiven!

The Pharisees didn't approve. It seemed to them like Jesus was destroying the Law, overturning it, doing away with it. Of course, He wasn't: He had come to fulfill it, to do it perfectly, both in doing what was required and by taking the punishment for man's breaking it.

Still, though, they saw "too much forgiveness" flowing freely, and they didn't approve. Why? They loved the Law. Not in the sense that the Psalmist loved the Law (like in Psalm 119). They loved the Law as a way to curry God's favor. Oh sure, sure, of course they needed forgiveness and God's grace and all that jazz. But still, they knew God liked 'em because they tried so hard to be good and only had occasional oopses. Not like those sinners. So from their perspective, Jesus had indeed come to destroy the Law.

But in reality, Jesus wasn't destroying the Law itself. He only came to destroy their kind of love of the Law, their reliance on the Law, their trust in the Law.

Belief and Unbelief

John 21:12. It was the second Sunday after the resurrection. The apostles were out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was on the shore and called to them. There was a great catch of fish. When Jesus called them to breakfast:
None of the disciples dared ask Him,
"Who are You?" -- knowing it was the Lord.

In Bible class last week, I asked why John would record this. It seems obvious to me that there must've been some desire to ask Him the question, but they didn't dare do it. They knew it was the Lord, and yet they still wanted to ask Him who He was, but they didn't.

Pastor pointed out how the disciples' faith was being strengthened through these weeks. On Thursday night they all ran away. On Saturday they were in hiding. On Sunday morning they didn't believe the women's message. And yet... Peter and John ran to the tomb. John saw and believed, for as yet they did not know the scripture that He must rise from the dead. Then Peter and John went back to Mark's house with the rest of 'em. Still hiding. As Pastor has said, "Not exactly pillars of faith!" Still, John "saw and believed."

Then that Sunday night, they were in fear of the Jews. When Jesus appeared, they thought he was a ghost. But He absolved them (Peace to you). "They were glad when they saw the Lord."

They tell Thomas the wonderful news. Poor guy doesn't believe them and spends the next seven days not only missing his Lord but convinced that his compatriots are whacked out. Jesus came to them again the next Sunday evening. He absolved them again. Faith grew. Unbelief diminished. But the unbelief was not gone.

The next Sunday Jesus comes to them again. Again there are doubts. But the doubts each week seem smaller. Jesus' word to them, His forgiveness, strengthens them in spite of their unbelief. He creates belief in the midst of unbelief.

And He keeps on doing it today.

In the midst of utter woe
when our sins oppress us,
where shall we for refuge go,
where for grace to bless us?
To Thee, Lord Jesus, only! TLH 590

Monday, May 12, 2008

Homeschooling Someone Else's Kid

The question came up again. "I'm looking for a homeschooling family to homeschool my kid for me. I'll pay."

I don't know about other states, but that's not legal in Wisconsin. More than one family "homeschooling" together actually constitutes a small private school. The administrator of that school needs to obey the laws governing private schools, including fire drills and kitchen rules and bathroom rules and all that jazz. In Wisconsin, homeschools are small, private, one-family schools and are known in the statutes as "home-based private educational programs."

If you don't believe me, look at Statute 115.001(3g). Don't lie to the government. If you want a tutor for your kid, hire a tutor. If you want to make money "homeschooling" other people's kids, fill out the stupid & invasive paperwork that the government will demand of you. But don't lie to the government. Homeschoolers have to sign a piece of paper telling the census-count of their private school and attesting to the fact that they are in compliance with the law. So comply already. Don't try to find loopholes. Just do what the law requires. God tells us through His apostle St Paul that we are to honor and obey the government, and Jesus Himself tells us to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Didn't Want to See That

We were watching Elizabeth tonight. It looked like a good history story, a review of the people we read about last fall & winter in one of our schoolbooks. And it might've been a very good movie ... except for about 3 minutes scattered throughout a few scenes that were just way too explicit or had too much nudity. Those scenes make me blush, and I don't want to see that. Furthermore, I don't want my kids seeing it either, the kids that I made watch the movie for the sake of reviewing kings, queens, earls, dukes, and political wrangling.

I want to say, "WHY do they do that?" in Hollywood, but I know the answer. I guess the real question is, "How do I know what's really in the movie before I watch it?" That's what ratings are supposedly for, but they aren't exactly helpful and consistent.

Update: A friend let me know about a site that gives detailed descriptions of things parents may want to know about a movie, whether there is smoking, tense family scenes, sex, violence, etc. You have the option to say "no, thanks, I don't want to join" and still check to see if there's a movie review available to non-members. When you click to see "all movies" or "all videos," you then click on the first letter of the title to check out the list of reviews.

That Short First Article

The other day I was editing. The section was from John 8. Jesus was telling the Pharisees, who claimed to know God, "If you had known Me, you would've known My Father also." That hit my ears oddly because I'd just recently heard the passages from John 14 where the passage is about knowing and seeing the Father. So I checked to see whether I was remembering right.

John 1 No one has seen God at any time. The Son has declared Him.
John 5 The Father has testified of the Son. You have neither heard Him nor seen Him.
John 6 The only one who has seen the Father is the one who is from God.
John 14 (to the apostles) If you had known Me, you would've known the Father. From now on [i.e., the Passion and crucifixion] you have known Him and seen Him. He who has seen Me has seen the Father.
John 15 (to the apostles, about the ones who are about to kill Jesus) Now they have seen and hated both Me and the Father.

So, basically, yeah, there was nothing in the Gospel of John about seeing the Father other than 1) we sinners can't, 2) except in the Passion of Christ. I thought that was interesting and something to wonder at -- how the seeing is added to the knowing, and that the seeing is to see a bloodied Jesus.

But then, about 15 minutes later, it was time for Bible class to start. The first article of the creed is so short: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." That's it. That's the whole section. Not a lot there, just 12 words. Very succinct.

The second article, though, is a lot longer. It tells about Jesus and what He did. It tells stuff we can see. And it crossed my mind:
In the saving activity recited in the second article, we see Jesus. And when we see Jesus, we have seen the Father. What's in the second article shows us Who is in the first article.


Well, the guy who's going to take the pool off our hands (we think!) came on Tuesday night and Friday night this week. He and Gary worked for several hours each night. (Of course, wouldn't ya know, those were nights I was all organized and on time with dinner which then had to wait.)

A lot of the pool parts and accessories are gone. We have found that there is a LOT of gravel out there, surrounding the pool. A lot! I guess some of it's going to be used as fill-in for the deep hole in the center of the pool. We're not quite sure yet what's going to fill-in the rest of the low spot, but we'll work on that problem later.

The walls of the pool are still standing, as there was a problem undoing the seam where the two ends met. Gary thinks he's figured out a way to solve that without destroying the pool. But now we wonder if the guy taking the pool might've seen that problem as just too much to bother with.

Nicest at this point is that the ugly fence around the pool is down. It was rickety and not very nice looking and not even finished/sealed. It was adequate to its task -- keeping people away from the pool and drowning. But it looks so much nicer out back with that fence gone now! The fence posts are still there. They'll be slow in coming down as we discovered they were cemented into the ground. One or two fence-posts will probably be plenty of physical labor per day.