Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Teachers "do" timelines in different ways. Some teachers don't consider it important enough to bother hanging on the wall. Some buy a pre-made timeline. Some have the students develop a timeline.

None of those worked for me on a regular basis. Occasionally I'd have the kids build a timeline. But after many attempts at keeping timelines, I settled on one simple plan. I made a bare-bones timeline. It was a pair. The timelines were about 5-7' long each, made of adding-machine tape or something similar, about 4-7" wide. One timeline covered the years 4000 BC to the present, with an inch (or 1.25") per century. The other zoomed in on the final 8% of the first timeline, covering the years 1500-2000, on a scale of 1.5" per decade.

Few events were listed on the timeline. On the full timeline, we listed creation, flood, Abraham, Moses, David, Israel's fall to Assyria, Judah's fall to Babylon, Jesus, fall of Rome, Columbus. On the more detailed, modern timeline, we included the Reformation, Pilgrims coming to Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Laura Ingalls, birth of great-grandparents, WWI, birth of grandparents, WWII, birth of parents, and birth of the kids. This was our skeletal framework. We might pencil in other events: the 7-Years War or the Wright Bros' airplane or Alexander the Great. Even when the timeline wasn't used to record events, it was essentially our map through time. We repeatedly go to the world map to get a feel for where something is happening, be it in a story or in current events. We used the timeline the same way: it was a framework to locate something in history. Because it was a simplistic timeline, it was easy to whip out a replacement when the current timeline was too worn or scribbled too full of additional events. We never had to be without our little map of time.

Meal Plans

I used to cook out of the pantry. With fewer people I can't keep well-stocked the perishable parts of my pantry (particularly the produce). With a part-time job, I can't start cooking a real-food supper at 6:30 in the evening. Partly due to my own failures and partly due to inspiration from Erin, the last few weeks I've been trying to refine the meal plans so that I can make sure to buy the necessary ingredients and to prepare in advance for days when I'm not around to cook. This is what we've got for the upcoming days:

1. Lasagna, lettuce salad, pumpkin muffins.
2. Ham & beans, cornbread, fruit salad.
3. Split pea soup, bread, fruit salad.
4. Pizza, broccoli salad.
5. Gumbo, rice, pumpkin pie.
6. Fish tacos, cole slaw.
7. Baked beans, steamed carrots.
8. Barbecued pulled-beef sandwiches, green bean casserole.
9. Quiche, pineapple.
10. Enchilada soup, tapioca pudding.
11. Crab and California-blend veggies with rotini.
12. Shepherd's pie and a yet-to-be-determined side dish.
13. Salmon and other stuff.
14. Pork & veggie stir fry.

Lunches are
African peanut soup,
tuna salad,
lettuce salads,
baked potatoes,
deli meat sandwiches,
grilled cheese,
but mostly leftovers.

I like the feel of having this planned out. The question is, "Will I plan again in two weeks?"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Could Use This

"I could use this."
"I need this."

Those are not the same thing. [Surprise!!!]

I have such good intentions. So few of them are fulfilled. What I have a hard time with, though, is letting go of repeatedly unfulfilled good intentions. There are realities that I just don't want to admit. Cleaning the basement, the attic, the garage, are times when that truth whops you anew.

"I should start roller-blading. I need to keep those skates around. Maybe I could use them." Yes, I do need to get back to exercising. No, I'm not getting around to it. And if I do, will my aging body take well to roller-blading? Seriously? Roller-blading? On hills? Good golly, last weekend I could barely go up and down the stairs to the basement. The injury that precipitated that difficulty would be a mere foretaste of what I'd bump into [hee hee hee] if I took up roller-blading.

For your information, the roller-blades all went to Goodwill.

But I play this game over and over. I lose weight; I gain weight; I keep clothes around in various sizes. Same thing goes for yard tools, kitchen tools, sewing tools, workshop tools, etc. "I should keep those German resources around for when I have time to get back to studying the language."

The best luck I ever had with decluttering was when I removed everything from the living area of the house. I brought back in only the furniture, decorations, entertainments, etc, that we needed. I didn't weed out. I got rid of everything (but only into the garage) and then started afresh. That showed me what I needed. Then everything else had to be disposed of.

How many times are we weighed down by "I think I could probably use this" instead of "I need this"? As important as the nostalgia may be to me, the bigger dragon to slay is how I'm not ready to let go of the ideal in my mind, nor the goals of my heart.
Sometimes getting rid of "stuff" means admitting that I cannot or will not ever do that thing I've been meaning to do for ever-so-long. It's admitting defeat. And that is hard.


You know that bright yellow mustard that people slap on hotdogs? When I was a kid, I couldn't stand to eat a fast-food burger unless it was made fresh and decorated with ketchup only. I didn't want to know that my mom put a smidge of mustard in the deviled eggs and potato salad.

When I became queen of my own kitchen, I had mustard. I might buy a big ol' bottle of bright yellow mustard once every few years.

Until recently.

When my friend Janelle moved to Nevada this summer, she needed to dump all her refrigerated goods. We ended up with a big pile of bottles that had been decorating her fridge shelves. Lots of different bottles of hot sauces and mustards. My first thought was that we were all set for mustard for a long time. But Janelle's mustards were different. There was a Jack Daniel's mustard. Oh... yummy! There were others too that tasted delicious. My favorite, though, was a chipotle mustard. When I finished the hand-me-down bottle, I had to buy another to revel in its tastiness.

Janelle, I think you just made me a mustard-snob.
And I'm loving it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The King's Speech

I admit it: I am prejudiced against Oscar-winning films. If a movie wins an award from the type of people who dole out that award, I am suspicious.

But I kept hearing from people whose opinion I respect that The King's Speech was excellent. Even though it's got an R-rating. The PG-13 movies are pushing it for me, with regard to how much ick I can bear. Nevertheless, I bumped into the movie at the library recently and nabbed the DVD to take home.

Oh. my. goodness.

That was one of the best movies I've ever seen. That's right up there with The Blind Side and Rudy and Luther and Anne of Green Gables and Renaissance Man and Gran Torino (and it doesn't even have the ick that Gran Torino does).

The movie says the right thing about duty. About family. About parenting. About persistence. About vocation.

I also liked the way it handled the abdication of King Edward. I remember one Sunday School teacher once upon a long time ago teaching us that it was "such a wonderful thing Edward did, giving up his throne for love. His love was so great, so immense, that he would give up anything, even the crown, to be able to spend his life with his beloved. Isn't that just like God's love for us?" Excuse me, but gag! Edward took another man's wife, selfishly indulging himself. That is NOT a picture of God's love for us; we do not liken the Lord Jesus to an adulterer. So I was glad to see that the movie did not glamorize Edward's decision.

But the thing I loved most about the movie was the "expert." The prince had received treatment and therapies from many doctors and other experts. He finally went to Lionel Logue who was, at the same time, two things: the real expert, and the imposter expert. Lionel wasn't trained, he wasn't credentialed, he wasn't conventional. Who ever let him give speech therapy? In our day and age, he'd probably be hauled before a government tribunal and fined and possibly jailed. The faker!

And yet, he was the one who finally helped. He was the one who employed unique ways of resolving speech difficulties. He was the one who tried to cut to the heart of the problem instead of just treating symptoms. The self-trained guy -- who learned by a) careful observation and b) diving in and doing what needed to be done for his neighbor in need -- found ways to accomplish what none of the other doctors could accomplish. Chalk up a big one for thinking outside the box!

I have some kids who would have been labeled ADD if they'd attended school. But they were homeschooled, and their oddball teacher didn't do the things we're "supposed to do" for ADD kids. My kids thrived.

I have a daughter with VCFS. She is homeschooled, and she is not receiving the typical special-ed that most VCFS kids receive. Neither has she been receiving the typical medical care that most VCFS kids receive. And for some reason, she's doing unusually well -- educationally, socially, and physically. There's no way to know how things would be for her if we'd done what all the medical & educational specialists recommended. But we do know that God has done wondrous things for Maggie "even though" her parents aren't doing what conventional wisdom dictates. The question is, should "even though" in the preceding sentence be replaced by "because"? Who knows? But the tale of The King's Speech shows that "because" ought not be ruled out.