Monday, November 19, 2007

J is for...

Jack! And that's all the Jacks we've ever known in real life or fictionally. There's always Jack Skelington, a wonderful pioneer in change. Jack McFarland from Will and Grace (or "Just Jack 2000" for those that actually watched the show) There's Jack B Nimble of the candle leaping fame. And Jack Sprat who was the original low carb dieter. Jack and his significant other who had to battle an uphill climb just for water only to suffer a concussion. There is the giant slaying disobedient Jack with his evergrowing beanstalk. We can't forget Jack Jack the delayed super hero who bursts into flames for his babysitter (such a wonderful name that they named him twice!) My friend Jack who was best man at our wedding who owned a wonderfully friendly wolf. And of course we can't leave out Captain Sparrow of the notorious Pirate Court. Most important is my cat Jack who is named for all these Jacks and more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I is for.....

Illumination! Both that illumination that comes from hours of work with paints, inks, pen and brush and the illumination that comes in those "ah-ha" moments. Illumination comes from the Latin root Lumos and all Harry Potter fans knows that when Harry says, "Lumos" that his wand lights up. Illuminate means to bring light to something. In medieval times works were considered illuminated when light was brought to them through the addition of white and gold work. Gold leaf was finely applied to works of art to make them more beautiful. You can see some of my illuminations (and calligraphy) at my
Medieval Blog.

As homeschoolers we are working to illuminate our children's lives with knowledge and understanding. Hopefully the light will shine on them as it does on the gold leaf on the scrolls we work on and help to make their lives more beautiful.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

H is for .......

well, Harry of course. It's been a somewhat Harry week in the news this week. First we get the news that Dumbledore is gay. OK, was anyone
really surprised by that fact? For some reason it just made me smile rather than be in shock. More of an "Oh, yeah, that's it. Oh, OK, let's continue on then shall we?" It makes me like Dumbledore even more (although it does make the Potter Puppet Pal's Dumbledore with nakey time all that much funnier!) There is a funny little article in the LA Times that I got a good chuckle over. 7 clues that Potter's Dumbledore was gay.

And the other Harry story in the news was story of Harry Potter books being banned from a Catholic private school in Boston Story can be read here. The excuse by the priest who made the decision (with no input by parents or other staff) was that the books were filled with sorcery and witchcraft. sigh. I wonder if the Lord of the Rings is also banned at this school. What about Sleeping Beauty? The Chronicles of Narnia? Those stories have sorcery and witchcraft in them. Oh, right, but the Chronicles of Narnia was a metaphor for Jesus and Tolkein was a "good Catholic." And of course in Sleeping Beauty, the witch was BAD, let's not take into consideration that the fairies that saved Aurora's life used their own form of sorcery. Try as I might I have yet to get the lights turned on by saying Lumos. No matter how loud I yell it and point my knitting needles at the switch. And the last time I locked myself outside the door I had to break in the house. Alohamora just didn't do the trick. No one is learning witchcraft from J.K. Rowling's books. If anything they are learning Latin and Greek! Is that such a bad thing?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Our town has been battered by tornadoes today. They say it isn't over yet. I was at the public radio station this morning to answer phones (please support your local public radio!) and was coming home enjoying a nice piece of music when the emergency alert came on warning of a tornado that would be passing over my house in 7 minutes. GREAT! I was 3 minutes from the house, ran in and nearly tripped over the kids who were lined up in the hallway (yay for Daddy hearing the radio and springing into action.) We've had four tornado warning already today with more expected through the night.
This is where the tornado started as two, but fortunately combined into one. Twin twisters racing through a town causes SO much more destruction.

You can see some video of the tornados at the Pensacola News Journal website. Now what I want to know is why these people were outside during a tornado warning filming these monsters!?!

Keep safe everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Yay for Al!!!

I didn't get to listen to much news yesterday because I was so busy getting ready for our next SCA event and had a ton of things to do before we leave in a few hours. So this morning I'm laying in bed going through all the things that I still needed to remember and listening to NPR. And they announce that Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for Peace!!! Woo Hoo!!!!!!!! This is such good news for the environment. He's not saying anything new that we haven't heard before, but he's saying it in a way that is getitng to more people and helping to really make a change in this world. There are some days that I am VERY upset that he didn't win the election in 2000, but I am SO glad that he didn't let that setback keep him from doing good things for this world. Yippe for him and the researchers who helped put all this into action!!

Now go change out a real lightbulb with a compact flourescent and recycle a plastic container (or two or three).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

G is for

Great! And all its connotations. For instance your child comes in from outside with news that she learned out to do a cartwheel. You respond, "GREAT! That's fantastic honey!" OR Your child comes in from outside covered from head to toe in mud, leaves, and grime from jumping in mud puddles. You respond, "GREAT! More laundry to do!" And let us not forget what Mr. Olivander told Harry, "But I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible! Yes! But great."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

F is for

Feminine. Think of all the females that touch our lives. Our mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and lovers. Think of their softness and loving touches and then think of their anger and justified revenge. I hate books where the feminine is only the former. She is pale, soft, timid, weak, in need of rescuing.

In the movie "The Princess Bride" (which I like for all parts except Buttercup's inability to defend herself) Buttercup
needs rescuing because she doesn't seem to be able to do it herself. She waits on the boat to be rescued. She relies upon others to save her from danger. She can't even pick up a stick and hit the R.O.U.S. when it is attacking her true love. She can't think enough to escape the castle to go find Wesley. She waits for Wesley to save her. "He will come. I know it."

Counter that princess with Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. She is "grave and thoughful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver, but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings." She was "no man" who was able to defeat Nazgul. Two princesses. Two females. Both beautiful. But with Buttercup her abilities ended with her beauty. With Eowyn she didn't let her beauty limit her abilities.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

E is for

Energy! The energy that we expend in doing work and the energy that we consume when we make use of anything that gives off energy! Whether it is a fire or electricity or steam. We use, create and consume energy all the time. We use energy just to breathe. We consume energy to type our blog messages. We create energy in good and bad ways. Nuclear energy is one of those mystifyingly good and bad energies. It is fairly cheap, creates a lot of energy from few materials, but leaves us with waste that is nearly impossible to get rid of in our lifetime. We have yet learned how to deal with our waste and the cost of fusion has yet to be balanced with increased profit output.

D is for

Differences! And the uniqueness in all of us. We are different and I'm so glad. If we were all the same it would be a truly boring world. If everyone looked the same, acted the same, talked the same, smiled the same, and was the same we would just be so boring! Viva la difference!

Monday, October 1, 2007


As tempted as I am to say that C is for Cookie (that's good enough for me) I really have to say that C is for communication. It's imperative in this world to be able to communicate with the other people you interact with. Especially with those who you deal with on a daily basis. Be their friends or family or coworkers or even the barista at Starbuck's. There are times where communication is not understood clearly and it can really impact your day. Then there are times when the person you are trying to communicate with has very poor communication skills themselves. They don't listen or comprehend well. You think to yourself, "Does 'no onions' sound anything like 'extra onions'?" Probably not to you. But maybe to the person on the other end of the staticky speaker system at the drive-through who not only is taking your order, but also pouring drinks for the order ahead of you, listening to the sounds of food preparation and the customers in the restaurant as well as worrying about whether her kid got on the bus or if she will get a call in 20 minutes saying that Johnny missed the bus home again and could she please come and get him.

So as you go through your day today, think about the people with whom you communicate. Are you speaking clearly? Do you have their attention. Do they have YOUR attention. Are you letting prejudice get in the way of that communication? Do you already set yourself up to not have effective communication because of your attitude? Breathe. And try to approach each new communication encounter with a fresh voice.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


B is for Bread. I love bread. I love mixing it, watching it rise, smelling it as the yeasts multiply and cause the bread to swell, baking it and having the house fill with that oh so warm and lucious aroma that envelops you like a warm blanket on a cold winter day. Mostly I love eating it. Especially when it is hot out of the oven with real butter. MMmmmm. My grandmother used to make a Honey Whole Wheat Bread that she found on the back of a Gold Medal Flour bag. I wish I could find that recipe again. It made the most wonderful bread. I remember how it was made and in entailed heating the honey and water on the stove until the honey dissolved. Then you had to cool it down some before adding the yeast (so you wouldn't kill it). It made two loaves. My family's favorite bread is my foccaccia. I'll share that with you until I can find my grandmother's bread recipe!

Michelle's Focaccia

1 c. milk at room temp
3T sugar
1 t salt
3 T. butter melted into the milk
2 t. yeast.

Mix the first 4 ingredients and cast the yeast over it while you let it rise start activating. When it gets frothy add 3 cups of flour (or 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour and 1-1/2 c. plain white flour) and knead it in. Allow to rise then punch down and form into the desired shape. We like it made flat like a traditional focaccia, but when I take it somewhere for a potluck I make it in a loaf. Bake it at 400°F for 20-30 minutes or until it is done.

This is such a nice and simple recipe. You can easily make it into something else. We've added fresh herbs, chopped garlic, cinnamon and sugar (rolled into it with butter for a cinnamony roll cake) and parmesan cheese over the top. If you make it flat rub it with some olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and punch a few finger holes into it.

Bread is the food that helped us, as a species, to stop being hunter gatherer nomads into cultivators with raised live stock. Wheat allowed us to not have to follow the herds during the winters as we had a food that would last through the winter and feed us. It also gave us the foundation to make beer. Egyptians used to take bread, water and honey and let it ferment and then drink the liquid. Later they realized that they could forgo the bread part and just start with wheat, water yeast and honey and get the same result.

In England there were two bakers guilds. One made white bread and the other dark. Elizabeth I put an end to this by uniting them into the Worshipful Company of Bread Bakers. A guild (or union) that still exists today. Bread has had to be regulated throughout history to keep the poor from staring during times of famine. Interestingly, in the middle ages people believed that white bread was better for you and was thus more expensive. Brown bread was considered less healthy and so less expensive. Today we know the opposite to be true. While our pooor ancestors were eating healthy bread, today's poor tend to eat mostly inexpensive white bread which is less healthy for them.

I did find this bread recipe which is fairly close, but still not exact.:


Ingredients :
3 c. Gold Medal whole wheat flour
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. salt
2 pkgs. regular or quick-acting
active dry yeast
2 1/4 c. very warm water (120 to 130
3 to 4 c. Gold Medal oat flour blend
Butter or margarine, softened

Preparation :
Mix whole wheat flour, honey, oil, salt, and yeast in large bowl.
Add warm water. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Stir in enough of the oat flour blend, 1 cup at a time,
to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured
surface; knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place
in bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; spray the top of dough
with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in warm place 40
to 60 minutes or until double. (Dough is ready when indentation
remains when touched.) Spray 2 loaf pans with nonstick cooking
spray. Punch down dough; divide in half. Flatten each half with
hands or rolling pin into 18 x 9 inch rectangle. Fold crosswise into
thirds, overlapping the two sides. Roll dough up tightly toward
you, beginning at short end. Press with thumbs to seal after each
turn. Press each end with side of hand to seal; fold ends under.
Place loaves, seam side down, in pans. Brush lightly with butter or
margarine; sprinkle with whole wheat flour or crushed rolled oats,
if desired. Let rise 35 to 50 minutes or until double. Move oven
rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaves on
lowest oven rack. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaves are deep
golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans; cool
on wire rack.


A letter a day. Kitten has this running on her blog and I liked the idea. So I'm borrowing it. Hope you don't mind Kitten!
A is for Attitude! We all have them. There are good attitudes and bad attitudes. You can have an attitude that makes you look like an understanding and caring person or you can have an attitude that makes you look like an egotistical snob. It's all in how you look at life and look at yourself. It goes beyond the "half empty/half full" glass scenario. It's how you respond to other people as well. You can be completely optimistic, but if you treat others like they aren't worth anything then you only come across with having a bad attitude. Your attitude can effect how you approach problems as well. You can either approach them with an open mind and realize that your problem is just a puzzle that needs working out or you can approach it with a closed mind and fear that the outcome will be negative. Positive attitude generally results in the answer being found, even if it isn't the answer you want. Negative attitudes will almost always generate a negative result.

So have a GOOD Attitude as you face this day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Your names

Well, everyone else is posting this so I might as well, too.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) - Jonathan Caravan And I play bass thank you very much!

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) - Strawberry Snickerdoodle Oh please, that sounds really Gangsta!

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) LLei But do I have to dress fly and have this tattooed on my butt?

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Blue Horse I can see Get Smart saying that to me on a shoe phone.

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) - Michelle Pensacola I'm not thinking that's very Soap Opera-y

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) - Leilo = great, my Star Wars name is a Disney character

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink, put "The") - The Purple Mead? Hmmm, I suppose it is better than The Purple Water

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) - Sigurgir Brunson This isn't getting any better!

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy) - Haiku Mounds. Now that sounds like a stripper!

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names) - Teresa Eugene Sounds ordinary enough I suppose.

11. PORN STAR NAME: (the name of your favorite pet and the street you grew up on) - Tina Beatrice. Gosh out of all the names my Porn Star name looks the best.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Japanese, Mr. Owl and Butchering Yards


Goth Girl started her Japanese language classes last week. It is a small class (maybe 7 students in all) but I think it will be fun for her. The teacher is a native Japanese speaker, which I think is important in learning a language that is so vastly different from one's own. Learning the syntax, gender, politeness and linguistic idiosyncracies can be difficult when the language you are learning also has a culture that is quite different at well.

I look at politeness as one of the things that is slowly being dropped from the American English language. In Japanese there are several ways in which to say "thank you." There is the utmost in polite, the common polite and the familiar. There was a time when you would find that in our own language, but I'm seeing that slip away when the word "thanks" is used familiarly even with people who are in a position for more formal gratitude.

The funniest thing of Emily's language class is me helping her with her homework and learning the language. As with any language there are peculiarities with the written language and the spoken language. And even transliterated, it still has some odd rules. There is this mysterious "silent u" on the ends of some of the words which makes me ask why the u is there if it is silent and doesn't seem to be effecting the pronunciation of the word. Of course this question comes from one who questions why English isn't written phonetically anyway as it would be SO much easier than our currrent system. (Like why is there a Y in system when it obviously is pronounced sistim?) The world may never know.

Mr. Owl

I keep running into a commercial on TV over the past week which really brings back memories of my childhood. It's the Tootsie Roll Pop commercial with Mr. Owl counting the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. You know "One, Twohoo, Three, CRUNCH. Uh, three." You can see it here if you don't remember or are too young to know
Mr. Owl. It was one of my favorite commercials as a kid. It was cute, simple and effective.

Butchering the yard

This weekend was spent butchering our backyard. One might say that we were recovering it. After 2 years of major neglect, we finally started pulling things out. We uncovered a ton of space that had previously been taken over by a HUGE azalea bush. We thought it was a bunch of azaleas but when we finally managed to cut back down to the main trunk (and yes; this "bush" was so big it had a trunk!) we found that it was truly just one giant monster. We found about 64 sq. ft of "lost" yard under there. Next weekend I want to take out the azaleas (azalea?) that are (is) growing under the one lone pine left in the back yard. It is mostly dead anyway and has enveloped a few other plants along its way. The yard looks much better now and we found (buried under the azalea) a bunch of hostas which are going to look really nice now that they have a bit more breathing room. I'm going to work on a plan this winter on what to plant as far as local plant varieties that need little care and tending and at the same time won't overtake the yard.

I really do like our yard for the most part. Much of it is fairly self maintaining, especially along one side where under the oaks are just tons of hostas and fern growing. We go through and trim the few plants that do get a bit wild like the holly and whack at the heather that is growing out into the walk way. I like the idea of a yard that I can putter in, but if I neglect it for a week (or a month) or two won't take over the entire neighborhood. I still want to leave the "buffer" between me and the people behind us. I like my little bit of seclusion that it affords me. I may trim it down a bit and take out a few things that annoy me, but I like that I've got this buffer between me and the perfectly manicured treeless ick behind me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I refrained from posting yesterday. It was one of those truly surreal days for us. It was the 6th anniversary of the most tragic day in our modern US history, but also the 6th anniversary of our venture into homeschooling. Yep, it all began the morning of September 11, 2001 around 8am. One could take it as a "sign" that homeschooling wasn't the right thing, but by the end of that day I knew it was.

We were getting The Dad ready for work and Boo ready for kindergarden (she was still enrolled at this point - and actually did finish the year out) when the news came on. I was busy and concentrating on all the important things I needed to do. Iron shirts and school uniforms, find shoes, pack lunches, important things. And then suddenly they weren't all that important. Suddenly the world slowed down drastically and we just stood and stared as the second plane flew into WTC. We were stunned and scared. It took us a few minutes to snap back into the reality of our day. The things that needed to be done. Clothes still needed ironing, shoes found, lunches packed, time schedules met.

We made a quick agreement that we would go through our day like normal. We wouldn't let terrorists stop us from our regular routine. We would go to work, to school, to swim class, have dinner and Girl Scouts. Although in hindsight, had I known that the teacher would have the TV tuned to CNN ALL DAY in her class (so she would know what was happening) and had known that she would utter the words, "Bad Arabs" in Boo's class (which had a young Arab boy in the class) I would have not sent her to school. That would have been the day she began her homeschool years as well.

Our scout troop shared a space at a church and only one other child showed up, so we elected to go into the church where they were having a service. It was eery to feel like we were suddenly unsafe. It was unsettling to not hear airplanes fly over our house for nearly a week (we lived along one of the landing patterns for the airport). It was nerve wracking trying to explain to our children why some people would do this.

It still is nerve wracking. It still doesn't make sense. I still can't wrap my brain around that kind of violence. And then yesterday on NPR I found words which made me realize that what happened that day truly wasn't a religious jihad. It was on their "All Things Considered Show" and they interviewed a young Imam who sees the 9-11 activities and other killing violences as a direct contradiction to the Koran From the chapter of Isra, verse 33 "We are not permitted to kill. Killing is not right. And whoever kills somebody intentionally, his reward is hellfire." Wow! You can hear the broadcast by going to NPR's website.

It reminds me of the Christian commandments where it says, "Thou shalt not kill." It doesn't say, "Though shalt not kill except...." It blountly says, "Though shalt not kill." This message is repeated in almost every religion and in almost every creed. Killing is wrong. It's simply put in all varying religions. Which makes me wonder why killings continue.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Introducing the family

I suppose I should introduce the members of this family that you will read about. First we have Me. I'm Mom Mom is 42yo and trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Then there is Dad. Dad is also 42yo and has figured out what he wants to do when he grows up (play with computers). He'd just like to do it on his own terms. It's his goal to eventually work for himself.

The kids are:

Gothgirl who is almost 15 and tends to spend her days sleeping and her nights haunting the internet and chatting up a storm on her cell phone. Thank the gods that her best friends are all on the same network! Gothgirl has some gorgeous art and has a very creative view through the camera lens. She also can write quite well and has found a love of working in the kitchen. While I call her Gothgirl, she is much more the "happy bright" goth rather than the emo sullen teen goth. And she wears blue black hair much better than I ever could!

Next is Boo. Boo turns 12 on Friday. Boo likes things that blow up, are on fire or involved sharp metal objects. She isn't really macbre as it may seem. She's also my child most likely to grow up and be an 18th century pirate. She also takes gymnastics and enjoys cartwheels. Boo has been Boo since she was born. She loved Monsters Inc because there was a Disney character with her name. We like Boo too! Boo is also quite gothic and loves most of the same music as Gothgirl. She's my child who also adores CSI and L&O:SVU.

And then there is The Boy. The Boy isn't horrid. He isn't even bad. He's just "The Boy." His days are filled with computers, video games and cooking. He wants to be a cook when he grows up and that would be fine with me. He started a garden in his bedroom (don't ask) and his sole purpose of having this garden is so that he can eat the produce. Has nothing to do with nurturing, getting back to nature or enjoying plant life. It's all about cooking. Yesterday he made leomonade. He doesn't even like lemonade. But we had fresh lemons and he wanted to make leomonade so we got out the citrus press and pitcher and made lemonade. It's pretty good too.

It's still HOT!

I am so tired of the heat. We've been so very hot for the entire month of August. Temperatures well into the upper 90's with heat indeces well over 100°F. I hate summer as it is but add in super heat like this and it just makes me melt. The ONLY positive thing about the heat is that this high pressure system that has kept us in this heat bubble kept that monster hurricane Dean from moving into the northern gulf and hitting the US.

Yesterday we went to the dollar theater and watched Pirates of the Carribbean 3. I laugh harder everytime I see it. If it weren't for the growing pile of laundry I would go again today just for something to do rather than sit around the house. Of course Boo loves it that Elizabeth became the Pirate King. There was an article that The Dad sent to me yesterday from CNN via Mental Floss about The most successful pirate being a woman. Beauty, brains and the most booty. Saavy?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cool videos

Being that we are medieval recreationists as well as homeschoolers, we tend to find interesting things that span the centuries. We found these really cool videos on YouTube via the website Luttrell Psalter in Motion. Be sure to view the other videos by this same company as there are videos on throwing pottery and how bee hives were woven.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

House inspection is over!

Why didn't someone tell me that the home inspector wasn't going to look in the closets, under the sink, in the pantry, under the beds and in the refrigerator? If I had known that I would have just shoved everything into the aforementioned empty spaces and closed the doors! But, the house is clean and things are pretty close to where they belong. We have a long way ahead of us in the clutter-busting field, but considering I filled my van with a combination of recycling and stuff for Goodwill (which I also took and delivered to the recycling center and the Goodwill Donation Door) it feels much better. We will find out Monday how much the house is appraised for. Oh and he only measured two rooms and took pictures of three.

OK, that's over. Big deep cleansing breath and we are off to Barnes and Noble for a much deserved mental break before we throw ourselves into our next project (our SCA event this weekend (where I'm head cook.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wanna buy my house?

I'm serious. I would love it if someone would just magically appear at my door and say, "Oooo, this is the perfect house for our family!" It is a great family house. It has 4 modest (not too small not too big) bedrooms with ample closet space in each. It has 2 baths and only 1 tub (way less work, although we joke about having to leave the shower to turn around). The best part is all the living spaces. There is a nice sized living room, a dining room with an L shaped bar, a "music room" which I think is supposed to be the formal dining room, but it seems a weird place for a dining room so it houses our piano (heck, I'll throw the piano in for free if you buy the house), violin, records, guitar, penny whistles, and various percussion instruments. There are two bonus rooms to that. One is built into the garage and is a LARGE room that we call "the Hobby room" There is the laundry room in there which turns the room into an L and one leg of the L is where all my craft stuff is (tons of shelves!). The pantry is also located in here. The other bonus room is a finished in sunroom. It has six glorious windows that look out into the rolling backyard. The yard has a wonderful secluded feel thanks to all the ancient oaks and overgrown azaleas, even though it is in the middle of a built up neighborhood. The backyard is sunny enough for having a garden or maybe a few chickens. There is a paved basketball pad in the backyard (although Hurricane Dennis took out the goal post) and (interestingly) there is a sidewalk in the backyard so your little wee ones could ride their scooters and tricycles back and forth all day in the safety of your own back yard. We never hear the neighbors. It really is a great house. If it were in another place we wouldn't be selling it.

We just long to move back to Oregon so badly and this house is the one thing keeping us here. We hate the heat. We hate the humidity. We hate the hurricanes. We hate having summer 9 months out of the year. Any homeschool family that wants to live on the central gulf coast would love this house with all its shelves and closet space and nooks. It's central to so much of what Pensacola has to offer! So you want to buy my house?

Monday, August 20, 2007


Last night my nerdy family gathered around the tv to watch an "In Demand" show from the History Channel on cheese. We LOVE cheese. Cheese is like heaven. It is the one thing that truly keeps me from becoming vegan. They showcased a ton of different cheese and talked about how the cheese are made. Everything from Cheddar to American, from Brie to Swiss and from Roquefort to Gruyere. The part about Mozzarella was especially interesting, especially when they talked about the "taffy pulling" process of making the cheese. The kids were salivating within 15 minutes of the show.

The process is all very interesting to us as we have been experimenting with making cheese lately. I have some rennet and am considering trying my hand on the 30-minute Mozzarella from Animal Vegetable Miracle. The book is by Barbara Kingsglover, but isn't her normal genre. We have made much "Viking Bag Cheese" which is really quite easy. You take milk, heat it to 180°F and then add either lemon juice (makes for a mildly sweet tasting cheese) or vinegar (less sweet) to form the curds. Then you pour it through a strainer lined with cheese cloth and hang it to drip for a few hours. I have also found you can just squeeze the whey from it. If you simply drain it for a while you actually are making a Cottage cheese. It's very yummy cheese. You can add garlic, herbs, spices, etc to it if you want.

If you get a chance to watch this special do! It talks about the possible history of how cheese started (some bloke was carrying his goat's milk around in a bag made from the stomach of a goat or sheep which naturally contains rennet and thus the milk curdled - voila cheese) and how cheese particles have been found that are thousands of years old in Egyptian pyramids and other grave sites. I did know that the different cheeses are named primarily from where they are made. Some cheese will do fine no matter where they are made, such as Cheddar, Colby, and Mozzarella whereas other cheeses like Brie, Camembert and Roquefort. If memory serves me correct there was a huge issue with Feta cheese a few years back. The Greeks were saying that it couldn't truly be called Feta if it was made somewhere other than Greece. The European Union agreed with Greece and protected the name (they did the same with Camembert.) Unfortunately, the US doesn't agree and I have seen "feta" cheese that say "made in the USA." I guess this is just one more of those Ameri-centric things that makes the US feel superior and thus not having to "play well with others."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New glasses

Well, my new glasses came in and I had the kids take my picture in the two pair I got. Not sure why I am always suckered into the "buy 1 get 1 free" deals because I generally tend to only wear one of the two pairs.

I much prefer this pair. They are simpler and more plain.

E likes these best, but they need to be adjusted. They keep slipping down and while it doesn't show too well in the pictures, they are red with some gold accent thingy on the side.

Ok, that's all for today. We're just knitting in the cool indoors until it is time to go to the movies.

Monday, August 13, 2007


And then some. The heat index for Saturday was 126°F! Yes; one hundred twenty-six degrees!! That's like Phoenix hot! Today isn't much better as the heat index is supposed to be over 110°F. UGH!! I would stay home all day, but have to pick E up at the airport. I'm trying to think of things that we can do indoors with limited outside activity. It doesn't help that K is having a flare up with his allergies and is all croupy. Have no idea what set that off. We may go down to the T. T. Wentworth Museum as it is free and air conditioned. Maybe even over to the Pensacola Museum of Art on Tuesday as it is free and there is a showing of Matisse that I think E would like to see. And there is always the dollar theater, but we have seen everything we want there. Although Surf's Up may get another viewing from us as E hasn't seen it and it is rather funny (Chicken Joe is my hero!)

Friday, August 10, 2007

"These are silly questions!"

It's been fun watching M and K work through word problems in their math stuff. They are perplexed that the math problems don't take into account variables. Some highlights from this past week:

Q: If Mrs. Smith wants to buy all of her children new bicycles for Christmas and she has 8 children how many wheels will be under her tree?
A: Trees don't have wheels.

Q. If Tommy eats 2 apples every day, how many apples would he eat in a week?
A1. How do I know? What if Tommy doesn't want an apple one day or what if one of his two apples gets bruised? What happens if Tommy's sister eats one of his apples instead? Mom, there just isn't enough information here.
A2. Really bad poop. You shouldn't eat so many apples each day. You'll get bad poop.

Q. If Anne's rabbit has 2 babies and Jane's rabbit has 4 babies how many baby rabbits will they have?
A. Obviously the authors of this book have not studied the Fibonacci sequence or they would know that they could end up with a more rabbits than 6!

Math's going well otherwise and I'm getting a kick out of word problems.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My Daemon

We are in the midst of read the Golden Compass. It is a lovely book. We went today to check out the movie website and you can choose your own daemon on it. Mine became a chimpanzee named Elleron. K became a fox, but M wants to wait until she finishes the book to find her daemon. E doesn't know we are reading the book yet (she's out of town.)

Oh and if anyone knows how to change the dimensions of the blog templates so that I have more room and less borders I would appreciate it. I used to be html saavy, but it was years ago and technology has changed. (Say it isn't so!)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Math, you see

After the kids asking for some "real math" we did an exploration of various math curricula to figure out what we wanted. I had this fear that they were all going to want something different and I would have to learn three different math styles. Didn't happen. They all wanted Math-U-See Yay!! One vendor. Our local homeschool convention was this weekend and while I wasn't interested in any of the seminars (I'm not new to homeschooling and don't need to find out how to make God appear in every lesson we do) I did want to see what curriculum dealers were there. I struck gold in that the Math-U-See folks were there and it is tax free week in Florida! Wee, that meant no tax and no shipping. An almost $30 savings.

We walked around a bit more. Most of the big Christian sales people were there (although, not oddly, Abeka wasn't there, but they do publish here so I guess they have no interest in promoting their work to those already familiar with it). BJU, Konos, Sonlight, etc. There was one science table there, but it was so crowded we never got to get a good look. Plus they sold live dissection kits (OK, they aren't live, but they aren't fake either) and I don't want to support that. I see no reason why school-aged children need to cut open frogs, cats, and fetal pigs to learn anatomy. Heck, I don't even see why college-aged people need to do dissection unless they are going into some sort of medical field. I had wanted to talk to the people at Bread Beckers but I never could get anyone's attention. It wasn't that they were all busy with customers but that they were all busy baking bread or cutting samples or stocking shelves. After several loud "Excuse me's" I decided they weren't interested in selling anything and moved on. I talked with my friend Rose who had her booth, there and she said mostly they were only talking to people who seemed to want to buy their breadmakers, grain mills and other expensive kitchen machines. Weird. I had wanted to ask them about their bulk whole grains and flours. Oh well. I have other resources.

We came home and the kids instantly wanted to "do math!" Woot. So we dug out the DVD's, got out the books, sharpened pencils and went to town. They've done 2 lessons each of the past two days and I'm not worried about them getting burned out on math. We are having fun discovering ships and figuring out what we want to study. E is gone for the next week, so maybe she will come up with some ideas while she is off partying in the "Big City."

Sunday, August 5, 2007


After three years of radical unschooling, my kids have asked for "something different, something more, something like school, but not school." Hmmm. Sounds a bit like homeschooling to me. We had a big brain-storming session so I could find out what it was that they wanted. They want lessons. They want assignments. They want goals. They want (in particular) math. They want to feel like they have learned something. So I took a big step off the unschooling platform and bought curriculum yesterday at our local homeschool conference! Wow!! That was a BIG step, too.

We came home and the kids instantly wanted to start doing the curriculum. I got up this morning and Keon was in doing math! We chose the Math-U-See system as it, well, makes sense to me and we can self pace easily with it. I'm learning things as well!

So this blog is to record the things that we do each day (or week or whenever we get around to blogging about it!) We will add photos, copies of our projects, ideas we come up with and questions we might have. I'm calling this "Learning around the world" because I'm hoping to create a sort of unit study with ships and boating as my main theme. Ships have been a part of our history since, well, gosh, a long time! Some would say since Moses built the ark, but we know that boats date back even further than the biblical stories. As we embark on this venture we hope to learn more about our world, its history and hopefully its future. We plan on studying everything from the first small dinghy that someone carved out of wood (or created out of animal skins) all the way to the ships that take humans to that great sea we call space.