Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Priest, A Dog, and A Sampler

Our ancient, 13-year old dog, Ursa, received the Blessing of Sick Animals this past Sunday. We had spent the weekend at my parents' house so Ursa was with us when we drove back Sunday morning. Ursa was having unusually bad leg pain over the weekend. A vet said it could be a fracture due to brittle bones caused by Old Age or bone cancer. I asked our priest if he could give Ursa a blessing. Traditionally there is a Blessing of the Animals on St. Francis' Day in October. This was a Blessing for Sick Animals. I can imagine the importance of this blessing years ago in rural communities where your livestock was all the wealth you might have. And yes, Ursa is much better and is putting weight on her hurt leg.
I have restarted my sampler rotation. I had gotten out of the habit because I was missing various threads I needed. There must be a gremlin in my house who likes cross stitch thread! Hmmm.. .I can think of two...

Posted by Picasa


Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'll to thee a simnel bring!

"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." So wrote St. Paul in his letter to Galatians, and so have and will Anglo-Catholics, hear read in church on this the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Now Anglo-Catholic sounds like a loaded phrase, and it may even sound like an impossibility. It has ancient roots and a misunderstood history, which I won't go into in this post! ;) I will just say we are very conservative catholics with an English "flavor." And that brings me to today: Mothering Sunday. A tradition arose in England for parishioners of daughter churches to visit the mother church. Eventually it became a holiday for servants to go and visit their mothers. And eventually it was replaced by Mothers' Day here in the USA.

According to tradition, the servants would bring their mother a simnel cake and the mother in return would give a blessing.

"I'll to thee a simnell bring,

Gainst thou goest a-mothering;

So that, when she blesseth thee,

Half that blessing thou'lt give me."

-Robert Herrick

There are various recipes all over the 'net, but they always include almond paste either in the middle of the cake or on top or both. Some people say the simnel cake has become the easter cake. The recipe I have been using calls for butter, sugar, almond paste, flour, salt, orange and lemon peel, currants and eggs. I do wonder how the servants came by all those fancy ingredients!

I will take a picture of the cake at church this morning. I have already tasted it. It is very rich! The ladies of the church will also be given carnations this morning. It is really nice to celebrate the forerunner of Mothers' Day without all the commercial pressure!

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson! Happy Mothering Sunday!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Weekly Report

What a week! This was the first week back after a couple of weeks of sickness. It was really difficult to get back to good habits in the schoolroom. The girls had forgotten how to sit properly in their chairs and how to not complain about doing school! But we hit grammar, writing, math and science hard! Nutmeg is diagramming adverbs describing verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. We are right smack in the middle of our weather unit. This week we studied the Beaufort Wind Scale. I really want to push through weather so that we can spend all our science time in the garden. I plan to read Seed Babies to the girls, but I want to keep book-learning to a minimum and concentrate on observation. The girls will keep nature notebooks. We may look up one or two facts about each insect or plant, but I want to keep their hands in the dirt!

I have been trying to incorporate weather and planting with our history studies. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin fit in really well! This week Nutmeg made her own almanac. She picked out some weather sayings, a recipe, a cure for sore throats and some planting instructions. Her illustrations are the cutest! I also have seeds for black hollyhocks and flowering tobacco and of course tomatoes for our Thomas Jefferson garden. I planted some flax seeds to get a head start on our Ancients year starting in the fall (we are skipping year 4 for now). I planted flax also for its reputedly positive effect on carrots. And speaking of carrots, (yes, this is how I talk in real life - I jump from topic to topic quite a bit) any of you studying the Middle Ages may want to grow some WHITE carrots. I ordered the seeds from Bakers Seeds at rareseeds.com ( shipping is always 3$, and they ship quickly). Apparently, white carrots were very common in the Middle Ages. Who knew? Maybe I should do a plant-based history curriculum. Maybe...maybe I should get back to my Weekly Report!

The Chipmunk is working through her Rod & Staff workbooks. She and her Buddy made The Carrot Seed lapbooks. Homeschoolshare.com has the best FREE resources! Yesterday, Chipmunk planted radish seeds in the garden. I hope someone will eat them!

My husband is rebuilding my garden beds. After 8 years, the untreated wood had become compost. That is better than arsenic! I am trying to follow the Square Foot Gardening plan. I have the grids on one bed, and it looks so promising. I just can't see planting tomatoes that close together. Maybe in New England, but our growing season is LONG, and I expect big plants! We'll see.

I hope you all had good weeks!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

How much impact does a Stay-at-Home Mom have on the economy?

My husband is a small business owner. My parents own a small business. My grandparents both run small businesses. My good friends' husbands own small businesses. Do you see a theme? They are all very apprehensive of what is coming. How many small businesses do you know of that are going out of business or letting people go?

I can stimulate the economy if given a bit more of my husband's money! I have two daughters. They are both enrolled in a dance studio and a piano studio. Guess what? Both studios are small, local businesses owned by - GASP!- women! Hike up my taxes, keep letting gas prices creep up, let milk stay sky-high and I will not be able to support the local economy. And it is not just I alone. There are thousands of Micheles, spending their self-employed husbands' hard-earned cash to support local economies all over the country! Will we be able to continue?

I have not had my hair or the girls' hair cut in months. Guess who was cutting our hair? A mom of four operating a small business in her basement. Hmmm...

I am no longer employing a sweet lady to come and clean the bathrooms and change the sheets. Hmmm...

Will I be able to afford fresh produce at the any of the many small business fruit and vegetable stands this summer? Will they even be operating? And what about those incredible small business plant nurseries? The ones where you get plants and knowledgeable staff?

What about the local artist who supplements her art by teaching small children after school? I wanted to enroll my kids, but...too much of my husband's money is going to "swine odor studies."

I live in fear that the most wonderful cross stitch shop in the world (The Dogwood Patch) might ... I dare not even write it. I would willingly pump more of my husband's money into that woman-owned, small business, but I understand the money is needed to helped those swamp mice in California.

Before the "late unpleasantness," I stimulated the economy with great vigor and regularity! I bought my grains at a local, family-run, small business grist mill, I ate a local restaurants, I supported a local coffee house, shopped at small, local antique and junk shops, I took my girls to local theatre productions and ice cream parlors. I took my girls to museums, the zoo and the aquarium. I bought books like nobody's business. I bought homeschool supplies from small, family-owned companies. Oh, yes, I have supported homeschool companies! ;) All my appliances are the same brand; in the past 8 years, I have come to know the local (small business) repairman very well!

Take more money from small business owners, and you take more money away from their charitable contributions. More money is wasted and lost when the government gets involved and decides where the money goes. Small business owners can give the money more directly to local charities or the high school band and newspaper (thanks Mom and Dad;).

I worry about small businesses. My family is directly affected and so are the families of so many around me.

Oh, ye gods of Washington, I implore you to reconsider the crushing of America's small businesses! Give us our money, let us support other small businesses in turn!


What's up with the Thin Mints?

I don't buy many GS cookies. 1. GS cookie time falls right smack during Lent, and 2. they are not that great. I mean, really, would you pick a dry, almost tasteless bit of crumble, or a soft, gooey cookie fresh from the oven? But today, I suddenly remembered being a scout and trying to win that stuffed horse one year. I bought three boxes. I wish I had my $10.50 back to go and spend on Paul Newman ginger/lemon sandwich cookies!

I had high hopes for the Thin Mints. What have they done? In place of the THIN, cool, minty crunch there was a THICK, crumbly wad of something with only a vestigial hint of mint! Total outrage and disappointment!


Note to self #76398

Dear Michele,

Please file this away for future reference: Nutmeg is smarter than you are, and will outfox you every time. Do not assign pages for reading, and ask her to write down 2 interesting facts. An experienced teacher would already see the danger signs.

(She handed me a blank page, and told me there was nothing interesting in the passage!)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Not Halloween!

Posted by Picasa