Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Crow Wave

We've got a new addition to our household - it was given to us, or otherwise we  would still be in the minority of American households without one.  Its been over 4 years since we've had one of these machines, and I haven't really missed it.  In fact, I've enjoyed smugly saying, "we don't have a microwave..." and watching the reaction.  My friend Lora said, "how do you LIIIIIIIIIVE?!"  My mom just shakes her head.

As it turns out, it was donated at an opportune time - I've burnt up three saucepans beyond serviceable use in the past four months and I'd begun to dig into our camping supplies for stove top cooking appliances.  I haven't planned ahead enough to stockpile saucepans, so my cooking resources were limited to the crock pot, cast iron skillet and toaster. 

Although my dad informs me that an electric stove uses more energy than a microwave, heating up milk for bedtime drinks and cooking macaroni and cheese on the range top wasn't too much of an inconvenience.  I timed it, of course, and it only takes about 25% more time to heat things up on the stove top than in the mike, but then there is the extra pot to wash.  Stove top cooking lends itself to a bit of patience, too, in that it is a wholly interactive experience.  Witness my failure to "interact" with the cooking process by the blackened bottoms of my cookware....

Without a microwave, we're excluded from a surprising amount of convenience foods at Wal-Mart - foods that are high in fat, calories and added salt, low in fiber, freshness and health.  I use my teapot more to heat water for hot tea, hot chocolate and cream of wheat.  The whistle is satisfying and familiar.  But with a microwave comes ease in steaming vegetables, microwave popcorn and fewer dishes to wash.....(because you know if we didn't have a microwave oven, we certainly don't have a dishwasher!)

There was no real reason for not having a microwave oven in the first place.  We had one at our former house and used it regularly for defrosting and reheating.  I've never been one to cook a roast or a chicken in them.  When we moved here, we just never got around to getting one because there didn't seem to be a place for the bulky, cumbersome machines that we thought we needed.  This one is small - it probably is not too much taller than a soda can inside. 

The girls are, for some reason, pretty excited about it.  It doesn't have a rotating glass inside or anything, but they are fascinated that it can cook without really getting "hot."  I've explained "hot spots" and "uneven heating," and hopefully it will be an easy lesson for them.

Anyways, I just thought I'd share with you why I'm not looking so smug these days....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review

I'm reading another great book.  That's "great" with a lower-case "g," meaning that it is not one of Great books, although I've got stacks of those waiting, thanks to PaperbackSwap....

This tome is described as "A story of courage, community and war."  Here's a hint as to its subject: it is timely, considering a holiday we celebrate soon.  Oh, and I discovered it at the Clifton Forge Library while doing a search on "Indians." 

Any ideas?
The book is Mayflower, written by Nataniel Philbrick, copyright 2006.   

Honestly, when I was researching books to check out I didn't realize it was such a hefty piece of work - in the large print section at the library, its over 730 pages!  But, I decided to give it its due and read the first 100 pages - and I was hooked by the time I finished the introduction. 

This ain't your candy-coated Pilgrim story with big-buckled shoes and handprint turkeys.

Charlotte Mason, in her approach to education, advocated reading "living" books, books that are "well written and well put," and said that knowledge is the true motivation for education.  This book, with page after page of primary sources in the bibliography, is a good fit for Mason's criteria.  I can't wait until Hannah can read this book.

All of the historical figures in this book are well rounded, fairly-depicted, with flaws, strengths and weaknesses. What I see most in this text is the contrast between the "Native American story" with which we are indoctrinated today and the historically accurate picture of the Indians that lived in the area that is now New England in the early 17th century.  Those Puritans?  their reliance on "Strangers," or those not of their faith quickly gave them a reputation for fierceness and violence that struck fear into the Indians of the time.   

Another book I happened to pick up during the same library visit is Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen.  It turned out to be the perfect companion reader to Mayflower.  I've only read the first two chapters, but so far I agree with the author's point of view that most high school students loathe history primarily because of the flat and paltry treatment it gets in textbooks and that those same texts tend to grossly distort the past. 

I won't give too much away about Mayflower, except to highly recommend it.  You think you know the whole story about those white-capped and hatted folks who came to Plymouth in 1620, don't you?  There is more to the story that will give you a richer perspective of who we are today and even our own American relationship to Naive Americans in the modern age.  Don't let the size scare you away.  It is an easy read and will give you a more in-depth picture of the early inhabitants of this country - native and immigrant.  While this is a secular text, all "religions" are treated fairly.  What is most evident to me, though - and it probably was not an aim of the author - is the fact that we are all - Indian and "white man," sinners in need of a savior.  None of us comes close to perfection as we struggle in our human condition.  No one group of people is closer to perfection than another, regardless if they are living in harmony with the land or seeking sainthood on their own by their religious fervor. 

Get thee to the library, friend!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Train Ride

One of Hannah's birthday presents for her recent 6th birthday was a train ride!

We took a round trip ride on Amtrak from Clifton Forge station to Staunton, Virginia.

 Exploring the train....walking between the cars...

 The plan was to use the hour and a half layover to grab a bite to eat at the restaurant adjacent to the depot....but, when our first train was over an hour late, it made lunch in Staunton impossible. So we waited on the platform for a mere ten minutes for our return train.

There were pretty sights to see while we were waiting.....

A nice parrot in a studio window....

Here it comes!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Facebook Status

There's a new pastime on Facebook. Maybe you've seen it, wondered about it, or even participated. I've seen it, been invited to participate - It is purported to raise awareness for breast cancer, and what you do is change your status update to answer the question of "where you like to put your purse." Only you indicate the location only and do not reveal to what you are referring. The "joke" is that it is supposed to be suggestive - supposedly your "friends" will wonder what you are posting about and think about it in terms of anything but where you hang your purse. HA, HA, very funny, right?

I know that my Facebook friends who have posted the different locations to their status updates don't see any harm in joining in on the "fun." It's just a game, after all, and it's for a good cause, right? We're just hinting around at something…let the guys or those "not in the know" become curious. After all, most of my FB friends are married…so it's OK, right?

But wait…these same friends have guys listed as their friends. And those guy friends were created in such a way that such titillating comments so very easily trigger sinful thoughts…and lustful thinking…and, again, because of the way they are created - visual images. That's right. Her guy friends are PICTURING her…

It's not just men, either. Facebook allows users to be as young as 13. What kind of message does this send to young girls and boys? That sex is the butt of a joke? That single women are engaging in…

Do you profess to be a Christ follower? Do you tell others that you love Jesus?  Do you go to church? 

Here is what Paul suggested about how we should interact with those who will be watching to see if our actions measure up with our words:

2 Corinthians 8:20, 21: "We want to avoid any criticism
of the way we administer this liberal gift.
For we are taking pains to do what is right,
not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

Is posting a suggestive status taking pains to do what is right in the eyes of men?

There's more…

But among you there must not be
even a hint of sexual immorality,
or of any kind of impurity,
or of greed, because
these are improper for God's holy people.
Ephesians 5:3

Yikes! There's more…

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

…Be careful to do what is right. (Romans 12:17)

Yes, but it isn't really evil, or wrong, now, is it?

The Apostle Paul comes at it another way:

We put no stumbling block in anyone's path,
so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2Cr 6:3)

Can a status update be a stumbling block?

1 Corinthians 8:13 says:
"Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin,
 I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

(Chew on that a minute.)
Try this version:

"Therefore, if my use of Facebook causes my brother to fall into sin,
 I will never use Facebook again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

I'm pretty confident Paul would agree with this you?

"So whether you eat or drink
or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Do not cause anyone to stumble,
whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-
even as I try to please everybody in every way.
For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many,
 so that they may be saved."
1 Corinthians 10:31-33.

See a trend here?

The Bible is pretty clear. And that was before Facebook was even invented!

I'll close with this - which is the yardstick by which I measure many things in my life, thanks to a lesson I studied with a friend who worked closely with The Navigators:

Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,  whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-
think about such things.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last of Layman's...

I hope I haven't bogged you down too much with pictures from our adventure at Layman Farms.  We had a great time (but did I mention it was HOT?) and enjoyed a field trip with Daddy.  Of course, he doesn't often get to come on our trips, but this time he took the day off  and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. 

Have you ever been in a corn maze?  Do you know what it is?  There was a hay maze at the Triple-R Ranch one year made out of hay bales stacked so that you had to crawl through them up and down and back and forth on your hands and knees.  No Thank You said the Claustrophobe - although usually I don't mind crawling under and through, the fact that you couldn't SEE and that it was touching you on 4 sides was a turnoff. 

This is actually a maze cut into the corn that you walk through with a little map and clues (turn right/left) posted at strategic intersections throughout.  The thing about a corn maze is that on a hot day, with the sun beating down from overhead, there is not much air movement and the temperature is about 10 degrees warmer inside the maze than on the open field.  I did not know this.  If you're already bundled up for a day at the farm (boots & jeans) and are better suited for Birkenstocks and shorts, then it is an unpleasant matter indeed. 

You can see part of the maze cut in the cornfield to the right of the entrance.
Therefore, while we can honestly say that we walked [in] the corn maze, that is all that we can [honestly] say.  Only our small family and Julie and Luke know the truth.....and we'd like to keep it that way....for now, anyway!  Moving right along now to ... Duck racing!

This made up for that hot hike through the cornfield.  We buried our legs and hands deep into the corn and it was cool just beneath the surface.  See the red cheeks on the girls?  This brought our temperature back down to normal, by just sitting in the shade and burrowing into the cool. 
While it was fun to watch the girls slip, swim and slide in the kernels, I learned just how dangerous that could be to a farmer getting stuck in a silo filling up with the corn.  You really can't get on top of it!

All in all, a good day.  We prepared for the trip by reading Corn is Maize by Aliki, which is a very thorough review of the history of corn, corn's uses today and how it is harvested.  We also looked through the pantry for items with corn syrup in them and learned the word, "ethanol."  Of course, we avoided the politics associated with growing crops for fuel, etc.....maybe in high school....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bounce Pillow

I had never seen a bounce pillow before, and the best I can describe it is that it is a big yellow air-filled plastic pillow sunk halfway in the ground.  This was our second activity at Layman Family Farms.  Y' leave your shoes at the gate, climb on in socks, and jumpa....



Did I mention it was HOT this day?  I would have loved to have lay (laid? lain?) on top of this thing and be bounced in the air....probably would have bounced my vertebrae back in line....some preferred to sit and be bounced, probably because it was kind of tough maintaining balance with all the wild jumpers on board!

So much fun!!!

Cow Train

Weekend before last, the homeschool group met for a one-of-a-kind adventure at Layman Farms.  We were still in the middle of the heat wave, with drought conditions, but nonetheless, five families braved the scorching valley between Lynchburg and Roanoke for a visit. 

The first activity was the "Cow Train."  The pictures - well, words fail me.  There were 13 or 14 drums outfitted as "cows," complete with names like "Oreo" and "Maggie," "Belle."  This lady on the tractor was whipping this cow train up and around this hill at a right quick pace - faster than Bessie headin' to a fresh bale'o'hay!  I laughed and laughed, and once the train got rolling, the kids laughed and giggled uncontrollably.  No one wanted it to end!

 Not quite sure what to expect...

See the corn maze in the background?  More on that later.  (Don't worry, Julie, our secret's safe!)

The gazebo-type structure there on the left is the "corn crib," and it was filled with dried corn kernels.

What a beautiful backdrop!

Cow train in front of the chicken coop and goat pens....

J-- ready for another ride!

Let the good times roll!!