A Story of a Girl in Kindergarten

Once upon a time there was a little girl who went through preschool and loved it. She had all these cool friends at preschool, see. And then at home her mommy taught her how to count past 100, and the letters and sounds of the alphabet. This was also cool.

Soon it was time for her to start Kindergarten. She was excited; there would be new friends and new things to learn.

What she did not know was that she already knew everything in the Kindergarten curriculum for that year. When her mother was informed of this she had the (very bright) idea of just keeping her daughter home for that year. The teacher discouraged this notion; the little girl would be challenged with many enrichment activities, she said. So the mother decided to let her little girl stay in the class.

Enrichment Activities turned out to be the name of a workbook. The teacher would dutifully make xerox copies of a few workbook pages and present them to the Young HeadGirl to do while her classmates learned their alphabet. Initially this was mildly entertaining; what five year old does not like to color? Soon, however, she got bored. These workbook pages were simply asking her to regurgitate information just for the sake of regurgitation. The HeadGirl has always hated pointless activities and an Enrichment Activities Workbook definitely falls under the heading of A Worthless Activity.

One day the activity book said this:
1 – Draw 1 Balloon ~ So the HeadGirl (for it was she) carefully and meticulously drew one beautiful balloon with a string attached. The string probably had a bow on it. She was very proud of this balloon.

2 – Draw 2 Balloons ~ So the HeadGirl carefully and meticulously drew two balloons. They had a string, but probably no bow.

3 – Draw 3 Balloons ~ So the HeadGirl carefully drew three balloons with hastily drawn strings.

4 – Draw 4 Balloons ~ So the HeadGirl drew four balloons, wondering how long this activity was going to take.

5 – Draw 5 Balloons ~ Getting slightly impatient, the HeadGirl drew five quick circles with lines underneath them. AFter all, she had already shown that she possessed the know-how for making cute balloons, what more did they want from her?

6 – Draw 6 Balloons ~ The HeadGirl had the bright idea of drawing several circles together and using just a few strings to show that they were a bunch. Ah-ha! It is efficient. The HeadGirl likes efficiency.

Honestly, the HeadGirl has no remembrance now of how balloons 7 & 8 were done. She knows she was heartily sick of balloons and thrilled at her stroke of brilliance for #9.

(Can you guess what #9 said?)

9 – Draw 9 Balloons ~ ooh! The number nine itself looks like a balloon! So The HeadGirl drew 9 9’s: 999999999 and rubbed her (purple) crayon across all of them. Then she presented her workbook page to the teacher. This is where it gets good (or bad, if you were The HeadGirl at this moment in her life). The teacher verbally chastised her for being so sloppy with her work and told her such carelessness would not be accepted. The HeadGirl was, in fact, sent to do another identical workbook page, this time neatly. She cried. :-{ She knew how to count to 9. She knew how to draw balloons. She did not understand why this knowledge was being challenged and why her efficiency should be condemned as sloppy work.

Now The HeadGirl realizes this was the teacher’s way of keeping her busy while the other children did things she could do already; she feels sorry for the teacher, but such sympathy does not and cannot change the feeling that children should not be asked to do pointless activities. They deeply desire meaning; they know full well that there is much to learn in life. Instead of holding any of them back we should help stretch everyone further.

Updated note: The DHM gets in on the ‘fun’ and shares her story of school and colouring in the lines here.

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Roasted Winter Veggies

(my version serves ten. Most of you’d need to reduce it):

vegetable cooking spray
2 lbs. winter squash such as hubbard, butternut, or acorn: peel, seed, cut into two inch chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
2 small parsnips, sliced
4 medium Potatoes, unpeeled, halved, sliced
4 medium onions, cut into wedges
4-5 cups cooked Great Northern beans
4-5 cups cooked pinto beans
1 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 cup mixed dried fruit, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup parsley

Line large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine fresh vegetables and beans on pan; spray generously with cooking spray, sprinkle with herbs and toss. Bake uncovered at 425°F until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, adding dried fruit the last 5 minutes Spoon vegetable into bowl. Mix vinegar and oil; drizzle over vegetables, add parsley and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is sooo yummy. We used diced dried apricots for the fruit because we had some, but raisins would work, too. I’ve also tried it with balsamic vinegar, and it was delicious.

I’ve also made it in my electric roaster for potlucks.

If you don’t want a vegetarian dish, this is good with sausage or other kinds of pork.

Reposted at The Common Kitchen

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Copywork

Oyez, oyez! Lost, stolen or strayed, a good ancient practice– the good ancient practice of learning by heart. Every finder will be handsomely rewarded.

~Vernon Lushington.

Frontispiece Child’s Calendar Beautiful, a collection of poetry and prose for recitation compiled by Rebecca Katharine Beeson, published in 1905 and 1908

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No really, he did!

The Equuschick’s dog child was nibbling on his rawhide, and The Equuschick in the annoying habit she keeps in order to keep him in line, was playing with his bone too. She would grab one end of it and make him do a trick to get it back. With a good will he tolerated her, and then at last he grew weary and had an idea. He went to his toy basket (Yes, Zeus has his own toy basket) and grabbed his little green rubber alien, of which he is fond. He trotted to The Equuschick, and dropped the alien in her lap. Then he picked up his bone and went to the other side of the bed. The implications were clear. The dog had a toy, The Equuschick had a toy. There was therefore no more reason for her to play with his.

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Roasted Winter Veggies

(my version serves ten. Most of you’d need to reduce it):

vegetable cooking spray
2 lbs. winter squash such as hubbard, butternut, or acorn: peel, seed, cut into two inch chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
2 small parsnips, sliced
4 medium Potatoes, unpeeled, halved, sliced
4 medium onions, cut into wedges
4-5 cups cooked Great Northern beans
4-5 cups cooked pinto beans
1 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 cup mixed dried fruit, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup parsley

Line large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray. Combine fresh vegetables and beans on pan; spray generously with cooking spray, sprinkle with herbs and toss. Bake uncovered at 425°F until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, adding dried fruit the last 5 minutes Spoon vegetable into bowl. Mix vinegar and oil; drizzle over vegetables, add parsley and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is sooo yummy. We used diced dried apricots for the fruit because we had some, but raisins would work, too. I’ve also tried it with balsamic vinegar, and it was delicious.

I’ve also made it in my electric roaster for potlucks.

If you don’t want a vegetarian dish, this is good with sausage or other kinds of pork.

Reposted at The Common Kitchen

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Copywork

Oyez, oyez! Lost, stolen or strayed, a good ancient practice– the good ancient practice of learning by heart. Every finder will be handsomely rewarded.

~Vernon Lushington.

Frontispiece Child’s Calendar Beautiful, a collection of poetry and prose for recitation compiled by Rebecca Katharine Beeson, published in 1905 and 1908

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Frugalities

Ever so many years ago a wise woman in our homeschooling group gave me some very frugal advice. We were stationed overseas at the time, and I ran into her in the local thrift shop buying clothing for herself. This surprised me, because she was a Major’s wife and had only one child. In the military everybody knows exactly how much everybody else makes, so it’s not being too vulgar to tell you that what this meant is that her family’s income was some five times my own. Moreover, officer land is a different country from enlisted land- at least among many officer’s wives. Most officer’s wives that I knew were a little, um, shall we say ‘conscious’ of their personal appearance reflecting a certain social status.
Pam, I think her name was Pam, must have seen something of my surprise on my face, or perhaps she just wanted to encourage a young mother (she was like that). She bubbled over with laughter and told me that she bought everything she could at thrift shops or yard sales, “because, honey, you wear it one time and it’s used already! What kind of stewardship of the Lord’s money is it to spend twenty dollars more on an item just so that we can be the first ones to take it home?”
She was quite right. Furthermore, you might not even be the first one to take an item of clothing home. It might have been taken home and returned. Almost certainly somebody else has tried it on in the store, so you are not the first one ot have a new item of clothing on your body, either.

We buy nearly all family presents used; at thrift shops, yard sales, and library booksales I do my Christmas and birthday shopping for the year. Our children have never objected. We not only get much more ‘bang for buck’ this way, but we get better quality, too. Repeatedly when somebody gives us a new item of clothing as a present we note that seams come apart or buttons fall off in the wash. Used clothing is pretested, so this is much less likely to happen.
We are not opposed to buying new, it’s just that quite often we find exactly what we wanted used, and the fact that somebody else wrote a name in the flyleaf of a book we want actually adds to the value rather than detracts for us (history buffs, after all).

The Head Girl has a beautiful set of dishes in her hope chest that we picked up for a ridiculously small amount of money at a thrift shop. She is thrilled. The squeamish and finicky G-pa is appalled that we buy used dishes. He talks about how gross it is that these dishes have been in somebody else’s mouth and who knows what they put on them. But we note that he eats at restaurants, and having worked at a restaurant before I have some idea what sort of antics the bored cookstaff can get up to behind the scenes. I feel much more confident about my own used dishes which we have washed ourselves before using.

The First Year Boy and Girl have been getting a lot of milage this week from a marble maze I just found at a thrift shop for two dollars. They do not care that it came in a plastic bag instead of a cardboard box.

It is generally vulgar and crass to discuss how much one has paid for gifts, but I hope my breach of etiquette will be overlooked in this case as it is for educational purposes.=)

And many, many thanks to Meredith at Like Merchant Ships for reminding me that this is a frugality. It is so much a way of life with us (hello, nine birthdays in immediate family every single year!) that I would have forgotten to mention it. Do, please, visit Meredith’s post, as she has some other links on the topic of frugal but generous and meaninful gift-giving.

Apologies- I thought I linked to Meredith before, but I guess I didn’t. I’ve added it now.

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Discovery at the Art Museum


Several years ago we took a field trip with some friends to see a traveling exhibit of impressionist work at the Seattle Art Museum. I’d been a fan of impressionism since high school, and I thought I knew who was who and which of those big names I liked the best. After all, I owned several hefty volumes of art reproductions and had more than a few museum quality reprints on my walls, and I’d visited art museums before.
As we wandered through the galleries, however, I was repeatedly with the peculiar and striking beauty of the works of one particular artist. I’d seen his work reproduced in my books, but had overlooked it because in my books, it seemed flat and drab. In the art museum the colors glowed off of the canvas, the homely, common scenes of apple orchards and cabbage gardens caught at my breath and took me into another world. I was entranced.
The artist was Camille Pissarro. In vain I searched the museum gift shop for a reproduction that did some justice to the beauty of the original canvas. I couldn’t find anything- all of them had that same drab dullness of color and flat sameness that made me overlook them in my art books.
No reproduction ever does full justice to the original work of art, of course, but some do come closer than others. Some do at least give a shadow of the original, so one may look and be reminded of the full glory of the original work seen in a museum.
But the reproductions of Pissarro’s work, for some reason, seem to me to fail more than others. Years later, while visiting the Chicago Art Institute, I found one print that seemed to come closer than others at catching the vibrant glow of the original. It hangs on our wall now, and I just dusted it off so that I could hold it in my hands and gaze at it, remembering the beauty that fed my soul when I saw the original. It’s “Woman Bathing her Feet in a Brook,” included in this post. But you really need to see the original to fully appreciate it.

Emile Zola once wrote a note to Pissarro thanking him for a painting he had displayed in the Salon that year. He said it ‘refreshed’ him for a good half-hour. That’s how I feel when I discover a Pissarro in a museum exhibit.
I’m not given the gift of analysis and I don’t know how to describe the technical work of a painting, nor am I an authority on art. I’m just a rural housewife who knows, in the words of the dreadful, philistine cliche, what she likes. I am delighted, however, to be able to share with you Dana Gordon’s article Justice to Pissarro, which has educated and refreshed me this morning, and which puts words to the sensations I felt on first looking into Pissarro’s cabbage gardens and apple orchards.

“Justly celebrated for their observation of light, color, and atmosphere, and for the natural appearance of the people and places in them, these commanding, lyrical works also extend the artist’s exploration of structure and composition. The “process of visual dissection” one observes in these paintings—the phrase is Christopher Lloyd’s, in his 1981 monograph Camille Pissarro—is Pissarro’s particular triumph, and it makes Monet’s paintings, beautiful as they are, look picturesque and simplistic by comparison. Not for nothing did Zola insist that “Pissarro is a fiercer revolutionary than Monet….”

“…Pissarro’s paintings, by contrast, have tremendous depth. They invite you in; you can enter and breathe and look around both the abstraction and the depicted scene, as if taking a tour of the artist’s thought process. “

Please read the whole thing, and be sure to drink in a Pissarro the next time you visit your local art museum.

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News and Views: The Miers Nomination

John Fund has a great essay on the mistakes made with this nomination and how the President could avoid repeating them, if he were so inclined. Among them:

Rewriting the history of Ms. Miers’s selection. After political pushback by conservatives became clear, the White House apparently engaged in spurious spin to explain the logic of the selection. Dr. James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, says he was told by White House aide Karl Rove that other female candidates had withdrawn from consideration because “the process had become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn’t want to subject themselves or their families to it.” White House aides have told others the same story, but will mention names only privately. Many now feel they were misled.
After making several calls to White House and Senate staffers as well as conservative activists who unofficially advised the White House, I have grave doubts about the White House storyline, as do others. One potential nominee did want the White House to know she had some family problems that could bear on the selection process but she did not withdraw her name. Three whose names the White House has privately mentioned as having dropped out say they are angry at any suggestion they did.

What is clear is that the same White House that says it won’t listen to senators who tell them the Miers nomination should be withdrawn was highly solicitous of Senate objections to other qualified nominees. One federal judge was nixed by a powerful senator over a judicial opinion that would have been attacked by feminists. Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, both of whom won tough confirmation battles for seats on appellate courts only this spring, were nixed by other GOP Senators as too tough a battle for the high court. Alice Batchelder of the Sixth Circuit was deep-sixed by an old Ohio political rival, Republican National Committee co-chairman Jo Ann Davidson. The White House and some senators deemed Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit too difficult to confirm. Given Mr. Bush’s idée fixe that the nominee had to be a woman, it’s possible the White House allowed itself to be pushed into a corner in which Ms. Miers was literally the only female left.

Blogger Poll on Miers Nomination at the Truth Laid Bear

REsponses here.

The Claremont Institute on the Advise and Consent function of the Senate:

Specifically, the very practice that the Constitution’s framers intended to curtail via the advice-and-consent process—the appointment of home-state friends who have questionable credentials—appears to be involved in the president’s decision.

In the discussion of presidential nominations in Federalist 76, Alexander Hamilton worried that “There is nothing so apt to agitate the passions of mankind as personal considerations, whether they relate to ourselves or to others, who are to be the objects of our choice or preference.” He recognized that cronyism was a serious danger in the appointment of federal officers (judicial and otherwise), and hoped that the president “would be less liable to be misled by the sentiments of friendship and of affection.” Should the president fail in this obligation, Hamilton made clear that the very purpose of the Senate’s confirmation power was to provide “an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president” and “to prevent the appointment of unfit characters” that might result from “State prejudice,” “family connection” or “personal attachment.” Thus, in contrast to the modern practice of judicial confirmations as trials by ordeal, the framers envisioned a process where the president would get much more deference—where the check served not to determine the ideology of the nominee, but whether their nomination was a function of merit or based on personal favoritism.

And to this conclusion we say indeed, indeed:

Ironically, by attempting to avoid the pitfalls of modern senatorial “advice and consent,” President Bush has triggered more stringent scrutiny under the framers’ understanding of that term as a check against the nomination of home-state cronies who lack the objective qualifications for the office. The Senate should therefore diligently exercise its check of advice and consent—not in the modern sense as a litmus test concerning ideology, but as the framers intended: to assure that her qualifications extend beyond mere friendship with the president.

Bush, Senior, lost all my support the moment he regeged on his ‘Read my lips’ promise. He only had nominal support from me prior to that, but at that point, he lost me completely. The current President promised to nominate judges like Scalia. I wasn’t entirely happy with the nomination of Judge Roberts because we don’t know much about him. We’re still waiting to see what he will be like on the bench. And he lost me with the Miers nomination. I am sorry to say so, but the White House has done nothing to assuage my concerns and everything to exacerbate them. I oppose the Miers nomination. I hope the President will do something to restore my confidence, but more importantly I hope he will do something to restore constituionalism to the Supreme Court.

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News and Views: Plamegate and Judy Miller

Judy Miller, the Times, and Plamegate– Via Powerline, three great articles to read:
New York Sun Editorian on self-consumption
Judith Miller’s response to the Times’ attempt to smear her, including this startling assertion:

You chose to believe Jill Abramson when she asserted that I had never asked her to pursue the tip I had gotten about Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger and his wife’s employment at the C.I.A. Now I ask you: Why would I – the supposedly pushiest, most competitive reporter on the planet — not have pushed to pursue a tantalizing tip like this? Soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby in July, I did so. I remember asking the editor to let
me explore whether what my source had said was true, or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower. I don’t recall naming the source of the tip. But I specifically remember saying that because Joe Wilson’s op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to pursue this. I never identified the editor to the grand jury or publicly, since it involved internal New York Times decision-making. But since you did, yes, the editor was Jill Abramson.

Phony Baloney by Andrew McCarthy at the NRO
And Wretchard at the Belmont Club looks at possible indictments and the bigger picture. One of the most interesting little tidbits in this story (to me, anyway) is that Valerie Plame ‘outed’ herself to her future husband before their first kiss, according to him, and who has long been listed in Who’s Who as Wilson’s wife under her covert name, and the very same papers who demanded an investigation into this horrible crime of ‘outing’ a CIA agent, assert one thing on the editorial pages of their papers, but in court insist that no crime has been committed:

An amicus curae brief filed by 36 media organizations including ABC News, AP, CNN, CBS News, WSJ, Fox News, USA Today, NBC News, Newsweek, and Reuters, argued that it would be a bad idea to force journalists to identify the purveyors of confidential information. The brief itself (via Wikipedia) says

The Media organisations’ interest in this case is that of preserving the right of journalists such as Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper not to be compelled to reveal the identities of their confidential sources absent a heightened degree of searching scrutiny … In this case, there exists ample evidence on the public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act …

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