Friday, February 29, 2008

Government as our New Religion?

I love homeschooling. One of the many reasons I love it and believe in it so much is that I have gotten a truly renewed mind and firt time education from teaching my own children.

Yesterday we were reading in one of my favorite book series, The Uncle Eric books by Richard Maybury, specifically, Whatever Happened to Justice? from Bluestocking Press. Today, since our laws are such a tangled mess and are based on political law (contrived - made up based on someone's ideas at the time, instead on common law (discovered law based on logic and moral sense) we as a society have created a new religion. Chapter 18 brings out an interesting point. He says,
"A major requirement for successful investing is the constant awareness that there is a new religion in the world. The god of this new religion is government and the ritual the worshipers perform is legislation. Faith in this new religion is deep and profound. The worshippers are convinced their god can solve almost any problem, if only the right legislation can be performed.

Legislators have become priests, and capital buildings have become temples. I remember visiting the capitol building in Sacramento. The interior resembles a cathedral. I had the strangest compulsion to keep my head bowed, to speak in whispers, and kneel!"

This new religion is so popular you could probably make a strong case that it is replacing the old religions.
Having just come from Washington, DC and toured what was described as the most important building in the world, The Capitol Building I fully understand his compulsion. I have never seen such magnificence, splendor and holy meaning in the statues and art work in the capitol. Certainly no church or temple of today is built with such respect and magnificence. The grand honors to God in buildings are of the past, the middle ages at least. Today, the new temples? Government buildings.

Hmmm,a thought worth contemplating and mulling over some more.

Monday, February 25, 2008

We're back!

What a tornado of a vacation! After a week away from home we are now back and all snug in our beds with vision of DC dancing in our heads. (Washington, DC, that is!) Most of the time I can say it is nice to be home again but this time I really enjoyed the break from routine and had an unusually wonderful rest and inspirational vacation. Our first stop was in Pittsburgh for my husband's nephews wedding. It was held in a bird sanctuary/refuge and was small but very quaint! It was nice to see family that we have not seen in 15 years!

After the wedding and all the goodbyes, we headed out to Washington DC for what we thought was a day or two touring the sights. We had no idea the extent to which you could visit museums, historical homes, and magnificent buildings. We were quite overwhelmed.
Half jokingly Jonathan said, "Too bad we didn't think to check if there was an "Unofficial Guide to Washington DC." At that moment we happened to be walking the streets in the bitter cold and spotted a Barnes and Noble Book store. What providence. We warmed up inside and did find that there is indeed An Unofficial Guide to Washington DC and we bought it. It saved us so much time! If you ever go to a popular tourist spot always check to see if there is one of these invaluable guides printed. They usually save you way more that the full purchase price and loads of time as well.

My husbands first GOT to SEE spot was Lincoln Memorial. The morning and early afternoon was actually quite warm. It poured in the afternoon and the rest of the week was bitterly cold and windy.

Graydon's choice was the museum of flight. They actually had the original Wright Brothers plane inside! Also was the Spirit of Saint Louis-Charles Lindburgh's first solo flight across the Atlantic)

The Capital Building was phenomenal-inside and out!.

Jonathan's favorite place was Mount Vernon, home of America's first president. The house itself was beautiful but the visitor center was like none we had seen anywhere else. After 4 1/2 hours we rushed out trying to avoid the rush hour in Downtown DC in the snow! We made it but we really wish we could have spent another hour or two.

In case you cannot figure this out, this is a model of George Washington's house-and my son's "huge" face in the back door!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We're Leavin' on a Jet Plane!

Songs seem to ring in my ears. I usually cannot remember who sang them or what most of the words are except for a key phrase like...

I'm leavin,
On a jet plane,
Don't know when I'll be back again.

Tonight we are all leavin' on a jet plane to fly thought the night from Seattle to arrive on the other side of the country in Pittsbourgh early tomorrow morning. We will be attending a family wedding/reunion this weekend and then will be doing some sight seeing for the rest of the week.

I may try to post throughtout the week if I can get some time at a hotel computer but you know what it is like with a lot of long-time-no-see family visits. I may try to post some of the pictures that we will be taking on our trip as we do plan on visiting the Capital and a few major historical spots along the way as we travel after the wedding.

And guess what! I bought a new camera!....8 mega pixels, compact and with a 7X optical zoom, video features, "the works" (I guess all these things are standard on cameras these days). My sons were all over it and I have not had much of a chance to see how it works yet but I'm sure they will have it all down in a few minutres flat, then they can show me. (What am I going to do once they leave home. I will be hopelessly technically handicapped)

I'll be thinking of all my faithful American readers sleeping their your cosy beds as I fly across the entire US tonight from Seattle to Pittsburgh sitting upright in airline seats. Oh well. The flights were available at least and were a very good price. We can always sleep another day.

Happy Valentines Day!

My Son is Coming Home!

There is a song that some famous singer of my long ago past used to sing about the prodigal son who came home after an long, hard and wild life. The song must be quite memorable because it was ringing in my ears today as I went up north to Canada to pick up my 17 year old son, Jonathan. He was staying at his brothers (my oldest son, Ryan and Stephanie- Keeper of the for two and a half weeks assisting Ryan in a new business set up. It may have been more of a mentoring situation for Jonathan than assistance to Ryan but I so appreciate the opportunity my wonderful son and his wife afforded their brother. It was an excellent chance to see first hand what goes into planning a business start up. Jonathan assisted with some market research, business projections, and participated in potential client meetings and plans for the recruiting of qualified employees as well.

But oh, how I missed him. He certainly isn't a prodigal coming home (as in a repentant wayward son) but he is a different boy, really almost a man. He is confident, and talks positively about "our business" and "we are planning" and "projections seem to indicate." Girls are sweet and they provide you with a lot of joy, but boys as they grow up,.....well, a mom can be overcome with pride. I am proud of my son becoming a man. With it comes the understanding that I will one day have to give him up to a young lady who will fill his heart to the fullest. I will be replaced.... and that is ok because that is how it is supposed to be. But, I missed him. He went away a boy and came back a little more mature. Thank you God for your opportunities that I see daily that shows your provision for my children. I know I can trust You with their future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chocolate Mousse - on a weight loss plan?

Since I have been exploring and have become fascinated with raw foods lately I tried a recipe for chocolate mousse that is delicious! But, of course it is not your regular sugar loaded artificially flavored variety. It is natural and completely raw, and since it is full of natural fat- the healthy variety- it certainly can be on a weight loss plan as well - if you do not eat too much! (and you might)

If you do not have all the right ingredients just try it with the best of what you have on hand for now and see if you like it. You can upgrade when you can afford and want to try a few more new ingredients.

The biggest test I have in mind when I try a new recipe is to try it out on my youngest, Graydon (14). I often recall the commercial of about 15 years ago. Several children gather around the breakfast table and shove a new brand of cereal in front the youngest child, Mikey. He hesitates and lifts his spoon and cautiously takes a bite. His face clears and he continues to chew in glee. All the children grab the cereal simultaneously and dig in. "If Mikey likes it-it must be good."

So I likewise tried it on my "Mikey" and it passed! What I found most humorous is I got my son to eat his most visually detestable food- what he calls "frog." Guess which ingredient that is? He, to this day, does not know what crossed his lips.

1 Hass avocado
3-4 Tablespoons raw agave or (I used) honey (agave has a lower glycemic index and is better for weight loss)
2-3 Tablespoons coconut butter (coconut oil)
1 Tablespoon fresh coconut meat (optional)
2 Tablespoons of raw cacao powder. This is pure raw chocolate powder without any added sugar-bitter if used alone) You may want to try raw carob but I think raw chocolate works really well!
1/8 t salt
1/2 cup of raw defrosted raspberries (I used raspberries that I had previously run through a juicer to remove the seeds and frozen in baggies)

Blend all well till light and fluffy. Serve chilled.

I added a little more honey to my taste and I think I also added a little more coconut because I had opened the young coconut and didn't know what else to use it do with it right away.

I'd be interested to see if anyone was able to pull raw "frog" over on their families without them knowing it. (not that deception is the goal but I found it quite amusing that you could make a delicious chocolate mouse out of an avocado without it being obvious.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Letting go of the control in your child's education

What do I mean control? Well, just that. In modern education everything is controlled. The predetermined educational menu is formated by grades, administered by employees that take one portion of that pre intended meal and over 12 years or so produces a whole and complete education. All this sounds good if you accept the finished product as fully educated. I don't. The often quoted phrase by William Yeats states, "Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire."

Predigested informational based education allows for very little exploration or self directed learning and produces only people who know how to spit back what they have been told. Generally, schools today produce cookie cutter employees ready for the job market. Yes, we do want our children to get a job, but is that the only reason for their education? I hope not. So how do you homeschool with freedom and without control? If we can just learn to let go of the control that has been built into us by our childhood experiences (being in school) It may not be easy, in fact, I believe some may never get it. But some do. I'm probably a little in the middle, where I get it but somehow control tends to seep in again every now and then and I start seeing the symptoms of apathy in my kids and I know to back off again.

Once I found out about the 5 learning tools coined by Marilyn Howshall, in the most excellent book series Lifestyle Learning, the light went on and I started seeing my children were already learning very well on their own. I saw how I needed to back off and stop interferring in their learning process and I learned to relax. All I needed to do was to facilitate their learning and not to control it. The 5 learning tools are below I will expand on each of the following in another post. I will also share the 7 vital signs of the learning process also penned by Marilyn Howshall in her Lifestyle of Learning series (My blog's namesake)

-This must be delight directed not controlled by assignment. It can include collections, observations, experimentations, and repeated exposure to certain subject matter.
-Reading of library books and field guides on chosen subject matter.

-everyday life, documenting the child's own life experiences and spiritual lessons. Record what the child is learning, building, collecting in productive free time. (more on this later on)

Reason -
-making choices, solving problems, making decisions, practicing discernment skills and logical thinking skills.
-Learning to ask the right questions that will lead to the solutions that they seek to solve a problem, (Controlled situations usually have no problems. They all have been resolved so they are testable)

-To see a need to relate to something to real life, to see a need to know something or a subject. This is the application or a how to apply of the reasoning process

-to relate to others what something meant to them and to others.
-To communicate through the written or spoken word. Can be done through a project, narration or brief composition. (or a blog as my son is doing right now)

Many times each of these learning tools build in order on top of each other but some times you may see a child or yourself go back and forth over the tools to revisit them in order to gain more info, record that new found info and reason it's importance in the child's subject of delight. Then he may relate it with a new twist or to create a new product (Rhetoric)

Does all that make sense? If you will watch yourself, really think about how you have learned something, anything, you may find that you also learn this way as well. Although sometimes we get stuck and do not move past one or two of the tools because we have had our learning controlled. Breaking free yourself into a Lifestyle of Learning is the first step to allowing your children the freedom to do it themselves ...and it comes much more naturally to them if they have never been in school. Then, and only then, will you be free yourself and allow that same freedom to blossom in your children.

But, I must warn you. Your children will take off with this and probably run much faster than you will and leave you in the dust. When this happens try, try, try to control the insecurity and the temptation to control again in order to hold them back (get the problem with public group schools?) Let them go and watch them flourish. Let them master their subject of delight. I haven't always been able to let them go but one such time I saw the evidence of the results of the learning tools in my youngest son.

At dinner one evening, Graydon 14 at that time, had wanted to explore and study physics. So I got him a great book on physics and let him go to it. He mastered the book quite quickly and sat at the table discussing electrical terms and principles with his electrician father. I sat there amazed, (but proud.) At the end of this deep and lengthy educated discussion of currents, and voltages, electrical diagrams and a whole bunch of other terms I did not understand, I took a deep breath and made the announcement. "I am such a g-r-e-a-t teacher!" Dumbfounded they all stared. I further explained, "I did not have a clue what you just talked about so I must be a great teacher. My student has gone far beyond me and my limited knowledge and pursued much higher education in a subject than I ever wanted to go.... so I must be a great teacher."

They all agreed once they knew where I was coming from. And so can you be a great teacher too by letting go of the control and letting God lead your children's education "in the way that they should go," according to their bent, gifts and calling in their life.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Poison (MSG) in my cupboard!

That's it. I have scoured my cupboards and pantry and have found that villainous ingredient lurking in on the labels of products I know and love! How can this be? I have always been a label reader and have been aware of the various names of MSG for some time but until I did some more thorough research I did not realize all the names by which MSG can disguise itself. All of the products shown above show some of the more obscure names but it is there non-the-less. The most common name that I missed was Natural Flavoring or just Natural Flavor(s) added. Some products still in my pantry list "spices" only and so I actually disregarded those items but truthfully I suspect them as well. As I'm making so many of our meals from scratch anyway most of these products I will not miss very much. It just takes a little planning ahead to make sure I have homemade chicken stock on hand, herb tea that is not artificially flavored, etc.

A short list to watch for below, but I'm sure you could find a whole different spectrum of names as well. I just happen to have ignored the term "natural flavorings"
Celestial seasonings herbal teas (natural flavors)
Bigelow iced and some herb teas
Pacific Organic Creamy butternut Squash Soup-Tetra pack (Natural flavor)
Tazo Chai tea- tetra pack (natural flavors)
Worcestershire sauce (natural flavorings)
Carb sense pancake mix (Atkins products- had this for so long I'm glad to throw it out! (natural flavoring)
Oregon Spice Ranch Buttermilk Dressing base (yeast)
And here is the product that started my reaction that in turn started this witch hunt for MSG in the first place! Cortas Halva! (with Tahini extract!)

On the other hand, I had a great find today of a great and natural seasoning that I recommend, at of all places- Dollar Tree my neighborhood dollar store. I found a nifty salt grinder for celtic salt for $1.00! I have looked at a similar grinder on Amazon and at my favorite natural food supplier Azure Standard and they were all $14.00 plus shipping! I think I will go back and get a few more for gifts and stockings and ...hmmm what else can I do with these handy non metal refillable grinders? Maybe I'll try grinding fresh pepper corns, and fresh ground gomachio as well! Any other ideas?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Vision Forum Sale!

In case you have never visited one of our worthy sponsors, Vision Forum before, you really ought to now. From today until Midnight Sunday (Feb 10th) they are having a $25.00 off sale ($75.00 or more) on anything and everything on their website. Just thought I'd give you the heads up on that sale. I'm heading on over there right now for some birthday presents, some educational books, DVDS and finally my copy of, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. Yeah! I've heard it is a great book!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

#1- The biggest and most important thing you can do for your health.

Yesterday I hinted that I would post THE most significant thing you can do to increase your health, thereby setting your body up for effective weight loss. That number one thing is..... (drum roll please).... exercise. You were afraid I was going to say that right? Well, so was I. You see, I too have slipped out of the habit of daily exercise and that is one of the routines that I have been determined to reinstitute in the Month of February (and beyond). Even if you eat poorly, you can come out ahead if you exercise! (No, this is not an excuse to eat poorly) Getting your heart pumping is the equivalent of plunging the pipes, cleaning, massaging, detoxifying and energizing every organ with life giving oxygen.

I know there may be many obstacles in your way this month that keep you from instituting the good habit of a daily walk and I too have had to overcome several one by one. My children were too little to leave and too many to take at one point. I also could that claim whenever I start to exercise my children all pile on top of me wanting to "play" as well.

If you have these difficulties I can sympathize as I have been there too. The only way I could and can pull off a daily routine is through the use of Jane Fonda Collection: The Complete Workout & Stress Reduction Programvideo, in fact. I still laugh at myself when I remember the promise this young bride made to her husband over 2 decades ago. I boldly promised my husband that I too would look as slim and trim at 50 as Jane does in her video. (she was fifty when she made it. Yes, I have been doing her workout that long!)

Well, I have arrived, in the 50 Plus department but to look as fit and trim as Jane Fonda, well, that might be a stretch. But how far off base might I have been if I didn't even try? (Can hear my goal setting philosophy in a nutshell?) Still today I plug in Janie Baby and we go though the whole routine together. For those of you who do not like her feminist views, neither do I but her complete workout is the best I've seen around, and I have looked around. (You do have to endure some cat calls during the tougher workout parts and a few other minor feminist comments but other than that it is worth the time invested in a good workout.

Here is what one Amazon reviewer had to say about the new Dvd set.

As a beginner, who had a total lifestyle change to include my diet, Mrs. Fonda's Personal Trainer series really helped me lose weight, tone up, and be fit. I lost 20 lbs and have kept it off. I also had success after I had my son when I used her videos in combination with a 2 mile run 5 days a week. I also recieved complements on how my body looked, many people would ask me if I was a gymnast!:) Her workouts and fitness philosophy are right on. I highly recommend this series for anyone just starting out. They are easy on the joints, and have three women who demonstrate basic, intermediate, and advanced levels in each workout, as well as lead some of the workouts, so its not all Jane. The workouts really have some great basic moves for learning about the body in toning and stretch. The aerobics get the heart rate up, and the moves are simple. The aerobics section does require a little bit of space, enough to walk about 5 paces in each direction. I've moved up in my fitness level, but I still use this series for toning, stretch and when I just wanted to burn a few extra calories.
This month I plan on alternating the video workput with an outside neighborhood walk. Mon, Wed and Fri for 50 min inside with the slim trim lady, and Tues and Thursday outside with my youngest son. (He's pretty slim and trim as well) The advantages to this alternating plan is it give your muscles a days rest so you are not overtaxing them. Furthermore it is not actually beneficial to continually work and rework the same parts without a break or any variety. If for some reason you simply could not go out for walk, then it might be best to alternate a few different video programs by different instructors for mental and physical variety. So if you care to join me and working along with any video you have right now, I'd love to hear from anyone attempting to do the same as me. Getting back to moving and stretching adn burning a few extra calories.

Tomorrow I will be discussing the second biggest necessity to a healthy lifestyle. Any guesses?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Notebooking is for Mom, too!

I am still wrapping up a few leftover projects that I had planned for January and I have just finished another one. Yeah. It feels so good to get on top of one more task. One of the annoyances that I've had over the last few years is that my binder of favorite recipes was over stuffed and very inefficient. I could not find certain recipes when I needed them and it was embarrasing when a family member wanted a copy of a family favorite. I knew I had to separate the book into several books and categories and this is how I did it.
I have on hand several extra thick clearview binders-small size. I also have on hand a collection of funny or sweet pictures from magazines and keep them in a file for notebooking or for journals. My collection served the purpose well as I could find relevant pictures for each catagory that I needed. Then I "scrapbooked" the inserts for the covers and spines.
This binder is obviously Main Dishes with tabs marked: red meat, meatless, soups and stews,
poultry, eggs, fish, barbeque and gravy and sauces.

Bread, Muffins, Cakes and Desserts.

Inside tabs include:

cookies and squares

muffins, cakes and quick breads

bread, sweet rolls, pizza dough

pie crusts

desserts and toppings

jams and spreads

granola, pancakes, waffles, breakfasts foods

Salad, Veggies, Dressings and Spice Mixes
Tabs include,

vegetable dishes

dressings, sauces and dips,

spice mixes,

pickles and preserves

This is my Household Management binder which contains Cleaning plans, schedules and requirements, family budget, menu planning, future major purchase list, laundry and cleaning tips, recipes for bug repellant, bone china price lists, food suppliers, furnace filter size and type (this is important when you move often enough to forget what size you need without pulling the filter out each time) etc, everything that is household related.

I haven't officially named this book yet but temporarily it contains all raw food recipes. I may keep this a separate book permanently just so I can find all raw ideas and recipes quick and easily (rather than including each food type in it's own binder.

Seasonal and Special Occasion is a regular size binder (Not small like the other ones shown) that I keep all sorts of seasonal craft ideas, articles, poems and decorating ideas. It is the larger size because I include many magazine articles, etc, usually too big for the 9X9 size)Tabs include

New Years/Winter.
March, St Pat's/
Mother's Day
Father's Day
July Aug/Vacation ideas
Shower/birthday ideas

This is the other half of the above Seasonal and Special Occasions binder containing all the favorite recipes for each special seasons in the year. I include all of the above tabs and include-birthday (cakes, present ideas, and party foods in general)

And here is the spine shot of them all lined up ready to go in the cupboard. Easy to use, easy to find and easy to add to - The epitomy of notebooking. And we thought that notebooking was only for school subjects!

Tomorrow I'll be posting on the most important weight loss, weight managment tool a health minded person has. And it is free! (no monetary cost)
Any guesses?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Congratulations, Jenny!

Congratulations Jenny, on winning the free draw on my Bloggy Giveaway. The book is Perfect Weight America, and is Jordon Rubin's latest and newest hot off the press. I'm glad it is going to some one who is really interested in loosing weight.(aren't we all?)Here is what she said in the comment

Jenny said... I am trying to lose those last few pounds of baby weight. Count me in! January 29, 2008 4:29 PM

To the rest of you thanks so much for visiting, and leaving a comment. I feel that in a small way I have gotten to know you all a little better. Thanks to all who came out of hiding and risked leaving a comment. Keep it up. I love to connect and visit a bit. And welcome to all who visited for the first time! Of those who did leave a comment, if you are really interested in loosing some weight, why don't you join me this month for my co-op weigh down? I will be referencing this book along with quite a few others as the month goes on......and I'd love the company.

Friday, February 1, 2008

5 Alive and Healthy

230 LB Psalm

Strict is my diet

I must not want

It maketh me to lie down at night hungry

It leadeth me past Baskin Robbins

It tryeth my will power

It leadeth me in the paths of starvation for my figures sake

Yea, though I walk through the isle of the pastry department

I will buy no sweet rolls

For they are fattening

Thy cake and thy pies, they tempt me.

Before me is a table with celery and lettuce

My days quota runneth over

Surely calories and weigh charts will follow me all the days of my life

And I will dwell in the fear of the scales forever.

As January has finally come to a close, I am surveying all that I did accomplish in this month by setting the goal to get organized and focus. Much has been done but I'm not going to get bogged down on what didn't get done. I can do a little more as time goes on in spare moments here and there.

Onto Fabulous February, a month of heart health (apparently sponsored by Marie Osmond), love, wearing red and Valentine's Day.

My new goal for this month is something that I have never done before-at least publicly. In light of my chosen Bloggy Give away last month- Perfect weight America by Jordon Rubin, (which has not been chosen yet-to be announced) I am leaning towards getting back into line what has been slipping out of line in the last couple of years.

I'm talking pounds! fat! flab! flubber!

I have never had much of a weight problem, except after giving birth, and then I usually got it back in control as soon as I could. But here I am over the big hill (I'll let you figure out which hill) and I am now having to be a little more careful with my weight. So, I am planning on posting both my progress, recipes and principles that I have applied through the past years - only pressed a little harder now.

Furthermore, I'd like to stress that I do not believe in diets. (The above poem is for humor sake only) Truly, if you can go on a diet, you can go off a diet, causing a see saw in your thinking and in your weight which effects your health and makes future weight loss very difficult.

Rather, I will be readjusting old bad habits back into good ones and letting the weight fall off. We'll be discussing food combinations, choices, good calories/bad calories, healthy fat/unhealthy fat, carbs, fiber, water, temptations, excersize and plenty more. If you care to join me, I'd be honored. My goal is to not loose weight but to regain health-via loosing 5 lbs! (Does that make sense?)

For anyone who does join me I just may have a another independent give away at the end of the month. If you have more than 5 lbs to loose- that's ok. (So do I) All we are going to work on this month is 5 pounds! We're taking baby steps here. Next month you can choose your next goal.

Whenever I have lost weight I have felt more alive, energized and more in control of myself and my emotions so, 5 alive and healthy is my theme for February.