Saturday, March 31, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ March 31, 2012

Well, I failed to make a post between {phfr} posts. I haven't done very well with my attempts to post more often. I have so many blog-worthy thoughts swirling around in my head, but finding the time to get them down in black and white continually escapes me. Ah, well.


An early spring means the violets are out in March instead of April (although since this is our first spring in this part of the country, we aren't sure what the normal time is here). I love so many flowers that I couldn't say which are my favorites, but these sweet little blossoms certainly are contenders for the top spot. In our old house, I always reminded the neighbor boy who mowed our lawn not to mown down the violets. I'd take him on a little tour and show him where they were just to be sure. Now that we live in a parsonage and the church takes care of the lawn for us, I don't feel like I can let great swaths of the lawn grow long just to save the violets. So when the mowers showed up last week, Girl of the House and I dashed outside and picked as many as we could before the massacre began. I'm always mystified that people will blithely and willingly and mercilessly wreak such havoc amongst the violet populations in their yards!

Here's a picture of some of the {pretty} violets we saved from a certain and gruesome death at the hands of pitiless mowers~


Every year since we have lived too far to be at my mother's house for Easter (and that's been since 1995), she has sent us a box of Easter goodies. Girl Out of the House was five years old when the first one was delivered, and now Grandma sends her and That Boy their own box each year. When the Easter box arrives, all activity ceases and we open it right then and there. It's a {happy} tradition for our family!


Though a picture can't convey how {funny} this little boy is, let me assure you that he is amusing. He spent some time at our house one day this week while everyone else needed to be at a Very Important Meeting. This little guy talks non-stop, but it was a pleasure to have again a little person to read to, explore with, and just enjoy. He was captivated by playing around on "Pastor's viola," but I couldn't get a picture of him trying it out because, well, I busy holding it, not a camera. Here is my little friend playing with some blocks we have saved for just such occasions~

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ March 25, 2012

I'm back from my unexpected absence and joining Leila and Rosie with a {phfr} post. Lots to catch up on . . .


Remember all those bulbs Girl of the House and I planted in the fall? They are up and lookiong gorgeous!

This is what I see from my window over the kitchen sink. It was looking winter-weary, but I cleaned it up this week and it's much prettier now, even in the rain.


We've been having phenomenal weather for March! Man of the House broke out the grill last Sunday, which made us all very happy.

We're so high class we even use Spode when we bar-b-que!


Farmer John brought us a big load of beautiful dirt for our raised garden beds, only we didn't have all the beds put together yet. No matter. He and Man of the House just moved the frames around as needed and shoveled the dirt in. So now there are mounds of dirt temporarily in our yard. Looking out the window this week, the thought struck me that they look like graves!


Man of the House broke a pipe not long ago, so he bought a replacement. It looks nifty, but it's no good for actually smoking a little Longbottom Leaf. So back it's going back whence it came. Alas.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mrs. Miniver

I suspected I would love Mrs. Miniver the book since I already love Mrs. Miniver the movie, and I was not disappointed. I am sure I will return to it again and again, and it may have even earned a place on my "desert island" list. It is, however, quite different than the movie, and if I hadn't seen the movie first and fallen in love with it, I would be annoyed because of the great liberties it takes and the additions it makes. But I resolved this in my mind by keeping the book and movie in separate compartments. Each has a high enjoyability factor in its own right.

The book is set in late 1930's England and includes the start of World War II, but the war does not figure prominently in most chapters. Each chapter is a three- to four-page vignette about the various people, places, and happenings in the life of the Miniver family. Housekeeping and housewifely concerns predominate, which delight me but I know are not everyone's cup of tea. Mrs. Miniver and Christmas shopping, Mrs. Miniver and the domestic help, Mrs. Miniver and dinner parties, Mrs. Miniver and family outings ~ each chapter gives the reader a fuller picture of the life of the Miniver family.

Jan Struther writes with great insight and craftsmanship. I found her writing to be thoughtful, fluid, witty, and elegant. Her observations of human nature and its dealings across the spectrum of life experiences ~ everything from petty annoyances to serious strife ~ show that she was an intelligent, understanding, and sympathetic author. She has earned my respect.

Something that amused me about my edition is that despite the blurb on the title page stating that the book was produced under wartime conditions and complied with government regulations for the conservation of paper, there is so much blank space in it! Each chapter has its own title page taking up both sides of a page so that except for the title they are completely empty. Also, the margins are quite wide. Before I opened it I expected the print to run from edge to edge both vertically and horizontally, but such is not the case. There is a good inch of emptiness all the way around the print. I wonder what books not produced under wartime conditions were like?

Mrs. Miniver has gained a permanent place on my bookshelves. About four chapters in, I placed it on my mental list of comfort reading. I'm sure I will re-read it many times.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From My Commonplace Book

"Perhaps the greatest gift any father can bestow upon his children, apart from the. . . blessings of parish life and a comprehension of the doctrines of grace, is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives a knowledge of the world, and it offers experience of a wide kind. Indeed, it is nothing less than a moral illumination."~~Thomas Chalmers

"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."~~Mark Twain

"Ponder the difference between the man who was educated to believe himself to be a little lower than the angels and the man whose education permits him to ignore both angels and God, to avoid knowledge not of the five senses, and to presume mastery over nature but not over himself."~~David Hicks

"I believe the majority of the silent majority, young and old, will sustain the loss of liberties without raising their voices as long as their own lifestyles are not threatened. And since personal peace and affluence are so often the only values that count with the majority, politicians know that to be elected they must promise these things. Politics has largely become not a matter of ideals~ increasingly men and women are not stirred by the values of liberty and truth~ but of supplying a constituency with a frosting of personal peace and affluence. They know that voices will not be raised as long as people have these things, or at least an illusion of them."~~Francis Schaeffer

Sunday, March 11, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ March 11, 2012

Whew! Here I am at last! I bet you all were wondering about me, right? lol This has been a fast-paced weekend~ much faster than I like, but it couldn't be helped this time. But in light of it being Sunday night and I'd really like some downtime, I'm going to post a few pictures with little commentary. Enjoy!

{Pretty} and {Happy}

{Pretty} things usually make me {happy}. The snowdrops I planted last fall have come up, and guess what! There are crocuses, too, planted by someone who came before me. What a nice surprise, especially since I didn't plant any myself!


This is what the front garden looked like before Man of the House and I raked it yesterday. Ahem . . . It's much better now!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Online Resources That Have Been Most Helpful to Me in My Efforts to Educate Myself

If you're like I am, you received an "okay" education from your government school system. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that my schools were actually better than average. Some vestiges of the classical education model that had been universally pervasive before the advent of John Dewey in the early twentieth century still remained. The old, time-proven methods hadn't been entirely jettisoned in favor of the new educational progressivism. That being said, there was still much lacking in my formal education, including my college education, though it is unfair for anyone to think that any form of education is going to give him all he needs or wants for life in twelve or sixteen relatively short years. There is so much to learn and know and understand and the world is so interesting that education should be a lifetime pursuit. But very few of us have the luxury of continuing our formal education indefinitely. There are livings to be made, children to be raised, needs to be met, other people to think of. Nor do I think formal education is always the best way to achieve a true education. A lot can be said for pursuing wisdom and knowledge on one's own, and a lot can be gained from it.

So, here are a few key online resources that have been invaluable to me as I pursue self-education. These have been the most helpful and valuable to me overall, and they are ones I keep returning to over and over.

Circe Institute

If you are interested in true education and not just the information-processing that modern schools engage in, then you can do no better than reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting what Andrew Kern and his fellow Circe-ites have to say. Read the blog and listen to the podcasts to enrich your life. Circe aims at helping the classical educator, but you don't need to be a teacher or homeschooling parent to gain wisdom and understanding from its resources. If you're alive and breathing, then Circe will help you to understand what "the good life" is and how to live it. There is much wisdom here . . . and it's FREE.

Issues, Etc.

IE's motto is "Talk Radio for the Thinking Christian." Hosted by Pastor Todd Wilken, this two-hour daily program (which is available on-demand at their website) is a treasure trove of political, intellectual, theological, philosophical, and sociological insight as relates to life in the 21st century. Guests are really top-notch and come from a wide diversity of fields and theological persuasions. Topics cover current events, recent scientific research, historical discoveries, theological debates, ethical conundrums . . . just about any issue you can think of is intelligently discussed by Pr. Wilken and his guests. . . and it's FREE.


ClassEd (short for CLASSical EDucation) is a Yahoo Group of eighty to a hundred classically homeschooling Christian parents (mostly mothers) who offer each other support and advice via email list. The month of May will mark my tenth annuiversary as a member of ClassEd, and I am so thankful that I have been a part of this group since almost the beginning of my family's homeschooling journey. I am a better educator, parent, Christian, and person because of the input of ClassEd members over the past decade. The collective wisdom and experience of this group is astounding. I sometimes feel like a swindler and a fraud because my contributions to the group are exceeded by far by what I receive from them. It's not a fair exchange, but the benefits for me and my family have been tremendous. If you are a Christian and are homeschooling classically (or attempting to), then I urge you join this list. There may be a bit of a wait, but it is worth it. . . and it's FREE (if you don't count all the books that you'll be tempted to buy based on member recommendations!).

Cranach: The Blog of Veith

Dr. Gene Edward Veith, author, literature professor and provost of Patrick Henry College, has a knack for finding news stories that get to the heart of American culture and for providing insightful and cogent commentary on those stories. He is adept at applying the Bible to the ethical and theological questions of modern life and excels especially in the application of the doctrine of vocation. He is humble, wise, and thoughtful. . . and, of course, it's FREE.

So, there you have it. There are many other online resources that are worthy of attention, but these are the four that I go to almost daily and that have had the biggest influence on me and input into my educational development. I heartily commend them all to you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ March 3, 2012

At last it is March, and no matter what the weather is doing, March is the beginning of spring in my book.


It is actually still light while I'm cooking supper now. Last week I ceased dinner operations long enough to snap a few pictures just as the sun was beginning to set. See the red tips on the tree? A sure sign of impending spring!


My tomatoes seeds have sprouted! These will eventually be transplated outside.

Another {happy} sight~ the 108 bulbs I planted last fall with Girl of the House's help have poked their noses out into the air to see if it's warm enough to come out and play yet. The snowdrops are on the verge of blooming. I can't wait to see all the bulbs in full bloom!

I don't have {funny} or {real} this week, but I do have {interesting}. Another sign of spring is that the turkey vultures have returned. I noticed them roosting in a tree across the street and a little further down the street. They seem to have made those trees their home.

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Around My House

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