The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2004)
I heard so many homeschoolers raving about The Well-Trained Mind that I had to read it for myself. Then the question became not why so many people love it, but why do I? One reviewer called this approach “ultra school-at-home”—which should have been enough to send me fleeing as from a thousand devils. (More)
I don’t have time to do justice to this wonderful book, only to say that every mother, grandmother, mother-to-be, and potential mother should read it—and that goes for fathers, too. When Eliot expresses her opinions on the data she presents, I don’t always agree, but as a collection of clear, readable reports on the latest research on brain development, this book is invaluable. I’d love to post large quantities of this amazing information, but will content myself with a few more or less random samples. (More)
Our local library has a subscription to Ancestry.com, the genealogical research site. Unfortunately the response time is slow, and one day a couple of months ago I was working near enough the “New Releases” shelf to do some browsing during the otherwise interminable wait between entering my request and the return of the results.
The bright cover of Brett Kingstone’s book caught my eye. I was not impressed by the title, which sounded Limbaugh-esque and evoked images of conspiracy theorists. I brought the book home, thinking Porter might enjoy it, but did not expect to read it myself. It didn’t sound like my kind of book.
I can't say as I recommend Nobody's Fool, since it's the kind of book that makes me want to wash my brain out with soap afterwards. However, I will admit that his characters are somehow so human (if not humane) that the sleaziness seems essential to their characters and not gratuitous.
The incentive for reading a book that would not otherwise have attracted me was learning that its fictional town of North Bath is based on Ballston Spa, New York, which is not far from where I grew up. It was easy to recognize Schuyler Springs as the real-life Saratoga Springs, and other places that I know (Albany, the Northway, the Adirondacks) are not disguised. Unfortunately, all I know about Ballston Spa itself comprises one family, one home, and one church, none of which is evident in this story, for which they all should be deeply grateful.My experience reminded me of another time I read a book solely for its setting: Catcher in the Rye is set in Wayne, Pennsylvania, another of my home towns. That book was no better, though probably no worse, than this one. It's been a long time since I read it, and I have no intention of doing so again, setting or no setting, so I can't say for sure.
Not so with the sixth book. It held my attention from beginning to end, not easy to do when the competition is an adorable 20-month old grandson, a flock of other wonderful family members and friends, and a lovely converted houseboat on the Connecticut shoreline. It did help that I found Harry's behavior less obnoxious this time. There were a few annoying points—I never did care to read about the tribulations of adolescent love—but they were minor.Grace, sacrificial love, and persistent hope for the salvation even of one's enemies show more clearly here than in previous books. As always, Rowling's great contribution to children's literature is that she does not sugarcoat evil, nor minimize the cost of the battle, yet still manages to produce a book full of goodness, hope, and fun.
Let the Baby Drive, by Lu Hanessian (St. Martin's Press, New York, 2004)
Recently we opened a bottle of wine of far higher class (and expense) than I could hope to appreciate. (I can occasionally enjoy half of a small glass of wine, but my discernment rarely goes beyond "I like this" or "I don't like this"; I can distinguish red from white with my eyes closed, but "redolent of old oak with faint hints of chocolate, raspberry, and mushroom" is beyond me.) After my first sip or two, I said, "This isn't my kind of wine." By the third sip I had changed my mind, and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the bottle over the next few days.
That's how I feel about Let the Baby Drive. I saw it advertised in The Compleat Mother magazine, and borrowed it from our local library. For the first several chapters I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is mildly interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Why does this lady make such a big deal out of life with a newborn, something women have been handling for millennia? She is 'way too focussed on herself, her angst, the minutiae of her feelings." (More)
On Saturday we went to the Central Florida Fair, old-fashioned fun with rides, a midway, cotton candy, and hundreds of exhibits. I particularly enjoy the 4H and Future Farmers of America presentations. What I like best, perhaps, is that it is SO NOT DISNEY.
This year I again visited my favorite fair vendor, Our Vital Earth. I like them because they sell worm condominiums. That's Porter's term for the product, which I like better than the official name, Can-O-Worms. Whatever the appellation, it's a nifty system for dealing with home garbage. The tiered container (shown here expanded) takes up about as much room as a large kitchen garbage can. You put your organic garbage—scraps (except meat and bones), grass clippings, leaves, newspapers, dryer lint, old cotton socks—into one of the three trays (the bottom tier holds liquid) along with the garbage-eating worms. When that tray is full, put another on top; the worms migrate upward as they run out of food. After a while the worms are out of the bottom tray, leaving fine fertilizer behind. Water and worm urine collects in the bottom; the resulting liquid makes a good, natural insecticide as well as fertilizer. (They also say it's good for sunburn, but I don't think I'd try that one.) It's supposed to be a rapid, odorless process, big in Australia, where I'm told the device is often kept in the kitchen. I'd probably opt for the back porch, but the one I saw at the fair would not be out of place in a kitchen. It smelled better than most garbage cans.
We have no affiliation with Our Vital Earth, nor any other Can-O-Worms seller. We don't even own a worm condo; I just think it's a cool idea. And we may get one yet, once I figure out how to keep a straight face when arranging for a worm babysitter when we go on vacation. (More)
In May of 2001, Martin and Gracia Burnham took a one-day holiday from their busy work in the Philippines for the New Tribes Mission, celebrating their 28th anniversary at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan, a Philippine island province in the South China Sea. Their 29th anniversary would mark a year’s captivity among the Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino Muslim terrorist organization with ties to Osama bin Laden. They would not reach their 30th anniversary. Kidnapped from their beds along with several other people at Dos Palmas, the Burnhams were held for ransom under horrific conditions until a less-than-successful rescue attempt by the Filipino army on June 7, 2002. Gracia, wounded, was the only hostage to survive the rescue. (More)
Let me state at the outset that I am in favor of vaccinations. I’m very grateful to all those folks whose work has given us some measure of victory over so many horrible diseases. (And to the animals involved, whose sacrifices are usually even greater.) That said, it needs to be more clear that those little jabs to which we subject ourselves, our babies, and our soldiers, are neither miracle nor magic. (More)
Strictly speaking, this is not a review of Stephen Covey’s new book. The 8th Habit is in great demand at our library, so all I have done is read through it, making little attempt to think about the concepts, much less apply them. (I still have a long way to go in applying the concepts from Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First.) I will, however, allow myself a few comments: (More)