Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mesmerising: "Cain" Silhouettes

This website shows all the "Cain" (i.e. murderer) silhouettes in the gorgeous creation sequence from Aronofsky's Noah. I linked a few but the whole sequence is worth a look.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Meal Mondays: Roasted Tomato Soup with A Cheddar Lid

The Recipe:
Taken from Smitten Kitchen, this biting, warming soup is so great for when the weather is cold and autumnal. Which, it wasn't today, traitorously. The joys of meal-planning in advance, right?

The Ingredients:
3 pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Crusty bread, cut into short strips
Cheddar cheese, grated

The Method:
1. About 2 hours before you want to eat, preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread tomatoes out on it cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic in foil, add to pan, and roast everything for about 45 minutes to an hour, until tomatoes are browning and garlic is very soft.
2. Cool tomatoes slightly, then add tomatoes, peeled garlic, and any browned bits from the pan to a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree.
3. Place tomato puree, thyme, red pepper flakes, and stock in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon soup into 4 ramekins, top with bread strips and generous handfuls of cheddar. Bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Broil for a few minutes to brown cheese, and serve.

The Verdict:
So good, make it.

Also. I hate it when Steven is working long hours and I have to take my own pictures, bleah.

Friday, 26 September 2014

TIL: Bill C-33

Today I learned that a bill called "First Nations Control of First Nations Education" is currently under debate between the Assembly of First Nations and the Aboriginal Affairs department. (Apologies for any misinformation as this is not an area of expertise for me.)

From Prime Minister Harper's website:
"The legislation will ensure First Nations control of First Nations education while establishing minimum education standards, consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. For example, the legislation will require that First Nation schools teach a core curriculum that meets or exceeds provincial standards, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that First Nation schools award widely recognized diplomas or certificates. These requirements do not currently exist... The legislation will also improve transparency and promote accountability by establishing clear roles and responsibilities for First Nation education administrators, and annual reporting requirements. The bill will also allow for the establishment of First Nation Education Authorities. These Authorities will act like school boards in the provincial education system to provide the key secondary support to help ensure that First Nation schools are meeting their requirements under the Act, and are providing a quality education for First Nation students."

From the AFN website:
"First Nations are calling for real engagement with the federal government on an honourable process that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity to achieve First Nations control of First Nations education based on First Nations rights and responsibilities.  First Nations overwhelmingly rejected federal legislation, Bill C-33, because it was about federal control of First Nations education. In the wake of that rejection, First Nations are calling for a new path forward leading to genuine First Nations control supported by fair, predictable and stable funding for First Nations education."

From the Bill itself, section 21, which would preclude the possibility of First Nations language immersion schools (not the contrast of 'is to' and 'may; it's not insignificant coming from a government that has in the long-term played the part of dismantling and erasing First Nations cultures):
"Subject to the regulations, the council of a First Nation is to offer English or French as the language of instruction and may, in addition, offer a First Nation language as a language of instruction... The council of a First Nation may, as part of an education program, give students the opportunity to study a First Nation language or culture."

From Twitter, the hashtag #IAmRogue on the subject:

I have recently been staggered by how little I know about Canadian First Nations and the issues surrounding their interactions with the Canadian Crown and white privilege. As I do begin to educate myself and practicing listening and caring, you will find there are more posts on First Nations issues here.

Bible: Foundation Verses

For Bible, we're not really limiting it to one day but rather doing things like praying, reading together, singing, memorising Scripture, learning catechism, etc. over the course of our weeks. We have started memorising our way through these Foundation Verses from Desiring God ministries. I don't have much of a system, just saying the verses lots and using our sign language where we can.

(Great little moment, we started with Genesis 1:1, and I was teaching it to Scout Kid while we played mini-sticks with Scout Kid in full goalie regalia. We'd said it through a few times and I was leaving spaces for him to fill in he blanks and we got: "Okay, Scout Kid. 'In the beginning God created...?'" "Hockey!" Er, no, that was the eighth day of creation I think...)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Art: Concrete Indians, Nadya Kwandibens

"Seen through the lens of Nadya Kwandibens, being Indigenous in a modern world is a beautiful balance. As a Toronto-based professional photographer and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe of the Northwest Angle #37 First Nation in Ontario, Canada, Kwandibens has spent years capturing the spirit of today’s Indigenous Peoples in a manner that highlights the unique way Native identity intersects with contemporary life."

Beautiful photographs. See more here.

Monday, 22 September 2014


This post on Adventure Journal had a bit that hit me like a lightning bolt:

"A couple weeks ago, Alastair Humphreys told me about the Explore feature on Kayak.com that allows you to enter the amount of money you’d liked to spend, and shows you where you can fly in the world for that amount.

This is of particular interest to Alastair, because this year he’s encouraging everyone to save £20 (or $20, or €20) every week for the entire year, and then take that money and plan an adventure with it—for $1,000. He said at the time of our conversation, a little over halfway through the year, he would be able to get from his home in the U.K. to New Zealand, according to Kayak."

A quick and dirty calculation tells me Steven and I could get to Portugal next year if we did this $20 a week plan. Since we haven't been on a vacation longer than a weekend since our honeymoon (4 years next week!) and not at all since our children were born, this would make a good goal for our 5-year anniversary. Because heck yeah I'd go to Portugal with him!

Want to find out where you can go with your budget?

Mesmerising: Conception to Birth

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Manly Church

Today I want to talk a little bit about the common charge heard in Conservative/complementarian circles that today's church is 'feminised', springboarding off this article from Christianity Today called "Act Like Men: What It Means to Fight Like a Man", subtitled, Men, is [sic] your life characterised by courage, strength, and love?

Here's how the article starts: "One of the reasons many churches struggle is they're not a friendly place for men. Think about the worship service at your church. More than likely, there's a lot of talk about loving each other, but not much about fighting against sin or fighting for each other. There's holding hands when we sing, but not much locking arms as we get marching orders for the mission."

The article goes on to cite passages like 2 Timothy 4:7 ("I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race..."), Ephesians 6 ("Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil…so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand."), and 1 Peter 5:8 ("Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.")

You may not be surprised to find that I take issue with this. Here's why: what they are talking about is not feminisation. It is just plain weak theology and vague experientialism-- and I refuse to accept that as inherent to my gender. "Is your church all about lovey-dovey pop-psychology stuff, with no serious, difficult looks at sin and struggle to be seen? LADIES."

Those passages referenced above? Are inspired Scripture intended for the whole of the church, not 'Notes from the Men's Manual of Being a Good Christian'. Battle language is part of our life as Christians; warring against the flesh, fleeing temptation, standing firm against the flaming darts of the enemy, being alert and watchful are the territory of every Christian. Being "characterised by courage, strength, and love"? Two-thirds of that dictum are in my blog title referencing Proverbs 31, the excellent wife.

I have always loved John Piper's description of "strong complementarian women" as having "massive steel in their backs, and theology in their brains." By all means, let us call churches to draw from the richness, depth, and strength of Scripture in their meetings instead of relying on niceness to save us. Let us face the darkness of our sin, let us ask the Spirit for self-control, endurance, and discipline along with our love, kindness, and gentleness-- and let all of us do this without drawing a line down the middle for gender, because that line is not written into God's Word. Let us not, however, make the mistake of calling a theologically-weak, feel-good, standardless church 'feminised'. Because, I beg your pardon, but that ain't my femininity.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Music: Note Names

Today's exercise went in a very unexpected direction, which I guess is the fun of following the lead of your student's interest. The only plan I had was 'label the piano', but here's what we did:

-Got out our alphabet stickers and began labeling the notes-- all the C's, then all the D's, etc. As we did this, I showed him out all the C's sound the same, and so on with the other notes.
-Talked about how the high notes were light and high like a fairy's feet, and the low notes were deep and heavy like a giant's feet. Oh, oops, I mentioned fairies, so Scout Kid, "Where Peter Pan?"
-Improvised a quick song for each octave, with the low octaves serving as Captain Hook, the cannon, and the crocodile, on up through Peter Pan, Wendy, John & Michael, and Tinker Bell. Samples: "Crocodile ticks loud; his clock rings,"and "Peter Pan flies up in the sky." Not fabulous lyrics but we did sing a lot of scales that way...

Dessa, Children's Work

Just discovered Dessa. Talk about girlboss. Mind (maybe soul) blown.

Monday, 15 September 2014

English: Alphabet Puzzle

Mondays are our busy day (grocery shopping + claiming back the house from the weekend mess) so we keep the activities simple. Our English activities will actually be mostly playing with letters, talking about phonics and letter combinations and such as a natural part of the play. Here's what we did today:

-Got the fabulous Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book and Scout Kid's hand-me-down alphabet puzzle out. Dumped all the puzzle pieces on the floor.
-Flipped through the pages, finding the letters that matched the respective pages, talking about the letter sounds, and reading the words in the pages.

This was a very simple activity and I wasn't sure Scout Kid would be interested, but he enjoyed it. He was definitely more interested in this than last week's geography activity (although he did actually end up liking the continents song.)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Foundland Fridays: Soap Utopia

This recommendation is close to my heart because I love Canadian-made, and I also love natural beauty products. Soap Utopia makes gorgeous, natural soaps in Oakville, Ontario. I love the Baby Me unscented baby soap for the boys, and Steven and I use the Muskoka Boathouse and Oakmoss scents because they're nice and unisex (well, they're unisex if you're me and you're not into ultra-feminine, floral scents). I also love the lip-balms, they work better for me than anything I've bought at a drugstore (including Burt's Bees) and have lovely scents. Lily treats her customers well and I won't buy any other soaps for our family. Four-bar bundles for $22.60 with flat-rate shipping.

History/Geography: Continents

So for today's activity we did a little geography. It was not my most favoured activity, so we only spent about 20 minutes on it, but here's what we did:

-Watched the above video and pointed on the globe to each continent as the girls sang it. Talked about how a continent is a big piece of land, like a big, big, island, with many countries like Canada inside it.
-Printed this map of the world and coloured it in. (I hope that link works, they sometimes don't.)
-Quickly lost interest in colouring the world and wanted to draw tree forts instead. That's fine, I guess.
-Then Scout Kid wanted to go play Survivorman in his bedroom. I took him to his room, sang him the continents song one more time pointing at his big wall map in the bedroom, and then we were done for the day.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Quote: Kindness, Generosity, and Women Who Were Not Afraid To Grow Old

""You'll do one thing before you take her into the spare room," said Old Grandmother fiercely. "Moorhouse and Stackley have given up the case. They've only half a brain between them anyhow. Send for that woman-doctor."
Young Grandmother looked thunderstruck. She turned to Uncle Klon, who was sitting by the baby's cradle, his haggard face buried in his hands.
"Do you suppose--I've heard she was very clever--they say she was offered a splendid post in a children's hospital in Montreal but preferred general practice--"
"Oh, get her, get her," said Klondike--savage from the bitter business of hoping against hope. "Any port in a storm. She can't do any harm now."
"Will you go for her, Horace," said Young Grandmother quite humbly.
Klondike Lesley uncoiled himself and went. He had never seen Dr. Richards before--save at a distance, or spinning past him in her smart little runabout. She was in her office and came forward to meet him gravely sweet.
She had a little, square, wide-lipped, straight-browed face like a boy's. Not pretty but haunting. Wavy brown hair with one teasing, unruly little curl that would fall down on her forehead, giving her a youthful look in spite of her thirty-five years. What a dear face! So wide at the cheekbones--so deep grey-eyed. With such a lovely, smiling, generous mouth. Some old text of Sunday-school days suddenly flitted through Klondike Lesley's dazed brain:
"She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."
For just a second their eyes met and locked. Only a second. But it did the work of years. The irresistible woman had met the immovable man and the inevitable had happened. She might have had thick ankles--only she hadn't; her mother might have meowed all over the church. Nothing would have mattered to Klondike Lesley. She made him think of all sorts of lovely things, such as sympathy, kindness, generosity, and women who were not afraid to grow old. He had the most extraordinary feeling that he would like to lay his head on her breast and cry, like a little boy who had got hurt, and have her stroke his head and say,
"Never mind--be brave--you'll soon feel better, dear."
"Will you come to see my little niece?" he heard himself pleading. "Dr. Moorhouse has given her up. We are all very fond of her. Her mother will die if she cannot be saved. Won't you come?"
"Of course I will," said Dr. Richards."

-Magic for Marigold, L.M. Montgomery

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Music: Shakers and Rhythm

Today we explored rhythm in music. Here's what we did, for about 45 minutes:

-Listened to Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints while we coloured and decorated our paper plates. Drummed on our plates along with Proof, listening for the loud and soft parts.
-Filled our plates with rice and beans (one of each) and stapled them shut.
-Had a dance party to Coast, Frantik (WWMT), and Happy from Despicable Me 2. Shook our shakers, twirled ("Look, woom turning!") and ran around.
-Listened to Paul Simon's Gumboots, and watched a video of gumboot dancers, since earlier Scout Kid had been drumming on his rubber boots. While we did this, Scout Kid also practiced cutting on the streamers with his little scissors.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Meal Mondays: Five-Hour Roast Duck

The Recipe:
My friend has been trying his hand at raising free-range ducks and chickens, and we were the recipients of his first slaughteree (File that under 'words I never expected to type.') It wasn't the prettiest duck ever roasted, but beauty is as beauty tastes, so...

Recipe from Global Gourmet.

The Ingredients:
1 duck (I don't know what weight it was, sorry!)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Handful thyme sprigs

The Method:
1. Begin cooking about 5 hours and 45 minutes before you wish to eat. Preheat oven to 300F and set a rack in the middle level. Remove giblets from duck and pat dry with paper towels, removing any loose chunks of fat from the cavity. Rub the cavity with salt, pepper, and garlic, and lay the sprigs of thyme inside. With a very sharp knife, prick the skin all over, being careful not to pierce the flesh.
2. Place duck breast side up in a roasting pan with a rack (as there will be lots of grease) and begin roasting. Every hour for 4 hours, remove pan from oven, piece skin all over, pour fat out of the pan (reserving for future use!), and turn duck over.
3. After 4 hours, increase oven temperature to 350F, sprinkle duck with salt and pepper, and cook for about 1 hour longer, or until skin is crisp and browned. Let rest for 20 minutes, carve, and serve.
Note: Duck can be served after four hours; it will be juicier but not as tender as the five-hour duck.

The Verdict:
Much better than my rather sad first attempt cooking a duck a year or so back. I only cooked it for four hours and at a slightly higher temperature as I was in a hurry, and I think I pierced it too deeply, so the breast was a little dry, but the dark meat was very juicy and succulent. Mostly I think it's a case of 'practice makes perfect'; the recipe is good but I need to get better at cooking it.

Our new cat Domino was also thrilled to receive the mostly-raw neck, which had been left on the bird. Because I've been reading about homemade cat food and it put the fear in me about the unnaturalness of dry kibble for a cat.

English: Parking Lot Letters

Today we practiced uppercase/lowercase letters and phonics sounds with a "parking lot" and some toy cars. We also used a Scattergories die and our fabulous set of magnetic letters*. Here's what we did:

-Rolled the (uppercase) die and drove cars to the matching lowercase letters. 
-Picked out our family's initials from the die and parked our corresponding cars in those spots.
-Talked about the M and the W and turned the parking lot around so the W was an M.
-Pulled out our magnetic alphabet and made piles of the lower and uppercase letters on their corresponding parking spaces. We also spelled our names and our new cat's name.

*Link through my Amazon Affiliates Account.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Art: Charcoal Drawing

I'm not much of an artist myself but I figure this year we'll just explore different mediums and in future I can get an actual art course that gives Scout Kid a little bit more helpful instruction. So today we swapped out his staple markers for charcoal pencils. Here's what we did, for about half an hour, guided by Scout Kid's interest:

-Picked a few toys to draw from: a wooden toy car and an alligator puppet.
-Draw the car. Talked about the shapes we could see and copied them one by one.
-Drew the alligator. Much of this involved making ferocious zigzags for "darp teef". 
-Experimented with smudging and shading. Enjoyed how messy our fingers were getting.
-Added some brown and red pencil crayon colouring to the pictures at Scout Kid's request.
-Wrote 'car', which Scout Kid attempted to replicate, and 'alligator', which he did not, on the picture along with the date and added it to Scout Kid's Learning Binder.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Science: Chemical Reactions

Scout Kid was very excited to start 'dool' this morning, and after breakfast once Feral Kid was down for his nap, we set up at his desk for our first lesson. We used an eyedropper, a squirt bottle, a teaspoon, and our fingers to experiment with the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar. Here's what we did, led by Scout Kid's interest, for about an hour:

-Talked about how two things can mix together to make something new or something happen, and how that is called a chemical reaction. (This led to Scout Kid dripping vinegar into the soda and exclaiming joyfully, "Someping new! Someping new!")
-Used the eyedropper and the squirter to make the baking soda in the tray fizz.
-Added food colouring to the vinegar to enjoy the pink fizz.
-Experimented with adding baking soda to the vinegar instead, including making handprints in the baking soda and then rinsing hands off in the vinegar bowl.
-Experimented with tasting vinegar and baking soda (unprompted). Result: "Dat taste nasty." Drank some water.
-Experimented with adding water to the baking soda, and discussing how some things cause a reaction and some don't. 
-Cleaned up. Not an insignificant part of the lesson.

Preschool Year One

Today we officially started preschool-homeschooling at the Parsonage! It. It's very low-commitment, just one short activity every day, cycling through 10 different subjects on a two-week schedule. The subjects are:

English: covers letters, phonics, reading, storytelling, vocabulary.
History/Geography: covers world & Canadian geography, map comprehension, reading of age-appropriate historical fiction, exploration of current and historical cultures, and study of our own heritage.
Computers/Technology: covers basic computer literacy like mouse/keypad/keyboard use, iPhone apps, and preliminary coding.
Music: covers musical instruments, dance, rhythm, music notation, and music appreciation.
Bible: covers catechism, Scripture memory, Bible reading, prayer, and singing.
Foreign Languages: I want the boys to learn sign language and French, so this will cover some basic activities we are doing to lay foundations in those two languages.
Phys. Ed: covers large and fine motor activities and sports. Mostly just playing!
Mathematics: covers numeracy & counting, geometry, patterning, telling time & dates, and weights & measures.
Science: covers observation and experimentation in kitchen chemistry, local wildlife, horticulture, simple machines, basic anatomy and astronomy, and things like light-bending, states of matter, and senses.
Art: covers basic colour theory, art appreciation, different forms such as sculpting, painting, collage, printmaking, textile art, and photography.

I'm so looking forward to seeing Scout Kid learn and grow this year, and to blogging all the different activities.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Listen Hard

I've been reading the Native Appropriations blog and really enjoyed this post on the phenomenon of hipster headdresses. It also represents a beautifully articulated discourse on the subject of listening to the marginalised in general:

"I’m trying to think of examples of things I respect, and how I show that respect. I’m actually struggling to think of a time when I respected something, and decided the best way to show that respect was by taking it. I respect the Dalai Lama, but I wouldn’t put on Tibetan monk robes to show that respect. I respect the Zapatistas, but I’m not going to don a mask and wrap myself in an EZLN flag. You know how I show respect? I listen. I listen hard, I listen deeply, and I listen constantly. I listen to stories, I listen to histories, I listen to learn, and I listen to hear when I’ve misstepped. I listen so I can become a more complete human being. It is clear from your response that maybe you heard, but you didn’t listen. If you would have listened to our voices as Native community members, you would have seen that the way to show respect to your Native friends and neighbors was not to put on a headdress and defend your choice, but to take it off and apologize."