Book life, homeschooling, and a request.

I still have a few book reviews in draft, which are being slowed down significantly as we adjust to our new homeschool workload. Sometime over the next two weeks, I expect to post reviews of the following books:

  • Captains Courageous
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • Your Man is Wonderful

In the meantime, we are experiencing quite the challenge juggling the demands of homeschooling, the homework and readings associated with the supplemental classes our kids are taking, and regular homemaking necessities.

The positives are that our kids are getting top notch instruction from some amazingly gifted women (and a few men) in subjects I could never have tackled with the same depth of knowledge and enthusiasm. Latin, literature, drama, speech, visual arts, and art appreciation taught by teachers with passion for the subjects, years of studying them, and a wholly Christian worldview are pretty priceless. We are thankful to have found such a great community to add to our homeschool repertoire and more parents to join us on the journey.

The challenge is that being out of the house two days a week means that we have to incorporate the reading and homework for those subjects, the instruction of the subjects I am solely responsible for (math and science primarily), meals laundry, and other daily duties into a workable schedule. This, five readers, is where you come in.

I am looking for a scheduling program -online or PDF- that I can use to organize our day, keep good records, and generally organize our new homeschool life. It doesn’t have to be free. I’m willing to pay for it so long as it is adaptable and works. Up until this point our days have been fluid and relaxed because we weren’t out as much with the exception of our much less demanding co-op. It’s a new day, and I need something new to tackle it with. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Today has actually been a pretty sane day. So much so that we made it to the library. Everyone in our house has different reading interests, and as I moved about the house this afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the different stacks and what they revealed about the range of readers:

 

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My stack.

 

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lover of all things magical.

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The eclectic reader.

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foodie/aspiring culinary artist.

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Too busy mapping northern Europe to check out books! Also busy reading Captains Courageous.

I’ve had to break out my long abandoned -but pretty effective- laundry schedule to keep that from being a huge pain. My slow cooker is also going to start getting quite the workout.

Basically, I’ve got to up my time management game since we decided to abandon the relaxed homeschooling approach.

Zora Hurston confirms Solomon’s declaration.

There are a couple of book reviews being drafted, but in the meantime, I was recently reminded of this story from Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men.

In 1935, ZNH laid bare what was obvious about relations between the sexes and where they were headed even back then.  It has only been amplified over the past 50 years. Totally worth grasping the dialect.

You see in de very first days, God made a man and a woman and put “em in a house together to live. ‘Way back in them days de woman was just as strong as de man and both of ’em did de same things. They useter get to fussin ’bout who gointer do this and that and sometime they’d fight, but they was even balanced and neither one could whip de other one.

One day de man said to hisself, “B’Iieve Ah’m gointer go see God and ast Him for a li’l mo’ strength so Ah kin whip dis ‘oman and make her mind. Ah’m tired of de wa things is.” So he went on up to God.

“Good mawnin’, Ole Father.”

“Howdy man. Whut you doin’ ’round my throne so so dis mawnin’?”

 “Ah’m troubled in mind, and nobody can’t ease mah spirit ‘ceptin’ you.”

 God said: “Put yo’ plea in de right form and Ah’ll hear and answer.”

“Ole Maker, wid de mawnin’ stars glitterin’ in yo’ shin crown, wid de dust from yo’ footsteps makin’ worlds upo worlds, wid de blazin’ bird we call de sun flyin’ out of you right hand in de mawnin’ and consumin’ all day de flesh and blood of stump-black darkness, and comes flyin’ home every evenin  to rest on yo’ left hand, and never once in yo’ eternal years, mistood de left hand for de right, Ah ast you please to give me mo’ strength than dat woman you give me, so Ah kin make her mind. Ah know you don’t want to be always comin’ down way past de moon and stars to be straightenin’ her out and its got to be done. So giv me a li’l mo’ strength, Ole Maker and Ah’ll do it.”

“All right, Man, you got mo’ strength than woman.”

So de man run all de way down de stairs from Heben he got home. He was so anxious to try his strength on de woman dat he couldn’t take his time. Soon’s he got in de house he hollered “Woman! Here’s yo’ boss. God done tole me to handle you in which ever way yo’ boss please.”‘

De woman flew to fightin’ ‘im right off. She fought ‘im frightenin’ but he beat her. She got her wind and tried ‘irn agin but he whipped her agin. She got herself together and made de third try on him vigorous but he beat her every time. He was so proud he could whip ‘er at last, dat he just crowed over her and made her do a lot of things she didn’t like. He told her, “Long as you obey me, Ah’Il be good to yuh, but every time yuh rear up Ah’m gointer put plenty wood on yo’ back and plenty water in yo’  eyes.

 De woman was so mad she went straight up to Heben and stood befo’ de Lawd. She didn’t waste no words. She said, “Lawd, Ah come befo’ you mighty mad t’day. Ah want back my strength and power Ah useter have.”

“Woman, you got de same power you had since de beginnin’.”

 “Why is it then, dat de man kin beat me now and he useter couldn’t do it?”

 “He got mo’ strength than he useter have, He come and ast me for it and Ah give it to ‘im. Ah gives to them that ast, and you ain’t never ast me for no mo’ power.”

 “Please suh, God, Ah’m astin’ you for it now. jus’ gimme de same as you give him.”

God shook his head. “It’s too late now, woman. Whut Ah give, Ah never take back. Ah give him mo’ strength than you and no matter how much Ah give you, he’ll have mo.

De woman was so mad she wheeled around and went on off. She went straight to de devil and told him what had happened.

He said, ” Don’t be disincouraged, woman. You listen to me and you’ll come out mo’ than conqueror. Take dem frowns out yo’ face and turn round and go fight on back to Heben and ast God to give you dat bunch of keys hangin’ by de mantel-piece. Then you bring ’em and Ah’ll show you what to do wid ’em.”

So de woman climbed back up to Heben agin. She was mighty tired but she was more out-done than she was tired so she climbed all night long and got back up to Heben. When she got to heaven butter wouldn’t melt in her mouf.

“0 Lawd and Master of de rainbow, Ah know yo’ power. You never make two mountains without you put a valley in between. Ah know you kin hit a straight lick wid a crooked stick.”

 “Ast for whut you want, woman.”

 “God, gimme dat bunch of keys hangin’ by yo’ mantel befo’ de throne.”

“Take em.”

So de woman took de keys and hurried on back to de devil wid ’em. There was three keys on de bunch. Devil say, “See dese three keys? They got mo’ power in ’em than all de strength de man kin ever git if you handle ’em right. Now dis first big key is to de do’ of de kitchen, and you know a man always favors his stomach. Dis second one is de key to de bedroom and he don’t like to be shut out from dat neither and dis last key is de key to de cradle and he don’t want to be cut off from his generations at all. So now you take dese keys and go lock up everything and wait till he come to you. Then don’t you unlock nothin’ until he use his strength for yo’ benefit and yo’ desires.”

De woman thanked ‘im and tole ‘im, “If it wasn’t for you, Lawd knows whut us po’ women folks would do.”

She started off but de devil halted her. “Jus’ one mo’ thing: don’t go home braggin’ ’bout yo’ keys. jus’ lock up everything and say nothin’ until you git asked. And then don’t talk too much.”

De woman went on home and did like de devil tole her. When de man come home from work she was settin’ on de porch singin’ some song ’bout “Peck on de wood make de bed go good.”

When de man found de three doors fastened what useter stand wide open he swelled up like pine lumber after a rain. First thing he tried to break in cause he figgered his strength would overcome all obstacles. When he saw he couldn’t do it, he ast de woman, “Who locked dis do’?”

 She tole ‘im, “Me.”

 “Where did you git de key from?”

“God give it to me.

He run up to God and said, “God, woman got me. locked ‘way from my vittles, my bed and my generations, and she say you give her the keys.”

 God said, “I did, Man, Ah give her de keys, but de devil showed her how to use ’em!”

“Well, Ole Maker, please gimme some keys jus’ lak ’em so she can’t git de full control.”

“No, Man, what Ah give Ah give. Woman got de key.”

“How kin Ah know ’bout my generations.

 “Ast de woman.”

So de man come on back and submitted hisself to de woman and she opened de doors. He wasn’t satisfied but he had to give in. ‘Way after while he said to de woman, “Le’s us divide up. Ah’Il give you half of my strength if you lemme hold de keys in my hands.”

De woman thought dat over so de devil popped and tol her, “Tell ‘im, naw. Let ‘im keep his strength and you keep y’ keys.”

 So de woman wouldn’t trade wid ‘im and de man had to mortgage his strength to her to live. And dat’s why de man makes and de woman takes. You men is still braggin’ ’bout yo’ strength and de women is sittin’ on de keys and lettin’ you blow off till she git ready to put de bridle on you.

Yes, I realize it’s not Biblical but, this is folklore. It still proves that there really is nothing new under the sun. Which is why it is so vital to read books. They are not a substitute for THE Book, but still. The older, the better.

 

What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Premenopause

doctor may not tell you

What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Premenopause: Balance your hormones and your life from thrity to fifty by John Lee, M.D. and Jesse Hanley, M.D. Originally published in 1999. 395 pages.

‘Kay, folks. I read this one almost two months ago, and told myself that I wasn’t going to review it until I had tested the suggestions a bit. Then I tested the suggestions, found a couple of them were not only healthy but genuinely helpful, and still waffled on reviewing it.

Sunday, I handed it to a friend of mine who I thought might be helped by it, and realized that I was avoiding reviewing it because…well, it’s another public declaration of my stage of life. But it’s a great book, and the health improvement suggestions are not only very efffective, they align with my ideals as well. So I’m getting over myself long enough to recommend this book. It’s that good, and I want to share this information with other women.

If my hormones had started wigging out at 40, or I’d had time to process the gradual changes many women report experiencing starting at 35, I might have been better prepared for stuff. However, I was humming along like clockwork with nary the faintest hint of anything out of the ordinary for 45 years. Very recently, little things popped up here and there, and my desire to keep living my normal life in all respects sent me on a hunt for answers, and that hunt led me to this book.

People (ahem, like me) heard Suzanne Somers going on about not having life hindered by hormonal changes and laughed. If I met her today, I would offer her my apologies nd join her on a tour to tell every woman over 40 that you really don’t have to have your life, moods, and sex life turned upside down by the calendar. You can find what to do, how and why by reading this book.

One of the things I appreciated about it was that these are OB/Gyns who openly and defiantly advise women to ignore most of the conventional medical wisdom and toxic prescriptions offered by most gynecological professionals. A second thing I appreciated about them was that they had an entire chapter dedicated to the deadly and damaging nature of artificial birth control. They actually advocate the calendar method for those couples interested in child spacing.

They strongly discourage elective surgeries to handle issues caused by wild hormonal swings or conditions such as menorrhagia. They strongly discourage estrogen-like replacement alternatives as well, although they don’t spend much time on that since the book is written for women who are not yet menopausal. Perhaps in five years I’ll pick up the next book.

They go into great detail about how our hormones really work. For instance, that it’s not a decrease in estrogen but progestrone that is the culprit when pre-menopausal women first start to experience problems. That alone was very enlightening for me, as well as the less expensive, non drug, all natural, bioidentical hormonal supplements and replacements that work with a woman’s body rather than against it. In other words, unlike progestins or  ERT, natural hormones won’t make you gain weight or increase your risk of developing cancer later in life.

After making several of the adjustments outlined in the book, and probably because I got started working the problem at the first sign of trouble, I have seen a lot of success with every bit of the advice I tried. From greater ease of weight management, to an immediate return to regular cycles, to better sleep. It was actually quite remarkable, until I stopped to consider that the natural way, using the stuff that God created, should yield the best results.

I suppose my grade for this book is obvious, but for the sake of consistency, I’ll offer one.

Grade: A

The Gluten-free, Almond Flour Cookbook.

GF Almond flour cookbook

The Gluten-free, Almond Flour Cookbook, by Elena Amsterdam. Published in 2009. 144 pages.

I stumbled upon this one in our local library and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I have finally accepted the reality that at this stage of life[1], the white sugar and white flour have to be forever banished. Or at least relegated to the odd special occasion. Since special occasions seem to occur with startling regularity in this house, I have to take the further step of figuring out which times I’m willing to throw caution to the wind and eat the cake.

I had been grappling with how to make this adjustment, given that baking is a very big part of my life. I even brought a decent supplemental income for a couple of years selling my home baked wares. Our eldest is also quite the baker and is on the cusp of developing quite the entrepreneurial enterprise as a baker herself. In other words, around here gluten is more than just the protein found in wheat that makes the bread chewy and the cake stay together. It’s a major part of kitchen life. Because we thoroughly enjoy working with it, I was a little sad to say goodbye to baking as much as anything else.

Enter this little book by Elena Amsterdam, and baking (at least baking I can actually eat) re-entered my life in a snap. I haven’t tried every recipe in the book yet, but I have tried 5 and not one has been disappointing. That was enough for me to go ahead and offer a review and endorsement of the book. The second reason I felt comfortable with it is that my husband thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of both the pancakes and the pecan shortbread cookies, and he is not easily impressed. Because he has become increasingly less tolerant of high levels of sweetness, these recipes are a good fit for him as well.

The natural sweetness of the almonds means that only few tablespoons of agave nectar are used as the sweetener in most of the recipes. I haven’t made one of the cakes yet, but I will this weekend -I hope, as we have quite a full one ahead- but the frostings will require confectioners sugar, making them recipes with a higher level of sweetness.

The caveat here is that almond flour is expensive. I paid $13.95 at our local warehouse club for a three-pound bag and felt like I was getting a real deal. However, because I am making adjustments to my diet which are permanent and not a temporary fix, I don’t have a problem with making the investment. As far as I am concerned, almond flour is equivalent to gluten free GOLD for someone who loves to bake but wants to keep the white flour in their diet to a minimum.

Grade: A

[1] The dietary changes are not related to weight loss, but rather hormone balancing, and by that I mean hormones of all sorts: adrenal and thyroid as well as estrogen and progesterone. I may review a good book I read on the subject at a later date. I am giving it 30 days to see if the positive changes I am experiencing are more than just a fluke.