Monday, December 27, 2010

Giveaway!!! Giveaway!!! Giveaway!!! Giveaway!!!

I am stoked pleased to present this amazing give-away. Publications Internation Ltd has graciously consented to a 6 book set give-away of their interactive library. As some of you may recall, I wrote a review on their products a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, here it is again.

Fun in education has come a long way since I grew up. Take the above pictured set for example. I wish they had stuff like that when I grew up! So what is this you ask?

Combine richly illustrated 'Britannica' produced books with a SD-X Interactive Reader Pen and let the magic happen. It did in my house. So much so, that the kids had fights over who got to use it when and how long. We purchased the the above pictured set at Sam's Club for about $25 (sold out in a few days) and it's worth every penny and more. The set contains 3 books and a 'Reader' Pen which when placed at various points on each page provides hours of additional information and audioclips. We bought the set which has 'EARTH', 'HUMANS' and 'SPACE'. There are, however, other combinations available. The set is published by PIL Books and here, for your convenience, is a link to their interactive store. In addition to the hours and hours of interesting soundbites your child can also challenge herself with quizzes. Now, because this set became the ball everyone wanted to play with in our home I appreciated the added bonus in the headset port available on the pen's top. This was helpful for us as one kid was able to listen to his heart's content to the lessons while perusing a richly illustrated book without distracting his sister who was working on something else at the same time. We simply used the headphones from his I-Pod Shuffle.

And here's the BIG NEWS!!!!The wonderful folks at PIL are making the magic happen for one of you lucky winners.  Here is how you enter:

1. Leave a comment and be sure to leave a link to your blog.  If you have no blog leave me two comments, one I can publish and one that contains your e-mail address (which will not be published) . This will be counted as one entry.
2. For an extra entry visit the PIL website and copy a link to a product that really interests you. Come back and leave me a comment with the link added to the PIL link you liked.

How will the winner be chosen? We have a very scientific approach. On January 10th I will print the entries on equally sized pieces of paper. My blind folded son will pick one piece of paper and his sister (who knows how to read and will not be blindfolded LOL) will read the name. I will notify the winner via e-mail and on their blog if I have their blog address. Please contact me immediately (my comments are only published after approval so your e-mail address and real life name are safe and won't be published)  The winner's name and e-mail will be forwarded to PIL Publications and they will then mail the goodies to the winner. Now please understand, that PIL agreed (understandably so)  to mail  the book set to winners in the continental US only.  If you live outside the continental US you will unfortunately not be able to qualify for this give-away.

If you have any questions please let me know. I've never done this before and hope I didn't make things too hard to  understand.

Bon chance!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Itchy Homeschooling Family.

IT Man, Marlis, Missy and Bear

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tribute to a Mother

I'd like to take a moment and tell you about a mother. The mother of the mother of my husband. A deeply devout mother who dedicated her life to her daughters. Especially her middle child, my mother-in-law. You see, my mother-in-law had meningitis in her thirties and once she awoke from a three week coma she had to relearn everything. Enter my grandmother-in-law. She packed her bags, moved in and never left. Once again she taught her daughter how to walk. She taught her daughter once again how to eat, talk, go potty and write.  Once again my grandmother-in-law (I call her Didu), patiently taught her daughter how to button a blouse and tie a knot. And although my mother-in-law (who passed away last year) learned all those things she never regained full function. And so Didu stayed. My mother-in-law had lost most of her hearing due to the disease and her balance. My grandmother-in-law was her ears and steadied her when needed, isn't that what we mothers do?

Didu had been bedridden for a while now and lived mostly in her dreamlike world of memories, occasionally vocalized with urgencies such as 'your husband is coming home from work, let us quickly make a snack for him'.  About 4 days ago she entered a permanent dream state or coma. The decision was made to let this 90 something lady go to sleep and today she once again rejoined two of her daughters and her husband.

Didu, rest in peace. I'm here to take care of your grandson.

Your grand-daughter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fried, Frazzled, Frustrated or Flummoxed?

I just have one recommendation. Click on the link below, make sure your kids don't read over your shoulder and be prepared to laugh yourself to a stomach ache.

Our almost eleven year old desperately wanted to read this story after watching even her father burst our laughing, but this is R rated. Or would this be PG 13? I am confused. At any rate, she wasn't allowed to read.

Arby, my dh asked if you had aspirations as a writer.  All I can say, if you ever write your memoirs, can I have a personalized, autographed copy?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wow, an Award! Thank you.

Thank you to the gracious and inspirational blogger of a homeschoolstory for honoring me with the Stylish Blogger Award.  I was told to write seven things about me so here goes:

1. I have lived on three continents.
2. Certain music can move me to tears. I always thought I was weird until an article on showed me I am not alone. Phew, that's a many decades old load off my shoulders....Not thaaat many decades, but still...
3. I've experienced the pain of infertility and the joy of feeling life grow within me.
4. I like spicy foods and cook a lot of ethnic dishes, primarily Indian.
5. I learned English when I was 15 and it's been my primary language since then.
6. I never thought I'd have a blog, it just kinda grew ( I'd bet this happens to a lot of people)
7. I used to play the flute.

Now, I would love to honor some other bloggers that continue to inspire me.  This homeschooling Dad hits the nail on the head and makes me laugh. Lisa, is a lady who has done a fine job raising her kids. Her blog is full of cool resources and inspiration.  This budding blog is something to keep an eye on! Kay Heritage, I find myself coming back to her astounding recipes over and over.
and last but not least designer of awesome recipes! Really, don't go there if you don't want to be addicted.  If you decide to visit her site anyway... I did warn you and I will not be held responsible.....

Thank you all, though who visit my blog and leave a note now and then, you ALL are apprecitated.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Early Childhood Math Concept

I've been meaning to share our approach to teaching Bear math for a long time. The system developed when he had just turned 3 years old. Along with a concept in numbers I also re-enforced numbers, patterns and fine motor skills. The cost of this was minimal.

We used pipe cleaners and inexpensive wooden beads from a craft store
along with colored card board. Each cardboard have a number on one side and the
corresponding number of dots on the other side.
Once he started to understand the concept of numbers we enjoyed additional activities such as bringing the right amount of toy cars in a particular color.

Colored beads and pipe cleaners are a wonderful way to teach young children about patterns.The reasonably rigid structure of the pipe cleaner makes beading easier.

 Of course at the end of the day the best tools and activities for a child are interaction with parents.  Count the apples in a bowl, the eggs in the basket. Play games like ' if you and sissie have breakfast and both of you want one egg each, how many eggs should I cook?' Count Frootloop style cereals and let them make patterns for a necklace. Use Frootloop style cereal  for learning to make bar graphs and tally charts.

Bear is now five years old and does 2nd grade math. While I am thrilled about his interest in math, I know he is no prodigy (thank goodness). Nor is the fact that he does 2nd grade math so remarkable since the standard seems abysmally low. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the fact that he can learn at his pace, whatever that may be. I am convinced however, that starting early is the key. As long as it's a game and there is no pressure a child's natural curiosity will lead them to discover and investigate.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arrggh! Perfectionism meets Teenage Hormones!

This morning is not shaping up too well. My ten year old daughter is upstairs in her room sobbing her eyes out because she didn't get a glowing critique on a piece of creative writing.  She has a tendency to mix the tense mid paragraph going from present perfect to past perfect. Additionally she failed to meet the assignement's real purpose, to create a character and tell us about her. 

My almost eleven year old is sobbing in her room and I am really to bang my head against the wall. I told her that I am not her personal cheering squad and will push her harder as she gets older. Mediocrity will not do. Mediocrity will not get her anywhere in this world. Look where mediocrity has led this country. Hard work and sacrifice by our forfathers built this amazing country. And mediocrity is tearing it down.

(A few minutes later) I just realized that she has no goals. Nothing she is working towards. She is just floating along without any plan on where she wants to go. Her best friend is working towards being an olympic swimmer. Boy, that kid works hard. Ever seen a ten year old girl with sixpack abs? I have. Even more amazing that she does all this on a diet not containing any dairy, eggs, or nuts since she is allergic (anaphylacts).  She is currently in the top 2% in her age group in the country! My daughter on the other hand seems to, at some point, have given up.  Her allergies have taken away so much we all grew soft on her. Being highly intelligent and not having to work very hard in many regards added to the problem. Things just kinda come to her. In many ways I really admire my daughter. Of course I love both my kids but my daughter is someone truly amazing.  Now we need to find a way to channel this and I have to find a way to guide her.

Her current assignement, not meant for anyone's eyes but her own, is to write in her private journal what her goals and dreams are for herself.  It's time to be still, to be contemplative and look within.

For both of us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Great Gift Idea for Any Parent Interested in Education

Fun in education has come a long way since I grew up. Take the above pictured set for example.  I wish they had stuff like that when I grew up!  So what is this you ask?
Combine richly illustrated 'Britannica' produced books with  a SD-X Interactive Reader Pen and let the magic happen. It did in my house. So much so, that the kids had fights over who got to use it when and how long.  We purchased the the above pictured set at Sam's Club for about $25 and it's worth every penny and more.  The set contains 3 books and a 'Reader' Pen which when placed at various points on each page provides hours of additional information and audioclips. We bought the set which has 'EARTH', 'HUMANS' and 'SPACE'. There are, however, other combinations available.  The set is published by PIL Books and here, for your convenience, is a
link to their interactive store. In addition to the hours and hours of interesting soundbites your child can also challenge herself with quizzes.  Now, because this set became the ball everyone wanted to play with in our home I appreciated the added bonus in the headset port available on the pen's top. This was helpful for us as one kid was able to listen to his heart's content to the lessons while perusing a richly illustrated book without distracting his sister who was working on something else at the same time. We simply used the headphones from his I-Pod Shuffle.  I contacted the boss-man of PIL Books in the hopes of getting a 'give-away' arranged but unfortunately my e-mail was ignored lost.  But don't let this stop you from checking out these cool book sets. This investment is a treasured part of our growing home library.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Contemplative Days

I am in a contemplative mood, to say the least. But before I go deeper into my ruminations, let me tell you what brought me here.

Thanksgiving was marvelous. Exhausting but wonderful. My friend went on ad nauseam about her 'new kitchen' but other than that we had a good time. She and her husband come every year.  Since our families live too far away they are our ersatz relatives and the children adore them. The fact that they bring really cool toys doesn't hurt either (*smile*). On Friday we did nothing. No, actually it was NOTHING in capital letters. We bummed around all day recovering from the previous exhausting days. I haven't bummed around like this for years and it was marvelous. On Saturday we went shopping at an outlet mall which is a little more than an hour away. We returned home rather late and the kids went straight off to bed. To decompress I stayed up and played on the PS3. It's my addiction. That and a glass of wine make my day. What can I say, I am a teenager in an old broad's body. I was a mere minute or two from turning off the PS3 to retire to bed when my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it was the name of one my my employees. At 12:40 AM that could only be some bad news. My young employee sobbed into the phone when I answered 'My Mom's dead, we found her, she's dead.'



I asked what any good boss would ask : 'Where are you? Are you at home?' When she said she was I told her I'd be right there.  Since she lives less than 5 minutes drive from my house I was there within 10 minutes.  And there, my employee of 5 years and her sister collapsed in my arms and cried and cried and cried.  They had found their mother, you see. She had some substance abuse issues and her not answering the phone or calling back only several days later was normal. So when calls on Thursday and Friday went unanswered, the girls went to check on her on Saturday evening. According to the fire department people and the police she had died sometime on Thursday. Autopsy results are pending.  The sad thing here is that the kids are blaming themselves. Without going into details here, I can tell you this with certainty. It was not their fault.  Was this unexpected? No. But in a twinkling these young women lost their mother.

Previous weeks saw me loosing a dear friend. He died suddenly and unexpectedly at the young age of 63.  And then, a beloved family family friend went in from some routine colon cancer surgery and is now, almost 7 weeks later still fighting for his life because of complications and largely due to incompetent doctors. And that's in Germany.  Then my employee's mother fell on the carpet and stayed there. I am also worried sick about my Dad. He is alive and propped up with a stick and the marvels of modern medicine. My mother too has health issues (cancer survivor) But Dad? A bad heart, bad kidneys, a bad liver and claws for hands because the rheumatic arthritis ate his bones and dissolved them. It breaks my heart.

After Peter died (the friend I told you about ) I made sure I sent a heartfelt card to the seriously sick friend in Germany. And thankfully he got it while he could still read. Peter? Well, I always meant to write to him. I always meant to take the time and send him an e-mail but just always found myself too busy.  And now he's gone. And my employee's mom? Gone too.  I learned one thing from this, don't put off letting the people in your life know how you feel about them. There is no 'replay memory' option in our lives, no 'undo' button. As for me? I plan to make good use of the pile of  cards purchased over the years and really send them to the intended recipients.

One more thing about the friends in Germany. Every year since the birth of my daughter they've sent Advents Calendar cards.  And today, even though Rolf is still in the hospital and his faithful wife at least 4-6 hours a day by his side, they sent the children their yearly special cards and me a card to thank me for the one I sent them a few days ago. Even in some of  their darkest hours they still thought about other people. Hours later I still tear up over this.  Stick a fork in me, I am done!

As for me, I am taking a lesson from all of this. Acknowledge all of those who are in your lives. I've always made sure I read the badges of store clerks and use their names when I talk to them. I've always written down the names of customer service I talk to over the phone and use those when talking to them. Now it's time to acknowledge those I've been taking for granted.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Actions and Consequences

What do you think of my decision? Please be honest.

A few weeks ago I found one of my son's  t-shirts with several scissor cuts in the hem area. When confronted he (eventually) admitted to cutting the t-shirt.  Don't you hate the sentence ' I don't knooooowwwww.....' You know the kind you get when you ask your kid why in the name of Sam Hill they did something?! It was a brand new shirt and I wasn't pleased. I gave him a scolding and a stern warning that he could only cut paper and only with permission. Later I found another t-shirt with a cut in the bottom. I didn't say anything figuring it had happened shortly before the one I'd found previously.
This morning I noticed my daughters' Corbin Bleau (sp?) concert ticket on her desk. I wondered why it wasn't in it's usual place but didn't say anything suspecting that she was rearranging her belongings. I should mention that she met the singer/actor and he autographed that ticket.
Hours later I heard much commotion. My son (who turned 5 in August btw), cut up the ticket. I gave him a spank on the derriere this time and grounded him for the rest of the weekend. No sweets, desserts, tv or pc time. Now IT man is mad at me for messing up the weekend. He felt I should just have left the grounding to the rest of the day until evening. You see, Saturday is family TV night. We watch a movie and eat a steak dinner.  Now that we won't watch the tube together tonight IT man is boycotting steak and family time. Thanks, I love being the family ogre. Apparently we can't do without the TV. He feels my punishment is too severe and is irate that it affects our family movie time. Gee, sorry I didn't time Bear's bad behaviour better.  He should have done this on a Monday. He also feels Bear shouldn't have had access to scissors and that I shouldn't teach him how to cut stuff up even though I told him that this was necessary fine motor skills practise we must do. He found the scissors in his big sister's desk by the way.

So, you experienced mothers and fathers out there. Please let me know what you guys think.  Was I too severe?  I know this is quite a severe punishment but feel that the lack of punishment during the t-shirt episode contributed to this. My parents were big on punishments. His parents quite the opposite. I strive for the middleground. Our children are rarely punished. Scolded and sit down meetings happen with some more frequency but two day groundings can be counted on one hand for both combined. 

How do you discipline your kids? Do you discuss the punishement together or does one parent usually assume the ogre role?  How do you handle the situation when one of you disagrees with the punishment?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Everybody's got one...(show me yours, I'll show you mine)

Now, go pick your mind out of the gutter. There's a dear. Here, sit down, have a cucumber sandwich and a spot of tea. Fancy a biscuit? That's British for cookie.

Everybody's got one? By that I meant 'Opinion'.  What floors me is how liberal we all are with our opinions on things which often don't even affect us at all. Throw out some words into any gathering of  people and see what happens. Homeschooling and Circumcision just to mention two, are biggies. One thing I'd like to ask those who make such bilious comments about homeschooling is this: "How does my decision to homeschool my children affect you?" Why do you feel entitled to 'bless' us with your unsolicited opinions? Many anti homeschooling opinions are penned by individuals who have little one-on-one experience with homeschoolers. I can see how some teachers may have a dim view of it for a variety of reasons. The thing I am not always sure about is this; are these views truly based solely on their care and concern for the children or a variety of other reasons.

So what is it that invites people, even those not directly impacted by homeschooling, to make comments? Read any homeschooling blog and you are sure to come across personal accounts of homeschooling parents having to fend off often uninformed and negative remarks about their choice. Comments often made by family (in which case I can understand the concern but please educate yourself before opening your mouth) and in many cases strangers. Shouldn't we all make sure we are educated about an issue before we open our mouths.

My son currently has the habit of telling people he meets that he is homeschooled. Out of the blue and for no reason. I wish he wouldn't do that. I don't want people judging my children based on some preconceived negative notion about homeschoolers. Much rather, I'd prefer it to be something they find out later when they know my children and me for who we are. We all have thoughts about a multitude of different topics and issues. But a wise person keeps their thoughts and opinions to themselves unless solicited to share them. Even then it's often wiser to remain silents and noncommittal especially if ones knowledge is third hand and poorly formulated or apt to hurt someones feelings. My feelings about religion, as for example, would ruffle many feathers.  Why would I go and trample over what is important to someone else just to hear myself talk? 

Rather than accosting someone with a bunch of preconceived notions about something, just ask some questions and really listen to the answers. That's another thing I see a lot of. People ask questions merely as a way to draw one into a conversation. The questions are usually meant as a vehicle to allow the person who asked to then follow it up with their opinions and it often becomes clear that they didn't really listen to the answers given.

Free speech. On so many occasions I told my daughter that Free Speech is one of the things that makes this country so great. One other great thing is the liberal use of the 'Delete' button. Or the 'X' button to close a browser window. It definitely saves some nerves. Just because we have the liberty of Free Speech doesn't necessarily mean that it's one we are required to use all the time.  And yet the increasingly narcissistic nature of our society invites more 'opinions' and 'thoughts' than in the decades before.

Silence can be golden. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Make your Own Pizza, it's easy!

A few months ago one of my son's friends came over for a playdate. For lunch I thought we could all make pizza together. So, along with a base of flat bread I set our cheese, sauce and pepperonis. My son's friend refused to eat. To the evident embarrassment of his mother he pronounced the food 'yucky'.  Poor kid has never seen a pizza without the box....

We like to make our own dough when I have time. It's ridiculously easy!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 + extra cup unbleached white  flour
1 packet yeast
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp + extra for the bowl olive oil
warm water (sorry, I don't measure)

Place 2 tablespoons of flour  in a small bowl.  Add sugar and yeast and about a half cup hot/warm water. Mix well and place in a warm spot.  When the mixture has doubled in size and become bubbly add the starter mixture to the rest of the flour. Add olive oil, salt and more water as needed and knead into a nice, elastic, dough.  If it's too stiff you'll have trouble keeping it from retracting later. The ideal dough is not stiff and not too sticky. Add more flour if too sticky and more water if too stiff.  Knead for about 5 -7 minutes. It's therapeutic. Now pour a bit of olive oil into a good size bowl and  put your ball of dough into it.  Since you want the dough to double in size make sure the bowl will easily accommodate the growth. Swish to distribute the oil. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a damp towel and place the dough in a warm, draft free place until doubled in place.  I like the oven. I turn it on at 170 degrees (my lowest setting) and once warm turn it off.  I open the door for a moment so it can cool a bit more and then pop the bowl with the dough in there and close the door. Voila.

Once the dough has nicely doubled punch it down and divide into two. Hand stretch each piece into a nice piece of pizza base. I make mine rectangular as you can see.  Let rest for 10-15 mins in a warm place. If you like your pizza crust crunchy by-pass this step. Now comes the fun part. Toppings. I like to use Contadina's pizza sauce in their squirt bottle. It keeps well in the fridge. Apply a base of sauce. Some like it saucy. Some don't. We like it on the lean side. The kids like their pizza simple. Just add sauce, cheese and pepperoni. I like mine with tons of veggies and no meat or pepperoni. I also like to use minimal cheese on the bottom (just enough to hold the veggies in place and instead use some left over Brie (I live for that stuff) on top. Sprinkle with Italian herbs and pop in the oven at 370F. Bake until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Now, if you use lots of toppings you may need to keep it in the oven longer than if you make a basic cheese and pepperoni version. The nice thing here is the flexibility. Use up old marinara or spaghetti sauce and veggies.  I've even added left over steak from a steakhouse on the pizzas.  Be creative. Click on the pictures to see a larger version of my pizzas. Then drool.

My raw uncooked pizza featuring zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives and brie.
Divine, I tell you, DIVINE!

Once cooked this pizza practically begs you to devour it at record speed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Martin's Day

Laterne, Laterne
Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Sperrt ihn ein den Wind, sperrt ihn ein den Wind.
Er soll warten, bis wir zuhause sind.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Bleibe hell mein Licht, bleibe hell mein Licht,
denn sonst strahlt meine liebe Laterne nicht.

St. Martin's is a day much enjoyed by German children. This evening they roamed about their towns, villages and neighborhoods carrying lanterns and singing songs such as the one posted above.  We would make lanterns and then carry these shining beacons of light with us in the dark as we went about singing. There was usually at least one mounted rider and his horse representing St. Martin and his mount. It is common to see this rider wearing a bishops miter, robes and carrying the staff. In our town we often had the entire equestrian club riding along with the designated St. Martin. It was beautiful. Imagine dozens of children walking together with colorful lanterns singing together in the dark of night.  The fact that we received treats in return for our signing was an added bonus. Today is incidentally also my mother's and IT man's birthday.
St. Martin was a bishop who shared all he had and when he had no more and he saw a beggar freezing and cold he took out his sword and cut his cloak in half. He gave half the cloak to the beggar to keep him warm.  According to legend he dreamed of the beggar that very night and in his dream the beggar was Jesus.
St Martin of Tours started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized when he was grown up and became a monk. He was a very good and kind man, and eventually became the Bishop of Tours. As well as being kind, he was quiet and simple. He didn't want to become Bishop, but he didn't have much choice. There are many legends about his life. The most famous is when he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. Another legend is about his trying to hide so as not to become Bishop. The story is that he hid in a stall in a barn, hoping to escape the people who were hunting for him. They had come to take him to be appointed Bishop. A flock of geese made a lot of noise and gave away his hiding place. The goose is the animal symbol of St Martin and a favorite food on Saint Martin's Day. (from

Monday, November 8, 2010

Droolworthy Mashed Potatoes - Different, I promise!

you'll need:
1 acorn squash or a butternut squash. Either will work fine.
4-5 potatoes (good size)
½ yellow onion
1 tbps packed brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

I don't have an exact recipe here for you, bear with me. The good news is that you practically CAN'T screw this up and it will taste heavenly!

This recipe yields a pot of gorgeous, steaming, orange hued, mashed potatoes with the most divine flavor ever. IT man would happily sit down with a bowl of this stuff just by itself and I can't cook this without stealing a lick now and then. OK, a small bowl worth.  But once you try this you'll understand.

Peel and cut up about 3 cups worth of butternut or acorn squash. What you want is approximately 1½ inch size cubes of organgey gorgeousness.  Toss these lovelies with a half, reasonably finely chopped yellow onion, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, and no less than 2 tablespoons of butter cut into pieces.   Come one, you know you want it, add another tablespoon, it's sooooo worth it. Now, toss all this together along with some pepper and salt to taste and spread out on an aluminum lined cookie sheet. Pop this into the oven at about 350 F and let it bake. Stir once in a while. You'll probably open the oven door more often than you need to just to smell that amazing, heavinly, aroma of caramelizing onions and squash. Meanwhile peel and cut potatoes. You'll want about 5 cups of potatoes cubes approximately 2 inches in size. Boil these with a pinch of salt until tender. Before you drain them retain 1 cup of the starchy liquid.
When the potatoes are cooked and drained mash them nicely. Use some milk if you want, or the starchy liquid you reserved. Cook the squash until quite tender and the onions pleasingly browned. Pour the whole  mess into a bowl and mash. Add the mashed squash to the mashed potatoes and stirr.  This is fabulous with your turkey dinner or any dinner for that matter. If you want to fancy it up for a nice presentation top each serving with a dollop of black pepper crusted goat cheese.

By popular demand I'll be serving this again on Thanksgiving.

Before entering the oven. I had red onions on hand
and they work just fine. For this batch I used Acorn Squash

After coming out of the oven.
I should have added more onions but it's still yummy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A totally Kidcentric Day.

We spent the entire day in an university town yesterday. Oh, what a day it was. Missy has been enrolled in a gifted program at the university and went to attend two 3 hour classes. The first was a math class  titled ' Multiplication Strategies to Amaze and Bewilder Your Parents & Teachers'  which was based on the teachings of Bill Handley, Australian Math Educator. The next class was titled 'Forensic Science'. She was was really lucky to get in to that class as it fills up fast and by the time we decided to spend the whole day doing this it was booked. Additionally it was meant for grades 6-8. Missy is '5th grade'. I simply called them and asked if they ever bend the rules on age range and if they would call me if a slot opened up. Well, they just fit her right in!  She had a great day except for the part in forensic science when they burned sheep's wool and other fibers to teach the students how to identify different fibers. Missy is horribly allergic to wool. Even without touching it. For her, just being in the same room is enough and when they burned it she obviously had a reaction. My first question when I saw her face after class was 'What did they have in the room?'  Two benadryl later and several puffs of her inhaler she was better. She clearly enjoyed both classes but was a bit frustrated with the second. She was familiar with a good many of the forensic tools and techniques (don't ask, we are weird) and being the youngest in the class nobody wanted her in their team. So, my (awesome, I might add) girl just walked up to a table with some kids and parked herself there. Missy wasn't taking avoidance for a cue or an answer.  She ended up doing most of the writing while the boys generally clowned around.

All in all, the two classes were a total success.

And what did Bear get to do all day? He had a blast! We spent pretty much most of the 6 hours with him at the local Children's Museum. Bear, IT Man, and I discovered, made a mask, played with the exhibits, made all  sorts of cool stuff and generally wore Bear out.  He even went on a carousel at the mall. Who would have thought that iridescent green horse-mer-dragons make  such great rides. After we picked his sister up from the classes we went back to that mall and goofed around at the Best Buy store until dinner time.  Yes, we are all horribly into anything with buttons. A dinner in our bellies crowned the day. Our discussion on the way home (Bear was asleep by then) was about the possibility of alien life on our planet, dimensions, singularities and wormholes , and other related stuff. Did I mention we are weird?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes - Addictive is the right term for these babies

We are addicted to these pancakes and they make a wonderful Saturday breakfast. We love them with ripe pears although applesauce works well too.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Yield: 15 smallish pancakes

1¼ cups all-purpose flour (we use half unbleached all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix depending how strong you like it (the original recipe calls for separate spices but I am lazy even though I have all the spices mentioned)
1 cup milk  (if you use whole wheat flour you may need about a ½ cup more as the dough gets too thick otherwise)
½ cup pumpkin puree (we like to use a bit more than that)
1 large egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter

Preheat the oven to 200˚F. Set aside a baking sheet or oven safe serving platter.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Make sure to blot out any chunks of brown sugar. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, egg and oil or butter. Stir into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter may still be lumpy.
Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat (325˚F for the griddle). Pour the batter on the griddle or skillet in 1/3 cup portions. Use the back of the spoon or measuring cup to smooth the batter into desired circle shape. When bubbles start forming on the top, carefully use a spatula to flip to the other side. Let cook for a few more minutes until golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to the baking sheet or oven safe platter; place in the oven to keep warm until serving. Repeat with the rest of the batter until it has all been cooked, regreasing the pan as needed. Serve with cinnamon sugar, honey or  maple syrup.

Adapted from a recipe found at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A sad commentary on the content of America's shopping carts

Yesterday my darling husband went to Sam's Club to shop for some items I needed.  And as he stood at the check-out a nice, elderly lady commented how nice it was to see a man eating so healthy. My husband informed her that it was as per a shopping list his wife gave him for our family. Upon hearing that the nice lady said: 'Oh, bless her heart for feeding her family so well.'

What was in that cart you ask?
1 g. Milk
1 3lb. tray of stew Beef
1 bag Gala Apples
I  box Grapes
3 Cucumbers
1 bag Onions
1 3lb. bag Broccoli
1 bottle White Wine
1 box of fake (Cholesterol Free) Eggs

The thing that we find so sad is the fact that a shopping cart filled with healthy food is so noteworthy as to provoke a comment. Had he stood there with his cart full of cardboard, plastic and preservatives he wouldn't have stood out at all. But apparently a cart full of fruits and veggies is unusual. To me this is another sign that maybe I am doing something right after all. We are eating fewer and fewer preserved items. Even my son has lately turned into a veggie chomping kid who happily snarfs down all kinds of veggies. It took time to bring him to this point but it happened.  Yes, we eat chocolate and Nutella makes a regular appearance on top of whole wheat bread in our home. But we also eat a ton of veggies and fruits and apparently that is a rare thing among those who shop at Sam's.  My kids like juice as much as the next kid but have gotten used to the fact that we don't have it every day. As to 'sugar bubbles' aka soda... we never buy that for our home. It simply isn't something that finds it's way into our diet unless we make a rare trip for junky fast food.

Fresh foods aren't that hard to make. And by eating healthier foods we end up eating less. Tonight's dinner was Chinese Beef Broccoli. 1 lb of beef and almost a pound of broccoli florets fed the four of us with a little left over.

I am not a health nut. But I have, over the last two years or so, become increasingly aware of the garbage we put into our mouths. And we, as a family, are working on fighting back. We do eat out once in a while. And yes, we eat Nathan's Hot Dogs once in a while too while gulping down coma inducing amounts of liquid sugar (aka Coca Cola).  But we believe that it's OK, as long as those indulgences are tempered with a healthier daily lifestyle which includes lots of  fresh vegetables and fruits.

Now if I can only nail down the exercising part....

I shall rant and rave about 'high fructose corn syrup' in an other post.... LOL

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slinky Malinki that dastardly cat....

Book Cover of 'Slinky Malinki
 If you haven't read Lynley Dodd's books to your kids yet you've really missed out.  We started with 'Slinky Malinki' and the fun tempo of these well illustrated books is a joy to read aloud.  The words rhyme well and even young children will catch on quickly when it's time to say 'Slinky Malinki'.  Lynley Dodd wrote several other books along the same line and they all are great read-aloud books we can't recommend enough.

We give this book an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Nobel Prize Winner is....

Wait a minute, where did that name come from?

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, 21 October 1833. He was not a strong child and his doting mother lovingly nursed him to health. At the age of nine his parents moved to St. Petersburg, Russia. Alfred studied Chemistry with Nikolay Nikolaevich Zinin and continued his studies in the same field even after moving to the United States at the age of eighteen. His studies in chemistry brought him to the study of explosives and eventually to the ‘safer’ manufacture and use of nitroglycerine. Unfortunately a powerful explosion at their factory in Heleneborg in Sweden on September 3 , 1864 took the lives of five people. Among them Alfred’s younger brother Emil.
It is interesting to note that Alfred Nobel became quite proficient in six languages despite lacking a formal middle and highschool education. He spoke Swedish, French, Russian, English, German and Italian. He also held held 355 different patents with dynamite being the most famous.

There were several women in Alfred Nobel’s life, but none of these relationships ever lead to marriage or children. His work was his true love in the end and when he wrote his last will in 1895 he left much of his wealth to the foundation which bestows the famous ‘Nobel’ prizes. The first prize was given in 1901 to Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, who shared it with Frédéric Passy. The Nobel prize honors outstanding achievements in chemistry, literature, medicine, physics for work in peace and now economics.
Alfred Nobel was only 63 years old when he passed away in 1896 in Sanremo, Italy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Could someone just give me the answers? Please???

Today I had an interesting conversation with another homeschool mother. I respect her opinions and she has 5 kids, the way I figured it she'd have that answer. You know  what I'm talking about, right? I mean THE answer. For you, THE answer might be for a different thing. For me it was: Drum roll please and some dramatic music..... climaxing.... climaxing....

Cursive Handwriting
Well, this 'handwriting' thing is leaving me 'handwringing' and the way I saw it, the other mom, experienced as she is, had the answer. Or so I thought. Dang that woman.... I feel no wiser now that I did before.  Didn't someone give her the memo? The memo that says: If you have five kids and are homeschooling you know all the answers?  But at the end, she really is the wise one. Her recommendation is to listen to my heart and that, at the end of the day, I know my kid best.

You see, my daughter is a south-paw and the cursive she learned in third grade in school was just about the only thing she hated about school. She has a decent print handwriting but her cursive is well, let's say degrading quickly.  Yes, I could sit her down once a week and force her to write cursive. However, I have a feeling that it would be a thing she would deeply resent in addition to wasting hours of our time which would be better spent studying something else. Now, the question is, why do I feel so strongly about this? After all, as long as she can read cursive just fine, and write legibly why would her ability to write cursive make one bit of difference? That's the part I am not sure about. There are plenty of 'learned men and women' who have a lot to say about this, both in favor of cursive and against it. And to be honest, both make some good points. So, do I feel like I ought to teach her cursive simply because it's what her father and I learned? Is it because when I look at some things other people have written I always observe their handwriting? We see approximately 1,000 -1,200  people's handwriting in our company each year. Is it because a good neat handwriting conveys a sense of being educated and thorough? Or are all these preconceived notions a thing of the past. A thing of the 'we grew up without word processors and spell check' past.

What do you think? Where do you stand on the 'Cursive' vs. 'Print' Issue?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Day Hell came to our Home!

I found this link on Alesandra's blog (you can find a link to her site on my blog). I read this and was horrified. It looks like... well, I shouldn't say but needless to say there are more than a few fishy things about what's happening there.  Please read this blog  (link below) and  pass it on to as many people as you can.

One more thing. Please upload the (sound) files on those links to a PC if you can, just in case they suddenly 'vanish'.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OMG, Bear Bear ate and liked Spinach!

Bear-Bear is a boy. He is five. And most of his life, actually from the time he ate 'Gerbers' and other 'stuff' he 'hated' anything green. When he was three he wouldn't even play with his pretend green vegetable toys (pretend food). Over the last year he began to appreciate green peas, green beans, tolerates brocoli and now today scarfed down two servings of spinach salad...!

We are still looking for the pod....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mother Teresa's Hands

This picture speaks to me. When I was a little girl we visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta. It was a day or two before Christmas and the nuns and children were decorating a rather sad little plastic tree with the only decoration they had.... cotton puffs.  But the joy and gratitude they exhibited was palpable.   They were signing carols and just giddy with happiness. Mother Teresa greeted each one of us individually. My father, my mother, and me. She held our hands in her hands and greeted us as though each one of us was the very center of her universe at that moment. I can still remember the feel of her hands to this day. They were very hard and rough and yet so loving and gentle. The hands of this amazing woman were so powerful and yet so tender. It saddens me to this day that her passing did not receive the attention it deserved because Princess Diana died a week earlier. I am not a religious person but even I recognize that this woman was more than all of us could ever aspire to be.

Here are some links to other sites.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All Hallows Eve, Samhain...

All Hallows Eve, Samhain...

Who doesn't love Halloween? It's the time for childlike fun, wearing disguises, and finding excuses to create silly foods. Not to mention stealing your kids' candy once they are asleep....

(BTW I'll post a fun recipe I found for witches stew later on in this post.)

Did you know that Halloween has ancient Celtic roots? It is a holiday the observance of which goes back way past the beginning of Christianity. The ancient Celts celebrated a special day called Samuin later Samhain on the 31st of October/November 1st to observe the end of Summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark days of Winter. They believed there to be a border or veil between this, our corporeal world, and the world of the spirits. And this veil or border between our worlds was believed by them to be thinner and more easily crossed on Samuin. Rituals took place on Samuin to ward of the spirits that were harmful and evil and to invoke the aid of beneficial spirits and ancestors. To ward of evil spirits as well as hide their identity from those that had crossed over people would wear masks and costumes. There were a good many traditions - which varied from town to town - involved in celebrating Samuin or All Hallowes Eve. One such tradition was deemed very necessary. A Bonfire, sometimes two side by side. The bones of animals sacrificed for the feast would often be added to such fires. Sometimes two bonfires were lit side by side and the participants were encouraged to pass between them to purify themselves. Fire and light is one of those things that has significance in just about every culture in the world. It is our little bit of the sun, the life-giving energy we cannot do without. Another practice that revolved around light lives on to this day, albeit a tad altered. The carved pumpkin. In the days gone by this would have been a large, hollowed out, turnip used to carry a tallow candle. In North America however, pumpkins and gourd were easier to come by and conveniently larger. Pumpkins became to be associtated with Halloween only around the mid nineteenth century. Alright, now you know where and why the holdiay started and where the carved pumpkin came from. But what about trick or treating? The of going from door to door begging for treats dates back to the Middle Ages. Poor folk would, on Hallowmas (All Saints Day), go door to door and offer prayers in return for food. They also 'offered' threats of mischief should their demands not be met. In some form or the other and on different days of the year this has been a tradition in most European and some Scandinavian countries.

Well, if you go trick or treating this year, or you hand out candy to those who trick or treat at your door you can see that you are indeed taking part in a celebration that has taken place for about two-and a-half thousand years! The religious significance is no longer there unless you are a Wiccan family celebrating Samhain but it's merely a day for fun and too much candy. If you do hand out candy be different. Give a small bottle of water, or some pretzels or anything else not sugary. My kids tell me they always get thirsty and the non-sugary snacks are a welcome change. Be sure to wear a glo-stick so you may be easily seen in the dark and arrange for a meeting place with your attending adult if you get separated. Under no circumstances go into anyone's house, even if you are lost and wish to use the phone. Let your parent or other adult check all your candy before you eat it. To prevent temptation eat a light meal before you go trick or treating. And please, be polite. Don't tromp over someones' yard and flowers, even if you see other kids do it, and always say 'thank you' when you receive your treat!

Have a SAFE and Happy All Hallows Eve.

For short but intersting article on Samhain or All Hallows Eve and how these days were used by the Church to help convert the Celts to their faith visit this link.

A Witches Cauldron of Chili

1 1/4 Pounds ground goblin gizzards
 *Vegans and Vegetarians leave out the ground goblin gizzards or use a vegetarian option like Tofu.

1 Medium eye of Cyclops (onion)

1 15 Oz. Can soft shelled beetles (kidney beans)

1 28 Oz. Can blood of bat (V-8 juice)

1/8 Teaspoon pureed wasp (prepared mustard)

1/4 Teaspoon common dried weed (oregano)

1 Dash Redtailed hawk toenails (crushed red pepper)

2 Teaspoons ground sumac blossom (chili powder)

1 Teaspoon hemlock (honey or sugar)

1/2 Cup fresh grubs (sliced celery)

1 Tablespoon eye of Newt (pearled barley)

1 Tablespoon dried maggots (uncooked rice)

Water from a stagnant pond (tap water)

Preparation :

Substitutions are in parenthesis. Best made during the last phase of the moon, if that is not possible, just do the best you can in a softly lighted kitchen after dark.

Brown the gizzards in an iron cauldron over a fire made from the

siding off of a haunted house, add chopped eye of cyclops and simmer until the pieces of eye become translucent again, add blood of bat, and soft shelled beetles, bring to a slow bubbling boil. At this time, add the common weed, maggots, toenails, sumac,grubs, hemlock, eye of newt and the pureed wasp.

As it cooks you may want to adjust the consistency with pond water.

You can tell it is done when the eye of newt swells and the vertical tan colored 'cats eye' appears on one side.

I found this on  the web quite a few years ago and don't remember who created this recipe to properly credit the author.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nature, I miss it so...

Here I sit in  my sealed home. The weather outside is fabulous at a sunny 75F. And we? We are sitting inside. In the days before I never closed a window and the chirps of birds and chattering of squirrels were my background noise.   When I grew up I mostly lived in the country. The hills, dales, forest and orchards of southern Germany were my playground as a child. And later on my parents had a small hobby farm with about 6 cows, sheep, goats, pigs, all kind of fowl and a dog. And through all of this I grew atuned to nature. I understood her. I could feel the changes in the wind, the angle of the sunlight streaming through the trees. I knew every tree and shrub in my surroundings.  Every summer my parents and I spent countless bugbitten hours plucking all manner of berries and in the fall we harvested mushrooms and apples. What wonderful times these were.  Now this has all changed in my life and I feel so sad for my children for this. A connection to nature is priceless indeed and it's one my children don't have. My daughter's allergies to countless trees, grasses etc confine her to a life spent indoors. She is getting better and we were able to spend some time outside this year compared to the previous years where her time outside was usually the amount of time it took her to get from a building to the car and again in reverse.  I firmly believe that her improvement is primarily due to the fact that she is homeschooled and the shots which she's been getting for a year now.  We know she'll always have allergies but she was able to go outside in the garden this year.
I love reading blogs like 'BuntBlume' formerly 'BuntGlass' and  'Untrodden Paths'. The connection to Nature which these mothers forge would have been similar to mine. Maybe I should simply take a leap of faith and try a bit more now that Sissy reacts less and recovers faster.  How can my children become good stewards of a world they have no connection to.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Me? Like Science? Since when....? I failed Chemistry......

One of my major I-am-homeschooling- panic attacks came when I recognized my daughters unbridled enthusiasm about starting Chemistry in 5th grade. She was so excited.  And I was like, whoaaaa there Nellie, hold on a moment, I can't do that.....
You see, several circumstances in my life happened and so, when I switched schools (among other things) in  8th grade, I went from a 'artsy' school to a 'science and math are crucial' school. The kids who were my new classmates had two years of science already under their belts. Me? I was screwed. I picked up in math, eventually figured out physics, did brilliantly in biology, and failed, I mean abjectly failed chemistry. It was pathetic. So, the prospect of victimizing my daughter and screwing up her future because I can't understand chemistry left me worried all summer long.
Well, we've been studying chemistry for a few days now and have to say we are having a blast. It's all simple right now of course, elements, substances, compounds, molecules, atoms, ions,  electrons, protons, neutrons, and so on. We are studying the differences between physical properties and chemical properties and it's amazing..... I understand it all. Oh, yeah, my little smartypants daughter is breezing through it.
The moral of this story...enjoy homeschooling for what it really can be. A journey through the world WITH your children.

We, thank you very much, are having a grand time!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jackie Evanko didn't win- Whooohoooooo!

My 10 year old daughter and I whooped with joy when we watched 'America's got Talent' and it was announced that Michael Grimm  was the winner of that show. Actually we admit to some embarrassment here. We deride shows the likes of America's got Talent. But when little Ms. Evanko became one of the final four we started to watch. I sang opera as a child and had a scholarship waiting for me and I have a daughter now the age of that young lady. And so this story spoke to me. And yesterday I told my daughter how I hoped  that little Ms. Evanko wouldn't win.  History bears us out. There are few child stars who make it later in life. The stress of not experiencing those crucial formative years proves damaging to all child stars. Some come out the winners later in life. Most did not get so lucky. Ms. Evanko, little Jackie deserves a life as a child. A very talented child. Arguably the most talented person in that entire building. But still a child. She should go and run with her friends and scab her knees and go trick or treating. She needs to go back to school and do math homework and get glue all over fingers and gum stuck in her hair. 

Little Ms. Evanko, I have never every heard 'Pie Jesu' delivered as well as you did.  But for your sake I hoped you wouldn't win. I can't imagine the burden you carried all these weeks. The expectations and hope of all of your family and friends, of  your neighborhood and town must have weighed heavily.  And here is my wish for you. Go be a child, free of anything but the usual responsibilities, act silly, have fun and just be a kid. And when you have a solid education spread your wings and fly. I hope to hear your angel voice for many decades to come. But not at the expense of your childhood.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Have a Dream - MLK (Vocabulary Lesson)

This vocabulary compilation is created from words found in the famous “I have a dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While many words in the list have a host of other meanings (ie ‘score’, or 'threshold'), I have tried to include the definition to those words as they applied to the speech.

Some information
 I used the Merriam Webster online edition After looking up the various definitions I removed extraneous information to make the vocabulary list more understandable to the primary school student. This list would be suitable for 4-6 grade students.

Etymology = Origin
It is important to learn about the origin of words as it leads to the ability to infer the meaning of other words in the future.

Each word is classified into its various uses. In grades 4-6 students are familiar with the basic functions such as nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Here are two new types of verbs a student should familiarize themselves with.

The transitive verb is a verb that requires both a direct subject and one or more objects. The term is used to contrast intransitive verbs, which do not have objects.

Jill sees Jack. (Jack is the direct object of "sees")
You pushed the car. (Car is the direct object of "pushed")
I caressed the cat. (Cat is the direct object of "caressed")

In grammar, an intransitive verb does not take an object. In more technical terms, an intransitive verb has only one argument (its subject), and hence has a valency of one. For example, in English,

The verbs sleep and die, are intransitive. Some verbs, such as smell are both transitive and intransitive.

Some examples are :
The patient will sleep until sunrise. (sleep has no object)
The cat died last night. (die has no object)
(verb, transitive verb)


bankrupt (noun)

Etymology : from the Latin rumpere - to break
1 : a person who has done any of the acts that by law entitle creditors to have his or her estate administered for their benefit
2 : a person who is completely lacking in a particular desirable quality or attribute ;
b : marked by violence or ferocity : fierce   — witheringly (adverb)

beacon (noun)
1 : a lighthouse or other signal for guidance
2 : a source of light or inspiration

brutality (noun)
Form(s): plural brutalities
1 : the quality or state of being brutal
2 : a brutal act or course of action

captive (adjective)
Etymology: from Latin captivus - prisoner or captive
1 : taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war
b (1) : kept within bounds : confined (2) : of or relating to captive animals
2 : a situation which makes free choice or departure difficult

character (noun)
1 : reputation
2 : moral excellence and firmness
— in character : in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits
— out of character : not in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits

citizen (noun)
1 : an inhabitant of a city or town or country
: synonyms citizen, subject, national mean a person owing allegiance to and entitled to the protection of a sovereign state.

community (noun)
Form(s): plural communities
Etymology:, from Latin communitas - to share
1 : a unified body of individuals: as a : state, commonwealth
2 : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location

cripple (transitive verb )
Form(s): crippled; crippling
1 : to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg
2 : to deprive of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness
cripple as a noun (derogatory) “look at that cripple at the corner.”
synonyms - maim, weaken

curvaceous (adjective)
: having or suggesting the curves of a well-proportioned feminine figure
broadly : having a smoothly curving shape

degenerate (adjective)
1 : having declined or become less specialized (as in nature, character, structure, or function) from an ancestral or former state
2 : having sunk to a condition below that which is normal to a type;
3 : having sunk to a lower and usually corrupt and vicious state.

discipline (noun)
Etymology: from Latin disciplina teaching
1 : training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
2 :control gained by enforcing obedience or order
3 : self-control

declaration (noun)
1 : the act of declaring : announcement
2 : something that is declared

decree (noun)
Etymology: from Latin decretum - judgment, edict
1 : an order usually having the force of law
2 : a religious ordinance enacted by council or titular head b : a foreordaining will

democracy (noun)
Form(s): plural - democracies
Etymology: from Late Latin democratia, from Greek demokratia, from demos + -kratia -cracy
: a government by the people for the people. Rule of the majority ; b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system

demonstration (noun)
1 : an outward expression or display
2 : public display of group feelings toward a person or cause

despair (verb, intransitive verb)
Etymology: from Latin desperare, from de- + sperare - to undo hope
: to lose all hope or confidence

devotee (noun)
: an ardent follower, supporter, or enthusiast (as of a religion, art form, or sport)

desolate (adjective)
Etymology: from Latin desolatus, de- + solus - alone
1 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one

dignity (noun)
1 : the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed
2 : high rank, office, or position b : a legal title of nobility or honor
3 : formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language

discontented (adjective)
: dissatisfied, malcontent

discord (noun)
Etymology: from Latin discordia - disagreement
1 : lack of agreement or harmony (as between persons, things, or ideas) b : active quarreling or conflict resulting from discord among persons or factions : strife
2 : a combination of musical sounds that strikes the ear harshly (2) : dissonance b : a harsh or unpleasant sound
synonyms - discord, strife, conflict, contention, dissension, variance mean a state or condition marked by a lack of agreement or harmony. discord implies an intrinsic or essential lack of harmony

discrimination (noun)
1 : the act of discriminating
2 : the quality or power of finely distinguishing
3 : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually
b : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment

dramatize (verb, transitive verb)
Form(s): dramatized; dramatizing
: to present or represent in a dramatic manner

emancipate ( transitive verb)
Form(s): emancipated; emancipating
1 : to free from restraint, control, or the power of another; especially : to free from bondage
2 : to release from paternal care and responsibility and make sui juris
3 : to free from any controlling influence (as traditional mores or beliefs)

exalt (verb, transitive verb)
Etymology: from Latin exaltare, from ex- + altus high
1 : to raise in rank, power, or character
2 : to elevate by praise or in estimation : glorify
3 : to raise high : elevate

fatigue (noun)
1 : the uniform or work clothing worn in the field.
2 : weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress
3 : the tendency of a material to break under repeated stress

faith (noun)
Etymology: Latin fidere - to trust
1 : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
synonyms - belief
— on faith : without question

foundation (noun)
1 : the act of founding
2 : basis (as a tenet, principle, or axiom) upon which something stands or is supported

fierce (adjective)
Form(s): fiercer; fiercest
Etymology: from Latin ferus - wild, savage
1 : violently hostile or aggressive in temperament
2 : marked by unrestrained zeal or vehemence
3 : furiously active or determined

 freedom (noun)
: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :
synonyms - freedom, liberty, license mean the power or condition of acting without compulsion.

ghetto (noun)
Form(s): plural ghettos also ghettoes
Etymology: Italian, from Venetian dialect ghèto island where Jews were forced to live, literally, foundry (located on the island), from ghetàr to cast, from Latin jactare to throw
1 : a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure
2 : an isolated group : a situation that resembles a ghetto especially in conferring inferior status or limiting opportunity

gradualism (noun)
: the policy of approaching a desired end by gradual stages

gentile (noun)
often capitalized : a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith; especially : a Christian as distinguished from a Jew

hallowed (adjective)
1 : holy, consecrated
2 : sacred, revered

honor (noun)
Etymology: from Latin honos - honor
1 : good name or public esteem : reputation
2 : a strong sense of ethical conduct : integrity

hamlet (noun)
: a small village

hew (verb)
Form(s): hewed; hewed or hewn or hewing
: to give form or shape to with or as if with heavy cutting blows

inextricable (adjective)
: forming a maze or tangle from which it is impossible to get free
inextricably - adverb

invigorate (transitive verb )
Form(s): invigorated; invigorating
Etymology: probably from in- + vigor (from the Latin liveliness)
: to give life and energy to : animate; also : stimulate
invigoratingly adverb

interpose (verb)
1 : to place in an intervening position
2 : to put forth by way of interference or intervention
3 : to step in between parties at variance : intervene

insufficient (adjective)
: not sufficient : inadequate ; especially : lacking adequate power, capacity, or competence

inalienable (adjective)
: incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred

injustice (noun)
1 : absence of justice : violation of right or of the rights of another : unfairness
2 : an unjust act : wrong

jangle (verb)
Form(s): jangled; jangling
: to make a harsh or discordant often ringing sound

legitimate (adjective)
being exactly as stated: neither spurious nor false

luxury (noun, adjective)
Form(s): plural luxuries
: a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environment

languish (intransitive verb)
1 : to be or become feeble, weak, or enervated
2 : to be or live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality
3 : to become dispirited

momentous (adjective)
: important, consequential

manacle (noun)
Etymology: from Latin manicula - handle
1 : a shackle for the hand or wrist : handcuff —usually used in plural
2 : something used as a restraint

magnificent (adjective)
1 : impressive to the mind or spirit : sublime
2 : exceptionally fine
synonyms - grand

nullify (transitive verb)
Form(s): nullified; nullifying
Etymology: from Latin nullus - none, not any
1 : to make null; especially : to make legally null and void
2 : to make of no value or consequence
synonyms - nullify, negate, annul, abrogate, invalidate

opportunity (noun)
Form(s): plural opportunities
1 : a favorable juncture of circumstances
2 : a good chance for advancement or progr

oppression (noun)
1 : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
        b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
2 : a sense of being weighed down in body or mind : depression

obligation (noun)
1 : the action of obligating oneself to a course of action (as by a promise or vow)
2 : something (as a formal contract, a promise, or the demands of conscience or custom) that obligates one to a course of action
3 : something one is bound to do : duty, responsibility

proclaim (transitive verb)
Etymology: from Latin proclamare, from pro- before + clamare to cry out
1 : to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing : announce 2 : to declare or declare to be solemnly, officially, or formally
synonyms see declare

poverty (noun)
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: from Latin paupertas, from pauper, poor
2 : scarcity, dearth
3 a : debility due to malnutrition b : lack of fertility

promissory note (noun)
: a written promise to pay at a fixed or determinable future time a sum of money

prodigious (adjective)
: extraordinary in bulk, quantity, or degree : enormous
synonyms - monstrous

persecute (transitive verb)
Form(s): persecuted; persecuting
1 : to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically : to cause to suffer because of belief
2 : to annoy with persistent or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or importunities) : pester
persecutor noun

prosperity (noun)
: the condition of being successful or thriving; especially : economic well-being

quicksand (noun)
: something that entraps or frustrates

racial (adjective)
1 : of, relating to, or based on a race
2 : existing or occurring between races

redemption (noun)
Etymology: from Latin redimere to redeem
: the act, process, or an instance of redeeming

redeem (transitive verb)
1 : to buy back : repurchase
2 : to get or win back
2 : to change for the better : reform

righteous (adjective)
1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
2 : morally right or justifiable
b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality
synonyms - moral
righteousness (noun)

sweltering (adjective)
: oppressively hot

: twenty b : a group of 20 things —often used in combination with a cardinal number c

symbolic (adjective)
Variant(s): also symbolical
1 : using, employing, or exhibiting a symbol
b : consisting of or proceeding by means of symbols
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a symbol
3 : characterized by or terminating in symbols
4 : characterized by symbolism

 segregation (noun)
1 : the act or process of segregating : the state of being segregated
2 : the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means

sacred (adjective)
1 : dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity
2 : worthy of religious veneration : holy : entitled to reverence and respect
3 : highly valued and important

selfhood (noun)
1 : individuality
2 : the quality or state of being selfish

self–evident (adjective)
: evident without proof or reasoning

symphony (noun)
Form(s): plural symphonies
Etymology: from Latin symphonia, from Greek symphonia, from symphonos - concordant in sound, from syn- + phone voice, sound
1 : symphony orchestra
2 : something that in its harmonious complexity or variety suggests a symphonic composition

threshold (noun)
: the place or point of entering or beginning

(noun, adjective)
1 : engaged in warfare or combat : fighting
2 : aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative
synonyms - aggressive

tranquilize (verb)
Form(s): tranquilized also; tranquilizing
: to make tranquil or calm : pacify; especially : to relieve of mental tension and anxiety by means of drugs
intransitive verb

urgency (noun)
1 : the quality or state of being urgent : insistence
2 : a force or impulse that impels or constrains : urge

upward mobility (noun)
:the capacity or facility for rising to a higher social or economic position
upwardly mobile - adjective

unspeakable (adjective)
1 : incapable of being expressed in words : unutterable b : inexpressibly bad : horrendous — unspeakably adverb

veteran (noun)
Etymology: Latin veteranus, from veteranus, adjective, old, of long experience, from veter-, vetus old — more at wether
veteran  (adjective)
1 : an old soldier of long service b : a former member of the armed forces
2 : a person of long experience usually in some occupation or skill (as politics or the arts)

vicious (adjective)
1 : having the nature or quality of vice or immorality : depraved
2 : impure, noxious
3 : dangerously aggressive : savage
4 : malicious, spiteful
synonyms - vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct. vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying

withering (adjective)
: acting or serving to cut down or destroy : devastating