Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cousins - Another Perspective

Cousins is an interesting topic of conversation in our house. My husband grew u p with two cousins. Two! Linda, below, and her brother Mark, whom I don't have a handy photo of.
His mother had one sister who married and had two children. His father had one sister who never married.

Hubby has difficulty understanding how someone could have cousins they don't know the names of. In my defense, the last time I saw this family was in 1970. One of the cousins hadn't even been born yet! So I've never met him, and the other three were ages seven and younger. I had a total of 12 cousins (with my brothers and sisters we were a group of 16 cousins).
   David, Rick and Brian
And all the cousins I don't have photos handy for Bob (brother to above three), Eddie and Kenny, Eric and Mark, and Uncle Larry's kids, Julie, Amy, Cheryl, and Michael.

To my husband that sounds like a lot. To me it does not. I mean, each of my grandmothers came from a family of 12 children! So my mom had... At least 33 cousins, with other aunts and uncles that may have had kids that I just haven't been able to track down yet on  So, yeah, I don't feel like I have soo many cousins.

But maybe I do. I mean, my own kids only have 9 cousins...
Keri, Jenni and David (above, at Jenni's Wedding);

  Julie (left) and her brother Jared (below, with his dad, my husband's brother, Mike);

Crystal, on the left, and then one of Crystal at age 5 with her brother Joshua on right. Now one of Joshua as a grown up, with his daughter on his shoulders:
(The other two cousins' parents don't have the kids photos on their Facebook pages, so I'm certainly not going to post them here...)
So how many cousins do you have?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

George Washington's Rules - #28

This week's Rule is Rule #28:

28thIf any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.

Which seems to mean - if someone comes to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up to speak to him (even if he is your inferior). And when you seat guests who are visiting you, seat them according to their level of importance.

This reflects the thinking of levels of aristocracy that was practiced in Great Britain before the American Revolution, since the colonies were at that time part of Great Britain. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Challenge For 2014

I am taking on a challenge that I've been considering. I've been reading about it for a couple of weeks now, and I don't know why I didn't "jump on the band wagon" before, but I'm sure I was preoccupied with my mother-in-law's death and other issues in my life. But I have decided to announce here my intention to begin this challenge. It has to do with decluttering.


To be fair, I've already started this, so I am going to try to reconstruct what I've given away here at the beginning. I will probably not be able to figure out everything that we've gotten rid of, but here goes: 

1 - 40 -- Star Wars figurines, unopened in package, which my dad had given to me and we had put in the attic for almost a decade.
41 - 60 - Set of World Book Encyclopedias, with accompanying Year Books.
61 - 151 - Here's where I am guessing. I had hubby take three big copy-paper-boxes of books to the used book store. They probably had more than 30 books per box, but I'll just say 30 per box.
152 - a pair of dress shoes that I never wear;
153 - a pair of loafers that I never wear;
154 - a pair of other shoes that I never wear.
155 - 158 - a Science curriculum Teacher's Manual, student textbook, test book and answer key that I was done with.

This doesn't even count all the things I got rid of by throwing away files and files of old papers. I'll have to be diligent to try to pay attention to that type of thing as well to help me reach my 2014 goal. 

So, the difficult thing is that I am decluttering at a time when the (non-clutter that becomes clutter) items are pouring in from my mother-in-law. The big challenge is to get rid of more than I take in, significantly more. So 

So we'll say I've gotten rid of 158 things so far. I've probably gotten rid of a bag of things to a local charity that came to my door as well, but that might have been in December, so I'll leave it at that for now.

I'll try to pop in and give an update from time to time. Currently on the "chopping block", waiting to get out of my house are:
  • a butcher block kitchen clock that we got in 1979 - still works, we're just tired of it;
  • a "Butler's Table" coffee table that we've used in our family room for years but don't want any more.
Then it it back to the books again. I've got to pare down what I've got. I just have to!

Let me know if you decide to take on this challenge as well.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Week of 1/27/14 Menu Monday

This is another quick and dirty menu plan, created and shopped for during another busy weekend. Saturday (normal plan/shop day) I assisted all day at a Boy Scout Merit Badge day, so a quick plan made Friday night, and shopping with hubby after dinner Saturday. Here's the plan (including yesterday):

SUNDAY (1/26)
Brisket, mashed potatoes, leftover veggies

MONDAY (1/27)
Brisket sandwiches, green beans

TUESDAY (1/28)
Roast chicken, stuffing, broccoli


Baked ziti, salad, garlic bread

FRIDAY (1/31)
Chicken tortilla soup, salad, rolls

The vegan has been eating meat. I don't want to know what this is doing to my BP and my cholesterol,  but when life is too busy I just can't always make vegan options. Sometimes I swing more towards vegetarian, but I'm not confident that it reduces my cholesterol sufficiently. I need to get back to making vegan-focus a priority, but when life gets "real", you still have to eat...

So, on the back burner for the vegan I have ingredients to make another batch of Minnesota Wild Rice Soup, vegan style, and I have in the fridge lentil soup and hummis for lunches. I like my home-made soups better than the store bought lentil soup mentioned, because I make my own soups with more vegetables than the store-bought contain. 

So, for Monday, brisket sandwiches are totally not vegan, and I'm eating that anyway. Tuesday I have a faux chicken patty I could serve myself, and would eat brown rice, not stuffing. Wednesday I have soy crumblies I will substitute for beef in part of the casserole (although my beans do have pork). Thursday I'll probably go with calling vegetarian "good enough", but if I were being strict I'd alter the Firehouse 2 diet recipe for Macaroni and Not Cheese. Friday I'll be trying to have my Minnesota Wild Rice Soup made for me when I serve the chicken tortilla to my other foodies. Saturday I might do the same soup.

Have a warm, hearty, food-filled week!

As Clean as a New Fallen Snow

So... I don't live on a farm or anything... I don't have any type of beautiful white field of snow to photograph, so I'll show what I've got -- a photo of my back deck.
 Doesn't that thick layer of snow look clean and pretty?

So for our nature study this week we tested the snow for purity. We started by collecting snow in a canning jar with a funnel.

When the snow stopped we brought the jar/funnel stack inside so the snow could melt. So at this point my son got excited about the experiment. He did the whole thing, showed me the results, and then dumped everything. And then I said, "Oh! I forgot to take pictures!" So I had to recreate everything. The results were easier to see the first time, but I think you'll still see well enough.

So full jar, funnel full of snow too, on the counter to melt.

Amazing how little water we got from all that snow! (See photo below.)
Next we poured the melt-water into a coffee filter to see how clean or dirty it was.

My son used to eat snow, in spite of my warnings. Now he says he won't ever eat snot again. Another thing we had noticed was not only how much dirt was caught in the photo, but also how dirty the filtered water still looked But I did forget to take a photo of that. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about our snow experiment! 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

How Could This Happen Again???

What was I thinking? How could this happen? "What?" you might well ask. Well, I let another week of home school slip by with (it seems) very little getting done.

Homeschool Mother's Journal Link Up

  • We started reading Luke. We didn't read every day, but we read on three days. If I could remember my percentages, I'd tell you what an increase it is to go from 0:5 to 3:5, but my brain isn't functioning. I think it is this cold weather. 1/22 - 4.6 degrees.
  • Friday's plans (I'm writing this on Thursday) include 3rd reading from Luke and sinking of hymn(s).
Algebra I:
  • This is where I was really, really thinking, "How could this happen again?" I let days go by (three, to be precise) where my son said, "I did my math!", and yet I didn't look at it. Only to find, late Wednesday, that his version of doing his math means that he skips the word problems because it would require too much of him to figure them out. As if I didn't know that he does that. Always. At least I found out on Wednesday. 
  • So on Thursday we did the word problems from Wednesday, as well as doing the lesson for Thursday together. Sadly I have to confess that I could not actually DO the plotting on the graph of how the two perpendicular lines go on the graph (y=5/8x-3 and y=-8/5 + 4 or whatever, where they have negative reciprocals that are fractions. I don't get it.).
  • So so far our important algebraic equations that I'm trying to get him to memorize are:

Slope = y2- y1              and     y=mx+b        
               x2- x1             
 and                   slope = amount of change / length of change (or rise/run) 
  • JD watched extensive quantities of science videos and attempted to replicate them, mostly unsuccessfully. One was something to do with hydrogen peroxide, dawn and yeast; didn't work. Could be because the yeast was expired and the peroxide was old, or because JD didn't really have directions...
  • Lots of birdwatching. We're doing the Feederwatch Project with Cornell Univ. 25 robins descended upon our tree on the worst day of our snow. They came right up to our window. Also saw lots of chickadee, titmouse, cardinals, woodpeckers, junkos, house finch and house sparrows. Crows and geese also nearby but not in our yard.

  • Did a nature study experiment. Only managed to photograph part of it. Will probably redo it so I can blog it, which I was planning to do. Messed me up when I let my student take over. Homeschooling getting in the way of my blogging. Imagine!
  • 1001 Arabian Nights Entertainments. Continued our readings. Son is still enjoying this. What a pleasure that is for a change.
  • 1984, by George Orwell - I was reading this out loud, but yesterday I was falling asleep during the readings. Today I asked Miner to read to himself, and that smart little kid went instead to Youtube and found where it is read out loud in video. Awesome!
  • Men of Iron by Pyle.  Severely neglected this week. Need to get back to it.
  • Loefwine the Monk - started this week. Liking it so far.
  • No new progress.
  • Began work using Mango languages program on line. So far so good! My best success so far this week.
  • Neglected, except that the literature readings reinforce history. In defense of my narfy attitude and neglect of some subjects this week, public school had a holiday on Monday and was closed for snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as opened two hours late on Thursday, so I did pretty well when I consider that I could have just followed their schedule.
  • Hymn planned for Friday.
  • Neglected. Will try to do on Friday.
Phys Ed:
  • Miner continued work on his his Personal Fitness merit badge in Boy Scouts.
  • Will try to look at health on Friday on
Miner has been doing a lot of Minecraft. I have been decluttering and quilting. Also watched Atlas Shrugged while trying to keep warm. Here's the quilt I'm working on. My Mother-in-law made it. I'm finishing the hand quilting.
So that's how home school went at our house. How about yours?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Arne Efraimson - 1915 - 1921

Today's "Think Back Thursday" is an excerpt from my grandmother Esther Holien's memoirs, "A Letter to My Friends and Family", which she wrote in 1998.

Esther was the oldest child of Alfred and Emma Efraimson. named Eina Esther at birth, born 1905 at a Minnesota iron mining town, Esther's family (Alfred, Emma, and little sister Jennie - born in 1907) moved from Minnesota to a farm in Perth, North Dakota where Alfred found work. Eventually that farm became the Efraimson's family farm. After the family relocation, Alfred and Emma welcomed:
  • Eino, in 1908;
  • Emma, in 1910;
  • Jo (Josephine) in 1911;
  • Hilda in 1913;
  • Arne in 1915;
  • Bill (William) in 1917;
  • Vi (Viola) in 1918; and
  • Carl, in 1920.
More children were born later, but I'm stopping where this story took place in time.  In 1921, Esther, the firstborn, was turning 16. She had completed the local grammar school studies when she was 13. I will let her memoirs tell you the rest of this story.

I finished grade school at 13 and tried very hard to get a job working for room and board so I could go to high school. However, I didn’t look like I was more than ten years old and it took two more years before I grew enough so that anyone would believe I could do housework.

The idea was not that I liked housework. In fact, I hated it – that was the reason I was willing to do it – so I could learn, and be prepared for better jobs later on.

During the time I was home after grade school, a sad thing happened. My little brother, Arne, got sick with terrible stomach aches. By the time we got the doctor for him, his appendix had ruptured, and he was taken to the hospital in Devils Lake, about 70 miles from the farm. It was harvest time, and Mother and Dad could not stay with him. Someone had to, though, and I was elected. Of course, I was happy to do it.

The poison from the ruptured appendix had gone through his body, and penicillin and other wonder drugs had not been discovered yet. The Doctor could not contain the infection;; the incision would not heal, and evidently his bowels were blocked. We stayed there part of August and all of September – came home in early October.

Both of us were very homesick. I tried to keep Arne content by reading to him from magazines and books. Some of his favorites were Bible stories. He also liked to draw, so we did a lot of that. His favorite pictures were of foods because he was on such a bland, almost liquid diet.

Sometime after we returned home, in fact, it was Halloween, he had been too active and the incision opened wider. Dad got the Doctor and he operated on him at home, but they had to take him back to the hospital the next day. He did not survive the next operation.
For the longest time I knew that Gram had said she was one of 12 children, but whenever I researched her siblings I could only account for 11 of them.  I am so glad these notes survived. Worse than dying when he was so young would be for Arne to be forgotten completely. I am so happy to be able to share these notes with you. If anyone in my extended family has a photograph of Arne, please, please share it with the family. Maybe there was no photo ever taken of him. I've never seen any photo of any of the children from when they were children. It is possible that there weren't any taken of anyone until they were adults, I don't know. 

As always, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email, especially if you have any corrections or new information you can send my way.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Washington's Rules - #27

This week's rule is #27 - 

27thTis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.

Is this really written in English? Excuse me?

Okay, I think I this reflects the levels of aristocracy in pre-revolution America. I believe I am understanding it to say that it is not appropriate to tell someone more important than yourself to cover himself up, nor to cover the person up yourself. (What does this mean? I'm not sure.)  Likewise it is inappropriate to put your hat on in too much of a hurry (indicating you are in a hurry to leave), or to take a long time to put your hat on if you are asked (to leave if you are asked). Don't make them ask you more than once. Salute when appropriate, but within reason.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Menu Monday

I didn't have a lot of time for menu planning and shopping list preparation this week. Here's the basic family plan (below). The vegan will be eating leftover Minnesota Wild Rice Soup, and transitioning (when it is gone) to store-bought lentil soup (from Costco).

MONDAY (1/13)
beef stew, salad, rolls

Roast chicken, broccoli, stuffing

Hamburgers, fries, green beans

Baked ziti, salad, garlic bread

FRIDAY (1/17)
Chicken pot pie, rolls


SUNDAY (1/19)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

Homeschool Mother's Journal Link Up

So school at our house is finally up and running. I am still trying to find my groove with the changes I thought I was going to implement. The history curriculum I thought I was going to use? Well... not only does week 2 have no reading assignments listed for history (Hunh?), but I also find that I only have units 1 and 2 of a four unit year. I am not willing right now to purchase these missing units (over the years I have already purchased them twice...), so I'm not sure yet what I am going to do. I might just hang looser and just read materials that apply to the era. I'll have to figure it out. In the meantime, here is how our week went:

  • Improvement needed. Need to ramp this up next week.
Algebra I:
  • The highlight of our week, in my opinion, has been having my son understand the equation of y=mx+b and understanding that m=slope, b=y intercept, and how to solve equations to have y be positive, and how to plot the equation on a graph. Huge! (You know those days when you think your child will never make it through Algebra I? This was a day where I saw hope!)
  • Did work this week on BJU Earth Science. Am not entirely certain I will stick with this, but for now I felt good that we covered something in science more than my son's unswerveable interest in killing and preserving squirrels. I am not comfortable permitting him to pursue that interest right now because I am not certain of the legality of doing it where we live. I need to research it further.
  • I have been eyeing our BJU Biology, as well as, but haven't done more than that for now.
  • 1001 Arabian Nights Entertainments. We're working on the Andrew Lang version available for free on - and my son is loving it! I don't often get this reaction from him on anything! So I will definitely be continuing this read.
  • We started reading 1984, by George Orwell (something I had promised because my son had asked). He's having trouble paying attention (more interested in hunting squirrels with a sling shot this week), but what he has paid attention to so far has been received well, and I like its content and its level for his ability, so I'll stick with it.
  • Began reading Men of Iron by Pyle. Not very far into it yet, but it's a small book so I think we'll complete it. It's been on my "To Read" list for a long time. 
  • My son has not had a time when we focused on writing. I talked to him about this, and he understands that we need to spend some time on this. I am entertaining the possibility of pulling out the IEW DVD seminar next week for us (him) to work on.
  • Coming back soon.
  • Did some reading from Usborne's Medieval World, and not sure yet but I think we will continue.
  • Read from Picturesque Tales of Progress by Olive Beaupre Miller. Not well received, but I started with reading about Rome, not the Middle Ages, so I think I'm going to find the right part of the book and give it another try.
  • I still need to ramp up here, but we did get some hymn singing in. I plan, next week, to look with him at the classical and folk song selections for the term.
  • Nothing much to report. I talked to him about art, and he groaned. He doesn't want to do art. We did not get to the looking at art this week either. When it comes to "handicrafts", he worked on making squirrel snares. (Do you see a theme here?)
Phys Ed:
  • He is currently working on his Personal Fitness merit badge in Boy Scouts. I have been pleased with his work, but he sometimes needs little reminders to help him stay on track.
  • We've done some recent study on lice, bed bugs and carpet beetles. We talked about the importance of cleanliness, and the importance of keeping food in the normal eating areas, keeping the bedrooms clean. Lice was going around at our church Awana group. Just sayin'.
So that's how home school went at our house. How about yours?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Winter of 1880

Lorraine Almusa, daughter of Esther Efraimson Koistinen, found the following notes among Esther's effects when she passed away:
John and Lizzy Palvalehto came to the United States of America (from Finland) on August 14, 1880. Also came Mrs. (Mila Kainen) Efraim Palvalehto, the mother, and her daughter Mary and son Efraim. Others in this group were Henry Matson and his daughter Kate.

They were on the ocean seven weeks. The group came by train to Volga, South Dakota. On arrival, the men drew lots to see who would walk to Lake Poinsett and get someone to come and get the others. The lot fell to Jacob Paso and Charley Jymkela. They had to walk through the night.

They arrived at the Adams home on the shore of Lake Poinsett in the morning. Adams was busy milking cows. Charley Adams was 13 years old at that time. The neighbors, Torsten Estenson, Simon Hoel and Matt Rautio accompanied the Adams by ox and horse team to bring the pioneer arrivals and their belongings from Volga. Grampa Efraim (Prita's [Brita's] husband) and daughter Kate came here in the spring. They went to Michigan and he and Kate worked there. He came back to South Dakota about the same time his wife got there, but Kate stayed in Michigan.

The snow began falling on October 13th and remained until May 10th. [This was, no doubt, The Long Winter that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her children's stories. Stories from my husband's family tell the very same thing -- the oxen spent the winter in the sod shanty with the family!] Every other day was a blizzard. It was impossible to go anywhere because of the ten-foot drifts. Snow covered the barn and holes had to be made in the roof in some places. Folks lived the first winter in the basement. Four families were living in the basement, and even two cows and a team of oxen in the basement.

This was the winter of 1880-1881, the hardest in the history of South Dakota. They had a mill to grind flour. Grandpa Efraim made the mill of stones. When they came to South Dakota all the lakes were dry except Lake Poinsett. After the spring thaw, all the lakes and creeks were refilled and fish returned. Then in the summer John Efraimson made a sod house. They lived there until they had five children. [Their first child was born in Finland; their second was my (Diana's) great grandfather, Alfred Efraimson.] They built the wooden house around 1887. Amelia was the first one born in that house. Mary was born in Finland. Alfred was born in the fall they came from Finland at the Adams house on the shore of Lake Poinsett.

The first few years, the hay was used for fuel, by rich and poor alike. It was twisted into wisps. In later years, flax straw was used for fuel, which was also twisted into wisps. The first few years cow chips were burned. It was the custom to turn the chips over so they were thoroughly dry from both sides. The only thing about burning cow chips was that there were lots of ashes. There used to be a lot of buffalo roaming over the prairie before there were settlers. There were quite a number of buffalo rings -- circular about 10 to 12 feet in diameter, where there had been a beaten track inside. There was still a buffalo ring in the pasture when I (Esther Efraimson Koistinen) was small.

The towns were far away, 20 and 30 miles away. Dad had to drive with oxen and many times even walked to Watertown for groceries.

Dad's sister, Greta Paso, came some years later to South Dakota to be with her husband and family.

John Palvalehto Efraimson's parents were his mother, Prita Kainen [Brita] (1828-1911), and father, Efraim Palvalehto (1830-1901).

Other brothers and sisters were: Greta married a Paso, Katie married a Holappa and lived in Michigan, Mary married a Hanson in Bryant, Efraim married Liza and moved to Canada to farm.

Greta and Matt Paso's children are Henry, Mary, Hilma Prouty, Katie Kaino, Alina, Jennie, Annie Dickson, Johanna Palo.

Katie and Henry Hikappas' children are Albert, Hjalmer, Nick, Ed, William, Matthew, Michael, Fred, Mamie and Lizabeth.

Mary and Han Hanson's children are Edward, Lewie Alfred, Martin Otto, Pauline (half-sister ad brother Josie and Raymond). Mother of half sister and brother was Hilda Efraimson.

Efraim and Liza, the ones in Canada, are Einer, Edwin, Lillian (Rodgers), Hilda (Hill), Annie (Fripp) Nestor, Irene, Elmer and Helen (these are Alfred's first cousins).

Lizza (Alavesa) Efraimson's sisters and brothers are: Mary, Sarah and Andrew.

Mary married Jack Mattila. Their children are Sally, Martha, Charlie, Leri, Keikki, Maria, Tuino and Lyyki.

Sarah (don't know her married name). Children are Hiles, Annie, Finis and Siro.

Andrew's children in Finland are Sophie and Aleeno.

Greta and Matt Paso's stories are in the Hamlin County History Book.

Lorraine's husband, George Almisa, added a post-script to her letter saying that he had met Alfred and Jennie when they visited in Canada and that one of their neighbors was a student of Alfred when Alfred was teaching English to the Finnish immigrants who were in the Iron Range area in Minnesota.
At some time I hope to check these notes of Esther's against what I have in my records to make sure I have everything correct.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Washington's Rules - #26

This week we look at Washington's Rules #26, which says:

26thIn Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen, etc., make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.

This rule demonstrates the fact the George Washington grew up when our country was still part of Great Britain, under King George III. In Washington's time there were Noblemen, and certain people that one would bow and take off the hat for. Today few people wear hats, and those who do don't know the appropriate etiquette one should exercise when wearing a hat. I'd be happy if boys just knew to remove their hat when sitting down at the table! I remember that in the military the hat goes on out of doors and comes off when entering a building. I think this is supposed to be the rule for anyone wearing a hat. There are no nobles; a nod of the head to acknowledge someone is nice, but don't bow please. :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Evaluate, Discuss, and Make Changes

When we start each new school year, we start with bright hopes and expectations, new supplies, a Daily Lesson Planner, and hopeful excitement. Our new books are lined up in a row, and Mom is so excited, hoping Jr. is looking forward to the new year as well.
 America the Beautiful Curriculum Package    Chemistry and PhysicsHorizons Algebra I Set
For some time now, though, my efforts to educate my son have been a drudge. Most subjects are barely tolerated. He learns more history and politics from the conservative talk radio I listen to than the books I have him study. My husband and I recently decided to plan a trip, soon, to Williamsburg, and my son has no idea what it is. I mean, he hasn't studied Williamsburg in his history studies since, oh, let's say ...November? How sad is that. He is now admitting that he has been reading without thinking or caring, and just hates the materials we are using for that subject. And that subject is a core that also assigns the literature, writing assignments, geography, art... ::sigh::

For that matter, Science hasn't been working out of the textbook, either. It is a combination of the work required to deliver regular hands-on experiments, and the book being a lower grade level. My son has gotten plenty of science, but most of it hasn't been from the textbooks. I get reviewed annually, so this means I need to scramble and figure out exactly what he has actually been doing and write it up so that there is documentation for me to refer to when I get reviewed. And this is becoming the case in so many subjects.

On a good note, though, we've stuck it out long enough in Algebra I that he is beginning to have some victories there, so that's a good thing. But...

Some days (many days) I just want to put him on the big yellow bus in the morning, wave, and then be free to do the stuff around my house that really needs to be done right now.

However, though my son knows he hasn't been loving being home schooled, he is convinced he would hate being in the public school. And I am aware that I would be opening a Pandora's box in his life, and mine, if I did such a thing.

So, not wanting to continue on the track that we are on, I took my son aside yesterday for a student-teacher conference. We talked about ditching what we are currently doing, but explained that we still have to study some era of history. I also talked to him about, if we are switching curriculum now, doing schoolwork at the 9th grade level instead of the 8th grade level, kind of giving us an extra five months to finish our high school studies before graduation. 

I presented my son with a timeline of history to give him an idea of what his choices were of what era we could study. I broke it down using the basic Tapestry of Grace units, and am figuring to transfer to that for now, since I own it. I presented it this way (although later Tapestry presents it in a different order):
  1. Creation and the Ancient Hebrews and other ancient cultures;
  2. Egypt
  3. Greece
  4. Rome to the Death of Jesus
here I got a little fuzzy on how their Year 2 goes, but I presented:
  • The Dark Ages;
  • The Middle Ages;
  • Rennaissance and Reformation
I didn't get any farther. He wants to park in Tapestry's Year 2. And, frankly, that is an excellent year-plan to spread out over a year and a half, so that's what my current plan is. In addition, their Year 1 is an excellent year-plan to do in senior year, which is where it will fall for us if we are doing Year 2 in 9th grade, so that will be my current plan.

Like the curriculum we are walking away from, Tapestry uses history as the core, and then weaves Literature and writing assignments around that. I don't expect I will ever do Tapestry with this child the way I once did it with my older two, but more interwoven with Charlotte Mason methodology, weaving in other methods of teaching subjects the way I used to do with Ambleside Online (artist studies, composer studies, nature studies, etc.)

All of this I need to do with a level of flexibility so that I can, at a few weeks' notice, switch from one plan to another as we end up being offered wonderful new curriculum by the Schoolhouse Review Crew leadership. Flexibility is my middle name.

I still need to settle on a Science plan that we will switch to, so the verdict is still out on that. So, for now, those are our changes that we are going through.

How are things going at your home school? What's working? What's not?  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Wrap-up

Homeschool Mother's Journal Link Up
  • In my life this week…
On Sunday, last, my mother-in-love of going-on 35 years died suddenly of a pulminary embolism. We spent Monday preparing to travel, Tuesday traveling to the state where she had lived, Wednesday going through her things (to help my father-in-law), Wednesday night was the memorial, Thursday traveling home from her state, and today regrouping from the events of this week. Nana, we'll always love you, and we miss you dearly!
  • In our homeschool this week…
We thought this was week 1 of 2014's school year, but God showed us this was one more week added to our winter break. School starts on Monday.
  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Don't kick against the goads. When God shows you real-life examples where He is saying,  "My plans are not your plans," believe Him and don't fight it. He is in charge.
  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
This week we went to Charlotte, North Carolina. Of Jerry and Seline Malament's three sons and their wives, all three were present, as were their adopted son, the Father (Father Tom), and their other son that they welcomed into the family with open arms in 1969, Gene Taylor. Of the eight grandchildren, seven were present. My oldest was not able to make the trip from Denver. They also have three great-grandchildren (one of which is in utero), who live in NC. It was good to meet the spouse of my niece, and see all the family, but someone was missing. Nana would have loved it if we could have pulled off such a reunion while she was still living. I can only hope she was smiling down on us and able to say her own good-byes in some spiritual way, until we can meet her where she waits for us in the arms of Jesus.
  • My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
finding slate at a rocky mountainside when we stopped to get gas.
  • Things I’m working on…
On Sunday, my priorities changed overnight. My MIL left me so much in the way of crafting supplies and quilting supplies, my sudden, immediate priority is to ruthlessly declutter my space to make room for the things she left me that her husband wants to get cleared out of the house. He's going to hold onto a bunch of it while I work on my end, but I need to be ready for it to come here by summer. I have not got the space that I should have because a daughter married in September, moved into a small apartment, and asked me to please store her stuff (that she should have taken with her) until they can get a bigger place. We're talking twin daybed, desk, two book shelves, lots of books, a sewing machine table and machine, a serger, a surf board... You get the idea. These are in the room I had thought I could transition into a craft room. It has become a storage room, and now I need the space but don't have it. ::sigh:: The only answer for now is to massively declutter other stuff, stuff that I wanted to declutter gradually over the next five years... books I thought I wanted to read, pieces of furniture (I don't need three coffee tables, so why am I keeping one in the attic?), old home school materials and portfolios. So, that's what I am working on.
  • I’m cooking…
In my dinner plans this weekend: enchiladas, and stuffed shells. New year's menu plan will be posted Monday.
  • I’m grateful for… 
My mother-in-law's efforts to tell people in advance what would go to whom, even though she didn't realize death would come so quickly.

  • I’m praying for…
All of the hearts of those of us who have lost our Nana, the glue of our family. Also praying for some other folks who lost loved ones this week, who are Facebook friends of mine. Praying for my friends at church who are battling illness, relatives recovering from injury.
  • A  quote to share …
I don't remember this exactly, but my nephew was quoting his uncle I never met, who died suddenly in a farm accident in the 1980's: "Life is long, and suddenly you blink, and it is over." Don't waste your life. Hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them. Repeat.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jennie Efraimson - 1907-2003

The following information is gleaned from "A Letter to My Family and Friends", by Esther Efraimson, written in 1988 (so some of the statements of "fact" may no longer be true).

Alfred Efraimson and Emma Savilahti met on the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota, where Alfred had gone to seek his fortune in the iron mines. Emma was employed in the boarding house where Alfred had a room. They were married on November 13, 1904, and Esther was born on October 16, 1905 (Eina Esther, 10/16/1905 – 4/6/2004). Jennie arrived a year and a half later, on March 20, 1907 (Jennie Marie, 3/20/1907 – 1/4/2003).

About the time that Jennie was born, the iron miners went on strike. Alfred stuck it out for awhile, but when he realized that settlement (of the strike) might take some time, he set out for North Dakota to work in the harvest fields. He had lived on a farm for the early part of his life, so he was knowledgeable about farming.

He found full time employment, working for a bachelor with a two-bedroom house, so he sent for Emma and the girls in the Fall [of 1907].

That farm eventually became the Efraimson's, and Alfred's house is still the family’s summer home, although it has had many revisions, additions, etc.

Ten more children were born about a year and a half apart – Eino (9/27/1908 – 8/10/1988) , Emma (4/30/1910 – 10/16/2002), Jo (9/22/1911 – 2/4/2004), Hilda (8/14/1913 – 9/8/1997) , Arne (1915 – 1921), Bill (William - abt. 1917 – 1975) , Vi (Viola - abt. 1919-11/24/2003), Carl (8/25/1920 – 2/15/2008), Rudy (Rudolph - abt. 1923 – abt 2005), and Rupert (1/23/25 – 6/28/2013). Rupert was nineteen and a half years younger than Esther!

They didn’t have cars – they hadn’t been invented. There was no electricity, so they kept things cool in the cellar under the house. Indoor plumbing was not installed until 1958. They did have a telephone by 1918, -- they heard that the war [World War I] was over by telephone. Two long rings meant that everyone on the [party] line should listen in. Harvest was just over, so everyone set some of their straw piles on fire to celebrate! Incidentally, those straw piles were also great ski runs for us in the winters when they were covered with snow.

One year, just before school started, Esther, Jennie and Eino had to go to Cando and get vaccinated for small pox. Just the three oldest of the children were going to school at that time. Around Christmastime, Mother and Dad (Alfred and Emma) went to a church meeting at a neighbor’s house. They had been told that the lady of the house was sick, but not what she had.

Perhaps they had not consulted a doctor, so they didn’t even know what she had. It turned out to be small pox. Dad and the younger children all became ill with it – Dad had it the worst. He was covered from head to toe and had a raging fever.

They were all quarantined for a long time, and the day the quarantine was lifted, they had to fumigate the house by boiling formaldehyde. They couldn’t stay in the house, of course, so they stayed in the Sauna that day. It was Lincoln’s birthday and a beautiful sunny day, so they did play outdoors…it even thawed a little.

Esther loved school – she figured maybe it was because it was so much easier than staying home and taking care of babies, washing clothes on a washboard, ironing, scrubbing floors, etc. She didn’t start school until she was seven (Jennie and Esther started together), but they had already learned to read some Finnish. They spoke Finnish at home, and Mother (Emma) taught them from a little book called the “AAPINEN”. It had a picture of a rooster on the cover, and anytime they learned a new letter or word, the rooster would lay some raisins or prunes inside of their books. (I imagine Emma would put it there for them.)

Dad (Alfred) had taught them a few words of English, like the directions (North, South, etc.), salt and pepper, but very few. It didn’t take them long to catch on to English though. The letters of the alphabet are similar to Finnish, and although some of the sounds are different, it wasn’t too hard to learn to read English. In fact, Esther did both the first and second grade work in the first year. Jennie and Esther started speaking English all the time, even at home. Mother didn’t mind, but she still talked Finnish, even though the girls answered in English. Because of this, most of the younger kids were almost bi-lingual by the time they started school.

Esther supposed the fact that they did not hear English spoken at home helped them to learn the correct pronunciation of words from their teachers, and they did not acquire the accents like many American-born children of immigrants do. For instance, when other children tried to pronounce “th”, it almost always came out “da”.

Alfred's brother, their Uncle John [Efraimson], lived with them for many years. Alfred had 720 acres of land to farm. To give an idea of the size, a “section” contains a four mile square of 640 acres. This was too much for Alfred to do alone without the modern mechanized machinery available today.

Uncle John had a little Ford roadster, and every Sunday afternoon the kids would try to talk him into taking them for a ride. He was a quiet man and they never knew whether he’d grant their wish or not – until they suddenly saw him put on his hat and start for the granary (a farm building used to store grain) where he kept his car. They hurried along after him and it was a lot of fun. Sometimes they would stop at some neighbor’s farm, but otherwise just drove around for an hour or so. Esther and Jennie had just started school and loved to read any signs that they would see. One that was hard to read was “QUAKER OATS”.

It was unfortunate for a farm family to have two girls as the oldest children, because boys would have been able to start helping with the farm work sooner. However, Esther and Jennie – the big girls, as they were called – did get involved in a lot of farm work. Esther remembered harnessing those big draft horses that were so tall she had to climb up on the manger in the barn to put the collar on, before doing the hames and the rest of the harness.

There was a strap that had to go under their tails, and that was pretty scary, but those big draft horses never did kick the kids like the cows did at times.

Jennie and Esther did quite a bit of plowing, and helped make hay by spreading the hay on the stack and tamping it down. Esther also remembered one harvest time as Dad (Alfred) was going to town, he asked the girls if they needed anything. Esther said, “Yes, bring us some men!” That was a big laugh for many years. Of course, what she meant was to have some help with the farmwork. One of the chores was “shocking”, which is stacking up the bundles of wheat that had been cut. Esther recalled thinking that was the year that a hired man quit because he could not keep up with Jennie and Esther doing the shocking.

Farming was quite different back then. In those days, they used a threshing machine to harvest the wheat. It had a huge steam engine --- almost like on a train – with a long wide belt that made the separator work. The separator took up the bundles of wheat that were thrown on a feeder and separated the grain from the straw.

Harvest time was a really exciting time of the year. Dad and two neighbors, Jake and Pete, went together and bought a threshing rig. In addition to the farm machinery, there was a “cook car” and a “bunk car”. They would go up to the Turtle Mountains a few weeks before threshing time and hire some of the Indians living there to come and haul bundles. They assigned two men to each straw wagon to gather up the bundles and bring them to the separator. The farmer whose crop was being harvested would furnish the grain wagons and haulers.

When Jennie and Esther were about 13 and 14, they started working on the cook car as assistants to the main cook. After awhile, they realized the two of them could handle it together, so the adults let them try it.

They did all right. There was one morning, though, that they overslept and the engineer came knocking on the door to wake them up! That was after Esther's 16th birthday party the night before.

They had to get up very early to get the big pots of coffee made and whatever else they would have for breakfast. One of them would attend to that while the other mixed up and kneaded the huge bowl of bread dough that they made every day. The bowl was as big as a small tub! Sometimes, for the noon meal, they would make “heino leipa”, a round flat loaf just about an inch thick – a big loaf about the size of the oven – and cut it in slices.

They made three main meals and, in addition, sent coffee and some cookies or cake out to the men in the field at about 9:00 in the morning and again at about 4:00 in the afternoon.

Well, enough of farming...

Esther finished grade school at 13 and tried very hard to get a job working for room and board so I could go to high school. However, Esther didn’t look like she was more than ten years old and it took two more years before she grew enough so that anyone would believe I could do housework.

Lest you think that it was all work and dull, that  is certainly not the case, and when it came to games, they were quite innovative. One year Dad decided to go into diversified farming. He fenced off a quarter of the land and bought about eighty sheep. His thinking was that if he had sheep in that pasture for a year or two, they would keep the weeds down, and the next year he would be able to harvest a really good wheat crop from that field. He was right. It really worked.

In the meantime, the sheep pasture was a new place for the children to play. Eino had gotten a bike the year before, and they all learned to ride it. The sheep made little paths all through the pasture and the kids pretended that it was the United States.

They named certain sections for all the big cities of the United States. On the West was San Francisco, Seattle, etc. East of there was Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, and further east New York and Washington. They would take turns being the engineer on the train – the bike – and take passengers from one point to another. It was a lot of fun all that summer, and they were sorry to see it plowed up the next Spring.

They finally did grow up, and when Esther was almost 16, she did get a job in exchange for her room and board in Cando, a little town about 30 miles from the farm, so that she could complete high school.

Esther stayed with the same family for four years, doing the washing, ironing, cleaning, a lot of the cooking, etc.  After the first year, she got a small salary so she could pay for her books and clothing. The lady she worked for was the daughter of a millionaire from Detroit. She was always grateful for the things Esther could do, but she also taught Esther a lot. One thing she never forget was that she had previously called the mashed potatoes “smashed” potatoes. That gave her employer a big laugh, and Esther too – afterwards.

Esther and Jennie had learned to sew at home when they complained about the style of dresses that their dressmaker made. Mother said if they didn’t like the dresses they would have to make their own. Emma showed them how to cut a pattern from newspaper and fit it onto themselves, and then cut the material. Of course the girls first practiced on the sewing machine by hemming diapers. Anyway, Esther could sew things for Mrs. Shanley – mending ripped sheets, etc., and Esther also thought she  made some aprons and things like that. Mrs. Shanley liked to give parties and had Esther draw pictures on her invitations. She also gave Esther a few piano lessons, for which she was always thankful for. Esther was no great pianist, but could play enough to amuse herself. And since she learned to read music, she was able to get some of her brothers and sisters started.

Speaking of music, the whole family was talented in that area. Mother had a beautiful soprano voice and loved to sing, and so did Dad, who was a tenor. When Jennie and Esther were hardly in their teens, they joined the Church Choir along with Dad. In fact, they both sang in choirs until the last few years. Esther even sang in the National Lutheran Chorus at Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C. at a couple Christmas concerts. One of the concerts was the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah, and the choir was accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.

After high school, Esther went to Fargo to business college. She had taken one year of typing and shorthand in high school, but the business college experience was good. Jennie  spent part of that year in Fargo, too, working as a housemaid. Jennie and Esther became good friends with Alice Veronen. Jennie continued to keep in touch with her throughout her life.

The next year Esther got a job as a secretary to Frank Shanley, who had quit his job at the bank and gone into business for himself – some real estate and also as a clerk at auction sales.

Esther found a room at Clifford Holien’s, and Emma and Jo went to Cando and started high school. Jo always remembered that her teachers were apt to call her Esther. They did look quite a bit alike. Emma and Jo only stayed for one term and then continued at Rock Lake, driving back and forth from the farm.

Staying at Clifford Holien's, Esther met the man she married. They had four children together, but  Theodore (Ted) was an alcoholic, and by the time Larry was born they had already been separated several times (less than ten years). Ted went west to find his fortune and never came back. Esther wrote:

"The kids and I were living in Cando in the upstairs rooms of the Deardorff house when Pearl Harbor was attacked. We had been at the movies when the news came out. Shortly before that I had taken two tests – one was for the Civil Service, and the other for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
"The Civil Service telegram came first, asking me to report at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 1942. I answered that I would be there and Jennie, as usual, came to the rescue agreeing to take care of the kids till I could send for them.
"I had been working at the Courthouse in the Welfare Office and was making the magnificent sum of $75 a month, and everyone thought I had lost my mind to go traipsing off to Washington with four children.
"Jennie took the kids out to the farm and they finished the school year at the Armourdale school about a mile from there. By September I had saved enough money for their train fare to Washington and rented a house in the northeast section of Washington. They arrived before school started.
"Jennie got a job almost immediately in the Navy Department. We took in three roomers who had also come to Washington from North Dakota to work for the Government, so that helped pay the rent. Wayne got a job as a Washington Post delivery boy.
"The kids got settled in school and, since Larry was still too young to go to school, we had a maid who took care of him. She was black, and one of the things Larry said about her was that he didn’t think she knew it! None of us had hardly seen a black person before we came to Washington and had no idea of bigotry towards them.
 "After we had been at Newton Street for a year or so, we decided to go out and take a look at Greenbelt, which advertised cheaper rents for people whose income was below a certain amount. I can’t remember what it was, but we qualified for it, and so we decided to move there. So that’s how we happen to be Marylanders now.
"At first it seemed like the end of the world, because it took over an hour to get there from downtown by street car, but once we got used to it, it wasn't so bad.
'And it did seem like an ideal place for kids, with "underpasses" -- paths cut out under the roads so children didn't have to cross streets to walk to school. There were a lot of activities planned for children, and a swimming pool too.
"It worked out fine. Carole and Ida were in the Majorettes, learned how to swim, worked at the theater, and occasionally as baby sitters. Wayne worked at the gas station. Since Jennie and I both worked down town, they didn't have much supervision, but seemed to manage all right. If we told them to have some vegetables prepared before we got home, we would finish the evening meal when we got there. Carole and Ida were both acrobatic and upside down half the time. 
Saturdays and Sundays were busy days. At first we didn't have a washing machine and had to wash by had in the tub in the kitchen. That was really a chore when it came to sheets because when we first moved to Greenbelt, the front yard was nothing but mounds of red clay. Consequently, everything white turned a ghastly clay color! Polyester had not been invented, and it apparently had not occurred to the makers of nylon to use it for anything but stockings, so naturally, the ironing board got a lot of use. At first we attended the church in Mount Rainier, Md., but as soon as Pastor Pieplow started Church services at the Greenbelt Elementary School, we went there instead. Carole and I also joined the choir, and we had rehearsals at our house, since we had acquired a piano by then.
"While we were still at the Newton Street house in Washington, we received word that Ted had died. There was no question of being able to go to his funeral, but some of my family did attend. He died of pneumonia and other complications.
 "In the summer of 1945, Jennie went to North Dakota on vacation. She found mother to be very tired and didn't want to leave her alone with the work that still went on at the farm. Mother was 64 at the time. That fall, she got one of her sinus attack; it turned into double pneumonia and she died. I flew home for the funeral -- in fact, I got there before she died, but I don't think she was conscious anymore.
 "So Jennie never came back. She continued to keep house for Dad. Dad lived till the age of 91 and since then, Rudy and Jennie have run the farm. Neither of them ever married. They have a town house in Rock Lake where they spend the winters, and Rudy often comes down to visit me in Florida. Jennie has worked in Janke's store in Rock Lake from time to time."
That is the extent of my Gram's notes about Jennie. If anyone in the family would like to add to or change the content of this little "history", please shoot me an email or leave me a comment, and I will update this content. Thanks.