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    Seven Quick Takes: Books, Gifted Kids, Cheap Honey, and More

    March 21, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
    — 1 —

    I had a bit of a book shopping spree on Monday. I had heard of what is supposed to be an amazing science book for middle school age students {and possibly a little younger} called The Story of Nitrogen by Karen Fitzgerald. Well, then I found out it was a series, and I was able to find three of them, and two of them were less than a dollar {of course, I had to pay shipping} and so I also purchased The Story of Iron and The Story of Oxygen.

    There are others from the series on Amazon, but I am a bit wary because they are by different authors, and it was Fitzgerald specifically who was recommended to me.

    In my mind, I’m planning a summer Circle Time that is solely a time for reading aloud, and these — or at least one of them — should be a good fit for that.

    — 2 —

    I’m starting to think we need to go back to using the word “genius” when we talk about seriously brilliant children. I know that “gifted and talented” is the name of the game because that is what the public schools use to describe their programs, but I’m starting to think this is unhelpful. Because some people feel that every child is gifted and talented (I’m lookin’ at you, Glennon Doyle) and because they feel this way — they just know it — this makes it true, right?


    Every child has a gift or a talent, no doubt, but the GATE program was originally designed to meet the needs of children who have an intellectual ability that far surpasses the average — basically a high IQ.

    That’s all.

    It’s not some big insult to average kids everywhere.

    The typical public school classroom doesn’t serve that population well. Blah blah blah. You’ve probably all heard the arguments.

    In my home, some of the kids are “gifted and talented” in this proper sense, while others are just average kids with God-given gifts and talents. There is a difference, and there is no use pretending that outliers do not exist.

    — 3 —

    Speaking of genius, one of my projects this year is to delve into what Charlotte Mason really said about the education of gifted children — of geniuses. I helped moderate the Gifted private group over at the AO Forum for a while. It was only when I spent time around the many discussions about educating gifted children that take place there that Miss Mason’s comments on giftedness began to jump off of pages at me.

    I think I feel another series coming on.

    Or something.

    — 4 —

    For some reason I was thinking about TED talks this morning. Do you think they are the modern equivalent of Athenian culture? I’m thinking specifically about this:

    For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. {Acts 17:21}

    Obviously, it isn’t true that there are many people who spend their time in nothing else, but still, I think I see a parallel.

    — 5 —

    Do you often scroll down to the footer of this blog? If not, you’re missing out. The most important thing is right at the top: my running list of books for the current year. I was thinking about it today because I finally updated it. We’ve been doing a lot of reading aloud lately, and it has been great fun to watch my younger children fall in love with Narnia. There is nothing like hearing my five-year-old yell, “To Narnia and the North!”

    We also recently started The Namesake: A Story of King Alfred, which I highly suggest, especially if you have any older children in your home.

    — 6 —

    A few years ago, Daughter A.’s environmental allergies were totally cured by raw honeycomb consumption. I think I’ve mentioned this before. My grandfather’s neighbor is employed in the bee business, and gave him a 5″ or 6″ square in a plastic container as a gift. Eating such a thing wasn’t really my grandfather’s thing, so he passed it on to us. I encouraged my two oldest children — who had always suffered from environmental allergies — to eat it. Son E. decided he did not like it, but Daughter A. thought it was great, so she had it all to herself.

    It took her two months of tiny, daily bites, but she eventually ate it all.

    {By “cure” I mean that she has never had allergy symptoms again, even after all these years.}

    After that, I really wanted to buy raw local honey, as it is supposed to also be helpful, and I thought Son E. would also go for it. But when I looked into it, they were charging $16 for little tiny jars. We eat a lot of honey in a year, so that was totally out of my price range. I settled for raw honey from Oregon that I purchased from a co-op. It wasn’t local {for me}, but it was $32 for a gallon, and kept well for months on end.

    I am allergic to nothing in Oregon, is my guess.


    I went to make my regular purchase recently, and discovered that the price had risen to $47 per gallon! I can no longer justify that cost. So I asked my grandfather to inquire of his neighbor, who I’d heard was trying to start keeping bees himself. The result? A free jar of raw, local alfalfa honey! And also a promise of reasonably priced honey in the future.

    And she lived happily ever after.

    The end.

    — 7 —

    Well, it’d be the end if I didn’t still have the guest house to mention. In addition to the external changes, which are minimal, yet important, the inside is also now fully insulated! Next up: drywall!

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