Friday, August 29, 2014

Lessons from Farmer Boy

I have had the great pleasure of reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my young son.  My older son is usually working on something else, but the story is so good, he is often drawn in too.  Here are some things that have come to mind from this wonderful book.

We are producers. - God made us to make things.  We are co-creators.  The lie of advertising is that we are made to consume, but actually we are made to produce.  With the gift of good land and strong bodies, we can make our own food, clothes and furniture.  Let us not lose sight of this truth.

Work is good.- We have been made to think that work is the drudgery we get through to get to weekends or vacations.  And yes, we all need sabbath and rest in our lives, but the ability to work and provide for our families is a blessing.  Just ask someone who is disabled or unemployed.

Mothers as teachers.- Almanzo's mom is just pretty awesome.  She is a baker, a seamstress, a weaver, a canner, a hatmaker, and a shrewd bargainer with peddlers. She does it all, but she isnt a helicopter parent.  She is a teacher and we see the daughters have learned many of her skills (ice cream making!!) and are very competent.  For all the technology and growth of knowledge we have now, there is much we have lost.

Respect goes both ways-  Almanzo's father is respected, even feared (in a good way).  But the beautiful thing about the father- son relationship is how his father really respects Almanzo and teaches him to be a man by talking to him with respect.  He gives him life lessons, but he also puts him in positions of responsibility.  And Almanzo learns that he really is a strong, smart boy.

Boys have so much to offer-  In our society, Almanzo would probably get diagnosed with something and medicated. He itches to be outside and to be with the horses, be with the men working, be out and busy.  Contrary to current perceptions, this is a GOOD thing.  Boys have so much energy that can be used for productive, useful things.  They want to be helpful, they want to be a contributing part of the family.  Lets unplug them from meaningless video games and give them real tasks that take real strength and skill.

So much more I could say.  This book is a delight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

reality and grace

I have read blogs in the past that are like a Martha Stewart show.  Lovely photos, lovely words, lovely homes, lovely food. Pretty Pretty Pretty.  And there is a place for those blogs. 

But I had to stop reading them.

Part of me liked them, but part of me walked away feeling frustrated and sad.  I'm not proud of it, but I would definitely line up with the results of this study. 

BUT there are some blogs out there that have blessed me immeasurably.  There are women who have shone light on my path through their writings.  In years where I really struggled with motherhood, they inspired and encouraged me.  Their blogs were and are REAL.  They dont air all the dirty laundry of their families.  No one wants that.  But they share struggles selectively and their attempts to persevere.  Its not a whine fest either.  Lots of joy, lots of gratitude.

Those blogs are the ones I keep reading.

I want this blog to be real. Just 5 minutes of sharing, reflecting, and maybe sometimes venting.

In the spirit of honesty, I have to say that it was a hard morning today.  I added on some more subjects to our slow start of school.  I showed my oldest the checklist he would have this year. It was overwhelming and there were some tears.  Growing up means more responsibility and if we can all be honest here,  sometimes that aint fun.  (Hence the piles of laundry waiting to be folded here)

But we also learned about grace today.  Mama is here to talk with you about these responsibilities, to help you learn to shoulder them and walk by your side.  We will tackle the hard things together and not give up.  We live in reality and we live in grace. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A peaceful beginning

Our little Classical Conversations group has grown this year.  i added up 88 people there yesterday!  Wowzers.  Considering that 18 of those are in the nursery, lets hope the little people dont rise up against us old folks. 

This is my third year of directing and I can say it was the least stressed beginning I have had.  I think people who have been around for a while have hit their groove and it is easier to welcome the many many new people.  Kids know what to expect, Mamas know what to expect and it all goes pretty well.

That to say, we had some wailers in the nursery, some very shy kids making it through presentations and some boys with enough wiggles for a can of worms.  But it is typical first day stuff.

So I sit here with a very thankful heart.  For the friends God has brought to me to walk on this road of homeschooling.  For a beautiful program that gives us guidelines and freedom all at once.  For healing from the years of homeschooling in isolation without the encouragement of other crazy mamas.

Im grateful.   Here's to a great year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

i can type this while i am on hold

i am on hold with our internet company.  I am having to "say" what i need and the robot is supposed to understand me.  The problem is the robot doesn't understand me because what I need is not one of the 5 words the robot can understand.  So I just keep talking and eventually a human will answer.

This is one of those times when I really wonder if technology has made us smarter.  Used to be I could call one person and they had the skills to answer questions about a wide variety of subjects related to their field.  Now it takes a LONG time to even to get a human.  And that human doesn't know much about anything besides what is on their computer screen.  So if I have a question about a bill and customer service I get transferred.  More waiting, more writing time. 

Recently I had a problem with a bricks and mortar store.  I went online to find customer service and talked with someone from a number I got there.  I found out that this large, nationwide company has no connection between their bricks and mortar stores and their online version.  One hand does not know what the other is doing.

Just finished with my call.  At the end, they asked if I wanted an upgrade. I said maybe if they get it working at all, I will see what the quality is and see if I want an upgrade.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

love of danger

My baby entered a phase this week that all my kids have gone through.  When she gets bored with eating something, I can coax a few more bites from her if I let her eat it off a fork.  Maybe its the texture, maybe its just something new.  But I bet there is something in her little mind that is like "oooh, its sharp! I pokes! I want it!" 

Its the same attraction we all have to fire, the love we have for fireworks, swimming, etc.   We know there is a little bit of danger involved and for some reason we are drawn to it.

I saw this TED talk recently:  5 dangerous things you should let your kids do. 
The speaker actually has a book with 50 dangerous things, which I would be interested in seeing.  Now, I dont let my kids go crazy.  I have a no football, no boxing rule.  I just worked too hard on those brains to see them get bruised up. But I do let my kids build things, burn things and try out stuff.  My husband lets them do even more.

What I loved about his talk was that in doing the "dangerous" things, kids learn about limits.  They learn how close to fire feels good and how close will hurt you.  They learn how to hold a drill so the screw goes in and doesn't fly around ( a lesson I am still learning) They learn where their limits are and what they can do.  They learn they are strong and smart.  All good stuff. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

calm before the storm

It is quiet.  The neighborhood kids have gone back to school.  The boys are at grandmas today.  We are starting to start our school year.  I dont like to jump in all at once.  (Funny, Im that way with the swimming pool too)  A few years ago we started this graduated process of starting school and it is much gentler on all our lives.  Here is how it looks this year:

All summer: reading and math
this week:  reading, math, composer study
next week: reading, math, CC memory work, US notebooks, read alouds, IEW
after labor day:  all of it! 

It helps us tweak the schedule before the onslaught of sports and tutoring sessions dominate.  It works for us.  For now, at least. :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

a change of view

Sometimes I need to get out.  Get out of the house with never ending laundry.  Get away from the screen of a computer that sucks me in.  Get free from the many shoulds and musts that I carry in my mind.  Get a new perspective when I feel frustrated and saddened by others. 

In other words, take a hike. 

This weekend we did the worlds most painless camping trip.  One night only, at a friends farm just 10 minutes from home.  Hot dogs, marshmallows.  Then mom goes home with baby and they both sleep in real beds.  In the morning I brought breakfast and we took a hike in the woods.  Nothing special, no caves, natural bridges or historical sights.

Just me and my boys and dirt, rocks, sticks and trees.  Beautiful. 

It didn't solve the relationship problems, clean my house, or bring back Robin Williams.  But somehow a hike always helps me shed a little of the weight of this world. 

I cant really explain how.  My circumstances haven't changed, just the way I view them.   I think seeing all of creation helps me know I am held by the Creator.  All these things that burden me are not greater than Him.  It is all in his hands.