Daily Diary {School Daze}

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I pound down the stairs to the screams of multiple children, I enter the room dubbed “Lego Land” and find them wheeling a extra twin bed around with various appendages flying in all directions. Children on mattress joy rides. Can we call it Physical Education? Creative Expression Class? Anger Management? I calmly direct the mattress and WHOLE bed be put back, the LEGOS and other debris swept and children report the the table for lunch. Well, in my saintly dreams, anyway. I was frustrated and exasperated. It actually seemed like a perfect time for locking myself into my room with 14 bars of Hershey’s chocolate. Good thing I don’t have any. Good thing I’m self-disciplined and have good habits, Charlotte Mason, dear.

The morning started off slow, as I woke earlier than my alarm, mumbling about my traitor body that wouldn’t let me sleep another seven and half minutes. I turned it off and then went back to sleep. Disorientated about the light blinding me when it was suppose to be 5:00 am,  I stumbled out of bed, horrified at the late hour of 6:53 am, stared out my window, a deep, fog not unlike that of Barrow Downs hovered, one-eye half open, I started my life-giving brew, and sat down to check-in to the all-important internet world. My brain slowly unscrambled, a slight hum beginning to drift down from upstairs. Goodness. They’re awake. Those wild, crazy, lovely, delightful children of mine. My hubby bids me adieu and good luck. I barely turn from him when I feel the First-Tug-On-My-Sleeve of the day. It’s my three year old wanting me to read him a book. An hour later, I gulp a swig of cold coffee, put down the board books, boy, and realize that my oldest hasn’t stirred out of her room for KP duty. She is my Chief Oatmeal and Taco Maker.  Thank goodness gracious for her.

Well, with a morning that’s lagging a bit behind, one has to reevaluate. I’m outnumbered. Only one thing can be done to preserve whatever sanity one has left. You go slow, you hang laundry on the line to blow in the breeze, you turn on Rachmaninoff, you let boys build their battle fields, other kids draw, and you heat up your coffee, waving your white flag of Early-Start Surrender. I regrouped, and by regrouped I mean get dressed and brush one tooth. My oldest made delicious oatmeal, the table got cleared, and we were acting slightly more human-ish by now. A pile of apples and pears later (didn’t we just eat?), we attack copywork and maths. My daughter took one look at her towering stack of books, a slight shiver running down her back, and dug into it all. I’m the lucky one, really, I get to hear her narrations, have discussions, on all the interesting things she is reading. I get to hold the sticky, brown-sugar-y hands, get burdock out of curly hair, and clean up the little, darling toddler pants. They are urine drenched, but hey. I alternate sending children outside for fresh air (aka keep-mom-sane) and helping them each with their individual studies. I laugh with my middle son over the silly happenings in Twenty One Balloons by William Pène du Bois, talk Feudalism with another, and listen to piano being practiced.  My oldest son stabbed a few taters and threw them into the crock pot for lunch, Baked Potato Bar. This sounds more romantic than it is. Basically, hot potatoes with all the unwanted frig scraps on top. It feeds a crowd. Potatoes have kept whole country’s alive, surely they will do for seven people to survive a Thursday. After wrestling teens, toddlers, and table cleaners, (and finding out we cracked the poor old crock pot insert !), we settle down into our blissful messiness and enter other worlds together.

Flying, dipping, diving, we float through different stories, narrations, sharing, singing, and talking. Cain and Abel. “The Wreck of the Hesperus”. Abe Lincoln. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. The murderous mayhem and mattresses are forgotten, the piles of toys, crumbled bits, discarded clothing, and half-eaten, browning apple cores a distant (for the moment) memory. Our voices raised together, we sing the “Doxology”, we listen to a bit of Tanglewood Tales, we learn a little about architecture, our Constitution, and finally, we sit around planning story-inspired art that we are working on. The afternoon sun glows cheerfully, I fold some more laundry, hide for a bit in the basement near the washer, laundry is helpful like that, always waiting, always there for you. We make pancakes for dinner, little sailboats made out of plastic ice cream dishes and morning glory leaves are floated in the puddles, a few tears are shed over a sharp knife ban, and I breathe an exhausted thanks Heavenward . Thanks for these children, for a home, thanks for this life, Lord. A swirling daze are these home schooling days, but I wouldn’t trade ’em for the world.

~

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Be It Ever So Humble

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There is no place like our little home of learning. Yes, we are returning to the book shelves, returning to an invitation to enter in. The rustles of paper, woodsy pencil smell mixed with burnt electrical odor drifting up from our faithful sharpener, and the back acres’ beckoning call. Embroidering little gifts for Grandparent’s Day and Christmas, enjoying a hilariously performed narration of Saint George of Merrie England, inhaling loaves of fresh bread, digging into their maths with happiness (how I have children that enjoy Mathematics is nothing short of miraculous, they are actually teaching me the fun of it), watching our Monarch caterpillar build its gorgeous chrysalis, and measuring, crisp ruler lines emerging, seeing little paper envelopes unfold.  Journals cracked open, new sketches join the old. Belly laughs over Edward Lear’s Half Magic, thoughtful discussions on silkworms, and diving back into the beauty, magic, and intrigue of history. Loreena McKennitt playing softly while morning breakfast is served.  Milk, walnuts, and brown sugar poured over hot oatmeal, salty popcorn for elevenses, tapers are out, for autumn is slowly approaching. Soup and chili are back on the dinner menu, thank goodness.

The ecstasy, the sheer delight of this privileged life I’m blessed with is true and it is here. I choose to see, I have to see it. I closely notice the green vine of it peeking up through the cracks. Because as the big picture flickers by, playing out a tense-feeling mother who is fumbling along, trying to help us all get back into a regular rhythm, the habits of what we ought to do versus what we would like to be doing. Or in reality, the tension of what I like to be doing versus what I ought to be doing. This is ministry at its finest. A ministry of listening, the ministry of time, a ministry of stories, a ministry of delicious meals, a ministry of love, compassion. It is the ministry of relationships, possibly the hardest thing of all. It’s the piles of overflowing laundry, the grocery shopping, the garbage, the lawn to be mowed, the appointments to make, the filthy floors, the beauty and beast of it all. 

In a few weeks, the flow, and the newness will even out, the three chocolate bar afternoons will end, and the semi-sanity will return. I will get gradually use to the indoor noise level again, the four-persons-asking-me questions at once, and the proverbial split milk, but now on top of someone’s copywork. The glorious thing is that as we soak all of this messy beauty in together, it begins to seep out in our stories,  our art, our conversations, it becomes part of us, it forms our relationships, it enriches us. It changes our path, informs our decisions, turns our hearts, hands Heavenward and outward. An unseen beautiful vine of love twining its way through our home. And that is worth every minute of it all.

 

~

 

The Second Coming

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“How to Prepare for the Second Coming”

by Abigail Carroll (Anglo-American, contemporary)

 

Start by recalling the absolute goodness of rain

and repent for every grumble you have ever made

about the weather (this will take approximately

 

forever.) Next, you will want to commit a theft:

with deft lock-picking and a shrewd hand, steal

back the hours you fed to the hungry god of work,

 

then squander them on hydrangeas, Wordsworth,

voluntary sidewalk repair. Teach a child to lace

a shoe (your child or another’s – any four-year-old

 

will do), and while you’re at it, set the alarm

for three, and fumble through the dark to the pond

to guard the salamanders as they cross the road. If,

 

having accomplished these tasks, you wish

to go on, sit at your desk and carefully design

a few radical acts of grace, by which I mean

 

murder (of a sort): you must willfully, passionately

kill the living, breathing debt owed you by those

who stole your goods, your rights, or the jewel

 

that was the beating muscle of your hope. Apart

from this, you cannot know the full extent of love.

(For precedent, refer to the cross.) Thrust

 

your nails into dirt and plant a few seeds (carrots,

radishes, perhaps); indeed, a get scandalously intimate

with the earth. After all, it is where you will live

 

when the lamb lies down with the lion, and the lion

has become your friend. And when the water

of the new world breaks, all is said and done (heaven

 

and earth made one as the prophets foretold),

you will lose each doubt to a song – which is

a kind of praise – and reap the good you sowed.

 

Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for

Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide, compiled by Sarah Arthur

p.234- 235

 

(this poem blessed me so much this past week. I’m adding it to my commonplace journal.)

~

 

 

 

Feather

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There’s a little feather here. Along with crumpled receipts, crumbs, my broken necklace, coins, and randomness of life. The feather is rumpled, small, surprisingly sweet. She gave it to me, a tinge of excitement on the edge of her voice. “Look at this teeny feather, Mom! It’s for you.” In my hurried, distracted state, I stuffed it there. Funny how it touches and reaches for me now. Little feather dream.

~

Daily Diary {March 30th}

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Gladys Taber was a memoirist that I truly enjoy. She wrote about her farm, Stillmeadow. I love entering her thoughts and reflections on home, her animals, family, cooking, and the daily doings on her farm. I wanted to capture a bit of her spirit here. I decided to do more of a list version today, Gladys wrote much more poetically. I love reading about people’s real, daily moments of life.  Each day flows differently and each family has their own unique rhythm. So a Gladys-inspired post:

5:30 am – I woke to wind and rain lashing windows and I remembered that I forgotten to get some laundry off my clothes line last night. Drat. I get up and make coffee, chatting with my sister on Messenger while I wait for it to brew. She is preparing to teach her class and we talk about a book we are starting to read together, Silence by Shusako Endo.

6:15 am – Coffee steaming from my lovely blackberry and leaf painted mug.  I sit down with my journal, Bible, and pen. Stephen the Martyr and the story of Samson today. My husband and  7 yo come down. I pack a lunch for my husband and read a new library book to my daughter. You Belong Here by M.H. Clark. It is simple, but it’s the illustrations that make it shine.

7:45 am – I pore more coffee and read in my devotionals these beautiful thoughts.

Calcutta to Cannon Beach

by Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I have His darkness – I have His pain, – I have the terrible longing for God.

-Mother Teresa

That at times this future saint

could not sense her Lord while sweating

words with pen read as a revelation

to me, disclosed that she was human, too.

God’s omnipresence still too far – boils, sores,

and scares too near, so faith meant treading.

the waters of theology’s raw mystery,

their paradox: belief is doubt

that we can know with certainty.

And so I cup the ocean with my hands,

though fingers leak, dry, then crack.

Yet for a moment, I can clutch the ocean

with my makeshift bowl, taste

the salt my everyday eyes cannot see.

from Between Midnight and Dawn

Complied by Sarah Arthur

pg 59-60

I also thought on this from Amy Carmichael in Thou Givest, They Gather this: “…one long look at Calvary does something for us that nothing else can do.” pg 72

8:00ish am – I help my 12 yo with his math and he reads to me for a bit. Everyone is getting up, happy chattering. A disagreement about what we are having for breakfast ensues and I wax poetic about the benefits of oatmeal five days a week. Har.  My son gets the oatmeal made and sets the table.

9:00 am – Hot, steaming oatmeal with your choice of brown sugar, peanut butter, raisins, and walnuts for breakfast. Prayers and we read a bit of poetry together.

9:32 am – Dishes being scrubbed, a child just said sweetly to me, “Mom, guess what? I’m cleaning my room.” Yay. There is hope.  5 yo is “reading” to the 2 yo and it is the cutest thing. I set up copywork for three children from their various poems and things they are working on.

9:33 am – Ok. I better get up. I am just sitting here at the desk staring at the screen.

10:00 am – 2yo and I watching a black-capped chickadee at the feeder. My 2 yo loves our dress up clothing, so he is usually wearing a hodge-podge outfit. We said the chickadee’s call together. “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” I talk about copywork and math with my 9yo. He and I do factor chains which are fun. I fold a basket of laundry and brace myself to go rescue stuff on the clothesline.

10:30 am – Freezing cold, my bare feet squished in the mud as I ran through the rain. I will have to rewash the things on the line. Grr.  I start another load in the basement washer, turning on the dryer again as well. My 7 yo comes to me as I step upstairs, an armful of cloth, asking if I can make her stuffed animal some clothing. Oh my. I mention a plan to get out my sewing machine in the afternoon and maybe we can try something. I am not a good seamstress, so that should be riveting. Ha. My 2 yo comes to me with a doll with a leg that has popped off. I put it in. The children take their piles of folded laundry to put away. I help 7 yo with copywork and pop doll leg on again. That doll may or may not need to be “retired”. I read two paragraphs of this post.  I notice a new list of podcasts to check out . A fight breaks out and we have tears about copywork. I have my daughter finish the word she is on and we will work on the rest tomorrow. Short lessons are beautiful, thank you, Miss Mason.

10:41 am – Huge disagreements to wade through, I ask my 5 yo to pick up the board books, and I set up a studied dictation lesson for my oldest. She is using “The Highway Man” by Alfred Noyes. She grabbed her books and heads to her room to work on some things. I eye the clock. Almost time for Elevenses. Maybe a bit of tea and a snack will squash the fighting. The sky is steel gray and the rain continues to trickle down. The friendly sound of the furnace kicking in is comforting. What should I serve for snack? Oops. 2 yo is unfolding the laundry.  How nice.

11: 41 am – Well, we had baby carrots and a piece of fruit for Elevenses. I didn’t make tea, my patience was wearing thin. I grabbed a few almonds. My 7yo and 9yo listened to me read them a nature lore story. They narrated it back to me. There was some more fighting and I may or may not of lost my temper a bit. Yikes.  I helped these two with reading lessons. 9yo and I enjoyed a selection in Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling. We talked about what Nantucket is and looked at the map. We found it fascinating that the whalers had to pour sea water on the ropes so they wouldn’t catch fire from the friction.  Now, I call the 12 yo down from his room where he and the 9 yo were playing Sheepshead.  Oh boy. Now they are wrestling. Sweet Lord Jesus, help me be patient. I have the 9 yo release some energy by picking up a stack of books and re – shelving them in our library. 12 yo and I learn about Archimedes, levers, he adds a drawing to his Science Journal, we read a bit of Sterling North’s Rascal, and work on reading together.

12:28 pm – Lunch is running late. Thank goodness my dear mother made us some chicken noodle soup yesterday. We are heating that up and adding the noodles to it. I will serve it with crackers. My oldest narrates her readings and I read her the dictation passage she studied.  I have a feeling that spring fever and a few other things are causing some of our grumpiness today. Thinking on it.  My son is practicing his drums upstairs and that reminds me I need to call on piano lessons for my oldest. My husband texted me something really nice. What a blessing.

1:11 pm – Lunch was delicious and is wrapping up. My oldest is putting my 2 yo down for a nap. We read the story of Naboth’s vineyard and Ahab, narrating it. The boys got out their action Bible and looked at some drawings of the story. We read the Proverbs for today and narrated it. My 9 yo has lunch clean up, so he is slowly working on that.  My oldest was hired to do some laundry for my father in law while he is on a trip, so she switched out the laundry for me and started washing his clothing. I have two baskets to fold.

1:29 pm – Egads. I forgot to start the dinner in the crockpot! I’m making chicken fajitas, or rather my version of chicken fajitas. I threw chicken, chopped onion, green pepper, and sweet peppers in together with some taco seasonings. Hopefully, the HIGH setting will have that ready in time. I’ll shred the chicken and add some cheese a little bit before I serve it with tortillas or chips. Time for another cup of coffee and a piece of dark chocolate.

2:50 pm – We finished our formal lessons for the day. The drawn narrations for Greek myths were fun to see. I also helped my 7 yo with math. We attempted to do some geography mapping of the east coast USA. I’m still learning how to do this myself. My 5 yo and 12 yo braved the rain and journeyed to the mailbox. We received book mail and my new issue of Writer’s Digest.

3:00 pm – I’m sitting here in a stupor. 5 yo is painting, 9 yo is drawing more, inspired by the Greek myth book, 7 yo and 12 yo being silly and telling stories, 13 yo is reading her book, and baby boy napping. Whew.  Maybe I should go dig out my sewing machine. It is almost time for the children to start their chores. They get an hour of media time if their chores and school work are done by 4:00 pm. Overall, they are very good about keeping track of what they need to do each day. Now 5 yo is cleaning up painting stuff and switching to Play Dough.

4:30 pm – I called on the piano lessons and left a message. The children finished their chores and media time is upon us. One is reading in their room. I am hiding…er, relaxing in my room with a stack of books. I peeked at Facebook, blah, and then Instagram. Now I’m going to slowly move through a few of the books.  Four children are in my room, asking various things. I talk with my 12 yo about Joan of Arc and we tried to define relics. I talk about hiring him for a big cleaning job. Oldest asked me if I started the last in a YA fantasy trilogy we are reading together. I point to all my book stacks and we laugh together. She asks if she can make smoothies for a snack and I say yes. 5 yo is bringing me a Play Dough creation to look at.

5:30 pm – I head downstairs and everyone is just enjoying various activities. Huge plastic army guy battle being set up. The chicken fajitas look good. I guess HIGH worked after all! 7 yo and I talk about the sewing, but we don’t end up doing it. I’m pretty bad at crafting with them. Mommy guilt moment. My unfolded laundry stares at me with its beady, shifty eyes.

6:00 pm – My hubby is home. We chat a bit about his day and I try to listen as I’m drawn to Endo’s Silence, trying to get my brain out of what I was reading. I’ve already read past my sister and I’s agree upon goal for this week. Wow. I finished a lovely memoir about a couple that moves from New York to West Ireland. It was so real and beautiful. I also was inspired and have a ton of post-its of ideas and thoughts from my rereading of The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater. My 7 yo drew a lovely picture of my husband and I with our house. I love you Dad and I love you Mom written in crayon. XOXOXOXO. Swoon.

7:00 pm – The candles are lit, I added cheese to the crockpot for a few minutes after shredding the chicken. The table is set with all the fajita fixings. We said a prayer for friends battling cancer, the children beg for a story from my hubby and he begins talking about Gideon. The flickering candle light bounces off shining eyes and voices chiming in as they talk about this story.

7:59 pm – The last bits of dinner being enjoyed, hubby relaxing on couch, and a few more moments together before we start preparing for rest. The 2yo has unrolled a whole roll of paper towel. Where’s this child’s mom? What a beautiful, busy day. I’m blessed. I’ll leave you with a bit of Gladys.

There is always one moment in a day when I think my heart will break. Such a moment I think all women have, and men too, when all the meaning of life seems distilled and caught up and you feel you can never, never bear to leave it. It may be when you turn and look down a blazing autumn road or it may be when you see your house under great ancient trees or it may be, in the city, when you look up at a towering apartment building and see one light and think “that is mine.” It may be any one of a number of things, according to the circumstances of your life. But there is a moment, and all the heartaches and sorrows of your life suddenly diminish and only the fine brave things stand out. You breathe sharp clean air, your eyes lift to the eternal wideness of the sky. Anybody has moments like this to store up, but some people are too busy adding up their frustrations to appreciate them. And yet all we need is an awareness of the beauty in life to make us richly content. My definition of happiness is just the ability to garner the perfect moments. 

Gladys Taber

Stillmeadow Daybook

pg 148

~

Spring Ideas

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Spring thought about springing yesterday. Alas, today winter temperatures are back. However, I’m not letting that get me down. Here are some links and ideas for spring.

  1. Go on nature walk with children.  Unlike myself, really listen to what they say, it’s absolutely fascinating and enlightening.
  2.  Are you home educating? This post is encouraging to me. So many great quotes and thoughts – what we do today is a small investment for tomorrow. We don’t have to worry, we just keep sowing by faith.  Only a few short weeks till summer vacation, in other words.
  3.  Swoon and save shekels for these or these. Spring-y fashion.
  4.  Need a book idea for you or your child? Go dig through this list.
  5.  I can’t stop laughing – a mixture of faith, mothering, culture commentary, and offensive attitudes. I absolutely love this blog. If you are easily offended it’s probably not for you. I’m kind of offended half of the time myself. Ha. I love it.
  6.  I pre-ordered The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan because I’m going to be reading it along with a friend. Speaking of pre-order, did you see that Anne Bogel from my favorite podcast, What Should I Read Next?, wrote a book?  Oh, and are podcast titles italicized? The deep questions of life, folks.
  7.  Make me this cake – actually this is my kind of cake decorating. Bake a cake. Open packages of candy. Dump on cake. Voilà. I googled and C + P’d that cool French term, btw, because I always get it wrong.
  8. After we are done consuming that delicious Easter cake, we can then do this…killer.  Children and kettle bells don’t mix the best, so beware.
  9. Buy fresh flowers for your table. The hubs bought me some peach-y pink-y roses the other day and I automatically jump into a spring attitude when I gaze at them. My 2 yo and I have been sniffing them frequently.
  10. Hang all bedding and clothing on line, even if it is drizzling and 34 degrees. The calendar says March, for goodness sake.

 

~

Starting the Day off Right

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So far:

  1. We’ve had a major battle regarding rubber band ownership.
  2. I found out that I have 567 baskets of laundry to fold, not 3 as previously known.
  3. My Kindle seems to have walked off and lost itself.
  4. I discovered random petrified foodstuff in couch as I looked for aforementioned Kindle.
  5. We forgot a password to something a child decided they want to do TODAY. This is causing an inordinate amount of angst.
  6. We are out of cheese. We live in the Dairy State. This is not good.
  7.  I decided I need a break from Instagram and Facebook. I’m already twitching with withdrawal after a half of an hour of this torture.
  8. It has been declared that sandwiches are banned for a meal choice in our home. What in the world am I going to feed all these children for the rest of their lives?
  9. We are out of cheese.
  10. How in the world am I going to survive this day without cheese, Instagram, Facebook, and my Kindle?

~